Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Cowboys rule out bid for Roosters captain Anasta

First it was the Eels that pulled out, now the Cowboys have followed suit, with both teams declaring that they will not be making a play for the Roosters captain, Braith Anasta.

Anasta, who is being shopped around to other teams due to salary cap restraints at the Roosters, as the club plans to keep the younger and future stars together that will form the core in Pearce and Carney at the club.

The Anasta saga has also gone on a while, with Cowboys captain Jonathon Thurston, told his club to “throw the chequebook” at Anasta, in order to reunite with his former Bulldogs team-mate.

The request has fallen through however, with Peter Parr, the Cowboys General Football Manager has said that the Cowboys have no intention of re-negotiating with the Roosters lock forward.

“We were interested in having a chat with him at the time, but the Roosters were clear that they weren’t prepared to let him out the last year of his contract and that’s where it finished,” Parr told AAP.

“We haven’t had any further discussions since back then.

“You always look for ways to improve and you do that by adding quality players, but our information is that the Roosters weren’t prepared to let him leave his contract early.

“I don’t know whether that has changed or not since then.”

Regardless of Anasta’s situation, with the Cowboys having already gone on a big spending spree, they ruled out a move for attempting to sign Anasta.

“We are a little bit tighter under the cap than we were (in September), and we’ve had no correspondence from his manager, the Roosters or anything like that … we just haven’t discussed it any further,” Parr added.

“We are absolutely happy with the group that we’ve put together.”

Webb reborn as an Eel

In the pits, the doldrums, the blues. Most NRL players would know the feeling after they fail to perform to the standards that they set for themselves. For Carl Webb, this was no different.

After Webb contemplated retirement following a poor year by both his standards, and the Cowboys fans standard, he was more than ready to hang up the boots and walk away from the game of NRL.

That is before the Eels came a-calling and asked Webb if he wanted to play with them in 2011.

Was if a life-line? Was it last chance saloon for Webb? Or, is it a chance for Webb to prove that he still has the fire in his belly?

“Last year was such a long year and it kept going through my head that I didn’t think I had it in me anymore,” says Webb.

“It got to the stage where, honestly, I wanted to walk away.

“My time was up there and I knew that. I needed a change and fortunately I’ve got this opportunity at Parramatta.

“My attitude has turned around and I feel I’ve got at least another two good years left in me.”

The major turning point in Webb’s career, was without a doubt the birth of his son Hunter, and is was the birth of his son, that convinced him that things had to change as quickly as possible.

There are no more boozy or alcohol filled nights, but there is a mountain of running involved with the Eels training.

Webb, who was perhaps a pedestrian in that department for some time, is putting in the hard yards and is running further, harder and faster than he has in his entire career.

“I’ve got a newborn child, so I have a family now and my lifestyle has changed,” he said.

“I don’t really see it as a sacrifice, I’m just moving on to a new stage of my life.

“I don’t feel I have a point to prove really. The only point I have to prove is to myself.”

Braith shattered as departure from the Roosters seems imminent

After being told that there is no place for him at the club after 2011, Braith Anasta has revealed his severe disappointment at not having the chance to stay at the club longer.

After negotiations with the Roosters broke down, Anasta was immediately shopped to rival clubs, one of which was the Eels, on an immediate transfer.

”Ask me not long ago and I would have told you I couldn’t see myself anywhere else, but to be honest with you they haven’t offered me an extension of my contract,” Anasta said.

”And I’ve been told I won’t be offered an extension any time soon. I am off-contract and … it’s tough, mate. Ideally, I’d like to sign my life away with the Roosters. I’m the captain of the club, it’s my home and I love it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed about it all because I am.”

With the Eels still having $500,000 or more in their salary cap, they are perhaps the only team that can match Anasta’s pay demands should they choose that path, however, the Eels are believed to have passed on Anasta for 2011, 2012 and beyond.

Anasta, who played arguably some of the best football we have seen since his move to lock from five-eighth, is still a candidate for Origin berths, given that he is still only 29.

”Now I guess I’m just going to have to reassess everything, my future,” Anasta said.

”I’m not sure what’s going to happen now. I suppose that will take care of itself in the next couple of months. It becomes difficult because if you wait, wait and wait until mid-year and then all of a sudden they don’t offer you that extension or it’s pretty poor compared to elsewhere, it leaves you with your hands tied.”

”As hard as it is and as painful as it is and as disappointing as it is, you’ve really got to look after yourself. And playing the game for as long as I have – this is my 12th season – you see it happening to to other players and it’s just part of the game. It’s sad but it’s just the way it is.”

The speculation regarding Anasta did not just start with this however, with the Cowboys attempting to sign the star Rooster during last years final, only to have Roosters Chief Executive Steve Noyce deny any possible move.

”We talked about where the club is up to in terms of recruitment and retention and we agreed we’ll wait until the start of the season before we look to do anything,” Noyce said.

”As I understand, Smithy had a really good chat about his future plans for the club. There certainly was no discussion that he wouldn’t be considered to be part of the plans, but in today’s environment, the salary cap is only what it is. You have 25 players to fit in and you have to continually look to the future.”

”It’s an important decision for Braith as well, I understand and respect that. We’re all aware of what a great ambassador for the game Braith is.

”He’s right up there with the way he handles himself on and off the field and he’s a great attribute for a club with young players.”

Anasta is eager to finish his career at the Roosters, and is willing to take a pay-cut, a big one at that, in order to remain with the Bondi club that he has grown up with, rejecting big money offers from other teams and Union in the process.

”At the end of the day you’ll take pay cuts to stay where you want and be happy at a place where you want to be,” Anasta said.

”It’s just a matter of what extent.

”Players should be rewarded for staying loyal to the code.”

Cowboys recruit Glenn Hall settling into Townsville well

He started at Narrabeen, moved to England, and is now in Townsville, in what is sure to be a new challenge for him, not only in regards to his new team, but also to the climate.

Hall wasted no time in getting to know and play with his new team-mates, as he fronted up to training only a few hours after he got off the plane, to meet and greet with his new team-mates.

Hall, who was left without a club after leaving Bradford was ecstatic when the Cowboys came knocking, as he is impressed with the team they have, built around a few core players.

“They’ve got a good balance of youth and experience, especially with guys like Dallas Johnson coming in to the side and guys like Ashton Sims who’s been to a few clubs and have that experience,” Hall said.

“We can instill in the younger blokes what it means to be in first grade footy week in and week out and hopefully that translates to our work on the field.”

Peter Parr, the Cowboys General Manager of Football, was there to meet Hall at the airport upon his arrival, and he was full of praise for the new signing.

“He’s played some very good football over the last three or four years, so we hope that will continue,” Parr said.

“We will now have a pack that can compete with most teams, if we can do that then with the calibre of players we have in our backline, then we think we can have a really competitive season.”

Hall’s time in England, whilst good, at least with his form, has been freezing to say the least, with the snow-storms and bad weather in England on the other side of the globe.

As he searched and searched for a team with a warmer climate, the Cowboys found him, and the second-rower is over the moon that the tireless search has ended.

“It’s a bit of a change to the minus 12 degrees I was training in not long ago,” Hall joked.

“But I’m very much looking forward to it and what a place to do it in.”

Hall is more than happy with the choice of clubs, and believes that it is the perfect place for both he and his wife Kylie to add a new addition to their family.

“We’re about to have a baby in six weeks,” he said.

“The opportunity for us to come up here and start our little family is something massive for us.”

The chance for Hall to have a leadership role at the club, as well as seeing a club that could quite possibly rise to the higher echelons of the NRL, was simply too good an opportunity for the second-rower to pass up.

“The team in the last couple of years probably hasn’t been as high up on the ladder as they would want, but they’re moving forward and with their support network up here I’m sure we can get up in the top eight.

“I’m hoping that with some of the experience I have on my shoulders I’ll be able to help the Cowboys not just over the next couple of years but in the future as well.”

Gillett plans to terrorise opponents and avoid second-year syndrome

Every player suffers from it in some shape or form, and it’s often irreversible no matter how hard they try to ensure it does not happen. It is just one of those things that players have to ensure only happens a few times.

That is, the second year syndrome. A dreaded phenomenon in NRL circles whereby players who have the year of their lives in their first season in the NRL, feel perhaps somewhat jaded, as teams read their game, and do what they can to stop the player from emulating their past success.

For Broncos utility Matt Gillett, he is doing whatever he can to ensure that he doesn’t suffer from it.

Tipping the scales at 104kg, not only is Gillett well built and well suited to the role of second row, but he is also remaining level-headed about his season as he enters the Queensland Emerging Origin Squad.

“I’ve heard of that second-year stuff, I’ve had a chat to a few of the boys about it,” said Gillett, who scored 12 tries from 21 games in his debut year in 2010.

“It’s not something I’m worrying too much about, but in saying that I don’t want to drop off at this stage of my career.

“There’s a fair bit of pressure on at the club. There’s a couple of backrowers wanting positions so that has kept me on my toes and made me train a bit harder. Dane Carlaw is back so he’s another guy wanting a spot.

“Opponents are going to be more aware of me after what I did last year.”

Whilst Gillett brings great utility value to the Broncos, ultimately, he would hope that he can finish his career with the Broncos and in the forwards.

2011 team line-ups

I know I said that I would start this later, but given I have some time on my hands, I figure I would write it up now.

Please keep in mind, that these are the teams that I would like to see chosen, and not the teams that others may agree with, or teams that the coach of that club may choose.

I will also attempt to accommodate any injuries, or any players that seem in doubt to miss the season, and not include them, and in turn, I’ll edit this post accordingly if a player does get injured, or if a player recovers in time from their injury.

So, without further ado, here are the 16 teams that I would select.

Brisbane Broncos line-up

1. Josh Hoffman
2. Denan Kemp
3. Dale Copely
4. Justin Hodges
5. Jharal Yow Yeh
6. Darren Lockyer (C)
7. Peter Wallace
8. Shane Tronc
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Ben Hannant
11. Matt Gillett
12. Sam Thaiday
13. Corey Parker

14. Ben Hunt
15. Alex Glenn
16. Scott Anderson
17. Nick Kenny

Canberra Raiders

1. Josh Dugan
2. Daniel Vidot
3. Joel Thompson
4. Jarrod Croker
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Josh McCrone
7. Matt Orford
8. David Shillington
9. Alan Tounge (C)
10. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs
11. Bronson Harrison
12. Joe Picker
13. Shaun Fensom

14. Glen Buttriss
15. Brett White
16. Josh Miller
17. Trevor Thurling

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

1. Ben Barba
2. Bryson Goodwin
3. Josh Morris
4. Jonathon Wright
5. Steve Turner
6. Kris Keating
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. Ryan Tandy
9. Michael Ennis
10. Aiden Tolman
11. Frank Pritchard
12. Andrew Ryan (C)
13. David Stagg

14. Ben Roberts
15. Michael Hodgson
16. Mickey Paea
17. Jamal Idris

Cronulla Sharks

1. Nathan Gardner
2. John Williams
3. Dean Collis
4. Colin Best
5. Isaac Gordon
6. Wade Graham
7. Tim Smith
8. Kade Snowden
9. John Morris
10. Luke Douglas
11. Paul Gallen (C)
12. Anthony Tupou
13. Jeremy Smith

14. Paul Aiton
15. Broderick Wright
16. Josh Cordoba
17. Ben Pomeroy

Gold Coast Titans

1. William Zillman
2. Kevin Gordon
3. Joseph Tomane
4. Clinton Toopi
5. David Mead
6. Kayne Lawton
7. Scott Prince
8. Luke Bailey
9. Preston Campbell
10. Matthew White
11. Anthony Laffranchi
12. Mark Minichello
13. Ashley Harrison

14. Bodene Thompson
15. Brad Meyers
16. Michael Henderson
17. Sam Tagatese

Manly Sea Eagles

1. Brett Stewart
2. David Williams
3. William Hopoate
4. Jamie Lyon (C)
5. Michael Robertson
6. Kieran Foran
7. Daly-Cherry Evans
8. George Rose
9. Matt Ballin
10.Brent Kite
11.  Anthony Watmough
12. Shane Rodney
13. Glenn Stewart

14. Jason King
15. Tony Williams
16. James Cunningham
17. Joe Galuvao

Melbourne Storm

1. Billy Slater
2. Matthew Duffie
3. Beau Champion
4. Justin O’Neill
5. Dane Nielsen
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Adam Woolnough
9. Cameron Smith (C)
10. Brian Norrie
11. Sika Manu
12. Adam Blair
13. Ryan Hinchcliffe

14. Sione Kite
15. Jesse Bromwich
16. Jaiman Lowe
17. Mitchell Johnson

Newcastle Knights

1. Kurt Gidley
2. Akuila Uate
3. Adam McDougall (C)
4. Junior Sau’u
5. James McManus
6. Jarrod Mullen
7. Beau Henry
8. Chris Houston
9. Issac De Gois
10. Mark Taufua
11. Cory Paterson
12. Zeb Taia
13. Matt Hilder

14. Antonio Kaufusi
15. Steve Southern
16. Evarn Tuimavave
17. Zane Tetevano

New Zealand Warriors

1. Kevin Locke
2. Krisnan Inu
3. Joel Moon
4. Sam Ropati
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. James Maloney
7. Brad Seymour
8. Sam Rapira
9. Shaun Berrigan
10. Russell Packer
11. Simon Mannering
12. Feleti Mateo
13. Micheal Luck (C)

14. Lance Hohaia
15. Ben Matulino
16. Ukuma Tai’i
17. Jacob Lillyman

North Queensland Cowboys

1. Matthew Bowen
2. Kalifi Fai Fai Loa
3. Willie Tonga
4. Will Tupou
5. Antonio Winterstein
6. Jonathon Thurston (C)
7. Michael Morgan
8. Matthew Scott
9. Aaron Payne
10. Tariq Sims
11. Glenn Hall
12. Dane Hogan
13. Dallas Johnson

14. James Segeyaro
15. Ricky Thorby
16. James Tamou
17. Gavin Cooper

Parramatta Eels

1. Jarryd Hayne
2. Chris Walker
3. Paul Whatuira
4. Joel Reddy
5. Luke Burt
6. Daniel Mortimer
7. Jeff Robson
8. Fui Fui Moi Moi
9. Casey McGuire
10. Justin Poore
11. Ben Smith
12. Nathan Hindmarsh (C)
13. Justin Horo

14. Anthony Mitchell
15. Shane Shackleton
16. Carl Webb
17. Tim Mannah

Penrith Panthers

1. Lachlan Coote
2. Michael Gordon
3. Michael Jennings
4. Brad Tighe
5. Sandor Earl
6. Arana Taumata
7. Luke Walsh
8. Petero Civoniceva (C)
9. Kevin Kingston
10. Tim Grant
11. Michael Worrincy
12. Trent Waterhosue
13.  Luke Lewis

14. Masada Iosefa
15. Sam McKendry
16. Matthew Bell
17. Frank Puletua

St George Illawarra Dragons

1. Darius Boyd
2. Brett Morris
3. Matt Cooper
4. Mark Gasnier
5. Jason Nightingale
6. Jamie Soward
7. Ben Hornby
8. Michael Weyman
9. Nathan Fien
10. Trent Merrin
11. Beau Scott
12. Ben Creagh
13. Dean Young

14. Dan Hunt
15. Kyle Stanley
16. Adam Cuthbertson
17. Daniel Penese

South Sydney Rabbitohs

1. Rhys Wesser
2. Nathan Merritt
3. Greg Inglis
4. Dylan Farrell
5. Chris McQueen
6. John Sutton
7. Chris Sandow
8. Ben Ross
9. Isaac Luke
10. Luke Stuart
11. Sam Burgess
12. Eddy Pettybourne
13. Ben Lowe

14. Scott Geddes
15. Shannon McPherson
16. Dave Taylor
17. Michael Crocker

Sydney Roosters

1. Anthony Minichello
2. Sam Perrett
3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
4. Kane Linnett
5. Justin Carney
6. Braith Anasta (in light of Carney’s injury)
7. Mitchell Pearce
8. Jason Ryles
9. Jake Friend
10. Martin Kennedy
11.  Nate Myles
12. Tom Symonds
13. Daniel Conn

14. Jarad-Warea Hargreaves
15. Mark Riddell
16. Lama Tasi
17. Frank-Paul Nuuasala

Wests Tigers

1. Wade McKinnon
2. Lote Tuquiri
3. Chris Lawrence
4. Blake Ayshford
5. Beau Ryan
6. Benji Marshall
7. Tim Moltzen
8. Keith Galloway
9. Robbie Farah
10. Todd Payten
11. Gareth Ellis
12. Chris Heighington
13. Liam Fulton

14. Simon Dwyer
15. Andrew Fifita
16. Bryce Gibbs
17. Alan Schirnak

Could 2011 be the year of the Tongue for NSW?

11 years. One club. One legend. One of the greatest to ever pull on a Raiders jersey, and what does he get? An origin berth, albeit in the ‘Blues in waiting’ squad. Perhaps 5 years too late.

Yes, you heard correct, 30-year-old Alan Tongue was named in the ‘Blues in waiting’ squad by Ricky Stuart, which is rather unusual, given that most of the other players in the squad are 25 years of age or under.

What makes the selection of Tongue even more ironic or farcical, depending on how you look at it, is that had be been a Queenslander, he would have been picked with no hesitation in their side, which shows the past ineptitudes of the NSW selectors.

Funnily enough also, Tonuge is the only player in the squad that is a club captain, and has over 200 NRL games to his name, so it makes you wonder why he is yet to play an Origin.

“Oh yeah I do feel a little bit old!” he laughed.

“But that’s all good, that’s part and parcel of footy and of life.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play in the NRL for the past 10 or 11 years so that’s been great and it reinvigorate you a bit when you’re around the young guys and their confidence and to be in this situation is obviously a great opportunity for me.”

Whilst he has been selected in the squad, Tongue is expecting that the actual make-up of the 2011 NSW Origin side will consist of mostly younger players, but he concedes that he is learning things from them too.

“I’m not sure about young guys now, the confidence and the way they handle themselves now, they might be trying to show me a few things,” he said.

“I didn’t expect it at all actually, I didn’t know the camp was going to start but obviously I’m rapt to be here and to get the most out of it.

“I suppose it points out that people are watching and you’re in the frame of mind I suppose which is good but I’ve been in these squads in the past as well. You’ve just got to let your footy speak for you.”

Shane Shackleton eager to prove his worth to Eels fans

He suffered perhaps one of the worst and most painful injuries one can suffer in the game of the NRL just 22 minutes into his first game with the Parramatta Eels, and he credits one man for his rebab and recovery.

Shane Shackleton, who moved to the Eels in season 2010, suffered the horrific injury (tore the hamstring off the bone) in just his first game for the Eels which left both he and Eels fans disappointed.

The front-rower has praised Australia’s world-champion surfer Mick Fanning for his recovery, after Fanning suffered the same injury in 2004, only to come back and win the World Championship in 2007.

It is for this reason as to why Shackleton says that Fanning helped him enormously in his recovery, as both self-doubt, and many long and lonely hours got to Shackleton.

“He’s been a great help, just in giving me good peace of mind early on, which was really important,” Shackleton said.

“He’s been through it and come back to win a world title and that’s given me the confidence that I’ll be OK.

“That’s the big thing because it’s such an unusual injury. It’s good to have someone there who’s been through it.”

Shackleton’s partnership with Fanning began, after it was Andrew Johns who orchestrated for the two to meet, in order to see how to best cope with the injury.

Upon seeing that Shackleton had suffered an identical injury to his, Fanning immediately rang the Eels prop, and sent through a copy of the rehab program he employed for himself to recover.

The injury came at a bad time for Shackleton, as during his recovery, he thought that he wouldn’t be rehabilitated in time, and trying to get his head around just how bad the injury actually was.

Given that he too has suffered the injury, Fanning did see some similarities between both his injury and Shackleton’s.

“At first the docs pretty much tell you it’s over, so it’s pretty frightening,” the surf star said.

“So I just wanted to let him know he could come back.

“I just told him [former Test back-rower] Luke O’Donnell did the same thing and about some AFL players who have all come back firing hard.

“It’s just when you haven’t ridden a wave for so long or played footy it’s pretty scary, but to know you can come back stronger always helps.”

Due to the severity of the injury, Shackleton had to learn to walk again, and he endured a tough 8 months of intense physiotherapy and strength training to get his hamstring  as strong as possible.

In order to determine if he will be 100% fit to play in the trial games for the Eels, Shackleton will have a strength test in 10 days.

In light of his injury, the Eels prop is desperate to repay the faith shown to him by the Eels, and for their support of his injury by the coaching staff and training staff.

“That’s the main thing I want to do coming back, is just wanting to repay the people who have invested in me,” Shackleton said.

“To get 20 minutes out of me in the first game was obviously very disappointing, so it will be good to get back out there.

“I feel like I owe them.”

Storm props involved in heated physical exchange

A young-gun and a veteran, both Melbourne Storm props were involved in a physical scuffle in which punches were exchanged.

Adam Woolnough and Mitchell Johnson had to be separated by their team-mates, a battle which perhaps has to do with the tough competition for spots in the Storm’s front-row.

Woolnough, who has been out of the NRL since 2009, was coaxed back by Bellamy to play, clashed with Johnson during a simple training drill, before several punches were then thrown, with some hitting the mark.

Storm captain, Cameron Smith talked to both of the players about the incident, and he says that whilst the fight wasn’t the ideal situation for the Storm, it was dealt with quickly.

”It was all over pretty quickly. They just had a disagreement,” he said.

”They had a bit of chat about what happened and shook hands and that was it. That’s the first one I’ve seen … obviously things get heated at training, we’re all a competitive bunch of blokes. You had a young front-rower and a veteran front-rower vying for a spot.

”I’ve seen a few people come close to [blows] but that is the first time, so that’s a pretty good record, first time in 11 pre-seasons.”

Influential figures the catalyst behind final proposal

Think of two coaching greats in the NRL, and who do you think of? Do you think of Jack Gibson, and his premiership successes with both the Roosters and the Eels, or do you think of the supercoach Wayne Bennett, and the last man to lead NSW to victory in Origin, in Phil Gould.

Well, if you were thinking of the last two, then you’d be bang on the money. For the Central Coast Bears, gaining inception into the league would mean the world to them, and they have a plan to ensure that they have Wayne Bennett and Phil Gould in their corner when they mount their final proposal to the NRL.

Both Bennett and Gould have been backing the Bears bid since it first arose, as it not only brings back the rich history of the former NRL team, the North Sydney Bears, but it also allows a former rugby league heartland in the Central Coast, to have the chance to become a force in regards to junior breeding grounds.

Greg Florimo, the Bears Chief Executive has said that whilst the final proposal is not yet 100% finalised, he is pleased that both Gould and Bennett have gotten behind the team and is supporting them in their bid.

“We’ve underlined the key stakeholders or certainly the key commentators in the game to ask for their support and I think they’ll carry a lot of weight in their thinking and the (imminent) independent commission’s thinking,” said Florimo, who at this stage is aiming to lodge the proposal in late March.

“The actual presentation and how the bid looks when we go to the NRL is obviously still being engineered and we’ve engaged a company to do that.

“It’s about working out exactly what strengths we have to portray and how best to deliver that.

“If that means we’ve got Phil Gould and Wayne Bennett in the room when we present, well that might be the case, but I’m not sure if that’s the actual tact we’ll follow at the moment.”

The Bears have also got the ball rolling early, with Mortgage House agreeing to a deal in principle for the club’s ownership, believed to be worth $10 million.

Florimo also said that in the short period of time that they have been working on the bid, they have already amassed 5000 members, 70% of which are local Central Coast residents.

A decision on expansion in the NRL will be made later this year.

“We’ve met with Graham Annesley a couple of times in the past few months and all along he’s stated that the Bears is the most advanced,” he said.

“And that’s given we have a large membership base now, more than 5000 members and there’s a number of other elements of our bid that perhaps aren’t there in the other bids, i.e the stadium.

“He’s made it clear to us that we’re the most advanced of the bids.”

At the NRL ceo’s conference at the end of last year, the majority of club bosses indicated they were more supportive of expansion to Perth and central Queensland than they were to the Central Coast.

Florimo also denies that the Bears side will pose any territorial threats to the juniors of other teams in and around the Sydney area.

“I think there’s enough value on the coast and on the north shore to sustain a team so it doesn’t impact on other clubs, it’s a massive franchise area,” he said.