Poching’s glimpse of Trinity’s future

Head coach Poching gave four reserve-grade players, including his son, a chance to play in Trinity’s Boxing Day friendly and was enthused by what he saw. “I said to them before the game, they’re going to create some memories they’ll hold onto forever, which has been the case,” he said

Last Updated: 28/12/21 3:10pm

    Willie Poching has seen some exciting glimpses of the future at Wakefield already

    Willie Poching has seen some exciting glimpses of the future at Wakefield already

    Willie Poching got an encouraging glimpse of the future in Wakefield Trinity’s pre-season Boxing Day clash with Leeds Rhinos – and not only in the sense that he saw his child taking his first step in professional rugby league.

    Kobe Poching was among the four youngsters from Trinity’s reserve-grade set-up to be handed a chance to face the Rhinos at Headingley, with Robbie Butterworth handed a start at full-back, and the head coach’s son among the replacements along with Charlie Abraham and Oliver Farrar.

    The quartet’s inclusion for the 34-6 defeat came about due to injuries and Covid-19 cases affecting availability and their respective displays have given Poching much to be pleased about heading into the 2022 Super League season, even if he had to wait until afterwards to share in his son’s big day.

    “I was trying to keep the coach’s hat on and understand what we needed, but then afterwards it was realising he’d played his game,” Poching said of Kobe making his first senior appearance, adding: “I thought all of the younger guys, some of them playing in foreign positions, all acquitted themselves really well.

    “All of the four of the young kids who got called up from reserve grade did themselves really proud and it’s heartening for us as a coaching staff and the group that, if needed sometime during the season, we can go to those depths.”

    Poching was not the only youngster with a famous father in action at Headingley. Jarrod O’Connor, son of former Wigan and Great Britain prop Terry and already with Super League experience under his belt, was among the interchange players for Leeds, as was Jack Sinfield.

    The 17-year-old half-back, whose father is Rhinos icon Kevin Sinfield, is viewed as very much a long-term prospect by head coach Richard Agar, although he has been working closely with new signings Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin during pre-season training.

    Jack Sinfield is following in father Kevin's footsteps at Leeds

    Jack Sinfield is following in father Kevin’s footsteps at Leeds

    Nevertheless, Sinfield’s 15-minute cameo after Sezer went off with a minor ankle issue was a fruitful one after he was involved in the build-up to a try, kicked two conversions and receive a warm introduction from the Leeds fans – even if it did end with him getting an accidental poke in the eye late on.

    “There isn’t a massive expectation on him to play first-grade in 2022, but we felt getting him in with Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin would give him a head start, really,” Agar said.

    “We do think he is equipped with the skills and temperament to push on and be a player we can develop in that position, in our club, in an area where the stocks haven’t been maybe as good as they have in other position.

    “It’s just building his experiences and he was very nervous for the game, and it couldn’t have gone any better for him.”

    Unlike Sinfield, the Wakefield foursome had not been closely involved with the senior team during the opening months of pre-season training, but Poching has nonetheless been keeping a close eye on their progress.

    He will therefore have no concerns about putting them back into action if needed when the Super League season starts for real in February or the likes of 19-year-old winger Lewis Murphy, who got Wakefield’s try against Leeds and signed his first senior contract in July.

    “They haven’t really done a pre-season with us, but I’ve been monitoring them with how they’ve been training with the academy group and they’ve all performed well, and that’s why I had no issue giving them a crack,” Poching said.

    “I was always of the mindset whatever happened, they would emerge out of the game better for the experience, better for behind here at a stadium like Headingley, against a quality side the Rhinos are and being in front of a packed crowd.

    “They’re going to take a lot of learnings from that and as I said to them before the game, they’re going to create some memories they’ll hold onto forever, which has been the case, and they should be proud of those and how they’ve created those.”

    Ultimately though, Poching wants those players to be making more memories as part of the Wakefield first-grade team in Super League, starting by joining fellow Trinity youth graduates such as Tom Johnstone, Jordy Crowther, Max Jowitt and James Batchelor as established regulars.

    It is a pathway the former Wakefield player is determined to keep open after succeeding Chris Chester as head coach, knowing how vital it is to Trinity’s future to ensure they continue to have a strong academy set-up feeding through professional players.

    “They’re going to be the future of this club and the backbone of this club, along with some other kids who came through the Wakefield squad,” Poching said.

    “Those guys had the same pathway and we’ve got to be seen as giving that pathway an opportunity to go through to Super League level. They’ve got some work ahead of them, they understand that, but they’ll take a lot of confidence out this.”

    Sky Sports will again be broadcasting extensive live coverage of the Betfred Super League in 2022, including 25 games between February and April, Magic Weekend and the Grand Final. Watch the first regular-season clash of the year between Wakefield and Leeds on Thursday, March 3.