WE’VE had our say, it’s now time for the fans to have theirs.

We continue our series of reflections on an up-and-down year for Warrington Wolves by asking our Guardian Fan Panel members for their thoughts.

Once again, they include highlights, lowlights, stand-out players and squad members of whom more was expected as well as their hopes for the Sam Burgess era.

Here is what panel members Chris McKean, Johnny Gordon, Ray Tickle and Rob Croston had to say to the following questions…

At the start of the year I expected Wire to…

CM: I expected us to challenge for a play-off spot. Having said that, I wasn’t really 100% sure what I’d be served up. It wouldn’t have surprised me if we had finished down the bottom end of the table again.

JG: Finish seventh, so I suppose they actually exceeded my expectations in that respect as they finished sixth. Nevertheless, it was still a largely forgetful and disappointing season overall.

RT: My expectations were for top 6 and a play-off spot, and I had a slight hope that we could possibly force our way into the top 4.

This was simply based on the signings we had made and also the departures from the year before that were part of a so-called self-important culture at the club.

So I guess the team performed to my expectations in terms of league position, but there's still a feeling that it could of been so much better.

RC: To be much improved. From the season to forget in 2022, I expected Warrington with their much-improved squad to kick on and be up there challenging within the play offs and showing more consistency in what they are doing, to try and produce something special.

My Wire highlight of 2023 was…

CM: The Catalan away match in Round 8 was my favourite match. That try from Dufty and Ashton running down Tom Johnstone from the other side of the pitch to save a certain try made for a match that had both amazing attacking skill and pure determination.

JG: Probably the two Catalan away trips! The travel chaos beforehand made the first one slightly more memorable.

RT: The season highlight for me was the start to the season, breaking records to record a run of eight straight wins to top the league and playing some excellent, entertaining rugby in the process.

RC: Wire’s Round One opening night win against last year's Grand Finalists, Leeds Rhinos. Wire turned up, showed what they could do with ball in hand and showed glimpses of how they could play. It really did get the Halliwell Jones Stadium bouncing, and gave the fans a bit of belief back

Warrington Guardian: Fans picked up the Round Eight win at Catalans as a highlightFans picked up the Round Eight win at Catalans as a highlight (Image: Warrington Wolves)

My Wire lowlight of 2023 was…

CM: I could go on for days talking about my lowlights for the season but for me, it was the loss to Saints away in Round 10.

While a lot of people were getting giddy with our great start, I wanted to see how we got on against Wigan and Saints before I decided if we could actually be title contenders in 2023.

We’d been beaten by Wigan for our first loss the week before and then Saints just dominated us. At that point, I knew it would be another year of being the bridesmaids.

JG: Wakefield away which resulted in Daryl Powell’s sacking. The players were an absolute disgrace that day.

RT: The whole sorry episode that saw Josh McGuire leave the club earlier in the year – I think this totally derailed our season, with rumours of player unrest at the fact that the club or coach never backed him up.

We'll probably never find the full story but this all definitely had a negative effect on our season and ultimately Daryl Powell’s stay at the club.

One more lowlight for me is losing Daz Clark – he's been my favourite player.

RC: The away defeat to Wakefield, which turned out to be Daryl Powell's final game in charge.

That day, Wire didn’t turn up and that was the day the belief and hopes that fans shared of a more consistent season disappeared. Change after that was inevitable and Wire needed to take themselves in a completely different direction.

The team I would like to see go on and win Super League is…

CM: I’d like to see Catalan win the Grand Final but I think Wigan will end up being crowned champions.

Both Saints and Wigan play at an intensity that other teams struggle to match. The one thing Saints lack is speed and in Marshall, French and Field, Wigan have a lot of it.

JG: Hull KR or Catalan. However, I’m fully expecting it to be Saints and Wigan who contest the Super League Grand Final.

RT: I'm going to say Catalan for this one, simply to just put a new name on the trophy. I really do hope they go on to win it – I think they will face Wigan in the final and it could be a classic.

RC: Catalans Dragons. They have been one of the most consistent sides within the Super League era, they have made some astute signings and proved time and again they are the real deal.

It’s about time another name was engraved on the trophy. If Catalans were to win Super League, it would not only be good for the competition but also for rugby league in France.

My Wire player of the year for 2023 is…

CM: Matty Ashton. He gets better every year and rarely has a bad game, even when we are poor as a team.

For me, he’s possibly the best winger in Super League when you look at what he offers in attack and defence. He’s only missing a little bit of composure at times that someone like Tommy Makinson has.

JG: Matty Ashton. I wouldn’t swap him for any other winger in Super League – his work ethic is exceptional. Hopefully he’ll get rewarded with an international call up for England.

Honourable mentions go to George Williams, Paul Vaughan and Danny Walker too – those four players have run their blood to water this year.

RT: This one’s an easy choice – it's Paul Vaughan.

What a player this guy is – I've not enjoyed watching a prop forward this much since we had Moz.

He's definitely not here to top up his pension and I love the way he has taken to the club as a whole and the fans.

RC: Paul Vaughan, without a doubt.

He has been outstanding in his first season in a Wire shirt, been the out-and-out top metre maker for Wire and his dominance in the front row has earned him a place in the Super League Dream Team.

Vaughany has become a firm fan’s favourite and I would expect him to become even better in 2024.

Warrington Guardian: Matty Ashton will miss Friday's trip to Wigan Warriors

The player I expected more from in 2023 was…

CM: Josh Drinkwater. He started out OK, not doing a lot but he looked great as someone to take the pressure off Williams to allow him to do his thing.

That changed after Round 8 and since then, he has contributed almost nothing.

Second worst tackle busts (15), seventh worst carries (167), least metres made (600) and average gain (3.59m) from anyone playing 10 games or more and only five try assists all season.

How this guy still gets picked is beyond me. In the Saints game, he showed he does the ability in terms of a long kicking game but he’s not done that all season.

JG: Take your pick from Matt Dufty, Josh Drinkwater, Ben Currie and Sam Kasiano – they’ve all been very underwhelming this year.

RT: Some of my fellow panel members here are going to call out Josh Drinkwater, that’s simply because he's going to be next year’s fan scapegoat. That’s guaranteed as Wire fans love and need a scapegoat.

But I'm going to call out most of the squad from Round 9 onwards – they showed us in those first eight rounds what they were capable of and for whatever reason, after that they didn't perform to those standards again this season.

RC: Josh Drinkwater, I would have expected a bit more on a consistent basis. He showed some good signs in some games, but the magic wasn’t there all the time.

My great Wire hope for 2024 is…

CM: That it won’t be as bad as I’m currently expecting.

JG: That they offload some more of the deadwood over the coming months, otherwise we’re going to struggle again next season. I would also like to see Leon Hayes get the number seven shirt next year.

RT: I'm hoping the new coach will bring with him and instil into the squad his winners mentality, toughness and determination.

Above all, I want my team to entertain me – I want to fully enjoy watching the matches week in week out. If I get that, the team will do well.

RC: For Wire to get some consistency and show fans the rugby they are capable of playing.

I want to see Wire have a cutting edge and create a hard-working winning mentality when Sam Burgess comes in. Wire need to start being a team to be feared.