WOLVES welcome back the big guns this week as a trio of experienced forwards return for the trip to Catalan.
Joint-skipper Michael Monaghan, Simon Grix and Trent Waterhouse are all named in Tony Smith’s 19-man squad after returning from lengthy injury lay-offs.
It proves a timely boost for Smith with the Challenge Cup semi final only a week away, but the head of coaching and rugby is only focused on the trip to Perpignan.
“We need to get them back playing again, that’s the important thing,” he said.
“It isn’t all focused on next week, but it’s good they’re able to at least put their names forward.
“We want to do well against Catalan, it’s a tough trip and we look forward to the challenges it brings.
“We’ve had some mixed success there, but we’re planning on going there and doing a good job.
“They’ve been fantastic at home and probably not travelled so well, but they’re a strong outfit.
“The crowd has a big influence on all concerned there so it’s important to stand up to some of those challenges that are quite obviously in their favour.”
Wolves are flying from Manchester to Barcelona this morning, Thursday, and return Saturday morning, but Smith says next weekend’s clash with Leeds Rhinos has not played a part in preparations.
“Originally we were due to fly back from Barcelona on Sunday,” he added. “We’ve brought that forward but apart from that it hasn’t changed.
“The lead into this game is the same as it would’ve been semi final or not. It’s taking care of this game first and after that we’ll prepare for that next game.”
Matty Russell will miss the trip following a concussion against Wakefield, while Ryan Atkins also misses out after picking up an ankle injury.
The pair are expected to return against Leeds, but Stefan Ratchford will fill in at full back in Russell’s absence and Richie Myler is pushing for a start.
“He (Ratchford) is a different style of player,” explained Smith.
“Matty was terrific with the ball last week but some of his positional play defensively wasn’t fantastic and they exposed us a little bit.
“Stef has got different qualities. Stef’s looking forward to the challenge and will do a good job for us no doubt.
“It’s good to have Rich back. He brings something different to the other half backs. We’re getting some competition for places and that’ll be good for us.”
Wolves’ 19-man squad: Roy Asotasi, Chris Bridge, Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer, Anthony England, Rhys Evans, Simon Grix, Ben Harrison, Chris Hill, James Laithwaite, Joel Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Richie Myler, Gareth O’Brien, Gene Ormsby, Stefan Ratchford, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Paul Wood.