Wigan Warriors half-back Matty Smith is predicting that the Tetley’s Challenge Cup holders will make light of the weight of expectation on their shoulders when they begin their defence of the trophy with a fourth round tie at Dewsbury Rams on Friday night.
Smith, 26, says that the experience of winning their 19th Challenge Cup last year has only made The Warriors hungrier to secure a 20th success at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 23.
“I suppose the challenge is harder, because everyone is going to want to beat us as holders,” said Smith. “But there is always pressure on Wigan, and there’s a certain expectation, it’s obviously one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“We’ve talked about it and we want to win trophies. We’d like to do that double again, and we’re going to give everything in the Challenge Cup. We really enjoyed it last year.”
Smith won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in last year’s final, which the Warriors won 16-0 against a Hull FC team who were disappointing on the day.
“I love playing under the kind of pressure that those games bring,” said Smith. “I know it makes me perform and I think we perform well as a team under that sort of pressure too.
“It’s the best feeling ever to win it. The build-up in the week is great as well as the atmosphere on the day.
“I watched it when I was a kid and to get the chance to play and win last year was a great achievement for everyone. We watch little clips back even now and the hairs on the back of your neck still stand up.”
Wigan recorded a late win against Catalan Dragons at the DW Stadium on Friday night, a performance which Smith described as “scrappy and flat” and which the Warriors need to avoid repeating at Tetley’s Stadium on Friday.
Dewsbury go into the tie buoyed by their convincing 38-16 win against Workington Town at the weekend and Smith says Wigan will not be taking Dewsbury lightly, despite the league’s difference in the sides.
He said: “We’re taking a full strength squad there – we won’t be underestimating them.
“We played at Featherstone a couple of years ago and they gave us a good test. When it’s a hostile atmosphere and not the best ground you can’t underestimate them, but hopefully we can go there and get the win to move on to the next round.”
The game is all-ticket and is priced at £15/£13 adults, £9/£7 juniors and concessions.
Photo credit: SWpix