You don’t play games on paper: Gil Dudson backs Warrington to do the business on the field for success in 2023

Josh McAllister
Gil Dudson

Gil Dudson during pre-season training with Warrington. Photo courtesy of Warrington Wolves

Despite having one of the strongest teams on paper heading into the 2023 Super League season, Gil Dudson insists his side must still concentrate on the tiny details in every game to achieve success this year. 

Daryl Powell’s disappointing 11th place finish in his debut year in charge has seen the head coach make drastic changes to his squad, with seven players leaving the club during the off-season.

Five of those, including former captain Jack Hughes, have joined Leigh. Gareth Widdop headlines the list, having signed with Castleford for 2023. Jason Clark also left to move to the French Elite 1 competition.

Toby King has joined Wigan on loan, while Riley Dean has joined Championship outfit Featherstone for the season. Ellis Longstaff has also departed on a season-long loan deal with Salford.

Dudson, 32, joins on a two-year deal, having spent the last two seasons in France with Catalans. He is joined by Sam Kasiano and Josh Drinkwater in making the move from Perpignan to Warrington.

The Wales international was a part of Wigan’s winning 2013 Grand Final team over his new club. He also went on to feature in the 2019 and 2021 showdowns for Salford and Catalans respectively.

With the likes of Josh McGuire and Paul Vaughan also joining the side, Warrington boast one of the most impressive squads heading into the new season.

However, Dudson insists his team must still concentrate in every minute of every game to achieve their goals.

Gil Dudson: There’s a good feeling around the place

“You don’t play games on paper,” Dudson told Love Rugby League. “We’ve got to make sure we get out there and compete in every minute of every game and the results will take care of themselves.

“Personally, I want to play every week and play as best as I can. I think as a team, the minimum will be to compete for 80 minutes every week. With the team that we have here, I think if we can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

“A big theme in pre-season has been competing all the time and pushing each other to make each other better every session.

“There’s a good feeling around the place. There’s quite a few new faces but everyone has settled in pretty well.

“On paper last year, people were saying we (Catalans) should have been given the trophy before the season had started. But look how that ended. It wasn’t how we wanted it to end, but that’s sport, isn’t it?

“It’s about making sure we’re competing every minute of every game.”

Podcast: Gil Dudson on Catalans red mist, winning Wigan, World Cup fears and reigniting Warrington

Gil Dudson on new Wire pack

Dudson will don shirt number 17 in 2023 for Warrington, while James Harrison has been promoted to starting shirt number eight. Vaughan gets the nod with 10, while McGuire takes the number 13 shirt following their moves from the NRL.

Matty Nicholson has been rewarded with shirt number 12, while new face Kasiano has 14 and Joe Philbin will wear 15 once fit again.

And Dudson is focussed on a strong year with his new pack, hoping to create new combinations to help the team in 2023.

“We’ve got to make sure we get that togetherness,” Dudson said.

“There’s no point having a pack of individuals playing. It’s about getting connected during pre-season and gelling and getting those combinations.

“That takes a full pre-season to get to and then in friendlies that’s when you start to build that real togetherness.

“Some of the boys that have come in the pack, it’s exciting to play alongside them. I played with big Sam last year too and the boys who are already here, it’ll be fun to play in that pack.”

More Warrington content

I’ve been at clubs that have had rebuilding phases: Paul Vaughan relishing Warrington move

Josh McGuire ready to take on leadership role at new club Warrington

Drinkwater brothers hoping to take Germany to 2025 World Cup

PODCAST: Listen to all the Love Rugby League podcasts here