Tony Smith believes Shaun Wane has ‘transformed’ Wigan’s attacking style and made them much more unpredictable.
The two heavyweights meet at the Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight for the first time since last October’s Grand Final, which Wigan won 12-6.
He’s a decent man, honest, and there’s a mutual respect thereTony Smith
Smith remarked at Old Trafford how the victors had made “some adjustments from the ‘Wigan way’” in the title-decider.
And he has seen enough from their four games this year to convince him Wane has continued the shift.
The Wolves boss said: “They’ve changed, I’m enjoying watching them more than in the past. They’re not as structured, George Williams is a jack in the box who plays on the ball and is fantastic to watch.
“They have some Wigan plays, but it’s not as structured as it used to be, they’re far more unpredictable with the ball, and I enjoy that.
“They’ve transformed, and they started doing it at the back end of last year.
“They’ve gone away from how they used to wrap it to one part and then do their big block play for block play, they’ve got far more to it now.”
The coaches have been at the helm of their clubs for 15 meetings between Wigan and Warrington, trailing back to Wane’s appointment as head coach in 2012. Smith took charge of Warrington early in 2009.
“I like Shaun. We’re not big mates, but we’re not afraid - if something is going on in the league or whatever - to pick up the phone to one another,” said Smith.
“I got a text after our World Club game, and I sent him one too. We’ve got a pretty good relationship.
“He’s got a different coaching style and some different philosophies to me, and I respect that. You’ve got to coach to what your personality is, and what’s true to you, he does that and it works. I try and stick to my style and it’s kept me employed for a fair while, and we’ve had some success.
“He’s a decent man, honest, and there’s a mutual respect there.”
Despite success against NRL opposition, the two outfits have had opposing form in Super League.
Warriors have won three matches against Salford, Widnes and Leigh, while Warrington are the only side yet to claim a point after defeats to Catalans, Castleford and the Red Devils.
“We’ve not been fair off in each one, there was improvement last week,” added Smith, who saw his side go down 24-14 at Salford.
“Last weekend we missed 10 tackles, I’ve never coached a team that’s been in single-figures and lost.
“So there was improvement. They had a few opportunities they could have taken, as well as what they did score, but they took more than we did.
“We haven’t got a point, but we’re not far off.”
The game tonight kicks-off at 8pm and is live on Sky Sports.