Leigh continue to set high ambitions with signing of Warriors forward

Bodene Thompson

Not a team to beat around the bush, the Leigh Centurions have made their ambitions clear; they want a return to the Super League after a taste of that environment.

Relegated back to the Championship, Leigh continues to go from strength to strength and have signed New Zealand Warriors back-rower Bodene Thompson on a 2-year deal.

Having previously played for the Wests Tigers and the Gold Coast Titans prior to joining the Warriors, Thompson established himself as one of the club’s top back-rowers during his time at the Warriors.

With numerous players coming in and positions up for grabs, however, something had to give but his departure to Leigh is one that has the club excited.

“This is a real quality signing for the Club,” said club owner Derek Beaumont.

“I am really excited to have Bodene at our Club.

I was a little dubious when Kez said he had landed this one and as time pressed on I had thought it wasn’t going to happen with us being in the Championship.”

Beaumont did not hold back with praise, as he looks forward to the impact that Thompson can provide for the club.

“But fair play to him, he worked hard to get it over the line and big respect to Bodene for buying into what we are doing,” continued Beaumont.

“He plays the style of rugby I love to watch and I am really looking forward to meeting him.”

Centurions head coach Neil Jukes believes that Thompson is a signing that will please the club’s fans on and off the field.

“Bodene’s signing is a big coup for Leigh Centurions,” said Jukes.

“He has lots of experience and has played for some big NRL clubs. Kez has done a marvellous job to get it over the line.

“Bodene is a hard running, tough tackling edge player which is pretty much everything you want from someone in that position.

“The fans will surely enjoy watching Bodene ply his trade in the great jersey of Leigh Centurions.”

 

2018 NRL Trials Thread

If you can believe it, here we are again, talking about trials! You read that correctly; 2018 trials are not too far away and plenty of games will filter and as they are, we will update our thread with a full, comprehensive list of those games. 

The full list of 2018 NRL trials (updated as more are announced):

Saturday, February 17

Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLcancby); Sunshine Coast Stadium, Kawana Waters. Kick-off: TBA.

Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLgldwar); Sunshine Coast Stadium, Kawana. Kick-off: TBA.

Raiders English international back-rower re-signs

Elliott Whitehead

Despite a lean year in the eyes of many, one consistent performer that has Canberra Raiders fans pleased to call him one of their own is Elliott Whitehead.

Selected for the England squad for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup, the English international gave Raiders fans an early signing boost by re-committing until the end of the 2020 season.

Currently contracted for the 2018 season, the new deal is effectively a 2-year extension in advance to ward off rival overtures.

With no intention to depart the nation’s capital, Whitehead’s decision was an easy one as he looks forward to what the club is building and achieving moving forward.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Canberra and I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” said Whitehead.

“We’re building something special and I want to be a part of that.”

“Canberra as a city is a great place to live and come to work each day. I love the laid-back atmosphere of the city and it’s been easy for me to settle in here.”

Knowing that improvement is needed if they are to be a serious threat in the NRL in 2018, Whitehead is confident the Raiders side have the tools and weapons to challenge top sides.

“We’ve obviously got to improve on what we did last season but we know we have the talent in the group to do this,” continued the English international.”

“We can sometimes be a bit unpredictable for other teams which can be a good thing, but we also need to make sure that we continue to play the footy that suits us.”

With 50 games for the Raiders under his belt, Whitehead’s versatility has proven vital for the Raiders and although he will play where coach Ricky Stuart needs him to, back-row is the Englishman’s preference.

“It’s been a good challenge having to shift around a bit but I’d prefer to play back row if it’s possible,” said Whitehead.

“I’m not sure what Ricky has planned for me next year and I’ll play anywhere if he believes it’s the best for the team, I just want to be on the field in the green jersey.”

Whitehead’s on-field and off-field exploits have been noticed by all at the club as he drew praise from CEO Don Furner.

“We’re very fortunate to have a player like Elliott at our club and what he’s achieved in his two seasons in the NRL has been remarkable,” Furner said.

“He sets a great example for his teammates on and off the field and this was highlighted when he received the Coaches award on Meninga Medal night.

“The clubs excited about his re-signing and it continues our push to lock up the core playing group into the future.”

Brennan gets the nod as new Titans coach

Garth Brennan

In a move that is deemed bold and brave by some, the Gold Coast Titans will take a chance on Garth Brennan after the Penrith Panthers Intrust Premiership coach was named new head coach of the Titans until the end of 2020.

Highly rated by Panthers fans as both a coach and an operator, many thought he was the man to eventually become head coach at their own club but that was not to be.

His success has been noted, guiding Penrith to numerous finals berths in the Intrust Super Premiership as well as grand final victories.

With a growing pedigree, Brennan is excited at what lies ahead at the Titans in his new role.

“I’m really excited about the move to the Gold Coast Titans for a number of reasons,” said Brennan.

“There are a lot of similarities between the Gold Coast area and Newcastle; one team, one town situations.

“I played in Newcastle so I understand what one team, one town situation is and how important a team is to a community.”

With junior products such an important part of any rugby league club, the chance to work with them and help the club develop them is something that excites Brennan.

“There are around 6000 juniors here on the Gold Coast, and that really excites me,” said the new head coach.

“I want to turn this club into a development club to really look after our own players and to make it a happy environment where they never want to leave the Gold Coast.

“When the community sees players with their Titans shirts on, I want them to be proud of the team.”

All coaches want to be successful wherever they go and Brennan is excited to get the Titans back into finals contention and onto potential bigger successes.

“I want us to be successful and I’m confident that can happen,” said Brennan.

Former NRL utility opts to remain with Leigh

Daniel Mortimer

The Leigh Centurions have received a boost in their bid to return to the Super League with talented utility Daniel Mortimer re-signing for the 2018 season.

After reported overtures from the Cronulla Sharks about a possible return, Mortimer made the decision to stay with Leigh instead.

Scoring twice in 7 games for the Centurions, Mortimer was in good form before a bicep injury ended his season.

That injury prompted Mortimer to stay with the utility admitting that he has unfinished business as a Leigh player.

“I can’t wait to get back on the field in a Leigh jersey,” said Mortimer.I feel I have got unfinished business there. I came to do a job and was gutted when I got injured and was unable to play my part, it was really hard watching what happened from the side.

“I feel I have got unfinished business there. I came to do a job and was gutted when I got injured and was unable to play my part, it was really hard watching what happened from the side.”

With a passionate and loyal fanbase, Mortimer knew he owed it to them to stay as he looks to help them regain their Super League status.

“The fans made me feel really welcome and I owe it to them to work hard to get back to Super League next year and I am fully committed to playing my part in that,” continued Mortimer.

His impact did not go unnoticed by the club with head coach Neil Jukes praising Mortimer for his impact on and off the field.

“I am delighted that Daniel is returning to our Club,” said Jukes.He made a big impact as soon as he came over, both on game day and in practice.

“He made a big impact as soon as he came over, both on game day and in practice.”

He praised Mortimer for his performances and knows that he will become a key part of the Leigh side in 2018.

“He got in some really solid performances until injury ruled him out for the rest of the season,” continued the head coach.

“As we continue on our journey, we need outstanding and professional athletes like Daniel whose resume speaks for itself.”

Titans utility departs to take up deal with Warrington

Tyrone Roberts

Perhaps in a surprise to some Gold Coast Titans fans, the club has parted ways with Tyrone Roberts as he embarks on a new English adventure. 

The versatile utility will head to the Warrington Wolves after signing a 3-year deal with the club beginning in 2018.

Prior to his 2-year stint with the Titans, Roberts played 97 games at the Newcastle Knights since making his debut in 2011.

He went on to play 41 games for the Titans over his two years with the club and to date, has played 138 NRL games.

With a new chapter ahead of him, Roberts is excited at what lies ahead.

I’m very excited to be joining the Warrington Wolves,” said Roberts. My family and I can’t wait to get over there and start this new chapter in our lives. I’m excited to rip in and compete for some trophies and meet all the passionate fans.

“My family and I can’t wait to get over there and start this new chapter in our lives. I’m excited to rip in and compete for some trophies and meet all the passionate fans.”

The chance to work with Steve Price is one that Roberts looks forward to and he is keen to work alongside the former St George Illawarra Dragons head coach.

“I’m also looking forward to working with Steve to help take my game to another level,” continued Roberts.He’s well respected in Australia as a coach so it’s a great opportunity for me to work alongside him.”

“He’s well respected in Australia as a coach so it’s a great opportunity for me to work alongside him.”

Regarded by some as a natural running half, Roberts has shown that he has the skills to perform consistently and with that naturalness and a good goal-kicking average, it was a signing the Wolves just had to make.

“Tyrone Roberts is a player who I’ve watched closely over the past few years in the NRL,” said Wolves head coach, Steve Price.

“He is a natural football player who loves playing footy in all different conditions.”

Price praised Roberts’ defence, goal-kicking prowess and his family attributes and believes he will be a good fit to the side.

“Tyrone has a great understanding of the game,” continued Price.

“He is a solid defensive player with a very sound kicking game; as well as having had an 82% goal-kicking success rate.

A proud family man, with wife Brittany and two young daughters. Tyrone will be a great asset to Warrington Wolves.”

English club Barrow sign Italian World Cup forward

Alec Susino

As they undergo somewhat of a player overhaul in an attempt to revamp their roster, English Championship side Barrow Raiders have kick-started signings with an Italian forward, signing Alec Susino.

Susino, who was a Cronulla Sharks junior, has most recently been playing for Mounties RLFC across numerous grades in the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) competitions.

Barrow made it to the championship after a play-off win against Whitehaven in the League 1 championship.

Following their tense finish to the season, Barrow coach Paul Crarey is pleased to have secured the signature of Susino.

“We have actually signed a player that is in the World Cup,” said Crarey. “He has played all his junior football for Cronulla Sharks. He is an exciting young fellow with massive potential.

“He has played all his junior football for Cronulla Sharks. He is an exciting young fellow with massive potential.

“He is now playing for Mounties, which is a feeder team for Canberra Raiders.”

Crarey went on to praise Susino’s size, tackling prowess and motor as assets that will prove valuable for the club.

“He is a very exciting young player, very passionate, he is a big unit and can play,” continued Crarey.

“He can run hard and tackle hard, and he has a great passing game, which is something we need when we go up a level, and he can play big minutes as well.”

In the end, a personal connection with Susino’s agent aided the deal taking place despite interest from other Championship clubs and Crarey is just pleased to have the forward on board.

“He has had a couple of offers from other Championship clubs but his agent is a good friend of mine – he has played Super League and I have coached him – and that has probably got it over the line,” said Crarey.

 

Eels veteran forward signs deal for 2018

David Gower

Every team needs forward leaders with experience in their squad and the Parramatta Eels have re-signed veteran David Gower for the 2018 season.

At the Eels since the 2014 season, 2017 was an interrupted season for Gower with both injuries and stints at the Eels feeder team, the Wentworthville Magpies.

With a new season in tow and potential opportunities awaiting, the re-signing is one that pleases club CEO, Bernie Gurr.

“David is an extremely valuable member of our playing roster,” said Gurr.

David’s experience and knowledge continue to be a real asset for our Club.”

“We are pleased David has decided to remain an Eel in 2018.”

Versatile utility back makes the move to the Gold Coast

Brendan Elliot

With his departure from the Newcastle Knights confirmed, the Gold Coast Titans have acted swiftly to sign Brendan Elliot, a versatile utility back.

Still only 23, Elliot spent the last 18 months with the Knights where he played 23 and 17 before that with the Sydney Roosters.

Originally from the Gold Coast, Elliot moved away to seek new opportunities but with his family and partner all from and/or living in the area, it was the right time for him to move back.

“I can’t wait,” Elliot said.

“All my family and friends are there and as my partner is from the Gold Coast as well, we can’t wait to get back there.”

With some potential spots up for grabs in the Titans back-line, Elliot is hopeful of cementing a spot in their side for the 2018 season.

“That’s definitely part of the reason (to come to the Titans),: continued Elliot. It’s a really good opportunity and I’ll be looking to get some more minutes in the NRL.

“It’s a really good opportunity and I’ll be looking to get some more minutes in the NRL.

“It’s good to have that versatility (across positions) but I would love to be able to lock down one spot. I don’t really have a preference, I’d just like to string a number of games together in the one position if I can.”

The club is pleased to see one of their own return.

“Brendan has been away from home for a number of years and from my discussions with his manager, he’s really excited about what he could achieve here at the Titans,” said Titans Chief Operating Officer, Tony Mestrov.

“He’ll add some much-needed depth to our backline and the fact that he is more than capable across three positions gives us some options as well.”

Elliot will join the Titans in pre-season in November.

Young Souths forward makes the move to Wigan

Gabe Hamlin

Recommended to the club by former Wigan boss Michael Maguire and former player Pat Richards, young South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Gabe Hamlin will swap the cardinal and myrtle for the colours of Wigan, signing a 2-year deal.

The young forward will join Wigan in November for pre-season and at just 20 years old and 47 appearances in the U20’s Holden Cup to his name, the club is pleased to have a young, blooming forward joining them.

“My recent visit to Australia was primarily about our 2018 trip to Wollongong and Sydney however, along the way, I met with a few familiar faces including Michael Maguire and Pat Richards,” said Wigan’s Executive Director, Kris Radlinski.

“Having worked with us as a Club and more recently with Gabriel, both Michael and Pat mentioned that he was available and that he would be the perfect fit for Wigan. Michael’s words were ‘he is someone who is made for our environment’.

“A wise head on young shoulders, we believe that Gabriel has the potential to blossom here at Wigan.”

Wigan coach Shaun Wane spoke of the club’s desire to find, nurture and develop young talent.

“We are always on the lookout for talented players that have a good attitude and a real determination to improve,” said Wane.

“Developing players is a part of coaching that I really enjoy and at Wigan, we have a great record of bringing in players and taking them to the next level.”

When the recommendations came from both Maguire and Richards, it was an opportunity too hard to pass up for Wigan.

“When people like Michael Maguire and Pat Richards are both recommending a player to you, then you take that recommendation very seriously and we all believe that Gabriel is a talented forward who can really fulfil his potential here at Wigan,” continued Wane.

“We can’t wait to have him join us.”

Hamlin is excited at the challenge that awaits and has some ties to the country, with his mother born in England.

“I’m really excited about joining Wigan and I’m flattered that they think me worthy of this opportunity,” said Hamlin. I’m very proud of my English heritage, my Mum was actually born in Blackpool.

“I’m very proud of my English heritage, my Mum was actually born in Blackpool.

“Although I’ve never been to the UK before, I’ve heard great things about it. I have studied up on Wigan’s great history and I am thrilled to get the opportunity to represent the Club next season.

I have studied up on Wigan’s great history and I am thrilled to get the opportunity to represent the Club next season.”

Hamlin intends to make the most of the new challenge and wants to impress all involved at the club.

“I watch Super League regularly and I am prepared for the challenge that awaits,” continued the young forward. It’s very exciting and I intend on making the most of this chance.”

“It’s very exciting and I intend on making the most of this chance.”

He may return to Sydney sooner rather than later, with Wigan set to take on the Bunnies in an international doubleheader in February.