Warrington Wolves have nothing to lose in the Super League play-offs, and with ‘world class’ George Williams in their ranks, they could spring a shock.
Those were the views of Sky Sports pundits Barrie McDermott and Jamie Jones-Buchanan on Friday night after the Wolves had sealed their top six spot with a 20-8 win at Huddersfield Giants in the final round of the regular season.
The Wire’s interim head coach Gary Chambers bemoaned a slow start in their narrow defeat to St Helens seven days earlier, with Saints quickly assuming a 12-0 advantage that Warrington never managed to recover from.
At the John Smith’s Stadium, a defeat would have opened up the door for Salford Red Devils to leapfrog them with a victory of their own against Catalans Dragons. As it turned out, the Red Devils lost anyway, but the precarious nature of the situation made Chambers anxious, as he revealed post-match.
Gary Chambers concedes nerves got better of him at points against Huddersfield
Former England Academy coach Chambers, in charge of the Halliwell Jones Stadium outfit until the end of this term when Sam Burgess will take over, said: “We learned our lesson from last week, we knew that needed to start faster and a bit harder. We got that, and I think that really helped us moving forward because we got in a bit of a rhythm.
“Then we dropped a couple of balls, Huddersfield came back and they were in it again then, so we needed to start fast to help us out there. We didn’t get in the rhythm as easy [in the second half] as we did in the first half.
“In spells, we started to roll, and then I started to get a bit nervous so every penalty we got I was saying ‘two points, two points!’
“I probably should have run a couple, but I think that was more nerves on my part. It’s great though [to be in the play-offs], good times. I’m happy, really good.”
Sky pundits assess Warrington Wolves’ play-off chances with positive outlook
Having got themselves into the play-offs at the end of a turbulent year, Warrington now take on Saints again next Saturday afternoon at the ‘Eliminator’ stage (12.45pm KO).
Away from home against the club that have won all four of the most recent Super League titles, they’ll make the short trip as underdogs, but Sky pundits McDermott and Jones-Buchanan aren’t prepared to write them off.
Oldham-born McDermott said: “They’ve got nothing to lose. Before the game tonight, I said you couldn’t put a strong enough case forward for them to go and get anything out of it, but they had enough.
“Gary Chambers talked about being nervous and taking two, when possibly the better play was to go and have a crack, but he won’t have that option next week. He might not have that thought process next week, he might think, ‘let’s just go for it’.”
Jones-Buchanan was an Old Trafford winner with Leeds Rhinos against the Wolves back in 2012, also losing the Challenge Cup final against them in the same year having already done so under the arch at Wembley two years prior.
On their chances this year, he added: “They brought in a big pack at the start of the season, and it looked pretty at the start, but got uglier as the season went on.
“For me, in the last five or six weeks, they’ve not been abject by getting smashed to bits or losing heavily. They’re getting somewhere, and in the next two or three weeks, they’ll chance their arms in games, George Williams is world class when he’s at his best and can win games for you.
“They need to get some collective cohesion, collective consciousness, run hard down the middle and who knows? They’ve got the talent there to compete.”