Super League Grand Final winner joins League 1 club

Josh McAllister
Aaron Smith, SWPix.

Picture by Paul Currie/

2019 Super League Grand Final winner Aaron Smith has linked up with League 1 side Rochdale on a short-term loan from Leigh.

Smith, 26, was named on the bench by then-St Helens coach Justin Holbrook at Old Trafford as his side defeated Salford 23-6 in front of a crowd of more than 64,000.

The hooker makes the two-week loan move from Leigh, having been limited to just one appearance in Super League so far this year due to injury.

He featured in Round Two against Catalans in Perpignan, and is off contract at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Rochdale have confirmed that Umyla Hanley’s loan has been extended from the Leopards. The outside-back scored a hat-trick on his debut for Gary Thornton’s side in the 32-18 win over North Wales Crusaders at the Crown Oil Arena.

He also crossed for a try in the 28-24 win over London Skolars in the capital, featuring in the centres in both games.

The 21-year-old joined Adrian Lam’s Leigh ahead of 2023 from Wigan, but is yet to make his debut for the club.

Rochdale host Cornwall this Sunday, with a 1:00pm kick off.

Umyla Hanley ‘very close to getting an opportunity’

Following his recent performances, Leigh boss Lam says that full-back or winger Hanley is close to getting his opportunity in Super League.

Hanley made his Super League debut with Wigan against St Helens in 2020, and previously scored a hat-trick against his current club in a 50-6 victory in 2021.

To date, he has made 12 Super League career appearances, scoring four tries.

“I’ve watched all of his clips and he was outstanding,” Lam told Love Rugby League. “That’s what we expect from the players who go out on loan from us.

“The reason why I wanted him to play rugby is because he is very close to getting an opportunity here but we’ve had a fit team for the last couple of weeks.

“It’s good that we can get the players out to do that because he has been outstanding in training and I’ve been wanting to give him a go at some stage but it hasn’t fallen on the cards for him.

“He understands the situation he’s in, I’m glad he’s got the confidence from that and he played really well. All the boys gave him a pat on the back this morning in the team meeting and Jacob Jones was quite good for Widnes (on Monday) in a losing team.”

READ NEXT: Hull KR forward Frankie Halton returns to his hometown club

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app