Chester promises ‘shootout’ between Hampshire and Jowitt for Wakefield fullback berth

Wakefield coach Chris Chester has admitted there will be a ‘shootout’ between Max Jowitt and Ryan Hampshire for Trinity’s number one shirt in 2019.

With veteran fullback Scott Grix departing for Huddersfield, homegrown talent Jowitt had emerged as the standout candidate to take the shirt vacated by Grix next season.

However, Chester has told League Express that is not a guarantee – saying that with Danny Brough arriving from the Giants, the utility value of Hampshire, who excelled at half-back last year, will propel him into competition with Jowitt. 

“I wouldn’t say that’s a safe assumption,” Chester said when asked if Jowitt would begin his out-and-out first-choice at fullback.

“It’s going to be a shootout between Max and Rocky I think. We’ve actually got the option of Ben Reynolds, who I believe has played there a fair bit in the past, too.

“But there is genuine competition there, with Max and Rocky probably fighting it out. That’s probably what excites me about this squad – not many people are guaranteed a spot.”

Chester admitted that while he believes he’s assembled the strongest squad during his time in charge going into 2019, that also brings added pressure.

“It’s exciting, isn’t it?” he said. 

“But expectation goes hand-in-hand with that. I look at last year more and more as a missed opportunity to make the play-offs, especially with the start we had.

“To not be involved in a semi-final was disappointing, but that’s the level we aspire to now.”

Chester continued: “I look back at the year I came in, and we had quite a large squad with not a great deal of quality.

“We’ve improved that season upon season, and the guys we’ve brought in this year are going to make us very strong.

“That said, the competition around us is more intense than ever. Look at what Leeds, St Helens and Warrington are spending on players as an example.

“Then you’ve got the likes of Hull, Castleford and Wigan who are always in the mix – I think this could be the most competitive Super League season in a long, long time.”