Jack Houghton and Ryan Smith have committed to new deals with North Wales Crusaders to keep them at the club for the 2018 season.

The pair become the sixth and seventh Cru players respectively to extend their existing contracts with the Wrexham club.

Halfback Smith joined the Cru from Rochdale Hornets last year and featured prominently for the Cru in the last campaign.

Houghton joined the Crusaders last season after spending time in the youth ranks of Super League outfit Widnes Vikings.

The powerful second row quickly established himself as a first-team regular under Mike Grady, earning him a new deal.

On extending his stay with the club, Houghton said: “I'm made up to have signed a new deal and am looking forward to being a part of the squad again next year.

"I really enjoyed my first year at the club, we've got a top group of lads who made it easy for me to settle in and adapt to league one.

"We fell short of expectations in 2017, but next year we want to finish higher. The fans have been great towards me since I joined and I can't wait to get back into pre-season now."

Cru coach Mike Grady has moved swiftly to secure new deals for his key players, with further announcements expected in due course.

He said: “It was very important to get these players signed up to new contracts so soon after last season, particularly when there are other clubs sniffing around your squad.

“Also I think that having a strong core of players who have committed to us for another year strengthens us as a club and brings some stability to us.

“That stability was lacking a bit at the start of last year and I thinks this gives us a strong platform to build on.

“Obviously there’s a lot going on at the club right now and we’re in talks with a lot of players and hopefully there will be a few more announced later this week.”

James Child will referee his first Grand Final after being appointed to take charge of Saturday's clash between Castleford and Leeds at Old Trafford.