Category Archives: NRL Vault (Archives)

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.”

Round 19 already. The season has gone by so fast and here we are at the business end. Some teams have long-term injuries, others have remained injury free. How will the finals shape up?

Here are the teams for Rd 19:

Cronulla Sharks v North Queensland Cowboys (#NRLcronql); Remondis Stadium; Friday July 18. Kick-off: 7:40pm.

Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jonathan Wright 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Jacob Gagan 6. Nu Brown 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Bryce Gibbs 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham (C) 13. Anthony Tupou.

Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Siosaia Vave 17. Tinirau Arona 18. Sam Tagataese 19. Tim Robinson 20. Tupou Sopoaga.

Coach: James Shepherd.

Cowboys: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Matt Wright 3. Tautau Moga 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Robert Lui 7. Johnathan Thurston (C) 8. Ashton Sims 9. Rory Kostjaysn 10. James Tamou 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Glenn Hall.

Interchange: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Scott Bolton 17. Sam Hoare 18. John Asiata.

Coach: Paul Green.

Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLparsou); Pirtek Stadium; Friday July 18. Kick-off: 7:40pm.

Eels: 1. Jarryd Hayne (C) 2. Semi Radradra 3. Ryan Morgan 4. Willie Tonga 5. Vai Toutai 6. Corey Norman 7. Chris Sandow 8. Junior Paulo 9. Issac De Gois 10. Fuifui Moimoi 11. Ken Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. David Gower.

Interchange: 14. Joseph Paulo 15. Peni Terepo 16. Pauli Pauli 17. Mitch Allgood 18. Ben Smith (One to be omitted).

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Souths: 1. Greg Inglis 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dylan Walker 4. Kirisome Auva’a 5. Lote Tuqiri 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Issac Luke 10. Dave Tyrrell 11. Kyle Turenr 12. Sam Burgess 13. Ben Lowe.

Interchange: 14. Luke Year 15. Joe Picker 16. Jason Clark 17. Thomas Burgess 18. Joel Reddy 19. Luke Burgess 20. Apisai Koroisau. (Three to be omitted).

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Sydney Roosters v Penrith Panthers (#NRLsydpen); Allianz Stadium; Saturday July 19. Kick-off: 3pm.

Roosters: 1. Anthony Minichiello (C) 2. Brendan Elliott 3. Nene MacDonald 4. Mitch Aubusson 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. James Maloney 7. Mitch Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 10. Sam Moa 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Sonny Bill Williams 13. Aidan Guerra.

Interchange: 14. Frank-Paul Nuuausala 15. Issac Liu 16. Dylan Napa 17. Remi Casty 18. Heath L’Estrange (One to be omitted).

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Panthers: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Jamal Idris 5. Kevin Naiqama 6. Matt Moylan 7. Jamie Soward 8. Sam McKendry 9. James Segeyaro 10. Brent Kite 11. Sika Manu 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Adam Docker.

Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jeremy Latimore 16. Nigel Plum 17. Bryce Cartwright 18. Issah Yeo (One to be omitted).

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders (#NRLmelcan); AAMI Park; Saturday July 19. Kick-off: 5:30pm.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Marika Koroibete 3. Will Chambers 4. Kurt Mann 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Ben Roberts 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cam Smith (C) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe.

Interchange: 14. Tim Glasby 15. Tohu Harris 16. Junior Moors 17. Jordan McLean.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

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Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Jarrad Kennedy 5. Sami Sauiluma 6. Terry Campese (C) 7. Josh McCrone 8. David Shillington 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Edwards 13. Shaun Fensom.

Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste 15. Paul Vaughan 16. Dane Tilse 17. Shannon Boyd 18. Matt Allwood (One to be omitted).

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors (#NRLbriwar); Suncorp Stadium; Saturday July 19. Kick-off: 7:30pm.

Broncos: 1. Ben Barba 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jack Reed 4. Justin Hodges (C) 5. Dale Copley 6. Josh Hoffman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Josh McGuire 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Corey Parker (C) 11. Alex Glenn 12. Corey Oates 13. Sam Thaiday.

Interchange: 14. Ben Hannant 15. Dave Hala 16. Todd Lowrie 17. Jake Granville 18. David Stagg (One to be omitted).

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins 2. David Fusitua 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Dane Nielsen 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Chad Townsend 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Nathan Friend 10. Suaia Matagi 11. Ben Henry 12. Simon Mannering (C) 13. Sebastien Ikahihifo.

Interchange: 14. Feleti Mateo 15. Ben Matulino 16. Agnatius Paasi 17. Thomas Leuluai 18. Jayson Bukuya (One to be omitted).

Coach: Andrew McFadden.

Newcastle Knights v Gold Coast Titans (#NRLnewgld); Hunter Stadium; Sunday July 20. Kick-off: 2pm.

Knights: 1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 3. Dane Gagai 4. Joey Leilua 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Kurt Gidley (C) 8. Kade Snowden 9. Adam Clydsdale 10. Willie Mason 11. Beau Scott 12. Robbie Rochow 13. Jeremy Smith.

Interchange: 14. Tyrone Roberts 15. Chris Houston 17. David Fa’alogo 18. Korbin Sims 19. Adam Cuthbertson (One to be omitted).

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Titans: 1. Kevin Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. James Roberts 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Kalifa Fai Fai Loa 6. Maurice Blair 7. Daniel Mortimer 8. Luke Bailey 9. Beau Falloon 10. Nate Myles 11. Mark Minichiello 12. Dave Taylor 13. Paul Carter.

Interchange: 14. Matt White 15. Luke Douglas 16. Tom Kingston 17. Albert Kelly 18. Mark Ioane (One to be omitted).

Coach: John Cartwright.

Wests Tigers v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLwstcby); ANZ Stadium; Sunday July 20. Kick-off: 3pm.

Tigers: 1. Mitch Moses 2. Keith Lulia 3. Tim Simona 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Ricahrds 6. Blake Austin 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah (C) 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair.

Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanafagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Dene Halatau 17. James Gavet 18. Sauaso Sue (One to be omitted).

Coach: Mick Potter.

Bulldogs: 1. Mitch Brown 2. Corey Thompson 3. Josh Morris 4. Tim Lafai 5. Krisnan Inu 6. Josh Jackson 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Sam Kasiano 9. Michael Ennis (C) 10. James Graham 11. Dale Fincuane 12. Tony Williams 13. Greg Eastwood.

Interchange: 14. Reni Maitua 15. Pat O’Hanlon 16. Tim Browne 17. Lloyd Perrett 19. Drury Low 20. Damien Cook (Two to be omitted).

Coach: Des Hasler.

St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly Sea Eagles (#NRLsgiman); WIN Jubilee Oval; Monday July 21. Kick-off: 7pm.

Dragons: 1. Adam Quinlan 2. Charly Runciman 3. Josh Dugan 4. Gerard Beale 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Benji Marshall 8. Ben Creagh (C) 9. Mitch Rein 10. Mike Cooper 11. Leeson Ah Mau 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack De Belin.

Interchange: 14. Bronson Harrison 15. Shane Pumipi 16. Will Matthews 17. Jack Stockwell.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Manly: 1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon (C) 4. Steve Matai 5. Peta Hiku 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Starling 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brenton Lawrence 11. Anthony Watmough 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Tom Symonds.

Interchange: 14. Jesse Sene-Lefao 16. James Hasson 17. Jason King 15. Dunamis Lui.

Coach: Geoff Toovey.

Hock joins Widnes leaving Wigan coach fuming

Gareth Hock

A move to a rival club is usually not a cause for an outburst, but in the eyes of Wigan Warriors Chairman Ian Lenagan, he had some rather stiff words to say about former Warrior Gareth Hock, who has now joined the Widnes Vikings on a season-long loan.

Hock, who was apparently after more money in his next deal, had approached NRL side, the Parramatta Eels abut a possible move, only for that to fall through – with Lenagan bitterly disappointed about how things panned out.

“Gareth Hock has made it clear in face-to-face discussions with me and via his agent, that he has no intention of playing for the Wigan Club. This is hugely disappointing to me, to the Wigan fans and to the Club who have all treated him well,” said Lenagan.

“We have gone to unique lengths to help him get his life back on track after his ban two years ago, including increasing his contract voluntarily on two separate occasions to help him financially against a backdrop of his threats to leave. The Wigan Club has consistently supported the player and has done all that any Club could be asked to do.

“We acceded to his recent request for a move to Australia, on the basis that a change of environment and a different competition might be good socially for him, provided it was also financially beneficial to Wigan. However, this did not transpire. Even though better offers have been now received, he has made it clear he does not now wish to move to Australia and will not play for Wigan.

“A line has to be drawn at some stage and whilst with immense regret at losing a player of Gareth’s quality, who I believe is still a Wiganer at heart, we have concluded that that time is now for the good of the 2013 Wigan Squad, the Coaching Staff and for the Wigan fans.

“Since I and Wigan are not prepared to allow Gareth Hock to play for one of our major competitors, we have decided to retain his Registration and to allow him to move on loan to Widnes Super League Club with whom we have an excellent relationship. He is not allowed to play against Wigan in any competitions.

“In terms of rationale, it is known that Gareth was upset that Shaun Wane took away his number 12 Squad Number – hardly surprising in the light of his expected departure to Australia – but we were expecting him to concentrate on his injury rehabilitation and to fight for his place in the Team.

“Having stood by Gareth Hock, we feel let down by his attitude under both Michael Maguire and Shaun Wane since returning to play for Wigan.

“I have instructed Wigan staff to now leave this issue behind, concentrate upon the coming season and make no further comment.”

From the perspective of Widnes Vikings coach Dennis Betts, however, he is more excited at the potential the move has for the club, citing Hock’s tremendous form last season and is pleased with what the English international can offer the club moving forward.

“It’s been a hard task putting everything in place but well worth it, to secure somebody of his standing. Gareth is a current international player and regarded as one of the best back rowers in the world,” said Betts.

“He’s healthy and hardly missed a game for Wigan last year. He has loads of presence about him, knows how to play a very tough game and at the top end of his twenties; he’s at a good, solid age and knows exactly where his career is going.”

“When we looked around our squad, we realised we needed to move to the next level. We’ve already seen evidence of this following the recruitment of Kevin Brown, so to be able to bring Gareth in as well, offers even more cutting edge to our side.

“We’ve not made wholesale changes but those that we have will change our mindset and drive us forward.

“I appreciate that it is only a season-long loan, but people like Gareth don’t come around too often. Having that ‘something extra’ about him, I’m confident that what he does over the course of the year will add so much quality to us.

“What we want now is for our members and supporters to get behind us and appreciate that we are trying to bring in high-end international players for them to come and watch. Throughout the whole organisation, our process is all about development and we are continuously looking at moving forward.

“Gareth has a lot of admirers within the game of rugby league and adding someone of his standing to our set-up can only make us that little bit better.”

Betts is not the only one pleased to see Hock at Widnes, with the man himself excited at the chance to work alongside Betts once more.

“As a junior working my way through the ranks at Wigan, Denis was a first team regular at the time and somebody I genuinely looked up to. To later have him as my Coach was fantastic and I really benefitted from his knowledge of the game.

“When the chance of re-joining him at Widnes came around, I didn’t need asking twice. They are a proud club with a great history and I’m looking forward to playing my part in what we hope will be a big season for the club.

“Being a World Cup year, individually, I’m desperate to have a big season and by doing so, hopefully put myself in with a chance of pulling on an England shirt and representing my country again, so I’ll definitely be giving it my all for the team.

“It was really flattering to find out that there were plenty of other club’s who would’ve also liked to have offered me an opportunity, but I’ve spoken to lots of people in the game and they have only had good things to say about Widnes. My Brother-in-law, Kevin Brown, has also told me all about the set-up, the professionalism and the ambition at the club, which made my decision even simpler and I can’t wait to pull on a Vikings shirt and get started.”

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William Barthau

Keen to strengthen their side to make a charge back into the Super League for next season, the London Broncos have signed a talented international halfback in William Barthau.

The 24-year old French international has signed a 2-year deal from next season, playing in 16 games for the Catalan Dragons and enjoying successful stint with their reserve side, Saint Esteve.

It was back in 2009 when Barthau made his French debut and since then, he has appeared in the Les Bleus eight times. Additionally, he made three World Cup appearances and if you ask Broncos coach Joey Grima, he believes they have a talented player signed up.

“I’m pleased we’ve secured William as he will fit into one of our key positions on the field. He’s was impressive in the Dragons win over the Broncos in Round nine and led them around the field,” said Grima.

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“He should link up well with both Ray Nasso and Ben Farrar who he knows from their time in France.”

As for the player himself, he goes to the Broncos knowing a couple of players, having been acquainted with both Ben Farrar and Ray Nasso.

“I’m looking forward to joining the Broncos as it will be good to learn a different system and to play with different players,” he said.

“The challenge is to get into the top four and then play four Super League clubs to show we are ready to play in Super League again. I know that I can play my part in helping the club achieve this.

Confident with what Grima is setting out to achieve at the Broncos, Barthau looks forward to playing under the coach.

“I’m really motivated to be part of a winning culture that Joey Grima is creating, and I’m also looking to improve individually during my time at the club.

“I already know Ray Nasso and Ben Farrar who have lots of talent and I’m looking forward to playing alongside the young talent that is being developed in London.”

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.”

Matt Bowen

It was a new challenge and a new chapter in the career of Matty Bowen and after a successful season to date, he has opted to do it all again.

That is, he decided to stick around at Wigan and play with them in the 2015 season. Fresh off a new 1-year deal with the club, the man nicknamed ‘Mango’ has quickly become a fan favourite at Wigan.

For the man himself, he is enjoying his time at the club and his family love it, so the decision to stay made the most sense.

“I am very happy to stay for another year, my family’s enjoying it over here we love the Town,” said Bowen.

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“The Club have a great Coach in ‘Waney’ and great bunch of boys, I couldn’t be happier.”

Wigan Chairman Ian Lenegan, who played a part in getting Bowen to the Warriors in the first place, is a big fan of the zippy fullback and looks forward to seeing him play again next year.

“I just love watching Matty play,” said Lenegan.

“He has developed into a vital member of our squad and I look forward to seeing him light up Super League for another year.”

Someone that can see first-hand how Bowen plays and trains is head coach Shaun Wane and he is also excited that Bowen is staying on, as a means of assisting the young players coming through.

“I am so pleased that Matty has decided to stay with us for another season,” said Wane.

“His desire to win, great professionalism and his attitude off the field fit perfectly with the Wigan Warriors culture. Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney will have another season learning with the best, which is great for us as a Club and our desire to continually win competitions.”

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