Michael Smith, the Castleford second rower, has had the best week of his career so far with two prestigious selections. On Sunday, Smith was named in the New Zealand squad for their tour to Great Britain in October and November. Yesterday he was included in the Tetley's Super League Dream Team, voted the best in the country in his position.
"It summed up a great season, but being picked to play for your country has to be the highlight," said Smith, who just 18 months ago was working as a doorman at a nightclub in York.
Bradford's Tevita Vaikona, another uncapped Kiwi selected for this autumn's tour, was also named in the Dream Team, along with the St Helens winger Darren Albert and Wigan's scrum-half, Adrian Lam. Saints have four players in the side, Wigan and Bradford three, Leeds one and Castleford their captain, Danny Orr, as well as Smith.
"He should be in the Great Britain side against New Zealand," said Smith, who will line up with Orr in the play-off game at Wigan on Saturday night. "I'm not saying that because he's my team-mate, but there is no one better on current form.''
The chances of Leeds' Ben Walker joining South Sydney next season have diminished with the resignation of South's chief executive, Paul Dunn. Dunn quit this week after the club failed to sign the Canterbury winger Hazem El Masri without consulting him. Dunn has been an advocate of signing Walker, who has been out of favour at Headingley.
The Leeds coach, Daryl Powell, says he is still considering whether to play Walker against Hull on Friday night, or to opt for Danny McGuire, who swung the game at Wigan last weekend. "Ben still has a role to play for us as we try to win the Super League this season," Powell said. "Anything beyond that is irrelevant."