Wigan and Saints eye Smith
Wigan Warriors are involved in a tug-of-war with arch rivals St Helens for the signature of Salford City Reds scrum-half Matty Smith.
The 24-year-old former Saints half-back has become one of the most sought-after players in Stobart Super League after discovering the best form of his career with the Reds this season.
He is out of contract at the end of the year and has offers on the table from Wigan, St Helens and Widnes Vikings, as well as Salford, whose coach Phil Veivers is resigned to losing his services.
“I’m pretty sure he’s made his decision and I don’t think it will be with us,” said Veivers.
“He’s four offers on the table, including Wigan and Saints, who I am pretty sure will be chasing trophies.”
Smith began his career with home-town team St Helens in 2006 but, after four years of playing understudy to Sean Long and being loaned out to Widnes and Celtic Crusaders, he made the break two years ago and joined Salford.
His form for the Reds has caught the eye of Nathan Brown, who will coach Saints from next season, but Wigan are also in the market to find a replacement for scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, who is returning to New Zealand at the end of the year.
Wigan may have to find two new half-backs with Brett Finch yet to sign a new contract and they are being linked once more with a move for Castleford Tigers’ reigning Man of Steel Rangi Chase.
Meanwhile, Veivers is confident Smith can maintain his excellent form for the Reds, starting with the visit of third-placed Catalan Dragons to the City of Salford Stadium tomorrow.
“I thought he had a dip in form for a couple of weeks while every man and his dog were chasing him,” Veivers added.
“But he’s feeling comfortable with the decision he’s made. He’s a bit more relaxed and can concentrate on his football now.
“I was happy with the offer we made to Matty. I’ve spoken in depth with him. I respect his decision and now we’ve got to move on.”
Smith will not be the only departure from Barton at the end of the year with full-back Luke Patten retiring and threequarters Sean Gleeson and Danny Williams being linked with moves to Hull KR and Bradford Bulls respectively.
“There’s going to be some shuffling about but all I’m concentrating at the moment is tomorrow’s game,” said Veivers.