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Warrington Wolves utility back Stefan Ratchford's time to shine
STEFAN Ratchford’s wishes are starting to come true.
He joined Warrington Wolves from Salford City Reds at the end of last season because he wanted to play in major matches.
Sunday’s semi final will be the biggest club game of his career so far, while last week he made his England debut against Exiles in the second and final match of the International Origin Series.
“I can’t wait for Sunday,” said the utility back, a former Wigan St Patricks amateur.
“When I was at Salford the furthest I got was the quarter finals.
“Hopefully if I make the team it will be a happy first semi-final experience.”
Players in the squad have shared their cup final adventures from 2009 and 2010 with Ratchford and it is providing extra inspiration to him, along with watching cup finals as a youngster and one day hoping that it could be him playing on rugby league’s biggest stage.
“Without trying to look too far ahead, I have spoken to a few players about their cup final experiences,” he said.
“Chris Riley, a Warrington lad, said the experience of playing and winning at Wembley was unbelievable but the reception when they got back and did the parade around town with the trophy was even more touching.
“So hopefully we’ll get that chance in August.
“Growing up, playing in the Challenge Cup Final is something you dream to do and hopefully that chance will come if we get victory over Huddersfield.”
His family would love to see him achieve that goal, too.
“I don’t think there’s been anyone in my family who has been a successful professional in sport and all my family back me in whatever I do,” he said.
“They were there on my Super League debut, my international debut and hopefully the Challenge Cup Final too.”
A tear in Ratchford’s shoulder led to him missing a chunk of matches but he has been pleased with his form since his return.
“I got the whack at Leeds in round six of Super League and I didn’t think it was anything too serious but obviously the scans showed up it was quite a significant area and I’d need an operation,” he said.
“It wasn’t the ideal way to start my Warrington career but I got the ‘rehab’ done, got back into action quicker than expected and then focused on trying to impress the boys and show the club that they were right to sign me.”
His plan has worked a treat – he is in good form, caught the eye of international selectors, helped keep Wolves second in the Super League table and now has a semi-final debut to look forward to.