Wakefield Trinity reaction: Coach Willie Poching hails 'spirited' Dave Fifita following Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge loss at Leeds Rhinos
The spirit of Christmasses past, present and future delighted Wakefield Trinity coach Willie Poching, despite their 34-6 Boxing Day defeat at Leeds Rhinos.
Trinity fielded a makeshift lineup featuring two trialists and several young players, including Poching’s son Kobe.
Poching was encouraged by the way the club’s next generation performed, but also heaped praise on seasoned performers David Fifita and Tinirau Arona.
Fifita was not due to play, but stepped in at short notice because of injuries and Covid cases in Wakefield’s camp.
“The team I put out wasn’t the one I initially planned, we had to do some shaking up,” Poching said.
“I got a phone call from Dave Fifita yesterday [Christmas Day] asking if he was required and saying he was willing to put his hand up.
“That speaks volumes for his character and the spirit in the team.
“I asked him to do 15-20 minutes and I think he ended up doing about 40, which is immense.
Poching was also happy with Fifita’s fellow forward Arona and teenage centre Corey Hall, who moved from Leeds to Wakefield last month.
“Our senior blokes needed to stand up and they understood that,” Poching added.
“I thought T Arona was immense for us, in his leadership and what he did in the changing room.
“Corey Hall kept himself busy and was effective with some of his quality carries.
“He is going to be a really good acquisition for us.
“All of the young guys, some of them playing in unfamiliar positions, acquitted themselves really well”
Trinity led 6-0 early on against a strong Leeds lineup and were only 10-6 adrift at the break, before Rhinos made their experience count in the second period.
Even so, Poching insisted: “We took a lot out of the game.
“I am really proud of the spirit they played with and also how they played for each other.
“We, as a staff, are proud of them and more importantly, they are proud of each other.”