Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Eels add Opacic, Papali’i and Lussick

Newly signed Parramatta Eels centre Tom Opacic

Needing reinforcements to round out their top 30, the Parramatta Eels have signed Tom Opacic, Isaiah Papali’i, and Joey Lussick. 

Opacic, who was most recently with the North Queensland Cowboys, has signed a one-year deal.

With 43 NRL games to his name, Opacic has a chance to add to that and start at the Eels, depending on what happens with Michael Jennings.

Papali’i, who was released by the Warriors a few weeks ago, joins the Eels on a two-year deal.

The versatile forward has played in 59 NRL games and has also represented both New Zealand and Samoa.

Newly signed Parramatta Eels forward Isaiah Papali’i

Lussick returns to the Eels after coming through the Eels pathways back in 2014 and 2015.

He made his debut in 2017 for the Manly Sea Eagles and has recently been playing in the Super League for the Salford Devils.

The signing of the trio was praised by Eels General Manager of Football Mark O’Neill, who backs all three to fit in with the club culture.

“We are excited to welcome Tom, Isaiah, and Joey and I have no doubt that these three men will be a great cultural fit with our club,” O’Neill said.

“All players will add class, depth, and balance to our overall squad and they will be relocating from their current destinations in readiness for the 2021 pre-season.”

Newly signed Parramatta Eels hooker Joey Lussick

Burr links up with Payten again at the Cowboys

Newly signed North Queensland Cowboys prop Lachlan Burr

The two know each other from their time at the New Zealand Warriors and Todd Payten and Lachlan Burr will now link up again at the North Queensland Cowboys.

The move to the Cowboys marks a new chapter for them both, as Burr looks to cement a spot in the Cowboys forward pack.

With the Warriors forward pack now jammed for spots, more opportunities may exist for Burr, who has played 61 NRL games.

Burr’s NRL debut came with the Canterbury Bulldogs, which was then followed by stints at the Gold Coast Titans and the Leigh Centurions.

Payten was pleased to have the chance to bring Burr over from the Warriors to the Cowboys.

“We’re really excited to bring Lachlan to North Queensland,” Payten said.

“He’s a big body, he’s got a good motor and he’s physical.

“On top of those on-field attributes, he’s a dedicated professional and a really good person.”

Watson to stay on with the Knights for 2021

Newcastle Knights utility Connor Watson

Injury robbed him of playing regularly in 2020 but Connor Watson will stay on with the Newcastle Knights for 2021.

The utility re-signed with the club and could not be happier to stay in the red and blue.

“It was an easy decision to re-sign,” Watson said.

“I feel like there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

“We are building something special here and I’m looking forward to being part of that.”

Watson admits that he was worried that he was injured, it meant uncertainty over his job security.

“Getting injured and not having a deal locked up for next year was pretty scary but I’m grateful the Club is putting their faith in me and have re-signed me,” Watson said.

“I want to thank the supporters and Club for making the last three years so enjoyable and I’m excited to continue building and hopefully bring a premiership to Newcastle.”

Aekins makes the move to the nation’s capital to link up with the Raiders

Newly signed Canberra Raiders fullback Caleb Aekins

Opportunity is everything in rugby league and Caleb Aekins will leave the Penrith Panthers and join the Canberra Raiders in search of it.

Aekins, still only 22, is a Penrith junior and has 12 games to his name to date, eight of which have come in 2020.

In the end, the chance at playing potentially more rugby league dawned on Aekins and he jumped at it.

“I’m really excited about joining the Raiders next season, they’re a great club and they have a record of giving players an opportunity, Aekins said.

“Before that though, I’m still committed to the Panthers and I’m ready to go if I’m needed before the end of the season.”

Peter Mulholland, the Raiders Recruitment and High-Performance Director looks forward to having Aekins at the club.

“Caleb is an exciting young player who we think will be a good fit for our squad next season,” Mulholland said.


Hetherington makes the move to the Bulldogs

New Canterbury Bulldogs signing Jack Hetherington

Continuing to build their roster for 2021, the Canterbury Bulldogs have now added Jack Hetherington for two seasons.

Hetherington, a talented prop at the Penrith Panthers, has been in and out of first-grade but when in, he has performed.

Although ill-discipline might let him down at times, his defensive pedigree and tough approach adds some starch to the Bulldogs pack.

As incoming coach Trent Barrett continues to mold his side accordingly, the addition of Hetherington gives the Bulldogs a boost.

A boost that club CEO Andrew Hill knows all too well as he looks forward to seeing Hetherington in the blue and white of the Bulldogs.

“Having someone of Jack’s ability want to be part of what we are building at Belmore is fantastic news for our Members and fans,” Hill said.

Jack is a quality young player who will add a great deal of starch to our forward pack and we believe that he will continue to develop under Head Coach Trent Barrett, who he has worked with in recent seasons.

We are continuing to build out the depth in our squad and we believe that Jack will be a real compliment to the group of forwards that we have.”

Titans rising star Boyd signs new deal with the club

Gold Coast Titans utility Tanah Boyd

Buoyed by their late-season resurgence in 2020, the Gold Coast Titans continue to add to their roster and have re-signed utility Tanah Boyd.

Boyd, who made his NRL debut in 2019, added to that in 2020 with 13 games under the Justin Holbrook coached Titans.

Still only 20, Holbrook knows it is important to blood the youngster in gradually as he looks to take on a bigger role in 2021.

“I think it is a really smart decision from our Club to extend Tanah,” Holbrook said.

“He’s 20-years-old and I’ve blooded him slowly into first grade and he’s done a really good job.”

With some uncertainty around the makeup of the Titans halves for 2021 and beyond, Holbrook expects Boyd to challenge for a position.

“Over the next couple of years, I expect him to really improve a lot and he wants to push for the halves starting position which he will do his best for and we’re confident he can get there,” Holbrook continued.

“It’s great that he is locked in for a couple of years now with us.”

NRL journey for Davey continues as he takes up deal with Manly

Newly signed Manly Sea Eagles forward Andrew Davey

Bursting onto the scene at 28 for the Parramatta Eels, Andrew Davey will change clubs from 2021 and head to the Manly Sea Eagles.

Davey, who was close to giving the game away prior to earning his first-grade opportunity at Parramatta, performed well.

His 10 first-grade games were enough to convince Manly that they needed to sign him and they have for two seasons.

The local Queenslander who spent time in the Queensland Cup with several sides brings some punch to the Manly pack.

Pleased with the signing, Manly knows just how important players of Davey’s quality are.

“Andrew will be a very handy acquisition and will add plenty of depth to our NRL squad,’’ Sea Eagles Recruitment and List Manager Noel Cleal said.

Broncos make another NRLW grand final with win over Dragons but coach rues mistakes

Brisbane Broncos prop Millie Boyle

It was not an easy win but the Brisbane Broncos fought hard to secure an 18-4 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRLW. 

The Dragons, whose loss was compounded by the injuries to star duo Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly, with their season now finished.

Both sides will also face nervous waits with Ali Brigginshaw (dangerous contact) and Shaylee Bent (crusher) put on report.

Despite sustaining some early pressure, the Broncos would hold on and be the first team to score.

After her four-try effort last week, Tamika Upton would turn provider to set up the Broncos opening try.

Taking the line on, she spiralled a ball out to Julia Robinson who cut inside, went low and grounded the ball to score.

Brigginshaw then stepped up when she burst through the line and found prop Millie Boyle on her inside to score under the posts.

At 12-0 at the break, the Dragons were not down and out, and they would open the scoring in the second half.

Opting to run it on the last tackle, Jess Sergis ran the perfect line off a Keeley Davis pass to crash over and cut the deficit to just eight points.

With the game evenly poised, the icing on the cake came when Lauren Brown burrowed over from dummy half.

Her try would seal the Broncos win, confirming their status as the most consistent side in the NRLW competition.

Despite his side’s win, the number of errors frustrated Broncos coach Kelvin Wright.

“As a performance, I wasn’t very pleased,” he said.

“I thought there was just too many errors.

“The start of the game I thought we created plenty of opportunities but we just pushed it too early.

“I just thought our end-of-sets were quite poor as well. We didn’t really get to our kick much and our choices weren’t great.”

Dragons coach Daniel Lacey was not happy post-match, particularly at the hair-pulling incident that then saw Isabelle Kelly injured.

“I’ve coached women’s footy for a while now and I’ve coached a lot of young girls, and when you pull someone’s hair you let go. You let go. You don’t go on with it,” Lacey said post-match.

“I don’t think it’s a reportable offence by the rules, but you’ve seen the consequences of what happened.

“I’ve lost my best player, my best outside back. She’s shattered, she’s in a moon boot. Just let go. It’s all that needs to be said.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Millie Boyle (BRI)

2. Jess Sergis (SGI)

  1. Tallisha Harden (BRI)
St George Illawarra Dragons centre Jess Sergis

Temara shines as Roosters record win over Warriors in NRLW

Sydney Roosters prop Filomina Hanisi

Looking to win their second game this NRLW season, the Sydney Roosters managed to just that, with a 22-12 success over the New Zealand Warriors.

Led by half Zahara Temara, who controlled the game well with her kicking, the Roosters just had too much firepower for the Warriors.

Having done all the hard work, the Roosters have now put themselves in the box seat to make the grand final.

It was a raid down the right-hand side that saw Yasmin Meakes open the scoring in the contest.

The Roosters centre powered past her opposite number to dive over the line and score.

Quincy Dodd then proved once again how lethal she is out of dummy half with a near carbon copy of her try last week.

Close to the line and spotting a gap, Dodd darted over to score with ease and extend the Roosters lead.

Temara then did it all herself with a 50 m solo effort, busting through the line and evading several Warriors defenders to score.

Bobbi Law would put the game to bed with a crafty try after 50 minutes at 24-0.

Though not to be held scoreless, the Warriors dug deep at the death.

Kirra Dibb would score the Warriors first when she grubbered ahead for herself and won the race to the ball.

Off the kick-off and essentially the last play of the game, Simone Smith found Evania Pelite who coasted away to score.

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Filimona Hanisi (SYD)

2. Zahara Temara (SYD)

  1. Kennedy Cherrington (SYD)
Sydney Roosters utility Zahara Temara

Titans sign Herbert to strengthen back-line depth

Newly signed Gold Coast Titans winger Patrick Herbert

Told he could look elsewhere by the New Zealand Warriors, Patrick Herbert has found a new home, signing with the Gold Coast Titans for 2021.

With 21 games to his name to date, 13 of which came this past season, Herbert provides the Titans with much-needed depth.

The Titans finished 2020 strongly and Herbert is excited to be at the club as they look to build on that late run of form in 2021.

“I can’t wait to play footy with the group that is at the Titans already and with the lads that are coming next season,” Herbert said.

“The team finished the season really strongly and I’m excited by what we can do next year.”

Herbert will not be alone, with his partner’s family on the Gold Coast and former Warrior Sam Lisone now also at the Titans.

“I know a few of the guys already and I obviously know Sammy (Lisone) who used to be at the Warriors, so I’m looking forward to getting into pre-season and meeting the rest of the squad,” Herbert continued.

“I’m having another baby soon and this also gives us a great opportunity to be closer to my partner’s family, so as well as being excited about the on-field opportunities at the Gold Coast, the move is also great for my family.”