Matty Smith is ready for an “interesting” duel tonight – against his business partner!
He and Warrington ace Stefan Ratchford jointly own Future Stars, which run coaching sessions for junior players in Wigan, Warrington and St Helens.
But tonight, any talk of venues, ventures and takings will be put on hold as they go head-to-head in a top of the table showdown.
Utility Ratchford has played at stand-off on Wolves’ left edge for the past three weeks, putting him on a collision course with Wigan’s right-side halfback Smith.
He said: “Stef is used as utility but I think his position is six.
“He’s on my side so it’s head-to-head for us, so it should be an interesting game.
“When you play it’s all about winning, once the final whistle goes that’s when you shake hands again.”
Smith and Ratchford struck up a friendship when they were team-mates at Salford together.
And they have been happy with the progress they have made with their venture, which includes Monday evening sessions at Abraham Guest High School.
Smith said: “We’ve been through tough times but we’re finally getting there now.
“The coaching has been great, the eye-opening thing has been everything which goes with running a business.
“With any new business there are things to fix up.
“The sessions have been fantastic, the kids are getting better.
“It’s not treading on toes, it’s an additional session to what the kids do with their amateur clubs.”
Ratchford, a former Wigan St Pat’s amateur who still lives in Wigan, has faced Smith in the past.
“Last year, I ran past him and he tried to dive and ankle tap me, and I ended up splitting his face,” he smiled.
“I think he had two or three stitches in his cheek, so his wife Jen wasn’t too happy but I had a giggle to myself!
“The game’s so fast it’s difficult to speak to someone during the game, the banter is more for when you meet up for a pint.
“If there’s a hold-up in play I may say, ‘What about that when I just stepped you, Matty!’
“We’re quite familiar with each other’s game. He doesn’t have many weaknesses, he’s the main organiser at Wigan and a massive influence on their team.”
Smith joined Wigan from Salford in 2012 and, months earlier, Ratchford was close to doing the same before opting for the Wolves instead.
“At the time I was leaving Salford, I was lucky to have a few clubs interested and I got it down to Wigan and Warrington,” said the 27-year-old.
“It was a massive decision, the contracts were pretty much identical, at the time I felt the opportunity at Warrington was better, in terms of players who were in front of me.”
Smith booted himself into the Wigan history books with his two drop-goals in the 26-19 win against Huddersfield last week.
But it was an England team-mate, John Bateman, who took the plaudits for another all-action display.
And Smith points to Bateman’s performance as evidence of what the injured stars will bring to the Warriors side as they return over the coming weeks.
England internationals Sean O’Loughlin, Joel Tomkins, Liam Farrell and Sam Tomkins are all expected back soon.
“You look at what John has brought to the side since he’s returned, he’s been my man of the match for the last two weeks,” said Smith.
“We know we’ve been a bit scrappy, but to be where we are with all that improvement left in us, we’re happy.
“We’re in a good position, and we’re going to get better and better as the internationals come back in.”