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The moment I knew we had LIFT-OFF; WOLVES COACH GOT THAT GUT FEELING FLYING BACK FROM FRANCE.

Byline: IAN LAYBOURN ECHO Reporter alan.jones@liverpool.com @ALANJONESECHO

WARRINGTON coach Steve Price was 35,000 feet in the air when the realisation dawned that he had a team capable of winning trophies.

The 40-year-old Australian endured a difficult start to his first season in the Wolves hot seat, with just two wins from his first six matches as successor to the long-serving Tony Smith.

Smith paid the price for his club finishing in the bottom four in 2017 and doubts were raised over the ability of his successor when they found themselves two points off the bottom of the table six weeks into the new season.

However, a 26-0 win at Catalans Dragons, the team they would go on to play in the Challenge Cup final, suddenly changed everything.

"When I first came to the club I only knew three players," said Price. "I always knew it was going to take a bit of time, I wasn't quite sure how long.

"The start we had was a bit scratchy, we were dishing up inconsistent performances, but I always had the belief in the playing group.

"The turning point for me was in March when we went over to Catalans in the wet and we nilled them.

"Sitting in the aeroplane coming back to Manchester, I felt that burning feeling in my stomach, I knew then we had a football team.

"We went on that really good run of 10 wins and throughout the season the players and the team have got better through hard work."

That 10-match winning run took Price's men into the last eight of the Cup and they went on to beat Wigan and Leeds to set up a Wembley showdown with the Dragons.

Sadly for the 20,000 Warrington fans at the national stadium, the team under-performed and lost 20-14, but Price says the heart-to-heart discussions that followed helped kick-start their season.

And tomorrow they have the chance to make history with a maiden Grand Final victory over Wigan at Old Trafford.

"Wembley wasn't one of our greatest days but we learned a lot of important aspects about each other," he said.

"Sometimes you need some tough discussions, some brutal honesty in life. It's not nice but it is what it is. To get to where we want to be, to hold trophies in October, you've got to have those discussions.

"I'm super proud of the players to be able to rebound from that setback and put ourselves in a position to be able to create history on Saturday night.

"You've seen a number of strong performances from that day from the team. It's about how much they care about each other."

Warrington have already lost three times at Old Trafford and they face a Wigan team on a roll, hoping to send popular coach Shaun Wane out on a high.

"Shaun has been a great manager for their club for a long time and after the game I'll wish him well," Price said.

"We can't control what they're doing, it's all about Warrington delivering an 80-minute performance. "If we can go out there and replicate a very similar performance from last Thursday against St Helens - show the same defensive attitude and tidy up a few things from an offensive point of view - then we are going to give ourselves every opportunity."

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Warrington Wolves coach Steve Price at Old Trafford ahead of this weekend's Grand Final

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 12, 2018
Words:574
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