Write the Warrington Wolves off at your peril. It was a case of close but no cigar for Steve Price’s side in 2018 as the Wire fell at the final hurdle once again. Reaching the Grand Final was an achievement in itself though after a difficult start to the calendar year and Price can take Warrington to the Super League summit with a full year of experience now under his belt.
Warrington have reached the Grand Final on four separate occasions since the start of the 2012 campaign – the Wolves have been on the losing side in all four contests. There is no doubting that Warrington are talented enough to lift the Super League crown but doubts over their mental strength on the big stage remain. A first Grand Final triumph beckons if Price’s side can conquer their demons.
The Wolves were languishing down the Super League ladder when Price took over from long-term head coach Tony Smith. A switch in leadership triggered Warrington into life and the Wolves went on to finish fourth – an incredible feat. Despite their early-season woes, Warrington finished 2018 with the third-best defensive record in Super League. Expect the Wolves to push close for top spot this time around…
That semi-final victory over St Helens sent shockwaves across Super League: Warrington are a different beast these days. A decade or so ago, Saints dominated this particular fixture but there has been a power shift in the north west. St Helens have found their way under Justin Holbrook but Warrington are still one of Super League’s dominant teams. These two great rivals could battle it out at the top of the table in 2019.
At the time of writing, bet365 rugby league betting markets can’t split Warrington and St Helens – with both teams priced at 3/1 to win the Grand Final this year. Price will be quietly confident of leading his side to a first Super League success in the modern era and plenty of punters will be backing the Wolves to go all the way. A return to Old Trafford looks likely if Warrington avoid complacency.
Shaun Wane’s departure has left uncertainty over the DW Stadium. Wigan Warriors will enter the 2019 campaign as defending Super League champions but fans aren’t sure what to expect from the Cherries this year. Saints and Warrington are better placed to take control in the race for Super League glory – and the Wolves already have a mental advantage after that semi-final success. This is Warrington’s moment; can the Wire hold their nerve?
Not much has changed at the Halliwell Jones Stadium and that continuity should help the Wolves in their pursuit of a first Grand Final crown. Barring a significant improvement from others, it looks like a two-horse race. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Warrington and St Helens do battle in the Grand Final and it could be a nail-biter for Wolves fans. 2019 could finally be Warrington’s year.