Belief in youth and the other key changes Sam Burgess has brought to Warrington Wolves

Aaron Bower

Clearly, four games is still a small sample size to fully judge Sam Burgess’ impact at Warrington Wolves: but some things are already clear.

Burgess would likely point to the fact that while we are still only in mid-March, very little can be judged. In fact, most Warrington Wolves supporters – and especially those who were in a local pub with Daryl Powell around this time last year – would understand that mindset, too.

But after their third successive victory on Thursday night, some things are already clear in the way Burgess has had an impact on his new club..

Belief in youth

The one stick people have often beaten Warrington with while they have spent freely in recruiting some of the world’s most high-profile players is their lack of a steady stream of academy talent complimenting their superstars. That, it seems, can now no longer be applied.

Burgess is also giving those younger players a real opportunity to shine, as the numbers already prove. In Warrington’s final league game of last season, the average age of their 17 was over 28: on Thursday night, that number dropped by almost two years. It may not sound a lot, but in such a short space of time, it is a big drop.

When you consider some of those who featured last night include 21-year-old Josh Thewlis, 21-year-old Connor Wrench and 19-year-old Leon Hayes, it seems that the future is bright for Warrington’s youth: and Burgess isn’t afraid to trust them, either.

MORE WIRE: Warrington Wolves ace George Williams reaffirms desire to win Grand Final, discusses ‘finding an identity’ and importance of closing gap to the top.

Freeing Matt Dufty up

Awarded man of the match by Sky Sports on Thursday evening after victory at Hull KR, Dufty’s form at the beginning of 2024 has been a particular cause of optimism.

The Australian has always had the ability, but has been inconsistent since arriving in Super League. However, he looks at home as a first-choice fullback with great responsibility under Burgess and the Warrington coach admitted post-match: “He’s only getting started.”

Scintillating with ball in hand, Dufty was just as good defensively too, with a number of crucial last-ditch plays to prevent Hull KR from threatening.

NOW READ: Super League Round 4 predictions: Love Rugby League vs Sky Sports pundit Jon Wells

Defensive desire

They may only have conceded two points fewer than at this stage last year – 54 under Burgess compared to 56 under Powell in 2023 – but there is a sensible argument Warrington would have lost Thursday night’s game last season.

It was their defensive resolve in crucial moments and their collective spirit which helped them not only stay in the game at crucial moments, but hold on for victory at the end. It’s hard not to be reminded of Warrington’s spectacular collapses in the latter part of 2023 and Burgess had already highlighted changing the mentality of his group to prevent that from happening again.

As mentioned right at the beginning: four games is a very small sample size but so far, the early signs are promising.

WOLVES LONG READ: Inside the Sam Burgess project: how he attempts to rejuvenate Warrington Wolves