Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Chris Houston cleared of drugs charges

Chris Houston voluntarily terminated his contract in light of being named in the Knights drugs scandal but now he has the Knights CEO recommending that the team takes him back, after he was cleared of drugs charges today.

Elaine Truscott, the magistrate in the case deemed there was a lack of evidence in which to incriminate Houston of the charges he faced.

Both Chris Houston and Danny Wicks were found to be involved in a drugs scandal at the Knights, and both were terminated from the club.

Wicks, who is yet to face court but faces three charges of supplying drugs will be sentenced on March 8.

Upon the announcement of Houston being cleared, David Gallop has all but paved the way for Houston to return to the NRL.

“Short of any other information being presented, that matter has been tested in court and the charges dismissed,” Gallop said.

“He is entitled, therefore, to move on with his life and there would seem to be no obstacle to any future contract being registered.”

John Jansen, Houston’s manager is still unclear as to whether or not the Knights are the only interested team in acquiring his services, but the Knights hope to have a contract offered to him by early next week.

”I spoke to him about three weeks ago, and he told me then he was reasonably confident that he would be successful in fighting the case,” Burraston said.

”We’ve always had an open mind to it, and we were always thankful for what he did for our club in resigning straight after the charges were first laid. It will take a board decision but I will be making a recommendation to our board, certainly by close of business Monday at the latest, that we re-employ Chris Houston immediately.”

Burraston also said that there was no hard feelings between he, the club and Houston himself, and that they always believed that he was innocent in the scandal.

”We believed in him and hoped he was innocent and wouldn’t be found guilty on any of these charges, so today it’s a relief to find out he has been cleared and is an innocent man,” he said.

”He comes from a good family, he is a good young bloke as far as I’m concerned, and everything he did with us on and off the field was exemplary.”

Dragons to continue their grinding style of play

Dragons, NSW and Australian centre Matt Cooper says that his club will stick to the grinding style that won them the 2010 NRL premiership despite many critics describing their play as boring.

The style, which aims at shutting down the key players from opposition teams, as well as tiring oppositions over a shorter period complements the Dragons strong defence and their scintillating attack.

“I don’t know about that,” Cooper said when asked about the possibility of a more expansive game in 2011.

“We’ve shown what works the last two years. We’d have to see what Wayne’s plans are in the new year but at the moment we’re just concentrating on getting our bodies right, getting our minds right.”

The Dragons, who are already back in intense pre-season training, don’t look set to slow down anytime soon as they aim for a repeat season in 2011.

Generally, when the fitness regimes are tough, player disharmony is more frequent and player morale is down, but Cooper says that in this case, given the strong ties between the players, the training is made easier as a result.

“Usually you come back to pre-season dreading the training and the break’s not long enough, but this year I was keen to get back just to see all the boys and reminisce about the grand final,” Cooper said.

“The monkey’s off our back and you just felt that relief as soon as that siren went in the grand final.”

Perhaps the question on everyone’s tongue in the NRL at this stage is whether or not Dragons coach Wayne Bennett will remain with the Dragons beyond 2011.

Reports are imminent that he’s set to sign a deal to go to the Bunnies in 2012, but it’s likely that a decision will only be definitively made in the off-season.

“Obviously Wayne hasn’t made up his mind what he wants to do, it’s a decision that will come hopefully before the season starts,” Cooper said.

” … obviously for the club and the players and the supporters we’d love to have him here as long as we could, but that’s his decision.”

Whatuira set to be Eels latest recruit

Parramatta are shaping up to sign former Wests Tigers and New Zealand centre Paul Whatuira as the Eels try to re-build following the departure of Eric Grothe, and the lingering issues surrounding Timana Tahu.

Whatuira, who agreed to a 1-year-deal with the club yesterday, with an option in the Eels favour of signing him for 2012, is set to officially sign with the club on Monday, subject to a medical.

Whatuira, who is a dual premiership winner was set to retire from football altogether, before a heart-to-heart talk with new Eels coach Stephen Kearney convinced him to change his mind and play on.

”It’s good to be back,” Whatuira said yesterday, shortly after agreeing to a modest deal, which includes incentives. ”It’s a good opportunity for me to try and establish myself back in the NRL. It’s been three years, and I’m really looking forward to it.

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”I always thought I’d come back and hopefully finish up in the NRL. It’s a great opportunity Parramatta have given me … it’s a great club with tradition, and they’ve got some quality players there. I’ve still got that hunger and I’m still willing to learn, and I’m just stoked.

”I was contemplating retirement, but one door closes and another one opens. Losing Timana was a big loss for the club, and Eric Grothe announcing his retirement is a huge loss too, but that’s given me an opportunity to try and work my way back into the system. It’s great timing.”

Kearney was impressed with Whatuira, who has won two premierships with Penrith and the Wests Tigers in 2003 and 2005 respectively, as well as making his test debut in 2004 for NZ.

”He’s definitely a coach that I want to learn off,” Whatuira said. ”I know they’ve been working hard in the pre-season, and I definitely see Parramatta as a club on the rise.

”Jarryd Hayne’s a freak. It’ll be awesome to play alongside him. And Nathan Hindmarsh is a great leader. It’s definitely a club on the rise, and they’ve definitely got the talent there. I just want to try and work hard and be a part of it.”

Whatuira, who previously suffered from depression cast some doubt over a move from taking place in light of some incidents involving Whatuira in England, but he says that with the birth of his one-year-old daughter Gabrielle, his life has changed, and so has he.

With the move set to bring Whatuira closer to his family, but he isn’t getting carried away at this stage.

”I’m not going to promise anything,” Whatuira said. ”I just want to give it my best shot. I know I’m going to have to work hard and put my head down. It’s something I really feel that I can achieve. I don’t expect to jump straight into the squad. I know they’ve got some quality centres there. I’m just going to have to fit into the set-up and work hard and bide my time.”

Simon Dwyer determined to prove his worth

The Wests Tigers narrowly missed out on signing former Eel and Dragon Mark Riddell to the Roosters, but there was one young gun that they had no intention of letting go, and that was Simon Dwyer.

The young second-rower re-signed with the Wests Tigers as he feels they’ve always been good to him, and he’s more than content at playing with the Tigers under his new deal which we will see him at the club until 2013.

”They’ve always stuck by me, so I’ll stick by them.”

”I’m really happy,” Dwyer said. ”It gives me a bit of security for the next three years. I was pretty comfortable here, so I was always looking to stay here. They gave me the chance to play first grade, so I’m happy to stay here.”

Dwyer, who had a stellar year in 2010 playing 18 games, and perhaps putting on the hit of the season on Jarad-Warea Hargreaves in the finals, but the young-gun is determined not to fall victim to the dreaded second-year syndrome.

”I don’t want to be known as the one-hit wonder,” Dwyer said. ”I’ve heard that a few times. It was good to get my name out there. I always wanted to make my impact in the NRL, and that was the way that I did it – make people realise that I am a part of the Wests Tigers team. But I’m looking to pick it up, and I reckon I’ll achieve that.”

Whilst Dwyer was still contracted to the Tigers until the end of 2011, the Tigers were quick to sign him up for longer to avoid rival teams sniffing around.

Dwyer is confident that he would only get better and improve with a solid and rare pre-season training stint under his belt as he looks to solidify his spot in the Tigers team.

”I haven’t had one for three or four years,” Dwyer said. ”I’ve had shoulder ‘recos’, hips, knees, glandular fever. I’ve been pretty unlucky.”

Dwyer is also confident that the Tigers have the team to go all the way to the grand final in 2011, and he believes the team can win it.

”We’ve got a pretty good mix, and we’ve got pretty much the same team as last year, so we’ll be looking to go that one step further next year,” Dwyer said. ”I reckon we’ll do it next year. I reckon we’ll go all the way to the grand final. We’re in good hands.”

Raiders prop David Shillington fails to comply with court order

Canberra, QLD and Australian prop David Shillington could find himself in some strife after being charged with breaching the conditions of his good behaviour order.

As part of the order laid down to him in March, following his second drink-driving offence, Shillington failed to complete a sober-driving course, despite it being a requirement in his order.

The 27-year-old was caught drink driving twice last year, and returned a blood-alcohol level of of .115, which is more than twice the legal limit.

It is alleged the Raiders prop missed two sessions of his court-ordered driving course, due to football commitments with the Raiders.

It’s also alleged that he has continually failed to appear at meetings with a corrections intake officer between the months of May and September, as well as travelling to New Zealand in November without the permission of corrective services.

James McManus re-signs with the Knights

In what is another added boost for the Newcastle Knights following the re-signing of captain Kurt Gidley, winger James McManus has followed suit by re-signing with the club until 2013.

“I love the town, I love the team and I am ecstatic that my fiancee Eshia and I get to stay here for the next three years,” McManus said.

Since 2009 however, when he made his Origin debut, things haven’t quite gone according to plan, with the winger only appearing in 8 games over the last 18 months since his Origin appearance, due to several major injuries.

It would seem that McManus is now fit and raring to go as he aims to stay on the paddock for as long as possible.

“I spent six weeks in the off-season on the hills of King Edward park getting some miles under my legs.

“My body feels fit and healthy and I’m excited for what’s to come in season 2011.”

Knights coach Rick Stone was ecstatic that the club was able to re-sign the 24-year-old winger who initially hails from Scotland.

“It is a massive boost for our club at this time of year, James sets the standards in attention to detail and work ethic and his success since he has been in first grade is just reward for his hard work,” Stone said.

The second coming for the other Carney has arrived

New Sydney Roosters recruit Justin Carney was far from impressed to the level in which he let himself go, a time in which he says was his darkest.

“Half a bunged-up leg, an overweight fat gut and down in the dumps. I became this massive monster,” said Bondi’s latest Carney of the horrific injury he suffered playing for Canberra in 2009, which nearly destroyed him, physically and mentally.

“You don’t like seeing yourself in the mirror, I’ll tell you. I wasn’t feeling great.”

Scoring two tries on debut for the Raiders against the Broncos back in 2008 put his name on the map. A name that was touted as a future star of the game.

This was coupled with the fact that he was named in the inaugural Toyota Cup side of the Year in 2008, only making his case to become a future star even stronger.

In 2009, Carney took his game to new heights, as he scored 7 tries before a shocking injury in Rd 17 forced him off the field and out for the remainder of the season.

The break which is perhaps one of the most horrific in the modern era caused Carney to go into shock after he snapped his tibia and fractured his tibia.

With an injury so severe, 6 months was the projected time-frame Carney faced on the sidelines, but he admits that he didn’t use the rehabilitation period as well as some would have hoped.

A result of too much alcohol and food, and not enough exercise resulted in the winger ballooning out to a massive 110kg, 13kg heavier than his playing weight.

He was having dark thoughts and was seriously considering giving the game up and a budding NRL career up with it, to return home to Nyngan, before the Rooster signed him.

“I was getting overweight pretty quick not running. I’ve just got that physique I suppose,” recalled Carney.

“I went out and being stupid and I got a bit too comfy. I got into that comfort zone where I was mucking up a bit, I wasn’t going on like an idiot … but in the back of my mind I knew I hadn’t given myself the best opportunity to do it.

“You’re lacking confidence and you want to improve but you just can’t.

“I wasn’t planning much for the following year, I’ll tell you. I was going to go home. It wasn’t a good time, but I’m here now.”

Carney is glad to be at the Roosters and feels comfortable at the club, and is full of praise for his new coach Brian Smith who has found Carney’s mojo and confidence again.

“I’m heading in the right direction preparing myself for the season,” he said.

“Everything’s just fallen into place.”

Centrebet signs on as major sponsor of Manly

As we near the Christmas period, the Manly football club has received welcome news as they have found a sponsor, and thus a sponsorship deal worth $1 million.

Centrebet are the lucky recipients of the sponsorship deal, and the name will be visible for all to see as it appears on the back of the Sea Eagles jersey, with the deal made for 2 years, with a 3rd year an option.

This particular deal is expected to start a flow of betting agencies that will look to actively form a sponsorship deal and partnership with other NRL clubs.

Scott Penn, Sea Eagles chairman was a key man in the deal being a smart businessman himself, said that last night it would be no surprise to see sports betting become the second largest revenue earner for the NRL behind TV rights.

“The recent unanimous ruling in the Federal Court giving the sport of horse racing 1.5 per cent of every dollar bet will give racing a return of between $50 million to $60 million a year,” Penn said.

“Given rugby league is the second most wagered-on sport we have high hopes the game will receive their fair share in the future.”

“This would be a significant and a great financial boost to all clubs.”

Neil Evans, a spokesperson for Centrebet said that the company believes that Manly are a rejuvenated outfit, and that the time was right to strike up a deal.

“We’ve been a partner now with Manly for a couple of years, involving major signage, big screen online and club promotions, and now we’re on the back of the jersey,” Evans said. “We are confident the timing is right.”

Roosters sign Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell

Despite having reportedly signed with the Tigers only a few days ago, in a bizarre turn of events, the former Dragon and Eel has signed a deal with the Sydney Roosters.

The Tigers were willing to offer Riddell a 1-year-deal as a back-up to incumbent hooker Robbie Farah, but the Roosters were quick to begin talks with Riddell, and given the prior relationship between Riddell and Roosters coach Brian Smith, a deal seemed imminent.

Riddell, 29, has signed a 1 year deal with the Roosters as they seek to cover the loss of new recruit Anthony Watts who is expected to miss most of the 2011 season with a severe leg injury.

The deal is somewhat of a homecoming for Piggy, given that he played in the lower grades for the Roosters in 1999-2000, before moves to the Dragons and Eels made him the household name that he is.

Despite the Tigers keen to sign Riddell, it was ultimately the chance to play first-grade, possibly off the bench that coaxed Riddell into signing with the Bondi outfit.

We had held talks with Mark and we had made an offer,” said Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys. “But we knew there was interest in Mark from other clubs.

“We aren’t [cranky]. If he has decided to go that way [to the Roosters] then good luck to him.”

Coote confident that groin injury is behind him

When he isn’t injured, he is a very exciting young fullback to watch in action. Unfortunately, for Lachlan Coote, injuries have riddled him so far during his career, but he remains confident that his latest bout of surgery will cure his chronic groin problems once and for all.

Coote has battled the feared groin injury osteitis pubis for some time now, a chronic groin injury that causes severe discomfort to the affected area, and the young fullback is determined to avoid a similar year in 2011.

Dr Neil Haplan who has a good record in curing groin injuries through surgery operated on the 20 year old last Wednesday, in which Coote believes that the solution has been found.

“I’ve talked to other players and even Steve Georgallis and Wayne Collins (Panthers staff members), they had it done when they were playing and they said they felt stronger than ever,” Coote said.

“They say they felt normal so I’m hoping this will go back to the same.

“I don’t want it to happen again, it’s just frustrating, feeling like I’m playing so good and then something like this can just wreck it so easy.”

Coote is expected to be fit for the Panthers Rd 1 clash in 2011, and the recent bout of surgery is not expected to prolong the time that the young fullback is already out for.

Had it not been for the surgery by Dr Halpin, Coote may still be suffering and in severe pain from the chronic groin injury, and quite possibly miss a fair chunk of the 2011 season.

Steve Georgallis, Panthers assistant coach said that Coote is now free to get on with his career without constantly having to worry about breaking down due to a groin injury.

“The way they reattach it means there’s no pain or strain on your groin and I got it in 1992 and the operation’s just got better and better,” Georgallis said.

“With his it became chronic and finally they realised that’s what it was and this will fix it.”