Rugby League - Warrington coach confident ahead of season opener

Warrington coach Tony Smith expects his team of Super League title favourites to hit the ground running this weekend.

PA Sport
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Tony Smith of Warrington

The Wolves, who were beaten by Leeds in their maiden Grand Final in October, are widely fancied to go one better in 2013 despite being the only Super League club not to make a new signing.

Smith's squad start the new season with a bang against Castleford at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday, and he said: "We don't have to get used to new combinations. We haven't changed things too much. We'd like to think we'll improve in some areas."

He continued: "We're excited about the new season. We're in pretty good shape in terms of the physical make-up of the team. The only one down is Chris Bridge, who should be back with us in the next couple of weeks."

Warrington have been made favourites for both the league and the Challenge Cup, which they won in 2012 for the third time in four years, and Smith is hoping his team can cope with the extra pressure.

"It's nice that a lot of people have got regard for us but that's all well and good," he said. "It's about performing each and every week. We've been pretty consistent for the last few years now but the challenge starts again.

"If we do that well, it might give us a chance to play in those big games at the back end of the year, which was great experience for us and great fun. We've still got some areas to improve in those games."

Smith knows his old club Leeds will be challenging once more and expects St Helens to improve under new coach Nathan Brown but believes there could be new challenge to the game's big guns.

"I think Saints are going to be a very tough team again with a change of coach and Leeds are again going to be a strong team," he said. "Hull are trying to knock their way in and we might have a couple of surprises - hopefully we will, to really mix things up.

"The way Wakefield finished the season last year was really encouraging and the French team (Catalan Dragons) are always a tough team to crack."

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