Moses the hero as his winning field goal seals an Eels win

Nathan Brown

In a grinding contest that can only be described as ugly, Mitchell Moses has delivered for the Parramatta Eels when it mattered by slotting the winning field goal early in golden point.

The hard-fought contest strengthens the Eels position on the lower rungs of the eight for the time being as they look to capitalise on their good run home to move further up the ladder.

The Eels burst out of the blocks and in the eyes of many, were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try after Bulldogs winger Marcelo Montoya deliberately took out an Eels player in a chase for the ball.

Montoya was sin-binned for the professional foul as a  result and Eels fullback Clint Gutherson slotted a penalty goal to put them ahead. The Bulldogs replied with a penalty goal of their own later in the half.

The Eels then scored two tries on the trot; a scintillating chip and chase that saw him beat several Bulldogs defenders on speed alone and a basic shift play for Semi Radradra to score.

Needing some rejuvenation to get back into the game, the Bulldogs scored a couple of tries of their own in the second half, the first coming after an ill-advised intercept attempt from Kenny Edwards resulting in a knock-on.

A try to Matt Frawley then made things interesting with the scores tied up before the moment for Moses to stand up arrived.

The ice-cold Moses then made no mistake with his second field goal attempt to seal the win for the Eels.

The second half was tough going for the Eels from an attacking perspective as coach Brad Arthur lamented his side’s lack of intent.

“We just couldn’t get out of our own half,” said Arthur.

“Our very first set from the kick-off in the second half just wasn’t good enough.

“They [the Dogs] had some big, hard bodies out there and their season was on the line. Their want and desire were really there.”

Criticised by some Eels fans for not making the impact they were expecting, his winning field goal drew praise from Arthur.

“Yeah, it was nice for Mitchy to get that,” he said.

“It was a big moment, he nailed it and he was nice and calm going into golden point.

“He spoke really well to the players but I wouldn’t say he’s had a rough start.”

Des Hasler got straight to the point about his Bulldogs side; they had their opportunities to get more out of the game but failed to do so.

“There were some parts where we were really good; the commitment and the fightback in the second half,” said Hasler.

“There were probably a few areas that we weren’t so good in.”

Player of the Game:

3. Nathan Brown

2. Aiden Tolman

  1. Mitch Moses

Former Knights veteran now at Wolves to retire at season’s end

Kurt Gidley

His time at the Newcastle Knights saw him become a revered club figure and his time at the Warrington Wolves have proven no different but despite being well-liked and received, Kurt Gidley has opted to retire at season’s end.

In a rugby league career spanning 17 seasons and a career that saw him play for just two sides in his career – the Knights and the Wolves – the versatile utility made a call to hang up the boots at the end of the season and knew it was probably the right time to do so.

“I had played all my career at Newcastle but always had the desire to come over to Super League,” said Gidley.Warrington was always going to be the club from previous talks with Simon.

“Warrington was always going to be the club from previous talks with Simon.”

A lengthy career with the Knights culminated in some good times and bad times but the club is one he will always cherish, much like the Wolves, whom he is grateful to for giving him a Super League opportunity.

“I’m really grateful that I got the opportunity to play here at the back end of my career and experience playing in Super League for a great club,” continued Gidley.I always had two years in my own head; signing a one-year deal and then extending for another year.

“I always had two years in my own head; signing a one-year deal and then extending for another year.

“I knew deep down that two years was probably the right amount of time although I was open to playing more.”

Whilst playing on was also a decision to consider, Gidley felt as if he had achieved his all in the rugby league and with Warrington needing wins, he hopes to help the side perform well in the later parts of the season.

“Coming into this season, this decision has to do with not wanting to push myself too far and wanting to finish on my own terms,” said the Wolves utility. I’ve never been motivated by money to play an extra year and I’m content with what I’ve done in my career.

“I’ve never been motivated by money to play an extra year and I’m content with what I’ve done in my career.

“I wanted to let my teammates know first and then everyone else as it then helps me move on and enjoy the rest of the year.

I’m content with what I’ve achieved so far at Warrington and I’d like us to finish on a high note.”

Although the Wolves know that losing a player of Gidley’s calibre is never easy to replace, they respect the decision that he has made.

“It’s always tough for a player of his calibre to come up with the decision to retire but we are very supportive of Kurt’s decision,” said Wolves coach, Tony Smith.

“We wish him well in advance of his retirement but he’s got some work left to do and I know he’s looking forward to rolling his sleeves up helping us to get into a better position than we are in at the moment.”

Dragons re-sign talented utility

Kurt Mann

Forced to cover numerous different positions during his time at the St George Illawarra Dragons so far, Kurt Mann has quickly become a fan favourite and a consistent performer for the side. 

In a testament to that, the club has opted to re-sign the versatile utility for a further two seasons as his profile with the club continues to rise.

Halfway through his second season with the club, Mann is enjoying his time and knows how crucial upcoming performances are.

“I’m going to be here for a couple more years now and I’m really looking forward to it,” Mann said. “It’s a good opportunity for me, I really enjoy living in Wollongong, we have a great bunch of boys here and I am excited about the future.”

“It’s a good opportunity for me, I really enjoy living in Wollongong, we have a great bunch of boys here and I am excited about the future.”

Fresh off his 50th NRL game in recent weeks, Mann was just pleased to have his future sorted.

“It’s always good to get it out of the way, it is one less thing to worry about,” added Mann. “Now, I can just worry about my form”.

“Now, I can just worry about my form”.

With numerous positions up for grabs next season in light of some departures, the club know how crucial Mann will be in their make-up next season.

“What we’ve really noticed about Kurt is his ability to play numerous positions and he’ll have an opportunity to challenge for the fullback role next year as we aren’t going externally to replace that position,” said Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways, Ian Millward.

“We believe with his age that his next two years will be some of his stronger years, not only developing his skill set but physically too. He’s an important signing for our squad moving forward.”

Boom Penrith rookie re-signs with the club

Corey Harawira-Naera

Bursting onto the scene this season and surprising many, Corey Harawira-Naera has ignored rival overtures and put a smile on the faces of Penrith Panthers fans by re-signing with the club for a further three seasons.

The new deal for the 22-year old means that the Harawira-Naera will remain with the club until the end of the 2020 season.

In the end, despite other clubs chasing his signature, Harawira-Naera said that it was an easy decision and that he had no intentions of leaving the club.

“I’m so happy and relieved to have re-signed with the Panthers as I never wanted to go anywhere else,” Harawira-Naera said.

“In terms of my development as a player, and even as a person, I know this is the right club for me.”

Harawira-Naera’s form has pleased the Penrith organisation and since making his debut in Rd 4, he has scored six tries and drew praise from the club’s Executive General Manager, Phil Gould.

“Corey is another one of our players who has come through the Panthers development pathways to play first grade for this club,” said Gould.

“He was a member of our premiership-winning NYC team in 2015 and has now firmly established himself in the NRL side.

“Corey thoroughly deserves his new contract and we are delighted he will be at the Panthers for at least the next three years.

“I see a long and successful career ahead for this lad.”

Veteran centre makes the move to the Knights effective immediately

Shaun Kenny-Dowall

In a move that might make some fans question the nature of the NRL’s decision-making as to why he can return so soon in light of previous events, Shaun Kenny-Dowall has a new club after signing with the Newcastle Knights effective immediately. 

Making his debut back in 2007, Kenny-Dowall played 220 games for the Roosters and leaves the club as a successful player and try-scorer.

Also playing in 20 matches for the New Zealand international side, club CEO Matt Gidley was quick to praise the signing of the veteran centre.

“We welcome a player of Shaun’s talent and experience to the Club,” CEO Matt Gidley said.

“Shaun is an international and premiership-winning player and I have no doubt he will impress both on and off the field.

“While Shaun has been through a difficult period recently, following our discussions we are confident he will make a positive contribution to the Club and community.”

In a bid to move on, Kenny-Dowall will look to put the challenges of his past behind him and look forward and to play at his best for the Knights when called upon.

“I am really fortunate to have had a successful career so far; I look forward to joining the Knights and having a positive impact on the Club,” Kenny-Dowall said.

“I am putting my recent challenges behind me and look forward to starting this new chapter with the Knights.

“Newcastle is a proud rugby league community and I want to repay the Club for the faith they have shown in me.”

Rd 17 NRL Teams

Doesn’t the NRL season just fly by? Already up to Rd 17 and as we get to the business end of the season, there is so much at stake for teams; namely, a top eight berth to keep their seasons alive. Are the teams there right now good enough or will some falter despite easy schedules?

Without further adieu, the sides for Rd 17 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

Parramatta Eels v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLparcby); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Thursday, June 29. Kick-off: 7:50 pm.

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Bevan French 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitch Moses 8. Daniel Alvaro 9. Cameron King 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Kenny Edwards 13. Nathan Brown.

Interchange: 14. David Gower 15. Tepai Moeroa 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Will Smith 18. Marata Niukore 19. Siosaia Vave 20. Nathan Davis 21. John Folau.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Bulldogs: 1. Will Hopoate 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Chase Stanley 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Mose Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Sam Kasiano 11. Josh Jackson 12. Adam Elliott 13. David Klemmer.

Interchange: 14. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Francis Tualau 17. Matt Frawley 19. Andy Saunders 20. Kerrod Holland 21. Asipeli Fine 23. Brenko Lee.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Gold Coast Titans v St George Illawarra Dragons (#NRLgldsgi); Cbus Super Stadium, Robina; Friday, June 30. Kick-off: 6 pm.

Titans: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Will Zillman 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Chris McQueen.

Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Max Boyle 16. Morgan King 17. Agnatius Paasi 18. Paterika Vaivai 19. Nathaniel Peteru 20. John Olive 21. Jamal Fogarty.

Coach: Neil Henry.

Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Kurt Mann 8. Russell Packer 9. Cam McInnes 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Jacob Host 16. Hame Sele 17. Josh McCrone 18. Blake Lawrie 19. Taane Milne 21. Matthew Dufty 22. Josh McCrone.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm (#NRLbrimel); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Friday, June 30. Kick-off: 7:50 pm.

Broncos: 1. Jordan Kahu 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. David Mead 6. Benji Marshall 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair (C) 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire. 

Interchange: 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai Jr. 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Ben Hunt 18. Joe Ofahengaue 19. Jai Arrow 20. Jaydn Su’A 21. Jonus Pearson.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cam Munster 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Tim Glasby 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15. Slade Griffin 16. Kenny Bromwich 17. Joe Stimson 18. Mark Nicholls 19. Brodie Croft 20. Curtis Scott 21. Jordan McLean.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Sydney Roosters v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLsydcro); Central Coast Stadium, Gosford; Saturday, July 1. Kick-off: 3 pm.

Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitch Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend (C) 10. Dylan Napa 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Mitch Aubusson 13. Aidan Guerra.

Interchange: 14. Isaac Liu 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Nat Butcher 17. Connor Watson 18. Kane Evans 19. Mitch Cornish 20. Chris Smith 22. Victor Radley.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

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

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Kurt Capewell 17. Joseph Paulo 18. Sam Tagataese 19. Jeremy Latimore 20. Jesse Ramien 21. Edrick Lee.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Manly Sea Eagles v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLmanwar); niB Stadium, Perth; Saturday, July 1. Kick-off: 5:30 pm (AEDT).

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Matt Wright 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Marty Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Lewis Brown 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Cameron Cullen 15. Lloyd Perrett 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Addin Fonua-Blake 18. Jarrad Kennedy 19. Jonathan Wright 20. Brad Parker 21. Jackson Hastings.

Coach: Trent Barrett.

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad 3. Blake Ayshford 4. David Fusitu’a 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathaniel Roache 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering. 

Interchange 14. Ata Hingano 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Albert Vete 17. James Gavet 18. Manu Vatuvei 19. Ligi Sao 21. Isaiah Papalii 22. Mason Lino.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLcannql); GIO Stadium, Canberra; Saturday, July 1. Kick-off: 7:30 pm.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 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. Iosia Soliola.

Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Luke Bateman 16. David Taylor 17. Joseph Tapine 18. Scott Sorenson 19. Royce Hunt 20. Adam Clydsdale 21. Clay Priest.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

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

Interchange: 14. Ben Hampton 15. Coen Hess 16. Shaun Fensom 17. Corey Jensen 18. Kyle Laybutt 19. Kalyn Ponga 20. Braden Uele 21. Patrick Mago.

Coach: Paul Green.

Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers (#NRLnewwst); McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle; Sunday, July 2. Kick-off: 2 pm.

Knights: 1. Nathan Ross 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Brendan Elliott 6. Brock Lamb 7. Jaelen Feeney 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh King 11. Sione Mata’utia (C) 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitch Barnett.

Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer 15. Joe Wardle 16. Tyler Randell 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Sam Mataora 19. Sam Stone 20. Trent Hodkinson 21. Josh Starling.

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofolauma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Moses Suli 5. Kevin Naiqama 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods (C) 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Sauaso Sue 12. Kyle Lovett 13. Elijah Taylor. 

Interchange: 14. Matthew Eisenhuth 15. JJ Felise 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Matt McIlwrick 18. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 19. Jack Littlejohn 20. Joel Edwards 21. Alex Twal.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Penrith Panthers (#NRLsoupen); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Sunday, July 2. Kick-off: 4 pm.

Bunnies: 1. Cody Walker 2. Alex Johnston 3. Aaron Gray 4. Bryson Goodwin 5. Braidon Burns 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Robbie Farah 10. David Tyrrell 11. Tyrell Fuimaono 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess (C). 

Interchange: 14. Damien Cook 15. Jason Clark 16. Zane Musgrove 17. George Burgess 18. Anthony Cherrington 19. Kyle Turner 20. Robbie Rochow 22. Cameron Murray.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Mitch Rein 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira-Naera 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Leilani Latu 16. Tim Browne 17. Viliame Kikau 18. Kaide Ellis 19. Sione Katoa 20. Sitaleki Akauola 21. Jed Cartwright.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.


Tigers veteran forced to retire due to injury

Matt Ballin

Every player wants to depart on their own terms but unfortunately for Matt Ballin, he will not have that opportunity as he has been forced to retire due to a knee injury.

Since making his debut with the Manly Sea Eagles in 2007, Ballin played 220 NRL games throughout his career.

In that time, he won two premierships in 2008 and 2011 and represented Queensland in 2010.

Despite his injury, Ballin will not be lost to the club; he will continue his rehabilitation and take part in a player transition program as well as working in the club’s community programs.

Whilst his career has ended suddenly, Ballin said he was pleased to play just one game let alone 220.

“I never thought I’d play in the NRL, I never thought I’d accomplish that,” said Ballin. “To do that at the Sea Eagles was one of the first steps in a long career that I’ve been very lucky to have. Just playing first-grade was a massive accomplishment for me and something I’d always wanted to do since I was a young kid.

“To do that at the Sea Eagles was one of the first steps in a long career that I’ve been very lucky to have. Just playing first-grade was a massive accomplishment for me and something I’d always wanted to do since I was a young kid.”

Ballin was quick to praise both the Tigers and Sea Eagles staff, players and fans for their role in his NRL career.

“Being successful and making the friendships I did at Manly was great, but coming to Wests Tigers for the past two years has also been incredibly rewarding,” he said.

“I haven’t played much footy, but I’ve met some great people and been able to help off the field, which I hadn’t been able to do as much before.”

With his playing career now over, Ballin looks forward to helping the next generation of players and to spending more time with his family who gave him continued support throughout his career.

“It’s been a bit of an evolution for me, going from a young guy who just wants to play footy to winning competitions to now getting to the end of it and being able to help the next generation come through,” continued Ballin.

“My Mum and Dad, and my two brothers have been amazing,” said Ballin.

“The support and love and care they gave me growing up and all the way through to the end of my career has been fantastic as well.

“The ones that are close to you, particularly my wife Shannon and my kids, I can’t thank them enough. They see the ups and the downs and yet they support you all the way through, I couldn’t say anything but I love them and I’m very thankful for their support.”

Despite a short career with the Tigers, club CEO Justin Pascoe praised Ballin for the role he played with the club during his time with them.

“I’d like to thank Matt for all of his efforts during his time here at Wests Tigers,” said Pascoe. “While unfortunately his time on the field has been limited he’s had a major impact off it.

“He’s been a part of our leadership group almost since day one, which speaks volumes about his character and standing in the game,” he said.

“Matt’s been heavily involved in a number of our community programs over the last two seasons. From reading programs and school visits, to extended trips to regional areas and our new initiative with Goulburn Correctional Facility, Matt has played a key part in all of them and we thank him for that.

New chapter for Mortimer after signing with Leigh

Daniel Mortimer

Always looking to improve their side in a bid to stay in the Super League, the Leigh Centurions have signed former NRL utility Daniel Mortimer until the end of the 2019 season.

Mortimer, who has played for the Parramatta Eels, the Sydney Roosters, the Gold Coast Titans and the Cronulla Sharks, is a utility that can cover five-eighth, halfback and hooker, with that versatility a key asset in the eyes of the club.

“Daniel is another proven quality NRL player with lots of experience at the highest level, including Grand Finals,” said Leigh owner Derek Beaumont.

“He is a running pivot with a great kicking game and can also run at nine so is a very versatile player.

“Again, it is all money but it is not only about ensuring we maintain our Super League status, it is also about improving the squad for next year as I want this club to become more and more competitive so that over time we can win something.”

With the new challenge ahead, Mortimer looks forward to what his stint with Leigh.

“I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my career,” said Mortimer.

“I have been following Leigh closely now for the past six weeks and I hope I can play a significant role for the club between now and season’s end.”

The option of playing overseas has always appealed to Mortimer and whilst he knows it will be a different kettle of fish, he looks forward to what lies ahead.

“Playing overseas has always been an attraction and I am lucky that a great club like Leigh took the initiative to recruit me,” said Mortimer.

“It will be challenging but I’m always up for a challenge and hopefully we will do well in the weeks ahead.”

Ricky’s NRL Interviews Pt 5: Matt ‘Sheep’ Fuller

Matt Fuller

Our next part of the interview series is here and we spoke to Matt ‘Sheep’ Fuller who played for the Canterbury Bulldogs, the St George Dragons, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Western Reds, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and the Western Suburbs Magpies. He spoke to us about his career, a surprise misconception during his Western Reds days and his successful fitness business among other things.

  1. You made your debut at the Canterbury Bulldogs at 18 in 1989; what were your nerves like heading into the contest and were you expecting to get the call-up?

All I ever wanted to do as a kid was to play first-grade rugby league. Making my first-grade debut was a proud moment for myself and my family. I played all three grades on the one day against the Roosters that afternoon. I made my first-grade debut in the centres, which was like a foreign language to me having played all my schoolboy rugby league at 6, 7 and 9. I remember only too well walking out of Belmore Sports Ground pretty tired and exhausted only to find a parking ticket on my car!

2. In 1995 you joined the Western Reds and later became captain; what did honour mean to you?

I loved playing at the Western Reds, it really felt like being at home with a great bunch of blokes. Peter Mulholland was my St Gregory’s College Campbelltown coach and the first-grade coach at the Western Reds. He had and continues to have a massive influence on my life as a mentor.

To this day, I don’t know how it was ever picked up that I became captain of the Western Reds as I was not. I felt like a leader on the field but never had the C against my name, but the story keeps evolving. I was very talkative on the field and was known for my sledging of which I enjoyed getting inside the opponents heads.

3. You moved to Wakefield for the second time in 1997 and won the First Division Final in 1998; what memories do you have of that success and of your time in Wakefield/England?

Wakefield Trinity in the north of England was a very special and rewarding time for me, having left Souths at the end of 1993 to play with “Wakey” in 1993/94 before joining the Reds in 1995. I was part of a team that beat Wigan at their home ground for the first time in 17 years and that year we fought off relegation (94). This was massive for the club. My second stint was after the Western Reds had folded was in 1997/98. At first, I was angry that the Western Reds had folded after having 3 great seasons, but returning to the UK and finding Wakefield Trinity in the first division with a mountain to climb to get back into the super league was a massive challenge.

Overall, I wouldn’t say we had a skilful team but we had a close group of lads and a great coach who worked very hard for each other. This time I held the C against my name and led the team to a grand final victory against Featherstone Rovers. Walking up the stairs to lift the premiership trophy felt very surreal. It meant a lot to the club and to myself that they got promoted back into the super league and remain there to this day. It was a very proud moment, hence, the naming of our second child, a baby girl, Trinity.

4. 1999 was your last year as a rugby league player with Western Suburbs; looking back on your career, did you imagine that you would have such a successful career when you made your debut 10 years prior?

Looking back on my career, I remember the great Terry Lamb once saying to me, “you cannot call yourself a first-grade footballer until you have played 100 first grade games of rugby league.” That desire and motivation never left me. From 1989 – 1992, I was in and out of first grade, mostly playing reserve grade. But from 1993 – 1999, I only played about 4 reserve grade games; the rest I played in first grade. Having played two full seasons in the UK, at one stage I thought the 100 club was going to be a tricky assignment.

Knocking back a great offer from Wakefield Trinity to lead the side into super league promotion in 1999 was a very difficult decision for me to make. But getting a call from the Magpies to play in the 1999 NRL season gave me an opportunity to reach my goal of 100 first grade games of which I did, under the great Tommy Raudonikis.

I feel blessed to have played the great game of rugby league. I owe the game everything. After rugby league I have put the lessons I learnt into my life and have been able to mentally adjust to a normal life, as nothing comes close to being a professional sportsman.

5. You manage the Fuller Fitness Training Centre, a successful and reputable training facility; what prompted your move into the fitness industry once you had finished your rugby league career?

I’ve been in the fitness industry for the past 17 years having set up a business from scratch, Fuller Fitness Subiaco. I’ve always loved the fitness side of the game of rugby league and stuck to what I knew. The business side, well that was a different ball game altogether at first, but after so long, I now have a pretty good handle on the running of the business and what it takes to be successful.

6. Telethon is obviously an organisation close to your heart; what prompted you to get involved with them and what did it mean to you to play such an active role?

Telethon is WA’s premier fundraising event for the community, held in October each year. All media outlets put down their bias and come together to help Channel 7 in one common goal; raising much-needed funds for distribution to different beneficiaries throughout the community to help the sick kids of WA. Telethon has given me a great focus and purpose and since retiring from rugby league this year will be my 8th, 24-hour non-stop physical challenge.

My team and I will be attempting a 24 hour non-stop spin class in Telethon’s 50 year anniversary. Over the years, my team and I have raised over $500,000 for the kids of WA. These physical challenges are my way of giving back to the community. My wife and I are truly lucky to have healthy children and over the Telethon weekend, we are reminded of this each year.

7. If you could give any advice to young, budding rugby league players and people in general, what would it be?

My advice to young rugby league players would be to look after their bodies and finances to the best of their ability, even if it means getting professional help. Learn from the lessons that you gain from playing rugby league; discipline, respect, physical and mental toughness and punctuality; and apply these to your life and you will remain mentally and physically strong through your transition to normality.

Give back as much as you can to the fans and kids of rugby league because after the pats on the back have stopped, you will need a new focus. Love your family, without them by your side retirement will be a lot harder.

Hulking representative prop signs new deal at the Sharks

Andrew Fifita

In what could be the last deal of his career, Andrew Fifita has re-signed with the Cronulla Sharks long-term on a new four-year deal.

The new deal is from the 2019 season until the end of the 2022 season with Fifita already contracted to the Sharks in 2018.

The new contract is one that Fifita is pleased to have signed.

“It’s a really exciting time for myself and my family, to secure my future for another five years,” Fifita said.

“Now it’s all done and I can’t wait to play footy.”

Pleased to have his future sorted, Fifita says everything about the club is what made him want to stay long-term.

“Its culture, its youth and some of the experience that helped me along in my journey,” he continued.

“It was an opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands.”

The signing was backed by coach Shane Flanagan who knows how good Fifita is and to know that he can build a side around the barnstorming prop.

“We’ve all seen the growth in Andrew off the field and his football has gone to a new level as well over the last couple of seasons,” said the Sharks coach.

“He is a match-winner, as we saw in the Grand Final and then again in the first Origin game and to have him here at the club for a further five years is very exciting.”