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.
Rabbitohs v Eels
All three of the Rabbitohs’ Burgess brothers were in action in their loss to the Eels on Friday night.
For George, it was a return from suspension, and a successful one at that. He had his best game of the season, racking up 28 tackles, a couple of tackle busts and pleasingly, no errors.
Sam and Tom were quiet. The ball seemed to go away from the eldest Burgess as he pretty much just ran decoys all night. Though he still managed 158 running metres and 34 tackles.
Tom was made to work defensively in his 47 minutes, making 24 tackles. However, the poor completion rate of both sides meant we didn’t see the best of the big front-rower on attack.
Bulldogs v Sharks
The lack of origin representative players made this game closer than it might have been, but also pretty boring.
Unfortunately, for Northern hemisphere fans, Bulldogs captain James Graham (above) was injured in just the 20th minute. He came from the field with a nerve issue around the neck/shoulder area and didn’t return. Compounding matters for him and his fans was the Bulldogs’ one point loss.
Graham managed 23 tackles in his short time on the field, but also had an error and two penalties against his name. The Warriors who have been linked to Graham will be watching his recovery closely, to see if the 31-year-old still represents value for money.
For the Sharks, Chris Heighington ran strongly for 138 metres in just 29 minutes on the paddock.
Raiders v Roosters
Josh Hodgson and Elliot Whitehead played well in Canberra’s close win against top four contenders the Roosters at GIO Stadium in the final game of the round.
Both played 80 minutes in a frenetic game that was part high quality and part amateur hour – a little like Bean Ainslie’s start in the America’s Cup overnight. Both also received high praise for their contributions from former great Greg Alexander.
Hodgson had 32 tackles, a couple of tackle busts and a line break assist, but did well in the 1% – the effort plays that won’t be on the stats sheet but noticed by coaches, particular his decision-making.
‘Pimple’ (Whitehead) was big on attack and defence, mixing 41 tackles with three tackle busts. Whitehead also showed great awareness to create the space for Isaac Rapana’s second try.
In other Raiders news, Oldham-born Jordan Turner has been released by the Raiders to take up a long-term deal with Huddersfield.