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.”
A COVID break and a long-term facial injury have not stopped Sia Soliola from staying positive and playing footy, with the veteran re-signing with the Canberra Raiders.
The veteran forward still has juice left in the ticker as he makes Canberra his home both on and off the field.
Despite everything that has happened, Soliola is looking forward to getting stuck into playing footy once again.
“I’m really pumped. First and foremost, I want to thank the club for giving me another opportunity to play,” Soliola said.
“The year I’ve had has been a strange one but it’s really nice at 34 to be playing the game I love.
“I’m really enjoying it and it’s a great group of guys and I think this club is going to be a consistent title contender for the future and I want to be part of that.”
Soliola’s tireless community work off the field saw him win the 2019 Ken Stephens Medal, an honour he is proud of.
“I guess it’s just an automatic reflection on how I feel about the place, I love this game, I love this club and I want to give back because it’s given me so much and I’ve generated so much from it that its only right that I give something back,” he said.
“It’s an amazing game, so many people get so much out of it and everyone wins at the end of the day.”
Like many players, family is everything to them and Soliola’s family knew that Canberra was the place for them to be.
“My family and I love it here. The kids love it here especially my oldest boy,” Soliola continued.
“He was actually quite emotional given the potential idea of moving away because he loves this place and it’s all he knows.
“Canberra is an awesome place and I’m very thankful for the club for introducing me to it.”
Every player needs fringe players to come in and do a job and the Melbourne Storm had that when Chris Lewis, Aaron Pene, and Issac Lumelume were given their chance.
The trio has now been rewarded for making the most of the opportunity, with all three re-signing at the Storm.
Chris Lewis, who was on the Storm’s development list has re-signed for two more seasons and will be promoted to the full-time squad.
Both Issac Lumelume and Aaron Pene have taken up their one-year options with the Storm for 2021.
Lewis, who is a schoolteacher by trade, made his NRL debut with the Storm earlier this year at 28.
Melbourne Storm General Manager of Football Frank Ponissi praised the trio and their hard work.
“As well as being very diligent and valuable contributors at each training session in what has been a challenging 2020, Chris, Isaac, and Aaron all showed they had potential for more games in the NRL when they were given their chance this year,” Ponissi said.
“It hasn’t been an easy road to the NRL for all three of them and we are seeing the benefits they’re receiving from being part of the Storm system.”
As the 2021 season nears, the club believes the trio will play an even bigger role moving forward.
“We’re very hopeful each of them will have an even bigger role to play in 2021 and beyond.
“It’s also clear that the time they have spent with our feeder teams – Isaac and Aaron with Easts Tigers and Chris with the Falcons – has helped them to be well prepared for the step up to the NRL.”
The Canberra Raiders put on a dominant second-half performance, led by Jack Wighton, to overcome the Cronulla Sharks 32-20 and progress to the second week of finals.
After limping into the finals in eighth position many people thought the Sharks were simply making up the numbers in the 2020 finals series.
But for the first 35 minutes of the game, it looked like the Sharks were going to cause a major upset against the Raiders in Canberra.
The Sharks led 14 – 6 and looked well on top of the Raiders, but a George Williams intercept try just before halftime reduced the lead to just four points and completely swung the momentum of the game.
The Sharks opened the scoring with a Chad Townsend penalty goal.
Only moments later the Raiders responded with a try through Joseph Tapine.
Tapine took advantage of some slack defence, shrugging off three defenders, to score under the posts.
Jarred Croker converted the try.
The Sharks controlled possession and field position for the next period of the game and were able to take advantage through Ronaldo Mulitalo.
Connor Tracey bamboozled the Raiders defence, skipping away from two defenders before throwing a dummy to open up Mulitalo who scored in the corner.
Townsend couldn’t convert from the sideline. Although minutes later he made amends when the Sharks elected to take a penalty goal.
The Raiders put themselves under pressure through errors and penalties.
Blayke Brailey was able to take advantage when Elliott Whitehead dropped it cold in front of the posts.
Townsend converted to push the lead out to eight points.
The Sharks were then hot on the attack again when Wiliams took an intercept to run the length of the field to score for the Raiders.
It was Wighton who sparked the Raiders to a dominant second-half performance with two tries and a try assist.
He caught the Sharks napping when he took a quick tap to burst his way over for his first try.
He then took a brilliant catch off a George Williams bomb to score his second try of the match only moments later.
Wighton then returned the favour when he set up a try for Williams to put the game out of reach for the Sharks.
Wighton was allowed too much space to run by the Sharks and found Williams right at the line to put him over under the posts.
The Sharks were able to score a consolation try through Sione Katoa in the final moments of the match but it wasn’t enough to save their season.
The Raiders will take confidence from their second-half performance as they look to build momentum for their finals campaign against the Roosters.