Lee Briers on Wigan’s half-backs and Harry Smith’s bright future

Josh McAllister
Lee Briers on Harry Smith

Harry Smith in action for Wigan in the club's pre-season friendly against Newcastle Thunder

Lee Briers will be hoping he can help deliver success to new club Wigan from the coaching staff in 2022 – especially in the halves. 

The Warrington legend made the move to the DW Stadium during the off-season as assistant coach, working alongside Matt Peet and Sean O’Loughlin in the coaching staff.

In his playing days, Briers won three Challenge Cups, including the Lance Todd Trophy in 2010. 

He retired in 2013 as Warrington’s all-time points scorer with 2,586 points. Briers spent eight years as part of the club’s coaching staff before joining Wigan as assistant coach for 2022.

Now, the former Wales international will be looking to influence Wigan’s half-backs and help bring success in 2022.

Wigan will have the options of Jai Field, Cade Cust, Thomas Leuluai and Harry Smith in 2022.

Read: Wigan role “what dreams are made of” says Lee Briers

Lee Briers and the ‘sat navs’

“We’ve got a real good core of the spine,” Lee Briers told Love Rugby League.

“I call them the sat navs – for obvious reasons – they’ve got to tell the team where to get around.

“The good thing about every one of them, they all want to work hard for the team and do what’s right for the team.

“It is hard when you’ve got so many half-backs, but I must say that they all want to learn and help each other to make sure that the team is better.”

At the age of 21, it was Smith who played a major role in Wigan’s team in 2021 – featuring in all 28 games for the club.

A rapid rise to the first grade, Smith had only made his debut in 2019 from the bench against Catalans. He was rewarded with an England Knights cap in the same year against Jamaica, and Briers believes Smith has a bright future.

Lee Briers on Harry Smith’s potential

“All through his younger years, he was the best about. He’s come into a Wigan team and he’s played more than 30 plus games as a 20-year-old and as a half-back, probably the most pressured position in rugby league,” said Briers.

“He’s had a lot on his plate. Throw in with that he’s had major shoulder surgery; he played most of the year with a knackered shoulder, goal-kicking responsibilities and only 20 years of age.

“We’ve not even scratched the surface (of his abilities). We want Harry to compete and work hard and learn his craft which he is doing. He’s a super pro.

“He wants to learn and wants to get better. It’s a slow process, we don’t expect Harry Smith to be Andy Gregory over night. But we expect Harry to compete hard which he is doing.

“Along the way we can teach him how to grab games, how to come into games, how to go out of games and slow the game down. That’s all part of learning as well. But he’s in a really good place.

“He’s really experienced at the moment for such a young kid.”

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Cade Cust joins Wigan for 2022

Another new face in Wigan’s squad for 2022 is Cust, who made the move from Manly Sea Eagles during the off-season.

The 23-year-old will wear the number six shirt for the Warriors this season, and is already favourite to win the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award this season.

“First and foremost, he is an exceptional person. So he fits right in with the Wigan way,” Briers said on Cust.

“He’s a competitor. He competes hard as a Wigan player.

“We’ve been really impressed with Cade. He’s probably been in five weeks now and fit in really well.

“It’s competition for places. We expect the sat navs to compete hard against each other to make sure that come round one we’re ready to go.”

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