Smith happy to go down the hard road

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The Independent Online

Finishing in Super League's top six can be a double-edged sword, but Wakefield and Warrington will not be worrying about that when they meet at Belle Vue today.

Finishing in Super League's top six can be a double-edged sword, but Wakefield and Warrington will not be worrying about that when they meet at Belle Vue today.

The competition's fixture system means that the penalty for success one season is a tougher programme of games the following year, something that could badly affect the London Broncos and, to a lesser extent, Warrington in the latter stages of the campaign.

There will inevitably be suggestions as Huddersfield, Wakefield and Warrington jostle in mid-table that what they actually want to do is avoid sixth spot, but that is something which is dismissed out of hand by Trinity's assistant coach, Tony Smith.

"If making the play-offs means we have to play more games against top teams next season, that's fine by us,'' he said. "It makes it a tougher task, but those are the games we aspire to. The days when we were happy just to be clear of relegation are gone, and we have to show more ambition.''

The former Castleford, Wigan, Hull and Great Britain scrum-half has formed an effective coaching partnership at Wakefield with Shane McNally, drawing the best out of a disparate group of players. Two of those players, the Polynesian winger Semi Tadulala, and the French forward Olivier Elima, are missing this week because of suspensions imposed for their roles in the mass brawl at Bradford last weekend, but Trinity are starting to show the sort of strength in depth that enables them to get through such setbacks.

If Wakefield are clearly the most improved side in the competition, then Warrington, a point behind them in eighth place, have been something of a disappointment. Despite the boost of their fine, new stadium, they have failed to maintain the momentum from last season, although their coach, Paul Cullen, hopes to add the finishing power of the New Zealand Test winger Henry Fa'afili to his squad sooner rather than later.

Fa'afili is due to arrive next season on a three-year contract, but Cullen is keen to negotiate an early release to try to give the Wolves some of the cutting edge they have lacked.

For today's game, Warrington are still without their Australian scrum-half Nathan Wood. Should they fail to win, they would almost certainly say goodbye to their chances of matching last season's achievements.

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