Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Dave Taylor returns to Australia after sacking from Toronto

Dave Taylor

Just days after parting ways with the Toronto Wolfpack for twice breaking curfew, Dave Taylor is back in Australia and headed back to where it all began.

At 29 and his career at somewhat of a crossroads, Taylor will link up with his former schoolboy mentor in a bid to resurrect his career.

With the two-year deal all sorted – the second year of which is an apparent option in the club’s favour – Taylor’s schoolboy mentor Terry Hansen hopes that Taylor uses this contract to get his career back on track.

Originally from the Rockhampton region, the move suits Taylor as it puts him closer to family and friends.

Additionally, the man they call ‘the Coal Train’ will have the chance to work alongside schoolboy mentor Hansen once again who coached Taylor at St Brendan’s College in Yeppoon.

Hansen wants to see Taylor succeed and knows that if he is to do that, he has to believe in himself first.

“It all depends what he does with this opportunity,” Hansen said.

“He is only 29 and has another four or five years left in him if he gets fit and gets fair dinkum.

“I just want to see him do his very best and get himself another crack at an  NRL contract and finish his career on the right note.”

With a chance to prove the doubters wrong, Hansen believes the influence of his family and of his mother could be the push Taylor needs to succeed once again.

“Dave has been easily led in the past and now he needs to stay out of trouble, but [living back at home]  could be his way back because the one person who can have a big influence on his life is his mother,” Hansen continued.

 “There are plenty of players in the past who have been in strife and turned it all around and I hope Dave can be one of them.”
The club is pleased to have Taylor on board and are hopeful that he can make the most of the chance in what is a coup and a boost for their squad.

“Obviously it’s huge for the whole region to have Dave back in town and representing the region he grew up in and the area he went to school in as well,” CQ Capras coach Kim Williams said.

“He trained with us just before Christmas in preparation for the season ahead and as things have turned out he’s ended up back here and obviously we’re welcoming him with open arms.

“It’s a massive coup for our club to have a player of his quality on board and I think with our squad we’ll see some huge benefits.”

Live-wire Dragons fullback signs contract extension

Matthew Dufty

Hugely talented and highly rated by St George Illawarra Dragons fans, live-wire fullback Matthew Dufty has signed a contract extension with the club.

Off-contract at the end of this upcoming season, the Dragons made the decision to re-sign Dufty until the end of the 2019 season, a 1-year extension.

After making his debut in Rd 20 of the 2017 season, Dufty featured in all of the remaining Dragons games and right now, there is no place he would rather be.

“It’s great to be here for another year. I thought being at the Dragons was the best opportunity for me moving forward in my rugby league career,” Dufty said.

 “Last season was a big milestone in my life and moving forward to 2018, I’m very excited about the position I currently find myself in.
A local junior, Dufty is excited to continue his tenure with the club.

“It means the world to be where I’m at now,” Dufty continued.

“Coming through the St George ranks and being a local junior, it’s great to be able to remind kids that you can play for the team you dreamed of playing for.”

Equally pleased are the club, who knows how talented Dufty is and how crucial he is for the club moving forward.

“It’s always good news when a local junior re-signs. To lock him in for another 12 months is really good considering the number of young kids we have in our squad,” Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said.

“Anyone who is a Dragons fan would know that Matt is one of the most exciting Under-20s players we’ve ever had.

“Last year he made the step up to the NRL and he’s had a fantastic pre-season so far.”

The club also looks forward to seeing Dufty establish himself as a genuine part of their spine.

“There is now an opportunity for Matt to establish himself as a fullback with the other outstanding members of our spine in Gareth Widdop, Ben Hunt and Cameron McInnes,” continued Millward.

“It’s exciting for us because if he does step up to the mark as we expect him to then we could have a spine that plays together for a very long time.”

Train and trial pays dividends as Wigan centre signs with the Warriors

Anthony Gelling

Once upon a time, Anthony Gelling fell under the New Zealand Warriors brand when he was a player with then feeder side, the Auckland Vulcans. 

From there, however, he opted for a successful move to Super League side the Wigan Warriors.

In that time, he won a grand final and a World Club Challenge with the Wigan side.

In the end, it was variables away from rugby league that brought about his return to New Zealand and ultimately the Warriors.

The veteran centre is looking forward to the opportunity presented to him and grateful to be around his family again.

“Rugby league wasn’t the reason I came home,” Gelling said.

“I’d had six seasons in England and I really wanted to be back in New Zealand around my family. I’m grateful for everything Wigan did for me and for allowing me to head home early.

“I wasn’t sure what would happen with my career but the opportunity came up to train with the Vodafone Warriors this week and now I’m excited about signing for the club.”

Gelling has represented the Cook Islands and scored 52 times for Wigan, adding experience to a stacked back-line for 2018.

“It’s a stroke of luck for us that Anthony has come back,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.

“He proved himself in the Super League and has immediately impressed us at training this week.

“We’re thrilled we’ve been able to add him to our squad.

He brings size and some special skills, providing further depth and increasing competition among our outside backs.”

Dragons back-rower granted release to join Manly

Joel Thompson

In a move that has left St George Illawarra Dragons fans bitter, their previous fan favourite back-rower Joel Thompson will head to Manly next season, after signing a 2-year deal.

With 174 NRL games to his name so far for both the Canberra Raiders and the Dragons, his signing is one that has been very welcomed by the Manly faithful.

“Joel is a player I have admired for a long time. I coached him in the Country team a couple of years ago,’’ Barrett said.

“Not only is Joel a terrific bloke and a terrific leader but he is extremely competitive and very tough. He is a professional.”

HIs first-grade experience is a timely boost for the Manly pack as they look to strengthen their squad for 2018.

“Joel has played plenty of first-grade and his experience is something I thought our squad needed,” continued Barrett.

Not only will the team benefit from it but also a lot of our young individuals will benefit too from having someone like Joel around.”

With Thompson revered for his on-field professionalism and off-field heart, the Manly club is pleased to have him on board.

“Joel brings a strong passion and commitment through not just his on-field performances but also his off-field contribution to the community,” Manly Sea Eagles CEO Lyall Gorman said.

“His dedication to adding value across the community is an area to which our Club is genuinely committed and one for which Joel was recently recognised through being the well-served recipient of the NRL Ken Stephen Medal for Community Service.”

In the end, although Thompson admits that it was a tough decision to leave, he had to do what was best for his family.

“It’s an emotional day leaving this great club but with three girls and a young family, I had to make that decision [to request a release],” Thompson said.

“It’s going to be really tough leaving the staff, the players and the fans.

Everyone has been unbelievable to me and I can’t thank them enough.”

Although he is leaving, Thompson praised the Dragons club, community and fans for the way they treated him and respected him.

“I’ve not only grown as a footballer but as a person at the Dragons,” he continued.

“Everyone has helped me so much and I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful for what they’ve done for me.

“Thank you to the Red V Members and fans for all the support you’ve given me over the years.”

In the end, with the Dragons having plentiful depth within their tea, Thompson leaves knowing that young crop of players are ready to play.

I encourage you to get behind this great team. They have plenty of potential and are going to play some really good football.

 “That was another part of my decision, I believe the young guys coming through now will step up, make that role their own and take this club to where it deserves to be.”

Hulking back-rower re-signs with the Dragons

Luciano Leilua

After much conjecture as to whether or not he would stay with the club, the St George Illawarra Dragons have announced the re-signing of hulking back-rower Luciano Leilua for a further two seasons.

Off-contract at the end of the 2018 season, the local Hurstville United junior will look to add to his first-grade tally after making his debut in 2016.

Earning Illawarra RLFC’s Intrust Super Premiership Player of the Year Award, Leilua did not add to his first-grade games tally in 2017.

The club, however, is thrilled to have Leilua retained as they continue to push him and train him to become adept to the NRL standard.

“Luciano is a player who has come through all of our junior ranks and we believe he’s one of the most skilful players in our Top 30,” Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said.

“Luciano is very important to us with his size and athleticism.”

“2017 has been a real education year for Luciano. He was in a position where he had to learn the demands of playing outside the Under-20s and full-time training, and we really believe he’s grown as a person as a result.”

The club and Millward are confident that 2018 is set to be a big year for the promising talent.

“His training this pre-season has been outstanding,” continued Millward.

“There’s been a complete physical and mental change about the way he goes about his business.

We really believe 2018 is going to be a super year for Luciano.”

In the end, the decision was an easy one for Leilua who is proud to don the Red V jersey.

“I’m very excited to remain with my junior club. I’m really stoked to be here and it means the world to re-sign,” Leilua said.

“2017 was a rollercoaster year for me. I learnt a lot off the big boys while I continued learning my trade in the ISP.

I wanted to return to pre-season training in good shape so I could give myself the best opportunity to play in the NRL in 2018.”

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.

Papua New Guinean speedster flies the coop to Perpignan

David Mead

On the back of what was a successful individual Rugby League World Cup campaign, David Mead has opted to sign for Super League side, the Catalan Dragons.

Mead has signed a three-year deal with the Perpignan-based club, a move that has come as a shock to some given that he could have continued to play NRL.

Despite that, Mead opted to sign for Catalans and is grateful for the new opportunity presented to him.

“My family and I are grateful for the opportunity given to us by the Dragons,” said Mead.

“I enjoyed my time at the Broncos under the command of Wayne Bennett but I am now eager to discover France and its culture and meet my new teammates and staff in a few weeks. ”

Playing in more than 150 NRL games for the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos, as well as in more than 10 internationals for Papua New Guinea, the club is excited at the prospect of seeing Mead play in their colours.

“He is a superb rookie not only for our club but also for the competition in general,” Catalans coach Steve McNamara said.

“His exceptional speed and offensive assets have been recognized in NRL for several years, qualities that he further improved during his recent performances with Papua New Guinea during the World Cup.

I am convinced that he will quickly become one of the favorite players of the Catalan fans who will love to see him in action. ”

Leadership is such a key aspect for many senior players in today’s day of rugby league and Catalans hope that Mead can build on his experiences as Papua New Guinea captain at the World Cup.

“To have been named the captain of his country was the perfect opportunity for him to show his leadership qualities and we are looking forward to seeing him further develop this aspect of his game at Dragons,” McNamara continued.

“We had to work very hard, particularly with Christophe Jouffret, to make this agreement and the transfer happen. To sign a foreign player of this calibre becomes more and more difficult and we strike a big blow with this player who will be an added value for us but also for the competition of Super League as a whole. “

Talented Roosters half cites ‘a new home’ behind decision to stay

Luke Keary

With all the focus on the big-name recruits that the Sydney Roosters have signed for the 2018 season, other names fell by the wayside somewhat. 

With players to re-sign and recommit, the Roosters had their work cut out in retaining their stars but have held onto Luke Keary, who has committed to the club for a further three seasons until the end of 2021.

The 25-year old half was already contracted for the 2018 season and played in every game for the Tricolours in 2017.

In his eyes, the Roosters club is his new home and he is excited to continue playing for the foundation club.

“I’ve found a home here at the Roosters, and each day I come in, I’m learning something new, so I’m really glad to extend my time here,” Keary said.

With Keary a focal point of the Roosters spine alongside new halfback Cooper Cronk, the club are pleased to retain him.

“Luke is a quality person who loves his footy and is always working on his game,” Robinson said.

“As I said a few months ago, barring the nine minutes he spent in the sin bin, Luke didn’t miss a moment of game time for us in 2017, and that’s a testament to how hard he works.”

“On and off the field, Luke has become a big contributor in all aspects of Club life, so its great news for the Roosters to have him on board for a further three years.”

Veteran fullback makes the jump North and signs with Titans

Michael Gordon

In desperate need of both some experience and some back-line versatility, when the opportunity arose to sign Michael Gordon, the Gold Coast Titans pounced. 

After just one year at the Sydney Roosters, Gordon is moving on but he quickly became a fan favourite at the club and admits that his time there, albeit short, was special to him.

“I might have only been with the Roosters for a year, but the impact of the Club on me and my family has been huge,” Gordon said.

This definitely hasn’t been an easy decision, but I feel that it’s in the best interests of my family by allowing us to move back home,” said Gordon.

Gordon received the blessing from the Roosters to pursue the new opportunity and it allows him to move closer to his family who are based on the Tweed Coast where Gordon is from.

“It’s with reluctance that the Club has granted this release, but first and foremost, Michael is a husband and father, and we respect the reason for his request,” Roosters recruitment manager Adam Hartigan said.

“While his leadership and experience will be missed, we didn’t want to prevent Michael taking up the opportunity to secure his future for the next two years.”

Gordon continued with praise of his own for the Roosters and for the way he was treated by the fans and the club.

“I can’t speak highly enough about the Roosters,” continued Gordon.

“From Robbo and the coaches to my teammates and all the staff, everyone at the Club has been like family, and while I might be moving on, I’ll always be grateful for my time at the Club and to have represented the Roosters.”

Since debuting for the Penrith Panthers, Gordon has played in 225 NRL games with the Panthers, the Parramatta Eels, the Sydney Roosters and is expected to add to that at the Gold Coast Titans.

The man himself is excited about joining the club and working alongside Garth Brennan.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to return home and to play for the Titans,” Gordon said.

“I had a good conversation with Garth and the future looks bright.

“I hope I can contribute and be part of a successful club here on the Gold Coast.”

With young talent always coming through on the Gold Coast, Brennan sees Gordon as the perfect man to help guide them and their transition into the top-flight.

“Michael is a player that everyone loves playing with and is the ultimate professional in every aspect of the game,” Brennan said.

“We have a number of young players in the squad and Michael will help them with their development as well as be a leader amongst the group.”

“His experience, as well as his ability as a goal kicker, will make him a valuable commodity here at the Titans.”

 

Roosters forward Liu signs new long-term deal

Isaac Liu

An unsung hero in the Sydney Roosters forward pack amidst some genuine stars, Isaac Liu has re-signed with the club until the end of the 2021 season.

Joining the club’s lower grades in 2011, Liu has never looked back and since making his first-grade debut in the 2013 season, he has played 108 NRL games to date.

The New Zealand international is pleased to have his future sorted at the club.

“I’m proud to represent the Roosters,” Liu said.

“The Club means a lot to me and to know that this is where I will continue to work on and develop my game is something I’m very excited about.”

Liu drew praise from coach Trent Robinson particularly for his work ethic and willingness to perform consistently.

“I’ve really enjoyed watching Isaac develop over the last five years,” Robinson said.

“He has an outstanding work ethic, and he is highly respected by all his teammates and staff, so it’s great that he will continue to play his role at the Roosters for a further three years.”