DEC Patton has the perfect chance to “stamp his mark” on the Warrington Wolves team following Kevin Brown’s season-ending injury, head coach Steve Price says.

Patton will start at scrum-half in the Super League opener against Leeds Rhinos tomorrow after Brown suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in training last weekend.

The former England man had an operation on his injury on Wednesday and his recovery is expected to take around nine months.

READ > How we broke the news of Kevin Brown's injury

The Wire have yet to decide whether or not they will ask the RFL for a salary cap exemption to pursue a replacement for Brown so Patton, who played mostly as an interchange hooker last year, is set for an extended run in the first-team.

Warrington Guardian:

Dec Patton will take Kevin Brown's place in the Warrington Wolves team. Picture by Mike Boden

It is a chance the 23-year-old has been seeking for some time and Price is expecting him to make the most of it.

“Kev’s a very popular member of the team. He’s held in very high regard,” he said.

“As coaches and players, we were all devastated when it happened and we all got around him.

“It’s one of those things that can happen in the game and we’ve got to move on.

“We’ve got a job to do this weekend and we’ll do it.

“It’s unfortunate what’s happened to Kev but it’s a great opportunity for Declan to stamp his mark.

“He’s been waiting for a while. He did a really good job for us last year and played his part.

“We’re all about team-first players here and it’s a credit to him being able to play that role off the bench.”

Much of The Wire’s pre-season work had been based around Brown partnering new signing Blake Austin in the halves, with systems designed to maximise the latter’s threat.

However, Price insists Brown’s absence does not bring about a need to start from scratch and that Patton and Austin have spent plenty of time training as a partnership.

“Dec understands all our systems really well. He’s had a fair amount of time rolling in the halves throughout the pre-season so I’m expecting a solid performance,” he said.

“Its important that you always rotate your spine in training.

“You need a number of players in your key positions and as a club, we continually do that.

“We give rotation to players so if the opportunity does arise, it comes naturally to them.

“We feel as a group that we’ve done that through the pre-season so there will be no excuses.

“All the structures we’ve been working really hard on won’t change.”

The Wire have been boosted by news that Ben Murdoch-Masila is set to feature against Leeds having come through the latest phase of his recovery from calf surgery.

The Tongan international played 20 minutes of Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Rochdale Hornets and suffered no recurrence of the problem.

Warrington Guardian:

Ben Murdoch-Masila is expected to be involved against Leeds. Picture by Mike Boden

Leeds will be under the charge of new head coach David Furner, who has recruited impressively by bringing the likes of Trent Merrin, Konrad Hurrell and Tui Lolohea over from the NRL.

Price admits the Rhinos will be “desperate” to make a good first impression but has urged his side to focus on themselves.

“All the players are buzzing. We’ve done the work and there’s a real strong belief around the group,” he said.

“We’ve got to go out there now and execute the game plan.

“If we do that, we’ll give ourselves every chance but we’re coming up against a desperate team in Leeds Rhinos.

“They have a new coach and a number of new signings so they will want to start on a positive note given where they were last year.

“It’s all about us and doing what we can control.”

The two sides met on the opening day of last season, with Leeds coming out 16-12 winners in Price’s first Super League game in charge.

Warrington Guardian:

Leeds Rhinos won 16-12 at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on the opening day of the 2018 campaign. Picture by Mike Boden

However, The Wire boss says his side are in a completely different place than they were that night.

“We’re a lot more advanced than we were this time last year,” he said.

“We’re coming off a strong back end of last season but that doesn’t amount for anything now.

“We’ve changed a few things up. We’ve worked very hard and we’ve been positive with the new signings we’ve brought in.”