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IN MY OPINION: Belief is the big thing for Warrington Wolves this year
HOW can Warrington Wolves make the final jump in 2013 to become champions of Super League for the first time?
Looking back, they didn’t do a lot wrong in 2012.
They made their Grand Final debut at Old Trafford, which was no mean feat in itself and especially so after the huge effort taken to bring the Challenge Cup home to Warrington for the third time in four years.
And skipper Adrian Morley was right in what he said. When that October showdown under Manchester’s starry night sky was in the balance, if one pass hadn’t gone to ground when it did then we could have been talking about 2013 as a year in which Wolves were defending their crown.
It has been said many times before, but there can be no finer example of the slim margins between winning and losing when it comes to the pinnacle moments in elite sport.
I do also believe the occasion beat one or two of Wolves’ players on that painful Old Trafford night. It’s not that there were players who played poorly, but perhaps lacked a touch of composure that could have made the kind of telling difference that Grand Final master Kevin Sinfield was able to call upon for Leeds.
For me, the answer is to change very little this year with regards to how Wolves approach their business.
And all the signs point to that being the case.
No new signings for the first time in the Super League era sends out a clear message that Wolves know they already have what it takes to be knocking on the door again.
Tony Smith’s squad rotation policy worked a treat on its debut campaign and I believe the team’s strength will be better for it this season.
Some of the younger players blooded last time round will be more suited to the physical demands now, and their confidence should be through the roof.
And as for the elder statesmen, their bodies took 20-game punishment instead of 30 last season and that should help them with their feeling of freshness.
The big thing this year is belief.
Belief in the 30-something squad men over the course of the season. Belief in the 17 picked each week. Belief that Warrington have the formula to get themselves to Old Trafford again and belief that in the final 80 minutes of this most demanding of sports that Wolves pack all the aces to complete the mission.
Of course, the first focus is getting the campaign off to a winning start at home against Castleford Tigers this afternoon.
Tigers have probably been handed the toughest start of any clubs – the Grand Final runners-up this week and the Grand Final winners next week.
Ian Millward knows he needs to have his men firing from the start or else they could easily enter round three at Bradford still seeking their first win.
That makes them tricky opposition for starters and if Rangi Chase is on fire pulling their strings then Wolves will need to be on their game.