Brits Down Under: English boys star for Canberra, Farnworth’s potential & Burgess solid in defeat

Love Rugby League has taken an in depth look into how the British contingent got on in the NRL’s returning round.

Herbie Farnworth

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Burnley-born winger since he made his debut in round 16 last season. Before the league’s suspension in March, Farnworth had been in impressive form coming off the bench in both of Brisbane’s wins over North Queensland and South Sydney.

The 20-year-old again came off the interchange in the game against Parramatta on Thursday and even though it would end in a defeat, there is still a lot to like about the Lancastrian. In limited fashion, Farnworth showed how lively he can be with 69 metres from eight carries.

George Williams

In what was his biggest test in the NRL so far, Williams showed exactly what he has to offer for Canberra in a more than impressive showing against the reigning Minor Premiership winners, Melbourne. The 25-year-old was a menace on the field with the ball in his hand as he beautifully set up two of the Raiders’ tries. The first one coming after a slick show and go before putting out a great cut-out pass for Nick Cotric to score in the corner while the second one showed how talented he is as a ball runner. After sidestepping his way through the Storm defence, the former Wigan man had great support play in Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad who scored. Let’s not forget to mention a smashing tackle on Ryan Papenhuyzen!

Williams continues to be slotting in nicely to the Raiders set up, so time will only tell if he can keep up these kind of performances. The connection between himself and half-back partner Jack Wighton alongside fellow Englishman Josh Hodgson proved vital and could be one to watch out for as the season progresses.

James Graham

Well as team performances go, the Dragons’ loss to the Warriors is certainly one the Red V will want to forget quite quickly. In a team filled with representative talent, St George Illawarra were certainly the more fancied team going into game but again Paul McGregor’s side struggled as the Warriors unbelievably completed 40 consecutive sets without an error.

In total, the 34-year-old tallied 40 metres from five carries but once again racked up the tackles as best he could with 27 to his name.

Josh Hodgson

The king of the one on one strip struck again in Saturday’s win over the Storm as an inspirational defensive effort was capped with the 30-year-old showing superb ball stripping skills to halt a Melbourne charge with five minutes to go before slotting a perfect 40-20 kick to push the Storm back into their own territory.

It was an all-round brilliant display from the dynamic dummy half and alongside Williams he pulled the strings in a great attacking display in the first half before an inspiring defensive second half display.

Tom Burgess

It was a fixture that was filled with so much hype as Burgess and Souths went up against the Roosters. Even though it ended in a disappointing defeat, the South Sydney prop was still in inspiring form. There was plenty of eyes on Friday’s blood battle between two of the oldest rivals in Australian Rugby League history and despite their best efforts, the Rabbitohs just could not deal with the brilliance of James Tedesco and the Roosters.

The lack of Sam Burgess’ presence in the forward pack was certainly felt again but his younger brother Tom still proved to be as big a workhorse and ball runner as we have come to recognise. The barnstorming front-rower found himself in a great battle with Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and saw plenty of the ball as he continued to use his large frame and huge motor to move the Bunnies forward. Overall, Burgess made 30 tackles, 121 metres from 15 carries and a line break alongside barging over the line for a score in the second half.

Elliott Whitehead

The 30-year-old continues to be a huge workhorse while silently but brilliantly going about his business in the Canberra back-row. The former Bradford and Catalans star went under the radar in the thrilling win over Melbourne but he again showed a great motor alongside his fine ability to latch onto passes at speed and find the angles to push the Raiders forward. In total, Whitehead put up a steady 62 metres from nine runs while making 18 tackles in the process.

Despite being included on the extended bench for the Roosters, Ryan Hall did not make the cut for Trent Robinson’s match day squad as he looks to return from a knee injury.

The reigning Dally M Second Rower of The Year John Bateman is still recovering from shoulder surgery and could be back in the next couple of weeks for the Raiders. Ryan Sutton missed the returning round of the season before the league’s suspension due to a shoulder charge in pre-season trials and will no doubt be continuing to fight for a place in the Canberra side after an impressive 2019.

Watch NRL and live stream every NRL game to keep up with how Tom Burgess, John Bateman, Ryan Sutton, Elliott Whitehead, James Graham, George Williams and all the others are getting on Down Under.

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