DESPITE having been left out of the team that beat Catalans Dragons yesterday, Steve Price insists Blake Austin remains “an important part” of his Warrington Wolves side.

The stand-off was the notable absentee from the Wire 17 that faced the Dragons, with Stefan Ratchford and Gareth Widdop preferred in the halves and Matty Ashton at full-back.

They helped Wolves to their best result of the season to date, winning 24-8 in Perpignan to hand Catalans their first loss of 2021.

Reports had claimed that Austin was not allowed to travel to France due to an expired passport, but Price insisted the decision to leave him out of the side was tactical.

“I was really pleased with Matty, Stef and Gaz,” he said.

“Our kicking game throughout the whole game was really positive. We turned them over in good spots so we could invest in other areas.

“With Austo, he’s an important part of our team but its all about performance.

“I thought the best way going forward this week was putting Stef out on that right edge. It worked out okay.”

Ashton was making his first Super League appearance of the season at full-back and came up with an excellent defensive display at full-back.

He was tested by kicks high and low but put in an error-free showing to stake his claim for a more regular spot in the team.

“He’s a brave young kid,” Price said of the 22-year-old.

“He came up with some big plays off the ball and with his numbers defensively. I was really pleased with his performance.

“I’ve got some good headaches – I would rather be in that position than not.”