Talking Rugby League: How English signings are performing in the NRL

I’M sure that Shaun Wane will be watching the progress of the latest batch of Englishmen to join NRL clubs with great interest.

It’s interesting to see Canberra Raiders currently lying in fifth place on the NRL ladder and I suspect that their success so far this season owes quite a lot to the performances of former Wigan star Morgan Smithies, who seems to top their tackle count most weeks.

At the weekend they hammered Parramatta 41-8 and, although it’s too early to say how they will perform over the whole of the season, I would have bet before it started that they would struggle without their star player Jack Wighton, who moved to South Sydney during the close-season.

That made me think that the Rabbitohs would have a great season, given the array of talent that they already had, but they are now sitting at the bottom of the NRL ladder with only one win from five games.

Things are not looking good for their coach Jason Demetriou, who was such a hero at Wakefield Trinity in his playing days, with many pundits tipping him to be the first NRL coach to lose his job this season.

The other English player who has moved out to Australia to make an immediate impact in the NRL is Kai Pearce-Paul, who also left Wigan and is now with Newcastle Knight and is now fitting in nicely, being selected every week and helping the Knights to a very nice 30-10 win against St George Illawarra Dragons in appallingly heavy rain at the weekend.

At the same club, Will Pryce, the former Huddersfield player, has yet to make his first-team debut, but I suspect it is only a matter of time and it will be particularly interesting to see how he performs, given the outstanding ability he demonstrated from earlier in his career.