Following a successful season with Wigan Warriors it was confirmed that Morgan Smithies had signed for Canberra Raiders in a massive move down under to the NRL for the loose forward, and now he’s earned a call-up to the England squad for the third test against Tonga.
Smithies move down under sees him join fellow Englishman Elliot Whitehead at Canberra and there’s even a chance that Smithies will play alongside Whitehead this weekend with the ex Wigan man having been called up to the squad for Saturday.
The Grand Final winner was called up alongside Warrington Wolves winger Josh Thewlis with Tommy Makinson still nursing an injury, whilst current NRL star loose forward Victor Radley deals with a groin issue. That means we could see Smithies in a like for like swap in the number thirteen role for the final test at Headingley.
England head coach Shaun Wane was asked about the areas where Smithies had improved and what had warranted his call-up with Wane explaining: “I like him, he’s a good player and he’s got a chance on Saturday.”
He added: “Yeah, he’s good. His ball carrying has improved this year, which he needed to improve on. He’s all-action and he’s similar to Morgan Knowles, not as big, but he carries the ball better now, which is what he had to get better at.”
Smithies will need to continue to improve should he be successful down under but that’s something that Wane can foresee, claiming that the “Aussies will love him”.
On if the former Wigan man will be successful, Wane stated: “Yeah, he’ll need to change a few things. He needs to improve on certain areas to make a strong mark over there. It’s a different competition but the Aussies will love him.
“He’s all-action, he defends, defends, defends and double tackles. He’s a great kid but that’s a different ballgame over there. He needs to be a lot better.”
Smithies isn’t the only Wigan Warriors Grand Final winner heading down under with Kai Pearce-Paul being another, the impressive second-rower having joined Newcastle Knights alongside Huddersfield Giants’ Will Pryce. The pair have since landed in Australia and have been seen pictured in their new club colours for the first time since their confirmed move came late in 2022.
Before all that though Smithies will try earn another England cap on Saturday and help tie up a series clean sweep with Shaun Wane insistent his side are intent on securing that 3-0 series win in front of what is expected to be a near sold-out Headingley.