Smith: We’re heading in the right direction

Matty Smith in action for Saints against Warrington
Matty Smith in action for Saints against Warrington

Matty Smith is confident St Helens are now heading in the right direction after finally beginning his second spell with his home-town club.

Saints were in the bottom four of the Betfred Super League after winning just two of their first five matches in the absence of the England scrum-half, who was forced into the awkward role of spectator after breaking his leg in a pre-season friendly.

Smith, who rejoined Saints from Wigan at the end of last season, made an immediate impact on his comeback, helping his new club to a 31-6 win over Warrington last Friday, and is looking forward to the challenge presented by his old club Salford on Thursday when Keiron Cunningham's men will be further boosted by the return of England full-back Jonny Lomax.

"I'm not the best at watching games," Smith said.

"I've not done it much over the last four or five years. It's better to be out there with the lads and have an input in the game.

"As the games go on, hopefully we'll get the combinations right.

"There is still lots to work on but I can see us going in the right direction now. We get Jonny back and we're at full strength so we're in a good place at the minute."

Tommy Makinson will revert to the wing with Lomax back in the side while Smith's eagerly-awaited return enables skipper Jon Wilkin to resume his normal duties in the pack after performing a makeshift job at scrum-half.

"We trained together for three months before the season started and, to go out in the first game and break my leg, you kind of have to change the way you're playing a bit," Smith said.

"It's important to get people back in the right positions and what it does for Wilko now, playing in the middle, is another bonus for us."

It is not quite back to normal service, however, with Smith happy to leave the goalkicking duties to centre Mark Percival, who landed six goals fro seven attempts against Warrington.

"The reason I was going to do it was because I'm known as this durable player and I was going to play most games but then I break my leg in the first game," Smith said.

"I was happy to do it but you saw the other day how good Percy is. I think he's one of the best kickers in the league and, as long as he's kicking them, I won't be going anywhere near."

Smith is expecting a stern test from Salford, who were 44-10 winners in the corresponding fixture in 2016 and have started this season promisingly with four wins from their opening seven matches.

He was with Salford as they made the move from the Willows to the AJ Bell Stadium and is pleased to see them challenging in the top half of the table.

"I enjoyed my time there, " Smith said. "I was allowed to be expansive. I played some pretty good stuff there and got signed by Wigan on the back of my performances playing for Salford.

"I had the chance to play at the Willows and the new ground as well. I always like going back, even though I'll get some stick off the fans.

"They've got some really good players and they're attacking really well. It's important we concentrate on our defence this week because, if do that, I think our attack will look after itself."