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Team triumph comes before individual highlights for Matty Ashton

Matty Ashton hopes to play a starring role for Warrington in the Betfred Challenge Cup final (Mike Egerton/PA)
Matty Ashton hopes to play a starring role for Warrington in the Betfred Challenge Cup final (Mike Egerton/PA)

Matty Ashton will rein in his natural instinct to turn on the style at Wembley on Saturday as he targets the first major silverware of his career in the Betfred Challenge Cup final.

The 25-year-old Warrington winger has hit the headlines for some spectacular finishes already this season and admits he is revelling under the positive influence of new Wolves coach Sam Burgess.

But despite growing up dreaming of making his own mark on the sport’s most prestigious knockout competition, Ashton is adamant a strong team performance is his priority as Warrington seek to sink favourites Wigan and clinch their first trophy since 2019.

Matty Ashton, right, dives to score Warrington’s second try against St Helens in the Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final
Matty Ashton scores Warrington’s second try against St Helens in the Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I grew up watching all the finals on TV and I travelled down with my family to watch a couple as a fan, so it feels surreal to be in this position now,” Ashton told the PA news agency.

“When I signed with Warrington five years ago it felt like the big chance I’d been waiting for, and now since Sam has come in he has given me the confidence to go out and show what I can do.

“He’s taught me that it’s not always about playing safe, it’s about playing expansive rugby and it’s no surprise that the tries have followed because that’s when I feel like I’m at my best.”

Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves – Betfred Challenge Cup – Semi-Final – Totally Wicked Stadium
Matty Ashton has credited Warrington head coach Sam Burgess with boosting his self-belief (Jess Hornby/PA)

Ashton earned praise from Burgess for his gravity-defying finish that helped Warrington to a 31-8 win at St Helens in an eye-catching quarter-final in April.

However while Ashton admits he would love to serve up another acrobatic match-clinching try at Wembley, he will happily sacrifice any individual headlines for the honour of lifting the famous trophy.

“A lot has been said about some of my tries and how I practice them in training but it’s not really something I set out to do and I just try to make the most of my chances when I get them,” added Ashton.

“It’s a big part of my game, carrying the ball and doing things that some other players can’t do. But all that matters at the end of it is that I’m helping the team, and as long as we win on Saturday, I don’t care how it comes.”

St Helens v Warrington Wolves – Betfred Challenge Cup – Quarter Final – Totally Wicked Stadium
Matty Ashton started his Challenge Cup journey with community club Rochdale Mayfield (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ashton has come a long way since he made his Challenge Cup debut as an 18-year-old playing for community club Rochdale Mayfield in a 60-6 humbling by Barrow in February 2017.

He has since become one of Super League’s biggest names, as well as starring for England in last year’s three-test series against Tonga, but his upbringing in the game is never far from Ashton’s mind.

“I clearly remember that game against Barrow,” he added. “It was cold and the BBC cameras were there, and I was interviewed after the game which was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been.

“Mayfield was a really great place to start and it’s sent so many players on to achieving big things in the sport. I couldn’t have imagined back then that I’d be standing here now, so close to getting my hands on that trophy.”