Tony Smith at Fans Forum

Warrington Wolves supporters got their first meeting with head of coaching Tony Smith in an entertaining and light-hearted event at the Halliwell Jones stadium on Wednesday 8th July 2009.

Warrington Wolves supporters got their first meeting with head of coaching Tony Smith in an entertaining and light-hearted event at the Halliwell Jones stadium on Wednesday.

Smith was joined by forwards Paul Wood and Adam Neal in an intimate question and answer session at the Hall of Fame lounge in the North Stand to which all fans were invited.

The Wolves boss, who joined Warrington in March, was dynamic, charismatic and honest, having been thrown in at the deep almost immediately by one young fan who asked why the Australian chose to come to Warrington.

 

Smith said: “In some ways, we chose each other, because they wanted me as well.

 

“Obviously I’ve got my job with England and I was enjoying not coaching week in, week out in the first year, but I knew it was something I wanted to get back into in the second year.

“Hand on heart, I’ve coached at top teams, and if you’d asked me where I wanted to go, I would have picked Warrington.”

Smith believes that Warrington could enjoy a renaissance of sorts over the next couple of seasons. He commented that the position the club are now in is not dissimilar to where the Leeds Rhinos were when he took over at Headingley just prior to the 2004 Super League season, when he guided them to their first league title for 32 years.

The Rhinos also appeared in two of the next three Super League Grand Finals under his leadership, memorably thrashing St Helens 33-6 in the 2007 final. But it will take hard graft from the players before the clubs can rise to those lofty heights.

 

“When we’re at our best, we’re as good as anyone else in the league, and that goes across the whole board. We take some stopping when we’re in form.

 

“But we’re not earned the right to call ourselves the best team team, and when we do earn that privilege, then we can start patting ourselves on the back – though there’s always more improvements you can make even then.”

First team prop forward Paul Wood was quick to praise Smith’s methods.

“The main thing is the mental challenges he sets. Physical training isn’t too different to what we were doing before, but it’s the mental challenge of being switched on at training that’s changed.

“You can’t take basic skills for granted anymore … the players are always switched on now and you’re pushed to new challenges every day. It’s an unbelievable benefit to the team.”

The coach soon returned the favour, complimenting the players on their progress over the last four months.

“They’ve taken things on board faster than I expected. They’ve exceeded my expectations when I came in, not in terms of winning and losing games, but in their performance.

“Naturally some players are more intellectually capable than others. With so many different degrees of learning, to get things right with individuals takes time, which is what the pre-season period is for. That’s the time when you can sit down with players and make sure they’re taking on my ideas.

“We’ve been good since I arrived, but we must keep striving to get better, and if we can do that then in the next couple of years, we will achieve.”

Story by Steven Chicken