Joel Monaghan has warned that Warrington Wolves ‘will fall short’ if they try to engineer a like-for-like replacement of retired stand off Lee Briers during the 2014 Super League season.
The 31-year-old Australian winger was one of the main beneficiaries of Briers’ legendary kicking game, with his hanging jumps to meet pin-point bombs so often bearing fruit at critical moments throughout his three years at the club.
Exploiting Monaghan’s dominance under the high ball is a tactic that is likely to continue regardless of who is in the halves this year, but Wolves’ prolific try scorer has warned that a transition period may well occur in the coming months as Warrington learn to live without their playmaking stalwart.
“You can’t just replace Briersy,” he admitted.
“We have to look for other qualities that others can bring, because if you try and replace him directly you are going to fall short.
“The blokes here have stepped up so far, but whichever way Smithy goes there is going to be a bit of a feeling out period.
“It is going to be a question of feeling our way through the early part of the season, settling to the new half-back pairing.
“Until you get out on to the field against a Super League team then it is pretty hard to build that combination, but luckily the season is long.”
Stefan Ratchford being handed the number six shirt strongly suggests he will be the man to step in alongside Richie Myler in the halves – when all players are fit and available – but with Gareth O’Brien waiting in the wings it is far from certain who will emerge as Smith’s go-to pairing in 2014.
Monaghan is happy either way, though stresses that time and patience will be crucial as those players learn to step out of Briers’ shadow and become leaders in their own right.
“I am going to have to build another relationship with the new half in terms of the kicking and I am happy to do that,” he said.
“Gaz, Richie and Stef are all accomplished kickers so that will continue, but perhaps the style of play will alter as those guys get used to their role in the team.
“It is a good chance for those guys to stand up, they have known for a while that Briersy was on his way out.
“It came as a bit of shock that he had to retire when he did, but ultimately Smithy has been planning for this change for a while and he is a pretty astute coach.
“Briers was an organiser as well, but we have a pretty vocal squad and that is something where we can all help to take up the slack.
“The new half can then find his place in the team – not replacing Briers but forging a new place for himself, whoever Smithy goes for.
“Everyone has their positives and negatives, but I’m confident that whoever steps into that role will do a good job.”