Kasiano commits to the Bulldogs

Sam Kasiano

In a boost heading into their weekend clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Canterbury Bulldogs have announced that boom prop Sam Kasiano has re-signed with the club, for a further three years.

The deal will see Kasiano remain at the club until the end of the 2015 NRL season, with the NZ born prop making his debut last year, playing in 29 first-grade games to date.

“I love the Bulldogs,” Kasiano says of his decision to re-sign.

“They gave me a start and I’m really happy to be staying.

“I’ve loved playing first grade over the last couple of seasons and I’m looking forward to playing more with the boys in future.

“Des and the coaching staff have helped a lot to improve my game this year. Hopefully I can keep improving.”

Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg, said that the re-signing of Kasiano was an important one for the team.

“Sam came to us as a very green Toyota Cup player midway through 2010 and even in the very early days we knew he was a player of enormous potential,” Greenberg says.

“We feel that potential is only just starting to be realised.

“What we have seen this year is the result of the commitment and effort he has put in under the leadership of our coaching staff.

“Sam is still very young and has a lot of development left in him, on and off the field, which is why we moved quickly to lock him up long term.”

Kasiano has started in 12 games so far this season, and Bulldogs coach Des Hasler is pleased with the prop’s development, over the course of the season.

“Sam is developing into a consistent NRL player with a host of skills that compliment the game,” Bulldogs head coach Des Hasler said.

“He is certainly one who will continue to improve on the back of an already athletic frame.”

PNG may join the QLD Cup

It would be a huge development for rugby league in Papua New Guinea, with the country to know in 7 days, as to whether or not they will be hosting a team in the 2013 Queensland Cup.

“It’s been a long and intense six month process but we are pretty confident, we’re 80% confident of getting the nod,” PNG National Rugby League Bid chief executive officer Brad Tassell said.

It was a meeting with the QRL board in Melbourne last Tuesday, that has Tassell confident about PNG’s involvement in the competition – a meeting that drew a positive response from all other teams and members in the competition.

“It’s been positive. They now go back to re-drawing and working towards accommodating an extra team in their schedule.

“It’s an even 12-team competition at the moment, and the addition will obviously make it an uneven draw. They want to work around all areas to cover for the team.

“They’ll meet again on the June 7, before any confirmation is made, so we’re looking forward to it.”

An inspection of Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby is likely to be a potential trip, the facility for all future PNG home games, should they get a team.

Should the PNG team enter the QLD Cup, the side will use all local talent from rugby league competitons and the Digicel Cup.

“The team will be 100% local born and bred talent selected from all rugby league competitions, including the Digicel Cup, with consideration for players that have come through the junior programmes.

“A six month scouting period will commence as soon as we get the nod, from where a squad of 40 players will be picked by November.

“This will be further trimmed to a 25-man full time squad, which will go into camp in January, and right through to the season, based out of Port Moresby,” Tassell said.

Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, has personally written to the QRL to seek the future entry of a PNG team, with the PNG government committing K1.5 million for the initial preparations and the program itself.

“The team will be run as a full professional franchise, like the Australian NRL clubs,” Tassell said.


Mataora makes call to stay in the nation’s capital

Sam Mataora

Despite heavy interest from the Wests Tigers, young Raiders back-rower Sam Mataora has made the decision to remain loyal to Canberra, re-signing with the club on a new 2-year deal.

Mataora, who made his debut for the club in 2010, became a key target for the Tigers – who are looking to bolster their forward depth, following the departure of two props last year, and English back-rower Gareth Ellis at the end of this year.

Despite that however, Mataora agreed to a new 2-year deal on Tuesday night, citing loyalty as the reason behind his decision.

“They’ve helped me out and this is where I started off, so I still wanted to give something back,” Mataora said yesterday.

“They [the Tigers] were pretty persistent, but I decided to stay.

“I was thinking about it [leaving], but I think I can push through here and try and get a starting spot.”

Pelo taking his chance by the horns

Dimitri Pelo

As the old saying goes, ‘you have to take the bull by its horns’, and New Caledonia native Dimitri Pelo has done just that – with the 27-year old seizing the opportunity he was given to play for the Raiders, and performing well for the club on debut.

Pelo, who played for Catalans in the English Super League, before moving to French rugby union, decided to try his hand at the NRL in mid 2011, and he was given the chance to trial with the Canberra Raiders and eventually play in the NRL -a childhood dream of his.

The dream soon became a reality, when Pelo, along with fellow debutant and good friend Edrick Lee, making their first-grade debuts for the club.

“Everyone kept asking us if we were alright before the game, which didn’t really help the nerves,” laughed Pelo.

“I still got butterflies on the night even though I have played a fair few games in the Super League. I was quite comfortable and I was just making sure Eddie was in the same situation as me. I was just trying to make his job easier. For his age to make his debut in the NRL, he’d be over the moon.”

Moving over is always difficult, and for Pelo, not knowing anyone was different – but since he arrived, Pelo is fitting into the playing group, and has been welcomed by players and coaching staff alike.

“The rapport with the squad has always been good. When I first came here everyone greeted me really nicely and the boys took me out for lunch and things like that and it’s continued ever since.”

“Everything has paid off now. I’m grateful that I put in all the hard yards in the off-season and showed Dave [Furner] what I can do. I’ve got the chance and now I have to take it and make the most of it.

“Rugby union wasn’t for me and it’s great to be back in rugby league. It’s good to get back to my roots. I’m loving every minute of it.”

Whilst playing first-grade was a good achievement for Pelo, he is keen to go one step further – and better his performance from his debut game.

“I’m going to feel more comfortable the second time around as there won’t be as much stress as in the first one. The combinations will be better as well as I’ll be more accustomed to how the other players are playing around me. Hopefully we can go one better this week and get the win.”

“I would love to make Canberra my home. I’m not a big fan of moving around too much. I’ve just moved back from the Super League and I just want to get a base, if I could make it here then it’d be great. I need to make sure that my performances warrant a contract extension.”

Waiting was something Pelo had to do a lot of before playing first-grade, but despite not making his debut until he was 27, Pelo said that never giving up is the key.

“If the dream and the passion are still there don’t give it up. Have a really good go at it until your dreams actually become true.”

“My story and Andrew Everingham’s shows you what can happen when you don’t give up. He had a passion and he just kept plugging away even though he had to work on the side. He loved it so much that he kept doing it and it’s really paid off for him now.”

Whare heads West for 2 years

Dean Whare

Something had to give at Manly, and more will likely make way – with the man know as ‘Mr Fix It’ Dean Whare, moving to the Penrith Panthers on a 2-year deal.

Whare has been filling in at fullback, wing and centre for the Sea Eagles in season 2012, but wants to make a name for himself playing one positon – feeling that he had more chances to do that, at the Penrith Panthers.

The Penrith club is excited with the signing, and looks forward to having Whare on board at the club from season 2013.

Ropati wants to return despite long-term injury

Jerome Ropati

You could perhaps call him one of the NRL’s unluckiest players, with Warriors utility back Jerome Ropati seemingly always injured, unfortunately.

With the thought of looming injuries to come, Ropati has admitted that he may have played his last game of rugby league – though he will fight with all he has, to ensure that that is not the case.

Ropati, 27, has played only 18 games in the past 3 seasons, and is out for the remainder of this year, after dislocating his patella tendon in Rd 10, requiring surgery.

“It is what it is,” said a disappointed Ropati in his first interview since the injury.

“I had the operation a week ago and I’m just in recovery mode now.

“I tore the patella tendon and dislocated my kneecap. But I’ve had it stitched back up.”

Last year, it was the ACL that Ropati injured, resulting in his missing the Warriors run to the finals, and ultimately, to the grand final.

Whilst injuries are never pleasant, Ropati’s latest setback is the one that has him disappointed, more than any other that he has sustained.

“I love the game because I love competing. I love being out there and trying to win. I can’t do that at the moment.

“I’m over it. Well, a part of me is and a part of me is finding it hard to watch the games at the moment because it does hurt a little bit.”

It was just before the injury, that Ropati signed a 1-year extension with the New Zealand Warriors, making him the club’s longest serving player.

Ropati knows that the key is getting both his knee and body back to full fitness, but knows that if his knee does not respond to the rigorous demands he will place on it, then his playing career might unfortunately, be over.

“I’ve signed a one-year deal and that was under conditions when I was currently playing,” he said.

“I’ve injured my knee and now things have changed. I can’t control that. But what I can control is hopefully getting my knee right, training hard and getting back in the team.

“That [quitting] hasn’t entered my mind. I’m going to see how this knee reacts. If it reacts in a way that is not conducive to playing football, then I’ll have to think about those things.

“But it’s too early to say.”

Working in Ropati’s favour however, is that the knee injury he suffered this season, is not as bad as the one he suffered last season – a positive sign, in an otherwise disappointing end to his year.

Ropati is also taking motivation out from the leaf of former team-mate Brent Tate, who had to overcome knee injuries of his own, just to play first-grade again.

“It’s probably going to be a quicker healing process this time around,” Ropati said.

“Last time, it took about six months and this time I think it’s going to take three months for the tendon to heal properly.

“There’s a bit of metal wiring in there to hold it together and I’ll be able to start running again in three months. It then really depends on how well the knee reacts after that.

“I watched him [Tate] playing Origin recently and he’s come back strongly. I also remember him when he was here, just his work ethic and the fact he just wouldn’t give up after his second ACL injury.

“I can take a bit of motivation out of that … and I’ve always been a fighter.”

Inu starts for Canterbury on debut

Krisnan Inu

It was the way that any player would want to start at a new club, and for Krisnan Inu, he excelled – with the former Eel and Warrior scoring two tries and 3 conversions, for a total of 14 points on debut for the club.

The game was relatively even in the first-half, before the Dogs took over the game – with Inu starring in attack, and fullback Ben Barba starring in defence, pulling off two try-saving tackles.

The Bulldogs were also disallowed a try from Sam Kasiano, after it was ruled that the prop forward had impeded two players, and thus the try was not awarded.

The win pleased Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, and he was excited to have a talent like Krisnan Inu join the club, in a mid-season transfer.

“He’s played in two grand finals and lots of Test footy and he is a handy acquisition for us given the extent of injuries we’ve had to our inside backs,” he said.

Roosters captain Braith Anasta felt like he was a part of yet another wrong refereeing call – after the club stalwart believed that Dogs back Tim Lafai had knocked the ball on, in the lead-up to a try for the Dogs.

At the time, Robinson said it was fine, before coming to Anasta when the game was lost, admitting that he had got it wrong.

“He told me he didn’t see it,” Anasta said.

“It didn’t cost us the game but it’s so frustrating as it keeps happening to us.

“He then comes to me at 30-12 and says ‘sorry Braith I got that one wrong’.”

“It’s too late then.”

Former Raider and Panther suffers a heart attack

Adrian Purtell

Injuries in rugby league are never good to see, but when an injury becomes life-threatening, it is always a concern – with former Raider and Panther, Adrian Purtell, now at the Bradford Bulls, suffering a heart attack.

Purtell, who is currently recovering at a Leeds hospital, suffered the heart attack only hours after playing for Bradford.

It was on the team bus that Purtell reported a feeling of tightness in his chest, with the heart attack the second major health scare the centre has had in his career.

Back in 2007, he was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis, after a blood clot was found in his lungs – with his mother receiving the news then, and now of the heart attack.

She received a phone call from the team’s doctor yesterday morning, and hopped on a flight to Manchester, in order to be by her son’s side.

“Adrian had a heart attack,” she told The Border Mail before boarding a flight to Manchester, via Sydney.

“He had a blockage to one of the main arteries to the heart but he’s OK.

“He’s in Leeds hospital and is in good care.

“It was very frightening this morning for everyone.”

The positive thing is that Purtell is in a stable condition, but he will have to remain in hospital for at least 5 days, as he recovers from the heart attack.

Purtell’s mother Fran, said that her son had been feeling under the weather for quite some time.

“He knew something was wrong,” Ms Purtell said.

“He said he had a sore chest a few weeks ago and was keeping an eye on it.

“He knew that something was amiss.

“It was hurting on the bus like it had been.

“The news for now is that he’s OK.

“His heart didn’t stop beating at that stage.

“If he’s allowed to go home he will.

“Thank the Lord his friend Josh Evans was there who is working in Leeds.”

“Josh went to school with Adrian.”

Knights confirm Gagai signing; re-sign Rochow and Smith

Dane Gagai

Attitude can sometimes outweigh talent, and the Newcastle Knights are taking a gamble on just that – with the club confirming that they have signed Broncos discard Dane Gagai, on a deal for the remainder of the season, as well as seasons 2013 and 2014.

Knights coach Wayne Bennett, who has a history with the Gagai family, having coached Dane’s father at the Broncos – said that the young utility became a target for several clubs, right after the Broncos released him.

“Plenty of scouts have been trying to get Dane since he left the Broncos and it is fantastic he has chosen to come to the Knights,” Bennett said.

“There is no doubting his playing ability; he has been a regular in the schoolboy representative teams and is highly regarded by all judges of the game.

“Dane felt the Knights were the right fit for him and we hope our environment here will allow him to reach his full ability.”

Gagai, 21, can cover fullback, centre and wing, and is looking forward to continuing his NRL career in Newcastle – with the former Bronco to participate in his first training session with his new club tomorrow.

“I am really glad I have decided on my future and excited to be going to the Knights,” Gagai said.

“Wayne coached my father and I look forward to now playing under Wayne as well.”

In an additional boost for the Knights, first-year Knight Robbie Rochow and promising youngster William Smith, have both extended their contracts until 2014 and 2013 respectively.

“Both these players have a bright future at the Knights and we are pleased to be extending their contracts,” Bennett added.

Plans to introduce rugby league into the Commonwealth Games

Scott Carter

Rugby league is a game that is forever expanding, and whilst it may be an audacious bid, it may well come to fruition – but international rugby league bosses have put forward a proposition, with the desire to potentially have the game of rugby league played at the Commonwealth Games, as early as 2018.

In a sign that rugby league is also gaining international notoriety, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), granted the sport a “Category Three”.

“Category Three sports are those that we recognise as working towards future inclusion,” CGF vice-president HRH Tunku Imran said at the time.

The recognition however is just the first piece of the puzzle, with the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), hoping that one day, rugby league can be on the same plateau at Olympic level, as the Rugby Sevens tournaments.

“It is a genuine vision of ours,” said international chairman Scott Carter, who also doubles as chairman of the New Zealand Rugby League.

“The role of the RLIF is to grow and foster the game internationally. If we look at where the Commonwealth Games actually has a role to play, it’s to have medal sports that are the most meaningful to Commonwealth nations.

“There are quite a number of Commonwealth countries for whom rugby league is an important sport.

“Category Three basically gives us official recognition. It is a stepping stone to rugby league potentially becoming a medal sport.

“But there are other hurdles to overcome along the way before rugby league would indeed, or could indeed, become a medal sport.”

With the RLIF’s plans to implement rugby league into the Commonwealth Games, it coincides with the 2018 Games being held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, which is a populous rugby league area.

“I think there’s a distinct possibility that rugby league could at least be included as a demonstration sport in the Gold Coast,” he said.

One potential problem the rugby league implementation into the Commonwealth Games will see however, is the game’s current format – with the possibility of having to alter the format for the games, a very real possibility.

“That’s a distinct possibility, an abbreviated form of the game,” Carter said.

“Because it’s early days, I think there are a number of things that have to be practically explored.

“What we are mindful of is that the sports that are very, very similar in origin or concept, sometimes the game’s body has to make a fundamental choice.”