WARRINGTON Wolves’ academy players have just returned from the tour of a lifetime to Australia.

And first-team assistant coach Richard Marshall, who was on the trip with them, believes all of them return as better players and better people for their experiences having lived like NRL stars for three weeks.

The Wire youngsters and their families spent a lot of their time in the western suburbs of Sydney, using the home of reigning NRL Premiers Penrith Panthers as a training base.

They also took in tours and training sessions at South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters, Manly Sea Eagles and the New South Wales performance centre as well as various cultural experiences.

Their three tour games saw them edged out narrowly by South Sydney before a victory over Wests Tigers, culminating in defeat to the New South Wales under 17s team.

“We stayed in Penrith, so we weren’t near the nightlife or the beaches,” said Marshall, who played a key role in organising the tour during his time as academy head coach before joining the first-team staff last year.

“To be fair, the Panthers were brilliant – they gave us access to the stadium and all of the training facilities. There was nothing we wanted for and all our requests were granted.

“You can see why as a club, they’re so successful. On and off the field, they really looked after us.

“We treated them as if they were high-end athletes, which is what they are. We competed with all of the teams we played against.

“At one of the hotels we stayed at, the manager said to me we were the best footy group they’d ever had in terms of being polite and respectful, cleaning up everywhere and not messing about. I was so happy with that kind of feedback.

“It wasn’t just a tour about rugby. It was a tour about life, experiences and connections.

“A lot of those lads won’t play each other again as they move on in their careers, but all of the lads will be better players for the experience.”

While in Australia, Wire stars of the past such as Bob Jackson, Jon Clarke, Danny Farrar, Bryson Goodwin and Jason Clark dropped in on the players at different times.

New first-team head coach Sam Burgess also visited them before heading out to England, as did current top-grade full-back Matt Dufty.

Having arrived back in the country on Tuesday, Marshall is hopeful future generations of Warrington academy talents will get to enjoy similar experiences.

“In terms of the rugby, we developed as the tour went on,” he said.

“We were disappointed with the last game as a group as we did get outplayed, but aside from five or six from Queensland that was the Australian side and it looked that way.

“We said all along that we wanted to pit ourselves against the best teams and we did.

“There was a lot of interest in the tour, it was certainly a success and I hope we get to do it again.”