WARRINGTON WOLVES are well known for their spending power when it comes to new signings.
The likes of George Williams, Greg Inglis, Kurt Gidley and Matt King are just some of those stars to have made the move to the Cheshire club potentially ahead of Super League rivals.
Well, speaking on the Super League Out Of Your League podcast, Warrington’s chief executive, Karl Fitzpatrick, revealed how they were able to sign current star Matty Ashton from the grasp of the Wigan Warriors whilst Ashton played for Swinton Lions.
“Peter Williams, George Williams Dad, was our recruitment officer in the Championship and he went to look at a prop forward at Halifax,” Fitzpatrick said on the podcast.
“As part of the report he noted any players that popped up and caught his eye, and Matty Ashton came up.
“He was at Swinton at the time so he went back the following week and said ‘this kid’s got something’.
“So I went to watch him play Widnes, he played fullback that day and was outstanding. Brave, pace, instinct and I said ‘let’s go for him.’
“But I knew Wigan were in for him as well because at the time Swinton had a link with Wigan through dual-reg partnership.”
Fitzpatrick went on to use a live Sky game to his advantage in order to get the deal done.
“I waited until Wigan were playing on Sky one night, so I contacted Swinton whilst the game was playing and told Andy Mazey, who was owner of Swinton at the time, that we wanted to sign Matty.
“He was on holiday and he said no and that they had a dual-reg partnership with Wigan and he had to give them an opportunity.
“He wasn’t accepting it and I wanted to make it happen, he came back saying no so we offered a transfer fee.
“The replies were taking longer and longer so I thought he must be thinking about it and he was still quite adamant after a while saying ‘no I’ve got to go back to Wigan’.
“I’m watching the game clock thinking ‘f**k, we’ve got to get this done before Wigan have the opportunity to put a spanner in the works’, so we up the transfer fee and again, there is a delayed response.
“He comes back and said ‘if you throw in a friendly we’ll make it happen’, so boom we’re on.
“We agreed a deal and a transfer, the Wigan game finished and obviously they didn’t get chance to respond.”
It was certainly an innovative way of getting in front of their Super League rivals, but it clearly worked with Ashton now becoming an entrenched player under new head coach Daryl Powell.