Was Chris Chester a victim of circumstance or did he need to go?

Chris Chester’s sacking as head coach of Wakefield Trinity looks to be an extremely harsh decision at first glance, but was the board and CEO Michael Carter right to let him go? Naturally, it will depend on who you ask but any sort of dismissal of a head coach in the professional world of sport these days does automatically generate quite a cynical response from fans. Indeed, chairmen are seen as impatient whilst coaches are seen as being hard done by, but was this the case here?

As things stand, the Dreadnoughts lie second from bottom in the table having only racked up four wins in 17 games. Only the hapless Leigh Centurions have a worse record in the 2021 season and however badly it may be going for Wakefield, they still shouldn’t finish stone last given that they hold an eight-point lead over the Centurions.

Similarly, even if Wakefield avoid relegation, they won’t be winning anything either given that the latest rugby league betting odds price them at 1001.00 to win the 2021 Grand Final. So in many ways, it looks to be a season of limbo for the West Yorkshire side. 

This stagnation wasn’t good enough for the club, who brought Carter’s five-year reign as manager to an end despite rumblings a few weeks ago that the 42-year-old was in line for a new deal. 

This is where it gets quite confusing and Chester’s own players have admitted as much. Indeed, Joe Westerman was the first Wakefield player to speak out following his coach’s sacking by saying he didn’t see it coming nor did he think it was the right thing to do. The 31-year-old will be joining Castleford next season so perhaps he has more leeway to speak his mind by second-guessing the way the Wakefield board do things. 

Looking back, if it was a decision that was brought on by something, then perhaps Wakefield’s loss to Huddersfield could have been the catalyst for change. The Dreadnoughts were leading their Yorkshire rivals 18-0 before eventually losing 22-18. On this evidence and in a bid to try and connect the dots, you can imagine a scenario where the powers that be at Wakefield no longer felt that Chester was proactive enough when trying to win games. 

Tempers were understandably high after virtually being assured a win at 18-0 up only to watch the opposition score 22 unanswered points. When you then consider that it was Wakefield’s 13th loss in 17 games and given that rugby league in England is in for an almighty shake-up in terms of relegation over the next few seasons, you can all of a sudden see why the board may have felt the time had come to look for suitable alternatives. 

There’s no guarantee that a new broom will sweep clean but on the face of things, the decision to let Chris Chester go is probably a justified one. At the very least, we’ve seen a lot harsher sackings in rugby league over the years.