WARRINGTON Wolves are back in for pre-season ahead of the 2024 Super League season and new recruits from down under Zane Musgrove and Lachlan Fitzgibbon are getting acclimatised to the cold weather.
Used to undertaking pre-season in the searing heat of the Australian summer, it’s all change for the forward duo as the frost starts to bite.
Fitzgibbon has been preparing for the move to Warrington for so long that Daryl Powell was still coach when he penned his deal back in June.
A proud Novocastrian, Fitzgibbon shrugged off talk of an early switch to England by playing out the rest of the season with Newcastle Knights, who went on a 10-game winning run to reach the semi-finals.
The back-rower has been a one-club man in the NRL with the Knights, making more than 100 appearances.
He said: “I couldn’t see myself playing for another NRL club. Super League was always on my radar and when I signed last year, the team had been going really well. I felt for me and my partner this was the perfect time to head overseas and give myself a new challenge.
“It’s a great town with a rich working history, it’s a blue-collar town. It reminds me a lot of Newcastle. I found a lot of comparables between the two and that’s what’s made the move so easy for me. I’m loving the town and loving the community and I think it’ll be even better once I get out in front of the home fans.
“I’m actually enjoying the weather. It’s part of the experience. I’ve never experienced cold like this, so it’s new for me. I’m looking forward to the snow!”
Fitzgibbon had conversations with former Wire favourite Kurt Gidley, himself a Newcastle legend, ahead of his move, and also spoke to the likes of Huddersfield forward Luke Yates, St Helens’ Sione Mata’utia and former Man of Steel Jackson Hastings before committing to the switch.
He was the first new signing announced for 2024, signing a three-year deal.
Meanwhile, Musgrove has his eyes on a starting prop position for the Wolves in 2024 and also has a desire to earn international honours with Samoa, who are in discussions over a series with England at the end of the year.
He headed over with his partner and newborn daughter in time for the first day of pre-season and they’re settling in well.
“I didn’t know much. I did a bit of homework when I signed and watched the boys when they made the finals. Everything I’ve been hearing about the club is positive. I was speaking to Ben Murdoch-Masila and he was telling me everything about the club and saying a lot of positive things.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. Sammy (Burgess) was a big influence of why I came over and I’m chasing success. The club has won the Challenge Cup but they haven’t won the big one and I think with the system that we have in place, I think we could do something pretty special and I want to be part of that.”
The 27-year-old has played for South Sydney, Wests Tigers and St George-Illawarra in the NRL, featuring 11 times last season for the Dragons before making the decision to switch to Super League.
And he wants to try and have the same impact that Paul Vaughan had when he arrived at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Musgrove added: “I want to be a dominant force in the game. That’s my style. I want to show leadership and ownership and be someone who’s reliable and get the job done.”
As well as Fitzgibbon and Musgrove, Warrington Wolves has also signed Papua New Guinea international centre Rodrick Tai from Down Under, though he is yet to arrive in the UK.
Jordan Crowther has made his move from Wakefield permanent and youngster Wesley Bruines has joined from St Helens.
Hooker Brad Dwyer returned to the club after a six-year absence from Hull FC, while Sam Powell became the latest signing, arriving from Wigan last month.
Warrington start the season with a trip to Catalans Dragons on February 17.