Wigan Warriors v Wakefield Trinity - Jay Pitts puts best foot forward in bid for game time

WHEN he steps out on the field tonight, Wakefield Trinity’s Jay Pitts will be hoping it is the start of a very, very long sequence of games for him.

The experienced back-row spent large chunks of last season sidelined - even though he was not injured.

Unfortunately, the former Hull FC forward found himself on the wrong end of Covid isolation rules to the extent that he made only eight appearances after Super League restarted in August.

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Furthermore, Pitts was not fit for Saturday’s 2021 opener, the 28-22 loss against former club Leeds Rhinos, but is in Chris Chester’s side for this evening’s contest against Wigan Warriors at St Helens.

He heads there with a simple request.

“I just want a run of games,” said Pitts, who joined hometown Wakefield ahead of last season having been captain at London Broncos.

“I want to keep some consistency, win some games and enjoy my rugby. Obviously last year started off OK. I was enjoying myself and thought I was playing some good rugby and then all the Covid stuff happened.

“I was in one week, then out isolating for 10 days and it happened a bit.

Wakefield Trinity prop Jay Pitts is looking for a good run of games this year after a Covid-hammered 2020. Picture: Isabel Pearce/SWpix.com.

“I think I did [it more than anyone else]. It was really frustrating.

“I isolated three times and, on the last day of isolation, I got a positive that was a false positive.

“It was all over the shop. But I still had to self-isolate again - another 14 days on the back of that.

“It was just really frustrating and put a dampener on the year really. I’d seen all the fellas out there working their butts off trying to get a result and me not being able to do anything, just sat at home, was just a bit crap really.”

Wakefield Trinity coach, Chris Chester. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

Pitts, 31, returns to Wakefield’s right-edge with Chester saying his “calmness and leadership” have been missed.

His defensive steeliness will be required, too, against a Wigan side who have former Man of Steel Jackson Hastings back in their ranks and are looking to build on a nervy opening-day win against Leigh Centurions.

Asked what he expects from them, Pitts said: “They’ll be the same as any other Wigan team: really aggressive, with good players, and strong.

“We’re going to have to really be on our game to get a result. We had a look at the Leeds game and we weren’t far off.

Fit-again Wakefield Trinity utility Ryan Hampshire could feature against his former club, Wigan. Picture: Tony Johnson/JPIMedia.

“We did some really good stuff in that game and if we can fix up the little errors and the little stuff that invited Leeds back into the game, I reckon we have a good shot against Wigan.”

Chester has also recalled Ryan Hampshire, a former Wigan player who has a point to prove given he is one of three full-backs at the coach’s disposal this term.

Wakefield’s left-edge, with former Dream Team centre Bill Tupou and second-row Matty Ashurst plus England winger Tom Johnstone, earn plenty of plaudits.

However, Pitts has high hopes for his side, too, especially with the arrival of NRL half-back Mason Lino who showed plenty of promise on debut last weekend.

“We’re really tight and have had a really good pre-season together,” he said.

“Mase has come in and been really calming as well. He’s getting us around the park and we’re working hard to stay connected.

“That only gets better with more consistency and, if we keep our edge healthy, I think we will be a real threat.”

Obviously, tonight’s game is part of the entire round dedicated to Mose Masoe, the former St Helens prop who suffered a life-changing spinal injury while playing for Hull KR against Wakefield in a pre-season friendly last year.

Fans are urged to buy virtual tickets to Round Two to help raise funds for the popular former Samoa international and his family as they prepare for some difficult times.

Pitts played in the game when the tragic accident happened and recalled: “We just thought it was a head knock to start with and then obviously time went on and we saw the stretcher coming out. That’s when we realised it was something really serious. We were absolutely devastated to hear what happened to Mose.

“It’s unbelievable something like that can happen to you just from a tackle on the line. He’s been inspirational the way he has been through it all since and we’re obviously fully behind everything we can do for him now.

“And to have this round of Super League games dedicated to him, it’s a massive honour to be able to play in it.”

Meanwhile, Chester says hooker Kyle Wood will undergo another scan on his calf as he continues to struggle with that issue and Alex Walker has a back problem.

However, prop Eddie Battye is ahead of schedule with his injury and could return in the Betfred Challenge Cup against Catalans Dragons next week.

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