Smith - We've got the depth
Warrington coach Tony Smith is convinced Wolves can complete the elusive double ahead of their qualifying play-off tie against St Helens.
Last Updated: 14/09/12 2:51pm
Warrington coach Tony Smith is convinced Wolves have what it takes to complete the elusive double when they go into the Super League qualifying play-off tie against St Helens.
The Wolves are aiming to become the first club to win both the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup in the same season since Saints achieved the feat in 2006.
However the task proved beyond Smith's men in 2009 and 2010 when they won the cup only to fare miserably in the play-offs; last year's semi-final defeat by Leeds left them with a paltry record of seven defeats from nine matches.
But Smith certainly isn't dwelling on the past.
"We're certainly in better shape and we've certainly got more depth in our squad," the former Leeds Rhinos coach said.
"The recruitment of Ratchford has helped us enormously in terms of being able to relieve very well (Brett) Hodgson, (Lee) Briers, (Richard) Myler and (Chris) Bridge.
"(Chris) Hill has also been tremendous in helping us not to have to play (Adrian) Morley or (Garreth) Carvell or (Paul) Wood or some of those more experienced front rowers every week."
While Ratchford and Hill keep their places for the clash with St Helens, Smith will also field his big players despite having the safety net of another play-off tie for the losers.
He has rotated his squad throughout the year to give his senior players a rest at crucial times but England second rower Ben Westwood and loose-forward Ben Harrison will be their only absentees fro Saturday's clash.
"It is a must-win game for us," Smith said. "We've been playing all year to get into form for the finals. We picked on form for the Challenge Cup final and we'll be picking on form here on in.
"We've only a few weeks left in the competition and it will be full on from here unless we need to take care of somebody who is a risk.
"We certainly won't risk anybody in a game that could have an adverse effect on the outcome."
Smith guided Leeds to Grand Final victory twice in his career but can only look on with envy at the consistency of St Helens, who are hoping to reach Old Trafford for a seventh consecutive season.
Saints' caretaker coach Mike Rush is out to succeed where his most recent predecessors, Royce Simmons and Mick Potter, both failed by helping them lift the trophy for the first time since the club's 2006 triumph.
"We're a good side but two sides have finished above us that hold some bragging rights," Rush claimed. "I do think Super League standards have gone up recent years and we're going to have to be very good to get there.
"But we have got some experience of getting there and hopefully we can draw on that. We're going to have to win two, if not three, massive games."
A year ago St Helens won at Wigan to earn themselves a path straight through to the semi-finals and Rush is keen for a repeat.
"You'd rather win it and get that weekend off," he said. "It would enable us to give players a little bit of a rest.
"If it doesn't go our way the hard work you put in during season gets you a second bite of the cherry so there is a little bit of comfort I suppose if we need it."