GEORGE Williams is confident any future half-back partnership with Stefan Ratchford will be a productive one.

When Williams joined The Wire midway through 2021 to help spearhead a new era under head coach Daryl Powell, his potential partnership with Gareth Widdop was hailed as one to light up Super League.

For many different reasons, however, that has not materialised and Widdop is one of four different half-back partners Williams has had during a disappointing season for The Wire as a collective.

Riley Dean and Peter Mata’utia have all had turns alongside him but when Ratchford penned his new two-year deal with the club earlier this year, Powell said he saw him partnering Williams as his first-choice pairing in 2023.

Warrington Guardian:

It was a call that took many by surprise given the famously versatile Ratchford has found a home at full-back in recent years.

With plenty of hard work, however, Williams believes it is a link-up that has good potential.

“I do think that partnership could be a good one,” he said.

“Stef’s very skilful and has bags of experience. He’s been around a long time and I get on with him really well, which always helps.

“We’ve probably not played too many games together but both of us enjoy watching footage and looking back on things from games we can improve.

“I’m sure that combination will build given a bit of time.

“I know we don’t have much time left this season but if that’s the way we’re going moving forward, we need to crack on with it.”

Ratchford is likely to have competition from academy graduate Dean – a popular choice among supporters who want to see him given the chance to make the stand-off role his own.

Warrington Guardian:

The 20-year-old is armed with a fresh new contract of his own to remain at The Halliwell Jones Stadium for the next two seasons.

If he can grow the belief in what he can bring, Williams believes Dean’s evident potential can be fulfilled.

“Riley’s a really good kid,” he said.

“I’ve been working with him for around a year now and he has all the skills in the world.

“He probably just lacks a bit of confidence sometimes, which I suppose is natural as a young kid.

“I’m sure we’ll see the best of him – having another year with us and getting more game time will only benefit him going forward.”

Beyond that, there is considerable excitement around the club about the potential of young scrum-half Leon Hayes.

The 18-year-old Warringtonian – a former Cardinal Newman High School student – has captained the club’s academy side to a superb campaign this year, impressing with his organisation and kicking game.

Warrington Guardian:

It is thought he is one of several hot prospects who are set to step up into the first team environment next year and Williams is looking forward to seeing more of him.

“He’s quite a small bloke but he plays way above his weight,” the England man said of Hayes.

“He’s a very skilful young kid. He’s only trained with us a couple of times but I believe he’s joining us full-time next year.

“I’ve seen and heard some good things about him and a few other academy players, so I’m looking forward to working more with him and hopefully passing a few things on.”

Pictures by Mike Boden and Bob Brough