George Williams column: England & Canberra half-back on the NRL's early weeks

George Williams

With the Rugby League World Cup taking place in England this autumn, and Australia's National Rugby League featuring some of the cream of English talent, England and Canberra half-back George Williams will be updating BBC Sport on life and rugby 'down under' throughout the 2021 season.

It's been a good start to the season for the Canberra Raiders, although we lost for the first time at the weekend against the New Zealand Warriors.

We lost a lot of troops early on with Ryan James, Sebastian Kris and Joseph Tapine all going off, so we had 14 men with 65 minutes to go and at this level and intensity, it's hard to do that.

The Warriors are that big a team you need to keep using your interchanges and freshen it up, the big bodies take it out of you.

I'm only 90kg but there are a few 120kg blokes knocking about and it's not good for me.

As well as we played in the first-half building up a 25-6 lead, we were just hanging on second-half and were edged 34-31 in the end.

Before that, we beat Wests Tigers in round one, and then had a nail-biter against Cronulla which was in a nice bit of "English" weather - wet weather.

As for me, I've been doing alright, I got off the 'nudie run' at the weekend with my first try of the season. It's a tradition in rugby league that anyone who doesn't score a try all season has to do a bit of a streak.

Big boppers turning up

Ryan Sutton
Ryan Sutton scored a try for Canberra in their 31-34 loss to New Zealand Warriors

Our middles did a terrific job in the Warriors loss - my mate Ryan Sutton in particular had an outstanding game and came in with 24 carries, 51 tackles and a try.

Sutty's going really good. He's gone to a new level, I always rated him at Wigan but he's definitely gone up a gear this season.

His body shape is changing, we used to joke that at Wigan he'd sit and eat cakes on the couch but he's got more professional these days. He's all organic now.

NRL affected by Covid-19 cases

Literally this week we've had a bit of a dilemma, we were supposed to play in the Gold Coast this weekend but Queensland has had a few community cases so there's been a change.

The NRL, for us guys, has changed the protocols from level one which is normal to level two. Level four was the 'bubble' last year.

Not much has changed for clubs outside of Queensland. We just have to wear masks if we're inside a cafe or a shopping centre. It's nothing too major at the moment.

The Queensland-based teams have all relocated to Sydney, so we'll play our 'away' match against the Titans at Kograh.

It's a shame for us because my missus was going to fly up to Gold Coast and we were going to spend an extra night there after the game. Covid has hit us at the wrong time, but we'll get another chance.

A little taste of home life

Classic barbecue
A barbecue is among George Williams' culinary specialities

One thing my missus doesn't like about me is I can't cook. The best I can do is a barbecue, which we had tonight actually. So I'm in the good books.

Nothing special, just a few steaks and a few chicken wings, and we had some lamb kebabs today which were pretty good. It's easy.

We like to go out to restaurants too, when we can.

I need a series to watch, my missus has got me watching all sorts. She likes thrillers, but I'm a bit of a softie when it comes to films, I don't really like stuff like that.

One thing my missus misses is the reality TV rubbish in England. She's gutted she can't get 'First Dates' or 'Celebs Go Dating'.

Wired after games

During the season it's hard to switch off from the game. There's always something coming up. The season is different mentally than it is physically.

I struggle to sleep after games as well, especially the night games. If we kick off at 8pm or 7pm whatever, I probably won't get to sleep until three or four in the morning.

Speaking to the boys, a lot of them have the same problem. It must be the high of playing or adrenaline.

Your body is sore, you feel knackered but you can't switch off. Your mind starts ticking.

Old pals and a young gun

Harry Smith
Harry Smith is the latest young half-back to emerge at Wigan

It was good to see John Bateman back in action for Wigan against Leigh. I had friends on both sides. Lewis Tierney who is my best mate plays for Leigh while I've got lots of mates at Wigan, so I didn't know who I was cheering for, I was in between.

I saw Harry Smith's interview after the game on Twitter. The one where he swore by mistake.

I can see how it happens. Sometimes you obviously have to think about what you're saying. On the pitch, when everyone's swearing, you're saying what you want. It comes out. It's trying to forget you're not playing.

You can tell the lads don't mean it. The minute they say it their faces drop. It's not like they're doing it maliciously.

Young Harry's going well too, he's a good little player. But that'll stick with him for a good few years now.

George Williams was speaking to BBC Sport's Matt Newsum.

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