Chris Chester believes 2020 could be the year some of Wakefield’s young starlets make their mark in Super League.
With a bigger squad to select from and numerous high-profile signings, including Joe Westerman and Alex Walker, all eyes are on Trinity’s senior players to see how the club responds to narrowly avoiding relegation last season.
But Chester told League Express that he’s got high hopes for a number of products from the club’s Academy. The likes of Tom Johnstone and James Batchelor have graduated through the system in recent years.
“I think we’ve got some absolutely fantastic young kids,” said Chester.
“Jack Croft is a year wiser having had a taste of Super League this year, and Titus Gwaze is in a similar position. We’ve got high hopes for young Connor Bailey too, and they’ve all done really well in pre-season training so far.”
Chester admitted he will use this week’s Boxing Day clash with Leeds as a chance to give his younger players an opportunity to impress early into pre-season.
“Crofty and a few others like Lee Kershaw will definitely play,” he said.
“Lee is another one who I’m really looking forward to seeing develop this year. He had a little taste of it in 2019, and he showed up well. He’s been carrying the ball really well and I’m looking forward to seeing how him and a few other young lads handle it. There’s two or three who should be really confident that they can make a mark for us.”
Chester, who revealed Wakefield have worked heavily on their fitness in pre-season to ensure they avoid a repeat of the injury crisis which ravaged them for large parts of 2019, also admitted he’s a fan of the new rulings concerning 21-man squads.
Clubs will now be punished to the tune of one interchange if they draft a player in from outside the originally-named 21 for a game, and Chester said: “It’s the right thing to do.
“I had to do it a couple of times last year, in regards to naming some players who weren’t right and then having to pull them out, but I’m all for this change. Now, there are no excuses and the rule is clearly there for a reason.
“I support it, I like the idea and I like them toughening it up. Above all else, all the rules and talk at this time of year, I’m looking forward to seeing what this squad can achieve. It’s almost time to get out there and see what the 2020 season has got in store for us.”
Trinity will travel to Headingley with a 19-man strong side, which includes five of their new signings.
Josh Wood, Alex Walker and Jay Pitts have all been named, as have Chris Green and Adam Tangata, who both had loan spells at the club last season.
Ryan Hampshire and Max Jowitt, who will both be battling for the fullback spot with Walker in 2020, are also included. However, Hampshire could line up in the halves alongside Jacob Miller, with Danny Brough missing out.
Wakefield 19-man squad: 1 Alex Walker, 4 Reece Lyne, 6 Jacob Miller, 9 Kyle Wood, 11 Matty Ashurst, 12 Danny Kirmond, 14 Jay Pitts, 17 Chris Green, 18 Adam Tangata, 19 Jordan Crowther, 21 Max Jowitt, 22 George King, 23 Josh Wood, 24 Jack Croft, 26 Titus Gwaze, 27 Lee Kershaw, 28 Ryan Atkins, 29 Ryan Hampshire, 36 Kelepi Tanginoa.