Morgan Smithies has now made the move from Wigan Warriors to the NRL as the England international has a real crack at making it in Australia.
He has continued the trend of English players joining the Canberra Raiders after Josh Hodgson, John Bateman, George Williams, Ryan Sutton and Elliott Whitehead, with the latter still at the club.
Smithies has all the attributes to be a major success in the NRL next year and moving forward but the Daily Telegraph has already raised questions over whether or not he will be a regular in the side.
From a Super League perspective, Smithies should absolutely be in the starting 13 given his 2023 form but as we have seen in the past that is not always the case with Ryan Hall having to spend weeks to get his first crack at Sydney Roosters despite being one of the world’s best wingers.
Worryingly for Smithies, he will have the likes of Elliott Whitehead and Hudson Young cemented in the backrow and crucially Queensland representative Corey Horsburgh nailed on as 13 at Canberra. That leaves Smithies with work to do to get in the side and thus questions have been raised if he is good enough to force his way in.
Naturally Smithies believes he is capable of doing so, “Yeah, 100 per cent. That is the aim, the reason why I am here, and it’s everyone’s aim,” Smithies told the Daily Telegraph.
“I see myself as a number 13 but I can play back row, or anywhere really. There will be a bit of competition for positions.
“But that makes you train harder and with that comes improvement. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that there is a challenge for spaces. I just have to work hard and show what I can do in the pre-season.
“But I don’t just want to be a grafter. I’m adding a little bit more smarts to my game in attack, linking with halves and improving my ball playing. It’s something I have been doing over the last few years. I always try to work hard but I want to improve my game.”
Smithies is already having to contend with comparisons to Wests Tigers’ John Bateman who he replaced as Wigan’s number 13 in 2023: “Whether I do as well as Batey (Bateman) or not … we are two different players … but when he came over to Canberra he absolutely killed it in his first year, he was impressive.
“So if I could do anything like in my first year, I won’t be doing too badly.”