Written by Callum Walker
Born and bred in Wakefield, James Batchelor’s story is every Trinity fan’s dream.
Having been brought up around Rugby League, the forward has since become an integral part of the Wakefield squad – something which he always hoped would happen as a young kid.
“It was always Wakefield for me; my grandad has always been a Wakefield fan and started taking us in the early 2000s. He’d buy us a shirt every Christmas without fail!
“I had a season ticket for 12 years before I joined the academy on trial and growing up, the dream was never anything other than running out for Wakefield at Belle Vue.”
It was 2016 when Batchelor made his debut in a home defeat to Warrington ten years after making his first ever appearance for a Rugby League side.
“I guess I didn’t realise at the time, but when I look back, the fact that I’d only just turned 18, had just come back from Australia with the England academy three days before and had only joined the academy on trial 18 months before, it was quite a whirlwind 12 months.
“I also played my first ever game of Rugby League on the pitch at Wakefield before the relegation decider in 2006. So, to be back there ten years later making my first-team debut was huge.”
Batchelor impressed so much in his first few seasons with Trinity that he was selected for the England Knights tour of Papua New Guinea in 2018 – an experience he will always remember.
“The tour was brilliant! There were a couple of players I knew beforehand, but the vast majority I had not spent too much time with and many I actually became really good mates with.
“The experience of PNG itself was like nothing I’ve experienced before; their love for the game is unrivalled and the passion that comes from the crowd on a game day gives you such a buzz.
“It was a tour full of new experiences which all had some effect on me and I know I’ll never forget it.
Whilst the forward burst onto the scene as a teenager, he has since struggled for game time due to spells on the sideline, but Batchelor is determined to make 2021 one to remember.
“My past two seasons have been really frustrating for me personally and the squad as a whole too.
“I struggled with injuries in 2019 – some new ones and some old ones I’d been playing with that reached breaking point and it meant I missed a lot of rugby.
“It was a shame because it looked like I had made myself first choice for that right back-row spot.
“2020 has also been tough, I managed to stay injury free, but struggled for game time until the back end of the season when I think I got some rhythm and started to play some good rugby.
“I’ve had a couple of weeks to step back and think about next season; it’s a big year and I’m into the last year of my deal, but I’m just focused on hitting the ground running in pre-season and carrying my end-of-year form into 2021.
“I want to be starting every week and driving the team towards the levels we’re capable of reaching and challenging for the play-offs and Challenge Cup.
“I know that if I can do that then everything else will take care of itself.”