Thursday evening at the Halliwell Jones Stadium saw coaches and players give there thoughts and feelings on how the season has gone as we pass through the halfway point. Gary Chambers, Graham ‘Doc’ Scott, Danny Lima and Steve Pickersgill were present to give a fascinating and informative insight into the clubs squads from the 1st team, the U21’s and the U18’s.
Things kicked off to a packed Sponsors Lounge in the HJ with the players giving information on how they felt the seasons had gone and what was to look forward to. We were lucky to get some completely unbiased views as for once, the players had made it to the meeting on time whereas the coaches were a little late! Steve Pickersgill gave information on his England U18’s call up, seeming pleasingly confident on his chances of making the final cut to the last 23 to tour Australia. He’s positive of England’s chances over in Australia as well and feels that there is a very strong squad to take down under, many with Super League experience, something that Steve didn’t think would affect his chances.
Danny spoke about various aspects of the first team squad and came across as a very genuine guy, not as ferocious as some of his on-the-field performances might suggest, letting us know that the top 6 is still very much the goal for the first team. Lima’s assessment of his first half of the year inevitably included his suspension, something that he obviously felt aggrieved about as he explained that he’d been charged by the RFL for a deliberate high tackle, something that he’s never been charged for in the past and he genuinely felt it was to do with technique rather than anything else. Fans may notice that this technique has changed now since the 3 week lay off, he was made to work harder than any other player in those weeks and spent a lot of time with Gary Chambers getting this right! One last tip from Danny would be to keep clear of Nat Wood in training, you never know what he’s going to do next! Lima also offered his views on the playing times of the youth teams explaining that in Aus, they play the U18’s and U21’s before the main event so that fans and coaches can all get a chance to see how the clubs younger element are performing in the one afternoon.
The ‘Doc’ and ‘Chambo’ gave details of how the U21’s and U18’s are looking this season. Due to changes in the club and RFL academy league structures in previous years, this has left Warrington with a bit of a void of players of suitable age and playing time together for the U21’s so after last years successes, there is a much younger squad this year that aren’t recreating last years Grand Final attaining performance. The Doc is pleased with how they are coming together though and it bodes well for future years. Another problem is making the step from U21’s to Super League rugby as there isn’t a stepping stone in place and the gulf is so big that there have been instances of youngsters leaving the game or stepping to the NL leagues to get Rugby League appearances. The U18’s have been pulled together well and have scored nearly 150 points in their last three games, conceding just over 20 although they have caught the first teams Widnes bug, this being the only game they’ve lost all season.
Certain ‘Hot Topics’ were raised to the panel. With the Nat Wood for hooker campaign being led by a group of fans, the coaches eluded that everything is looked at and discussed but at present, the staff were happy with the hooker position being taken by Clarke with Gleeson freshening things up later. Also, ‘Apps’ probably isn’t fit enough at present to play in the halves unless really needed to (like at Cas on Sunday?) so there isn’t likely to be a change for a while there. Doc and Gary also skipped over the topic of signings which is Cullen’s area so maybe we’ll have to get the man himself down next time to give us any snippets on Fa’afili.
In team news, everyone is on the verge of fitness but some may be rested a week longer to fully recover. Forshaw and Wood have the same injury to the shoulder whereas Briers’ is different.
To finish off, Neil Dowson presented a summary of the service area 2004 season which will be posted shortly on www.Squadbuilder.co.uk. We’d like to thank the panel for giving up their time to give another rewarding behind the scenes impression of life at Warrington Wolves. I’ve not been able to list everything so make sure you get down to the next Squadbuilder Meeting in July.