Wakefield Trinity v St Helens: Chris Chester vows to fulfill all fixtures despite injuries and Covid
Wakefield Trinity are down to the bare bones for Friday's visit of Betfred Super League champions and Challenge Cup finalists St Helens.
Coach Chris Chester has named only a 19-man squad, rather than the usual 21 and revealed one player has been stood down following a positive Covid test and another was sent home from training on Thursday.
“We are literally down to 17 players,” he confirmed.
“We named 19, but there’s two guys in there who can’t play, one who’s injured and one who has had to be stood down.
“We’ve got 10 injuries in the group and two Covid-related cases, but we said from day one we want to fulfil our fixtures.
“We’re proud of what we did last year, in fulfilling all our fixtures and we’ll try to do that again.”
Trinity’s England winger Tom Johnstone suffered a knee injury last time out against Wigan Warriors, two weeks ago, in only his second comeback game after two months on the sidelines with concussion.
Chester reported: “He went for an operation on Tuesday and it’s the best case scenario - he has had a clean-out, some cartilage shaved.
“There was talk of it being a microfracture, which could have ruled him out for three to five months, but now we are probably looking at, top end, four to six weeks. I’d like to see him back in four, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Chester said Bill Tupou is “progressing really well” following knee surgery last week, as is Josh Wood with a hamstring problem
Alex Walker is recovering from a fractured vertebrae and other casualties include Jack Croft (anterior cruciate ligament damage) and Chris Green (Achilles).
“The list is endless,” Chester reflected. “But we are fortunate we can field a side and it’s a very, very competitive side.”
The game is Saints’ last before their Wembley date with Castleford Tigers a week tomorrow and Chester feels it is “a great time to play them.”
He said: “Our home form has been really good, we’ve won four from five and teams never like coming here.
“They’ve given us the respect of coming with their strongest team and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“I hope they will be thinking about Wembley, but they are a professional outfit - I expect them to come with the attitude they want to win the game, but are coming up against a really competitive side.
“We’ve had a disrupted week at training, but it has been really good in terms of quality.
“Losing a player [yesterday] has been a huge disruption, but we have 17 guys out there with points to prove and some guys off contract wanting to learn a new deal.
“It is a great opportunity for the 17 who take to the field."
Wakefield Trinity: from Jowitt, Lyne, Kay, Miller, Lino, Fifita, K Wood, Arona, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Westerman, Pitts, Battye, James Batchelor, Senior, Arundel, Aydin, Kershaw, Hampshire.
St Helens: from Coote,Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Knowles, Mata’utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Welsby, Smith, Joe Batchelor, Dodd, Simm, Norman.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Friday, 7.45pm.
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