Updated: Tuesday, 25th February 2020 @ 8:29pm

Breaking news: Wigan Warriors solve halfback problem by signing Salford City Reds' Matty Smith

Breaking news: Wigan Warriors solve halfback problem by signing Salford City Reds' Matty Smith

By Ben Burrows

Wigan Warriors have stolen a march on their Super League rivals by snapping up much sought-after halfback Matty Smith from Salford City Reds.

And the 24-year-old could now make his debut against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Sunday.

The Warriors were eyeing up the ex-St Helens man – who made his international debut for England on Wednesday – to replace the NRL-bound Thomas Leuluai from next season.

But after the New Zealander sustained a nasty knee injury in game one of the International Origin series the Cherry and Whites have acted quickly to snare their man.

Reports suggest they agreed a transfer fee with the Reds last night and he will officially be confirmed as a Warriors player when he is named in head coach Shaun Wane’s 19 for the trip to Belle Vue.

Smith has been in sparkling form for the Reds this season and his loss will be a big blow for Phil Veivers’ men’s playoff push.

Smith will not be able to play against Leeds in the Challenge Cup semi-final next week, or the final should Wigan reach Wembley.

The RFL have confirmed that the registration deadline for mid-season recruits was the Monday prior to the quarter-final.

Smith’s arrival should allow skipper Sean O’Loughlin to revert back to his preferred loose forward role after teaming up with Brett Finch in the halves in last week’s shock defeat against Bradford.

Whiston-born Smith started his career at St Helens before loan spells at Widnes Vikings, Crusaders and Salford before signing a permanent deal with the Reds in 2011.

He made 48 appearances for the Reds scoring five tries and converting three goals.

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