Warrington coach explains Matty Russell absence for season opener

Drew Darbyshire
Matty Russell Warrington Wolves SWpix

Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix

Warrington’s new signing Matty Russell will not play in their Super League opener against Leeds because of illness, head coach Daryl Powell has confirmed.

The Scotland international re-joined his former club Warrington in the off-season on a one-year deal, with the option of a further year.

Russell has trained the house down in pre-season but won’t play in Super League’s opening game of the 2023 season on Thursday against Leeds.

“He’s been ill,” Powell said Russell, who hasn’t been named in their 21-man squad. |He hasn’t trained all week so that’s the reason why.

“Both him and Josh (Thewlis) played a half each against Leigh (in pre-season). Matty has had a great pre-season. I thought he was strong in that game as was Josh, who was a star performer in the North Wales game.

“It was a close call between the two of them. They’ve both had great pre-seasons. Josh had a little bit of an injury but he’s okay now. I’m just looking forward to seeing him play.

“For Matty Russell it is a little bit of a blow. It’s a long season and what he has done to get himself in and around the team, it’s been a great effort from him.”

Powell also revealed that forward Joe Philbin is recovering well from the ACL injury he suffered last June.

“Potentially round four or five,” Powell said of Philbin’s potential return. “He is training well. He has done everything the physios and conditioners have asked.

“He is flying with that, so it is just a matter of going through all the processes of getting him back on the field. He is involved in some skill things at the moment so he is looking good.”

PODCAST: Matty Russell opens up on overcoming gambling and alcohol demons & how Toulouse reacted to Super League relegation

Matty Russell on Warrington return

The 29-year-old winger scored 31 tries in 97 appearances for the Wolves between 2014-18. He has since played for Toronto, Leigh and Toulouse.

Speaking in November, Russell said: “To get another chance at this great club means everything.

“It only feels like yesterday I was here! It’s great to be back and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Once I heard Warrington were interested and I spoke to Daryl (Powell) and Karl (Fitzpatrick) it was a no-brainer for me to re-sign.

“I feel I’m coming back a much better player and I want to bring my value to the team. Physically I’ve developed a lot from when I first arrived. Away from the field also I’m coming back more professional and want to be a role model which will hopefully reap the rewards on the field also.

“It’ll be great to see the fans again and connect with them. There’ll be some familiar faces I’m sure.

“If we can find top form, which I’m very confident this team is capable of, there’s no doubt we can push for finals this year.”

READ NEXT: Super League Round 1 squad news, TV coverage & predictions