Harry Smith has recalled the ‘special’ moment he was told by Wigan boss Matt Peet that he will wear shirt number seven in 2023 following in the footsteps of former captain Thomas Leuluai.
Smith, 23, made 24 appearances in 2022, scoring seven tries, 94 goals and kicking two match-winning drop-goals.
Named the club’s Young Player of the Year last season, the half-back also scored Wigan’s first try in the Challenge Cup final as well as going on to kick two goals and assist Liam Marshall’s winner in the 16-14 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Previously, Leuluai has worn the number seven shirt for the last four seasons at the DW Stadium, and also wore it in 2017 upon his return from the New Zealand Warriors. He played with number nine on his back in 2018.
Having progressed through the club’s academy, Smith has been rewarded with the starting number in 2023 completing a boyhood dream.
Harry Smith: It’s a very special moment
“It’s very special moment for my and my family,” Smith told Love Rugby League on his new shirt number.
“We had a little meeting, me and Matt Peet, before the numbers were announced just for a catch up and he brought it up then. I was really happy to be told that.
“I rang my dad. He might have been more happy than me! I told my family and then when it was released, all my friends were messaging.
“What I wanted to do since I joined Wigan was to get that number seven shirt. So now that I’ve got it, I’ve got to work really hard to maintain it and do the job.
“It’s what I came here to do at 14. To be able to do that now and add a bit to that number, add my name to it with all the legends that have had it before. It’s really important to me.”
“The position comes with a leadership role”
Smith captained the Under-19s at Wigan as a youngster as well as England’s academy during their 2-0 series win over Australia in 2018. And with his new shirt number, the playmaker knows he will have to take on a leadership role once more with the Warriors this year.
He has already made 61 Super League appearances to date, and made his England debut off the bench last October in the 50-0 win over Fiji.
“The position comes with a leadership role, being able to talk and lead the team around the field,” Smith said.
“I feel like I can do that well and I’ve been given the confidence by the coaching staff and team to be able to do that. And hopefully that’ll show in the first few months.
“It’s more excitement really and the confidence to know that that role is sort of my own now.
“My goal this year is for more consistency. Playing a lot more games at a higher level. And hopefully being one of the best players on the pitch most games.
“I want to keep pushing and knocking on the door with England and stuff like that with my personal goals.
“But most important is starting off the season well with the team and pushing on from last year.”