Warrington Wolves head coach Steve Price talked about how proud he was of his side after they claimed a gutsy 24-8 win in France over Catalans.
The Dragons were unbeaten going into today’s game and it took a stern defensive showing from the Wolves to claim the two competition points. So, it came as no surprise to see that it was their defence that earnt their coach’s praises.
In his post-match press conference, Price was keen to commend his whole team and their efforts especially as they kept the previously free-scoring Dragons to just eight points.
“I’m super proud of all the boys,” said Price. “All 17. It was a good old tough game of footy and the effort areas have certainly improved.
“There were some big game-changing moments. Over on that left side Toby King and Gaz [Widdop] had to come up with some big plays.
“I think it was four tries to one. Just really proud of all 17 players.”
Many had tipped Toby King for a big season in 2021 with a place in England’s World Cup squad up for grabs after an impressive season last term and it seems he’s certainly impressing his coach. It remains to be seen whether or not Shaun Wane will echo Steve Price’s views and include him in his England squad later this year.
Gareth Widdop also caught his coach’s eye with a big performance. After some were critical of the former St George Illawarra Dragons scrum-half in 2020, he has shown glimpses of the form which made him a key fixture in England’s journey to the last World Cup Final. Perhaps he could force his way into Wane’s thinking as well if Price continues to get the best out of them.
However, Price’s focus clearly remains fixed on his squad rather than what those outside the club think as he today made a point of focusing on his side’s performance rather than sending out messages to the rest of the league.
The Wolves have had a mixed start to this season with one win, one loss and one draw going into today’s game. However they were closer to their best today showing glimpses of the side some believe could push for Old Trafford glory in October.
“It’s not about sending out a statement” added Price. “We know what sort of team we have. It’s about small improvements for us as a team.
“There’s been parts of our game that have been really good. I thought defensively today we were really solid against a great attacking team. We’ll build off that and get a lot of confidence and belief.”
Price made a big call before the game leaving out talisman Blake Austin and selecting Stefan Ratchford at stand-off with young Matty Ashton at fullback. It seemed to work as Gareth Widdop controlled the game for the Wire freeing up the likes of Ratchford and Ashton to make inroads into the Dragons defence.
However, many were still surprised by the decision to leave Austin out. The former Canberra man was a Man of Steel nominee in 2019 and most believe that any success Warrington achieve in 2021 will be built around Austin’s partnership with the aforementioned Widdop.
When asked today about the decision to leave Austin out, Price answered: “He’s an important part of our team but at the end of the day it’s all about performance. I felt the best way was Stef [Ratchford] over on that right edge this week.”
Warrington take on Hull KR next at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Following Austin’s omission today, Warrington supporters will be keen to see whether or not he’s included against the Robins. Meanwhile, the contest will provide the Wolves with another opportunity to give high profile recruit Greg Inglis his debut after an injury hit start to life at Warrington.
Daryl Clark did feature today despite persistent rumours linking him with a move to Gold Coast in 2022. There was no comment about his potential future from Price this evening.