St Helens coach Justin Holbrook says it is a smart move by his Warrington counterpart Steve Price to sign his old scrum-half Matty Smith.
Smith was released by Holbrook at the end of last season after being unable to hold down a regular place in the side and joined Catalans Dragons, but will go up against his old team-mates on Thursday night after moving on loan to the Wolves.
“I think it’s a smart move by them to bring in Matty Smith,” Holbrook said.
“Matty is a very experienced half-back and he’s been playing for a long time, so it’s a really smart move by Warrington.”
The 32-year-old Smith, who also struggled to find regular football with the Catalans, has been signed by the Wolves on a short-term deal to help offset the loss of Australian playmaker Blake Austin with an ankle injury.
Smith will not be able to play in the Challenge Cup final against St Helens on August 24 because the competition deadline passed in July but will be available for the club’s five remaining league matches and the play-offs.
Warrington Wolves vs St Helens
August 8, 2019, 7:00pm
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Price, who is expected to give an update on the injury to Austin on Wednesday, is ready to field something of a makeshift side on Thursday, even though Warrington still need points to ensure a second-placed finish.
He is without second rower Jack Hughes, who ruptured a testicle in the defeat by Catalans Dragons, and lost winger Tom Lineham to suspension, while Dec Patton, Mike Cooper, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark and Joe Philbin are all being rested.
Price brings in academy players Riley Dean and Josh Thewlis and there could be a home debut for Luther Burrell as well as a rare outing for veteran forward Ben Westwood.
The 38-year-old Westwood, who has made just one appearance in the last four months after sustaining a calf injury, is retiring at the end of the season but is determined to make an impact before he hangs up his boots.
“I’m fully recovered from my calf and I’m just waiting for that opportunity,” he said.
“When I do get that shot, it’s up to me to make some headaches for Mr Price.”
St Helens, who clinched the League Leaders’ Shield with five matches to spare, are still without Alex Walmsley, Morgan Knowles and Lachlan Coote and are resting captain James Roby,
It is no surprise, therefore, that Holbrook does not believe Thursday’s clash will have much bearing on the cup final.
“I think with the number of players out from both sides it’s probably not going to be a true indication of that but once you get there and kick off, the boys will want to play well,” he said.
“I’m not too sure how they’re approaching Thursday’s game. They’re in a difficult spot now, obviously they’d like to be in clear second spot but haven’t probably played the best they would have liked over the last few weeks.