Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Piggy could get stuck in reserve grade

Initially, it was thought that he may act as a second-rower off the bench, but now, it seems like new Tigers recruit Mark Riddell could find himself playing extended periods in the NSW Cup.

Whilst Riddell is an accomplished hooker, and seen as an adequate replacement for the hooker position, Tigers coach Tim Sheens was forced to come clean, and tell Mark that he could face periods in the NSW Cup.

Riddell will probably only feature in the first-grade team at hooker if Robbie Farah is injured, suspended or chosen for Origin, not to mention the fact that Farah is an 80 minute player, thus nullifying the need for a reserve hooker off the bench.

“If Rob was a half a game hooker like some, Mark would be happy to play second fiddle. My issue is, and I’ve spoken to him about it, is he may play premier league,” Sheens told AAP.

“He’s a big time performer, he played last year’s Super League grand final, so his position being a specialist cover for Robbie is great … it could go good for him or it could go not so good in that he won’t get much first grade.

“Just as long as Mark understands that could be an issue.”

What may work in Piggy’s favour though is his size, which some Tigers officials think can be utilised to play minutes in the second-row/lock positions, to give tiring forwards a breather.

Another option, and one that hasn’t been ruled out by the maestro coach is seeing Riddell make a permanent shift to hooker, moving Farah into halfback, but that seems the most far-fetched of the lot.

“If we did have an issue in the No.7 jumper that could happen,” Sheens said.

“I’ve never liked moving Robbie before because I don’t like strengthening one (position) and weakening another, but I think Mark at his best could certainly play 9 and Robbie could play 7.”

In other Tigers news which is sure to make the fans happy for the future, the club has re-signed veteran forwards Todd Payten until the end of 2012, and Chris Heighington until the end of 2013.

“It’s a big goal of mine. A lot of things have to go my way before that can happen. I think it’s a fair achievement for a frontrower to do that,” Payten said.

Tigers change jersey as billionaire comes on board

A new playing strip for 2011 is to today be unveiled by the Wests Tigers just as billionaire tycoon Harry Triguboff returns to the Tigers as a major sponsor.

Triguboff sensationally cut ties with the Wests Tigers club a decade ago, after their ill-fated first season in the NRL,  though courtesy of some smart negotiation from CEO Stephen Humphreys resulted in the billionaire making a return to the Tigers sponsors.

The Tigers, who have slightly altered their stripes for the 2011 season did so at their Concord headquarters, though not all fans are pleased with the new jersey.

Simon of Balmain said “Hideous jersies, just an absolute train wreck in terms of design and appeal. If this is the result of player’s input, could I suggest they stick to the footy? Black, white and gold are fantastic colours to work with, cannot understand how the club can get it so completely wrong. Perhaps the Blades designer was having a bad week?”

Beau Ryan however couldn’t be happier with the jerseys, as he looks forward to wearing them for the 2011 season.

“The jerseys are awesome. Believe it or not the players actually had a fair bit of input into the design of them and we couldn’t be happier with how they’ve come out,” Ryan said.

“There’s a Lycra strip down either side to allow the material plenty of breathing space and the collars are designed so you can’t try and take blokes’ heads off.

“They’re a good fit and a good feel. As a matter of fact Chris and I wanted to take them home but the club wouldn’t let us.”

The new jerseys have shades of the club’s ties to both former NRL teams the Balmain Tigers, and the Western Suburbs Magpies, but also a mix between the merged club as they attempt to appeal to all fans from Balmain, the Western Suburbs, and their current fans.

“One of the issues has been that the black jumper was seen as a throwback to Western Suburbs and the orange one was seen as a throwback to Balmain,” Humphreys said.

“We kind of want to get a bit beyond that now and create something that is a Wests Tigers identity rather than a throwback.”

Hodges finally resumes to training after lengthy injury lay-off

When on song, and injury free, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better centre in the game, and that’s exactly what Justin Hodges is aiming to reproduce as he had his first training hit-out in a year.

In what is a major boost for the Broncos, particularly their younger players, Hodges successfully completed a 1 hour hit-out at Wests Mitchelton this morning.

A training mishap in January last year which resulted in a snapped achilles tendon prevented Hodges from taking any part in the 2010 season, and it was a major blow for the Broncos side leading into the season.

Broncos fans and players will be more than pleased to see Hodges back in the line-up given the recent cross-code transfer of Israel Folau to the AFL team,  the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Hodges, who continues to ice the foot after the completion of training as a mere precaution is over the moon that he is back and running again.

“That was the first big hit out I’ve had. I loved being back,” he said.

“It (his achilles) has pulled up good so I’ll go home and rest it and hopefully when I come back tomorrow it will be fine.

“I need to keep working on my fitness but I can’t wait for the season to start.”

Watmough itching to return to training

Regarded as one of the best bench forwards you will see in the game right now, Manly second-rower Anthony Watmough is pumped that pre-season training is underway, yet he isn’t able to partake in it just yet.

Neck and ankle injuries are restricting the mobile forward to his own light form of training, as he is unable to perform heavy duty training until the New Year.

Watmough, who was a member of the Australian side that lost to NZ in the Four Nations final is set to resume pre-season training with his team-mates after the Christmas break on January 10.

“I don’t know if I can really take that long off and come back in good form,” he said.

“I’ve been doing my own training three or four days a week, just so the boys aren’t getting too much of a jump on me when I come back.

“I’m bored already (and) I’ve been looking forward to getting back with the boys for a couple of weeks now.

“I don’t think Dessie was going to let me, but I think he’ll let me in a week or two.”

Watmough struggled with a bulging disc in his neck as well as an ankle injury, which was supposed to have required surgery before being allowed to heal naturally.

“Luckily they settled down a bit and we got through the Four Nations with it and didn’t have to do any (surgery),” he said.

“A bit of downtime and a bit of surfing has really helped it.”

Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell to return to the NRL with the Wests Tigers

Dragons fans and Eels fans will know the action well. It’s been described as a balancing act as Riddell lifts one arm up above his head before he goes to kick the ball. For fans who loved the move? You’ll get to see it again.

Yep, that’s right! Mark Riddell is set to make a return to the NRL with the Wests Tigers, in what is sure to see a return of the infamous goal-kicking stance.

The deal is expected to only be for a year, as the Tigers are after some experienced cover for incumbent hooker Robbie Farah in case of injury, suspension, or Origin.

Whilst he initially signed a 3 year deal with ESL club, the Wigan Warriors, Riddell has had to cut his stay in England short, as he returns home to be by his mother’s side, who is battling cancer.

The deal is expected to be made official tomorrow, in what will be Riddell’s 29th birthday. A rather fitting way to announce a return to the NRL.

“It’s likely to happen. We are maybe a day or two away from finalising it,” Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said yesterday.

“We have had discussions with Mark and they went very well. It is certainly something we are thinking about.

“We’re considering him a back-up to Robbie Farah”.

Given the Tigers at this stage, don’t have a lot of cap-space to work with, Humphreys was asked just how Riddell will fit into the Tigers cap. He replied:

“If he were to come here, it would be on a second-tier contract. He wouldn’t be in our top 25. That is the context with which we are considering him.”

Riddell’s career in the ESL finished on a high-note with his Wigan team getting the victory over a St Helens side in the Super League grand final.

“This is No. 1 for me. I have been chasing one of these titles for 11 or 12 years in professional rugby league.

“To finally get one at the end is something special.”

Michael Maguire, who some of you may recognise as a former Storm staffer, now current Wigan coach has expressed his disappointment in Riddell’s departure.

“We knew about Mark’s situation in June and we will be sad to lose him but fully understand the reasons behind his decision,” Maguire said.

Tahu may yet remain with the Eels on a reduced contract

The saga lingered on. The question as to whether or not he’d stay, or whether or not he’d go. Now, in perhaps the most sure-fire sign that the Eels are committed to working things out, the Eels have said they’re willing to retain their star centre on a reduced contract.

With an official announcement expected to be made today, and with many Eels and NRL fans hinging on the decision that was to be made, it never came.

It would now appear that the Eels won’t cut ties with the dual international just yet, as he deals with some issues stemming from several racial incidents over the course of the year 2010.

Eels Chief Executive Paul Osborne has said that whilst Tahu won’t be returning to the club at any time soon in light of the issues he faced, the Eels are more than happy to hold discussions with him in the New Year.

“We have a new coach, new game plans, all the sorts of things that make training important,” Osborne said.

“I’d happily talk to him in February, but it would be on a vastly different pay structure and contract.

“He would have missed four months’ training at that point.”

Tahu’s camp are yet to meet with the Eels to discuss such a movement.

Tahu’s former club, the Newcastle Knights have effectively ruled out any possible move for the dual international which only leaves the Parramatta Eels as a viable option for 2011.

Greg Eastwood pumped to be in Dogs colours again

In a move that has pleased Bulldogs fans all over Australia, recruit Greg Eastwood could not be happier at getting another chance to play for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Eastwood, who made his return to training yesterday, was a member of the New Zealand side that won the Four Nations, and was only expected to return to training next week, but he’s eager to get the ball rolling and showed up a week early for training in time for the 3 day trip.

“It’s good to be back,” Eastwood said. “I’ve been really looking forward to coming back. I turned up to training this morning and met all the boys; it was a good start.”

Eastwood, who played for ESL club Leeds Rhinos in season 2010, was at the Bulldogs in the 2009 season, and he had a stint with the Brisbane Broncos before that.

Eastwood has also said that he is very eager to play with the Bulldogs players, both the old and the new recruits.

“I met all the new boys today and they all seem really good,” he said. “To have Frank there, it’s a bonus.

“I sort of helped to get him across. Playing footy with him in the Kiwis I know how he plays; he’s going to be a real asset to the team next year.”

Eastwood was also one of the stand-outs for New Zealand in their Four Nations glory, as NZ were simply too strong in the final at Suncorp Stadium.

Eastwood believes however that there is always room for improvement, and that he is no exception.

“I can still improve, I believe,” Eastwood says. “The Bulldogs are going to really help – Kev and Lobby (head trainer Tony Grimaldi) are going to work me hard over the pre-season, and hopefully it brings out the best in me.

“You’ve got to start preseason some time, It’ll be good for the next two weeks just to learn a bit more about the players and get a bit more feel of the footy scene and then have a break over Christmas, then back full-time after.

“You know, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m excited.”

NRL ensures all rules are followed in Inglis deal

Despite pressure and some anger from Souths officials and fans, the NRL maintain that they are simply following the rules and protocols in relation to Greg Inglis’s deal as the deal in question continues to be heavily scrutinised.

In what will be the second week of the thorough check through Inglis’s deal, it is the third party deals totalling a staggering $200,000 a season that are of particular interest to cap auditor Ian Schubert.

Whilst there is constant debate from officials, fans and experts alike in relation to the base salary Inglis is earning, just a meagre $190,000, an NRL spokesperson claimed that the amount within the cap was not in question.

“The basic guide is that if a player is receiving money from any person as a way of inducing him to play for the club, then that money will be included in the salary cap.”

Souths are believed to be lodging four statutory declarations in regards to their third party agreements, as the NRL seeks the validity of the third-party deals which are valued at $100,000, $50,000 and two deals at $25,000.

What is possibly damaging to Souths stance that their third party deals are legitimate are owner Russell Crowe’s comments that Souths had claimed Inglis on a 3 year deal worth 1.8 million dollars, which equates to $600,000 a season.

“It’s not a case of what has to be in the cap in terms of a figure,” an NRL spokesperson said.

“The point is, if you are getting paid something to be at that club, regardless of who’s paying you beyond the marquee player allowance – if it’s to be at that club, it’s going to be in the cap.”

What remains to be seen is whether Ian Schubert authenticates the deal, and whether or not the third party deals are seen as legitimate.

Tahu and the Parramatta Eels almost certain to part ways

It’s basically a foregone conclusion that Timana Tahu and the Parramatta Eels are going to part ways in light of Tahu’s recent issues that have taken some time to resolve.

Whilst the Eels have given Tahu the time to get his head back in the game and resolve his issues, the club want to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, as they want to focus on their training preparations for the 2011 season.

“I doubt he’ll be here, but who knows?” an Eels insider said on Sunday. “It’s up to Steve, basically. We’ve been more than patient with him.”

“It will be sorted out tomorrow (meaning today) or Tuesday. We’ll know one way or the other.”

Given the issues Tahu is facing, speculation had been rife that Tahu’s family moved back to Newcastle, as more rumours emerged that Tahu was set to sign with the Knights, before Knights CEO Steve Burraston denied any such rumour.

Tahu has previously said that he’s willing to commute to and from Newcastle to play and train with the Eels club, but despite that, the Eels are still expected to part ways with the centre.

As the Eels are dealing with the situation, they’re looking worldwide for a new centre to take his spot at the club as they seek an experienced campaigner to take his spot.

The race row at the local Koori Aboriginal Tournament is still ongoing, as Tahu continually denies any wrongdoing despite reports suggesting otherwise, and new rumours coming to light about the situation.

“The Human Rights Commission have been handling it and they’re still going on with it,” an NRL spokesman said.

The push for a Western Reds team gains momentum

As one of the teams aiming to become one of the two new teams in the NRL in a few years, the Western Reds are pushing hard to be one of those teams. Now, they have one influential backer in the corner who wants to see them in the NRL.

That backer is former Panther and Reds star, Mark Geyer, as he urges that the Western Reds be re-instated as he stated that they were clearly going places before they lost their spot due to the Superleague War that divided League.

In 1995, the Reds were one of four teams to join the expansionary league, before the Superleague War began and the Reds defected to the Superleague. They are however poised to re-enter the contest in 2013.

”We have to give Perth another go,” said Geyer, who was one of the team’s big-name recruits. 

”I’m going to be accused of being biased because I played there, but I know the potential the place offers.

”We only dipped our toe in the water over there. When I was there 15 years ago the junior competition was good. While there were only five teams in the competition there was a lot of quality there, and from what I understand that is still the case.”

Geyer has also said that the distance from Perth for most teams was not a sufficient enough excuse to deny the Reds a team in the NRL.

”If two AFL teams can thrive there so far away from Melbourne and the [Super rugby team] the Western Force is based there along with the Perth Wildcats NBL team and the WA cricket team, I can’t see why league can’t have a WA team in the national competition.

”The 4½-hour flight from Sydney to there is nothing. It is a great market, a growing population and rich in potential.”

Geyer, who is also a strong supporter of the Central Coast Bears bid, as he looks forward to the day when 20 teams are in the NRL.