A sea of England’s finest players have made the move to Australia in recent years, with the likes of Sam Burgess and his brothers excelling in the NRL along with others including Gareth Widdop, James Graham and Elliot Whitehead – to name a few.
Whilst there are numerous traditions of the English game – particularly the Challenge Cup final at Wembley – there is little doubt that establishing yourself in the Australian league is the pinnacle of any professional’s rugby league career.
Perhaps the next of England’s elite to make the move to the Southern Hemisphere will be George Williams, who has shone for his boyhood club, Wigan Warriors, as well as making an impact on the international stage – where he has established himself as a world-class stand-off since his senior debut in 2013.
Australians are likely to get a first-hand look at Williams’ ability later in 2017, with the 22-year old almost certain to be part of Wayne Bennett’s England squad travelling down under for the World Cup, which the ‘Wall of White’ are currently priced at 9/1 to win by websites offering the latest betting advice.
Having a player like Williams in their squad will give England the belief that they can end Australia and New Zealand’s dominance in the international game – particularly if the stand-off can continue the impressive form he has shown throughout 2017.
Wigan are struggling in the English Super League, with Shaun Wane’s side currently sitting seventh, streets behind Castleford Tigers and finding it difficult to keep up with Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils, who are sat nicely in the top four. However, Williams has been in exceptional form, showing why he is likely to be one of Bennett’s main men at the World Cup.
The 22-year-old has scored seven Super League tries, but more impressive is how much Williams’ creativity has shone through, with the Wigan man creating 25 scores for his teammates, which makes him the most creative player so far in the 2017 competition. Williams has been linked with a move to Australia recently, with Parramatta Eels keen to hand the Englishman an opportunity in the NRL and the player himself not ruling out a move away from England.
The Wigan Warrior would undoubtedly be a hit in Australia, with his running game from the halves up there with the best in world rugby. Williams is also working on the weak points in his game, improving his kicking and match organisation in 2017, and becoming a real leader in a young Wigan side.
Nothing is set in stone, and Williams could remain at the DW Stadium, but latest indications suggest that the youngster will eventually test himself in the NRL. Should Williams impress for England at the World Cup later this year, more Australian clubs might sit up and take notice of the Wigan man – who if given the chance, could become one of the NRL’s stars and see himself spoken about in the same breath as the likes of Burgess, Widdop and Graham.