MATTY Smith believes Wigan are in a great position for a trophy assault in 2016.
The England halfback returned to training a week ago and his confidence in the Warriors’ ability to land silverware has grown after seeing how his team-mates are shaping.
Smith has noticed an extra hunger as they step up their preparations for the new Super League campaign, which begins four weeks today with the visit of Catalans.
Wigan – double-winners in 2013 – have lost the last two Grand Finals, having finished second in the race for the league leaders’ shields in both years, and bowed out of the Challenge Cup before the semi-final stages.
Smith said: “The disappointment of getting to a Grand Final and not winning it last year, you can see in the lads, there’s an extra motivation to succeed. The lads are shaping unbelievably, you can see how fit they are.”
Smith and the rest of the England players within the Wigan squad were given an extended break following the series triumph against New Zealand.
They returned to training in the New Year – although George Williams also took part in a pre-Christmas Army camp with the bulk of the Warriors squad.
While some clubs have made sweeping changes in the off-season, coach Shaun Wane has only tinkered with his senior group.
Sam Tomkins has returned to the club after two years in the NRL - he won’t be fit to play until around Easter time - while the arrival of ex-Widnes forward Willie Isa has increased competition among the middles.
“We’ve got a great squad, we’ve added two great players in Willie and Sam, and the young kids are a year older, a year more experienced - we’re in a good position,” said Smith.
“W’re not an ageing squad.
“I think Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) is the only one in his 30s and, we saw in the Tests, he was player of the series! He’s a special player, a freak.
“It’s a young, fresh squad and attitude is a big thing, and the young lads have got that, so hopefully we keep progressing.”
Smith has looked at how other squads are shaping and expects familiar names to be jostling for the silverware this year.
“Catalans have bought well, but you never know how they’re going to be away from home,” he added.
“Warrington have bought reasonably well, and I know Leeds have lost a couple but Brett Ferres is a great signing for them – but we’re happy with where we’re at.”
Smith and the Warriors squad return from a training camp in Wales today.