WARRINGTON Wolves’ young players are poised to exploit the biggest change in playing personnel since Tony Smith’s arrival in 2009.
In the past few years Wolves’ side has been dominated by the experience of Adrian Morley, Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson, with few young players able to break into the first team on a regular basis.
Ben Currie is the most notable exception to that rule, making 24 appearances in 2013 and only missing out on places in Warrington’s Challenge Cup semi final and Grand Final squads due to illness at the back end of the season.
But with older players moving on and a sprinkling of replacements drafted in from outside the club, 2014 is surely the year for Wolves’ promising youngsters to become a more permanent fixture in Smith’s match-day squads.
Established stars Micky Higham and Joel Monaghan have given their insight on two players who are competing for their positions in the match-day squad in 2014.
Micky Higham considers hooker Brad Dwyer as a huge threat.
“I really expect to see Brad challenging myself and Mick Monaghan for a first-team spot this season,” he said.
“He is keen to learn, he stood out in the pre-season friendly against Widnes and he is a game kid, a tough nut.
“I spoke to Tony about him and I said that he reminded me of me when I was young.
“He is quick out of dummy half, he is deceptively strong and something Tony really likes about him is that he does not die wondering.
“He gives his all and chances his arm a bit and if he thinks something is on, he will go for it.
“I think Tony likes that bit of unpredictability.
“He has got some good attributes and I hope he does really well - just only after I’ve finished playing!”
On the edges, Joel Monaghan believes a physically-improved Gene Ormsby will offer himself, Chris Riley and Kevin Penny most competition this season.
“Tony had the younger guys in for pre-season training before I got back and I was talking to Smithy as soon as I got in about how impressed I was with them,” said Joel.
“Gene Ormsby has really grown over the past six months.
“He has filled out a bit and is looking good. He played pretty well in the friendly against Widnes.
“Gene has been around a while but I think he has realised how big, strong and quick he is.
“He has the potential to be in the Super League side this year and by the way he has been training I have been really impressed with him and I know that Smithy has been very impressed with him, too.
“We’ve got four top-line wingers in the squad now and that will give Smithy confidence to swap us in and out a bit more throughout what is a long season.”
Gene Ormsby, aged 21, winger, hails from Oldham, spent 2013 on dual registration with Swinton Lions.
Brad Dwyer, aged 20, hooker, hails from Wigan, spent majority of 2013 on loan with Huddersfield Giants and on dual registration with Swinton Lions.