Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

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.”

NRL Finals Week 2 Preview: Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Parramatta Eels back-rower Ryan Matterson

It is do-or-die on Saturday night at Bank West Stadium as the Parramatta Eels and South Sydney Rabbitohs fight to keep their 2020 campaigns alive.

The winner will book a date with Penrith next Saturday evening in a preliminary final.

Souths have named an unchanged 17, whilst for the Eels, George Jennings replaces Maika Sivo and Ray Stone comes in the 17 for Marata Niukore. Blake  Ferguson will face a fitness test.

However, Brad Arthur didn’t seem overly confident when speaking on the radio earlier this week.

With Ferguson now ruled out, a reshuffle is likely to see Brad Takairangi coming into the centres and Waqa Blake shifting to the wing.

At times last Saturday, it appeared the Eels would pull off a massive upset against the Storm.

They raced out of the blocks and established early dominance.

However, the relentless Storm reeled them in and prevailed 36 – 24. One very interesting stat was that the Eels only had 43 per cent of possession.

Very difficult to win any game with that stat, let alone against the Storm.

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Cam Murray

A repeat of this against the Bunnies will no doubt result in the Eels crashing out of the finals.

Souths were awful in the opening exchanges last Sunday.

Numerous errors lead to directly to Newcastle tries. However, once they settled, Souths dominated through their high octane attack, eventually running out winners 46 -20.

Some of the Eels’ right side defence was diabolical on Saturday night. There seemed to be a lack of communication and disconnection as a unit.

No doubt Arthur and his coaching staff would have worked overtime on that this week, given the threat the Souths left side attack poses.

For the Eels to win, they must control the ball and ensure they tighten up out wide. Look for Ryan Matterson to get at Cody Walker as much as possible.

I also expect Corey Allen to be tested early under the high ball

Dylan Brown will be much better for the run. He and fellow halves partner Moses must control the tempo with deep kicks to the corners.

I would also look to mix it up and kick early in the count.

Parramatta Eels half Dylan Brown

In an interesting tactical move,  Arthur, at this stage, has gone with a very mobile bench, with only one middle forward on it.

Look for the Eels, possibly later in each half to go small, with Stone coming onto to play in the middle along side Reed Mahoney.

This tactic, if used, will look to negate Cook around the ruck as well as Cody ‘ Kemba’ Walker drifting back to the middle.

Offensively it will give the Eels quicker leg speed through the middle.

The speed of play from Souths, at times, is frightening.

Lead by  Walker, who is in career-best form, they will test Parramatta at every opportunity, especially through their lethal left side.

In a great sign for the Rabbits, Damien Cook made some great, probing runs last Sunday.

Expect him to exploit slow Eels defenders in tight.  Souths pack has been excellent over the last couple of weeks.

Whilst not boasting many big names, they have been highly effective in laying the platform for Walker and the like.

The likes of  Tevita Tatola, Tom Burgess, and Jayden Su’A have been outstanding.

Cam Murray is a real key for Souths with his ability to get in between defenders and generate quick play the balls.

Final Word.

For me, it comes down to can Eels contain the free wheeling Souths?

In short, I believe they can. Look for the Eels to turn this into a real street fight.

However, I feel Souths will prevail late, in what shapes as a tremendous contest.

For those that indulge in the punt, we got the chocolates last week. Again, Eels at the start is the play.

Enjoy your finals footy!

South Sydney Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker

Staines ignores rival interest to re-sign with the Panthers

Penrith Panthers winger Charlie Staines

It has been an interesting debut season for Charlie Staines but he will be a Penrith Panthers player until at least 2023 after re-signing with the club.

Staines, who burst onto the scene with six tries in two games, was then forced to sit out for a couple of reasons.

An inadvertent COVID-19 breach saw him miss games after his four tries on debut.

A hamstring injury then derailed his plans to add to his two games and with the Panthers’ recent success, getting back into the side is not easy.

Despite that, Staines, who hails from the town of Forbes, is just excited to stay and don the Panthers jersey again.

“Panthers has done so much for me and my family so it feels good to repay that faith they’ve shown in me,” Staines said.

“I took my time to consider all options but at the end of the day my heart is here in Penrith and I’m very happy to re-sign.

“There’s such a special bond that all the players and staff have here. It feels like a big family.

“Wherever I can fit into this team moving forward, I’ll play, because I just want to be a part of it.”

The Panthers are also pleased to keep him, with Staines just another young player coming through the club’s academy.

“Charlie’s brief foray in the NRL earlier this year gave us a glimpse of what he has to offer,” Panthers General Manager Rugby League Matt Cameron said.

“He has progressed through the Panthers development pathways and typifies our club’s guiding principle of ‘built from within’.

“Given the significant interest from other parties in the NRL, we’re excited that Charlie has decided to commit to our club for the next three years.

Veteran Soliola extends Raiders stay

Canberra Raiders forward Sia Soliola

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.”

Canberra Raiders forward Sia Soliola

Storm re-sign Lewis, Pene and Lumelume

Melbourne Storm back-rower Chris Lewis

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 winger Issac Lumelume

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.”

Melbourne Storm player Aaron Pene

Rabbitohs destroy Knights at ANZ Stadium in elimination final

South Sydney Rabbitohs prop Tevita Tatola

The South Sydney Rabbitohs took on the Newcastle Knights in the second elimination final of 2020.

The winner would move on to face the Parramatta Eels at Bankwest Stadium next week while the loser would be eliminated.

The Knights got the fastest start they could get.

A very early Souths knock on lead to Hymel Hunt crossing the stripe in the right corner.

Kalyn Ponga converted to put the Knights up 6-0.

They continued this fast start a few minutes later.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon was sent through a hole and gave it to Bradman Best who beat the fullback to score in the left corner.

Kalyn Ponga again converted to extend the lead to 12-0.

A penalty goal in the Knights favour would see them extend their lead to 14-0.

It took some time but the Rabbitohs were finally on the scoreboard when Corey Allan broke through the line.

A couple of minutes later, Souths scored again.

This time it was Cody Walker wrapping around Adam Reynolds to get put through a hole and score.

Adam Reynolds was only able to convert one of the tries to cut the Knights lead to just four.

The Rabbitohs looked like they were starting to score at will as Alex Johnston scored in the left corner to get Souths’ third in 8 minutes.

Adam Reynolds missed so the score remained 14-all.

Damien Cook made a break from dummy-half and Cameron Murray was in support to get his name on the scoresheet.

The first points in the second half came via the boot of Adam Reynolds as he slotted a penalty goal.

As the final quarter of the game neared, the Rabbitohs would put the game almost completely out of reach.

Tevita Tatola powered over under the posts to get Souths’ fifth try in a row.

Ken Irvine Medallist Alex Johnston would then get his double and close out the game for the Rabbitohs

Adam Reynolds kicked the conversion from the sideline to make the lead 34-14.

Tevita Tatola crossed the line for a rare first-grade double to cap off his stellar performance.

Adam Reynolds converted again to make the lead 40-14.

A quickfire double for Souths then saw Damien Cook pick up a dropped ball and run 80 metres to score the Rabbitohs’ eighth try.

Dane Gagai converted to put the Rabbitohs up 46-20.

On the final buzzer, Hymel Hunt got a consolation try in the corner to get his double.

Aidan Guerra kicked a sideline goal to finish his career with a 46-20 loss.

Although disappointed with the loss, Knights coach Adam O’Brien said the need for greater depth to support his stars was a must for 2021.

“This bloke [Pearce], that’s who it hurt the most,” O’Brien said.

“He had a different No.9 each week, or a different No.6 and they had different skill sets so that put more pressure on him to run the team.

“That’s one thing I’ve got to identify over the summer is our best attack and how we can get our strike players to get the ball in good positions to help Junior out.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Tevita Tatola

2. Damien Cook

  1. Alex Johnston
South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook


Dominant Melbourne Storm power past the Parramatta Eels to progress to the Preliminary Final

Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen

The Melbourne Storm continued their outstanding record in Queensland and finals matches against the Parramatta Eels to record a dominant victory 36-24.

History was all in favour of the Storm in this game and they certainly delivered to make their fourth preliminary final in the past five years

Surprisingly, it was the Storm who uncharacteristically put themselves under pressure very early on with a Cameron Smith kick being charged down.

It was Eels back-rower Shaun Lane who applied the pressure on Smith to charge down the kick.

Mitchell Moses showed his pinpoint kicking accuracy when his crossfield kick landed right on the goal-line.

Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes jumped up to retrieve the ball but knocked on.

Nathan Brown who was following through picked up the loose ball to score underneath the post and register his first try of the year with only two minutes on the clock.

Moses kicked the conversion from in front and the Eels lead by a converted try.

The Eels would then suffer a blow when Fijian flyer Maika Sivo left the field and failed to return with an MCL strain.

The ensuing ten minutes was played at a high intensity and was very physical.

Both teams, however, were guilty of giving away field position and possession through penalties and set re-starts.

The Eels continued their early dominance with another try after a quarter of the match had passed.

The Storm knocked on and the Eels counterattacked as the ball was spread wide to Michael Jennings.

Jennings threw a clever flick pass to Blake Ferguson to find space on the flank.

As all good fullbacks do, Clinton Gutherson was supporting on the inside.

Ferguson drew his man, feigned the initial pass and found captain Gutherson who ran a short distance to score.

Moses again converted and the Eels were out by two converted tries more than halfway through the first half.

To stop the Eels momentum. the Storm needed to be the next to score and with ten minutes remaining before the break they did just that.

A Ryan Papenhuyzen break to get the ball into the Eels attacking zone proved vital.

This led to a slick right-hand side shift by the Storm and Brenko Lee was able to put Suliasi Vunivalu over untouched.

Cameron Smith kicked the easy conversion to bridge the gap back to six points.

A quickfire double put the Storm right back in the match to level things up.

From inside their own half and after two off-loads, Justin Olam found open space.

With Papenhuyzen supporting on the inside, Olam drew in Gutherson and the flying Storm fullback sprinted twenty metres to score.

Smith again slotted the easy conversion to tie the game up at 12-all and that was the score at the break.

The second half started exactly like the first half ended.

Before people could regain their seat at Suncorp Stadium, the Storm scored via Josh Ado-Carr and took the lead for the first time of the match.

The next playoff the restart, great leadup work from Cameron Munster found Kenny Bromwich who made a clean break.

Bromwich was able to get the ball to Papenhuyzen for the fullback to set up his winger.

He threw a great long ball to find Addo-Carr on the wing who raced through to score his eighth straight try at Suncorp Stadium.

Smith converted from out wide for the Storm to lead for the first time in the match 18-12.

Needing a spark, it was great vision by Reed Mahoney the Eels evened the game up.

Early in the tackle count, Mahoney kicked towards the touchline to find only Eels players being close to the ball.

Ferguson was able to gain possession and ground the ball inside the touch-in-goal line.

Moses converted from the touchline and the scores were level.

That momentum was quickly snuffed out when Munster again showed his class with a great short ball to put Jesse Bromwich into a huge hole to score from short range.

The Kiwi enforcer also registered his first try of the year.

The Melbourne men were now well on top and the score blew out even more only three minutes later.

A slick right hand play with plenty of players in motion this had the defenders backpedalling.

Brenko Lee had scored their second try within only a matter of minutes.

After an offload by Papenhuyzen at speed, Lee forced his way over.

Smith was on fire with the boot and slotted the conversion from out wide for the lead to go out to two converted tries.

Papenhuyzen was putting on a man-of-the-match performance and he again showed great support from a Storm break.

From a knockdown by a Parramatta player, Munster was able to run straight through the middle of the Eels defenders.

Papenhyzen was then able to beat Waqa Blake to score in the corner.

Smith had the ball on a string tonight and from the touchline and converted yet again.

Already without Sivo, the Eels would also lose Ferguson who had to succumb to an

The Eels to have any hope of staying in the contest needed to record the next four-pointer.

A penalty to the Eels deep in the Storm territory the ball was shifted to the left with speed.

Hughes tried to attempt the tackle on Shaun Lane but he proved too strong to run ten metres to score.

Moses kicked the conversion from twenty metres in from touch to have the Eels trailing by twelve points.

The remaining time in the match saw no change to the score and the Storm won their 19th game in a row north of the border in their 50th finals match.

The Storm were able to give Bellamy a victory on his birthday but it could be soared with a knee injury to Munster.

Although Arthur praised his Eels side for some of their work, he also criticised their dumb plays.

“It was tough and we showed plenty of character. It was brave and it was just dumb in key moments and critical moments,” he said.

“You can’t do that against the Melbourne Storm. They iced their opportunities, but we need to learn from that.

“The pleasing thing is that we didn’t go away.

We kept fighting and having some blokes out of position probably hurt us a bit, but credit to them because they did the best they could.”

Despite his injury, Munster says he will do whatever it takes to be fit for the grand final qualifier in two weeks time.

“I didn’t re-injure the spot. It is a bit sore,” said Munster.

“I just got a bit of a knee clash and it is a bit swollen,” Munster said after the game.

“I’ll get scans tomorrow and do everything I can with the physios to make sure I am right for the prelim [final].”

NRL News Player of the Game

3 – Ryan Papenhuyzen

2 – Cameron Munster

1 – Clinton Gutherson

Melbourne Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster

Upton achieves rare NRLW feat as Broncos open campaign with win over Warriors

Brisbane Broncos fullback Tamika Upton

It was a New Zealand Warriors that showed grit and determination like their male counterparts but it was not enough to overcome the Brisbane Broncos.

On the back of a Tamika Upton hat-trick, the Broncos fought back resolutely to come-from-behind and win 28-14.

Upton became just the third player to score a hat-trick in the NRLW tournament with her match-winning display.

It was the Warriors who burst out of the blocks with two tries.

Simone Smith was the first to score when she took the line on, spun, and found her way to the line.

Rugby sevens star Ellia Green then showed a glimpse of her speed as she finished off a back-line movement on the right flank.

Upton, picking up where she left off after a quality display in last year’s grand final, scored the first of her tries with great footwork.

Tarryn Aiken combined with Upton and the fullback darted and weaved her way through the Warriors defence.

Prop Millie Boyle then laid off a nice pass through the middle for Upton to score under the posts for her second try.

Aiken and Upton would combine a second time, with a scrum play to the right resulting in the combination working again.

Upton had her hat-trick within 13 minutes to put all sorts of pressure on the Warriors.

Aiken would again turn provider, this time with a play down the right edge that found centre Julia Robinson to slice through.

A nice play by crafty Broncos hooker Lavinia Gould saw prop Chelsea Lenarduzzi crash over to score.

A well-worked play by Smith found a flying Evania Pelite to coast through the Broncos defence.

Try as they might, the Warriors could not score more points as Brad Donald wants his side to play better.

“Yeah it was entertaining but it still wasn’t the performance they could’ve put together,” Donald said.

“I just said to the girls then we’ve got a warm and fuzzy feeling amongst the camp but we’re not here to just make up numbers.”

Donald wants to see improvement in his side and show that they belong in the competition.

“They’ve got to make sure they leave here with improvement,” Donald continued.

“We need to make sure we’re accountable for some poor decisions we made and missed tackles we made out there.”

Broncos coach Kelvin Wright said despite the short warm-up and preparation, he was pleased with his side.

“It wasn’t an ideal start but it was probably a reflection of the whole day – it’s been a learning experience right from our flight this morning,” Wright said.

“We met at the [Broncos Leagues] club just after 7am, went through our testing and onto a plane, then a holding room – just a lot more delays than expected.

“Our warm-up was really cut short and our start reflected that as well. I was proud of how we clawed our way back and got on top.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Tamika Upton (BRI)

2. Simone Smith (WAR)

  1. Chelsea Lenarduzzi (BRI)
New Zealand Warriors half playing for the Indigenous side, Simone Smith

Raiders power past Sharks in first elimination final

Canberra Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton

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.

Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton

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.

NRL News Player of the Game

3 – Jack Wighton

2 – George Williams

1 – Elliott Whitehead

Canberra Raiders halfback George Williams

Roosters win opening NRL women’s premiership clash with sound win over Dragons

Sydney Roosters forward Hannah Southwell

On the back of some crisp work from rugby sevens convert Charlotte Caslick, the Sydney Roosters have defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

The opening game of the 2020 NRL Women’s premiership was a lively contest, with big hits, good runs, and key performances.

The Dragons, favoured to win the competition, were out-enthused and outmatched by a hungrier Roosters side who won 18-6.

It was Caslick, using her rugby sevens experience, that linked up well with several other Roosters stars over the course of the game.

The loss for the Dragons was soured by injuries to Jess Sergis (ankle) and Shakiah Tungai (shoulder).

Back-rower Kezie Apps also failed to finish the game after failing her in-game head injury assessment.

The nitty-gritty affair was going to take a similar try to break the deadlock and it was Nita Maynard who did so.

The live-wire hooker burrowed her way over from dummy half after a quick play-the-ball.

Despite that early momentum, Roosters’ errors would come back to bite them as the Dragons then equalised.

The returning Sammy Bremner, who herself had a brilliant game, laid on a lovely cut-out pass for Tiana Penitani.

The winger would score in the corner with the score close at 6-4.

A blow for the Roosters was then losing fullback Botille Vette-Welsh just 13 minutes into the game with a hamstring injury.

That did not deter the Roosters women’s side, though, as another dummy half try extended their lead.

This time, it was Quincy Dodd, who again caught the markers and defence napping to burrow over.

As the big hits continued, the Dragons had some chances but could not capitalize in the end to narrow the deficit.

The Roosters would score the last try as Caslick took the line on, offloaded, and found Zahara Temara.

The halfback then passed to Corban McGregor who sliced over with ease to cap off a solid Roosters win.

Despite the loss, the Dragons can be pleased with the efforts of their middle forwards in Elsie Albert and Steph Hancock.

Albert, a PNG international, was quality in her NRLW debut and Hancock’s experience and professionalism shone through.

The Dragons will be sweating on the fitness of several players but coach Daniel Lacey believes his side will be ok.

“It’s no different to years gone where we’ve lost players in round one,” Lacey said.

“It’s a brutal sport but we’re good for the run now because we’ve tackled and caught up to speed with the fitness and got the shoulders ready.

“You just can’t beat match fitness and match preparation.

“Both teams were a little bit rusty but it was a big battle and a good game of footy.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Hannah Southwell (SYD)

2. Sammy Bremner (SGI)

  1. Charlotte Caslick (SYD)
St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Sammy Bremner