DARYL Powell believes his Warrington Wolves players are “a few weeks ahead” of where he expected them to be at this stage of pre-season.

After their initial block of training prior to Christmas, work is now centred around implementing the style of play Powell aims to bring to The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Wire are ripping it up and starting again, with the former Castleford boss overhauling the on-field operation.

It is a lot of information for the squad to take on, but Powell says he has been impressed by how they have gone about it.

So much so that he believes they are further on in their development than he anticipated with a fortnight to go until their first pre-season friendly – Stefan Ratchford’s Testimonial match against Wigan Warriors on January 29.

“In terms of picking up the systems and structures of how we want to play, we’re in a great place,” he said.

“We’re probably a couple of weeks ahead of where I expected us to be, which is very pleasing.

“I’m just looking forward to us stepping up the intensity now leading into Stef’s Testimonial and then the season.

“It’s massive credit to the players – they had a bit of time off over Christmas but they’ve really looked after themselves.

“Obviously, they’ve chilled out as well which was important after a really intense pre-season, but they look in great shape.”


Daryl Powell

Daryl Powell


When the players returned to training on January 4, they were joined for the first time by half-back Gareth Widdop.

The England international – the club’s player of the year for 2021 – spent the off-season in Australia having been given an extended period of time off.

Powell admits Widdop has “catching up to do” but that he is going about the task well.

“As an experienced player, he understands the game really well,” he said.

“He’s been at big clubs on both sides of the world and he’s a solid professional.

“He’ll have some catching up to do physically – as much as you work on your own, any player would need to catch up having spent so long away from the club – but he’s doing that pretty well and I think he’ll be fine.

“He’s looked pretty good, he’ll just need to fine tune over the next few weeks.”


Gareth Widdop is back in training. Picture by Warrington Wolves

Gareth Widdop is back in training. Picture by Warrington Wolves


Another factor in The Wire’s pre-season preparations has been Covid-19, with the game now set to start a third season amid the backdrop of the pandemic.

With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, sporting fixtures continue to be disrupted even at the highest level.

In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading throughout the squad, The Wire have cancelled a three-day training camp in Wales that had been scheduled for later this month.

Powell confirmed there had been cases among the playing group but that it had not had a big impact upon preparations as of yet.

“There’s been a couple of Covid cases which I think all clubs will be facing. That’s just the way things are at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve been okay with it. We’ve just cracked on.

“If you’ve got people missing, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. That isolation period’s not great for individual players, but it is what it is.

“We’ve just got on with it and not allowed it to distract us too much.”