Quickfire Q&A with Wakefield Trinity and Scotland try-scorer Lachlan Walmsley

LACHLAN WALMSLEY, fresh from another prolific season which saw him named joint-Championship player of the year and earned him a move from Halifax Panthers to Wakefield Trinity, takes the hot seat this month and answers your questions.

XYZ: How excited are you about the new Wakefield owner’s plans for the club and the signings the club have made for this season?

It’s all pretty good to be honest. Matty Ellis has come in and changed a lot within the club. Just being at the club and being in a full-time environment has been unreal. I’m really happy to working under Daryl Powell as head coach, and his assistants Danny Kirmond and Michael Shenton have been really good with me too.

I’m just excited to see what this next year brings. We’ve got a pretty decent side so hopefully we can get a few wins under the belt and actually win it.

Matt has invested a lot of time and money into the club so he’s doing everything he can to help us players perform at our best and feel at our best, so I’m sure he’ll be upset if we don’t perform.

sam4731: Did Wakefield’s IMG indicative grading play a part in your decision to join Trinity?

It did, but so did the chance to become full-time and get back into Super League. That’s the whole plan of making the move. The IMG grading is there and can help push us back into Super League. I’ve had ambitions since I’ve come over to England to make it to Super League – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do – and I think this is going to be the best chance I get to do that.

wakeyranger: What the biggest difference you’ve found now that you’re full-time?

Just the professionalism. It was professional at Halifax and I enjoyed everything there, but at Wakefield that has stepped up to a whole new level. They take everything so seriously. Yes we can have a laugh and a joke about, but it’s way more serious. You have to perform at your best and do everything you can to do and play your best.

At Halifax you could only really get a couple of hours each session because all the boys worked as well, but this is the full-time job now.

Cumbrian Fanatic: From your time at Whitehaven, who would you take to Wakefield with you, assuming that they would all want to go?

Gregg McNally was a big help to me first off. I know he’s getting to the end of his career now, but in his prime he was one of the best fullbacks in the league. I’d take him as he’s the one that stands out for me, but there are a lot of good players up there, they were all pretty good guys.

Neutralfan7: Do you miss Joe Bananas in Whitehaven?

Ha ha, no I can’t say I miss that place. It’s a good nightclub, but it’s one of those with the sticky floors so I can’t say I miss it too much. Everyone ended up back there after a good win, and in my first year up there we picked up a lot of wins and a lot of success, so we ended up there a lot and all the lads enjoyed themselves. Considering we snuck into the top six and beat Bradford in that last game of the year, it was one of the most enjoyable years of rugby I’ve ever had.

The Blues Ox: What is your favourite memory of your time at Halifax? 

It’s pretty hard to look past the 1895 Cup Final. There was a great set of lads there and they, along with everyone involved at the club, were great to be around. But my mum, dad, uncle and brother flew over for that final so that is the fondest memory I have. Not many players get to play at Wembley. To be able to do that and win there is pretty special.

The Blues Ox: Who was your best teammate and worst teammate at Halifax? 

Who can I stitch up here as the worst? As for the best, they were all great guys but I lived with Louis Jouffret so he’s up there as one of my best mates, Jake Maizen was great as well, Joe Keyes too – there was no one that I hated.

The Blues Ox: What do you think went wrong last year at Halifax, despite finding good form in the cup but producing some really slack performances in the league culminating with the dire showing against Swinton at home? 

I think the 1895 Cup really took it out of us. If you think about the weekends off you have throughout the year if you go out of that early, we didn’t get them. We played that Cup Final with busted bodies anyway, as every team is at that tine of year, and the game took a lot out of us. We just didn’t perform in that final game and Swinton, who wanted it more, beat us. We just couldn’t hold on in the end. On the emotional side of things as well, after the big build up to Wembley a lot of the lads probably needed a rest after it, but we couldn’t afford to have that week off and that’s probably affected us in the end.

Tentunted: How did you feel about sharing the Championship Player of the Year award and not being the outright winner?

It was a massive surprise to be honest and I really wasn’t expecting to win it. It was a privilege to share it with Dean (Parata – London Broncos), he’d had an unreal year, I’d had a decent season too, so I guess it was pretty hard to split the decision. But I was more than happy to share it with him as it’s such an honour to win that award.

sam4731: How do you feel about the decision to reduce the next World Cup to 10 teams and will you turn out for Scotland if they qualify for it?

I do want to represent Scotland again, but it’s going to be hard to try and play in that next World Cup, but of course if we qualify I’ll be there again. 

The reduction of teams is a blow to international rugby league but I think a lot of countries need to step back and re-evaluate their international game any way. I’m surprised that some of those that might not qualify haven’t tried to set up something like an emerging nations competition, if countries like Italy, Jamaica, Scotland and Greece all miss out, they still need to be playing games to keep developing.

Championship Rl: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of sports?

I don’t mind playing a bit of golf, I’m pretty useless at times, but I’m still better than my old housemate Louis (he’ll hate me saying that!). That’s probably my main hobby, I don’t think that I have anything else that interesting – I’m a pretty average guy really. 

@tweamryanhall: Is there a coach or other athlete that you look up to as a role model?

Growing up I used to love Hazem El Masri because he was an unreal goal kicker, but the older I got I looked up to the old man and the old girl for the roles they played in rugby league on and off the field. Mum and dad used to be the secretary and president of the Group 21 area where I grew up in the Greater Northern Region. And mum used to be in the Country Rugby League board as well, and was the first woman ever to do that, so she made a bit of history there.

@realrockchick22: Are there any goals you’d like to accomplish in the next few months to a couple of years?

Of course I want to play Super League in 2025 if we can win the competition this year. 

@emma_tr4_rhinos: If you could attend any sporting event in the world which one and why?

That’s a tough one, I’ve never been to an NFL match, so I’d love to see the Super Bowl, but that costs through the roof. Maybe a Boxing Day test back home in the cricket would be good.

gingjaninja: At what temperature does your skin burn, and is that why you moved to the north of England?

Ha ha, who’s asked that one? As soon as I walk out into the sun I start to burn, so pretty much anywhere where there’s sunlight you’ll see me burn. Back home I was a metal roofer, on roofs all day, so I was sunburnt 24-7, whereas now, it feels like it rains 24-7 so I’m ok.

LaniM: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I think it would be to fly, and just to be able to get anywhere without having to drive – that would just make things easier, and it would definitely make getting back to Australia a lot easier.

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 492 (January 2024)

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