Tigers make 1st new signing under the Cleary with addition of Titans back-rower

Chris McQueen

In the eyes of some, new Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has a big challenge ahead of him when it comes to preparing a roster that can go toe-to-toe with elite sides and he has made his first official signing as club coach to try and achieve that.

That signing is current Gold Coast Titans back-rower Chris McQueen, who will join the club on a 3-year deal from the 2018 season.

McQueen’s experience and consistency are the two key factors in the eyes of Cleary.

“I’m really looking forward to having Chris on board for the next three seasons,” he said.

“Not only does he bring plenty of experience with him, he is also an extremely consistent player.

“It’s clear that Chris has greatly helped the Titans’ young players develop on and off the field in the past few years, and that will no doubt be a strong asset at this club too.

With a lot to do to get the club into shape, Cleary hopes that McQueen will impress enough to get the fans onside.

“Knowing how hard Chris works and how team-focussed he is, I’m sure it won’t take long for Wests Tigers Members and fans to really appreciate him and regard him as a fan-favourite,” the new coach added.

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe also welcomed new addition McQueen to the club.

“Chris is a player of high calibre and will no doubt be a strong asset to our Club,” he said.

“Not only is he an experienced representative player, he is also a great person off the field and possesses the attributes that we value highly at this club.

“I’m sure that Wests Tigers Members and fans will be excited by the addition of Chris to our team from 2018 onwards.”

Perhaps not ideal from a Titans perspective, the club understand that McQueen made a decision to depart but know that he will perform to his ability for the remainder of the year.

“Everyone at the Gold Coast Titans wishes Chris all the best for his move to the Tigers,” Chief Operating Officer, Tony Mestrov said.

“He knows he has a job to do here for the rest of 2017 and knowing the type of player he is, he will give 100% for the club.”


Holden Cup to First-Grade Percentage Breakdown by Team

Many people have often wondered about the value of the Holden Cup and whether it serves as a genuine pathway for young, budding rugby league players to make the next step into first-grade. Blessed with rich talent and admittedly, players that failed to cut the mustard, just which teams have been the most successful in procuring talent to take that next step?

Here at NRL News, we love stats and everything they represent, so we thought we would cast our eye over this very question and assess which teams have enjoyed the most success when it comes to blooding youngsters from their Holden Cup ranks into first-grade.

Just note, this has nothing to do with juniors or where a player played their junior footy. There will be crossover for some players as they played for more than one side during the recent years of Holden Cup and those players that have played for more than one side have been included within both teams and the overall percentage.

We have tried to ensure that this is as accurate as possible but if you notice any player missing from any side that should be there, please, let us know, and we can amend that swiftly and accordingly.

So, without further adieu, here are the percentage and success rates of all 16 NRL teams when it comes to the successful promotion and transition of their Holden Cup players in order of the highest percentage and thus success rate:

New Zealand Warriors

Total number & percentage: 53/192 at 27.6%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Brad Abbey, Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Patrick Ah Van, David Bhana, Erin Clark, Sonny Fai, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Sosaia Feki, Glen Fisiiahi, David Fusitu’a, James Gavet, Charlie Gubb, Siliva Havili, Adam Henry, Peta Hiku, Konrad Hurrell, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Mark Ioane, Isaac  John, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Ngani Laumape, Siuatonga Likiliki, Mason Lino, Sam Lisone, Kevin Locke, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lousi, Sione Lousi, Alehana Mara, Ben Matulino, Ken Maumalo, Constantine Mika, Nathaniel Neale, Agnatius Paasi, Russell Packer, John Palavi, Abraham Papalii, Isaiah Papalii, Nathaniel Peteru, Steve Rapira, Nathaniel Roache, Ligi Sao, Nafe Seluini, Toafofoa Sipley, Omar Slaimankhel, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Elijah Taylor, Jazz Tevaga, Carlos Tuimavave, Bill Tupou & Albert Vete.

The total number of first-grade games: 2082 games.

Total Origin appearances: 0.

Total international appearances: 128 – New Zealand: 82, Tonga: 25, Samoa: 17 & Cook Islands: 4.

Brisbane Broncos

Total number & percentage: 45/165 at 27.27%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Daniel Alvaro, Tyson Andrews, Jai Arrow, Kurt Baptiste, Gerard Beale, Caleb Binge, Kurt Capewell, Dale Copley, Cameron Cullen, Mitchell Dodds, Jordan Drew, Mitchell Frei, Dane Gagai, Brendon Gibb, Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn, Jake Granville, David Hala, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Jordan Kahu, Danny Levi, Dunamis Lui, Lachlan Maranta, Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire, Francis Molo, Jayden Nikorima, Kodi Nikorima, Corey Norman, Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue, Tom Opacic, Tevita Pangai Jr., Jonas Pearson, Mitch Rivett, Korbin Sims, Tariq Sims, Michael Spence, Jaydn Su’A, Ash Taylor, Jarrod Wallace, Aaron Whitchurch & Jharal Yow Yeh.

The total number of first-grade games: 2627.

The total number of Origin appearances: Queensland: 27.

Total international appearances: 66 – New Zealand: 39, Fiji: 10, Australia: 10, Samoa: 5, Tonga: 1 & Cook Islands: 1.

Wests Tigers

Total number & percentage: 50/205 at 24.4%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Mitch Achurch, Sitaleki Akauola, Neccrom Areaiiti, Blake Ayshford, Luke Brooks, Nathan Brown, Manaia Cherrington, Simon Dwyer, JJ Felise, Andrew Fifita, David Fifita, Asipeli Fine, Matt Groat, Delouise Hoeter, Justin Hunt, Marika Koroibete, Blake Lazarus, Leva Li, Jacob Liddle, Lamar Liolevave, Isaac Liu, Matt Lodge, Kyle Lovett, Joel Luani, Robert Lui, Te Maire Martin, Willie Mataka, Jacob Miller, Nathan Milone, Tim Moltzen, Mitch Moses, Jake Mullaney, Ben Murdoch-Masila, David Nofoaluma, Moses Pangai, Pat Politoni, Leivaha Pulu, Junior Roqica, Kurtis Rowe, Matt Ryan, Brenden Santi, Jason Schirnack, Tim Simona, Curtis Sironen, Shaun Spence, Sauaso Sue, Moses Suli, Peni Tagive, James Tedesco & Aaron Woods.

The total number of first-grade games: 1827.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 19.

The total number of international appearances: 72 – Samoa: 19, Australia: 15, Tonga: 13,  Fiji: 13, Italy: 6, United States: 4, Cook Islands: 1 & New Zealand: 1.

Sydney Roosters

Total number & percentage: 46/199 at 23.12%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Rohan Ahern, John Asiata, Cheyse Blair, Sam Brunton, Nat Butcher, Kurt Capewell, Anthony Cherrington, Boyd Cordner, Tyler Cornish, Sandor Earl, Brendan Elliott, Kane Evans, Asipeli Fine, Brendan Frei, Jake Friend, Grant Garvey, Josh Graham, David Hala, Jackson Hastings, Ryley Jacks, Ben Jones, Martin Kennedy, Mark Kheirallah, Samisoni Langi, Joey Leilua, Vincent Leuluai, Jack Littlejohn, Isaac Liu, Ethan Lowe, Nene Macdonald, Joseph Manu, Mose Masoe, Willis Meehan, Taane Milne, Latrell Mitchell, Tautau Moga, Dylan Napa, Jayden Nikorima, Dominique Peyroux, Curtis Rona, Tom Symonds, James Tamou, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Stanley Waqa, Connor Watson & Antonio Winterstein.

The total number of first-grade games: 2158

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 20.

The total number of international appearances: 85 – Samoa: 32, Australia: 14, New Zealand: 11, Cook Islands: 8, Fiji: 7, Tonga: 6, Papua New Guinea: 5 & Canada: 2.

Canberra Raiders

Total number & percentage: 37/168 at 22.02%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Matt Allwood, Mitch Barnett, Luke Bateman, Shannon Boyd, Morgan Boyle, Justin Carney, Michael Chee-Kam, Mitch Cornish, Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker, Lachlan Croker, Josh Dugan, Shaun Fensom, Matt Frawley, Jeremy Hawkins, Jarrad Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Drury Low, Nathan Massey, Sam Mataora, Matt McIlwrick, Anthony Milford, Steven Naughton, Mark Nicholls, Tevita Pangai, Josh Papalii, Michael Picker, Sami Sauiluma, Nick Skinner, James Stuart, Joel Thompson, Paul Vaughan, Daniel Vidot, Travis Waddell, Jack Wighton & Sam Williams.

The total number of first-grade games: 1738.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 9 & QLD: 6.

The total number of international appearances: 40 – Australia: 19, Samoa: 13, Cook Islands: 4, Italy: 3 & Scotland: 1.

Parramatta Eels

Total number & percentage: 41/187 at 21.9%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Mitch Allgood, Josh Aloiai, Daniel Alvaro, Jason Baitieri, Rory Brien, Nathan Davis, John Folau, Bevan French, Jacob Gagan, Nathan Gardner, Trent Hodkinson, Justin Hunt, Tui Kamikamica, Kris Keating, Albert Kelly, Taniela Lasalo, Leva Li, Jacob Loko, Jon Mannah, Tim Mannah, Ryan Matterson, Anthony Mitchell, Tepai Moeroa, Ryan Morgan, Daniel Mortimer, Pat O’Hanlon, Pauli Pauli, Junior Paulo, Kaysa Pritchard, Semi Radradra, Tim Robinson, Ava Seumanufagai, Ken Sio, Reimis Smith, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jorge Taufua, Taulima Tautai, Peni Terepo, Vai Toutai, Daniel Tupou & Joseph Ualesi.

The total number of first-grade games: 1958.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 10.

The total number of international appearances: 32 – Tonga: 11, France: 10, Fiji: 5, Samoa: 4 & Australia: 2.

Newcastle Knights

Total number & percentage: 39/192 at 20.31%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Josh Ailaomai, Sam Anderson, Joe Boyce, Adam Clydsdale, Jack Cogger, Cory Denniss, Joel Edwards, Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Jaelen Feeney, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Johnathan Ford, Mitch Garbutt, Josh King, Brock Lamb, Danny Levi, Jake Mamo, Kurt Mann, Chanel Mata’utia, Pat Mata’utia, Peter Mata’utia, Sione Mata’utia, Constantine Mika, Kevin Naiqama, Api Pewhairangi, Dylan Phythian, Tyler Randell, Chad Redman, Tyrone Roberts, Daniel Saifiti, Jacob Saifiti, Jason Schirnack, Korbin Sims, Will Smith, Ryan Stig, Sam Stone, Joseph Tapine, Zane Tetevano, Paterika Vaivai & Luke Yates.

The total number of first-grade games: 1029.

The total number of Origin appearances: 0.

The total number of international appearances: 32 –  Fiji: 15, Cook Islands: 5, New Zealand: 4, Australia: 3, Samoa: 3 & Ireland: 2.

Melbourne Storm

Total number & percentage: 36/182 at 19.78%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kirisome Auva’a, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Dane Chisholm, Brodie Croft, Matt Duffie, Mahe Fonua, Slade Griffin, Aidan Guerra, Ben Hampton, Tohu Harris, William Isa, Sam Joe, Luke Kelly, Richie Kennar, Blake Leary, Matt Lodge, Kurt Mann, Jordan McLean, Cam Munster, Justin O’Neill, Kevin Proctor, Robbie Rochow, Billy Rogers, Curtis Scott, Denny Solomona, Joe Stimson, Aiden Tolman, Joseph Tomane, Young Tonumaipea, Suliasi Vunivalu, Christian Welch, Gareth Widdop & Brayden Wiliame.

The total number of first-grade games: 1774.

The total number of Origin appearances: QLD: 12.

The total number of international appearances: 94 – New Zealand: 57, England: 17, France: 4, Tonga: 4, Italy: 3, Australia: 3, Fiji: 3 & Samoa: 3.

St George Illawarra Dragons

Total number & percentage: 34/172 at 19.77%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Euan Aitken, Jack Bird, Jack de Belin, Adam Docker, Matt Dufty, Kenny Edwards, Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Daniel Fepuleai, Jai Field, Addin Fonua-Blake, Craig Garvey, Yaw Kiti Glymin, Nathan Green, Jackson Hastings, Beau Henry, Jacob Host, Drew Hutchison, Cameron King, Luciano Leilua, Kane Linnett, Jake Marketo, Alex McKinnon, Trent Merrin, Sitiveni Moceidreke, Rory O’Brien, Adam Quinlan, Mitch Rein, Charly Runciman, Hame Sele, Chase Stanley, Kyle Stanley, Jack Stockwell, Joe Vickery & Dean Whare.

The total number of first-grade games: 1438.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 15

The total number of international appearances: 38 – New Zealand: 19, Scotland: 6, Australia: 6, Samoa: 4 & Cook Islands: 3.

Canterbury Bulldogs

Total number & percentage: 38/211 at 18%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Harlan Alaalatoa, Ben Barba, Lachlan Burr, Paul Carter, Adam Elliott, Herman Ese’ese, Jaelen Feeney, Dale Finucane, Jake Foster, Danny Fualalo, Daniel Harrison, Jamal Idris, Josh Jackson, Sam Kasiano, Sione Kite, David Klemmer, Tim Lafai, Shaun Lane, Samisoni Langi, Leilani Latu, Nathan Massey, Moses Mbye, Matt Minto, Marcelo Montoya, Ed Murphy, Heka Nanai, Lloyd Perrett, Tyrone Phillips, Shane Pumipi, Josh Reynolds, Aidan Sezer, Nathan Smith, Reimis Smith, Tupou Sopoaga, Peni Ratu Tagive, Tautalatasi Tasi, Arana Taumata & Martin Taupau.

The total number of first-grade games: 1592.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 12.

The total number of international appearances: 55 – New Zealand: 21, Australia: 11, Samoa: 10, Tonga: 7, Fiji: 4 & Scotland: 2.

Penrith Panthers

Total number & percentage: 39/222 at 17.6%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Tinirau Arona, Blake Austin, Waqa Blake, Braidon Burns, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Cleary, Damien Cook, Lachlan Coote, Dylan Edwards, Tom Eisenhuth, Sarafu Fatiaki, James Fisher-Harris, Tim Glasby, Wade Graham, Tim Grant, Corey Harawira-Naera, Masada Iosefa, William Isa, George Jennings, Robert Jennings, Moses Leota, Matt Lodge, Sam McKendry, Kierran Moseley, Matt Moylan, Joseph Paulo, Daniel Penese, James Roberts, Joel Romelo, Tony Satini, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Harry Siejka, Chris Smith, Junior Tia-Kilifi, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Matt Wright & Isaah Yeo.

The total number of first-grade games: 1838

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 6.

The total number of international appearances: 36 – Samoa: 14, New Zealand: 11, USA: 4, Cook Islands: 3, Scotland: 3, & Australia: 1.

North Queensland Cowboys

Total number & percentage: 26/153 at 17%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Javid Bowen, Josh Chudleigh, Kyle Feldt, Obe Geia, Gideon Gela-Mosby, Chris Grevsmuhl, Coen Hess, Sam Hoare, Jayden Hodges, Dane Hogan, Tom Humble, Felise Kaufusi, Patrick Kaufusi, Viliame Kikau, Tyson Martin, Michael Morgan, Moses Pangai, Kalyn Ponga, Zac Santo, James Segeyaro, Nick Slyney, Ben Spina, Jason Taumalolo, Ray Thompson, Will Tupou & Wayne Ulugia.

The total number of first-grade games: 735.

The total number of Origin appearances: QLD: 5.

The total number of international appearances: 37 – Tonga: 13, New Zealand: 9, Papua New Guinea: 7, Australia: 6 & Fiji: 2.

Gold Coast Titans

Total number & percentage: 33/216 at 15.28%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Caleb Binge, Jamie Dowling, Kane Elgey, Kevin Gordon, Jy Hitchcox, Jahrome Hughes, Hymel Hunt, Sam Irwin, Ryan James, Brian Kelly, Max King, Tom Kingston, Karl Lawton, Kayne Lawton, Will Matthews, David Mead, Cody Nelson, John Olive, Luke Page, Dominique Peyroux, Jordan Rankin, Jordan Rapana, Ben Ridge, Tyronne Roberts-Davis, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Srama, Bodene Thompson, Joseph Tomane, Esi Tonga, Siosaia Vave, Cody Walker, Shannon Walker & Jarrod Wallace.

The total number of first-grade games: 1278.

The total number of Origin appearances: 0.

The total number of international appearances: 25 – Papua New Guinea: 9, Cook Islands: 5, Tonga: 5, New Zealand: 4, & Samoa: 2.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Total number & percentage: 30/197 at 15.23%.

List of players to have played first-grade: George Burgess, Luke Capewell, Jason Clark, Angus Crichton, Dylan Farrell, Jack Gosiewski, Aaron Gray, Alex Johnston, Luke Keary, Apisai Koroisau, Josh Mansour, Cam McInnes, Kane Morgan, Cameron Murray, Zane Musgrove, John Olive, Nathan Peats, Eddy Pettybourne, Tyrone Phillips, Adam Reynolds, James Roberts, Chris Sandow, James Segeyaro, Josh Starling, Brad Takairangi, Siosifa Talakai, Kyle Turner, Dave Tyrrell, Junior Vaivai & Dylan Walker.

The total number of first-grade games: 1974.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 7.

The total number of international appearances: England: 11, Australia: 10: Fiji: 6, USA: 4, Fiji: 3, Lebanon: 3, Cook Islands: 3, Papua New Guinea: 1 & Samoa: 1.

Cronulla Sharks

Total number & percentage: 27/191 at 14.14%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Josh Addo-Carr, Jack Bosden, Jayden Brailey, Fa’amanu Brown, Jayson Bukuya, Blake Ferguson, Karl Filiga, Tyson Frizell, Nathan Gardner, James Hasson, Valentine Holmes, Lancen Joudo, Albert Kelly, Ricky Leutele, Michael Lichaa, Jon Mannah, Penani Manumalealii, Sione Masima, Stewart Mills, Kyle O’Donnell, Tyrone Peachey, Shane Pumipi, Patrice Siolo, Scott Sorenson, Nathan Stapleton, Chad Townsend & Matthew Wright.

The total number of first-grade games: 1169.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 6.

The total number of international appearances: Australia: 14, Fiji: 10, Samoa: 10, Wales: 5, &  Scotland: 3.

Manly Sea Eagles

Total number & percentage: 19/187 at 10.16%.

List of players to have played first-grade: Jason Annear, Billy Bainbridge, Jamie Buhrer, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Drinkwater, Kenny Edwards, Kieran Foran, Clint Gutherson, Will Hopoate, Liam Knight, Darcy Lussick, Michael Oldfield, Brad Parker, Lama Tasi, Jorge Taufua, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves & Dean Whare.

The total number of first-grade games: 1193.

The total number of Origin appearances: NSW: 6 & QLD: 6.

The total number of international appearances: New Zealand: 53, Australia: 12, Tonga: 6 & Samoa: 1.



Penrith utility back signs new long-term deal

Dean Whare

Long-term deals are usually few and far between but in a sign as to just how much the Penrith Panthers wanted to retain Dean Whare, the utility back has signed a new 5-year deal. 

The new deal will see Whare remain at Penrith until the end of the 2022 season and for the 27-year-old Kiwi international, it was an easy decision.

“I’m just really happy to have the opportunity to commit my long-term future to the Panthers,” Whare said.

“Penrith feels like home to me and my family loves living here so it was an easy decision to re-sign.”

Praising the club and the fans, in particular, Whare believes the club is headed in the right direction.

“We have a great group of players, some of the most loyal fans in the game and I’m excited about the direction we’re heading as a club,” Whare continued.

“The club has shown a lot of faith in me and I’m determined to repay that faith with some good form over the coming seasons.”

The club is also pleased, with Executive General Manager of Rugby League Phil Gould grateful to Whare for originally signing with the Panthers in 2013.

“Words cannot describe how highly I regard Dean Whare both as a person and a player,” Gould said.

“I have a long-standing gratitude towards Dean for agreeing to trust us with his career when he joined us from Manly in 2013.

“We are extremely grateful for the service he has given our club since the day he arrived and he is a very important part of our club going forward.”

The veteran administrator is hopeful that Whare will remain a Panther for life.

“It gives us great pride to know that Dean’s first preference is to be part of Panthers for the remainder of his career. He did not seek offers from other NRL clubs,” Gould added.

“I would love to see Dean finish his NRL career with the Panthers.”

Boost for Knights as Levi re-signs

Danny Levi

A team that is showing a lot of heart in 2017, the Newcastle Knights want to keep as many of the roster as possible and they have just re-signed another key piece, with Danny Levi signing on until the end of the 2020 season.

The new deal is effectively a contract extension, as the dynamic hooker was already under contract for the 2018 season.

With coach Nathan Brown placing a large emphasis on the young talent and getting the best out of them, he sees Levi as a player that they can build the side around.

“Our strategy is to retain our best young talent and build a team around them,” Brown said.

“In his third year of football, Danny shows continual improvement and a real desire to represent our footy Club.”

Playing his entire career with the Knights to date, Levi said it was important for him to continue his career at a club he has been involved with for so long.

“I have been here since the start of my career so it’s good to get another three years on top of that,” Levi explained.

“Since I moved to Newcastle I thought it was such a beautiful place.

“It is nice and chilled out, there are awesome people around so definitely somewhere I feel I see myself in the future.”

He also believes that the club is moving in the right direction and along with improving his own game further, is excited at what is ahead for the Knights.

“I like what’s going to happen here and I feel like we’re building something,” Levi explained.

“I definitely want to be a part of that and hopefully be one of the players to help that along.

“I have still got a lot to work on and a lot to improve on but at the moment I feel like my game is getting better.”

NRL Teams Rd 6

Wow, can you believe?! Already Rd 6 and so much to play for. Some teams are flying high, others want to buck a trend whilst others just want to achieve some consistency. With more exciting clashes this week, we are sure to be in for a treat. 

Without further adieu, here are the sides for Rd 6 of the NRL Telstra Premiership:

Brisbane Broncos v Sydney Roosters (#NRLbrisyd); Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Thursday April 6. Kick-off: 8:05pm.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (C) 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Anthony Milford 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire.

Interchange: 14. Alex Glenn 15. Tevita Pangai Jr. 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Jai Arrow 18. Kodi Nikorima 19. George Fai 20. David Mead 21. Joe Ofahengaue.

Coach: Wayne Bennett.

Roosters: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Blake Ferguson 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Luke Keary 7. Mitch Pearce 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitch Aubusson 13. Aidan Guerra.

Interchange: 14. Kane Evans 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Ryan Matterson 17. Connor Watson 18. Joseph Manu 19. Eloni Vunakece 20. Lindsay Collins 22. Mitch Cornish.

Coach: Trent Robinson.

Newcastle Knights v Canterbury Bulldogs (#NRLnewcby); McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle; Friday April 7. Kick-off: 6 pm.

Knights: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson (C) 8. Jack Stockwell 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Mitch Barnett. 

Interchange: 14. Sam Stone 15. Anthony Tupou 16. Joe Wardle 17. Daniel Saifiti 18. Jaelen Feeney 19. Luke Yates 20. Jacob Gagan 21. Jacob Saifiti.

Coach: Nathan Brown.

Bulldogs: 1. Brad Abbey 2. Brett Morris 3. Josh Morris 4. Brenko Lee 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Moses Mbye 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Lichaa 10. James Graham 11. Josh Jackson 12. Greg Eastwood 13. David Klemmer.

Interchange: 14. Sam Kasiano 15. Danny Fualalo 16. Adam Elliott 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 19. Craig Garvey 20. Matt Frawley 21. Francis Tualau 23. Reimis Smith.

Coach: Des Hasler.

Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs (#NRLpensou); Pepper Stadium, Penrith; Friday April 7. Kick-off: 7:50 pm.

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Michael Oldfield 3. Dean Whare 4. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Nathan Cleary 8. James Tamou 9. Peter Wallace (C) 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Corey Harawira-Naera 12. Isaah Yeo 13. Trent Merrin.

Interchange: 14. Moses Leota 15. Leilani Latu 16. Viliame Kikau 17. Sitaleki Akauola 18. Sione Katoa 19. Tyrone May 20. Samisoni Langi 21. Mitch Rein.

Coach: Anthony Griffin.

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Braidon Burns 3. Siosifa Talakai 4. George Jennings 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Kyle Turner 11. John Sutton 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess (C).

Interchange: 14. Robbie Farah 15. Jason Clark 16. Zane Musgrove 17. Anthony Cherrington 18. George Burgess 19. Robbie Rochow 20. Cameron Murray 21. Tyrell Fuimaono.

Coach: Michael Maguire.

Manly Sea Eagles v St George Illawarra Dragons (#NRLmansgi); Lottoland, Brookvale; Saturday April 8. Kick-off: 3 pm.

Manly: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Marty Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic.

Interchange: 14. Lewis Brown 15. Nate Myles 16. Darcy Lussick 17. Addin Fonua-Blake 18. Jackson Hastings 20. Matt Wright 21. Jarrad Kennedy 22. Lloyd Perrett.

Coach: Trent Barrett.

Dragons: 1. Jason Nightingale 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Kurt Mann 6. Gareth Widdop (C) 7. Josh McCrone 8. Russell Packer 9. Cam McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Jack de Belin.

Interchange: 14. Tariq Sims 15. Leeson Ah Mau 16. Hame Sele 17. Taane Milne 18. Blake Lawrie 19. Kalifa Fai Fai Loa 20. Luciano Leilua 21. Jacob Host.

Coach: Paul McGregor.

Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders (#NRLgldcan); Cbus Super Stadium, Robina; Saturday April 8. Kick-off: 5:30 pm.

Titans: 1. Tyronne Roberts-Davis 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Daniel Vidot 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Ryan Simpkins 10. Ryan James (C) 11. Kevin Proctor (C) 12. Chris McQueen 13. Leivaha Pulu.

Interchange: 14. Karl Lawton 15. Chris Grevsmuhl 16. Max King 17. Joe Greenwood 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Tyrone Roberts 20. Paterkia Vaivai 21. Alexander Brimson.

Coach: Neil Henry.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (C) 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Blake Austin 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Junior Paulo 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Josh Papalii 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Iosia Soliola.

Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale 15. Luke Bateman 16. Clay Priest 17. Joseph Tapine 18. Dunamis Lui 19. Jordan Turner 20. Dave Taylor 21. Lachlan Croker.

Coach: Ricky Stuart.

North Queensland Cowboys v Wests Tigers (#NRLnqlwst); 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville; Saturday April 8. Kick-off: 7:30 pm.

Cowboys: 1. Lachlan Coote 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Kane Linnett 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston 8. Pat Kaufusi 9. Ben Hampton 10. Scott Bolton 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo.

Interchange: 14. Kalyn Ponga 15. John Asiata 16. Coen Hess 17. Shaun Fensom 18. Sam Hoare 20. Corey Jensen 21. Blake Leary 22. Ben Spina.

Coach: Paul Green.

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Jamal Idris 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitch Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods (C) 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor.

Interchange: 14. Tim Grant 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Jacob Liddle 18. Kyle Lovett 19. Joel Edwards 20. Justin Hunt 21. Junior Tatola.

Coach: Ivan Cleary.

New Zealand Warriors v Parramatta Eels (#NRLwarpar); Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland; Sunday April 9. Kick-off: 2pm.

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C) 2. Blake Ayshford 3. David Fusitu’a 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Charlie Gubb 9. Issac Luke 10. Jacob Lillyman 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering.

Interchange: 14. Nathaniel Roache 15. James Gavet 16. Sam Lisone 17. Ligi Sao 18. Albert Vete 20. Bunty Afoa 21. Ata Hingano 22. Mason Lino.

Coach: Stephen Kearney.

Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennins 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Clint Gutherson 7. Corey Norman 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (C) 11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Beau Scott (C).

Interchange: 14. Nathan Brown 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Frank Pritchard 17. Siosaia Vave 18. David Gower 19. Peni Terepo 20. Kirisome Auva’a 21. George Jennings.

Coach: Brad Arthur.

Melbourne Storm v Cronulla Sharks (#NRLmelcro); AAMI Park, Melbourne; Sunday April 9. Kick-off: 4pm.

Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr. 6. Ryley Jacks 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (C) 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane.

Interchange: 14. Joe Stimson 15. Tim Glasby 16. Mark Nicholls 17. Tui Kamikamica 18. Young Tonumaipea 19. Dean Britt 20. Christian Welch 21. Jordan McLean.

Coach: Craig Bellamy.

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jack Bird 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Gerard Beale 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (C).

Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. James Segeyaro 18. Joseph Paulo 19. Kurt Capewell 20. Edrick Lee 21. Sam Tagataese.

Coach: Shane Flanagan.

Hasler gets a new deal at the Dogs

Des Hasler

Some of their fans may not agree with it but in a surprise for many, the Canterbury Bulldogs are sticking with coach Des Hasler until the end of 2019.

After the final negotiations were sorted, the club’s board made a decision to stick with Hasler, who, in his five years in charge, has taken the club to the finals all five seasons.

The growth of the club and their system and Des’ familiarity with it was a big reason behind the club’s decision to retain him for club CEO, Raelene Castle.

“Des is a proven coach. His record over the years shows that and we are extremely pleased that negotiations have resulted in Des remaining at the club until the end of the 2019 season”

“This contract extension builds on the last five years of growth within our football program and Des is looking forward to the next two years.”

Des praised the club and its fans in varying regards and is pleased to have a further two years as head coach.

“I have been extremely happy here at the Bulldogs. The club has great history and tradition and an incredibly loyal fan base,” Hasler said.

“I am pleased that I have been able to reach an agreement with the club to extend my contract until the end of 2019.”

New coach at the Tigers as Cleary signs on

  1. Ivan Cleary

It took a while to be confirmed in the end but Wests Tigers will have something to cheer about with Ivan Cleary named as the club’s new coach until the end of the 2020 season.

Previously coach of the New Zealand Warriors and Penrith Panthers and in charge of 252 games at both clubs over that time, he was immediately welcomed by Tigers Chair, Marina Go.

“On behalf of the Wests Tigers Board I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Ivan to Wests Tigers,” said Go.

“We look forward to him building a strong relationship with our players and staff and working with them long into the future.”

The process was a thorough one undertaken by the Tigers but they are pleased to have the man they think can guide them towards potential success.

“In appointing Ivan as Head Coach, we as a Club have worked through a thorough process and are thrilled to be making this announcement today,” she said.

“Throughout this process, Ivan was incredibly impressive with his vision for this Club and where it can go both on and off the field.”

Equally pleased was club CEO Justin Pascoe, who says he looks forward to working with Cleary over the next few years.

“In all of my dealings with Ivan he’s shown himself to be an incredibly professional individual with a real passion for the game,” he said. “He brings to this Club a wealth of experience which we believe will be very beneficial for our playing group.

“He brings to this Club a wealth of experience which we believe will be very beneficial for our playing group.

“We have a group of players who are ready to take the next step in their playing careers and as a club, we’re confident that Ivan is the man to lead them.”

Although on the slide at present, Cleary is looking forward to getting stuck into the role and helping the club to buck the trend they are currently on.

“This is a great opportunity to join a Club with a lot of potential,” said Cleary. “I look forward to getting to work with the playing group and coaching staff.

“I look forward to getting to work with the playing group and coaching staff.

For Cleary, the key is to find out ways to improve the club’s play and get to know the system, the players and the best way to play.

“The Wests Tigers are a huge brand with a strong Membership base and a lot of supporters and I look forward to getting stuck in over the coming weeks,” he said.

“Day one is today and from here we start working on improving, we’ll do a lot of exploring and analysis on how things work at Wests Tigers and how the people within the Club work. We need to decide as a group what we want to be and go about achieving this.

With a chance to take the Wests Tigers to another level, Cleary is ready for the fresh start ahead of him.

“I can’t wait to get to work here,” he said.

“It’s no secret that I’ve missed it, this is a fresh start for me and I’m committed to seeing this Club reach its potential and to be the success that I know it can be.”


Home is where the heart is as Penrith winger re-signs

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

Some players decisions to stay with their existing clubs are made easier when they feel such a close affinity to them and that is the case for Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and the Penrith Panthers.

A place that Watene-Zelezniak has always loved and called home, the decision to stay proved a no-brainer for him as he re-signs for a further three seasons until the end of 2020.

“The decision to re-sign with the Panthers was an easy one to make,” Watene-Zelezniak said.

“Penrith has been my home since I was a kid and it has always been my dream to play first grade for the Panthers.

“I consider myself very lucky to be able to live that dream at such a fantastic club.”

A local junior with the club, the winger was  a member of the club’s 2013 Holden Cup success and is a valued squad member in the eyes of Executive General Manager, Phil Gould.

“Dallin is one of the many great stories emerging from the Panthers,” Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould AM said.

“He is a wonderful person and such a valuable member of our NRL squad.

“We are thrilled Dallin has committed to another three seasons with our club and we are truly lucky to have him here at the Panthers.”

Raiders hang on for tough victory over the Eels

Jordan Rapana

The respective result could have been a lot different if the Parramatta Eels were able to hold onto the ball and be smart with their play but instead, it is the Canberra Raiders coming away with a win, taking it out 30-22 at GIO Stadium.

The Eels fortunes did not fare well even prior to kick-off with Tepai Moeroa ruled out forcing a reshuffle that saw Beau Scott move to the bench and Nathan Brown starting at lock.

The Raiders, looking to dominate early, did not take long to score as on the back of a penalty, Aidan Sezer took the line on, placed a deft kick through the defensive line and a try was scored through back-rower Iosia Soliola.

The Raiders enjoyed a remarkable 70% of possession early on in the game and almost had a second try soon after through Jordan Rapana but he put a hand over the touchline to deny him a four-pointer.

With chances of their own in that time, the Eels failed to capitalise but did eventually score, as the Eels linked up well before a one-handed pass back on the inside by Brad Takairangi found Bevan French who scored.

That joy was short-lived, though, as the duo known as Leipana – Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana – combined on the right flank, as Rapana tip-toed down the sideline to score before Leilua got a try of his own, holding off Semi Radradra.

The Raiders then scored again as centre Jarrod Croker took advantage of a Josh Hodgson grubber to score his 100th club try, just the third Raider to do so.

Trailing 22-6 at the start of the second half, the Eels burst out of the blocks with Corey Norman kicking a 40/20 before some elusive play from French led to a maiden Eels try for winger Josh Hoffman, followed by a dummy half try from Kaysa Pritchard.

In the end, it was not to be for the Eels, as the comeback was short-lived with a brilliant individual effort by winger Nick Cotric, who cut back inside, beat several defenders and scored under the posts.

There were some positives for the Eels to take out of the game but their fluctuations during the game leading to poor execution is something coach Brad Arthur knows has to improve.

“I thought we played well for 60 minutes; that 20-minute period killed us,” Arthur said of the period just prior to half-time.

“We clawed our way back to 6-all with only 35 per cent of possession and from that next set we got a kick away but we just needed to go set for set.

“From there I think they had four or five sets in a row and we just lacked a bit of urgency on a couple of loose balls.”

Arthur admits that he put the test to the players at the half-time break and was pleased with how they responded.

“I challenged the boys at half-time and they responded really well,” Arthur said.

“I think we won the second half but you’ve got to win every half and you’ve got to be in the game for the 80 minutes.”

Despite their win, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart knows his side still have to improve and must work harder for their wins, knowing they will not blow teams off the park anymore.

“We won’t win as many games by the amount of points as we did last year. Teams are ready for us now,” Stuart said after his side’s second win of the season.

“We surprised a few people [last year], we surprised a few people who didn’t even play the game, we surprised a lot of our opposition, the only people we didn’t surprise was us.

“If I want to be the same football team as last year I’m kidding myself. We have to get better, we have to improve, we need to improve in certain areas.”

Player of the Game:

3. Jordan Rapana

2. Siosaia Vave

  1. Joey Leilua

Canberra Raiders 30 (Sia Soliola, Blake Austin, Joey Leilua, Jarrod Croker, Nick Cotric tries; Jarrod Croker 5 goals) def. Parramatta Eels 18 (Bevan French, Josh Hoffman, Kaysa Pritchard tries; Clint Gutherson 3 goals) at GIO Stadium. Crowd: 17,653. Half-time: Raiders 22-6. Holden Cup: Raiders 42-22.

Late Maloney field goal denies Knights a comeback win

Valentine Holmes

A late field goal to James Maloney may have resulted in a win for the Cronulla Sharks but it was the spirited fightback by the Newcastle Knights that has everyone talking.

The Sharks looked in control for much of the match as they held onto a 12-point lead with just 11 minutes to go but as they have shown already this year, the Knights resolve shone through and they clawed their way back.

The side from the shire dominated possession with 60% but the Knights did not let that phase them as Brendan Elliott began their comeback when he broke through from the scrum and raced 90m to score, showing surprising speed.

That was followed up by an error from Valentine Holmes in-goal that led to a try for Jacob Gagan, playing in his debut game for the Knights.

Despite a break up the middle with five minutes to go by the Sharks, the Knights scrambling defence stayed resolute, in the end, opting for the field goal.

Rewinding to the start of the game, it took the Sharks just six minutes to score after Chad Townsend and Gerard Beale combined to produce the game’s first points.

The Knights managed to hit back soon after, though, as Englishman Joe Wardle, in just his second NRL game, scored a try.

The highlight was a tremendous break by Valentine Holmes playing at fullback as he pierced the Knights defence, linked up with Jack Bird, before going on to score himself.

With a renewed resolve and never-say-die attitude this year, the Sharks players praised the Knights efforts.

“Full credit to Newcastle… I thought they played really well, they completed well and defended outstanding on their line,” Sharks back-rower Luke Lewis said post-game.

“They really made us play and full credit to them they got back in the game.

“They made us ask questions and it got a little bit frustrating.”

Knights coach Nathan Brown praised his side given many gave them no chance of winning or competing but knows that a lack of control late on might have cost them.

“I think everyone would agree with the quality of opposition that we played, the fact that the amount of possession that they had through their good management was outstanding,” Brown said.

“[Cronulla’s] game management suggests why they’ve won a grand final and are one of the more favoured teams to do well.”

Player of the Game:

3. Valentine Holmes

2. Brendan Elliott

  1. Paul Gallen

Sharks 19 (Beale, Feki, Holmes tries; Maloney 3 goals; Maloney 1 field goal) defeated Knights 18 (Wardle, Elliot, Gagan tries; Hodkinson 3 goal) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Half-time: Sharks 14-6. Crowd: 12,838.

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