Will Pryce debut analysed: half-back shines on Newcastle Knights debut, before x-rated post-match interview

Mike Meehall Wood
Will Pryce Newcastle Knights Alamy

Will Pryce has made a tryscoring start to life in the NRL, playing his part in Newcastle’s 34-26 win over Parramatta. 

It was a typically raucous night in the Hunter Valley as the home side secured a first win in three against an Eels side who are now marooned at the bottom of the table.  

The 21-year-old former Huddersfield star offered plenty and scored his side’s opener, crashing onto an offload from Daniel Saifiti to force his way to the line midway through the first half. 

He was roared on by dad Leon in the crowd, who was accompanied by two former Catalans teammates with both Steve Menzies and Scott Dureau also spotted in the stands. 

The knock on the Knights has been that they are too conservative in attack – that’s why Pryce was brought in – and the five-eighth was introduced to provide spark in addition to the controlling role played by Jackson Hastings.  

There had been drama in training several weeks ago between the pair, with reports of a confrontation in training. Any rumours of a falling out would have been believed in the opening stages because, despite a surfeit of ball in attacking areas, the newcomer barely saw any action. 

Hastings, who was in a running battle with the referee, has been accused in the past of hogging the ball – he was regularly topping the NRL in touches per game when at the Tigers – and was doing so here.  

Both Pryce and fullback Fletcher Sharpe – preferred to Leigh-bound David Armstrong – were often left catching a cold after Hastings continually went left towards Bradman Best. 

The more active import was Kai Pearce-Paul, who Hastings hit multiple times on an unders line, attempting to win play the balls to, presumably, hit right – only for errors and lack of direction to get in the way. 

The positive was that the Eels also weren’t much interested in that side of the field. All the questions from coach Adam O’Brien had come over Pryce’s ability to hold up in defence, but for the opening 15 minutes, he barely had to do any of it. 

His first involvement without the ball was to get swatted by a rampaging Maika Sivo – far from the first in that regard – but fortunately for Newcastle, a forward pass had already been called. 

In more structured play, Pryce was dropping kicks over Sivo, clearly following a plan to pin Parra back into their left corner, and won the Knights some good field position.  

Newcastle had hit lead runners all night,  but it finally paid off with Daniel Saifiti poking his nose through the line and Pryce, like all good halves should, getting up and around the football. 

The offload came and, just 25 minutes into his debut, the Englishman had his first try in the NRL. It was a little quiet thereafter, with the five-eighth taking a backseat as Hastings looked to release Bradman Best on the other side. 

He was right to do so, with Greg Marzhew on that edge scoring twice and Newcastle unlucky to have two tries taken off them by the video referee. 

READ NEXT: Grading every Super League club’s 2024 from worst to best at halfway point

Pryce did get a line break in the second half, weaving through a few defenders in his own half to advance the Knights up the field and change the momentum of the game which had been moving towards Parramatta. 

It looked like he had won the game late on, thowing an audacious pass between his own legs for Enari Tuala to touch down, only for the video to again deny Newcastle.  

With his side winning by two going into the final ten, Pryce began to cramp up and was receiving treatment on both legs at one point, but was rescued by a long-range Best intercept that, finally, was allowed to stand. 

Parramatta made a grandstand finish of it thanks to a late Junior Paulo try, but though the Eels threw their best shots, the line held and eventually another loose ball dropped to Best, who went the length and secured the result.

And there was still time for one more notable moment from Pryce post-match – but for all the wrong reasons, as he let an expletive or two rip in an interview with Fox League:

Still, you’d argue he’s earned the right after a promising debut!

READ NEXT: The star-studded 13 Germany could select if they chose from eligible players including NRL stars