Betts sympathetic towards Cunningham after Smith injury

Denis Betts has admitted that he understands the frustrations of St Helens counterpart Keiron Cunningham after he lost new halfback Matty Smith to a leg injury.

Saints confirmed that Smith will miss the start of the Super League season following an injury sustained in their 16-0 victory over Widnes on Sunday.

Smith suffered the injury following a tackle made by Manase Manuokafoa, with Cunningham describing the tackle as ‘horrendous’.

“It was a disgusting tackle,” Cunningham said.

“It is one we have been trying to outlaw for three years and in the past we have lost two people with broken legs and three with syndesmosis with that type of tackle. Like everything else we are reactive, never proactive, and now we will probably do something about it.

“We have cited the player. It is horrendous. Matty hasn’t got the ball, it has left his hands and the tackle coincides with the next tackle which is when Morgan Knowles is tackled.

“He grabs hold of Matty’s shoulders and drops his legs. You can see his boots; his legs are that far off the ground and he drops 120kg on Matty’s ankles. It is harder to do that tackle than push Matty off the ball.

“Whether there is malice I don’t know but he has gone out to hurt my halfback, he has done it and done it royally. Hopefully the league will stand up to it and do something about it.

Having lost his own key halfback in Kevin Brown during the off-season, Betts admitted that he was understanding of Cunningham’s frustrations.

“He’s lost his star signing so it’s obviously devastating for him,” Betts told TotalRL.

“It’s not a nice position to be in, I’ve been in that position and it really is difficult when you lose one of your pivotal players. It’s tough for him.

“It’s hard work at the moment for him and it’s not nice when any sort of contact injury occurs.”