AAP Rugby

Price nears redemption in Super League

By AAP Newswire

Steve Price's NRL head coach career lasted less than 60 games but he is now on the brink of grand final glory on the other side of the world.

The former St George Illawarra mentor, who was axed in 2014, will lead out Warrington in the English Super League grand final against Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford on Saturday (Sunday 0400 AEDT).

In addition to rebuilding his own reputation, Price is aiming to write his name into Warrington folklore by becoming the first Wolves coach since 1955 to deliver a championship.

The 40-year-old has engineered a remarkable turnaround at a club who flirted with relegation under the watch of former Illawarra and St George five-eighth Tony Smith last year.

Price, who was assistant to Wayne Bennett when St George Illawarra won the 2010 NRL grand final, and also to Shane Flanagan when Cronulla prevailed in 2016, has already led Warrington to the Challenge Cup final this year.

However, that experience at Wembley Stadium was a sour one with Catalans pulling off a shock win.

But Price's side bounced back strongly and secured their spot in the decider by stunning runaway minor premiers St Helens and their newly-crowned Man of Steel Ben Barba in the preliminary final.

A generally shy man, uncomfortable in the limelight, Price showed how much the win meant to him with an emotional display on the touchline at the final siren.

Criticised as not being made of the right stuff to be a NRL head coach, despite being regarded by many players as one of the best technical brains in the business, Price has thrived away from the microscope of rugby league in Sydney in north-west England

"We had to produce a strong performance to knock off the raging favourites in St Helens," Price told AAP.

"I was super-proud of the guys. It just shows the trust and belief we have in the team.

"We're going to have another hard-nosed performance like that on Saturday, and an even better performance."

Price, whose own playing career was cut short by injury, said he owes a lot to Newcastle coach Nathan Brown, who first offered him a job 16 years ago at the Dragons and remains a trusted confidant.

"When my career got short, I always had aspirations to get into coaching and Browny gave me that chance," Price said.

"He invited me over to be his assistant coach in the under-20s and that's how it transformed. I worked myself up through the grades at St George and had 14 unreal years there.

"He (Brown) had a great coaching career over here. He won a title with St Helens in 2014. He's doing some really exciting things at Newcastle."

Warrington, who have former NRL players Tyrone Roberts, Bryson Goodwin and Ben Murdoch-Masila in their ranks, have never won a Super League title and Price is under no illusions about what it would mean to the town to beat local rivals Wigan.

"Let's hope I'm the magic touch come Saturday at 7.30pm," he said.

"It would be special. It means so much to the town and to the people."