Wakefield Trinity heed the lessons from year of turmoil

Learning curve: After three strong years, Chris Chester and Wakefield Trinity took a backwards step in 2019. Can they respond in the season ahead? (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Learning curve: After three strong years, Chris Chester and Wakefield Trinity took a backwards step in 2019. Can they respond in the season ahead? (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
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REGARDLESS of the result tomorrow night, once the Wakefield Trinity team bus has returned from Hull College Craven Park, head coach Chris Chester will be doing his utmost to avoid turning on his laptop.

Of the many lessons he learned from last season, perhaps the most important was the need to “switch off” – in both senses – and get clear from the daily grind and travails of the job.

New signing Joe Westerman (Picture: James Hardisty)

New signing Joe Westerman (Picture: James Hardisty)

That is not as easy as it sounds; any head coach will tell you the role, in essence, can be 24/7.

However, as Chester begins his fifth season in charge of his hometown club, the 41-year-old realises there has to be a compromise.

Trinity were embroiled in a relegation fight last season, only securing their top-flight spot on the final night of the campaign.

They have made some astute signings in a bid to try and ensure they are nearer the other end of the table in 2020 and Chester is rightly looking forward to kicking the season off at one of his former clubs Hull KR.

New Wakefield signing Jay PItts (Picture: SWPix.com)

New Wakefield signing Jay PItts (Picture: SWPix.com)

He told The Yorkshire Post: “I learned a few things last year.

“From a recruitment point of view, I certainly got a lot of things wrong going into it and we had three or four guys who could potentially break down at any point.

“This time we have brought in some youth but also some experience and leadership; we’re a quite quiet group so people like Joe Westerman from Hull and Jay Pitts – who captained that London Broncos side really well – have helped us there.

“But also I know this year we have to go into games with guys 100 per cent fit; a few times last season we had players who weren’t ready or were playing busted. Making good signings should help us there.

“But, personally, the main thing for me is just making sure I don’t take my work home with me.

“It can be a lonely place as a coach particularly when things aren’t going well.

“But once I leave that ground or get off the bus from an away game, I have to leave everything there and make sure I don’t take it home.

“It is very difficult; I get my laptop out pretty much straight away when I get on the bus or that night when I get home I’ll try and get a bit of work done.

“What I’ve learned is that there’s nothing more important than your family and, to some extent, last year that was put to one side. I have to find that right balance this year and that’s important for me.”

What is important for his side is that they “silence” the Rovers fans from the off tomorrow night.

It is sure to be an emotional occasion in east Hull given what has happened to the hosts’ popular player Mose Masoe.

The giant prop is still in Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital, facing fears he may never walk again after suffering a freak spinal injury in the recent friendly between the two clubs.

Rovers – who finished joint-bottom with London last term – have said they will be using his plight to inspire them on in 2020.

Chester, who played for the Robins and started his coaching career there before being sacked in 2016, said: “It will be emotional. We’re all saddened to hear what happened to Mose but, having said that, we know we have a job to do on Friday.

“We have to try and take the emotion out of it and take that crowd out of the equation as well.

“It’s important we start strong and get out of the blocks pretty quickly. If we can do that, we’ll give ourselves a good opportunity of getting the result.”

Under the new ruling of requiring to name a 21-man squad 48 hours before the game, rather than 19, Wakefield have included former England loose forward Westerman for his debut and Pitts who starts his second spell at his hometown club.

Chester names Romain Navarrete, the France prop who completed a season-long loan from Wigan Warriors on Monday, but fellow new recruit Alex Walker plus Ben Jones-Bishop, Dave Fifita, Tini Arona, Chris Green and George King remain sidelined.

Rovers are set to give debuts to Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Greg 
Minikin and Will Maher while Mitch Garbutt could return from injury.

Matty Gee, Elliot Minchella, Matty Storton and Ryan Brierley also hope to make their bows.