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Individual NRL Team and Club News

Sharks add Kiwi international Johnson

Former New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson

After he made a surprise decision to leave the New Zealand Warriors, Shaun Johnson’s move to the Cronulla Sharks is now official. 

The well-liked Kiwi international will join the Sharks on a 3-year deal.

After a back and forth process and numerous tours, the move has eventuated and Johnson looks forward to what lies ahead.

“It’s been a crazy few weeks but it’s good to lock it all away. I can’t wait to get over here and to rip in. It’s really exciting,” Johnson said.

“I want to add value where I can.

“The Sharks are a tough side, they know how to win and that’s what I’m excited to be a part of.”

The sort of signing that all Sharks fans can be proud of, coach Shane Flanagan knows how hard it is to sign players of this calibre at this time.

“To recruit a current Test half at this time of year is a massive boost to our club, the playing group our members and fans,” Flanagan stated.

“Shaun’s football talent is going to be a huge plus for our team and his experience will undoubtedly help with the development of our younger players.”

Now seen as a stalwart in rugby league, Johnson’s experience will be invaluable for the younger brigade coming through at the Sharks.

“Players like Jayden (Brailey), Kyle (Flanagan) and Blayke (Brailey) are some who can only benefit from having Shaun in our team,” continued Flanagan.

“And added to all of that, he has outstanding character, has done some great work in the community in New Zealand and he will also be an asset to the club off the field as well,”

Fisher-Harris signs new Panthers contract extension

Penrith Panthers James Fisher-Harris

Entering the Penrith Panthers junior ranks in 2013, James Fisher-Harris has come a long way in six years.

Moving to the club from New Zealand, Penrith has become a second home for Fisher-Harris.

“I’m really excited and grateful for the club to give me this opportunity,” Fisher-Harris said.

“It’s surreal when I think about where I’ve come from and where I am today.

“Penrith has become my second home. My family loves living here and all my mates are here too.”

The Kiwi forward believes Penrith’s potential to succeed is limitless.

“It’s crazy how much talent we have at the club,” continued Fisher-Harris.

“I think the sky’s the limit in terms of what we can achieve together.”

Just as pleased are the club, who are looking forward to seeing Fisher-Harris add to his 63 games.

“James has come through the Panthers development system to now be an integral part of our NRL team,” Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould AM said.

“Already a current Kiwi international, James still has the best part of his football career well ahead of him.

“We are delighted he has committed to Panthers until the end of 2022.”

Napa takes up three-year deal with Bulldogs as Roosters grant release

Former Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa

With David Klemmer heading to the Newcastle Knights, the Canterbury Bulldogs have replaced him with the signing of Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa.

Napa, who was granted an immediate release by the Roosters in order to sign the deal, will be at the Bulldogs for at least three seasons.

The Roosters club and organisation wished Napa the best for his contributions and achievements while playing.

“We have granted this release with the view that it is in Dylan’s best interests to secure his long-term future,” said Easts Group CEO Scott Bennetts.

“Dylan has been a passionate clubman, and he will always have many friends at the Roosters.

“We thank Dylan for his contribution to the Roosters over the years, and wish him every success in the future,” he added.

A notorious aggressor in the front-line, Napa’s move will bring some starch to the Bulldogs pack.

The Queensland and international representative does, however, provide a new and interesting dynamic for the Bulldogs forward pack.

“Dylan has played on the biggest stages and experienced success at Origin and Grand Final level and we are confident that he can bring that uncompromising and winning mentality to the Bulldogs,” said club CEO, Andrew Hill.

Dylan will also add extra steel to what is already shaping to be an outstanding group of forwards.”

Just as pleased is head coach Dean Pay who knew the club needed a hulking prop to replace the departing Klemmer.

“Signing someone of Dylan’s toughness and ability is a major coup for the club,” said Pay.

We really feel that we have got a high calibre footballer who will be a great addition to both our pack and our playing group as a whole.”

Klemmer signs long-term deal with the Knights

Former Canterbury Bulldogs prop David Klemmer

After much speculation, the Newcastle Knights have signed Canterbury Bulldogs enforcer David Klemmer on a five-year deal. 

A New South Wales and Kangaroos representative, Klemmer is a prop that Knights fans had been screaming out for.

Adding to their already impressive roster, the signing of Klemmer puts the Knights in a stronger position heading into 2019.

Regarded as one of the best front-rowers in the game, the Knights are pleased to have signed Klemmer.

“David is one of the world’s best front rowers and his signing is an enormous coup for us,” Knights CEO Philip Gardner said.

“He’s been very upfront about the fact he sees a lot of potential in the Knights.”

With ambition high on Klemmer’s part, the Knights know that he will fit into the side and their own objectives.

“He wants to win a Premiership and he sees himself doing it here,” Gardner continued.

“That is a massive vote of confidence in the direction of our side and our club.”

With Newcastle trying to achieve a culture both on and off the field, the club know how much family means to Klemmer.

“What’s more, in signing David we welcome a quality individual, not just a quality player,” the CEO continued.

“He is a family man and a good person.

“He and his wife Chloe and their three boys are coming not just for football but for the quality of life Newcastle offers.”

Signing Klemmer will be a great addition for the Knights in the eyes of coach Nathan Brown.

“Klem has played 17 times for Australia and 12 times for NSW before his 25th birthday, which says a lot about him,” Brown said.

“He’s a big man who will help us over the advantage line and lead our pack.

“He’s exactly what we need.”

Quite a complex saga, the Bulldogs wished Klemmer the best at the Knights despite any issues during the ongoing experience.

“I would like to thank David for his time at the Bulldogs,” said Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill.

“He played his first NRL match for the club in 2013 and ended up making 113 appearances, in addition to his representative honours.

“We have always said to David that we wanted him to stay at the club, but ultimately he and his family have made a decision around needing a change of environment.”

“It has been a complex and challenging situation which we have tried to manage in the best interests of both parties.

“We now wish David and his family all the best in the next stage of his life.”

New home for Felise as Raiders get him on board

Former Newcastle Knights forward JJ Felise

In a bid to bolster their forward pack, the Canberra Raiders have signed prop JJ Felise on a 2-year deal. 

Felise, who has previously played for the Wests Tigers and the Newcastle Knights, is excited at what lies ahead with Canberra.

“It’s great to be here, the team have been very welcoming on the first day,” Felise said.

“When the opportunity came to move down here, I jumped at it because of the history and tradition that this Club has but also because of the talent within the playing group.”

The addition of Felise is one that the Raiders are pleased with.

“JJ is a quality middle-unit player who gives us some more depth up front,” Canberra Raiders recruitment and High-Performance Director Mulholland said. ”

He’s still only 22 and has plenty of development ahead of him and we know he can be a valuable member of our squad.”

Raiders Rookie of the Year Guler signs new deal with the club

Canberra Raiders forward Emre Guler

Fresh off winning the Canberra Raiders Rookie of the Year Award, Emre Guler has now signed a new deal with the club.

Already contracted until the end of 2019, Guler’s new deal is a 2-year extension until the end of 2021.

After an impressive debut in round 23 this past season, Guler maintained a bench spot for the final three rounds.

Guler is pleased to stay in the nation’s capital and looks forward to more opportunity with the departure of other forwards.

“I’m really excited to be staying here in Canberra and this is a great outcome for me and my family,” Guler said.

“I didn’t want to play footy anywhere else and I can’t wait for the new season to start.

“Obviously with Junior and Boydy moving on, there’s spots up for grabs and its up to me and guys like Ryan Sutton to step up for the team and try and take those spots.”

The club are equally chuffed with the decision and know that Guler deserved the new deal.

“Emre’s a wonderful young player who has shown during his short career he has the potential to become an established NRL player,” Raiders Recruitment and High-Performance Director Peter Mulholland said.

“We were lucky enough to get him here during his time in the under 20s and we’ve been really happy with the way he’s progressed within our club.

“It’s a credit to him and his family to see the way in which he has conducted himself and we’re really happy to keep him with the Raiders family for another three seasons.”

Panthers strengthen forward depth with signing of Sele

New Penrith Panthers recruit, prop Hame Sele

The Penrith Panthers have strengthened their forward stocks with the signing of former St George Illawarra Dragons prop Hame Sele. 

The deal is for the 2019 season but does include an option in the club’s favour for 2020.

Out to impress, Sele wants to make the most of the opportunity and hold down a first-grade spot at the Panthers.

“It’s exciting for me to start this new journey with Panthers, especially when you look at the facilities and the talented players at the club,” Sele said.

“It’s my goal to make the most of my opportunity here and to earn a place in the NRL team.

“I’ll be doing everything I can to make that happen.”

Playing just three games of first-grade in 2018, Sele was instead a consistent performer in the Intrust Super Premiership for the Dragons.

After debuting in 2017, Sele was selected in the City Origin side that same year.

The signing to bolster their forward stocks was praised by the club.

“Hame Sele is a tremendous addition to our playing roster,” Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould AM said.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate to have recruited such a talented forward at this stage of the season.

“Hame’s style of play will complement our forward depth perfectly and coach Ivan Cleary is excited to have him at our club.”

Musgrove gets early release to link up with Maguire at Tigers

South Sydney Rabbitohs prop Zane Musgrove

Familiar with Michael Maguire and his coaching style, Zane Musgrove will link up with the coach once more, granted an early release by the South Sydney Rabbitohs to join the Wests Tigers.

With the release confirmed by Souths, who wished Musgrove the best in his new move, he will be reunited by a Tigers team on the rise.

Since debuting in 2016, Musgrove has played 27 NRL games, with his Tigers deal running until the end of the 2021 season.

Maguire looks forward to working alongside the Samoan international once more.

“When I worked with Zane previously and he played consecutive games, I could see that he was growing into a really strong player,” said Maguire.

“With more experience, I can see him excelling in the future.”

Maguire wants to see all his players succeed and Musgrove is no different.

“He brings size, strength and skill to our pack and works hard on his defence,” he said.

“I look forward to working with him to help him reach his potential.”

Equally pleased was Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe who welcomed Musgrove to the club.

“As a club, we’re excited that Zane has joined us and we look forward to being able to provide him with an opportunity at Wests Tigers to pursue a clear pathway to progress his NRL career,” said Pascoe.

Sutton signs on to go around for one more season

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward John Sutton

A stalwart of the South Sydney Rabbitohs club, John Sutton will play on in 2019, his 16th season of NRL.

A local junior, Sutton is the only Souths player to have played 300 games for the club and is in illustrious company with the milestone.

Having come through the ranks and gone through the ups and downs at the club, Sutton is pleased to sign on for 2019.

“I couldn’t be happier about having the opportunity to play another season with Souths,” Sutton said.

“I love the Rabbitohs, I love playing for the Members and the fans, and I can’t wait to get back to training and ripping in to get ready for the season ahead.”

Just as Sutton has been there for more than a decade, so too has General Manager of Football Shane Richardson.

In that time, he has seen Sutton grow, develop and mature, and is also pleased to see him stay with the club.

“I’ve known John and his family for nearly 15 years now and he has grown as a leader and player on the field; and as a man, husband and father off the field in that time,” Richardson said.

“He played some of the best football of his career in 2018 and he has earned another season at the Rabbitohs.

“John’s experience is invaluable and he is a much loved and respected member of the team.

Sharks confirm immediate release of Holmes as he pursues NFL dream

Cronulla Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes

When you have a dream, you follow it, and Valentine Holmes will do just that, with the Cronulla Sharks releasing him from his contract. 

They have done so, which allows the star fullback to pursue an NFL dream and follow in the steps of Jarryd Hayne and Jordan Mailata.

Although the news disappoints the team as a whole, they did not want to stand in his way when it came to pursuing a dream.

Should Holmes return to the NRL – if he is unsuccessful in his NFL bid – he will return to the Sharks in 2019.

Grateful to the Sharks club and its fans, the premiership winner says that now is the right time for him to do this.

“I will be forever grateful to the Cronulla Sharks Football Club and the Sharks fans for the past 5 years of support,” Holmes said.

“It was a special moment we all shared winning the Clubs first ever NRL Premiership.”

Holmes just hopes that he will continue to have the support of the fans.

“I understand this decision may come as a shock to many but I personally believe it’s the right time for me to challenge myself and pursue this NFL opportunity,” the star fullback continued.

“Hopefully the fans can understand and support me as they have done throughout my career.”

Admittedly disappointed with the decision, the Sharks club had nothing but well wishes for Holmes in making the most of his dream.

“While disappointed by Val’s decision, I acknowledge he has been outstanding for our Club and for the game of Rugby League,” Cronulla Sharks CEO Barry Russell said.

“He is loved by our Club, Corporate Partners, Members and fans.

“We are incredibly saddened to see him leave our Club and exit the game of rugby league, however we wish him all the best in pursuing his NFL career and hope one day he may again wear the Sharks colours.”