Morgan Smithies on Wigan’s record ninth Academy Grand Final win in 11 years.
Loose forward enjoyed having a taste of playing at the DW Stadium.
- Smithies: “It’s a relief more than anything and we’ve worked hard for it so much this year and I think we deserve it.”
After picking up the 2017 Under-16s Players of the Year award, Morgan Smithies added an Under-19s Grand Final winners medal to his growing collection on Friday night as the Wigan forward put in a Man of the Match performance.
In his first year at Under-19s level, Smithies has made 22 appearances, including 20 starts and has also bagged three tries.
An 18-year-old from Halifax, Smithies has settled in to the Wigan Academy impressively as he signed in 2015 and has since gone onto represent England at Youth level and is a National Cup three-time winner.
Speaking to Wigan TV after the 14-6 victory against Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium, Smithies said: “It’s a really good feeling. It’s a relief more than anything and we’ve worked hard for it so much this year and I think we deserve it.
“We just had to keep going. We weren’t the best with our attack but we kept going and kept our heads held high.”
The Yorkshire lad learned his rugby league trade growing up in Halifax as he played for amateur club Siddal before catching the eye of the Warriors in 2015 when he joined the scholarship system.
Smithies has progressed immensely having sustained a permanent place in the Under-19s team as a strong back bone with a view of taking a bigger leap next year as he pushes for a first team squad number – similar to other players in the past such as Samy Kibula and Oliver Partington who have both made their first team debuts this year.
The loose forward has taken in the values of the Club and on Friday had a flavour of what could possibly be on the horizon at the DW Stadium.
He said: “We knew we had to do well in defence. We always have to as it’s what we pride ourselves on.
“It was brilliant to see all the fans. It was great as they cheered us on and it was good.”
Nine players that featured in Friday’s victory, appeared in the 2017 Grand Final and Smithies admitted his side shone because of it.
“It gives you a lot of confidence when you’ve got the experience there and you look up to those players and they’re the ones who usually play well.
“We expected them to be better than what they were a few weeks ago when we beat them 24-0 but it was close and you could feel it in the game as well.”
Despite finishing first in the league and achieving a ninth Grand Final win at Under-19s level for the Club in 11 years, Smithies still feels there is more to come.
“There’s still room for improvement but it’s a good season overall. (The record is) “down to all the hard work from the coaching staff and all the players who buy into it.”
Click here to watch the full interview with Morgan on Wigan TV.