Brian McDermott: Stars like St Helens' Matty Smith 'bring quality' to Super League
Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott says injury to St Helens half-back Matty Smith has denied fans the chance to see a top player in action for Thursday's 2017 Super League opener.
The 29-year-old broke his leg in Saints' pre-season game against Widnes, ruling him out for the campaign start.
Smith ended a four-season stint at Wigan to rejoin St Helens for 2017.
"It's a shame," McDermott told BBC Sport. "For us, Saints and the competition, we want the best players."
He added: "I've taken the line when they've banned players, it's all well and good but sometimes they're putting bans on the best people in the sport and you want them on the field - although I'm not sure what the answer is there.
"One of the by-products of your best players not playing for any reason is you don't have the best team on the field.
"Everyone who comes to watch Super League, all Saints fans and Leeds fans want to see a really good Saints team take to the field and I'm sure that's what they will provide."
McGuire ready for 2017
Rhinos were hit by their own injury crisis last season, including stand-off Danny McGuire, as they had to go through The Qualifiers to maintain their Super League status.
The 34-year-old made only 10 appearances for his hometown club as injuries forced him out of McDermott's selection for much of the campaign.
However, the ex-East Leeds amateur is fit and ready to make an impact for the Rhinos this year.
"Magsy is a determined man," McDermott added. "He keeps himself very reserved but that's not to say that when you take off a few layers you don't see an absolutely determined and inspirational bloke.
"He's someone who wants to win, hates losing, so you can imagine the turmoil he went through last year with the amount of games he wasn't able to play.
"He's got the bit between his teeth this year, purely because he didn't play that many last year."