With the World Cup ready to get going at the end of 2022 after being postponed in 2021, it’s a time for many rugby league stars to put themselves in the ‘shop window’.
For those from abroad, it’s a chance to impress Super League and Championship clubs for a potential move to UK shores whilst for those that harbour NRL ambitions, it’s an opportunity to show what they can do on the big stage.
The likes of Sam Burgess, James Graham, George Williams, John Bateman, Luke Thompson and now Oliver Gildart have all made the move to the southern hemisphere after impressing for their Super League clubs, with News Corp revealing that NRL clubs – as well as the Dolphins who will enter the NRL in 2023 – will be monitoring six UK top flight stars.
News Corp spoke to several NRL recruitment managers who identified six English players to keep an eye on in the World Cup – Alex Walmsley (St Helens), Harry Newman (Leeds), Morgan Knowles (St Helens), Will Pryce (Huddersfield), Jake Connor (Hull FC) and Regan Grace (St Helens).
“You’d want them in 2023 after the World Cup or in ‘24,” said an NRL recruitment manager, who cannot talk publicly under club policy.
“The Australian-based Englishmen in camp at the World Cup will also tell the Super League Poms how great the NRL is and how they should get over here and get the big money.
“Alex Walmsley, he’s probably the best front-rower in the world at the moment. Over there, he can win games single-handedly.
“The best 13 in the game over there is Morgan Knowles, he plays for St Helens. There is also a kid called Will Pryce, he’s the son of (former English star) Leon Pryce. He is outstanding.”
“A lot of clubs will use the World Cup as a smorgasbord,” said another NRL recruitment manager.
“I’ve spoken to some agents over there and this is all they want to talk about – having a look at their players at the World Cup.
“There will be a real push from the agents over there, they want you watching the World Cup, I’m telling you. I’d be shocked if a fair bit of stuff doesn’t come out of the World Cup. If the Dolphins can’t get the players, they’ll go to England.”
The prestigious World Cup tournament kicks off on October 15 when England play Samoa at St James’ Park, Newcastle and it promises to be an incredible spectacle.