Smith prepared for climate change
Tony Smith is hoping his Warrington Wolves team can make the adjustment from summer rugby in time for their Grand Final debut on a cold wet night in Manchester.
The former England coach has masterminded three Challenge Cup final victories for the Wolves in the last four years but they have all come on warm Saturday afternoons in late August, which he warns will bear little resemblance to what they can expect from the first Saturday night in October.
Smith was thrilled with Warrington’s 36-18 semi-final win over St Helens at Langtree Park on Saturday and is hoping their cup final experience will count in their favour when they seek their first league title for 57 years.
Standing in their way are Smith’s old club Leeds Rhinos, who have lost at Wembley in each of the previous three years but have won at Old Trafford in four of the last five Grand Finals.
Smith said: “They’re very experienced and very good at it. But I don’t think it’s too daunting for our boys.
“I would hope that because we’ve had finals and big-game experience in other ways that may well steady our nerves.
“I think we’ve learned some lessons in the last few weeks about how to play at this time of the year. That was important for us.
“Leeds keep talking about how the rugby is different at this time of the year and it is. It’s colder and wetter and it’s hard to play expansive footie.
“It’s a different formula so hopefully we’ll be able to come up with the right formula for next week.”
Smith has became the first man to coach two different teams to the Grand Final, having won the title twice with Leeds before moving across the Pennines, and now he is hoping to become the first coach to complete the double since Daniel Anderson achieved the feat with St Helens in 2006.
“It’s possible,” he said. “I’m sure that will be an incentive for some of those boys.
“Playing at Old Trafford, it does change the experience a bit. Atmosphere wise, it seems a bit more on top of you.
“But that probably excites our players. It’s nice to have a different experience and hopefully they will handle it well.
“I hope it’s not a case of having to lose one to win one.”