Wigan Warriors' "shining light" Morgan Smithies is staying grounded
?Morgan Smithies has been hailed a “shining light” of Wigan’s rocky start – but the teenager is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
At the start of this season, his goal for the Easter Weekend was to feature for the Yorkshire academy side in the match against Lancashire.
But instead, the 18-year-old played in the Good Friday derby – making 46 tackles – and backed that up three days later when he was a late addition to the squad which beat Salford 30-26.
“He’s been a shining light through all of this,” said Adrian Lam. “He’s a great young man, he’s got a great attitude.”
Smithies, who hails from Halifax, has played in Wigan’s last five matches and admits he didn’t expect to be thrust into the spotlight so early.
“I didn’t expect to make my debut this year,” he said. “I’d wanted to play in the Origin academy game but obviously I’d prefer to be in a Good Friday derby.
“It’s a lot quicker that what I’ve been used to, and I’ve been getting to terms with the physicality... my body is a bit sorer the day later! I’ve been happy with how it’s gone but I know I’ve got a lot to improve on.”
Smithies was not named on the original team-sheet to face Salford but was drafted into the side due to the withdrawal of Sean O’Loughlin – a player he has looked up to throughout his junior career.
“When you’re 18th man, you’ve just got to put it in your head that you’re going to play, so I was ready in case,” he said.
“Lockers is someone I’m learning a lot off. Position-wise, too, I prefer loose forward so it’s good to learn from him.”
Smithies is now training full-time, having quit his electrician apprenticeship earlier this year, although he has not been formally added to the first-team squad.
Lam has been thrilled with his performances this year but is careful not to over-expose him. “I didn’t want to play him against Salford, just because of his age, but O’Loughlin pulled out and he stood up and got the job done,” he said.
“He’s done outstanding. We just need to make sure we look after his welfare, because playing him every week for long minutes may flatten him out. He played 80 against Saints and held his own, so we need to make sure we look after him.”
Lam will today name his 19-man squad to face Castleford on Saturday.