Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Smith Was No Failure as He Heads Back to Rugby League

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Smith Was No Failure as He Heads Back to Rugby League

Article excerpt

Byline: TRY TIME Rugby talk with MARK SMITH

THERE'S no 'I' in 'team' but there is one in 'Smith', and those of us blessed with the most frequent surname in the United Kingdom have got to stick together.

Often accused of being common (more than 730,000 fellow Smiths are resident on these isles), I personally choose to categorise it as 'popular.'.

And when one of our number experiences an hour of need fellow Smiths scurry out from behind the skirting boards to rally round.

At least that's what it felt like this week when Lee Smith called time on his second dalliance with rugby union.

The former Super League winner and England rugby league international has more than proved his credentials in the 13-man code, to which he returned this week on a short-term deal with Wake-field.

That was after agreeing an early release from his contract with Newcastle Falcons last April.

The 28-year-old failed to make a single Premiership appearance last season, having started twice in the league the year before.

I can't help feeling he has been a little hard done by, and in all the times I have seen him I can't recall a single game in which he has let himself down.

His European appearances have more often than not delivered try-scoring or match-winning contributions. His 50-metre penalty at Newport Gwent Dragons played a key part in the performance of the season last year and he looked to be finding some super support lines.

A union player as a child who was invited to an England training camp before settling on rugby league, he seems more a victim of circumstance than anything else at Newcastle.

Signed at a time when the team was playing on a heavy grass pitch, his powerful brand of running was a valuable commodity.

A decent goal-kicker who was able to pull the driver out of the bag from longdistance, his televised debut saw a huge penalty smashed over from inside his own half. …

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