Warrington will once again be without Greg Inglis when they travel to Perpignan to take on Catalans Dragons but Wolves coach Steve Price is convinced the former Australia international will be worth the wait.
The 2013 World Cup winner reversed his retirement decision to sign a one-year deal with Warrington but has been conspicuous by his absence for the opening three rounds of Super League and the Challenge Cup win over Swinton.
It is two years since Inglis’ last appearance in rugby league, so Warrington are wary of rushing him back although Price believes the centre will be in contention to make his Super League debut in next week’s visit of Hull KR.
And while he is keen to avoid placing undue expectation on the 34-year-old Inglis, Price has been encouraged by what he has witnessed from his fellow Australian in practice in recent weeks.
“He’s actually been training really well,” Price said at his weekly press conference. “Each week is slightly different but he’s one week away from actually playing.
“There will be more psychological tests and understanding that his body is ready to go. He’s been fantastic at training and he’s certainly going to add value to our team when he comes.
“He’s a pretty happy-go-lucky type of guy when he trains and that’s what we want to see from Greg: being happy and smiling and actually enjoying it.
“I’m sure when the time arises he might have a few nerves like all great players do. But there’s no pressure or expectation from myself on Greg, I just want to see him happy and just get out there and enjoy his rugby.”
Price, who will also be without suspended winger Tom Lineham on Saturday, acknowledged Catalans will be a stiff test, with the French side winning all four games this season – three in the league and one in the Challenge Cup.
“They’re playing some really good football of late,” Price added. “I feel that Sam (Tomkins) is probably the best player in the game at the moment at the back, he’s a big threat.
“The big boys are doing a really good job through that middle third and the style of footy is quite threatening. We’re going to have to be at our best.”
Warrington – who will take a private charter plane to Perpignan on Saturday morning and return straight after the fixture – are set for their first match at the Stade Gilbert Brutus since a bad-tempered affair in August 2019.
Three players – Catalans pair Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum, as well as Warrington’s Jake Mamo – were sent off while both clubs were fined following clashes between supporters.
Warrington forward Joe Philbin believes the bad blood between the teams started when they were beaten in the Challenge Cup final three years ago.
Philbin said: “I enjoy the Catalans fixture, it’s always a very physical affair and that’s my kind of game, to be honest.
“We’ve had a lot of good battles like in the 2018 Challenge Cup final, they broke our hearts. Ever since then it’s been quite personal between the two of us. It’s one that I bookmark in the calendar.”
While Warrington are unchanged from last week’s 14-14 draw at Hull, the Dragons have brought in prop Jordan Dezaria for fellow front-rower Lambert Belmas, with Joel Tomkins set to serve the last of an eight-match suspension.
His brother Sam needs just 12 more points to reach 1,000 in Super League, having amassed 215 for Catalans to go with his 773 for Wigan.