Harry Smith shows international credentials as Wigan star admits: ‘To prove that I can do it has been massive’
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Smith picked up the Nan Halafihi Medal at the conclusion of the historic series, having kicked 22 of England’s 62 points across the three test matches against Kristian Woolf’s Tonga.
The Wigan half-back won more than half of the votes as the series’ stand-out player, having kept his spot over Mikey Lewis for the final showdown with captain George Williams returning from a two-match suspension.
“I don’t think many people would have thought we’d have done it at the start,” Smith said following the 3-0 series win.
“It’s unbelievable. The bond that we’ve built over these past three weeks has been unbelievable and I feel that showed on the pitch, especially when you look at the last play of the game and they’ve got a chance to score, the game’s over, and we get them into touch.
“That shows the bond that we’ve created.”
Shaun Wane admitted Smith, alongside Hull KR star Lewis, were numbers four and five on his half-back pecking order before the series - but not anymore. The pair have given the England boss a selection headache for the future, with the hopes of a Samoa test series next year before a return of the Ashes in 2025.
“You’ve got to take your chances and I feel like I did a good job,” Smith continued following the 26-4 win in Leeds.
“My job is to lead the team, organise and kick and let George and Jack do their thing. I felt that combination worked well, like it did with Mikey.
“To make this step up and prove that I can do it has been massive for me.”
Widnes-born Smith, still only 23, led Wigan Warriors to a 10-2 Super League Grand Final victory over Catalans Dragons, as well as winning the 2023 League Leaders’ Shield following a final regular round win over Leigh.
And the young star admits he will not rest on his laurels as he looks to further improve his game and continue his rise in the sport.
“It’s gone that quick, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” Smith reflected.
"It’s been brilliant for myself and my family with all the hard work put in over the last few years to get to these places.
"It’s been an unbelievable six weeks and one that I’ll cherish and one that I’ll look to build on as well. You don’t just want to do it once, you want to do it over and over again.
“We spoke with Elliott Whitehead with it being his last game about how when he got that England shirt, he didn’t want anybody to take it off him. I think every person needs to take that in and every player did that in every game. We can’t say anybody played badly.
"My aim now is to retain my spot and obviously we’ve got a lot of young lads, so it’s something to look forward to.”