Ratchford enjoying stand-off role
Warrington Wolves utility man Stefan Ratchford is happy to deputise for veteran playmaker Lee Briers as he continues to work out what his true position is.
Ratchford, 24, who was this week named in England coach Steve McNamara’s elite training squad, will be at stand-off for tomorrow’s Super League derby against St Helens in the continuing absence of Briers with a worrying neck injury.
Briers is being rested in the hope that he can avoid season-ending surgery and, although Ratchford is revelling in the chance to play in his old Salford City Reds role, he is ready to step aside once the old master is fit again.
“Obviously it’s been unfortunate to lose Briersy but it’s an opportunity for me and I’m enjoying my time there at the moment,” said Ratchford, who will make his 30th appearance for the Wolves and the 100th of his career in tomorrow’s game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
“I’m sure when he’s fit he’ll slot back in at six. I’m not going to give the shirt up lightly but, if you look at what Briersy brings and what he’s done for this team over the years and the quality of player he is, you’d expect him to come straight back in.”
Ratchford played for England against the Exiles at full-back last season and is hoping his versatility will help persuade McNamara to include him in his World Cup plans.
“I’m still working out what’s my best position,” he said.
“Stand-off was the position I played at Salford and it’s the position I enjoy.
“Whether it’s my best position remains to be seen. As frustrating as it is sometimes, you do get to experience other positions and some coaches like players who can move around.
“I’ve spoken to Steve about it and I think he is happy to have someone who can cover a few positions.”
Warrington coach Tony Smith sees Ratchford as the ideal back-up for another of his veteran players, full-back Brett Hodgson, as well as Briers, and has also played him at centre and even hooker and loose forward.
“If Lee was fit and healthy, Stef possibly wouldn’t be getting the same sort of game time he is at the moment so it’s good for his development,” Smith said.
“He’s a quality player and I think he’s worthy of playing a lot of Super League. It’s just how to fit him in when Hodgson and Briers are both fit.”