Sharks appoint former soccer boss as their new Group CEO

Lyall Gorman

The Cronulla Sharks have been crying out for some good news and they finally received it, with the club appointing Lyall Gorman as their new Group CEO.

Gorman, who had strong ties in soccer related administration roles in the past – specifically with the A-League and the Central Coast Mariners – brings 30 years of experience to the helm.

Gorman’s role at the Sharks will involve overseeing the football club, the leagues club and any additional development work carried out by partners, Bluestone Constructions.

With the need to appoint a well-known CEO that knows the business, the game and how to run a business, Sharks Chairman Damien Keogh believes Gorman is a quality fit for the role.

“The appointment heralds a new beginning for the Sharks,” Keogh said.

“Lyall has a mandate to take this club into the future and through the meetings with myself and other Board members during the recruitment process it is clear we share a vision for the type of club we want to build.

“While known for his recent accomplishments as a Football administrator, Lyall has a strong background in rugby league as a player, coach and referee over many years and we welcome him back to the sport in this significant role with the Cronulla Sharks.”

Gorman’s track record has seen him enjoy a successful stint as a soccer administrator for some years now. He was the brainchild behind the formation of the Western Sydney Wanderers and was a key factor in their development.

Additionally, Gorman was in charge of the A-League in 2010 and was also the Executive Chairman of the Central Coast Mariners for six years.

With experience in several different administrative areas, Gorman is excited with the new challenge ahead of him in a new sport.

“I am both delighted and honored to be appointed to this role” said Gorman.

“The opportunity to harness the tremendous pride, passion and parochialism that exudes across the members and supporters of this club and the broader Sutherland Shire provides the perfect platform to build a successful and winning high performance culture on and off the field.

“Combining those ingredients, with a Board which has a very clear vision for the future; an exceptionally talented playing roster across all teams in the club; a professional and committed football, management and administration staff; a wonderful Junior League Association and a very committed group of corporate partners and supporters, has been the carrot to convince me that this is where I want to be,” Gorman continued.

With the Sharks issues in past seasons – internal and external – Gorman is keen to get started in the role and aid the club to become bigger and better in the future.

“I have no doubt that with the consistent application of the right vision, values and culture this club’s future is one of endless possibilities,” Gorman said.

“The future of our club will be built on the back of everyone associated with it working together in the same direction.

“I look forward to the journey ahead and to working with all stakeholders both inside and outside, to set a new benchmark across the NRL while simultaneously making a significant contribution and difference to the wonderful people and region that is the Sutherland Shire,” he added.

Former NRL player returns to rugby league with Salford

Cory Paterson

It was not that long ago that he opted to retire from rugby league to pursue a boxing career but when you play league, it stays with you and it was only a matter of time before Cory Paterson returned.

That’s what the former Newcastle Knight and Wests Tigers utility has done, signing with the Salford Devils for the 2015 season.

Whilst his boxing career has been going well, Paterson was bound to return to league eventually and after speaking with Salford owner Dr. Marwan Koukash, it all fell into place.

“It became apparent this week that Cory wanted not only to get back into rugby league but also that he really wanted to do so with us,” said Koukash.

“The deal has moved very quickly and Cory will join us in January on a one-year deal with an option of a second. It is a great opportunity for both parties.

Cory will come in and make our pack even stronger and for him it allows him the opportunity to continue to prove himself at the highest level.”

With a solid back-row rotation, Paterson will need hard work to play but with commitment across the board, it should be expected that he will see regular game-time.

Huddersfield utility signs new long-term deal

Luke Robinson

Holding onto veterans within your side is crucial and the Huddersfield Giants have done just that, re-signing utility Luke Robinson on a new long-term deal.

The deal will see Robinson stay at the Giants until 2017 and with 201 games for the club and 10 seasons with them once his deal is up, Robinson said it was an easy decision.

“It’s dead easy really,” said Robinson.

“I want to win something here and I know we can do it. We’ve been really close but not made the last step but overall since I came we’ve gone forwards massively.

I am very happy here and to do ten years will be a proud achievement and one I’m grateful that I’ve a chance at.

As a veteran, Robinson is well aware that things can change and that a rotation policy will happen. So, he knows that what the coach decides is what goes and he just committed and keen to start playing again.

I don’t want to look back at my time here and say I was involved in building towards trophies – I want to be able to say I won trophies and I want more than the 2013 League Leaders Shield,” said Robinson.

“At the moment I am training at nine and seven and I’ll just do whatever Baloo (Paul Anderson) thinks is best for the team and give it my best shot. We definitely have the squad and the new facilities we are now based have given everyone a real lift as have the new faces in the squad.”

Robinson has played a crucial role at the club over the years, with Giants Managing Director Richard Thewlis acknowledging the success of the utility.

“Luke was a marquee signing for us along with David Hodgson back in 2007 as we started back then to really invest in the squad with top class young English lads on the back of the Cup Final appearance,” said Thewlis.

“He has given tremendous commitment and brought class to the Club on and off the field with each of his three Head Coaches praising his toughness and having taken us to our second cup final and into the play offs in every year bar one as well as representing England, he has for me, cemented his place as one of Huddersfield modern day greats.”

The commitment that Robinson has shown to the club is something that pleases Thewlis.

“One of our goals here is to make memories and enable this group to stand alongside some of our tremendous teams of the past with silverware and I know that Luke Robinson deserves that accolade having seen day in day out his commitment to our Club,” said Robinson.

As a veteran, Robinson is now a leader within the side and for Giants coach Paul Anderson, his leadership will be needed.

“Luke Robinson is one of our leaders in our playing group which is epitomised by the way he trains and plays with total commitment,” said Anderson.

“For him to do such a period with one club shows how his coaches, players and supporters over the years have valued him and it’s great that the club and he have put pen to paper and secured him for the foreseeable future.

He deserves his extension and he’s one guy you’d stand alongside in the trenches when the going gets tough which in the reality of top flight rugby happens and it’ll be good here to count on Robbo.”

2015 NRL Trials

There is never a dull moment in rugby league and whilst it might currently be pre-season, the planning and preparation for 2015 already begins as clubs announce trial games.

With the Auckland Nines to be played yet again, some shine may be taken off the trials but clubs will be sure to use it as a means to test new recruits and welcome back some players. For players, they just want to make a good impression on their coach.

So, without further adieu, here are the trials confirmed for 2015 to date:

Saturday February 7

Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLgldwar); Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba. Kick-off: TBA.
North Queensland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos (#NRLnqlbri); Virgin Australia Stadium, Mackay. Kick-off: TBA.
Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm (#NRLcanmel); EW Moore Oval, Griffith. Kick-off: TBA.

Saturday February 14

#R2R South Sydney Rabbitohs v Northern Pride (#NRLsounor); Redfern Oval, Redfern. Kick-off: TBA.
New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers (#NRLnewpen); Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua. Kick-off: 3pm.

Saturday February 21

Gold Coast Titans v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLgldnql); Barlow Park, Cairns. Kick-off: TBA.
Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights (#NRLcannew); Seiffert Oval, Queanbeyan. Kick-off: 6:30pm.

2014 Season Review by Any Chance

We have a new writer on board, a passionate New Zealand Warriors fan, Any Chance, as he casts his eye over the 2014 season that was and how all teams fared. Here are his views.

The 2014 season saw the South Sydney Rabbitohs participate in a grand final, the last one being 43 years ago and ending in spectacular fashion with a 30-6 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs and star player Sam Burgess playing on with a broken jaw after a collision with fellow English international James Graham.

We’ll take a look at how your club fared in 2014 and what is expected next year.

Brisbane Broncos – 8th (eliminated round 1 in finals)
Sam Thaiday announced he would be stepping down from the captaincy role. Corey Parker took over and with new signing Ben Barba big things were expected from Brisbane, however, Barba initially struggled earlier in the season but later started to find his footing but was nowhere near the form he was in with the Bulldogs. The Broncos however, did reach the first week of the finals and were eliminated by North Queensland 32-20. With former coach Wayne Bennett heading back to Brisbane big things are expected in 2015.

Canterbury Bulldogs – 7th (Grand Final runners up)
With Ben Barba leaving the club, it was thought the club would struggle but young players such as David Klemmer, Moses Mbye, Tim Lafai are standing up and not to forget inspirational captain, James Graham. Towards the back end of the season, they were in a losing slump but managed to recover and hold on to 7th position during the regular season. In the Grand Final, they managed to remain 6-6 but in the last 20 minutes, the scoreline ended 30. We believe if the Bulldogs were to remain competitive for 80 minutes we could see them in the 2015 Grand Final.

Canberra Raiders – 15th
Losing a host of players most notably Blake Ferguson, Joel Thompson and Sandor Earl, this lead to another disappointing season for the Raiders with only 8 wins in the 2014 season. Watch out for young players such as Blake Austin, Jarrod Croker, Shannon Boyd, Edrick Lee and Tevita Pangai. Also watch out for Sisa Waqa, one of the best finishers in the NRL.

Cronulla Sharks – 16th
With the ASADA investigations and other off field problems, it caused a distraction for the playing group and missing Andrew Fifita through injury most of the season. Only winning 5 matches along with the wooden spoon is a season to forget and the most praise I give is to Ricky Leutele, who performed well in a losing side. Expect a better 2015 with Ben Barba and Michael Ennis joining the club who were team mates at Canterbury.

Gold Coast Titans -14th
Early in the season the Titans looked promising and were actually leading the competition after 6 rounds but losing key players such as Albert Kelly and Kevin Gordon to injury led to a form slump and saw the Gold Coast slip right down to 3rd last. 2015 could be a better season if players can remain fit.

Manly Sea Eagles – 2nd (eliminated round 2 in finals)
2014 was another good year with Manly progressing through to the finals and finishing 2nd in the regular season. They suffered a heavy defeat to the Rabbitohs in the finals 40-24 and were eventually eliminated by the Bulldogs with a 18-17 loss. With the loss of a couple of key forwards such as Jason King, Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough, expect them to take a while to find their feet but with signings such as Willie Mason, Feleti Mateo and Zane Tetevano, they will have no problem of that.

Melbourne Storm – 6th (eliminated round 1 in finals)
Although making the finals, the Melbourne Storm finished 6th in the regular season which is a bit disappointing for a team of their standard. Young Kiwi forwards such as Jesse Bromwich, Kevin Proctor and Tohu Harris were standouts this season and expect them to stand up in 2015 with their “spine” aging. Expect them to rely more on their forward pack.

Newcastle Knights – 12th
Newcastle made plenty of headlines this season losing young star Alex McKinnon who was tipped to achieve big things and supercoach Wayne Bennet leaving the club. Also missing Queensland Origin star Darius Boyd, it was a tough season for the Knights. It is also worth mentioning Joey Leilua had one of his best seasons. Expect a better 2015 with Cowboys forward Tariq Sims joining the club with a mouth watering Sims vs Burgess clash looming in 2015.

New Zealand Warriors – 9th
Having Sam Tomkins come across from Wigan and making a good impression in his first NRL season with some spectacular tries and his fancy footwork was a sight to see for Warriors fans. As always, the Warriors tend to be a shaky side and end up losing matches that they they easily could have won. If the Warriors are focused and can play for 80 minutes and if star players Shaun Johnson and Manu Vatuvei stand up as they did in the 4 Nations, the Warriors will be a force in 2015.

North Queensland Cowboys – 5th (eliminated round 2 in finals)
The Cowboys did not disappoint anyone this year, as they knocked out the Brisbane Broncos in the first round and in probably one of the best rugby league matches, fought back from 30-0 only to suffer a heartbreaking 31-30 loss to the Roosters. If the Cowboys can retain their form they had this season, they will have no trouble but expect the losses of the Sims brothers to have some effect.

Parramatta Eels – 10th
Earlier in the season, Brad Arthur had some tough asks and it was questioned whether he would make it as an NRL coach and with 4 from 6 victories, he didn’t go too bad. The Eels were continuing their good form but as they started losing players like Will Hopoate, Tim Mannah, Ken Sio and Willie Tonga through injury, it started to get disruptive and so it was an up and down season for the Eels. With some big losses such as superstar fullback Jarryd Hayne to the NFL, hard running prop Fuifui Moimoi and experienced centre Willie Tonga, the Eels will struggle in 2015.

Penrith Panthers – 4th (eliminated round 3 in finals)
With a host of new signings joining the Panthers such as Jamie Soward, Jamal Idris, Brent Kite and a few upcoming players like Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Isaah Yeo, it was a breakthrough year for Penrith and were only 6 points shy of another Grand Final.

St George/Illawarra Dragons – 11th
In my opinon, St George could have performed better this season. In the very early rounds they looked promising but just couldn’t cut it with the top teams. Gareth Widdop fitted in well considering it was his first season at the club and with former Kiwi international Benji Marshall joining, it added further depth for the Dragons. Expect 2015 to be a better season if Benji and Gareth are firing.

Sydney Roosters – 1st (eliminated round 3 in finals)
The Roosters were favourites to claim back-to-back titles, with the only other team to have done so were the Broncos in 97 and 98. With a squad of quality international representatives such as Sonny Bill Williams and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (NZ), Aiden Guerra and Anthony Minichiello (Italy/Australia) to name a few. They were expected to go all the way in 2014 and only missed the Grand Final by 10 points with 32-22 loss to arch rivals South Sydney. In 2015 they will be without captain Anthony Minichiello and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will have big shoes to fill.

South Sydney Rabbitohs – 3rd (Grand Final winners)
It was a fairytale season for the Rabbitohs winning the Premiership and English forward Sam Burgess sent out in style wining the Clive Churchill medal who has left to chase a Rugby Union World Cup for England. Through the regular season, the Rabbitohs dominated through their strong forward pack who always put them on the front foot, with George Burgess in particular who shining. In his young career so far, he is already considered one of the best forwards in the game. Life without Sam Burgess will begin in 2015 and with Tom, George and Luke still at South Sydney, expect them to do it for Sam proud and possibly take them to another Grand Final in 2015.

Wests Tigers – 13th
Wests Tigers looked promising throughout the season with former 2005 Grand Final winner Pat Richards rejoining a young Wests Tigers squad and some good performances by young players Luke Brooks and James Tedesco the Tigers were expecting at least a top 8 finish. However, injuries to Tedesco and falling outs between coach Mick Potter and captain Robbie Farah led to disharmony amongst the playing group. If the Wests Tigers can stand together and their young players can perform and remain injury free, we will hope to see a Wests Tigers side that can re-capture the form of their 2005 season.

Souths recruit in hot water over alleged assault charge

Cody Walker

With their revolutionary trip to Arizona just around the corner, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have received some unwanted publicity, with one new recruit in strife over an alleged assault incident.

That new recruit is Cody Walker, who as a result of the alleged assault, has been stood down by the club and suspended indefinitely.

The two charges are stalk or intimidate to cause fear of physical or mental harm (domestic violence offence) and common assault (domestic violence related).

As a result of the incident, Walker informed the club and they have subsequently informed the NRL with a full investigation now going on.

The following was a statement released by the Rabbitohs:

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have stood down player Cody Walker indefinitely following two charges over an alleged incident in October.

Walker was charged with Stalk or intimidate intending to cause fear of physical or mental harm (domestic violence offence) and common assault (domestic violence related).

Walker informed the Club of the incident at the time and the Rabbitohs informed the NRL Integrity Unit of the incident immediately.

The Rabbitohs have stood down Walker from all duties with the Club including training and he has not been permitted to fly to the United States with the team for the high altitude camp.

The Rabbitohs are reviewing all of the information in conjunction with the NRL Integrity Unit and any further decisions in regards to this situation will be made following the completion of those investigations.

Walker is newly signed to the Rabbitohs and the incident is alleged to have occurred before his contract began with the Club. Walker has not played in the NRL to date.

The Club will make no further comment at this stage.

Former Wests Tigers & Hull half joins Wakefield

Jacob Miller

Still only 22, Jacob Miller has played for a few clubs as he tries to settle in and he has a new chance to do that, after signing for the 2015 season with the Wakefield Wildcats.

Playing in nine first-grade games for the Wests Tigers in the NRL, Miller was a part of the club’s winning Holden Cup side and represented the Australian Schoolboys team in 2009.

After a stint at Hull FC, the new challenge awaits Miller and Wildcats coach James Webster is excited to have the talented half on board.

“Jacob’s signing allows us to have greater depth and competition in the halves,” said Webster.

“He is similar to many players that have signed for Wakefield in that he is a young player with a point to prove and a burning desire to cement a spot in the team.”

“I have not bought Jacob to fulfil the same role as he was asked at Hull as we already have Tim Smith, I believe we have a player that has a lot of improvement in him and I look forward to investing some time into him as a player.”

For Miller himself, he is grateful to have an opportunity and wants to make the most of his time at the Wildcats.

Wakefield have given me a great opportunity to re discover my best form and this is a challenge I’m eager to fulfil,” said Miller.

“My termination agreement at Hull FC has allowed the Wildcats and myself to agree a deal that we all hope will prove beneficial. I’m very excited about joining the team and competing for a spot in the 17 week in and week out.”

“I’m looking forward to being a part of a new club and getting to know the sponsors, staff, supporters and local community.”

St Helens veteran re-signs and will play in his 20th season at club

Paul Wellens

20 years is a long time in life or in any sport but when you play for the same club for 20 years, that is an achievement that should make one proud.

That achievement has been reached by St Helens veteran Paul Wellens who incredibly, has played all 20 years at the same club after making his debut in 1996.

Fresh off a Championship win, the veteran, who has achieved everything in the game, knows that there are exciting times ahead as he helps the next breed of players make their mark.

“I’m really looking forward to 2015,” Wellens said.

“With a World Club Challenge to look forward to, the new Super League format and a title to defend it is a very exciting time for the club.

“I’m in the very latter stages of my career and with a good crop of young players coming through my focus is on training hard and competing for a place in the team whilst also using my experience to help these young players develop further.

“This is a challenge I’m looking forward to. I’m also excited to be working with Keiron Cunningham, Jamahl Lolesi and Sean Long.”

The club are pleased to retain him and knowing just how good he is and how much he loves rugby league, they know that he will have a solid impact in 2015 at the age of 34.

“He proved his versatility in our Championship winning season by playing in many positions and performing at a high level,” said Saints coach, Kieron Cunningham.

“His commitment to the club is superb; he is the ultimate professional and that rubs off on all those around him. He is also keen to learn and improve, setting himself challenges to get better.

“His strong and respected relationship with the players is evident by the fact he wants to help improve Jonny Lomax’ game at fullback – the position he plays in.

“That is a fantastic and unselfish example to the young players in the squad.”

Eels prop released and will join Hull KR

Mitch Allgood

Moving on from a team is part and parcel of the game and with the Parramatta Eels strengthening their forward pack, players can often become surplus to requirements.

For Mitch Allgood, a local from Penrith that has played out the majority of his rugby league career at the Eels, he has been granted a release from the club.

The release has allowed him to embark on a new challenge and sign with English Super League club, Hull KR, for the next three seasons.

With 70 games for the Eels under his belt, Allgood has relished every opportunity and looks forward to the challenges ahead.

“I’ve been at the Eels since I was a teenager and this place has been my home over the last seven years, and it¹s sad to be leaving,” Allgood said.

“But at the same time, I’m excited and looking forward to this new opportunity I have to play at Hull KR.”

“I’ve made a lot of lifetime mates and I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had at this club, and I wish nothing but success for all the boys in the coming season.”

As for Hull KR, they are pleased to have signed Allgood, with the need for a prop evident after some earlier player rotation.

“Mitch is a big, strong and athletic prop with a good leg drive who will really add a lot to our pack next season,” said Hull KR coach, Chris Chester.

“We lost a bit of power up front from last year’s squad but with Ryan Bailey and now Mitch coming in, we’re really pleased with finding two high quality front rowers.

With Allgood and Ryan Bailey joining the side, Chester is confident that Hull KR have a strong, mobile and athletic pack heading into 2015.

“Like Ryan, Mitch will bring plenty of size and aggression out on the pitch but he is a great bloke off the field as well. He comes here at a good age and for the right reasons so we are delighted to have him on board,” said Chester.

“We’ve got some depth in the forwards for next season which is important, but we also feel we’ve got a more athletic pack capable of playing big minutes if they need to.”

Adjusting to the English life will be made slightly easier for Allgood, especially with former team-mate Ken Sio also joining the club.

Sio knows Allgood well and had nothing but praise for the young, talented prop.

“He’s a big bloke with explosive power but he can play big minutes so you get the best of both with him whenever he’s on the pitch or on the training paddock,” said Sio.

“He gives it his all on the field but off it he’s the nicest giant ever. Once you cross that white line, it’s game time and he’s in there 110 per cent but it’s important that everybody gets on in the squad and he’ll fit right into that.

“It will be good to have him over here, he’s a top player and he really looked after me at the Eels so hopefully I can help him settle in when he gets here.”

Swedish rugby league Chairman steps down from role

Since the game of rugby league was introduced in Sweden and the Scandinavian regions, the game has come a long way in terms of development.

Now, after several years as the Swedish Chairman and thus overseeing their development and helping them grow as a rugby league entity, Scott Edwards has stepped down from the role.

It was three years ago when the Svenska Rugby League Forening (SRL) was formed and despite stepping down as Chairman, Edwards knows that the game of rugby league will continue to grow in the country.

“An idea that was, in the beginning, simply a personal dream is now a reality,” said Edwards, a former London Skolars player.

“The Sweden Rugby League Association not only exits but it is on the map and I believe it can continue to grow and go onto bigger things.”

With a domestic competition close to being formed, Sweden have been involved in Test matches, 9’s competitions and Nordic Cup games over the years.

Edwards has enjoyed his time as Chairman of the SRL and whilst he is stepping down, he will not be lost to the game completely. He will continue his role as a Director of the Kungsbacka Broncos.

“It has been a very enjoyable journey thus far,” continued Edwards.

“ I now feel that the time has come to hand over the gavel to somebody else. I was honoured to be part of the founding board in January 2011 and also to have overseen the progress and development in the last three years.”

Paul Briggs, who is currently the Acting Chairman, was quick to pay tribute to the work Edwards had done over the years.

“All players past, present and those yet to come will be thankful for Scott bringing rugby league to Sweden” he said.

“Simply put, it would not exist here if not for him. Personally speaking I am especially grateful as he selected me in the national side and coming on board with league brought my passion for sport back again.

“With our focus on developing a great domestic scene, Scott will offer help and advice for all clubs to flourish. The board thanks Scott and his family for all the time and commitment they have put in.”

The new Chairman will be chosen at the Swedish AGM in January.