I know I’m way late on this (work is such a hassle sometimes) but you can’t really avoid commenting on this. Tony Smith, England Coach, has been appointed as Warrington’s Head of Coaching and Performance. James Lowes is staying on as 1st Team Coach. In doing this, Smith now has had to step down as Technical Director of the RFL, although he is remaining on as England Coach in a part-time capacity.
I can’t say I’m all that surprised by the announcement. There are many reasons I could imagine that Smith would want to take up such a challenge:
- Warrington are still a club with a decent core of very talented players, and it’s quite obvious that they have under-achieved. Smith probably thinks he’ll have a few fun toys to play with at the Wolves
- I would suspect that Smith might be missing the more hands-on nature of Club management
- He badly under-achieved with England at the World Cup and is looking for an outlet to prove that he’s still a more-than-capable coach
- He’s guaranteed himself some work after the Four Nations
There are also a fair few reasons why this move makes very good sense for the Wolves:
- ‘Under-achieve’ doesn’t do justice to what has happened to the Wolves so far this season. Their swings from ‘good’ to ‘very bad’ even within the same game has been alarming to say the least. James Lowes hasn’t been instilling confidence and they need to stop the rot as soon as possible
- Tony Smith is a coach with a proven track record in Super League. Apart from one season where his Huddersfield side got relegated (and to be fair to Smith, they would have been relegated long before he took charge if they hadn’t been saved by bureaucracy) he’s basically succeeded with every side he’s coached.
- Connected to point 2, he’s one of the key forces that turned Leeds from under-achievers to the dominant force in Super League, something I imagine the Warrington board may have noticed and may relate to.
Really, the big losers here appear to be the RFL, who now no longer have a Technical Director, and have an England Coach who’s not fully committed to the job and has vested interests outside of the team. It adds another layer of intrigue to the Four Nations, and I hope that for Smith’s sake he manages to get success with at least one of his two sides now. This could prove to be exactly the remedy that Warrington needed.