Young Knights prop signs contract extension

Josh King

Given opportunities under coach Nathan Brown this year, young Newcastle Knights prop has been rewarded for good form, signing a contract extension with the club.

Already contracted for the 2017 season, the club and player agreed to 1-year extension, in order to keep him at the club until the end of the 2018 season.

Making his debut in Rd 7 this year, King has gone to play in 7 NRL games so far.

He drew praise from coach Nathan Brown, who was the one that gave him a start in the NRL.

“Josh is a good person with a great work ethic,” coach Nathan Brown said.

“Over the journey, he will continue to develop into a player that other players want to play with.”

The Maitland local and Newcastle junior has progressed through the club ranks over the years and retaining him is a positive for the Knights club.

“Josh is a good local talent and it is pleasing he is rewarded with a contract extension,” Brown added.

Talented young fullback re-signs at the Dragons

Their fans have been crying out for good news for some time and they finally have something to cheer about, with talented fullback Matt Dufty re-signing until the end of 2018.

A local junior from the Penshurst region, Dufty has performed well for both the Dragons Holden Cup side and the club’s feeder team, the Illawarra Cutters.

Having been involved with the club as a fan to begin with and then a player, Dufty is looking forward to continuing his association with the club.

“I am really pleased to have re-signed with the Dragons and be able to continue my development with the club I have supported since a child,” said Dufty.

“I have played all my lower-grade football here and feel that I am now one step closer to achieving my goal of someday playing first-grade for the Club.”

Always proud of their local juniors, the Dragons are pleased to retain the talented fullback.

“It is great to see an exciting local junior such as Matt make the decision to continue his career development as a Dragon,” said Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward.

“Matt has progressed through our junior systems, having started in our HPU squad before elevating to the NYC ranks and earning representative recognition along the way.

“He is a talented and diligent young player who we believe has a bright future here at the Dragons.”

Panthers forward signs contract extension

Trent Merrin

Already enjoying good form with the Penrith Panthers in 2016 and signed on for a couple more seasons, the club and player have agreed to a contract extension until the end of 2020.

Since joining, Merrin has been a crucial part of the Panthers go-forward and attack and is proud to have the chance to continue with the club.

“I am honoured and privileged to extend my stay at such a prestigious club,” Merrin said.

“From just my short time being at the Panthers I know this is a club heading in the right direction.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to stay on this journey for another two years and witness the growth of the many talented young players coming through.”

With 17 games for the Panthers to date, Merrin drew strong praise from club boss, Phil Gould.

“Trent has been a wonderful acquisition for the Panthers this season,” Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould AM said.

“Trent’s original deal included an option in his favour for the 2018 season but we are delighted to know he will now be with us until at least the end of 2020.

“His contributions to this club, both on and off the field, have been outstanding.

“The fact that Trent has agreed to this early extension of his deal is a real vote of confidence in the potential he sees in our club.”

NRL Rd 21 Teams

Some teams finals ambitions are officially over but that is the time of the season when they learn to play for pride in their jersey and pride for their fans. As for other teams, the battle for the top eight spots is heating up, with several teams still in the hunt. Will this weeks fixtures play a part in it, or will more teams see their finals hopes dwindle? Time shall tell, as the teams are named.

Without any further suspense, here are the teams for Rd 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos (#NRLsydbri); Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; Thursday July 28. Kick-off: 7:50pm.

Roosters: 1. Blake Ferguson 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Dale Copley 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Latrell Mitchell 6. Connor Watson 7. Mitch Pearce 8. Isaac Liu 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Dylan Napa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitch Aubusson 13. Sio Siua Taukeiaho.

Interchange: 14. Sam Moa 15. Aidan Guerra 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Kane Evans 18. Chris Smith (One to be omitted).

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Tom Opacic 4. James Roberts 5. Lachlan Maranta 6. Anthony Milford 7. Ben Hunt 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Corey Parker (C).

Interchange: 14. Herman Ese’ese 15. Tevita Pangai Junior 16. Jai Arrow 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Jaydn Su’A (One to be omitted).

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Canterbury Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons (#NRLcbysgi); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Friday July 29. Kick-off: 7:50pm.

Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Curtis Rona 5. Sam Perrett 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham (C) 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer.

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Tim Browne 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 18. Lloyd Perrett 21. Tyrone Phillips (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Des Hasler.

Dragons: 1. Adam Quinlan 2. Kurt Mann 3. Euan Aitken 4. Taane Milne 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Benji Marshall 8. Russell Packer 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Will Matthews 16. Jacob Host 17. Jake Marketo 19. Tyrone McCarthy (One to be omitted).

Coach: Paul McGregor.

New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers (#NRLwarpen); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Saturday July 30. Kick-off: 3pm.

Warriors: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. Ken Maumalo 3. David Fusitu’a 4. Solomone Kata 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bunty Afoa 12. Ryan Hoffman (C) 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga 15. Sam Lisone 16. James Gavet 17. Blake Ayshford.

Coach: Andrew McFadden.

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan (C) 2. Josh Mansour 3. Waqa Blake 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Bryce Cartwright 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Leilani Latu 9. Peter Wallace 10. Suaia Matagi 11. Isaah Yeo 12. James Fisher-Harris 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Moses Leota 15. Sitaleki Akauola 16. Chris Grevsmuhl 17. Zak Hardaker 20. Andy Saunders 21. Viliame Kikau (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers (#NRLparwst); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Saturday July 30. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

Eels: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Vai Toutai 3. Manu Ma’u 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Bevan French 6. Clint Gutherson 7. Jeff Robson 8. Danny Wicks 9. Issac De Gois 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Kenny Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Beau Scott (C).

Interchange: 14. Rory O’Brien 15. Peni Terepo 16. David Gower 17. Daniel Alvaro.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tim Simona 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Jordan Rankin 6. Mitch Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods (C) 9. Dene Halatau 10. Sauaso Sue 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Kyle Lovett 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Tim Grant 17. Joel Edwards.

Coach: Jason Taylor.

North Queensland Cowboys v Melbourne Storm (#NRLnqlmel); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Saturday July 30. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Javid Bowen 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Ray Thompson 8. Matt Scott (C) 9. Jake Granville 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper (C) 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjaysn 15. John Asiata 16. Scott Bolton 17. Ben Hannant.

Coach: Paul Green.

Storm: 1. Cam Munster 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Marika Koroibete 6. Blake Green 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cam Smith (C) 10. Felise Kaufusi 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Kenneath Bromwich 15. Christian Welch 16. Matt White 17. Young Tonumaipea.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders (#NRLsoucan); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Sunday July 31. Kick-off: 2pm.

Bunnies: 1. Cody Walker 2. Alex Johnston 3. Bryson Goodwin 4. Aaron Gray 5. Michael Oldfield 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Cam McInnes 10. Zane Musgrove 11. John Sutton (C) 12. Kyl Turner 13. Sam Burgess.

Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Nathan Brown 16. Angus Crichton 17. Thomas Burgess 18. David Tyrrell 19. Damien Cook 20. Jack Gosiewski (Three to be omitted).

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Edrick Lee 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Shaun Fensom.

Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Luke Bateman 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Joseph Tapine.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Manly Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights (#NRLmannew); Brookvale Oval, Manly; Sunday July 31. Kick-off: 4pm.

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Lewis Brown 4. Brayden Wiliame 5. Matt Wright 6. Jamie Lyon (C) 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Darcy Lussick 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Marty Taupau 11. Jamie Buhrer 12. Nathan Green 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Blake Leary 15. Josh Starling 16. Nate Myles 17. Siosaia Vave 22. Addin Fonua-Blake (One to be omitted).

Coach: Trent Barrett.

Knights: 1. Jake Mamo 2. Nathan Ross 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Brendan Elliott 6. Jack Cogger 7. Trent Hodkinson (C) 8. Josh King 9. Danny Levi 10. Korbin Sims 11. David Bhana 12. Pauli Pauli 13. Jeremy Smith (C)

Interchange: 14. Chris Adams 15. Sam Mataora 16. Daniel Saifiti 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Pat Mata’utia 19. Mickey Paea (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Gold Coast Titans v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLgldcro); Cbus Super Stadium, Robina; Monday August 1. Kick-off: 7pm.

Titans: 1. David Mead 2. Anthony Don 3. Josh Hoffman 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Nene Macdonald 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor 8. Luke Douglas 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Zeb Taia 12. Chris McQueen 13. Greg Bird (C).

Interchange: 14. Eddy Pettybourne 15. Leivaha Pulu 16. Agnatius Paasi 18. Ryan Simpkins 19. Nathaniel Peteru (One to be omitted).

Coach: Neil Henry.

Sharks: 1. Ben Barba 2. Sosaia FEki 3. Jack Bird 4. Gerard Beale 5. Val Holmes 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Ennis 10. Sam Tagataese 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Joseph Paulo 15. Chris Heighington 16. Matt Prior 17. Jayson Bukuya.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Sharks veteran Ennis to retire

Michael Ennis

He has enjoyed a stellar career across the NRL, spanning a large number of years but the decision has been made by Michael Ennis. He will retire.

Closing the curtain on his career at the completion of the 2016 season, Sharks fans will be hoping that he can be sent out in the best way possible. With a premiership.

Ennis, currently at the Cronulla Sharks, made his debut for the club in Rd 1 of the 2015 season and has missed very few games since that time.

His NRL debut came whilst playing for the Newcastle Knights and over that time, he has played for numerous clubs and has always been a player that fans either admire or love to hate.

“I’m here to make an announcement that 2016 will be my final year,” said Ennis in an earlier press conference.

“It’s been a hell of a journey and a childhood dream that has come to a realisation. There’s been ups and downs across the five clubs I’ve played at.

“I had a great conversation with my team-mates at lunch time and they were really supportive.”

Sharks boss Lyall Gorman was full of praise for the retiring veteran.

“From a Sharks perspective, we’re incredibly proud of what Michael has achieved on and off the field,” said Gorman.

“He’s made a remarkable contribution to the game with so many clubs over so many years.

“This is not the end of his journey in football. We’re really hoping that he will remain involved with our club in some capacity.”

Ennis felt that had he continued to play on, he would not have been able to fulfill his duties.

“I’ve looked them in the eye to let them know that I didn’t want to be playing for the wrong reasons,” said Ennis.

“Most importantly, the decision came where it gets to a point that to have to say no, I had to make a decision around that.

“It’s time to be a dad and it’s time to spend time with my family.”

Flanagan also praised Ennis for the decision he made.

“I admire Michael for making his decision,” said Sharks coach Shane Flanagan.

“It was a tough one and selfless.”

Panthers veteran signs new 2-year deal

Peter Wallace

This time last year, his career was in some jeopardy after he suffered an ACL injury. Fast forward to the present day, and Panthers veteran Peter Wallace has recovered and reinvigorated himself, playing well at hooker for the club.

The new 2-year extension will see Wallace remain with the club until the end of the 2018 season and the veteran could not see himself playing for any other club.

“I couldn’t see myself playing for any other club at this stage of my career,” Wallace said.

“There’s a great bunch of boys here at the Panthers and the club is going in the right direction with everything off the field as well.

“The whole place is buzzing and I’m just really happy to be a part of it.”

A local junior at Penrith, he made his debut in 2005 with the club and has played in 65 NRL games for the Panthers across two stints.

His leadership and veteran status saw him draw strong praise from Panthers boss, Phil Gould.

“It’s great to have Peter’s future with the club secured,” Panthers Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould AM said.

“He is one of the toughest individuals I have met in all my time in rugby league. He has overcome immense personal challenges over the past few seasons and is truly an inspiration to all the young players at the Panthers.

“He is a tremendous role model both on and off the field.

“Peter has taken the change of playing positions in his stride and is making a valuable contribution each and every time he plays. We are lucky to have him here at the Panthers.”

This year marked an interesting change for Wallace, who moved to hooker having traditionally been considered a half.

“I’ve known for a while now that the switch to hooker is a permanent one for me but I’m genuinely enjoying my footy there,” Wallace said.

“I’m just glad to have committed my future to the Panthers and can now start planning with my family for the years ahead.”

NRL winger joins Leigh ahead of Super 8’s campaign

Mitch Brown

Their team is one that many believe can go places and challenge in the Super League should the opportunity arise but for now, the focus is on the Super 8’s.

Ahead of the campaign, the Leigh Centurions have strengthened their side with the addition of NRL winger, Mitch Brown.

Playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Cronulla Sharks throughout his career, Brown’s contract at the club will see him remain at Leigh until the end of 2018.

The Gymea junior will bring a wealth of experience to the Centurions back-line and it is a signing that coach Neil Jukes is pleased to make.

“I am really excited to bring in a guy of Mitch’s experience and what he can offer to our team and culture. He is an experienced back-line player who can play wing, centre or fullback and he’s not here for the short term,” said Jukes.

“I have spoken to Mitch personally and he is excited by the challenge to enhance what we are doing at Leigh Centurions. He has a lot to offer to the game and we have done a lot of research on him as a player and as a person and every feedback has been positive.

“As Peter Sterling said recently, Mitch is a great, solid, quality player who has done a great job at every club he has been at. When someone of Peter Sterling’s stature says that, it is a big recommendation. We want that sort of player and person in our group.

“I look forward to welcoming Mitch to continue this year’s journey and beyond.”

Also excited about the signing is club owner Derek Beaumont, who knows that his side need to build a Super League quality side.

“This is yet another statement of our intent as a club to build a Super League side and our ability to convince proven top quality players that we are a club going places,” said Beaumont.

“Mitch will add strike to our side going into the Middle 8s and is a proven player that we can move forward with over the next couple of years. I have always said I will invest what is necessary to achieve our goals and keep improving our squad and it doesn’t stop here.

“It is my job to give the coaches the best possible tools to do the job in hand. They have worked hard to identify the target and I am very excited by this addition and I am looking forward to seeing Mitch pull on a Leigh Centurions shirt.”

Rugby league veteran announces retirement at season’s end

Pat Richards

Becoming a fan favourite no matter where he went, former NRL player Pat Richards will retire at the end of the current Super League season.

The veteran winger, now at Super League side, Catalan Dragons, has enjoyed a stellar career over 16 seasons that has seen him amass 3,000 points.

Richards started his career with the Parramatta Eels in 2000, before moving to the Wests Tigers in 2004. Just one year later, Richards was an integral part of the Tigers side that took out the premiership.

After a first stint at the Tigers, Richards moved to England and played for eight seasons with the Wigan Warriors. Following that, he returned to the Tigers for a couple more seasons.

“I’ve really enjoyed coming over here with the team but I feel like it’s the right time for me,” said Richards.

“I’m not getting any younger and I feel like it’s the right time to move onto the next phase of my career.”

The decision was not one that Richards made lightly.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play a long career and I know the time is right for me,” Richards added.

“I’d like to finish the season as well as possible and after I’ve finished, I’d love to stay involved in the game.”

Catalans coach was quick to praise the efforts of Richards both on and off the field.

“I am very disappointed to see such a player with as much class on and off the pitch, to end his career,” said Catalans coach, Laurent Frayssinous.

“It is and has always respected by all his teammates and opponents. Our sport has lost a great player and we want to wish him and his wife Kim and children Aidan and Brianna, the best for this new chapter that opens to them.

As a team, this is an extra motivation to finish the season as high as possible and get to Pat honors it deserves.”

Club boss Christophe Jouffret also praised Richards, highlighting some of his other traits.

“We emphasize the honesty of this great player who was able to give up his last year of contract, not feeling to play again in 2017,” added Jouffret.

“Pat was a great player in the two biggest competitions and it will belong to lives of celebrities to have worn the jersey of the Dragons. We wish him a nice retirement from the sport.”

Broncos prop to leave and head back to the Gold Coast

Jarrod Wallace

When you have a chance to return to a place that is familiar with you and one that is abundant with family, you take it, and Jarrod Wallace has taken the opportunity presented to him.

The current Brisbane Broncos prop will depart the club at season’s end, after signing a 3-year deal from 2017 at the Gold Coast Titans.

Wallace, a Runaway Bay junior, will be returning to a place he knows well, having played in the area previously and along side Ryan James at both SG Ball and Holden Cup level.

“It’s exciting being able to head back to the Gold Coast where I still have a lot of family and join a club that is really on the rise,” Wallace said today.

“I still know a few of the guys there and have kept in contact with Ryan James who is having a great season; it will be good to be reunited with him.”

Although he has signed a deal to move away from the Broncos, his drive and ambition at present is to help the Broncos perform as well as possible.

“But first I want to finish the season strongly with the Broncos who gave me a start in the NRL and have helped me develop my game and taught me a lot about the professionalism needed at that level,” Wallace added.

“However, I see this as an opportunity to hopefully establish myself in the NRL and go back to where my junior career began.”

Playing in every game this year and last, the signing is one that shores up the Titans prop stocks and one that coach Neil Henry is pleased with.

“Jarrod played 25 games last season and hasn’t missed one in 2016 and in that time has really improved and developed as a player,” Henry said.

“He’ll provide further depth to a pack that has been consistent and competitive all season and is at the age where his best football as a prop is ahead of him.

“It’s great that he has shown faith in what we are developing at the Titans and I look forward to him playing a major role in that.”

Panthers prop signs new long-term deal

Leilani Latu

One of the club’s best performers in recent times, Leilani Latu has signed a contract extension with the Penrith Panthers.

Already contracted until the end of 2017, the club and Latu thought the time was right to sit down and iron out an extension, eventually agreeing to terms.

The club are pleased to have retained the talented forward and he drew high praise from Panthers boss, Phil Gould.

“Leilani Latu is the shining example of what perseverance can bring,” Panthers Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould AM said.

“Restricted by injury in the early part of his career, Leilani has worked really hard to now establish himself as a representative class forward.

“It’s just further justification of the club’s strong investment in a reserve grade development pathway here at the Panthers.

“It’s wonderful that Leilani will now be with us for the next four seasons.”

Joining the club in 2014, it was a rocky start to his Penrith career but with hard work and perseverance, he found his feet and is now a mainstay of the first-grade side.

“It’s great to have committed my future to the Panthers,” Latu said.

“I love this club and I know that with the players and the staff we have here, we’re building towards something special.

“The Panthers gave me a second chance at a career in rugby league and I’m so relieved to be in a position to repay that faith.”