Smith eyes double boost
Matty Smith is hoping to top off the best year of his career by helping Wigan Warriors to the double and thereby emulate the feat of his former club St Helens.
The scrum-half was an understudy to Sean Long when Saints followed up their 2006 Challenge Cup triumph with victory over Hull FC at Old Trafford, yet was in the thick of the action in 2010 when he was recalled by St Helens from a loan spell at Salford City Reds for their Grand Final appearance against Wigan.
It ended in heartbreak for Smith as the Warriors won 22-10 but his switch to Wigan last summer has helped turn his career around.
Smith won the Lance Todd Trophy in Wigan's 16-0 Challenge Cup final win over Hull FC in August and has the chance to become only the 12th player to add to it the Harry Sunderland Trophy, which is awarded to the man of the match in the Championship final.
"I've been asked the question about winning both in one year," Smith said. "It's an old cliché but it's a team game and, if we can win the Super League trophy, I'd be more than made up with that.
"I had mixed emotions in 2010. Walking out in front of 80,000 at Old Trafford was probably one of highlights of my career but getting beat was probably one of the low points. They say you need to lose a final to win one so hopefully that's the case for me."
The form of Smith, in tandem with former Hull KR stand-off Blake Green, has been key to the Warriors' successful season so far.
They had big boots to fill following the departure of Thomas Leuluai and Brett Finch at the end of last year and Smith says the pair have taken great delight in proving the critics wrong.
"I think it spurs you on a little bit," Smith said. "It doesn't matter who's played there before, a club like Wigan expects the best and you've got to perform every week.
"I like the pressure; I think it makes me play a little bit better. Me and Greeny have done well this year and we can only get better as a half-back partnership the more we play together.
"I knew I was coming to a club that could win trophies but for it to happen in the first year of a new half-back partnership is amazing. To win the Challenge Cup and to be as consistent as we have in the league, it would be good to cap it off with a win and to do the double.
"Even though we thought about it at the beginning of the year, it would be an amazing thing to achieve.
"When Saints did it in 2006 it was my first year as a professional and they had a fantastic side that year so to match that would be special.
"Winning the Challenge Cup takes a lot out of you, emotionally and physically. It took us two weeks to really get over it but we're back now and proved it can be done.
"We've had two great performances against Huddersfield and Leeds and we just need one more to finish it off and hopefully create a bit of history."
Wigan are still waiting to discover if skipper Sean O'Loughlin will be fit to lead the side after being out for a month with an Achilles injury and Smith admits it will be a boost if the inspirational loose forward pulls through.
"I think we've performed really well without him in the last few games, but you'd always want Lockers in your team," Smith said.
"He's our captain and he's probably our best player and you want your best player playing. It would be great to see him run out there on Saturday."