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Opinion

More and more young English players leaving for the NRL

12 Aug 20, 10:11AM 0 Comments

Written by Callum Walker

First it was 18-year-old Wiganer Harry Rushton, now it’s fellow 18-year-old Huddersfield star Dominic Young that has moved to the NRL. Whilst Rushton has signed a three-year deal with the Canberra Raiders, Young has signed on three-year terms with the Newcastle Knights.

That begs the question, why is this happening?

It seems that NRL sides are willing to give these young players a chance, well before clubs in the Super League. Look at Brisbane centre/winger Herbie Farnworth. The 20-year-old didn’t even have a professional club before signing for the Broncos in the NRL. Having played for England at Under-16 level, Farnworth joined Brisbane’s development team after leaving school, earning a first-team contract in 2018.

That led to him making his first-team debut in 2019 following impressive performances for Brisbane’s feeder club Norths Devils and the three-quarter has since played in all but one of the Broncos’ games this season.

Such an accolade seems almost impossible in Super League. Whilst Australian clubs are more than willing to give youngsters a chance if they think they are good enough, English clubs appear reluctant to do so.

Young, for example, has played just one first-team game for Huddersfield and that came in round 18 of last season when the Giants were suffering heavily with injuries. Rushton, on the other hand, hasn’t even registered a first-team appearance for Wigan.

Yet, that hasn’t deterred either Newcastle or Canberra who have seen enough of the duo to give them multi-year contracts, despite them not being out of teenage years.

The attraction of both the lifestyle and the size of a contract is likely to influence other teenagers to follow suit if NRL clubs come circling. And, why wouldn’t young stars that want to be playing each week, go Down Under to achieve this?

The only positive that can come out of such losses is the fact that the England national side will undoubtedly be strengthened in the future with the pathway to the NRL first-team a lot more structured than that in the English game.

That being said, choosing Australia over England seems a gamble, but with more players keen to experience life in the southern hemisphere it wouldn’t be surprising if a plethora of young stars follow suit.

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