Wigan Warriors ace Ryan Sutton taking nothing for granted
At 22, Ryan Sutton is still a baby in front-rower terms.
But incredibly, the prop will chalk up his 100th appearance for Wigan if he plays against Hull KR today - in the fixture in which he made his senior debut.
“I’m getting old,” he smiled, when told about his upcoming milestone.
“It’s good that the coaches have looked at me and had some confidence in me to play as many games as I have, it’s a credit to them, really.”
Rugby league has its share of cliches, and among them is the old adage about props not coming into their own until they’re older.
“Coming through, people said to me, ‘You will only peak at 26-27’, but I didn’t really think about it like that,” he said.
“I know when you watch games, you see that the middle unit is quite a bit older on what the rest are, but it’s good to have played as many games as I have.
“I can feel it a bit on the body now, but it’s great as I feel like I’m just climbing, and I feel like I’m in a good place at the minute.”
An Ince Rose Bridge junior, Sutton made his Wigan debut in an Easter Monday win against Bradford in 2014.
He finished that season with nine appearances under his belt and built on that the following year, scoring his first try during an 18-game run.
By 2016 he had become a part of the furniture, missing just one game in their title-winning campaign and being shortlisted for the Super League Young Player of the Year award. He was in the team which claimed an historic World Club Challenge victory the following year yet, despite his regular appearance on the team-sheet, the amicable forward does not take his place for granted.
“Obviously you’ve got Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin), Tony Clubb and Ben (Flower) who start, but on the bench, it’s all there to play for,” he said.
“And that’s what is driving us in training and making us better throughout the year.
“You only have to look at our squad this year, and there is competitiveness all around, from some of the 18-year-olds like Caine Barnes, up to players like Gabe Hamlin and Romain (Navarrete).
“You only have to look at that and you can’t say there is a fixed person that can play week in week out.
“Waney has always said that the best players are going to play, which is good - we’re all competing to play.”
Sutton was in the side which lost at St Helens 21-18 on Friday and has been included in the provisional 19-man squad for today’s match.
Wane plans to freshen up the side by bringing in Dan Sarginson, Liam Marshall and Romain Navarrete - as well as hand a debut to Australian Gabriel Hamlin.
Sutton is excited about seeing how the 21-year-old goes in his first match.
“He’s a physical player, he runs hard and he’s got a good engine on him,” he said. “It was only a matter of time before his chance came and it’s going to be good to play with him, so it’s going to be exciting for all of us.”
Hamlin left Souths without playing in the NRL to pursue a career in England. Sutton has not shied away from the fact he may go the other way at the end of this season, with Parramatta, Cronulla and Newcastle among the Australian clubs interested in the out-of-contract prop.
He added: “I have got to look at my options, because it’s a big deal for me as regard to what I do.
“It’s the next few years of my life, so I’ve got to really think it over, and make sure what I do is best for me.”