After the 2015 super league season, it was vital that Tony Smith and the Warrington Wolves went back to the drawing board. The seasons performance had flashes of previous times in the Wolves’ history, a time that fans won’t want to remember quickly where the club just managed to keep their heads above water in England’s top division. Of course, this time was long before the reign of top boss and figurehead Smith, who has guided the Wolves to three Challenge Cup successes, and also two losing grand finals.
Coming up to the first quarter of the 2016 super league season, and it seems that Smith went back to the drawing board, and didn’t leave much space. The Wolves have been in imperious form, with eight wins from their opening ten matches and alone at the summit with a bit of breathing space. I beg the question, what it is that the Wolves and Smith have done to achieve this feat? How can a team go from zero to hero in such a short period?
As most Warrington fans can tell you, a major improvement is most definitely the quality of players that have been brought in. Kurt Gidley, a twelve-time Australian capped player, has brought the x-factor in my opinion; He has without doubt brought composure and skill that the Wolves were lacking last season, as well as a sublime goal kicking game that was also nowhere to be seen for the Wolves in 2015.
Since his appointment in 2009, Smith has considerably directed the Wolves into a much better light. They are now considered as one of the big teams, part of the “big four”, with the other three (Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and St Helens) being the only clubs currently in Super League who have won the competition. This shows how far the Wolves have come, a team who are yet to win the competition, are considered by most an outfit that have what it takes to win the big time. What’s interesting is that the current squad is arguably the best squad Smith has put together, raising the question, could this be their year?
It’s been a great start, but it’s far too early for any team to get carried away. The Wolves have made their statement, thrown their hat amongst it, if they are to get over the line and claim that eluded first Super League title that they so desperately require then they need to keep their consistency going. The teams that have managed to win the competition have all had two things in common, consistency and dedication. It’s going to be a tough ask for anyone to win this competition, the Wolves have been unlucky in Super League, many fans have wished that Smith and co could turn their Challenge Cup success into Super League success… Well the chance to do that may be here. Of course, any team winning any trophy need that little bit of luck with injuries, if the Wolves can keep 80% of their squad healthy all season then they really do have a strong chance.