Harry Smith has been given a good grounding from two of Wigan’s other half-backs
Whatever the outcome of the 2021 Super League season, Wigan Warriors will be looking for a new half-back paring to take them forward when the curtain comes down on the campaign.
Jackson Hastings is returning to the NRL after agreeing a two-year contract with Wests Tigers, while captain Tommy Leuluai, who turns 36 in June, could finally decide to hang up his boots and take up a position on the Cherry and Whites’ coaching staff.
Recruiting someone to fill one of those voids is likely to be at the back of head coach Adrian Lam’s mind throughout this year, but he already has a potential long-term replacement for the other in the form of Harry Smith.
📺 WATCH | @harrytsmith7: “It’s an achievement for myself and for my family and I’m really happy to be on board for the next four years, and hopefully win some trophies and get to the next level.”
— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) April 19, 2021
The 21-year-old academy graduate has already featured in all four of Wigan’s Super League and Challenge Cup matches so far this year, being named man of the match in the season-opening win over Leigh Centurions, and has picked up some valuable tips from those he could eventually replace.
“There is a lot you can learn from Jackson and Tommy,” Smith said. “They’ve seen a lot in the game and they’re always tipping me up.
“Any questions I’ve got on something I’ve seen or want to try, they always give me their opinions and are honest, and that’s all you can ask for. It’s really beneficial, and hopefully it will help me this year and in the long-term.
“I just want to keep building on last season. I got a lot of bench spots and a lot of games off the bench last year, so hopefully I can get some more starts this year and really kick on.”
I just want to keep building on last season. I got a lot of bench spots and a lot of games off the bench last year, so hopefully I can get some more starts this year and really kick on.
Widnes-born Smith, who cites Australian great Cooper Cronk and former Wigan player Kevin Brown – now of Salford Red Devils – as his rugby league icons growing up, recently committed his long-term future to the Warriors by signing a new contract which runs until the end of 2024.
Lam, a man who knows a thing or two about what makes a good half-back from his own playing days, was delighted to see the former Halton Farnworth Hornets and Wigan St Judes junior agree to stay with the club and is enthused by his potential.
“It’s great news for Harry Smith signing long-term here,” Lam said. “The whole squad are over the moon about it.
“He’s a player who is loved by all of the players, and he’s a player who’ll play a big part in the future.”
Harry Smith was named man of the match in Wigan’s win over Leeds
Smith is another member of the next generation of players at Wigan who have broken through into the first team in recent seasons and seeing so many other emerging talents he has played alongside in the youth set-up now making a mark at the DW Stadium was a big factor in agreeing a new deal.
“When I spoke to the coaches and the lads, it was all there,” Smith said. “You could see the pathway was available to me and it was just about getting the right deal sorted, and I think we’ve done that.
“When you look at the squad we’ve got now and all the young players around my age, it was an easy decision and something I was happy to do.”
Smith and the Warriors face one of their toughest tests of the season so far on Thursday evening when they kick off Round 4 of the Super League season at home to another of the remaining unbeaten sides, Castleford Tigers.
He’s a player who is loved by all of the players, and he’s a player who’ll play a big part in the future.
Adrian Lam on Harry Smith
He is likely to find himself up against another highly-rated young half-back in the form of 22-year-old Jake Trueman, although Smith believes the Warriors have the defensive game-plan in place to containing Castleford’s attacking threats.
“Jake Trueman is a great player and definitely one who we’ll be trying to stop from doing his thing,” Smith said.
“I know not one person can just stop their main player, so it’s a team thing and we’ve got things we’re going to do to try to implement that.
“We’re definitely focusing on putting pressure on their key players who we all know. It will be a massive statement to the rest of Super League if we can get the win.”