Wakefield Trinity v Hull KR: Chester refusing to tinker with a winning formula

IN FAIRNESS, he was probably never actually known as Tinkerman, but there is no way that Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester will ever be labelled it in the future.

It was Claudio Ranieri, in his Chelsea days, that earned the moniker for his constant desire to switch players, tactics and formations.

Chester admits he once got caught up in the habit of doing the same, but, as his side seek a third straight win when Hull KR arrive tomorrow, his mindset has altered.

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“I said after the Catalans game that the team that won there would keep their places,” he said, Wakefield duly going out and vanquishing Leeds Rhinos 35-18 at Headingley last weekend.

Wakefield celebrate Danny Brough's try against Leeds.

“And that’s one lesson I’ve learned from last year; meddling with the team too much, even off the back of some good wins, isn’t always the best idea.

“I’d think about changing it too often and we’ve just got to go with our best team every week – and at the minute the best team is the one that performed so well last week.”

This means the only likely change is an enforced one, Danny Kirmond coming in for Matty Ashurst, the Dream Team second-row who tweaked a knee while helping dismantle Leeds in one of the most impressive wins in Chester’s three-year reign.

One of his worst was the 42-24 loss at newly-promoted London Broncos on the opening day of this current campaign.

However, Chester revealed: “As strange as it sounds I think losing at London was the best thing that could have happened to us, and I’m happy to say it.

“It gave us all a reality check and the kick up the backside we might have needed.

“We reflected on the week and what we did, and we got quite a lot of things wrong.

“We learned a big lesson; that you can’t afford to let your attitude drop against any team in this competition.”

Already missing six first-team regulars, Hull KR have a raft of other players facing late fitness tests this morning before they can name a 17 for tomorrow’s contest.

England prop Robbie Mulhern (calf) hoped to be fit, but is not in the 19-man squad although Kane Linnett and Jimmy Keinhorst are given time to show they are ready.

Academy product back-row Adam Rooks could debut and fellow 20-year-old, winger Will Oakes, is also on standby.

Chester, a former Robins player and coach, insisted: “We’re preparing for the best Hull KR, and as if their best team is coming over here on Sunday.

“They’re very unpredictable; they like to throw the ball around and they’ve got a good kicker in (Josh) Drinkwater.

“If it rains, like we think it will, that makes him more dangerous.

“They’ll have been disappointed to lose some of the games they’ve been in, but they’ve got a lot of trick plays that will test our honesty and our commitment.”

Having lost their opening two fixtures, Wakefield – who finished fifth the last two seasons – are now progressing.

“It’s the biggest two months of the year for us,” said Chester.

“If we get some wins chalked up and nick a couple of away ones too it sets us up nicely for the rest of the year and a hell of a chance of play-off rugby.”

Rovers’ impressive start has been slowed by back-to-back defeats against Salford and Castleford Tigers.

During the latter a KR fan threw a bottle that hit Mulhern and coach Tim Sheens revealed: “There was another incident as well. When we did the short kick-off that resulted in a penalty against us, a bottle came on the field then too. It hit the ground – Ryan Shaw dodged it – and I don’t know if it was thrown at us or the ref, but it was thrown in that area.

“I didn’t see the one on Mulhern until later, but it is pretty poor, and I think our fans thought so too and let him know whoever it was. But it’s a game. It’s a game of football. At the end of the day it’s how you finish, not always how you start.

“Earlier it was our best side ever, now everyone’s on their back. Well, not everyone as I’ve had plenty of fans talk to me when I’ve seen them in the street saying with the injuries we’ve got, without key players, it’s not always easy to nail the wins.

“We won’t use it as an excuse. We need to perform better, but it’s not as if they’re not working hard to do that. They are.”