Smith: A whole lot to play for
Wolves travel over to France this weekend for their final game of the regular season.
Last Friday night's win over St Helens saw the side secure second spot and Wolves' head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: "We learnt a lot of lessons from the Widnes game; while it was hurtful and embarrassing in many ways in terms of the performance it helped us a whole lot. We played the conditions and the circumstances a lot better in the game against Saints.....It was a good all-round performance and we handled the situation very well.
"We've been one or two for the last three years which confirms that we are there or thereabouts... We've finished where we deserve to in terms of the league table; there are some games we look back on and wish we could have handled them better but they've helped us along the way....We'd certainly like to come first every year and win the Challenge Cup and Grand Final as that is what we are striving for in terms of trying to be at our best; we are not far off."
This weekend is set to see the return of a couple of players following time on the sidelines through injury.
"We are in a good bill of health at the moment. Myler's still not right and will be checked out in the next week or two in terms of progress but we'll have Hodgson back this week and the great news on top of that is that Ryan Atkins is back available for us. It's nice to get him back the week before the finals and gives him a chance to play himself into some form. He's looking good in training and has worked really hard since his injury. He deserves this chance back in the team."
The Dragons provide a stern test for the travelling Wolves ahead of the upcoming play-off series.
"Any time you travel to Perpignan and play Catalan it's a big challenge. We've experienced both sides of it - when we've handled it well and also not so well - it is a good test. They are a good team and will ask a lot of questions of any side. In terms of the ball they are prepared to take some risks and make some errors; they are prepared to throw it around so we'll need to be good in our defence and with the ball to control the number of times Catalan get to attack. The weather and travel just make it all the more tricky but we are excited about it. It's good to get away as a group, to get us ready and bond together before the finals.
"We'd like to build on our St Helens performance. It was a good solid hit-out. This is the most important game of the year for us; we want to go in with some confidence and, individually, each player knows there is a lot of competition for places in our squad so it's important they play to their best. There's a whole lot to play for; it's not a dead rubber as far as we are concerned."
This weekend also serves up a game on home soil for those fans not making the journey over to France. The Under 19s will face Huddersfield in the opening round of the Academy play-offs.
"We wish them luck on Saturday afternoon. We'll be away but they‘ve done tremendously well. They are a young u19s team with a lot of young players within those ranks. Watching their progression throughout the year they have been incredible. They have really come on and deserve a lot of credit; the coaches and the players themselves. I'm delighted for them and wish them well for the final series."
Catalan Dragons v Warrington Wolves, Saturday 7th September, Stade Gilbert Brutus. 6pm (5pm UK)
Warrington Wolves u19s v Huddersfield Giants u19s, Saturday 7th September, Wilderspool, 12pm. £3 adult, £1 junior, free to Wolves 2013 Season Ticket Holders with book
04, Sep, 2013