Wigan showdown just another game for Warrington, says Smith

Warrington chief Tony Smith has talked down the hype surrounding tonight’s clash with Wigan.

Two of Super League’s joint leaders lock horns tonight in a clash described in some quarters as the biggest game of the season so far. The Wolves, currently top of Super League on points difference, can open a two-point cushion at the top with a victory tonight.

However, Smith, who signed a new two-year extension with Warrington this week, insists it is just another game in their pursuit of silverware.

“Whichever game is in front of you is the biggest game of the year,” said Smith.

“That’s our policy; it doesn’t matter which team is in front of you, it’s the biggest game. If that team is Wigan, then it’s no different.

“We’ve had some great games with them over the years, some of the best games of the season have been Warrington against Wigan. We’re looking forward to it, it wasn’t so long ago that we beat them on their patch so they’ll be trying to return the favour. We’ve got to be as just determined to achieve something that is very difficult to do, and that is to do the double over Wigan.”

Throughout the season, Wigan’s players have voiced their frustrations at failing to find their best form. It’s an opinion Smith agrees with.

“They’ve found ways to win,” Smith said.

“They haven’t set the competition on fire with big wins and performances that you’ve expected from Wigan in the past. But they’ve managed to come up with wins under a fair bit of pressure and that is a great attribute to have.”

Tom Lineham is in contention for a recall after scoring twice for League One side Rochdale last week. He will replace youngster Jack Johnson after he fractured his wrist. Matty Russell is expected to move to fullback, with Lineham recalled on the wing.

One player closing in on a return is forward Ryan Bailey, who has missed the entire season with an Achilles injury.

“He’s about two to three weeks away I’d say, ” Smith said.

“With his operation and having infections in his wound, it took some time to heal. But now we’re just building up his workload ahead of his return. It’s just a matter of us working with him in the right sort of way before we can unleash him back into Rugby League.”