Wakefield Trinity make double signing of Tom Minns and John Davetanivalu
WITH the new Betfred Super League season just a month away, Wakefield Trinity coach Willie Poching has bolstered his squad with the double signing of former Hull KR centre Tom Minns and serving soldier John Davetanivalu.
Both players have agreed one-year deals after impressing over a pre-season trial period and each is eager now to make the most of their late opportunity to shine.
Leeds-born Minns is well known and an experienced three-quarter who is relishing the chance of a second stab at Super League.
He was banned for 16 months after testing positive for cocaine when playing for the Robins in March 2018.
Minns showed flashes of his class upon his return with Featherstone Rovers in the Championship last year but broke his leg in July and missed the rest of the season.
The ex-London Broncos player initially joined Newcastle Thunder on a full-time deal for 2022 but was released last month for family reasons.
Winger Davetanivalu, on the other hand, is a relative rookie, the 27-year-old working in the Army but showing plenty of potential in his short stint at the West Yorkshire club which - like Minns - included an appearance in the Boxing Day friendly at Leeds Rhinos.
“I’m really excited to have both on-board and, more importantly, so are their team-mates,” said Poching.
“John is with the army but has played a lot of rugby league as a junior, having grown up in this country.
“He was after an opportunity to try his hand at the professional game, and we gave him a trial, in which he has excelled to the point where he has earned a contract.
“He knows his position in the squad and knows he has a lot of learning to do but I’ll give a lot of credit to Tom Johnstone who has taken him under his wing and helped him learn a lot about the game. “We look forward to seeing John picking more up and flourishing in the next little while.”
With England winger Johnstone, Tom Lineham - another new signing from Warrington Wolves - and Lee Kershaw all competing for wing slots, Poching is clearly not short of options.
Minns, meanwhile, will face a stern test, too, with England international Reece Lyne and former Dream Team centre Bill Tupou in front of the ex-Rhinos player.
“I worked with Minnsy at Hull KR and he was looking for an opportunity to come back and play in Super League,” added Poching.
“I knew he was hungry as well as knowing of his talent and he’s fitted into the squad really well.
“Again, like John, he’s earned his contract on merit and hopefully he can string a few games together and get some consistency whilst being on the field.
“Tom is another one who will get an opportunity throughout the year and he could be really invaluable for us.”
Yorkshireman Minns, in particular, will be looking to make up for lost time after all the disruption of recent seasons.
“I am absolutely buzzing,” he said, after the deal was confirmed.
“It’s a massive thing for me and my family to get back into Super League and it’s something that I’ve been aiming towards.
“I signed a two-year deal at Newcastle which I didn’t go through with due to family reasons and being away from my young family was starting to affect us.
“I came over to Wakefield and loved every minute.
“I worked with Willie previously at Hull KR and he makes you work hard for things; he doesn’t just hand things over on a plate, and to be rewarded with a contract is something I’m pleased with because I know that I have earned that contract so I’m happy with it.”
With Joe Arundel having left for Halifax Panthers in the off-season, Poching was keen to add another centre to his rosta although Lee Gaskell, the full-back/stand-off signed from Huddersfield Giants, can also fill in there.
Davetanivalu will look to follow the lead of fellow solider Ratu Naulago, who joined Hull FC while serving with the Army in 2019 and scored 23 tries in 34 games. He then earned a cross-code move to Bristol Bears.
Davetanivalu said: “I’m looking forward to getting started.
“The boys and coaching staff have been very welcoming and we have a real tight-knit team here so I’m looking forward to the start of the season and hopefully getting some good results. I had a run on Boxing Day and really enjoyed it. It was different to what I expected it to be like and pretty fast, but I’ll be better for the experience. I’m just blessed for the opportunity Willie has given me.”
Trinity start their Super League campaign at home to Hull on February 13.
However, both of the new signings are included in Poching’s 22-man squad for Sunday’s game at Halifax.
Fellow new recruits Lineham, Sadiq Adebiyi and Jai Whitbread are all set to feature for the first time in Scott Grix’s testimonial, along with off-season additions Gaskell, Liam Hood and Corey Hall who all featured in the defeat at Rhinos.
Johnstone, Lyne, captain Jacob Miller and Jay Pitts are set for their first pre-season appearance.