Wakefield Trinity v Salford Red Devils: Coach Chris Chester proud as Trinity end their campaign

Head coach Chris Chester says there is still ample motivation for Wakefield Trinity as they finish off their season against Salford Red Devils tonight and they can be “proud” for playing more games than any other side.

With the regular campaign drawing to a close early to extend the play-offs to the top-six, ninth-placed Trinity play their final match at Emerald Headingley.

They faced countless issues with Covid since the resumption in August and also lost 10 successive games but won three on the trot before narrowly falling to Leeds Rhinos on Sunday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Asked how he will reflect on 2020 at the final hooter, Chester replied: “With 12 hours sleep on Friday night. I’ll think about that when I wake Saturday morning!

“I can’t thank the players enough for turning up to training with a smile on their face and doing everything possible to make sure we fulfil our fixtures.

“To play 19 (of 20) – the most in Super League – is a credit to them all. It’s been tough on everyone, challenging for every team.

“It has been a frustrating year for us but we can take great pride, considering we’re the only club to play 19 games. We’ve not picked and chosen which we wanted to play, we’ve travelled to Catalans as well and got on with the job.

“The way the players have conducted themselves is exemplary.”

Wakefield's Tom Johnstone deserves to keep his place in the England squad, according to Trinity head coach, Chris Chester. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Although this evening’s game is essentially a dead rubber, the “two points” is motivation enough in Chester’s eyes.

“We played four games in 11 days, got three good results and were a bit unlucky against Leeds not to take something,” he added.

“We want to finish the season with a win and it’s the least our loyal fans deserve for what’s also been a challenging period for those guys as well.

“It’s important we take something positive from a difficult season into next year. We’ve a little bit of down-time – we’re back in on December 10 for two and a half-weeks – so we have four weeks off. But that should give us some time to recharge.”

PROUD: Wakefield Trinity head coach, Chris Chester. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Chester added that the likes of out-of-contract Ben Jones-Bishop and Craig Kopczak can still sway his decision about new deals for 2021 by performing well tonight.

Also, he expects centre Reece Lyne to bounce back against Salford – down to 10th after being deducted three wins this week – having being left out of Shaun Wane’s latest England squad.

Lyne, whose sole cap was against France in 2018, was omitted with Wane preferring Warrington Wolves’ in-form Toby King.

But Chester said he still expects the 27-year-old to be back challenging for a 2021 World Cup place.

Wakefield head coach Chris Chester expects Reece Lyne, above, to still be challenging for 2021 World Cup spot with England. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“We had a good chat Tuesday,” he explained.

“To be fair, everything Shaun said Reece agreed with; consistency-wise he’s probably not been where he needs to be.

“He’s been excellent these last three or four weeks but there’s certain parts of his game Shaun thinks needs to improve and it will be good for Reece.

“He knows what he needs to do in pre-season and next year to get a spot in that World Cup. He’s disappointed but understands Shaun’s reasons.

“He needs to be our best player week in, week out and, to his own standards, he’s not been where he wants to be.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll come back really strong next year and he’ll have another good performance on Friday night.”

Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone has retained his place in Wane’s squad having successfully returned to fitness and form after two knee reconstructions.

Chester said: “It’s great for Tom especially given the challenges he faced over the last three years with two ACLs.

“It’s pleasing we’ve still got one guy in the make-up. It’s great for the club.

“I would have like to have seen a couple more players in there but I certainly think with Tom we’ve got an international winger on our hands.

“And I genuinely believe Reece Lyne will be a regular international over the coming years.”

Uncapped second-row Matty Ashurst, 31, is the other Trinity player Chester thinks should be considered.

“I like the way Matty Ashurst goes about his job,” he added.

“What you sees is what you get with Tash; he’s an eight/nine out of 10 every week, does all the dirty week and defensively is really sound. “I would love to see him in and around that squad where possible.

“But we have a lot of good back-rowers here and quite a few in the NRL with (John) Bateman, (Elliott) Whitehead, (Liam) Farrell, (Mike) McMeeken... the list is endless.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.