JOE WARDLE can’t wait to test himself against some of Super League’s best once again.
After just 10 top-flight appearances, the 19-year-old centre has earned himself a Giants’ contract extension until the end of the 2014 season.
The former Bradford Bulls star will be looking to celebrate the news with another quality performance in tonight’s top-of-the-table clash against Warington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium (8.00).
It’s another big game for Wardle to experience.
But the Scotland international isn’t fazed by the prospect at all, and is simply relishing the prospect of challenging himself against some of the competition’s leading players.
“I suppose some may feel I’ve been thrown in at the deep end. I made my debut at home to Wigan in March and then played at Wigan in front of almost 20,000 the other week,” said Wardle.
“But I don’t really see it that way.
“As far as I’m concerned, every game is a game of rugby league, whether you’re playing in front of 20,000 or 2,000. You’ve got to treat each fixture exactly the same and give every opponent your full respect, because they all deserve it.
“They say you’ve got to play the game not the occasion, and that’s what I always try and do. I just go out there and try and do the best job I can, whoever we’re playing.
“But I am aware that I’ve already faced some of the best Super League has to offer and, in terms of my development, you can’t do better than that.
“The best way to improve is to test yourself against the best, which is what I’m doing right now.
“Tonight, I’ll be up against players like Ryan Atkins and Matt King, who are all top-quality internationals in my position, and I know I’m going to have to step up to the plate to cope with them.
“To be honest, I find that really exciting. It’s a case of the bigger the challenge, the better.”
And there’s no doubt that Warrington away is one of the biggest challenges Wardle and the Giants can face.
The Challenge Cup holders boast the best attack and defence in Super League XVI, although they slipped to second in the table on Wednesday after Wigan’s hard-fought home win over Castleford Tigers.
But Wardle believes his side is ready.
“We can’t wait for Friday!” he added.
“I reckon with the way we’ve been training this week after that win over Crusaders, we’re in a good position to give it a really good go.
“Obviously, we know we’re going to have to play better tonight to beat Warrington, but we know we’ve got the ability to do just that.
“Our confidence is as good as ever and our recent record against Warrington is pretty impressive.
“We know we can do it.”
Wardle is expected to continue at centre tonight, with fellow three-quarter Michael Lawrence ready to have another run in the second row after a successful pack debut in the 40-12 triumph over Crusaders.
There’s also a return tonight for Lee Gilmour who missed last week’s win through illness, although in-form prop Darrell Griffin is missing through injury.