MATTY SMITH hopes to use the vast experience accrued in a 17-year playing career to lead St Helens’ women to success.
Following his playing retirement at the end of the 2022 season at Widnes, Smith has returned to the club where he developed as a junior and had two Super League spells.
The 35-year-old also featured as a halfback for Salford, Wigan – where he won two Grand Finals and a Challenge Cup – and Catalans.
“It’s a great honour to be given the opportunity to come back to the club and coach such a talented group of women,” said Smith.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started and building up to what I know will be a successful 2023 season.
“The chance to come back to the club was one I couldn’t turn down.
“I hope with all the knowledge I have gained during my career I can use it to push the team to the next level.
“I am lucky to have inherited a great backroom staff who not only have good knowledge of the game but are also great people, which is key to success.”
St Helens have been one of the leading lights of the emerging women’s game since taking over the old successful Thatto Heath side.
They won the Super League for the first time in 2021, a year in which they won the treble with Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield success too.
Despite retaining the Challenge Cup at the beginning of 2022, Saints lost their grip on league honours, losing to eventual title winners Leeds in the play-off semi-finals after finishing second in the table behind York.
Previous head coach Derek Hardman has been moved to become the coach of the Saints men’s reserves, though he will assist Smith alongside former England head coach Craig Richards, who remains the head of rugby in the women’s set-up at the club.
“Matty has a wealth of playing experience that will stand him in great stead as he begins his coaching journey back at his hometown club,” said St Helens CEO Mike Rush.
“His appointment will help further develop our already strong women’s set-up and hopefully bring more silverware to the club.”