Wakefield Trinity chief explains to squad why Adam Watene was so special

WILLIE POCHING remembers just where he was when he heard about good friend Adam Watene’s tragic death 13 years ago and has touched on that with his Wakefield Trinity players ahead of tomorrow's derby against Castleford Tigers.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 12:12 pm
Updated Friday, 20th August 2021, 12:14 pm

New Zealander Watene was just 31 when he collapsed and died during a weights session with his club Trinity in 2008.

It sent shockwaves around the sport and not only that close-knit community but across on the other side of the world, too.

The popular front-row had also represented Castleford and, therefore, the two clubs now annually meet to play for the Adam Watene Trophy.

Given Tigers have won the last 15 games between the rivals, though, it has not been hoisted by Trinity for some time.

They hope to change that at Wheldon Road this evening and fellow Kiwi Poching has spoken to the squad about someone he knew well.

“It means a lot to me personally,” said the 47-year-old, who helped Wakefield end their five-game losing run against Warrington Wolves on Sunday in his first game in interim charge following Chris Chester’s sacking.

“I was very close to Adam.

Wakefield Trinity interim head coach Willie Poching (TONY JOHNSON)

“My wife was very good friends with his partner and we still speak to her and the kids.

“We spent a bit of time together and our kids were very close - very similar in age - so we’d be around theirs or they’d be around ours.

“They were just down the road.

“Without going into it too deeply, I’ve tried to give the guys a little history about Adam and the part he played for both clubs, not just us.

Adam Watene playing for Wakefield Trinity at Millennium Magic in Cardiff just a few months before his tragic death. (Chris Mangnall /SWpix.com)

“He was a wonderful servant for both and for Bradford as well.

“He was a man mountain, a gentleman of a fella and there is a trophy we play for each year.

“We’ve been speaking about something we can get our hands on that the club hasn’t had its hands on for a while.

“I have just tried to teach them about what Adam was about and the service he gave to the clubs and also to the game as internationally he played for the Cook Islands.”

Poching, who worked for Leeds Rhinos at the time, was on duty in his other role as Kiwis assistant coach when he learned of Watene’s death.

“I was in New Zealand getting ready for the 2008 World Cup,” he recalled.

“I’d been there a day or so and was still a bit jet-lagged when I got a text from my wife about 4.30 in the morning to give her a ring.

“And she relayed the tragic news. It was an awful time. One I’ll never forget.

“I couldn’t get back as I was there for the World Cup so I wasn’t here through all everything that went on after that.

“It was a rough time for my wife and kids but thankfully I was back when we were able to celebrate during Adam’s posthumous testimonial year and we were able to do a lot of good things for Mo and the kids.

“I was very proud I was part of some of that along with some fantastic people.”

Now Poching, who starred for Trinity himself between 1999 and 2001, hopes his side can build on last weekend’s success and earn a first win against Castleford in more than six years.

“For the fans, it’d be really important and it would be for the guys, too,” he added, revealing how he could also field an unchanged side.

“I’ve asked them to play with some consistency and back-up that performance from last week. And be proud of ourselves when we walk off.

“If that comes off with a win, I’d be even more stoked,

“We did it for 65 minutes on Sunday and the challenge is to replicate that and do it for 80 minutes against a team flying high.

“The guys are really hungry for that.”