Warrington coach Tony Smith has stressed he does not feel under pressure despite the Wolves’ struggles this year.
Amazingly, last year’s league leaders and Grand Finalists have just five wins to their name in Super League this season, with just six games of the regular season remaining.
They currently sit ninth and, as things stand, are set for a remarkable appearance in the Qualifiers just 12 months after appearing in both the sport’s major finals – but Smith, whose Warrington side have lost their last three and face leaders Castleford on Sunday, is unperturbed.
He said: “What can I do about it? If I regarded it, does that make me try any harder than trying my best anyway?
“Listen, when you take on a coaching job, if you’re worrying about external decisions or thoughts, you stay at home or get another career.
“I keep trying my best and that’s up to other people to decide. You wouldn’t put yourself in the limelight if you couldn’t handle it. It’s not pleasurable for me, but having experienced it before, it toughens you up. You’ve got to develop a thick skin and you’ve got to take the good with the bad and vice-versa.”
Smith has also promised that the Wolves are feeling the club’s current plight just as much as the Warrington supporters, who made their feelings known following Sunday’s heavy defeat to Huddersfield which left them back in the bottom four.
“I don’t think you have to be a genius to work out they’re feeling like that and we feel frustrated and disappointed, too,” he said.
“We’ve just got to get on with it. We can’t worry about how other people are feeling about us. We do respect our supporters and we want to make them smile like we have before. The only way we can do that is by going out there and making sure we play with every bit of pride we can.
“Some of these guys are going through some tough periods themselves and they haven’t had to do that before. That’s a challenge for them. They need to learn how to do that.
“It’s an experience. Sometimes you handle that well and sometimes you don’t. You don’t fight as hard as you need to or let the confidence affect you too much.”
Smith’s challenge has not been aided by the loss of three key players for Sunday’s trip to Castleford, too. Kevin Brown, Matty Russell and Ryan Atkins will all miss the trip to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle with injuries – meaning a debut for 18-year-old Academy product Will Dagger and a return for Matty Blythe.
Smith said: “I get Daryl Clark back (from suspension) but I lose three. Matty comes in having done well at Rochdale and Will gets a debut, who is a confident young player and I’ve been tempted to throw him in before. He’s enthusiastic, he’s confident and he’ll give us some energy and some talk.”
Stefan Ratchford is among the contenders to partner Declan Patton in the halves – meaning a third positional change in as many games, having played centre at Huddersfield last weekend.