Wakefield’s England wing Tom Johnstone is “raring to go” as he prepares to play his first game for over two months in Wednesday’s Super League derby with Castleford at Belle Vue, live on Sky Sports Arena.
The 25-year-old has been plagued by worrying concussion issues since the early part of the season and was sent to see a neuro-surgeon as part of his recovery but coach Chris Chester says he is mentally ready to make his comeback.
“Tom’s really excited,” Chester said. “He’s passed everything and he’s done a lot of work with Stuart Dickens, our player welfare manager.
“Nobody has been more desperate to get out on the field than Tom and we’ve probably had to rein him back a bit.
“He’s had two knee reconstructions but every time he’s come back, he’s come back strong.
“I’m pleased for Tom that he’s got through that. Obviously we were all concerned initially but he’s taken his time and he’s fit and raring to go.”
Wakefield Trinity vs Castleford Tigers
June 16, 2021, 7:00pm
Johnstone, who scored a hat-trick of tries on his only previous appearance for England in their 44-6 win over France at Leigh in 2018, will link up with Shaun Wane’s squad ahead of next week’s mid-season game against the Combined Nations All Stars.
Chester says that game will come too soon for Johnstone but a place in England’s World Cup squad is a realistic target.
“I expect it to take him a couple of weeks to get back to where he was at the start of the year,” he said.
“He’s in a real good spot mentally and he knows what he needs to do to get in that England team at the end of the year.”
Former Toronto winger Liam Kay will make way for Johnstone, while Chester also has second rower Matty Ashurst returning from suspension and prop Kelepi Tanginoa back from injury as he names a squad including shirt numbers one to 16.
“Liam Kay has been fantastic for us but he understands that Tom Johnstone is our number one left winger,” Chester said. “He’s an England international and, when he’s fit, he’s going to play.”
It promises to be a tale of two wingers, with Wakefield right winger Lee Kershaw set to go up against 17-year-old Jason Qareqare, who scored a memorable try just 45 seconds into his Castleford debut against Hull last Thursday.
“He was pretty impressive wasn’t he?” said Chester. “He’s a real talent, it took some scoring did that try.
“I’ve got a good young defensive winger so we’ll let the other guy worry about Lee Kershaw.”
It is six-and-a-half years since Wakefield last beat their nearest neighbours but Chester is confident his side can halt a run of 15 successive derby defeats against the Challenge Cup finalists, who have lost their last four league matches.
“It’s frustrating that we have not been able to beat them but I’ve not lost any sleep over it and we’ve picked a team that is more than capable of getting a result tomorrow night,” Chester said.
“Now we’ve got everybody back, we’re playing some good attractive rugby. I think we’re in a real good spot and we should go into this game really confident.
“It’s got the makings of a real good spectacle and we know what we need to do the get the result.”
Wakefield’s 21-man squad
1 Max Jowitt, 2 Tom Johnstone, 3 Bill Tupou, 4 Reece Lyne, 5 Liam Kay, 6 Jacob Miller, 7 Mason Lino, 8 David Fifita, 9 Kyle Wood, 10 Tinirau Arona, 11 Matty Ashurst, 12 Kelepi Tanginoa, 13 Joe Westerman, 14 Jay Pitts, 15 Eddie Battye, 16 James Batchelor, 19 Jordy Crowther, 20 Joe Arundel, 25 Brad Walker, 26 Yusuf Aydin, 27 Lee Kershaw.
📋 SQUAD NEWS
🔙 Matty Ashurst returns to the mix after suspension and Jordy Crowther is named after missing the last four games with an injury!
Sponsored by @BalmersSales #SLWakCas pic.twitter.com/rm8HSpvr6a
For Castleford, teenage winger Jason Qareqare keeps his place in the squad after making his try-scoring debut in the defeat by Hull.
Head coach Daryl Powell is also set to welcome full-back Niall Evalds and half-back Gareth O’Brien from injury, while Daniel Smith takes the place of Adam Milner.
🐯As @JSeneLefao_15 looks set to make his 💯th @CTRLFC appearance tomorrow night…
⏪His four-pointer on debut against the Centurions in February 2017!
⚜️Wakefield Trinity vs Castleford Tigers🐯
📺Sky Sports Arena – 7pm pic.twitter.com/hpGG99O5k1
Castleford have won their last 14 meetings with Wakefield, with Trinity’s last victory against the Tigers a 24-22 away win on February 8, 2015.
Castleford have also won on their last six visits to Wakefield, with Trinity’s last home victory against the Tigers a 36-32 success on September, 8 2013.
Castleford’s James Clare has scored tries in the Tigers’ last three meetings with Wakefield (2-3-2).
Castleford’s 21-man squad:
1 Niall Evalds, 2 Derrell Olpherts, 3 Peter Mata’utia, 4 Michael Shenton, 7 Danny Richardson, 8 Liam Watts, 9 Paul McShane, 11 Oliver Holmes, 14 Nathan Massey, 15 George Griffin, 17 Alex Foster, 18 Jacques O’Neill, 19 Tyla Hepi, 21 Jesse Sene Lefao, 22 Daniel Smith, 24 Suaia Matagi, 25 Jordan Turner, 27 Lewis Peachey, 28 Brad Martin, 31 Gareth O’Brien, 33 Jason Qareqare.
🐅 Daryl Powell has named his 21-man Tigers team to take on local neighbours Wakefield Trinity on Wednesday night!
Sponsored by @motorpoint #ReadyToRoar | #COYF
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Last season: Castleford 32-15 Wakefield.
Last six league matches: Wakefield LLWWWL; Castleford LWLLLL.
Top try-scorers: Liam Kay (Wakefield) 6; Jordan Turner (Castleford) 7.
Top goal-scorers: Mason Lino (Wakefield) 30; Danny Richardson (Castleford) 18.
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