Wakefield split with coach Smith

Wakefield have parted company with head coach Tony Smith with immediate effect.

Smith, who took over from Shane McNally, has paid the price for four straight defeats which have seen them drop to second bottom in Super League.

"I feel that I have given my all for the club and would like to think that the Wildcats have the ability to avoid relegation," said Smith in a statement.

The Wildcats are hoping to make an announcement on Smith's successor "in the very near future".

Former Hull coach John Kear has been tipped to take over as the club look to improve their survival prospects, and he has already signalled his interest.

Wakefield have a tough run-in to the end of the season, playing top-four sides St Helens, Leeds and Bradford, as well as games against fellow strugglers Castleford.

Smith's last game in charge was a 26-20 defeat against Huddersfield, a match in which his side squandered a 20-point lead - one of several occasions this season the Wildcats have collapsed in the second half.

After the match, a furious Smith criticised his players' level of fitness.

"We folded like a pack of cards after 10 minutes of the second half - we looked absolutely knackered," he said.

"(The fitness problem) sticks out like a sore thumb. I've kept shielding it, but I've finally had to crack - it's not a mental thing, it's a physical thing."

The former Great Britain scrum-half moved up from an assistant role to replace McNally in June 2005, initially as caretaker boss before taking the role permanently two months later.

He steered the Wildcats to safety in Super League X, but a series of defeats this season have left the club level on points with Catalans Dragons, who are immune from relegation for their first three seasons.

Wildcats chief executive Steve Ferres said: "I thank Tony for his honest endeavours over the past two seasons.

"I met with him after the game on Sunday and we agreed that this is the best way forward.

"It was either changing the coach or changing the players, and it's obviously difficult to change the playing staff.

"We are looking to make an appointment quickly. There are a limited amount of coaches out there with the right ability but I am sure there is someone up for a fight.

"The situation is not irretrievable. There are seven games to go and 14 points to be won. As Wigan have shown, if you can get on a run, it becomes a different ball game.

"There is still belief that we can put enough wins together."

Smith is the third Super League coach to lose his job this season, following the departures of Kear (Hull) and Ian Millward (Wigan), while Harlequins and Bradford have also changed their coaches.

www.bbc.co.uk

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