Smith to run rule over Russell

Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014 by The News Editor

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Warrington coach Tony Smith will make a late decision on the fitness of full-back Matty Russell ahead of Friday’s semi-final against Wigan.

The 21-year-old Scotland international, who began his career at Wigan, was forced to sit out the Wolves’ preliminary semi-final at Castleford last week after suffering an horrific facial injury in their opening play-off win over Widnes.

Russell was detained overnight in hospital after being badly concussed and sustaining a mouth injury in a front-on collision with Widnes forward Magraff Leuluai.

He was named in Smith’s 19-man squad on Wednesday after resuming full training but will be further assessed by the coach after the squad’s final run.

“We haven’t made a final decision on him,” said Smith. “He’s trained with us today and he’ll have the team run tomorrow before we make the call.

“He’s been given the all-clear – he can’t do any more damage and his dentist has told he has fractured high in his teeth so he’s probably going to lose them – b ut we’ve got to work out whether Matty is able to play with that discomfort.

“I’m expecting him to say he’s alright to go and I totally trust his decision. He’ll go and give it his all if he goes on the park.”

Smith knows he faces a tricky selection poser if Russell is fit to return after the versatile Stefan Ratchford produced a man-of-the-match display at full-back in Warrington’s 30-14 win over the Tigers.

“Stef going well last week eases the pressure of Matty either making it or not making it,” Smith said.

“It gives me a good dilemma. If he’s able to make it, it’s going to be hard to leave him out because he’s been a super player for us this year.

“If he does turn out, I can find a way to use Stef somewhere.”

Warrington will definitely still be without England second rower Ben Westwood for the trip to the DW Stadium and he is unlikely to be fit for the Grand Final if his team beat Wigan after making slow progress in his recovery from a torn calf muscle.

“I wouldn’t like to rule him out yet but he’s not going as good as we hoped,” Smith said.

Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014 by The News Editor

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