Ladbrokes Challenge Cup

Patton hoping to experience Wembley win with Wolves

13th May 2017, 18:09

Warrington

Patton hoping to experience Wembley win with Wolves

Dec Patton was a spectator when Warrington Wolves reached the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final last August, but he aims to be a central figure if they return to Wembley this year.

The 21-year-old was a fringe player for most of 2016 but forced his way into the team for the Grand Final.

And after starting the Wolves' last six Betfred Super League matches, he will line up alongside Kevin Brown in the halves for Sunday's sixth-round tie with Widnes Vikings at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

"We went down the day before the final last year and stayed with the boys at the hotel," said Patton.

"It was amazing. I'd love to do that again and hopefully get the win this time."

Local lad Patton lost his place in the team earlier in the season and, facing competition from experienced trio Brown, Kurt Gidley and Stefan Ratchford, he has learned to become patient.

"It's always going to be tough," he said. "You've got to understand your position in the team sometimes, even though you want to be playing.

"We've got most players back now and everyone is fighting for positions. You can't have an okay game one week and expect to be in the team the week after, so everyone is on their toes.

"I'm in at the minute and I've got to keep working hard to make sure I stay there."

Warrington, who were runners-up to Hull FC at Wembley, are boosted by the return of their England trio as they seek to go one better.

Skipper Chris Hill is an England regular but both Ratchford, who was surprisingly chosen ahead of Zak Hardaker at full-back against Samoa in Sydney last Saturday, and Brown made the most of their late call-ups to strengthen their hopes of a World Cup trip.

"They're in good shape and in very good spirits," Warrington's former national coach Tony Smith said of his England men. 

"They were complimentary of the camp. They said it was very well run and they got a lot out of it.

"It also boosted their confidence on a personal level. Stefan certainly put his best foot forward and I'm expecting him to get stronger and stronger. He's enhanced his chances of being a part of it and enhanced his chances of being full-back on that performance."

Gidley and Harvey Livett moved positions to accommodate Ratchford and Brown, plugging the gaps created by the absence through injury of hooker Daryl Clark and centre Rhys Evans.

The Wolves beat Widnes 20-18 on their way to the final last year, and although the Vikings have no fewer than 12 senior players missing through injury, coach Denis Betts says his team are determined to cause a surprise.

"It's a massive game," Betts said. "You could say this is where our season hinges now.

"We still have a possibility of making the eight but the one chance we have of giving something to our supporters is the Challenge Cup. And what better way than starting against our biggest rivals. 

"If you can't get up for this game then you're in the wrong game."

Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos are expected to see off part-time opposition to secure their places in Sunday's quarter-final draw.

The Warriors are boosted by the return of George Williams and Michael McIlorum for their clash with Swinton Lions at Heywood Road, but skipper Sean O'Loughlin sits out the tie after returning from England duty with a calf strain.

Coach Shaun Wane has called up young forwards Callum Field and Oliver Partington to face the Lions, who knocked out Huddersfield Giants in the last round.

Leeds have England second rower Brett Ferres back from a six-match ban for their home tie against Barrow Raiders while prop Brad Singleton faces his home-town club for the first time.