Wigan pair share special moment together on England debuts

Drew Darbyshire
Ethan Havard and Morgan Smithies England SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Wigan forwards Ethan Havard and Morgan Smithies got to share a special moment together during their international debuts for England on Saturday.

Front-rower Havard got on the scoresheet in their 64-0 rout of France thanks to a flat ball assist from his Wigan team-mate Smithies.

“I’ve got to thank Morgan for that try,” Havard told PA after the game. “I’ve known him since we were 14 years old and I’ve come through Wigan with him, so for us to make our international debuts together was a special moment.

“At Wigan we speak a lot about our culture, being selfless and respectful to everyone, and putting in the hard work which in turn produces the self-confidence.

“It’s the same with this England squad. You are brought together with players who you hardly see for the rest of the season but there was a great spirit in the camp all week and a real feeling that we are at the start of something big together.”

A dream come true

Havard and Smithies were two of the 13 international debutants in Shaun Wane’s side for the mid-season international at a sodden Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington.

Jake Wardle, Toby King and Harry Smith were the other Wigan players to make their England debuts. Fellow Warrior Kai Pearce-Paul also played but he was part of last year’s World Cup squad.

Havard, who was born in Bulgaria to English parents, said it was a dream come true to pull on the England shirt for the first time.

“I dreamed about playing for England since I was six so to come out and get a taste of it was very inspiring,” he added.

“This is where I want to be, but I know that Shaun demands perfection. There’s definitely stuff that I could have done differently or better in the game. You know you’ve got to put your best foot forward every time you step on the field.”

Havard has already made 69 appearances for Wigan despite only being 22. Smithies, also 22, is just eight games away from joining Wigan’s 100 club.

Both players helped Matt Peet’s side lift the Challenge Cup in Tottenham last year.

What next for England?

England’s three-match test series with Tonga has finally been locked in for this autumn, and so have the stadiums and dates.

It will be the first time the two nations have met since the memorable 2017 World Cup semi-final in Auckland, which saw England book a place in the final with a pulsating 20-18 victory.

All three of this year’s games will be played in the traditional heartland areas in the north of England.

World champions St Helens will host the first test at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday, October 22. Tonga coach Kristian Woolf will return to St Helens, where he led the Saints to three consecutive Super League titles between 2020-22.

A week later, the second test will be played at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield on Saturday, October 28.

The test series will come to a conclusion at Headingley in Leeds on Saturday, November 4.

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