Category Archives: ESL/International RL

Knights back-rower opts to return to England

Joe Wardle

Some overseas endeavours work out and others do not and for Joe Wardle, despite trying to make a go of the NRL with the Newcastle Knights, he made a decision to return to  England.

Wardle, who has so far played 15 games for the Newcastle Knights, previously played for the Huddersfield Giants and will head back to England, signing with the Castleford Tigers.

The Scottish international thanked the opportunity given to him by the Knights and looks forward to his time at the Tigers.

“I would just like to say thank you to Newcastle for working alongside me in what has been a hard time adjusting to life down under,” said Wardle.Rugby careers are short so happiness is key and sometimes things don’t work out, which

“Rugby careers are short so happiness is key and sometimes things don’t work out, which is, unfortunately, the case.

I am really looking forward to getting back home, getting my family settled and teaming up with Daryl and the rest of the boys for the 2018 campaign.”

As for the Castleford club themselves, coach Daryl Powell is pleased to have Wardle signed for several seasons.

“Joe Wardle is a player that I have been a fan of for a number of years since his time at Huddersfield,” said Powell.

“I am delighted that on returning to England he has decided that we are the club to help him achieve his goals in the game.”

His versatility is also a key reason behind the decision to sign Wardle.

“He is a tough player on both sides of the game being a great line runner on attack and a solid aggressive defender,” continued Powell.

“He can play in both centre and back row positions which strengthens us significantly and grows our competition for places within an already awesome squad.

I look forward to his arrival at the club and getting him accustomed to how we play.”

New chapter for Mortimer after signing with Leigh

Daniel Mortimer

Always looking to improve their side in a bid to stay in the Super League, the Leigh Centurions have signed former NRL utility Daniel Mortimer until the end of the 2019 season.

Mortimer, who has played for the Parramatta Eels, the Sydney Roosters, the Gold Coast Titans and the Cronulla Sharks, is a utility that can cover five-eighth, halfback and hooker, with that versatility a key asset in the eyes of the club.

“Daniel is another proven quality NRL player with lots of experience at the highest level, including Grand Finals,” said Leigh owner Derek Beaumont.

“He is a running pivot with a great kicking game and can also run at nine so is a very versatile player.

“Again, it is all money but it is not only about ensuring we maintain our Super League status, it is also about improving the squad for next year as I want this club to become more and more competitive so that over time we can win something.”

With the new challenge ahead, Mortimer looks forward to what his stint with Leigh.

“I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my career,” said Mortimer.

“I have been following Leigh closely now for the past six weeks and I hope I can play a significant role for the club between now and season’s end.”

The option of playing overseas has always appealed to Mortimer and whilst he knows it will be a different kettle of fish, he looks forward to what lies ahead.

“Playing overseas has always been an attraction and I am lucky that a great club like Leigh took the initiative to recruit me,” said Mortimer.

“It will be challenging but I’m always up for a challenge and hopefully we will do well in the weeks ahead.”

Barba’s rugby league return complete after St Helens move

Ben Barba

The process took a while but in a good move for player and club, Ben Barba has completed his return to rugby league after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with Super League side, St Helens.

Barba’s stint in French rugby union came to an abrupt end and Barba was forced to look elsewhere, landing at St Helens.

Barba is just pleased to have the signing done and his future sorted.

“I’m enjoying being over here finally,” said the enigmatic fullback.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the first day of training here and what comes ahead.”

With St Helens regarded as a close-knit team, Barba admits that fitting in with the team and the culture was straightforward.

“They’re quite a close bunch of guys here and it was easy coming in,” Barba said.

“They all introduced themselves and it’s a very friendly place.”

In the end, Barba admits he signed with St Helens because of the people at the organisation who in his eyes, take care of and look after their players.

“It was a club that looks like they really take care of their players,” Barba continued.

“That was an easy decision for me.”

With a bit to prove upon his return to rugby league, Barba knows he has to work hard, work diligently and get the St Helens faithful in his corner.

“I’ve just got to work hard and obviously, I’ve got a bit of a suspension that’s hanging around at the moment,” said Barba.

“All I can do is work hard on the training paddock with the boys and to catch up on all the plays.”


Penrith utility back makes the jump to Super League

Peta Hiku

Six has never gone into five and thus it was a given that something had to give at the Penrith Panthers and it has, with utility back Peta Hiku jumping ship to the Super League.

The versatile Hiku will join the Warrington Wolves until the end of the 2019 season.

Still only 24, Hiku has played for both the Manly Sea Eagles and the Panthers and until his long-term injury, he was a mainstay of the Penrith side.

In the end, the form of others was simply too good and Hiku sought a new opportunity and found this on at the Wolves, one he is grateful for.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and excited to come and join a great club,” said Hiku. Everyone has been very welcoming. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the club and the team. I just can’t wait to get over there and play some footy.”

“Everyone has been very welcoming. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the club and the team.

I just can’t wait to get over there and play some footy.”

Warrington coach Tony Smith knows his side needs some versatility and experience and was pleased with the signing.

“Having spoken to Peta, he’s excited about coming over and continuing his successful career here in Super League, giving us the boost in the positions we need,” Smith said.

“He’s a high-quality player with plenty of experience, having represented his country, so to come up with a quality signing like Peta is very exciting; he will add a lot to the group.

I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

Veteran Souths utility back makes the move to Leigh

Bryson Goodwin

Players always scour for the opportunities no matter how experienced they are and go where they feel it is right for their career at the present point.

For current South Sydney Rabbitohs utility back Bryson Goodwin, that new opportunity and challenges lie with the Leigh Centurions in the Super League after he signed a 2-year deal with the club.

With 164 games to his name in the NRL to date across three clubs – the Cronulla Sharks, the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs – the emergence of younger players and coach Michael Maguire’s insistence to play them perhaps forced Goodwin’s hand.

With that in mind, though, Goodwin said that the decision was the best one for his family, always an important factor.

“I had a choice to stay if I wanted to but it’s just a decision that myself and the family have to make,” said the veteran utility back.

“I just sort of thought about it and I look forward to doing it – it’s something different and a new experience.

“It’s very tough, I made a lot of friends here with all the staff and players. It’ll be a very sad day but in saying that, it’s a new adventure for me and my family that we’ll be looking forward to doing.”

In the market for an experienced and versatile back-line player, Leigh coach Neil Jukes believes that Goodwin is just the perfect fit for the flourishing club.

“I have followed Bryson’s career over past years and he has been one of the most consistent performers for his team.,” said Jukes.

“He has shown that again this year and as he can play fullback, centre or wing he also has great versatility.

“Those are areas where we need to add quality and Bryson reinforced his reputation when he had a very strong game against Brisbane Broncos and their form centre James Roberts in particular.

Jukes continued to place emphasis on Goodwin’s experience and just how invaluable that will be to the side.

“Bryson brings a wealth of experience, hardness and consistency and I look forward to welcoming him and his family to Leigh Centurions,” Jukes continued.

“When I spoke to Bryson over the phone, I could immediately tell that he has the appetite to achieve things over here and he is a good fit for us, just as we are for him.”

Leigh owner Derek Beaumont also weighed in, praising both Goodwin and the club for getting the signing done.

“Bryson is a proven quality NRL player and comes with a wealth of experience of top quality games,” said Beaumont.He is a player that has played every round this term and who was offered a contract out there, so this is a quality signing for the Club and gives us some quality out wide.

“He is a player that has played every round this term and who was offered a contract out there, so this is a quality signing for the Club and gives us some quality out wide.

As for Goodwin himself, the transition to Leigh is one he is looking forward to and will be made easier with friend Mitch Brown already at the club.

“I am really looking forward to joining Leigh Centurions and competing in the Super League Competition next season,” said Goodwin.

“The club is on the way up and I look forward to being part of their journey.

“I have a close friend already playing with the club, Mitch Brown, and he only has positive things to say about the Club.”

Fittler named as new Lebanon coach

Brad Fittler

In a tremendous boost for the Lebanese rugby league and their ambitions, they have announced that Brad Fittler as their new coach.

Fittler’s first primary task will be coaching the side at this year’s Rugby League World Cup and with a wealth of playing and coaching experience to his name, he looms as a key contributor to their success.

As someone who has been involved in developmental elements with other budding rugby league nations, Fittler is a perfect fit for the Cedars and will adopt the same approach.

“The opportunity to guide a developing nation to this year’s Rugby League World Cup was one that I’m eager to take up,” said Fittler.

“I also look forward to going to Lebanon to provide knowledge to assist them further develop their well-established local championships.”

Equally pleased – as you would expect – are the Lebanon Cedars themselves with CEO Remond Safi hailing the appointment as a positive one for Lebanese rugby league across the board.

“Brad’s appointment shows that the LRLF continues to pursue excellence of standards and is confident of competing in the World Cup behind an elite coach,” said Safi.

“The LRLF was really pleased with the calibre of candidates who applied for the role, but Brad’s ability and desire to engage with the Lebanese rugby league community, not just the national team, has been the most pleasing aspect of our discussions.

On behalf of the LRLF, I would like to welcome Brad on board and we are all really excited about working with him.”


Turner given immediate release to return to England

Jordan Turner

Opportunity is everything in rugby league nowadays and when an offer is too good to refuse, you take it. Jordan Turner did just that, signing with Super League side Huddersfield after being given an immediate release by the Canberra Raiders.

Joining the Raiders in pre-season, Turner has been playing for their feeder side Mounties in the Intrust Super Premiership.

He thanked the Raiders club for the opportunity they gave him.

“I want to thank the Raiders for the opportunity to come over to Australia and be a part of the Raiders squad,” said the utility.

“They understand the deal for me and my partner to return home to England to play for Huddersfield was too good for me to turn down.”

Experience in Australia is invaluable and something that Turner will use to his advantage back home.

“I’ve enjoyed my time with the Raiders and will take the experience with me as I return to the Super League,” said Turner.

I want to thank everyone at the Raiders and most of all the players for making me feel welcome while I’ve been in Canberra.”

No NRL return for Barba as he signs deal with St Helens

Ben Barba

With no likely return for this season possible for Ben Barba given the suspension he would have to serve for his prior indiscretion, the live-wire fullback has instead opted for a move to Super League side, St Helens.

Barba will join the Saints on a two-and-a-half-year deal after the club took advantage of an additional marquee exemption provision to the salary cap.

Still only 27, Barba has enjoyed his fair share of on-field success; winning the Dally M Medal in 2012 and an NRL premiership with the Cronulla Sharks in 2016.

With the need for such a player, St Helens coach Justin Holbrook praised the signing and believes Barba can and will perform for the club.

“I’ve known Ben for some time and am confident that he will add a new dimension to the Saints and is a great capture for Super League,” said Holbrook.

“He is a multi-talented and world-class rugby league player.

“Everyone in the team will benefit from him joining us and are really looking forward to his arrival. The fans also have a lot to look forward to.”

Rarely do players of Barba’s ability become available and Holbrook knew that he and the club had to jump at the chance.

“Given Ben’s abilities and reputation, his signing was extremely competitive and the Club have done exceptionally well to secure him,” Holbrook continued.

“It is not often that players of his calibre become available and the Club has pulled out all the stops to fight off competition from both rugby codes around the world.”

Spotted in the stands during St Helens clash over the Magic Weekend, speculation was rife that he would join them and Barba admits he met up with officials and players to talk about the club.

“I feel very privileged to be joining such a historic rugby league club as St.Helens,” said Barba. I was able to meet up with some of the players and key people from the Club at the Magic Weekend and know they are a great set of people. The fans also showed me just how passionate they are.

“I was able to meet up with some of the players and key people from the Club at the Magic Weekend and know they are a great set of people. The fans also showed me just how passionate they are.

The fans also showed me just how passionate they are.”

Family played a key role in Barba’s decision and the swiftness of the deal will allow he and his family to make a seamless transition to English life.

“I wanted to make an early decision so that I can get my family settled in England and kids enrolled at a school,” said Barba. I have certainly enjoyed my time in France at Toulon, but I am a rugby league player and St.Helens, especially with Justin Holbrook as head coach, have made me very comfortable with the decision.

“I have certainly enjoyed my time in France at Toulon, but I am a rugby league player and St.Helens, especially with Justin Holbrook as head coach, have made me very comfortable with the decision.

“I look forward to pulling the Saints’ jersey on and playing beside my new teammates as soon as possible.”

Currently, Barba is the subject of a 12-match ban from the NRL and the view of the RFL is that this ban also applies to playing Super League.

St Helens are expected to seek clarity on this issue.


Fringe Eels forward joins Super League side Salford

James Hasson

James Hasson was not without a club for long, signing with Super League outfit Salford Devils with immediate effect.

Recently released from his playing contract by the Parramatta Eels, Hasson was previously a member of the Manly Sea Eagles side and a part of their 2013 NRL grand final squad.

Making 40 appearances in total in the NRL, Hasson will provide the Salford team and forward pack with some international experience, having represented Ireland on numerous occasions.

Hasson drew praise from Salford coach Ian Watson who believes that the utility forward will be able to make an impact for the team.

“James is a player that adds some real competitiveness to our squad. We’ve had some injuries to our middles with Adam Walne and George Griffin, and James is exactly the kind of player that can step into that role. His NRL experience with Manly and Parramatta will be invaluable.

“James is a tough, no-nonsense player who runs hard and direct lines but also has the ability to play a good offload game. His defence is first-rate and he is a good fit for our style of play.

“His attitude and desire to come on board with us has been superb, and I’m sure he will slot straight into the playing group over the coming weeks.”

Club CEO Ian Blease is also pleased to see Hasson at the club.

“James is a player that brings a lot to the table both on and off the field,” Blease said.

“He has bought into the culture that Ian Watson is building here and has the talents to have a big impact on the second half of the season as we look to keep our place in the top four.”

The short statement from the Eels regarding Hasson’s release was as follows:

“Parramatta Eels have released James Hasson, effective immediately.

The English-born prop forward made his NRL debut for Manly in 2013, before joining Parramatta in 2016.

Parramatta Eels thank James for his contribution to our Club and wish him all the best for the future.”

Australian coach appointed to St Helens role

Justin Holbrook

Perhaps a surprise to some, St Helens have appointed Justin Holbrook as their new head coach on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

Looking for a new coach after the sacking of Kieron Cunningham, the club’s search took them overseas as well as national, on the lookout for a coach that is the right fit for their club and their goals.

In the end, a recent interview conducted with Holbrook was enough to convince the club that he was the man for the role.

“We are delighted to secure Justin; he is widely experienced and has a track record of coaching at the highest level,” Mike Rush, the club’s chief executive.

“He impressed us with his knowledge of the British game and his work with younger players,” Rush added.

Holbrook himself is looking forward to the role ahead and is well aware of the rich history of the club.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be the head coach of St Helens. The club has a rich and proud history and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity,” Holbrook said.

“St Helens are one of the top teams in the Super League competition with a history of success. I will be working hard to continue that tradition and I cannot wait to get started.”