Wakefield Trinity’s James Batchelor has found his best position at prop says Chris Chester

Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester believes James Batchelor could have found his best position after the England Knights second-row featured impressively at prop against Wigan Warriors.

Batchelor, 23, came off the bench to do a stint in the front-row and was arguably the visitors’ best player in Friday’s 25-12 Super League defeat at DW Stadium.

He replaced David Fifita in the first half and went on to make 33 tackles in the middle but especially made a big impression in attack where he made two clean breaks with neat footwork and scored one of Trinity’s two consolation tries.

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Batchelor, who hails from Wakefield and debuted back in 2016, also had another effort disallowed.

STAR MAN: Wakefield Trinity's James Batchelor was coach Chris Chester's stand out player against Wigan. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Although a reliable performer for Chester, he has not always found it easy to gain game-time given the reliability and durability of Matty Ashurst and Jay Pitts in his usual position of second-row.

Chester said: “I thought he was our best player on the park.

“Liam Kay was good as well when he came on. He’s pretty quick out of dummy half and caused them a lot of issues.

“But Batch played really well in the middle. I think all through his juniors he came through as a half, then a lock (loose forward) and then a back-rower.

IMPRESSIVE: Wakefield Trinity's Liam Kay put in a strong showing at Wigan Warriors. Picture: Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

“I think as a back-rower he has probably just got too much to think about.

“Whereas I think we’ve found his position there in the middle. He really stepped up (on Friday).

“There were some really good performances from some of those middle guys.”

Batchelor, who played for Knights against Papua New Guinea in 2018, could certainly look to make a ‘middle’ spot his own in 2022 either as a front-row or – with England’s Joe Westerman leaving for Castleford Tigers – at loose forward.

Chester had dropped Tini Arona, the experienced New Zealander prop, for the game at Wigan, which Trinity lost after the inspirational Jackson Hastings laid on a hat-trick for Jake Bibby as the hosts eased into a 25-0 lead by the hour mark.

“We made the decision to leave Tini Arona out of the side and that is probably performance-based and a little bit of fatigue as well with T playing every game so far,” he said, as Trinity lost a third successive game.

“But those who came in really stood up. Once Yusuf Aydin got himself in the game I thought he carried and defended tough and Chris Green showed some decent touches and defended with some intent.

“But we’re hopeful by the start of the week we should have some bodies back in Max Jowitt and Kyle Wood and maybe a couple of others.”

Wakefield will hope they can strengthen their squad given they head to France on Thursday to take on Catalans Dragons, the Super League leaders who edged past Hull KR 32-30 in Perpignan yesterday to continue their fine winning run.