Smith has eye on extra rewards

Matty Smith
Matty Smith
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MATTY Smith is determined to make the most of one last chance to catch the eye of England coach Steve McNamara before the autumn internationals.

McNamara is due to arrive from Sydney on Saturday morning, just hours before the Super League Grand Final between the Warriors and Leeds, to step up his preparations for the matches against France and New Zealand.

The national coach, who will be among the capacity 73,000 crowd at Old Trafford, could select up to a dozen players involved the title decider for his 24-man squad which will be unveiled on Sunday lunchtime and Smith will be among those anxiously waiting for the call.

The former St Helens and Salford player was England’s number seven throughout the 2014 Four Nations Series but it is thought McNamara may switch Sam Tomkins into the halves to partner Gareth Widdop in order to accommodate newly-crowned Super League Man of Steel Zak Hardaker at full-back.

The 28-year-old Smith is hoping McNamara keeps faith in him and believes he still has much to offer the national team.

“It’s obviously something I really want to do,” he said. “I want to be in the squad, I want to play against the Kiwis and hopefully I get the nod off Steve Mac.

“All I can control is my performances on the pitch and, if I can perform well on Saturday and help my team win the Super League trophy, then I give myself a chance again.

“My main focus is obviously do well on Saturday first and whatever happens will happen.

“But there is no bigger honour than playing for your country. I got a taste of it last year and I still think I have a lot to give to England. I think the organisation I can bring and the kicking game and all that kind of stuff plays a massive part in the international game.”

Smith’s half-back partner George Williams, named Super League’s young player of the year at this week’s Man of Steel awards, has an outside chance of making the England squad while Sean O’Loughlin looks certain to retain the captaincy.

Winger Josh Charnley is likely to be ignored after losing his place in the Wigan team to Dom Manfredi and centre Dan Sarginson is injured but Joe Burgess, Michael McIlorum, Joel Tomkins, Liam Farrell and John Bateman are all in contention for the three-match series against New Zealand, which follows a clash with the French on October 24.

With the exception of McIlorum, who was injured, they were all in the Warriors team that went down 14-6 to St Helens in last year’s Grand Final and will be looking to put the record straight against the Rhinos.

Smith admits that defeat, which followed the second-minute dismissal of Ben Flower for punching Lance Hohaia, still hurts but believes it will simply add to their motivation.

“I don’t think you ever get over it, I really don’t,” Smith said. “I think you learn from it, it probably spurs you on to be more successful.

“Through the winter months when you’re thinking about the Grand Final you’ve lost, it drives you on through pre-season.”