Eels depth forward signs new 1-year deal

Rory O'Brien

Every team needs some solid depth across the field for when injuries or suspensions and strike and the Eels have strengthened that department, re-signing forward Rory O’Brien for the 2017 season.

O’Brien, previously at the Dragons, has played nine games in total for the Eels this year after making his club debut in Rd 14.

Through commitment and hard-work, O’Brien’s efforts in pre-season and on the field were enough to convince coach Brad Arthur to retain him.

“Rory has made good progress right the way through this season and I am sure that we will continue to see strong improvement to his game in 2017,” Arthur said.

“The Club is increasing the depth of its squad which will only help build strong competition for places next season.”

Rd 26 NRL Teams

Here it is, the final round of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership. With the top eight mostly settled unless certain results go the way of some teams, pride is on the line for many as they look to work hard and play hard and finish the year on a high.

Without any more waiting, here are the teams for the final round of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership:

Brisbane Broncos v Sydney Roosters (#NRLbrisyd); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Thursday September 1. Kick-off: 7:50pm.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Tom Opacic 4. James Roberts 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Corey Parker (C).

Interchange: 14. Jarrod Wallace 16. Tevita Pangai Jr. 16. Jai Arrow 17. Alex Glenn.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Roosters: 1. Blake Ferguson 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Dale Copley 4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5. Latrell Mitchell 6. Connor Watson 7. Mitch Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Dylan Napa 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Mitch Aubusson 13. Isaac Liu.

Interchange: 14. Sam Moa 15. Kane Evans 16. Mitch Frei 17. Nat Butcher 18. Joseph Manu (One to be omitted).

Coach: Trent Robinson.


Canterbury Bulldogs v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLcbysou); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Friday September 2. Kick-off: 7:50pm.

Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Kerrod Holland 5. Curtis Rona 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. Danny Fualalo 15. Tim Browne 16. Tony Williams 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

Bunnies: 1. Greg Inglis (C) 2. Alex Johnston 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Aaron Gray 5. Joe Burgess 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Kyle Turner 13. Sam Burgess.

Interchange: 14. Jason Clark 15. Nathan Brown 16. Angus Crichton 17. Zane Musgrove.

Coach: Michael Maguire.


St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights (#NRLsginew); UOW Jubilee Oval, Wollongong; Saturday September 3. Kick-off: 3pm.

Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Kurt Mann 3. Euan Aitken 4. Taane Milne 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (c) 7. Benji Marshall 8. Leeson Ah Mau 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Ben Creagh 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Joel Thompson 15. Will Matthews 16. Jacob Host 17. Jake Marketo 19. Siliva Havili 20. Tim Lafai 21. Luciano Leilua (Three to be omitted).

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Knights: 1. Jake Mamo 2. Nathan Ross 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Brendan Elliott 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Trent Hodkinson (C) 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Tyler Randell 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Mitch Barnett 13. Jeremy Smith (C).

Interchange: 14. Dylan Pythian 15. Pat Mata’utia 16. Korbin Sims 17. Sam Matoara 18. Josh King 19. Jaelen Feeney (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Nathan Brown.


North Queensland Cowboys v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLnqlgld); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Saturday September 3. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

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

Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjaysn 15. Coen Hess 16. Patrick Kaufusi 17. Ben Hannant.

Coach: Paul Green.

Titans: 1. Jarryd Hayne 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.

Interchange: 14. Leivaha Pulu 15. Ryan Simpkins 16. Agnatius Paasi 17. Nathan Friend 18. David Mead 19. David Shillington 21. Lachlan Burr (Three to be omitted).

Coach: Neil Henry.


Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLmelcro); AAMI Park, Melbourne; Saturday September 3. Kick-off: 7:30pm.

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. Jordan McLean 11. Kenneath Bromwich 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Felise Kaufusi 15. Christian Welch 16. Jordan McLean 17. Ben Hampton 21. Matt White (One to be omitted).

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

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

Interchange: 14. Joseph Paulo 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jesse Sene-Lefao 17. Jayson Bukuya.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Wests Tigers v Canberra Raiders (#NRLwstcan); Leichhardt Oval; Sunday September 4. Kick-off: 2pm.

Tigers: 1. David Nofoaluma 2. Jordan Rankin 3. Tim Simona 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Mitch Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 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 18. Michael Chee-Kam (One to be omitted).

Coach: Jason Taylor.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Edrick Lee 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Sam Williams 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Paul Vaughan 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Iosia Soliola.

Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Luke Bateman 16. Clay Priest 17. Joseph Tapine.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

New Zealand Warriors v Parramatta Eels (#NRLwarpar); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Sunday September 4. Kick-off: 4pm.

Warriors: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea 2. Jonathan Wright 3. Blake Ayshford 4. David Fusitu’a 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Albert Vete 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman (C) 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Ata Hingano 15. Sam Lisone 16. Ben Matulino 17. Bunty Afoa 18. Nathaniel Roache (One to be omitted).

Coach: Andrew McFadden.

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

Interchange: 14. Kaysa Pritchard 15. Kenny Edwards 16. Peni Terepo 17. Daniel Alvaro 18. David Gower (One to be omitted).

Coach: Brad Arthur.


Penrith Panthers v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLpenman); Pepper Stadium, Penrith; Monday September 5. Kick-off: 6:30pm.

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. Sitaleki Akauola 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Chris Grevsmuhl 17. Zak Hardaker 20. Moses Leota (One to be omitted).

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Matt Wright 5. Brayden Wiliame 6. Apisai Koroisau 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Matt Parcell 10. Nate Myles 11. Martin Taupau 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Jake Trbojevic (C).

Interchange: 14. Blake Leary 15. Josh Starling 16. Lewis Brown 17. Siosaia Vave.

Coach: Trent Barrett.


Hulking winger signs with the Dragons

Nene Macdonald

In a tough time as a club and with fans on edge about the coach and performances, there is some good news for St George Illawarra Dragons fans with their recent signing.

Winger Nene Macdonald, who has enjoyed a very solid season with the Gold Coast Titans in 2016, will join the Dragons on a 3-year deal from 2017.

The Cairns brothers junior made his debut back in 2014 with the Sydney Roosters and to date, has played in 43 NRL games.

Nene has also enjoyed some international success, having played for the Papua New Guinea Kumuls on five occasions.

Macdonald will join the club in 2016.

Hard-running Tongan international signs with the Eels

Siosaia Vave

Given the official clearance to sign players, the Parramatta Eels have not wasted any time in confirming their first one, announcing the signing of Manly Sea Eagles prop Siosaia Vave on a 2-year deal.

The hard-running and hard-working prop has played over 75 games in the NRL for the Melbourne Storm, the Cronulla Sharks and the Manly Sea Eagles, and gives the Eels pack some much needed starch in both defence and attack.

The signing is one that has head coach Brad Arthur pleased to add such a strong forward to the pack.

“I am pleased that Siosaia will be joining our squad as he brings experience and power to our front row,” Arthur said.

“As we continue to build towards 2017, it’s important that our acquisitions complement the current strength within our playing squad and I am confident that Siosaia will do this from day one.”

Eels veteran signs new deal

Issac De Gois

Every side needs a veteran to lead the younger players around and the Parramatta Eels will retain one of their own, with Issac De Gois re-signing at the club for a further two seasons.

Joining the club midway through 2014 as hooker cover before eventually playing, he has since gone on to become a mainstay of the Eels side. De Gois will be looking to add to his 223 games in NRL over the next couple of seasons.

He will also play in his 50th game for the Eels this week when the club takes on the Dragons in the final home game at Pirtek Stadium.

A key for Eels coach Brad Arthur to retain the veteran is to help him mentor some of the younger hookers the club have coming through the ranks, such as Kaysa Pritchard.

“Isaac has been a key leader for our team this season and I am pleased that he will be remaining with our squad until the end of 2018,” Arthur said.

“With the retention of a number of players for 2017, our squad is shaping up well for next season.”

De Gois is the fourth re-signing announced by the club in recent days.

Souths strengthen back-row with signing of Knights junior

Robbie Rochow

Although currently out of action in 2016 because of injury, there is plenty of promise for Robbie Rochow, ahead of his confirmed move to the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the 2017 season.

The club confirmed the deal today, with the Knights back-rower to head South to the pastures of Redfern.

With a total of 72 games for the club, a pectoral injury has recently kept Rochow off the field.

“It was obviously a tough decision to leave the Knights but one that I felt was for the best,” Rochow said.

“The Club has been great to me but it feels like the right time to step outside my comfort zone.

“I still have a lot to improve on in my game and going to a Club with senior players was a factor in my decision.”

Off the field, Rochow is working on an engineering degree and with the move to Sydney, it will make life easier for him to finish it.

“Being in Sydney will help with where I am up to with my degree and a priority is working hard to complete that as soon as possible,” he added.

The club hold no grudges or ill-feelings towards Rochow and his decision, knowing that he has to do what he feels is right for him.

“We understand that leaving the Club was what was best for Robbie at this stage of his career,” CEO Matt Gidley said.

“He has been a wonderful player on and off the field and he certainly has our best wishes for the future.”

Rochow will be among the Knights players to be farewelled following their home game this Sunday.

As for Souths who have signed him, coach Michael Maguire is no stranger to Rochow and what he can do, having worked alongside him at the Melbourne Storm.

“I’ve worked with Robbie previously at the Melbourne Storm and he will bring great character and leadership to our Club next season,” Maguire said.

“He’s a very driven individual and wants to add to the culture we have built here at South Sydney.

With several players set to depart Souths, the competition for spots now opens up.

“He will also create more competition for selection in our NRL side next year which spurs on our players to perform at their best, be it at training or in games,” added Maguire.

“We’re looking forward to having him join our ranks in the pre-season.”

Knights forward forced to medically retire due to neck injury

Kade Snowden

Not leaving on your own terms as a player can sometimes be a disappointment but in today’s age of rugby league, it is often unavoidable. For Newcastle Knights forward Kade Snowden, who has not been seen since Rd 1, he has been forced to medically retire from the game due to a neck injury.

Playing in 174 NRL games for the club and representing both NSW and Australia throughout his career, Snowden said that it was tough not being able to contribute for the club in 2016.

“It has been a tough year not being able to contribute to the team but my body just couldn’t do it anymore,” Snowden said.

“A number of injuries, but primarily my neck, have forced an early retirement from the game that has been my whole life.”

A local junior, Snowden made his debut for the Knights before moving to the Sharks for several seasons. Upon returning to the Knights, he believed the experience away made him a better player.

“To make my NRL debut for the Knights, it was something I had dreamed of since I was a kid,” Snowden said.

“It really meant everything to me and while I wish I could have been a one-club player, it didn’t pan out that way.

“I know I was a better person and player for moving away and coming back to the Knights.”

To return to the Knights and to finish up as a Knights player, is something Snowden cherishes.

“I was so happy I was able to play my last couple of years at the Knights,” Snowden added.

“To have my family and friends support me every week and to represent Newcastle meant the world, even though it has been cut short.”

He was quick to thank the two clubs he played for, the fans, his team-mates and the staff, for the work they did.

“Thanks to my family, friends and everyone that has given me their time to make me the player I became,” Snowden said.

“Thank you to the two clubs, and especially Ricky Stuart, who turned me into the man and player that other players wanted to play with.

“Finally, to the fans of Newcastle, thanks for your support and I am sorry I couldn’t finish the year off for you.”

Fan favourite Eels back-rower re-signs

Kenny Edwards

A character both on and off the field but one who makes it his own personal mission to play as well as he can, Kenny Edwards becomes the latest Parramatta Eel to re-commit to the club.

The back-rower has signed a new 3-year deal until the end of 2019, having impressed over the last few years at the club.

Known for his off-field antics – drawing such labels as #KennyCramps or the #KennyCuddle – whereby he lays down and pulls a cramp when the game is in the balance in the Eels favour, that character is why so many Eels fans are drawn to him.

Just as famous is the Kenny cuddle, when he comes up alongside an opposition player and gives them a jestful cuddle.

As for Kenny himself, he is pleased to have the contract sorted.

“It was in the mix for a while there and I’m happy to get it done,” said Edwards.

“I’m thankful the club has stuck by me and given me another three years.”

In what has been a turbulent year for the Eels off the field, there was no hesitation from Edwards when it came to re-signing.

“I love the place, I love the joint and we have a coach here that we’re all behind,” said Edwards.

“I had no hesitation in re-signing.”

In the latest of what is expected to be quite a few re-signings, Eels head coach Brad Arthur is pleased with how Kenny has bounced back after an ACL injury in 2015.

“After returning from an ACL injury, Kenny has been one of our most consistent performers in 2016 and I am pleased he has committed to the club for the long term,” Arthur said.

“It’s a great outcome that more and more of our players are committing long term to the Club and I am sure our supporters will see the benefits of this in 2017 and beyond.”

Storm’s mid-season transfer to depart for England at season’s end

Ryan Morgan

Plugging a gap at the club and offering them some much needed depth, Ryan Morgan joined the Melbourne Storm mid-season. Now, at the completion of the year, Morgan will be leaving the club after signing a 3-year deal with English side, St Helens.

Playing in seven games for the Storm to date this year and scoring two tries in the process, the 26-year old has played a total of 84 NRL games, the majority of which came for his former side Parramatta.

It may have only been a brief tenure at the Storm, but Morgan says the experience and journey has left a lasting impression on him.

“I’ve loved it, all the boys have been great down here as have the coaching staff,” Morgan said.

“It’s true what they say about this club, it’s a real professional organisation and it’s really well run.

“There’s a tight group of boys down here and I’ve really been enjoying my footy. I’d say I’ve made some lifetime friends down here.”

The club also acknowledged Morgan and the work he has put in, praising his efforts.

“Ryan has made a big contribution to Storm during his short stay at the club,” said Storm Director of Football, Frank Ponissi.

“He has quickly become a very well liked member of the playing group and we would have loved to have kept him in Melbourne – Ryan has played a big part in our success in attack throughout the season so far and has played in six wins from his seven games.

“We realise the incredible opportunity Ryan has been given to join a world famous club in St.Helens and wish him all the best during his time in the Super League.”

As for Morgan’s move to the Super League, it was after speaking to some former NRL players currently in the competition about its pedigree and standing, that convinced him to make the move across himself.

“I’m really looking forward to coming over to St Helens. It has a great history and is a successful club and that is what excited me about the move,” Morgan said.

“It was a tough decision to make, especially moving away from my family, but being part of a successful organisation and trying to build something in England made the choice easier.

“I spoke to a couple of former Super League players before deciding and they had nothing but good things to say about the club and the comp. Blake Green is here at Melbourne and he said he enjoyed the lifestyle and the footy – as did Willie Tonga too.

“Hearing that made the decision a lot easier.”

Hard-working forward signs new deal with the Eels

Danny Wicks

In a tumultuous year for the club, the sun is now shining and the good news filtering through, as the Parramatta Eels confirm the re-signing of prop, Danny Wicks.

Wicks, whose new deal will run until the end of the 2018 season, debuted for the club in 2015 and has gone on to become a fan favourite for his hard-work, dedication and passion for the club.

Recently passing 100 games in his career whilst at the Eels, Wicks is pleased to have his future sorted in what could be his last professional contract.

“I’m stoked to be seeing out my career I suppose at Parramatta,” said the 30-year old Wicks.

“I’ve worked pretty hard I think and I’m glad to be here.”

The decision was easy for Wicks in the end, with the forward admitting coach Brad Arthur played a big role in re-signing him.

“It was a no-brainer and obviously BA [Brad Arthur] played a big part in it,” added Wicks.

“It’s a good group of lads and obviously we’ve had a bit of a tough year this year but I’m looking forward to the future.”

Equally pleased is coach Arthur, who has some healthy prop competition at his disposal – pending further signings – to utilise in 2017.

“Danny has proven himself as a key member of our squad and it was important to us to secure him for a further two seasons,” Head Coach Brad Arthur said.

“We have a strong playing group and locking in members like Danny ensures we can build towards 2017 and beyond with confidence.”