Exclusive: Super League Grand Final winner closing in on permanent Championship switch

Aaron Bower
Aaron Smith Leigh Leopards Alamy

Aaron Smith warming up for Leigh in 2022 - Alamy

Leigh Leopards hooker Aaron Smith could be set to leave the club on the eve of the new Super League season, Love Rugby League understands – with a move to Championship club Barrow Raiders in the offing.

The 2019 Super League Grand Final winner has made available by the Leopards in the off-season, with opportunities once again likely to be limited under Adrian Lam this season.

That has alerted a number of Championship clubs but it appears as though the ambitious Cumbrians are leading the race to land Smith’s signature.

The one-time England Knights international is expected to finalise a move to the Championship club in the coming days, with Barrow increasingly confident they can land Smith’s signature in what would be a significant boost to their ranks ahead of the new season getting underway next month, Love Rugby League can reveal.

Barrow Raiders set to sign Super League Grand Final winner Aaron Smith from Leigh Leopards

Aaron Smith St Helens Alamy Aaron Smith in action for St Helens in 2019 – Alamy

Smith has made Super League appearances for St Helens – with whom he featured in the 2019 Grand Final victory over SalfordHull KR and Leigh.

He joined the Leopards ahead of the 2022 Championship season and featured 32 times in all competitions, helping them to Grand Final success and victory in the 1895 Cup.

However, Leigh’s promotion to Super League resulted in Smith’s opportunities becoming extremely limited. He made just two appearances for Adrian Lam’s side in 2023, with one coming in Super League and one in the Challenge Cup.

And with the likes of Edwin Ipape and new signing Ben McNamara ahead of him in the pecking order again this season, his time at the club appears to be drawing to a close.

He is the latest player to arrive at Barrow from Super League. Former Salford duo Matty Costello and James Greenwood have signed on at the club, while Brazil-born former Wigan prop Ramon Silva has also linked up with Paul Crarey’s side.

And they are now set for another boost, with the potential arrival of Smith.

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