MATTY Smith is set to be confirmed as Wigan Warriors’ first signing for next season.
The Salford half-back has agreed a deal with the Warriors and an official announcement could be made within days, the Evening Post understands.
It emerged last week that Shaun Wane had targeted the 24-year-old as a replacement for Thomas Leuluai, who is heading back to the NRL with New Zealand Warriors.
And it is understood that Smith has agreed a two or three-year deal after rejecting offers from Salford, Widnes and former club St Helens.
Though Wane would not be drawn on speculation, he gave an insight into the type of scrum-half he was chasing during an interview last week.
“I’m one to think outside the box,” he said, revealing his preference for a “project” rather than a marquee recruit from Down Under. And Smith would appear to fit the bill, having shown glimpses of his ability at Salford this season after previous stints with Widnes and Crusaders when he struggled for opportunities at Saints behind Sean Long.
Reports elsewhere linking Wigan with St Helens’ out of favour Lee Gaskell were wide of the mark.
Wane is still hoping to persuade stand-off Brett Finch to stay at the club despite strong interest from Super League and NRL sides, including ex-coach Michael Maguire’s Souths.
But he is resigned to losing George Carmont (retirement), Jeff Lima (Souths) and Leuluai (NZ), while injured prop Stuart Fielden is out of contract at the end of this season.
WIGAN’S 50-8 smashing of Leeds last Friday night has heightened fans’ excitement for the semi-final showdown between the two outfits.
Season ticket holders can get their hands on Challenge Cup semi-final tickets from this Wednesday.
Wigan have received their allocation for the clash - taking place at Huddersfield’s Galpharm Stadium on Saturday, July 14 (5.30pm) - costing from £18 adult and £9 concession. They are limited to two per season ticket holder or member. Any remaining tickets go on general sale on Monday, June 11 from the DW Stadium ticket office.