Defence the key as Samoa hold on to defeat Tonga

Frank Pritchard

Defence wins games and that was the case for Samoa, after a try-saving tackle from Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano sealed a narrow 18-16 win in a scintillating clash.

The second of two Pacific Tests at Cbus Super Stadium, the match produced the goods as the lower-ranked Tongan side pushed the Samoans all the way.

Some interesting late changes saw Josh McGuire at hooker for Samoa and Mahe Fonua at five-eighth, though the spectacle was not affected.

The Samoans dominated throughout and made the most of early opportunity, keeping the Tongans on their toes.

There was a period of sustained possession for the Tongans when they scored two quick tries and it looked like they might produce a comeback.

Though such hope was short-lived after a Samoan try to Dominique Peyroux.

There was a blow for Samoa despite their win, though, with both Tim Simona and Ben Murdoch-Masila departing the field with ankle and leg injuries respectively.

Knowing how crucial it is to retain the Tongan players in the core of the team for the long-run, coach Kristian Woolf praised Sio Siua Taukeiaho for his performance.

“I took him to PNG last year with the Tongan side and he was a young bloke I didn’t know a lot about,” said Woolf.

“He was tremendous for us over there and I thought he was probably close to the best player on the paddock for both teams. He’s certainly got a big NRL future ahead of him and I hope he’s got a really long future with Tonga as well because he’s a good player.”

Much like the Fijians and Papua New Guineans, Tongans and Samoans both adore the game of rugby league and the players know how much the fans love the game and want to see more out of every aspect.

“Both fans are very passionate and vocal and we carry a lot, for our family and our nations back home,” said Samoan captain Frank Pritchard.

“We play with a lot of expectations and we’re big on honesty and family and respect and we come away from that game with our head held high.”

Samoa 18 (Josh McGuire, Daniel Vidot, Frank Pritchard, Dominique Peyroux tries; Tim Simona goal) def. Tonga 16 (Jorge Taufua 2, Sika Manu tries; Solomone Kata 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Half-time: Samoa 10-4. Crowd: 12,336.

Koroibete stars as Fiji defeat PNG in entertaining clash

Marika Koroibete

The Pacific Tests always produce thrillers and the Fiji v Papua New Guinea clash was no different, with the Fijian side producing a 22-10 win on the back of a star performance from Marika Koroibete.

Two first-half tries scored in typical Koroibete fashion and a bone-jarring tackle were the keys behind a historic Fiji win.

The first Test of two, the match was evenly poised at 18-10 after the Papua New Guineans fought their way back. That was short-lived, though, as an intercept try for Fabian Goodall put the game beyond doubt.

Both teams produced some quality play filled with boundless energy, as they toiled, worked hard and put on a show for the fans at Cbus Super Stadium.

With Fiji in control to start the game, the second half saw the PNG side claw their way back in a big way, as they scored tries through Stanton Albert and Matt Trnka.

Following on from those tries, PNG had the ascendancy and attacked the Fijian line with some quality attacking play.

There was a downer for the Fijian side, with exciting prop Viliame Kikau leaving the field early in the second half due to concussion.

The star of the show was Koroibete, though, as he capitalised on solid attacking play and produced a try-saving tackle that no doubt consolidated the Fijian win.

After a strong first half showing, Fiji coach Rick Stone admits that his side let PNG back into the contest.

“We lost our way a little bit with a few errors and we didn’t start the second half well,” Stone said.

“In the end we defended our line strong, we just made things a little bit harder for ourselves.

“One of our main things was to bring Kumuls off their own line and I thought we did that pretty well in the first half. When we got back to it a little bit later in the second half I thought it helped us a bit.

“For the week it is, we had half a dozen NRL quality players with us and a lot of young blokes and a couple of local Fijians. It’s a good result for us.”

With NRL players galore in the Fijian side, the PNG side are yet to boast quality such as that. For PNG coach Mal Meninga, he knows they will all be better for the experience.

“With these guys it’s just about a bit of self belief, I know they’re playing against players that are in the NRL but when they think about it and how well they can be and get some confidence in their own ability they start to play well,” Meninga said.

PNG is all about spirit, heart and determination when playing rugby league and Meninga knows that the confidence and self belief will only grow and develop further.

“These guys, if they show the same sort of character and attitude they did in the second half, more of them will be playing in the 2017 World Cup,” Meninga said.

“It’s about growth and development of the players and certainly a better mindset around their self belief.”

Passion is also a big trait of fans from the island nations, with PNG captain Israel Eliab praising the fans for their phenomenal vocal support.

“Certainly we could hear our fans… it’s like they motivate us, giving us more strength and courage to play for our country,” Eliab said.

Former Warrior forced to hang up the boots

Lance Hohaia

Not being able to go out on your own terms in rugby league can be tough on some players but sometimes, it is necessary to avoid further injury.

So for former New Zealand Warrior Lance Hohaia – who recently played with Super League side St Helens – he had no other choice.

In his case, it is the recurring effects of concussion and Hohaia has sought the opinion of professional medical staff to determine the damage and where he stands in life.

Hohaia wants to understand the nature of it all and the intricacies involved but was grateful to both the Warriors and St Helens for providing him with opportunity and playing time.

“I am currently seeking expert medical advice to understand any potential effects to my long-term health.

“However, in the meantime I would like to say that I am extremely grateful for the career I have had and the opportunity to play for my country and such prestigious clubs as St Helens and the New Zealand Warriors.

“I would also like to sincerely thank all those who have supported me throughout my career and during this difficult time”.

His current club St Helens commented on the matter and released the following statement:

ST.HELENS announce that Lance Hohaia has informed us of his retirement from rugby league and will therefore not play for the Club again.

Lance has been a valued and integral member of the squad for the last three-and-a-half years and we thank him for his service.

We wish him and his family well in their life after rugby league with St Helens.

St Helens will make no further comment on this matter.

Tipping Point’s View: Representative Round Tipping

No NRL club games this week but still a chance to tip in some competitions, with the representative round of fixtures on this weekend. Some potentially entertaining clashes and some players with something to prove, so the fans should be in for a treat. Here are the tips for this weekend from the Tipping guru, Tipping Point.

Round eight of the NRL was another tipping nightmare, with six underdogs getting up, including a win for the bottom-ranked Sea Eagles, and two points for the injury-ravaged Panthers. The Dragons also got up, claiming their sixth-straight win for the season – amazingly, they were rank outsiders in the betting despite coming up against a Roosters side short on form and wins. They just keep on winning. The Bunnies also lost their third-straight game, this time at the hands of the improving Raiders who claimed their fourth away win this season – which equals their total away wins in 2014. With no NRL games it’s a chance to look back over the opening two months of the competition, and I have to say it’s been tough going: overall, 33 of the 64 fixtures to date have been won by the underdog, which is just crazy. The unusual results will continue as we enter the rep season, where the better teams are usually decimated by player-drain which gives some of the lesser sides a chance to make inroads on the ladder. In short, things aren’t going to get any easier anytime soon.

I’ve included my selections for the four international fixtures this weekend as some tipping comps require these selections. In my opinion, the more games to tip the merrier!

Season: 35/64 (55%) – Last week: 3/8 – Stand-outs: 3/8

At a glance: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, City

Stand-out: Australia

Australia v New Zealand, Suncorp Stadium

This ought to be an absolute belter. The Kiwis are reigning Four Nations champions and will be desperate to make it three straight wins over the Kangaroos. The Kangaroos will be equally motivated after a fairly uninspiring Four Nations campaign last year. They’ll be boosted by the return of some key personnel including Thurston and Matt Scott who missed last year’s tournament and overall their squad looks a lot more solid. The Kangaroos have a phenomenal record in mid-season test matches having won 15 straight: they’ll get the job done but the Kiwis, as always, will make a good game of it.

Tip: Australia

Fiji v Papua New Guinea, Cbus Super Stadium

The remaining three games are all tough to call, especially in matches which are as free-flowing, unpredictable and entertaining as those contested by the Pacific nations. Overall I’m basing my tip in this game on the fact that Fiji have a number of NRL players in their squad and have a slightly better international record, having made the semi-finals in consecutive World Cups. PNG shouldn’t be underestimated, and shouldn’t be as wide in betting given the fact so many of their players regularly play in the Queensland Cup for the PNG Hunters side. Fiji should get home, though.

Tip: Fiji

Samoa v Tonga, Cbus Super Stadium

This grudge-match will be an absolute humdinger, and I’m really looking forward to it. Samoa really were the surprise packets of last year’s Four Nations and came within a whisker of knocking off both England and eventual champions New Zealand. Looking at the two squads there is plenty of NRL experience and talent in both sides through the likes of Hurrell, Kata and Sika Manu for Tonga and Ah Mau, Leilua and Pat Mata’utia for Samoa. Based purely on their thrilling performances in last year’s four nations, I think you have to take Samoa here but it really could go either way.

Tip: Samoa

City v Country, Wagga Wagga

I dread this tip each year because it is the ultimate coin flip: two squads are brought together with limited preparation and few opportunities to develop meaningful combinations beyond what exists at club level. The result: anyone’s guess. Looking at the two line-ups I actually lean to City on the back of their superior forward pack (Fifita and Klemmer will be primed for big games after serving suspensions) and super-slick backline (Moylan, Tedesco and Roberts is almost too much excitement for one team). They’re probably due for a win too, having only won one of the last five fixtures. But it’s a coin toss – let’s just hope for some luck.

Tip: City

Follow Tipping Point on Twitter: @tpoint1908

Titans rookie rejects overtures and re-signs with the club

Kane Elgey

For a long while, it looked like the Manly Sea Eagles would be a new home for Kane Elgey. Though that has changed, with the youngster agreeing to remain with the Gold Coast Titans for a further two seasons.

With just five first-grade games to his name so far, Elgey has shown that he has the ability and effort to cut it in the top-grade. A local junior of the Gold Coast system, Elgey was hands down the best half in the Holden Cup competition in 2014 and now has a chance to extend that to first-grade.

Although the lure of Manly was strong especially given the chance to work under a former great half like Andrew Johns, home is where the heart is and that rings true for Elgey.

“In the end I wanted to stay on the Gold Coast with my family and friends around me and with my teammates and coaching staff I have a lot of respect for, even though it was a very tempting opportunity presented by Manly,” Elgey said.

“Definitely the chance to play under probably the greatest halfback of all time in Andrew Johns, who is assistant coach at Manly, was a big consideration in developing my game.

“But I’m happy here and Neil Henry gave me my opportunity in the NRL and is a great coach and I’m just relieved I have made the decision and can now get on with my football.”

Grateful for all they have done for him and for the way the club developed him through the ranks, he felt he owed it to them to stay. He also looks forward to playing alongside Daly Cherry-Evans.

“And I’m excited to hopefully be able to play with Daly Cherry Evans too,” said Elgey.

“I’m really proud that I’m a local junior who has come through the Titans ranks and a lot of people have supported me here. I want to repay them and be part of a successful side on Gold Coast.”

The Tugun Seahawks local represented the Australian Schoolboys side and for the club themeselves, retaining a core player like Elgey does wonders both on and off the field.

“We are absolutely delighted Kane has decided to commit not only to the Titans but also the local community where he has learned his football,” said Gold Coast Titans CEO, Graham Annesley.

“Hopefully it will inspire a whole new generation of local talent hoping to follow in his footsteps.”

Manly re-sign junior trio

Jake Trbojevic

With a vast talent pool to choose from across the Manly and Northern Beaches area, the Manly Sea Eagles have produced some talents over the years.

With that pool, comes the ability to blood players and give them opportunity and for young Manly trio Clinton Gutherson, Tom Trbojevic and Jake Trbojevic, that convinced them to stay among other factors. The trio have re-signed until the end of 2017.

Jake and Tom, both brothers, are Mona Vale Raiders juniors and for both of them, Manly is the club they know and love.

“Manly are a great Club and I’m extremely proud to be playing my footy here over the next few seasons,” Jake said.

“Tom and I have grown up in Mona Vale, knowing nothing else than Manly being one of the best teams in the NRL. It’s a privilege to play for our local Club.”

Having made his debut earlier this year and excelling from the get-go, Tom is also excited about what lies ahead.

“I recently got a taste of what to expect as a NRL player and it was just as exhilarating as Jake had told me,” 18-year old Tom added.

“The opportunity to play alongside my brother in the maroon and white was something I just couldn’t turn down.”

Tom Trbojevic

Although Gutherson is currently injured after damaging his ACL earlier this year, the new deal will push him and motivate him to earn a spot in 2016.

“It’s a great feeling to have recommitted. I’d like to thank the Club for giving me the opportunity to continue my career for the team I have always supported,” Gutherson said.

“My immediate focus is recovering from my knee injury as quickly as possible, so that I can get back on the field and repay the faith the Club has shown in me,” he added.

Knowing the importance of retaining strong local talent, Manly CEO Joe Kelly is pleased to have retained the trio.

“A key part of our strategy is to recruit and retain local talent. Clinton, Jake and Tom are all exciting, home-grown juniors with bright futures and we’re delighted that they’re committed to the Sea Eagles,” Kelly said.

“I’m excited that the Sea Eagles Members, supporters and local community will have the opportunity to watch this trio in their backyard of Brookvale Oval,” added Kelly.

Having seen all three come through the ranks and emerge as future stars, Manly coach Geoff Toovey is pleased to see them re-sign, following on from the re-signings of other juniors in the past.

“We’ve had a number of great local juniors represent this Club over the years and it’s refreshing to see another three coming through now,” Toovey said.

“They are all fantastic young athletes, who have already had a taste of NRL and have proven that they are ready to embark on lengthy careers at the Club.

Now that their immediate future is sorted, they can continue their learning on the job.”

Clinton Gutherson

Ricky’s View: Best Players to have never won a Premership

Andrew Ettinghausen

Winning a premiership is the ultimate prize in rugby league. Unfortunately, not all players end up winning one and capturing the elusive prize. Some players are just unlucky not to have won one, whilst others potentially lacked the support from a team throughout their career to do so.

Many players were superbly talented in their own right and yet, that elusive premiership they so desperately sought somehow eluded them. This article is one that will celebrate that team for the individuals that they were and showcase how talented they were as players, even if they did not win a premiership.

Note, all the players in this list are now retired from professional rugby league.

So, without further adieu, here is the list:

1. Garry Jack – One of the greatest players to don the colours of the Balmain Tigers, there was very little that Garry Jack failed to achieve in rugby league. He played in a grand final, was one of the best players of his time during his time in the ARL and played for NSW and Australia. Eluding him, though, was the premiership. Regarded as one of the best fullbacks to have ever played the game, it was his defence that often caught headlines – many wondering just how he managed to pull off such brilliant tackles. Television commentator Rex Mossop gave Jack a glowing praise on his defence, labelling the fullback as “one of the smartest defensive fullbacks around.” His work-rate from the back was phenomenal and he set the tone for the modern day fullbacks running around. A player of his quality was perhaps unlucky to not win a premiership at some point in his ARL career but he achieved many great things in rugby league and can be proud of the career he had as a player at club level, state level and at the international level.

2. Nathan Blacklock – The man from Tingha – aptly nicknamed that as well – was an electrifying winger for the St George Dragons and the St George Illawarra Dragons throughout his career. Possessing an uncanny knack to score tries on a regular basis, he seemed to get on the scoreboard for fun for years on end. Such was his prolific try-scoring ability, that he topped the try-scorers list from 1999 to 2011 (three straight seasons), the first player to do so since the 1920’s. Blessed with the smarts to adapt in the game of rugby league and a knack for scoring tries, it was his pace and quick feet that often left defenders dazed and confused. Despite all that, he played less representative footy then he may have liked and less representative footy than the fans may have liked. Often considered unlucky not to make the NSW or Australian sides at different points throughout his career, this is allegedly what led to his defection to rugby union for a period of time. Across his entire rugby league career, Blacklock played in 189 games and scored 154 tries – a truly remarkable feat.

3. Andrew Ettinghausen – One of the greatest players to have donned a Cronulla Sharks jersey, Andrew ‘ET’ Ettinghausen is a name forever etched in Sharks folklore. His ability as an all-round player and the ability to adapt to the situations at hand with sheer ease, are what made him the phenomenal player he was regarded as. Playing for NSW and Australia was no problem for ET throughout his career but despite his best efforts throughout his career, it was a premiership that eluded him. And for a player of his quality, ability and for the way he often led from the front for the Sharks side during his time there, he deserved one. He only ever played for the Sharks, amassing a whopping 328 games for the club over an 18-year span since making his debut as an 18-year old in 1983. Such was the ability of Ettinghausen that even at a young age, he quickly cemented a spot in the Sharks side and relinquished it infrequently. ET was an all-round player and knew how to play the game. He was deceptively quick, had brilliant hands and ball control and most notably, was as sturdy as a rock in defence. It was those attributes that shaped him into the legend that he was and still is within the Sharks organisation.

4. Steve Rogers – His career will always be remembered as an iconic one among the Sharks organisation, even after his tragic death in 2006. Playing the majority of his career at the Sharks, such was Rogers’ presence throughout his career that he was eventually named as one of the five immortals of the Cronulla club. He was also the CEO of the Sharks during the time of his unfortunate death, one that rocked the club to its core and had many in grief over the death of a club legend. On the field, his efforts were often monumental and he was the driving force behind one of the clubs most successful periods in his early days at the Sharks. He also represented NSW and Australia on a regular basis and accumulated numerous accolades throughout his career, including Dally M Lock of the Year and the Rothmans Medal in 1975. His talents were seen by many across the Australian rugby league community and in 1973, the Sharks captain/coach at the time, one Tommy Bishop said that Rogers was a “rare, rare talent – the greatest all-round centre three quarter I’ve ever seen.” That sort of praise was common for Rogers throughout his career, even after he made the move to lock. Despite the fact that he is no longer with us, his memory and legacy will forever remain within the hearts of rugby league fans.

5. Kerry Boustead – One of the best wingers of his era, Boustead possessed speed, class, finesse and a knack for scoring and finishing tries. Playing at state level and international level, Boustead’s talents were on show to the masses and he rarely disappointed. Such was his ability that at the time of his selection for Australia, he was the youngest player to be picked. One of the greatest players of the 20th century, his versatility and talents entertained fans throughout his career and his efforts, commitment and ability will never be forgotten by those who had the privilege of watching him play in their life-time.

6. Trent Barrett – A fan favourite of many a Dragons and Steelers fans throughout his career, there are some players blessed with natural ability and Trent Barrett was one of those. 1995 is when Barrett was noticed after impressing for the Australian Schoolboys and 1996 is when opportunity came, playing for the now defunct-NRL side, the Illawarra Steelers. Potential and ability were never in doubt for Barrett, who toiled and persisted as a player regardless of his age and often proved the catalyst for the Dragons/Steelers sides throughout his career. In his last year with the Steelers, he scored a whopping 18 tries – impressive for a half – and won the BHP Medal as a result. He also won a Dally M Award in 2000 and a Super League Player of the Year award in 2007. Representing both NSW and Australia on a regular basis throughout his career, his talents were always on show and in 1999 especially, he came so close to winning a title with the Dragons. It just was not to be.

7. Stacey Jones – There is no question that Stacey Jones is one of the finest players New Zealand has ever produced since their involvement with rugby league. Aptly nicknamed “the little general” for his ability to control and dominate a game with the ball on a string, he was the focal point of the Warriors attack for many years. His vision, natural ability, teamwork and general attitude, were the reasons why he was revered across New Zealand. Jones won numerous accolades in New Zealand for his skills in rugby league and 2005 is the year that he almost managed to guide the Warriors to a grand final. Former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark said, “He’s the epitome of a New Zealand champion.” Many fans also felt that way and hinged on every moment Jones created. If the fans had it their way, their little general would have won a premiership.

8. Paul Sironen – Losing one grand final is tough on a player but to lose two successive grand finals would be heartbreak, as Sironen and his Balmain team-mates – some on this very list – found out. A hulking, determined and committed back-rower, it was all about Balmain for Sironen who became the heart and soul of the club. A leader of the pack, a leader of men and a role model for younger players coming through the grades, Sironen was the sort of player every team was after for their back-row. His playing career was a joy for many and with representative games for both NSW and Australia throughout his career, it ended with Sironen being named in the Wests Tigers Team of the Century and the Balmain Team of the Century. His workhorse-like efforts, his dedication and commitment and his tenacity should have seen him win a grand final but unfortunately, it was not to be.

9. Benny Elias – One of the best rugby league players that Lebanon has ever produced, Benny Elias was the embodiment of a player who put everything on the line, put his body on the line and gave it his all in every game. A tenacious, dogged player, Elias formed a part of what was one of the best Balmain Tigers sides the game has ever seen, even if somehow, they could not achieve the ultimate goal and win a premiership. Elias’ skill was on show from an early age, as he made the Australian Schoolboys side for three straight years before making his debut for Balmain in 1982 and staying there until 1994. He formed a nucleus for all the sides he played on and it was his toughness that saw him procure many fans over the years at club level, state level and international level. A dynamic player and not too dissimilar to some modern day hookers, he set the tone for the little man to play the role of hooker, something that many clubs employ today.

10. Nathan Cayless – A tireless, hard-working, no-nonsense prop, Nathan Cayless was a part of the Parramatta Eels forward pack for what seemed like an age. The determined Kiwi prop carved out a successful career on the back of his stellar go-forward and forward play, often setting the tone for the Eels attack on a regular basis. To this day, Cayless, despite his retirement, remains one of the most capped players for New Zealand and still holds the record for the most games played as a captain in the NRL. Regarded as a leader of men, where he went, his team-mates often followed. He laid the foundation even when the odds were stacked against him and somehow, he managed to galvanise his team-mates and get them to make the same impact. With a remarkable 217 games played as captain, Cayless was thrust into the role at a very young age and embraced it, took it all on board and justified the decision to make him the leader in every sense.

11. Nathan Hindmarsh – Without any question, Nathan Hindmarsh is one of the greatest Eels players to have ever played the game. No matter who you supported or how interested in rugby league you were, Hindmarsh was a player that was revered on a wholesale level by fans, staff, coaches and teams across the NRL. A selfless player, Hindmarsh went about his work and business with aplomb and was forced to endure some dour years as an Eels player, even if he was one of the best over the course of those seasons. Known as a defensive juggernaut, remarkably, Hindmarsh is believed to have been the first player to surpass 10,000 tackles, 11,000 tackles and 12,000 tackles, throughout his career. Achieving everything in the game from representing NSW and Australia, winning the Dally M Back-Rower of the Year four times, the Provan Summons Medal five times and captaining the Prime Minister’s XIII side twice – the only player to do so – Hindmarsh embodied the spirit of the game. Playing in 330 games across his career, the longevity of Hindmarsh’s career meant that the diehard Eels fans had a chance to farewell their hero and club legend properly. Which they did.

12. Gary Larson – Nicknamed ‘Sven Svensson’ due to his Nordic-like appearance, Larson was a hard-hitter, a power-runner and a bullocking forward that gave the North Sydney Bears years of loyal service and a quality player to boot. It was in 1989 that his career at the Bears really started to take off and immediately, he became known for his work-rate and defensive prowess as a player. As a result, he instantly became ‘Mr Reliable’ as he would always get stuck in and do the dirty work that was required to win games. As a part of the Bears juggernaut in the mid 90’s, on three occasions (in 1994, 1996 and 1997), they came so close to making the grand final but fell at the final hurdle in the preliminary. A swansong season with the Parramatta Eels finished Larson’s career but he will be remembered for his efforts at the Bears, culminating in Larson being named in the Bears Team of the Century. On the representative front, Larson played for QLD and Australia on numerous occasions.

13. Wayne Pearce – He may have only played at the top level for 10 years, fewer years than some other players, but if you think the impact of Pearce was lessened as a result? Think again. Pearce himself would admit that when it came to natural ability, he did not possess that innate, God-given ability to play league but he did not need it. What he lacked in that regard, he developed in sheer athleticism, commitment and a staying power that embodied the type of player he became. Regarded as the player that revolutionised the rugby league world in terms of fitness, exercise and match preparation, Pearce’s commitment was second to none and cannot be faulted. Nicknamed ‘Junior’, it surprised many that a player of his size, was able to play back-row and lock and do so at such a consistent level. It was a testament to Pearce and how he played, that he was able to use athleticism rather than power, to play a position traditionally allocated to bigger players.

14. Steve Roach – One of the big boppers of that famous Balmain side in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the nickname ‘Blocker’ is one that has stuck with Roach over the years. As a player, that was exactly how he played. He was a man mountain in the front-row. Hard to tackle, hard to contain and always causing problems for the opposition. He too possessed sheer tenacity and adopted a win at all costs mentality and for parts of his career, such a process worked. He was at the top of his game for large portions of his career and as a result, he was rewarded with opportunities to represent both NSW and the Australian Kangaroos on numerous occasions. For his services to rugby league, he was named as one of the greatest 100 players ever.

15. Greg Florimo – Tireless, selfless, determined and committed. Words such as those describe the efforts of Greg Florimo as a player, as he toiled and worked his backside off for the North Sydney club that he has had such a strong affiliation with for the better part of three decades now. A centre by trade, Florimo eventually moved into the halves as a 5/8 and was the lynchpin for the Bears over the years, as they came close a few times to potential glory but fell just short. Playing alongside brother-in-law Gary Larson during his time at the Bears, Florimo was an exciting player to watch and often produced stellar performances. One such performance saw him given a rating of 10/10 by Rugby League Week, only the second player to achieve a perfect score. To further highlight his impact on the Bears and how talented he was, Florimo was named at centre in the North Sydney Bears Team of the Century. Even fans in England had a chance to see him in action, after stints with the Wigan Warriors and Halifax. On top of all that, he also had the opportunity to represent both NSW and Australia, the icing on the cake.

16. Tim Brasher – Primarily a fullback during his rugby league career, even some of the younger fans will remember the talents of Tim Brasher. A part of that Balmain Tigers side and subsequent ones that followed, a constant in those sides for the Tigers was Brasher. An enigmatic, zippy fullback, Brasher was a key player in attack for many years and that transcended to the Origin and international arenas. Whilst he finished up his career as a North Queensland Cowboys player – he also had a stint at the South Sydney Rabbitohs – it is his time at the Balmain Tigers that many remember him for. Named in the Balmain Tigers team of the century and deservedly so, Brasher’s fluidity as a fullback and his direct play, allowed him to open up the ground and dictate the terms of play from the back. Whilst he was not necessarily crafty, he had plenty of assets to make up for it and forged a solid, successful career as a fullback and as a player.

17. Les Boyd – Regarded as one of the toughest players to play the game, you always knew what you were going to get with Les Boyd. Hard-nosed, a hard-hitter and a no-nonsense approach to rugby league was the only way that Boyd knew how to play the game and as a result, he was involved in his fair share of biffs, controversies and issues. Forging out a career with three clubs over a 13-year span, his days at the Western Suburbs Magpies and the Manly Sea Eagles were the most memorable. As tough as he was, his on-field indiscretions got him into trouble and ultimately, spelled the end of his rugby league career in Australia. The two most infamous incidents were the elbow on QLD’s Darryl Brohman during State of Origin and the eye-gouging of Billy Johnstone, which proved to be the final straw. That all aside, Boyd played with a voracity and tenacity that saw him forge a reputation in the league as a brute-type forward. He would hit hard – both in attack and defence – and play hard, using his big frame to bully the opponents when given a chance. His efforts across his career, whilst controversial, play a big part in building his memory as a rugby league player.

Coach: Brian Smith

VB NSW Cup Wrap-Up Rd 8

A topsy-turvy round of NSW Cup this week. A streak was broken, some stars were born, some players continued their solid try-scoring form and some teams still crave overall consistency.

Just who won and starred, you will soon find out. Here is the wrap-up of Rd 8 of the VB NSW Cup:

NZ Warriors 44 (K Maumalo 2, P Ulberg 2, K Hurrell, A Pewhairangi, S Matagi, S Havili, D Bhana tries; Pewhairangi 4 goals) bt Newtown Jets 18 (M Brown, S Sauiluma, P Politoni tries; T Murphy 3 goals).
Ricky’s View: The Warriors came to play and ran away with the game in the end. Very little troubled them as they overpowered the Jets side. It was the experienced half in Api Pewhairangi that led the side in attack and the win consolidates the Warriors spot in the top eight.

Illawarra Cutters 22 (K Glymin 2, S Moceidreke, S Crook tries: Crook 3 goals) bt Wyong Roos 14 (B Molan, A Papalii tries; Nathan Stapleton 3 goals).
Ricky’s View: Just two weeks ago, the Cutters lost to the Roos. This week, fortunes were reversed. The game was a tense affair right up to the final minutes, before a late Cutters try cemented the win. Yet again, Yaw Kiti Glymin showed his worth with two tries and some great touches.

Penrith Panthers 16 (R Jennings, T Eisenhuth, B Attwood tries; L Latu 2 goals) bt Mounties 10 (M Barnett, B Tupou tries; M Cornish goal).
Ricky’s View: It was wet, it was wild, but the players got stuck in. Another tense affair in what was some shocking weather, with a late penalty goal sealing the win. It ends Mounties undefeated run to start the season.

Manly Sea Eagles 38 (B Leary 2, D Reardon, T Satini, D Kelly, M Chee Kam tries; K Aldridge 7 goals) bt North Sydney Bears 22 (S Manuleleua 2, J Olive, D Nicholls tries; Nicholls 3 goals).
Ricky’s View: It was two wins on the trot for Manly, and a much-needed confidence boost. The second half is where the bulk of the action occurred, as Manly’s big guns stepped up when it mattered most. The young brigade also chimed in, as Manly build some well-earned momentum.

Wests Tigers 29 (K Rowe 2, K Lulia, N Milone, J Drinkwater tries; Drinkwater 4 goals; Drinkwater field goal) bt Wentworthville Magpies 28 (R Morgan, V Toutai, F Goodall, S Gorman T Moeroa tries; L Kelly 4 goals).
Ricyk’s View: The match was Wentworthville’s to win and there for the taking but at the final hurdle, they faltered. Leading comfortably at one point, they let the Tigers back in the game and ultimately, it saw them win the game. The Tigers resolve and resilience to get back into the contest led to a game-winning field goal for Josh Drinkwater. The Magpies languish near the bottom of the ladder.

Newcastle Knights 20 (P Mata’utia 2, C Mata’utia, H Tuha tries; D Kerr 2 goals) bt Canterbury Bulldogs 12 (J Loko, V Rennie tries; L Dodd, D Chisholm goals).
Ricky’s View: A very tense, bitter affair among the players for some periods of the game. In some rather damp, rain-affected conditions, the Knights made better use of the ball and came away with the win.

Cowboys bounce back from injuries to defeat Knights

Scott Bolton

Their start was not the best and it was extenuated by the loss of both Jake Granville and Jason Taumalolo but the North Queensland Cowboys bounced back and won the game.

It was a tense affair in the end with the Cowboys only just holding on, to continue their good run of form over the last few weeks.

Taumalolo’s injury is the biggest concern, with the hulking back-rower expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a medial ligament strain.

For periods, the game went back and forth, and it was the class of the Cowboys that eventually got them over the line when it mattered.

The loss continues the Knights recent run of losses, in which they have been unable to continue their good start to the season over the first four rounds.

There were plenty of chances for the Knights to win the game and late on, an opportunity presented itself before the ball was lost on the Knights behalf.

With 15 men and players forced to play longer minutes, the Cowboys somehow managed to hold on for a victory.

Usually a reliable player, there were some errors in Kurt Gidley’s game throughout the year and he has never been as disappointed in a personal game of his than today.

“I love playing team sport and I love the club but it’s one that I won’t forget for all the wrong reasons. It’s a hard one because I made multiple errors,” Gidley said post-game.

“Especially being a captain and being a leader I pride myself on leading the way, but the harder I tried the worse it got for me.

“It’s a tough one to sit in the sheds after the game and not being able to look your teammates in the eye but I can move on reasonably quick after a couple of days and I’ll look to the next game to win back my teammates respect.”

With ANZAC Day all about resiliency, courage and determination, Cowboys coach Paul Green felt that his players showed all those traits.

“It’s fitting considering the day it is, given it is Anzac Day, I thought the courage and toughness and resilience we showed was just outstanding. It was a massive effort from some of the boys there,” Green said.

“Ray Thompson came into the team, hasn’t played NRL this year and played 70-odd minutes in the middle. Scott Bolton nearly played the first half without a break so losing those guys just changes everything around and it was just a courageous effort from all of our blokes.”

Player of the Game:

3. Scott Bolton
2. Korbin Sims
1. Ray Thompson

North Queensland Cowboys 26 (Justin O’Neill 2, Scott Bolton, Lachlan Coote, Michael Morgan Tries; Johnathan Thurston 3 Goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 24 (Chris Houston, Akuila Uate, Joey Leilua, Sione Mata’utia Tries; Tyrone Roberts 4 Goals) Crowd: 15,518. Halftime: 16-6.

Titans momentum continues after thrilling win over Warriors

Kane Elgey

The Gold Coast Titans strong away record has continued, after they recorded a narrow 32-28 win over the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.

Revolutionised under Neil Henry, the Titans style of play is attractive to watch and their attacking nous was on show throughout the game.

Although they did not lead in the game until the second half, it was an exciting game to watch from both teams’ perspectives.

The Titans attacking run came on the back of Warriors back-rower Ryan Hoffman being forced off the field due to concussion and from there, the Warriors downward spiral began.

With both sides guilty of making far too many errors in games past, the points were on offer in this clash and the teams made the most of the opportunity.

The man who stepped up when it mattered was an unlikely source. Titans young gun Kane Elgey, who played perhaps the best game of his short NRL career.

Elgey was involved in everything and had the ball on a string at times, for if he was not scoring them, he was setting them up and creating opportunity at will.

It has Titans fans salivating at the possibility of retaining him and having him play alongside Daly Cherry-Evans in 2016.

For the Warriors, despite their late resurgence, there were some disappointing patches from their end. In a game at home, they should have been expected to win but the little things are what let them down in the end.

There was nothing but praise from Henry for his side’s performances, with the players receiving plaudits from him.

“It was a bit nervous at the back end when they got some quick tries, and the boys had to hang on. I think we started the second half well, we were a bit loose defensively in the first half and probably underestimated the wind advantage too,” Henry said.

“It was a pretty brave performance, there were parts of the second half where we defended our line really well.

“We sort of kicked away but they are not a side you can allow to have the ball.”

With three right centres picked by the Warriors already this season, coach Andrew McFaden admitted they are no closer to finding the right long-term option.

“Good and bad, it’s another combination and we threw him out there very hopefully,” McFadden said of Fusitu’a’s performance.

Player of the Game:

3. Kane Elgey
2. Ryan James
1. Kierran Moseley

Titans 32 (Elgey 2, Don, Moseley, Roberts, James tries; Sezer x4 goals) def. Warriors 26 (Fusitu’a, Matulino, Wright, Kata, Thompson tries; Johnson 4 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 15,102.