With a record amount of British talent now plying their trade in the NRL, we decided to have a look at some of the players who are still in Super League, who we believe could make the jump to the NRL and have a similar effect as those who are there now.
The first one that springs to mind is St. Helens stalwart James Roby who has always been admired down under. Some people would point to his age being against him, but surely a player of his undeniable quality must surely be one player who could bridge that gap? There is no doubt Roby would make it in the NRL, even now, but along with Sean O’Loughlin, who is also admired by the Aussies, their ageing years will stop any move to Australia from happening.
Another player who would also undoubtedly have all the tools needed to make it in the NRL, and indeed is one for who age is not a problem, would have to be Jake Connor. Since he burst onto the international scene, Connor has proved beyond any doubt his outstanding ability, both in the halves and at centre, and there is little doubt that he would be another who could fit very easily into the best competition in the world.
Wigan playmaker George Williams is currently linked regularly with a move to the NRL, but what of his teammate Oliver Gildart? I believe the young centre should also be a shout to move down under, certainly at some point in his career. He would join a long list of current and former Warriors players who would swap the DW Stadium for a stint in Australia. Gildart proved at the end of last year he could cut it with the best as he was exceptional for England, particularly in the first test, as they secured victory against the Kiwis.
Reigning Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson and Huddersfield try-machine Jermaine McGillvary are two players who have been on the radar of NRL clubs in recent years. Although both have long deals at their respective Super League teams, the pair were England’s starting wingers in the recent Test series against New Zealand and they caused the Kiwis no end of problems. Pace, power and superb game-awareness makes these two ideal for Australia’s premier competition.
Another back who would surely have to be worth a punt is Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone, as well as Warrington’s centre/second-rower Ben Currie. These two are superb natural talents but unfortunately they may never get a shot at the NRL. Indeed for both of them, too many injuries could easily be the reason they fail to be given a chance down under, it’s a sad fact, but NRL clubs are unlikely to give a player a chance if they believe their investment is going to be sat in the stands too often. It’s also a fact that maybe Super League clubs should learn before bringing certain NRL players over here!
When looking at a list of British-born players who have succeeded, or still are succeeding in the NRL, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that they love any British ball-playing forward down under, with names like Gareth Ellis, Adrian Morley, James Graham, the Burgess brothers, Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman all part of that star-studded club just in recent years, going further back you can point to the likes of Lee Crooks, Steve Norton, Ellery Hanley et al.
In the cases of forwards here who could make the jump, certainly the likes of Jack Hughes, Chris Hill, Scott Taylor and Luke Thompson would surely all have to be a safe bet to get to test themselves against the best in the world, with maybe Morgan Knowles one who could go to Australia and improve enough to break into the NRL after some time training with an NRL club? Mike McMeeken is another extremely talented player, with the Castleford back-rower a consistent performer in Super League; his teammate Liam Watts would also have to be another shout.
Hull FC’s Masi Matongo, the young Zimbabwean born Prop, who has been resident in England for most of his life, is now a regular starting prop for the Black & Whites and his performances have earned him England Knights representative honours. A move to the NRL could certainly be in his grasp if he continues in his current vein. Like the aforementioned Knowles, Matongo would be one who could break into the NRL after some time training there first, or through making an impression in something like the NSW Cup.
There will be many more names suggested I’m sure, it’s one of those never-ending debates that people will undoubtedly have very many opinions on. Please comment below with current Super League players you think would make it in the NRL.