Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Storm gain new assistant coaches in Kevin Walters and David Kidwell

Two rugby league greats in Kevin Walters and David Kidwell have joined forces, and have been made assistant coaches at the Melbourne Storm.

Both Kidwell and Walters will assume the role after former Storm assistant Stephen Kearney left the club to take up the head coaching position at the Eels.

Walters, who was captain of the Broncos during some of the premiership wins, played in eight test matches and 20 State of Origin games for QLD, while David Kidwell enjoyed a 4 year stay at the Storm during his playing days, racking up 104 games in the process.

Walters, who only just returned to Australia was formerly the coach of ESL team Catalans Dragons, in which he took them to a preliminary final in just his first year in charge.

Kidwell assumes the assistant coach role at the Storm and leaves behind his coaching position as head coach of the Rabbitohs Under 20’s side in which he made the grand final with in 2010.

Craig Bellamy couldn’t disguise his content at getting the two on board at the Storm.

“We’re absolutely delighted that Kevin and David have decided to join the Storm family,” Bellamy said.

“I know Kevin and David will be able to contribute greatly to our preparations for next season, and both will bring great ideas, enthusiasm, professionalism and experience to our club.”

Whilst Walters will begin his role immediately at the Storm’s pre-season training beginning on Monday, Kidwell will only begin his role once his prior commitments with the Junior Kiwi side cease.

Parramatta firming as new club for Jonathon Thurston

The Parramatta Eels have emerged as the favourites to secure the services of North Queensland Cowboys five-eighth, Jonathon Thurston.

Despite still being contracted to the Cowboys for another three years, the Cowboys are believed to be wearing thin with patience in light of recent incidents.

Whilst the supposed smokescreen has been that of Matt Orford, after he demanded a release from his ESL club Bradford Bulls, it’s no surprise that the Eels have been keeping a close eye on Thurston, as they have done for some time.

Thurston, who has officially been ruled out of the Four Nations with an ankle injury, has had a tough few years in recent times at the Cowboys, and is believed to have fallen out with Cowboys coach Neil Henry.

Thurston, who was also recently charged with being a public nuisance has had those subsequent charges dropped, although the club still plan to conduct a review which could see Thurston lose the captaincy at the club.

It’s no surprise that Thurston appears to be favouring a move back to Sydney, having expressed a desire to do so on several occasions over the last few years.

The Eels are on a mission to secure a top-flight half, and they are one of the NRL’s few clubs with money left in the cap to chase a high-profile player like Thurston.

”I’ve heard the rumours, but as far as we’re concerned Johnathan is contracted to the Cowboys,” Eels chief executive Paul Osborne said.

”We’re concentrating on getting people who are actually available.”

If Thurston was to join the Eels, then the move would be a great way for new Eels coach Stephen Kearney to begin his tenure at the club.

Whilst Thurston would appear to the missing piece to the puzzle that is the Eels, Thurston’s manager Sam Ayoub has strongly denied that his client is going anywhere.

”I’m sure there would be clubs that would be delighted to have him on board, but he’s at the Cowboys and he’s contracted for three years,” Ayoub said. ‘

‘I would doubt [he will join Parramatta] very, very much. Just because someone has had a hiccup along the way doesn’t mean he won’t be there. I think people are reading more into it than they should.”

Billy Slater set to remain a Stormer for life

Just 8 years ago, all Billy Slater had when he arrived in Melbourne was a sole suitcase.

Now, arguably the games best fullback is set to sign a deal worth $1 million that will ensure he remains at the Storm for the remainder of his career.

As we draw nearer and nearer to the start of the Four Nations, Slater has declared he had no intentions to leave the club, which is a boost to Melbourne as they look to the future, in light of their recent cap scandals.

Despite already being contracted to the Storm until the end of 2012, Slater and his manager George Mimis have already begun discussing a 3 year extension to that deal, which will effectively mean that Slater will end his career at the Storm.

Just 8 months ago, such a deal would have seemed impossible due to the Storm’s cap scandal.

“But what happened over the last few months has only enhanced the camaraderie of the place,” Slater said.

“When things aren’t going so well, it’s easier for everyone to take their own direction, but the club is just so strong.”

Slater’s NRL career began at just 4 years old, when he played for the Brothers club in Innisfail in far North Queensland.

He almost gave the game up however, when at the age of 15, he quit league and worked as a trackwork jockey under Gai Waterhouse in Sydney.

League would have the last laugh however, as Slater’s love of the game couldn’t keep him away. His determination was evident when he travelled 20 hours to play for the then Melbourne Storm feeder side Norths Devils in Brisbane.

Later that day, after impressing those at the Storm in leaps and bounds, he signed his first NRL contract.

“I went down there as a 19-year-old kid. I was single, I had a suitcase – that’s all I had,” Slater said.

“Now I’ve got a house, a beautiful wife and two kids.

“I’ve grown a lot since I’ve gone down there. Melbourne’s home for me now.

“You always weigh up your options and your opportunities when you sit down and start thinking about negotiating a new contract.

“But that’s the place for me and if we could do a deal until the end of my career, I would be very proud to be a one-club man.

“I have been involved with the club for nearly 10 years now.

“It’s a place that’s given me an opportunity to fulfil my dreams and a chance for me now to finish my career at the place where it all started.”

Critics already writing Canberra off

Canberra stalwart and five-eighth Terry Campese has urged NRL fans and critics alike not to dismiss the Raiders as cellar-dwellars as he faces a lengthy stint on the sideline after knee sugery.

Campese has thrown his support behind Josh McCrone and Michael Picker to guide the Raiders next year, in light of his knee injury which is expected to keep him out until at least Rd 12.

The blow is detrimental to the Raiders chances of making a run for the top 8 in season 2011, and many critics believe that without Campese’s leadership and skill, the Raiders lack any real creativity.

Campese insists though that the production line of talent that the Raiders have coming through, is more than capable of filling the void.

“They can definitely handle it,” said Campese, who underwent knee surgery three weeks ago.

“Josh led us well this year and he’ll have a lot of confidence from that and we’ve got a great bunch of young halves at the club in Michael Picker and Sam Williams.

“They’ve played in grand finals for lower grades and they’re very confident and they can’t wait to get to training to start competing for that position.”

The calls come after Raiders CEO Don Furner dismissed any rumours that the club were attempting to coax former Panther Craig Gower or former Storm and Manly player, Matt Orford to the club.

Campese’s season ended in a painful matter, after he was stretchered off of the field in the club’s finals loss to the Tigers with a cruciate ligament injury to his knee.

Campese is faced with another five weeks in a leg brace, after doctors were forced to perform a skin graft to replace the ruptured ligament, thus meaning that Campese will not be able to run until at least Christmas.

The Raiders play-maker is aiming for a Rd 13 return, which will see them face the North Queensland Cowboys, and he remains adamant that the Raiders will have the attacking and defensive arsenal without him, to stay close to the top 8 by the time he comes back.

“I don’t think it’s any different getting written off if I was in the team or not,” he said. “We can take a lot of confidence out of the last few games and just hopefully everyone stays behind us because we’ve definitely still got the personnel capable to be right up there.”

Campese also noted that the Raiders fairy-tale run to the 2010 finals gave them the added impetus to continue that good form into season 2011.

“We learned coming seventh if we won a few games at the start of the year when we were leading we would have been right up there.”

Inglis still not a Bronco

66 days this saga has dragged on for. 66 days. That equates to just over two months, and still there’s no official announcement that Greg Inglis has signed with the Broncos.

What makes this saga even more interesting is that Greg Inglis hasn’t been released from his contract with the Melbourne Storm, nor has he been signed by the Brisbane Broncos.

Both the Storm and the Broncos refused to discuss the matter, nor would they explain what the delay in Inglis officially signing with the Brisbane Broncos.

The deal is worth around $1.2 million dollars, but the delay is not believed to be a result of salary cap pressure.

The delay in the entire process could possibly prevent Inglis from beginning rehabilitation on his injured shoulder, in which he requires surgery for.

Ron Gauci, the Storm’s new Chief Executive, Inglis himself, and Inglis’s manager, Allan Gainey were still discussing the ‘dialogue’ regarding his release from the Melbourne Storm.

“It relates to reconciliation of some historical issues,” Gauci said.

“Once we get agreement on those we will release him.”

Gauci said it was a “sensitive” issue which the club did not wish to discuss publicly.

He wasn’t able to say when t may be resolved or whether it would delay his arrival at the Broncos.

“It will be decided once we can get all the parties together and resolve it,” he said.

Andrew Gee, who is the Broncos football manager hopes that the entire process is complete and finalised before November 1, as that is when the Broncos will begin their pre-season training.

The Storm nor the Broncos knew if Inglis was allowed to train with their clubs in light of the negotiations.

Henjak has full support of incoming CEO

There was talk that Ivan Henjak was on the way out at the Broncos, but nay talk of that can now be put to bed after incoming CEO Paul White confirmed that Henjak has his full support for the 2o11 season.

Whilst White won’t officially assume the CEO position until next year, he has pledged to support Henjak 100% and dismissed the rumours surfacing in the NRL world.

The former policeman has an impressive track-record having business experience in the coal mining industry, as well as a comprehensive rugby league resume, all of which make him a good candidate to take over from the outgoing Bruno Cullen.

“My priority is to give Ivan and all his staff my leadership and support as I will do to all the members of the organisation, said White.”

“That’s a commitment I give to everyone.

“Ivan is the coach. I’ll be coming into this role in January when the season is about to start and I’ll give him my full commitment, support and leadership.”

The rumours have also been dismissed by Daryl Somerville, who is the Broncos chairman.

“There’s nothing really to discuss there, Ivan is our coach and that’s it.

“All the stuff you read in the press, hasn’t been contributed to be us, that’s the press writing it.”

White is not a stranger to the world of NRL, having played professionally as an outside back some years ago, and he was selected in the Queensland Police Team of the Century alongside fellow NRL greats Wayne Bennett, Mal Meninga and the late Peter Jackson.

“I look forward to the wonderful challenges ahead and thank the Broncos for the wonderful opportunity they have given me,” White said on Monday.

“I make a commitment to our shareholders, our supporters and all the people associated with this organisation in Brisbane that I’ll give this job 110 per cent like I’ve done with all the roles I’ve undertaken throughout my life. I hope to make a real success of it.

“It’s probably a once if a lifetime opportunity.”

One of the first things that White will plan to do upon his start as tenure is to increase the club’s supporters base during his time at the club.

“We’ve traditionally out-performed the league (NRL) with our average attendances,” he said.

“Last year it was 35,000 (average). I think the real challenge is to convert those 35,000, or as many of them as we can, to season members.

“When you do that, you take a lot of the risk out of your business.”

White can see the history and prestige of the Broncos organisation, and the success in which it has had over the last 15 years.

“One thing is to respect the history and traditions of the club and the work that Bruno and others have done during their tenures. I think that’s critically important,” he said.

“The club was founded by people with great vision 20 years ago, we’re entering a period where we’re getting third generation supporters coming through and it’s a wonderful opportunity to really embed that tradition.

“Whether I’m breaking new ground, I think I am a genuine rugby league person and while I have a strong corporate background, I’m a massive fan of the organisation about how they’ve gone out their business on and off the field.

“It’s a huge challenge for me to make sure I retain that as the overall culture of the club.”

Belmore Oval is soon to be back in business

All Bulldogs fans can only dream of getting their weekly dose of footy at Belmore Oval, and that dream is soon set to become a reality with the a proportion of money being put forth for the Oval.

The upgrade of the Belmore Sports Ground was set at $2.5 million, and it was announced this afternoon by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.

“This $2.5 million grant will be used to upgrade the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs’ home turf at Belmore Sports Ground and will bring major benefits to the game and local community,” Ms Keneally said.

“The redevelopment will give the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs new facilities for a permanent training base as well as creating new opportunities for other users.

“This funding will give local community organisations, clubs and sporting teams’ access to contemporary facilities at Belmore Sports Ground.”

This particular grant from the NSW Government is an added bonus, after Belmore Oval also received $4.9 million in Federal funding as part of the Regional Local Community Infrastructure Programme.

An additional $500,000 will be given by the Bulldogs and the Canterbury City Council.

The construction that is set to take place at Belmore Sports Ground is set to commence in three months with a brand new training and office facility, the key feature set to be built.

The additional NSW funding announcement will also serve as funds to improve the sports ground itself with the aim being for the Bulldogs to play at the ground once more.

“The Premier is a great supporter of Rugby League and we are extremely grateful to her for helping make the Belmore redevelopment a reality.

“We are moving closer to the day that construction begins, and we know that with the support we have received from the Federal and NSW Governments, along with Canterbury City Council, we are another step closer towards one of the best training facilities in Australian sport.

“In addition, we are another step closer to giving the people of Belmore and the wider Canterbury-Bankstown district a sporting facility of distinction, one they can be proud to have in their back yard.”

WIN Jubilee oval receives $13 million boost for upgrades

The ground that Dragons supporters love flocking to, WIN Jubilee Oval, will be given the sum of $13 million in order to upgrade their stadium as they see fit.

The additional money would not have been obtained had Kogarah MP Cherie Burton and Minister for Sport and Recreation, Oatley MP, Kevin Greene who both put in the hard yards and made constant inquiries about the money needed to upgrade the stadium.

The NSW Government had already invested $12 million dollars earlier, and so the total amount put forth by the government for the stadium’s re-developments comes to a staggering $25 million.

The second pool of money submitted, the $13 million dollars will be spent on a range of areas including:

– A new northern grandstand with 1,372 undercover seats;
– New toilet and concession facilities;
– New change rooms for first grade and Under 20s players;
– New corporate area and boxes; and
– A new museum and merchandise outlet

Present at the announcement of the additional money was Premier Kristina Keneally, Kogarah MP Cherie Burton, St George Illawarra Dragons CEO, Peter Doust and St George Illawarra Dragons players.

“St George Illawarra Dragons fans have another reason to celebrate with this additional funding needed for the completion of the stadium redevelopment,” Ms Burton said.

“This investment has been a huge boost to our passionate Dragons-loving local community, and continues to build on the investment by the NSW Government over the last few years.”

Minister for Sport and Recreation and Oatley MP Kevin Greene said the massive infrastructure investment is great news for the entire community, not just rugby league fans, players and clubs.

“WIN Jubilee Oval is a major asset for the St George region that’s used not only by the mighty 2010 Premiership winning Dragons but also by sporting groups, community groups and local schools,” Mr Greene said.

“The completion of the upgrade will ensure this iconic sporting ground and community facility will keep meeting the needs of the local community.”

The live site that was put forth by the government proved to be a massive success, and is for that reason that NSW premier Kristina Keneally gave more money, and that the oval is important to Kogarah fans.

“The new southern grandstand which opened last year has already given the ground a major boost,” Ms Keneally said.

“Thousands of fans turned out for last weekend’s Grand Final live site here at Jubilee Oval to cheer the mighty Dragons to victory.”

St George Illawarra Dragons CEO, Peter Doust said: “I am very pleased on behalf of our Dragons Red V Members and supporters that the NSW Government has funded the completion of Stage 3 of the Master Plan Re-development of WIN Jubilee Oval, Kogarah in accordance with the already approved development application.

“Completion of Stage 3 will provide improved quality of services for patrons and ensure WIN Jubilee Oval remains a high quality community asset for the long term.”

South Sydney aiming to sign other Burgess brothers

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have plans to sign the remaining three Burgess brothers, all of whom are currently playing in England.

The brothers, who are almost identical, could very well be at the club as soon as next season if the Rabbitohs club gets their way.

Sam’s older brother Luke currently plays for ESL club Leeds Rhinos, and his two younger brothers, Tom and George who are both 18, play for Sam’s previous club, the Bradford Bulls.

Tom and George hit the scale at a whopping 115kg respectively, a size which is huge and almost unheralded in the NRL. If their form in England is anything to go by, this won’t have any impact on the way they approach the NRL.

George Burgess just so happens to be the most highly regarded young prop in the ESL, so any club that manages to get him on board will have acquired a tremendous player.

“We’d like to have them all here as soon as possible,” says Souths CEO Shane Richardson.

It would be a massive marketing boost for Souths and the entire NRL.

“It would be great if it could happen for next year, but we have to respect they are still under contract to Bradford and Leeds in England.

Souths are quietly confident that they can fit all three under their cap, by including both Tom and George in the Toyota Cup and Luke in the first-grade squad.

Former Eels coach Daniel Anderson signed Webb and Maitua

Roy Spagnolo, Parramatta chairman, has explained thoroughly as to the reasons why former coach Daniel Anderson was sacked.

Spagnolo, who wrote a 12-page report, that went into the way Anderson ran the club, his relationship with certain players, and why the Eels said goodbye to several senior staff members after so many years.

The document, which is sure to cause some headlines, was sent to every member at the club and was last Friday, posted on the website of the Parramatta Leagues Club.

The document in question discusses the last 18 months of the Parramatta Eels Football Club, a time which many believe was a time of turmoil for the football club.

The report, which is set to reach a total of 50,000 members comprising of leagues club and football club members has claims made by Spagnolo including:

1. It was in fact sacked coach Daniel Anderson who made the decision to get rid of Feleti Mateo, Krisnan Inu & Kris Keating.

2. It was the decision of former coach Daniel Anderson and Eels CEO Paul Osborne to lure both Reni Maitua and Carl Webb to the club for next season.

3. The club dished out an astonishing figure of $130,000 for their chief investigator to partake in a full-scale review of the structure of the Eels organisation.

4. The reason as to why 9 employees including senior figures John Kolc, Andrew Hill Tullio Confranesco had their contracts terminated.

5. The fact that since Denis Fitzgerald was discarded, the club turned an $8.7 million loss to an expected $2.1 million dollar profit in just two years.

You can read the report here.

The report is hardly an encouraging sign for new recruits Webb and Maitua, as Spagnolo stresses the point that Anderson was responsible for the signings.

“Contrary to some media reports, it should be noted and made very clear that the purchase of the following two players [Webb and Maitua] was negotiated by Daniel Anderson and [chief executive] Paul Osborne, and at no time was there any board involvement.

“Further to the above, it was Daniel Anderson’s decision not to renew the contracts of the following players, Feleti Mateo, Krisnan Inu and Kris Keating.

“At no time was there any board interference.”

Spagnolo concluded the report by applauding the signing of Kearney.

“We are excited at having secured Stephen’s services,” Spagnolo writes.

“The structure, discipline and enthusiasm he presented to the board about how he will run the football club, from the juniors right through to the first-grade team, was really uplifting.

“He gave us confidence that our football team will be a force to be reckoned with and we believe this is something you will be happy to hear.

“The feedback already received from both the coaching staff and players about Stephen joining us is one of immense enthusiasm and excitement.

“This did not come as a surprise to us as Stephen is held in a very high regard by Wayne Bennett.”