Ratchford putting dreams of a return to Wembley with Warrington Wolves on hold

Stefan Ratchford and Chris Hill celebrate the 2012 Challenge Cup win

Stefan Ratchford and Chris Hill celebrate the 2012 Challenge Cup win

First published in Wolves
Last updated
by , Sports reporter

STEFAN Ratchford admits he dreams of winning as much silverware as possible but is not yet thinking about a return to Wembley.

The 26-year-old has experienced mixed Challenge Cup semi-final emotions, reaching Wembley in 2012 but losing at the final four stage against Hull FC last year.

And the former Salford man knows Wolves must first focus on Saturday’s meeting with Leeds Rhinos at Langtree Park.

“You obviously dream that you want to win as many trophies and as many medals as possible, so it would be nice to get back there but we’ve not really spoke about getting back to Wembley,” he explained.

“People make a big thing of Warrington have got there four times in the last five years, but it’s not something the lads speak about.

“It was a real frustrating time last year. Going into that game we’d been in quite good form and playing pretty well with good performances.

“On the day we turned up and got a try quite early on, we thought we’d started how we wanted to start.

“It started to rain and then we dropped off in certain areas and didn’t perform how we expected to perform.

“We lost by four points and that feeling at the end of the game, it was so draining to know you were so close but yet so far from getting there again, it wasn’t a nice feeling at all.

“So we take each game as it comes and there’s no bigger game than a semi final against Leeds.”

Wolves beat Leeds in 2012 only for the bragging rights to be reversed when they met in the Grand Final that year, but Ratchford is paying no attention to past results.

“I don’t think you can put any ‘we’ve beat them, they’ve beat us’ into this year, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

“When it comes down to a Challenge Cup semi final the form does go out the window and it tends to be what happens on the day.

“The best team on the day does come up with the win and if you’re on the back of a 10-game winning streak or a 10-game losing streak it all comes down to how you turn up on the day.

“We know we’ve got to be at our very best this weekend to come up with a result against Leeds.”

Ratchford showcased his versatility again by filling in at fullback in Matty Russell’s absence against Catalan Dragons on Friday.

But having played in a number of positions under Tony Smith this season, he is happy to move away from a more favoured stand-off spot.

“If you look at most players, their position this year, and think Joel Monaghan’s going to be right winger, there’s no doubt about that, or Chris Bridge is going to be centre, then neither of them have played there,” he said.

“With Tony, the way he likes to rotate his squad, you’re never going to be nailed down in a position anyway.

“He likes to rest his squad, rotate his squad and I’ve played a lot at fullback so with Matty being out I knew it was going to be a case of ‘Stef you’re at the back this week’.”

Ratchford is also pleased with the strength in depth Wolves possess this season, with under 19s star Declan Patton recently signing a new contract at the club.

“We’ve got quality half-backs, young Dec Patton has just come up who’s a real good player as well,” he added.

“We’ve got Matty at fullback, so there’s a lot of competition for places and you’ve just got to look at it and be grateful for getting a starting spot in a squad like we’ve got.

“It’s just a case of getting your name on the team sheet and then doing the best job possible in that position.”

That strength in depth is evident this week, with Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby Smith having possibly the biggest pool of fit players to choose from all season.

“If anything, besides one or two injury doubts, we’ve got a full squad to pick from,” added Ratchford.

“Tony spoke to us and he’ still not sure on what his team’s going to be, so the next few days will be really interesting.

“We’ll be doing a lot of opposed stuff and if people are going to stand out I imagine it’ll be in the way we train. It’ll be who can put their hand up the furthest that’s going to get the shout this week.

“It’ll be really healthy to have a fit squad to choose from and a real interesting time for Tony.”

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