Ratchford relaxed thanks to Wire’s ‘chilled Tony’

Warrington full back Stefan Ratchford thinks that Wire coach Tony Smith’s laid-back attitude to life helps the team prepare for big games.

As build-up for Saturday’s Challenge Cup final against Hull FC at Wembley grows in intensity, Ratchford feels that the Wolves will cope well with the tension, because Smith keeps his team relaxed.

“We’re quite relaxed at this moment,” he told Love Rugby League.

“As the week goes on the nerves will build and the intensity will build, and the tension will be there as well. But at the moment we’re quite relaxed.

“It is a massive week, but you’ve got to take in the occasion and really enjoy the week.

“We’re looking for a good week’s training so that we get down there in the right frame of mind.

“Tony is pretty chilled 99% of the time. When the time is right and he needs to give out a rocket then he can get to the serious point with us.

“But the majority of the time, he is pretty relaxed, and it creates a good atmosphere with the boys. We’re a happy group. He keeps us on our toes when need be.

“It helps with not getting too tense too early in the week, and getting too on edge about stuff.

“He keeps everything as normal as he possibly can, and that helps with preparation.”

One interesting sub-plot to Saturday’s final is that it brings Hull’s Kiwi/Pacific Islander contingent up against Wire’s influential Australians.

Ratchford thinks that the mix of styles between the two teams will lead to an entertaining game for the spectators.

“They’ve got a lot of the Islander boys in there, who are big strong lads,” he said.

“It takes about six of you to get them down with baseball bats!

“There’s probably two different make-ups to the two teams – we’re quite agile and quick, and they’ve got the brute force.

“It makes for a really interesting game. We’ve had two tough battles against them already this year, and this week’s going to be no different.

“If you look at both sides, it’s two outstanding teams.

“Across the board on both sides are quality individuals you’d like to think would get in most teams in the league.

“Hopefully we’ll both turn up this week, and if we both perform to our best then it will be a great spectacle, which I’m sure the fans will enjoy.”

Meanwhile, Ratchford is refusing to speculate about his chances of making Wayne Bennett’s England side for the Four Nations this year.

While much talk has been about who should occupy the England fullback position, Ratchford, mainly due to his status as a ‘utility player’ rather than a specialist, seems to have been omitted from much of the discussion.

But it is not an issue to which the player himself is currently giving any serious consideration, with plenty of club challenges ahead between now and the end of the campaign.

“I’m focused on doing a good job in the games coming up,” he said.

“We’ve been straight into the Super 8s, and then we’ve had the final coming up, so at this time of year it’s about focusing on doing my job as well as possible for the team.

“I think if I can help the team to Challenge Cup finals, Super League semi-finals and Grand Finals, then it’s going to give me a good shot with the England squad at the end of the year.

“But it’s not down to me, I’ve just got to focus on doing a good job for this team.

“If my teammates at the club are happy with the job I’m doing then that is all I can do.

“This year has been the one year where I’ve played consistently in one position.

“At the beginning of the year when I came back from injury, I flitted between a couple of positions, playing a bit of 9 and a bit of half back.

“But now we’re more settled as a squad, and have got players back, I’ve stayed at fullback and played most of my rugby there, which has probably helped give me a bit of consistency.

“I’ve had a good run at fullback this season, and all I can do is keep playing well, and if my team-mates are happy with me, then I’ll be happy.”

 

 

 

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