Wakefield look to right the wrongs of last season after flirting with relegation and finishing a disappointing 9th place. After a good recruitment drive, Trinity are well placed to have a successful season – here’s why…
While Wakefield haven’t made any big signings in the off season, they have strengthened well bringing in a mix of youth and experience – the highlight of which is Alex Walker. The London-born and bread fullback provided top class performances throughout the season for a resilient London Broncos side, regularly starring and playing a pivotal role for the club.
Possessing a deft touch in attack and infallible under the high ball, he provides a refreshing option to the less reliable, yet flamboyant, Ryan Hampshire who generally excels with his running game. If Walker can continue to progress he will be a huge asset to Wakefield this season and he looks to be going in the right direction after being handed the no.1 jersey by Chris Chester.
ARRIVALS: Ryan Atkins (Warrington Wolves), Chris Green (Hull FC), Jay Pitts (London Broncos), Adam Tangata (Halifax – loan), Alex Walker (London Broncos), Joe Westerman (Hull FC), Josh Ward (Salford Red Devils)
Wakefield have done good business in the off season and have very little downside in their departures. Pauli Pauli’s permanent move to Salford presents a negative for the club, who have lost an imposing ball carrier and a big – in every sense of the word – member of the pack. While his destructive carries will undoubtedly be missed, things clearly weren’t working for the two parties last season and the move will likely prove a pragmatic one.
DEPARTURES: Chris Annakin, Anthony England, Keegan Hirst, Luke Hooley, Tyler Randell, Pauli Pauli, Louis Wray.
1. Alex Walker, 2. Tom Johnstone, 3. Bill Tupou, 4. Reece Lyne, 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 6. Jacob Miller, 7. Danny Brough, 8. David Fifita, 9. Kyle Wood, 10. Tinirau Arona, 11. Matty Ashurst, 12. Danny Kirmond, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Jay Pitts, 15. Craig Kopczak, 16. James Batchelor, 17. Chris Green, 18. Adam Tangata, 19. Jordan Crowther, 20. Joe Arundel, 21. Max Jowitt, 22. George King, 23. Josh Wood, 24. Jack Croft, 25. Brad Walker, 26. Titus Gwaze, 27. Lee Kershaw, 28. Ryan Atkins, 29. Ryan Hampshire, 30. Yusuf Aydin, 31. Connor Bailey, 32. Ollie Greensmith, 36. Kelepi Tanginoa.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Wakefield kick off the season with a well balanced opening five games against Hull KR (A), Catalans Dragons (H), Warrington Wolves (H), Castleford Tigers (A), and Salford Red Devils (A). With an unbalanced schedule in the favour of away fixtures, Wakefield will be looking to cement a decent start on the road early this season, their toughest test of the first five in Challenge Cup holders Warrington will be a perfect gauge for where they stand this season.
Having built on last years squad Wakefield should be able to push on from a disappointing 2019 and build towards cracking the top five and should take at least six points from their first five games if they are to do so. David Fifita will no doubt lead from the front again and is backed up by serious operators in Jacob Miller and Danny Brough, who in turn have some exceptional backs outside them.
Tom Johnstone, in particular, has put together to top class seasons back to back and as a natural finisher is one to watch this year in the tryscoring race. Expect try-scoring rugby league with plenty of flair alongside an improved kick and cover defence if Walker is to clinch the fullback role.
Leading Tryscorer: Tom Johnstone
Leading Pointscorer: Danny Brough
Player of 2020: David Fifita