Francis Cummins set for Wakefield Trinity bow on familiar ground at Leeds Rhinos

Francis Cummins is looking forward to his first direct involvement in a Rugby League match in more than three years – on very familiar territory.

The 45-year-old former England, Great Britain and Ireland back has joined forces with coach Willie Poching at Wakefield Trinity, who visit Super League rivals Leeds on Boxing Day (11.30am).

The pair were Rhinos team-mates for four years and took their first steps into coaching at Headingley.

New Zealander Poching, 48, also worked at Warrington, Hull KR, Salford and Huddersfield before arriving at Trinity as assistant coach to Chris Chester ahead of the 2021 campaign.

The August departure of Chester led to Poching’s elevation and a season-closing run of five wins in seven.

After the subsequent departure of assistant coach Andy Last to Castleford, Poching, who has also been coach of Samoa and assistant coach of New Zealand, brought in Cummins as one of two right-hand men alongside Mark Applegarth, previously Wakefield’s head of youth.

Cummins coached Bradford between September 2012 and July 2014, and had another spell in Super League with Widnes, becoming interim coach in 2018, before working for rugby union clubs Yorkshire Carnegie (now Leeds Tykes) and Doncaster.

Now he’s enjoying life back in Rugby League, ready to gauge the pre-season progress of a new-look Trinity squad at Leeds, where he scored 188 tries in 356 games between 1993 and 2005.

While Poching has made six squad additions, who fans will be keen to see, Cummins is equally keen to monitor the existing players.

“Wakefield were able to blood some young lads last season and it will be great for them to take their next step,” he explained.

“That’s the great thing about the Boxing Day fixture. We’ll get to see them. Some of them got a fair few appearances last season and are looking really good in training.”

Meanwhile Wakefield have gained planning permission to begin redevelopment of their newly-named Be Well Support Stadium (Belle Vue).

Trinity will replace their existing stand with a two-storey, 2,507-seat construction and upgrade the behind-the-posts North Terrace, restoring its 3,500 capacity.

It is hoped work will begin early next year.

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