Smith returns to league and Leeds
The plan for this week had been to write a blog giving you an insight into how Radio 5 live's rugby league programmes were being put together for a busy Easter schedule.
Thanks to Lee Smith, and the confirmation of one of the worst kept secrets in the sport, that idea has gone largely out of the window.
I was sat in the pub watching Bayern Munich beat Manchester United on Tuesday evening when a text from a source close to Smith confirmed that, just hours after quitting Wasps, the 23-year-old was back at Leeds on a four-year deal and ready for his second coming in the derby against Bradford.
The possibility of this move surfaced weeks ago as Smith's frustration at reserve team Premiership rugby union grew while the Super League champions' latest title defence began to derail spectacularly amidst a horrific injury crisis.
Smith was back in Leeds over the weekend of 13-14 March when the writing was already firmly visible on the blue-and-amber wall of his union career. With the Wasps players training hard at a crunch time in their season, head coach Shaun Edwards had allowed Smith a week off, which he spent in Spain with his girlfriend.
While to many onlookers there was an inevitable outcome to the England international's limbo, Wasps' reluctance to cut Smith free appeared to have restricted his options to a loan return. But the union club then accepted the pointlessness of straight-jacketing an already reconverted rugby mind, and one call from Gary Hetherington did the rest.
Smith played two games for Wasps before returning to the familiar surroundings of Headingley. Photograph: Getty
As a Leeds boy who took the leap to London to further my career, there was one line in particular from Smith's official press statement that hit home: "I really enjoyed the lifestyle in London but perhaps you can take things for granted when they are on your own doorstep, and I missed living in Leeds."
Clearly the grass wasn't greener on the other side for Smith (although when you compare the Rhinos' and Wasps' playing surfaces, that is open to some debate. However I got that rant out of my system on last week's blog).
The big question is how Leeds have managed to accommodate Smith's return under their salary cap. That is not a question I can answer, although with a very strict wage structure and a lot of kids in the senior squad, it may not be the surprise people think.
What I do know is that Warrington were keen but could not afford him. There was a strong school of thought, too, that Smith could see out the season on loan at Leeds and then sign for the Wolves. Some observers questioned why Smith would have been wanted at Warrington when he did not see eye-to-eye at Leeds with the now Wolves coach Tony Smith. But don't forget it was Tony Smith who picked Lee for England, too. It is fair to say the 23-year-old has fallen on his feet with a new four-year deal at Headingley.
Cynics say that after just two senior appearances, both off the bench, this is yet another league player failing to cut it in union. Chev Walker, Karl Pryce and Gareth Raynor all decided early that the code-switch gamble was a bad one.
Yet former Wigan winger Chris Ashton is thriving after his move and now seems to be the only Englishman in the union game who knows how to score a try. Shontayne Hape is also flying since being plucked from league.
One fan posted on my Twitter page this week the following comment: "Sounds a little soft running home to take the easy option after only a few months." But you could also argue that it takes a bigger man to hold his hand up and say he has made a mistake, rather than riding it out, picking up the cash and sulking.
His number three shirt at Leeds may have become "28" during his unhappy hiatus, but Smith's stock had probably risen since his ill-fated sortie south. Leeds' travails have underlined how much he has been missed. Could his cocky swagger have softened, too?
"It was weird walking through the gates again," he told me of his return to Headingley.
"I was nervous coming back and a little sheepish around the boys, but they gave me banter straight away at training on Wednesday morning and I got a lot of stick so felt immediately at home." Rhinos coach Brian McClennan reckons Smith's new mild manners may last all of 24 hours before he starts giving the banter back!
The week's other big rugby league headline has centred on the end-game in the appointment of a new England coach.
The media has gone mad with talk of Dennis Betts being appointed this week but I am not entirely sure where the strength of that story has come from. My understanding is that the Bradford Bulls coach Steve McNamara is now the frontrunner, and I would not be at all surprised to see him given the job as early as next week.
The RFL wants a full-time British coach, and if it is a straight choice between McNamara, Betts, Harlequins boss Brian McDermott and Hull FC coach Richard Agar, then I think McNamara will be offered the position.
Bradford finished just outside the play-offs in ninth under McNamara's leadership. Photograph: Getty
That would then throw up all number of issues, such as whether the post will be assumed immediately or at the end of the season prior to the Four Nations. If McNamara is appointed, that would also create a vacancy at Bradford which may well hand Crusaders a fight to keep Brian Noble from returning home. And would that then fast-track the cutting of Iestyn Harris' coaching teeth in Wales? Lots of ifs and buts, yet it is certainly not a dull time to be a Super League coach.
I'll be presenting 5 live Sport live from the St Helens-Wigan derby on Good Friday and I can't wait to showcase our great game to the wider audience. Stuart Pyke, Alastair Yeomans and our production team have been working their backsides off to get the show together. Harris, Gareth Thomas and Paul Sculthorpe will be amongst our guests, and I will blog on the fierce Lancashire derby next week.
And finally, one other great story that caught my eye this week in the Aussie press. Fuifui Moimoi to WWE?