Let's get physical - Coach's appeal to Wakefield Trinity ahead of Wigan Warriors showdown

There was a time when Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester feared Sunday might never come.

Friday, 7th August 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 5:00 pm
Trinity's Bill Tupou is tackled during Wigan's win at DW Stadium in July last year. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com.

Trinity will take on Wigan Warriors in their first game since a Coral Challenge Cup win over Bradford Bulls on March 13.

The home fixture is being played behind closed doors at Leeds’ Emerald Headingley, but Chester believes just getting back on the field after the long coronavirus layoff is a success - for Trinity and the sport.

“Playing in front of nobody is going to be strange, but first and foremost, we are getting back out playing and I am pleased the game is still going,” Chester stated.

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“It was touch and go probably two or three months ago whether we were going to have a game at all, so just to be out there will be a big boost for everybody.

“For me personally, just to be among the rest of the staff and among the playing squad and doing what I love has put a smile on my face and it has certainly put smiles on the players’ faces as well.

“We are just looking forward to getting out there and getting some structure and normality back in our lives.”

Trinity have been preparing for three weeks and Chester believes his side are in good shape, but this weekend will be the acid test.

Wakefield's Romain Navarrete, with ball, could face his former club on Sunday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

He said: “Training has been good, it has been intense, but we won’t know where we are at until after the game on Sunday afternoon.”

Wigan are second in Betfred Super League, behind Leeds Rhinos on points difference.

Trinity will go into the game in ninth spot and Chester has identified his side’s start as key to their hopes of a third win of the campaign.

“When we’ve gone well against Wigan we have matched them physically we’ve been aggressive and we’ve tried to take the game to them,” he recalled.

Trinity coach Chris Chester. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“When we’ve been disappointing is when we’ve started slowly and let them get a little bit of momentum.

“Once any team does that it’s hard to claw them back.

“It is important we start physical and we have got to try and match their intensity in the first 10-15 minutes, by being tough, defending tough and being really good and disciplined with the ball.”

Neither team has played under rugby league’s new rules and adjusting to those will also be crucial.

“I think it is going to be great for the game,” said Chester who is a member of the Rugby Football League’s laws committee.

“I am hopeful we are one of the teams that will benefit, but we will know a little bit more on Sunday.”

Chester believes the new rules - including no scrums and tackle count restarts for ruck infringements - put a “massive emphasis on completion rates.

He said: “Referees’ interpretations of the ruck haven’t changed, you are still going to be able to tackle and wrestle and get the same amount of time on the floor as last year.

“But the last thing you want to do as a team is not complete on tackle two or three and then get a six-again.

“It is going to catch up with you by the end of the first half or with 20 minutes to go in the second, so it’s important you get an equal share of possession.

“I’m excited by the rule changes and I believe we have some players who will be able to take advantage.”

Last month’s signings Liam Kay and Tony Gigot are both set to play and young forward Yusuf Aydin is named in Trinity’s initial squad for the first time, but Jordan Crowther and Matty Ashurst have minor injuries and join Joe Arundel and Danny Brough on the casualty list.

Sean O’Loughlin could return for Wigan after injury, but Ben Flower and Ollie Partington are suspended and Tony Clubb (neck) and Oliver Gildart (shoulder) also miss out.

Meanwhile, Trinity’s away fixture against Warrington Wolves will be played behind closed doors at HJ Stadium on Saturday, August 29 (kick-off 6.30pm).

Wakefield Trinity: from Johnstone, Tupou, Lyne, Miller, Fifita, K Wood, Arona, Kirmond, Westerman, Pitts, Kopczak, Batchelor, Tangata, Jowitt, Wood, Atkins, Aydin, Tanginoa, Navarrete, Kay, Gigot.

Wigan Warriors: from Hardaker, Marshall, Hankinson, J Burgess, French, Leuluai, Powell, G Burgess, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Greenwood, Smithies, Bullock, Byrne, Manfredi, Clark, Bibby, Smith, Havard, Hastings.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).

Kick-off: Sunday, 3.15pm.

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Laura Collins