Roosters momentum continues as they defeat Canberra

James Maloney

Their start to the season was not the best but the Sydney Roosters look re-energised and rejuvenated – and it is showing – with a comprehensive 26-12 win over the Canberra Raiders.

Led by five-eighth James Maloney, who has a point to prove after being dumped by NSW for the first Origin game, the Roosters ran riot in the first half especially.

They overwhelmed their opponents from the nation’s capital with the partnership between Maloney and winger Daniel Tupou on show for all to see with sublime kicks and towering leaps.

The same cannot be said for the Canberra Raiders who are in a funk and risk the prospect of being six points adrift of the top eight by the end of round 12.

After a season that started full of promise, the Raiders have been plagued by inconsistency in many ways and cannot maintain cohesion required to win.

As any coach will tell you, the little things in rugby league matter the most and those things had Ricky Stuart disappointed with his side’s performance.

“It was the just the little things that cost us points,” said Stuart, after his side slumped to eighth loss of the year.

“Usually errors don’t always cost you points but our errors tonight cost us points.

“There were little areas in that first half; a couple of [dropped] catches in regards to kicks, a couple of penalties that they scored off.”

The loss makes the Raiders finals chances slimmer, with the club needing at least 8 wins from their remaining games to reach 30 points.

Despite the loss, though, Stuart believes the side showed heart and that they are improving.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the scoreline but I see a squad of players there improving,” said Stuart.

“With that score line at half-time, [if we were] a team that lacks a bit of heart and camaraderie, team spirit, I believe that the Roosters probably would have went on with it.

“They didn’t fluke [the 2013 premiership]. They’re an absolute class group of players and for what we did tonight showed improvement in where we’re going and a fair bit of courage and commitment.”

Although the Roosters momentum continued overall, it was the first half that saw them do most of their damage and coach Trent Robinson knows they need fluidity for the entire game.

“Yeah, I thought we set it up in the first half and I thought Canberra were good in D,” said Robinson.

“We came out in the second half and did a good job for 10-15 minutes there and then we fell off. We weren’t ruthless enough there to finish it off.”

3. James Maloney
2. Jack Wighton
1. Dylan Napa

Former English player appointed as Canada Wolverines coach

Stuart Donlan

Changing coaches is a common theme in rugby league and the Canadian Wolverines have undergone a slight transition, appointing former English Super League player Stuart Donlan to the head coaching position.

Donlan, who joins the club fresh off a stint with the Salford Devils, has also been a part of the coaching staff at the the Castleford Tigers.

With that experience under his belt and a desire to succeed, the Canadian national team are pleased to have him on board as their new coach.

“We are extremely excited about having Stuart joining our program.” CRL Chairman Eric Perez stated.

“We feel that with a coach of Stuart’s quality we can challenge for a berth in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.”

With rugby league in Canada still a developing sport, Donlan is honoured to be a part of their progression and tilt towards a 2017 Rugby League World Cup berth.

“I am extremely excited to be named Canada RL head coach,” said Donlan.

“To be given the opportunity to come over to Canada and help develop the game of Rugby League in a developing country, is one that I am looking forward to immensely. I am looking to pass on the knowledge I have gained throughout my professional career in England as a player and more recently a coach to the players over in Canada and help develop the coaches over there also in any way I can.”

The rugby league blood runs deep in the Donlan family, with Stuart’s father playing the game before him and with some tough Test series to begin with, Donlan looks forward to it.

Before taking on Jamaica in their Test, the Canadian side will play the Royal Air Force side and the English Lionhearts.

For Donlan, the key is getting himself familiar with the players and meeting them.

“I cannot wait to meet the team and help prepare them for their upcoming games.” Donlan continued.

“It is going to be hard work but enjoyable for the team. Hopefully the hard work will pay off and we will put on a great show for the Canadian public.”

Young Broncos duo sign new deals with the club

Lachlan Maranta

Retaining young players is a great feeling for any club and even more so when they are from the area. For the Brisbane Broncos, who often pride themselves on junior development and retention, they have re-signed young duo Lachlan Maranta and Jarrod Wallace.

Both have signed new deals that will see them remain at the club until the end of 2016, with both players enjoying spells in first-grade so far this season.

Opportunity is the key for a younger player and for Wallace, he is thankful for the Broncos for giving him his start in rugby league.

“The Broncos and coach Anthony Griffin were the ones who gave me the opportunity to train as an NRL player for the first time,” said Wallace.

“They feel like family to me.

“We have a relatively young side here mixed with some older players and I can see some potential to do some good things over the next few years.”

Maranta also has a strong association with the club. His grandfather Barry Maranta was the original Broncos Chairman and the family ties played a role in his decision to stay.

“I am really excited to be here for another two years,” he said.

“It has been awesome around the team this year, there is such a good feel getting among the group.

“Obviously that was a big thing in my decision to stay and it is obviously good to stay in your home town.”

Equally pleased is the club themselves, with coach Anthony Griffin lauding the two for their effort and commitment.

“As a club we are pleased to be able to secure both Jarrod and Lachlan for the next chapter of their careers,” he said.

“They have shown this year that they have the ability to be long-term NRL players.

“They will be a part of the future successes of this club.”

Jarrod Wallace

Penrith centre to take a break from rugby league

Jamal Idris

He is young and disciplinary issues can be rife with younger players and for Jamal Idris, a centre at Penrith, a recent incident has seen his club announce that he will be taking a break from rugby league.

Linked with some personal issues, the club felt this was the best move for Jamal, releasing a statement on the very matter:

Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould has tonight announced that player Jamal Idris will be taking a break from rugby league, effective immediately.

“The club has been working closely with the NRL this week to put a support system in place to help Jamal deal with some personal issues.

The club stresses that this matter has nothing to do with disciplinary action.

The Panthers and the NRL are fully supportive of Jamal and will be assisting him during this important period.

On behalf of Jamal and his family, the Panthers club would like to request that everyone respect their privacy at this time.”

In terms of the actual incident, it has emerged that the centre has been stood down for disciplinary reasons that tie into his personal issues.

The alleged incident was an alcohol-related one and was believed to have occurred last week when the Panthers had the bye.

With the club informed of the incident during the week, they acted and have stood Idris down.

Idris joined Penrith from the Gold Coast this season and despite the incident, the club are standing by the centre.

“Jamal has personal issues that the club is helping him address,” said a club official.

“He has the full support of the coaching staff and the rest of the players.”

Former NRL utility signs with Wigan

Taulima Tautai

When opportunities arise at rival teams, some players often take those and for Taulima Tautai, he grabbed a chance to play for the Wigan Warriors, signing a 3-year deal with the club.

Those NRL fans that follow the Cronulla Sharks and the Parramatta Eels will be aware of Tautai, with the utility playing in several first-grade games for both sides over a number of years.

Since his departure from the NRL, Tautai has played for the Wakefield Wildcats and after some strong performances for his current club – especially against Wigan – the Warriors opted to pounce.

The club are aware of his talents and know that he will fit into their system and their style of play.

“I am absolutely delighted to have secured the services of Taulima,” said Wigan head coach, Shaun Wane.

“He will fit perfectly into our system and makes our squad even stronger with his aggressive running style and his attitude to defend, which is just the way I like it. I’m sure our fans will also love Taulima’s style, whilst he is a great guy off the field and will fit straight into our group”.

Equally excited is the Samoan representative himself, who is excited at the new move but thankful for the Wildcats and Richard Agar in giving him an opportunity in the Super League.

“I am excited for the opportunity of becoming a Wigan Warrior in 2015,” said Tautai.

“I am looking forward to improving as a player and growing as part of their Team. I am very impressed with Wigan and feel that this is the right step forward for me in my life and career.

“Although I am grateful for this move, I would not be in this position if it wasn’t for Richard Agar believing in me and giving me my first chance in Super League. My focus for the rest of the 2014 season will be to return from injury and put my energy into the success of my current team, Wakefield Wildcats”.

First ever rugby league side to be formed in Madrid

Expansion for a budding rugby league nation is always a huge boost and for the Spanish, they take great pride in the opportunity to promote and expand the game within their country.

That is taking place, with the establishment of the first ever Spanish rugby league side from Madrid to be formed.

Griffons RL Madrid is the first club based out of the capital, with the Spanish Association of Rugby League making the announcement.

The side will be run by the AERL, with the eventual plan to create more sides in the region to rival groups in the Valencia/Alicante region.

Madrid’s work to house a rugby league side has not gone unnoticed, with AERL President Salome Sansano praising their effort to get the approval for a team.

“Madrid has a great working group with people who love our sport and this is terrific news, they have been working hard in recent months to establish Griffons,” said Sansano.

A further AERL employee, delegate Rodrigo Molina, says the introduction of a team in Madrid was the first goal of many.

“We have managed to advance one of our first goals,” said Molina.

“Now we aim to play the first game of rugby league in Madrid, to build a regional competition and get up the level of our players for selection to the Spanish national side.”

Talented winger extends Melbourne stay

Young Tonumaipea

Melbourne fans rate him highly and he has enjoyed a solid stint in first-grade since being handed a debut, which has seen the Storm re-sign him for a further two years.

The young player in question – Young Tonumaipea, a strong, committed and versatile winger.

Coming up through the ranks in the local Victorian Rugby League, he is a Northern Thunder junior and has played in the Storm’s SG Ball ranks and for their Holden Cup side.

He also has international accolades to his name, representing Samoa in a mid-season international clash against Fiji.

Knowing how talented he is and what he is capable of, the club just had to re-sign him and are full of praise for the youngster.

“Young is an exciting talent and he has worked extremely hard on all parts of his game and we are very pleased to have him in Melbourne, his hometown, until at least the end of the 2016 season,” Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi said.

“Young along with the likes of Tohu Harris, Ben Hampton, Jordan McLean and Kenny Bromwich are developing into very good NRL players, they have come through the Storm system together and are the future of the Club.”

Warriors veteran closes the curtain on illustrious career

Jerome Ropati

All players know they have to retire at some point. Whether it is forced upon them due to injury or whether they know their body has had enough, every player faces that decision at some point in their career.

The latest player to make that tough decision? New Zealand Warriors veteran centre Jerome Ropati.

Still only 29, the last four seasons have been injury plagued for the fan favourite, with his last game coming on March 29 where he suffered a broken jaw.

With all the injuries he has unfortunately suffered, he has only been able to play in 18 games over the last three and a half years.

To those who fear he may be lost to the game, they have no need to worry, with the veteran to remain with the Warriors club in an ambassador role for 2014 with the view to securing him in a long-term role.

“It’s the right time for me to look ahead, to consider my family and my post-playing career,” said New Zealand Warriors centre, Jerome Ropati.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision to reach because this isn’t the way I wanted to finish. I love playing this game and I love playing for the Vodafone Warriors.

“I’m still young enough to carry on but the reality is my body is telling me it’s time to move on. I couldn’t tell you how many injuries I’ve had but I’ve had 15 operations.”

With great memories forever etched in his memory and great friends along the way, many of whom currently in the Warriors line-up, Ropati thanked all those who have been involved in his rugby league career.

“I’ve got so many great memories of my time as a player for both the Vodafone Warriors and the Kiwis. I’ve also got so many mates at this club, a place which has been such a huge part of my life,” said Ropati.

“I want to thank all the team-mates I’ve had through the years, all the coaches, staff and members with a special thanks to the medical staff who have helped me get through my injuries.”

With an opportunity to prolong his rugby league career by remaining involved with the game in an off-field capacity, it is something the veteran relishes.

“I always enjoy my involvement in the community including programmes like the League in Libraries initiative we run in schools with Konica Minolta,” he said.

“I also like working with our sponsors and meeting members and fans. I’m looking forward to being more heavily involved in areas like that for the rest of the season and also doing all I can to support our NRL, NYC and New South Wales Cup players and coaches.”

The club as a whole are disappointed that Ropati was forced into early retirement but they have great respect and admiration for him and know he has a lot to offer the club in off-field duties.

“Jerome has been a terrific player for the Vodafone Warriors and has showed so much courage and dedication in the way he has come back from his injuries,” said Warriors Chief Executive, Wayne Scurrah.

“Above all he’s an exceptional person. We all have the greatest admiration for him and thank him for the huge contribution he has made both on and off the field during his playing career.

“He has always been a fantastic ambassador for the club through the work he has done in the community and the way he has conducted himself. He’s has so much to offer the game off the field.”

Kiwi international re-signs with the Storm

Kevin Proctor

The decision went back and forth. The Canberra Raiders were favourites at one point and then the Melbourne Storm were favourites to retain him.

Eventually, it was the Storm who won the race, re-signing Kiwi back-rower Kevin Proctor on a new four-year deal.

The Raiders chased hard for Proctor and it would have added to their already impressive signing of fullback James Tedesco but it was ultimately the Storm that won the race.

Playing in 114 games so far – all with the Storm – the 25-year old has enjoyed success with the club, winning both and NYC premiership and an NRL premiership.

Once his deal is complete, he will have been with the Storm for 10 years, having made his debut in 2008.

With the club showing immense loyalty to him, Proctor wanted to return the favour and show the club some loyalty.

“I’ve invested a lot of time into the Club and agreeing to terms is about me showing my appreciation to Melbourne Storm and repaying the loyalty they have shown me in the seven years I have been here,” Proctor said.

“My heart is with Melbourne, this is home for me and it would’ve felt weird to picture myself leaving the Club.

“In weighing up the decision, I just knew I would be happier here and you can’t put a price on happiness.”

Not only is the player happy, so too is the club. With their hard work and time invested into Proctor, they are pleased to see him remain with the club.

“We understand the big decision Kevin had to make and we are absolutely thrilled he and his partner Leesa will be calling Melbourne home for a further four years. They are both popular members of the Storm family,” Ponissi said.

“Kevin has been at our Club since leaving school seven years ago and during this time he has developed into an important senior player and leader.

“As well as being an integral part of the team, Kevin is extremely popular with his teammates, staff and supporters.”

Tigers talented fullback will head to the nation’s capital

James Tedesco

There was talk that he would leave but no-one expected it to be so soon, with the Canberra Raiders pouncing and signing Wests Tigers fullback, James Tedesco.

The deal will run for three years and start from the 2015 season, with the Wests Tigers disappointed to see him leave.

Tedesco has had a long association with the Tigers having played with the club since the age of 13 and with 25 NRL games to his name, the club know these things happen.

“James has grown up in the Wests Tigers system and we’ve made it absolutely clear that developing local juniors is a priority for this club,” said Mayer.

“In the last 12 months we’ve retained local juniors Luke Brooks, Aaron Woods, Tim Simona, David Nofoaluma, Curtis Sironen, Mitchell Moses and Sauaso Sue, and are disappointed to confirm that James will leave the club at the end of the 2014 season.

“The discussions with James’ management were complex. When another club identifies one of our players as their marquee signing we simply cannot compete with that.

“We wish James well in his new venture and thank him for his dedication and commitment to Wests Tigers over the past eight years.”

Although the loss of Tedesco is a tough one for the club to take, they know that whilst he is still at the club, he will give it his all and perform to the best of his ability.

“James has made it clear that his priority for the remainder of the year is to achieve success with Wests Tigers and we look forward to seeing him back on the park as soon as he’s recovered from his current injury,” said Mayer.

“We have no doubt that that in our system there are young players who will reach the levels of the likes of Farah, Woods, Brooks and Sironen and look forward to bringing them into the NRL in the future.”

As for Tedesco himself, the decision was not an easy one and although he is leaving, he is indebted to the club for what they have done.

“It wasn’t easy to tell the guys, they are a great group of players, and close friends of mine,” said Tedesco.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make and I’d like to thank Wests Tigers for their support during the process.

“I’m fully committed to Wests Tigers for the remainder of the 2014 season and can’t wait to get back onto the field and join my team mates,” he said. “We’ve had some good wins to start the year and are confident that we’ll be in the mix come finals time.”

For the Raiders, who have had trouble attracting quality players at times, the signing of Tedesco is one that excites them moving forward.

“James is an outstanding young talent who we see as a big signing for the Raiders and we look forward to him joining the club at the beginning of the 2015 season,” Furner said.

“The Raiders have followed James’ progress from his days at St Gregory’s College Campbelltown and we know being from Camden, James will fit into the lifestyle and culture here in Canberra.”

“We wish him a successful season for the remainder of 2014 with the Wests Tigers and look forward to him joining us for pre-season 2015.”