Rugby League: Smith's timing suits Monie

TONY SMITH will time his return for his first Super League match of the season perfectly this weekend with the visit of his old club. The Wigan and Great Britain scrum-half has been out for 11 weeks after breaking his ankle in the pre-season friendly at Halifax, but takes his place against Castleford tomorrow.

That is welcome news for the Wigan coach, John Monie, after a second Super League defeat of the season, at Halifax last week, left them bracketed with Cas on eight points - already four behind the leaders, St Helens. "It will be a great relief to have Tony back," Monie said.

"It has been very tough for Greg Florimo to settle in without our regular half-back, but hopefully they will start to strike up a partnership."

Monie is still short of bodies elsewhere in the team, with Phil Jones making his first start on the wing and the Academy winger, Liam Bretherton, making his debut appearance on the bench.

Elsewhere, the usual pre-Wembley question applies of how the finalists will be affected. The London coach, Dan Stains, does not believe that the big occasion looming explained his side's 40-8 thrashing at Wakefield last week. "We lost sight of a lot of things that we have been doing and I include myself in that," he said. "I feel responsible for the result, and there has been a lot of soul-searching this week. We have got to go back to doing the things that made us successful."

For this evening's home game against Warrington, he is without the suspended Robbie Simpson and the injured Peter Gill - both of whom will be available for Wembley - but has Rob Smyth back in the team, auditioning for the roles of winger and goal-kicker in the final.

Leeds' Graham Murray, on the other hand, admits that his players have been affected by the impending occasion. "I thought I could avoid it," he said, but the evidence of some unconvincing recent form is that neither he nor they can.

For all that, they should be too good for Huddersfield, whose two recent wins have not greatly impressed their coach, Malcolm Reilly. A clutch of Leeds players, including Daryl Powell, Marvin Golden and Andy Hay, will be out to demonstrate their fitness.

Leeds' immediate priority is not to fall any further behind Saints, who should not be threatened too seriously by Hull, who are still without a win. Their coach, Ellery Hanley, was critical of Saints' display against Sheffield last week, but he has Paul Newlove back. Tommy Martyn is likely to miss out with a shoulder injury, with Paul Wellens, one of several young Saints who have repaid Hanley's faith so far this season, standing in.

The other side without a point, Salford, have a difficult task at improving Gateshead, while Wakefield, whose two wins so far have already exceeded the gloomiest pre-season predictions, are at Sheffield tomorrow night.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk