There isn’t a better half-back currently playing in Super League than Warrington’s Chris Bridge, according to his boss Tony Smith. Bridge has been in outstanding form so far in 2014 – having to deputize for the likes of Richie Myler and Stefan Ratchford for large chunks of the campaign, moving from his usual position of centre.
That form was rewarded by a call-up to Steve McNamara’s England train-on squad earlier this week, and Smith insists Bridge is the form half-back in the competition, and is hoping he can maintain his excellent form heading into the second half of the season.
“I’ve said it before and I’m happy to say it again: if there’s a better half-back running around this country at the moment over the last month, I haven’t seen him. He’s in outstanding form, and hopefully he can maintain that now,” Smith declared.
“When I came to this country he was probably the most talented young player I’d seen. He was on our books at Huddersfield and we lost him because of a loophole in his contract due to us not being in Super League.
“He then came to Bradford and it was a real shame for us; he’s had some ups and downs but I think everyone realizes the talent he has now.”
Bridge has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but Smith believes that becoming a father for the first time has played a part in his improved form and fitness – as well as him looking after his body in a much better fashion.
“Two or three years ago he had a really good spell in his career, and he was seen as probably one of the best centres England had to offer at that stage.
“Injuries hampered that, but he’s now looking after his body in a much more professional way. He’s often the first to training and he takes care of his body in a way that allows it to perform remarkably well.
“I think some of that is down to fatherhood; it’s a maturing thing and once you have to be responsible to provide for your family you start to knuckle down – but I’m not suggesting that all players should go out and become fathers though!”