Tom Lineham: Prolific winger relishing fresh start at Wakefield Trinity
The England Knights international is one of Super League’s most experienced – and colourful – wingers after significant stints with Hull FC and Warrington Wolves.
Lineham scored 81 tries in 131 games with Warrington over the last six years, helping them to a League Leaders’ Shield, a Challenge Cup and two Grand Final appearances.
Prior to that, the ebullient Yorkshireman crossed 54 times in just 68 games for the Black and Whites so Wakefield know they have a prolific, consistent scorer.
With more than 200 career appearances to his name, Leeds-born Lineham will offer experience, too, as Trinity look to flourish under Willie Poching in 2022 and get away from the tag of perennial relegation contenders.
“When you continue to work with new coaches and new players, you are always developing,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“As I come towards the back end of my career, that’s not going to change. Wakefield play a very expansive game; they throw the ball around very well and are very disruptive.
“With Warrington, we always struggled going there and getting a result.
“They were always high-scoring games. The style of rugby Wakefield play is very enjoyable.
“There’s less pressure and expectations here; it feels very relaxed. At Warrington, everyone was on pins all the time as there were such massive expectations. It will be very enjoyable here.”
That bodes well for Trinity fans. Lineham, 29, twice missed out on a Super League title with Warrington who, famously, have still not yet won a championship since 1955 despite all their recent heavy investment.
Life at Wakefield, of course, is very different – money is harder to come by at Belle Vue – although, ironically, both of their league successes have come more recently, even if they were still as long ago as 1967 and 1968.
Lineham – who has started a three-year deal at Trinity – said: “I was at Warrington for a long time. I really enjoyed my time there. We just fell short in 2016 and 2018 which was disappointing and, in recent years, we’ve fallen at the first hurdle with the play-offs.
“It’d have been nice to go out with the big win but it wasn’t to be. I wish them all the best; they have a new era now with new coaches.
“Hopefully they kick on.
“But I’m excited about this change, moving back home to Yorkshire and I’ve settled in very nicely. We moved back last week. It’s been a breath of fresh air at Wakey; they’re really nice people and there’s a good feel to the club.
“I’m enjoying my first week When we played Wakefield last season I said to Chezzy (Chris Chester) ‘do you need a chubby winger next year?’ He laughed at the time but he got in touch and it went from there.”
Chester was sacked in August after a poor run of results but his assistant Poching initiated a turnaround to earn himself the head coach role for next season.
That was an unusual situation for Lineham to find himself in but he said: “I spoke to Willie after that happened.
“I was very close to Kylie Leuluai when I was at Warrington and he spoke well of Willie and, from what I’ve seen so far, he was right.
“He’s a down-to-earth character, relaxed and I’ve enjoyed working with him so far.”
Trinity start at home to Lineham’s former club Hull on February 13. But he said: “The first thing is playing a Boxing Day game (v Leeds Rhinos).
“I’ve never done a festive friendly. That’s going to be interesting; Christmas Day will be a bit different for the next few years now!
“It is exciting, though; a new team, a new environment, it’s all exciting when you start looking forward to that first game with a new club.”
His potential centre partner, though, is a familiar face: Reece Lyne.
The pair were together at Hull for two seasons in their formative years after Lineham had joined from York City Knights in 2011.
“I know Reece well,” he said, about the England international.
“He’s a quality player and hopefully we can form a good partnership and cause some havoc on that right edge.
“I’d been on the left at Warrington but I prefer the right side in terms of attacking.
“It’s my natural side and, being outside Reece, should be great for me.”
And on Trinity’s left, in Tom Johnstone, the West Yorkshire club has one of Super League’s most exhilarating wingers.
He missed much of last term with concussion issues but Lineham admitted: “Tom’s fantastic.
“He’s one of the best around. He’s obviously struggled with some injuries and those head knocks but hopefully he’s put those behind him now and he can kick on. If Tom can stay fit and healthy, he’s an amazing finisher and he’ll have a real influential impact for us.”