Category Archives: NRL Vault (Archives)

Sandow believes Dragons halves pose no threat to Souths

It is something that you rarely hear, but Souths halfback Chris Sandow has gone on record, and said that the Dragons halves in Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby pose no threat to Souths, and are not that dangerous in attack.

It was after training at Redfern Oval that Sandow said the following, as Souths are not fazed by the Dragons whatsoever.

“Nah mate, it’s pretty much their edges that worry us,” Sandow said.

“Soward and Hornby don’t worry us that much.”

The comments are guaranteed to spur the Dragons on even more in their clash this week, and they will know that despite Sandow’s comments, that he is a defensive weakness in the Bunnies defensive line, so he can expect a barrage of assaults from the Dragons forwards.

Sandow believes that his side can win the game if they can stop the Dragons wide-running forwards, who are destructive on the edges.

“It’s their boys out wide [that are the biggest threat],” he said. “If we can contain those guys, I think we’ve got a big chance.”

Watmough and Seu Seu found urinating in public

Manly second-rower Anthony Watmough and interchange utility Terence Seu Seu have both been suspended for a week by their club, the Manly Sea Eagles, after they were caught urinating in public last night.

Not only have the pair been suspended, but they have also been fined a weeks wages, for the incident that took place at The Corso in Manly on Sunday night.

As a result, both players will miss the Sea Eagles clash with the Cronulla Sharks, after their club conducted their own investigation, after they discovered that the club had charged them with improper conduct.

The players were also given an on-the-spot fine by police of $220 when they were caught urinating in Manly, on the corner of The Corso and Whistler Street at 9:25 pm.

Graham Lowe, Manly CEO, said that the players behaviour was very poor and unacceptable.

“They have embarrassed themselves and the club and its sponsors and supporters – they have shown great remorse for their silly action and will pay a heavy penalty,” Lowe said.

Watmough and Seu Seu also issued a joint statement:

“We are bitterly disappointed with our actions and for the fact that we have let our team mates, our families and our supporters down.

“It was a careless and stupid thing to do and we accept the suspension without complaint.”

Ennis signs 3-year extension

In a move that is sure to please Dogs fans, but have other fans question it, Michael Ennis has re-signed with the Canterbury Bulldogs until the end of the 2014 season.

The re-signing is expected to be a huge boost for the Bulldogs, just 10 days out from the start of the NRL season, with the Bulldogs looking to make amends for a poor 2010 season.

Ennis has improved immensely since he made his debut for the Bulldogs, making the NSW State Of Origin four times since he joined the club, as well as playing for NSW Country and in the NRL All-Stars clash.

For Ennis, he says that there were a number of reasons as to why he felt it was best to re-sign with the Bulldogs.

“From day one I’ve felt at home here at the Bulldogs and I’m really pleased to be staying,” Ennis said.

“I turn 27 this month and the decision just felt right, both for myself as a footballer and also for my wife and children. From the first time I met Todd Greenberg and Kevin Moore, as well as the rest of the staff and playing group, I knew that the Club would act in the best interests of myself and my family and in turn I want to do my best for the Club.

“Also, I’m really happy to have my future sorted before the start of the season and now I can focus on making this year and the years to come as successful as possible. Certainly, with the likes of Josh Morris, Greg Eastwood, Frank Pritchard, Trent Hodkinson and more here well into the future I think that Bulldogs Members and everyone who follows the Club can look forward to an exciting time in its history.”

According to coach Kevin Moore, with Ennis re-signing, it gives the club structure, go forward and stability both on and off the field.

“Mick is the kind of player that any head coach would love to have in his side,” Moore said. “He leaves nothing to chance. He’s a natural leader, is about the fittest bloke in the team, and he gives us outstanding direction on and off the field.

“Anyone who follows Rugby League knows what a fierce competitor he is, and away from the paddock he’s exactly the type of person that you love to have around the Club. I’m very pleased that he’s going to be a part of the Club long-term.”

Todd Greenberg was also full of praise, and was pleased that Ennis had decided to re-sign.

“Mick was always keen to stay here at the Bulldogs and I’m thankful to both him and his management that we’ve been able to get him squared away before the start of the season,” Bulldogs Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said.

“We are over the moon to have him locked in until at least 2014 and I’d like to think that he sees himself staying here beyond that time. We’d love to see him finish his career as one of the Club’s greats.”

Reddy sidelined for remainder of trials

Parramatta centre Joel Reddy is set to miss the Eels remaining two trials, as he still recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, and he might just be eased back through the NSW Cup instead of playing in the NRL in Rd 1.

”We’re expecting Joel to be cleared to play on the weekend of round one, but whether that’s with Parramatta or lower [with Wentworthville] remains to be seen,” Eels coach Steve Kearney said yesterday.”

”We’re going to have to weigh that up when we get closer to the season kick-off and see how he has progressed.”

With Reddy likely to be eased back in the NSW Cup, Luke Burt will be the only player from the Eels three-quarter line of last year, to be in the line-up, given the departures of Timana Tahu, Jonathon Wright and Eric Grothe.

Despite the loss in their first trial, Kearney was not too concerned, as the Eels fielded a young side, and he is expecting that his full-strength side, possibly to be named for their second trial, will perform much better.

”There are a few areas in attack that we need to tweak, but overall I was encouraged by the performance,” Kearney said. ”We fielded a pretty young group in the forwards.”

In light of Reddy’s injury, and given he may not play Rd 1 straight away, Chris Walker, Chris Hicks, Paul Whatuira, Jacob Loko and Ryan Morgan all pressed their claims to play in Reddy’s vacant centre position.

Another potential candidate for the position in Etu Uaisele, suffered an injury, but it is not expected to be anything too serious.

”Etu got a knock early and had to come off, but the others all went OK,” Kearney said.

In a great story also, Eels forward Shane Shackleton made his return in the Eels trial game, and he will undoubtedly get better over the course of the season.

”We just wanted him to get some confidence back, before we increase his game time,” Kearney said after the game.

Burgess says Souths will do all the talking on the field

The ploy has failed to work in the past when players have said it, and it remains to be seen if it can work this time for Souths, given that last year, they also promised good things, and it just was not to be as a late-season form drop saw them miss the finals.

For Sam Burgess, he knows that the Bunnies did not perform to the potential that he knows his Bunnies team can, and thus, in 2011, he says that the Bunnies will do all of their talking on the field, rather than talking themselves up off it.

After initial fears that the 22-year old Englishman would miss out on the first few rounds due to off-season shoulder surgery, he should be good to go for the Round 1 monster clash between Souths fierce rivals, the Sydney Roosters.

Burgess had his sling removed on the 4th January, and will ease back into training, with contact work being started in three weeks, leaving him just three weeks to fine-tune his game before the Round 1 clash arrives.

“It’s come on pretty good, better than expected, so I’m right on track for round one,” he said

As Burgess shapes up to start his second season in the NRL, he says that his fellow team-mates, as well as himself have learnt to ignore any early hype about finals talk, as that can often get to players heads, meaning they don’t play to their potential.

“Last year a lot got said from inside and outside,” he said.

“And I think we’ve probably learnt from that.

“We’re taking a bit more of a quiet approach this year.

“We just really want to try to let our football do the talking and hopefully that should bring a few wins early on.”

No confirmation on return date for Brett Stewart

First it was the sexual assault charge, then it was the season-ending knee injury. 2010 will be a season that Brett Stewart won’t want to remember.

In light of his injury, it’s unknown as to when exactly the star fullback will return with Sea Eagles physio Andre Rickenbach unsure as to whether Stewart will be available for the start of the 2011 season.

The club has to wait until at least the new year before it could confirm whether or not Stewart would be fit in time for Rd 1 of the 2011 NRL season.

“It’s far too early to say he’ll be ready for round one,” he told AAP.

“This (recovery) has taken a little bit longer because there was more damage to the injury, and he had to undergo two operations.

“Last time (Stewart was injured back in 2009) he had to undergo just one, which is why we’re taking things nice and slowly at the moment.

“It’s just one of many steps. We’re not forecasting anything at this stage.

“It’s progressing as planned and it’s progressing nicely.

“He’s got a few boxes to tick and it’s small steps at a time, but we’re getting there slowly.”

Hull KR eager and ready for upcoming Super League season

With the start of the Super League season just around the corner, Hull Kingston Rovers, more commonly known as Hull KR, are excited and ready for the season to begin.

With a solid team and a decent portion of new players at the helm, after a re-shuffle of sorts – coach Craig Sandercock believes that if the team plays to the best of their ability, they can perform well this year.

“I’m confident that if we do play the best we can, we’ll be there or thereabouts,” said Sandercock.

With former Canberra Raiders half Michael Dobson in the crucial position of halfback, he is eager to see how the team will gel, as well as seeing how some of the younger players will perform as they get more game-day experience.

“There’s nothing like game experience, so when we’re stuck into the season, they’re going to get more experience and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re gonna go” says Dobson.

Josh Hodgson also knows the value of gelling as a unit, given the high turnover of players that have left as well as come in, but he is confident that the side can maintain the level of chemistry from the last few years.

“People have come and gone obviously, there’s a few leave and a fair few come, but I think somehow or somewhere along the line, I don’t know how we’ve done it, but we’ve kept that good chemistry in the squad,” said Hodgson.

Like with any side that brings in a good number of players, the possibility remains that cohesion goes out the window and the team struggles to gel, but Sandercock is pleased with the players the club brought in and those they have at their disposal.

“I’m pretty pleased with all those players that have been brought on board, and the most pleasing thing for me as a coach, is that they genuinely want to be here at Hull Kingston Rovers,” said Sandercock.

“They’ve signed on for less money than they could have gotten at other clubs and it’s exciting to have them here, and hopefully they’ll be injury free and contribute well to our team.”

With new recruit Travis Burns to miss the first four games of the season due to his impending suspension from the NRL, Dobson is looking forward to playing alongside a fellow Australian in the halves.

“Trav’s (Travis Burns) a good guy and we travelled in together, so he’s going to miss the first four games, so we’ve been training with 4 different partners to make sure we’re covered with that,” said Dobson.

“I’m looking forward to when he does come back and being able to play with him – he’s a quality player that’s played a lot of NRL and it’s going to be interesting to see how we go.”

With a tough off-season drawing to a close, Hodgson believes that the club have the right players at the club to challenge top sides, with players chomping at the bit to get on the field for their season opener.

“I think they’ve fit in really well, everyone’s slotted in fine and they’ve picked up the style of play that we play,” says Hodgson.

“They’ve mixed in with the lads really good and I think we’ve made some really good additions to the squad, and it’s going to be a good year for us hopefully.”

“We’ve worked really hard in the off-season and it’s been a pretty tough and pretty brutal off-season, but I believe in Paul and we’re raring to get going.”

“Your pre-season is your foundation – if you don’t have a good pre-season under your belt, I don’t think you’re going to do too much throughout the year.”

“I think that’s what a lot of teams believe in, that if you have a tough, good stint in pre-season, that builds a foundation for you to crack on with.

With big expectations placed on the club by the fans every year, Sandercock knows that results are expected of him, but that the only pressure he faces, is the pressure on himself.

“The only pressure comes from myself to work as hard as I can and for us as a team to play the best that we can, and that’s all that we can do,” said Sandercock.

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Brett Morris

There are a good number of hoodoos in rugby league and one of them has finally been broken after 14 long years, with the St George Illawarra Dragons defeating the Canberra Raiders in the nation’s capital.

Since 2000 and 11 trips to Canberra, the Dragons had never won a game there and were plagued by a lingering hoodoo but on the back of a hat-trick by Brett Morris and a double to Jason Nightingale, they broke the curse and had their fans jubilant.

The game began evenly as both sides went back and forth and at one point, it would have appeared that the Raiders would again win and continue the curse, especially when Jarrod Croker scored early in the second half.

It was then that the flair, class, acrobatics and positive attitude appeared for the Dragons, as they took control over the game to run away with victory in the end.

Morris, who was stand-in captain, scored one of the most freakish, acrobatic tries you will ever see and even joked about the way in which he learnt such a move.

“We are circus performers,” he joked.

“A couple of years ago the PCYC got some mats with springs underneath them and we did all sorts of jumps and somersaults. It’s now starting to help on the field.”

The Dragons back-line simply proved too skillful and classy for the Raiders and they had no answer for the array of mastery and skills, leaving big question marks over the Raiders defence on their own goal-line.

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Going forward is no issue for the Raiders with their big boppers, though with defence clearly an issue, opposition teams like the Dragons can often score at will.

With Creagh out due to a slight hamstring strain, he expressed his disappointment in having to miss out on the hoodoo-breaking clash.

“I was very disappointed yesterday at training,” Creagh said.

“But it was good to finally come down here and get a win.”

To further complicate matters for the Raiders, the loss leaves them in danger of the wooden spoon. Should that happen, coach Ricky Stuart would be put in the unfortunate position of finishing last in two successive seasons with two different teams.

Stuart knows that Origin quality players are crucial and losing the likes of Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson a while back have not helped the Raiders cause. For Stuart, signing Origin quality is crucial.

“Losing two Origin players put us in this rut,” Stuart said.

“We are in a position and they can jump into us and bag us for what it is.

“(But) until I get Origin players in, it’s not going to change and that’s my job. I’ve got to cut to the chase and be fair dinkum.

“Until we grow our own, our fans are going to have to stick solid. I’m getting sick of it and fed-up with give you one-line answers.

“As much as it will sound like I’m making excuses, I’m telling it exactly how it is.”

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 34 (B Morris 3 J Nightingale 2 J Dugan P Mata’utia tries G Widdop 3 goals) bt CANBERRA 16 (J Croker J Papalii J Rapana tries J Croker 2 goals) at GIO Stadium. Referee: Adam Devcich, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 10,318.

Ben Roberts

He has his critics on any given day but for the most part, Ben Roberts has enjoyed a decent stint with the Melbourne Storm in 2014 but that will soon come to an end, after he signed with the Castleford Tigers.

Signing with the Tigers on a 2-year deal from next season, Roberts is both a New Zealand and Samoan international and after previous stints with the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs, a new challenge awaits Roberts.

With 130 NRL games to his name so far, Roberts admits that he is looking forward to the switch to Super League.

“I only signed at the Storm for one year and we were not quite sure what I was going to do after this year, in terms of hanging around or possibly going overseas,” said Roberts.

“I suggested to my manager that we should have a fish out and about, just to see what was out there.

“It just so happened that Castleford came in the picture, so I was trying to find out a bit of information about the club. I heard nothing but good things about the club and they came from people who had played there in the past.”

Daryl Powell, currently coach of the Tigers, was a big factor in the deal, after he convinced Roberts enough about the club and their direction to get him to sign.

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“I had a quick talk with him the other day in regards to his view and opinion on the club and how it would suit me to playing under him,” Roberts said.

“Again, culture is a big factor – when you have a club with great people there, it makes your job as a footballer a lot easier.

“I listened to his plans going forward and the way he talks played a big part in that. I would like to be a part of what Daryl has planned for the future, so I am pretty excited about it all.”

Turning 29 on Tuesday, Roberts said it was quite literally the “perfect time” for the move to eventuate with family playing a huge role in his decision.

“It has always been there, and I have always considered it an option,” he said on the move to the UK.

“It has never really come around in my rugby league career but right now, I think it is the perfect time for me to come. I have a young family and I think doing it on my own would have been pretty tough.

“The fact that I am now married with a little one will mean it is a good experience for all three of us. The wife has never been to England before and she is pretty excited as well, so I suppose if she is happy, it makes my job a lot easier as well!”

Impressed with the way the club was run and the direction they have been heading in, the decision was made easier after Roberts spoke with former Bulldogs teammate, Brent Sherwin.

“I have watched a few games; I would not say I have watched a lot but I have caught one or two,” stated Roberts.

“My good friend Brent Sherwin played there a couple of years ago and I spoke with him in regards to what his thoughts were and what his experience was like at the club and to be honest, he had nothing but good things to say.

That was very similar to what other people said, specifically about the club having a great culture and having good people working behind the scenes to get things going.”

In his first article for NRL News, we’re joined by passionate NRL fan and pro punter, Chris Ryan. He debates whether the notion of Teamlist Tuesday should change and how it compares with other codes, both national and international.

NRL Team Lists – The Ducks and Drakes

Why does the NRL foster a ducks and drakes attitude with team lists and player availability? This is the question I constantly find myself asking as I follow the reporters, rumour mongers and ‘inside info’ men on Twitter who provide me with the best information regarding which players are in and out of NRL line-ups each week. Why do I need to use this dodgy, 2nd hand information, rather than hear it reported from the NRL or clubs themselves?

At present, NRL clubs are required to submit a team list on Tuesday each week and in the days that follow leading up to the game, nothing is required of them until 1 hour prior to kick off. There are many problems with this but let’s start at, well, the start. Tuesday rolls around, your team may have had one training session for the week or if you played Monday night, none. Many players have niggling injuries from the weekend’s game or previous rounds, and it is not known at this point whether said players will be able to play in 3,4, 5, and sometimes 6 days’ time. But what does the NRL do? Make you name your team on Tuesday anyway. It’s ludicrous and it leads to coaches just putting in a Clayton’s team and indeed if they played Monday night, the coaches typically write the same 17 down as the previous evening, regardless of form or injury. That’ll suit the suits at NRL HQ they say.

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So it’s pretty clear that naming a team on a Tuesday is far too early and impractical. So how about only updating this team list 1 hour prior to kick-off? All teams know their final line-up far in advance of this, in part because Under 20’s/NSW Cup/Qld Cup is usually played directly before the 1st grade fixture so if a player is playing in one of the lead up games, it’s pretty obvious he will not be suiting up in top grade.

If we look to comparisons for the NRL, the AFL lists teams on Thursdays, a full 2 days after the NRL does and it’s not to the detriment of the game. The NFL, which runs similar to the NRL in terms of brutality, types of injuries and playing schedule (1 game a week each weekend), requires teams to report on any injury to a player and list them as probable (more likely to play than not), questionable (50-50), doubtful (less than 25% chance of playing) and OUT (definitely will not play). These lists are required each Friday and also to be updated where necessary leading up the game over the weekend. Fines apply for non-compliance. Other major codes through the USA (NBA, MLB, NHL) work on similar principles.

With the lack of reporting of injury news/team changes in the NRL, it leads to the aforementioned rumour mongering to the detriment of the game, and frustrates many of its supporters. Shouldn’t the game be doing the best it can to meet supporters’ needs? There are many ways this lack of free flow of information affects supporters. Hundreds of thousands of people are in tipping competitions across the country and look to see who’s in and out prior to submitting tips, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people bemoan with lines like, ‘I wouldn’t have tipped Parra if I knew Hayne wasn’t playing!’. But the tipsters are just the start – have you heard how passionate people are about Fantasy comps and Supercoach these days??? You’d swear people were more interested in how many tackles Corey Parker made or hit ups accredited to Paul Gallen than who won a game between Brisbane and Cronulla! And the NRL is a willing participant in this, running their own comp, earning advertising dollars from it and engaging with their fans. Don’t these fans deserve be treated better?

If the Super coaches on the couch get angry, how about the punters? When you part with your own cash, it hurts losing money from a lack of info more than a Cherry-Evans try assist being given to Brett Stewart and costing you fantasy points! In recent games, it was mooted that Thurston was out of the North Qld side against Newcastle in Round 15 and betting markets reacted. Thurston played. Same round, Hodkinson was supposed to be out for Canterbury as the rumours swept rugby league circles on Friday afternoon. Canterbury went from -3.5 point favourite, to -2 favourite (which is a larger move than it sounds). Hodkinson played. And the punters who lumped on Canberra thinking Hodkinson was out felt dudded as the Dogs won 22-14. 2 weeks prior, Josh Reynolds was purportedly ruled out hours before kick-off v Manly. Massive market changes. He played. And on and on it goes. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a problem, but the NRL also earns dollars from bookmakers from money bet on the game as well as advertising revenue. And aren’t they looking for a bit more integrity in the game? And perhaps if information was more publically available, it would de-incentivise players’ desire to bet on NRL games with inside info, or pass that info on to friends and family to bet. Seems pertinent considering the NRL’s actions around player gambling in recent weeks.

So if you can establish a problem, see the causes it has on the supporter base that you are attempting to grow and easily reconcile better alternatives out there, shouldn’t it be easy to fix? Given all my bleating thus far, it would only be fair for me to do a little more than that and actually present a solution. And here it is. Team lists required Thursday. Final starting line-ups issued 3 hours before the game and promptly updated on the NRL website and their social media channels. Any team changes or players ruled out through injury required to be reported to the NRL as promptly as possible, otherwise fines/sanctions issued. Done. Easy. Thoughts Dave Smith?

Do you agree with a possible change to Teamlist Tuesday?

Chris Ryan

@imdabomb82