5th July 2018, 09:53 | Warrington

Wane hails Wolves forward Westwood

Wane hails Wolves forward Westwood

Shaun Wane has paid the ultimate compliment to the oldest player in Betfred Super League on the eve of his 500th match by revealing he would have loved to have coached him.

Warrington Wolves' durable forward Ben Westwood, who turns 37 this month, will reach the landmark in Friday's derby with Wane's Wigan Warriors side at the DW Stadium.

Westwood is one of just two ever-presents for the Wolves this season, a remarkable record for a player who began his Super League career with Wakefield Trinity in the last century.

"I love my team playing against Bennie Westwood," said Wane. "He's a player I would have liked to have coached.

"I rate him very highly. He's a tough competitor who has bashed our lads a few times and we've bashed him a few times. I like him."

Westwood has indicated that he would like to play on in 2019 and Warrington coach Steve Price is unlikely to stand in his way.

"Bennie is an absolute legend of a guy," Price said. "Everyone at the club loves Ben. He plays the game tough and we are glad he's on our side.

"It's a credit to him to have reached 500 appearances."

Westwood, who won 30 caps with England, will have current internationals Chris Hill and Stef Ratchford alongside him after they were rested for last week's win over Salford Red Devils as the Wolves seek to draw level on points with the second-placed Warriors.

Wigan gained a handsome win over Price's men at the Dacia Magic Weekend but they are still smarting from last month's 23-0 defeat in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

Warriors half-back Sam Powell, who will make his 150th appearance for the club, said: "We're still hurting from that so we'll probably use that as motivation.

"It's going to be tasty. Warrington-Wigan is always a big game and quite a few players have played for both sides."

High on that list is Warrington winger Josh Charnley, who has made an impressive return to league from a brief stint in union with 17 tries in just 14 matches for his new club.

Charnley has faced his home-town club twice already for the Wolves but will be making his first trip back to the DW Stadium, and Wane says he deserves a favourable reception.

"I think it will be good," he said. "The fans at Wigan like competitive players and that's what Josh was. He did a great job and scored some great tries.

"I would hope we give him a welcome to suit that because he loved his time at Wigan and he's never said anything bad, so we owe him that."

St Helens, who are six points clear of Wigan, host bottom club Widnes Vikings in another round 20 derby.

While Justin Holdbrook's men are on a 10-match winning run going back to April, the Vikings have lost their last 12 league matches - but the coach is not taking them lightly.

"They aren't far off at all," Holbrook said. "They obviously haven't been winning but they are trying hard and I'm sure a win is coming.

"We have to make sure we don't drop our game."