'Games in a mess' says Wakefield Trinity boss as weakened side prepare for Super League trip to Salford Red Devils
Disgruntled Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester claims the game is “in a mess” over the banning of players for apparently trivial offences.
Trinity will be without suspended duo Ryan Hampshire and Joe Arundel for tonight’s game at Salford Red Devils - being played at HJ Stadium in Warrington - and nine others are unavailable because of injury or illness.
Youngsters Harry Bowes, Ollie Greensmith and Pat O’Donovan have been drafted into Wakefield’s squad and Chester confirmed at least two of them will play this evening.
Trinity chief executive Michael Carter this week hit out at the match review panel verdicts on Hampshire and Arundel - plus St Helens’ Sione Mata’utia who was also banned and will miss tomorrow’s Betfred Challenge Cup final - and Chester described the suspensions as “really disappointing”.
“Things are hard enough as it is,” he fumed.
“The way the game is and teams are struggling to get players out onto the pitch, I do think the game is in a mess at this moment.
“We’ve not heard from the chief executive of the Rugby Football League or the chairman of Super League and after what has gone on over the last three or four weeks it’s just not acceptable.
“We know that, everybody else knows that.
“I do really fear for the game moving forward, I think there’s a distinct lack of leadership.”
With Max Jowitt, Tom Johnstone, Bill Tupou, Kyle Wood, Chris Green, Jordan Crowther, Alex Walker, Josh Wood and Jack Croft all on the casualty list, Chester said raising a side for tonight’s rearranged game has been “really hard”, but insisted forfeiting the fixture was never an option.
Trinity played more games than anyone else in Super League last year and that is a record their coach is proud of.
“We’re one of the clubs that has got an academy,” he said.
“We’re not one of those clubs that will protect the image and protect egos, we’ll put out a team that’s going to be competitive and play some young kids.
“We’ve got to do.”
But he admitted: ”It’s really difficult, it’s hard work even for a team like us that has got a squad of 30 or 31 players.”
Bowes made his first team debut last year, Ollie Greensmith has been recalled from loan at Doncaster and O’Donovan is in Super League contention for the first time.
Chester, who has named a 19-man squad rather than the usual 21, said: “Two out of the three will play and maybe a potential third one.
“It’s a great opportunity for these young kids.
“Harry Bowes has played exceptionally well in the under-19s, but he has not been able to train with the first team for the last month because the academy - when Harry played - caught some Covid cases.
“We’ve had two separate bubbles and we’ve had to separate Harry, Pat and those guys from first team training.
“It’s a great opportunity and we’ll start to see the fruition of our academy in the next few years with these young kids.”
Dec Patton, Ben Davies and Dan Norman drop out from the Salford side which won 70-18 at Castleford Tigers five days ago.
Joe Burgess, Tui Lolohea, Seb Ikahihifo, Sam Luckley and Ata Hingano are in contention to replace them.
Salford Red Devils: from Escare, Sio, Inu, Burgess, Lolohea, Ackers, Ikahihifo, Lannon, Pauli, Roberts, Burke, Johnson, Atkin, Livett, Williams, Costello, Ormondroyd, Luckley, Hingano.
Wakefield Trinity: Lyne, Kay, Miller, Lino, Fifita, Arona, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Westerman, Pitts, Battye, Batchelor, Senior, Walker, Aydin, Kershaw, Greensmith, Bowes, O’Donovan.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).
Kick-off: Today, 7.30pm, at Warrington.