Category Archives: Featured

Featured and Late Breaking NRL Articles

Hardaker apologises after being provisionally suspended for failed drugs test

Zak Hardaker

With his World cup hopes now over, Zak Hardaker faces a lengthy ban on the sidelines after he was handed a provisional suspension for failing a drugs test.

Just two years ago, Hardaker was flying high in his rugby league career when he was named the Man of Steel and just this year, he was named in the Super League’s Dream Team.

Although the exact nature of the explicit substance itself has not been confirmed, the Rugby Football League issued a statement on the matter.

“The Rugby Football League can confirm that Zak Hardaker is provisionally suspended from all competition after it received notification from UK Anti-Doping that he had tested positive for a banned substance following a Super-8s game between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos on September 8, 2017,” the statement read.

“He will therefore not be considered for the England Rugby League World Cup squad due to be announced today (Monday) at 12 pm.”

His current club, the Castleford Tigers, also issued a statement on the matter.

“The club was made aware at 10 am on Thursday morning that the player would receive official written notification from UK Anti-Doping and therefore the player was immediately suspended,” the club statement read.Official notification was delivered on Friday and following discussions with the player on Sunday the decision was taken to announce the result of the test today in order to clarify the circumstances around Zak’s omission.”

“Official notification was delivered on Friday and following discussions with the player on Sunday the decision was taken to announce the result of the test today in order to clarify the circumstances around Zak’s omission.”

Hardaker released his own statement apologising for the incident and the trouble and negativity it had brought on himself, his club and the Super League.

“I would like to apologise to my Castleford Tigers teammates, the staff and all fans for my enormous error of judgment,” said Hardaker.

“I was given an opportunity by this great club and in what has been one of the most important weeks in its history, I have let everyone at the club down. For that, I truly apologise.”

Hardaker was insistent that he would never take any substance to actively improve or enhance his performance.

“Finally, I would like to make it clear that in no way did I, nor would I, ever take a substance with the intention of enhancing my performance,” he said.



Broncos Kiwi international opts for a return to New Zealand

Adam Blair

In what is an interesting trend to see in recent times, another Kiwi international has made the decision to return to New Zealand to play for the Warriors; this time Adam Blair.

The current New Zealand captain has officially signed with the Warriors for three years and with an impressive 266-game haul in the NRL to date, he will add to that number significantly over the course of his Warriors deal.

“Securing Adam is critical to our quest for much-needed improvement from next year,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.

“He’s a proven leader on and off the field who sets the kind of example we want all our players to aspire to, the epitome of the professional athlete who demands the highest of standards highlighted by an ultra-competitive attitude.”

Someone who is no stranger to Adam Blair is current Warriors coach Stephen Kearney. Kearney and Blair worked alongside each other as coach and player previously at the Kiwis as well as at the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos when Kearney was an assistant at both clubs.

His signing is one that brings experience and structure to the Warriors forward pack and there was nothing but praise for the Kiwi veteran.

“Adam is a wonderful example of how a player should go about his business in the NRL as well as representing his country,” Kearney said.

“He has had a tremendous career and he’s going to be a huge asset for the club as we go about lifting our standards across the board.”

Bulldogs sack Hasler as coach

Des Hasler

It is a move that will come as a surprise to no fans as the Canterbury Bulldogs have made the decision to sack coach Des Hasler from his contract. 

After a turbulent year on the field and persistent rumours regarding off-field issues with players that led to departures by some – again, leaving fans furious – the decision was made and it was expanded on by Bulldogs club Chairman Ray Dib.

“Today, I informed Des Hasler and his management of our decision to pursue a new Head Coach for our Club, effective immediately.

The heads of agreement reached with Des Hasler for an extension of his contract were non-binding and a decision has been made not to renew his contract for next year.

“These types of conversations are never easy, especially when they involve people we respect personally and professionally, however, the Club believes the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary.”

Although the strong favourite in the eyes of the media appears to be assistant coach Dean Pay, the club say they will begin their search for a new coach.

“The Club will now begin its search for a new Head Coach and will provide further information once that process has been completed,” said Dib.

Souths and Maguire part ways

Michael Maguire

With their fanbase bitterly disappointed following the speculation and now the confirmation, the South Sydney Rabbitohs club will presumably enter a rebuilding phase after they opted to part ways with head coach Michael Maguire.

At a club board meeting today, the decision was made and in the eyes of the club, it was agreed that parting ways was in the best interests of all involved.

Despite taking the Rabbitohs to a premiership in 2014, Souths have seemingly fallen from the top of the perch since then despite the emergence of some good young talent.

With off-field failings coupled with poor on-field success and a lack of genuine recruitment, fans are scratching their heads at some of the decision making processes going on.

Nevertheless, Rabbitohs General Manager of Football spoke on the matter and said it was the move that had to be made.

“Michael helped deliver the Premiership title in 2014 and for this, we will always be indebted to him,” said Richardson.

“He led us to the premiership victory, the 2015 Auckland Nines win and the 2015 World Club Challenge

“However, we feel it’s time for the Club to go along a different path in terms of the leadership of the team and the direction the team is taking, and they are the responsibilities of the Head Coach.”

Richardson went on to praise Maguire and his efforts and made mention that all parties – Maguire included – were in agreement.

“Michael also feels it’s in his best interest to head in a different direction in his coaching career,” continued Richardson.

“Michael is a great Head Coach and we believe he will go on to do a good job at another Club, but as I said, it’s time for a change here at South Sydney.”


Daley sacked as NSW coach

Laurie Daley

In the eyes of many, it was a move that had to be made after yet another series loss for New South Wales with Laurie Daley given the flick as NSW coach.

The decision was made by the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) after it announced its 2017 review that will result in an organisational overhaul and restructure.

NSWRL Chairman George Peponis released a statement on the decision made.

“I have spoken with Laurie and he understands the decision. He is obviously disappointed but he has enjoyed the journey and appreciated the opportunity,” said Dr Peponis.

“Obviously, we thank Laurie for the significant contribution he has made over the past five years.”

The NSWRL praised the efforts of Daley in what have been some turbulent times for the NSW side.

“He is a legend of the game and has done a tremendous job. He is the only New South Wales coach in the past 12 years who has won a State of Origin Series,” continued Peponis.

“We felt it was time to make a change. All aspects of the business will be looked at from coaching staff to team operations and personnel.”

As for Daley himself, he understands that the NRL coaching world is now a result driven business but despite the fact that he is no longer NSW coach, he will continue supporting them.

“I’ve enjoyed my time working for New South Wales Rugby League.

“I understand that the business is results-driven and I respect the decision of the Board to go in another direction.

“I will always support New South Wales and I wish their team and their coach every success in the future.”

Titans opt to part ways with coach Henry

Neil Henry

Whether you think it is a good move or not or the circumstances behind it, the Gold Coast Titans have opted to part ways with coach Neil Henry.

After meeting to discuss Henry’s future, the decision was made with CEO Graham Annesley addressing the media about the decision.

“The Board took into consideration a number of matters in making this decision and have chosen to end Neil’s time here as Coach,” Annesley said.

“The Board met and addressed a range of issues and were driven by making a decision that was best for the club to move forward into the future.”

The club thanked Henry for his time as head coach and wished him well for future roles and endeavors.


Roosters release Kenny-Dowall

Shaun Kenny-Dowall

In a move that may surprise some but not others, the Sydney Roosters have opted to release Shaun Kenny-Dowall from the remainder of his contract. 

The Roosters offered a short, sharp statement on the immediate release that said:

The Sydney Roosters have today announced that Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been released from the remainder of his playing contract with immediate effect.

“Shaun has made a significant contribution to the Roosters’ on-field success across his 13 years at the Club, and for that, we thank him,” said Sydney Roosters CEO Joe Kelly.

“The Club wishes Shaun all the very best in the future,” he added.

The Club will be making no further comment on the matter.”

His future in the NRL and in rugby league remains unclear.


Warriors given huge boost as Shaun Johnson re-signs

Shaun Johnson

In a huge boost for the New Zealand Warriors and their plans to move forward, influential half Shaun Johnson has re-signed with the club until the end of the 2019 season.

In what he regarded as the biggest contract of his career to date, the 26-year old is thrilled to have his future sorted and settled.

“This was a big contract for a lot of reasons and I’m excited to be able to lock it away and know I’ll be here for another two years,” he said.

“My belief in this club is massive and my belief that we can do something special here is bigger than ever with everything we have in place.”

His two-year contract will see him play in nine seasons with the club and Johnson admitted that having come through the club’s systems and playing with them for so long, leaving would not leave him satisfied.

“I have always said in the past that I could never imagine myself being anywhere else but the Vodafone Warriors,” Johnson continued.

“I’m that kid who came up through the system and I love it here and what the club has done for me. There was more to think about this time but, in the end, it came down to winning.

“I could go to another club and another system but I realised winning there (at another club) wouldn’t mean as much as winning here. That’s what I want to be a part of here.”


Wests Tigers terminate contract of Jason Taylor effective immediately

Jason Taylor

It might be as no surprise to some whilst others are in disbelief that it has happened after just three rounds but the Wests Tigers have acted swiftly and terminated the contract of head coach Jason Taylor effective immediately.

After a promising start to the season, two losses on the trot – including a comprehensive loss to the Canberra Raiders in Rd 3 – the club made a decision but admitted that it was not an easy one to make.

“On behalf of everyone at Wests Tigers I’d like to thank Jason for his commitment and contribution to the Club during his time as Head Coach,” said Go.

“Jason has overseen significant change within the Club over the past two seasons and we thank him for his efforts.

“Our position has always been to make sure that the Head Coach’s contract is tied to performance and that hasn’t changed,” she added.

In the end, much like their fans desire success, the board and the staff do as well.

“We are committed to building a side that will be in a position to win NRL Premierships and believe that this decision is the correct one for the future of the Club,” she continued.

“This is a challenging time for the Club and Jason and we ask that we are given time to work through this process with Jason,” said Go.

As the club searches for a new head coach, Andrew Webster will take up the role in the short-term as interim coach.

Tigers player charged with drug possession

Kyle Lovett

Many hope for an off-season to be quiet but that is never the case in rugby league, as yet another incident has come to hand, this time involving the Wests Tigers.

NSW Police has charged Tigers back-rower Kyle Lovett with drug possession of a prohibited substance after an incident on December 23.

The Tigers statement reads as follows:

“Wests Tigers Club officials were only made aware of the matter by Lovett today.

Upon learning of Lovett’s charge, Wests Tigers immediately alerted the NRL Integrity Unity this morning and the two parties are currently working together on the matter.

Wests Tigers are incredibly disappointed with Lovett and do not in any way condone his behaviour.

Wests Tigers ensure that all players and staff receive the highest level of education in relation to drugs. The Club takes the welfare and education of its players and very seriously with the Wests Tigers Wellbeing and Education department ranked second in the NRL in 2016.

Wests Tigers will be making no further comment until the matter is resolved, both with the NSW Police and the NRL Integrity Unit.”

He will face court on February 1.