Wakefield coach Chris Chester admits he has learned from the mistakes of his first coaching job with Hull Kingston Rovers, after a whirlwind 12 months in charge of his hometown club culminated in him agreeing a new two-year contract extension with Trinity: where he wants to achieve “special things”.
Just three weeks after leaving Hull KR only a handful of games into the new season, Chester was appointed as Brian Smith’s successor, tasked with keeping the club in Super League. He subsequently guided them into the top eight and the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup during Trinity’s best season in years.
And having agreed an extension until the end of the 2019 season with Wakefield, Chester revealed to TotalRL how he has grown since leaving the Robins.
“I’d like to think I’m a different coach – and a better one,” he admitted.
“I’ve learned a hell of a lot and I’ve learned from the mistakes I made at Hull KR. I think I’ve come out the other side of it as a more experienced coach for what I went through. Yes, it was tough, but the right decision was made and I learned a lot from my experiences at KR.
“That meant I could refresh, come into this job at my hometown club and relax a bit. There’s not as much expectation on Wakefield as what there was there.”
“It was always the plan when I first sorted my initial deal out with the club that we would sit down and talk in March. I’ve met some objectives that I’ve been handed by Michael (Carter, chairman) and to be honest, it was a very easy conversation to have and a very easy negotiation process: it was done within 24 hours. I’m really pleased that I’ve got my future sorted and we’ve got some continuity in place as a club.”
Chester is also hopeful that news of his commitment to Wakefield for the next two seasons at least will spark a flurry of interest from out-of-contract players to do the same – a luxury the club has not been afforded in years gone by.
“You only have to look at player contract situations in the last few years – probably before last year,” he revealed.
“The club has generally not known where it is going to be until October so they sign up players then. It’s pleasing we’ve sorted something out so soon; my relationship with Michael and Chris (Brereton) is great and it’s just been so easy to work here. I’m looking forward to the next couple of years.
“I’d like to think that me signing so early will convince players to do the same: I would really hope that’s the case. We’ve opened discussions with a number of players we’d like to retain and I’d like to see other players follow suit. Discussions are ongoing, things are positive and things are positive behind the scenes.”
Wakefield’s future has been in the headlines recently – but on the field and at all playing levels, Chester is confident of a bright future.
He said: “I’m delighted with the state of the club full stop. We’ve had some tough spells here and we finally look like we’re getting through the other end now – although I can’t take responsibility for the way the youth is going; guys like Richard Kelly, Mark Applegarth and Nick Hill have put those plans in place and the club is the healthiest it’s been in a long, long time.
“Credit must go to Michael too; he’s put the club on a sound footing and you always know where you are. That’s all you want as a head coach.”
And the Trinity boss is now identifying a period of prolonged success in West Yorkshire. He said: “We’re three from four from last four games; we had one little blip along the way but there’s the makings of a good side here.
“If we keep adding some quality every year, there’s no reason why we can’t do some special things together. The important thing is to get into the Super 8s again and consistently get in year on year to be a sustained success.”