Ratchford hoping to hit right note
3rd October 2012
Warrington Wolves fans will be hoping to watch the X Factor on Saturday night when their team make their Grand-Final debut against defending Stobart Super League champions Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.
The multi-talented Stefan Ratchford produced what his coach Tony Smith dubbed “the X factor” after gathering his own kick over the Wigan Warriors defence to score a spectacular opportunist try that clinched a crucial Super League win for the Wolves in August.
If this weekend’s title decider also needs a game-breaker, the former Salford City Reds ace could be just the man to win it for Warrington, although he admits it may mean treading a fine line.
“If it comes off, Tony doesn’t mind but I don’t think he’d want me to try it every time we get down to the Leeds half to make something happen,” he said.
“We’ve just got to be patient and try not score on every play.”
The versatile Ratchford has proved to be a superb acquisition for the Wolves, having deputised expertly for both full-back Brett Hodgson and stand-off Lee Briers in his first season at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
He is expected to line up in arguably his least effective position of centre against the Rhinos but with a licence to go seeking the ball if necessary.
“Tony said there would probably be a bit of changing of positions through the year,” said Ratchford, who made the move to the Halliwell Jones Stadium 12 months ago.
“With the strength in depth we’ve got in our squad, you can never be certain of a place in the 17.
“I’ve just got to be happy being anywhere in the team. I’ve played full-back, centre, stand-off and scrum-half so far.
“I played centre before at Salford so it’s not a strange position for me. You’ve just got to do the best you can.
“If you’re not getting much ball, Tony doesn’t mind you going out of position and looking for it. He gives us a bit of a licence to do that.
“Briersy is quite dominant with his calls so he gets the ball when he wants it and, having him just inside me, it helps with getting the ball.”
Ratchford has not looked back since leaving Salford. He played at full-back for England against the Exiles in July, won a Carnegie Challenge Cup winners’ medal in August and will make his first appearance in a Grand Final on Saturday.
The Wolves are the clear favourites to become the first club to do the double since St Helens achieved the feat in 2006, especially after beating the Rhinos 35-18 at Wembley, but Ratchford says his side will treat the champions with respect.
“Wembley is irrelevant,” he said. “I think Leeds have got a season ticket booked at Old Trafford. They seem to be there every year.
“We know they are a good side and a tough side. They’ve a good mentality obviously because they know how to win the play-off games.
“But, if we can get our preparation right, we’re quite confident we can get the job done on the day.
“The reason I came to Warrington was to play in the finals and, if I’m selected on Saturday, to do both in my first year would be a dream come true.”