NextGen: Meet the ‘pretty special athlete’ waiting in the wings at Warrington Wolves

Drew Darbyshire
Arron Lindop Warrington Wolves Alamy

Warrington Wolves youngster Arron Lindop (right) in a pre-match warm up

Warrington Wolves coach Sam Burgess has fielded nine academy products so far in 2024, including Arron Lindop who made his debut as a 17-year-old.

Burgess has made no secret of the fact that he plans to put trust in the club’s youth system. He was given his first team opportunity at Bradford Bulls by Steve McNamara as a teenager in 2006 following Stuart Fielden’s high-profile move to Wigan Warriors.

Having taken the head coaching reins at Warrington in the off-season, Burgess has worked closely with the senior members of the first team, but also the rising talent coming through the academy.

And prior to this season getting underway, the Wolves rewarded local talent Arron Lindop with a four-year contract with the first team after the youngster impressed during their academy tour to Australia last autumn, scoring a try against New South Wales’ Under-17s.

Following his first pre-season in a full-time environment, Lindop was handed his first team debut by Burgess for their trip to the south of France against Catalans Dragons in the opening round of the Super League season back in February.

Love Rugby League went along to Warrington’s training complex to speak to the club’s director of rugby Gary Chambers, who was formerly head of youth, about Lindop’s rise.

“I think he forced his way in (for his debut) because he was that good in pre-season,” Chambers told Love Rugby League.

“Anything that Sam challenged him with he was just eating it up, so the more questions that were posed to him, the more he was answering them. He came to such a degree that there was no question in Sam’s mind about putting him in.”

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From being a fan on the terraces to making his debut as a 17-year-old: The rise of Arron Lindop

Arron Lindop George Williams Warrington Wolves Alamy
Arron Lindop (left) celebrates a try with Warrington team-mate George Williams (right)

Lindop grew up as a Warrington fan, supporting his beloved Wolves from the terraces at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. His grandmother has worked for the club for many years in a part-time role, helping house overseas players when they arrive in the Cheshire town, whilst his dad works for Manchester United as a groundsman.

Lindop, who has recently turned 18, attended Bridgewater High School before enrolling at Priestley College to study sport coaching and development.

He combines his studies alongside his first team duties with the Wolves, with the club and college both being open and flexible with Lindop to help make it work for him as he finds his way in the professional sporting landscape.

It was at local community club Latchford Giants where he played his junior rugby and caught Warrington‘s attention, playing in the back-row before a growth spurt saw him transition into an athletic centre who can also play wing.

“We signed him from Latchford and he came onto our scholarship programme,” Chambers told Love Rugby League.

“He wasn’t like a stereotypical top gun straight away, but he had a lot of growth in him. He was playing back-row but what we found when he came into our scholarship was that he was exceptionally fast, but it was when he went into that growth spurt and transition when we really thought ‘hang on a minute, there’s really something here’.

“It just shows that players change (with age).. You never really know what you’re going to get until a bit later on, and that’s when he went through that growth spurt and became the athlete that he is now.

“He played in our scholarship but it wasn’t until maybe his second year, coming up to that 16 age mark when he had a growth spurt and his speed increased, his power output increased and then you are left with a pretty special athlete.”

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Gary Chambers: ‘He is only going to get better’

As previously mentioned, Lindop signed a four-year contract with his boyhood club ahead of the 2024 season, being handed the number 33 jersey in Burgess’ first team squad.

It’s quite rare that you see a young player given such a lengthy contract, especially at 17 like Lindop was when he put pen to paper. So the question is: why the long-term deal?

“We just think at this part of his journey he is just going to get better and better and better,” Chambers told Love Rugby League.

“The more (weight) we put on him, the more weights he hits, the more power he is going to be able to generate, and the better player he is going to be.

“First of all, he is a good kid and a great person from a good family. He wants to be at the club, he’s a big Warrington fan and he’s come through our system.

“Secondly, his ability. He is playing on the wing at the moment but he is a centre and he has the ability to beat people, he can run a line, his distribution is good, his defensive understanding is really good and we feel that with his work ethos and his attention to detail and where he wants to go in his career, this has to be a long-term project because he is only going to get better.”

Player profile

Name: Arron Lindop

Date of birth: 17/03/2006

Position: Centre/wing

Senior debut: Catalans Dragons (A), 17/02/2024

Honours: Warrington Academy tour to Australia (2023)

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