Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 3: Sione Faumuina

Sione Faumuina

Back again with another interview, this time with Sione Faumuina, a former Canberra Raider, New Zealand Warrior, Hull FC player, North Queensland Cowboy and Castleford Tiger. 

He spoke to us about his career, his autobiography, how he wants to change the lives of young people and other areas.

Sione Faumuina

1. Your rise from the junior system in Auckland into the NRL world was quite rapid; was it something you were expecting or was it a shock for you to play so early?
It was definitely a shock and happened very quickly. I went from playing in our local under 19 side then moving up to our reserves then senior side, making the Auckland rep team and NZ under 18 side. Before I knew it, I was turning up for pre-season training at the Raiders. All this happened within 8 months.

2. Your first-grade debut came with the Canberra Raiders; why Canberra and what was it like playing first-grade for the first time?
It was between the Roosters and Raiders and I chose the Raiders – sorry, my Mother chose the Raiders because they had a hostel which was run by a Samoan couple. The Roosters were going to put me in a house with other players and no adult supervision. My debut was made more memorable because it was against the Warriors in Auckland. My whole family and extended family showed for my debut and I’ll never forget that.

3. d had your most successful period as a player; what did it mean to you to return home and play for your hometown team?
Returning home was a blessing and a curse. My first year at the Warriors, I was in and out of first grade. I was more concerned with going out and having a good time with my mates then footy. My second year was a lot better as I knuckled down and really got stuck into training. Having my family around was a huge blessing but looking back, I was very selfish with some of the decisions I made.

4. By your own admission, you were not the player or the leader you wanted to be because of off-field indiscretions. Looking back, what would you have done differently and what would you tell your former young self?
Playing in the NRL is no easy feat and the profile that comes with it can be used to do great things. If I had my time again, I would have done a lot more community work. I would use my profile to add value to people and organisations. Being a positive role model is easy when you have core values and beliefs which I know I did, unfortunately when I consumed alcohol, that all went out the window. I would also start to create a life after football and also mentor young players that were coming through. “As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way”. I was given a great opportunity and I didn’t value it.

5. At what precise moment did you realise that you had to change your ways and become a better person and role model?
When I had my first child, suddenly it wasn’t about me anymore. I finally had a reason to change and the thought of my children reading about Dad and all the trouble he was in was scary. It’s been 7 years since I played and I’m using whatever profile I have left to be a role model now. Basically making up for what I should’ve done during my career.

6. You released your autobiography ‘The Second Phase’; what prompted you to release the book and what do you hope its release achieves?
The purpose was to get my message out and basically say, “hey, I really stuffed up but I’ve turned my life around. Here’s how I did it”. I wanted fans to see the other side of professional sport. Tell my side of the story and also share how I overcame my alcohol addiction. My mentor put it best when he said: “if we can’t help each other, what’s the point in gathering experiences”. Basically, I’m sharing my mistakes and the main message is that you don’t let your past dictate your future.

7. If you could give any budding rugby league player some advice, what would it be?
“No guarantees in professional sport” is what another mentor of mine would always say. Playing in the NRL is an opportunity, value it. The traits that rugby league teaches you can be applied to every aspect of your life. Stay grounded and work hard on and off the field and always remember that you are a reflection of your club, family but more importantly yourself. Be a pillar in your community and know that young people are looking up to you. Don’t look at being a role model as added pressure, look at it as an honour.

Facebook: @sionefaumuinaoffical.


Twitter: @sione_faumuina.

NRL Teams Rd 12

Well, if you can believe it, we are already at Rd 12. It’s the first of the major bye rounds and so just the eight teams play this week. A chance to make some ground in terms of goal difference or just points in general for the teams languishing at the bottom.

So, without waiting any longer, here are the teams for Rd 12 for the NRL Telstra Premiership:

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Parramatta Eels (#NRLsoupar); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Friday, May 26. Kick-off: 7:50 pm.

Rabbitohs: 1. Cody Walker 2. Alex Johnston 3. Bryson Goodwin 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Aaron Gray 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Robbie Farah 10. Robbie Rochow 11. Kyle Turner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess (C).

Interchange: 14. Damien Cook 15. Tyrell Fuimaono 16. Anthony Cherrington 17. George Burgess 18. Braidon Burns 19. Zane Musgrove 20. David Tyrrell 20. Cameron Murray.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Brad Takairangi 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Clint Gutherson 7. Mitch Moses 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown.

Interchange: 14. Beau Scott 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Kenny Edwards 17. Siosaia Vave 18. David Gower 19. Will Smith 20. Rory O’Brien 21. Nathan Davis.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

New Zealand Warriors v Brisbane Broncos (#NRLwarbri); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Saturday, May 27. Kick-off: 5:30 pm. 

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad 3. Blake Ayshford 4. David Fusitu’a 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. Sam Lisone 16. Albert Vete 17. Bunty Afoa 18. Tuimoala Lolohea 20. Toafofoa Sipley 21. Ligi Sao 22. Mason Lino.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Broncos: 1. Jordan Kahu 2. Jonus Pearson 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. David Mead 6. Benji Marshall 7. Ben Hunt 8. Herman Ese’ese 9. Travis Waddell 10. Adam Blair (C) 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jaydn Su’a 13. Korbin Sims.

Interchange: 14. George Fai 15. Joe Ofahangaue 16. Jai Arrow 17. Kodi Nikorima 18. Joe Boyce 19. Jamaayne Isaako 20. Tevita Pangai Jr. 21. Francis Molo.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Cronulla Sharks v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLcrocby); Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla; Saturday, May 27. Kick-off: 7:30 pm.

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Gerard Beale 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Edrick Lee 6. Fa’amanu Brown 7. Chad Townsend 8. Chris Heighington 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Sam Tagataese 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. Joseph Paulo 18. Kurt Dillon 19. Daniel Mortimer 20. Jesse Ramien 21. Briton Nikora.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Marcelo Montoya 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Kerrod Holland 6. Moses Mbye 7. Matt Frawley 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham (C) 11. Greg Eastwood 12. Adam Elliott 13. Danny Fualalo.

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Asipeli Fine 16. Francis Tualau 17. Craig Garvey 19. Andy Saunders 20. Reimis Smith 21. Renouf To’Omaga 23. Brad Abbey.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters (#NRLcansyd); GIO Stadium, Canberra. Sunday, May 28. Kick-off: 4 pm.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Iosia Soliola.

Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Luke Bateman 16. Clay Priest 17. Dunamis Lui 18. Dave Taylor 19. Scott Sorenson 20. Brent Naden 21. Lachlan Croker.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Roosters:  1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Mitch Aubusson 5. Joseph Manu 6. Connor Watson 7. Luke Keary 8. Jared Waera-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Kane Evans 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 13. Zane Tetevano.

Interchange: 14. Issac Liu 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Chris Smith 17. Mitch Cornish 18. Nat Butcher 19. Victor Radley 20. Eloni Vunakece 21. Brock Gray.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Signing boost for Raiders as Wighton re-signs

Jack Wighton

Since his move to fullback, he has become a focal point of the Raiders team as well as their attack and in news that will please the club’s fans, Jack Wighton has re-signed with the club until the 2020 season.

Since making his debut in 2012, he has gone on to play in more than 100 NRL games and will continue to add to that number.

Wighton is as green as they come and with such a good roster coming together, the culture and aim for a premiership is what spurred him on to stay.

“I’m very excited and very happy to stay here in Canberra with the Raiders and I know we’ve got a really strong team here and a great club,” Wighton said.

“We all want to work towards winning a premiership and I’m really looking forward to the next few seasons here.”

The Raiders have long been a team to pride themselves on the retention of their local juniors and CEO Dave Furner highlighted that when speaking of Wighton’s retention.

“Jack is an extremely talented player who is maturing into a very consistent and established NRL player,” said Furner.

“We’re very happy he’s decided to remain with the Raiders.

“He’s a big part of our plans as we build for the future and someone we believe is very important for our football club.”

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 2: Aaron Gorrell

Back again with part 2 of our NRL interview series and we had a chat with former St George Illawarra Dragons, Brisbane Broncos and Catalan Dragons hooker, Aaron Gorrell.

He spoke to us about his career, his post-playing days and why he went into coaching, so sit back, read and enjoy the ride!

Aaron Gorrell interview:

1. As a Wollongong local, did you always harbour an ambition to play for the St George Illawarra Dragons?
Growing up in Wollongong, I would go and sit on the hill and watch the Steelers. I was lucky enough to then play Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Flegg for them so, at that stage, that was what I always wanted to do. I always had a soft spot for the Dragons so it was easy once they merged!

2. Tell us about the match-winning conversion in round 15, 2006 against the Broncos. What was running through your head at the time with the game on the line?
As a goal kicker, it’s the moment you’ve always dreamt of especially at a ground like Suncorp with a big crowd against a team like the Broncos. I hadn’t had a shot that night – Matty Head had taken the previous shots. I was heading back and one of the trainers called me back saying the call had come down for me to take it. It was probably a blessing as I didn’t have too much time to over think it. To me, as soon as I kicked it, I thought it was going through!

3. After such a good start to your career at Catalans, you unfortunately injured your knee and missed the rest of the season; did you set any goals upon your return and what got you through the rehabilitation?
Yeah, it was very frustrating. Being at a new club and wanting to make a good impression. We had won our first two games, one of them Hull who were beaten in the grand final the year before and leading Leeds by 40 when it happened. It was tough – probably the toughest few months of my career. Trying to be part of a new club in a new country. I was doing everything I could to try and get back on the field.

4.  What were the reasons behind your NRL return in 2009 with the Brisbane Broncos?
I had a third-year option at Catalans and was more than happy to stay. It’s a great club and great supporters, not to mention an amazing part of the world to live in. While we were sorting that out, the Broncos option came up and I thought the opportunity to play for a club like the Broncos was too good to pass up.

5. You took a step away from professional rugby league to take up the coaching role at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos; how has that experience been so far?
Yes, I always wanted to coach and my body wasn’t handling the full-time training. So when I was approached by the Queanbeyan Kangaroos, I jumped at it. They were a club that had a lot of success but hadn’t won a Comp in 30 years so I thought it was a good challenge. We won the 1st two years – 2010 and 11 – got beat in the GF in 2012 and won again in 2013. We made the semis 2014 and final 2015. 2016 was very disappointing. We lost round 1 and went the rest of the year undefeated. We led the GF until the last minute and got beaten by a penalty goal . I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully we can win another this year!

6.  In addition to that, has coaching always been an avenue you have wanted to pursue post-footy?
I’ve loved coaching so far and I’d love an opportunity if one pops up. There’s nothing better than seeing someone learn something from you or helping them achieve what they have been working towards.

7. Looking back on your career, what was your career highlight?
There are a few and all for different reasons. Obviously, your debut will always be special. Playing for the Junior Kangaroos was special. I think no matter what level, pulling on your countries jumper will always be special. The kick in Brisbane. The 1st grand final at the Queanbeyan Kangaroos is up there, too. Only a few years before they were getting beat by 100, so to see how much it meant to the players and supporters that were there through the tough times was amazing!

8. If you could give one piece of advice to young, budding rugby league players, what would it be?
Train hard, listen and never stop learning. You can learn something from everyone!

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 1: Kevin Campion

Kevin Campion

Every rugby league fan has their favourite players, their favourite teams and their favourite moments; but have you ever taken a step back and wondered what former rugby league players are up to post-footy?

After a fantastic suggestion to us by a user on Twitter, we made a decision to get in touch with former players and talk to them about their careers, their highlights, their adventures and their memories, as well as advice they would have for budding rugby league players.

In the first part of our new interview series, we had a chat with Kevin Campion, a premiership winner with the Brisbane Broncos, as well as stints with the Gold Coast Seagulls, the St George Dragons, the Adelaide Rams, the New Zealand Warriors & the North Queensland Cowboys.

If you happen to be a fan of those teams, enjoy the read and the interview. Even if you’re not, just enjoy the interview anyway and plenty more to come.

Kevin Campion Interview:

1. What are your earliest memories of rugby league growing up?
Mostly going to the Mackay showgrounds and watching dad play. I distinctly remember the smell of liniment from the old sheds and playing footy with all my mates on the dog track that circled the main field with anything that resembled a ball.

2. Throughout your career, you played for 6 different teams; which team did you feel most at home with?
The Broncos. I remember telling Wayne that I wanted to become part of the Broncos Family when I arrived. I loved the place.

3.  In your first year with the Broncos, you won a grand final and scored a try in that game; what was it like to get your hands on the grand final trophy among your team-mates?
It was an amazing experience. To be part of arguably one of the greatest grand final teams of all time is something kids from North Queensland can only dream of.  

4. Born in Sarina and growing up with rugby league in Queensland, was it always a goal of yours to play Origin? When you did, what were your thoughts of it and does it differ from regular club games?
I think it’s every young player who loves the game of rugby league, their dream is to play Origin and it was no different for me. When I finally got my chance, I knew it was a different beast to a club game. The speed and intensity without any room for mistakes are the difference and throw in the pressure from the whole State needing a win.

5. At the 2000 World Cup, you were given the opportunity to represent Ireland; talk to us about that experience and what your Irish heritage means to you.
Yes, my ancestors are from Dublin and when the opportunity presented itself, I thought what a fantastic experience that shouldn’t be passed up and it didn’t disappoint. We were the first Ireland side to make the quarter-finals of a rugby league World Cup and we were just pipped by our arch enemies England by a small margin.

6. Post-footy, how have you been keeping yourself busy and are you still up-to-date with the game at present?
Yes, I am still involved and have recently taken up a mentoring role with the ISC Tweed Heads Seagulls. Loving it.

7. If you could give any young, budding player advice, what would it be?
You are going to have a once in a lifetime experience but if you are not prepared to sacrifice everything in your life for this experience and be prepared for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, then this ride may not be the ride for you.

Sharks strengthen back-line stocks with signing of Dugan

Josh Dugan

As much as the St George Illawarra Dragons wanted to retain him, Josh Dugan had other ideas, as the utility back has signed a four-year deal with arch rivals, the Cronulla Sharks.

The nine-time NSW representative and seven-time Australian representative will be at the Sharks until the end of the 2021 season.

Regarded as one of the leading outside backs in the game, Dugan heads to the Shire with a lot of expectation as coach Shane Flanagan backs the signing and backs Dugan to perform at a high level for the duration.

“Josh will bring quality and experience to our backline next year and to sign the current Origin and Australian Test centre is a major coup for the club and for our future,” Flanagan said.

“We have a number of exciting young backs coming through our grades and Josh’s experience will be invaluable in helping with their continued development.

Josh has just turned 27 and I am confident his best football is still ahead of him.osh has just turned 27 and I am confident his best football is still ahead of him.”

The added utility value gives Flanagan some options and he said that Dugan is looking forward to playing with his new club in 2018.

“He is looking forward to being part of the development of players such as Val Holmes and as to where he might play for next year, quite simply he is the current Test right centre and who can also play fullback which is a bonus for our club,” Flanagan added.

Equally pleased to have him is current Sharks captain Paul Gallen, who has played alongside Dugan in the representative arena.

“We are wrapped to have him,” Gallen said. “I’ve been lucky enough to play rep footy with Josh over the years and he is a good guy and an outstanding team player.

I’ve been lucky enough to play rep footy with Josh over the years and he is a good guy and an outstanding team player.

“He is going to be an enormous boost to our team and Josh will be a great benefit to the club.”


Townsville’s favourite son signs on for one more year

Johnathan Thurston

Without question, he is the greatest player to have ever donned the North Queensland Cowboys jersey and in a move that will please even the most ardent of fans, veteran play-maker Johnathan Thurston will play on in 2018.

Re-signing with the club late yesterday, Thurston never had any plans to finish his career at a different club.

“It’s a real joy to be able to say I’ll be continuing on with the Cowboys in NRL season 2018,” Thurston said.

“This club has given me so much over my 13 years here. I’ve played alongside some great talents, worked with amazing people and shared in phenomenal successes.

“It’s been a real privilege to be associated with the North Queensland Cowboys and now that the deal is done, I can concentrate on my footy and helping my teammates on and off the field.”

A man that gets the best out of his team-mates both on and off the field, Thurston has been revered for his sportsmanship, his teamwork and his kindness.

The above traits, coupled with his sublime on-field ability and game awareness, have all helped him throughout his career in the eyes of Cowboys coach, Paul Green.

“Johnathan’s a class act, is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve seen play rugby league and to have him see out his career here is wonderful news and a credit to all involved,” Green said.

“He’s developed into a true leader in that he leads by example. He’s always a pleasure to coach and he’s a true mentor for our younger guys coming through.”

Joining the Cowboys in 2005 after he won a premiership with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2004, even he would admit that the early going was tough as the Townsville club were still finding their feet.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, though, Thurston performed brilliantly and consistently, leading to a maiden premiership for the Cowboys in 2015.

That, coupled with a litany of appearances for both the Queensland Maroons and the Australian Kangaroos, and it is easy to see why so many believe Johnathan Thurston is currently the game’s best player.

It is no secret that the club themselves are ecstatic to have retained Thurston for a further season.

“The Cowboys are overall a better club because of Johnathan Thurston’s long association,” said Peter Parr, the Cowboys General Manager of Football.

“He came here for any opportunity to play regular first grade, which he received, and he’s given that faith back many times over.

“We’re thrilled he’s to remain a Cowboy into next season.”

Fringe Eels forward joins Super League side Salford

James Hasson

James Hasson was not without a club for long, signing with Super League outfit Salford Devils with immediate effect.

Recently released from his playing contract by the Parramatta Eels, Hasson was previously a member of the Manly Sea Eagles side and a part of their 2013 NRL grand final squad.

Making 40 appearances in total in the NRL, Hasson will provide the Salford team and forward pack with some international experience, having represented Ireland on numerous occasions.

Hasson drew praise from Salford coach Ian Watson who believes that the utility forward will be able to make an impact for the team.

“James is a player that adds some real competitiveness to our squad. We’ve had some injuries to our middles with Adam Walne and George Griffin, and James is exactly the kind of player that can step into that role. His NRL experience with Manly and Parramatta will be invaluable.

“James is a tough, no-nonsense player who runs hard and direct lines but also has the ability to play a good offload game. His defence is first-rate and he is a good fit for our style of play.

“His attitude and desire to come on board with us has been superb, and I’m sure he will slot straight into the playing group over the coming weeks.”

Club CEO Ian Blease is also pleased to see Hasson at the club.

“James is a player that brings a lot to the table both on and off the field,” Blease said.

“He has bought into the culture that Ian Watson is building here and has the talents to have a big impact on the second half of the season as we look to keep our place in the top four.”

The short statement from the Eels regarding Hasson’s release was as follows:

“Parramatta Eels have released James Hasson, effective immediately.

The English-born prop forward made his NRL debut for Manly in 2013, before joining Parramatta in 2016.

Parramatta Eels thank James for his contribution to our Club and wish him all the best for the future.”

Lengthy saga ends as Tigers release Moses to Eels effective immediately

Mitch Moses

For months, everyone thought ‘will he or won’t he?’ That was the big question on everyone’s mind and after asking for a release, the Wests Tigers have finally granted Mitch Moses his wish to join the Parramatta Eels on a long-term deal.

The move comes at a perfect time for the Eels who will be missing Corey Norman for several weeks, with Moses expected to slot straight into the halves.

Once upon a time, Mitchell Moses was actually involved in the Parramatta system before opting to depart to search for greener pastures that led to his first-grade debut at the Tigers.

Head coach Brad Arthur is pleased to see Moses back at the club where he started, given the importance the Eels place on junior retention.

“It’s good to be welcoming back one of our junior players. Mitchell is a quality player and I believe he will be a good acquisition to our squad for 2017 onwards,” said Head Coach Brad Arthur.

The Tigers issued a short, brief statement confirming the release of Moses to the Eels.

“Wests Tigers have today released Mitchell Moses from the remainder of his playing contract, effective immediately.

Mitchell has played 67 NRL games for Wests Tigers since making his debut in 2014.

Wests Tigers thank Mitchell for his contribution while at the Club and wish him well in the future.”


Cowboys re-signing spree continues as Asiata commits to a new deal

John Asiata

Not a team to let their major players leave, the North Queensland Cowboys have re-signed key utility John Asiata despite overtures from rival clubs.

The new deal will see the utility stay on with the Cowboys until the end of the 2020 season.

Filling in at prop, back-row, lock and even halfback so far this season due to injuries, Asiata has impressed coach Paul Green and Cowboys fans consistently and is a fan favourite of many as a result.

Joining the club several years ago having previously played U20’s for the Sydney Roosters, Asiata is pleased to have his future sorted and wants to continue to play well and perform this year and in the future.

“I’ve loved every minute of my time at the Cowboys and am jumping out of my skin at what lies ahead,” Asiata said.

“All the coaches, the high-performance unit, the wider club, and of course our amazing members and fans have all combined to make my North Queensland experience truly memorable.

“I look forward to giving back by playing some good footy for the remainder of 2017 and into the future.”

Having also represented Samoa, the future for Asiata is bright and his utility value as well as his general play, are two traits that the club relish about him.

“John’s a quality footballer and a quality young man, attributes highly valued at the Cowboys,” said General Manager – Football Peter Parr.

“He was a key member of our premiership side in 2015 and since then has continued to work hard to improve his game.”

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