Veteran Eels centre Jennings signs on for two more years

Veteran Parramatta Eels centre Michael Jennings

Bursting back to form in 2019, the Parramatta Eels fans faithful will be pleased with the re-signing of Michael Jennings.

Heavily maligned and criticised after a poor 2018 campaign, Jennings’ form was a key part of the Eels push towards week 2 of the finals in 2019.

With Maika Sivo also signed on, he and Jennings will be able to renew their partnership that had Eels fans excited.

“Securing Michael is an important component to our roster management going forward,” Parramatta Eels Club General Manager of Football Mark O’Neill said.

“His skill and experience really contributed to our much improved performance in 2019.

“He will add enormous value in the future as we strive for premiership success considering he knows what it takes to perform on the highest stage.”

St George Illawarra Dragons rejoice as Zac Lomax is given new long-term deal

St George Illawarra Dragons utility back Zac Lomax

Worried at one point that he may leave, Zac Lomax will now be a St George Illawarra Dragons player long-term.

Lomax’s new contract will see the talented utility back remain in the Red V until the end of the 2025 season.

The new contract is a five-year one, with Lomax having already been contracted for the 2020 season.

A Temora Dragons junior, Lomax has been a part of the Red V since he was 13 and has come through the club pathways.

With the decision made, Dragons fans and Lomax himself can rest easy, with the talent pleased to have made a call.

“Being able to go back to Temora at Christmas knowing that my future is settled and that I’m definitely going to be a Dragon for a while yet is very exciting,” Lomax said.

“My family and I are very happy with the decision that’s been made.

With a move to fullback on the cards in 2020, Lomax is excited at the challenge that lies ahead.

“With 2020, I’ve attacked every session possible and soaked up as much information as I can when it comes to playing fullback,” Lomax continued.

“I realise I still have a lot to learn but it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.”

Although numerous clubs came knocking, the Dragons know how crucial it was they retain Lomax.

“There was a lot of speculation over Zac with numerous clubs in for him and we respected the process he and his management went through,” Director of Rugby League Pathways and List Management Ian Millward said.

“One thing that hit home over the past couple of weeks was that he wanted to be a Dragon and wanted to stay at the Dragons.

“To have him recommit long term is a no-brainer.

“Our aim now, and Zac’s, is to have him wear the Red V for the rest of his career – he wants to be a one-club player.”

Sailor keeps the name associated with Dragons after new deal

St George Illawarra Dragons utility back Tristan Sailor

The son of Wendell Sailor but forming his own identity, Tristan Sailor is an exciting player and has re-signed with the St George Illawarra Dragons for 2020.

Coming through the Dragons pathway system, his first-grade debut was a matter of time and it came in round 23 of last season.

Playing at both fullback and wing, the two-time Queensland U20’s representative impressed fans with his speed and vision.

“It means a whole lot to remain a Dragon after coming through the Dragons’ junior system here,” Sailor said.

“Being able to debut last year and continue my journey is great especially since I live local and attend the University of Wollongong.

“I’ve been able to show I’m capable of playing a number of positions now, having also experienced different positions in the NRL.

“So I’m looking forward to continuing that through to 2020.”

The Dragons hope the new deal is just the beginning of a long term tenure for Sailor at the Dragons.

“We’re extremely excited about Tristan re-signing for a further 12 months following his advancement last year,” Director of Rugby League Pathways and List Management Ian Millward said.

“It was exciting to see his physical and mental development on and off the field.

“The coaching staff have a very high opinion of Tristan as does everyone else in the organisation.

“He’s heading in the right direction, and with the experiences of last year we’re expecting him to be a vital member of our squad in 2020.”

Eels young bopper Kaufusi signs extended and upgraded deal with club

Parramatta Eels prop Oregon Kaufusi

On the cusp of first-grade, Oregon Kaufusi is a player the Parramatta Eels back to play first-grade. 

So much so, Kaufusi has had his contract upgraded and extended until the end of the 2022 season.

Coming through the club ranks from the very beginning, Kaufusi is a player the club backs to perform.

“Oregon is another important signing for us, he’s a very talented player and an exceptional young man with great character,” Parramatta Eels General Manager of Football, Mark O’Neill said.

“He’s come through our elite pathways system and it’s wonderful to see so many of our juniors finding their feet in the NRL.”

With the young bopper set to learn alongside the likes of Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, his future is now sorted and set.

“He is having a strong off-season, and will continue to develop alongside the likes of experienced teammates Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell Gillard,” O’Neill continued.

The club means a lot to Kaufusi and he is excited to have the chance to stick around and prove himself.

“Very excited to be at the club that I grew up with a bit longer,” Kaufusi said.

“I grew up as a junior, I love the club, they’ve developed me, so I think it was right to stay with them.”

Parramatta Eels keep their man as Dylan Brown re-signs

Parramatta Eels halfback Dylan Brown

One of the best young halves they have ever produced, Dylan Brown will remain with the Parramatta Eels after re-signing at the club.

Brown’s three-year deal is a blessing for Eels fans, who waited hand on foot for an announcement amidst countless rumours.

Joining the club as a 16-year old and coming through the club’s elite pathways program, Brown has proven he belongs in the NRL.

Making his debut in round 1 last season, he slowly began to find his feet and was a driving force behind the club’s finals appearance.

It was crucial for the club to retain and knowing full well he is their future, they are pleased to have him tied down.

“The signing of Dylan Brown aligns with our development club philosophy and we’re extremely proud of the person and player he has become today,” Mark O’Neill, Parramatta Eels Club General Manager of Football.

“We’re excited about the future ahead for our Members and fans.”

 

Union beckons for Storm winger Vunivalu from 2021

Departing Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu

Following in the footsteps of Marika Koroibete, fellow Fijian Suliasi Vunivalu will depart the Melbourne Storm to take up a rugby union deal.

Vunivalu will see out 2020, the final year of his Melbourne Storm contract, before moving onto a two-year deal with the Queensland Reds.

In a bid to end speculation surrounding his future, the club felt it best to release a statement and confirm the news.

“Suli has received an offer from rugby union which we couldn’t compete with financially,” Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said.

“It’s always disappointing to lose quality players but we understand Suli’s decision.”

Although his exploits and try-scoring feats will be missed, the club know he will be committed to his role in 2020.

“Importantly, he has expressed his total commitment to Storm for the next 12 months and we expect he will again play a key role in our 2020 campaign,” Donaghy continued.

“We have had experience in the past with players signing deals for the future but remaining with Storm to see out their current contracts.”

Taking a chance on a young Fijian prodigy with a union background, the Storm converted Vunivalu into an elite winger.

Although he is sad to leave, he has a family to look after and based his decision around them.

“The Storm has been wonderful to me, and I’m continuing to make great memories here,” Vunivalu said.

“However, the offer from rugby union was too good for me to refuse, especially considering I have a young family who I want to do the best for.”

His strong Union background made the decision easier and he Vunivalu could not bring himself to play against his Storm teammates.

“I was a rugby union player before switching to league and always thought going back to rugby was an option for my career and I never wanted to play for another NRL club,” Vunivalu continued.

“I’d hate to have to go up against Storm and my mates.

“Now this decision is public, I’m concentrating 100% on my final year in Melbourne and looking forward to doing the best I can for the boys, the coaches and all our members and fans.”

Merrin leaves England to make surprise return to Dragons

Returning St George Illawarra Dragons forward Trent Merrin

It may not be the signing the St George Illawarra Dragons faithful want, but former forward Trent Merrin will return to the club.

With 133 NRL games to his name for the club and a 2010 premiership to boot, the Red V is no stranger to Merrin.

With fellow forward Luciano Leilua granted a release, it freed up a top 30 spot to sign the returning Merrin.

“Trent could’ve jumped like a kangaroo all the way back to Australia he’s that excited to come back to the Dragons,” Director of Rugby League Pathways and List Management Ian Millward said.

“Trent has indicated to the club several times over the past 12 months that he’d love to come home; an opportunity for this has since come up after the club granted Luciano his requested release.”

As they look to improve on a rather poor season, the pressure is on players and coach alike, even if Merrin will provide some extra punch.

“Trent brings plenty of experience to the Dragons’ forward pack and is someone who is really passionate and can’t wait to put the Red V back on,” Millward continued.

Brodie Croft granted early release to head home to join Brisbane Broncos

New Brisbane Broncos halfback Brodie Croft

The Brisbane Broncos got their man, and that man is newly released Melbourne Storm half Brodie Croft. 

Being granted that release allowed the Broncos to sign Croft on a three-year deal.

Croft will join Junior Kangaroos teammates David Fifita and Thomas Flegler at the club.

With 39 games to date and still only 22, there is room to grow but the potential is there and that excites coach Anthony Seibold.

“We are bringing Brodie home to Queensland and giving him the opportunity to represent our club and the club he grew up supporting,” said Seibold.

“Brodie has performed at an elite level throughout the various stages of his development and even as recent as last month represented the Junior Kangaroos under-23s team.”

Having played in the 2018 NRL grand final and maturing as a player, Seibold believes Croft is ready for the next step.

“I believe Brodie is ready to step up as a leader and key position player at the Broncos after learning his craft in Melbourne,” the Broncos head coach continued.

“He experienced a Grand Final in 2018 and is at an age where he is ready to lead a team around the park.

“Brodie gives us depth in the halfback position and he, Anthony Milford and Tom Dearden are players we believe can have a strong influence in what we do in season 2020 and beyond.”

Broncos CEO Paul White also chimed in on Croft’s arrival.

“Brodie comes from a good system and has played a few seasons of NRL football and that is important for our club,” said White.

“Brodie wants to be a Bronco and is a proud Queenslander – and we are really happy to be able to be bring him home.”

Home is where the heart is as Townsend sticks with the Sharks

Cronulla Sharks half Chad Townsend

For some players, a jersey is all about pride and at the Cronulla Sharks, that is precisely what Chad Townsend feels. 

The local Yarrawarrah Tigers junior has been through thick and thin at the Sharks, and has a new deal as a result.

His form has warranted it, as he signs on for the 2021 season, having already been contracted for 2020.

His new contract also includes options for both the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Making his debut for the club back in 2011, games were sporadic, prompting a move to the New Zealand Warriors.

Returning to the Sharks in 2016, Townsend has not looked back since, becoming a mainstay in the halves.

“I grew up here, this is where I want to play,” Townsend said.

“I love playing for this jersey, it means a lot to me and I’m looking forward to the future.

“I’m very happy to be staying in the Shire.”

Coach John Morris, who was also a former teammate of Townsend’s is pleased to see him stick around.

“It’s fantastic news, he’s such an important part of our Club,” Morris said.

“No player in the NRL would be more consistent than Chad Townsend, on and off the field. He’s the ultimate professional.

“He is a rare game manager, a player who can execute a game plan and he’s a crucial part of our team.”

 

The nation’s capital beckons for Scott with Raiders deal

Newly signed Canberra Raiders centre Curtis Scott

Speculation about a move stuck with Curtis Scott and it was the Canberra Raiders who won the race for his signature.

Granted a release from the final two years of his Melbourne Storm contract, Scott has signed a four year deal with the Raiders.

With 48 games to his name and 18 tries, Scott is a good asset for the Raiders moving forward.

“Curtis is a player we believe has a very big future in the game and we’re thrilled to have him join us for the next four seasons,” NRL Recruitment and High Performance Director Peter Mulholland said.

“At just 22, he’s already been able to play almost 50 NRL games and he’s an exciting talent who will give our squad a player who is hungry to further his development and become an even better player.”

Your one stop shop for rugby league news