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Warrington Wolves switch attacking options following St Helens defeat
DEFEAT to St Helens has caused Wolves boss Tony Smith to re-think his attacking options ahead of the trip to Salford City Reds tomorrow, Friday.
Following the 22-10 defeat, the 14th in 15 home games against the red vee of St Helens, Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby has recalled stand-off Gareth O’Brien from his loan spell at Castleford Tigers and named him in his 19-man squad.
It is an indication that Wolves are feeling the injury loss of chief playmaker Lee Briers more keenly than first appeared, with O’Brien’s return suggesting the 21-year-old will partner Richie Myler in the halves in place of Stefan Ratchford.
It is a juggling act Smith will have to handle for the forseeable future.
“Lee had the injection into the neck area last week, in the hope that it will relieve some of the symptoms,” said Smith.
“He has felt a bit of progress on that, but there is still some time to go before we know how successful that was.
“We’ll assess him but he’ll have to improve a lot more for us to give him the green light.
“It could well be around six weeks before we know, it is hard to say.”
What is certain is Wolves will have to improve if they are to make amends for the last time they travelled to play Salford, a game they lost 48-24 after making eight changes to the side that had hammered Hull FC the week before.
Continuing injuries to Briers, Adrian Morley (bicep), Trent Waterhouse (gluteus strain) and Ben Harrison (hernia) mean that Smith has less flexibility with squad rotation at this time, but considering Warrington have scored just two tries in their last 120 minutes of rugby Smith will have more pressing matters on his mind.
“We need to be better with the ball,” he said.
“We got rattled by Saints and some of the stuff they were doing in defence early on in the game. We needed more composure.”
He also believes Wolves have not been helped by referee leniency in allowing teams to slow down play.
“I would agree that we are seeing some slow play-the-balls at the moment,” he said.
“It is obvious that teams will try to slow us down as much as they can, that is inevitable.
“Whether or not we get the support of the officials or not, we have to do something about that and address it ourselves rather than rely on others to help us.
“To some degree it is affecting us, but we have to take it into our own hands and try and play at the speed we want to play at.”