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Chris Chester: Wakefield Trinity part company with head coach

Chester had been in charge since March 2016, but just four wins so far in the 2021 Betfred Super League season have seen Trinity opt to make a change; Willie Poching has been named as interim head coach

Picture by Ed Sykes/ - 23/07/2021 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 15 - Wigan Warriors v Wakefield Trinity - DW Stadium, Wigan, England - Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester
Image: Chris Chester has left Wakefield after just four wins in Super League in 2021

Chris Chester has left Wakefield Trinity after five years in charge of the Betfred Super League side, the club have confirmed.

The 42-year-old took over from Brian Smith at his hometown club in March 2016 after a spell in charge of Hull Kingston Rovers which yielded a Challenge Cup final appearance, leading Trinity to their best-ever Super League finishes of fifth both the following season and in 2018.

However, Wakefield have won just four matches so far in 2021, with Chester's final game in charge proving to be last weekend's 22-18 defeat away to Huddersfield Giants, and CEO Michael Carter explained why the club decided now was the right time to make a change.

"It's always a sad and difficult decision when change is needed, but the board felt that the time was right for change," Carter said. "For many reasons, we are stuck in a rut, and have an incredibly important period coming up, where the future of Super League will be defined.

"Chris came in at a low point for the club, and for me personally, and completely changed things around.

"Sadly, the last two years have been difficult for many reasons with injuries and Covid-19 decimating us at times. There have been numerous occasions where we could have sought a postponement but played on with weakened teams, and ultimately that has reflected on Chris.

Chris Chester at Wakefield

  • Second coaching casualty of the Super League season after John Duffy’s departure at Leigh.
  • Wakefield’s longest-serving coach of the summer era, surpassing John Kear
  • The longest Trinity tenure since club icon David Topliss’ seven-year stint between 1987 and 1994.
  • A record of 64 wins, 1 draw and 95 defeats from 160 matches with Wakefield

"He has also never been given the opportunity to spend the full salary cap. To truly compete these days, clubs need either a wealthy benefactor or large crowds and substantial off-field income, none of which Chris has ever enjoyed here. At times, it must have felt like coaching with both hands tied behind his back.

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"Chez will be remembered as a success at this club, and one who always had its best interests at heart. I wish him every success for the future."

Chester, who was out of contract at the end of this season, cast a forlorn figure after his side's latest defeat on Sunday which meant they remained second from bottom of the table.

"There were things on a rugby field I've not seen for a long time," Chester said after the defeat to Huddersfield. "Some of the players were not brave enough, that's the scary part.

Carter fined for criticising match review panel
Carter fined for criticising match review panel

Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter has been punished for criticising the decisions of the RFL's match review panel.

"Some of them just aren't good enough. Some are struggling with the intensity and the pace of the game. We are embarrassed by that second-half performance."

Chester's assistant Willie Poching has been named as his interim successor and will take charge for this weekend's match at home to Warrington Wolves.

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