Smith to duel with his business partner
Stefan Ratchford admits there may be some banter in tonight's duel '“ against his business partner Matty Smith.
The Warrington full-back is set to face the Wigan No.7 at Old Trafford tonight.
As well as being close pals, they run a junior coaching firm together called Future Stars.
“I’m the brains and looks behind the operation,” smiled Ratchford.
“We have a good relationship, we’ve known each other for years.
“We try and meet up for a coffee and not talk shop, just I’ll take my little girl and he’ll take his lad.
“There may a bit of banter on the pitch, but nothing too sinister.
“In one of the games we played earlier this year, he was on the short-side by the scrum and I was saying: ‘Pass it here, I’m faster than Matty I can run around him!’”
Smith, 28, set-up Future Stars last summer and soon invited former Salford team-mate Ratchford on board.
The Warriors scrum-half said: “I do all the work, Stef chips in every so often when he wants to!
“I played with him at Salford and I class him as one of my best mates.
“If we win, I’ll not rub it in – it would be nice to get the win, but he’ll feel the same way.”
He is set to lead Wigan out as captain if Sean O’Loughlin doesn’t recover from a leg injury.
Smith is still widely-expected to join St Helens in the off-season, even though the move has been hosed down by all parties.
But if he does depart, it makes tonight’s match his last as a Wigan player.
“We’ve lost a couple of Grand Finals and it’s the worst feeling in the world,” he said.
“I really want to get the win this time.
“My son, Samuel, is two-and-a-half and he knows when I’ve won or lost... because he knows sometimes dad is in a mood and sometimes he’s happy!
“It would be nice to get the win to make him proud.”
Despite the frosty rivalry between fans, there are many cross-club friendships between the two sides.
“We had a break before the media conference, and Josh Charnley came and sat with us lot for 10 minutes,” added Ratchford.
“We all get on, but on the field, you don’t hold back.”
And the Wiganer is full of admiration for his hometown club.
“They’re a quality side,” he added. “I think if Shaun Wane had some of the senior players fit, he’d have a tough job who to pick, because the young lads have done such a good job.”