JOINT skipper Ben Westwood believes the future looks bright for Warrington Wolves.
The 32-year-old returned from a calf injury after a six-week lay off in the win over St Helens at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
That spell coincided with Tony Smith being forced to blood Wolves’ youngsters, and following successive wins Westwood is confident they are coming of age.
“The more they play the better they’ll get,” he said. “The future of the club looks a lot brighter. We’re not done yet, but I don’t think we’ll be too far off.
“We lost a few players last year, some experienced players. The youngsters are really coming of age as well as the likes of Anthony England, who hadn’t played Super League before.
“Things are going to take time but it will come, the signs are showing and we’re really determined to get it right. It’s a big challenge and everybody’s written us off, but I’m very excited about it.”
With the nature of Westwood’s injury meaning he was unable to run, an oxygen tank was installed at the former Wakefield centre’s home and the England international said he felt the benefits against Saints.
“That played a big part,” he added. “I’m glad that they were able to help me on my way. The lungs felt pretty good and it is just the legs that need a few more miles.”
And the second rower admitted the timing of his injury was fairly kind.
“If there is such a good time for an injury then those six weeks were probably the best I could have missed,” he said.
“We had Doncaster in the Challenge Cup and a few teams lower in the league, like Bradford. I know we didn’t win that one, but we probably didn’t have many ‘big’ games if that’s the word.
“There were games where I was so frustrated and felt like I should be out there trying to help, then the next game everything seemed to go to plan and we’d work it out.”
Having done his bit to promote the Magic Weekend by selling ice creams in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens last week, Westwood confirmed he is a big fan of an event that features all seven matches from one round at one venue.
“It was great to get out there and advertise what is a massive event,” he said. “The ticket sales have gone up once again this year and it’s a brilliant idea – I love playing there every time.
“Even though some people think it’s unfair we play Saints three times, Wigan have to play Leeds three times and so on, it’s all about advertising the game and getting it going nationally.
“It’s working. I think this year we’ve had a few football supporters seeing it for the first time and will have gone away enjoying it – it’s been a fantastic weekend.”
But he could not resist a lolly or two himself during the promotion.
“I had a couple of sneaky ones, the Irn Bru ones were particularly nice but they only fetched 100 so they went straight away,” he said.