STEVE Price has told Warrington Wolves fans not to expect too many shocks in his team selection for Saturday’s game against Hull Kingston Rovers.

Aside from young forward Ellis Robson, who is sidelined with a broken thumb sustained in training, Price has a fully fit squad to choose from ahead of The Wire’s first game since Super League restarted following the coronavirus lockdown.

Price says every member of his squad will play their part in what will be a congested schedule, but his thought process ahead of the first game back seems pretty clear.

“We’ve got 34 players at present. A couple of blokes are missing a few sessions with niggles but we’re pretty well set,” he said.

“Ellis Robson broke a thumb on our second day back, but other than that we are all healthy.

“We still have our captain’s run on Friday, but I can’t really envisage too many names people won’t be familiar with playing.

“The boys came back in really good shape. We haven’t had to tip-toe around things and we could hit the ground running. We’ve got some really good miles in the legs.”

The extended shutdown has allowed long-term absentees Matty Ashton, Jack Hughes and Luis Johnson to recover from injuries that would otherwise have seen them miss large swathes of the season.

Ashton in particular had shone at full-back before tearing his hamstring against Toronto Wolfpack, causing a conundrum about how he gets into a spine that also includes Stefan Ratchford, Blake Austin, Gareth Widdop and Daryl Clark.

“Matty Ashton is fit. It’s a great problem for me – he was in some really good form prior to his serious injury,” Price said.

“It’s credit to the performance staff to turn him back around in 16 weeks or so.

“He’s flying in training at the moment, that’s for sure.”

Warrington Guardian:

Matty Ashton is fit again after a hamstring injury. Picture by Mike Boden

Another player who appears to have used the lockdown to his advantage is prop Leilani Latu.

Having signed from Gold Coast Titans on the eve of the 2020 campaign, Latu did not make a first-team appearance in the opening rounds.

Price had said Latu would not be considered until his fitness improved but the Wire boss now says the Tongan international is among his thoughts.

“Leilani is definitely a genuine option for us now,” he said.

“He’s come back in terrific shape. His weight is where we need it to be.

“I’m really comfortable with all 34 players and everybody is going to have to play a part, especially with the number of games we have.”

Warrington Guardian:

Leilani Latu is yet to make his first-team debut. Picture by Mike Boden

The Wire players have spent this week preparing in more detail to face the Robins after a two-week “mini pre-season” to get them back in shape.

Having noticed a major increase in injuries in the Australian NRL since its resumption, Price says that has been taken into account as they prepare to tackle a Rovers side led by the man Price succeeded as Wolves head coach, Tony Smith.

“It feels different but in a healthy way. Everyone’s come back in a really good head space,” he said.

“If you look at the last six or seven weeks of the NRL, there has been a spike in the number of injuries. A lot of that has come through accumulative load.

“Hopefully we’ve got our balance right with our players and we’re not tipping them over too early. We’d like to think we have, but time will tell.

“Tony Smith is held in high regard here and gave the club great service.

“Pre-COVID, they were decimated by injuries so they’re going to have a lot of players back.

“They will be healthy and energised and we’re expecting a really tough game.”

Warrington Guardian:

Tony Smith during his tenure as Warrington Wolves head coach. Picture by Mike Boden

Another thing for both sides to get their head around is a number of temporary new laws brought in to minimise any risk of coronavirus spread.

Scrums will be replaced by tap restarts while ruck infringements will be punished with a restart of the tackle count rather than a penalty.

It heightens the need for discipline on and off the ball but Price believes he has the arsenal to exploit the “six again” rule.

“We got some metrics from the first two games and I think on average, the ball was in play for 12-14 minutes longer than games pre-COVID. That’s quite a change,” he said.

“It’s going to make for some more entertaining football and I’d like to think it will suit my team.

“We’ve got some terrific finishers in our team who can cover the ground really fast, so I think it will be beneficial.

“We’ve been training with the buzzers and had a scrimmage session with a referee last week.

“If you’re not controlling the ball and you’re being ill-disciplined defensively, you’re going to come under a lot of stress.

“You saw that in the Saints-Catalans game – Saints built pressure over long periods and got points off the back of it.”