Wigan Warriors’ Harry Smith provides unique insight into his on-field kicking game

Ben Olawumi
Harry Smith kicks

Harry Smith kicks during the 2023 Super League Grand Final against Catalans Dragons

‘Five drives and a kick’. The premise of rugby league, albeit evidently outdated somewhat given the pizzazz you need to score tries on a consistent basis at the highest level now. But also the furthest possible ideology from that at Wigan Warriors with Harry Smith.

When you watch Matt Peet’s side, you’ll very often see playmaker Smith orchestrate a push downfield with a kick earlier on in the set than the ‘norm’.

In last month’s World Club Challenge triumph against Penrith Panthers, we even saw the Warriors academy product dink one over the top from a scrum close to the halfway mark for Bevan French to run onto and cross for a try, ultimately ruled out for an offside call, denied by the tightest of margins.

After that game, Smith admitted that was something they’d rehearsed in training in the build-up to the showdown with the NRL kings. And while that bit of ingenuity isn’t something we’ve seen every week, the Widnesian so often finds pockets of space with the boot to allow his team-mates to chase and put the pressure on.

Harry Smith kicks
Harry Smith kicks during the 2023 Super League Grand Final against Catalans Dragons

To do it so often so successfully is a remarkable attribute to have in your locker, and ahead of this afternoon’s annual Good Friday clash against St Helens, the man himself gave us a unique insight into that kicking game.

Wigan Warriors’ Harry Smith provides unique insight into his on-field kicking game

The 24-year-old surpassed a century of senior appearances for the Cherry & Whites in the play-offs at the back end of the last year, crowned a Super League champion for the first time in his career.

Throughout the year, across all competitions, he scored 226 points. But via his kicking game, he will have been responsible for many more.

Speaking to Love Rugby League earlier this week, he explained: “I think it depends on where we are on the field (as to when I kick) and the technical side of the game.

“When it comes to the last play, usually all three – winger, full-back, winger – stand at the back, so there’s not a lot of space to try and find grass and find an area of the pitch that you want to.

“If you can manipulate the back field when they’re not expecting it, that’s sort of my thought process behind it, that’s the basic reason of why I do it.”

‘It’s probably the only bit of natural talent I’ve got!’

Smith – who debuted for Wigan in 2019 – spent time out on loan at both Swinton Lions and London Skolars that same year. He made 17 Warriors appearances in 2020 before establishing himself as a regular starter the following year, not looking back since.

The half-back’s kicking abilities have been something he’s been well known for since his time in the club’s academy, and he detailed the same as he added: “I’m lucky that it did come quite naturally to me.

“Playing since I was four and always having a ball in my hand, it sort of is going to happen, but it also needs a lot of work as well to do it repetitively at a good standard.

“I’d say it’s a bit of both really, it coming naturally and me practicing: a bit of reputation but it’s probably the only bit of natural talent I’ve got! Every left footer is so much better… I don’t know what it is! People tell me it just looks better (being a left footer), I think that’s what it is.”

Harry Smith kicks
Harry Smith kicks during a game against Leigh Leopards in 2023

Warriors head coach Peet has been involved in Smith’s journey from a very young age, helping to develop him into the player he is today during those formative years in the academy at Robin Park.

And Smith credits every coach, including Peet, for the role they’ve played in him trusting himself more with the boot in-game, explaining: “I went to them (coaches) to speak about it and they just said ‘back your natural instinct’ of when I want to kick.

“It’s a lot easier to kick… how wide is a rugby league pitch, 50 metres wide? It’s a lot easier to kick and find grass when one person is in a 50-metre area than three, so I tend to think that’s why I kick early so often.”