Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach Chris Chester has revealed he was not surprised by Hull KR’s decision to sack him after just three games this season – as he had already got a feeling they were preparing the way last year.
He will face his former club tonight for the first time since his February exit, when Rovers removed him following a winless start to Super League.
Chester took over struggling hometown Wakefield only three weeks later and has overseen nine wins from 11 games since in a remarkable turnaround.
With Rovers, he took them to Wembley last August, his first full campaign since stepping up from assistant, but also missed out on the top-eight.
Asked if he was surprised the East Yorkshire club relieved him of duties so early in this campaign, after a draw and two losses, Chester replied: “No. I got a sense towards the back end of the season before that things weren’t going particularly well.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove (now). I got them to a Challenge Cup final for the first time in 30 years and hold no grudges.
“It’s just one of those unfortunate things that happens in sport where they wanted a fresh change. They thought things had gone stale. I can cop that.
“I dusted myself down and was fortunate enough to get a job here at Wakefield Wildcats that I really enjoy.
“But I wish the club well; we parted amicably and it’s a club close to my heart.
“They gave me my first opportunity – first as an assistant but then as a head coach – and I can’t thank people at the top like (chairman) Neil Hudgell, (vice-chairman) Rob Crossland, (CEO) Mike Smith (finance director) Anthony Langley, those kind of people who stood by me during the tough times.”
Ahead of tonight’s game at Belle Vue, a Trinity victory could almost end Rovers’ chances of making the top-eight once more.
Wakefield, meanwhile, sit in sixth and Chester feels two more wins would secure a rare place in the play-offs.
The 38-8 defeat at Salford Red Devils last Friday was only their first loss in six outings and he is expecting a response.
“We were disappointed with the performance,” admitted the 37-year-old, whose side trailed just 10-4 at the break but were down to 11 men with Danny Kirmond and Ben Jones-Bishop both sin-binned.
“It just shows how far we’ve come as a group. I didn’t really have to say too much after the game or in the review – the guys genuinely took over.
“They were very disappointed with themselves and knew they were a long way off in a lot of areas.
“But the one good thing about this group of players is that when we have had a defeat we bounce back the following week.
“We’ll see tomorrow night how far we’ve come as a group.”
Kirmond (tripping) serves a one-game ban and Jones-Bishop (hamstring) is out, but Reece Lyne comes in as does Jon Molloy, while Stuart Howarth is also in contention.
Meanwhile, Trinity utility-back Craig Hall – out of contract this season – has revealed he is contemplating a potential move to new League 1 side Toronto Wolfpack – based in Canada – as well as Wakefield’s offer of a new deal.