MATTY Russell’s highly-anticipated return from injury is set to cause Tony Smith some selection headaches.
Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby has confirmed that both new signing Russell and young forward Glenn Riley are fit and available for his side’s trip to face London Broncos at The Hive on Sunday, kick off 3pm.
While Cumbrian prop Riley’s role is fairly easy to predict, Russell’s availabilty poses more of a puzzle because his inclusion would have a likely impact on current full back Stefan Ratchford along with the recent half-back combination of Gareth O’Brien with Richie Myler.
“Matty coming back gives us some options, some dilemmas and some considerations, particularly when Gaz O’Brien is performing well at the moment,” said Smith.
“Richie Myler was improved against Hull, though he is looking for more form still and we need to get him back in top form.
“Stefan certainly showed some better form at the weekend as well.
“So we have a selection quandary, which is a good thing, but we’d like to get Matty in form and playing for us as quickly as we can.”
Scottish international Russell will possibly get a run-out for partner club Swinton Lions against North Wales Crusaders at Leigh Sports Village this weekend, which would give the current creative trio of Ratchford, O’Brien and Myler one more week to prove their worth.
Ratchford and Myler have the number six and seven shirts, but Smith is loathe to use the term ‘first-choice half backs’.
“We will not have a settled half-back pairing or combination for 27 rounds plus Challenge Cup and play-offs,” he said.
“What we will have is several combinations that will work together over the course of the year and whoever is playing best at the time will be my first-choice combination.”
Whoever he calls on as playmakers, Smith will hope that they can provide Wolves with more of a killer instinct than they have shown in their opening three games.
Lack of penetration near the opposition line has been apparent, so does Smith admit that is one area where Wolves are feeling the loss of Lee Briers most keenly?
“Yeah probably, but Lee is gone,” he said.
“Lee was fantastic at that and it is going to take some time to replace it, it always does.
“Right now we are not silky smooth when we get within 10 metres of the opposition line.
“There are times when we are creating opportunities and we are not executing them in the right way.
“Some of that is time of year and conditions, some of it is different combinations and some of it is being anxious and trying too hard. But when a great player like Lee leaves your team it takes time for another player to develop some of those skills.”