Rugby League: Smith plans to put the record right

The St Helens wing is eager to lose that 'forgotten man' tag.

CHRIS SMITH is the forgotten man of the St Helens backline, sometimes neglected and disregarded by his own team-mates. For Smith, it is not so much a case of being born on the wrong side of the tracks as playing on the wrong side of the field. If he waits on his wing for opportunities, he will die of ball starvation.

The problem for Smith, who will plough his often lonely furrow this evening in the match at Leeds that will decide who meets Wigan in next Saturday's Super League Grand Final, is that Saints, more than any other team, do the vast majority of their attacking down the opposite flank.

On the left, they have the glamour combination of the competition in Paul Newlove and Anthony Sullivan. The right-hand pairing are threatened by an anonymity that goes with their names; Smith and Smith - Chris and his Australian namesake, Damien.

"It can be frustrating," Chris Smith admitted. "But, with players like Paul and Sully, you would play to them."

Smith has worked out his own counter-strategy. He does not wait on his wing for the ball to come to him; he goes foraging for it. "He's not a Martin Offiah type who flashes down the outside and scores you 30 tries a season," his coach, Shaun McRae, said. "But he's still had a pretty good season. His work-rate has been as high as the forwards'. It's tough for him, playing right wing. The press tends to give Sullivan and Newlove a lot of the credit and the right-hand side gets forgotten."

In theory, things might be better for Smith next season, when Kevin Iro is earmarked to take over the right centre position. Saints would not pay what it costs to bring Iro back to Britain in order to take all the play the other way.

On the other hand, Saints' recruitment could be very bad news for Smith, because they have also signed Fereti Tuilagi, a specialist right-wing, from Halifax. On top of that, the highly promising 19-year-old, Tony Stewart, can be expected to be knocking on the first-team door next year. It is enough to make a player whose contribution is already frequently overlooked feel distinctly uneasy about the club's plans for him.

"I went to see them to see how I stand and they were adamant that they want to keep me," Smith said. "I know that Ellery Hanley will have his own ideas, but it's obviously better if you've got competition for places."

Chris Smith will have few better opportunities to demonstrate that he is doing rather more than making up the numbers than tonight at Headingley. As a Castleford lad - this is his first year away from his home-town club - victories over the big-city enemy from Leeds have a special savour.

Whether he will taste it this evening depends to a large extent on whether Graham Murray's side have recovered and regrouped after their defeat at Wigan last weekend. Leeds took the sort of physical battering that night that they have routinely handed out to other sides this season. At their most intense, their two victories over Saints this year suggest that they will again be too strong for them; but, if the edge has been taken off them, they will be vulnerable to their opponents' adventurous ball movement and attacking flair.

Saints also have the advantage of an extra two days of rest going into the match, but McRae does not believe that will be a telling factor. "We might have caught Halifax out that way, but I don't think Leeds are the same sort of club."

That resilience will be tested to the limit if Saints can give their backline the ammunition it needs. Even the Smiths will settle for a supporting role if Newlove and Sullivan can again work their destructive magic down the left. "I can't tell you why it's all come right over the last 10 games," Newlove said.

Like his team-mates, he gives great credit to McRae for keeping his attention on immediate priorities, even though he has been, in effect, sacked for next season.

"Everyone's excited about Ellery coming," Newlove said. "But if Shaun goes to the Grand Final and wins it, it's going to be a bit of a bugger him leaving, isn't it?"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable