Matty Smith turns down chance to play for Sheffield

Last Updated July 17 2018, 10:48Rugby League
Matty Smith
Matty Smith

Former England scrum-half Matty Smith will continue to kick his heels this season after telling St Helens he would rather train than play for Championship club Sheffield Eagles.

Smith, who turns 31 in a week's time, has made just four substitute appearances for the Super League leaders so far this year after losing his half-back spot to Danny Richardson, along with three starts as a stop-gap replacement for hooker James Roby.

He made one appearance for Sheffield on dual registration against Toulouse on July 1 but has turned down the chance of more rugby with the part-time tier-two club.

"He's just going to keep on training," said Saints coach Justin Holbrook. "He just wants to keep his conditioning up. We had some lengthy chats about what he'd prefer to do. He obviously had one game there and he thought it was best for himself to just train harder all week. He'd rather continue with his conditioning and I'm OK with that."

Smith, who returned to his hometown club after helping Wigan win the Grand Final in 2016, will remain on standby in case of injury but Holbrook has used only 22 players so far this year and has no plans to rest anyone, despite challenging on both fronts.

Catalans Dragons, Widnes and Leigh all made attempts to take Smith on loan earlier in the year and the one-time international continues to be linked with a move to the French club for next season.

Smith is less than halfway through his four-year contract but Holbrook has hinted he could move on the move at the end of the campaign.

"Things are ongoing there," Holbrook said. "We'll see how that pans out. There was heaps of speculation about him going out on loan but that didn't end up happening and he's OK with what the outcome is for this year."

Meanwhile, Holbrook will be forced to make a change for Thursday's derby with Wigan at the DW Stadium, with second-rower Zeb Taia ruled out by a compound fracture in his hand. However, the former Catalans forward is expected to miss only two matches at the most.

"It's pierced the skin so we've only got to wait for the wound to heal," Holbrook said. "He definitely won't play this week but he may play against Warrington the week after. It's a good result, it could have been a lot worse."

St Helens, who play Catalans in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup at Bolton on August 5, are still hoping to have England prop Alex Walmsley back for the Super 8s.

Walmsley sustained a fracture in his neck in a round five game at Warrington in March but is back in light training and hoping to get the all-clear to resume playing when he has a scan on July 30.

"He's got the strength back and he's lifting heavy weights," Holbrook said. "Hopefully he gets the all-clear and he can do full contact but we've got to wait for that scan."

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