Morgan Smithies reveals childhood NRL idols as departing Grand Final winner discloses conversations with Ricky Stuart
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Smithies, who turned only 23 this week, has penned a three-year deal with Canberra Raiders ahead of the 2024 competition, leaving Wigan on winning terms with the 2023 Super League title and the League Leaders’ Shield.
The hard-working back-rower admits he grew up watching fellow Yorkshire players Sam, Tom, George and Luke Burgess in the NRL as he looks to replicate the successes of the Dewsbury-born quartet.
He also follows ex-Wigan players George Williams, John Bateman, Ryan Sutton and Harry Rushton in making the move to the Australian capital outfit, while Kai Pearce-Paul has joined Newcastle Knights alongside Huddersfield’s Will Pryce for 2024.
“I watched the NRL as a youngster growing up,” Smithies said.
“I watched the Yorkshire boys quite a bit, supporting South Sydney Rabbitohs as a kid. The past few years I’ve probably watched a bit more rugby than I used to.”
Although having received interest elsewhere in the NRL, Halifax-born Smithies admits just one conversation with veteran coach Stuart, 56, was enough to convince him to join ‘The Green Machine’ outfit, linking up with England international team-mate Elliott Whitehead.
“Ricky told me he rates me as a player,” Smithies revealed.
“I had a little bit of interest, but I think once I had that conversation with Ricky, it was pretty clear in my head that I wanted to go to Canberra.
“It only took one conversation with him to know I wanted to be a Canberra player. I think that says a lot about him as a bloke. I’ve since spoken to him a few times and I trust him. He’s a great bloke.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into pre-season and from day one I’ll be raring to go. I know I’ve got stuff that I need to improve in my game, but I’ve got that mentality where I think I’m pretty easy to coach and I’ll be working hard and listening to the coaches and other players around me.”