AS HE prepares to make his belated England debut, St Helens prop Alex Walmsley would “thrive” in the Australian NRL, an international teammate said yesterday.
The 27-year-old former Batley forward is thought to be in high demand with Australian clubs who will be casting a close eye on his performance against Lebanon in the World Cup at Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.
Newcastle, Parramatta, Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra reportedly lead the race to sign Walmsley, who would have won his first England cap against Australia in Melbourne but for illness.
Chris Heighington, who will move from Cronulla to Newcastle next season, has been impressed by his new England teammate’s 2017 season and also the impact he has made in training.
Asked if Walmsley would succeed in the NRL, Heighington said: “100 per cent. He’s big, fast and has got good ball skills.
“He’d really thrive in the NRL to be honest. He’s doing a great job in Super League and building some confidence being around the older players. He’d really suit the NRL.
“I get to watch a few of the Super League games and he’s been unreal for them. He’s been really good at training as well. Unfortunately he came down up a virus but he’s good to go this week.”
The introduction of Walmsley in place of the injured Sam Burgess is the only change to the side that lost 18-4 to the Kangaroos.
Ben Currie, who was a late addition to the side for Friday’s opening game, not only keeps his place in the matchday squad but will make his first start for his country, with Walmsley on the bench.