Wakefield Trinity’s recruitment has left them in a better position to “handle adversity” as they aim to avoid a repeat of last season’s struggles.
That is the view of head coach Chris Chester who has made eight new signings ahead of the 2020 campaign.
Joe Westerman, Alex Walker, Josh Wood, Jay Pitts and Brad Walker have all arrived as new faces at Belle Vue while Ryan Hampshire, Adam Tangata and Chris Green have all returned to the club.
Wakefield will also be able to rely on the experience of Ryan Atkins, who made one appearance for Trinity in 2019 after joining from Warrington Wolves in August.
Trinity’s 2019 injury problems left them battling to avoid relegation and they only secured their Super League status with victory over London Broncos in their final game.
Chester is determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s form and feels the club has been smarter with their recruitment this time round.
“The players that we brought in are not just going to add some quality but some real good depth to the squad as well,” said Chester.
“We will be in a much better spot, that if we do get a crisis like last year, where 10 or 11 players are missing for 10 to 11 weeks.
“We are in a better position this year to handle that adversity.
“That has been the biggest thing in terms of recruitment this year, making sure we have got a better quality of player.”
Chester is pleased with how his new recruits have settled into the squad during the first few weeks of pre-season.
And, as well as providing more depth for the next campaign, the Trinity chief believes there will be plenty of competition for places.
“The new lads have fitted in really well, they are really good people as well as being good rugby league players,” continued Chester.
“We have signed some youth as well as signing some experience there with Ryan Atkins and Jay Pitts.
“We have got some leadership within those new recruits.
“The younger guys that have come in; Josh Woods is training really well and Brad Walker is going great.
“We have got a good blend of experience and youth that we have brought into the squad. There is some competition there as well. We are only a few weeks into an eight-week pre-season but the guys have come in in better shape than they came back 12 months ago.
“So I am pleased and the strength and conditioning staff are really happy with the way they are progressing as well.”
Wakefield have arranged pre-season friendlies with Leeds Rhinos – to be played on Boxing Day – Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR and League One side Doncaster RLFC. Chester is also hoping to take his side on a warm-weather training camp in Spain, and admits it is a lot to fit in before their Super League opener at Hull KR on January 31.
He said: “But after Christmas it comes upon us pretty quick with the friendlies we have got.
“And we are looking at a training camp to Alicante as well. So we have a lot to cram in over that four-week block after Christmas. But so far, so good. The signs from pre-season are really positive. I am happy with how the players have come back and I am really pleased with the work ethic of all the squad.”
Improvements have been made to training facilities at Belle Vue, allowing Trinity to train at their home stadium full-time.
The club previously spent some time training in Featherstone and Chester says there has been a “good feel” around the squad during the opening weeks of pre-season. He added: “The first few weeks have gone really smoothly and the lads are enjoying themselves. We are back at Belle Vue full-time, we are no longer training at the freezing cold barn in Featherstone.
“Just to have our own base and our own identity has really helped. We have had the gym fitted out, and also had a wrestle room made.
“There is just a real good feel to the whole place and the lads really appreciate the time and the money that is being put into improving the facilities down here at Belle Vue.”