Magic Preview: Wolves at the door
5 Jul 2022
Warrington playmaker is hoping to spark an end of season revival
ONE word stands out for Stefan Ratchford when asked to assess Warrington Wolves’ season so far - frustrating.
The England international has experienced far more highs than lows in over a decade in the primrose and blue, making this season’s struggles a largely new experience for him and other members of Daryl Powell’s side.
“We had one year in 2017 when we weren’t great and finished ninth, but other than that the majority of the squad have been used to being in winning teams,” Ratchford said.
“Lots of the squad haven’t really been in this situation before, but we’re still confident in our ability as a group.
“It has been frustrating, and we’ve seen in bits what we’re capable of.
“The performances weren’t great at the start of the season but we had three wins on the spin, had a loss and then beat Toulouse - so we were going quite well.
“But then the wheels almost fell off and things weren’t going right for a while.
“We had a couple of half decent performances where we came up short - the Saints game was as pretty good one.
“But then the next one against Leeds was an absolute disaster, and it’s been up and down like that all year.
“At times we’ve been defensively all over the shop, conceding 20, 30 and 40 points, which isn’t Warrington-like at all.
“But against Hull recently we managed to keep them to zero and now we just want to keep improving, hopefully knock some wins off and get into the top six.”
Standing in Warrington’s way at Magic Weekend is a Catalans Dragons team that has already beaten them home and away this season.
“In the home game, especially with the ball we were really poor,” Ratchford remembered.
“Over in Catalans it was a really close game after 60 minutes and then we capitulated and they ran away with it.
“We know it’s going to be another tough game against a big, physical team.
“We just need to keep concentrating on making improvements in our own game and picking up wins.
“I absolutely love the Magic Weekend concept, getting to play at all of these great venues.
“One of the stand-out memories for me was actually playing against Warrington for Salford - we got well beat but I managed to score a couple of good tries.
“Then there was the game when Warrington beat St Helens with a really good performance and Moz (former Wolves forward Adrian Morley) scored that memorable try.
“We also put 60 on Widnes one year so there have been some really good experiences.”
Now Ratchford is hoping to add another to the list against the formidable Dragons and initiative an upturn in fortunes for his own side.
Player in Form - Josh Thewlis
Undoubtedly one of the shining lights in a difficult season so far has been the performances of young full-back or winger Thewlis.
The Oldham-born Wolves academy product has impressed with his quick feet, high work rate and strong carries out of defence, earning a new long-term deal at the club.
He looks to be exactly the kind of player that Warrington can build a team around in years to come.
One to Watch - Matty Ashton
Another bright spot has been a second young outside back in Ashton, whose form saw him called into Shaun Wane’s mid-season England squad.
The Rochdale Mayfield product has that most elusive of traits in raw pace, making him a danger from anywhere on the field.
He will be hoping to find the wide open spaces of St James’ Park to display his skills on a major stage this weekend.
This article is taken from the Magic Weekend programme, copies of which can be ordered online via Curtis Sports.