Teenage debutant Morgan Smithies provided Adrian Lam with one of his "highlights of the game” - and later said he was "chilled" about a run-in with Greg Bird!
The England academy forward became the latest to roll off Wigan’s production line when he made an appearance off the bench in Sunday’s 42-0 thrashing of Catalans.
And at 18, he became the club’s first player born this century to pull on the Cherry and White!
Despite his age and inexperience, Smithies was certainly not fazed, and showed the niggling qualities which have marked him out as a special talent.
He laughed at a dummy-half error by Matt Whitley and later stood-up to Bird after being clipped on the head by the Kangaroos veteran.
“I’ve grown up watching Greg Bird so it was good to play against him,” said Smithies, a former junior of Siddal in Halifax who played down his brief scuffle with Bird. “I was all right, I was chilled about it.”
Bird conceded a penalty for lashing out on the hour-mark, which the youngster sarcastically applauded, before Zak Hardaker booted the resulting kick to put Wigan 20-0 ahead.
“Morgan’s a really tough bloke, going toe-to-toe with Greg Bird,” smiled Hardaker. “Bird tried to give it to him but he was having none of it and I thought: ‘Good on you’.
“He loved it, they were stood 20 metres apart, swearing at each other! For a young lads to do that to someone who has played Origin was brilliant to see.
“He’ll get confidence from that. Morgan’s a fellow Yorkshireman and I was chuffed he got his chance.”
Smithies, who joined Wigan’s scholarship four years ago, is still in the club’s Under-19s but earned his chance when a clutch of senior forwards were ruled out through injury, illness or suspension.
Lam had already been impressed with him after seeing him star against the Australian Schoolboys last autumn, and informed him on Saturday he would be getting his Super League chance.
“I didn’t expect it at all and I was quite nervous but Lammy said: ‘Enjoy it, and just do what got you here to this point’,” said the forward.
“It was more physical and a lot faster than what I’ve been used to, that was the main difference. I’ll keep looking at ways to get better and, if I get a call-up again, take my opportunity.”
Video courtesy Wigan Warriors TV