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Selection policy to continue in same vein
TONY Smith is sticking to his guns with the 2012 selection policy that he feels presents the best opportunity of Wolves winning silverware for a fourth successive year.
Some flak has been flying around since Friday when his second-placed side, missing eight of its star turns, leaked its most points in a Salford game since 1970.
Although the majority of his troops are back in contention for Monday’s crunch clash with third-placed visitors Catalan Dragons, he says he will continue to keep body preservation and freshness in mind through the season by resting men who are at risk of being ‘overplayed’ and those carrying injuries.
In the hefty 48-24 loss at Salford, Smith left out the injured Lee Briers, Michael Monaghan, Ben Westwood and Simon Grix as well as four players who were to be involved in last night’s England versus Exiles international – highlighting selection intention of no more than two appearances per player in the three club and international games leading up to Wolves’ Challenge Cup semi-final clash with Huddersfield Giants on July 15.
Richie Myler, David Solomona, Rhys Evans and skipper Adrian Morley returned from varying lengths of injury at the Salford City Stadium to give them a chance of being ‘match ready’ for the semi final, with Smith accepting there was ‘disruption’ but that the team on show was capable of winning the game.
Smith, who guided Wolves to cup glory in 2009 and 2010 as well as the League Leaders’ Shield last season, said: “We could field the best team every week and have them burn out in a few weeks’ time.
“That would not bring the long-term victories that we’re all looking for.
“We’re trying our best as a team and as coaching staff to put out a competitive team every week and I stand by the team selected at Salford.
“We went into the game well aware that if you give a lot of ball to Salford they can score a lot of points and we were guilty of that.
“We’re comfortable with the approach that we’ve taken. We have got a lot of focus on the Challenge Cup in terms of the semi final being the ‘big one’ in the immediate future.
“I think if we perform well in that there’ll be a lot of people grateful for the fact we’ve got a fit, fresh and healthy team especially if we make the final.
“Two points lost against Salford, and maybe even if it did happen against Catalan, would be a worthwhile sacrifice to get to a Wembley game and that’s what we’ve got to weigh up sometimes.
“It doesn’t always pan out the way you plan but certainly the intentions are the best ones for our team. We discuss it as a group and we all believe that what we’re doing is the right thing.
“It’s a slightly different approach to last year when it was important for us to prove to ourselves that we can be a consistent team at the top of the table and finish top.
“It’s not as important to prove that to ourselves or anyone else this year.
“But, my word, we want to perform at our best in big games and we’re trying to work out the best ways to do that and with different approaches.
“That’s what we’re prepared to do this year. It’s a conscious decision by the coach (himself) and it doesn’t guarantee winning the big games but we’re trying to give ourselves every chance by making some smart decisions at the right times.”