Once again there were six English representatives in the NRL this weekend as they all continue to fight for a place in Shaun Wane’s World Cup squad.
With the season well underway and some standout performances in Super League, the Australian based contingent face a battle for places in Shaun Wane’s England line-up.
So, let’s see how their fared in round 5 of the NRL season.
After being sin binned in the previous round, Young would have been looking to bounce back in Round Five with a strong performance but unfortunately suffered a game ending injury only 20 minutes into the game. The problem occurred in his right knee as he looked to ground the ball for a try, there is concern it could be a PCL injury with an announcement from the club due soon. To rub insult to injury the try was not awarded as the winger looks set for a period on the sidelines.
Farnworth and the Brisbane Broncos came up just short in a valiant effort against the Sydney Roosters. His fellow centre Kotoni Staggs had a monster game for the Broncos with a lot of Brisbane’s attacking opportunities going down the opposite flank as they looked to give Staggs the ball as often as possible. Farnworth did link up well with Corey Oates as the winger scored a hat trick and he also ran for 112 metres to keep his season average for metres gained over 130. He will be looking to impose himself as an attacking threat more in the Broncos next game against the Penrith Panthers.
Playing in the middle as he has done all season, Elliott Whitehead was typically solid in his work but was unable to guide his team to victory as the Melbourne Storm proved too good for the Canberra Raiders. Whitehead was on the field for 65 minutes, his longest tally of the season as he looks close to becoming an 80 minute loose-forward which could be valuable to Shaun Wane come the World Cup. Making 21 tackles and 111 metres he was busy in his defensive work as the Raiders struggled to break down the Storm when they had any attacking opportunity. With Morgan Knowles looking likely to be England’s number 13 come the World Cup in November, the experienced Whitehead may be asked to shift to backrow to fit into the starting line up.
Starting his first game of the season, Tom Burgess was part of a South Sydney side who proved too strong for the St George Illawarra Dragons. In his 43 minutes on the field, the bruising front rower made 24 tackles and a massive 152 metres as his efforts kept the Rabbitohs on the front foot and allowed their playmakers to shine. Burgess seems a certainty to be in Shaun Wane’s squad but will have to produce massive performances consistently if he is looking to make the starting 13 ahead of the likes of Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson.
Gildart is yet to be on the winning side in the NRL as the Wests Tigers were well beaten by the Cronulla Sharks in a miserable display once again. It’s been a difficult start to life in Australia as the Tigers currently look lost of all ideas in attack and defence leaving Gildart very little opportunity to show some of the talent that he blessed Super League with for a number of years. In a bruising effort the centre made 16 tackles and 61 metres as he spent most of the game defending on his edge against an impressive Sharks side. With centre being a position in which England have good depth, Gildart will need to up his performances if he is hoping to make the World Cup squad.
Luke Thompson once again started for the Canterbury Bulldogs as he seems to have regained his place in their first 13, but he was on the losing side as reigning Premiers the Penrith Panthers proved too strong for the Bulldogs. The Panthers are known for their defence and ferocious line speed which makes it difficult for any forward to produce big numbers against them, in his 54 minute stint Thompson made 89 hard metres whilst also making 34 tackles. Thompson is still producing good performances on the field despite all the noise of a potential move, he looks almost nailed on to start in the front row for England at the World Cup.