Smithies backs O’Loughlin to play on next year

Morgan Smithies has backed team-mate Sean O’Loughlin to play into 2021 after the Wigan captain hinted at a retirement u-turn.

The Wigan captain revealed to Sky Sports last week that he may be tempted to go round another year, with the Covid-19 suspension disrupting what is due to be his final year.

Smithies has been billed as O’Loughlin’s heir several times since bursting onto the scene last year. However, the young forward would be keen for the 37-year-old to see out one more season.

“100 per cent I’d want him to,” Smithies said.

“I was thinking about it earlier. With everything going on at the moment it’s probably good for the senior lads to have the break.

“But it would be great for us to have Lockers go again for another year.”

When announcing he would retire last year, O’Loughlin said he didn’t believe he was missed when he wasn’t on the field anymore.

But Smithies said: “We do, no doubt about it. Even before the game, when you know you’ve got him on the team, it gives you confidence. In the dressing room, it gives you confidence when you know he’s there and in the game too. Obviously, he’s a class player, we all know that.”

Smithies is currently trying to enhance the offensive part of his game, and trying to develop skills O’Loughlin has mastered during his career.

“We’ve had a big focus on my attack. I was trying to develop a better attacking game in the off-season, I don’t want to just be an average middle taking carries, I want to have a bit of skill about me, so I’ve been developing that, playing with the ball more and going out of the back. Lockers has been helping me with that.”