Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Storm strengthen back-line stocks with signing of Eels centre

Ryan Morgan

They were linked to numerous back-line players but the Melbourne Storm have got their man, signing Ryan Morgan from the Parramatta Eels for the remainder of the season.

The Storm, who have had some back-line injuries in recent weeks needed the depth, and a player like Morgan will provide that for them.

A Parramatta junior, Morgan made his debut for the club in 2011 and in that time, played in a total of 84 NRL games for the Eels.

The Storm welcome Morgan to their roster and know that his experience will be crucial.

“Ryan will very much be a welcomed addition to our squad, adding much needed depth to our outside backs,” said the Storm’s Football Director, Frank Ponissi.

“We also see Ryan’s signing as an opportunity to bring further experience to our roster.”

The Eels released a short statement on Morgan’s release:

Dyldam Parramatta Eels centre Ryan Morgan has been granted a short-term release to take up an agreement with the Melbourne Storm.

The deal will see Morgan sign with the Storm for the remainder of 2016, with an option to return to the Eels in 2017.

The Eels wish him all the best for his future and thank him for his 85 games in Blue and Gold.

Late bloomer re-signs with the Titans

Anthony Don

He only made his debut at 25 years of age in 2013 but since then, Anthony Don has not looked back in his rugby league career. He may have been in and out at various stages but he has signed a new two-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans.

Don expressed his relief to have his playing future sorted so early and is excited to be a part of a developing squad.

“I love the Gold Coast and the Titans and would love to be a one-club man,” said Don.

“I wasn’t looking to go anywhere else and now I can concentrate on the rest of the season and winning my spot back in the team without the distraction of worrying about my contract situation.”

With 30 tries in 52 games for the winger – nicknamed #IsDonIsGood – he drew praise from Titans coach Neil Henry.

“Anthony has shown he is a smart winger who knows how to find the tryline and is good under the high ball,” he said.

“Every club needs good clubmen like him. He is always willing to learn, is still improving and he’s got plenty of NRL football ahead of him.

“And he is one of several players from the Northern Rivers and NSW North Coast region which we regard as an important development area.”

Veteran back-rower signs with Tigers to give much needed forward boost

Elijah Taylor

Heavily under-utilised at the Penrith Panthers this year, Elijah Taylor has been granted a release by the club and has signed with the Wests Tigers for the remainder of the 2016 season.

The Kiwi international has played 10 Tests for his country and played in 106 NRL games to date, adding much needed starch and experience to a young Tigers pack.

With a new opportunity and a new chance to impress, Taylor is excited and keen to make the most of it.

“It’s really good to be here at Wests Tigers,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get into training and meet all of the boys next week.

“There is a good opportunity to play first grade football at the Club.

“I haven’t played a lot of first grade this year so I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”

The Tigers boast a decent mix of youthful players and players with experience, and Taylor is excited to play with them all.

“It’s a really young squad with a lot of potential here at the Club, you can see that with the natural talent and flair,” he added.

“I’m also looking forward to working with experienced players such as Robbie Farah and Aaron Woods, while also playing some good football with Wests Tigers.”

Although the current deal is only for the remainder of the 2016 season, Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe says the club and Taylor look forward to developing a sound relationship.

“It just shows the positive direction that this Club is heading that we are able to attract a New Zealand International mid-season. It’s a really positive sign for the Club and we are committed to building a really strong roster at Wests Tigers,” Pascoe said.

“We have initially signed Elijah for the remainder of the 2016 season but we look forward to developing a long-term relationship for him as the year progresses.”

With NSW Residents commitments this week, Tigers coach Jason Taylor looks forward to seeing his namesake join the club and train with the players from next week.

“It’s a real coup for the Club to get Elijah on board,” Taylor said.

“He is a high quality player who can play for 80 minutes in the forwards.

“Elijah’s defence in the middle is as good as any player in the game so he will be a real asset for us and we are all really excited to have him join the Club.

“I’m looking forward to him joining us for training next week once his commitments with the NSW Residents side are completed,” he said.

Storm steamroll Titans to cement top four spot

Cooper Cronk

The Gold Coast Titans have proved they are no easybeats in 2016, yet they proved no match for a rampant Melbourne Storm side, who powered on seven tries to nil to win 38-0 at Cbus Super Stadium.

In what was Craig Bellamy’s 350th NRL game as an NRL coach, it was not the best start with three of their regular backs ruled out close to kick-off.

However, in true Bellamy fashion, he did not fret or panic. Quite simply, he just moved some forwards to the centres such as Tohu Harris, and they had a field day against the Titans backs all game.

It was sheer dominance all-round by the Storm in numerous facets of the game and no matter what the Titans threw at the Storm, they had all the answers in both attack and defence.

Not everything went the way of the Storm, though, with back-rower Kenny Bromwich sent off for attempting to throw a punch in a scuffle during the game.

The Titans poor completion let them down and allowed the Storm into attacking territory and as the Titans found out – as did many others – the Storm will capitalise if you let them.

With several omissions prior to the game, the Titans did give it their all but were no match for the Storm, who despite criticism from some in the past, are firing on all cylinders.

With several injuries to their back-line, Bellamy was forced to play Suliasi Vunivalu several weeks back and he has been impressed with the young Fijian.

“It was forced on us to be quite honest but I must say, how he’s handled it has been outstanding,” Bellamy said.

“We all knew he had a lot of ability athletically and footy wise as well but what he’s actually shown is probably more than we actually thought. He didn’t play a whole heap last year because of injury so he’s probably only played 20-30 games of rugby league in his life.

“He makes some of the hard things look really easy at times and other times he might make the easy things look a little bit hard but we’re really happy with how he’s going.

He’s a tremendous kid off the field, he’s really respectful and hard working and hopefully he can get a decent run with injuries we think we might have a player on our hands.”

Titans coach Neil Henry calls it like he sees it and post-game, he was blunt. His side was never in the contest.

“We were never in that game,” said Henry..

“It’s how you react to the fact that you keep plugging away at what you know works and then you try and turn it around. Our confidence is pretty good about being in contests and being able to score some points but not today.

“That’s a hiding and we don’t need to dwell on it but we need to react to it. It can’t be something that weighs us down too much because it’s gone.”

Player of the Game:

3. Cooper Cronk
2. Tohu Harris
1. Jesse Bromwich

Melbourne Storm 38 (Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Cooper Cronk 2, Cheyse Blair, Tohu Harris, Blake Green tries; Cameron Smith 5 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 0. Crowd: 10,214. Half-time: Storm 20-0. Sin-binned: Kenny Bromwich (Storm, punching). Holden Cup: Storm 26-18.

Inexperienced Warriors side overcomes adversity to defeat Dragons

Russell Packer

Wielding the axe due to several players not attending a compulsory team meeting, the New Zealand Warriors team that played was very different to one that fans had been used to in the past.

Sporting several debutants and young players, there was enough experience there to give them a chance and they took it, defeating the St George Illawarra Dragons 26-10 at Mt Smart Stadium.

It was a different story from last week where they were thrashed by the Storm, with an improved performance in both attack and defence the catalyst for their win.

With three tries to their name in the first forty minutes, the Warriors showed some defensive resiliency, holding the Dragons out for the duration of the second half.

There was every chance for the Dragons to hit back and change things up and given their attacking opportunities and possession, you would expect them to do so.

However, it was not to be the case, as inopportune errors led to incomplete sets and it proved telling, as they were unable to penetrate the Warriors defensive line.

The win will take some pressure off coach Andrew McFadden, as he enjoys the win, the Warriors fourth of the season.

With teams having a week off due to the upcoming representative round, the win was one of relief for McFadden.

“Very similar to the players I imagine; relief is a big one,” McFadden said.

“It’s been a big week, and probably not many people understand how big of a week that was for the players and how much pressure they were under.”

Pre-match, McFadden could see the hunger in his players’ eyes and that was a telling factor for him.

“I saw a real steel in their eyes, particularly from our senior players, I thought they did a terrific job leading this week and it was good to see they all brought a lot of energy,” he said.

Despite the loss, one player he drew praise from Dragons coach Paul McGregor was Russell Packer.

“His talk was excited, he wanted to come back and play well and prove that he has worked really hard to be in the position he is,” McGregor said.

“I thought certainly in patches he did that… it was good that he could come back over, see family and friends again and play football again where he grew up.”

Player of the Game:

3. Russell Packer
2. David Fusitu’a
1. Shaun Johnson

Warriors 26 (Shaun Johnson, Matthew Allwood, Charlie Gubb, Jeff Robson tries; Johnson 5 goals) defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 10 (Euan Aitken, Kalifa Faifai Loa tries; Gareth Widdop 1 goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Half-time: Warriors 18-10. Crowd 12,752.

Roosters cruise to easy victory over Newcastle

Isaac Liu

The Sydney Roosters did indeed win the game but the focus was instead on the return of both Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who both had lengthy stints on the sideline.

In the end, both contributed in their own way to the Roosters victory, as the Tricolours cruised home to a comfortable 38-0 win over the Newcastle Knights at Allianz Stadium.

It was the first time that the Roosters had defeated the Knights to nil, as they proved far too strong for a spirited yet unorganised Knights side.

As the match wore on, the Roosters gained momentum and it eventually the pressure was telling as they crossed the white line to score.

The game could have been different had a Knights try to Pat Mata’utia been allowed, but the bunker ruled an obstruction in the lead-up.

Showing their attacking flair, the Roosters stepped it up a gear and the Knights had no answers to stop it.

Recently selected by Mal Meninga for the Australian Kangaroos squad, Blake Ferguson ended up with a hat-trick, justifying his selection in the eyes of some.

Rather than sit back and relax, the Roosters went for the kill, piling on more points and heaping more misery onto the Knights.

Jackson Hastings finished with 7 from 7 with the boot, as the Roosters look to continue this momentum in coming weeks.

Returning after his off-field incident, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was not surprised at the impact Pearce had.

“I wasn’t surprised with how well he played,” Robinson said.

“It’s a real credit to him on what he’s done and we’ve been lucky enough to see when he came back how well he was talking, how well he was clear with his training and physical and the way that he sees the game.

“He’s been ready for at least a month to play. We had our conductor back and it allowed us to move around freely around him.”

With the Knights suffering from a fair few injuries, coach Nathan Brown admitted they are playing busted and so the break comes at a good time for the club.

“We’ll have a little bit of training early in the week and then at the back end of the week they’ll need some time away,” Brown said.

“We’re pretty much down to only 18 players so there are some blokes playing today that obviously have bodies that aren’t in the best state at the minute but we’ve only got 18 blokes left.

“Even our 18th man probably wasn’t quite fit to play either so thankfully we didn’t have to introduce him. There are a few fair guys out there [who are busted] so a week off is timely.

“I don’t suspect we’ll get anyone back over the next couple of weeks but at least the bodies that are playing will get a good rest which will be pleasing.”

With the Roosters win, it has fans and pundits dreaming – is it possible to make the finals despite their poor start beforehand?

“It’s one win and we know where we’re sitting on the ladder now,” Jake Friend, Roosters captain said.

“It was a good performance, but I think for us it’s got to be the standard now and we’ve got to keep moving forward.

“Hopefully we can string a few on the trot to get us in a position to fight for that top eight spot at the back end of the season. The belief is definitely there between the boys.”

Player of the Game:

3. Isaac Liu
2. Blake Ferguson
1. Latrell Mitchell

Sydney Roosters 38 (Blake Ferguson 3, Mitchell Pearce, Isaac Liu, Mitchell Aubusson tries; Jackson Hastings 7 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 0 at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 14-0 Roosters. On report: Korbin Sims.

Thriller in Bathurst decided by late Wallace field goal

Tyrone Peachey

Both teams went toe-to-toe with the other and pushed each other all the way and ultimately, it was a 1-point margin that decided the clash between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders.

In the end, a late field goal from veteran Peter Wallace was the difference but it was not without controversy.

Never one to shy away from voicing his opinion, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was left seething at the no-call decision on an obstruction during that play.

“There’s a rule in place where you’re not allowed to have blockers to impede a player that is chasing to block a field goal,” Stuart said.

“We had a player that was impeded by two blockers.

“We were impeded by a wall of players. That’s a rule that you’re not allowed to do anymore.”

For the better half of 50 minutes, the Panthers were the team making better opportunities and making the most of them, before the Raiders late flurry got them back into the contest.

With two late tries to tie things up at 18-all, the Raiders continued to attack the Penrith line but it held firm.

Although the Penrith attack deserted them late in the second half and lacked fluidity, it was the calmness and experience of Peter Wallace that proved vital.

With a couple of minutes remaining, the ball came to him and cool under pressure, he slotted it home to give the Panthers a 19-18 win at Bathurst’s Carrington Park.

By his own admission, the game itself was scrappy but Penrith captain Matt Moylan was pleased that his side wrestled back momentum.

“It was a bit scrappy,” Moylan said.

“We didn’t complete many sets that whole second half.

“Lucky enough we sort of swung that around at the end and knocked the field goal over.”

Although their attack was not as fluid as last week, Stuart was pleased with how his side bounced back.

“We didn’t execute a few things as well as we can but the way we worked ourselves back in the game and got in a position to win was terrific from my point of view,” he said.

Player of the Game:

3. Tyrone Peachey
2. Joey Leilua
1. Jarrod Croker

Penrith Panthers 19 (Cartwright, Peachey, Hiku tries; Soward 2 goals, Wallace field goal) defeated Canberra Raiders 18 (Vaughan, Rapana 2 tries; Croker 3 goals) at Carrington Park.

Clash lives up to the billing as Eels win in gritty performance over rivals

Brad Takairangi

With a lot happening off the field at the Parramatta Eels – including the ongoing salary cap talk and the recent Kieran Foran incident that has seen him address his personal issues and thus have time away from the game – on it, against rivals the Canterbury Bulldogs, they dug deep and fought hard to secure a 20-12 win.

In front of a crowd of over 31,000 at ANZ Stadium, it was the second time the Eels defeated the Bulldogs this season, in yet another gritty display from the blue and gold.

Injuries both pre-game and during the game resulted in numerous re-shuffles, with the absence of Kieran Foran resulting in Brad Takairangi playing in the halves.

On the field, the injuries also continued, with Tim Mannah (shoulder blade), Michael Gordon (corked thigh) and Danny Wicks (concussion) all off the field at one point.

Wicks did eventually return but for long portions, the Eels were forced to play with just one fit player on the bench.

It was the Bulldogs who burst out of the blocks, after they capitalised on some poor Eels defence out wide for Curtis Rona to score in the corner.

The Bulldogs almost had a second soon after to Rona, but some spirited goal-line defence managed to hold up the hulking winger when it mattered.

Many fans were left disappointed with the performance of the referees, who missed forward passes from both sides, with the Eels late first-half try clearly involving a forward pass yet it was not called.

The changes to the Eels side proved a downfall to begin with as players became accustomed to the roles but they fond their mojo as the game wore on.

The Eels first try came from a spectacular offload by Beau Scott close to the line, who then found Brad Takairangi storming through to score.

With the Dogs pressing hard for points as the game wore on, the Eels defence held firm as it has many times this season, restricting the Dogs attack.

Working hard for each other to win, the Eels team is not about excuses. Coach Brad Arthur knows in past weeks, they could have made some but they did not and fought hard instead.

“I’m very proud of our playing group at the moment,” said Arthur.

“There’s been ample opportunities over the last four, five, six weeks where we could find excuses if we really wanted to and again this week there’s a couple of excuses. At half-time there’s a couple of excuses if we really want to find them and it was a tough game.”

Arthur knew he had a decision to make and opted for Takairangi at five-eighth, a move which paid dividends.

“He’s been itching to get in there for a while. ‘Takas’ is a really good footballer, he’s got a good footy head. He kept it nice and simple tonight, he stuck to his strengths and it worked for us,” Arthur said.

Halves partner Corey Norman, who also enjoyed a quality game of his own, praised the efforts of Takairangi.

“He’s good, I thought he played out of his skin, he did his job and didn’t try too much. He played really well for the team and that’s what we needed from him,” said Norman.

Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was pleased with elements of his side’s performance but admits that their defence was soft at times.

“I thought we contained them pretty well in the first half, I thought we dominated pretty well, I thought we did pretty well in the first half and they didn’t make much metres,” Hasler said.

“Probably the try right on half time hurt a little bit, 12-6 to 12-10. We’re a little bit disappointed with the tries they scored. From our point of view, a defensive point of view they were reasonably soft tries.”

3. Brad Takairangi
2. David Klemmer
1. Clinton Gutherson/Corey Norman

Parramatta Eels 20 (Takairangi, Gutherson, Norman, Toutai tries; Gordon, Gutherson goals) defeated Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 (Rona, Morris tries; Holland 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: Canterbury 12-10. Crowd: 31,815.

Tigers snap six-game losing streak but lose Tedesco to injury

Sam Burgess

Snapping a six-game losing streak, the Wests Tigers deserve to celebrate their win but it has come at a cost, with the in-form James Tedesco – who has been a revelation in season 2016 – injuring his shoulder in the clash.

A catalyst for the Tigers in the first half, he left the field and did not return in the second. Scans await Tedesco and Tigers fans will be holding their breath that it is not serious.

The Tigers were dealt another blow right before kick-off, with Mitch Moses straining a quad in the warm-up, resulting in a re-shuffle.

The win is a welcome relief for the Tigers, who just five days ago were obliterated by a rampant Raiders side.

The pressure that built up on the club was something they handled and the efforts of the team drew praise from coach Jason Taylor.

“We brought all of the pressure on ourselves from a performance that was absolutely not good enough last week,” Tigers coach Jason Taylor said.

“We can take that pressure straight away with a win and that’s what we did. But it was in such a great fashion.

“I’m really excited about the way we won that game. It was a tough performance, we wanted to be tougher and that was a really strong win in the circumstances and there were plenty going against us.”

The South Sydney Rabbitohs, who are going through a similar down-patch, were their own worst enemies. Conceding 20 points in a 20 minute period in the first half, they were on the back foot from the get-go.

After 36 long minutes, Souths scored their opening try, to give them a fighting chance.

Whilst their second half produced more fluidity among the team, it was not enough in the end as the Tigers had pushed the lead out to an insurmountable deficit.

The pride of his team was the difference for Taylor.

You don’t get to this level if you’re not passionate about doing well and succeeding. You don’t become an NRL player if you haven’t got pride in your performance and a desire and a passion to win,” Taylor said.

“We didn’t have to work too hard this week to get that out of the guys. We just had to get them together and keep them positive which was great.”

The loss has Souths coach Michael Maguire questioning the attitude of his side and captain Greg Inglis admits that giving up that many points early is not good form.

“We shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place,” Inglis said.

“Attitude is a big thing. We can’t be dipping the toe in and then try and play catch up footy.”

Playing only 63 minutes, Sam Burgess was back to his barnstorming best but he did leave the field injured and needs scans on an injured ankle.

“His ankle is quite stable from what the doctors have told me but we’ll have to have some scans and have a look and go through the process there,” Maguire said.

After the loss, Maguire was incensed with his side and their lack of attitude.

“We need to sort out the players’ attitudes very quickly. To have simple tries scored against us like that, I thought our defence was very ordinary,” Maguire said.

“Our players, and I don’t normally make comment about it, but we need to make sure we’re a lot better than that or we’re going to end up staying in exactly the same place as where we are right now.

“After 20 minutes, that’s not acceptable at this club. We need to make sure we’re accountable for what we put out there because it was garbage really.

“People didn’t want to put their bodies in front, plain and simple. We have a team there where they commit throughout the week but they have to commit through the 80 minutes too and they didn’t do that.”

Player of the Game:

3. Sam Burgess
2. Robbie Farah
1. David Nofoaluma

Wests Tigers 30 (Jordan Rankin 2, James Tedesco, Kevin Naiqama, Luke Brooks, David Nofoaluma tries; Jordan Rankin 2 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 22 (Bryson Goodwin 2, Kirisome Auva’a, Dane Nielsen tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 11,229. Half-time: Wests Tigers 20-6. Injuries: James Tedesco (Wests Tigers) – shoulder; Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs) – ankle.

Raiders re-sign injured veteran forward

Sia Soliola

Currently out injured but set to return soon, Sia Soliola has re-signed with the Canberra Raiders for the next two seasons.

The veteran forward, who joined the Raiders last year and excelled during his time in the back-row, has made the most of the opportunities presented to him.

With the arrival of other forwards, his role this year changed, playing off the bench as a prop and performing well before he suffered a fractured arm.

With the Raiders performing well as a unit and a team, Soliola was keen to put pen to paper and remain at the club that is going places.

“I’m excited, relieved and really happy to be staying here for another couple of years,” said Soliola.

“Obviously this is a great club and it’s a great place for me and my family. We love this place and it’s got a great pool of talent.

“It was pretty silly not to consider this club because it’s such a great club with a great history.”

As a veteran player now, Soliola has been regarded as a leader of the pack to guide their younger generation and he looks forward to embracing that role even more moving forward.

“There’s a great optimism around the joint at the moment,” said Soliola.

“I think a lot of the boys are excited about how they’ve started the year and how they’re going to progress, and I just want to be a part of that.

“Hopefully I can contribute as much as I can on and off the field.”

His leadership exploits have not gone unnoticed by the club, with Soliola drawing praise from CEO Don Furner for how he goes about his footy on and off the field.

“Sia leads by his actions in everything he does and the respect he receives amongst the players and staff here at the club shows what a wonderful asset he is to our organisation,” Furner said.

“In terms of his playing ability, he can play both on the edge and in the middle of the field, with his experience and knowledge of the game a valuable tool for our younger players.

Off the field efforts are just as important for the Raiders and Furner praised Soliola for the things he has done across the board.

“What he does for this club off the field is equally important, whether it be amongst the players providing leadership, advice and feedback or the work he does in the community, you could not ask for a better role model and quality individual,” added Furner.

It’s a pleasure to have him as part of the Raiders and he’s a player other players can aspire to become.”