Smith on the sidelines

Matty Smith
Matty Smith

Matty Smith rejoined his home town club from neighbours Wigan Warriors in a blaze of publicity ahead of the 2017 season - hoping to play a major part in bringing more silverware to the Totally Wicked Stadium.

But the vastly experienced scrum half finds himself on the side lines for the second February in succession - and for entirely different reasons.

Twelve months ago, he suffered a broken leg in a pre-season friendly against Widnes Vikings and then later in the Super League campaign picked up a career-threatening eye injury at Leeds Rhinos, restricting his total appearances to 22 matches.

Now, despite being included in St Helens’ initial squad for their opening three games of the new season, he has still to force his way into the starting 17 due to the consistency and form of any rival.

It will be frustrating for a player who, at 30 years of age, is approaching the twilight of a successful career and temporarily out of favour - but this week head coach Justin Holbrook praised the former Challenge Cup, Grand Final and Lance Todd Trophy winner for his unswerving backing of the team-mates around him.

Holbrook said: ‘’Matty obviously wants to play each week and I can understand that, but he has been great in training and his attitude is spot on.

“He has been really supportive of the team which reflects great credit on him.

“He will find it hard to come to terms with not being selected in the match-day 17 currently but he has handled the situation extremely well and that is pleasing to all concerned.”

Saints have started Super League XXIII relatively free of injuries with only Morgan Knowles (suspended) unavailable to Holbrook at this moment in time but players like Smith, who are on the fringe of selection, will no doubt get their chance as the season progresses.

In a sport which, by its very nature, can lead to players being marked absent at some stage or other, it’s a case of grab you chance when it comes.