Wakefield coach Chris Chester believes rugby league is ‘in a mess’

Wakefield coach Chris Chester says rugby league is “in a mess” and he fears for the game’s future.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 1:30 pm
Chris Chester
Chris Chester

Chester, one of Super League’s longest-serving coaches who sits on the Rugby Football League’s rules committee, launched his criticism after seeing two of his players, Ryan Hampshire and Joe Arundel, banned for Friday’s re-arranged game against Salford.

His comments echo the sentiments of Trinity chief executive Michael Carter, who issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the RFL’s match review panel for bringing “random charges” against Hampshire, Arundel and St Helens forward Sione Mata’utia for foul play during last Friday’s game at Belle Vue.

Mata’utia will miss Saturday’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley as a result of his suspension.

Wakefield appealed against Hampshire’s ban but the charge was upheld by an independent tribunal.

“We thought we had a real strong case but you’re guilty until you prove you’re innocent,” Chester said at his weekly press conference. “That’s just how it is.

“At a time when teams are struggling to get players out on the pitch, I think the game is in a mess at this moment in time.

“We’ve not heard from the CEO or the chairman of Super League about what’s gone on over the last three or four weeks and it’s just not acceptable.

“I’ve said it before, I really fear for the game moving forward. I think there is a distinct lack of leadership.”

On top of injuries to 11 players and the loss of hooker Kyle Wood to Covid-19, Chester says he will use academy youngsters to help him field a team for one of three re-arranged fixtures on Friday.

“It’s hard work even for a team like us who have got a squad of 31 players,” he said.

“We’ve got an academy and we’re not one of those clubs who are going to protect egos. We’ll put out a team that’s going to be competitive.

“We’ll play some young kids and it’s a great opportunity for them. We’re going there to win and we’ll use the motivation over the last few weeks.”

The game will be played at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium due to pitch maintenance at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Marshall added: “It’s big thanks to Warrington for hosting us. We haven’t got that home advantage really but we’re still looking forward to it.”