Warrington Wolves’ squad believe their Challenge Cup final win over St Helens can spur them on to finally end their Super League drought.
Warrington have never won a Super League crown since the competition’s formation in 1996, and last won a championship in 1955. The Wolves reached Old Trafford last year, as well as in 2016 and 2013, but have yet to win a grand final.
Star fullback Stefan Ratchford feels their upset victory against Saints at Wembley can lead to greater things and shows they are ready. St Helens were heavy favourites to defeat Warrington, but went down 18-4 on a hot afternoon.
“It’s certainly a different feeling to the last couple of times down here,” Ratchford told The Sportsman.
“It’s unbelievable, you can’t really explain the feeling you get when you’re 18-4 up with four minutes to go and you’re thinking ‘we might have done enough here’.
“It’s just… it’s hard to explain.
I’m just absolutely on top of the world and I just want to get that feeling more and more. Hopefully that feeling will spur us on in the bigger games.
“It’s been quite a fun week because it’s almost the situation we were in last year – everyone wrote Catalans off last year, Warrington have already won it blah blah blah.
“We’ve had it this year – Saints have won it, Saints are the best team, they’re the most consistent. Everyone wrote us off but in our little group, in our changing room at training we were quietly confident.
We know we can mix it with the best.
We knew we could get there, we just had to step up to the plate and do it for 80 minutes, and we pretty much did that today.”
The Wolves lost in both major finals last year, but forward Joe Philbin believes that bitter experience could have its advantages.
The Warrington squad now know what is required to win big games, and have defeated St Helens twice in important, knockout matches. They also managed to deny Saints without the services of their marquee man Blake Austin.
Philbin came off the bench at Wembley and scored the first try of the game, sending the Wolves on to a famous Cup victory.
“The experience of last year helped massively,” he admitted.
“Last year I was thinking 'wow, I'm just lucky to be at Wembley' but this year I knew we had a job to do. I didn't really look around too much. I just had a steely focus, as did the rest of my teammates.
We knew we had a job to do and we did it against the best team in the league by quite a stretch. What a feeling.
“A lot of people questioned us outside of our group, but we're not too fussed about that because we have a lot of belief within our four walls.
“We delivered on what we promised we would do for each other, so we are happy. It probably leads us into the big games at the end of the year quite nicely.”