Daryl Powell believes the new-looking Warrington team will overcome their struggle to make last season’s Super League nightmare a thing of the past when the new campaign kicks off next month.
Powell had an unexpectedly feverish first year as Wolves coach, finishing second to last in the table above only relegated Toulouse in the 2018 Grand Finalists.
However, after culling some of last season’s regulars and halving a new pack plus ex-Catalan star Josh Drinkwater with British star George Williams, the former Castleford chief is adamant there will be no repeats of the performance.
“This is a new team, a different feeling and a different vibe, and we have a lot to prove,” said Powell.
“I’m not going to jump up and down saying we’re going to do this or that. It’s about proving what we’re all about – that’s the big focus.
“To play rugby league you have to be a tough group of people and winners in all areas – I think we’ve done that.
“Whether we win games or fight under pressure, the mentality is huge. I see a really strong group there with really strong leadership.”
Highly experienced Catalan duo Sam Kasiano and Gil Dudson also joined, while Josh McGuire and Paul Vaughan expanded Powell’s options with a new look and a physically imposing front row.
While Powell made several excuses, contractual distractions were clearly thwarted last season, with as many as 13 players facing questions about their futures at the same time.
Former British international Gareth Widdop continued to sign for Castleford, while four players, including prop Rob Mulhern, moved on to the newly promoted and rebranded Leigh Leopards.
“Some high-quality players have left the club, but sometimes things need freshening up and the mentality largely comes from hiring,” said Powell.
“If we had been successful, we would have retained more players. It was difficult to manage. But everything is progressing. We have a big, physical group, a well-balanced team and I think we have a great opportunity to realize our potential.”
Ahead of his first game against Leeds Rhinos next month, Powell knows his side can’t afford another slow start if they want to silence the doubters.
However, while he accepts the increased attention as an inevitable result of a below-average campaign, he does not believe it will unduly worry his players who are aiming to leave the misery of 2022 behind.
“I understand the focus, but I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Powell said. “I don’t think the players are bothered by it. It’s about keeping going and showing that we’re a team, not the team we are.”