Smith’s duel for England No.7 shirt

Matty Smith in action against St Helens last week
Matty Smith in action against St Helens last week

MATTY Smith is ready for a potential duel with Luke Gale for the England No.7 shirt tonight.

Castleford livewire Gale has been widely talked about as a possible contender for the three-Test series against New Zealand.

And tonight’s clash at the DW Stadium is his last chance to impress national coach Steve McNamara.

Current incumbent Smith admits Gale deserves to be in the frame, but is hoping to get the edge as Wigan attempt to guarantee a home play-offs semi-final.

The 28-year-old said: “Luke is playing really well, I played with him at Knights level, and he’s a great lad and definitely deserves a mention for the shirt. I’m going to have a big say in – hopefully – the next three games.

“Gaz (Widdop) and I struck up a good partnership in the Four Nations last year, but I’d like to see George (Williams) given a chance, and Galey is a great player and deserves to be in the squad too.

“To have four of us going for No.7 and 6, the competition is great and pushes you on.

“Me being better than Luke will go a long way to us winning the game, the same as if our middles win their battle.”

Smith feels his own performances have lifted since he relinquished the goal-kicking duties to full-back Matty Bowen.

“I was going into games thinking ‘I’ve got to kick well’ rather than what my job is,” he said.

“Now, when Mango is taking the kicks, I’m in the middle talking to the lads about what we’re going to do next.”

Victory for Wigan tonight guarantees them a top-two finish – and consequently, a home semi-final the following week.

If Leeds lose at Huddersfield, the Warriors will also secure the league leaders’ shield, £100,000 prize money and a place in the World Club Series with a win tonight.

“It’s great being league leaders, but the bigger picture is getting to Old Trafford – and I’m not just saying that because we’re not in the driving seat,” added Smith.

“We don’t think we’re unbeatable at home, but we have been this year and that’s massive to us.

“So we need to win this game to get a home semi, and we’re going all out to do it.”

Castleford stunned Leeds 29-22 last week to suggest they are keen to end the season on a positive note, despite being unable to budge from their fifth-place.

“Cas’ are playing like nothing matters and scoring some tries,” added Smith.