MATTY Ashton has moved to ease any concerns about his fitness as he prepares for his fifth season as a Warrington Wolves player.

The winger, who was named as the club’s player of the year for 2023 having scored 20 tries in all competitions, was forced to withdraw from last week’s pre-season match against Leigh Leopards with a knee injury, causing worries among the fanbase about the condition of one of the team’s key men.

However, head coach Sam Burgess insisted at the time that his absence was merely precautionary and now, the man himself has assured supporters that he is ready to go for the Round One trip to Catalans Dragons.

Indeed, he believes he is in arguably the best shape of his career having established himself as an England international after scoring three tries in two games for his country against Tonga during the off-season.

“It’s much better now – I’ll be back for Round One that’s for sure,” he said.

“It was just a bit of a pre-season niggle. There’s a lot of load on us during pre-season and we’re training every day, so it was just precautionary that I missed the Leigh game.

“You always hope to go through pre-season without any kind of niggle but it’s always an ask, especially for me.

“I came out of the amateur game straight into the pro game and it took me a little while to get used to it, meaning I picked up niggles here and there.

“Health-wise, I think I’m now at the best level I have been so it’s all about performing now.”

Ashton’s England commitments meant his return to club duty was delayed – he along with The Wire’s other international representatives did not report for pre-season training until just before Christmas.

Taking a shortened run-up to the new campaign is certainly something new for the 25-year-old but having picked up tips from the likes of George Williams about getting as ready as you can in the shortest possible time, he says he hasn’t been affected too much.

“It felt weird seeing all the lads in training but not being there myself – it felt like I should have been there,” he said.

“That break after the internationals did help, but I think it shows a bit of respect to where I am at the minute.

“George has been doing shortened pre-seasons for years so he knows how it goes – he was giving me little tips about keeping myself ticking over while I was off.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t miles behind everyone else and once I got back in, I was buzzing to be back and I can’t wait to get going now.”