Fiji Bati secure another sponsor post World Cup

There are those that will tell you the World Cup is a waste for Island nations and minnow nations but if Fiji are anything to go by, their campaign has been a success, further buoyed by the fact that Outrigger On The Lagoon have joined as a sponsor.

Agreeing to sponsor the Fijian rugby league local competitions in 2014, the General Manager of the resort – Outrigger on The Lagoon – one Peter Hopgood, said they look forward to the new partnership and the exciting times that will come from it.

“On behalf of the management and vuvale at Outrigger on the Lagoon ∙ Fiji we’d like to say vinaka for your sterling performance during the world cup,” Mr. Hopgood stated.

“I am also confirming that Outrigger on the Lagoon ∙ Fiji will be jumping on board to sponsor the Fiji Rugby League competition next year and we look forward to this new partnership. We will be instrumental in helping our Nadroga team gain further prominence in the national competition,” Mr. Hopgood continued.

“Our region Nadroga is known as rugby country but for the last six weeks it’s been known as Bati country and we are very excited about what’s install for us next year,” Mr. Hopgood added.

Equally pleased and excited are the Fijian side themselves, with captain and veteran Petero Civoniceva thanking the resort for their continued hospitality towards the side, as well as for their support.

“I’d like to thank Peter Hopgood, the staff and management for welcoming the team to the resort and for the fantastic hospitality,” Mr. Civoniceva stated.

“It’s great to be back at the resort where I got married to my wife. This place brings back many good memories for me”, he continued.

“Your support and the support of the nation really boosted our confidence at the world cup and whilst it was a fantastic tournament there is nothing like being back in the country with the local supporters,” Mr. Civoniceva added.

Former NRL player returns and signs with the Dragons

Michael Witt

Those of you are Parramatta Eels fans or New Zealand Warriors fans will remember him well and you will once again get a chance to see him in action – albeit for another team – as Michael Witt makes his return to an NRL side, signing with the St George Illawarra Dragons for the 2014 season.

Witt, who is still only 29, also enjoyed a stint with the Manly Sea Eagles and offers strong versatility with an ability to play at fullback and in the halves.

Most recently, Witt has enjoyed stints in the Super League with the now defunct Crusaders side and the London Broncos.

Dragons fans will have to wait until at least December 5 before they see, though, as that is when he officially starts pre-season training with his new club.

Widnes retain their coach and keep Betts for 2 more years

Denis Betts

The world of coaching in rugby league can often be tough and it can often chop and change at will but for any coach, knowing that your job is safe for at least a couple more years is a boost.

For Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts, he is now in that boat, after he and the Vikings agreed to extending his stay for a further two seasons.

Betts, who is a former Wigan Warriors and Great Britain forward, has been in charge of the Vikings since 2010 and it was his work ethic and respect that saw the club reward him with a new contract.

“I have been hugely impressed with the performance department that Denis has built and that he continues to evolve. He has a phenomenal work ethic and has the respect of everybody within our organisation,” said Widnes Chief Executive, James Rule.

“We are excited about what we can achieve together at Widnes Vikings in the coming seasons.”

For Betts, the deal is one that excites him, as he looks forward to working with those at the club and trying to put Widnes in a position where they can challenge the top teams.

“I’m delighted to have signed a deal for another two years. I’m enjoying working at the club and with some excellent people,” said Betts.

“We are in a really strong situation. We have a very good board of directors, playing staff and fan base but there is still so much to do.

Whilst their progress has been good so far, Betts knows that they can go even further and that they have to compete with the squad they have, whilst improving it moving forward.

“We are making good progress but we won’t rest on our laurels. We are building a squad that over the next three or four years will compete at the very top and to get the opportunity to drive us forward for another two years is great for me personally,” said Betts.

“Playing play-off rugby league in October and making an impact at the latter stages of the Challenge Cup is not over reaching for us – we can get there and I will be doing everything in my power to achieve those aims.”

Bulldogs recruit charged with affray

Tyrone Phillips

Hot on the heels of Reni Maitua finding himself in trouble, a second Bulldogs recruit is being investigated, with young gun Tyrone Phillips charged with affray.

In the alleged incident that happened in early November, Phillips was involved in a brawl at Beverley Hills and as per its Code of Conduct, the Canterbury Bulldogs are investigating the incident.

The latest in a slew of incidents, the NRL Integrity Unit have their hands full in investigating them all.

In a situation that CEO Raelene Castle did not want to have to deal with, she knows that more work has to be done with the younger brigade of stars and that he is what she and Des Hasler will aim to do moving forward.

“Today we are dealing with another unacceptable and unnecessary situation,” said Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle.

“Des and I will continue to work with the leadership group to ensure our younger players fully understand what it means to be and what it takes to be a quality athlete, a good Bulldogs Club person and a valued member of the community at large.”

Until such time the matter is resolved, the Bulldogs will not be making any further comments.

The saga is over as Milford signs with the Broncos for 2015 and beyond

Anthony Milford

It was a long, drawn-out saga and one that could have ended some time ago but it is finally finished, with the Canberra Raiders confirming that Anthony Milford will see out his contract and remain with the club until the end of 2014.

The Raiders statement reads:

The Canberra Raiders are pleased to confirm that Anthony Milford will be returning to Canberra for pre-season training and will play for the club in 2014.

Milford is currently on vacation in Samoa after his World Cup duties concluded and is unavailable for comment. He will return to pre-season training with the Raiders on Monday the 16th of December.

The 19 year old has acknowledged that the Raiders have been an important part of his life since he was first placed on a scholarship with the club at 13 years of age and as such is pleased to honour the final year of his contract with the club he debuted for in 2013.

Raiders CEO Don Furner said that “We acknowledge that Anthony has battled home sickness and is very close to his family however we are pleased that he will be playing for our club in 2014.”

In a twist, however, the Brisbane Broncos have today confirmed that from 2015, Milford will be a Bronco, having signed a 2-year deal.

Still only 19, Milford put the NRL world on notice last year with some blistering form, form he carried over to the Samoan national side at the recent Rugby League World Cup.

With the Broncos after him for quite some time, they finally got their man, with the club well aware of his ability and looking forward to seeing him on board at the Broncos in 2015.

“Anthony is a wonderful young talent who we have known about for several years as he grew up in the Logan area,” said Griffin.

“He will be a great addition to our squad when he comes on board for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Milford, who has so far played in 18 NRL games, represented QLD at the U20’s level and played for Samoa – as previously mentioned – is excited to head to Brisbane in 2014.

“Anthony has obviously made it clear he had a desire to return to Brisbane, and it is good that the club and his management have been able to come to an agreement that will allow him to do that.

“We look forward to him becoming part of the Broncos club.”

Gunnedah junior signs with the Parramatta Eels for 2014

John Brady

Undergoing an overhaul at all levels of the club, the Parramatta Eels were in need of some classy younger players to fill the gaps in their Holden Cup side and have found one of those players in the form of John Brady.

Brady, who is a Gunnedah junior, was recently the captain of the Redcliffe Colts side and until the opportunity with the Eels arose, he had just about given up on playing at a higher level.

“When I finished school, all I wanted was to get signed with the 20s,” Brady said.

“When that didn’t happen, I was pretty disappointed.”

Longing for the news to arrive for some time, Brady can remember the exact moment as to when he found out.

“I was shopping with my girlfriend when I got a call from my manager.

“He said I had got an offer from Parramatta.

“I couldn’t have been happier; I was so excited.”

It was earlier this year that Brady joined the Colts side and he immediately impressed, as he was made club captain.

“It was pretty shattering,” he said.

“We won the major semi-final against the same side and then had the week off.

“When it came to the grand final, they got the jump on us early and we found it hard to come back.”

Able to play at either five-eighth or halfback, Brady is the sort of player that loves to have the ball in his hands and he relishes the opportunity to play at the U20’s level.

“You get to be a ball player and that’s what I like,” he said.

“You get a lot of control on the game.

“You call the shots and can be very influential on the final result.”

The move to the Dolphins was not an easy one on Brady, as he was away from his family and friends, and he knows that whilst it is tough, it is a journey that will take a new turn.

“I was at boarding school at Farrer but moving to another state, it’s a big shock,” he said.

“It’s like starting all over again.”

Keen to move down to Sydney and start a degree in physiotherapy, Brady will not be alone, with the Eels Education Officer – former player and club legend Luke Burt – expected to guide him and help him through the process.

The man nicknamed Buddy signs with the Wests Tigers

Yileen Gordon

If his name is one that you remember, it might be from his early days with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs and after some lean years in his life, Yileen ‘Buddy’ Gordon is keen to make an impression, after signing a 2nd tier deal with the Wests Tigers.

Playing in a total of 71 first-grade games so far in his career – stints with Souths, the Dogs and the Panthers – Gordon was recently a member of the Newtown Jets, a NSW Cup side.

With a positive attitude and approach to training, Gordon has so far impressed Tigers coach Mick Potter.

“I’ve been impressed with what he has been doing at training so far,” Potter said.

“He has been diligent, hard-working and is looking trim.

“Yileen has still got good speed and size, he’s got the rare talent of being able to beat his man and set up his outside player.”

Able to cover multiple positions, Gordon will be primarily used as centre depth for when the club needs it and for the man himself, he is keen to repay the faith the Tigers have shown in him and get stuck into footy.

“It’s fantastic to be back amongst it again and I’m looking forward to repaying the Wests Tigers for the good faith they have shown in me,” Gordon said.

“I want to have a good pre-season, set myself up for the year ahead and break into first grade eventually.

“There’s a good young bunch of guys here who have been on the radar for a bit and 2014 looks to be a big year for the Club.”

Off-contract Brisbane prop signs with Wakefield

Scott Anderson

He may not have played in as many games as he would have liked last year for the Brisbane Broncos but a new challenge awaits prop Scott Anderson, who has signed a 1-year deal with the Wakefield Wildcats.

Anderson, who has also enjoyed a stint with the Melbourne Storm, played in 50 games for the Broncos and is keen to get his new challenge underway on the other side of the world.

“I’m really excited,” said Anderson.

“It’s a new challenge for me and a big challenge to come over to Super League. I know there have been a lot of players that have come over and been successful so hopefully I can be too.

“I spoke with Ben Cross and he said he loved every minute of playing over there. From what he said and from what I’ve seen, it’s different to the NRL in that it’s a lot more of an attacking game.

“I was at Melbourne who probably started the idea of a wrestle as a big part of defence so I’m looking forward to getting over and using some of the skills I haven’t used since I was younger, like offloading and things like that.”

Anderson enjoyed an 8-year career in the NRL – and he is yet to cross the try-line during that time – he believes that he can bring a solid work ethic and hard work to the Wildcats.

“I’d probably say my work rate is my main attribute, doing the hard yards and the little things in the game. Anyone that has seen my try scoring record will see I’ve never scored in the NRL, so I’m not one for all the fancy stuff!

“I’m excited for the challenge,” said Anderson.

“I’ve picked up a lot of experience from two good clubs in Melbourne and Brisbane, so hopefully I can bring some of that over to Wakefield. It’s probably going to be a fairly young squad so I’ll be one of the elder statesmen and can help some of the guys out with my experiences.”

Bulldogs veteran back-rower suspended after he was charged with assault

Reni Maitua

It was news that the NRL did not need but will be forced to deal with, as Canterbury Bulldogs veteran forward Reni Maitua has been charged with assault and subsequently stood down by the club.

Suspended for his involvement in the incident, the club have released a short and brief statement regarding the matter.

It reads:

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have today suspended Reni Maitua from all duties after he was charged with assault last night.

The matter has been referred to the NRL’s Integrity Unit.

The Bulldogs will offer further comment on the matter once those investigations are concluded.

The player in question – Reni Maitua – also released a statement of his own on the matter.

“Deeply apologetic to the gentlemen involved, Canterbury, the fans, my family and the game in general,” said Maitua.

“I have no excuses for my poor behaviour and will accept any punishment handed down to me by the Powers that be.

“I was charged with common assault for pushing the gentleman’s arm – by no means is that acceptable – but certainly didn’t strike anyone.

“Again, I’m truly sorry to anyone I’ve let down.”

Manly prop arrested after police pursuit

Richie Fa'aoso

Just when the NRL’s image is looking squeaky clean, an incident rears its ugly head, this time involving Manly Sea Eagles prop Richie Fa’aoso and an alleged domestic violence incident.

On top of that, also evaded Police and led them on a pursuit as well as being hit with a drink driving charge after returning a blood alcohol reading of 0.126, three times over the legal limit.

As a result, Fa’aoso has been issued with an apprehended violence order and will appear in Campbelltown Local Court on Tuesday.

The Police statement said that Fa’aoso had knocked over furniture, kicked a door completely of its hinges and smashed a window before his wife fled the premises.

“The man allegedly drove to another house in Ingleburn where the domestic dispute continued and police were called,” the statement said.

“Police attended the house in Ingleburn where they saw the man driving past the premises and attempted to stop him, however, he failed to stop and a police pursuit was initiated.

“The vehicle was subsequently stopped in Currawong Street, Ingleburn and the 29-year-old man arrested. He was submitted to a breath test and returned a positive reading.”

Fa’aoso, who enjoyed a decent stint at Manly this year and played some solid games, happened to miss the NRL grand final due to a vertebrae injury.

Manly, who are aware of the incident, said they would release a statement of their own ,,,,soon.

We’re doing our own investigation, talking to Richie and his family,” the spokesperson said.

Update: Manly have now released their statement, saying they are investigating the incident and that domestic violence was not a factor.

The Manly Sea Eagles were made aware of an incident involving Richie Fa’aoso for which he was detained by police and charged.

The incident is being investigated by the NRL integrity unit and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will cooperate fully with the police and the NRL Integrity Unit in the process.

Richie has the full support of his wife and family and is currently undergoing counselling. He will appear in Campbelltown Local Court tomorrow.

Further to this, the family has asked us to make it very clear that it is not a domestic violence matter and that they be afforded some privacy at this time.

There will be no further comment by the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at this time.

The above – 5 sentences – was a statement released by Manly.