All posts by RickyRicardo

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.”

Origin goes to a decider as QLD come from behind to win

Dane Gagai

It was a game that New South Wales probably should have wrapped up earlier but they failed to do so and as a result, it led to a comeback win for Queensland, scoring a late try to take the series to a decider.

Criticised throughout the series for having an ageing roster, QLD went toe-to-toe in Game 2 with the forward pack making several changes after much public pressure.

The game, in many ways, was a tale of two halves. The first half belonged to the Blues as they asserted their dominance, executed their plays and went into the break leading 16-6.

In the second half, the Maroons were like a silent predator stalking its prey. Circling a tired and lame prey in NSW, they slowly drew closer to pouncing and landing the killer blow that would ultimately seal the win.

The very criticism that their ageing players drew was the fuel that invigorated the QLD side, with Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, in particular, all performing well in their side’s win.

The loss will put a lot of the pressure back on the Blues as they head to Suncorp for Game 3 against a QLD side with their tails up, aiming to send out Thurston with yet another series win.

Much of the game was played at a frantic pace with QLD opening the scoring after debutant Valentine Holmes tip-toed his way down the sideline; though NSW fans were adamant he had stepped over the sideline in doing so.

NSW then had their own period of dominance as they scored three tries in quick succession with tries to Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris and Mitchell Pearce.

The QLD side came out in the second half with a renewed hope and a stern defensive approach and it paid off in attack, as a Josh McGuire bust resulted in the first of Dane Gagai’s try.

NSW’s defence did their best to hold onto the lead after that but it was all in vain, as Dane Gagai scored his 2nd try with just minutes to go before a classic Thurston conversion; a swinging, curling kick went over, gifting QLD the lead and the win.

NSW tried their best to get over the line themselves after getting the ball back off a short kick but QLD’s defence held resolute.

Praising the QLD side and their players, Blues back-rower Wade Graham says the side still has confidence and knows they have to be better.

“They’re a great team and they ask a lot of questions, especially when you give them so many opportunities on your own line,” said Graham.

“We probably weren’t at our best in that second half and that’s really frustrating because the boys put us in a really great position at half-time.

We were probably our own worst enemies in that second half. We turned over cheap possession, gave away some penalties and didn’t finish our sets as best we could.”

Blues captain Boyd Cordner lamented his side’s second half, particularly given how well they had started the game to earn their ten-point lead.

“We worked really hard in that first half to put ourselves in that position, up by 10 points,” Cordner said.

“I thought we came out after [half-time] really good before we applied some pressure again but it just felt like we gave Queensland too much cheap ball.

“There was a stage there in the second half where we weren’t finishing sets the way we wanted to. It felt like we were getting on top then giving away a cheap penalty for them out of yardage.”

Maroons captain Cameron Smith knew they had to come out in the second half a changed team and praised his side for doing so, resulting in their win.

“We had to fix up a few things defensively where we allowed New South Wales momentum and placing pressure on ourselves,” Smith said.

“I thought as the second half went on we gained ascendancy and put pressure on New South Wales. It helps to have older guys in the side no doubt, but the young guys did a great job tonight.”

Player of the Game:

3. Dane Gagai

2. Boyd Cordner

  1. Josh McGuire

 

NRL Teams Rd 16

Another week, another round, what to expect? We just do not know. So much is on the line over the Origin period as teams struggle to cope without their stars or somehow, perform just as well. Can teams continue to build the pressure on their opponents and strengthen spots or will they slide down the rungs?

Without further adieu, here are the teams for Rd 16 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

New Zealand Warriors v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLwarcby); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Friday, June 23. Kick-off: 6 pm. 

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. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. Sam Lisone 16. Albert Vete 17. Bunty Afoa 18. James Gavet 20. Manu Vatuvei 21. Ligi Sao 22. Ata Hingano.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

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

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Greg Eastwood 17. Matt Frawley 19. Danny Fualalo 20. Kerrod Holland 21. Asipeli Fine 22. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 23. Brenko Lee.

Coach: Des Hasler.


Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLwstgld); Campbelltown Stadium; Friday, June 23. Kick-off: 7:50 pm.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 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. Matt 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.

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

Interchange: 14. John Olive 15. Pat Politoni 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Joe Greenwood 18. Paterika Vaivai 19. Nathaniel Peteru 20. Agnatius Paasi 21. Jamal Fogarty 22. Philip Sami.

Coach: Neil Henry.


North Queensland Cowboys v Penrith Panthers (#NRLnqlpen); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Saturday, June 24. Kick-off: 3 pm.

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. John Asiata 9. Jake Granville 10. Scott Bolton 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. Javid Bowen 21. Braden Uele 22. Patrick Mago 23. Te Maire Martin.

Coach: Paul Green.

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Waqa Blake 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Matt Moylan (C) 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.


Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos (#NRLcanbri); GIO Stadium, Canberra; Saturday, June 24. Kick-off: 5 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. Clay Priest 17. Joseph Tapine 18. Scott Sorenson 19. David Taylor 20. Royce Hunt 21. Lachlan Croker.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

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

Interchange: 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai Jr. 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Ben Hunt 18. Jai Arrow 19. Jaydn Su’A 20. Herman Ese’ese 21. David Mead 22. Jonus Pearson.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.


Sydney Roosters v Melbourne Storm (#NRLsydmel); Adelaide Oval; Saturday, June 24. Kick-off: 7:30 pm.

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

Interchange: 14. Isaac Liu 15. Aidan Guerra 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Connor Watson 18. Zane Tetevaeno 19. Mitch Cornish 20. Nat Butcher 21. Chris Smith 24. Lindsay Collins 26. Victor Radley.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

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. Cam Smith (C) 10. Tim Glasby 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Tohu Harris 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15. Kenneath Bromwich 16. Curtis Scott 17. Mark Nicholls 18. Slade Griffin 19. Brodie Croft 20. Brandon Smith 21. Dean Britt 22. Jahrome Hughes 23. Vincent Leuluai.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.


St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights (#NRLsginew); UOW Jubilee Oval, Wollongong; Sunday, June 25. Kick-off: 2 pm.

Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Jason Nightingale 4. Kurt Mann 4. Tim Lafai 5. Nene Macdonald 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cam McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tariq Sims 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Jacob Host 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Hame Sele 17. Taane Milne 18. Will Matthews 19. Tyson Frizell 20. Blake Lawrie 20. Euan Aitken 21. Matt Dufty.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

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

Interchange: 14. Luke Yates 15. Josh King 16. Tyler Randell 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Sam Mataora 19. Jacob Gagan 20. Trent Hodkinson 21. Tom Hughes.

Coach: Nathan Brown.


Cronulla Sharks v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLcroman); Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla; Sunday, June 25. Kick-off: 4 pm. 

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. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Kurt Capewell 17. Daniel Mortimer 18. Jeremy Latimore 19. Sam Tagataese 20. Joseph Paulo 21. Fa’amanu Brown 22. Edrick Lee 23. Jesse Ramien.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

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. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic. 

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

Coach; Trent Barrett.


 

Good form sees Tigers hooker granted new deal

Matt McIlwrick

Given a rare opportunity to start in the hooker position with the spot up for grabs after Robbie Farah’s departure, Matt McIlwrick took it with both hands and after good form in what has been a turbulent year for the Tigers, he has a new contract to boot.

McIlwrick’s new deal will see him remain with the Tigers until the end of 2019 and with 14 games for the Tigers and 43 in total as a player, he is excited to continue at the Tigers.

“This Club as been great to me in giving me an opportunity to come here, and I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

“They have supported me from Day One and I’m excited to be a part of the future here.”

With a rebuild going on at the club, McIlwrick believes the side can perform in coming years.

“There’s a great opportunity here to build something special, and you can already see positive change around the place,” continued McIlwrick.

“I know Wests Tigers are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.”

After settling into the hooker role, Tigers coach Ivan Cleary knows how important a role he plays alongside fellow hooker, Jacob Liddle.

“Matt has shown himself to be a very valued and well-respected member of this team, and will continue to develop into a quality hooker over the next two seasons,” Cleary said.

Barba’s rugby league return complete after St Helens move

Ben Barba

The process took a while but in a good move for player and club, Ben Barba has completed his return to rugby league after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with Super League side, St Helens.

Barba’s stint in French rugby union came to an abrupt end and Barba was forced to look elsewhere, landing at St Helens.

Barba is just pleased to have the signing done and his future sorted.

“I’m enjoying being over here finally,” said the enigmatic fullback.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the first day of training here and what comes ahead.”

With St Helens regarded as a close-knit team, Barba admits that fitting in with the team and the culture was straightforward.

“They’re quite a close bunch of guys here and it was easy coming in,” Barba said.

“They all introduced themselves and it’s a very friendly place.”

In the end, Barba admits he signed with St Helens because of the people at the organisation who in his eyes, take care of and look after their players.

“It was a club that looks like they really take care of their players,” Barba continued.

“That was an easy decision for me.”

With a bit to prove upon his return to rugby league, Barba knows he has to work hard, work diligently and get the St Helens faithful in his corner.

“I’ve just got to work hard and obviously, I’ve got a bit of a suspension that’s hanging around at the moment,” said Barba.

“All I can do is work hard on the training paddock with the boys and to catch up on all the plays.”

 

Penrith utility back makes the jump to Super League

Peta Hiku

Six has never gone into five and thus it was a given that something had to give at the Penrith Panthers and it has, with utility back Peta Hiku jumping ship to the Super League.

The versatile Hiku will join the Warrington Wolves until the end of the 2019 season.

Still only 24, Hiku has played for both the Manly Sea Eagles and the Panthers and until his long-term injury, he was a mainstay of the Penrith side.

In the end, the form of others was simply too good and Hiku sought a new opportunity and found this on at the Wolves, one he is grateful for.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and excited to come and join a great club,” said Hiku. Everyone has been very welcoming. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the club and the team. I just can’t wait to get over there and play some footy.”

“Everyone has been very welcoming. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the club and the team.

I just can’t wait to get over there and play some footy.”

Warrington coach Tony Smith knows his side needs some versatility and experience and was pleased with the signing.

“Having spoken to Peta, he’s excited about coming over and continuing his successful career here in Super League, giving us the boost in the positions we need,” Smith said.

“He’s a high-quality player with plenty of experience, having represented his country, so to come up with a quality signing like Peta is very exciting; he will add a lot to the group.

I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

Tigers utility back opts for a move to Super League

Jordan Rankin

Once a mainstay of the Wests Tigers side, a changing of the guard pushed him out and for Jordan Rankin, the opportunity to move overseas arose and it was too good to pass up.

Rankin, a utility back, played in 23 games for the Wests Tigers with just one appearance this year and with the early release granted by the Tigers, he joins Super League side Huddersfield with immediate effect.

The Tigers released a brief statement on Rankin’s release:

“Wests Tigers have today confirmed the release of Jordan Rankin from the remainder of his playing contract, effectively immediately.

Rankin was contracted at Wests Tigers until the end of season 2017, but has been granted an immediate release to take up an opportunity with the Huddersfield Giants.

Since joining the Club in 2016, the 25-year-old has played 23 first-grade games for Wests Tigers, with one first-grade appearance so far in 2017.

Wests Tigers would like to thank Jordan for his contribution and commitment throughout his time at the Club and wish him well in the future.”

Rankin’s utility value was a huge factor in Huddersfield’s decision to approach and sign him.

“The main attraction in Jordan Rankin is his ability to play in nearly every position in the backline; he’s played in the outside-backs, he’s played in the halves and he’s played a whole NRL season on the wing,” said Huddersfield coach, Rick Stone.

“He’s got tremendous utility value, and he’s obviously been over in the Super League before and he made his NRL debut in 2008 at only 16 years old, so he’s got a lot of experience.

It’s a good opportunity for him to come over here and play and it’s a great place for him to further his career.”

In the end, the decision to bring in a player of Rankin’s calibre to their side was too good to pass up for the Giants.

“We’re delighted because he adds skill, he adds speed, he adds experience and some real flexibility to our team,” continued Stone.

“To bring such a quality player in at this time of year is a massive bonus and we’re excited to have him join us.”

The feelings are reciprocated with Rankin equally pleased to have the opportunity to join the Giants.

“I’m really excited to join the Giants,” said Rankin.

“It’s a club I’ve heard a lot about and know are finding some form in the Super League.

Rankin will not be alone from an Australian point of view, with several other players from NRL clubs playing at the Giants.

“There’s a strong Australian contingent here with Jake Mamo who was coming through at the same time as me, Ryan Hinchcliffe who has won big trophies at Melbourne, Tommy Symonds, Shannon Wakeman,” Rankin said.

He is also looking forward to playing alongside numerous English internationals at Huddersfield.

“There are also British players like Leroy Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary who are quality players that I’m looking forward to playing alongside,” he continued.

“I spoke with Rick Stone and knew that joining was a great opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

 

Panthers half makes the move North to Townsville

Te Maire Martin

Opportunity is everything and with the chance to learn under Johnathan Thurston over the next 12-18 months, the chance to develop was too good to pass up for Te Maire Martin.

Released by the Penrith Panthers, many fans thought that he and Nathan Cleary would be the halves combination of the future for the club but with that now not happening, all the signs point to a move to the North Queensland Cowboys for Martin.

He drew praise from Phil Gould, Penrith’s Executive General Manager, who wished him all the best.

“Te Maire came to us with the hope of developing his career,” Gould said.

“He made his NRL debut at the Panthers and it led to him earning representative honours for New Zealand at the Four Nations.

“I have no doubt Te Maire will have a long and successful career in the NRL, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Courted by the Cowboys previously, Martin eventually chose Penrith but is pleased to finally have the chance to join the Townsville-based club.

“I went up there when I was looking at Penrith and I ended up choosing the Panthers,” he said.

“It’s pretty good that they still keen on getting me there even though I turned them down that time. They obviously have Morgan and Thurston up there, so I’m not sure what’s happening. But I’m keen to learn.”

Further to his initial statement, Gould went on to say the following:

“Te Maire Martin is an outstanding young man, of impeccable character, and extremely popular with everyone at this club.

“During his time here at Panthers I could not fault Te Maire’s honesty or integrity. He displayed a wonderful work ethic, constantly looking to improve his game.

“I know everyone at Panthers is sorry to see Te Maire leave, however, we understand his new club will provide a wonderful opportunity for his development as an NRL player. His new club has recruited a terrific young man and a very talented young footballer.

“I know I speak for every single person in our club, from our Board, Management, coaches, staff and all our players, in wishing Te Maire all the best for the future.

“We will all follow his career with great interest and we will be cheering for him every time he plays.”

After being granted a release by the Panthers, the Cowboys reacted quickly with a view to signing Martin and they know just how talented he is.

“We always keep an eye on the player market, and when a chance to sign a quality player comes up, we explore that opportunity in line with our recruitment needs,” said Cowboys General Manager – Football Peter Parr.

“Te Maire is a very good young footballer with plenty of potential and we’re pleased that he will join our NRL squad for the remainder of this season and beyond.

“He will add important depth to the halves position and we look forward to him learning and further developing his skills under our coaching staff.”

A key factor for Martin’s move is to have the chance at working alongside Johnathan Thurston, the game’s best half in the eyes of many.

“I’m at the early stages of my learning so what better way to learn than from JT himself,” he said.

Knights strengthen forward pack with signing of representative forward

Aidan Guerra

A team that their fans hope will be on the rise in the years to come, the Newcastle Knights have strengthened their side with the signing of representative forward, Aidan Guerra.

Departing current side the Sydney Roosters at the end of the season, Guerra has been at the Bondi club for much of his career and the club spoke highly of him and his time with the club.

“Since making his NRL debut with the Sydney Roosters, Aidan has made a significant contribution to the Club and developed into a representative player at both State and National level.

“We thank Aidan for his contribution to the Roosters, and extend our best wishes to him and his young family for the future. In the short-term, we look forward to Aidan continuing to play an important role within our squad for the remainder of the year,” he added.

In the short-term, we look forward to Aidan continuing to play an important role within our squad for the remainder of the year.”

In the end, it was about the right decision for his future and Guerra decided the Knights were the best option even if he was sad to leave the Roosters.

“The Roosters and everyone involved with the Club will always be very special to me, I’ve made some lifelong memories and mates here,” said Guerra.

“While it’s sad to be leaving the Club and the boys, I’m pleased to have my future sorted, and my main focus right now is doing the best job I can for the Roosters for the rest of this year.”

With 140 games to his name so far, Guerra will be a valuable addition to the Knights side and club CEO Matt Gidley knows how crucial his experience will be.

“Aidan will be a great addition to our young side,” Gidley said.

“Aidan is a representative and premiership-winning player who will bring athleticism, experience and leadership to our team from a very successful career to date.”

 

 

Souths speedster signs new long-term deal

Alex Johnston

Every team needs some speed at their disposal and the greatest asset the South Sydney Rabbitohs have in that regard is Alex Johnston, who today signed a deal to remain with the club until the end of the 2020 season.

Making his debut for the club in the 2014 season, he quickly made a name for himself scoring tries at will and boasting a tremendous ratio of tries per total number of games.

At present, the versatile utility back has scored 57 tries in 74 games with 21 of those coming in just 18 games in his debut year and as a result, culminating in his deserved award for club rookie of the year.

Coach Michael Maguire is pleased to see the La Perouse junior remain with the club.

“Alex is establishing himself as one of the leading outside backs in the competition and one of his greatest attributes is his willingness to learn,” Coach Maguire said.

“His work on the wing is right up there with some of the best wingers in the game, and he continues to work closely with senior players such Greg (Inglis) and John (Sutton) on how he can improve his game and his versatility between positions.

“He’s a South Sydney junior who has proven himself to be a potent try scorer and we’re happy to be able to continue to work with Alex to enable us to reach the team’s goals and his personal goals with regards to his football.”

As for Johnston, he is equally pleased and looks forward to donning the cardinal and myrtle colours of the Bunnies for the next three years.

“I’m really happy to have the contract sorted out, and to know I will be a Rabbitoh for at least the next three years is a great thing,” Johnston said.

“I love playing alongside my teammates and working with the coaching and support staff here at Souths so in the end, it was the best decision for me to stay and to build on what we’ve established since 2014 when I made my debut.

“It’s always a privilege to pull on that South Sydney jersey and I’m glad that I know I will be doing that for at least the next three years.”