Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge opposition preview

The Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge returns this Sunday as Leeds Rhinos host Wakefield Trinity at Headingley Stadium, kick off 11:30am.

The match will give both Richard Agar and Willie Poching’s sides the chance to start their pre season preparations well ahead of their round one fixtures against Warrington and Hull FC on the 12th and 13th February.

Find out more about our opponents here:

2021 Overview

This Sunday’s opponents Wakefield Trinity are preparing for a strong 2022 season. Starting last season under Chris Chester, it took six games for Trinity to get their first win. An opening day defeat to the Rhinos was followed by consecutive losses to Wigan, St Helens, Hull FC, Catalans and Leeds again (in golden point extra time) before Trinity finally came good against Hull KR, winning 28-12. Wins over Huddersfield and Leigh followed but only one win in the club’s next eight games saw Chester relieved of his duties.

In came former Trinity player Willie Poching and the New Zealand and Samoan international made an instant impact. Starting with a 28-20 win over Warrington on home turf, Poching’s revamped squad went on to finish the season with five wins from their seven remaining fixtures, including a 20-13 result against Leeds in round 22.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 15/08/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 19 – Wakefield Trinity v Warrington Wolves – Beaumont Legal Stadium, Wakefield, England – Wakefield interim coach Willie Poching with Warrington’s Lee Briers at his first game in charge.

Off Season Review

Poching has been secured as head coach and has adjusted his squad for the new year. Eight departures (four backs and four forwards) saw the experienced Joe Westerman, fan favourite Kyle Wood, young talents Alex Walker and Innes Senior and more depart from the Mobile Rocket Stadium.

In comes Leigh captain Liam Hood to replace both Kyle and Josh Wood in the hooking role, while Tom Lineham and Lee Gaskell are intriguing captures from Warrington and Huddersfield. Former Wakefield scholarship and Rhinos centre Corey Hall is the club’s latest signing as the youngster penned a two year deal to return to the Mobile Rocket Stadium last month.


  • Lee Gaskell (Huddersfield Giants)
  • Liam Hood (Leigh Centurions)
  • Tom Lineham (Warrington Wolves)
  • Sadiq Adebiyi (London Broncos)
  • Jai Whitbread (Leigh Centurions)
  • Corey Hall (Leeds Rhinos)
Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com – 22/08/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 20 – Leigh Centurions v Salford Red Devils – Leigh Sports Village, Leigh , England – Leigh Centurions’ Liam Hood


  • Joe Westerman (Castleford Tigers)
  • Josh Wood (Barrow Raiders)
  • Kyle Wood (Halifax Panthers)
  • Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants, loan return)
  • Alex Walker (released)
  • Ollie Greensmith (Dewsbury Rams)
  • Chris Green (Leigh Centurions)
  • Joe Arundel (Halifax Panthers)
Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 09/07/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 14 – Wakefield Trinity v St Helens – The Mobile Rocket Stadium, Wakefield, England – St Helens’s Lachlan Coote can’t prevent Wakefield’s Innes Senior from scoring a try.

*Read the Super League preview about each team here.

Wakefield’s Pre Season Schedule:

Sunday 26th December – Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Trinity (11:30am)

Sunday 16th January – Halifax Panthers v Wakefield Trinity (3pm)

Sunday 23rd January – Featherstone Rovers v Wakefield Trinity (3pm)

Previous Festive Challenge Meetings

Since 2005, Leeds have the most victories over Wakefield in the Boxing Day fixture with ten wins – their highest coming in 2014 when Ash Handley scored five tries to help the Rhinos to a 50-28 win.

Wakefield have four wins over the same period (2007, 2008, 2015 and 2016) and kept Leeds to only one try in two of them. Out of their four wins, their biggest came in 2016 when a hat trick from academy star Tom Johnstone helped beat the treble winners 30-6.

In 2017, the Festive Challenge moved away from Headingley for the first time to the Mobile Rocket Stadium. Leeds were back at their best, having suffered those consecutive defeats in 2015 and 2016, and racked up a 17-10 win on a historic occasions; forwards Mikolaj Oledzki, Jack Ormondroyd and Brad Singleton scoring Leeds’ tries.

A low scoring affair in 2018 was followed up by a strong performance from the Rhinos in 2019, as Richard Agar’s side wowed the crowds with a 30-4 result. Luke Gale made his first appearance in a Rhinos shirt, before he led the club to Challenge Cup Final glory later that year, along with a host of young talent such as Corey Johnson, Jack Broadbent and Harry Newman.

Festive Challenge Meetings over the last decade:

2020 – Called off due to Covid

2019 – Leeds Rhinos 30 Wakefield Trinity 4

2018 – Leeds Rhinos 10 Wakefield Trinity 4

2017- Wakefield Trinity 10 Leeds Rhinos 17

2016 – Leeds Rhinos 6 Wakefield Trinity 30

2015 – Leeds Rhinos 6 Wakefield Trinity 14

2014 – Leeds Rhinos 50 Wakefield Trinity 28

2013 – Leeds Rhinos 18 Wakefield Trinity 18

2012 – Leeds Rhinos 40 Wakefield Trinity 26

2011 – Leeds Rhinos 26 Wakefield Trinity 10

2010* – Leeds Rhinos 40 Wakefield Trinity 22

2009 – Leeds Rhinos 32 Wakefield Trinity 12

2008 – Leeds Rhinos 16 Wakefield Trinity 22

2007 – Leeds Rhinos 18 Wakefield Trinity 26

2006 – Leeds Rhinos 22 Wakefield Trinity 14

2005 – Leeds Rhinos 42 Wakefield Trinity 18

(*Played on New Years Day)

Festive Challenge Record

Since 2005, when Wakefield became the fourth side to play in the Festive Challenge, Leeds have been the dominant side, winning ten out of fifteen matches. Two wins in the first two years of the competition for the Rhinos was followed by two wins for Wakefield, who edged past the home side with a 26-18 in 2007 and 22-16 in 2008.

Between 2009 and 2014, Leeds held an unbeaten record in the Boxing Day Clash, winning five and drawing once. In 2010 the game was moved to New Year’s Day due to the pitch being frozen on Boxing Day – the Rhinos going on to win 40-22 and later that year, when the game moved back to its traditional date, the Rhinos again won 26-10.

2018’s match marked the opening of the new Tetley’s South Stand following the stadium’s £45 million redevelopment. Leeds rose to the occasion, edging their West Yorkshire rivals 10-4 thanks to tries from Ash Handley and Tom Briscoe, before securing back to back wins by beating Trinity in 2019 too.

Key Head to Head

James Bentley

A Grand Final winner and part of St Helens’ trophy-hungry squad over the last three season, second rower James Bentley returns to his hometown club for 2022.

At the age of 24, he is one of the most exciting back rowers coming through in the sport and the Rhinos had to fend off interest from around the league and NRL to secure his services for the next two years.

The Ireland international started his rugby league journey at Oulton Raiders and while at Bradford Bulls he won Championship player of the season, prompting the move to Merseyside.

Kelepi Tanginoa

Kelepi Tanginoa had another major season at Trinity in 2022 and is proving to be a fan favourite among the Wakefield contingent.

Signed from Manly Sea Eagles in 2019, Tanginoa hit the ground running by establishing himself as a hard hitting defender and chief offloader in attack. His efforts in 2020 earned him a place in the 2020 Super League Dream Team and last season, he finished behind David Fifita as Wakefield’s highest post-contact metre maker.

Last Time Out at the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge

There was plenty for Leeds Rhinos to cheer about at Headingley Stadium as they home side ran out to a comfortable 30-4 win with tries from Cameron Smith, Konrad Hurrell, Alex Sutcliffe Harry Newman, Stevie Ward and Brad Dwyer to retain the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge.

Read the match report here.

More Information

Tickets for this match are available either over the phone on 0371 423 1315 or online at tickets.therhinos.co.uk.

As announced last Friday, the club confirmed that capacity for the game will be voluntarily reduced to 9,999. There will be no option to buy tickets on the gate, all tickets must be purchased in advance. Read more here.

Ticket Prices

Leeds Rhinos Ticket Office at Headingley Stadium is currently not open to the public. If you have any enquiries, then please email [email protected] and one of our Customer Experience Team will be in touch.

Rhinos 2021 and 2022 season members/ Rhinos 2021 and 2022 flexi members /  Rhinos 2021 and 2022 supporter members / (Advance of match day only)AdultConcession (senior over 65 and students, under 21s, disabled – wheelchair and ambulant**)Juniors (16 and under) *
Global East Terrace / South Stand Terrace/ West Terrace£17£12£5
Global East Stand Seats / South Stand Seats / North Stand Seats (seating is reserved)£22£17£10
General Ticket Prices and Match DayAdultConcession (senior over 65 and students, under 21s, disabled – wheelchair and ambulant**)Juniors (16 and under) *
Global East Terrace / South Stand Terrace/ West Terrace£20£15£5
Global East Stand Seats / South Stand Seats / North Stand Seats (seating is reserved)£25£20£10

*Junior discounted prices will be applicable to junior members and junior non-members in advance and on match day.

** Disabled purchasers are entitled to a free companion ticket upon production of companion allowance entitlement letter.

Can’t make it to the game?

Leeds Rhinos have teamed up with Our League to offer Rugby League fans around the world the chance to watch our traditional Boxing Day clash against Wakefield Trinity, live from Headingley.

The game will be available to fans at a cost of £4.95 if booked before midnight on Christmas Day, please be aware the price will rise to £10 on the day of the game, so fans are encouraged to purchase in advance of game day. In order to purchase the game, you need to be logged into your Our League account on the rugby-league.com website. You cannot purchase within the app.

Click here to register for your free account now.