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ENGLAND hooker Daryl Clark believes Warrington is once more a good place to be as the club prepare to play in their second major final of the year.
After winning the League Leaders’ Shield two years ago, the Wolves’ fortunes plummeted in 2017 and they were forced to battle it out in the Qualifiers to avoid relegation from Super League.
The fall from grace cost long-serving coach Tony Smith his job and his successor Steve Price, having restored Warrington’s fortunes, now has the chance to match the feat of fellow Australian Michael Maguire, who steered Wigan to Grand Final glory in his first season in Super League eight years ago.
“It’s miles better than last year,” said Clark, the 2014 Man of Steel whose own collapse in form mirrored that of the team last season.
“It was a pretty disappointing season, as a club and individually, so to be sat here having finished fourth and made both the Challenge Cup final and the big one, the Grand Final, it’s a pretty good place to be.”
On Saturday, Price will pit his wits against Maguire’s successor Shaun Wane, who was assistant coach in 2010 when Wigan triumphed 22-10 over St Helens, and has made a big impact on the Wolves players, according to Clark.
“He’s come in and given everyone that bit of confidence we were lacking last year,” he said. “There is a bit of a buzz around the place.
“Tony did a lot for the club, winning cups and turning them into a big-name team, but maybe after nine years it was a little bit stale and we needed some new faces, I don’t know. But the change seems to have worked.”
Of course, Warrington fell short at Wembley, where they suffered a surprise defeat to Catalans Dragons, but they produced an impressive defensive display to beat hot favourites St Helens in last week’s semi-finals to clinch a fourth Grand Final appearance.
“We were really disappointed how we performed on the big stage at Wembley,” Clark said.
“We were making errors straight from the kick-off but we will learn from that. If we start well and build a game, we give ourselves a chance.
“We knew at Saints if we turned up and played as well as we know we can do, we were capable of winning the game.
“The fact that not many people gave us a chance was an extra bit of motivation.
“It will be the same this week, pretty much everyone is writing us off outside our own dressing room and hopefully we can prove people wrong again.”
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