Wakefield Trnity v Catalans Dragons: No media circus, just a game to focus on for Chris Chester

Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester.
Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester.
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There will not be a circus descending on Belle Vue tomorrow.

Israel Folau is not yet in town so, for now, everyone can get on with the rugby.

Wakefield Trinity were ready to do that regardless, before Catalans Dragons announced yesterday their controversial new signing was not in their 21-man squad to travel to Yorkshire.

Chris Chester insisted the subject had not “dominated things” at Trinity in the build-up and rightly so; all his squad is concerned with is righting the wrongs of their wretched opening night defeat at Hull KR.

“We came in on Saturday and had a good honest chat at the review,” he said, following the 30-12 loss at Hull College Craven Park.

“The guys are really positive. We’re only one game into a 29-game season and know we probably couldn’t have played any worse.

“We probably couldn’t have made any more errors than we did.

“There’s lots of improvement in this team and we’re looking to put that right this weekend.”

That said, their French visitors will be in the same frame of mind; they were similarly woeful when losing 32-12 at home to Huddersfield Giants last Saturday.

Granted, Catalans are still missing a raft of players including David Mead, Lewis Tierney, Sam Moa, Alrix Da Costa, Mickael Goudemand and Tom Davies but there remains plenty of quality in their ranks.

“We’re coming up against a real big side in Catalan Dragons,” said Chester.

“And we have to make sure we match their physicality. There’s some big guys there – Kasiano, Casty and Bousquet in the middle there’s a bit of strike on the edge.

“We have got to try and contain those big middles. We don’t want to play a big team through the middle, we will try and move the big blokes around.

“We might get an edge that way. The physicality, that is the strength about them. When (Michael) McIlorum plays well, the team generally plays well.

“We just need to make sure we learn from our mistakes on Friday, improve and hopefully get our home season off to a positive start.

“It’s going to be a real big challenge for us, along with the weather conditions that are forecast for the weekend. That’s going to really test our skill as well.”

Club captain Danny Kirmond will make his 300th career appearance if selected for Wakefield and Leeds-born McIlorum, the former Wigan and England hooker, is set to do likewise with Catalans.

Trinity are forced into changes following Danny Brough’s knee injury so Ryan Hampshire moves up to scrum-half with Max Jowitt coming in at full-back.

England centre Reece Lyne will need to pass a head test but Joe Arundel and Connor Bailey are also in contention after impressing for the reserves last week.

Wakefield have their own injury worries given they are still without numerous forwards and are down to 20 fit players.

Prop David Fifita is nearing a return while Tini Arona, Chris Green, Jordan Crowther and George King are other absentees while Titus Gwaze has joined Oldham on a month’s loan.

Chester said: “In about three weeks time we should have everybody back available.

“It’s just a case of making sure we don’t rush these guys. Big Dave is coming out on Saturday doing some running with us.

“We’ve had to strip him back to basics; he was still getting some pain in his foot so we’ve waited until he’s symptom-free.

“He’s symptom-free now and training really well in the gym and working really hard with the physio.”