Warrington Wolves ace George Williams believes 2024 will be the year that sees young team-mates Connor Wrench and Danny Walker emerge as superstars under the tutelage of Sam Burgess.
Both young guns are playing for their hometown club, just as Williams did during his time donning a Wigan Warriors shirt before heading off to the NRL.
22-year-old Wrench is contracted until the end of the 2025 season by the Wire, and has 30 competitive appearances for them to date, shining bright when given the opportunity to do so last term having recovered from an ACL injury.
Walker, 24, meanwhile has donned the primrose & blue 97 times since his move from Widnes Vikings ahead of the 2019 season, with whom he experienced Super League relegation the year prior.
Alongside Williams, who joined Warrington midway through the 2021 campaign after departing NRL outfit Canberra Raiders, the duo have experienced numerous lows over the last three years, with – in truth – very few highs to boast.
After a disappointing 19-0 humbling on home soil in the Super League play-offs by Hull KR in 2021, the Wolves became embroiled in the battle at the bottom and finished 11th the following year.
They then followed that up with an almost unbelievable campaign last term, coming out firing before quickly fizzling out and eventually stumbling into the play-offs – where they fell at the first hurdle – after Daryl Powell had been sacked.
But with Burgess now in charge, 2024 is the year Williams hopes glory can be achieved, and he’s tipping Wrench & Walker to be at the forefront of any success that comes out of the Halliwell Jones Stadium in the upcoming season.
Warrington Wolves star George Williams on Connor Wrench: ‘I think he’ll have a breakout year, and then we’re talking about an England centre’
Speaking to the media, including Love Rugby League last week on Wrench, he said: “He’s so good! I think when he realises how good he is, that’s when we’ll see Connor Wrench.
“This is a big call, but I think he’ll have a breakout year, and then we’re talking about an England centre, he’s so good, honestly.
“It’s a big rap, but I see it everyday, he can do things… He reminds me of Harry Newman a bit; explosive, fast. He’s talented, he just maybe needs a bit of confidence and a run of games.”
Wrench already has 13 Wolves tries to his name in those 30 appearances, scoring their only try in the play-off exit at St Helens in September.
Williams continued: “When I first went into the first team (at Wigan), you are shy, you are probably not out of your shell, and you don’t really say what you want to, but this year I feel like he’s matured a little bit.
“He got a taste of games last year, and he’s next to me on the edge now, so I’m trying to get the best out of him. He’s a freak, honestly! I’m backing him.”
Hometown boy Danny Walker lauded by Warrington ace Williams for passion: ‘Me being from Wigan, that makes me buy into it’
Despite 12 of them coming as an interchange, 30 Wire appearances in 2023 were enough to earn Walker his first international recognition at senior levels.
After some eye-catching performances in the primrose & blue, the hooker was called up for an England debut by Shaun Wane in the mid-season international against France, held at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, enjoying a dream start with a try in familiar territory.
Walker also featured in all three games in the autumn Tonga test series, and now they’re team-mates for both club and country, Williams is tipping the 24-year-old for another step up in 2024.
The England skipper said: “Danny’s a great player. He’s done it tough really, because he’s been behind Daz (Daryl Clark) for so many years.
“We’ve signed really well, but Danny has come into his own. He’s only 24, but it feels like he’s been around for ages. I love that he is passionate, and he’s from Warrington, so he’s emotional sometimes, but I love that because he’s involved.
“He’s emotionally attached and he cares about the club, so he’s good to have around. It’s the same with Joe Philbin – they are Warrington lads that are living out their dream. Me being from Wigan, that (passion) makes me buy into it with them.”