No panic at Wolves ahead of Saints clash

Warrington Wolves' Head Coach Tony Smith
Warrington Wolves' Head Coach Tony Smith

Warrington coach Tony Smith insists it is still early days and will not write off his team’s Grand Final prospects even if they lose their first six Super League matches of the season.

Last year’s runners-up have made their worst start to a season for eight years and defeat at Saints on Friday night could put them 11 points behind the leaders.

However, Smith says there is no need to panic and is playing down the significance of the derby fixture.

“It’s another two points available,” said Smith, whose side lost only six times throughout the regular season in 2016. “It’s no different to any other week.

“Last year we started with seven wins from seven. We know we can put games together. Whether you lose six in a season or six in a row means very little, it’s the same thing.

“There will be teams that lose six games this year who may well be near the top. We’ve got faith that our season would still be alive even if we lost six in a row, probably even seven, we’d still think we would get into that four.

“It’s still early days. We’re confident we will get ourselves going in the right direction sooner rather than later.”

The Wolves are boosted by the return of full-back Stefan Ratchford from major knee surgery while Saints are set to welcome back scrum-half Matty Smith, who rejoined his home-town club from Wigan in the close season but broke his leg in a friendly.

“If Matty’s back, he’s obviously massive for them,” Ratchford said. “He gets any team around the field really well, his kicking game is immense. It’s another task for us to deal with.

“It’s never an easy place to go but, if we can pick up the two points, it could be the thing that kick-starts our season and we could get a roll.”

Smith, who is hoping his side hit rock bottom in their defeats by Wigan and Leigh, is preparing for the return of his namesake, who helped Wigan to victory over the Wolves in October’s Grand Final, but believes St Helens have already got their season back on track without him.

“We’ve made provision for Matty but they’re playing well without him,” he said. “Their half-backs have been combining well - Theo Fages has done some terrific things of late. He’s a good player, somebody that we will certainly need to take care of.

“They were probably struggling a couple of weeks ago but their form in their last two matches has been pretty good.”