AS soon as the Challenge Cup draw was made, Matty Ashton’s phone started to buzz.
From close family to old teammates, they all knew a special day was incoming for Warrington Wolves’ young speedster.
On Sunday, he will be part of the Wire side that takes to the field he was once often seen flying up and down – Swinton Lions’ Heywood Road home ground.
However, his connection with Swinton goes way beyond that electrifying year he spent with them in 2019 thanks to his father Gareth and brothers Peter and John.
“As soon as it was announced, I had a few missed calls off my Dad and my brother,” he said.
“As it happens, they are both big Swinton fans. As am I really – I grew up going to watch Swinton with both of them.
“I think my Dad said he’s hoping I don’t play in this one!
“He was born in Swinton and has supported them pretty much ever since he can remember.
“It will be a surreal moment but it’s going to be good to go back and see everyone at a club that has done so much for my career.
“A couple of the Swinton boys have given me a message saying it was bound to happen!
“I’m still really good mates with a lot of the boys there so I’m looking forward to seeing them and playing against them.”
When Swinton took a punt on a raw but clearly talented youngster from the Rochdale Mayfield amateur club, not many would have believed he would have been lining up against them for Warrington a little over two years’ later.
When his first year saw him take the Championship by storm and wow everybody with his hair-raising speed, however, it was clear he was destined for great things.
Upon pulling on the Wire jersey, he had an immediate impact – catching the eye early in an eventful 2020 season.
The Covid-enforced stoppage gave him chance to recover from a serious hamstring injury and he eventually finished as the club’s top tryscorer and was voted as player of the season by Warrington Guardian readers.
So far, though, 2021 has been a frustrating one for Ashton having been limited to a cameo substitute appearance in the first two Super League games, much to the chagrin of many supporters.
On Sunday, he knows he must take his chance to shine.
“For me personally, it’s about taking this opportunity to show the coaches what I can do again so it’s a big game. I’ll be giving it my all,” he said.
“It’s always frustrating when you don’t play but at a top club like Warrington, you have to bide your time.
“It’s not always going to go your way as there’s so many quality players here.
“I will just keep my head down, keep working hard in training and my chance will come.
“If I’m not playing, that’s just what it is. I’ll keep pushing the players that do play on.”
He acknowledges that improvements need to be made to his game and that the pace he is blessed with can only get him so far.
However, he has had a pretty good teacher of late in the shape of Australian legend Greg Inglis.
While he has been getting his body in shape to make his rugby league comeback with The Wire, the modern-day icon has been taking sessions with the club’s outside backs to help improve their games.
“Seeing him every day is a bit surreal. He’s probably the best to ever play the game in my position at full-back,” Ashton said.
“I keep tipping him up on a few things – anything will help!
“He’s helped me out a lot with the basic skills I’ve probably had to improve on over the past year.
“My running lines is something he’s helped me with as well. Hopefully I can show all this when I get the chance.”