WATCH: Warrington’s Riley Dean compared to Super League great after impressing in Championship opener

James Gordon
Riley Dean

Picture by John Clifton/

Riley Dean’s young career could be set for lift-off if his form in Featherstone’s Championship opener against Keighley is anything to go by.

The Warrington loanee, 21, scored two tries as Rovers won 50-0 at Cougar Park in front of the Viaplay TV cameras.

It was the first game of his season-long loan as he looks to continue his development and push for a first team place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Since making his Wolves debut in 2019, a couple of days before his 18th birthday, it’s been a bit stop start for Dean.

COVID hindered his progress in 2020 as the academy season was cancelled and though he made a single appearance for Warrington that year and in 2021, he spent time on loan at York and Dewsbury, making a total of 14 appearances.

Last season saw him make six Warrington appearances in a difficult year for the club, with coach Daryl Powell questioning whether he was ready for the week-to-week rigour of Super League.

His best performance came in the 32-10 win over Huddersfield in April where he assisted four tries, while he also featured four times on loan at Newcastle Thunder in the Championship.

It’s the Championship where, for now, he will be looking to impress in 2023 – though Warrington do have a two-week recall option, should anything happen to first choice half-backs George Williams and Josh Drinkwater. Youngster Leon Hayes is also competing with Dean for a Wolves jersey.

Compared to Leon Pryce and Kevin Brown

Riley Dean has already seen plenty of half backs come and go during his short Warrington career, including Kevin Brown, who was part of the TV coverage of Featherstone’s win over Keighley in which Dean had a starring role.

Brown compared Dean to Featherstone assistant coach, and four-time Super League Grand Final winner, Leon Pryce.

Featherstone coach Sean Long, himself a former Super League winning half-back, quipped: “He reminds a bit of you! He plays with really good tempo, dead composed, big force, run threat, banging D as well.

“He’s a really level headed player and I thought he got us around the park. We talked about composure a lot pre-game, as we haven’t had that in pre-season, and I felt he was the main one that came up with that.”

The presence of Long and Pryce is likely to be a significant aid to Dean’s development.

It was something that he commented on when signing for the club before Christmas, even before the arrival of Pryce.

Dean said on joining: “From a personal perspective, the opportunity to work with one of the greatest halves in the history of the game in Sean Long is a huge opportunity. I’m really looking forward to seeing how I can progress under him.”

Making an impression on debut

Riley Dean was named man of the match for his performance against Keighley, as Featherstone opened up a 28-0 lead by half time and kept the Cougars out for a perfect start to the season.

The former Siddal junior showed his strength to reach over from close range after running a short line.

For his second try, Dean took on an inside ball from Caleb Aekins and danced around the full back to find the line.

When told that Kevin Brown had rated him as a class above in the game, Dean responded: “I wouldn’t say that! I trained a bit with Kev at Warrington and he bashed me about enough so I’ll take that one.

“It’s hard not to play off packs like that, they’re class. It makes our job as outside backs and halves easier.”

Riley Dean played alongside former Toulouse stand-off Johnathon Ford in the halves and Featherstone are not short of playmaking options this season.

Aekins, French duo Mark Kheirallah and Thomas Lacans, Brandon Pickersgill and Craig Hall are all part of Long’s squad who start the campaign with the favourites tag and if this showing is anything to go by, one that they will carry long in to the season.

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