Coaching changes spark Warrington resurgence

FEW could have foreseen how the tide would have turned.

THIS time last year Warrington were firmly established at the foot of rugby union's South Lancashire/Cheshire One league table.

The position didn’t change for several months as Warrington went on to lose their first 13 games last season.

They then managed two wins before returning to losing ways, going down in the first three games of the new year.

When Liverpool Collegiate were beaten on February 13, few saw that as a resurgence.

Even fewer saw it as a Lazarus-like return, in which the club not only escaped relegation but then went even better to today’s situation.

They now top the league, have a three-point lead over Broughton Park after winning all 10 games so far this season and collected seven winning bonus points along the way.

Attempting to explain this amazing transformation in fortunes, club chairman Peter Riley said: “I think the turning point was the appointment of our new coaching team last October.

"This consisted of ex-player Steve Riley and former Leigh Centurions RL coach Darren Abram, supported by second team coach Stu Coleman.

"The players responded superbly to the new regime and suddenly numbers at training started to rise.”

This response started to show virtually immediately with the lower sides, both of whom gained promotion last season.

The final piece of the first-team jigsaw was fitted when ex-Lymm player Andy Roberts joined as player/coach.

The result was that the first XV suffered only one loss for the rest of the season (to the all-conquering Sale outfit) and escaped the gloomily-predicted relegation.

Steve Riley said: “We used the summer to build on our end-of-season success.

"Training was hectic and creative.

"We put in new facilities such as a dedicated physiotherapy treatment room and a video suite.

"We re-jigged our website. We also saw an increase in the number of new players, four of whom are now regulars in the first-team squad.

"The players have also bought into the playing ethos of Darren, so that our defence is now much tighter and our attacking options are greatly improved.

"But this success is not restricted to the first team. Our newly-promoted second string is currently second in their league, with a massive points’ difference, while the threes are comfortably mid-table in their league.”

Warrington are still very much a work-in-progress and there are some tough games ahead.

However, as Steve Riley is ever keen to point out, the club will continue to aggregate all marginal advantages to maximize the talent and facilities at their disposal.

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