Warrington Wolves a Super League 'real deal' - John Kear
Warrington Wolves are genuine contenders to win the Super League crown in 2015, according to BBC Super League Show pundit John Kear.
Tony Smith's side ended Leeds' 100% start to the campaign in an 18-6 round five victory on Friday, scoring three tries to the Rhinos' one.
That win brought the Wolves within two points of leaders St Helens.
"They're a real threat and I think they're the real deal," Batley Bulldogs coach Kear said.
Even without captain and prolific scorer Joel Monaghan, the Wolves showed their ability to trouble the defences of leading Super League sides.
Kear continued: "They've got Kevin Penny, who is having a second coming, and on the other side Matty Russell, whose work from dummy half really caused Leeds problems.
"[Gareth] O'Brien seems to be getting more and more at ease, with [Stefan] Ratchford at full-back.
"I think they're growing as a team really well. Tony Smith will be very happy where they're at."
Penny's return to form at Warrington adds to the depth of options, and marks a turnaround in his fortunes after a nomadic rugby league journey that took in spells at Widnes, Wakefield, Harlequins and Swinton.
The 27-year-old, who was named in the 2007 Dream Team after an explosive debut season, left the club in 2010 but was re-signed by Smith last season and has worked his way back into the reckoning.
Kear, who worked with the Warrington-born wideman at the Wildcats, believes the spell out of the limelight has been key to his improvement.
"He got a lot of publicity at first and perhaps he got too much too soon, but what he's always had is pace to burn," Kear added.
"What he had to learn is how to play rugby league offensively and defensively. He seems to have learned that with spells at London, Wakefield and in the Championship.
"Now he's been given a second chance from Tony Smith, he's really taken it with both hands.
"I'm pleased for him, it's been a 'Roy of the Rovers' tale."