Category Archives: ESL/International RL

Move to England beckons as Austin signs with Warrington

Canberra Raiders utility Blake Austin

He was linked to NRL clubs but it is a Super League that has snared the signature of Blake Austin, with the Canberra Raiders utility joining the Warrington Wolves.

The three-year deal will begin for the 2019 season and during his time at the Raiders, Austin has had his ups and downs.

Joining the club in 2015, he immediately impressed and went on to win the 2015 Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year Award.

Since then, he has, at times, struggled to replicate that form, eventually leading to his moving in and out of first-grade.

Despite those inconsistencies, Austin praised the Raiders for the last four years he has spent at the club.

“I’d like to thank Ricky, Don and the club for presenting me and my family with the opportunities they have over the past four years,” Austin said.

“Thanks to my team mates and the Canberra members and fans for embracing me as one of their own.”

Although the move is confirmed, the Raiders are still in the finals hunt and Austin wants to play at his best to help them make it.

“I hope to be remembered as a guy that gave his all in green,” the utility continued.

“I look forward to playing the best footy I can for the remainder of the 2018 season.”

The Wolves are pleased to have signed someone of his calibre, and he is a player that coach Steve Price has watched closely.

“I’ve watched Blake closely for a number of years over in the NRL and he’s a guy who, when you come to review the opposition, your game plan heavily revolves around which says a lot about the type of player he is,” the former NRL coach said.

Price continued with his praise for Austin, highlighting specific areas of his game.

“He has an outstanding running game and is always a threat with the ball in his hand,” continued Price.

“He’s a big body so hard to handle with electric footwork.

“I feel he is going to be a quality signing for our club and I’m excited to be able to work with Blake next year.”

With his move now confirmed, Austin is excited to experience the English culture and the Super League come 2019.

“I’m really excited to be joining the Warrington Wolves,” Austin said.

“No-one I’ve spoken to has had a bad word to say about the club.

“I’m stoked I get the chance to come over in what I believe can be the best years of my footy career, and not a cameo at the tail end of my career.”

Austin is looking forward to embracing his English experience and playing alongside his new team-mates.

“My partner and I have always wanted to experience England and the Super League, and can’t wait to embrace the Wolves and everything Warrington has to offer,” Austin continued.

“I look forward to working with Pricey and all the boys, with the goal of delivering silverware to the club.”

 

Suaia Matagi makes the move to England after signing with Huddersfield

Parramatta Eels prop Suaia Matagi

After a few seasons with the Parramatta Eels, Suaia Matagi will depart and head to England and join the Huddersfield Giants. 

Coached by former NRL player Simon Woolford, he was after a player with size, grunt and power.

“I was looking for some real grunt and aggression in the front row and Suaia will bring that and a whole heap more,” Woolford said.

“The fans will love his action packed style and he is a man that won’t take a backward step and he relishes the tough stuff up front.”

With more than 100 NRL games to his name, the Kiwi and Samoan international brings a wealth of experience to the Giants.

“We have a number of relatively younger front rowers in Dickinson, Smith and English who will benefit enormously from having a man like Suaia around them at training,” Woolford continued.

“On the pitch, his presence will bring confidence and leadership to the forward group.”

Matagi is pleased at the new adventure and looks forward to donning the Giants colours.

“I am extremely excited to take my football to the next level under the leadership of Coach Simon Woolford and I’m also looking forward to the challenge of playing in the English Super League,” Matagi said.

“Joining a proud Club like the Huddersfield Giants is a privilege and I will represent our fans to the best of my ability.”

Tonga prove too good for Samoa in Pacific Test clash

Tongan captain and fullback Will Hopoate

Despite a late fightback from Samoa, the Mate Ma’a Tonga side has won a quality Pacific Test clash.

The second game of a doubleheader at Campbelltown Stadium, Tonga won 38-22 in an entertaining affair.

It was a dominating first-half performance as six tries in 24 minutes proved to be the icing on the cake for Tonga.

It was Samoan prop James Gavet who scored the first try of the game but it was all Tonga after that.

First, Siliva Havili burrowed his way over from dummy half to score.

This was followed by a try to half Ata Hingano after Jason Taumalolo kept the ball alive.

Will Hopoate then showed his quick hands to assist in a try for Konrad Hurrell to make the score 16-6.

The onslaught continued, as Robert Jennings kicked ahead, regathered and scored a try of his own.

Hopoate then got himself on the scoresheet, zooming past Mason Lino to score.

The Tongan fullback was again involved, this time sending winger Daniel Tupou over.

There were injury concerns for both sides; Sam Kasiano left the field with a knee injury.

Manu Ma’u left the field for a HIA but is believed to have suffered a depressed fracture of the cheekbone.

Tonga’s momentum continued in the second half as Junior Tatola muscled his way over.

Samoa may have been out but they were not down as they dug deep to claw some points back.

Tim Lafai and Tyrone May scored back-to-back Samoan tries.

Former Tongan winger Jorge Taufua, now playing for Samoa, scored another Samoan try.

Though a late penalty goal for Tonga put to bed any chance of a comeback for Samoa.

After an impressive display, Tongan coach Kristian Woolf had a message to the governing bodies and the Kangaroos.

We are ready for you and we want to face the very best.

“There’s been a lot of talk about a game at the end of the year against Australia and that’s something we are really pushing as hard as we can to make happen,” Woolf said.

“I’ve got to give Mal Meninga a wrap.

“Every time I’ve spoken to him and the first conversation to get the ball rolling there was with Mal.

“He jumped at it straight away and it’s certainly something that he’s right behind and wants to make happen.”

Those sentiments were echoed by captain Hopoate who believes the Tongan players would relish the chance.

“I think the boys would relish the challenge,” Hopoate said.

“They are obviously the best in the world at the moment and we want to test ourselves and see how we go with the likes of your Inglis’s and the All Stars that are playing in the Origin arena.”

Despite a tough period for the Samoan side in recent times, coach Matt Parish wants to stick around.

“I’m committed to here, I look forward to these camps more than they do,” Parish said.

“They’re terrific, different, and I’m proud of where we came from in 2013 to now and where the game has come from.

“You look at the contest that was here today and the game that was in Hamilton last year in the World Cup.

“They’ve been tight, tough entertaining tussles that could’ve gone either way.”

Player of the Game:

3. Will Hopoate

2. Siliva Havili

  1. Jason Taumalolo

First-half blitz gives Papua New Guinea comfortable win over Fiji

Papua New Guinea Kumuls hooker and captain James Segeyaro

Four tries in the first half helped Papua New Guinea put Fiji to bed as they won the opening Pacific Test clash 26-14.

It took 13 minutes for the Kumuls to open the scoring, with debutant winger Junior Rau crossing.

Rau was a late selection after Nene Macdonald was forced to withdraw due to injury.

They soon went back-to-back, as captain James Segeyaro found prop Luke Page who spun his way over to score.

There was a chance for a third try but a knock-on ended that chance.

Further points were soon added, though, as Rhyse Martin slotted a penalty goal to put the Kumuls up 14-0.

Fiji would pull one try back in the first half; Tyrone Phillips capitalising on a Richard Pandia error.

That momentum was halted, though, as Rau scored a second and Justin Olam scored under the posts after a Segeyaro break.

Fiji were able to pull two tries back for some respectability; one to Marcelo Montoya and another to Suliasi Vunivalu but it was not enough.

The win was the Kumuls second consecutive win over the Fijian side.

With the game being Matt Adamson’s first in charge, Fiji will be left to rue their chances.

The Kumuls motivation to win was high, honouring their fallen team-mate Kato Ottio.

“It gave us a bit more motivation to go out there and do well for the country and for the family of Kato,” PNG coach Michael Marum said.

“It was a great team effort today. They have a strong side and we knew it was going to be tough.

“We had a really great first half, putting on a few points there, and our defensive effort in the second half was really outstanding.”

Despite the loss, Adamson’s primary point for his Fiji side was calling for more Tests at more convenient times.

“We need to have the opportunity to bring these guys back,” Adamson said.

“It means so much to these kids to represent their country.

“[Kevin] was resisting tears, just absolutely breaking down there that it could possibly be his last Test.”

In the end, a poor first half cost the Fiji Bati side and Adamson lamented his side for that.

“We need to have the opportunity to bring these guys back,” Adamson said.

“It means so much to these kids to represent their country.

“[Kevin] was resisting tears, just absolutely breaking down there that it could possibly be his last Test.”

Player of the Game:

3. James Segeyaro

2. Junior Rau

  1. Luke Page

Rabbitohs veteran Clark signs Super League deal

South Sydney utility Jason Clark

After a long tenure with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Jason Clark will make the move to England and play for the Warrington Wolves.

The move was made official with Clark signing a 2-year deal with the English Super League side.

Clark was the first captain of the Rabbitohs NYC side back in 2008 and made his NRL debut in 2009.

Since then, he has played all of his 157 games for the cardinal and myrtle of the Rabbitohs.

Although he is excited at what lies ahead, Clark is focused on the rest of the season with the Rabbitohs.

“I’m glad to have my contract organised with Warrington and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career over in England, but first we have a job to finish here at Souths,” Clark said.

“The past 11 seasons have been a young boy’s dream come true.

“All I’ve done is wear the red and green, and following discussions with Steve Price, Simon Moran and Karl Fitzpatrick, I’ll be able to extend my career in the primrose and blue of Warrington.”

Clark likened the history of Warrington to Souths and looks forward to playing alongside former team-mate Bryson Goodwin.

“Warrington is a similar club to us here at Souths,” Clark continued.

“They have a long and rich history which is something that attracted me to the Club.

“I’ll also be able to team up with (former Rabbitohs team mate) Bryson Goodwin and his family which is exciting for me, my wife Lauren and my three daughters Milla, Andi and Billie.”

Clark also thanked Souths, all the staff and the fans for everything they have done for him during his time at the club.

“I can’t thank everyone connected with the Club enough for the opportunities I have been given to play for this team,” the veteran utility said.

“I want to thank all of my team mates, coaches, the staff and management, sponsors and of course our brilliant Members for all of their support over the years, including everyone from Souths Juniors and those who helped me become an NRL footballer.

It means so much to me and my family.”

Such has been the loyalty of Clark and the admiration by fans; he will be welcome back to take up a role once his playing career is done.

“Jason has been simply an outstanding club man, always giving his best and always with a smile on his face,” said Souths General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson.

“He will be welcomed back to the Club in some capacity in the future when he finishes his playing career.

“Warrington is a great club and they have signed a quality player and human being.”

 

English forward Sutton chases NRL dream after signing with Raiders

Wigan Warriors prop Ryan Sutton

Ryan Sutton will be the latest Englishman to try his hand in the NRL, as the Wigan Warriors prop joins the Canberra Raiders on a 2-year deal.

The deal will commence in 2019 and with the forward keen to test himself in the NRL, the Raiders are excited to have him.

“Ryan is a tremendous young talent who I know was looking for an opportunity to test himself in the NRL,” Canberra Raiders Recruitment and High-Performance Director Peter Mulholland said.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to get him into our squad for the next two seasons.

“He’s been in tremendous form for Wigan this season and we’re looking forward to him having a big pre-season with the Raiders and making the move into the NRL.”

A Super League grand final winner in 2016, Wigan are sad to see him go but did not want to stand in Sutton’s way.

“It is disappointing to lose a player who we have helped develop through our academy and someone who we believe can and will improve in the future,” Wigan Executive Director Kris Radlinski said.

“That said, a Rugby League player only has a short career and Ryan has given five seasons of great service to Wigan.

“Ryan made this decision a long time ago and has been transparent throughout this process.

He made no secret of his desire to play in Australia.

There were actually no negotiations, Ryan knew that he wanted NRL and stuck firm to that.”

A Wigan local, Sutton admits that leaving will be hard but he wants to test himself at the NRL level.

“Being a young lad from Wigan it was a tough decision to make to leave my hometown club but I’ve always wanted to try my hand in the NRL and this was a great opportunity for me,” said Sutton.

“I’m grateful to all of the coaching staff and players that have helped me develop not just as a player but as a person too.

“I am still a Wigan player this year and I am hungry to leave with more silverware and will give 100% in everything I do until my departure.”

 

Former Penrith Panther and Englishman Zak Hardaker cops 14-month ban for cocaine use

Former Castleford utility back Zak Hardaker

After failing a drugs test in the lead-up to the 2017 Super League grand final, Zak Hardaker has been given a 14-month ban.

Suspended by Castleford after failing the test in September, he was then sacked by the club in February.

The indiscretion also ruled Hardaker out for selection for England at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

“UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) today confirmed Zak Hardaker has been suspended from all sport for 14 months following an Anti-Doping Rule Violation,” England’s governing body in rugby league said in a statement.

Hardaker tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine and is suspended from all sports until November 8.

His legal team praised the professionalism of the tribunal in reaching a decision they felt suits the indiscretion.

“We believe the correct verdict has been returned and we would like to thank the tribunal for their professionalism,” Hardaker’s legal team said.

“This was a truly exceptional case, where the drug use was never linked to performance enhancement.

“In this regard, Zak would never take any substance to achieve an unfair advantage and we are pleased that the decision of the tribunal has recognised this fact.”

His legal team also asked for privacy as Hardaker recovers from some personal traumas in addition to the ban.

“The last two years have been an extremely difficult period for Zak who, away from the public eye, has bravely battled a number of personal traumas,” continued his legal representative.

“Zak has asked for privacy at this time but thanked his family and close friends for helping him through this difficult period.”

Sean Rutgerson appointed as new USA Hawks coach

Former American rugby league player Sean Rutgerson

Following the sudden departure of Brian McDermott, the USA Hawks have appointed Sean Rutgerson as their new head coach.

With American rugby league on the rise and their desire to make the next World Cup, a local like Rutgerson could prove to be a masterstroke.

With qualifiers looming, it shapes as a crucial time for Rutgerson and his Hawks side.

“I’m really happy and excited to take over and am looking forward to a big year for the USARL,” said Rutgerson.

“First thing on my list is to get my staff on board and organized.”

Rutgerson is no stranger to the system, having worked as a domestic assistant under McDermott.

Rutgerson will retain some elements used by McDermott and incorporate some of his own.

“As far as strategies, we will not be doing too much different from what Mac put in place, but I will be adding some ideas as we go,” he added.

“I definitely will be sticking with the Facebook page. There will be a few changes to it and am currently working on those.

There will be some standards that will need to be met.”

Also coach of the Jacksonville Axemen, it was his rugby league pedigree and nous that got him the job.

“Sean was an accomplished NRL player at Canberra Raiders and English Super League player at Salford City Reds,” USARL Inc Chairman Peter Illfield said.

“He’s an accredited Level 2 NRL coach and sports trainer, Level 2 ASCA strength and conditioning coach and has a diploma in personal training.”

Fans may remember Rutgerson during his playing and coaching days with NRL teams.

“He had six years as assistant coach with NRL club Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup team,” Illfield continued.

“He’s coached at Jacksonville Axemen (2009, 2016, 2017) and again for 2018.

“He was also assistant coach to Brian McDermott for USA Hawks RLWC2017 Qualifiers campaign in 2015, going on to RLWC2017 as strength and conditioning coach for USA.”

Should he have success with the Hawks at the qualifiers level, a long-term deal is on the table for Rutgerson.

“Immediate expectation for Sean is to recruit his management and support staff for international fixtures,” said Illfield.

“Long-term expectations are to develop a suitable player selection process inclusive of domestic and heritage players, and development of an elite player program to raise the skills and fitness worthy of USARL representation.”

Stanley becomes latest Wolfpack recruit

Canterbury Bulldogs utility back Chase Stanley.

Released by the Canterbury Bulldogs at the end of 2017, Chase Stanley has a new home, signing with the Toronto Wolfpack.

Still only 28, Stanley slowly made a name for himself coming through the ranks at the St George Illawarra Dragons.

This prompted the opportunity to make his first-grade debut for the Dragons, as well as stints at the Melbourne Storm and the Canterbury Bulldogs.

In total, Stanley played in 110 NRL games and scored 28 tries in that time.

It could have been more, however, had it not been for chronic knee injuries cruelling his career.

Fit and raring to go now, Stanley makes the move to the Wolfpack and is excited by the challenge that lies ahead.

“To play football overseas is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Stanley.

“The opportunity to challenge myself both as a player and as person in a different part of the world is something I’m looking forward to.

“For me personally, I’m keen to embrace the culture of the Wolfpack and play some tough and consistent football.”

With the Wolfpack setting their sights on the Super League, Stanley believes the club is primed to reach their goals.

“I believe this club can achieve its ultimate goal of reaching Super League so this move is the chance to be a part of something really exciting,” he continued.

“I can’t wait to get over to Canada.

I’ve never been, so to be able to play rugby league over there and put it on the map is a bonus and great for the game.”

Wolfpack head coach Paul Rowley welcomes the addition of Stanley to the squad and the team.

“Chase is a welcome addition to the team and adds real quality to our backline options,” said Rowley.

“I’m looking forward to working with Chase and excited to see him play in our colours.

He’s a fantastic player and a quality person who has worked within some first class environments so we’re looking forward to him getting started.”

Centurions continue signing spree as they add PNG hooker

Kurt Baptiste

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.