Warrington Wolves youngster providing bright spark for the future: ‘Important for the club moving forward’

Ben Olawumi
Leon Hayes Warrington Wolves Alamy

Leon Hayes in action for Warrington Wolves

Leon Hayes enjoyed a steady first runout for hometown club Warrington Wolves in 2023 on Friday night, and interim boss Gary Chambers says there’s a lot more to come from the youngster.

Chambers – in the hotseat until the end of the year – has been heavily invested in the youth setup at the Halliwell Jones Stadium for a number of years, so knows the dainty half-back all to well.

The 19-year-old didn’t shy away against reigning champions St Helens, and in the 18-6 defeat, was a standout for the Wolves who lacked any real leadership from the elder members of their pack.

Post-match, former England academy coach Chambers praised Hayes, who made his senior Wire bow last year against Huddersfield Giants.

Warrington Wolves interim boss heaps praise on teenager Leon Hayes

Also called into action against Salford Red Devils last term, the teenager has enjoyed seven runouts for League One outfit North Wales Crusaders so far in 2023 on dual registration.

Named as the 18th man for Warrington a few times, after a first hit-out this year for the 5ft’5in man, Chambers said: “I’m really happy [with him], and he did exactly what I thought he would do.

“Leon, as the game went on, started to have a go at the line and was thinking ‘I can handle this’. It’s about us nurturing him now, seeing how he is, and just keeping on developing him.

“He’s going to be important for the club moving forward.”

Hayes could stay in squad for must-win Huddersfield clash

Hayes was brought in by Chambers in place of George Williams, who was absent from the squad with a minor thigh injury.

Barring a miracle where Salford are concerned, victory at Huddersfield on Friday night would see the Wolves claim sixth spot and head into the play-offs at the end of a strange year for all concerned.

England captain Williams is expected to return, with squads to be confirmed tomorrow, but Chambers admits Hayes has done himself no harm in his bid to retain a place. Josh Drinkwater didn’t cover himself in glory against Saints, and in truth, hasn’t done all year.

On the homegrown talent, the stand-in boss added: “100% he has [made a strong case to stay in the team].

“He said himself after the game that he was chasing the first 15 minutes, and that all he did was run back and tackle.

“But as the game went on, he actually said, I think I’ve got this right – ‘it’s just a game of rugby’.

“Once you’ve got over the euphoria and all the atmosphere, he said ‘it’s just a game of rugby’. He’ll take loads out of that.”

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