Warrington Wolves: Stefan Ratchford on injuries, recent improvement & confidence

Ben Olawumi
Stefan Ratchford - Warrington Wolves - Alamy

Stefan Ratchford all smiles in a warm-up - Alamy

Stefan Ratchford has provided an insight into the challenges facing Warrington Wolves at the moment, and admitted that the only way they can re-gain confidence is through ending their losing run.

The Wire were the form side in Super League at the start of the season, sat top after winning all of their first eight games and 10 of the first 12 overall.

More recently though, putting points on the board has proved an issue. Daryl Powell’s side have lost their last five, two of those away against Wigan Warriors. The Wolves were first knocked out of the Challenge Cup against a Warriors side who for almost the entire game played with a man less following an early red card.

And speaking on the Super League Show, veteran Ratchford revealed that last Friday’s Super League defeat at the DW Stadium brought with it more problems, not just in terms of the result.

Warrington Wolves hit by increasing injury list

In the loss, Wire saw Joe Philbin forced off after a heavy collision with Kai Pearce-Paul. After receiving lengthy treatment on the field, he unsurprisingly failed a HIA, and is now in the midst of an 11-day plan away from the action.

Fortunately for boss Powell, the Challenge Cup semi-finals are this weekend, providing a break in the Super League fixture list, so the big forward should be back available for their trip to Wakefield Trinity all being well.

Fellow forward James Harrison also struggled through the last period of the game after quite a heavy knock to the ankle, and George Williams missed the trip back to his former club, still sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Matty Ashton and Matty Nicholson should both also be back in contention for the visit to Belle Vue a week on Sunday.

Ratchford said: “We’ve got a few bumps and bruises at the minute, I’ve got another shiner to add to the collection.

“As a squad, we’re doing it tough at the moment, we’ve had quite a few players missing over recent weeks but hopefully the tide is turning and we’ll see some of those faces back in the team over the next few weeks.”

Former Man of Steel Sam Tomkins post-match tipped Williams’ return, which is expected to be against Wakefield, to be the moment that turns things around results wise for Warrington.

Stefan Ratchford on finding the positives in a tough situation

‘Doing it tough’ is a phrase commonly heard in rugby league, and it’s fair to say that Warrington are doing just that at the moment given the extensive list of absentees combined with run of poor results.

Despite being in a difficult period, Ratchford – who turns 35 today – recognised a step up in performance level against the Warriors compared to recent weeks. They also came close against St Helens in Round 18, edged out 24-20.

He added: “Some of the losses that we suffered before that [Saints game], our performances were really poor.

“I think the Leeds game for example, in the first half we were way off what we expect from ourselves but the Saints game and Wigan game, the performances have been much more like ourselves.

“Unfortunately, we came up short in that Saints game which was probably our best performance in a long time, and then had a really good first half against Wigan but unfortunately fell away in the second half.”

Breeding confidence is the way forward for Wire

Utility man Ratchford has been at the Halliwell Jones Stadium since 2012, joining after four years with Salford. He was made captain for this year by Powell, describing it as a ‘huge privilege’.

Also fast approaching 450 career appearances, he’s tallied almost 1500 points for Warrington alone, as well as representing England on the international front.

The two-time Challenge Cup winner knows what it will take to get back on the right track in 2023, saying: “We need to take confidence from recent losses, in a weird way.

“I think it’s something we need to put to bed and stop bringing it up, and the only way we can do that is by performing well and picking up wins.

“Once you get wins, your confidence is automatically on a high, so as disappointing as the last couple have been, our performances have been much better.

“In a weird way, we have got to take confidence from that and hopefully we go on a run and put some wins together like we did at the start of the season.”

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