JOSH DRINKWATER says that his role at Warrington Wolves will be to “free up” his prospective halfback partner George Williams.
The experienced Australian has joined Wire from Catalans Dragons ahead of the 2023 season, and he is set to form a key partnership with England star Williams.
Williams struggled to have a major impact for Warrington last season as they slumped to an eleventh-placed finish in Super League.
But he was in excellent form in the subsequent World Cup, steering his country into the semi-finals with several top displays.
Warrington coach Daryl Powell, who is under pressure after last season’s disappointing results, will need Williams to produce more performances like those at club level next year, and as such he has tasked Drinkwater with taking operational control of the team.
“I think George is at his best when he’s running the footy,” said 30-year-old Drinkwater, who is now in pre-season with his fifth different Super League side following previous spells at London, Leigh and Hull KR.
“The way we’ll play is that I’ll take control of the team and free George up to float around both sides of the field without being pigeonholed. He doesn’t have to worry about controlling things, he can just play what he sees.
“As we saw when he played for England in the World Cup, he’s at his best when he runs the footy.
“He’s on his holidays still and he’ll be back in early January, but we’ll start building that combination then.
“I’m really looking forward to playing alongside him. I’ve watched him play and I’ve played against him for a while now.
“He’s a very dangerous player and a strong runner of the ball, and that’s what I’ll be encouraging him to do.”
Drinkwater expressed his disappointment at the end of his second spell with Catalans, who he steered to Challenge Cup glory first time around in 2018 and then returned to help win the League Leaders’ Shield in 2021.
But he was dropped at the end of last season by Dragons coach Steve McNamara and told he would be moved on despite still being under contract for 2023.
“I’m a little disappointed with the way it happened and the timing of it, but I do understand Rugby League is a business and they made a business decision to move me on,” said Drinkwater.
“In a way it’s turned out pretty well, because I’ve ended up at a good club in Warrington.”