31st January 2018, 14:34 | super_league

Steve Price eyes Leeds scalp in season opener

Steve Price eyes Leeds scalp in season opener

Steve Price insists there is ample room for optimism as Warrington Wolves launch a new era with the visit of reigning champions Leeds Rhinos in their Betfred Super League season opener on Thursday.

Twelve months after lifting the League Leaders’ Shield, the Wolves finished outside the top eight last season and Tony Smith paid the price for their slump as the longest reign by a head coach in Super League was brought to an end.

Price, the former St George Illawarra coach who has succeeded Smith at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, has undertaken a rebuilding job following the departure of 13 senior players at the end of last season.

“I can’t control what’s happened in the past, it’s all about new beginnings,” Price said. “The whole organisation have really embraced the change. There’s a really positive vibe with all the new players I’ve brought into the organisation.

“Leeds first up is a great start. You always want to be playing the best and they’re the reigning premiers so hopefully we’ll get a sell-out crowd at the Halliwell Jones.”

Warrington fans must wait to see one of Price’s six new signings, prop Sitaleki Akauola, who is injured. But there is much anticipation over the arrival of Ben Murdoch-Masila, a £170,000 buy from Salford, and Australian half-back Tyrone Roberts, who is a marquee signing with a target on his head.

“Tyrone will thrive on that,” Price said. “He’s going really well, he’s embracing the change and just wants to get out there and play footy.”

Hooker Brad Dwyer, who featured among the exodus from Warrington, is hoping to make his debut for Leeds, alongside another former Wolves favourite, Richie Myler, who has been handed the onerous task of filling the boots of departed Rhinos skipper Danny McGuire.

Myler, who scored 81 tries in 145 appearances for Warrington from 2010 to 2015, jumped at the chance to return to England after spending the last two years with Catalans Dragons and says he is out to win trophies.

“History shows Leeds have been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, club in the last 20 years,” Myler said. “I’ve come into a club that’s got a lot of talent and the infrastructure in place. We’ve got all the tools as a team to be successful.

“Last season Warrington didn’t hit their straps as much as they wanted to. They’re going to be a different team with a new coach and new players coming in, so we’re going to have to be on our mettle to get a result there.”

Leeds, who have the best opening-day record in Super League with just four defeats in 22 first-round games, are gearing up for a trip to Australia to play Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge on February 16.

Hull FC, too, have their minds on a tour Down Under as they prepare to take on Huddersfield Giants in their opening league game at the KCOM Stadium on Thursday evening.

The Black and Whites’ second-round fixture against Wigan Warriors will be played in Wollongong on Saturday week before they take on St George Illawarra at Sydney Football Stadium a week later, but vice-captain Scott Taylor is confident they will not lose focus on the domestic opener.

“It’s a massive game for us because after the highs and lows of that game, the next day we fly to Australia,” Taylor said.

“The big thing for us is to get that win on the board. We don’t want to be going to Australia on the back of a defeat.”