Smith slams Qualifiers – and calls for licensing to return

Outgoing Warrington head coach Tony Smith has called for a return to licensing after launching a tirade of abuse at the Qualifiers concept.

Smith was speaking after his side’s 68-0 hammering of Featherstone on Sunday, his penultimate game in charge before leaving the club at the end of the season.

Since his departure was confirmed, Smith has been increasingly vocal about his grievances with the state of the game, claiming last week that changes should be made.

After seeing his side run in 12 tries against the Rovers, Smith let loose on his criticism of the current structure, and called for franchising to return amid heavy speculation it will be reintroduced in 2019.

“Good businesses should be rewarded – if you don’t, you miss out on the top grade,” he said.

“Hull KR should never have gone down in the first place on the basis of that.

“It’s a train smash waiting to happen next week and we are all going to watch it to see which one of the sides is going to play in the next train smash the week afterwards (Million Pound Game).

“I’m not sure about the system and the amount of pain it causes for clubs. I’m not sure whether a million pounds would cover it.

“Imagine if Catalans go out – what a disaster that would be for the growth and expansion of our game.

“Widnes too – they have shown they are a good solid hard-working club who have contributed to Super League.

“It leaves me very sad. I wish we’d stuck with licensing.”

Smith was also sympathetic for the two part-time clubs involved in the Qualifiers, including Featherstone.

“I also feel for Featherstone and Halifax as they have had terrific years and should be competing for something really good and exciting and not suffering heavy defeats like this.

“There’s been a lot of dead rubbers and there is more to come.

“I think there is one significant game in our division next week. It’s a ‘great competition’ for the amount of pain and agony that it has caused for so many clubs.”

Read a full report of Warrington’s victory plus an interview with Ben Westwood in the new League Express.