Mark Applegarth Q&A as new Wakefield Trinity head coach sets out his stall

Mark Applegarth last week replaced Willie Poching as Wakefield Trinity’s boss, stepping up from assistant coach for his first job as a head coach.

What were your first thoughts on being offered the job?
I’d just sat down with Danny Kirmond having a coffee. I knew something had happened to get called into a board meeting. My first reaction was a little bit of shock, then making sure Willie (Poching) was alright because he’s been good to me. After that I was delighted to take up the role and it was literally full steam ahead, looking at where we’re currently at, what we need to do and start putting the pieces in place.

Was it an instant decision to accept?
I had a good think but, in my opinion, you’d be a fool to say no to an opportunity like this, they don’t come around often. The circumstances are going to be different for everyone in terms of when these chances come but it was pretty much an instant decision. It’s the natural progression for my own development.

Does it mean more being your local club?
I think it does always mean a little bit more if you are from the town that you’re representing. I’m a proud Wakefield lad and I want to see Wakefield do well. We’ve had a period of our history where we’ve been facing relegation and it would be good to put them back on the map for the right reasons. Everyone talks about Wakefield in the 1960s, but that’s a long time ago. It’s time to move on from that and create our own history.

What is the current state of recruitment?
We’ve still got many a talented player on our books, both senior and young. There are still some really good players. Obviously, we’re identifying gaps where we think we can strengthen.

What’s your coaching ethos all about?
I’ve come through the youth coaching set-up here at Wakefield, and I’ve worked with a number of coaches on the England programmes. (My team) is just a reflection of who I am as a person. I like a good, honest, hard-working team. I like to throw the ball about and play a lot of rugby, but I expect a tough, resilient defence. That’s my coaching in a nutshell. We will be playing rugby but I also expect us to be one of the hardest-working teams in the league.

Have you always aspired to be a head coach, and has it come sooner than you thought?
I’ve always aspired to be a head coach. I’m at an age now when you see some of your friends getting those positions, such as Matty (Peet) as Wigan. I don’t think there is ever a right time for it to happen, you just know in your own head that if it did happen, you’d want to give it a shot. I’m at the age now where I’m feeling like that.

Do you know who will be in your coaching team?
We’re making enquiries now. It’s really important to get the right people and we don’t rush into that. A lot of people are vying for roles. I want to make sure we get not only the right people for the club, but the right people for the players. People I know will add value and be a fit for what I want to achieve as a head coach, and who will be right for the team moving forward.

The last few years have been a struggle for Wakefield – do you believe you can bring the fresh ideas needed?
Last year was a struggle. After Magic Weekend we were bottom of the league. You’d be a fool to say we weren’t in a bad spot. But there were also some pleasing signs. That run at the back end of the year, I thought we showed some real spirit to get out the hole we were in. It was a disappointing season but there were some great moments in it as well. We just need to get that consistency about us. We can’t afford to be a yo-yo team. We’ve got to find a certain level of consistency and make sure that’s where we stay in our standards. That’s the first thing I’ll be looking at doing.

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