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Gareth O'Brien living his dream with Warrington Wolves
HALF back Gareth O’Brien says Wolves will roll their sleeves up and deliver the best performance they can at Castleford Tigers today.
It is third against fifth at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle at 3.30pm in the traditional Easter Monday slot, when there have been some lopsided results across Super League in previous years.
Those include Wigan’s 84-6 success at Hull Kingston Rovers and Huddersfield’s 62-6 win against Widnes Vikings last year.
O’Brien, who played a starring role upon his recall to the first team in Good Friday’s 44-6 defeat of Widnes, and his Wolves teammates are determined to make it two wins from two but knows the task is a tough one.
“In the past there have been some runaway victories and it depends on how teams recover,” said the 22-year-old.
“The team’s definitely going to be tired, it is a very short turnaround with a lot of stuff to do in that short space of time.
But if you do the little things and do the right things, you should be fairly sweet to go.
“Luckily we only have to do this once a year. The boys will roll their sleeves up and be ready.”
Saturday featured ice treatments and a review of the Widnes win, while Sunday was spent putting a game plan together to face a Cas side that have made one of their strongest starts to a Super League campaign.
For O’Brien, he has gone from facing a Widnes club he had a spell with in 2012 to a Yorkshire outfit he had time with last year.
“Each team I come up with at the minute I seem to have had a loan spell there,” he said.
“I made some good friends at Cas and it’ll be interesting to see them again and go up against them if I’m selected.
“They’ll throughly be up for the game. The crowd really do get behind them in a small stadium where the crowd is right on top of you - so you can really hear them.
“It’ll be a good atmosphere and a really tough challenge for us but one the boys are really looking forward to.”
With three half-backs battling for two spots, he was the one to miss out over the three games that followed the home Wigan defeat, with Stefan Ratchford moving up to stand off to allow for Matty Russell to start at full back.
But with Richie Myler nursing a slight shoulder problem that will leave him sidelined for a few weeks the former Great Sankey High School pupil got another shot, linking up with Ratchford in the halves for the first time this season.
Their partnership appeared to flourish, with the team looking organised and cohesive. O’Brien scored the opening try and had a hand in three others.
“I’d played alongside Rich previously, with Stef at full back while Matty was out injured,” he said.
“It was the first real link-up with Stef and I thought we went well together. Training had gone well all week and I linked up well.
“Talking to each other was important. That’s what we said before the game, as long as we talk to each other so that we know what’s going on then things should happen.
“And that’s what our big boys want too. They want the so-called generals to boss them around and tell them where to go basically.
“If they’re not getting that then we’re not doing our job properly. That just comes with our position and I thought it worked well on Friday.”
He clearly looked like a man fighting for his place in Tony Smith’s team.
“We’ve got two other quality halves here and it’s all competition for places,” he said.
“It’s healthy and it’s what a club needs. Richie’s keeping me on my toes and I’m keeping him on his toes.
“We’re all fighting for positions but it’s all in good sprit. We’re all best of mates off the field and we support each other, whoever plays.
“I felt all the boys dug in for each other against Widnes and we blew them away.
“We knew if we could get off to a good start then we could possibly cause Widnes a lot of problems and that’s what we did.”
And as such, after three games out of the team, he slotted in as though he had never been away.
He said: “I had a stint at Swinton (Wolves’ partner club) last week and Tony asked me to work on a few things.
“I had 80 minutes there and felt good after the game.
“I came back and Tony said that’s good, this is what you need to work on now. Hopefully I put those in place on Friday.
“Generally I’m feeling sweet and I’m enjoying playing.
“This is my hometown club, this is where I want to be.
“Every time I go out there and play for this club it’s a real dream come true - one that I cherish, and I really enjoy each time I play.”
He received praise from his boss after his performance against Widnes.
Smith said: "I thought he was outstanding in the first half in particular.
"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.
"It was late in the week when Gareth found out he would be playing.
"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.
“And he's a great kid to coach. He's fantastic. He takes the messages and responds in the way you would hope.
"And he did against Widnes, particularly in that first half."
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