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A helping hand for Warrington Wolves from Sonny Bill Williams too
INTERNATIONAL player of the year Sonny Bill Williams will join rugby league legend Adrian Morley in helping Warrington Wolves prepare for the 2014 campaign.
New Zealand superstar Williams and his NRL Grand Final-winning teammates at Sydney Roosters will train weekly with the Warrington players when they head over to Australia in January for a 21-day camp.
And eight days after Wolves return from Down Under, they will play a warm-up game to the new season against Morley’s new club Salford Red Devils at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
It paints a clearer picture of the way Tony Smith is building up the momentum ahead of the first Super League game at home against St Helens on Thursday, February 13.
Wolves will head out to Australia on Monday, January 6, on the back of the festive friendly with Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium on Sunday, December 29.
The squad will be based at the same Coogee beach hotel as for their last warm-weather training camp in Sydney in 2012.
Although there will be no match at the end of the camp as against South Sydney Rabbitohs two years ago, Smith’s close friendship with Roosters’ head coach Trent Robinson, the former assistant boss to Smith’s brother Brian, looks to have come into its own.
Wolves’ players will no doubt benefit from the experience of training with an NRL Grand Final-winning squad that had 17 representatives across eight nations in the World Cup, including Williams, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Sam Moa in the ranks of finalists New Zealand.
And it could be a chance for Roosters to pick Wolves’ brains for tips on beating Wigan as the rival champions will meet in the World Club Challenge in Sydney on February 22.
Two years ago Wolves shared practice sessions with Australian Rules club Sydney Swans and sweat it out in the Aussie summer heat with the Bondi Rescue lifeguards and the Westpac Life Saver crew at Maroubra Beach.
They attacked the notorious Wanda sand dunes of Cronulla, participated in boxing sparring and spent hours running up and down steep cliff-side steps.
Last time, Wolves opened the season at Hull six days after returning to England and were not at their sharpest as a consequence of all the endurance work the players’ bodies had been put through.
This time it will be different, returning on Tuesday, January 27, and playing the home friendly with Salford on Wednesday, February 5, kick off 8pm.
That is expected to be the first game in Warrington colours for former New Zealand Test prop Roy Asotasi and Scotland full back Matty Russell.
Additional spice will come with the match being an early return to old stamping ground for new Salford captain Morley, the only man in history to have skippered Wolves to three Challenge Cup successes and of course he departed the club two months ago gutted to have not got his hands on Grand Final silverware for Warington at Old Trafford in 2012 and 2013.
With Salford owner Marwen Koukash splashing the cash for 2014, a stack of new Salford signings could figure - including Rangi Chase, Tim Smith, Tony Puletua and Francis Meli.
The new year certainly looks set to start with a bang.
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