They mean business in their quest to return to the Super League and the Leigh Centurions have further bolstered their roster with the signing of Canberra Raiders hooker Kurt Baptiste.
The Papua New Guinean international who most recently played at the Rugby League World Cup has signed a 1-year deal with Leigh.
WIth 60 NRL games to his name for both the Brisbane Broncos and the Canberra Raiders, Leigh head coach Neil Jukes sees the signing as a coup for the club.
“On and off the field, he will add great leadership values and bring the quality trends he has developed from two elite environments in the Broncos and the Raiders,” said Jukes.
“His energy, control and running game will be infectious for the players around him and with the staff look forward to enhancing those skills further.
“He’ll join up with the boys after the New Year and jump straight into our preparations for 2018.”
Leigh owner Derek Beaumont also praised the signing as well as the other additions the club has made on and off the field.
“Kurt’s capture is a further statement of our intention to regain our Super League place at the first opportunity and with the quality backroom additions of Adam (Seymour) as head physio, Scott (Hill) as nutritionist and Bubble (Chris Baron) as head conditioner alongside Kez and Jukesy and the rest of the staff we have a fantastic off-field team to help us achieve that,” Beaumont said.
The Wests Tigers fans gave Kyle Lovett plenty of flak often over numerous seasons but a new challenge now beckons for the back-rower after signing a two-year deal with English Championship side, the Leigh Centurions.
Lovett, who played in 50 games for the Wests Tigers, does have some upside being only 24 and a player that can add some defensive starch to the team.
Leigh has always prided themselves on signing elite players to strengthen their squad and with an already impressive roster, the signing of Lovett further adds to it.
Lovett was praised by Leigh owner Derek Beaumont as a player with NRL experience that can make a difference for the Leigh side.
“Kyle is another great addition to our squad who is young and energetic with plenty first grade NRL experience for his age,” said Beaumont.
“It is a further statement of our intent to build a side capable of returning to Super League and one that we can grow and develop to improve to greater things.
I am really looking forward to seeing his strong carries in a Leigh shirt.”
Lovett tasted premiership success with the Wests Tigers Holden Cup side in in 2013, with the Leichhardt junior drawing praise from Leigh head coach Neil Jukes.
“Kyle is a fast, direct, strong running forward who consistently in defence notches up 40 plus tackles a game,” Jukes said.
“His durability will also add a real competitive edge to our team in a number of other positions too.
“We will continue to monitor his preparations in Australia for the next few weeks now so he is ready to hit the ground running when he arrives at the beginning of December.”
A new chapter awaits former NRL winger Mitch Brown, who has signed with Super League side Warrington on a 1-year deal.
Brown, who most recently played for the Leigh Centurions, scored 8 tries in his 26 appearances with the club.
The former Wests Tigers, Canterbury Bulldogs and Cronulla Sharks winger played 132 NRL games and scored 39 tries in that time.
Brown praised his new side’s recruitment drive and looks forward to the chance of working with Steve Price.
“Warrington’s a power club in the Super League and they have a great team for next year,” said Brown.
“They had a good base to start with, have recruited strong and with Pricey (Steve Price) coming over it’s a good opportunity.
“I like the way Pricey coaches, the way he structures things, and he’s a good person off the field as well. Hopefully, he’ll bring a good culture to Warrington too.”
Brown will have no feelings of being alone, having worked alongside Price before at the Sharks and also being friends with new Wolves signing, Bryson Goodwin.
“It’s always hard going to a new team, meeting new faces, but there will be a lot of boys in the same boat even the coach here,” continued Brown.
“I know Bryson pretty well and have been coached by Pricey before so that will help. There are the same personalities just different faces on every team, and everyone is always very welcoming.”
Wolves coach Steve Price was after players that he believes have genuine first-grade experience and in his eyes, Brown is a player that can help develop the club culture.
“The culture I want to create is about players who are team first and willing to work extremely hard, having been involved with Mitch at Cronulla he certainly ticks those boxes,” said Price.
“He’s an outstanding quality person and will add a lot to the club culture which we are building.
“He understands the systems which I am implementing here at the Wolves and he knows that there are positions up for grabs in the wing spots and no places are guaranteed as it will all come down to how each performs in pre-season and the friendlies.”
For just the third time in the tournament’s history, the World Club Challenge is set to be played in Australia after the NRL confirmed this morning that the fixture would take place at AAMI Park.
With the battle for supremacy set to begin, both the Melbourne Storm and the Leeds Rhinos will go head-to-head on February 16 to determine which club is rugby league’s best.
Previously, the game had been held in both Brisbane and Sydney but this is the first time that Melbourne is hosting the event.
The Storm and Rhinos have gone head-to-head in a World Club Challenge on three previous occasions, with the Storm winning two of those in 2010 and 2013.
With the game now locked in, fans can make some early plans to watch footy at AAMI Park and the NRL is pleased that such a game has been confirmed.
“It’s important for the growth of both the NRL and international game that major events like this go ahead each year, so we’re glad to have ensured this important match takes place in what is a shortened pre-season post the Rugby League World Cup,” said the NRL’s Head of Strategy, Mr David Silverton said.
“To have the match take place on home soil for the first time in four years is an added bonus for Australian rugby league fans too.
“A special thank you must go to all those involved from the Super League, Melbourne Storm, Leeds Rhinos and Channel Nine for joining forces and committing to make this showpiece event happen.”
Equally pleased is Victoria’s Minister for Sport, Tourism and Major Events, with John Eren stating that the tournament is right at home in Melbourne and that they are thrilled to host it.
“The World Club Challenge is right at home in the sporting capital. We can’t wait to get behind our Storm and help make them the world’s best rugby league team,” said Eren.
“It’s yet another coup for the sports capital that will bring more visitors to Victoria – boosting businesses and supporting local jobs.”
The Storm themselves are excited to have the opportunity to host the World Club Challenge as CEO Dave Donaghy praised the event.
“There’s no better venue or city to host a game that decides the world’s best rugby league team than AAMI Park and Melbourne – Australia’s sporting capital.
“It will be fantastic to see rugby league take centre stage again at AAMI Park, having hosted record Storm crowds and the Rugby League World Cup in 2017.”
For the fans that want to watch the game, it will be broadcast live on Channel Nine in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
“We’re really excited about this match – the two best rugby league teams in the world squaring up against each other for the title of champions,” said Nine’s Director of Sport, Tom Malone.
“Wide World of Sports will be the best place to catch all the action – live and free and in HD.
Club members of both the Storm and the Rhinos are able to purchase tickets on ticketek.com.au today before public tickets go on sale on Tuesday November 21.
A versatile player who has perhaps not seen as much first-grade action as he may deserve based on his ability, Samisoni Langi will don the white, red and gold of the Catalans Dragons next year, signing a 2-year deal.
Langi, who has previously had stints in the NRL with both the Sydney Roosters and the Penrith Panthers, as well as with the Leigh Centurions, embarks on the new challenge as he looks set to embrace his role as a utility in the side.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara knows how good Langi is having worked alongside him at the Roosters in 2014 during his time as an assistant coach there.
“Samisoni is a tremendous signing for the club,” said McNamara.
“Having worked closely with him at the Sydney Roosters in 2014, I know exactly the quality he will bring both on and off the field.
“He is a young, ambitious man who is an exciting attacking player and one who wants to compete on every play.”
Langi is excited about the move and confident that he can help Catalans move up the ladder in 2018.
“I believe my best years are ahead of me and I want to play a big part in the club’s climb up the Super League ladder in 2018 under Steve McNamara, someone I have confidence in who will take my game to the next level,” said Langi.
If you had asked anyone prior to the game, ‘would Papua New Guinea win by 44 points,’ you might have been scoffed at or laughed at.
However, after what was nothing short of a breathtaking display, the Papua New Guineans put on a clinic from start to finish as they overpowered and outmanoeuvred a Welsh side who failed to keep up.
In front of a sell-out crowd of screaming, passionate Papua New Guinea fans, the humid conditions played right into their hands as they won 50-6 on the back of a David Mead hat-trick.
Although Wales did well to hold onto the ball, it was their lack of the killer punch that cost them and as Papua New Guinea began to assert dominance, they ended up with 62% of possession in the game.
The NRL experience in the Papua New Guinea side was on show as Mead, James Segeyaro, Nene Macdonald and Kurt Baptiste all had good games, guiding their side to victory.
The one sour note for Papua New Guinea was a biting allegation against Wellington Albert, with Welsh player Ben Evans making an official complaint.
As Papua New Guinea continued to assert their dominance with big hits, sturdy defence and huge attacking plays, the major talking point was David Mead and Rhyse Martin.
Mead became the first Papua New Guinean player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup and Rhyse Martin – with his 2 tries and 3 goals – now holds the record for the most points in a match by a Papua New Guinean player.
As the final hooter sounded, Wales got on the board after a fumble in defence that saw Regan Grace scoop the ball up to score.
Welsh coach John Kear was blunt in his assessment of his side’s performance; they were taught a harsh lesson.
“I think it’s been a very harsh lesson,” Kear said.
“The southern hemisphere fellas really do carry the ball very aggressively and, if you don’t stand up to that, you end up getting rolled and losing field position.
“We just never got any opportunity to attack because we couldn’t prevent the roll on from Papua New Guinea.”
Player of the Game:
3. David Mead
2. Rhyse Martin
PNG Kumuls 50 (Mead 3, Martin 2, MacDonald, Ottio, W Albert, Olam, Aiton tries; Martin 5 goals) defeated Wales 6 (Grace try; Davies goal) at Oil Search National Football Stadium. Crowd: 14,800.