All posts by RickyRicardo

Tenacious competitor opts to leave the Dogs and join the Tigers

Josh Reynolds

The move has left many Canterbury Bulldogs fans bitterly disappointed but with rugby league now a business in the modern era, Josh Reynolds has made the decision that is best for him.

The enigmatic, live-wire utility, who has been a staple of the Bulldogs side for years now, will join the Wests Tigers on a 4-year deal until the end of 2021.

The Bulldogs know how good of a player he is but with the cap limitations that clubs now face, there was little they could do when he received a larger offer from the Tigers.

“It is extremely sad that Josh is leaving the club,” said Bulldogs CEO, Raelene Castle.

“He embodies what it means to be a Bulldog and has always worn his heart on his sleeve and played with the utmost courage and passion. We have tremendous admiration for what he has done both on the field and in the community.

The decision to let him go was made even harder on the basis that Reynolds is a local junior, having come through the club ranks.

“Josh is a loyal person and a local junior so this was not a decision that was taken lightly,” Castle continued.

“The harsh realities of the commercial marketplace and a salary cap system mean that this is a fantastic offer for Josh and leaves him in a position where he can secure his future and the Club is completely supportive of his decision.”

Whilst still at the Bulldogs for the remainder of the season, coach Des Hasler knows the club will miss his enthusiasm and tenaciousness.

“Josh is an outstanding footballer and a quality human being. He is incredibly well respected by our playing group and someone who has made an enormous contribution to the Bulldogs on and off the field,” said Hasler.

“I know that Josh is dedicated to this team and will finish the season strongly.”

As all players do, Reynolds praised the club for developing him, nurturing him and for providing him with lifelong mates in the footy world. For, in the end, the decision he made was the one that was best for him.

“I have had a fantastic time with the Bulldogs and loved every minute of it,” Reynolds said.

“The mates I have made from here will be mates forever and this is all that really matters to me.

“The decision was the toughest I have ever had to make in my whole life but I wish the Bulldogs the best in the future. It is important for the club and myself that we focus everything on the team playing good football and finishing the season strongly.

Reynolds will always cherish his time at the club and the people that he has met and worked with along the way.

“To everyone who has supported me through my career at the Bulldogs, I am highly appreciative and it will never be forgotten,” he added.

Starting somewhat of a rebuild at the Tigers, new head coach Ivan Cleary is making some astute additions to the squad, with Reynolds now joining fellow new recruits Chris McQueen and Ben Matulino.

The Tigers, perhaps having lacked enthusiasm in the eyes of some, know that Reynolds is a guy that can provide that for them.

“Josh has proven himself time and time again to be an incredibly competitive and passionate player and we look forward to him bringing that attitude to the club,” said Cleary. “He’s going to bring to Wests Tigers a wealth of experience having been a part finals, Grand Finals and State of Origin series.

“He’s going to bring to Wests Tigers a wealth of experience having been a part finals, Grand Finals and State of Origin series.”

With a chance to make his own mark at the club, Cleary is confident the new recruit will succeed at the Tigers.

“We’re confident that the best is yet to come for Josh and look forward to him taking his game to the next level here,” he said.

“I’m sure he’s going to make a significant contribution to Wests Tigers reaching its potential.”

 

Kiwi prop bucks the trend and heads to Sydney in deal with Tigers

Ben Matulino

Usually, it is the Kiwi players that opt to cross the Tasman and return to their homeland but in the case of Ben Matulino, he has made a decision to move to Sydney to experience the city and in the process, has signed a deal with the Wests Tigers.

The Tigers, desperately needing a forward given the impending departure of current captain Aaron Woods, have signed Matulino until the end of the 2020 season.

A long-serving player at the New Zealand Warriors, he has been a fan favourite and a consistent player for the club and they issued the following statement regarding his departure at season’s end:

The Vodafone Warriors have confirmed tonight that prop Ben Matulino has informed the club he will depart at the end of the season to join the Wests Tigers.

The 28-year-old made his 197th NRL appearance in his first outing of the season in the Vodafone Warriors’ Anzac Day encounter with the Storm in Melbourne tonight.

The long-serving Matulino, who is returning from an injury lay-off following knee surgery, informed club management at the weekend that he had decided to take up an offer from Wests Tigers. He said he wanted to experience living in Sydney with his family and felt he couldn’t turn down the offer.

Matulino told football staff and his team-mates of his decision in the dressing room after tonight’s match.

He said his focus is on finishing his last season with the Vodafone Warriors on a high after starting his NRL career with the club in 2008.

The Vodafone Warriors wish Matulino and his family all the best for the future.”

A Kiwi international, the signing will give the Wests Tigers some much-needed experience in the forward pack.

“Ben has proven himself as an elite front rower in both the NRL and International arena,” said Tigers coach, Ivan Cleary. “We welcome Ben as an integral part of Wests Tigers’ future.”

“We welcome Ben as an integral part of Wests Tigers’ future.”

Also pleased to bring such a high-quality signing on board is Wests Tigers CEO, Justin Pascoe.

“Ben has been a part of the Warriors and Kiwi squads for a number of years and has shown himself to be a leader both on and off the field,” said Pascoe.

“We look forward to him bringing his experience to Wests Tigers for the coming three seasons.

“It’s great to have a player of Ben’s experience, both in the NRL and International arenas, decide to commit his future to Wests Tigers,” he said.

NRL Teams Rd 9

Another round filled with entertaining clashes as we draw closer to the first bye. With some teams surprisingly flying high and others in unchartered waters at the bottom, the competition is as even as ever with teams looking to either solidify their positions or improve upon them.

Without further adieu, here are the teams for Rd 9 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

Brisbane Broncos v Penrith Panthers (#NRLbripen); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Thursday April 27. Kick-off: 7:50pm.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (C) 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Herman Ese’ese 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Sam Thaiday 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Korbin Sims 17. David Mead 18. Travis Waddell 19. George Fai 20. Jamayne Isaako 21. Jonus Pearson.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Panthers: 1. Matt Moylan (C) 2. Waqa Blake 3. Dean Whare 4. Peta Hiku 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Bryce Cartwright 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira-Naera 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Leilani Latu 16. Moses Leota 17. Tim Browne 18. James Fisher-Harris 19. Te Maire Martin 20. Viliame Kikau 21. Sitaleki Akauola.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.


South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLsouman); Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; Friday April 28. Kick-off: 6pm.

Bunnies: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Hymel Hunt 3. Siosifa Talakai 4. Robert Jennings 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Kyle Turner 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess (C).

Interchange: 14. Robbie Farah 15. Jason Clark 16. Zane Musgrove 17. Cameron Murray 18. Tyrell Fuimaono 19. Anthony Cherrington 20. Braidon Burns 21. Robbie Rochow.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 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. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jackson Hastings 16. Nate Myles 17. Addin Fonua-Blake 18. Jarrad Kennedy 19. Cameron Cullen 20. Matthew Wright 21. Shaun Lane.

Coach: Trent Barrett.


North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels (#NRLnqlpar); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Friday April 28. Kick-off: 7:50pm.

Cowboys: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. John Asiata 7. Michael Morgan 8. Patrick Kaufusi 9. Blake Leary 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper (C) 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Ethan Lowe 16. Ben Spina 17. Corey Jensen 18. Johnathan Thurston 19. Ben Hampton 20. Sam Hoare 21. Shaun Fensom.

Coach: Paul Green.

Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Kenny Edwards 7. Corey Norman 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown.

Interchange: 14. Beau Scott (C) 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. David Gower 17. Siosaia Vave 18. John Folau 19. Will Smith 20. Marata Niukore 21. Cameron King.

Coach: Brad Arthur.


Gold Coast Titans v Newcastle Knights (#NRLgldnew); Cbus Super Stadium, Robina; Saturday April 29. Kick-off: 3pm.

Titans: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Dan Sarginson 4.  Konrad Hurrell 5. Tyronne Roberts-Davis 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Chris McQueen 12. Kevin Proctor (C) 13. Ryan Simpkins.

Interchange: 14. Kane Elgey 15. Joe Greenwood 16. Paterika Vaivai 17. Leivaha Pulu 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Pat Politoni 20. Nathaniel Peteru 21. Alex Brimson.

Coach: Neil Henry.

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

Interchange: 14. Anthony Tupou 15. Joe Wardle 16. Jack Stockwell 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Pauli Pauli 19. Tyler Randell 20. Josh King 21. Lachlan Fitzgibbon.

Coach: Nathan Brown.


Canterbury Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders (#NRLcbycan); ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park; Saturday April 29. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

Bulldogs: 1. Brett Morris 2. Kerrod Holland 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham (C) 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer.

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Adam Elliott 19. Francis Tualau 20. Matt Frawley 21. Reimis Smith 23. Will Hopoate.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joseph 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. Joseph Tapine.

Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Luke Bateman 16. Clay Priest 17. Iosia Soliola 18. Dunamis Lui 19. Scott Sorenson 20. Makahesi Makatoa 21. Lachlan Croker.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.


Wests Tigers v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLwstcro); Leichhardt Oval; Saturday April 29. Kick-off: 7:30pm.

Tigers:

Sharks:


New Zealand Warriors v Sydney Roosters (#NRLwarsyd); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Sunday April 30. Kick-off: 2pm (AEDT).

Warriors:

Roosters:


St George Illawarra Dragons v Melbourne Storm (#NRLsgimel); WIN Jubilee, Wollongong; Sunday April 30. Kick-off: 4pm.

Dragons:

Storm:

Key Dragons half ignores overtures and re-signs at the club

Gareth Widdop

In what is a huge boost for the St George Illawarra Dragons moving forward, Gareth Widdop has signed a new long-term deal for four years with the club. 

The current captain of the club, Widdop joined the Dragons in 2014 and to date, has played in 79 games for the Red V.

On track to become the club’s highest ever point-scorer, Widdop is pleased to have his future sorted and with the decision he has made.

“The Dragons have grown more and more since I’ve arrived. There’s a good environment here and it’s a good place to be so I wanted to play my part in that,” Widdop said.

“At this stage of my career, it certainly was a big decision for my family. I have three young kids, I’m very settled here in Wollongong and I’m enjoying my time here.

“So while it was a big decision, I’m happy to be staying.”

A leader on and off the field, Widdop’s stature and influence at the club continues to grow and his contributions were praised by the club’s Director of Rugby League Pathways, Ian Millward.

“We have shown a lot of confidence in Gareth as our long-term leader by offering him a four-year contract,” Millward said.

“We were very conscious of creating stability and consistency in our team and we feel we have achieved that with the re-signing of Gareth.

“Gareth’s our leader and obviously plays in a vital position so we’re over the moon that he has re-signed.”

Boost for Sharks as key half re-signs

Chad Townsend

On the eve of this week’s clash v the Gold Coast Titans, the Cronulla Sharks have received a boost with key half Chad Townsend signing a new 3-year deal with the club.

Townsend, who has played in 94 NRL games to date – 53 of which have come with the Sharks – over a 6-year NRL career, has blossomed into a perfect foil for live-wire James Maloney in the halves.

A local Yarrawarrah Tigers junior, the Sharks plans to retain the majority of their 2016 premiership winning side remains high on their list.

For Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, the varying styles of his two halves – Maloney and Townsend – is why they interlock and perform so well alongside each other.

“Chad is a local junior, a member of our premiership winning team and a very important member of our side,” said Flanagan..

“While James Maloney and Chad are different types of players, they work well together and Chad is still relatively young and has some of his best football in front of him.

“We are pleased he has re-signed and look forward to him continuing his improvement and development over the next few years.”

As a local junior and after experiencing premiership success last year, the decision to stay at the Sharks was a simple one for Townsend in the end.

“I’m very happy to secure my future for the next three years and I’m excited to be a part of the Club moving forward,” said Townsend.

“On the back of last year and what that meant to the fans and the Members and the community, to represent this Club and be from this area is definately something that I hold close to my heart.”

Emerging forward duo re-sign at the Storm

Christian Welch

The Melbourne Storm have long been a team to pride themselves on finding talent and developing them into genuine first-graders and two young forwards that have come through the club ranks have now re-signed. 

Both Christian Welch and Felise Kaufusi have seen their game-time and their stock rise over the last couple of years, with both cementing a regular spot in the Storm’s 17-man team each week.

Welch, an aggressive, hard-running front-rower, has re-signed for two seasons whilst Kaufusi, a utility forward, has re-signed for one with the option of a second year.

Both are a tremendous boost to the club and as the two have developed, they have been handed opportunities to be involved in the Queensland Emerging Origin squad with Kaufusi even being named 18th man during the 2016 Origin series at one point.

The club, as you would expect, are pleased to keep more key forwards at their club moving forward.

“Both players are growing into their own at NRL level and we are looking forward to seeing them take that next, significant step in their development,” said the Storm’s Director of Football, Frank Ponissi.

“To have Felise and Christian re-signed, along with Jesse, Kenny, Joe and Dale, we are confident our forward pack has a strong foundation for years to come.”

Felise Kaufusi

In-form Tigers winger signs new long-term deal

David Nofoaluma

Performing consistently is no easy task but in the eyes of some, the continued and prolonged form of Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma to start the season has many touting him as one of the form wingers in the game to date and deservedly so.

Despite overtures from rival clubs, the Tigers winger has opted to remain with the club, signing a new deal until the end of the 2021 season.

His security was the most important aspect and with his contract signed, sealed and delivered, he wants to focus on footy once more.

“I can focus on footy now and focus on giving my whole attention to the team,” he said.

“I started off coming through Wests Tigers as a local junior, and I think to stay here is something special. I will always have this Club as a part of me, and I will cherish that forever.”

With new coach Ivan Cleary keen to put his own stamp on the club, Nofoaluma believes in the new coach and the direction the club is headed in under his reign.

“I know what we’re building here and the culture that’s coming along under Ivan Cleary,” said Nofoaluma.

“He wants to make me an even better player than what I am, and I like that. I like learning new things off other people and I’m excited to learn from him and see how he can improve me even further.”

A crucial player in the Tigers line-up in light of the recent news that several key players are headed elsewhere, coach Ivan Cleary is just as pleased to see the tackle-breaking machine remain at the club.

“It’s great news for Wests Tigers that David has committed to the club for the next four seasons,” he said.

“David’s in a great position now where he can help lead this club into the future and help it reach its potential.”

For Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe, he is excited to see how Nofoaluma develops both on and off the field.

“David is an amazing talent, one that not only excites our fans but Rugby League fans in general,” he said.“

“He’s a great player to have in the game and is continuing to develop in all areas.

“David’s growth off the field is the one thing that continues to impress me and having him a part of the club for the next four years is something to be excited about. It’s exciting not only for his teammates and the club but for all Wests Tigers Members and fans.”

Hulking Penrith prop signs new deal

Viliame Kikau

It should come as no surprise that Viliame Kikau made such a smooth transition into the first-grade arena, given how talented he is and how highly regarded he was by both North Queensland Cowboys fans initially and now Penrith Panthers fans.

A young, hulking front-rower, Kikau impressed and performed well, prompting the club to sign him up for a further two seasons.

In the end, the Panthers gave him an opportunity and since taking it with both hands, Kikau is both grateful to the club and keen to take further strides in his career.

“I’m really excited to re-commit to the club and I’m very thankful for the Panthers giving me this opportunity,” Kikau said.

“I know there are challenges ahead but I am looking forward to them.”

Equally pleased, as expected, are the club themselves, who are well aware of Kikau, his ability and his potential to become an even better player.

“We are delighted Viliame has committed to another two seasons with the Panthers,” Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould AM said.

“Viliame has outstanding potential and is a very popular member of our club.

“His best football is undoubtedly in front of him and we look forward to his future development.”

Second half surge sees Bulldogs record convincing win over Bunnies

Josh Reynolds

Criticised at times by fans, Canterbury Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds came to the party, producing an 80-minute, man-of-the-match masterclass to steer his side to a comfortable 24-9 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Early on, both teams seemed to struggle with their execution in attack but it was some darting runs and deft plays by Reynolds that continued to expose the Bunnies left-side defence.

The difference in the end, Reynolds was simply too good for a Bunnies side that is left scratching their head as to how they can become more efficient in attack.

The first two tries of the game were down to individual brilliance – a show of acceleration by Souths fullback Alex Johnston to sprint away and score. The second – with Johnston going from hero to zero – the result of sheer determination by Josh Reynolds to ground the ball before it went over the dead-ball line.

At the break, Souths led 9-8 after Adam Reynolds opted for a field goal.

Souths had their opportunities in the second half but had two tries disallowed for obstruction, as well as being held up over the line numerous times.

In the end, it cost them, as Reynolds produced another break resulting in a try for back-rower Josh Jackson, before Josh Morris joined the scoresheet.

With continued speculation regarding his future, Reynolds produced a brilliant display and Dogs coach Des Hasler says the club are talking to him to retain him.

“We’re in negotiations with the young man. I said last week it’s very positive and things are progressing,” Hasler said.

But of the try-saver he added: “That’s the type of player he is. He’s a big part of what we’re about. His brand is pretty important because that’s how the side plays.”

One player part of the recent Bulldogs resurgence has been Matt Frawley – who many fans want to see starting – and despite a quieter game last night, he was still praised by Hasler.

“It just gives us a little bit more versatility,” Hasler said.

“Particularly with injury but also the HIA with the head rule now, last year we were having to shuffle players around and it was usually poor old ‘Jacko’ (Josh Jackson) that was being moved to centre or out to wing.”

Souths coach Michael Maguire lamented his side’s missed opportunities, knowing how the momentum would have changed had they capitalised on them.

“We were definitely well and truly in positions to be able to take the game,” Maguire said.

“It takes every moment of 80 minutes to make sure you capitalise on opportunities. We unfortunately didn’t capitalise and allowed them to stay in the game… whether it’s an individual or key moments in games whether it’s penalties, all those sorts of things, it’s a game that you’ve got to be live for 80.”

Player of theGame:

3. Josh Reynolds

2. Brenko Lee

  1. James Graham

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 (J Reynolds, Jackson, Holland, J Morris tries; Holland 4 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 9 (Johnston try; A Reynolds 2 goals; A Reynolds field goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: Rabbitohs 9-8. Crowd: 35,984.

The Bird flies from the coop as Sharks confirm his departure to Brisbane

 

Jack Bird

Whilst disappointing in many respects for Cronulla Sharks supporters, rugby league is ultimately a business as they deal with the departure of Jack Bird from the end of the season.

Despite their best efforts to retain the talented utility, the club’s offer did not match that of the Brisbane Broncos and so Bird accepted a multi-million dollar contract to join Brisbane.

Bird, a member of the Sharks’ premiership winning team last year, pleased many fans with his desire and work ethic but the club knows that they cannot be held to ransom by one player.

“While we are always disappointed to see any player move on from our Club, and particularly one of Jack’s talent, it is also important to note that the future of our Club is not built around any one individual,” Sharks CEO Lyall Gorman said.

Those sentiments were echoed by club Chairman Damien Keogh.

“Our Club’s responsibility and long-term strategy are to ensure we allocate our salary cap across the playing group to give us the best chance of sustained on-field success,” said Keogh.

As a member of the Sharks side for several years now, Bird was able to win a premiership, a rookie of the year award at the club and debut in Origin, all achievements he should be pleased with.

“On behalf of the Coaching staff and players I am terribly disappointed that Jack has decided to move on considering he made his NRL debut at our Club, was the NRL Rookie of the Year, made his debut for Origin and won a premiership all within the space of just over two years,” said Sharks coach, Shane Flanagan.

He is leaving but there is still a job to do in 2017 with the Sharks, as Flanagan praised his star centre and the job he has done for the club.

“Since debuting for us in 2015, our Club has played a major role in developing Jack into a State of Origin level player which is a testament to the talent identification and player development systems we have in place.,” continued Flanagan.

“We look forward to steering many more of our talented young players along a similar journey in the years to come.

“While we wish Jack well in his future endeavours, he is a professional and we have no doubt he will continue to give his full focus to his Club and his teammates on and off the field and play a major role throughout 2017.”