Harry Smith looking to take extra leadership skills into Wigan camp following England triumph
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He assisted two tries in the 26-4 third victory at Headingley Stadium against Kristian Woolf’s Tonga, including a mesmerising cross-field kick to provide Harry Newman with his first four-pointer on the international stage.
The youngster surpassed 500 Super League points during the 2023 season, and kicked every attempt at goal during the play-offs, including seven in the 42-12 semi-final sucess over Hull KR and three at Old Trafford in the 10-2 triumph against Catalans Dragons.
He continued his ultra-reliable kicking into the end-of-season series against a star-studded opposition, converting 22 of England’s 62 points across the three matches – with the Pacific Islanders having only registered 26 altogether themselves.
The Widnes-born playmaker stood out among a young back-line that included 22-year-old Jack Welsby and Hull KR star Mikey Lewis, also 22, leading with his game management and pinpoint in-play kicks.
“I’ve gained more confidence and knowledge thanks to playing test rugby and big game rugby,” Smith said.
“Over the last six weeks, every game has been massive and I think that is really going to help me, especially leading Wigan and passing on that knowledge to people around me and the young lads coming through.
“As a seven, you’re the leader of the team and you’ve got to orchestrate what goes on.
“I have to take that on and do it to the best of my ability. I’m definitely looking to take that into Wigan.”
Smith received more than 50% of the votes in Leeds to claim the Nan Halafihi Medal, having also been one vote short of the Harry Sunderland Trophy at the home of Manchester United, with team-mate and centre Jake Wardle winning the man of the match award during Super League’s showcase event in October.
Although admitting he hasn’t thought about long-term goals of captaining the club, Smith aims to take his extra leadership skills back into the camp ahead of 2024 under head coach Matt Peet.
“If it happens, it happens. It’s not something I’m aiming for at the moment,” Smith said.
"We have a leadership group that supports the captain, Willie Isa and Mike Cooper, for example. But there’s lads looking to step up now, and that’s what I want to continue doing.”
Having won his first official England cap in the 64-0 mid-season win over France at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Smith did not miss a single fixture during Wigan’s 2023 success with 32 appearances, also winning the League Leaders’ Shield, with four tries and 22 assists in Super League.
“I’m looking forward to trying to get a sun tan and getting a rest,” he joked.
“I played every game for Wigan, so I feel I’ve earned my rest!”