YOUNG gun Matty Nicholson has revealed the part Josh McGuire played in his decision to switch from Wigan Warriors to Warrington Wolves part way through the 2022 season.
The 19-year-old back-rower penned a three-and-a-half year deal with Warrington in June, beating off interest from both Super League and the NRL to secure the signature of one of the game’s highest-rated young forwards.
He was a regular feature of Daryl Powell’s squad for the remainder of the campaign and gained selection for the England Knights at season’s end.
Halifax-native Nicholson knew The Wire were trying to sign him and he was on a break during his day’s training at Wigan when his attention was drawn to his mobile phone.
“It was a bit weird to be honest. I was training at Wigan and we had half an hour break. I was in the changing rooms and I saw this Australian number ringing me,” said Nicholson at a fans’ forum staged at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
“So I answered it and it turned out to be Josh McGuire. He was really good and was trying to sell Warrington to me, telling me to come here basically. It was a good chat and I signed a couple of weeks later.
“I’d spoken to Karl Fitzpatrick before and I’d met him a few times. But when Josh rang me it sort of sunk in that it was what I wanted to do. Playing alongside players like Josh was going to be a really good thing for me.”
Fitzpatrick added: “Matty had been on our radar since the age of 14. We tried to sign him for the scholarship and we tried to sign him again as an academy player.
“So we tracked him throughout. We knew how good he was going to be and we saw a glimpse of that last season in the first team.
“We were determined to get him. We were surprised that he was allowed to go into the last year of his contract at Wigan. So when we were made aware of that we jumped and threw everything at it.
“I was talking to Josh about this special kid that we could get hold of from Wigan and I said I think it may help to get it over the line if you have a chat with him - just have a chat about your experience as an international and Origin level and how you can help develop Matty into a full international which I’m confident he will be some day.”
Two weeks into pre-season, Nicholson said he is already seeing the benefits of training alongside McGuire and fellow senior new signings including another Australian international forward in the shape of Paul Vaughan.
“Josh has only been here two weeks but he’s helped me loads,” said Nicholson.
“It can rest the young lads’ minds a bit when you’ve got senior players who have played to the standards that Josh and Vaughany have. It’s been a breath of fresh air for everyone.
“I think I’ve had a strong start to pre-season to be honest. I’ve been doing well in all areas.”
McGuire, also on the panel at the fans’ forum, chipped in: “Matty’s playing himself down a little bit. He got trainer of the week in the first season of pre-season.”
Nicholson, who travels to training from his Halifax home, spoke about how he is finding things working under Richard Marshall, now that he has stepped up the first team as an assistant coach.
He said: “He’s coached at Halifax and he was assistant at Saints when they won it, so he’s no mug, he knows what he’s doing and coming in on the defensive side of things I think it’s been a real good thing for us.”