DESPITE starting pre-season two months later than most of their Wolves teammates, Stefan Ratchford believes the club’s England players are not “a million miles away” from catching up.

Ratchford was one of four Wire players involved in Wayne Bennett’s squad that made it all the way to the Rugby League World Cup final in Australia, with Chris Hill, Kevin Brown and Ben Currie the other three.

All four players reported back to Wolves last week as they prepare for the opening game of the 2018 Super League season against Leeds Rhinos, which is exactly three weeks away.

Full-back Ratchford says he and his teammates have been keeping themselves ticking over while away from the club and does not think it will take long to get back up to speed.

He also believes the four of them would be willing to put in extra work to bring themselves up to new head coach Steve Price’s required level of conditioning.

“From finishing the last game to starting doing bits of training, we had about two weeks off,” he said.

“Me and Hilly were doing quite a bit away from the club before coming back in. It’s not like we’ve had weeks and weeks of doing nothing.

“What we’ve been doing is obviously less intense to what the rest of the lads have done, but I don’t think we’re a million miles away.

“We’ve not got too long to sharpen things up, but I don’t think it will take us long to catch up.

“If the four of us feel like we’re off the pace, I’d like to think we were the type of people to take it upon ourselves to do some extras to get up to speed as soon as possible.

“There’s going to be elements we need to catch up on, but it’s probably more on the fitness side of it than actual skills.

“We do need to sharpen the skills up and I’m sure Steve and Hendo (assistant coach Andrew Henderson) will want us to do different things to what we’re used to.

“In these next few weeks, we’ll really pick up and take on the visions of what Steve and Hendo are trying to do.

“Once we get to doing it day in, day out, it will come pretty quickly.”

Ratchford is about to start his seventh season at The Halliwell Jones Stadium after signing from Salford ahead of the 2011 campaign.

For the past two seasons, he has been involved with England camps and has had a delayed start to pre-season, meaning this year’s shortened preparation period is nothing new to him.

“Whenever you’re involved in internationals, you never get much of a turnaround,” he said.

“I had a really enjoyable time over there, but the stuff the boys over here have been saying about life back at Warrington got me excited to come back.

“You’re always grateful for the rest, but you’re itching to get back in as well.

“I’ve really enjoyed the first few days and now I’m looking forward to cracking on with the rest of it.”

The versatile back missed the opening weeks of 2017 as The Wire limped to a ninth-place finish before helping them secure survival in the Middle 8s.

However, having seen his new teammates at close quarters for the first time, Ratchford believes there is no reason why Wolves cannot challenge for a much higher finish this time around.

“I think we can be really excited,” he said.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to be champions, but I don’t think that’s out of our reach realistically.

“We’ve had a big turnover of players, but we’re heading in the right direction.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t be up there challenging.”