Ratchford’s experience ideal for Wolves cubs

DARYL POWELL hopes Stefan Ratchford can pass on his experience to Warrington Wolves’ younger players after agreeing a two-year contract extension with the England international.

Versatile Ratchford, 33, is currently in his testimonial year at the club he joined in 2012 from Salford Red Devils.

A two-time Challenge Cup winner, he has been Warrington’s regular fullback in recent seasons, but in the last couple of months, has featured in the halves.

Coach Powell has been planning big changes to his squad for 2023 but still sees Ratchford as a key part of his plans.

That was reflected by his new contract, which will take him to 13 seasons at the club.

“Stef’s a great player and person, who is dyed-in-the-wool Warrington,” said Powell.

“I’m delighted he’s chosen to stay. His experience and knowledge for the younger players around him is valuable too and makes him a great guy to keep on board.”

As well as Matty Nicholson, the England Knights forward who has moved from Wigan on a deal until 2025, two of the players who could benefit most from Ratchford’s presence are Connor Wrench and Josh Thewlis, who recently signed terms to stay at Warrington until 2025 and 2026 respectively.

Powell sees the two 20-year-olds as key figures in Warrington’s future.

He said of England Knights international and boyhood Wolves fan Wrench: “At the moment I see him getting experience on the wing but he’s going to be a class centre in the future.

“He’s grown physically in recent months and his speed is electric. Once he starts to grow his confidence and knowledge as a player then he can be anything he wants.”

Thewlis, a former Waterhead Warriors junior from Oldham, debuted for the Wolves at the age of 17 in 2019, and has featured this season largely at fullback.

“I’d seen Josh playing most of his rugby as a winger when I came in,” said Powell.

“What he’s done this year is come in at fullback and shown that he’s got a real bright future in the game.

“There’s some things he needs to continue to work on but the three things he has got in abundance are attitude, commitment and toughness.

“He’s got many qualities and is going to develop into an outstanding player for this club. He’s one of many young players we’ve got here with big futures.”

Meanwhile, the season is over for prop Joe Philbin due to an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury.

The England international will not only miss the rest of the campaign for Warrington – and likely the start of 2023 – but has also lost the chance to feature in a home World Cup.

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