I’M an instant admirer of Matty Russell’s predatory instincts.
He’s a lion in Wolf’s clothing.
Like the big cat stalking a waterbuck, Wolves’ new killer threat lies low and springs into life with extraordinary physique and tunnelled intent.
Hungry but clinically patient, he prowls around the play-the-ball looking to pounce on an offload, sniffing out unsuspecting defenders and leaving them for dead.
He’s a lethal weapon, exciting to watch, brought to Warrington after a year’s escape from Wigan spent wisely in Australia. There would have been more than a few saying ‘Who?’ when his signing was announced last November, but it could be ‘Wow!’ as the weeks fly by.
Having gained some sharpness off the bench on three previous outings, we saw Russell’s true threat in the 80-minute display at Huddersfield Giants.
As the 20-year-old ignited out of dummy half or crashed onto a well-timed pass, his jet-heeled pace and incredible strength for a man so young left tiring defenders scrambling.
Wolves can capitalise on Russell’s presence. If he does not blast away himself, there’s a strong likelihood of him creating opportunities for others.
At the John Smith’s Stadium he demanded the attention of four defenders during one run, while on another he bounced off several defenders like a pinball.
He creates a fear factor that Wolves have been missing this season.
Opponents will have to be mindful of his threat down the middle, potentially commiting an extra man in anticipation and that will leave a hole somewhere else.
Wolves will need to be smart enough to take advantage when those opporutnities arise.
It wasn’t perfect at Huddersfield. There were times out wide when Simon Grix and Stefan Ratchford were looking for Russell’s supporting run and he wasn’t there.
That’s teething problems of new combinations, but the signs were promising.
As good as Wolves’ defence has been at times this year, it’s the thrill of flair with the ball that lifts supporters out of their seats and it feels good to be talking about that aspect of Warrington’s play again.