Smith wary of Webb
14th February 2013
Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith has identified former Leeds Rhinos favourite Brent Webb as the big threat ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Catalan Dragons at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The veteran former New Zealand full-back, who was a straight replacement for departed Australian Clint Greenshields, has quickly settled into his new club by helping to offset the early-season absence of scrum-half Scott Dureau.
New Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous has paired Leon Pryce with Thomas Bosc at half-back following the loss of Dureau, last year’s player of the year who is still recovering from an operation to remove a tumour behind his eye, but Webb has also played a key role in their opening wins over Hull KR and Salford City Reds.
“Brent Webb is showing what he can do in that half-back type role that he plays from full-back,” Smith said.
“He’s been terrific for them and, with Pryce and Thomas Bosc there, they’ve got that covered at the moment. They’re doing all right with some class there.”
Top spot beckons for the winners tomorrow and, with the only other undefeated teams, Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors, meeting each other on Saturday, the Super League table will begin to take shape this weekend.
Smith was less than impressed by a 17-17 draw at Wigan last Friday and is hoping his side can make their customary explosive start this week.
“It’s our goal each and every week to improve,” he said. “Wigan probably caught us a bit last week. They were probably a bit more intense than us at the start of the match.”
Tomorrow’s game marks hooker Micky Higham’s 100th appearance for Warrington while team-mate Garreth Carvell, the former Leeds, Gateshead and Hull FC prop, will be making the 300th appearance of his career.
Webb’s old club Leeds will be looking to bounce back from their surprise 14-12 defeat at Castleford Tigers when they host struggling Salford at Headingley, a week before they meet Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott insists the WCC is not a distraction and says places against the Storm will be up for grabs tomorrow night.
Utility player Stevie Ward and prop forwards Kylie Leuluai and Richard Moore have been called up to replace Ryan Bailey, Brett Delaney and Jamie Peacock, with Bailey definitely ruled out of next week’s match.
“All three will be keen to have big games to put down a marker for selection next week,” McDermott said.
“We know we need to improve on our performance last week at Castleford regardless of who we play next week.
“We are looking forward to getting back to Headingley Carnegie and putting in a quality performance against a determined opponent.”
Salford have lost their last nine matches, going back to a 24-22 win at Hull KR last July, and are still in the process of rebuilding following the recent takeover by Marwan Koukash.
The City Reds will face former player Joel Moon, who joined the champions in the winter, while reunions will be the order of the day at St Helens, where close-season recruits Willie Manu and Jordan Turner come up against their former Hull team-mates.
Both Manu and Turner, who were in the Hull side that triumphed 22-10 at Langtree Park last season, have yet to find their form for their new club but at least enjoyed a first win as Saints got off the mark at Widnes Vikings.
“People might say they are misfiring a bit but they can say the same about us,” said Hull coach Peter Gentle, whose side bounced back from a heavy opening defeat by Leeds with a win over Bradford Bulls last Sunday.
“Their defensive patterns aren’t quite nailed on at the moment and their attack is still coming together but they’ve got a very good squad.
“I still think they’ll be right up there at the top of the table come round 27. They are a very good side and they’ll improve each week, which we hope to do as well.”