The man who led Warrington to their first Wembley win in 35 years last summer has revealed that the experience on that day was beyond anything he expected.
And the lure of a return to Wembley is proving to be a massive motivation for Smith as the holders approach Sunday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final against Catalans Dragons at Stobart Stadium, Widnes (3.30).
“I had been involved with one Challenge Cup final with Leeds, when Hull piped us in Cardiff in 2005,” said Smith. “But even then I probably didn’t realise the enormity of it.
“To see what Wembley meant to the town of Warrington, not just to the club and the players – I don’t think anybody could have prepared me for that.
“We’ve all read about the Australian perspective of the Challenge Cup – getting up early in the morning to watch it – and I was one of those people but you can’t grasp how much it means to the British people until you see it for yourself.
“To be involved in it was such a privilege.”
This weekend sees Warrington return to the scene of last season’s semi-final success against Wigan for a crunch encounter with underdogs Catalans Dragons, who played in the first final at the new Wembley Stadium in 2007.
Warrington go into the tie on the back of two agonisingly close defeats by St Helens and Catalans but Smith is confident that his side won’t be dwelling on the defeats.
“That’s the beauty of the Challenge Cup,” he said. “You don’t have to be as consistent week in and week out, as long as you can come up with the performances at the right times.
“The Dragons are a dangerous team, and we knew that before we lost in France. They’ve been hit badly by injuries this year and that has affected their form.
“But in the last few weeks they’ve been getting closer to their full complement and they’ve shown at St Helens as well as against ourselves how good they can be.”
Tickets for the Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final between Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons at the Stobart Stadium, Widnes, on Sunday August 8 (3.30pm), are priced from £18 (£5 concessions) and are on sale from the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 8561113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.
Tickets for the Carnegie Challenge Cup final at Wembley on Saturday August 28 cost from just £21 and are available from the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 8561113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.