Wigan Warriors: Matty Smith names the Good Friday Derby as the best fixture he's played in
Matty Smith says the Good Friday Derby game between Wigan Warriors and St Helens is one of the best fixtures that he has been involved in during his career.
The Widnes scrum-half has represented both clubs in the past, and has fond memories of playing in the matches where the two teams have gone head-to-head.
Smith states he is looking forward to the latest clash, and believes there is not much between the two heading into the match, with the clubs currently occupying first and second in the Super League table.
He said: “They’ve probably been the best games I’ve been involved in throughout my career. There’s no bigger game than Wigan V Saints, so it’s a privilege to have played in them and to have been on both sides of it as well, which was interesting.
“I have probably won more than I lost, but it was great just to be a part of it, with both sets of fans singing for their team. It raises your game. I’m a bit jealous that I’m not going to be playing in another one.
“The teams at the moment are really close, I don’t think there’s much in it. Saints are obviously the team to beat,and they have been for the last three years. That won’t take any pressure off Wigan (in this game), because both sets of fans and players want to get the win.
“Over the last few years they have promoted from within, through the youth, with people like (Oliver) Partington and (Harry) Smith now getting a little bit older, and are bedding themselves in a little more.
“They’ve also made a few decent signings. (Jai) Field is unbelievable, and has started fantastically. He is head and shoulders the Man of Steel at the moment. So it’s about building on that.
“I was at Wigan when Matty (Peet) was in the academy there, and he was always destined to be a Super League coach. Good luck to him, and I think he’s got what it takes to kick the club on. He’s that Waney (Shaun Wane) mould, where he always expects the best.”
Smith left his hometown club St Helens in 2010, following their Grand Final defeat to Michael Maguire’s Warriors side at Old Trafford.
After spending a few years with the Salford Red Devils, he made the decision to join Wigan, which didn’t go down too well with some of his close family and friends.
Ahead of his first Good Friday Derby game playing against St Helens, Smith admits there were a range of emotions going through his mind as he prepared to take to the field, but insists that they were mainly positive.
“It was excitement, more than anything,” he added.
“It was a case of getting out there and getting involved. Once I settled into it, I was confident, because I knew I had the best team around me, with the best players. I wanted that early touch, to do what I thought I was good at.
“It was definitely something I won’t forget. The walkout with the crowd, just lifted the stadium. It was absolutely brilliant.
“Everything happens for a reason. Before I signed for Wigan in 2012, I was at Salford, and I actually met with Saints, who were in for me as well. The easier option would’ve been signing for them, but as soon as I met Shaun Wane, he sold the club to me.
“I think Wigan was a better fit for me at that point. I was blown away by what they were trying to put together, and it suited me. I wanted to be at a big club and winning trophies, that was my aim. It suited my game in terms of the way they played.
“I’ve never made a decision based on what my family says. I’ve taken it onboard, but the end result was based on what I was wanting to do. There were a few raised eyebrows, but they supported me through everything.
“It turned out to be the right decision, because I had five great years there. I really loved the fans and the lads. We were very successful, so I'll never forget it.
“I always got a really good reception, and they’re still fantastic today when I see them. I’ve got nothing but respect for the club.”
During his time with Wigan, Smith was part of the side that won the Challenge Cup and Super League double in 2013.
He left the club in 2016, following another Grand Final victory, directly rejoining St Helens.
Despite things not going exactly as he had hoped, Smith states he has no regrets about how it all eventually panned out.
“I think Wigan wanted to give George Williams a bigger contract and had Tommy Leuluai coming back,” he explained.
“I was on a very good contract at that point, and it was a mutual thing in the end. They wanted me to move on so then they could free up that little bit of money.
“Although in hindsight, the way it turned out with Saints, I should’ve just stayed for those two years at Wigan, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I left on a Grand Final win and got to go back to my hometown club for a few years.
“I won’t say I regretted it. It is what it is, you can’t see the future.”