The headline-grabbing arrival of former England star Sam Burgess as Warrington’s new coach makes the Wolves one of the teams to watch in the Betfred Super League in 2024.
The ‘Wire’ somehow managed to turn a start of 11 wins in 13 into relegation form last season, with Daryl Powell being sacked amidst a run of 10 defeats in 11. And after Gary Chambers stood in for the remainder of the campaign to steady the ship and edge the club into the play-offs, it was announced that ‘Slammin’ Sam’ would take up his first coaching role at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Warrington Wolves 2024 odds
To win the League Leaders' Shield - 15/2
To win the Grand Final - 8/1
George Williams to win the Man of Steel award - 10/1
Former NRL front-rower Paul Vaughan can’t wait to get started under Burgess. The 32-year-old has played against his new boss a number of times during his career, and after a great personal run in his Super League debut campaign, Vaughan is eager to reach new heights from the ex-South Sydney Rabbitoh.
“It was a pretty good start to the season last year, to be fair. I think we were playing some really good footy, and this year with Sammy Burgess coming in he’s instilled a lot of discipline and we’re looking to be a hard-working team,” Vaughan tells Betfred.
“Last year when things got a little bit tough, at times I think we sort of faded away when we should have been putting our backs up and wanting to embrace the toughness of the game. But with the things we’re indicating in training this year, it’s going in a positive manner with the way we want to play football this year.”
Vaughan adds that Burgess’ character and direction will help lead the Warrington players up a step in 2024.
“I think he communicates really well, and he still has that aura. I know from playing against him back home that he was very intimidating and was just a ferocious competitor. He’s bringing that into training as well, so all the boys respect what he says, obviously he’s done it, he’s been there and played at the highest level. He’s probably one of the best English players to go over to the NRL, he’s had such a great career.
“I think everyone wants to play for him, that’s probably the main thing. He’s a coach who you really want to put everything on the field for. We’ve got the squad, we’ve always had the squad, but I think the things we’ve put into training are going to benefit us and make us a bit more of a tougher team.”
Hooker Danny Walker agrees with his front-row colleague, adding that Burgess has been easy to approach since taking over.
“He’s been class, to be fair to him,” says the 24-year-old former Widnes Vikings nine. “No matter what, Sam’s going to get respect from everyone just because of what he’s done in the game. He’s a good bloke as well as a good coach, and when you’ve got someone who you feel comfortable speaking to at any given time, I think he’s going to get the best out of the lads. I’m certainly looking forward to working under him.”
England captain George Williams remains intent on winning a Super League with Warrington. And not only does he think Burgess will demand more from his squad, but he also credits Gary Chambers’ ability to hold the club together in late 2023 before becoming the new director of rugby.
“Sam’s brought a new philosophy, and I think the one thing he will bring is his mindset; he’s a dead-set winner, and he sets exceptional standards,” Williams explains.
“We started last year like a house on fire and fell off massively. At the back end of the year we were nowhere near good enough to win the comp, but I think you saw a team that actually cared and tried. I know that should be a dead-cert in professional sport but sometimes you lose that team togetherness. I think we managed to get that back at the back end of last year with Gaz Chambers coming in and reconnecting the group.
“I think the team connection at the minute is great, we’ve just done an army camp with Ant Middleton for three days in Kent. It was testing times, and we found out a lot about each other, so I don’t think we’ll get anything tougher on the field than that was. Hopefully you’ll see us come through strong in the tougher games, and bigger moments.”
Warrington begin their 2024 Super League season by travelling to Perpignan’s Stade Gilbert Brutus to face the Catalans Dragons on Saturday, February 17, with kick-off at 17:30 (GMT)/18:30 (local).
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