Roosters beat St Helens to register back-to-back World Club Challenge titles

Sydney Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary

Asserting their recent dominance further, the Sydney Roosters won another World Club Challenge, their second in a row.

Some early penalties against the Roosters and a poor start gave St Helens the momentum they needed.

It was NRL bound prop Luke Thompson who scored the first try after good lead-up play from halfback Theo Fages.

Two quick tries in succession for the Roosters saw them take the lead and go up 8-6.

A well-constructed shortside play saw Luke Keary provide the ball on a platter for winger Daniel Tupou.

Kyle Flanagan then turned provider for the second try to find Joseph Manu for his first, giving the Roosters a narrow lead.

Some resolute defence from both sides coupled with errors saw ample opportunities to score but they were denied.

In the end, it was Manu’s second try that most likely sealed the win for the Roosters.

His second was the more impressive as he took the line on and carried defenders over the line to score.

The icing on the cake then came when Victor Radley & Sio Siua Taukeiaho combined for Keary to score.

There was a final consolation for St Helens, though, as Alex Walmsley scored late on but it was too little, too late.

“We knew we were chasing a bit of history with the two in a row,” said Keary.

“I think five for the Roosters, so this one was pretty special for us.

“It definitely wasn’t give to us. We were basically on the back foot for that entire second half.”

Saints head coach Kristian Woolf was pleased with his side’s effort but rued missed opportunities.

“Very proud of the effort,” said Woolf.

“For long periods of that game, I thought we were well on top physically.

“We created a lot of good opportunities and were good defensively, but when we had those opportunities, we just didn’t ice a couple of them tonight.”

Smith shines as Maori All-Stars defeat Indigenous side

Maori All-Stars hooker Brandon Smith

With culture and heritage on full display, it was a masterclass from Brandon Smith that got the Maori All-Stars over the line. 

His hard-running style proved too much for the Indigenous side, as he single-handedly carved them up.

Playing understudy to veteran hooker Cameron Smith at the Storm, many have known of Brandon’s ability for several years.

As Smith shone, the game itself was filled with raw emotion and vigour.

The game meant a lot to both sides and it showed as they turned up to play, ready to win.

The Maori side would strike first as a swift back-line play saw Dallin Watene-Zelenziak score in the corner.

The Canterbury Bulldogs winger would later leave the field with a back hematoma injury.

Hitting back soon after, the Indigenous side scored through Josh Curran. After a powerful burst by Josh Kerr, a quick offload found Curran who scored near the posts.

Not to be outdone in the first half, the Maori side would again score and take the lead.

This time, it was Kodi Nikorima  who showed his skills to dart through the line to score.

On the stroke of half-time (or, the end of the second quarter), it was Blake Ferguson who continued his strong pre-season with a try of his own for the Indigenous side.

They would soon extend their lead in the second half, when David Fifita made a break down the right flank.

He found James Roberts who showed blinding pace to fly past everyone else and score an easy try by his standards.

As the game wore on, the Indigenous side dug deep, clinging to a narrow margin.

The Maori side needed someone to step up and it was Smith who did so.

Running at pace, he tore through some previously resolute Indigenous defence and scored his first try.

Smith would have a second try disallowed rather contentiously for a double movement but he would not be denied again.

With the game in the balance, Smith darted over, confusing the defenders and scoring his second in the process.

To rub salt into the wound, Dylan Walker scored another late try for Maori side.

But, in the end, it was Smith’s night. A masterclass from a player who proved he is ready to step into the starting spot.

To make matters worse for the Indigenous side and some clubs, was the injuries sustained.

On top of Zelezniak’s back injury, Chris Smith left the field with an ACL injury, Josh Kerr ended the game in a leg brace and Tyrone Roberts also left the field.

“I thought he was going really well too Smithy,” Daley said.

If it is an ACL which they think it might be, he’s out of the year and after putting in all the hard work it is just disappointing.”

“Whether it is one of these games or at training you can always get an injury and he’s just unlucky.

“We got a lot of injuries towards the end and lost a lot of troops. Losing Tyrone, we didn’t really have a strong number seven.”

Smith’s performance drew praise from Maori coach David Kidwell and deservedly so.

“He just keeps surprising, he just keeps going,” Kidwell said.

“We were actually going to take him off for a second but lucky we made the decision to leave him out there.

“It’s not a fluke that he does that, he does it for club football too. He just elevated himself to another level.”

Matt Lodge injury: NRL, SuperCoach ramifications

Brisbane Broncos prop Matt Lodge

Matt Lodge will reportedly miss a large chunk of the NRL season after suffering a partial tear to his ACL at training on Wednesday.

The blow to the key Broncos forward will have enormous SuperCoach ramifications on the entire pack.

It’s expected to solidify the minutes of a number of men, while opportunities should open up for others.

Obviously there will be a serious watch on the Brisbane trials as well as any word out of Red Hill from Anthony Seibold.

While plenty of uncertainty remains, here’s how we see Brisbane’s pack being impacted.

MATT LODGE

Firstly, what void will be left by Lodge?

Lodge averaged 57 minutes per game last season, while Seibold was happy to play his starting prop in excess of 60 minutes on many occasions.

Seibold has a preference for playing his best players, and props, for increased minutes should they be able to churn them out.

Therefore, it’s unlikely the man considered a club leader would’ve seen a regression in game time in 2020.

Brisbane Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jr.

TEVITA PANGAI JNR

TPJ may come into major consideration as a result of the injury.

With David Fifita locked into one edge role, TPJ was vying for the starting role with veteran Alex Glenn.

TPJ recently stated his preference to play in the back-row rather than the middle.

Basically, Seibold now must decide if he moves Joe Ofahengaue to prop (he started the first six rounds there in 2020), to allow TPJ to start at lock.

It seems logical, although he has plenty of options in the pack to promote to the starting prop role.

It’s likely we’ll see the Tongan international start on an edge then shift to the middle at stages throughout the match.

TPJ averaged 60MPG last season, so there now appears, fitness pending, an opportunity for increased game time.

With dual FRF/2RF status at an affordable $540,600k, he now warrants consideration as a result of the injury.

Brisbane Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue

JOE OFAHENGAUE

Starting lock role or not, Ofa was fairly irrelevant prior to Lodge’s injury due to the masses of front-row options in the side. Now, he’s worth some consideration.

He scored at an impressive 1.12PPM last season for an average of 48PPG in 43MPG.

This should see a fairly significant rise in game time for the middle man, perhaps 5-15 minutes, but it’s hard to know at this early stage.

Ofa is awkwardly priced at $449,500, so there’s obvious risk, but not without upside.

Brisbane Broncos prop Payne Haas

PAYNE HAAS

We won’t waste much time here, Haas was already in just about every side to start the year regardless.

It simply solidifies the fact he’ll maintain his 64MPG average from 2019, which is reassuring when you’re forking out $728k for a young bloke in his second serious year in the NRL.

DAVID FIFITA

Again, keeping it short.

Any doubts over Fifita’s 80-minute role should now be put to rest.

Brisbane Broncos back-rower David Fifita

With TPJ likely in line to spend time in the middle, Fifita shouldn’t be taking a sit at any stage.

THOMAS FLEGLER AND PATRICK CARRIGAN

Both men look to be the major benefactors of the injury to Lodge.

They should both receive increased game time, while one of the two could start at prop should Seibold opt to keep Ofahengaue at lock.

Flegler ($294,900) averaged 32MPG in his debut NRL season, while Carrigan ($326,300) averaged 34MPG.

Both players scored at a tick over 1PPM.

THE VERDICT

It’s hard to assess at this early stage, but we can only have a crack.

The easy option out of this for Seibold is to start captain Alex Glenn in the back-row, TPJ at lock and Ofahengaue at prop.

This may well be his decision, but let’s say TPJ stays on an edge with Joe O remaining at lock which is also a very viable solution.

This would open up a starting prop role, which would fall to either of the rookies in Carrigan or Flegler.

Carrigan is extremely highly regarded at Brisbane, but he’s not as big a body as Flegler.

Young Brisbane Broncos prop Thomas Flegler

Seibold will probably want to replace size with size, so Flegler probably starts.

Regardless of who is chosen, both Carrigan and Flegler would both likely play a minimum of 10-15 minutes extra.

TPJ may get an extra 5-10 minutes, although if his body holds up he could be in line for a serious increase.

Even if starting on an edge, it looks as though he’ll have to spend time in the middle to cover the minutes lost by Lodge.

Ofahengaue should also play an additional 10-15 minutes to help fill the void.

Regardless of who comes onto the bench remains fairly SuperCoach irrelevant as it’s hard to see them gaining enough minutes to earn any decent cash.

Keep an eye out for extremely highly regarded young Broncos prop (yep, another one), Ethan Bullemor.

Shaun Johnson: Player in Focus (Supercoach)

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

Cronulla playmaker Shaun Johnson looms as one of the most intriguing and important selection decisions to begin the SuperCoach season.

Johnson’s enormous ceiling could make-or-break the early stages of the year, particularly should the likes of Mitchell Moses and Nathan Cleary falter around him.

While he’ll be popular for many, a large number of SuperCoaches have placed the flamboyant Sharks five-eighth on their ‘never again’ list as a result of his injury.

With the amount at stake on the decision, we’re taking a deep dive into whether or not Johnson is worth taking the gamble on to start 2020.

After being a standout halves option in past seasons, SJ came back to the pack in 2018 and 2019 with respectable averages of 64 and 63PPG.

Despite numerous injuries, he still managed to average 80 and 76MPG in each season, thus meaning his scores haven’t been too effected by the injuries (at least in regards to overall game time).

Johnson has played over 18 games in a season just once in the past five years (2016).

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

His base of just 18BPG is underwhelming, however, it’s been heavily impacted by a reduced running game while playing without full fitness.

Many fans fail to appreciate the difficulty in moving to a new club for playmakers, in particular key halves such as Johnson.

The greatest combinations in rugby league history struggled at times in their early formation.

Most recently, the new-look Roosters spine back in 2018 of James Tedesco, Cooper Cronk, Luke Keary and Jake Friend.

Tedesco that season averaged 63PPG in the opening 15 rounds, then finished the season with an average 96PPG in his final seven games once finding his mojo alongside his new combination.

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

That’s not to say SJ matches Tedesco’s following season exploits; simply that the improvement should come naturally.

It took the star quartet several months to hit their straps on field and in SuperCoach scoring.

With a full season in the Shire behind him, Johnson will be far more at home with the men around him.

In validation, when seemingly back to full fitness at the back end of 2019, Johnson went on an absolute tear.

He averaged 80PPG in the final eight games of the season.

Vital to his SuperCoach selection in 2020 will be the fact he’s available as a dual HFB-5/8.

Dual positioning has been cut down across the game this season.

Many of his main halves rivals including Cleary, Moses, Cody Walker, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster have been locked into their sole positions.

Never underestimate the value of dual position status, particularly to begin this season with many having Raiders recruit George Williams in their side – also a dual HFB-5/8.

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

A serious downside to his selection is Cronulla’s brutal opening fixtures.

The Sharks face the Rabbitohs, Storm, Knights, Bulldogs, Roosters and Broncos in their opening six weeks.

Read into that as you will…

Furthermore, with Shark Park’s redevelopment he won’t be playing at his regular home ground throughout the season, with the club to play home games at Jubilee Oval.

It should also be noted Cronulla have the bye in Round 12, so SJ won’t be available for the first major bye week.

As for his current health?

Johnson appeared very open and honest in a recent interview where he declared his body was ‘too weak’ for the rigours of the NRL in 2019.

He returned to training almost immediately after his New Zealand Test campaign at the end of the year.

Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson

He believes his body is far stronger than it has been in the past in preparation for 2020.

It’s hard to read into too many pre-season comments, but Johnson is one of the more forward NRL players when speaking, and he seems bullish about his fitness levels.

New long-term Raiders contract for Wighton

Canberra Raiders utility Jack Wighton

Reportedly turning down more money to stay, Jack Wighton has signed a new long-term deal with the Canberra Raiders. 

The new deal will see Wighton remain at the club he knows and loves until the end of the 2024 season.

Since making his Raiders debut in 2012, Wighton has played in 156 NRL games.

2019 was a year to remember for Wighton, as the Raiders utility played for both NSW and Australia.

After their grand final appearance in 2019, Wighton wants to help the Raiders go one better in 2020.

“I want to win a competition with the Raiders,” Wighton said.

“I know we have the squad to do it and if we can stay together and continue what we’ve built we’ll be able to achieve our goal.”

The Raiders club is what Wighton has known since he was a kid and he wants to repay the faith to them.

“I love the club,” Wighton said.

“They’ve always been there for me and I want to repay them by staying and playing the best footy I can to be successful.”

The Raiders club were not resting on their laurels, knowing how important the re-signing of Wighton was.

“Jack has been with the club since he was a junior and this deal will see him become a 10-year player at first grade level, which in this era is a significant achievement,” club CEO Don Furner said.

“It’s also worth noting that during the negotiations Jack’s decision to re-sign was based mainly on future success, which shows the belief he has in the club moving forward.”

Furner continued to praise Wighton on his decision.

“Jack could have earnt more money by signing with another club but sacrificed that against what we have here in Canberra,” Furner continued.

“He took much less money to stay and that says a lot about Jack and his stability here.”

NRL second year syndrome and the Supercoach effect

Canberra Raiders back-rower John Bateman

So you’ve heard of second-year syndrome in the NRL.

The theory that the first year a gun rookie is exposed to the NRL they are new and catch teams and coaches off guard.

But come the second season, the team of coaches from all clubs have fully analysed their game.

That they have coached their players in ways to negate the strengths of the gun rookie resulting in a drop in performance.

Well, today we’re going to look at the theory in a SuperCoach light.

To do this properly, firstly, we have to look back a bit before we look forward.

Please note some of the players we are looking at below may have made their debuts earlier but for the purposes of this SuperCoach analysis we are looking at the first year they became relevant SuperCoach guns.

Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga

Then we will analyse how they fared in their second year.

So, as an experiment, we have picked six of the best SuperCoach breakout players in 2017 and 2018 to see how they performed the following year.

Below are the breakout stars of 2018 and how they fared in 2019.

Player 2018 SC points 2018 SC Avg. 2019 SC points 2019 SC Avg. SC Avg. +/-
Kalyn Ponga 1313 66 1365 68 +2
Jamayne Isaako 1337 56 949 45 -11
Jai Arrow 1352 64 1053 62 -2
Matt Lodge 1269 53 1315 63 +10
Shaun Lane 1303 54 1286 56 +2
Reimis Smith 573 52 848 37 -15

To note:

– For Ponga, an increase in SuperCoach points from goal-kicking helped him slightly better his average PPG despite the failed five-eighth experiment early in the season.

– Isaako was the opposite with a significant decrease in SuperCoach points from goals.
He dropped from scoring 15.7PPG for goal kicks in 2018 to 9.4PPG in 2019.

– Matt Lodge’s increased role and minutes clearly had a lot to do with his improved average.

Brisbane Broncos prop Matt Lodge

– Reimis Smith dropped significantly which is probably consistent with the erratic nature of the CTW position for most players.

Below are the breakout stars of 2017 and how they fared in 2018.

Players 2017 SC points 2017 SC Ave. 2018 SC points 2018 SC Ave. SC Ave. +/-
Angus Crichton 1510 69 1521 69 0
Esan Marsters 693 53 1458 61 +8
Coen Hess 1331 58 1345 58 0
Nick Cotric 1189 50 1157 48 -2
Lachlan Fitzgibbon 807 58 1293 62 +4
Dylan Edwards 806 58 405 51 -7
Matt Eisenhuth 623 57 1297 54 -3

To note:

– Esan Marsters gained the goal-kicking duties for the Tigers in 2018 hence the sharp increase in average.

Former Wests Tigers centre Esan Marsters

IN SUMMARY

So what can we deduce from the two samples?

It’s hard to get anything conclusive out of the data. There was no major correlation in why scores differentiated.

The main note to be taken when considering boom rookies from the prior season is that forwards will naturally be more likely to gain an increase in minutes than their backline counterparts.

A likely increase or similar minutes means forwards are the safest options if concern arises over second year syndrome.

Of the seven forwards listed, just two (Eisenhuth and Arrow) produced smaller averages, both by minor margins.

Casting aside players who averaged around 80 minutes last season (Nikora, Bateman), this would suggest the likes of Luke Garner, Payne Haas, Cameron Murray and David Fifita are most likely set for SuperCoach improvement.

Brisbane Broncos back-rower David Fifita

Backs are already playing the full 80, and if they’ve had stats to propel them to the top of SuperCoach charts, they are far more likely to struggle to attain similar numbers.

Edwards, Isaako and Smith all experienced significant drops having been unable to back up their previous season’s exploits.

All in all, second-year syndrome impacts backs greater than forwards, but not significantly enough to suggest it should be a major concern when selecting your team.

 

Knight signs new Rabbitohs deal

South Sydney Rabbitohs prop Liam Knight

On the back of a good start to his South Sydney Rabbitohs career, Liam Knight has signed a new long-term deal at the club.

That deal runs until 2023 and gives Knight some much needed stability.

Since making his debut for rivals Manly in 2016, Knight has played in 33 NRL games.

For Knight himself, the Rabbitohs have become his home and he looks forward to the challenges ahead.

“I absolutely love this club, the playing group and the coaching staff. It was impossible for me to leave,” Knight said.

“We have unfinished business here after the way last season ended in the Preliminary Final.”
Knight is grateful for the support of the club and fans and cannot wait to rip in.

“I’m really grateful for the trust and support the Club and the Members have shown in me and I want to give that trust and support back,” Knight continued.

“I’m really excited about the future and it’s great to know my future is at Souths.”

Just as pleased are the Rabbitohs themselves as General Manager of Football Shane Richardson expressed.

“We’re very pleased to have Liam re-sign with us for three more years and we look forward to him being one of our forward leaders for years to come,” Mr Richardson said.

“Our coaching staff have done a great job to develop him and his game over the past year and we know he still has his best football in front of him.”

2020 NRL Perth Nines

Well, they are back! Correct, it’s the NRL Nines with a new format and a women’s competition. 

All 16 teams in the men’s competition and four teams in the women’s comp vying for supremacy and early silverware.

The Nines will take place in Perth this time around in what should be a cracking tournament.

We will have all teams and bases covered for you as teams are announced whether in full or player by player.

Let us hesitate no further, here are the players for the men’s and women’s tournaments:

Men’s Competition

Brisbane Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Tesi Niu 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Izaia Perese 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Tom Dearden 9. David Fifita 10. Alex Glenn 11. Payne Haas 12. Ethan Bullemor 13. Jake Turpin 14. Cory Paix 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Jesse Arthars 17. Ilikena Vudogo 18. Corey Parker. 

Canberra Raiders: 1. Harley Smith-Shields 2. Semi Valemei 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Michael Oldfield 5. Daine Spencer 6. Matthew Frawley 7. Sam Williams 8. Dunamis Lui 9. Siliva Havili 10. Sia Soliola 11. Jack Murchie 12. Elliott Whitehead (C) 13. Ryan Sutton 14. Tom Starling 15. Duwayne Mariner 16. Dan Keir 17. Kai O’Donnell 18. Darby Medlyn. 
Coach: Andrew McFadden.

Canterbury Bulldogs: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Jayden Okunbor 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Morgan Harper 5. Jack Cogger 6. Jake Averillo 7. Brandon Wakeham 8. Dean Britt 9. Ben Marschke 10. Ofahiki Ogden 11. Corey Harawira-Naerea 12. Chris Smith 13. Joe Stimson 14. Andrew Ryan 15. Kayne Kalache 16. Toa Mata’afa 17. Isaiah Tass 19. Bailey Biondi-Odo. 
Coach: Dean Pay.

Cronulla Sharks: 1. Wade Graham (C) 2. Briton Nikora 3. Jack Williams 4. Aaron Woods 5. Blayke Brailey 6. Josh Morris 7. Jesse Ramien 8. Chad Townsend 9. Shaun Johnson 10. Ronaldo Mulitalo 11. William Kennedy 12. Sione Katoa 13. Connor Tracey 14. Billy Magoulias 15. Toby Rudolf 16. Scott Sorenson 17. Teig Wilton 18. Braydon Trindall.
Coach: John Morris.

Gold Coast Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Jonus Pearson 4. Philip Sami 6. Tanah Boyd 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jai Whitbread 9. Mitch Rein 10. Sam Stone 11. Bryce Cartwight 12. Jaimin Joliffe 13. Jai Arrow 14. Greg Leleisiuao 15. Treymain Spry 16. Erin Clark 17. Darius Farmer 18. Michael Gordon. 
Coach: Justin Holbrook.

Parramatta Eels: Blake Ferguson,  Brad Takairangi, Clint Gutherson (C), David Gower, George Jennings, Haze Dunster, Jaeman Salmon, Junior Paulo, Maika Sivo, Marata Niukore, Mitch Moses, Oregon Kaufusi, Ray Stone, Rhys Davies, Ryan Matterson, Shaun Lane, Stefano Utoikamanu & Will Smith. 
Coach: Brad Arthur.

Manly Sea Eagles: 1. Luke Metcalf 2. Edwin Ipape 3. Zach Dockar-Clay 4. Brendan Elliot 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Cade Cust 8. Tevita Funa 9. Toafofoa Sipley 10. Abbas Miski 11. Corey Waddell 12. Martin Taupau (C) 13. Haumole Olakau’atu 14. Sean Keppie 15. Taniela Paseka 16. Zac Saddler 17. Reed Izzard 18. Dane Aukafolau.
Coach: Des Hasler.

Melbourne Storm: 1. Nicho Hynes 2. Dean Ieremia 3. Brenko Lee 4. Marion Seve 5. Sandor Earl (C) 6. Cam Munster 7. Cooper Johns 8. Tui Kamikamica (C) 9. Harry Grant 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Max King 12. Chris Lewis 13. Tom Eisenhuth 14. Trent Loiero 15. Justin Olam 16. Darryn Schonig 17. Siti Mociedreke 18. Judda Turahui
Coach: Jason Ryles

Newcastle Knights: 1. Aidan Guerra (C) 2. Kurt Mann (C) 3. Nathaniel Sasagi 4. Bayden Searle 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Gehamat Shibsaki 7. Starford To’A 8. Tex Hoy 9. Sione Mata’utia 10. Tyronne Roberts-Davis 11. Matt Soper-Lawler 12. Pasami Saulo 13. Jiriah Momoisea 14. Jacob Saifiti 15. Brodie Jones 16. Kurt Gidley 17. Mason Lino 18. Mitch Barnett. 
Coach: Adam O’Brien

New Zealand Warriors: Leeson Ah Mau, Rocco Berry, Jackson Frei, Blake Green, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Temple Kalepo, Adam Keighran, Edward Lois, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo, Taane Milne, Agnatius Paasi, Isaiah Papali’i (C), Hayze Perham, Leivaha Pulu, Selesitino Ravutaumada, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown & Paul Turner.
Coach: Stephen Kearney.

North Queensland Cowboys: Michael Bell, Jake Clifford, Scott Drinkwater, Mitch Dunn, Kyle Feldt, Jake Granville, Coen Hess, Peter Hola, Connelly Lemuelu, Josh McGuire, Esan Marsters, Tom Opacic, Reece Robson, Dan Russell, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Murray Taulagi, Jason Taumalolo (C) & Shane Wright.
Coach: Paul Green.

Penrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Stephen Crichton 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Jack Hetherington 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Billy Burns 13. Liam Martin 14. Kaide Ellis 15. Daine Laurie 16. Matt Burton 17. Caleb Adkins 18. Tyson Smoothy.

Coach: Ivan Cleary

South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Damien Cook (C) 2. Dane Gagai 3. Cameron Murray 4. Jaydn Su’a 5. JuniorTatola 6. Ethan Lowe 7. Campbell Graham 8. Braidon Burns 9. Bryson Goodwin 10. Troy Dargan 11. Joshua Cook 12. Lachlan Ilias 13. Keaon Koloamatangi 14. Blake Taaffe 15. Jaxson Paulo 16. Edene Gebbie 17. Jack Johns 18. Patrick Mago.
Coach: Jason Demetriou

St George Illawarra Dragons: Euan Aitken, Adam Clune, Matt Dufty, Jackson Ford, Tyson Frizell, Tyrell Fuimaono, Ben Hunt, Josh Kerr, Tim Lafai, Blake Lawrie, Cameron McInnes (C), Jason Nightingale, Cody Ramsey, Mikaele Ravalawa, Jason Saab, Tristan Sailor, Jayden Sullivan & Brayden Wiliame. 
Coach: Paul McGregor.

Sydney Roosters: Max Bailey, McKenzie Baker, Egan Butcher, Lindsay Collins, Nick Davis, Poasa Faamausili, Tom Freebairn, Drew Hutchison (C), Matthew Ikuvalu, Asa Kepaoa, Lachlan Lam, Freddy Lussick, Luca Moretti, Daniel Suluka-Fifita, Lupe Tivalu, Christian Tuipolutu, James Tuitahi & Sam Verrills.

Coach: Matt King.


Wests Tigers: 1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Robert Jennings 4. Moses Mbye (C) 5. Michael Chee-Kam 6. Billy Walters 7. Jock Madden 8. Thomas Mikaele 9. Tommy Talau 10. Joseph Ratuvakacereivalu 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Luke Garner 13. Chris McQueen 14. Sam McInytre 15. Paul Momirovski 16. Alex Seyfarth 17. Pat Richards 18. Matheson Johns. 
Coach: Michael Maguire.

Women’s Competition

Brisbane Broncos: Tarryn Aiken, Chelsea Baker, Annette Brander, Ali Brigginshaw (C), Jessika Elliston, Jayme Fressard, Amber Hall, Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Raecene McGregor, Hayley Maddick, Tanika Marshall, Rona Peters, Julia Robinson, Tahlulah Tillett, Tamika Upton & Meg Ward.

Coach: Kelvin Wright.


St George Illawarra Dragons: Kezie Apps, Shaylee Bent, Brittany Breayley, Samantha Bremner, Kaarla Cowan, Keeley Davis, Aaliyah Fasavalu-Fa’amausili, Rikeya Horne, Isabelle Kelly, Tiana Penitani, Jess Sergis, Maddison Studdon, Shakiah Tungai, Botille Vette-Welsh, Maddison Weatherall & Holli Wheeler. 

Coach: Daniel Lacey


Sydney Roosters: Kirra Dibb, Quincy Dodd, Tallisha Harden, Courtney Hill, Talei Holmes, Caitlan Johnston, Bobbi Law, Nita Maynard, Corban McGregor (C), Brydie Parker, Shanice Parker, Ash Quinlan, Hannah Southwell, Kiana Takairangi, Simaima Taufa & Zehara Temara.

Coach: Kylie Hilder.


New Zealand Warriors: Apii Nicholls, Madison Bartlett, Laureane Biville, Pahu Kani, Shontelle Stowers, Kanyon Paul, Georgia Hale (C), Rhiarna Ferris, Huia Harding, Amber Kani, Te Whetumarama Nuku, Charlette Butler, Charntay Poko, Kathleen Wharton-Keremete, Crystal Tamarua & Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali.

Coach: Justin Morgan.


 

Thompson to join Bulldogs from 2021

Incoming Canterbury Bulldogs prop Luke Thompson

Regarded as one of the best props in Super League, Luke Thompson will depart St Helens to join the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2021.

Informed of Thompson’s decision last week, St Helens admit they are sad but would not stand in the prop’s way.

“We were informed last week that Luke has decided to join Canterbury Bulldogs next season,” said club Chairman Eamonn McManus.

“We accept and totally respect Luke’s decision and wish him nothing but success in his career and in his life.

“We are absolutely sure that he will be absolutely committed to the Club and to his teammates for the rest of this season.”

Should he wish to return to the Super League, St Helens say they will be waiting with open arms.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that this is a bitter disappointment to all of us,” continued McManus.

“Luke has been connected to the Club since the age of 11 and has developed into an absolute top player at 24 years old.

“If ever he decides to return to England and to Super League then there would be a red carpet waiting for him at St. Helens.”

Still a young player, Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill opened up about the leadership qualities that Thompson has.

“Even though Luke is at the start of his career, we have been really impressed by his on-field leadership qualities and his desire to be the best.

“He is an excellent player who has become a star of the Super League and has shown what he is capable of at International level.

“We are looking forward to him getting the chance to show everyone in the NRL what he is capable of.”

Thompson is excited about the history of the Bulldogs and looks forward to joining them from 2021.

“Getting the chance to join the Bulldogs and be a part of a club with so much history and with such passionate fans is very exciting,” said Thompson.

“Having spoken to many people at the club and listened to their plans for the future, I know that they are building for success and I’m looking forward to being part of that.”

With one eye on his Bulldogs adventure, Thompson says his focus will remain with St Helens for 2020.

“When you join a club like the Bulldogs you know about the players and the culture that has gone before you,” continued Thompson.

“The fact that second best isn’t good enough and that was something that was important to me.

I look forward to joining them for the 2021 season and getting to be a part of a talented squad that is hungry for success.

“This will now enable me to focus on having a great final season with St Helens.”

England appoint Wane as new head coach

New England coach Shaun Wane

Wayne Bennett is out and Shaun Wane is in. That is the change at the top for the England national team. 

Wane will take over the reins from the departing Bennett on a two-year contract.

The former Wigan head coach returns to rugby league from a stint in Scottish rugby.

Wane is honoured to have the chance in the role with some big tournaments coming up.

“I am honoured to be appointed Head Coach of my country’s national team at such an exciting and important time for Rugby League in England,” Wane said.

“We have a three-Test Ashes series against Australia this autumn, and after that we host the World Cup in 2021.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve always loved the game of Rugby League, and been proud of British Rugby League.”

With players on offer in both England and Australia, Wane looks forward to success involving players from both areas.

“I’m looking forward so much to starting work with the outstanding Rugby League players we have in this country,” Wane continued.

Also the guys who have enjoyed success in Australia in recent years, to do all we can to win the World Cup next year.”

The appointment of Wane is one that excites those associated with the English governing body, the Rugby Football League.

“We think this is an exciting appointment that will be welcomed by England Rugby League supporters as we prepare for this year’s Ashes series, and the 2021 Rugby League World Cup,” said RFL CEO, Ralph Rimmer.

“Shaun is passionate about the game and his country, and also an outstanding coach, as shown by his record in eight seasons as Wigan’s head coach, a major feature of which was the success he and the club had in developing so many homegrown players.

“With two years to go in the lead up to RLWC2021, a full review was always programmed in to follow from the 2019 Great Britain tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

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