Richards focused on here and now

Pat Richards runs at Wakefield's Matt Blaymire
Pat Richards runs at Wakefield's Matt Blaymire

PAT Richards is delaying talks over his future to devote his full attention to reclaiming his golden form.

The reigning Man of Steel has now played four games since returning from a nasty Achilles injury suffered in the Grand Final last October.

Warriors have won three of those matches and Richards’ two-try display against St Helens on Good Friday, in particular, suggested he is edging back to his best.

Out of contract at the end of this season, the 29-year-old has spoken to the Warriors about extending his stay at the DW Stadium.

But he does not want to be distracted by thoughts of his long-term future for the time being.

He said: “I’ve spoken to the club (about a new deal) but I’m just concentrating on my footy at the moment.

“I spent all pre-season on getting right and all I’m foccussed on now are the games, and hopefully playing consistently.”

Richards is currently in his sixth season since signing from Wests Tigers, and Wigan fans will be hoping he moves to extend that run even further.

It is a rarity for Australian players to spend so long at one English club but another former Warriors wing favourite, Brett Dallas – a team-mate of Richards in 2006 – had seven successful years with the Warriors.

Rugby union outfit Sale Sharks have already declared an interest in the goal-kicking winger and there would be plenty of other clubs, in both codes, interested in his services.

There was even a suggestion last year – trumpeted by Richards’ agent David Riolo – that he may try his hand at American Football.

Meanwhile, Thomas Leuluai’s New Zealand team-mates will warm up for the end-of-season Four Nations series by playing Australia in New South Wales before flying to Britain.

The two super-powers will play a Test match in Newcastle on October 16, a fortnight before the scheduled start of the Four Nations tournament also involving England and Wales.

It means the Tasman rivals will play each other four times in 2011 if they reach the Four Nations final.

Their first meeting is at Gold Coast’s Skilled Park on Friday week, the venue having been switched from Christchurch because of the February earthquake which devastated the region.

“The rivalry between Australia and New Zealand has never been stronger and a two-Test format will really showcase the prestige and excitement of international rugby league,” ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said.