My Ultimate Team: Matty Smith names his best 13 including St Helens, Wigan Warriors legends

Drew Darbyshire
Matty Smith Ultimate Team

Matty Smith is Love Rugby League's next guest on My Ultimate Team

St Helens women’s head coach and men’s assistant Matty Smith is the next guest on Love Rugby League’s My Ultimate Team feature, selecting the greatest 1-13 of players he played alongside.

A fine half-back in his own right, Smith enjoyed a long and successful career as a player with several clubs, most notably St Helens, Salford Red Devils and Wigan Warriors.

After hanging up his boots at the end of the 2022 season, Smith went into coaching, taking up the role as head coach of the St Helens women’s team whilst becoming an assistant to Saints men’s head coach Paul Wellens. And with so much experience in the game, Smith’s ultimate team is, as you’d expect, star-studded..

1. Sam Tomkins

Sam Tomkins Wigan Warriors Alamy

Number one isn’t an easy choice! Paul Wellens is my boss now, but just because of the time I had at Wigan and the success I had.. Sam Tomkins was untouchable when I was at Wigan and is arguably the best player I’ve ever played with so I’ve got to pick Sam as number one – sorry Paul! Paul was an unbelievable player as well but I was a young lad when I came through with Paul and I didn’t play as much with him as I did with Sam, so I’ll have to go with Sam.

MY ULTIMATE TEAM: Joel Tomkins names his greatest 1-17 of players he played alongside

2. Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall England 2015 Alamy

I played a couple of times with him at international level and for what he’s done throughout his career.. I’d say he’s been one of the best wingers in this country for a number of years so I’ll go with Ryan.

3. Willie Talau

Willie Talau Salford Red Devils Alamy

Willie Talau, for me, was just solid. He was a great attacking player but he could just cut through people in defence. I played with him at Saints but I signed at Salford with him as well and played a couple of years at Salford with him, so defending alongside Willie for that period at Salford, he looked after me a lot.

4. Jamie Lyon

Jamie Lyon St Helens Alamy

I only got the chance to play with this fella a couple of times but he’s arguably the best Aussie to ever play over here. I’ve got to put him in even though I only played a handful of games with him. What he could do with the ball – not just in games – he was doing it in training everyday. I just couldn’t get my head around the skill level that he had. What a player he was at Saints.

5. Pat Richards

Pat Richards Wigan Warriors Alamy

My time at Wigan was great, we won the double in 2013 and Paddy played a massive part in that. He could kick goals from anywhere and he kicked drop goals from everywhere as well. An unbelievable player. He carried the ball in yardage really well for the team, always making 10 or 15 metres. He could finish a try, he could defend, he had it all did Paddy. Obviously he won the Man of Steel over here as well, he was a great player.

RICHARDS: Wigan Warriors gave me the best eight years of my life

6. George Williams

George Williams Wigan Warriors 2014 Alamy

I’ve got to put George in. My time at Wigan was special, he was a young kid coming through then but I really enjoyed playing with George because he suited me. He balanced me, he let me control the side at that point as he was young and he let me kick the ball long, he had a better short kicking game than me. I was a passer, he was a runner and we complemented each other really well.

RELATED: From imposter syndrome to England captain: How George Williams found his voice

7. Sean Long

Sean Long St Helens Alamy

I didn’t really play with him much but I’m going to have to say Sean Long, who was my idol growing up. He is arguably the best seven we’ve ever had in this country. His knowledge of the game.. He’s clever, he’s fast, he was as tough as nails. Longy was 84kg but he played like he was 104kg, he was just a tough player and the skillset that he had was just unbelievable.

8. James Graham

James Graham St Helens 2008 Alamy

My old mate Jammer. I just loved playing with him and what a playing career he had, but I probably loved my time off the field with him even more! He’s such a good mate and we’d celebrate the wins. I’ve had great times with him on and off the field.

9. James Roby

James Roby St Helens Alamy

There’s three I’ve got in my head. Micky McIlorum, I got to win quite a few trophies with him at Wigan and played over in France at Catalans with him – I loved playing with Micky. He was a nine that you loved playing with but hated playing against. He was so tough but a really good bloke off the pitch. Everyone thought he was this really tough character on it but he was the best bloke off it and he’d do anything for you.

The other two are hard to separate: James Roby and Keiron Cunningham. When I first came through at Saints, Keiron was the one person that really put his arm around me, looked after me as a kid and he is a St Helens lad as well, so he knew just how much it meant for me to play for Saints, so I loved playing with him early on in my career as a young kid.

But Robes is just the ultimate nine, isn’t he? I don’t think anyone in the game even touches him in terms of how many games he’s played, but what he achieved is just sensational. I’d say Robes just tips it for me but I loved playing with all three of those I’ve mentioned.

MY ULTIMATE TEAM: Kyle Amor names his greatest XIII from players he played alongside, including James Roby

10. Ben Flower

Ben Flower Wigan Warriors 2016 Alamy

I’ve played with a lot of good props in my time but one prop that I did like playing with was Ben Flower. I played with him at Crusaders for a couple of years and we went to Wigan together. I got on with him really good off the pitch as well. He was just a tough competitor. He carried the ball hard, carried the ball off his own goal-line, he didn’t shirk any work and defensively he was good as well. I think if you look at other players like (Jamie) Peacock and people like that who I played with, you probably wouldn’t say he reached the heights that they did but he was definitely someone who I loved playing with.

11. Paul Sculthorpe

Paul Sculthorpe St Helens Alamy

I’m going to put someone in the back-row who isn’t too much of a back-rower but 13 is a tough choice as well! I’m going to go with Scully in the back-row. Coming through at Saints at that point he was captain of the club and he really took me under his wing. Just a great player, had a fantastic career, won everything in the game and was great to play with.

MY ULTIMATE TEAM: Paul Sculthorpe selects his best 1-17 including St Helens, Great Britain stars

12. Harrison Hansen

Harrison Hansen Wigan Warriors Alamy

Someone who I enjoyed playing with at Wigan. Again, he was a tough player and looked after me as a half-back. He was such a great player at that point for me, he just looked after me and made my tackles, I probably made 10 tackles less every game just because he was getting his body in front and looking after me in that sense. A great lad, a great player and someone that really looked after me.

13. Sean O’Loughlin

Wigan Warriors 2016 Grand Final win Alamy

A captain of mine at Wigan, probably the second best player I’ve ever played with behind Sam (Tomkins). He just knew where to be on the pitch. He was such a great player, a leader of men and everything about him was great.

He was just the ultimate captain. I’ll always remember what he did for me in 2016, I’d captained Wigan through a lot of the games when he was injured throughout the season.. We got wind that he was coming back for the Grand Final at Old Trafford and I remember having a conversation with Waney (Shaun Wane) who said ‘Lockers is back, so if we win he’s going to lift the trophy’ and I was like ‘he’s the captain of the club, it shouldn’t really be a discussion’ but I respected that he pulled me in and said that. I’ll always remember after that game when Lockers went past me, he said ‘you’re lifting this trophy with me’ and he didn’t need to do that, he owed me nothing, but I thought that showed the character of him and showed the person he is. Such a good leader, such a good bloke and definitely one of the best players I’ve ever played with.

READ NEXT: Matty Smith builds perfect player from five attributes including St Helens, Wigan Warriors legends