England v France: Mid-Season Rugby League International
WARRINGTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 29: Morgan Smithies of England is tackled by Ugo Tison and Paul Marcon of Franceduring the Mid-Season Rugby League International match between England and France at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on April 29, 2023 in Warrington, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

English international and the newest Canberra Raiders recruit, Morgan Smithies, has opened up on his dream move of joining the NRL.

Less than two weeks ago, Smithies made a major call on his future signing with the Green Machine for the next three seasons after playing 114 matches in the Super League and winning the 2023 Super League Grand Final with the Wigan Warriors.

Aged 22, the second rower who was under contract at Wigan until 2025 originally, revealed it was a dream come true to make the move to the NRL.

Whilst he agreed to the move during the season, Smithies achieved the ultimate goal with Wigan and will be looking to emulate the same success with the Raiders in the near future.

“I've obviously wanted to win the Grand Final for years, but knowing I was leaving, I got obsessed with wanting to win that,” Smithies told Wigan Today.

“It worked out pretty well. Nobody really knew about me leaving, my team-mates didn't even know.

“There were rumours, but I didn't tell them officially until after the Grand Final. But it was an extra factor to work even harder. I think everyone knew I was leaving anyway, so I didn't have to say too much.”

“There were some tough conversations, telling the club that I wanted to leave to pursue this opportunity," he added.

“I wanted to leave on good terms. If we didn't win the Grand Final, I feel like it would have put a damper on me leaving.

“To go on and win that, it meant the world to me. I felt like I owed it to all the coaches and players and obviously the fans.”

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Smithies will enter the Canberra Raiders pre-season training before the year ends and will do so after being called up into the England squad that took on Tonga in a three-test series - Smithies was only a member of the squad for the final Test.

Despite being a late replacement, the 22-year-old relished working alongside future club teammate Elliott Whitehead and Wests Tigers starter John Bateman.

The three have a close relationship, and if Smithies is to be successful in Australia, Whitehead's advice will play a significant role in his transition to a new competition.

“To train with new players, you pick up little things from them. It's been a good experience," the forward continued.

“I spoke to Elliott briefly, he gave me some little pointers about Canberra. We didn't speak too much about it, it was just about enjoying the week and getting to know him.

“But I also spoke with John Bateman as well. He was good at giving me advice.

“He killed it over there and was named Dally M back-rower of the year. His first season over there was outstanding. If I could do half of what he did, I'd be pretty happy in that first year.”