Returning trio boost Smith’s options

Warrington boss Tony Smith says Wolves’ trio of England players have returned in good shape from their trip to Australia.

Stefan Ratchford, Kevin Brown and Chris Hill were part of England’s squad that defeated Samoa 30-10 on Saturday, but Smith’s team coped well in their absence.

After falling 14-0 behind against St Helens, the Wolves roared back to record a 40-18 victory and give Smith a welcome selection headache for Sunday’s Challenge Cup game against Widnes.

“We didn’t worry or panic about who wasn’t there, we focused on who was there playing for us and that was a big focus for us last week,” said Smith.

“I thought everybody performed really well – it was great for some of those young guys to get an opportunity because the England guys weren’t there.

“I was delighted for the England players as well – I thought they all played a strong part in what was a strong performance.

“They’ve come back in good health and some good confidence as well from their own performances and they should be proud of what they did.

“They’ve been back in training today and they’re all in good health and good spirits. They’ve got a day off tomorrow to relax and spend some time with their family, but they all checked in today and had a tick over to make sure they’re all okay.”

Warrington ran out 19-10 winners against Widnes when the two teams met at the Select Security Stadium during April, but Smith admitted he’s happy Sunday’s tie will be played on home soil.

“I don’t think anyone really enjoys playing on their pitch, so it’s a big one for us,” added Smith.

“Atmosphere wise is a big thing as well – having our home support there behind us certainly helps, but these derby games are tough games.

“We had a tough struggle with them not long ago and they made it really tough for us and there wasn’t much between the two teams.

“Since then they’ve had some players return as have we, so it should be a good game and it’s certainly going be a tough tussle.”

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