Premiership winner Lindsay Smith keen to build on breakout season

Lindsay Smith. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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After enjoying the best year of his life both professionally and personally, Lindsay Smith can’t wait to do it all again.

From winning a premiership to signing a new contract and announcing a pregnancy with his partner, 2023 was a year to remember for the 24-year-old forward.

Now, after an off-season of rest and relaxation, Smith is ready to put the boots back on and make even more memories in 2024.

“It was a pretty surreal year, to be honest,” Smith told Extra Time.

“Looking back on this time last year, I didn’t expect to play so many games and win a comp.

“It was a pretty special year for me on and off the field, it was really exciting.”

Prior to the 2023 NRL season, the St Marys junior had only played a handful of first grade games for Penrith.

But after a strong pre-season on the training paddock, he was elevated from playing park footy and onto Ivan Cleary’s bench.

In all, Smith ended up playing 23 NRL games last season, which included the thrilling Grand Final win over Brisbane.

“From the crowd to how the whole game panned out, everything was amazing that night,” Smith said.

Lindsay Smith chats to Weekender journalist Nathan Taylor. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“It took a very long time for that victory to sink in, and I don’t think it’s completely sunk in yet. Maybe it’s something I’ll reflect on at the end of my career.”

With Penrith set to kick-off their 2024 campaign this Friday night against Melbourne, part of him can’t stop thinking about last month’s World Club Challenge defeat to Wigan in England.

While Smith admits it was an “amazing experience” to be a part of, he just wishes his side took the opportunities they had to win the match.

“It was a tough, physical game – they came to play and so did we,” he said.

“We just didn’t take our opportunities like we should have. I think we had plenty of chances to take that game, but it was a great learning curve and a surreal experience.”

If there’s one shining light to come out of the narrow loss to Wigan, it’s the fuel and motivation the Panthers will have heading into tonight’s battle with the Storm at AAMI Park.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has never lost an opening round encounter in charge of the Storm, but records are there to be broken says Smith.

“We don’t talk about records much but, as a fan of the game growing up, Melbourne’s record is always talked about in Round 1 – I guess it would be pretty cool to break it,” he said.

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