THE recent snow storms are somewhat bizarrely the signal that the latest season of summer rugby league is almost upon us.
Oh so close in October, Warrington must start the journey all over again, hoping it will end at the same place only with a different outcome.
For the first time for years the club haven’t made any major signings in the off season. There’s a few reasons not to be alarmed by this fact, one being that last year’s Wire squad was clearly good enough to win both major trophies had they managed to produce one more of their best performances at the right time, following on from that reason is that they haven’t lost any players who featured heavily in the last campaign. Added to this the club are continuing to produce impressive young players.
Every new season brings questions with it.
From Warrington’s point of view the most interesting questions are whether the veteran players such as Morley, Hodgson, Briers have at least one more top class season left in them? Will Michael Monaghan be freer from injury and able to perform at his brilliant best? Will young players like O’Brien, Currie, Dwyer and Evans be able to establish themselves as first team regulars? How many Wire players will make the England squad for the World Cup?
I think the first two questions will be answered with a resounding yes.
Young players could be a necessary part of a successful season, partly to allow the older players to rest for some games, but also to add freshness to the squad in much the same way as new signings would normally do. Any of those four mentioned could have a big influence on this season, all of them might be reliant on injuries to more established stars for them to get a lot of game time, but a year can be a long time and by the end of the season at least one of those four could be firmly established in the first choice 17.
A lot can happen in a year so it’s difficult to judge a world cup squad now, but I would guess Westwood, Hill, Atkins, Myler and Ratchford. Westwood is probably the one most likely to be in it. If Hill, Atkins and Myler have good seasons I don’t think there is too much competition for them in their respective positions, whilst Ratchford might be the sort of player who makes the squad based largely on his ability to fill in at several key positions.
There’s certainly other Wolves players who might also be representing England at the end of the year, Morley might have one more international campaign left in him, Harrison might force his way in, a glut of tries from Riley could catch the eye, as could Carvell’s reliability. This is turning into a bit of an Oscar acceptance speech, the longer I make the list, the more annoyed somebody would be to not get a mention!
It’s also a time for predictions.
I think the team most likely to finish above us is St Helens, they should be more settled this year and have made a couple of good signings. The team most likely to knock us out of the play-offs would be Leeds again, those vampires that come alive under the dark play-off skies. If any team finishes surprisingly high I think it will be Castleford. Individually their squad looks stronger than last year and if they get off to a good start then confidence gained from that could carry through the rest of the year. If anybody is going to copy Bradford City’s unlikely visit to Wembley I will go for London, they’ve got a few good players in key positions, some promising young players and an excellent coach in Tony Rea.
Predictions are always fun. If recent history is anything to go by then this season will be even more fun for Wire fans.
My book from last season ‘Spirit of ‘55’, will soon be available in shops and as an e-book published by Pitch Publishing, based around last season’s match reports as well as several other chapters on the game itself, life as a Wire fan and other sporting ‘curses’ being broken.
Spirit of '55