TONY Smith admits it would have been unfair to stop Chris Riley playing against Warrington Wolves after featuring on a regular basis for Wakefield this season.
The on-loan winger scored a hat-trick as Wolves slumped to a 26-40 defeat at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Riley did not play in the reverse fixture, but Smith said circumstances were different this time around.
“Last time I think he was a little uncomfortable as much as anything,” said Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby.
“He’s been playing there all year and it would have been silly and unfair for him not to play for them today after so many matches.
“He took his chances there today and did very, very well. He hasn’t scored that many for a while.
“He’s on a rich vein of form and is a terrific young man and we love him dearly – he can have his spoils there today.”
Wakefield boss James Webster said he was grateful to Smith for allowing Riley to play.
He added he would be pleased to sign the winger next season if the opportunity arose, but that nothing was in place between the clubs or the player as of yet.
However, Smith was also disappointed with Wolves’ tackle count, allowing the visitors to put 40 points on the board despite having more ball than their opponents.
“We looked lazy in some areas and a bit off the pace at certain times, I think our missed tackle count will be up there this week,” he added.
“We’ve had some games where we’re at single figures, low teens and it certainly wasn’t one of those days, so there’s a bit of work to do on defence.
“When a team scores 40 points on you, you know your defence hasn’t worked particularly well.”
Wolves took the lead within 30 seconds, but once Wakefield replied they were always behind despite narrowing the gap to two points midway through the second half.
“It’s good that we are fighting back,” explained Smith. “I think it would have been unfair on them if we had pinched it, even when it got back to two points.
“I thought they were more enthusiastic, executed their game plan better than we executed ours and it would have been a bit unfair if we had pinched it.
“We did far from that in the end, that enthusiasm and that plan that they stuck with, it worked for them.
“By that stage chasing the game wasn’t working for us either, after what was an incredible start.
“Sometimes when you have starts like that it can put you in the wrong mindset and I think we got caught up in that from the incredible start.”