Declan Patton: Warrington’s young talent keen to realise untapped potential

Declan Patton is asked to mark his career out of ten.

After a slight laugh, a deep breath and a pause for thinking, Patton fails to come up with a response.

“I couldn’t answer that one to be fair.”

In many ways, it’s a fair assessment of the current perception around him.

On one hand, Patton is one of Britain’s brightest up-and-coming halfbacks. At the age of 22, he has 45 senior appearances, won silverware via the League Leaders’ Shield and has won a game in a World Club Series. He’s also been touted as a future England halfback and has been a matchwinner for the Wolves.

Then there’s the other side of the coin. He never truly established himself under Tony Smith, when he did get a run of games together last year, he was part of a painfully underachieving Warrington side and during that time the performances that have previously suggested he could rise to the top of the sport were too sparse.

By now, those hoping Patton could be England’s halfback answer would wish for his stock to be higher than it currently is. That said, Patton is among a select few special talents to even emerge in the position at his age.

It’s what makes 2018 such an intriguing, and important, in Patton’s eventual career trajectory. Still young enough to be considered as one for the future, he’s also old enough and experienced enough to expect more from.

“It’s a big year for me,” he admitted.

“Obviously the past couple of years I’ve had a few shots. I want to try and stamp my authority and play week in week out. That comes down to how I perform really.

“There’s stuff I’ve achieved that I never thought I would have done, but you can always say you wish you can do better and played in this. Some of that might be my fault, some might not. I’m looking to the future know and work positively that way.

“Fingers crossed now I can start playing regularly.”

Clearly, more regular action is key to Patton fulfilling his position, so it’s hard not to feel a slight dose of sympathy given he’s battling for position with a World Cup finalist in Kevin Brown and a marquee player in Tyrone Roberts.

“But to be the best you’ve got to play with the best,” he said.

“If I do get my shot I have to play as well as I can and it’s not too bad to be competing with them because I know how well I have to play. It’s good to be around them and they’re really good players. I see it as a positive rather than a negative.

“If I can pick bits and pieces off both of them it will do me good.”