Bulldogs secure Smith for two more seasons

Canterbury Bulldogs utility back Reimis Smith

Eager to build their roster early, the Canterbury Bulldogs have retained talented utility back Reimis Smith until 2021. 

Smith, who has most recently played for the Kiwis at the World Cup Nines, is a talented and versatile back.

Playing in a total of 23 games in 2019 for the Bulldogs, Smith has continued to impress fans across the NRL.

As they look to rebuild their side and culture, and build on a late season run of form, the Bulldogs are primed for an assault.

Bulldogs Coach Dean Pay knows the worth of Smith and is pleased to have retained him.

“Reimis is a great young talent and he gives us options in the backline as he is able to play both wing and centre,” said Pay.

He has shown an ability to score tries and be a great finisher, but we have also been pleased with the overall development of his game in the past two years.

We are all about building for the future and having Reimis be part of that is exciting for everyone involved at the club.”

Contract extension for Knights NSW prop Saifiti

Newcastle Knights prop Daniel Saifiti

2019 was somewhat of a memorable year for Daniel Saifiti; games galore and an Origin berth for NSW and the Newcastle Knights have rewarded him with a new deal.

Already signed for 2020, his contract extension will see one half of the Saifiti twins stay on until the end of 2022.

Although the Knights have a topsy turvy 2019 season under Nathan Brown, new coach Adam O’Brien is at the helm.

Saifiti is both keen to impress the new coach and grateful to the club for the opportunities.

“I’m so grateful for the faith the Club has shown in me,” Saifiti said.

“While there have been some tough times, we showed improvement this season and are getting better.

“We’ve signed some quality players in recent times and that has certainly helped with my development.”

Saifiti went on to say that he and his brother owe a lot to the Knights for taking a chance on them.

“I owe a lot to this club,” Saifiti continued.

“My brother Jacob and I came here as teenagers to play 20s and I’ve been living my dream ever since.

“We have something special here and a talented group of guys.

“I’m excited for what the future holds, not only for myself and my teammates but for our loyal fans. That’s why I re-signed.”

Sustained success and keeping a core together is the key and Knights CEO Philip Gardner praised the retention of Saifiti.

“Daniel is still only young but shows a maturity beyond his years,” Mr Gardner said.

“He’s a wonderful young man and exceptional player.

“This season we saw him take a giant step forward in developing into the player we all know he can become.

“His form deservedly saw him selected to play in two games for NSW in what was a successful State of Origin series.”

The Mundine name is back in rugby league as CJ signs with the Rabbitohs

Newly signed South Sydney Rabbitohs utility back CJ Mundine

Mundine, a name synonymous with rugby league. A name we will see more of, now that CJ Mundine has signed a two-year deal with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

CJ, the son of former rugby league player and Australian boxer Anthony, joins the Rabbitohs for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Initially a Dragons junior, the young utility back was reportedly highly sought after but Mundine chose the Bunnies.

It should come as no surprise that the Rabbitohs are pleased to have CJ and pleased for the Mundine name to remain associated with league.

“CJ is an outstanding prospect and we’re delighted to know he will be learning his trade at South Sydney,” said Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson.

“He has shown plenty of promise in the junior representative grades, he had plenty of interest from other NRL clubs for his services.

“We couldn’t be happier to see him pick the Rabbitohs as his club of choice for his career development moving forward.”

Richardson made note of his sporting pedigree and history and looks forward to seeing Mundine develop within the club.

“He comes from a great pedigree with his father and grandfather both being fantastic athletes in Rugby League and Boxing,” Richardson continued.

“He has been brought up with great values in a strong family.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him develop in our system initially with our championship-winning under 20s squad and to see him live The Rabbitoh Way.”

Ramien returns to the Sharks

Returning Cronulla Sharks centre Jesse Ramien

After a tough time of sorts over in Newcastle, Jesse Ramien will return to the Cronulla Sharks, the club where it all began for him.

Back in 2017, Ramien made his debut for the club, before making the jump to Newcastle.

With his return to the Sharks now settled, Ramien is in it for the long haul with a four-year deal.

The emerging centre knows he has a lot to prove and he is ready to get stuck in and perform strongly in 2020.

“I’m stoked to be back in the black, white and blue, it’s a bit of a home coming,” Ramien said.

“I want to hit the ground running, I want to try to have a big year and I’ve got a bit of a point to prove.

“I know and have played with a lot of the boys, whether it was in the NRL, the 20’s or the NSW Cup and I think I probably played my best footy at the Sharks so I’m excited to be back.”

It should come as no surprise that Sharks coach John Morris is pleased to have Ramien back in blue, white and black.

“I am very excited to have Jesse Ramien back where he belongs, which is in Sharks colours,” Morris said.

“As his Holden Cup coach in 2016 and 2017, I developed a great bond with Jesse and love everything he brings, not only to our team on the field but off it as well.”

Morris continued to praise Ramien for his off-field exploits and knows how valuable of an asset he will be for the club.

He is a very good person and role model,” Morris continued.

“Jesse will certainly add to the experience and class of our backline and bring size, speed and X-factor that will change the way we play in 2020.”

Wolfpack score massive coup with signing of Williams

Newly signed Toronto Wolfpack star Sonny Bill Williams

He is a dual international, a dynamic ball-runner and people the world over know his name. Now, Sonny Bill Williams will don the Toronto Wolfpack colours.

In a huge coup for the Super League, the Wolfpack and Canadian rugby league, this two year deal is likely to change everything.

As the Wolfpack embark on their debut season in the Super League, coming out all guns blazing was the key.

Signing Williams sets them on the path to strong achievements and the man himself is excited at the challenge that lies ahead.

“Toronto Wolfpack is a club that represents Toronto which is a very multicultural city,” Williams said.

“The club has big ambitions and big goals. I want to be part of all this and do all I can to help reach those lofty goals.

“On the field, I’d like to bring high quality play and do all I can for the betterment of the team.”

Although his on-field efforts will be the ultimate key, Williams wants to help the younger generation and talent moving forward.

Off the field, I’d like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed,” Williams continued.

“Super league will be a new challenge and one I’m looking forward to. It will be a new experience and one I’m ready to embrace.”

Former Leeds Rhinos coach now at the helm of the Wolfpack, knows how big of a signing this is for the club.

“We have signed one of the highest profile rugby players, if not sports stars in the world,” McDermott said.

“He will enhance the world of rugby in Toronto and certainly push the brand of the Wolfpack onto another level.

“The main point of excitement for our club is that we are signing a great Rugby League player who has the hunger to be successful in Super League much as he was in the NRL and Rugby Union.”

Matterson returns home with Eels deal

Newly signed Parramatta Eels back-rower Ryan Matterson

Ryan Matterson has come full circle since he lost donned Parramatta Eels colours but the utility is back. 

Specialising in back-row but able to cover lock and five-eighth, Matterson will return to the Eels having left them several years ago for the Sydney Roosters.

With the Eels needing a hard-running back-rower to replace the departed Manu Ma’u, the Eels have their man.

The deal runs for three years which includes an option in 2022.

Eels coach Brad Arthur knows the value of hard workers and looks forward to Matterson joining pre-season training.

“It’s always great to see the return of a local Parramatta Eels junior,” Arthur said.

“He’ll have a whole pre-season with the team and I know he’ll be an asset to our Club next year.”

Lewis signs new Bulldogs deal

Canterbury Bulldogs half Lachlan Lewis

After a breakout year and impressing many Canterbury Bulldogs fans, half Lachlan Lewis has signed a new deal until the end of 2021.

With 24 NRL games to his name so far, 15 of which came in 2019, Lewis has emerged as a staple of the Canterbury side.

There was nothing but praise for Lewis as he continues to develop his game.

“Lachy is a great talent with unlimited potential and he is one of a number of young players that we think will form the basis of our squad going forward,” said Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill.

“He has shown great resilience on the field and also a real toughness in defence that has proven to be the basis of all great Bulldogs teams throughout our history.”

With the club excited about the direction they are heading in, Hill is pleased that Lewis wants to be a part of that.

“It is great for the club and our members and fans that Lachy wants to be part of what we are building here and we are all excited about the direction this club is heading,” the CEO continued.

Watene-Zelezniak signs new Bulldogs deal

Canterbury Bulldogs utility back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

Joining the Canterbury Bulldogs last season, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak quickly impressed the club and the Bulldogs fans. 

In a boost for him and the club, a new deal has been awarded to the utility back until the end of 2022.

There were no qualms from the club about how effortlessly Watene-Zelezniak has fit in with their culture.

“Dallin is a quality individual who has really fitted into the Bulldogs culture on and off the field,” said club CEO Andrew Hill.

“His performances in the fullback role were outstanding last season and he also brings a level of leadership that has greatly enhanced our team.”

A well-liked player among his peers, the club are hopeful that Watene-Zelezniak can go from strength to strength.

“We are delighted that he has committed his future to our club and that he has bought into our values,” continued Hill.

“He is extremely well respected around the playing group and we look forward to seeing him continue to flourish next season.”

Parramatta Eels re-sign five players for 2020

Parramatta Eels forward David Gower

Looking to build on their performances in 2020, the Parramatta Eels continue to round out their roster with some new re-signings.

Four players; Brad Takairangi, David Gower, Ray Stone and Andrew Davey, have all been retained for 2020.

Back-rower Marata Niukore has been given a contract extension until the end of the 2022 season.

In a good place in terms of personnel and where the team is at, coach Brad Arthur is pleased with the club’s direction.

“We’re really happy to be in a position to retain our players.

“There’s a lot of NRL experience amongst them which is valuable to our young group of players, and for the juniors coming through.”

Parramatta Eels utility Brad Takairangi

The notable rugby league retiring class of 2019

Retired South Sydney Rabbitohs utility back Greg Inglis

The Class of 2019

Another exciting and action packed domestic season is now in the books and with that it will unfortunately be the last we see of a select group of players all of whom have their own mark on the sport of rugby league.

So, in tribute, we take a look at some of the most notable players from both the NRL and Super League who called time on their retrospective career.

Greg Inglis

The Queensland legend was one of the game’s most formidable forces in the mid to late 2000s and established himself as one of the most versatile and big game talents.

With his sheer size and strength as well as his explosive and creative flair, he was a force to be reckoned with.

The former Melbourne and South Sydney figurehead’s displays at club, state and international will go down as one of the most noteworthy in NRL and rugby league history.

Cooper Cronk

Over the course of the NRL era, there are not many more accomplished than the dynamic halfback.

Over the course of his career, Cronk may not have been the biggest try scorer or goal kicker but he more than made up for it with his organisational ability, in game kicking, slick passing, rugby league IQ and savvy.

Retired Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk

For many, he is one of the best to ever play the game and when you look at his extensive CV, it is easy to see why.

Four NRL titles, two Dally M Player of the Year medals, five Dally M halfback of the years and one Golden Boot award.  

Paul Gallen

The former Cronulla Shark undoubtedly developed a reputation as one of the NRL’s best enforcers at the prop forward spot.

The 38-year-old spent his entire 19-year-career with the Sharks and holds the record for most seasons played in Australian rugby league history.

Retired Cronulla Sharks lock and captain Paul Gallen

After making his debut in 2001, Gallen went on to make 349 appearances while scoring 63 tries in the process.

An NRL crown had eluded Gallen for the most part of his career but that all changed in 2016 when Gallen broke the curse after leading his side to victory over Melbourne in the Grand Final.

Danny McGuire

The Super League legend’s career came to a close at the end of this season after a one year stint with Hull KR but even to the very end, the 8-time Super League winner looked as creative and dominant as ever.

Between 2004 and 2019, McGuire developed a reputation as a dynamic and prolific scrum half.

Retired Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR half Danny McGuire

An integral part of a Leeds Rhinos side that utterly dominated Super League throughout the 2000s and 2010s.

Altogether, McGuire stands as one of the league’s best ever and most memorable of faces.

By the end of the 2019 season, he finished with over 450 domestic appearances throughout his career as well scoring 276 tries in all competitions.

He still remains the only player to have scored 200 or more in Super League itself. 

Matt Scott

Similar to Gallen, Matt Scott secured his status as one of Australia’s top enforcers and was a one club player throughout his entire career.

In 16 seasons between 2004 and 2019, the bulldozing prop forward was a leader in North Queensland’s forward pack.

Retired North Queensland Cowboys prop Matt Scott

He won Dally M Prop of the Year and Captain of the Year in 2011 and 2015 retrospectively.

The former Maroons man had to wait until 2015 when he eventually claimed the big one, when his Cowboys side overcame Brisbane in a thrilling contest. 

Jamie Jones Buchanan

The Leeds man remained one of the last key figureheads of Leeds’ golden decade up until his retirement at the end of this season.

In the process, he left behind memories that will not be forgotten anytime soon by the Leeds faithful.

Retired Leeds forward Jamie Jones Buchanan

The 38-year-old spent an outstanding 20-years at the West Yorkshire club as a one club man and played a huge part in Leeds’ rise to dominance between 2004 and 2017.

In two decades of rugby league, Jones Buchanan became one of the sports most accomplished and hard working talents.

Robbie Farah

After more than 300 games and 70 tries, the 35-year-old decided to hang up his boots at the end of the 2019 season.

The former Australia and Lebanon international was a member of the 2005 Wests Tigers side that claimed NRL glory over North Queensland.

Retired Wests Tigers hooker and veteran Robbie Farah

Although it was to be his only NRL title, Farah has consistently shown his worth, proving to be an invaluable member of the Tigers and South Sydney.

Ben Westwood

The 38-year-old spent 18 seasons with Warrington Wolves, making 444 appearances and scoring 128 tries in the process for the Primrose and Blue.

He was a winning member of three Challenge Cup wins in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Retired Warrington Wolves forward Ben Westwood

Although a Super League crown would elude him throughout his long and storied career, ‘Super Ben’ firmly established himself as a force in the back row for both club and country.

His hard work, sheer aggressiveness and intensity was on show on numerous occasions.

Mark Minichello

The younger Minichello brother was undoubtedly a largely consistent player in his 18 years in rugby league, playing in both the NRL and  the Super League.

The former Italian international spent 13 seasons in the NRL turning out for Sydney, South Sydney and Gold Coast with whom he spent the better part of his career with before making the move to Hull FC in 2015.

Retired Hull FC back-rower Mark Minchiello

There is no question that Minichello was one best forwards to put on the black and white jersey.

He was an astute performer in the Airlie Birds’ Challenge Cups wins in 2016 and 2017.

By the end of his career, he made 396 appearances and scored 70 tries whilst also featuring for Italy in two Rugby League World Cups.

Sika Manu 

The 32-year-old made the decision to step away from rugby league at the end of this season after an accomplished and successful career at both international and club level.

Between 2007 and 2012, he featured as part of a dominant Melbourne side that went on to claim the NRL title in 2012 before moving onto Penrith Panthers in 2013 and eventually seeing his career out with Hull FC.

Retired Hull FC back-rower Sika Manu

The former New Zealand and Tongan international was another member of Hull’s back to back Challenge Cup wins.

He seemingly formed a formidable forward pack alongside the likes of Minichello, Liam Watts and Scott Taylor.

The success would not stop at club level either, as Manu was a member of the Kiwis 2008 Rugby League World Cup winning squad as well. 

John Sutton

Another one club man as the 34-year-old played all his 16 seasons in rugby league with South Sydney.

Throughout his career, he featured in a variety of different positions playing in the back row as well as on the backline for the Bunnies, showing a fine level of adaptability.

Retired South Sydney Rabbitohs back-rower John Sutton

He ended his career as the most capped player in Rabbitohs history with 337 appearances and scored 61 tries.

He captained his side to NRL glory in 2014 with a dominating win over Canterbury in the Grand Final. 

Carl Ablett

A name that may not be too familiar with NRL fans, however Ablett was a part of Leeds rise to prominence throughout the mid 2000s and into the 2010s.

Between 2007 and 2017, the 33-year-old was a part of seven Super League winning teams for the Rhinos alongside two Challenge Cup victories.

Retired Leeds Rhinos player Carl Ablett

In his 16 seasons for the Rhinos, he made over 300 appearances while scoring 77 tries. 

Michael Gordon

A journeyman of NRL rugby as between 2006 and 2019, Gordon took his trade to the likes of Penrith, Cronulla, Parramatta, Sydney before ending his career with Gold Coast at the end of this season.

The goal kicking fullback may not have been able to break into the NSW or Australia team but his consistency off the tee and in attack was second to none.

NRL journeyman and now retired utility back Michael Gordon

So much so, that he sits as the 13th highest points scorer in Australian first grade history with 1,730. 


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