21 Jan 2022

Season Preview: Warrington Wolves

The Wolves finished 2021 in third place after losing just five Betfred Super League regular season matches – the same number as eventual champions, St Helens. However, they were unceremoniously dumped out of the Play-offs at the first hurdle, nilled at home against high-flying Hull KR. 

That defeat soured Warrington’s season and, in some respect, Steve Price’s tenure as head coach. Regardless of that isolated result, the Wolves showed plenty of promise – away wins at Catalans, St Helens, Wigan and Leeds headlined a strong year for the club.

So, as Daryl Powell takes control in 2022, Wire fans have a lot to be excited about. Powell is renowned for his attractive brand of rugby league, transforming Castleford into a genuine force during his time in charge at the Jungle. He has a plethora of talent at his disposal including the likes of George Williams and Gareth Widdop in the halves, as well as enviable squad depth across the park. 

The Wolves will be title contenders once again this season and, alongside Catalans, pose the biggest threat in writing a new name in the history books at Old Trafford in September.

Ins & Outs

Ins:

Peter Mata’utia (Castleford Tigers), Greg Minikin (Hull KR), Oliver Holmes (Castleford Tigers), Joe Bullock (Wigan Warriors), James Harrison (Featherstone Rovers), Billy Magoulias (Cronulla Sharks).

Forward Billy Magoulias joins the Wolves from NRL side Cronulla Sharks.

Outs:

Jake Mamo (Castleford Tigers), Tom Lineham (Wakefield Trinity), Sitaleki Akaoula (Salford Red Devils), Blake Austin (Leeds Rhinos), Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants), Samy Kibula (Bradford Bulls), Nathan Roebuck (Keighley Cougars).

Ones to watch

2022 stars

After much speculation, George Williams joined Warrington mid-way through last season in what was a huge coup for the Wolves. Williams immediately made his presence known with a last second drop goal to earn the Wolves an important win away at Leeds. Since then, he has slowly acclimatised to life at Warrington, scoring a decisive try against his old club at Magic Weekend, as well as kicking two drop goals either side of 80 minutes to down Salford in Round 24.

Williams will be better for a full pre-season with his new club and, under the watchful eye of Daryl Powell, should excel this season. Powell has a knack of getting the best out of his players and has bred three Man of Steel's during his time at Castleford. If Williams finds his feet in 2022, expect him to be firmly in the conversation for the coveted award at the end of the year.

George Williams will line up for his first full season at Warrington in 2022.

Injuries have inhibited Matty Ashton’s progress at the Wolves since joining the Club in 2020 – ankle surgery his most recent setback which kept him out the Wolves side for three months last season. There's little doubt about Ashton's talent whenever he steps foot on the field - his electrifying pace and try scoring antics have created countless highlight reel moments during his short time at the Wolves.

Ashton has been handed the number five shirt for 2022, indicating that he will get first crack at the vacant wing spot following Tom Lineham’s departure. Accustom to wing or full-back, his running threat and support play make him a must watch player and a future star of the competition.

Next generation

 The Wolves have a host of youngsters in their arsenal to compliment an experienced and talented squad. Amongst their next generation of stars is 19-year-old back-rower, Ellis Longstaff. Longstaff made his debut in 2020 and immediately capitalised on his chance in the topflight. Since then, he has slowly familiarised himself with the first team squad following some notable performances last season. 

Highly revered by departing head coach Steve Price, Longstaff made a lasting impression through his efforts on the pitch – he punches well above his weight in the back-row and is a skilful ball carrier. Competition will be fierce at the Wolves in 2022 but Longstaff should be firmly in Daryl Powell’s plans – particularly after making his England Knights debut against Jamaica in October.

Ellis Longstaff will be aiming to become a mainstay in the Wolves squad this season.

Defining dates

Daryl Powell has little time to settle into life at the Wolves with a bumper first month of Super League fixtures. The Wolves kick off their 2022 season with an away trip to Leeds Rhinos on Saturday 12 February – the first of 10 fixtures to be shown live on Channel 4 this season. That’s followed by a home tie against Powell’s former club, Castleford Tigers, on Thursday 17 February live on Sky Sports. 

After that, Warrington travel to France to play newly promoted Toulouse Olympique before taking on both of last seasons Grand Finalists - Catalans Dragons at home and St Helens away in consecutive weeks - both live on Sky Sports. Daryl Powell’s credentials will be immediately put to the test in 2022. 

2022 squad

1. Stefan Ratchford 2. Josh Charnley, 3. Peter Mata’utia, 4. Toby King, 5. Matty Ashton, 6. Gareth Widdop, 7. George Williams, 8. Joe Philbin, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Mike Cooper, 11. Ben Currie, 12. Oliver Holmes, 13. Jack Hughes, 14. Jason Clark, 15. Joe Bullock, 16. Danny Walker17. Matt Davis, 18. Billy Magoulias, 19. Robbie Mulhern, 20. James Harrison, 21. Greg Minikin, 22. Josh Thewlis, 23. Connor Wrench,24. Ellis Longstaff, 25. Ellis Robson, 26. Rob Butler, 27. Riley Dean, 28. Eribe Doro, 29. Jacob Gannon, 30. Morgan Burgess, 31. Tom Whitehead.

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