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.
The round started with the news that two of England’s best would sit out the round. James Graham decided to have surgery on his agitated neck – a procedure that will see him miss at least four weeks. Meanwhile, Josh Hodgson sat out Canberra’s match against the Cowboys with calf and sternum complaints.
Dragons v Titans
Gareth Widdop’s Dragons had the wind taken out of their season’s sails with an unexpected loss to Joe Greenwood’s Titans.
The Dragons lost Origin stars, Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell to injury and couldn’t recover, falling by ten points to the competition strugglers.
For the Titans, Greenwood’s solid defence (33 tackles) helped kept the Dragons to just ten points, continuing a trend over the past few weeks that is starting to mimic their attacking struggles of last year.
While Widdop had a mixed day with a trio of goals and tackle breaks offset with a further trio of errors and missed tackles.
Sharks v Roosters
Chris Heighington gets about as much coverage in this weekly piece as he gets on the field for the Sharks (the spot is mainly reserved for thoroughbreds).
In 23 minutes this week, Heighington made 13 tackles, gave an offload and ran for 66 metres.
Until next week Chris.
Raiders v Cowboys
A fourth try of the season to Elliot Whitehead wasn’t enough to help his Raiders side overcome a Cowboys team sans Johnathan Thurston.
The Raiders without regular captain Josh Hodgson were poor again, allowing the Cowboys to run in five soft tries in the 31-18 result.
While Whitehead was guilty of a couple of poor misses on defence, he was one of the Raiders best. Contributing a try assist to go along with his own try and a line break assist.
Knights v Tigers
Returning after a few matches in the stands, Joe Wardle played the full eighty for the Knights in their 33-12 loss to the Tigers at home.
The centre had a strong game, crossing for his third try of the season, and also making 24 tackles. His defence out wide was much better than the Knights ruck defence which allowed too much quick ball for Luke Brooks and Tui Lolohea to exploit.
Rabbitohs v Panthers
The final game of the round was an absolute cracker. The Panthers look unstoppable early, before some Slammin’ Sam Burgess defence and a post tackle flare resulted in him being sent to the sin bin, and ultimately firing up his side.
When he returned, the Rabbitohs scored 44 unanswered points, including five tries for Alex Johnston.
Sam also scored, and set up Johnston for his third. However, his Jekyll and Hyde performance was marred by his sin-binning, his four missed tackles, the four penalties he gave away and a sloppy error carrying the ball.
Tom and George had their best games of the season. Tom was destructive with the ball in hand. Carrying for over 130 metres and throwing away six would be tacklers. While George had 13 tackles, four busts and 142 metres gained in a faultless effort.