Roosters hooker signs new deal

Jake Friend

It was a slew of signings at the Sydney Roosters headquarters today and to follow on from the signings of Scott Dureau and Nathan Stapleton, the club has re-signed fan favourite and improving hooker Jake Friend.

With his career once on the ropes after numerous indiscretions, he has turned his life around in a big way and has since become a staple in the side.

The new deal will see Friend stay with the club until the end of 2018 and for Friend, the entire orgnisation – the team, staff and coaches – all were a reason behind his decision to stay.

“The team, coaches and everyone involved at the Roosters mean the world to me and I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else,” said Friend.

“The club has always supported me and I’m so proud that I’ll continue to be a part of this team and represent the Roosters,” he added.

Regarded as a future captain by many fans, Roosters Chief Operating Officer Brian Canavan was pleased to have re-signed Friend long-term.

“It’s a wonderful coup for the Roosters to have Jake secured in a long-term agreement with our club,” said Canavan.

“Jake joined the Roosters as part of our pathway program when he was 15 years-old, and has developed into an integral leader both on and off the field.”

A hard-worker and a player that tries his heart out every game, since his time at the Roosters, coach Trent Robinson has been pleased with the efforts of Friend.

“Jake works tirelessly on the important role he plays within the team and continues to improve on and off the field,” said Robinson.

“A big part of the future of our club, Jake leads by example and is someone not only I but everyone at the club values. I’m really looking forward to watching him continue to grow in the coming seasons.”

Sharks utility back and former NRL half join the Roosters

Scott Dureau

Signing news at the Roosters has continued, with the club confirming that former NRL half Scott Dureau and Cronulla Sharks utility back Nathan Stapleton signing with the club.

Dureau, who is on loan for the rest of the season with the Roosters, was previously at the Catalan Dragons, a French side in the English Super League.

Named the Super League Player of the Year in 2012, Dureau has previously played for the Newcastle Knights, making 42 appearances for the club.

With the need for a back-up half after the departure of Daniel Mortimer, the move to get Dureau was fortuitous as Catalans brought in a player and it opened up an opportunity for Scott at the Roosters.

“Yeah, it was pretty sudden,” said Dureau.

“Basically the Dragons had brought in a new player and it meant that I was de-registered and not able to play for the rest of the year”.

“Just happened that I spoke to Trent and he offered me an opportunity and I took it with both hands”.

Familiar with Roosters coach Trent Robinson during his time as Catalan Dragons coach, Dureau kept in contact.

“Definitely. Robbo’s been my coach for a few years now, so we’ve stayed in touch quite a bit,” said Dureau.

“When Robbo gave me the call and offered me an opportunity here, I was very happy to take it up.”

As for Nathan Stapleton, he has some solid NRL experience to his name having played in 61 games – all for the Sharks – and he will add some much needed depth to the Roosters stocks.

The opportunity was there and Stapleton took it with both hands.

“Yeah, the opportunity was there and I can’t wait to get stuck into it,” said Stapleton.

The new move happened quite quickly and it took Stapleton by surprise.

“It’s come about pretty quick actually,” said Stapleton.

“Sort of happened the last couple of days. Pretty much finished the game on the weekend, got told that I might be coming here, rang my CEO, they linked up and yeah, pretty much jumped at the opportunity to come here.”

Nathan Stapleton

Roosters winger granted immediate release and heads to North Queensland

Tautau Moga

Although he was contracted to the club until the end of this season, the Sydney Roosters have made a decision to release Tautau Moga effective immediately.

The talented winger will join the North Queensland Cowboys, who are undergoing a backs transition of their own.

With limited opportunities and injuries hampering his development, the club are disappointed to let him go given he is a junior but they know that this is a good move for him.

“Unfortunately for Tautau, his progress has been hindered by two knee reconstructions over the last two seasons, and his opportunities have consequently been limited by the development of the other outside backs at the club,” said ROosters Chief Operating Officer, Brian Canavan.

“We release him with the view that this opportunity is in his best interests, and wish him all the very best.”

Moga joins the Cowboys with some accolades to his name, having represented the Australian Schoolboys side and the Queensland Junior Origin side.

Moga’s deal will run until the end of 2016 and the Cowboys are pleased to have signed the exciting young talent.

“Tautau is an outstanding young man with extraordinary talent who should be a great fit for the Toyota Cowboys,” general manager – football Peter Parr said.

“Anyone who has seen him play comes away impressed with what he can do on the footy field.

“We’re very happy to not only have him join us for the next two seasons, but also the remainder of 2014 so he can get a headstart on his career in North Queensland.”

Hard work sees Easts Tigers winger sign with the Bulldogs

Jarrod McInally

Hard work pays off in rugby league and when a player busts his backside weekly, he is rewarded. That is exactly what has happened in Jarrod McInally’s case, with the 24-year-old winger signing a 2-year deal with NRL side, the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Formerly at the Ipswich Jets, the now Easts Tigers winger has excelled this season in terms of try-scoring and with news of the move around for a while, McInally admits it was hard to keep it a secret.

“It was easy,” McInally said.

“I don’t like talking myself up at the best of times.”

Breaking into the rugby league is not always immediate for every player and the Ipswich junior admits he was surprised when the Dogs approached him.

“It was pretty surprising,” he said of hearing the Dogs were seriously interested in signing him.

“But my manager was always confident he could get me something.

“I was pretty pumped.

“But I’ve just got to get through this season first.”

The key for McInally is to play with a competitive nature.

“I’m just doing the same thing,” McInally said.

“Being competitive.

“That’s how I play the game.”

A carpenter by trade, McInally knows that the new opportunity he has been given means it is time to put carpentry on the back-burner.

“I can’t wait to go out and focus primarily on my footy,” McInally said.

“Rather than have another major commitment as well.

“They’ll be training every day.

“Just being around such a professional culture should hopefully bring out the best in me.”

The young winger has his admirers, with former NRL player Scott Sattler believing McInally is a shoe-in for a future NRL starting gig.

“Jarrod is the prototype NRL winger,” he said. “He’s tall, big and quick, he’s a modern-day winger and I think he has a real future in the NRL.

“He’s good under the high ball, excellent at scoring tries off kicks and he takes the pressure off the forwards with his kick returns.”

Being 24, he is considered a late bloomer but for McInally, that does not matter. He just wants to work hard, play hard and earn his spot in the side.

“Brenton Lawrence made his NRL debut for the Titans at 27 so this is my chance,” he said.

“It will be a big jump for me but hopefully I can finish with a title at Easts and then give it a crack in the NRL.”

Sharks give Carney the flick after latest incident

Todd Carney

It was probably something any NRL fan saw coming and it has now been confirmed, with the Cronulla Sharks officially sacking Todd Carney.

His contract was terminated effectively immediately, after a lewd photo of him appeared performing a disturbing action and in order to maintain the club’s values and morals, they felt it was best to sack him.

The decision is one that will change the shape of the Sharks season, as they will now have to rely on the exuberance of young players to guide them away from wooden spoon contention.

The Sharks statement read:

“The Cronulla Shark Football Club has today after careful consideration and lengthy deliberation, including discussions with senior NRL management, made a decision to terminate Todd Carney’s NRL playing contract effective immediately.

At the Sharks we are committed to building a successful club, a club with strong values and a club which sets and respects high standards in all aspects of its operations and activities.

When Todd was first signed to the Sharks he was made well aware of his responsibilities both on and off the field, to himself, the club and to the game in general, however the photograph that appeared last night on social media does not meet the values and standards the club is looking to uphold and take into the future.

As with any difficult decision, whilst you can’t change the past, it is important to put measures in place that can deliver positive outcomes both in the present and into the future.

The club and the NRL will be committed to working with Todd, his family and his management in implementing appropriate counseling and support, with the start of this process to begin tonight.”

Do you agree with the Sharks decision? What is Carney’s next move?

Second half Warriors blitz sees Penrith lose first game in over 2 months

Sam Tomkins

It was a topsy-turvy game overall and with the Penrith Panthers losing their first game in over 2 months, the loss was exacerbated by the leg injury sustained by in-form five-eighth, Jamie Soward.

Soward, who has been a big spark for the Warriors this season, was the player that led the Penrith side to the lead at half-time, they fell apart after his injury.

The second half belonged to the Warriors as they went on a blitz, scoring three tries compared to the Panthers’ four points.

The win gives the Warriors a much needed boost heading into the bye and although it is their 8th of the season, a bad for and against has them on the fringes of the eight.

Before the game, the emphasis was placed on the return of Penrith centre Jamal Idris who has had some off-field issues recently.

A surprise inclusion in the first-grade side, he was given a touch-up by his opposite number in Konrad Hurrell, who is also in some tremendous form.

With the bye for next week, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was pleased that his side managed to avoid a last-gasp defeat.

“We are really happy with the win, it is pretty important going in to the bye,” McFadden said.

“We go into the bye now and get a good break, the players really need it and it certainly gives us some momentum to project off.

“We are keeping ourselves in there and giving ourselves a chance.”

As for the game itself, knowing how good Penrith are as a team, McFadden was pleased to more here get the win.

“It was a tough game, they are a really good side Penrith, an awkward style to play,” McFadden said.

“We have been really competing for the full 80 for the majority of the time [this season].

“We had that one little blip against Souths, but aside from that we have been working really hard for each other.”

A poor start is what ultimately cost the Panthers, even if coach Ivan Cleary thought their overall effort was good.

“Overall the effort was good, but we just didn’t start well,” said Cleary.

“When we got on top towards the end of the first half, it’s pretty much how we wanted to play.”

3. Sam Tomkins
2. Jamie Soward
1. Konrad Hurrell

Tigers hold on in a thriller at Campbelltown

Braith Anasta

It was probably a game that the Canberra Raiders wanted to win to keep their faint finals hopes alive but it was not to be, as a Braith Anasta field goal ended up being the difference.

With a lot of the spotlight on the young, emerging half in Luke Brooks, it was the veteran who took matters into his own hand and slotted a field goal with 10 minutes on the clock. It proved to be the match-winner.

In a game where both sides enjoyed prolonged periods of attacking play, it was ultimately the defensive side that shone through for both the Tigers and the Raiders.

Both teams dug deep and fought hard but it was the Tigers who were forced to dig deeper with James Tedesco, Tim Simona, David Nofoaluma and Sauaso Sue all leaving the field at some stage.

Nofoaluma was brave enough to return but the other three were not so lucky. The injury issues continue for the talented James Tedesco, who broke his kneecap and faces the prospect of missing around 3 months of footy.

As for Tim Simona, he left the field due to concussion. Sauaso Sue left due to a shoulder injury and Nofoaluma suffered a knee injury but later returned.

The Raiders were not without an injury of their own, though, with centre Jack Wighton breaking his thumb.

The heart and character of the side made Tigers captain Robbie Farah proud and considering the Tigers had to play with 14 men at one point, he was proud to get the win.

“Yeah, considering the circumstances, mate – definitely,” said Farah.

“First tackle of the game – Teddy, poor kid.”

“Simona, Nofoaluma and I think Jesse Sue played busted the whole second half and so for him to stay out there, it’s as gutsy as they get.”

Once a coach under pressure, Mick Potter is now getting the results and knows how important this win was for the players.

“They’re playing as a team and nearly want to die for one another,” said Potter.

“Today, the character shown, I don’t think I’ve seen better.”

Potter knows that the talented fullback will bounce back.

“He’s a great kid and he does his rehab really well,” said Potter.

“He’s suffered a little bit of adversity, so he knows how to come back. He’ll bounce back.”

As for the Raiders, coach Ricky Stuart was disappointed with the narrow loss and knows they should have done better to put the game to bed.

“Under those conditions, we should have put them away in the second half but we just weren’t good enough,” said Stuart.

“You can’t dodge around the truth. We should have won tonight.

“They had injury after injury after injury and if we honestly think we’re a first-grade football team, we should have won.”

3. Braith Anasta
2. Josh Papalii
1. Blake Austin

Remarkable Sharks comeback breaks scoring drought and losing streak

Paul Gallen

The last few weeks especially for Cronulla Sharks fans were not the best by any means. Going 322 minutes without scoring any point would have been weighing on their mind heading into the clash against the Brisbane Broncos.

Little did we know that the points would come and in a flurry. It was not all smooth sailing for the Sharks as they got off to a rather slow start, trailing by 16 points at the break and 22 points in the second half.

It seemed as if both the scoring drought and winless streak were going to continue, as the first-half was all about the Broncos execution and the Sharks not making the most of their opportunities.

Although the Sharks season has been a bad one, the players have always showed ticker and resolve and in a sign of resilience, they dug deep.

They dug deep to the point where they reversed the deficit in a remarkable comeback, leaving the Broncos stunned at the turnaround.

The first Sharks try gave them some confidence and momentum and as the old saying goes, ‘when it rains, it pours’, and gee whiz, did it pour!

The resiliency will give the Sharks a lot of confidence moving forward, especially with the emergence of young players like Jacob Gaga, Nu Brown and Michael Lichaa performing well.

Rugby league is all about time in possession and with the Sharks dominating in that regard in the second half, Broncos coach Anthony Griffin refused to use it as an excuse.

“A dumb penalty on the fifth play and a number of restarts and a couple of dropped bombs [meant] we just spent most of the last 25 minutes defending our line,” Griffin said.

“Possession and the bounce of the ball – anything that could happen did in that last 25 minutes. Unfortunately we threw away a lot of our hard work from that first 55 minutes.

“We were obviously in control and I thought our attitude was really good. They took three sets to get their first try and we had one set in 15 minutes there at one stage.

Echoing the sentiments of his coach was club co-captain Justin Hodges, who lamented the lack of possession for the Broncos in the second half.

“Like ‘Hook’ said, in the last 25 minutes we didn’t have the ball and they got all the bounces and they used their opportunities well,” Hodges said.

A man-of-the-match performance by five-eighth Todd Carney was the highlight but despite the win, the Sharks five-eighth admits that 2014 has been the toughest of his career.

“Last year we were winning and emotions in rugby league, when you’re winning, you’re always on a high,” Carney explained of the different emotional toll this year has taken.

“For me, it’s been probably my toughest year because I’ve been injured and I pride myself as a clubman and a person and for us to cop so much criticism for the way we’re playing, the ASADA stuff and this last few weeks, it’s hard.

“[The win over Brisbane] is definitely a turn in the right direction for the club and I feel it’s the turning point we needed and this week’s been a great week for the club.”

With an alleged spat between he and Sharks captain Paul Gallen, coach Peter Sharp was quick to praise the captain for his efforts in the win.

“I’ve got to say, the leadership shown by the captain this week was outstanding, from my point of view. He led from the front in all areas and it was magnificent. It’s what great players do and he did that this week for us,” Sharp said.

“The leadership through the week was enormous. How he conducted himself, how he spoke to [the players], how he ran things.”

3. Paul Gallen
2. Todd Carney
1. Ben Hunt

Manly win grand final rematch v Roosters

Jamie Lyon

Billed as the match of the round, it was one that lived up to the expectation, as the Manly Sea Eagles defeated the Sydney Roosters 24-16 in a finals-like encounter at Brookvale Oval.

In front of more than 17,000 fans, the Manly faithful went home with a win to cheer about, on the back of stellar performances from Brett Stewart and Jamie Lyon in particular.

The contest was even throughout and this was illustrated when the two sides went into the half-time break locked at 12-apiece, as both teams had their chances.

As the game wore on, Manly slowly gained the ascendancy and it was the telling factor, as their key players stood up when it mattered to guide them to the win.

As the Roosters attempted to get back into the game, they were their own worst enemy on numerous occasions. With chances to score and the line begging, errors and mistakes creeped into their game, thus costing them the match.

Defence was the order of the day, as Manly coach Geoff Toovey praised his side for their defensive efforts.

“They were camped in our end for probably 10 minutes or so and I thought it was really taxing on us to keep them at bay,” said Toovey.

“It was a very resilient effort from the forwards in particular to work hard and keep the Roosters at bay.”

Knowing that they had chances to score more points and make the most of their opportunities, the lack of execution is what disappointed Roosters coach Trent Robinson most.

“We created enough field position and then just poor execution on quite a lot of the sets we had on their line,” said Robinson.

“It lead to a lot of errors on our line, not getting to the end of our sets well enough.

“We were just a bit rushed. We thought a play would be enough but you’ve gotta work harder against Manly to get some tries.

3. Jamie Lyon
2. Brett Stewart
1. Brenton Lawrence

Foran departs the Eels and heads to the Super League

Liam Foran

Playing in first-grade is what all players want to do and with the recent success of the current Parramatta Eels roster, that was not something that Liam Foran could achieve.

So, what did he do? He opted for a move where there was more opportunity and more of a chance to play regular first-grade, signing with English Super League side, the London Broncos.

Foran, who is New Zealand born, has inked a 2-year deal with the club and will enjoy a second stint in the Super League, having previously played at the Salford Devils.

The 26-year old has also played for NRL sides the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles and with the signing now complete, Foran is looking forward to his new club.

“I’m really pleased that the deal is done and I’m extremely excited about becoming a London Broncos player and seeing what next year holds,” said Foran.

Although the Broncos have had their fair share of both on and off-field turmoil recently, the direction that head coach Joey Grima wants to take the club in was a big part in Foran’s decision.

“I’ve been in constant contact with Joey Grima throughout our contract talks and I’ve really got a good understanding about his plans for the future and how passionate he is towards success,” he said.

With new team-mates to become accustomed to and a new team to adapt to, Foran is confident in his ability and believes he can mesh well together with the current crop of players.

“I know that I have come a long way in my rugby league in the last 12 months and I’m very confident that I can play some really good footy,” said Foran.

“Hopefully, along with my fellow team-mates, we can string some wins together and build some confidence as a club.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge having already played in the UK for Salford in 2013 where things didn’t quite go to plan. I’m determined to play some really good footy that I know I’m capable of.”

As for Grima, he knows what Foran is capable of, having watched his progress during his time in the Storm’s U20’s side.

“Having watched Liam play for the Melbourne Storm Under-19s right up to the NRL grade, I know the standard he is capable of,” said Grima.

“It’s pleasing and refreshing that this calibre of player want to play for the London Broncos and we’re all excited to see Liam at the club next season.”