Chester opens up on abuse

Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester says he is a tougher person mentally after being trolled and abused on social media for the club’s performances over the past 18 months.

Wakefield had a tough 2019 Super League season, avoiding relegation by a last round victory at home against London Broncos, and then last year won just five of 19 games.

Trinity finished tenth in 2020 and Chester has copped heavy criticism, both online and in the print media, with one newspaper story last October claiming he was facing a “dressing room revolt”

Some fans called for him to be sacked at the time and the coach also suffered personal abuse sent to him by some individuals.

The 42-year-old says he avoids social media but now has become stronger from the experience.

“I learnt the lesson about twelve months ago,” the former Halifax, Wigan, Hull FC and Hull KR forward said.

“I was never a Twitter guy anyway, but I had a couple of personal messages I had on Facebook and I had some terrible messages there through Messenger. It’s not great.

“People sit there behind a computer and they can say what they want and nothing’s ever done about it. I’m fortunate that I stay off social media, so I’m not too bothered what the idiots have to say behind their laptops.

“The only people I listen to are my board of directors and my family members. But it did get really tough towards the back-end, especially with that newspaper article. It’s never nice to see your family members upset, especially your wife; it’s tough for them on game-day.

“When things are going well it’s happy days. When things don’t go well it’s the coach’s fault. I felt there was a lot of mischief, but it’s certainly made me a tougher person mentally.

“But just having the support of Michael (Carter) and John (Minards), Roger Lambert and Denise at the club means a lot; just having that support was important for me and my family.”

Wakefield have so far made only two new signings, in London prop Eddie Battye and Newcastle Knights halfback Mason Lino, with more changes made off the field.

Former Hull FC assistant Andy Last has joined Chester’s coaching staff, as has ex-Warrington, Salford and Hull KR assistant Willie Poching.

Chester believes the new duo have had a big impact at Belle Vue, and along with a new approach in training, the team is primed for a much better 2021 compared with last season.

“Pre-season’s gone really well,” he said.

“A big part of it is the freshness of people like Andy Last and Willie Poching. I can’t speak highly enough of those two guys and what they’ve brought, and their work ethic.

“They give some real good support and different ideas, and we’re learning off each other. In that respect it’s been a breath of fresh air. I know every coach is saying the same at this time of year – they’re training hard.

“We’ve made the pre-season quite different and we’ve had to this year because of the Covid restrictions. But we’re trying to keep every day different, not just for the players but for the staff as well; we’re having to deliver the same message to three groups in three separate sessions.

“It’s still really tough with the restrictions in place, but it’s been enjoyable too. We’re in a much better spot physically and mentally compared to last year. We’ve come out of last season mentally tougher as well. I know I have.”

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