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IT'S MY VIEW: Their time has come
SOMEBODY said it only seems five minutes since the Rugby League World Cup lit up our lives and here we are at the start of Super League 19.
To me, I remember it like yesterday that Alex Murphy and Iestyn Harris were posing with a barbecue set on the Wilderspool Stadium pitch for a promotional photo shoot to welcome the arrival of summer rugby in 1996.
Considering how time seems to fly, in the circumstances of a short rugby league career, therefore, there has been a considerable and astonishing display of patience at Warrington Wolves.
Head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith has resisted giving too much of a good thing too soon where young talent is concerned.
Ben Currie was the first of the new breed of Wolf to break into the top-flight team and stay there, while Rhys Evans would perhaps have done so had it not been for injuries.
This year there is a stack of players waiting to do the same, and not only those who have been included in squad numbers one to 25 for the first time – like pack men Brad Dwyer, Ben Evans, James Laithwaite and Glenn Riley.
There are also back rower Danny Bridge, full back Jordan Burke, wingers Gene Ormsby and James Saltonstall as well as centre Ryan Shaw.
These nine names have been tied in with the club for a good number of years, the youngest aged 20 and the oldest 22.
One of the things they have in common is that, along with Currie and Rhys Evans, they were all members of the under 20s side that won the Valvoline Cup Grand Final in 2012.
Thinking back to the start of Super League, the likes of Iestyn Harris, Paul Sculthorpe and Lee Briers – albeit three particularly incredible talents - were stars of the team in their teens.
With today’s new arrivals, they have been given time to develop both physically and mentally – very refreshing in a modern society where everybody wants everything and they want it now, usually without having worked for it!
Some have broadened their horizons by dipping their toes into first-team action at Warrington, the majority more so with Championship clubs and a couple with Super League rivals.
Like blowing up a balloon and seeing its shape and consistency emerge, these guys now look ready to burst this season.