Smith: Williams can do the job for England

Matty Smith
Matty Smith

MATTY Smith has handed Warriors team-mate George Williams his vote of confidence if Steve McNamara throws the youngster into the England mix.

The Wigan half-backs arrived at England’s St George’s Park training facility this week with the rest of the 24-man squad to begin preparations for the three-match Test Series against New Zealand which kicks off in Hull on November 1.

To be here at 20-years of age he’s doing something right. He can only benefit from being around everyone here in camp

Matty Smith

Williams earned the call from McNamara following an impressive season for Wigan, which saw the 20-year-old pick up the Young Player of the Year Award, and Smith thinks the experience will benefit the Wigan academy product.

“George is a quiet lad but he does his talking on the pitch,” said Smith.

“To be here at 20-years of age he’s doing something right. He can only benefit from being around everyone here in camp.

“I’m made up for him, he put up with a bit of criticism at the beginning of the year but he’s justified being handed that number six jersey for Wigan and I’m sure he’ll do well if he gets called upon.”

Smith also thinks England’s Staffordshire base, the same venue used by all of the England national football teams, represents “the next level” in development for the rugby league team.

And havingfallen short in last year’s Four Nations against New Zealand and Australia, England will be hoping to use this year’s 
Test Series as a way to send a warning to the rest of the world.

“As soon as you drive into the complex and up the road that leads to St George’s Park you can’t help but be impressed,” said the 28-year-old.

“You can instantly see how amazing the facility and the hotel is. We’ve had our first session in the gym and on the field today, all the boys know they’re in a special place.

“I firmly believe this is the next level in England’s development path.

“The football team train here along with other high-profile clubs so it definitely is the best place I’ve trained at. We’re all excited to be here but we won’t get too carried away, there’s a tough task ahead of us.”

Joining Smith and Williams in the half-back roles are Gareth Widdop and Luke Gale. Smith and Widdop formed a partnership in last year’s Four Nations tournament Down Under and are expected to let their experience rub off on the two uncapped players in camp.

“Luke has been around the set-up before with the Knights, I played with him there, and he knows what’s expected of him,” added Smith

“I’m rooming with Galey and I’ll definitely be there for him to answer any questions or offer a helping hand. He’s played some amazing rugby this year and deserves his place in the squad.”

England kick-off their autumn caldendar against France at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday, October 24, before their three-match 
Test Series against New Zealand.

Tickets for all four games are available from www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk