Morgan Smithies discusses Wigan Warriors' pre-season aims and how the senior players are assisting the club's youngsters

Wigan Warriors’ Morgan Smithies says the demands of pre-season has helped the squad grow closer together.

Matty Peet’s squad are aiming to build on last year’s Challenge Cup victory, as the 2023 Super League campaign quickly approaches.

Along side their success at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Smithies states the Wigan squad will use the play-off semi-final defeat to Leeds Rhinos as motivation throughout the season.

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He said: “I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been very tough, probably the toughest I’ve done so far since joining the first team, but I think we need it because it lays the foundations for the season.

Morgan Smithies

“Now games are coming closer, it’s something else to focus on. Everyone is looking forward to the season now.

“The tougher days help to create a tighter group, because everyone bonds and gets through it together.

“It means you can enjoy the better days when the season comes around.

“Before Christmas we had a few tough long days, but now we’re doing more rugby stuff.

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“The group hasn’t changed too much. A few people have left and there are a few new faces, but they’ve fitted in great. We all get on very well.

“It meant everything to get to the Challenge Cup last year, but it was a shame we fell off at the last hurdle in Super League.

“Losing against Leeds, that has stayed in the back of our heads during the pre-season we’ve just done.

“Thinking about that definitely gets you through the tough days because we don’t want to make the same mistake again.

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“We are working hard to win those big games, and hopefully we’ll win the Challenge Cup again and get that big one at the end of the year.

“We made improvements from the year before, so it was a step closer, but we fell at the last hurdle so we need to get better as a group.”

The Warriors started their pre-season campaign at the weekend, with a youthful side beating Whitehaven 22-14 at the Recreation Ground.

Smithies says the entire squad play their part in guiding the players coming through the club’s academy and reserves.

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“Everyone has a little input with the younger lads in the team,” he added.

“I think it’s very important and vital at their age to get advice.

“For them it’s just about listening to the coaches and the players, working as hard as they can in every session.

“I’m saying that, but I’m only 22 myself, so I’m still getting advice from the older players as well.

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“It’s nice to be able to give and receive advice.”

A number of first team players will join the academy and the reserves squad this Sunday in Wigan’s second pre-season trip to Cumbria, where they face Barrow Raiders at Craven Park (K.O. 3pm).

The following week, a more senior Warriors side welcome Salford Red Devils to the DW Stadium in Sam Powell’s testimonial game, which will be their final outing before the start of their Super League campaign away to Hull KR on February 18.