THE return of Matty Nicholson certainly appears to have stiffened up a Warrington Wolves right edge that has had a tendency to be vulnerable defensively.

However, the second rower acknowledges that new-found steel will be tested this week by the strike left edge possessed by Saturday’s opponents Leigh Leopards.

Of the 20 tries The Wire have conceded this year in all competitions thus far, 10 have come down the right edge but none of those have come in the past two matches – the victories over St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.

That coincides with Nicholson’s arrival into the second row spot he occupied for much of last year to join his fellow youngsters Connor Wrench and Josh Thewlis and half-back George Williams.

They will now look to build a partnership after much chopping and changing and continue their defensive upturn, but Nicholson knows that will be tough against Leigh’s lethal left side that includes half-back Lachlan Lam and the prolific former Wire winger Josh Charnley.

“It's a very young and inexperienced edge, even though Josh has played quite a few games now,” he said.

“George solidifies it over there and brings the age up a bit!

“We started conceding quite a few tries down there, but I’d like to think me and George coming back in have strengthened it a little bit in that we haven’t conceded a try on the right in our last two games. We’re just trying to build that each week.

“They’re a dangerous team. They’re very good with the ball but I’d say they’re equally good in defence as well.

“They had a great year last year, they’ve got a few key players missing but sometimes that can help a team and bring more spirit to it. They’re still very dangerous for us this week.

“Lachlan Lam is obviously on that left edge, so we’re expecting a lot to come our way down the right this week but we’ll be ready for it.”

Warrington Guardian: Matty Nicholson marked his first start of the season with a try against Leeds Rhinos earlier this monthMatty Nicholson marked his first start of the season with a try against Leeds Rhinos earlier this month (Image:

With Ben Currie facing several weeks out with a pectoral injury, Nicholson could even find himself moved to the middle at times to cover his absence.

He had been earmarked for more time at loose forward this year and was given the number 13 shirt, but him being absent for the start of the season with a hernia issue contributed to Currie’s successful move to the middle.

Wherever he plays, however, the 20-year-old is happy just being out on the pitch after injury hampered his pre-season after he had also missed more than his fair share of 2023 with shoulder and finger issues.

“I don’t really mind where I play,” he said.

“I like playing in the middle but I also enjoy the back row, so it doesn’t really bother me.

“Ben Currie stepped in there and did an incredible job so if Sam (Burgess) wants me to stay in the back row, I’m happy to do that.”

On his injury, he added: “It was all good until just before we went on the army camp.

“I was struggling a bit on that but I just put it down to it being an army camp and that it was supposed to be hard, so I just thought it was the backlash from that.

“I went for a scan and it looked to have found the problem, so I rehabbed it for a couple of weeks and I felt good.

“I got back running but I kept having the same issues, so we went to see a surgeon in London who basically said the scan had missed a hernia.

“I had a big sportsman’s hernia in my left groin, which I had surgery on so that set me back having to recover.

“I tried to stay positive about it as there wasn’t much I could have done about it, so I had the surgery and just cracked on.

“Last year was a weird one with dislocating my shoulder and then having my finger problem, which you don’t expect to get.

“I’m grateful this came at the start of the year and I only missed four or five games, so fingers crossed I can be injury-free from now on.”

Head coach Sam Burgess has already outlined his intention to name an unchanged starting 13 to face Adrian Lam’s side as he keeps faith with the team that performed so admirably in beating St Helens in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

Their semi-final against Huddersfield Giants looms large on the horizon, but Leigh’s visit is the first of four Super League games they must tackle before then.

And Nicholson reiterated the importance of putting the memories of Sunday – and the thought of a potential Wembley Stadium date – firmly on the back-burner.

“Sunday was the best game I’ve played in so far,” he said.

“We were speaking during the week about how we hadn’t beaten Saints in a long time, so it was a sign to show we’re heading in the right direction.

“We enjoyed it after the game obviously, but we’ve got to forget about it now as Leigh is our focus.

“Celebrating with the fans like that is something we’re all hungry for more of.

“The semi-final is in the backs of our minds – we all want to get to Wembley but it’s week-by-week.

“That has to be the standard every week now and we have to keep building and progressing.

“We’ve had a few meetings about staying grounded.

“Sometimes when you’re playing well, that outside noise can go against you so we’re fully aware that we need to stay grounded and keep building.

“We’re playing well at the minute, but we can’t really afford to have any weeks off.”