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Titans grant Latu release to join English side Warrington

Newly signed Warrington Wolves prop Leilani Latu

After more opportunity, Leilani Latu is expected to get that at the Warrington Wolves after being granted a release by the Gold Coast Titans.

Joining the club from the Penrith Panthers, Latu struggled for regular game time at the Titans, prompting the move to Wolves.

With Latu wanting a fresh start, the Titans were not about to stand in his way.

“Leilani and his family have been passionate members of the Gold Coast community, and as a Club, we are supportive of him taking this new opportunity for his career and family,” Titans Head of Performance and Culture Mal Meninga said.

“The Titans thank Leilani for his time at the Club, and wish his nothing but the best for the future.”

Latu’s arrival at Warrington will see him rejoin some familiar faces.

The prop played with both Ben Murdoch-Masila and Sitaleki Akauola at Penrith.

“I’m looking forward to getting into training with the boys and creating some combinations with them,” Latu said.

“It’s an exciting brand of footy here and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

I chose Warrington because of the quality of players and I have played with a couple of them back in the NRL too; Ben Murdoch-Masila and Sitaleki Akauola at Penrith and we had some success there.”

Warrington coach Steve Price says Latu fits the bill in terms of what the club was looking for in the forwards.

“We are always looking for quality rugby players to bring to our club and we feel Leilani fits that,” said Price.

“I’m looking forward to working with him and developing his game during his time at Warrington as we feel there is a lot more he can bring to the game.”

Can the South Sydney forward pack complement the potent backline?

Newly signed South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell

As the dust settles on the new addition to the book of feuds, the defection of Latrell Mitchell across Anzac Parade to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, one question still remains.

Can the fresh young faces in the Rabbitohs forward pack do enough to complement arguably the most exciting backline in the competition?

With the unexpected retirement of Sam Burgess, the retirement of South Sydney’s favourite son John Sutton and the release of George Burgess, there is clearly a depth issue within the Rabbitohs forward pack.

Queensland representative, Jai Arrow, put pen to paper to move to Redfern in 2021.

The Titans are in no rush to let him go sooner which leaves Souths relying on the younger core of forwards to carry the work load in 2020.

The likes of Jaydn Sua and Tom Amone will need to instantly move into a bigger role within the side to ensure there is enough “go forward.”

South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook

Doing so will  allow stars like Damian Cook and Cody Walker’s explosive run game to have any sort of effect.

Adding in the match winning ability of Mitchell certainly helps but an explosive forward pack is still key.

A slightly less stressful part of Wayne Bennett’s job is deciding who fills the spots in a backline already in surplus of talent.

Mitchell almost certainly slots into his desired position as fullback leaving talent like Roberts, Johnston, Graham, Burns, Allen, Doueihi, Gagai and veteran Goodwin to fill in the remaining spots.

South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett

Barring any late releases before the start of the season, this leaves Bennett with a lot of thinking to do before round one.

The persistent rumours surrounding a departure for either Alex Johnston or Adam Doueihi may reduce the headache for Bennett at the Rabbitohs.

Though it will not make the selection any easier and will only highlight a potential lack of depth at the club.

Worst kept secret confirmed as Mitchell joins the Rabbitohs

Newly signed South Sydney Rabbitohs centre Latrell Mitchell

After a lengthy process, Latrell Mitchell has finally made the move, joining the South Sydney Rabbitohs for 2020. 

Mitchell has signed a 1-year deal with an option for 2021 in the club’s favour.

For months now, speculation was rife as to where Mitchell would end up. Several clubs mentioned but no-one knew.

Mitchell’s former club, the Sydney Roosters, confirmed his release, that allowed him to join arch rivals, the Rabbitohs.

In his time at the Roosters, Mitchell played 96 games and won two premierships back-to-back (2018 and 2019).

Mired with inconsistency, as good as Mitchell has been, he can potentially be even better at the Rabbitohs.

“Latrell is a sublime talent and with the guidance of our coaching staff, senior players and mentors,” said Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson.

“We think Latrell can go to another level in the red and green.

“He has the ability to be one of the best players in the world and from our discussions with him, he understands that it’s going to take a lot of hard work and effort for him to be at his best consistently and to reach his full potential.”

Injury forces Te Maire Martin into premature retirement

Retired North Queensland Cowboys utility Te Maire Martin

Injury has unfortunately brought the career of North Queensland Cowboys utility Te Maire Martin to a screeching halt.

Martin, who in April, suffered a brain bleed, was not given the necessary clearance to resume the sport.

Although his condition has improved, Martin knows that if he cannot do footy basics, it is better to live life than cause further damage.

“The last nine months have been extremely difficult,” Martin said.

“I’d like to reassure everyone that I’m doing well and I have recovered to the point where my day to day life isn’t affected.

“I can’t get past the contact stage of training, which means I can’t play footy anymore.”

Martin is grateful to the Cowboys club for their support and all club members and fans.

“I’d like to thank the Cowboys for their unwavering support – they could not have done any more for me, particularly the medical staff – as well as the club’s members and fans for their well wishes,” Martin continued.

Although his time at the club was short, Martin was given all the praise by General Manager of Football Peter Parr.

“We’d like to thank Te Maire for everything he’s done for the club.,” Parr said.

“He’s been a wonderful contributor since he’s been here, he played in a grand final and off the field has had a significant impact on everyone at the club.”

A sad decision but the Cowboys are pleased his wellbeing is now in order.

“It’s always sad when someone of his age has to retire, but there’s also positives in that he’s made significant improvements in his health, “Parr continued.

“We’ve been given every indication he’ll be able to live a normal life and that is far more important than him playing football.

“We’re sad to see Te Maire go given he’s such a great bloke, but he’ll always be welcome at our club and we’ll never forget what he’s done for us in his time here.”

Tyrell Fuimaono joins St George Illawarra Dragons

Newly signed St George Illawarra Dragons utility Tyrell Fuimaono

It is another new club for Tyrell Fuimaono, this time the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

Having played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers in recent seasons, Fuimaono has moved around.

With 26 first-grade games to date, the former Australian schoolboy is excited about the opportunity.

“I’m very excited to get among this group of boys and I’m keen to seize this opportunity that has been presented to me,” Fuimaono said.

“I’m very grateful and excited to be at the Dragons.

“I’m looking to get back to my best footy and hopefully make my way into the NRL team.

“That’s what everyone at this level strives to achieve; to become a consistent fixture in first grade will be really good for me.”

Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward is looking forward to seeing Fuimaono hold down a spot.

“Tyrell has faced a number of injury challenges in recent seasons, but with age on his side we’re excited to see him hopefully reach his potential at our club,” Millward said.

“He is capable of playing in the back row and the centres which will be fantastic for the wider squad’s versatility and depth.”

Rabbitohs get their man in Arrow for 2021

Newly recruited South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Jai Arrow from 2021

Reports suggested he may stay but it is the South Sydney Rabbitohs who have got the big money signing, with Jai Arrow joining them from the Gold Coast Titans from 2021.

Arrow, who has been a shining light for the Titans over the last 2 years or so, joins the Rabbitohs, still yet to receive a release from the Titans.

Whether that is granted remains to be seen, with Arrow’s Rabbitohs’ deal a four-year one from 2021.

With 62 NRL games to his name since making his debut with the Brisbane Broncos, Arrow has represented Queensland and the PMXIII side.

“Jai has shown that he has what it takes to perform at a consistently high level no matter whether he’s playing in the NRL or in representative teams,” said Shane Richardson, Souths General Manager of Football.

“He has worked with Wayne (Bennett) previously at the Broncos and he has developed into a State of Origin player, but we see him being able to push for further honours in the green and gold in coming years.

“We couldn’t be happier that he will be pursuing those goals whilst playing his NRL football with Souths.

“During our discussions with him about football and life outside of football, he has shown great maturity and a willingness to live by the Rabbitoh way.”

Although fans would love to have Arrow at Souths now, it seems that the Titans are in no rush to release their top forward.

“He was chased by a number of NRL clubs but he has made the Rabbitohs his club of choice from 2021,” Richardson continued.

“We wish him the best of luck with the Titans for the coming season and we’re looking forward to him joining us for 2021.

“I am sure all of our Members and supporters are as well.”

Bulldogs captain Jackson signs new three-year deal

Canterbury Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson

An early Christmas present for Canterbury Bulldogs fans, with fan favourite and captain Josh Jackson re-signing for three seasons.

Becoming a genuine favourite at the club, Jackson is the heart and soul of the team.

Since making his NRL debut in 2012, Jackson has been a club mainstay and a consistent back-rower.

Bulldogs Chief Executive Andrew Hill said the club are pleased to see Jackson extend his club stay.

“It really is fantastic news and a great early Christmas present for our members and fans that Josh has re-signed with the club,” said Hill.

“He is an incredibly popular figure here at Belmore.

“He represents everything that is great about our club in the way that he carries himself on and off the field.”

Hill also praised the player attributes of Jackson and his pride for the Bulldogs jersey.

“He is a quality player who leads from the front every week,” continued Hill.

“Just as importantly, he is an outstanding person who contributes a great deal in the community and is loved by all of our supporters.

“I know how much this club means to Josh.

“The pride he has in putting on the jersey every week so it is great that he has committed to what we are building here now and for the future.”

Titans nab hulking forward Fa’asuamaleaui from 2021

Gold Coast Titans bound in 2021, current Melbourne Storm forward Tino Fa’asuamaleaui

Looming as a possible elite forward down the track, the Gold Coast Titans have pulled off a coup signing Tino Fa’asuamaleaui. 

In hot demand by rival clubs, it was the Titans who beat out the Warriors to sign the talented young forward.

With just a small handful of first-grade games to his name, Fa’asuamaleaui’s Titans deal starts in 2021 and runs until 2023.

With five games to his name so far, Fa’asuamaleaui also played in the PM XIII’s side and for the Australian U23 side.

He may only be joining in 2021, but coach Titans coach Justin Holbrook is pleased to have Fa’asuamaleaui on board.

“Tino has already proven to be one of the most promising young players in the game and we’re excited to have him joining the Titans,” Holbrook said.

“His signing is a huge win for the Club considering the high-demand and interest there was in Tino from a number of NRL Clubs.”

Walker signs new Rabbitohs deal

South Sydney Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker

It went back and forth but Cody Walker has signed a new deal with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

With much talk of a potential departure, the 96-game player – all for Souths – said there was no other club for him.

“I’m really happy to have this contract signed,” Walker said.

“South Sydney is my home and I didn’t want to play for anyone else.”

“There’s really no other option for me. It was my priority to stay here and I’m glad the Club and my management were able to come to an agreement before Christmas.

“So we can enjoy this special time of year as a family, then turn our focus back onto getting prepared for next season.”

Coming to the club as a young buck, Walker has been floored by the support he has received from fans and the club.

“The Redfern community has really taken me and my family in and I call this place home now,” Walker continued.

“I can’t wait to see what’s ahead in the coming years for this Club, this team, the Members and the supporters.

“There are exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to part of it all.”

For Rabbitohs General Manager of Football Shane Richardson, the retention of Walker was a priority.

“Cody’s game went to a new level in 2019, as did his leadership at the club,” Richardson said.

“He is one of the most potent attacking players in the competition and he showed he has the resolve to be one of the best defensive halves in the NRL as well.

“He is a quality footballer from a great family and we’re looking forward to seeing him take a greater leadership role at the Club over the next two years.”

Flegler agrees to additional contract extension with Broncos

Brisbane Broncos prop Thomas Flegler

A promising young prop coming through their ranks, Thomas Flegler will remain with the Brisbane Broncos for a further season.

With 23 games to his name in his debut season, Flegler is excited to get stuck into another season.

“It all happened pretty quick, so I’m pumped to be here for another year and get back into training and focus on 2020,” said Flegler.

Flegler wants to build on his 2019 season with more games and more minutes.

“First of all, I’d just like to get my minutes up, play as many rounds as I can,” he said.

“Ideally, I would love to get a starting spot in the number 13 jersey, but if that doesn’t happen I’m still going to go out next week and try my best”.

Flegler’s sights are set high on achievements, one of the biggest being to put himself in contention for a QLD Origin berth.

“That’s my goal. That’s my big one,” said a determined Flegler.