Warrington Wolves will start the new season without England utility back Stefan Ratchford and two of their new signings, Mitchell Dodds and Ryan Bailey.
Ratch SOM 2015
Ratchford and former Brisbane Broncos prop Dodds are still recovering from knee and wrist surgery respectively and will sit out the Wolves’ opening First Utility Super League match against defending champions Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on February 4.

Bailey will also miss a reunion with his old Rhinos team-mates after being booked in for surgery in London next week to correct a mystery complaint that has dogged him for the past two years.

Warrington coach Tony Smith said: “He’s been struggling with what was thought to be an Achilles problem for two years but, when we investigated, it was a muscle that some people grow around their Achilles.

“Not many people have it but he’s got it in both legs and he pulled one in training.

“We’re getting him operated on early next week and he’s out for six to eight weeks which puts him out for the first four rounds.”

Bailey, 31, who played more than 300 matches in a decade at Leeds but made just seven appearances in 2015 for Hull KR and then Castleford Tigers, has been handed an incentive-based short-term contract with the Wolves in a bid to resurrect his career.

“He’s been in some dark places for the last couple of years,” said former Leeds boss Smith. “He didn’t cope well with leaving Leeds.

“But he’s got his head on playing rugby league now and he’s handling the setback.”

Bailey produced his best rugby during Smith’s four years at Leeds from 2004-07 and is hoping the move to Warrington, where he shares an apartment with fellow newcomer Tom Lineham, will get his career back on track.

“I’ve been getting treated for the wrong injury for the last two years,” said Bailey at Warrington’s pre-season media day.

“That’s what’s been frustrating, that’s why I got so down.

“I’m excited now because, once it’s operated on, it’s gone away forever. Hopefully I’ll only miss four or five games. ”

Bailey admits he needs to justify the faith shown in him by Smith but added: “I need to repay myself as well because I let myself down for the last two years.”

Ratchford was forced to sit out England’s Test series against New Zealand after being booked in for minor knee surgery which proved to be more complex than anticipated.

“If he makes round one, I’d be surprised but we’re not going to rush him,” Smith added.

“He went in for a tidy up but it ended up being a bit more than we expected. It was a bit of a shock for him and us but, for the sake of two or three weeks, we can wait.”

In the absence of Ratchford, the versatile Kurt Gidley, one of eight new faces, is set to partner fellow Australian Chris Sandow at half-back with Matty Russell at full-back, with Smith delighted with the new resources at his disposal.

“We’ve got a lot more depth this year,” he said. “No one is a shoo-in, players are going to have to perform.”