WOLVES enter Easter’s taxing double header with boss Tony Smith sticking by his men.
A third home defeat in the worst start to a campaign since Smith took over leaves the successive Grand Finalists looking vulnerable going into Good Friday’s home ‘derby’ with Widnes Vikings and bank holiday Monday’s clash at third-placed Castleford Tigers.
Even more so with three experienced pack men now on the sidelines with injuries that could rule two of them out of action for 10 weeks or more.
Wolves could sit anywhere from third to 11th on the ladder by the time they start preparing for their Challenge Cup fifth round clash with Doncaster on April 27 and Smith continues to strive towards getting the best out of his under-performing players and team.
“We’re a different team this year to what we’ve been in other years,” said Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby.
“It’s about working the combinations and if those combinations work well we’ll play well. While feeling our way, sometimes it doesn’t all just gel.
“But it’s not through lack of effort. It’s about sticking with people, putting faith in them and supporting them in the right manner.”
The return from niggling injuries to Friday’s 19-man squad by props Roy Asotasi and Ben Evans along with hooker Micky Higham is some positive news after Paul Wood and Simon Grix joined Ben Westwood in the wars as a result of successive battles with Hull KR.
Front rower Wood, only two games back after knee surgery, will go under the knife to repair a bicep tear today, Thursday, while Wolves are crossing fingers and toes that loose forward Grix will not require a season-ending operation on his dislocated shoulder.
Smith said: “It will be eight to 10 weeks out for Woody I’d say at a guess, but you never know until the surgery. It’s a blow for him after not being back that long.
“We had to wait for the swelling to go down on Simon’s shoulder in order to have the scan and see the consultant for a decision on whether it’s necessary to operate or whether it can be rehabilitated.
“With rehabilitation we could have him back in eight to 10 weeks, but if it’s the other scenario he’ll be gone for the season.
“We’re remaining open minded and waiting to see what the consultant feels is required.”
Smith revealed that joint skipper Westwood’s calf tear, sustained in the Challenge Cup win at Hull KR a fortnight ago, could be up to six weeks in mending.
“Knowing Bennie, he heals well so if he gets back before the six weeks that will be a bonus,” he said.
Smith confirmed his selection approach for the two games over Easter.
“It’s one game at a time, all the focus is on Widnes,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll do a good job and then we’ll see how the bodies are and assess it from there for the Castleford game.”
Wolves’ Easter kick-offs are 2.45pm against Widnes and 3.30pm versus Castleford.