Brits Down Under: Whitehead scores two as Smithies, Bateman finish up as top tacklers

Drew Darbyshire
Dom Young, Morgan Smithies, Elliott Whitehead, John Bateman NRL Alamy

Dom Young, Morgan Smithies, Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman in NRL action

Round 9 of the NRL season is complete, with England international Elliott Whitehead scoring a brace upon his return to action for Canberra Raiders.

Brits Down Under is a weekly feature here on Love Rugby League in 2024, checking out how the NRL‘s British players get on every week.

Here is a brief recap from Round 9, with Parramatta Eels the team with the bye this week..

Tom Burgess

The Rabbitohs suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of champions Penrith Panthers, with England international Burgess featuring from the bench. The Dewsbury-born prop played 33 minutes in total, making seven carries and 24 tackles, with a 92 per cent tackle efficiency. He also made four tackle breaks as well as a somewhat uncharacteristic kick in general play!

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Elliott Whitehead

Elliott Whitehead Canberra Raiders Alamy
Elliott Whitehead in action for Canberra Raiders in 2024

The Bradfordian marked his return to action with two tries in Canberra’s 26-24 win over Manly. Whitehead played the full 80 minutes, making 10 carries and 29 tackles. The former Bradford Bulls and Catalans Dragons forward also came up with an assist, two offloads and four tackle breaks in an impressive display from the Raiders captain.

Morgan Smithies

The Wigan Warriors academy product has finished games as Canberra’s top tackler several times already this season, and he topped the tackle charts again in Canberra’s win over Manly with 43 to his name, with an impressive tackle efficiency of 95 per cent. Smithies also made seven carries and produced an offload.

However, he was charged with a Grade One crusher tackle on Toluta’u Koula in the 48th minute. If he takes the early guilty plea, he will pay a $1,500 fine.

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Dom Young

The towering England winger continues to go from strength to strength during his time in the NRL, scoring a try in the Roosters’ 40-18 win over the Broncos. Young also made 131 metres from 16 carries to go alongside an assist and two offloads.

Max King

The 27-year-old prop started in the front-row for Canterbury in their 22-14 victory over Wests Tigers, making 121 metres from 12 drives and 34 tackles in a hard-working performance.

King, who was born in Huddersfield whilst his dad David was playing for the Giants, has previously spoken to the i about his aspirations to represent his birthplace and mother’s side of the family one day, although he has yet to earn the call-up to the England national team.

John Bateman

Bateman played the full 80 minutes at loose forward in the Tigers’ defeat to the Bulldogs. He finished up as the game’s top tackler, with 48 to his name and a tackle efficiency of 90 per cent. The former Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors man also made 11 carries, nine hit ups and a tackle break.

Kai Pearce-Paul

Another 80 minutes under the belt of Pearce-Paul, who is quickly becoming a key member of Newcastle’s forward pack. The former Wigan Warriors back-rower made 141 metres from 14 carries in their 14-8 win over New Zealand Warriors, which included two tackle breaks.

NRL Round 9 results

South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-42 Penrith Panthers

Manly Sea Eagles 24-26 Canberra Raiders

Brisbane Broncos 18-40 Sydney Roosters

Canterbury Bulldogs 22-14 Wests Tigers

Gold Coast Titans 20-22 Melbourne Storm

North Queensland Cowboys 26-28 Dolphins

Newcastle Knights 14-8 New Zealand Warriors

Cronulla Sharks 20-10 St George Illawarra Dragons

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