Josh Drinkwater on why Warrington flopped in 2023, Josh McGuire incident and what Sam Burgess has changed

WARRINGTON WOLVES’ 2023 campaign was an interesting one to say the least.

After winning their opening eight games of the season, the Wolves somehow went on to lose eight consecutive fixtures during the middle part of the year – something which cost head coach Daryl Powell his job.

One of those men in the heat of battle each week was halfback Josh Drinkwater, with the Australian referencing a snowball effect – including the seven-match and then 12-match bans handed to important recruit Josh McGuire – at the club as defeats began mounting.

“If you look back, there were a lot of distractions during the year. Look at the start of the year, we had the testimonial game and the Josh McGuire incident and obviously Daryl Powell got moved on mid-season,” Drinkwater told League Express.

“So there was always something going on during the year and we never really had a settled team. It was one of those seasons where we couldn’t get any continuity in our team which meant we were playing a different way each week.

“I don’t think we had an identity and that’s the biggest thing we have spoken about this year – having an identity over how we play.

“It was just one of those seasons. At the time you probably don’t realise it but it affects people in different ways and it wasn’t great.

“Moose (Josh McGuire) was a big signing for the club and we trained all pre-season with him in the team and then we miss him for the first eight weeks.

“There were so many little distractions that they built up. So many little things become one big thing whilst injuries and suspensions didn’t help either.

“I’m not making excuses, we weren’t good enough and the table didn’t lie, though I did think towards the end of the season we started playing some good footy.”

With Powell’s exit mid-season, head of youth Gary Chambers took charge and helped the club finish in the play-offs.

In 2024, however, Chamber is now director of rugby with former England and NRL hero Sam Burgess taking the reins at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

And it’s fair to say that Drinkwater is loving the directness of Burgess.

“Sam has been really good, you can tell he’s wanted to change things up and do things his way. He is very direct with everyone so you know where you stand and what he wants but he understands that you also need time away with your family.

“When we are at work, we are training hard and it’s been really enjoyable. I’ve really enjoyed working under him so far.

“We have changed the way we are playing, our attack is completely different. I’ve been learning my new role and implementing the system he wants to apply.

“He’s been really good, he watched a few of the games last year and picked up a few things he wants me to work on.

“During the pre-season, I feel like as a team we have all grown and got better. We have got a style of play that suits everyone now.”

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