TONY Smith will not use last season’s Grand Final loss as motivation for his players at the start of a tricky run of fixtures.
After a Super League visit by champions Wigan Warriors tonight, Thursday, Wolves will travel to face last year’s table toppers Huddersfield Giants and then Hull KR in the Challenge Cup fourth round.
But head of coaching and rugby Smith, whose side were beaten 30-16 at Old Trafford by Wigan in October, is not focusing on the past.
“That game’s gone,” he said. “I don’t think it’s there to inspire us. We are a different squad and it’s about concentrating on doing things well this year.
“If individuals feel the need they can certainly consider what’s happened in the past, but as a team it’s not what we speak about. It’s about what we want to do in the future that really counts.”
Wigan are without suspended hooker Michael McIlorum and injured loose forward Sean O’Loughlin, who Smith believes is a loss to any side.
“I’m a big admirer of O’Loughlin. He was probably the most influential player in the competition last year. He has the biggest influence on Wigan and has done for the past couple of years, more than any player for any other team.
“If he’s not there it absolutely makes a difference. I think he’s terrific. It will be a competitive match no matter who’s there, but you take O’Loughlin out of any team and it does make some difference.”
Smith expects to face a familiar Wigan threat, despite several changes in personnel this season.
“Wigan are still looking to gain some of their best form this year, but they are also a very dangerous team on any given day,” he added.
“They won’t be different tactically; Wigan do the same things no matter who they’ve got playing, it’s just the faces that change.
“We’re not too bothered about who’s in or out, it’s about handling Wigan at what they do well and if we can do that we give ourselves a chance of a good result.”
Trent Waterhouse returns to the Wolves squad after a tight Achilles, but Anthony England remains sidelined with a foot injury.
Smith added: “Trent’s been in pretty good form and he brings that form back in this week, hopefully, as well as the experience of having played in some of the biggest games in the world.”
Wolves’ Challenge Cup opener on April 5/6 sees a return to the site of Lee Briers’ quarter final winning drop goal in 2009.
“The match was a nail-biter,” said Smith. “Warrington have had some howling games over there.
“We’ve got a few tough fixtures and we’ve had a tough start to the season in terms of fixtures, but that’s all part of it.”