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.”
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.”
With the Wolves keen on building a strong culture, club coach Steve Price believes Clark embodies that style.
“Having coached against Jason for a number of years, he typifies what we are building here at our club,” said Price.
“He’s a grand final winner and understands what a winning culture is.
He is selfless; everything is about the team on and off the field.”
With rugby league very much a team game, his relationships with team-mates drew the Wolves towards him.
“He understands hard work and it’s players like Jason who help to make a team a success,” continued Price.
“He’s the type of player who players love playing with and Sam Burgess recently classed him as one of his greatest ever team mates.
Price then went on to talk about and praise Clark’s on-field ability.
“There’s a lot to his game as he has ball-playing ability and an offload in there too,” said Price.
“We feel he can bring us something different and he’s a first-class guy to go with it.
We are very pleased to have signed Jason to our club from next season and he’s going to be a great acquisition.”
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.”
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.”
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.