Warrington Wolves history of overseas signings leaves questions over their recruitment strategy 

Josh McAllister
Warrington Wolves recruitment

Warrington Wolves appear to have some of the worst history when it comes to overseas signings from the NRL.

Call it bad luck or call it bad research, the Super League side are probably the best example of hot and cold recruitment from Down Under – with this argument leading towards more of the latter.

Josh McGuire became the latest Australian to depart the side just months into his two-year contract.

The ex-Queensland representative left the club by mutual consent with immediate effect after he was found guilty of his second Grade F unacceptable language charge in his debut season, slapped with a massive 12-match ban.

And he isn’t the first example of Warrington getting their recruitment wrong.

Plenty warned the Wolves of McGuire’s dark disciplinary record, which included lengthy suspensions for high tackles, verbal abuse of referee, dangerous contacts and even hair pulling!

He’s another name on the list to not see out their contract in England, and more specifically at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The most notable to date includes Greg Inglis, who ended up being a publicity stunt rather than a player to help them to their first ever Super League title under then-coach Steve Price.

Inglis, now 36, came out of retirement to join Warrington for the 2021 Super League season.

The Australian and Queensland great made headlines when he opted to return to the sport, having originally announced his immediate retirement in April 2019.

Inglis, who made more than 200 NRL appearances across stints with Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs, was a major coup for the Super League side.

However, it was another recruitment flop in the end as he made just three appearances for the Wolves, suffering a hamstring injury in Round Seven against Huddersfield and shortly after released from his contract.

At least the club got to flog some merchandise inspired by GI…

Warrington Wolves poor recruitment includes Magoulias, Latu and Gelling

12 months later, Warrington confirmed the signing of utility forward Billy Magoulias from Cronulla Sharks for Daryl Powell’s debut season in charge at the club.

The Greece international arrived on a one-year deal having made 16 appearances in the NRL, with an option for a further 12 months.

But once again the NRL recruit was released early from his contract after just seven appearances in a dire year for the club in Super League, eventually finishing second from bottom above relegated Toulouse.

Magoulias now features for the Newtown Jets in the NSW Cup competition, having represented his heritage at the delayed 2021 World Cup in England.

Prop forward Leilani Latu is another notable disappointing overseas recruit, who joined from the Gold Coast Titans, having made his NRL debut with Penrith Panthers.

The one-time Tonga international made just three appearances for the club in his debut season, having also appeared for Widnes on loan in the Championship.

He was later released by mutual agreement in February 2021 with a year remaining on his contract.

Although not an overseas signing, Luther Burrell’s time in rugby league was one quickly forgotten about – having made the code switch after winning 15 caps for England in rugby union.

Just as the trend of this article goes, his contract was terminated early having failed to nail down a first-team place, making just eight Super League appearances.

Anthony Gelling also spent just one season with Warrington Wolves before being released early from his two-year deal in 2020, scoring six tries in 13 appearances.

Ben Pomeroy struggled to find his form across two stints with the club, totalling just 12 appearances.

Tyrone Roberts spent just one season in Super League, having joined as a marquee signing on three-year contract in 2018. In fact, it’s pretty hard to keep up with the amount of playmakers Warrington have utilised in recent years, including Chris Sandow and Gareth Widdop.

Hot and cold recruitment

On the flip side, some credit has to be given to Warrington for a couple of eye-catching recruitments that have gone on to perform to their best in the Super League competition.

Currently, Paul Vaughan is one of the leading forwards in the competition and was quickly tied down to an extended deal until the end of 2025, having initially signed a two-year deal from the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Ex-NRL centre Bryson Goodwin enjoyed two seasons with Warrington Wolves, featuring in both the 2019 Challenge Cup final and Grand Final defeats that year, before going on to win at Wembley the following season against St Helens.

Fiji international Ashton Sims enjoyed a solid three-year spell at the club between 2015-2017, making 97 appearances.

Trent Waterhouse also made 82 appearances across three years, winning the 2012 Challenge Cup over Leeds.

But ultimately, there are many questions – and rightfully so – to be asked of Warrington’s recruitment strategy, who appear to always be shooting for short-term success over long-term planning.

READ NEXT: Daryl Powell keen to recruit after ‘disappointing’ Josh McGuire saga leaves club ‘light in the middles’

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