Wakefield Trinity v Hull FC - Rookies urged to enjoy their big opportunity
They are on a four-match losing run, been kept scoreless in their last two league games, seen three players contract Covid and have nine missing due to the virus against Hull FC tonight.
Trinity saw last Thursday’s fixture against Leeds Rhinos postponed because of the initial two positive tests – another has since been confirmed – and could only resume training on Monday.
Chester only discovered news the 2020 Super League table will now be derived from a points percentage moments before yesterday’s pre-match press conference so he was not aware of “all the ins and outs” of the governing body’s surprise decision. It was no wonder he looked befuddled although there was some light relief when he was made aware his side had subsequently moved up one place from 11th to tenth.
“That’s a bonus – I like any rule they’ve brought in!” quipped the head coach.
Part of the reason Super League has moved to the win percentage formula, of course, is that lingering worry about the ability to complete the season given Covid’s ongoing effect on clubs with more than half now receiving at least one positive test.
After their recent experience, Trinity know as well as anyone the debilitating effects it can have and there will be some unfamiliar names in this evening’s squad.
In giving local youngsters, such as England Academy prop Yusuf Aydin and teenage half-back Connor Bailey, their debuts, though, there is a positive of another type to cling on to amid all the adversity. Zimbabwe-born prop Titus Gwaze, 21, also makes a rare appearance and Chester conceded: “We’ve some important squad members missing due to Covid and it hasn’t been ideal as we only had one session Monday and then a quick 30 or 40 minutes out on the field for the team run today.
“But we’re looking forward to seeing what this young side – that has literally been thrown together – can do.
“With Yousef and Connor, I just want them to go out and enjoy themselves. There’s a big onus this week on the leadership group – or the one we’ve still got on the field as quite a lot are sat at home at this point in time,
“But we’re looking for people like Joe Westerman, Jay Pitts and Reece Lyne to really step forward and help nurture those guys through the game.
“We’ve all been there as players – that first game with the nerves – and the one thing from Connor is to make sure he stays relaxed.
“Yousef had an opportunity in pre-season in a friendly against Hull KR and looked a real positive and he’s been waiting and waiting and waiting since.
“Obviously with what’s gone on over the last seven days – and 24/48 hours – it’s given us an opportunity to throw him in there.”
Fit-again second-row Pitts captains the side in the absence of Jacob Miller while Lyne, back from a two-game ban, acts a vice-captain.
From the 21-man squad, France half-back Tony Gigot has had to stand down for Covid reasons but former Leeds Rhinos winger Ben Jones-Bishop makes a welcome first appearance of the season after recovering from a blood clot for the second time in his career. Chester said: “Pittsy led London Broncos very well last year; he’s a leader with actions and he looked like he’s grown a leg after I told him.
“He is buzzing that he’s getting to captain his hometown team. I don’t think he’s had that opportunity before.
“Bish is definitely back as well. It’ll be great to see him out there after a challenging eight to nine months. It’s not ideal circumstances but we need his experience. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.”
Trinity also have two members of their medical staff self-isolating.
Meanwhile, Chester and CEO Michael Carter will have “discussions” with David Fifita tomorrow when the prop returns to training after being stood down by the club for refusing to wear a GPS vest.
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