NRLSport

English Raiders: Canberra identify next batch of Super League imports

Inspired by their UK recruitment success, Canberra Raiders have already identified the next batch of English players they want to lure to the NRL.

The Raiders have no shortage of UK stars after John Bateman, Josh Hodgson, Ryan Sutton and Elliott Whitehead helped spark their stunning 2019 rise, playing their first NRL grand final in 25 years.

Wigan Warriors' George Williams is bound for Canberra in 2020 – and he may be joined by even more Englishmen.

Wigan Warriors’ George Williams is bound for Canberra in 2020 – and he may be joined by even more Englishmen.Credit:PA

And they will unleash George Williams next year after the highly rated Wigan playmaker signed a three-season deal from 2020.

But Canberra recruitment boss Peter Mulholland is not done with yet.

He said Wigan forward duo Oliver Partington and Morgan Smithies plus Castleford utility Jake Trueman currently topped his shopping list.

“There are a couple of players in England that I would like to grab,” he told Total Rugby League website.

“There are some good young forwards and a young outside back that I like.

“Wigan have got four or five really good young forwards coming through.

“Oliver Partington is a good kid, Morgan Smithies is a good kid, young Trueman … and St Helens have a couple of really good forwards.”

Mulholland said he may yet upgrade his wish list after attending May’s Magic Weekend, when an entire Super League round plays at St James’ Park.

“The Magic Weekend is fantastic because they put it all in front of you for one weekend,” he said.

“It’s a concept that we [NRL] have copied. I think they’ve done a wonderful job with it.”

Mulholland clearly has the UK recruitment Midas touch after Canberra’s English contingent helped the Raiders emerge as one of 2019’s success stories.

Bateman became a cult hero in his debut NRL season but Mulholland believed Sutton was his find of 2019 despite not featuring in the finals series.

“Ryan was fantastic. I think he was the success story of the year,” he said.

“I always expected Bateman to be good but Ryan, out of the four Englishmen, was the success story.

“He achieved more milestones than we thought he would. He was unlucky not to be in that final series … [but] he suits the NRL style.”

AAP

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