Warrington Wolves have not been crowned champions since 1955 and every year it is joked that “It’s their year”, well 2020 might finally be the year they break this massive hoodoo.
READ MORE: Get our free outright Super League tips for 2020
The Wolves have become the butt of a lot of jokes over the years over their failure to win the big one. Don’t get me wrong, they have won the League Leaders Shield on two occasions and are the Challenge Cup holders, but they want to win the Grand Final. That is the trophy the whole town craves.
No-one can quite put their finger on why they have failed to win the Grand Final. They have been runners-up four times in the last eight years, losing to Leeds Rhinos once and Wigan Warriors three times. The 2013 Grand Final saw them throw away a 16-0 lead to eventually go down 30-16.
What makes 2020 any different? What can Warrington do to make sure they end this 65-year curse. We are going to go through the key players and coach that could make this dream a reality and make them legends in the town of Warrington.
Since Steve Price took over as head coach, the Wolves have been up there with the best teams in Super League. In the two seasons Price has been with Warrington, he has taken them to two Challenge Cup Finals and one Grand Final. Granted, he has only won one final, but improvement has been made.
Price is a quality head coach, he has the respect of his fellow coaches and his players. His tactics are very shrews and he is capable of getting the best out of his squad. He has recruited well in the off-season, and although he will never admit it out loud, he must be quietly confident of doing something no Warrington coach has done since Ces Mountford.
Warrington managed to pull off a major signing for the 2020 Super League campaign. They acquired the services of Great Britain and England international Gareth Widdop on a three-year contract from NRL side St George Illawarra Dragons.
Widdop, who was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, moved to Australia at the age of 16 with his family. He made his way up through the Melbourne Storm academy set-up before making his NRL debut in 2010. He played 71 rimes for the Storm before moving to the Dragons, where he spent six years playing 125 times and scoring 918 points.
The stand-off has had a few injury concerns over the years, he has not completed a full season for the past two years and he will miss the start of the Super League campaign after rolling his ankle in training. Widdop has enough experience to take to Super League from the off, there will be no settling in period for him. If he can strike up a good relationship with Blake Austin, then Warrington and Widdop will be challenging for major honours come the end of the season.
Blake Austin is another player that makes the Wolves tick. He was outstanding in his first year in England following his move from Canberra Raiders. He looked certain to win the Man of Steel award last season, but an ankle injury saw him lose some form as Warrington’s season fizzled out.
He is fully fit now and raring to go. His link-up play with the likes of Widdop and Stefan Ratchford will be a joy to watch. When you look at the Warrington squad on paper, you have to honestly feel that if they don’t win Super League in 2020, they might never win it.
Aside from Widdop, Warrington have made five more signing ahead of the new season with former Wigan players Anthony Gelling (who joined from Widnes) and Sammy Kibula joining the club, while Matty Ashton, Keenan Brand and Leilani Latu have also been brought in.
Gelling will soon become a fans favourite at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. It won’t be too long until he is scoring tries for fun and the supporters forget about the interception try he scored back in 2016 that won the game for Wigan.
Gelling has been around Super League for a while now, his experience will be key in bring out the best in players like Brand and Ashton. It is expected that he will once again have Josh Charnley as his wing partner. These two struck up quite a connection during their time at Wigan. If Gelling can hit top form, then Charnley will be the one to benefit. We believe he will be up there at the end of the season as one of the top try scorers.
Having spoken to Price earlier this month, he felt the club needed another prop forward to strengthen their squad ahead of the season. Well, he has done just that after the club announced the signing of Leilani Latu from Gold Coast Titans on a two-year deal.
The 26-year-old powerhouse will add more grit up front and will complement the likes of Chris Hill and Joe Philbin very well. He might be used as impact player of the bench for the start of the season, but he should have found his feet by Easter and will be an important member of the starting XIII.
In Daryl Clark, Warrington have one of the best hookers in the competition. Clark won the Lance Todd Trophy for man of the match in their Challenge Cup win over St Helens last August. He is capable of turning any game in his teams favour. His quickness from acting half back is a massive weapon when defenders are tired. If Warrington are going to be challenging for honours, you can bet it’s because this guy is having his best season ever.
Warrington will need to finish the season a lot stronger than they did in 2019. AT one stage they were clear in second place, but a run of eight defeats in their final 10 league matches saw them end the weekly rounds with a whimper. They were then knocked in the first week of the play-offs, they went down 14-12 against Castleford Tigers to end their hopes of a second successive Grand Final appearance.
It’s up to Price and his staff to make sure they are conditioned enough to be mentally and physically ready for the end of season run-in. If not it, then it won’t be their year again.
Other Warrington Specials: