Smith happy to stick with squad
Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith is not planning to make any signings for 2013 after demonstrating his faith in his current squad.
The double-chasers today signed up 10 of their 12 out-of-contract players for next season and after, including skipper Adrian Morley who will play beyond his 36th birthday.
Smith, who brought in three players for the start of this season, has put a halt to recruitment in order to give the club’s promising youngsters the chance to break through to Stobart Super League level.
“I won’t say we’ve closed the door entirely but it’s unlikely that anybody will come from outside,” he said.
“I’m happy with the players that we’ve got from outside in the past but, if you are just bringing in from outside all the time, there’s nowhere for the kids that you are producing to go.
“At some stage they’ve got to step in and be the replacements. I’m not saying it will be only Warrington players for ever and a day but you’ve got to give them opportunities to come through.
“There will still be times when some of our current boys finish their contracts that we’ll go back into the market place but we’ve got a pretty strong squad and I’m happy with what we’ve got.
“I’m a big one for stability. Most successful sporting clubs around the world have stability and not a lot of turn-around.”
In addition to Morley, Smith has kept faith with veterans Brett Hodgson and Lee Briers, who are both 34, and seasoned duo Mickey Higham and Ben Westwood, as well as youngsters James Laithwaite, Brad Dwyer, Mike Cooper, Gareth O’Brien and Chris Hill.
Full-back Hodgson, the 2009 Man of Steel who left Huddersfield Giants because they were prepared to offer him only a 12-month deal, has signed a new two-year contract which will take him past his 36th birthday.
Smith admits he has “managed” the little Australian this season and believes there is no reason why he should not continue his career beyond the length of his new contract.
“We’re taking care of him,” Smith said. “He wants to play each and every week but it’s his nasty coach that keeps him out of some of those games.
“It enables him to play like he did on Monday night. He’s had plenty of those performances this year for us and I’ve no doubt he’ll be able to do that for the next few years, as long as he wants to, as long as he’s happy to put his body through the aches and pains.
“Players look after themselves so much better nowadays and they can play well into their thirties because of sports science, training techniques and the recovery methods we’ve got now.
“He’s still playing good rugby and we’ve also got strength in depth which enables us have some special players like him here a bit longer.”
Veteran second rower David Solomona, 34, and winger Rhys Williams, 22, who is currently on loan to Castleford Tigers, are the club’s other out-of-contract players.
“We’ve not finalised those yet but there’s a bit of scope,” Smith said.
“Rhys has been out on loan and done a great job at Cas. Dave’s got a strong desire to keep playing but he’s been hampered by the fact that he’s still getting himself back in match fitness.
“I’m a big admirer of Dave; it’s whether he can get himself back to the levels we need him at or whether he needs to move on.”
Second-placed Warrington will be at full strength for Saturday’s crunch clash with leaders Wigan Warriors at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, with forwards Garreth Carvell and Ben Harrison returning to action after being rested for the 22-12 win over St Helens.
The Wolves’ only injury absentee is unlucky 20-year-old scrum-half Gareth O’Brien, who missed the last four months of last season with a serious knee injury and was today ruled out for the rest of this campaign with a shoulder injury.
O’Brien has made 14 senior appearances this year but saw his hopes of playing in the Carnegie Challenge Cup final at Wembley dashed when he dislocated a shoulder playing for the club’s under-20s on Monday.
“He’ll be operated on tomorrow so that’s his season finished,” Smith said. “We’re a bit shattered for Gaz.
“He had the knee last year and the shoulder this year. The boys who are in the side at the moment have the jump on him but, had there been injuries, he was pretty much the next cab off the ranks in the half-back positions.”