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Warrington Wolves half back Gareth O'Brien responds in the way Tony Smith wanted
GARETH O' Brien did his chances of more Super League action in the coming weeks a power of good with his contribution to Warrington Wolves' Good Friday success against Widnes Vikings.
The 22-year-old Warringtonian caught the eye from the third minute, when he touched down Wolves' opening try in a whirlwind start.
He dribbled the kick for Joel Monaghan's try, helped to earn the scrum that led to Michael Monaghan's touchdown and provided the pass for Rhys Evans' first effort in the second half.
Two drop-outs were forced from his kicks in the second half, something Wolves have not been good at so far this season, and he defended strongly too.
It was no surprise that the former Great Sankey High School pupil was announced as the sponsors' man of the match.
"I thought he was outstanding in the first half in particular," said Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith.
"He had a solid second half, but his first half right from the start was very good.
"There's still some improvement in his kicking game but he showed some nice touches along the way."
O'Brien started the season in the halves alongside Richie Myler, but when Matty Russell gained his first start of the year at full back against Huddersfield Giants it was O'Brien who was left out by Smith as Ratchford switched to the stand off slot.
After three games on the sidelines, and a spell at partner club Swinton Lions in the Championship, O'Brien gained his recall against Widnes due to a shoulder injury that kept out Myler.
"It was late in the week when Gareth found out he would be playing," revealed Smith.
"So he didn't have much preparation time but they all practice and rotate through sessions anyway.
"And there was always going to be a fair chance that he'd get a run during Easter.
"He looked like he was determined to cement or grab hold of the position and that's what you want from young guys.
"That's part of why you put them back (with Swinton) if they're not quite performing to their best.
"You want a reaction from them and you want them to see that they need to perform on a consistent basis in order to remain in a position.
"That's all part of being a young man and sitting behind some other people.
"You want them more determined."
O'Brien's had to bide his time and be prepared to learn his trade out of a primrose and blue shirt.
The former Halton Hornets and Rylands Sharks junior, who was player of the series for England Academy against the Australian Schoolboys in 2010, has had spells on loan with Widnes Vikings, Castleford Tigers and St Helens over the past two years as well as being with Swinton in between on dual registration.
He has also racked up 27 appearances for his hometown club since making his top-flight debut in 2011.
"He's a great kid to coach," said Smith. "He's fantastic. He takes the messages and responds in the way you would hope.
"And he did today, particularly in that first half."
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