Brits Down Under: How the NRL’s British contingent got on in the opening round

Drew Darbyshire
Herbie Farnworth, Morgan Smithies, Victor Radley NRL Alamy

Herbie Farnworth (left), Morgan Smithies (centre) and Victor Radley (right) in NRL action

Round One of the NRL season is complete, with Morgan Smithies and Kai Pearce-Paul making their debuts for Canberra and Newcastle respectively.

With the NRL returning, it also means our weekly Brits Down Under feature is back, too. Here is a brief recap on the performances of the NRL’s British contingent..

Tom Burgess

There was the Las Vegas double-header last weekend, featuring Manly v Souths and Roosters v Brisbane. Burgess was named on the bench for the Rabbitohs in their 36-24 defeat to the Sea Eagles, playing 37 minutes in total.

Burgess, who played in all three of England‘s wins over Tonga last autumn, played 37 minutes in South Sydney’s opener, making 118 metres from 12 carries. He also made 12 tackles and an offload.

Victor Radley

The Sydney-born forward pledged his international allegiance to England ahead of the delayed 2021 World Cup and has been a key member of Shaun Wane’s squad ever since.

Radley, whose father hails from Barnsley, made an impressive start to his 2024 NRL campaign, scoring a try in the Roosters’ 20-10 win over the Broncos in Las Vegas. He played the full 80 minutes, making 165 metres from 18 carries as well as 37 tackles.

Morgan Smithies

Morgan Smithies Canberra Raiders Alamy
Morgan Smithies in action for Canberra

The England international made his NRL debut for Canberra after making the move Down Under on a three-year contract from Super League champions Wigan Warriors.

Smithies certainly made a good impression in his first NRL game, starting at loose forward in Canberra’s 28-12 win over Newcastle Knights. The 23-year-old played 68 minutes, making 108 metres from 14 carries.

But it was Smithies’ work in defence that stood out, making 46 tackles – the most of any Raiders player. He had a tackle efficiency of 93 per cent.

RELATED: 7 reasons why Morgan Smithies will succeed in the NRL: ‘The Aussies will love him’

Kai Pearce-Paul

Pearce-Paul also made his NRL debut, which came against his former Wigan team-mate Smithies in a 28-12 defeat at home.

The England international came off the bench to play 40 minutes in his first NRL appearance. Pearce-Paul made 89 metres from nine carries, also making 20 tackles. He also produced two of his trademark offloads.

Herbie Farnworth

The Dolphins may have gone down to a heavy 43-18 defeat at home to North Queensland Cowboys in Round One – but Farnworth can certainly be proud of his efforts.

The England international made 171 metres from 17 carries – the most of any Dolphins player. Farnworth, who hails from Lancashire, also made 19 tackles with a tackle efficiency of 90 per cent.

Jackson Hastings

The former Man of Steel represented Great Britain on their tour of the southern hemisphere in 2019, being eligible through his English grandmother.

Wollongong-born Hastings has previously spoken of his desire to represent England on the international stage, although he has yet to play for the national team.

Hastings played the full 80 minutes of Newcastle’s opening round defeat to Canberra, scoring a try for the Knights. He also made 15 carries, 41 passes and 30 tackles as well as a line break.

NRL Round 1 results

Manly Sea Eagles 36-24 South Sydney Rabbitohs

Sydney Roosters 20-10 Brisbane Broncos

Newcastle Knights 12-28 Canberra Raiders

New Zealand Warriors 12-16 Cronulla Sharks

Melbourne Storm 8-0 Penrith Panthers

Parramatta Eels 26-8 Canterbury Bulldogs

Gold Coast Titans 4-28 St George Illawarra Dragons

Dolphins 18-43 North Queensland Cowboys

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