Josh Drinkwater: New Warrington Wolves signing’s thirst to help end club’s Super League Grand Final drought | Rugby League News


Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

Josh Drinkwater sees Warrington as the perfect club to realise his ambitions after joining from Catalans Dragons on a two-year contract; watch the Wolves kick off the 2023 Betfred Super League season against Leeds Rhinos on Thursday February 16, live on Sky Sports

Last Updated: 04/01/23 2:14pm

Josh Drinkwater has signed for Warrington from Catalans on a two-year contract

Josh Drinkwater has signed for Warrington from Catalans on a two-year contract

Josh Drinkwater has adapted quickly to life at Warrington Wolves, although perhaps the biggest adjustment after three seasons in the south of France has been dealing with the comparatively harsher winter conditions of north-west England.

It is not exactly unfamiliar territory for the Australian half-back though, who spent 2016 and 2017 with Leigh – recently rebranded as Leopards from Centurions – and the 2019 season on the east Yorkshire coast with Hull Kingston Rovers.

Even so, it was difficult for Drinkwater not to miss the somewhat warmer climes of Perpignan when there is snow on the ground at the Wolves’ training facility or while pounding the sand dunes on Formby beach in the darkest depths of December.

“I’ll be honest, when I see the photos of the boys training in 17 degrees you go ‘ooh, that would have been nice!’,” Drinkwater, who is the third Catalans player to move to Warrington for 2023 along with Gil Dudson and Sam Kasiano, told Sky Sports.

“That [having Dudson and Kasiano already there] made it a little bit easier saying ‘hello’ to the boys at training when you first walk in, but I’ve already built good relationships with everyone.

“All the boys are great, the staff are great, and it is a really good place to be at the moment. I’ve settled quite quickly at training and I’m looking forward to the new season.”

The signings of Drinkwater’s fellow former Dragons Dudson and Kasiano have strengthened Warrington’s pack, an area head coach Daryl Powell is aiming to improve in his second year after the struggles of the 2022 Betfred Super League season which saw one of the expected title contenders stumble to an 11th-place finish.

Gil Dudson is another former Catalans player who has joined Warrington for 2023

Gil Dudson is another former Catalans player who has joined Warrington for 2023

Also joining are his compatriots and high-profile forwards Josh McGuire and Paul Vaughan from St George Illawarra Dragons and Canterbury Bulldogs respectively, and the 30-year-old expects the former NRL duo to make their mark on this side of the world in 2023.

“They’ve played at the highest level for a number of years and the big thing with them is they’re not old or past their best footy,” Drinkwater said.

“They could have easily played NRL for a lot more years and decided to come to Super League at a younger age. That’s great for Warrington and great for the competition they can attract players like that who aren’t at the back end of their career.

“As a half-back, one of the things you first look at is your forward pack. This is a team which has signed pretty much a new pack.

Josh McGuire is one of two high-profile forwards signed from the NRL by Warrington

Josh McGuire is one of two high-profile forwards signed from the NRL by Warrington

“There is a lot of size and I know I’m going to be playing behind a pack that is going to be going forward and not being dominated, which is going to make my life a lot easier.”

A Challenge Cup winner with Catalans in his first spell in 2018, Drinkwater leaves the French club after his second stint having been a significant part of the team which won the League Leaders’ Shield and reached the Grand Final for the first time in 2021.

But although he was initially expecting to still be in Perpignan this year, he was informed by head coach Steve McNamara the day after the Dragons’ end-of-season presentation night that he would have to find a new club for the upcoming Super League campaign.

Within 10 minutes of informing his agent though, Drinkwater had interest from Warrington – the club he kicked four goals against in that Challenge Cup final triumph – and his move to the Halliwell Jones Stadium on a two-year contract was confirmed in November.

They’ve never won Super League before and neither have I, and that’s part of the challenge coming across, trying to be in the team which can win a Super League title for the club.

Josh Drinkwater on joining Warrington

From his point of view, Drinkwater could hardly have found a better place to ply his trade either, as he sees his ambitions of becoming a Super League champion aligning with the Wolves’ – even though the four-time Grand Final runners-up finished just one place above the relegation spot last season.

“People are going to say it sounds stupid because they were 11th last year, but this is a club which wants success and I want the same thing,” Drinkwater said.

“They finished 11th last year, but this is a club from afar I’ve always admired and when you play Warrington, you know you’re in for a tough game. It’s also a club where they want to win and anything else is not good enough.

“They’ve never won Super League before and neither have I, and that’s part of the challenge coming across, trying to be in the team which can win a Super League title for the club.

Josh Drinkwater lifts the League Leaders' Shield with Catalans in 2021

Josh Drinkwater lifts the League Leaders’ Shield with Catalans in 2021

“There were so many factors about it, but the main thing was when I was leaving Catalans was I wanted to come to a strong club and an ambitious team, and I was very fortunate I landed at Warrington.”

After getting up to speed with his new team-mates in the early weeks of pre-season, Drinkwater will now be aiming to build his half-back partnership with George Williams, who returns to training this month after being given time off following playing for England at end-of-year Rugby League World Cup.

Warrington’s first pre-season hit-out of the year comes on February 4 when they host Drinkwater’s former club Leigh in Ben Currie’s testimonial, followed by kicking off the 2023 Super League season 12 days later live on Sky Sports when last year’s Grand Final runners-up Leeds Rhinos are in town.

“I can’t wait for our first game against Leeds on the Thursday night at the Halliwell Jones to open the Super League season up,” Drinkwater said. “I’m very excited about that and I’m sure it will go quickly now.”

The 2023 Betfred Super League season kicks-off in February with two fixtures from Round 1 live on Sky Sports. Grand Final runners-up Leeds Rhinos travel to Warrington Wolves on Thursday February 16, followed by promoted Leigh Leopards hosting Salford Red Devils on Friday February 17.





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