Daryl Powell confident Warrington are ready to rise to a new challenge

Daryl Powell believes his new-look Warrington side will rise to the challenge of consigning last season’s Super League nightmare to history when the new campaign kicks off next month.

Powell endured an unexpectedly torrid first year as Wolves coach, culminating in the 2018 Grand Finalists finishing second from bottom in the table above only relegated Toulouse.

But, after culling a number of last season’s regulars and bringing in a new pack plus former Catalans star Josh Drinkwater to partner England star George Williams in the halves, the former Castleford chief is adamant there will be no repeat performance.

England v Samoa – Rugby League World Cup – Semi-Final – Emirates Stadium
England’s George Williams will form a new half-back pair at Warrington (Adam Davy/PA)

“It’s a new team, a different feel and a different vibe and we’ve got a lot to prove,” said Powell.

“I won’t be jumping up and down saying we’re going to do this or that. It’s about proving what we’re about – that’s the big focus.

“To play rugby league you have to be a tough group of people and winners across the board – I think we’ve got that.

“Mentality is huge, whether winning games or under pressure fighting back. I see a really driven group with real strong leadership in there.”

Warrington Wolves v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Halliwell Jones Stadium
Warrington struggled desperately in Daryl Powell’s first season in charge (Richard Sellers/PA)

Vastly experienced duo Sam Kasiano and Gil Dudson also joined from Catalans while Josh McGuire and Paul Vaughan have increased Powell’s options in a new-look and physically imposing front row.

Powell offered few excuses but was clearly hindered by contractual distractions last season, with as many as 13 players at one time facing questions over their future.

Former England international Gareth Widdop went on to sign for Castleford while four players, including prop Rob Mulhern, switched to the newly-promoted and rebranded Leigh Leopards.

“Some high-quality players left the club but sometimes things need freshening up and mentality comes from recruitment in a big way,” added Powell.

“If we were being successful we would have kept more of the players. It was tough to manage. But everything has been progressing. We’ve a big, physical pack, a well-balanced team and I think we’ve got a great opportunity to achieve our potential.”

Ahead of next month’s opener against Leeds Rhinos, Powell knows his side can ill-afford another sluggish start if they are to silence the doubters.

But, while he accepts the increased attention as an inevitable consequence of a below-par campaign, he does not believe it will unduly concern his players as they aim to put their 2022 misery behind them.

“I understand it (the focus), but I don’t think it matters too much,” said Powell. “I don’t think the players are that bothered about it. It’s about us getting on with it and showing the team that we are, not the team we were.”