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New recruits want Challenge Cup memories
WARRINGTON Wolves’ new recruits will hope victory at Hull KR in the fourth round on Sunday can kick-start their own special Challenge Cup memories.
Following three Wembley successes and a League Leaders’ Shield in four years, last season was the first not to produce silverware during Tony Smith’s reign.
But while the club’s head of coaching and rugby admits the past holds fond memories for some players, he says it is now about focussing on this year’s competition.
“For those who were part of that it makes it extra special,” he said. “But for the new boys it’s all about this year and we’ll be in there fighting as hard as we can come Sunday.
“We want to do well in any competition we enter. We have had successes in the past but that’s some time ago and they’re great memories to have, but it doesn’t affect the way we play our game.
“We are all trying to do our best, play consistent rugby league and build on what we did last week.”
Wolves’ improved second-half performance turned over Huddersfield Giants on Sunday and Smith may opt for a similar squad.
“We were able to put in a strong second 45 to 50 minutes and we’ll hopefully push that out again,” he added.
“I wouldn’t envisage too many changes.”
Hull KR have conceded one try in successive home wins – against Bradford Bulls and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – and Smith expects a tough visit to the KC Lightstream Stadium (formerly Craven Park).
“They’ll have some confidence on their home patch,” said the 47-year-old.
“It’s a hostile place and a small pitch. They play it very well. Obviously that’s an advantage for them, but we look forward to whoever we are playing and whether they have won, lost or drawn in the past few weeks it doesn’t really matter to us.
“We’ve shown enough to say we’re a tough team to beat as well.”
The Robins will be without suspended Australian forward Justin Poore, but Smith remains wary of their pack.
He also believes Kris Keating, signed from Canterbury Bulldogs in the summer, has started well at scrum half after Michael Dobson’s departure.
“He’s been good for them and added a spark,” explained Smith.
“He’s got a good kicking game and they seem to have gelled in the past couple of weeks.
“They have a formidable pack. That’s a big part of how they’ve been performing this year and we’ll have to match them in the forwards.”
Ryan Atkins missed Sunday’s game with an elbow injury and faces a fitness test, but Smith has no further injury concerns and could welcome back Paul Wood after successive appearances for Wolves’ partner club Swinton Lions.
“He was a lot better this week,” Smith said of the prop forward.
“He’s looking closer to Super League standard and he’ll certainly come into the reckoning for this week.”
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