Morgan Smithies reveals childhood NRL idols as departing Grand Final winner discloses conversations with Ricky Stuart

Departing Wigan Warriors star Morgan Smithies grew up watching the Burgess brothers in the NRL - and just one conversation with Ricky Stuart was enough to tempt the youngster to follow the legendary English forwards in making the big move Down Under.
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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.

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Kai Pearce-Paul turned down rugby league icons and trusted his gut for Newcastle...

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.

Morgan Smithies heads to Australia later this monthMorgan Smithies heads to Australia later this month
Morgan Smithies heads to Australia later this month
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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.

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“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.”

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