Warrington 26-6 Leeds: How did the new signings fare?

James Messenger

Warrington Wolves began their 2019 campaign with a commanding 26-6 victory over a disjointed Leeds Rhinos outfit at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. 

Steve Price’s side raced into an unassailable 20-0 lead at the interval thanks to tries from Stefan Ratchford, Josh Charnley and Daryl Clark, plus four kicks via the boot of Ratchford.

Blake Austin got a fully-deserved debut try in the second period, before Stevie Ward got his side on the board in the latter stages and prevented the Rhinos from being nilled for just the third time in their history.

Here’s a look at how the new recruits got on during the season opener.

Blake Austin

Austin looked every bit the marquee man, and if he can keep churning out performances like that, he’s quickly going to become a fan-favourite for supporters of the primrose and blue.

The 28-year old showed few signs of rustiness and carried the ball superbly, as well as orchestrating several of the plays. He matched his scintillating attacking play with steel in defence and linked up seamlessly with Dec Patton and Ratchford throughout.

Player Rating: 8/10

Jason Clark

Clark may have started on the bench but he really made his presence felt when he came onto the field, carrying the ball with real vigour.

It is clear to see that the former South Sydney forward is going to be a really influential player for the Wolves this year. He oozed composure and confidence, while ensuring he did all the little things right throughout.

Player Rating: 6/10

Danny Walker

Walker only had a brief run out in the final 10 or 15 minutes after Daryl Clark’s departure, but he still showed a few positive glimpses on his first outing for his hometown club.

The 19-year old muscled up well in defence and was always looking to exploit the tiring Rhinos defence around the ruck. He may be restricted to bit-part action, given the form of Warrington’s number nine, but he clearly proved that he can be a valuable asset as the season goes on.

Player Rating: 6/10

Konrad Hurrell

Hurrell arrived with huge fanfare following his move from the Gold Coast Titans but was slightly underwhelming during his first game in Super League.

The Rhinos number four wasn’t given the time and space to produce his trademark rampaging runs down the left, with Ryan Atkins always in close proximity. When he did get into his stride, the Tonga international was tackled well by Warrington’s defence, with his frustration epitomised by a heated exchange with former NRL colleague Austin towards the end of the first half.

Given the excitement surround the big man, his first outing was a little deflating. However, be confident that there is far more to come from the rampaging centre.

Player Rating: 6/10

Tui Lolohea

Like Hurrell, Lolehea’s debut didn’t exactly go to plan, with the former Wests Tigers half-back given very little to work with by his team-mates.

With a lack of urgency chasing down high kicks, Lolehea cut a frustrated figure and rightly lambasted his team-mates for what appeared to be a lack of desire. It looks like he will take some time to adjust to the top flight, but he will certainly need to be a more vocal figure in the Rhinos camp if he is to help his new side click into gear.

Player Rating: 5/10

Trent Merrin

Merrin arrived at the Rhinos with a marquee tag, but he also looked a little off the pace in their season-opener at the Halliwell Jones.

The 29-year old was guilty of giving too many cheap penalties away and was part of a forward pack totally dominated by the Wolves for large spells. It is too soon to judge Merrin – we all know the quality that he possesses – but the prop will need to assert his dominance far more than he did on Saturday evening.

Player Rating: 6/10

James Donaldson

Donaldson joined the Rhinos on a permanent basis following a successful trial, yet he looked far more acclimatised and accomplished than any of his other Rhinos debutants.

He made some good carries when introduced from the bench, while also producing some superb hits in defence on the likes of Bryson Goodwin and Toby King. The 27-year old may well be fighting for his shirt week-in, week-out this year, but performances like this will certainly help him keep his spot in the matchday 17.

Player Rating: 6/10