Raiders half ignores NRL overtures and signs with Wakefield

Sam Williams

Numerous clubs around the NRL could have used a half like him in their side but Sam Williams had other ideas, joining the Wakefield Wildcats on a 1-year deal.

The 25-year old, who has this year played back-up to both Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, is excited to join a club on the rise like Wakefield.

“I am very excited to join Wakefield, and it is a family club with such a close-knit community,” said Williams.

“I’m looking forward to being able to work with Chris Chester, I have heard good things from Josh Hodgson on his coaching and I am now excited to be a part of it and am looking forward to what the future holds.”

Williams is no stranger to the Super League, having previously played for the Catalan Dragons in 2014.

The signing of Williams will provide some competition for spots in the halves, as Wildcats coach Chris Chester praised Williams attributes.

“Sam Williams is a great signing for the club and a big coup,” said Chester.

“A number of Super League clubs were chasing his signature and I am delighted that he has chosen to play at Wakefield.

“I would like to thank Ricky Stuart and the Canberra Raiders for helping us make the signing happen. Sam will bring a wealth of experience and a good kicking game along with being a good leader on and off the field.”

Across the board, the team is pleased to have Williams on board as comments from Chairman Michael Carter suggest.

“Having spoken to Sam at length, I am delighted that this young man has agreed to join us,” said Carter.

“I look forward to seeing him don the Red, White and Blue jersey next season.”

Young Dragons centre forced to retire due to back injury

Dylan Farrell

Retiring because of injury and not on one’s own terms is disappointing for any player and St George Illawarra Dragons centre Dylan Farrell had was today forced to close the curtain on his career.

At the end of the 2015 season, Farrell suffered a complex back injury that has been ongoing and despite rehabilitation and treatment to make himself right, it has been to no avail.

That led Farrell to re-assess his options and he felt it was the right time to retire for both himself and his family.

“It is not the way that I would have preferred to bow out but deep down I know it is the best decision for both my family and myself moving forward in the long run,” said Farrell.

“I have enjoyed every minute playing rugby league and wish I could have returned to the field but unfortunately it was not meant to be.”

Farrell made his NRL debut with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2010 and was named in the Holden Cup Team of the Year in that season.

After numerous years at the Bunnies, Farrell joined the Dragons and played in 19 NRL games for the St George club over three years, bringing his total number of games in the NRL to 89.

Although he has not been playing due to his injury, Farrell has been active off the field for the Dragons, keeping himself busy by working in the Dragons Community department.

Farrell has been a part of programs such as the Dragons ‘Indigenous Advancement’ program, the 2016 Dragons Diary ‘Best You Can Be’ and the ‘Tackling Domestic Violence’ campaign.

All of this has kept Farrell busy and he is proud of the opportunity afforded to him to be involved in these programs.

“I am proud to have been involved in so many positive programs promoting healthy living to children of all ages across the state in my role this season working with the Dragons Community department,” said Farrell.

“It was a healthy distraction from my back issues and helped put a lot of things in perspective for me as a person.

“I am honoured to have been able to play alongside some great players and have made many valuable friendships and memories along the way.

With his playing career now finished prematurely, Farrell looks forward to what life has in store for him.

“I would like to thank all the coaches and support staff who I have been under for helping me grow as a player and to them all I am forever grateful,” added Farrell.

“I look forward now to the next chapter in my life whatever that may be.”

Farrell received praise from Dragons coach Paul McGregor, who applauded the centre’s tenacity and hard-work.

“Dylan is a hardworking player who was never afraid to roll-up his sleeves and help get the job done,” said McGregor.

“It is unfortunate that his ongoing battle with injury has gotten the better of him but he is the type of person who will bounce back from this and turn it into a positive for the rest of his life.

“Everyone at the Dragons wishes him all the very best for his future and we thank him for his services to the Club.”

Titans prop makes the shift to England for a new challenge

Luke Douglas

Signing a marquee player and retaining your roster was never going to be an easy task and the Gold Coast Titans have had another player leave, with prop Luke Douglas to join Super League side St Helens.

The veteran forward who has played for the Titans and the Cronulla Sharks during his NRL career will join the Super League side on a three-year deal.

Playing in more than 200 games through is NRL career, the Scottish international is excited at what lies ahead in his new challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to this new challenge,” he said.

“The club has a great profile and stature in the game and I hope to be able to contribute to developing that wonderful culture

“I am told Saints have the best fans in the game and I can’t wait to engage with them.

“I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my life.”

The Yamba Eagles junior made his debut in 2006 with the Sharks and has not missed a game of NRL since, playing 215 consecutive NRL games.

For St Helens, the signing is a boost as the club needed some leadership and experience in the forward pack, something that coach Keiron Cunningham believes Douglas can provide.

“Luke is dynamic, tough running front rower who will bring top level NRL experience to our pack next season,” said Cunningham.

“His leadership will be important to our younger players too and we are delighted to secure his signature for the next three years.”

Former NRL player leaves Catalans for family reasons to join Leigh

Glenn Stewart

Just one year into a three-year deal, former NRL player Glenn Stewart has departed the club citing family reasons.

His new home will be the newly promoted Super League side, the Leigh Centurions, with the veteran signing a 2-year deal.

Stewart, who has previously played in the NRL for the Manly Sea Eagles and the South Sydney Rabbitohs, enjoyed his time in France and with Catalans but family reasons meant he had to move clubs.

“I have loved my time in France,” said Stewart.

“The Dragons have been really good to me and my family but my son, in particular, needed a bit of help with the language barrier and as regards his schooling he needs to be in a country where English is the primary language.

“Catalans were kind enough to grant me a release and one thing quickly led to another.

“We are excited about getting there, meeting everyone and settling in before pre-season comes along.”

Stewart was quick to point out, though, that he is here to play and perform for Leigh. He praised their efforts to earn promotion and is eager to be a part of the side.

“But I am not coming over for a holiday. It was an awesome achievement for Leigh to get into Super League and they are not going in there just to compete,” added Stewart.

“I want to play my best footy, achieve things with the team and repay Derek for the faith he has shown in me. It’s a big one for me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Now in the Super League, Leigh have pulling power to sign players and club owner Derek Beaumont is thrilled to sign the rugby league veteran.

“This is a massive signing for our club. In order to be a top Super League side we have to be able to attract the top players and this is evidence of not only our intent but our ability to do that,” said Beaumont.

“Glenn’s addition takes us to another level on and off the field and will make attracting other top players more possible.”

With issues behind him, Foran heads home to NZ

Kieran Foran

A move that has made many fans angry and disillusioned, Kieran Foran will join the New Zealand Warriors on a one-year deal.

Foran, who left former club Parramatta with much fanfare to work on some deep-seeded personal issues, joins a Warriors side boasting a formidable spine.

The move will not please Eels fans, though, who believe that Foran merely used their club for various reasons.

Warriors fans will like the move, however, as they add a quality half to their already star-studded team.

Foran, who is now rebuilding both his personal life and his rugby league career, felt that playing in New Zealand was the best option for him.

He informed Warriors Managing Director Jim Doyle of his intentions.

“I’ve been in touch with Kieran regularly this year to offer support as he has dealt with the well-documented challenges he has been facing,” said Doyle.

“We have worked through the option of coming to Auckland carefully with him. There has been much to consider in creating an environment for Kieran to not only return to football but also to put all the support around him that he needs.

“I’m delighted that following those discussions, Kieran has now decided to join the Vodafone Warriors. The next step is to work alongside the NRL to cover off all requirements to have the contract registered.”

Recovering in Sydney as he dealt with personal issues, Foran had a lot of time to think about life and what he wanted out of it.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about my future over the last few months,” said Foran from Sydney.

“Initially footy was the furthest thing from my mind and I needed time away from the game. More recently the desire to play again has completely returned and I’m very keen to make a big contribution next year.”

Foran felt that a return home in a country that is near and dear to him was the best decision to make at the present time.

“While I had other options, coming to Auckland emerged as the best decision for me. Being in a new environment was important but I’m also incredibly excited by the potential of the club and the quality roster it has. I can’t wait to be part of the team and I want to play a major role in 2017 in taking the club to the next level,” added Foran.

“I have so many people to thank for making this happen and for supporting me through what’s been a tough period.

“Now I want to repay them. The Vodafone Warriors have so much to offer and I’m looking forward to working with so many players I know from the Kiwis as well as Mooks (Stephen Kearney).”

New Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is pleased to have the Kiwi international on board.

“He’s such a high-quality footballer and competitor who will add a lot to our squad,” he said.

“Kieran and I have been in contact throughout the year and I know he has made a lot of progress with the challenges he has had. I’m extremely pleased to have him on board.”

The Penrith core sticks together as Moylan and Cartwright re-sign

Matt Moylan

Regarded by Penrith fans as two of their best players, they will be cheering until the dust settles with the re-signing of both Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright.

A fullback and utility respectively, the duo have been a crucial part of the Penrith side over the last 18 months and played important roles in their finals campaign this season.

Highly rated by both fans and the club, Penrith Chairman Dave O’Neill is happy to keep two of their local players around.

“The re-signing of Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright is indicative of Panthers’ steadfast commitment to being a development club with clear pathways from the local juniors through to first-grade rugby league,” O’Neill said.

“It is fantastic to be in a position to reward the hard work and effort of these two outstanding individuals over the last few years.

“It is also a credit to the Panthers organisation and the direction we’re heading that we can develop these superstar players and keep them for the long term.”

The new deal will see the duo remain at the club until 2021, as Penrith Group CEO Brian Fletcher remains confident that the core group the club is building together can lead them to success.

“The Board recognises the fundamental importance of having a consistently competitive football side that our members can be proud of,” he said.

“To that end, Matt and Bryce are not only brilliant young players but also exceptional citizens of the Penrith district.

“There is plenty of blue sky ahead for the Panthers and I’m confident we’ve put ourselves in a position to hopefully win a premiership within the next three years.”

In a year that saw Moylan play for NSW in his Origin debut and awarded with the Penrith captaincy, the new deal is the icing on the cake for him and he is pleased to have his future sorted at a club he loves.

“To play for my hometown club and to represent the people of Penrith is an honour and a privilege,” Moylan said.

“With the squad we have and the direction that we’re heading, I’m sure we’re building towards something special.

“It’s great to secure my future at the club and to know that I can be part of that journey.”

One of their most flamboyant players, Cartwright is known for his offloading ability and like his counterpart, he is also excited to be a part of the club long-term.

“I’m honoured that the Panthers have shown such faith in me and I’m ecstatic to commit my future to the club,” Cartwright said.

“This club has been my home for a long time now and I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else.

“With the players, staff and facilities we have here, I’m really excited about what lies ahead.”

Bryce Cartwright

Sharks stalwart to play one for one more season

Paul Gallen

Most Cronulla Sharks fans love him but some are still undecided on whether going around for another season is the right option but regardless, Paul Gallen has re-signed with the club for a further season, likely his last.

The Sharks veteran who has been at the club through good times and bad times has always loved the club and will again lead the Sharks in season 2017.

Debuting with the club in 2001, Gallen will enter his 18th season in the NRL and with the club, with club CEO Lyall Gorman pleased to have the veteran around again.

“He’s been our traditional leader on the field and our spiritual leader off the field,” said Gorman.

“There’s been no greater clubman to play for this club and we’re excited to have another season with Paul as our club leader.”

Speculation has gone on for months as to whether Gallen would play on in 2017 but the veteran is just pleased to have his future sorted.

“There wasn’t really much doubt nor was there much chasing up,” Gallen said.

“I’m certainly excited to be here for another year.”

As a Sharks player for his entire career, Gallen is pleased to continue his playing association with the club.

“I love this club, I love this area and we’re in a good position now to win our first premiership.”

Eels fan favourite utility signs new deal

Brad Takairangi

Since joining the Parramatta Eels, Brad Takairangi has quickly become a fan favourite and has played well for the club in the process. His form and partnerships with his team-mates has seen the club reward him with a new long-term deal.

The man known simply as ‘Taka’ to many Eels fans, recently played in his 100th career NRL game.

The new deal will see Takairangi remain with the Eels until the end of the 2019 season, with the form he has shown a big reason behind his new deal.

“I am pleased that Brad has re-signed with the Eels until the end of the 2019 season,” said Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur.

“Brad is a leader and key member of our squad and he has been one of our most consistent performers since joining us in 2015.”

“It was a priority for us to secure Brad for the next few seasons and it is pleasing to see he has committed to the club for the long term.”

Boost for Titans as flourishing young half re-signs

Ash Taylor

The pick of many to be named the 2016 NRL Rookie of the Year, Ashley Taylor has enjoyed a tremendous debut season. It has now been capped off with the announcement that he has re-signed with the club until the end of the 2018 season.

The re-signing has been confirmed on the eve of the club’s Paul Broughton Medal evening, as Taylor – who played in 22 NRL games this year – impressed on many levels.

Still learning and developing by his own admission, Taylor is excited to spend more time with the Titans organisation who are on the rise.

“I’m very happy at the club and I want to show the Titans how thankful I am and commit myself for another season,” Taylor said.

“I’m very proud of what I have achieved this year and I’ve learned a lot in my first season in the NRL, not just on the field but how to prepare and handle the physical side of the weekly grind of the game. I can’t wait to get stuck into pre-season and progress further next season.

“It’s a great club and the playing group is really close and I reckon we can achieve quite a lot in the next two seasons.”

Forced to play him early due to a pre-season injury to fellow young half Kane Elgey, Titans coach Neil Henry has seen first-hand the impact and commitment of Taylor.

With the Titans organisation on the rise as a premiership force, he is pleased to see Taylor commit to the club and be a part of what they hope is something special.

“It’s great news for the club and another crucial piece in establishing a bright future for the Titans,” said Henry.

“I’m very pleased to know Ash will be with us for the next two seasons but it’s great for the Titans fans particularly as they can see a very good nucleus of a team for the future coming together.”
The competition for spots will be on in 2017, with the return of Kane Elgey to liven things up at Titans HQ.

“It means the club have great halves depth with Ash, Kane Elgey and Tyrone Roberts as well, who had a very good first season with the club,” added Henry.

Henry praised the efforts of Taylor both on and off the field as a player and a person.

“Not only has Ash worked hard on the field and handled the physical pressure and responsibility of being a young play-maker in a crucial position, but he has worked hard for the club off the field in community, which is a great credit to him,” said Henry.

In-form Dragons back-rower signs new long-term deal

Tyson Frizell

In a year that many St George Illawarra Dragons fans may want to forget, one of their strongest players over the course of the season was Tyson Frizell.

A hard-running back-rower, Frizell’s efforts did not go unnoticed, with the former Welsh international and now NSW Origin representative signing a new 3-year contract extension until the end of 2020.

In total, Frizell has played in 91 NRL games – the majority of those coming for the Dragons. Frizell played 12 NRL games for the Cronulla Sharks.

In the end, it was an easy decision for the Corrimal Cougars junior, who had no desire to leave.

“It was an easy decision for me to make being a local junior and playing for the Club these past four seasons so when the opportunity arose I was more than happy to extend my contract,” said Frizell.

“I believe that the Club is moving forward and I want to be a part of that so the option to prolong my career here was an easy choice to make.

“I grew up supporting the team so extending my stay has capped off a highlight year which has provided me the opportunity to play State of Origin and now represent Australia as part of the Prime Minister’s XIII.”

Selected in the PMXIII side for the upcoming clash against Papua New Guinea, the Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward knows how important Frizell is to the side.

“Tyson is an important member of our squad who we want to build a team around as he is someone we have earmarked as a future leader here at the Club,” said Millward.

“He was duly rewarded for his hard work by being selected for NSW in State of Origin and he did not let anyone down by the performances he displayed in that competitive arena.

“He has since been named for the upcoming touring Australia Prime Minister’s XIII team and we are confident this will lead to even greater things as he establishes himself as one of the upcoming elite players of the game.”

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