MATTY Smith is confident the goal-kicking duties won’t hamper his form this season.
The England No.7 passed the kicking tee to Matty Bowen midway through last year - and his performances picked up as Wigan charged to a third straight Grand Final appearance.
I think I was kicking with a 72 per cent success-rate last year, and really it needs to be in the 80sMatty Smith
With Bowen now gone, Smith is in the frame to retake the responsibility when the Warriors open the new Super League campaign against Catalans next Friday.
And he hopes long hours practising over winter will improve his strike-rate, so it doesn’t become a burden.
“I’m practising every day but it’s a long process, it’s about me finding a higher percentage,” said Smith.
“I think I was kicking with a 72 per cent success-rate last year, and really it needs to be in the 80s.
“But I’m working hard at it.
“I remember speaking to Pat Richards - one of the greatest - and he said he started off shaky when he first started the goal-kicking.
“It got to a point where he needed to practice and practice, and it got there for him, and hopefully it’s there for me.”
Smith admitted his poor kicking last year affected his overall form.
“It’s definitely added pressure,” he continued.
“Sometimes, if I’d not kicked well the week before, I go into a game thinking ‘I have to get this goal’, so it did affect me a bit.
“When Matty Bowen took over, it allowed me to concentrate on organising the team.”
Coach Shaun Wane has previously said he has considered spelling his goal-kickers, with Josh Charnley, Sam Powell and George Williams all practising in training and Sam Tomkins to join that mix when he is fit.
“If there’s someone who’s better and who wants it, I’ll be happy to let them do it,” said Smith.
“But I’ve had a good pre-season of practicing and as long as there’s no-one better, I’m happy to carry on doing it.”
Smith was speaking at the official Super League launch in Manchester yesterday.
“When you get to these events, it does make you realise you’re not far off the new season - it’s exciting and nervous at the same time,” added the 28-year-old.