Category Archives: NRL Vault (Archives)

Luke Douglas

The Scottish side for the this year’s Rugby League World Cup has received a boost and become even stronger, with Gold Coast Titans prop Luke Douglas to join the side.

With several Super League and NRL players already a part of the side, the form from all of them is a great sign and one that has coach Steve McCormack excited.

He was there to watch the likes of Danny Brough in action at Huddersfield and was pleased with what he was seeing, in what he hopes is a good sign for the World Cup.

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“It’s fantastic for Scotland to see these three play so well all season,” says McCormack.

“They’re all in great form and looking strong. I can’t wait to start working with them with the Scotland squad.”

On Douglas, he joins fellow NRL players Peter Wallace, James McManus and Kane Linnett in the side, in what is a big boost for Scottish rugby league in general.

McCormack, who was looking to replace recently retired prop Jack Howieson, says that Douglas was the perfect fit for the side and praised his form, his strength and his character.

“It’s fantastic to have Luke join us,” says McCormack.

“He’s currently playing regularly in the NRL despite dealing with the loss of his mother recently, and that shows his strength of character. You don’t get to play every round of the NRL for about six years, as Luke has done, unless you’re a fantastic player and a fantastic professional.”

Still a budding rugby league nation in terms of overall development, they are keen to make their own mark in the sport moving forward.

One step towards that was the finalising of a new coach and they have done that, with Kane Krlic joining the Dutch national side as their new head coach.

Krlic, who has formerly worked at the RFL, with English Championship side, the Sheffield Eagles and with development teams in the Midlands, says he is excited about the new role.

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“It’s an exciting opportunity, rugby league in the Netherlands has huge potential,” said Krlic.

“I see the role as a long term project, it’s important to put structures in place which will make sure the game all over in the Netherlands grow and become more vibrant.”

“Jason [Bruygoms – NRLB Development officer] and Timo have done a great job putting the building blocks in place, now it’s time for us to kick on to the next stage.”

For Netherlandse Rugby League Bond President Timo Meinders, he and his fellow staff are looking forward to having him on board in the role.

“Not only is Kane the most experienced and highly qualified coach in the Netherlands but also a great person to work with,” said Meinders.

“We are looking forward to applying his knowledge #038; experience to our national advance and hope it will filter down to the grass roots.”

James Segeyaro

Injuries have hit them hard in recent times and that can often result in a side falling apart but out at Penrith, the Panthers have made sure that they are not in that boat.

Instead, their performances remain steady and they continue to win the games they are required to, with their most recent victory a 16-4 win over a lacklustre St George Illawarra Dragons side.

It was an interesting occasion for former Dragon now Panther Jamie Soward, who made his return to WIN Stadium for the first time since departing the Dragons mid-season in 2013 for the team out West.

The game also saw Brett Morris score his ninth of the season and collectively, he and brother Josh have now scored 196 tries between them.

Such a feat surpassed the great Mortimer trio but despite that early try, it was all Penrith after that, as the Dragons struggled to make the most of their opportunities.

One man who stood up and made his mark on an already impressive season was James Segeyaro. Scoring a try and setting one up, Segeyaro is fast becoming not only a Panthers fan favourite but one of the most dangerous players in the league.

On top of the Dragons loss, prop Dan Hunt was put on report for a high tackle on David Simmons that saw the Penrith winger leave the field with concussion.

Despite their injuries, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary was pleased with his side’s performance and believes the players know the style well.

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“I think we understand the style of play with the attack and defence and today, you could see that,” said Cleary.

“That’s always a good sign when everyone’s on the same page.”

With their injuries, depth is always crucial and Cleary was quick to praise the efforts of his Holden Cup and NSW Cup coaches, as well as the players that have made the step into first-grade.

“Full credit to Garth Brennan and Trent Barrett. Those boys have done a great job,” said Cleary.

“We have got a bit of depth at the club and so that definitely helps. To bring in three good first-graders back into the side today, so when you have injury hurdles like we have, the bonus is that those guys get an opportunity.”

For Dragons coach Paul McGregor, the reason for the loss was simple. They were beaten by a quality top 4 side.

“They’re [Penrith] a real competent side and they kept things simple,” said McGregor.

“They worked us over and won field position and once they did that, they strangled us. We just didn’t play with enough composure.”

Although he praised his side’s defence, forcing it in attack was the downfall for McGregor.

“We defended well but when we got our opportunities, we just seemed to push the pass too much,” said McGregor.

“That’s what we need to look at this week and what we need to fix.”

Penrith Panthers 16 (Segeyaro, Docker, Idris tries; Soward 2 goals) def St George-Illawarra Dragons 4 (Morris try). Crowd: 13,107.

Mitch Garbutt

Depth is crucial in the NRL and a team that pride themselves on ensuring they have quality players waiting in the wings are the Brisbane Broncos.

To bolster their forward stocks and their depth, they have announced the signing of Melbourne Storm prop Mitch Garbutt on a 2-year deal.

Garbutt, 25, is around that age when it is said that front-rowers start to hit their straps and for Broncos coach Anthony Griffin, he believes Garbutt can complement their current forward pack well.

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“Mitch will add some depth and some size to our squad next season,” said Griffin.

“He is coming to the right age as a front rower and has the best football of his career in front of him.

“I’m sure he will fit in well at the Broncos and his addition will complement the other talent we have in our group of forwards.”

Playing in nine NRL matches for the Storm so far and producing consistency for the Storm’s QLD Cup feeder side, the Easts Tigers, Garbutt is excited at the new challenge.

“The Broncos are a really professional club and I’ll do the hard work necessary to get into the side,” he said.

“There are some great players at the club so I can learn a lot there.”

Reece Lyne

One of their best young players at the present time, the Wakefield Wildcats have received a huge boost, with talented utility Reece Lyne re-signing for a further three seasons.

With time on his current deal still remaining, Lyne, a former England Academy international, opted to sign on the dotted line and extend his stay with the Wildcats.

Scoring eight tries in the current campaign so far and with 40 Super League appearances to his name, the 21-year old knows he has improved and feels the Wildcats is the team for him moving forward.

“I’m really excited,” said Lyne.

“I sat down and had a good think about it and thought to myself, ‘I’m happy here, I really enjoy it here so why look elsewhere?’ I really enjoy my rugby here and every time I come training, I’ve got a smile on my face and I love playing with the boys.

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“I had a year left and I’m grateful to Rich (Agar) for bringing me here, it’s been the most enjoyable part of my career. The club approached me about extending my contract and I was more than happy to do that.”

As he looks to improve himself and become an even more consistent player down the track, Lyne wants to string together a good portion of games and avoid any more injuries.

“I feel comfortable more each week. I know I’ve got a lot of developing and learning to do but I feel a lot more comfortable in my surroundings. You start to understand yourself better and what works for you,” said Lyne.

“I want to string a consistent number of games together and be out on the field as many weeks as possible. This year and last year I’ve had injuries that have kept me out for a couple of months, so I just want to string a good 20-25 games together and build some partnerships up and cement a starting spot.”

For Wakefield, the key is to bring in and re-sign some of the best young players possible and in re-signing Lyne, head coach James Webster knows they are well on their way to starting that process.

“It’s fantastic news that Reece wanted to extend his deal with us,” said Wesbter.

“He had a lot of interest from other places and realistically, you need to look at what Reece has done at the age of only 21. He’s only to get better.

“We want to look over the next couple of years to bring on good, young players at Wakefield and Reece fits that category for us. We think that he’s the type of kid that can really kick-on and become a fantastic centre or winger for Wakefield.”

John Kear

It has been a busy period for new coaches joining new clubs or nations and today is no different, with former England and France coach John Kear appointed as the new head coach of Wales.

Kear, 59, will take over the head coaching role at Wales as the nation approaches their European Championship clashes with France, Ireland and Scotland.

14 years ago now, Kear was the coach of the English side at the 2000 World Cup and before that, in 1997, he was the coach of the French national side.

Having also enjoyed a lengthy playing stint with the Castleford Tigers from 1978-88, he has since enjoyed coaching stints with Paris Saint Germain, the Sheffield Eagles, Wigan, Hull FC, Wakefield and his current role, head coach of the Batley Bulldogs.

For the man himself, he is thrilled to have the chance to work in this new role and is excited to get back into the international arena.

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“I’m really delighted to have this opportunity as the new head coach of Wales Rugby League,” said Kear.

“I’m a big believer in international Rugby League as my background shows. I really think that I can make a big contribution to the game in Wales that will allow us to qualify and do well in Rugby League World Cup 2017.

“A strong international game is essential for Rugby League. The more competitive teams we have at the highest level the better and it’s my challenge to turn Wales into one of those top teams.

“I’m really looking forward to a long relationship with Wales Rugby League as we build for 2017 and beyond.”

With experience crucial in a coach for a budding rugby league nation, the Chairman of Welsh Rugby League, Brian Juliff, looks forward to a strong and successful period with Kear as head coach.

“The appointment of John Kear as head coach brings a wealth of experience forged at the highest level of the game to Wales Rugby League. His knowledge and proven ability to bring the very best out of his players makes him an ideal fit for Wales Rugby League at this formative time,” said Juliff.

“It was important to bring in someone who shares our values and is committed to our vision ‘to be a top four Rugby League Nation in governance and performance’.

“John’s immediate challenge is to balance a young but very capable Wales squad into a winning team at this year’s European Championship and thereafter lay the foundation for success at the Rugby League World Cup 2017. I look forward to building a strong and supportive relationship with John to underpin the undoubted potential of Wales Rugby League.”

Sione Mata'utia

The Newcastle Knights fans and organisation have long had wraps on the potential and quality of the Mata’utia brothers and two of them showed why, as they helped their side to an upset win over the New Zealand Warriors.

Scoring four tries between them, Sione and Chanel Mata’utia were instrumental in their sides win and helped them to back-to-back wins.

It was smooth sailing to begin the game for the Knights as they scored three tries in the first 26 minutes, before Shaun Johnson – who returned for the Warriors this week – led his side’s comeback to claw back the deficit.

The game went back-and-forth for some time, though the Knights held on to give their season some smiles and good times.

In what has been a turbulent season for the Knights, particularly in dealing with the earlier injury to Alex McKinnon, their heart and determination have been evident in recent weeks.

Now, it is paying off and giving their fans something to cheer about.

Having seen Mata’utia come through the ranks, Knights coach Wayne Bennett had some very kind words for Sione, labelling the youngster as a future club captain.

“He has great attributes. The greatest thing about him is I can imagine one day he will captain the Knights and be a great player throughout his career,” said Bennett.

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He has played fullback for us, his preferred position is centre but he played well for us on the wing today.”

“I don’t think anyone at the club would doubt that [Sione is captain material]. It is a long way away for him but I’m sure one day… that’s the way he is heading.”

Echoing the sentiments of his coach, Knights captain Kurt Gidley was quick to point out the toughness in Sione.

“For a young guy, I’ve seen him play in those junior Origin games and our Under 20’s team and he was only 17 at the start of the year. He is prepared to put his body on the line and he doesn’t have a big head or an ego,” Gidley said.

“He trains hard and talks well and he has all those attributes to be a leader especially around his peers around his age so it is a pleasure playing with the younger guys coming through.”

As for the Warriors, there were no excuses. Poor discipline is what ultimately cost them.

“The majority of our penalties were poor discipline but that is no excuse as to how we played,” Warriors captain Simon Mannering said.

“They deserved to win. We had our chances at the end but unfortunately we couldn’t get over – but we’ll be back into it next week.”

Agreeing with his captain, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden denied that his side were complacent heading into the game.

“We knew that it was never going to be in the bag instantly,” McFadden said.

“We knew that when we came here that the opposition were going to have a real go. They have shown that over the past month of football and they were just a little bit too good for us.

“It was five tries all but they kicked more goals. We certainly had a go but we conceded too many points in the end.”

Ngani Laumape

They may not have won the game but the Cronulla Sharks can be proud of their efforts despite a narrow loss to the New Zealand Warriors.

The Warriors, who are known for their attacking flair, have decimated teams in recent weeks but the Sharks steely resolve held them at bay and frustrated them, especially during the second half.

Averaging 30 points in their last five games, the Warriors started strongly and immediately had the Sharks on the ropes, with the defensive pressure proving too much eventually.

That did not deter the away team, though, as they scored a rather fortuitous try to even the scores up and wrestle back some momentum.

With a lions share of possession – the Warriors had 68% of possession – the Warriors could only crack the Sharks resolute defence three times.

Although the Warriors will take the win, their second half in particular was quite tame, as they allowed the Sharks to get the run on them and force themselves back into the contest.

The win also ended a five-match losing streak against the Sharks and was the Warriors fifth win at Mt Smart Stadium this year.

Knowing that they have to improve after today’s effort, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is just pleased to take the two points.

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“It was a scrappy win but two points is two points at this time of the year,” said McFadden.

“We needed to win and we haven’t backed up especially after a big win last week.”

Knowing how much they were kept at bay, McFadden credited the Sharks for their defence.

“We have to give credit to the opposition for the way they’ve fought,” said McFadden.

“They’ve only got pride to play for and with all the losses in their team, they really turned up.

“We had our own challenges out there when we lost Tui in about the second minute of the game and then Dane Nielsen, it really tests you.”

For the Sharks, it was all about character, resolve and determination. Coach James Shepherd saw it and was pleased with how the side never gave up.

“With the weight of possession in the first half, to go in 16-6 down, we were reasonably happy,” said Shepherd.

“Our effort was great, our attitude was great and to keep them scoreless in the second half, was an amazing display.

“The blokes were working really hard for each other and with a shade more luck or a different decision, we may have grabbed it there in the end.”

Warriors 16 (Laumape x2, Vatuvei tries; Townsend 2 goals) defeated Sharks 12 (Arona, Feki tries; Gordon 2 goals) at Mount Smart Stadium. Crowd: 13,939.

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.”

Adam Henry

Roosters fans will remember Adam Henry and after playing out a couple of years at Super League side, the Bradford Bulls, the utility back has extended his stay with the club.

He becomes the eleventh addition to James Lowes’ squad for 2015 and for the 23-year old, he is excited to have extended his stay in Bradford for a season.

“I am really pleased to be staying because I love it here,” said Henry.

“The club wanted me to stay and the main thing for me was Jimmy (Lowes).

“He has put a lot of faith in me and pretty much played me every week since taking over as coach. That was the main reason why I chose to stay, as he is backing me all the way.

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Knowing that hard work is needed, he praised Lowes for the advice given to him.

“He said all the hard work would pay off and in the past two games we have beaten Wigan and Leeds,” said Henry.

“In addition to that, our supporters have been very welcoming and I would like to thank them for all the love they have shown me since I joined the Bulls.”

Henry, who was a former Holden Cup winner with the New Zealand Warriors, is a player that Lowes likes for many reasons.

“Adam is a player with great attacking flair and I like a lot of what he does,” added Lowes.

“He certainly has something to offer the team and I am hoping, over the next few years, he can flourish and become a key figure in our side.

“He is young and still has a lot to learn, but has bags of potential and I am delighted that we have been able to secure his services.

“He is happy to be here and we are happy to have him on board for next season.”