Smith: Nothing is decided
Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith insists places are still up for grabs in his Wembley team.
The in-form Wolves maintained their hopes of landing a clean sweep of the major trophies with an impressive 30-10 win over Stobart Super League leaders Wigan Warriors at the Halliwell Jones Stadium yesterday.
A sixth successive win in all games puts Smith’s men just a point behind the Warriors and they could briefly go top when they play London Broncos next Friday in their last match before the Carnegie Challenge Cup final.
It is hard to imagine Smith not fielding yesterday’s line-up against Leeds Rhinos at Wembley on August 25 but he says his mind is still open.
“It’s way too soon for me to know that,” he said. “It’s totally undecided.
“There are so many twists and turns and things that can happen to you.
“There are certainly some people who you would imagine would be favourites in terms of selection but there’s no guarantees.
“Injury and form and all sorts of things can jeopardise people’s positions.
“That’s the beauty of rotation. The people who are coming in are on form and it puts pressure on everybody. They’ve all got to turn up to play their best.”
Smith has tinkered with his team all season and admits he is likely to rest players against the bottom-of-the-table Broncos, with forwards Tyrone McCarthy and Mike Cooper certain to play after making way yesterday for the return of Ben Harrison and Garreth Carvell.
“The team will change again at London,” Smith said. “Tyrone McCarthy has been on fire lately and he’ll play again on Friday.
“And anyone who plays next week will be playing for a position the week after – just like those boys were against Wigan.
“I’ve got some responsibility to give some of those boys an opportunity to play for jerseys.
“They all buy into the rotation but they also want to put their best foot forward to lay stake for a claim for one of those jerseys the following week.
“Whoever goes on to the field next week has got a lot to play for.”
With the exception of young half-back Gareth O’Brien, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery this week, Smith has the luxury of having a full-strength squad to choose from.
Meanwhile, Leeds coach Brian McDermott is anxiously awaiting news on the knee injury sustained by half-back Danny McGuire which overshadowed his side’s 68-24 win over Widnes Vikings on Friday night.
McGuire, who will go for a scan tomorrow to determine the extent of the injury, was on crutches after the game but said: “It’s not too bad, hopefully I’ll be all right.”
McDermott is likely to leave a final decision as late as possible on a player who has become pivotal to their hopes of ending their 13-year wait for Challenge Cup final glory.
Leeds rested England internationals Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Rob Burrow against the Vikings but McDermott is likely to field a strong team against Catalan Dragons in Perpignan next Saturday, their last match before Wembley.
“We can’t think like that,” he said. “You can’t not play because you might get injured.”