Opposition Overview: Wakefield Trinity

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. Wakefield Trinity - Mason Lino

Leeds Rhinos begin their Betfred Super League season on Saturday afternoon and ahead of the game we have the lowdown on the team’s first opponents Wakefield Trinity.

Don’t miss Saturday’s game which is live on Sky Sports Arena, kick off 3pm.


2020 Recap

Last season’s tenth placed finish was Wakefield’s joint-worst finish since Chris Chester took charge. After leading the club from Million Pound Game survivors in 2016 to three consecutive years in the Play Offs, Wakefield had become a team to be reckoned with, thanks to the aerial acrobatics of England international Tom Johnstone, creative flair and leadership of captain Jacob Miller and the attacking punch of David Fifita among the forwards. But last season, in particular after the league was locked down, Trinity struggled for form.

Like all Super League clubs, the return to action in August brought its Coronavirus related problems. On two occasions, key Trinity players were stood down and forced the likes of Jack Croft, Yusuf Aydin and Harry Bowes (all members of Trinity’s Academy system) to step up. They finished the season with a run of three wins against Huddersfield, Salford Red Devils and Leeds before returning home to be edged by the Rhinos in the final round of the season.

Wakefield’s Kelepi Tanginoa. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The performance of Kelepi Tanginoa throughout the season was a shining light for Trinity as the back rower earned his first Super League Dream Team call up. In only his second season at the club, having joined mid-way through the 2019 season from NRL side Manly Sea Eagles, Tanginoa led Wakefield’s forwards with barraging runs and clever offloads. With so much interest during the off season, the forward signed a four-year deal to keep him at the Mobile Rocket Stadium until 2024 and he will be an important figure for Chester this season.


2021 Squad


First Four Fixtures

Wakefield will start the new Super League season the hard way, taking on teams that all finished in the Play Offs last season. Trinity start against Leeds at Emerald Headingley on Saturday before facing Wigan and St Helens either side of the third round of the Betfred Challenge Cup at the start of April. They then finish the month against Hull FC who, back in March 2020, took Wakefield all the way to golden point in one of the final matches to be played before the League shut down in March; Hull taking a 27-26 victory thanks to a Marc Sneyd drop goal.


Key Players

Mason Lino. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

It’s hard not to look past Tanginoa as one of Wakefield’s key players for the upcoming season. The power forward made the most carries and metres for Trinity in 2020 on his way to earning his first Dream Team appearance and will once again be part of a pack that includes experienced forwards Joe Westerman, David Fifita, Tinirau Arona and now Eddie Battye.

With the departure of Danny Brough to Bradford, Saturday’s game could see new signing Mason Lino get his first taste of Super League. The Samoan international arrives at Wakefield following spells with NRL sides New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights and will be expected to lead Trinity in attack and provide more opportunities for talented finishers Tom Johnstone and Liam Kay. Lino will likely partner club captain Jacob Miller but there is also the chance Ryan Hampshire could make the starting seventeen after his impressive 2020 season.


New Signings

Ins

  • Mason Lino (Newcastle Knights)
  • Eddie Battye (London Broncos)

Outs

  • Ryan Atkins (York City Knights)
  • Danny Kirkmond (York City Knights)
  • Ben Jones-Bishop (York City Knights)
  • Daniel Barcoe (York City Knights)
  • Harry Dodd (York City Knights)
  • Craig Kopczak (Featherstone Rovers)
  • Danny Brough (Bradford Bulls)
  • Romain Navarrette (London Broncos)
  • Tony Gigot (Avignon)

The Coach

Chris Chester takes charge of Wakefield for a fifth season in 2021 with a much younger squad but still retaining their major talents.

A player for 12 years, Chester played in the first ever season of the new Super League format in 1996 for Halifax and went on to play for Wigan, Hull FC (where he won the Challenge Cup in 2005, and Hull KR before he retired in 2008 due to a neck injury.

Wakefield coach Chris Chester.

In 2014 took over as the head coach and led Hull KR out at the 2015 Challenge Cup Final and kept the club from relegation by finishing top in the Qualifiers campaign but two months into the 2016 season, he was stood down as head coach. Three weeks later, Wakefield unveiled him as their new head coach and he guided them to the Super 8s.


Returning Faces

On Saturday afternoon, Wakefield’s Jay Pitts makes his return to Emerald Headingley to face his former club. Having come through Wakefield’s Academy system, he signed with Leeds in 2009 and went on to play in 28 games over four seasons while the club won three Grand Finals, became World Club Champions, lifted the League Leaders’ Shield and also reached two Challenge Cup Finals. He left Leeds in 2013 to join Hull and then Bradford Bulls and London Broncos before returning to Wakefield following London’s relegation in 2020, playing 14 games.

Jay Pitts in action for the Rhinos in 2011. PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM

Last Game vs Leeds

Three days separated Leeds and Wakefield’s matches at the end of the 2020 Super League season but the Rhinos made sure they finished on a high, edging Trinity 20-18 at the Mobile Rocket Stadium. 2020’s leading try scorer Ash Handley extended his tally, grabbing two tries while Liam Sutcliffe and a late Brad Dwyer try saw the Rhinos go into the Play Offs on a high.

You can watch more classic matches against Wakefield at the Mobile Rocket Stadium, click here to watch on YouTube.