Ever since Adrian Morley got sent off inside 15 seconds in a Test match against Australia we’ve taken notice of English players in the NRL.
Granted, Morley had already won a Premiership by then and Martin Offiah had also enjoyed success with the Dragons in the early 90s, but that was the moment where English players started to truly stand out.
Now they’re everywhere in the NRL, as clubs in Australia look for a recruitment difference, and English players look to test themselves against the best. In this weekly column, we give you a quick round-up of how the current crop fared.
Dragons v Raiders
Elliot Whitehead was the best Englishman on display in a thriller that went to extra-time. Whitehead scored a decisive try in Golden Point to help his team to an 18-14 win.
His try was alongside a number of tackle busts and offloads in his strong attacking game. He also added 33 tackles, a workload blown away by his captain Josh Hodgson’s effort of 42.
Hodgson’s creative kicking game was also in full effect, where he laid on a try for Jarrod Croker only for the centre to spill it over the line.
For the Dragons, Gareth Widdop also crossed the chalk, and for the large part, led his side around the park nicely. To the point where they were actually the better side throughout and slightly unlucky to lose.
Widdop kicked three goals, set up a try for Jason Nightingale with a lovely pass over defenders, but did miss a crucial penalty attempt late in the game.
Knights v Broncos
Joe Wardle’s night will largely be remembered for a distinctly average kick he put through on attack that only went as far as the hands of speedster James Roberts who raced 60 metres downfield to score.
He did make up for that blunder with a try of his own – climbing up to tap a bomb back to Chanel Mata’utia to score. That was about his lot, as the Brit managed just 11 tackles and 76 running metres in his 80 minutes in the centres.
Wardle’s Knights led for much of the game before succumbing late in the second half to tries by Korban Sims and Jonus Pearson – ultimately losing 34-22.
Titans v Sharks
The upset of the year featured a fine performance by Joe Greenwood. In horrendous conditions, Greenwood slid over for his side’s fifth try in their 30-10 win over the defending champion Sharks.
Playing in the centres, Greenwood was solid on defence, making 29 tackles, however his real impact was had with ball in hand. Proving his recent talk about becoming more involved in attack wasn’t just lip service, the Englishman had a line break and forced two tackle busts in his 80 minutes.
Rabbitohs v Cowboys
The Rabbitohs will be disappointed with their efforts against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Needing to win all of their remaining games to make the playoffs, the Rabbitohs surrendered lamely to a team that had never before won three games on the trot without their influential playmaker, Johnathan Thurston.
Beaten by 23-10, the Rabbitohs had all three Burgess boys in action.
Sam was busy mixing quality football with mistakes as has been his want recently. His 30 tackles, two offloads and three tackle busts were tainted by six missed tackles and two mistakes. His 152 running metres was the best from his team though.
Tom continued his strong form with 135m in just forty minutes. Tom’s attacking game is definitely on the improve and is reminding fans of George’s style of play from a couple of seasons ago. Plenty of tackle busts and plenty of after contact metres are a good sign for the twin.
Finally, George was okay without being startling. A line break, 20 tackles and 101m was the return from his 32 minutes on the field.