TONY Smith has dismissed rumours that long-serving prop Paul Wood could be joining Friday’s Super League opponents Wigan Warriors in the near future.
Stories circulating in the press have indicated that Wigan boss Shaun Wane ‘would be interested’ in signing Wolves’ 31-year-old forward to bolster a squad weakened by the loss of forwards Gareth Hock and Jeff Lima.
But Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby quashed the idea that Wood – who has served more than 13 years in primrose and blue – would be on his way, despite sending the former England forward out to represent partner club Swinton Lions on Sunday.
“There is no truth to the rumour that he is going to Wigan,” said Smith.
“Actually, I’m surprised he hasn’t gone already, because I think the first time that rumour started was the first year I was here and even prior to that.
“Woody’s friendly form against Wigan, as he admitted himself, was well below his best and from that performance he did not make the team to play Castleford.
“That is just the reality for all our players – if you don’t perform to the right level you won’t be selected.”
Despite romping to a 42-0 victory against Salford at the weekend, Wigan will face a much sterner test against Wolves tomorrow, Friday, while injuries to packmen Harrison Hansen and Epalahame Lauaki have further weakened a Warriors team already affected by change in personnel (see below).
Smith, however, is not taking anything for granted.
“It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks about Wigan, they are what they are and you have to deal with them,” he said.
“A lot of people can speculate all they want about whether Wigan will be as good, or better, or worse than they have been, but it means nothing.
“It is only when you play that people can judge teams and even then over a period of time, so I am not going to jump on any bandwagons at the moment.”
Wolves themselves will lack some firepower after Ben Harrison suffered a groin strain against Castleford, keeping him out of action for up to two weeks.
Wolves 19: Ryan Atkins, Lee Briers, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Rhys Evans, Simon Grix, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, Brett Hodgson, Michael Monaghan, Joel Monaghan, Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford, Chris Riley, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Paul Wood.
Wigan 19: Greg Burke, Josh Charnley, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Lee Mossop, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Powell, Paul Prescott, Pat Richards, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor, Iain Thornley, Sam Tomkins.