A new-look Wakefield Trinity have 25 players signed on the dotted line for the upcoming Championship season, with their recruitment tally now in double figures.
This will be a first campaign in the second tier for more than 20 years at Belle Vue, and Trinity head into it under new ownership and new management in local businessman Matt Ellis & head coach Daryl Powell respectively.
The pair inherited a club in desperate need of investment and desperate need of a squad capable of getting the club’s supporters excited following a dismal 2023 in Super League.
Ellis has done his bit and then some so far in terms of providing the funds required for Powell to piece together a pack capable of taking the Championship by storm.
Only when the new season gets underway will we know how strong a side the veteran coach can form, but for now, at least on paper, things are looking rosy.
Impressive recruitment and retention this off-season at Belle Vue
As they slumped towards relegation from the top flight, Wakefield used a whopping 44 players over the course of the 2023 campaign – the most of any club in Super League. Of those 44, as you’d probably expect, a large chunk were short-term loanees.
15 of their squad from this year have been retained, including captain Matty Ashurst, Scotland international Liam Hood and former Super League Man of Steel Luke Gale.
Experience like that is added to by the retentions of youth talents including Oli Pratt and Harvey Smith, both of whom were reportedly wanted by numerous clubs in the top flight. It’s the same story in terms of a nice mix of experience and youth when it comes to the 10 recruits that have been brought into Belle Vue.
32-year-old Iain Thornley was amongst the first to link up with Trinity having been crowned a Super League champion with Wigan Warriors just a few weeks prior.
Winger Jermaine McGillvary has too been snapped up following his departure from hometown club Huddersfield Giants, and it’s hard to imagine him not being right at the top of the Championship’s try-scoring charts by the time the 2024 campaign comes to an end.
Elsewhere, highly-rated youngster Myles Lawford has been brought in from West Yorkshire rivals Bradford Bulls, the club Wakefield will host on the opening night of the new season on March 15.
And in addition to some pretty astute signings from these shores have been a sprinkling of some lesser-known stars from Down Under. Luke Bain and Caleb Uele weren’t playing at NRL grade, but could end up being highly valuable additions.
We saw the same sort of thing with Leigh – then Centurions – as they won promotion in 2022, with Adrian Lam’s side recruiting individuals like Edwin Ipape.
How new-look Wakefield Trinity are shaping up for 2024 Championship season
Trinity’s recruitment manager Ste Mills spoke exclusively to Love Rugby League last week about their recruitment plans as we approach the New Year, stating they’d like to bring in ‘one or two more’ before the new season gets underway.
Accordingly, they might not be done just yet, but a full list of Wakefield’s squad to date – alphabetised by surname – for 2024 can be found below, split up into those who have been retained and those who have been recruited by the Belle Vue natives.
Retained (15) : Matty Ashurst, Renouf Atoni, Josh Bowden, Jack Croft, Luke Gale, Josh Griffin, Liam Hood, Max Jowitt, Liam Kay, Joe Law, Mason Lino, Jay Pitts, Oli Pratt, Isaac Shaw, Harvey Smith
Recruited (10): Luke Bain (Brisbane Tigers), Toby Boothroyd (Cronulla Sharks), Mathieu Cozza (Featherstone Rovers), Thomas Doyle (Keighley Cougars), Romain Franco (Signed permanently following successful trial), Myles Lawford (Bradford Bulls), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Iain Thornley (Wigan Warriors), Caleb Uele (Newtown Jets), Lachlan Walmsley (Halifax Panthers)