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Morgan Smithies opens up on Canberra Raiders switch

Former Wigan Warriors forward Morgan Smithies has opened up on his dream move to the NRL with Canberra Raiders, revealing that it was an opportunity he ‘had to take’.

The 23-year old came up through the Warriors academy system and made his debut in 2019. He would become a key member of the Warriors side and made over 100 appearances for the club; but this winter he has swapped the cherry and white of Wigan for the green of the Canberra Raiders.

Speaking to the Canberra Times, Smithies opened up on the move down under: “Winning the Grand Final in the season just gone, I felt like I’d won everything really back home apart from the World Club Challenge.

He added: “When this opportunity came, I felt like it was one I had to take with both hands because they don’t come around too often.

“It’s a big opportunity because it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NRL, and I’ve got an opportunity now to do it.

Smithies has grown year on year, and become one of the standout players in the Wigan Warriors side. His improvement was highlighted this season, as he made his international debut in England’s 64-0 win over France.

He was also a late call-up into Shaun Wane’s squad for the series against Tonga, however he didn’t add to his international tally.

“Over the past few years, I’ve tried to develop my game a little bit more,” he said. “I’ve tried to improve my ball handling skills, add a bit more rugby into my game, and I felt like I did that.

“I’ll just be trying to progress from there really. Training has been a good taster to know what it’s all about. I’ve been working pretty hard to get my fitness right and I know the boys have been ripping in as well.”

Smithies isn’t the only member of Shaun Wane’s squad plying their trade in Australia’s capital city, as second-rower Elliott Whitehead is a key figure in the Raiders pack.

The pair would have worked closely with each other during the England camp, and the young forward was full of praise for his new clubmate: “He’s massive, a big player at this club and a massive leader. I feel like I can learn a lot off him and obviously with it being his last year, I’ll need to pick his brains a little bit more.

He added: “What he does after, I’m not too sure, but as a player he’s been massive. He was someone I looked up to growing up. You obviously look out for the English boys when you’re a kid watching the NRL, and he was obviously one of them.

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