Assistant Coach, Willie Poching, Previews, With David Clegg, Our Bank Holiday Monday Fixture At Warrington
One of the problems that a double header weekend throws up is the fact that in the run up to the weekend, it is extremely difficult to be certain about anything in respect of the second fixture, until the dust has settled on the first, and when Assistant Coach, Willie Poching and I met up, midweek, there were still some considerable uncertainties around Monday’s visit to Warrington, though there were a number of things about which he was able to speak with more than a degree of confidence.
One such of these is the current form of the respective teams, which for our hosts is one of notable progress over recent weeks.
“Warrington will be pretty happy with where they are sitting now, compared with how they started the season,” is his considered opinion.  “They’ve certainly turned things around with an upturn in results, and they showed real grit and determination in their draw against Wigan at the Magic Weekend.
“It’s going to be both difficult and tough to go there this weekend, though we are going on the back of a good run of form ourselves, so we should be starting the match full of confidence and not looking too far ahead.”
Obviously, with Friday night’s home game with Catalans still to be got over, at the time of writing, the injury situation following it will undoubtedly impact on team selection for this particular outing.
“Normally, the team is selected from the players who have played themselves into the team in their previous match, and we have been fortunate throughout the season so far to have been able to do this” he explains, “but on this occasion, whilst that will be our aim as the determining the factor for Monday, injuries will take their part.
“That’s the nature of a short turnaround; it’s another Easter.  We’ll just have to tackle it the way we did for Easter Monday, but it could turn out to be quite difficult to put together a team, if things were to go that way.  Indeed, the whole of our squad could well be called into play, over the weekend.  Hopefully, though, if we get through unscathed on Friday night we will be able to put out a fully representative team.”
As players, over the season to date have accrued bumps and bruises, it could well be asking too much of some of them to put back to back performances together.
“This is the time of year when everyone is carrying knocks, but as rugby players you just want to pull your shirt on and go out and do your best for the team,” he maintains.  “Nevertheless, we’ve got to be smart in whom we select, because there is a bigger picture to consider, and the season has still got a long way to go.  We’ve got to look at that bigger picture, and manage the squad accordingly.”
Under those circumstances, it is a considerable positive that our younger players, such as Josh Wood, Jake Bibby, and Ryan Lannon, have all had some significant amount of game time, during the season so far.
“They are an important part of our squad,” insists Willie, “and it has been an important element that they get as much game time as possible, playing among some older players who have assisted their development.  They needed all of this to help them become fully fledged Super League players.
“We believed it was important that they get the experience when the opportunities presented themselves, rather than when we had to do so.  It means that they can be brought in with the full confidence not only of the coaches, but also the players, and that’s a great position for the whole group to be in.”
Getting four points over a double header weekend is always a tall order, with probably the majority of teams settling for two.  This being the second of the pair, it will only become a priority upon the final whistle of the Catalans game.
“Getting two points on Friday night is a matter for our immediate attention,” concurs Willie.  “Once we have got those we can then look at making it four.  Were we to fall down on that, we would have to do everything we can to claim the two on offer, at Warrington.”
Referee – Mr P Bentham
Touch Judges – M Craven, R Thompson
In-Goal Judges – A Tolley, M Hawkes
Reserve Ref – N Woodward