THE last time Wakefield Trinity Wildcats had a loan player feature against his parent club, Chris Riley scored a hat-trick to help deliver a surprising victory at Warrington Wolves.
Trinity coach James Webster will hope for a similar result tomorrow when Tim Smith, the talented scrum-half they are borrowing from Salford City Reds, steps out against his main employers at Belle Vue.
“If he gets three tries I’d be happy,” joked the Australian, Smith more accustomed to creating scores with his effortless guile than crossing the whitewash too much himself. It was never in question whether the 29 year-old – sold to Salford from Wakefield just 12 months ago – would be allowed to take part in this game despite its significance.
The play-offs are still not mathematically impossible for either side although there is probably more chance of Smith scoring two hat-tricks tomorrow than of 11th-placed Wakefield or Salford – ahead of them only by virtue of a superior points difference – eventually taking part in the play-offs with them four points adrift with only three games to go.
On Smith, though, Webster said: “It was always the deal (he’d play) as far as I know. I was never under the impression that Timmy wasn’t able to play. He will be in for a bit of extra attention I’m sure. Salford know him well.
“He hasn’t spoken about anything any differently this week. He’s prepared as he always does.
“I don’t think Timmy left on bad terms with Salford and doesn’t bear any grudges so I don’t think it’s a motivation of trying to get one over them.”
Smith’s creative brilliance, be it through his sleight of hand or excellent kicking repertoire, had first alerted then Salford head coach Brian Noble, who paired him with Rangi Chase, the big-money recruit from Castleford Tigers, at the start of this season.
However, he struggled to re-discover his best there and, when Iestyn Harris took over from the sacked Noble in April, was soon on the fringes, eventually making way to loosen the salary cap for Kiwi full-back Kevin Locke.
With former Hull KR scrum-half Michael Dobson joining Salford from NRL club Newcastle Knights next season, Smith – who has a year left on his deal – will then be further out of the picture.
Webster, a canny No 7 himself during his playing days, knows the value of a quality half-back and hopes to bring back Smith permanently for 2015.
Like with Riley, though, and Richard Owen, the winger on loan from Castleford, he is waiting for the nod from Smith’s parent club.
“I don’t think Salford have finished their recruitment,” said Webster. “They understand the situation we’re in and should get something worked out..”
Salford have won four of their last six games to give their disappointing season a kick while Wakefield have lost their last two since that Warrington success.
“We understand Salford are playing well and we’ve done a lot of work on them,” added Webster.
Wakefield hooker or half-back Pita Godinet is back from a six-week absence with a knee injury, with Jarrod Sammut switching to full-back in place of Max Jowitt.