CHALLENGE Cup-winning Warrington coach Tony Smith is understood to have engaged leading player agent David Riolo to check out job opportunities in the NRL.
Smith, who lifted the Cup on Saturday when the Wolves downed Leeds 35-18 at Wembley and is under contract next year, did not confirmed or deny information received by Rugby League Week that he was considering a return to Australia.
“I would say: ‘never say never’,” said Smith, the brother of Sydney Roosters boss Brian Smith.
“Who knows what will lead to where. I’ve enjoyed being a coach in this country for a number of years and I’ve served a pretty decent apprenticeship here I think and learning my trade.”
The news will only intensify speculation surrounding coach movement in the NRL over the next two years. Smith has led Warrington to three of the last four Challenge Cups but in recent times has made public his frustration regarding a number of aspects of the British game, including officiating.
Smith and Riolo are former Illawarra team-mates. There is a shortage of experienced coaches on the market in the southern hemisphere at the moment, although the sacking of Brian McClennan will not help the prospects of those hoping to return from the Super League.
“Whether I get the opportunity to ply that trade somewhere else – who knows?” Smith told League Week.
“I’m not going to worry too much about that, where my trade takes me. I’ll certainly be happy and make the most of it with my family where-ever we live, whether it’s in this part of the world or if we return back to Australia.
“I love both places. I love rugby league so it’s fairly open as far as I’m concerned.”
The coaching merrygoround seems to be picking up pace as more money comes into the NRL, which McClennan and Parramatta’s Stephen Kearney already given their marching orders this year and Melbourne’s Craig Bellamy linked to a number of clubs for 2014.
Smith was previously linked to the West Coast Pirates. Warrington’s millionaire benefactor Simon Moran could be expected to make a major play to retain Smith if he attempted a move.
In April last year, Smith signed on at the Halliwell Jones Stadium for a further two years – tying him to the club until the 2013.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK