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Lee Briers: New Warrington Wolves signings not needed this year
LEE Briers says it is clear indication of the club’s progress that Warrington Wolves will enter a Super League campaign for the first time without the boost of any new signings.
There have been at least two arrivals at the start of each campaign since the summer era started in 1996, but head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith is content with virtually the same squad that earned Wolves a Grand Final debut in 2012.
However, Smith does have a stack of new stock to call on too from last year’s Valvoline Cup winning under 20s team.
Briers, now the uninterrupted longest-serving Super League player in the country, said: “It just shows how our juniors are doing well. Instead of building from the top, we’re building from the bottom which is good.”
Across the rest of Super League there have been considerable signings and Briers reckons it should make for an interesting season.
“With a lot of new signings it seems that players have spread themselves across all the clubs,” he said.
“I think the competition is going to be much more even this year.”
One club’s recruitment in particular has impressed the 34-year-old.
“Hull are going to come strong,” he said.
“I think London Broncos, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Catalan Dragons have done well, but Hull have signed really well, especially if they can steer clear of injuries.
“It depends on injuries for all teams but if you look at our squad, we’re really strong from 1 to 25 and we’re really well covered if we do get injuries.”
Briers feels it is wrong that Wolves have been made favourites by the bookmakers to be crowned champions though.
“That doesn’t mean much to me,” he said.
“I’ve lost enough to them people over the years.
“I’ve already said it a few times that Leeds won the World Club Challenge, the Grand Final and reached the Challenge Cup Final last year.
“They’ve also brought strength in so it’s not fair that they are not favourites.”
It will be Briers’ 17th campaign in primrose and blue and he intends for it to finish on a higher note than last year.
“The Grand Final defeat last year has made it that there’s even more determination in me this time round,” he said.
“I couldn’t even watch the Grand Final back on TV at the time, I didn’t even know the score. It took a while, I couldn’t stand it,” reflecting on the general disappointment as well as his own performance on the night.
“It was three months later when I finally watched the season review,” he said.
“I had 10 weeks off at the end of last season, which gave me a lot of time to think. It’s put to bed now and hopefully we’ll put that right this year.”
Wolves signings at the start of each season during Super League era:
2012: Chris Hill, Stefan Ratchford, Trent Waterhouse
2011: Brett Hodgson, Joel Monaghan
2010: Ryan Atkins, Richie Myler, David Solomona
2009: Garreth Carvell, Micky Higham
2006: Richie Barnett, Rob Parker, Paul Rauhihi, Stuart Reardon, Michael Sullivan
2005: Chris Bridge, Martin Gleeson, Toa Kohe-Love, Logan Swann
2004: Mike Forshaw, Chris Leikvoll, Danny Lima, John Wilshere
2003: Daryl Cardiss, Brent Grose, Mike Wainwright
2002: Darren Burns, Dale Cardoza, Sid Domic, Leon Felton, Nick Fozzard, Dale Laughton, Paul Marquet, Leroy Rivett, Matt Rodwell, Matt Sturm
2001: Steve Georgallis, David Kidwell, Martin Masella, Rob Smyth, Kevin Walters
2000: Steve Blakeley, Andrew Gee, Jerome Guisset, Allan Langer, Tawera Nikau, Neil Parsley
1999: Dean Busby, Simon Gillies, Dean Hanger, Alan Hunte, Scott Wilson
1998: Adam Doyle, Mike Eagar, Danny Farrar, Adam Fogerty, Steve McCurrie, Chris Morley, Danny Nutley, Jason Roach, Brendon Tuuta
1997: Martin Dermott, Paul Hulme, Dallas Mead, Tony Tatupu, Nigel Vagana
1996: Toa Kohe-Love, Richard Henare