It was a move that could have been a welcome boost to Sheffield Eagles’ survival bid, but the opportunity for England ace Matty Smith ended almost before it had begun.
Smith, largely exiled from the first-team at dual-registration partners St Helens, was a high-profile addition to Mark Aston’s side in their home defeat to Toulouse last month.
But with the Eagles sensing an opportunity to use the services of the ex-Wigan ace, comments recently from Saints coach Justin Holbrook suggested that Smith wanted to remain with his parent club, rather than gain game time with Eagles.
For coach Aston the news was disappointing, but he is happier to work with the players keen to wear the red and gold – citing several success stories from their fruitful partnership with the Super League leaders.
“It was disappointing to hear about Matty, but that’s fine and we are focused around those who have said they want to play for Eagles,” Aston said.
“Matty will do what he needs to do and what he feels is best for him .That is fine. It is a little disappointing for me because he looked pumped after that game he played for us. He enjoyed it, but that’s history.
“For me, you need to keep playing, it is all about match fitness and I have said to Jack Ashworth, keep playing, but keep playing well. If you are playing well then you are in with a chance. I am focusing on the guys who want to come here and want to play, and the lads who have come here from Saints have been champions.”
Meanwhile, Aston is still awaiting news on the full extent of Jake Spedding’s injury. The centre, another who has impressed on dual-registration, has suffered with ankle problems this season, with Aston recently revealing the latest set-back could mean an operation.
“I am waiting to hear the latest” Aston explained. “From what I know it is a grade two so he will have seen the surgeon and then a decision will be made whether he needs an operation or not.”
Aston added: “We are hopeful he won’t, and if that is the case then we are probably looking at four to six weeks out.”