Loose-forward is an exceptionally strong position in Super League.
Castleford Tigers have the brilliant Joe Westerman, Huddersfield Giants have skipper Luke Yates and Wigan Warriors have Morgan Smithies.
Now Cameron Smith is officially Leeds Rhinos’ number 13 whilst Warrington Wolves have a new 13 in Josh McGuire.
The two spoke to Serious About Rugby League yesterday at the Super League launch and identified one 13 in particular who they think is the benchmark.
Firstly, Leeds’ Smith spoke about pushing Knowles for an England spot: “It’s something that I aspire to do but first and foremost if I’m playing well for Leeds every week and we have a successful week then it gives me a chance to get my foot in the door and push for international honours. It’s something I want to do, and I’ve aspired to since I was a young kid but there’s plenty of 13s who are exceptional and world class. Morgan Knowles has been the best 13 for a while, getting in them Super League dream teams and he fully deserves that spot. If that (England) is something I can do then playing well for the club is something that will put me in good stead.”
Meanwhile, McGuire described him as “world class”:
“I’m very excited to play Saints, Morgan Knowles is a young middle coming through that I think is a world class player. Wigan have got plenty with Farrell, it’s just that a lot of these names aren’t household names in Australia but they’re very capable of being great players wherever they play.”
McGuire is excited in general to take on some top Super League players especially down the middle: “I’m very excited to be here and very humbled, there’s a lot of good players here that haven’t been able to come to Australia to play. Obviously I’ve played against England a few times so I know the calibre of player, it’s a very different game. You can’t compare the two, the style of football and conditions are very different.”
He spoke specifically about Alex Walmsley: “Alex didn’t play the 2017 World Cup final, I think he got injured or something like that but I know Alex is a very class front rower. Obviously I’ve played with Bennie Currie, Daryl Clark, Paul McShane and the list goes on. Every club has got class players.”
He also had his say on John Bateman’s departure from Wigan Warriors: “When he came he exploded, it was great for his profile and great for English football. Elliot Whitehead is another one and Josh Hodgson, I’m very excited.”