Category Archives: ESL/International RL

Manly winger makes the move to Perpignan

Brayden Wiliame

A surprising performer for the Manly Sea Eagles in 2016, Brayden Wiliame will no longer be a part of the team after signing a 2-year deal with the Catalan Dragons.

In the end, the Sea Eagles were not going to stand in the way of Wiliame who knew that it was too good of an opportunity for him to pass up.

“This is a great opportunity for Brayden to secure his playing future for the next two years and we didn’t want to stand in his way, even though he was contracted for next season,” Barrett said.

“It was a pleasure to coach Brayden and his versatility at being able to play full-back, wing, or centre was always valuable.

“I like to thank Brayden for his service to the Sea Eagles. The club wishes him and his family all the best at the Catalans Dragons.”

The opportunity to play alongside Greg Bird is one that Wiliame is looking forward to.

“I am very excited to join the Catalans Dragons,” said Wiliame.

“I really enjoyed my time at Manly but I’m looking forward now to play here, alongside a player such as Greg Bird and help the club win a title.”

The club is also pleased to have Wiliame, highlighting his experience and versatility as crucial elements for their setup.

“I am very pleased with the signing of Brayden, who has exactly the profile we were looking for to know a young player, ambitious and with a real sense of professionalism on and off the field,” said head coach, Laurent Frayssinous.

“He already has a great experience in NRL despite his youth and versatility in the ¾ line is a real asset for him. He is a powerful and agile player who likes to play in the spaces and has a very good technique veneer.”

Fifita signs new deal at Wakefield

David Fifita

Hear the name Fifita and you probably immediately think of Andrew but in this instance, David is the Fifita in question, with the forward re-signing at the Wakefield Wildcats for another season.

Joining the club in June from the Cronulla Sharks, he had an option in his favour which he took up and is excited to continue playing for the club.

“I am really excited to get an extra year under my belt at Wakefield,” said Fifita.

“It is a fantastic club with a great set of fans and I cannot wait to get back into pre-season and get back out there on that field to repay all of their continued support.”

Making 13 appearances for the club since joining them, the club are also pleased to have him extend his tenure.

“I am delighted that David (Fifita) has agreed to a new contract with us, especially as I know how much this means to the Wakefield supporters,” said Wakefield head coach, Chris Chester.

“He is an important member of the squad who adds a lot of passion into the side with his big personality both on and off the field.

I know that he has got a lot more to show us this coming year and I am looking forward to working along side him in 2017.”

Former Warrior re-signs at Huddersfield

Ukuma Ta'ai

Whilst it may have been a while since he played for the New Zealand Warriors, their fans will no doubt remember him and some would have kept track of his progress at Huddersfield.

On the back of a solid season at the Huddersfield Giants, Ukuma Ta’ai has re-signed with the Claret and Gold until the end of the 2018 season.

Making 114 appearances for the Giants to date, he has scored 33 tries and did not miss a game in 2016 for the club.

Ta’ai is excited at the chance to continue his tenure with the club.

“I am so excited that the club has given me the opportunity to stay,” said Ta’ai.

“I love Huddersfield, it’s a small town but the fans are fantastic and I am excited to be given the chance to stay here for another two years.

The recent addition of Rick Stone as coach was played a role in his decision to stay.

“Since Rick [Stone] has been here, he has been great for us and I’m looking forward to pre-season so we can achieve more next season and hopefully the fans get behind us and buy a Season Ticket because they have really lifted us this year,” added Ta’ai.

The club is also pleased with the re-signing of Ta’ai, and praised both he and the club.

“The Ukuma retention was done some time back but as with other deals done there have been legalities which prevent immediate announcements,” said Giants Managing Director, Richard Thewlis.

“As and when we are able to make announcements regarding the 2017 squad, we will do so but the forefront of our thinking is player welfare and supporters have to recognise that and be assured that the club is making every endeavour on the back of the season ticket launch to have the first full year of “The New Stone Age” as a memorable one.”

Former NRL half shifts Super League clubs and joins Catalans

Luke Walsh

An experienced campaigner across both the NRL and the Super League, Luke Walsh knows what it takes to perform at the highest level and at teams where he fits in.

After a previous Super League stint with St Helens, Walsh has shifted Super League clubs, signing with the Catalan Dragons.

Playing in 48 games for St Helens, Walsh is excited about the new challenge that lies ahead for him.

“I am very excited to be linking up with Catalans,” said the 29-year-old.

“The guys are pulling together a very good side and I’m expecting big things at the Dragons in 2017.”

The club know just how crucial experience is, with Catalans CEO Christophe Jouffret outlining just how much he can bring to the team.

“Leaders are always crucial parts in a team and around Richie Myler, Thomas Bosc and Lucas Albert, it was necessary to enlist an experienced player who will quickly settle into the group,” said Jouffret.

New adventure lies ahead for Sharks forward

Jesse Sene-Lefao

With the success of the Cronulla Sharks side in 2016, his name did not feature regularly but he was a player that Sharks fans felt offered the side plenty, as Jesse Sene-Lefao departs.

The utility forward will embark on the next chapter in his career, signing a deal with Super League side Castleford.

Playing in a total of 6 games for the Sharks in 2016 and previously at Manly in years prior, the Samoan international will not be alone as he knows several of the players currently at the club.

I’m really excited to be heading to the UK to join Castleford Tigers,” said Sene-Lefao.

“I’m good friends with Ben Roberts and Junior Moors and they’ve both told me such positive stories about the club and how passionate the fans are.”

In the end, the move was one that was right for his family and he is excited to get involved with the club and their pre-season.

“I’m ready now to take my game up to a new level and Castleford sounds perfect for me,” Sene-Lefao said.

“I’m looking forward to playing for a club that plays such a big part in the community and my family and I are looking forward to the experience of moving overseas and getting to know the people of Castleford.

We’re taking a family holiday right now but I can’t wait to make the move and knuckle down and show what I can do in pre-season training.”

Having watched him back from his time at Manly, Castleford coach Daryl Powell is pleased to have Sene-Lefao on board to add some starch to their forward pack.

“I’m delighted that Jesse has agreed to join us. I watched him play two years ago for Manly and I was really impressed with his skill, energy, enthusiasm and determination as a player,” said Powell.

“This year he was in a great environment at the eventual winners of the NRL Cronulla Sharks and I’m sure he’ll bring his great experience as a player to help us as a club achieve our goals.”

Former NRL prop signs deal with Catalans

Luke Burgess

They all moved over to the NRL and the South Sydney Rabbitohs initially but having them all stay together was always the hard task, as Luke Burgess embarks on a new rugby league chapter.

The eldest of the Burgess quartet, Luke has signed with the Catalan Dragons in the Super League for two years after a brief stint with Salford during their Super 8’s campaign.

Having previously played for the Leeds Rhinos and winning both Super League titles and a World Club Challenge, he set sail for down-under alongside his brothers.

He played more than 50 games in the NRL for both the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles.

The deal at Catalans has Luke excited at what lies ahead.

“I am delighted to have signed for the Catalans Dragons and to be returning to play in Super League,” said Burgess.

“The club has a very talented playing squad and for much of last season looked to be on course for at least a top-four place in the Super League, at the same time playing a very attractive brand of rugby league.

“I am very excited at the prospect of doing what I can over the next two seasons to bring success to the club and their supporters.”

Equally pleased is Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous, who knows just how much experience and value that Burgess can add to the side.

Luke will bring top-level Super League and NRL experience to our squad next season,” said Frayssinous.

“He will add size and will strengthen our pack, offensively and defensively. He loves France and has the perfect pedigree, on and off the field.”

Former NRL forward signs new deal at Castleford

Junior Moors

Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm fans will remember the name, as Junior Moors re-signs with current Super League club, the Castleford Tigers, until the end of the 2019 season.

The 30-year old Samoan international has quickly become a fan favourite among the Castleford faithful with strong running and solid hitting in defence becoming a focal point of his play.

With over 50 NRL games to his name, Moors joined the club at the start of the 2015 season and started to find his feet at the back end of that year.

2016 has seen him reborn, becoming a potent player for the Castleford side in their quest for success.

Winning Fans Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Player of the Year at the awards nights a few weeks ago, his success has been noticeable and the man himself is pleased to stay at the club.

“I’m really happy to have extended my deal with Cas,” said Moors.

“My family and I are really settled here and I love playing with these boys. 2017 will be a big season for us and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

Moors drew praise from coach Daryl Powell, who has seen the forward turn into a destructive player on the field.

“I’m delighted that Junior has agreed to extend his contract with the club,” said Powell.

“After a slow start in 2015 he had an enormous 2016, being one of the best forwards in Super League. His ball carry and his ability with his skill as a forward gives us an extra dimension in our game.

I have no doubt that he will continue to improve and we will see the very best of Junior Moors in the next few years.”

Raiders half ignores NRL overtures and signs with Wakefield

Sam Williams

Numerous clubs around the NRL could have used a half like him in their side but Sam Williams had other ideas, joining the Wakefield Wildcats on a 1-year deal.

The 25-year old, who has this year played back-up to both Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, is excited to join a club on the rise like Wakefield.

“I am very excited to join Wakefield, and it is a family club with such a close-knit community,” said Williams.

“I’m looking forward to being able to work with Chris Chester, I have heard good things from Josh Hodgson on his coaching and I am now excited to be a part of it and am looking forward to what the future holds.”

Williams is no stranger to the Super League, having previously played for the Catalan Dragons in 2014.

The signing of Williams will provide some competition for spots in the halves, as Wildcats coach Chris Chester praised Williams attributes.

“Sam Williams is a great signing for the club and a big coup,” said Chester.

“A number of Super League clubs were chasing his signature and I am delighted that he has chosen to play at Wakefield.

“I would like to thank Ricky Stuart and the Canberra Raiders for helping us make the signing happen. Sam will bring a wealth of experience and a good kicking game along with being a good leader on and off the field.”

Across the board, the team is pleased to have Williams on board as comments from Chairman Michael Carter suggest.

“Having spoken to Sam at length, I am delighted that this young man has agreed to join us,” said Carter.

“I look forward to seeing him don the Red, White and Blue jersey next season.”

Titans prop makes the shift to England for a new challenge

Luke Douglas

Signing a marquee player and retaining your roster was never going to be an easy task and the Gold Coast Titans have had another player leave, with prop Luke Douglas to join Super League side St Helens.

The veteran forward who has played for the Titans and the Cronulla Sharks during his NRL career will join the Super League side on a three-year deal.

Playing in more than 200 games through is NRL career, the Scottish international is excited at what lies ahead in his new challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to this new challenge,” he said.

“The club has a great profile and stature in the game and I hope to be able to contribute to developing that wonderful culture

“I am told Saints have the best fans in the game and I can’t wait to engage with them.

“I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my life.”

The Yamba Eagles junior made his debut in 2006 with the Sharks and has not missed a game of NRL since, playing 215 consecutive NRL games.

For St Helens, the signing is a boost as the club needed some leadership and experience in the forward pack, something that coach Keiron Cunningham believes Douglas can provide.

“Luke is dynamic, tough running front rower who will bring top level NRL experience to our pack next season,” said Cunningham.

“His leadership will be important to our younger players too and we are delighted to secure his signature for the next three years.”

Kidwell appointed new coach of Kiwis side

David Kidwell

An assistant under outgoing coach Stephen Kearney for the last three years, David Kidwell will have a chance to show what he can do in the top job after being appointed as the new coach of the New Zealand Kiwis side.

He will guide the Kiwis through until the end of 2017, which includes a World Cup in roughly a years time.

The first major tournament for Kidwell will be the upcoming Four Nations featuring the Kiwis, Australia, England and Scotland.

Having played for the New Zealand side during his playing days, Kidwell is honoured to be given the mantle as a coach and whilst he will be his own man in the role, he will adopt previous elements.

“I feel humbled and privileged to be named head coach of the Kiwis,” says Kidwell.

“As an assistant, I’ve watched Stephen building a strong culture within the programme and I want to make sure that is upheld and becomes even stronger. That’s the message I’ll be giving to our senior players.

“I’ll add my own individual style to the Kiwis, but as far as culture and values and belief in ourselves, I’m determined to uphold these foundations of our house, as we say. That passion for the black-and-white jersey is paramount.”

The aim of Kidwell’s appointment is to continue to grow the New Zealand Kiwis brand and entice the players coming through the ranks to represent the Kiwi side.

Alex Hayton, the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) Chief Executive says Kidwell is a good fit because it ensures the continuity throughout the transition.

“David has been part of a succession plan for when the head coach role became vacant,” says NZRL chief executive Alex Hayton.

“He has contributed to the development of the Kiwis team culture, brings continuity and certainty to the playing group over the next 14 months, leading into the Rugby League World Cup.

“David will be contracted full-time through to January 2018. This will allow David to focus 100% on the role, but also assist in pushing the Kiwis brand among young players of NZ heritage living in Australia and attend various events in New Zealand to promote the game.”