Wakefield Wildcats are delighted to announce that utility back Lee Smith has joined on a one month loan from Leeds Rhinos.
The 25-year-old trained with his new team mates this morning and will increase competition amongst the Trinity backs, particularly in the centres where the Wildcats are missing both Dean Collis and Vince Mellars through injury.
Smith has played in 11 Super League games in 2012 and also made three appearances in the Challenge Cup, including against Wakefield in April. The Rhinos academy graduate has in total played over 150 games in the blue and amber where he has been successful in winning silverware. Smith’s versatility is highlighted by the fact he has won three Grand Finals, all playing in different positions whilst scoring in each Old Trafford appearance.
2008 was his best moment in a Leeds shirt as he picked up the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his fabulous performance at full-back against St Helens in a 24-16 victory.
Smith’s form was rewarded with a call-up to the England World Cup squad in 2008 where he stared with a hat-trick against Papua New Guinea. The following year was due to be his last at Headingley and after appearing in the World Club Challenge he went on to score 13 tries in 26 appearances in the league, adding 14 goals to help his home town club lift the Super League trophy once again.
He then had a spell in rugby union with London Wasps before deciding to move back to Leeds and recapture his form that had saw him become one of England’s most exciting backs. He had an instant impact and played his part in helping Leeds to the Challenge Cup final which they lost to Warrington Wolves, with Smith scoring the only try.
With his best years still ahead of him he has already played in six major finals including three Grand finals, two World Club Challenges and a Challenge Cup final at Wembley. To add to that Smith helped Leeds win the 2009 League Leaders Shield which means he has lifted five pieces of silverware at the age of just 25.
Smith is looking forward to contributing to the Wildcats cause in the next month and commented on the move:
“I have came here to get some game time, I had a word with Brian McDermott and he said I wouldn’t be involved this week and maybe not in the semi-final next week either so I thought it was a good opportunity to get back playing out on the field.
“It has been frustrating not to nail down one position and speaking to Brian we have both agreed I’ve been playing out of position and all over the place. Being in and out of the team is frustrating and any rugby player just wants to play.
“I just want to play at the end of the day. I’m not too fussed where I play, obviously I have got to fit into Wakefield’s culture, it is just a matter of playing.
“They are a really good set of lads and they have made me feel welcome, it’s been real good. There are a few ex-Leeds lads like Richard Mathers, Kyle Amor and Ali Lauitiiti so I know them, I’ve really enjoyed my first day.
“It is obviously different here, you train at the ground and the gym is totally different to Leeds but you make the most of what you have got. The lads are all the same and I think you would find anywhere in rugby the lads are the same, it’s been good.
“My contract is up this year and this obviously gives me a chance to get out and play and put me in the shop window. I can see what’s out there, the season is coming to an end soon and I will be looking to either stay at Leeds or look elsewhere.”
Trinity head coach Richard Agar is happy to have Smith onboard for the next four weeks and he added:
“Lee is certainly a good addition, he is a quality player and we were alerted to the situation by the fact he was a regular in the Nines. When we knew he wasn’t going to feature this weekend it coincided with Dean Collis being out with a fracture in his shoulder and Vince Mellars has been diagnosed with a detached retina which needs surgery.
“To lose both our centres is a fair chunk out of our team and Lee has not being getting the amount of football that he wants and a player of his calibre is too good not to be playing week-in, week-out in Super League. If it’s not with Leeds then we are in a position to offer him a crack with us.”
“I am not ruling out the fact he could be here longer but for the month that he is here I would like to think we can make a good impression on him. Vinny is out for two months so we have got a spot there. He is a Leeds player so they can very much dictate that, if we get Lee until the end of the season I would be really happy with that.
“He will play centre this week, obviously he is a quality full-back and a winger but our needs at this moment in time are very much in the centres so he will take Vinny’s spot and we will play him outside of Ali because he is familiar with Ali from his time at Leeds. With a short lead up to the game a bit of familiarity around him should help him out.”
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