Smith sees need for change

  • Last Updated: July 23 2013, 20:14 BST

Warrington coach Tony Smith has given his full backing to the tactical ploy of Wigan boss Shaun Wane in resting key players for this weekend's Tetley's Challenge Cup semi-finals.

Tony Smith: Happy to rest players with cup in mind
Tony Smith: Happy to rest players with cup in mind

Wane left out Sam Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin and Harrison Hansen for Monday night's Super League derby at St Helens and brought acting captain Michael McIlorum off after just 26 minutes with Saturday's Cup clash with London Broncos in mind.

Smith also rested five of his senior players for Sunday's home game against Hull KR as he cast one eye on next Sunday's second semi-final against Hull.

While the Wolves were still able to win 34-6 against the Robins, Wigan suffered a 22-16 defeat at Langtree Park to miss the chance to reclaim top spot.

Huddersfield are now a point clear of both Wigan and Warrington in the race for the league leaders' shield but Smith insists the Challenge Cup must come first.

Adrian Morley, Stefan Ratchford, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix and Paul Wood will all return to face Hull at Huddersfield after sitting out Sunday's league game.

"Each of them had knocks," Smith said. "They could have played but they were rested for reasons. They're freshened up and in a lot better state.

"Had we lost, it wouldn't have mattered. I would still do it over again, just as Shaun did last night.

"It puts things into perspective, in terms of how important the Challenge Cup is.

"The financial rewards are so much different as well as the prestige of the Challenge Cup in comparison to the league leaders' shield.

"It's a no-brainer so, if he's come under any criticism, I reckon anyone else in their right mind would do what he did last night and what I did last Sunday.

"You run the risk of losing games - you leave yourself open when that happens - but you'd do it each and every time."

The versatile Grix is set to return at centre for the injured Ryan Atkins, who is Warrington's only confirmed absentee for the Cup-tie.

The holders also have a major doubt over England scrum-half Richie Myler, who has missed the last four matches with a knee jury.

"Richie Myler has an outside chance," Smith said. "He's going for a scan today to see how he's improved.

"He's making big progress but I think it's just too soon for him. I think we'll have enough troops without him but he's doing everything he can to make himself available."

Hull are definitely without leading scorer Ben Crooks, who injured an ankle in last Friday's 19-12 defeat at Bradford, and have doubts over half-back Richard Horne, Daniel Holdsworth and forward Liam Watts.

But Smith insists he will not be underestimating the challenge of Hull, who were the last team to defeat his side.

"They'll have a few quality players missing but a helluva lot of quality on the field," Smith said.

"We'll certainly be wary of the talent they will have on the park."

Meanwhile, Warrington's veteran stand-off Lee Briers has revealed he could leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old former Wales international joined the Wolves from St Helens in 1998 and has become the club's all-time leading scorer.

"I'm talking to a few clubs," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

"It should all be finalised within two weeks and it'll probably include some coaching.

"I've made no secret of the fact that I want to go into the coaching side with my next deal and I'm close to agreeing something."


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