Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith has revealed that his plan to play Kurt Gidley at fullback for the club in 2016 has changed, owing to his impressive partnership with Chris Sandow.
Gidley was believed to be a short-term option in the halves whilst Stefan Ratchford recovered from post-season surgery, but such is the impact Gidley has had in the middle of the park that he will be staying there.
That means that Ratchford, who will return from injury in this weekend’s reserve game against Hull, will get a run at fullback.
“We’re not going to disrupt that halfback pairing at this stage unless we need to,” Smith told League Express.
“Had Stefan not had the operation he would have got an opportunity to play in the halves during pre-season, but now he’s looking at the fullback role.
“If things keep going well for Chris and Kurt, and nobody can foresee what’ll happen in terms of injuries, their combination will remain, because it’s been going good so far.”
Ratchford was due to play in a reserve game against Wigan at the weekend, but that was postponed due to the weather – but he and several other recovering Wolves will feature against the Black and Whites at the weekend.
“We were supposed to have three comebacks in the reserve game on Sunday, but they wouldn’t have made it for Wakefield on Friday anyway,” said Smith.
“The reserve game against Hull will see Stefan, Mitchell (Dodds) and Ben (Evans) – three guys who’ve had post-season operations – all return.
“They weren’t going to feature against Wakefield anyway, because we’re okay for numbers and the guys in the first two weeks deserve to remain first choice.
“Because we have reserves we can bring people back properly and ensure they’re not underdone.”
Smith conceded that he watched the World Club Series at the weekend with jealousy. And he says another series win for the NRL should be the catalyst for change.
“There’s a tinge of jealousy there; we’d have liked to be part of it, but there’s no doubting we want to get back in.
“Hopefully people will start thinking about increasing salary caps because, from our perspective, it’s been tough to watch. We can get more depth with bigger caps and potentially compete, because it’s not a level playing field at the moment.”