MATTY Smith isn’t focusing on the stuttering campaign of the club he once supported as Wigan collide with their bitter rivals on Monday.
St Helens have struggled to capture their trademark flamboyance this year, which has seen them claim five Super League titles, while Wigan remain on course to finish top for a third time in four years.
But Smith, a Grand Final runner-up in 2010 for Saints, is too focused on his job at Wigan to pay attention to what is happening down the road from his Billinge home.
“I’m not too worried about Saints and what they are doing,” said Smith.
“I’m sure they will give us a game next week no matter what team they put out.
“A derby game is a derby game and I’m sure it will be a close game.”
Saints’ form has improved of late, with Nathan Brown’s outfit winning three of their last four games but they are still set to be without Josh Perry (pectoral), James Roby (ankle) and Sia Soliola (foot) for the derby.
But the absence of some of Saints’ key peronnel is not diluting the appeal of the game for Smith.
“We now have an important game against Saints,” said Smith.
“We are going to want to beat them, aren’t we?”
But the Warriors troops are under no illusions that their own form hasn’t been at its ruthless peak since the 22-12 defeat to Warrington in round 19 and Smith thinks a rumble against the old enemy is the ideal time to fix it.
“There are bits of my game that need work but I know that,” Smith added.
“We are still working as a team and are not the finished article yet.
“If we’re going to win this cup and the league we have to keep stepping up.”
Both the Warriors and St Helens are in desperate need of the league points on offer on Monday night for very different reasons.
Second-placed Huddersfield will be hot favourites to despatch Castleford Tigers on Sunday which will see the Giants leapfrog Wigan into second place.
If Wigan beat Saints they will reclaim top spot but Saints sit just two points above ninth-placed Wakefield and face the prospect of finishing outside the play-off places for the first time.
Warriors are already mathematically guaranteed a place on the grid for the race to Old Trafford but are seeking another League Leaders’ Shield to go with last season’s only piece of silverware.
But the added spice of facing his old club in the town he grew-up in means this match means so much more than statistics to the 25-year-old, who celebrates his birthday the day after the match.
“It’s a game I’m looking
forward to and it is the game at the start of the season I look for first when the fixtures come out,” said Smith.
He is also not looking too far into the distance as an
appearance at Wembley is
still on the cards with Wigan facing London Broncos in
the Challenge Cup semi-final just five days after the derby.
“I know it’s a cliche but you have to take it week by week at the minute,” said Smith.
“We have a big game against Saints and them semi-final week. We will hopefully get to the final.”
If the Warriors do get to the final, it will be a record-extending 30th appearance in the showcase fixture.
But London Broncos have the advantage of not having to focus on league results around the semi-final.
They are looking to appear in the final for a second time.