AFL News: Pies’ radical plan to move home game to the Gold Coast, Dogs optimistic on Naughton’s knee injury

Collingwood is reportedly discussing with the AFL the possibility of moving a home game to the Gold Coast in 2025.

One of the AFL’s richest and most powerful clubs, the Magpies currently host nine home games at the MCG, with the AFL mandating they play their other two home games at Marvel Stadium.

According to Nine’s Tom Morris, the Pies are planning to shift one of those two Marvel Stadium matches against a Victorian team, likely St Kilda, North Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs, to People First Stadium on the Gold Coast, as part of a two-week ‘mini-hub’ across the June/July school holiday period in which they would also play the Suns in an away game.

Other Victorian clubs have regularly sold home games interstate in recent years, with North Melbourne playing several matches at Blundstone Arena in Hobart, while Richmond and the Western Bulldogs have both played home games at Cairns’ Cazalys Stadium.

However, it would be a first for the Magpies.

“Unlike examples like Melbourne, who’ve moved interstate for financial reasons, my understanding is this is seen as a way to grow the supporter base across the country,” Morris reported on 9 News Melbourne.

“Under this plan they would spend two weeks on the Gold Coast, play against the Suns and host another Victorian team.

“The Pies have told me tonight conversations are very preliminary and they would look after Victorian members if this happened – how they’d do that, I’m not too sure.”

‘Need to pull their heads in’: Cornes blasts umpires over crucial 50m penalty in Dogs’ loss

Kane Cornes has slammed the performance of the umpires during the Western Bulldogs’ loss to Sydney on Thursday night, taking aim in particular at a controversial late 50m penalty that gifted the Swans the game-sealing goal.

Bulldog Laitham Vandermeer was penalised after arriving milliseconds late to attempt to spoil Hayden McLean’s mark on the edge of 50, with the ball jarring free from his hands.

The penalty turned a long-range shot into a certain goal, with McLean taken to the goal line and extending the Swans’ lead to 14 points with just minutes remaining, effectively sealing the win.

Former Hawk Campbell Brown claimed the call was ‘the worst umpiring decision of the year’, while speaking on SEN Breakfast, Cornes was equally scathing of the overly harsh penalty.

He also took umbrage with Swans gun Chad Warner conceding a 50m penalty of his own to Vandermeer in the second quarter for umpiring dissent after pointing to the big screen to dispute a high contact free kick.

“What are we doing?” Cornes asked.

“The 50-metre penalty is such a harsh penalty that it should be reserved for the most undisciplined acts on the field or for a deliberate breaking of the rules. The one that we saw late last night for Hayden McLean, that is not a 50-metre penalty.

“Don’t insert yourselves into the game and pay a 50-metre penalty for that.

“The free kick against Chad Warner where he points at the scoreboard… players are instructed if you point at the scoreboard, it’s a 50-metre penalty, but it shouldn’t be. He’s having a laugh, it’s a shocking free kick that’s been paid, it wasn’t demonstrative at all.

“How we can allow that to be a 50-metre penalty is a joke. Umpire with some common sense, surely.

“No one is sitting here saying if you didn’t pay any of those three 50-metre penalties that you’d made the wrong call. It should not be having an influence on the result, like it did last night. It’s a real frustration for me.

“The umpires need to pull their heads in a little bit.”

Dogs optimistic Naughton has avoided ACL injury

The Western Bulldogs may have dodged an ACL bullet after key forward Aaron Naughton was hurt in their AFL loss to Sydney.

While Naughton will miss at least a few weeks, the Bulldogs hope scans on Friday will show he hasn’t suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament rupture in his right knee.

The Bulldogs were brave against the top side on Thursday night at Marvel Stadium, rallying from five goals down early in the last quarter to only lose 102-88.

That was despite losing Anthony Scott and Ed Richards to concussion, as well as Naughton’s knee injury.

Scott and Richards will definitely miss next Friday night’s game against Collingwood under the 12-day concussion protocol.

Coach Luke Beveridge was cautiously optimistic about Naughton.

“The indications are that hopefully it’s not as extreme as an (ACL), but you never can tell … fingers crossed,” he said.

Scott’s first AFL game this season lasted just three minutes before he was forced off because of a head clash.

Richards was the Bulldogs’ best player in the first half and his concussion early in the third term was a big blow.

Like teammate Tom Liberatore, who could return in the next couple of weeks from his latest concussion, Scott and Richards have a history of head knocks.

Beveridge praised his team for their fight against the ladder-leading Swans, while lamenting their inability to nail more chances.

The Bulldogs kicked an inaccurate 12.16 to Sydney’s 16.6 after spraying 8.22 in last week’s win over GWS.

“There was great integrity in what the boys did, obviously against the top side. It’s just a shame we had a bit of bad luck.

“You never lose and feel like a winner, but in my books, our players are winners tonight.

“System and game style looked pretty good. We just made some monumental blues and missed some monumental chances to give ourselves any real chance to win.

“So what do you take out of that? We’ll be encouraged by that, but we need to do something with it as well.”

Beveridge did not bite when asked about the critical and contentious 50m penalty paid against Latham Vandermeer.

It gifted the goal to Hayden McLean late in the last term that sealed the Sydney win.

“What can you say? I will always make sure I don’t comment on the umpiring,” a frustrated Beveridge said post-match.

“Whether it’s there or not, I don’t really know. Ultimately the decision was made and we have to live with it.”

Beveridge praised young players Rhylee West, Riley Garcia and Ryley Sanders, who were dynamic in the midfield when the Bulldogs needed a final-term lift.

The Bulldogs coach referred to Melbourne independent broadcasting to describe the trio.

“It was like a Triple R radio station in there …(plus) the experienced one in Adam Treloar, holding his end up.

“They did an enormous job.”


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Footy Fix: The eight key mistakes at the death that saw Crows cop Magpie heartbreak… again

5Adelaide aren’t the first team to get their hearts ripped out by Craig McRae’s Collingwood. It’s not even the first time it’s happened to them. They’re certainly not going to be the last, either.

But even though the pain is a familiar feeling now for the Crows, this one will surely sting keener than all the rest. Not just for the controversial, technically correct but rarely seen free kick paid against Izak Rankine for running too far in the final 20 seconds, which may or may not have cost them the game but certainly snuffed out their last hope; but for the fact it came after a last quarter in which they did nearly everything right against the kings of the tight finish.

The Pies have had all manner of close wins in the last two and a half years. They’ve stormed over the top of a flagging opposition like, in Gerard Whateley’s immortal words, the Grim Reaper; they’ve held on for grim death against an opponent trying to give them a taste of their own medicine. They’ve found a way through clutch set shots, or via their rivals flubbing theirs.

But aside from the famous game against Essendon in 2022 when Jamie Elliott goalled after the siren, this was about the only time in this golden tight-match run that I’ve felt like the Pies have genuinely pinched one, so comprehensively were they outplayed in the final quarter.

The stats are remarkable: the Crows, neck in neck all day, had 35 more disposals in the fourth term, while they won the inside-50 count a whopping 16-9. Having been battered all day at the stoppages by Scott Pendlebury and Nick Daicos, they even claimed the clearance count 10-8, with Rankine shifting to permanent on-baller and grabbing the match by the scruff of the throat. Three of the last four centre clearances went their way, too, having been unable to buy one in the early stages at the MCG.

The Pies, so often able to find the calming goal, the steadying passage of play, in such situations, were struggling to even lay hands on the ball. And the man they turn to so often in these situations, Scott Pendlebury, was paying the price for his own outrageously good first quarter, a comprehensive clamp from Ben Keays forcing McRae to shift him permanently into defence in the last term in a bid to add another cool head in a vulnerable spot.

For all intents and purposes, the Crows were doing to Collingwood what the Magpies have done to everyone else: fast-paced, ultra-aggressive footy, playing on at nearly every opportunity with overlap-running half-backs and targeting the corridor wherever possible. And in the role of Nick Daicos, step up Mitch Hinge, who with 13 disposals and a superb goal, plus two other score involvements, was the most crucial player on the ground.

They even had the Daicos-esque moment of magic that so often stymies other teams from ‘doing a Collingwood’.

Rankine’s incredible go-ahead major deep into the last quarter, perfectly timing his run past a boundary throw-in in the forward pocket to shark Reilly O’Brien’s tap, burn off Josh Daicos and run past Nick, and dribble it through from the tight angle on his opposite foot, was a moment of skill outrageous enough that you can watch it ten times and still be in awe.

A worthier match-winner you could not find – and when a few minutes later, Jordan De Goey sent a set shot wide he’d normally swallow, precisely the sort of late-game inaccuracy the Pies have avoided while watching it swallow up many an opponent, it felt symbolic.

But all Adelaide’s dominance, all the possession, all the territory, all the effort, had brought them was seven minutes with which to hang on, against an opposition you know won’t go quietly into the night.

And with 3 minutes and 40 seconds left, things started to go wrong; slowly at first, then all at once.

The first sign of the horrors to come came, as they often do, with a ruckman.

Reilly O’Brien is a fascinating case study, both as a footballer and as an experience for his supporters: Crows fans will deride his reckless kicking forward from clearances without stopping to think, or his hitouts that seem to benefit the opposition as much as his own teammates; but at a critical flashpoint, as Brodie Smith bombs long down the wing, he shows why Nicks has only ever briefly toyed with Kieran Strachan as an alternative: in a forming pack, he reads the drop better than Darcy Cameron, gets his sizeable mitts up, and plucks a telling, powerful contested mark.

It’s not like it’s a game-winner, with more than 200 seconds remaining: but it is an opportunity for O’Brien to calm things down, go back, soak up a few seconds and gain as much territory with his kick forwards as possible, and trust his teammates to lock it in and force the ball-ups and stoppages that really start to get that timer ticking down.

So what does O’Brien do? Why, he handballs to the running Josh Rachele within milliseconds of bringing down the mark, without even a look to see whether he’s selling his teammate into trouble. As you do.

Rachele has had a more than solid day, impressing with his ferocious tackling pressure and repeat defensive efforts especially: with two goals, he’s also satisfied his innate desire to impact the scoreboard.

O’Brien’s handball finds him racing by, 65 metres from goal, at full tilt, with only John Noble in his way. His first instinct, as the Pie approaches, is to try and send a pass inboard; he makes to kick, but at the last moment reconsiders, perhaps trying to make Noble overcommit with an attempted smother, while jinking towards the boundary.

The Pies, chasing the game, don’t have a spare behind the ball: the only players ahead of Rachele are Isaac Quaynor and Lachie Murphy, both racing hell for leather back towards the goals, and wingers Chayce Jones and Josh Daicos, some 10 metres further back but in a prime central location.

There’s a perfect option here, one we see the Pies and even Carlton these days take and hit more often than not: pass the ball inboard, trying to hit up Jones. If Rachele chooses to pass, the open 50 means he can basically kick the ball wherever he likes and get Jones to run onto it: with Daicos a good five metres forward of him, he’ll be flat-footed.

Instead, Rachele not only takes the low-percentage option of going for home, from 50 metres out, hemmed in on the boundary line; he barely even considers any other option. Never mind that giving the ball back to Collingwood is the very last thing Adelaide want to do, or that at this stage even an extra point to lead by two is hardly a game-saving extra edge.

The Crows have had two chances to slow the game down, control their entry inside 50, and make the right decision. Instead, they’ve continued to play as they have done for the three and three-quarter terms beforehand: hell for leather.

Rachele’s kick drifts across the face for a behind. The Pies have back possession.

Still, the Crows seem to have all the cards: a superb contested mark is snaffled at half-back from the kickout by the developing Luke Nankervis, whose composure and sureness with ball in hand are eye-catching even this early in his young career. He, unlike O’Brien, chooses to go back and take his kick.

A ball-up ensues right on the Crows’ 50, as Nankervis’ kick long is spoiled back inboard in desperation by Billy Frampton, before numbers converge to force the stoppage.

Collingwood’s strategy in such situations is simple: lock it in, don’t let it out, pack more and more numbers over the footy and soak up the clock in 10-second intervals.

But the Crows have a fatal flaw with their structure, that become clear in the nine seconds between the umpire’s whistle and the ball being thrown in the air.

There is no one within 20 metres of the goals, for starters: someone on whose head a quick kick from this ball-up can be sat on. Closest to goal is Darcy Fogarty, with two Pies, including Darcy Moore, on him, ready to pounce on that kick: Elliott Himmelberg, meanwhile, is stuck in no-man’s land, too close to the stoppage to claim a mark from it yet too far away (and facing the wrong way) to impact on the contest.

It’s not a structure for which O’Brien can safely do what he does: grab the ball at ground level after jostling with Cameron, lumber a few steps forward, and bang it on the boot, slipping over as he does.

Once again, it’s just not the percentage play from the big ruckman: he’s done the first part right, tapping it right at his feet, but his best move if he were to gather the ball was either to cannon straight into a tackle then pretend to try and force it out, or give it to a teammate in a similar spot. Hell, in a few minutes when it’s Collingwood’s turn to hold onto a lead, Moore genuinely tackles Isaac Quaynor himself in such a loose-ball scenario.

O’Brien’s kick wobbles forward, staying in, and the Pies, with the extra behind the ball, are the first back. Moore gathers, but it looks like the Crows will again avoid catastrophe through sheer desperation: Ben Keays has busted a gut to sprint back, arrives just moments after the Magpie captain, and lays the tackle. Moore gets his hands free, but his handpass is off the despairing variety, to no one in particular and with Adelaide jumpers converging fast.

It’s here where the biggest, and costliest, mistake of them all comes: Ned McHenry gathers the ball at ground level and dishes to Keays, who… wheels around and has a ping at the goals.

There are two reasons this is such a baffling, scrambled decision from a player who had a rush of blood. One, the Crows don’t need to score, and a behind here, the likeliest outcome given the difficulty of the shot, lets the Pies have the ball back. And two, within metres of Keays are two Crows in a paddock of space, Rory Laird and Jake Soligo. Give it to Laird, for example, and Rachele, in space 30 metres out in the pocket, is a legitimate passing option.

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Keays’ kick is smothered by the onrushing Quaynor, and the ball is flung into dispute again: and this time, luck is on Collingwood’s side. A ball that could have ricocheted anywhere lands with Harvey Harrison, who dishes to Quaynor, who has continued to run towards the ball and left his man, Rachele, free. The Pies are, suddenly, away, and up the middle.

It might seem harsh to criticise Keays, or Rachele, or O’Brien, for such split-second decisions at the end of an exhausting match. But on the other side of the coin, you only need look at what Jack Crisp does next to see how such minute details can decide games of football.

Receiving from Quaynor, Crisp dashes straight down the middle as fast as his tired legs can carry him, taking a bounce in the centre circle. He’s fully aware that Jordan Dawson, in the midst of a slashing final quarter, is hot on his heels, willing himself on to make one last decisive captain’s play.

Ahead of him are four Magpies and four Crows: Lachie Schultz and Bobby Hill are going full pelt towards the goals, Max Michalanney and Hinge matching them stride for stride, while Mason Cox lumbers down the wing some 10 metres behind Jordon Butts. And inside 50, isolated with Mark Keane but still more than a full kick away, is Jordan De Goey.

Under such heat, Crisp could have, and many players would have, blazed: tried to gain as much territory as possible, and hoped to force a stoppage somewhere further afield. But it would have required a De Goey miracle, with no chance of him marking the ball and Hinge closer to the play than Schultz to try and mop up, with Butts as the outlet option should either he or Keane gather.

You can actually see the wheels turn in Crisp’s head, and he realises that he can’t bang the ball on the boot, nor will Dawson allow him to run the extra metres so his kick will reach De Goey. His solution is to stop in his tracks and wait for the overlap runners to arrive: his method of execution is to decelerate, jink slightly to the right, and go to ground, avoiding Dawson’s despairing lunge.

It’s a brilliant bit of quick thinking, if bizarre to look at: but it is a decision borne of trust as much as anything. Crisp will look a goose if he turns around and sees only Crows coming. But fortunately, the Pies are ready.

First in line is Nick Daicos, who – another Crows mistake – has run in Crisp and Dawson’s slipstream without an opponent. It’s him who Crisp sees, on hands and knees, and him who receives the handpass.

And you’d want nobody else delivering the ball inside 50.

Calmly, still at full pace, Daicos runs on, with Dawson – and here’s another error – choosing to follow Harrison back towards goal and prevent the over-the-top handball rather than press up on the No.35. With Butts the extra man ahead of the ball, having run on ahead of Cox, that’s a risk that had to be taken, if the smallest and least egregious error of the whole flock.

It means when Daicos does head inside 50, he does so in clear air, able to weight his kick to perfection: out in front of the leading De Goey.

McRae has forecast before the game that his star on-baller will be redeployed into more of a forward role, in response to the flood of injuries that have sent most of Collingwood’s goalkickers to the casualty ward.

It’s a luxury he has because of the names he can replace him with: because Pendlebury has wound back the clock so spectacularly in a first quarter featuring two goals and two more goal assists in the four the Pies managed, because Crisp, on the midfield periphery all year, can slot seamlessly back on-ball and provided the contested grunt of the injured Tom Mitchell with more leg speed, because Nick Daicos has taken up the mantle of stoppage master, the man once derided for only winning cheap outside ball racking up 22 contested possessions and 14 clearances for the afternoon.

Were it not for them, maybe it would have been someone else Daicos was kicking to in this final, match-deciding play. Someone smaller, or slower, or just plain not as good: someone Keane, who remember, took down the monstrous Charlie Dixon in the Showdown a fortnight ago, won’t be outmatched by.

Someone who wouldn’t have made Keane panic, scrabble for contact, and lose his feet entirely in the process, to mark 30 metres out.

Someone who, having missed a similar shot a few minutes before, with the game on the line and a stadium of people holding their breath, might not have held his nerve and kicked the winning goal.

Having held this game by the throat, just minutes away from a famous, season-defining win, Adelaide left the door ajar. And of course, Collingwood barged their way through it.

The focus will, of course, be on the free against Rankine, the intricacies of that rule, and yet another case of the umpiring leaving the Crows jilted late in a thriller.

But none of that would have happened had Adelaide not already sacrificed the lead they’d worked so hard to take from Collingwood. And no doubt it’s that which will keep Nicks up a night this week.

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AFL News: Police investigate new Thomas allegations, Fagan lauds ‘clear direction’ on homophobic slur bans

Disgraced former North Melbourne player Tarryn Thomas is once again at the centre of a police investigation, after being accused of harassing an ex-partner.

According to the Herald Sun, Thomas has repeatedly called the woman, whom he allegedly sent a threatening message to earlier this year in an accusation that was one of the key triggers for the AFL handing down an 18-match suspension, at all times of the day and night in recent weeks.

No charges have been laid, with a Victoria Police spokesperson telling the Herald Sun the investigation is ongoing.

The latest allegations come amid heavy debate over whether the AFL should permit a club to hand Thomas a second chance, with the 24-year old eligible to play at lower levels once his ban expires on July 22 provided the league are satisfied with his progress in a behavioural change program.

An email to other club CEOs from Kangaroos CEO Jen Watt warned that the club were ‘not able to meaningfully change his behaviour’ despite entering him into a number of support programs.

Former North Melbourne and now Essendon coach Brad Scott has been one of the loudest voices in his favour, controversially describing Thomas as ‘a good person’ and that it is incumbent on the industry to ‘help him’ turn his life around.

However, speaking after the latest allegations were made, Kangaroos great David King urged the AFL to step in and prevent Thomas from being drafted.

“The AFL needs to take a stand there, don’t they?” King said on SEN Breakfast.

“They’ve got to take him off the table from a draftable perspective.”

Tarryn Thomas. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Fagan lauds ‘clear direction’ on homophobic slur bans

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has thrown his support behind the AFL’s call to suspend Gold Coast defender Wil Powell for five matches for a homophobic slur directed at a Lions player.

Powell apologised to the player during and after the Suns’ loss in Round 8, and again expressed remorse after his ban was revealed.

It comes after Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson was suspended for three matches for his own homophobic slur in April, with the league saying Powell’s greater suspension is as a result of escalating consequences for abuse.

Speaking on Friday, Fagan applauded the messaging from the AFL that such slurs won’t be tolerated.

“It’s a clear direction from the AFL, which I agree with, that you can’t make those sort of comments out on the field,” he said.

However, Fagan stopped short of weighing in on the length of the suspension, which has caused some controversy in comparison to shorter bans for both Finlayson and for Collingwood forward Lachie Schultz, who was only suspended for one week for a punch to the back of Carlton’s Blake Acres’ head.

“That’s for the AFL to talk about,” Fagan said.

‘Fine the fakes’: Cornes urges crackdown after controversial ‘dangerous tackle’ free

Kane Cornes has urged the AFL to take a stand against players deliberately placing themselves in harm’s way to win dangerous tackle free kicks, after a controversial decision proved costly for Melbourne late in their Thursday night loss to Carlton.

Deep into the last quarter, Jacob van Rooyen was pinged for a dangerous tackle after dispossessing Blue Brodie Kemp, only for the umpire to contentiously deem the Demon hadn’t executed correctly.

The moment denied the Dees a certain goal, with Bayley Fritsch taking what he believed to be the advantage and passing to Ed Langdon in the goalsquare – the incident would soon prove costly as the Demons went down by a solitary point.

Channel Seven commentator Brian Taylor claimed the incident was ‘a classic case of a player deliberately putting his head into the ground’, with the decision – and Kemp’s alleged dive – earning widespread condemnation from fans and pundits alike.

Speaking on SEN Breakfast, Cornes offered a solution ‘fine the fakes’.

Fellow caller David King agreed, saying players milking free kicks ensures umpires have ‘no chance of getting this stuff right’.

“It’s so hard on the umpires now,” King said.

“This is why I think we need to come up with fines system for the fakers… it was a big moment, it was late in game, a one-point result – it had all the hallmarks of being a significant call for the umpire.”

“I feel for the umpires at the moment. I reckon they’ve got not a chance of getting this stuff right.”

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2024 NRL Transfer Centre: Souths land Super League half, Three-team trade confirmed

South Sydney have made a major move for 2025 with the signing of St Helens halfback Lewis Dodd.

Dodd, who kicked the winning field goal in Saints’ World Club Challenge win over Penrith last year, has informed his club that he will not extend beyond this year and Souths’ recruitment chief Mark Ellison is en route to the UK to make the deal.

According to the Daily Telegraph, he will ink a four-year deal with the Bunnies, who have Lachlan Ilias and Cody Walker both off contract at the end of next year.

North Queensland coach Todd Payten has confirmed the signing of Canterbury forward Harrison Edwards to join the club immediately from the Bulldogs.

Edwards’ arrival will allow Cowboys second-rower Jack Gosiewski to be granted a release on compassionate grounds to be close to family in Brisbane.

“Harrison is a skilful middle forward/back-rower and highly motivated, a nice kid, works hard and is the right fit for us,”  Payten said.

“Jack is getting towards the final days here at the club, but it is a family and welfare issue and he is going home to be closer to family.” 

Meanwhile, the Dragons’ recruitment issues have continued with the club set to lose out on the signature of reigning Rookie of the Year Sunia Turuva as he opted instead to link up with Benji Marshall and the Wests Tigers.

The Panthers had long since acknowledged that they would not be able to offer Turuva as much as he would get on the open market, but few expected the Tigers to jump in.

St George Illawarra had been offering the chance to play fullback, competing with Tyrell Sloan for the number 1 jumper, and had been ready to insert clauses into a contract that jacked up the Fijian international’s wage if he won the battle to play at the back.

He will instead join his childhood friend Api Koroisau and current teammate Jarome Luai at the Tigers, where he will play centre given the long-term future of Jahream Bula at 1.

Turuva addressed Penrith’s playing group on Thursday morning to inform them he would leave the NRL club and move to the Tigers on a three-year deal.

Brent Naden and Charlie Staines are among other former Penrith players at the joint-venture.

The Dolphins have continued building their roster with the recruitment of back-rower Kulikefu Finefeuiaki.

The Cowboys forward has agreed to a three-year deal with the Dolphins from next season.

A product of the Ipswich Jets, Finefeuiaki made his NRL debut at the age of 19 in round 10 last year, and has now played 19 matches for the Cowboys, including all seven of North Queensland’s games this season.

It is another blow to St George Illawarra as well as the Cowboys as Dragons coach Shane Flanagan had also been chasing his signature.

Dolphins’ chief executive Terry Reader said the signing of the 20-year-old aligned perfectly with the club’s recruitment strategy.

“We are very excited to have Kuli join the Dolphins for the next three seasons, starting in 2025,” said Reader. “The Dolphins have always said that recruitment was not just about year one and that we would take our time to build the squad and gain in strength with the right players.”

“Kuli is also another example of a kid from south-east Queensland having the opportunity to come home to play NRL near his friends and family.”

The Dolphins have also retained utility Max Plath on a contract extension until the end of 2027.

It comes as North Queensland secure second-rower Heilum Luki through 2029 with a bumper contract extension.

The contract is a strong showing of faith in Luki after a horror run of injuries. The 23-year-old, who has been in the Cowboys’ system since he was 15, is currently sidelined with an ankle issue and has been restricted to 40 appearances since making his debut in 2021.

He is tasked with helping reinvigorate an inconsistent Cowboys side when he returns to the fold in round nine.

“(Luki) epitomises everything we value as a club,” said Cowboys general manager of football Micheal Luck. “He works hard at training, he’s prepared to do the tough stuff on the field, and on top of that he is one of the elite back-row talents in the competition.”

Jett Cleary, uncapped brother of NRL superstar Nathan, will join the Warriors from 2025. Cleary’s three-year deal returns his famous surname to Auckland; father and current Penrith boss Ivan is the Warriors’ most-capped coach, leading the club to the 2011 grand final during his 154 games at the helm.

The younger Cleary, 19, played halfback for Penrith’s SG Ball side this season, which ended in a seventh-placed finish for the Panthers.

Cleary’s signing comes only days after the Warriors announced they had signed talismanic Penrith prop James Fisher-Harris on a four-year deal that begins in 2025.

Josh Schuster’s time at Manly is officially up, after the second-rower agreed to a release from his lucrative NRL deal without a new home locked in for 2025. 

Signed to a three-year extension last June worth close to $2.4 million, Schuster is now officially a free agent after being cut loose. Such is the 22-year-old’s rapid exit from Manly, he will be out the door before the new contract was due to commence on November 1 this year. 

Told by Manly officials a fortnight ago he was free to look elsewhere, the five-eighth-turned-second-rower was granted personal leave almost immediately afterwards. It’s believed the Sea Eagles will pay out part of Schuster’s remaining contract for this season as part of the exit, as well as around $200,000 for each of the next three years.

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NRL Transfer Centre

Team by team, here’s how each club’s roster is shaping up. PO denotes player option, CO club option and MO mutual option.

Brisbane Broncos

Jesse Arthars 2024 2025 2026
Fletcher Baker 2024 2025
Patrick Carrigan 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Selwyn Cobbo 2024 2025
Jack Gosiewski 2024 2025
Payne Haas 2024 2025 2026
Kobe Hetherington 2024 2025
Delouise Hoeter 2024
Jaiyden Hunt 2024 2025
Corey Jensen 2024 2025
Jock Madden 2024 2025 2026
Ezra Mam 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Deine Mariner 2024 2025 2026 2027
Blake Mozer 2024 2025
Corey Oates 2024
Cory Paix 2024 2025
Brendan Piakura 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jordan Pereira 2024
Adam Reynolds 2024 2025
Jordan Riki 2024 2025 2026 2027
Tristan Sailor 2024 2025
Tyson Smoothy 2024
Kotoni Staggs 2024 2025
Martin Taupau 2024
Ben Te Kura 2024 2025 2026
Reece Walsh 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Billy Walters 2024
Xavier Willison 2024 2025

2024 recruits

Fletcher Baker (Roosters), Jaiyden Hunt (Dragons), Jack Gosiewski (Cowboys)

2024 departures

Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins), Keenan Palasia (Titans), Tom Flegler (Dolphins), Logan Bayliss-Brow (unsigned), Kurt Capewell (Warriors)

Canberra Raiders

Nick Cotric 2024
Jamal Fogarty 2024 2025 2026
Emre Guler 2024 2025
Corey Harawira-Naera 2024 2025 PO
Peter Hola 2024
Albert Hopoate 2024 2025
Zac Hosking 2024 2025 2026
Corey Horsburgh 2024 2025 2026 2027
Sebastian Kris 2024 2025 2026 2027
Danny Levi 2024 2025
Ata Mariota 2024
Trey Mooney 2024
Brad Morkos 2024
Josh Papali’i 2024 MO
Hohepa Puru 2024 MO
Jordan Rapana 2024
Ethan Sanders 2025 2026
Simi Sasagi 2024 2025
Pasami Saulo 2024 2025 2026
Xavier Savage 2024 2025
James Schiller 2024
Morgan Smithies 2024 2025 2026
Tom Starling 2024 2025
Chevy Stewart 2024 2025 2026 MO
Ethan Strange 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Joseph Tapine 2024 2025 2026 2027 PO
Matt Timoko 2024 2025
Kaeo Weekes 2024 2025
Elliott Whitehead 2024
Zac Woolford 2024
Hudson Young 2024 2025 2026 2027

2024 recruits

Simi Sasagi (Knights), Kaeo Weekes (Sea Eagles), Morgan Smithies (Wigan), Zac Hosking (Panthers)

2024 departures

Jarrod Croker (retired), Clay Webb (unsigned), Jack Wighton (Rabbitohs), Matt Frawley (Leeds), Harley Smith-Shields (Titans)

2025 recruits

Ethan Sanders (Eels)

Canterbury Bulldogs

Josh Addo-Carr 2024 2025
Bailey Biondi-Odo 2024
Matt Burton 2024 2025 2026 2027
Stephen Crichton 2024 2025 2026 2027
Josh Curran 2024 2025
Sam Hughes 2024
Drew Hutchison 2024 2025
Kitione Kautoga 2024 2025
Viliame Kikau 2024 2025 2026
Jacob Kiraz 2024 2025 2026 2027
Max King 2024 2025 2026 2027
Liam Knight 2024
Reed Mahoney 2024 2025 2026
Kurt Mann 2024 2025
Zac Montgomery 2024
Karl Oloapu 2024 2025 2026
Chris Patolo 2024
Hayze Perham 2024
Jacob Preston 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jaeman Salmon 2024 2025
Jordan Samrani 2024 2025
Toby Sexton 2024
Jeral Skelton 2024
Daniel Suluka-Fifita 2024
Ryan Sutton 2024 2025
Blake Taaffe 2024 2025
Zane Tetevano 2024
Jackson Topine 2024
Connor Tracey 2024 2025 2026
Jake Turpin 2024 2025
Blake Wilson 2024
Bronson Xerri 2024 2025

2024 recruits

Stephen Crichton (Panthers), Blake Taaffe (Rabbitohs), Bronson Xerri (drugs ban), Stephen Crichton (Panthers), Jaeman Salmon (Panthers), Josh Curran (Warriors), Drew Hutchison (Roosters), Kurt Mann (Knights), Jake Turpin (Roosters), Poasa Faamausili (Dolphins), Connor Tracey (Sharks), Zane Tetevano (Leeds), Daniel Suluka-Fifita (Rabbitohs)

2024 departures

Jake Averillo (Dolphins), Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Dragons), Tevita Pangai jnr (retired), Kyle Flanagan (Dragons), Paul Alamoti (Panthers), Luke Thompson (Wigan), Corey Waddell (Sea Eagles), Braidon Burns (unsigned), Declan Casey (unsigned), Harrison Edwards (Cowboys)

Cronulla Sharks

Daniel Atkinson 2024 2025
Jayden Berrell 2024
Blayke Brailey 2024 2025 2026
Jesse Colquhoun 2024
Kade Dykes 2024 2025
Dale Finucane 2024
Braden Hamlin-Uele 2024 2025 2026
Tom Hazelton 2024 CO
Royce Hunt 2024 2025
Nicho Hynes 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Sione Katoa 2024 2025 2026
Oregon Kaufusi 2024 MO
William Kennedy 2024 2025
Kayal Iro 2024
Cameron McInnes 2024 2025
Ronaldo Mulitalo 2024 2025
Briton Nikora 2024 2025
Niwhai Puru 2024
Jesse Ramien 2024 2025 2026
Toby Rudolf 2024 2025 2026
Sam Stonestreet 2024 2025
Siosifa Talakai 2024 2025 2026
Siteni Taukamo 2024
Braydon Trindall 2024 2025
Jack Williams 2024
Teig Wilton 2024 2025

2024 recruits


2024 departures

Wade Graham (retired), Jensen Taumoepeau (unsigned), Matt Moylan (Leigh), Connor Tracey (Bulldogs)

2025 departures

Dale Finucane (retired)

The Dolphins

Euan Aitken 2024
Jake Averillo 2024 2025 2026
Jack Bostock 2024 2025
Jesse Bromwich 2024
Kenneath Bromwich 2024 2025
Herbie Farnworth 2024 2025 2026
Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 2025 2026 2027
Thomas Flegler 2024 2025 2026 2027
Tom Gilbert 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Harrison Graham 2024 2025
Jamayne Isaako 2024 2025 2026
Robert Jennings 2024 MO
Isaiya Katoa 2024 2025
Felise Kaufusi 2024 2025
Oryn Keeley 2024 2025 2026
Josh Kerr 2024 2025
Edrick Lee 2024
Connelly Lemuelu 2024 2025
Jeremy Marshall-King 2024 2025
Anthony Milford 2024
Mark Nicholls 2024 CO
Kodi Nikorima 2024
Tesi Niu 2024
Sean O’Sullivan 2024 2025
Max Plath 2024 2025 2026 2027
Ray Stone 2024
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2024 2025 2026 2027
Valynce Te Whare 2024
Mason Teague 2024 MO
Jarrod Wallace 2024

2024 recruits

Herbie Farnworth (Broncos), Tom Flegler (Broncos), Oryn Keely (Knights), Jake Averillo (Bulldogs)

2024 departures

Brenko Lee (retired), Herman Ese’ese (Hull FC), Poasa Faamausili (Bulldogs), JJ Collins (unsigned)

2025 recruits

Kulikefu Finefeuiaki (Cowboys)

Gold Coast Titans

Tanah Boyd 2024 2025
AJ Brimson 2024 2025 2026
Jayden Campbell 2024 2025 2026
Erin Clark 2024 2025
Iszac Fa’asuamaleaui 2024 2025
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 2024 2025 2026 PO until 2033
Beau Fermor 2024 2025 2026
David Fifita 2024 PO PO
Jojo Fifita 2024 2025
Kieran Foran 2024
Ryan Foran 2024 2025
Moeaki Fotuaika 2024 2025 2026 2027
Tony Francis 2024 2025
Klese Haas 2024
Jaimin Jolliffe 2024 2025 2026
Brian Kelly 2024 2025 2026
Alofiana Khan-Pereira 2024 2025 2026
Keano Kini 2024 2025 2026
Isaac Liu 2024
Ken Maumalo 2024 2025
Josiah Pahulu 2024 2025
Keenan Palasia 2024 2025
Chris Randall 2024 2025 2026
Phillip Sami 2024 2025 2026
Aaron Schoupp 2024 2025
Harley Smith-Shields 2024 2025
Treymain Spry 2024
Joe Stimson 2024
Sam Verrills 2024 2025 2026
Thomas Weaver 2024

2024 recruits

Keenan Palasia (Broncos), Harley Smith-Shields (Raiders)

2024 departures

Kruise Leeming (Wigan), Joe Vuna (unsigned).

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Josh Aloiai 2024 2025
Jake Arthur 2024 2025
Luke Brooks 2024 2025 2026 2027
Ethan Bullemor 2024 2025
Gordon Chan Kum Tong 2024
Daly Cherry-Evans 2024 2025
Ben Condon 2024 2025
Lachlan Croker 2024 2025 2026
Reuben Garrick 2024 2025 2026
Jamie Humphreys 2024
Tolutau Koula 2024 2025 2026 PO
Karl Lawton 2024
Matthew Lodge 2024
Haumole Olakau’atu 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Brad Parker 2024 2025
Taniela Paseka 2024 2025 2026
Jaxson Paulo 2024 2025 2026
Jason Saab 2024 2025 2026
Toafofoa Sipley 2024 2025
Tommy Talau 2024 2025
Ben Trbojevic 2024
Jake Trbojevic 2024 2025 2026
Tom Trbojevic 2024 2025 2026
Raymond Vaega 2024
Corey Waddell 2024

2024 recruits

Corey Waddell (Bulldogs), Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers), Tommy Talau (Wests Tigers), Jaxson Paulo (Roosters), Aitasi James (Wests Tigers)

2024 departures

Kelma Tuilagi (Eels), Morgan Harper (Eels), Kaeo Weekes (Raiders), Sean Keppie (Rabbitohs), Morgan Boyle (unsigned), Latu Fainu, Samuela Fainu (Tigers) , Christian Tuipulotu (Dragons), Zac Fulton (Bradford), Josh Schuster (released mid-season)

2025 departures

Karl Lawton (Cowboys)

Melbourne Storm

Nelson Asofa-Solomona 2024 2025 2026 2027 MO
Shawn Blore 2024 2025 2026
Joe Chan 2024 MO
Xavier Coates 2024 2025 2026
Sua Fa’alogo 2024 2025 2026 2027
Bronson Garlick 2024 2025
Harry Grant 2024 2025 PO
Jack Howarth 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jahrome Hughes 2024 2025 2026
Dean Ieremia 2024
Tui Kamikamica 2024 2025
Eliesa Katoa 2024 2025 2026 2027
Josh King 2024 2025
Chris Lewis 2024
Trent Loiero 2024 2025
Alec MacDonald 2024 2025
Nick Meaney 2024 2025 2026
Tepai Moeroa 2024
Cameron Munster 2024 2025 2026 2027
Ryan Papenhuyzen 2024 2025
Aaron Pene 2024
Jonah Pezet 2024 2025
Marion Seve 2024
Reimis Smith 2024
Young Tonumaipea 2024
William Warbrick 2024 2025 2026
Christian Welch 2024 2025 MO
Tyran Wishart 2024 2025 PO

2024 recruits

Shawn Blore (Tigers)

2024 departures

George Jennings (unsigned), Jordan Grant (unsigned), Tom Eisenhuth (unsigned), Tariq Sims (Catalans), Jayden Nikorima (Catalans), Justin Olam (Tigers)

Newcastle Knights

David Armstrong 2024
Bradman Best 2024
Jayden Brailey 2024 2025
Paul Bryan 2024 2025
Jed Cartwright 2024 2025
Jack Cogger 2024 2025 2026
Mathew Croker 2024
Phoenix Crossland 2024 2025 2026
Adam Elliott 2024 2025
Tyson Frizell 2024 PO MO
Dane Gagai 2024
Tyson Gamble 2024
Jackson Hastings 2024 2025
Jack Hetherington 2024 2025
Thomas Jenkins 2024 2025
Brodie Jones 2024
Riley Jones 2024 2025
Dylan Lucas 2024 2025
Krystian Mapapalangi 2024
Myles Martin 2024
Greg Marzhew 2024 2025 2026
Kai Pearce-Paul 2024 2025
Kalyn Ponga 2024 2025 2026 2027
Will Pryce 2024 2025
Ryan Rivett 2024
Daniel Saifiti 2024 2025 2026
Jacob Saifiti 2024 2025 2026 2027
Leo Thompson 2024 2025
Enari Tuala 2024

2024 recruits

Kai Pearce-Paul (Wigan), Will Pryce (Huddersfield), Tom Jenkins (Panthers), Jack Cogger (Panthers), Jed Cartwright (Rabbitohs)

2024 departures

Dominic Young (Roosters), Lachlan Fitzgibbon (Warrington), Adam Clune (Huddersfield), Simi Sasagi (Raiders), Lachlan Miller (Leeds), Fa’amanu Brown (Hull FC), Oryn Keeley (Dolphins), Kurt Mann (Bulldogs), Dane Aukafolau (unsigned), Hymel Hunt (unsigned), Jack Johns (unsigned)

NZ Warriors

Bunty Afoa 2024 2025
Tom Ale 2024 2025
Mitchell Barnett 2024 2025
Rocco Berry 2024 2025 2026
Kurt Capewell 2024 2025 2026
Jett Cleary 2025 2026 2027
Wayde Egan 2024 2025
James Fisher-Harris 2025 2026 2027 2028
Addin Fonua-Blake 2024 2025 2026
Jackson Ford 2024 2025
Tohu Harris 2024 2025
Chanel Harris-Tavita 2024 2025 MO
Shaun Johnson 2024
Edward Kosi 2024 2025
Jacob Laban 2024
Ali Leiataua 2024 2025
Freddy Lussick 2024 2025 2026
Zyon Maiu’u 2024
Te Maire Martin 2024 2025
Luke Metcalf 2024 2025 2026
Marcelo Montoya 2024 2025
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2024 2025 CO
Marata Niukore 2024 2025 2026
Adam Pompey 2024 2025
Demitric Sifakula 2024 2025
Jazz Tevaga 2024
Taine Tuaupiki 2024 2025
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2024 2025 2026
Ronald Volkman 2024 2025
Dylan Walker 2024 2025
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2024 2025

2024 recruits

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (All Blacks), Chanel Harris-Tavita (sabbatical), Kurt Capewell (Broncos)

2024 losses

Viliame Vailea (Cowboys), Bayley Sironen (Catalans), Brayden Wiliame (retired), Josh Curran (Bulldogs)

2025 recruits

James Fisher-Harris, Jett Cleary (Panthers)

North Queensland Cowboys

Tom Chester 2024
Jake Clifford 2024
Reuben Cotter 2024 2025
Tom Dearden 2024
Robert Derby 2024 2025
Scott Drinkwater 2024 2025 2026 2027
Thomas Duffy 2024 2025
Harrison Edwards 2024 2025 CO
Kyle Feldt 2024
Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 2024
Jake Granville 2024
Coen Hess 2024
Valentine Holmes 2024 2025
Karl Lawton 2025 2026
Zac Laybutt 2024
Luciano Leilua 2024 2025
Helium Luki 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Sam McIntyre 2024
Jordan McLean 2024
Jeremiah Nanai 2024 2025 2026 2027
Griffin Neame 2024 2025
D’Jazirhae Pua’avase 2024 2025
Reece Robson 2024 2025
Murray Taulagi 2024 2025 2026
Jason Taumalolo 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 2024
Chad Townsend 2024
Viliami Vailea 2024 2025
Semi Valemei 2024

2024 recruits

Jake Clifford (Super League), Viliami Vailea (Warriors), Harrison Edwards (Bulldogs)

2024 departures

James Tamou (retired), Peta Hiku (Hull KR), Mitch Dunn (unsigned), Ben Hampton (unsigned), Gehamat Shibasaki (unsigned), Jake Bourke (unsigned), Brendan Elliot (unsigned), Riley Price (Panthers), Jack Gosiewski (Broncos)

2025 recruits

Karl Lawton (Sea Eagles)

2025 departures

Kulikefu Finefeuiaki (Dolphins)

Parramatta Eels

Daejarn Asi 2024
Dylan Brown 2024 2025 PO until
Reagan Campbell-Gillard 2024 2025
Bryce Cartwright 2024 2025
Zac Cini 2024
Matt Doorey 2024 2025
Haze Dunster 2024 MO
Wiremu Greig 2024 2025
Clint Gutherson 2024 2025
Brendan Hands 2024 2025
Morgan Harper 2024
J’maine Hopgood 2024 2025
Shaun Lane 2024 2025 MO
Zac Lomax 2025 2026 2027
Joey Lussick 2024 2025
Makahesi Makatoa 2024
Uinitoni Mataele 2024 2025
Ryan Matterson 2024 2025 PO
Jirah Momoisea 2024
Mitchell Moses 2024 2025 2026 PO PO
Joe Ofahengaue 2024 2025
Ofahiki Ogden 2024
Junior Paulo 2024 2025 2026
Will Penisini 2024 2025 PO
Ky Rodwell 2024
Sean Russell 2024 2025
Bailey Simonsson 2024
Maika Sivo 2024 2025 MO CO
Blaize Talagi 2024 PO
Tevita Taumoepenu 2024
Kelma Tuilagi 2024 2025

2024 recruits

Kelma Tuilagi (Sea Eagles), Morgan Harper (Sea Eagles).

2024 departures

Josh Hodgson (retirement), Jack Murchie (Huddersfield), Andrew Davey (retirement), Waqa Blake (unsigned), Samuel Loizou (unsigned)

2025 recruits

Zac Lomax (Dragons)

2025 departures

Ethan Sanders (Raiders)

Penrith Panthers

Paul Alamoti 2024
Nathan Cleary 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jack Cole 2024 2025 2026
Dylan Edwards 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Matt Eisenhuth 2024
James Fisher-Harris 2024 2025 2026
Luke Garner 2024
Mavrik Geyer 2024 2025
Harrison Hassett 2024 2025
Liam Henry 2024 2025 2026
Mitch Kenny 2024
Daine Laurie 2024
Moses Leota 2024 2025 2026 2027
Ativalu Lisati 2024
Jarome Luai 2024
Soni Luke 2024 2025
Liam Martin 2024 2025 2026 2027
Taylan May 2024
Jesse McLean 2024 2025 2026
Tyrone Peachey 2024
Brad Schneider 2024 2025
Lindsay Smith 2024 2025 2026
Scott Sorensen 2024 2025 2026
Brian To’o 2024 2025 2026 2027
Sunia Turuva 2024
Izack Tago 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Isaah Yeo 2024 2025 2026 2027

2024 recruits

Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers), Brad Schneider (Hull KR), Paul Alamoti (Bulldogs)

2024 departures

Stephen Crichton (Bulldogs), Jack Cogger (Knights), Spencer Leniu (Roosters), Jaeman Salmon (Bulldogs), Tom Jenkins (Knights), Chris Smith (unsigned), Eddie Blacker (unsigned), Zac Hosking (Raiders)

2025 departures

Jarome Luai, Sunia Turuva (Tigers)

St George Illawarra Dragons

Corey Allen 2024 2025
Jack Bird 2024 MO
Josh Coric 2024
Jack de Belin 2024
Ryan Couchman 2024 2025
Toby Couchman 2024 2025
Raymond Faitala-Mariner 2024 2025
Mathew Feagai 2024
Max Feagai 2024
Viliami Fifita 2024 2025
Sione Finau 2024 2025
Kyle Flanagan 2024 2025
Ben Hunt 2024 2025
Zac Lomax 2024
Francis Molo 2024
Michael Molo 2024
Ben Murdoch-Masila 2024
Blake Lawrie 2024 2025 2026
Jacob Liddle 2024 2025 MO
Cody Ramsey 2024
Mikaele Ravalawa 2024 2025 2026
Daniel Russell 2024 MO
Hame Sele 2024 2025 2026
Tyrell Sloan 2024
Jaydn Su’A 2024
Moses Suli 2024
Savelio Tamale 2024
Christian Tuipulotu 2024 2025

2024 recruits

Hame Sele (Rabbitohs), Kyle Flanagan, Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Bulldogs), Corey Allan (Roosters), Christian Tuipulotu (Sea Eagles)

2024 departures

Jayden Sullivan (Wests Tigers), Zane Musgrove (Warrington Wolves), Billy Burns (unsigned), Tyrell Fuimaono (unsigned), Jaiyden Hunt (Broncos), Nick Lui-Toso (unsigned), Tautau Moga (unsigned), Junior Amone (deregistered), Paul Turner (Featherstone Rovers)

2025 departures

Zac Lomax (Eels)

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Jai Arrow 2024 2025 2026 2027
Tom Burgess 2024
Michael Chee Kam 2024
Damien Cook 2024 2025
Tallis Duncan 2024 2025
Campbell Graham 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jye Gray 2024
Siliva Havili 2024 2025
Dean Hawkins 2024
Jacob Host 2024 2025
Lachlan Ilias 2024 2025
Alex Johnston 2024 2025
Josiah Karapani 2024
Sean Keppie 2024 2025 2026
Keaon Koloamatangi 2024 2025 2026
Ben Lovett 2024
Peter Mamouzelos 2024 2025 2026 2027
Taane Milne 2024
Latrell Mitchell 2024 2025 2026 2027
Shaquai Mitchell 2024
Davvy Moale 2024 2025
Tyrone Munro 2024 2025
Cameron Murray 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Isaiah Taas 2024
Tevita Tatola 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Leon Te Hau 2024
Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson 2024
Cody Walker 2024 2025
Jack Wighton 2024 2025 2026 2027

2024 recruits

Jack Wighton (Raiders), Sean Keppie (Sea Eagles)

2024 departures

Blake Taaffe (Bulldogs), Hame Sele (Dragons), Jed Cartwright (Knights), Daniel Suluka-Fifita (Bulldogs)

2025 departures

Thomas Burgess (Huddersfield)

Sydney Roosters

Egan Butcher 2024 2025
Nat Butcher 2024 2025 2026 2027
Lindsay Collins 2024 2025 2026
Angus Crichton 2024
Zach Dockar-Clay 2024
Michael Jennings 2024
Spencer Leniu 2024 2025
Luke Keary 2024 2025
Joseph Manu 2024
Terrell May 2024 2025 2026
Tyler Moriarty 2024
Junior Pauga 2024 2025
Victor Radley 2024 2025 2026 2027
Billy Smith 2024 2025 2026 2027
Brandon Smith 2024 PO
Sandon Smith 2024
Joseph Suaali’i 2024
James Tedesco 2024 2025
Robert Toia 2024 2025
Daniel Tupou 2024
Sitili Tupouniua 2024 2025 2026 2027
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 2024
Sam Walker 2024 2025
Connor Watson 2024 2025
Naufahu Whyte 2024 2025 2026
Siua Wong 2024 2025 2026
Dominic Young 2024 2025 2026 2027

2024 recruits

Dominic Young (Knights), Lewis Murphy (Wakefield Trinity), Spencer Leniu (Panthers), Michael Jennings (drugs ban)

2024 departures

Fletcher Baker (Broncos), Jake Turpin (Bulldogs), Corey Allan (unsigned), Nathan Brown (unsigned), Paul Momirovski (unsigned), Ben Thomas (unsigned), Jaxson Paulo (Sea Eagles), Matt Lodge (Sea Eagles), Paul Momirovski (Leeds Rhinos), Drew Hutchison (Bulldogs)

2025 departures

Joseph Suaalii (rugby), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Hull KR), Joseph Manu (Toyota Verblitz)

Wests Tigers

John Bateman 2024 2025 2026
Jahream Bula 2024 2025 2026 MO
Tallyn Da Silva 2024 2025 2026
Adam Doueihi 2024
Latu Fainu 2024 2025 2026 2027
Samuela Fainu 2024 2025 2026 2027
Sione Fainu 2024
Josh Feledy 2024 2025
Lachlan Galvin 2024 2025 2026
Asu Kepaoa 2024
David Klemmer 2024 2025 MO
Apisai Koroisau 2024 2025 2026
Justin Matamua 2024 2025
Jordan Miller 2024 2025 2026
Brent Naden 2024 2025
Justin Olam 2024 2025 2026
Isaiah Papali’i 2024 2025
Fonua Pole 2024 2025
Triston Reilly 2024
Alex Seyfarth 2024 2025
Aidan Sezer 2024 MO
Jake Simpkin 2024
Charlie Staines 2024 2025
Jayden Sullivan 2024 2025 2026 2027
Starford To’a 2024 2025 2026
Brandon Tumeth 2024 PO
Junior Tupou 2024
Sunia Turuva 2025 2026 2027
Alex Twal 2024 2025 2026 2027
Stefano Utoikamanu 2024 MO
Brandon Webster-Mansfield 2024

2024 recruits

Jayden Sullivan (Dragons), Aidan Sezer (Leeds), Latu Fainu, Samuela Fainu (Sea Eagles), Justin Olam (Storm)

2024 departures

Shawn Blore (Storm), Tuki Simpkins (unsigned), Brandon Wakeham (unsigned), Luke Brooks (Sea Eagles), Tommy Talau (Sea Eagles), Daine Laurie (Panthers), Aitasi James (Sea Eagles), Rua Ngatikaura (unsigned), David Nofoaluma (Salford)

2024 recruits

Jarome Luai, Sunia Turuva (Panthers)

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#NRL #Transfer #Centre #Souths #land #Super #League #Threeteam #trade #confirmed

Footy Fix: The Pies might have embarrassed Port… but they’re still not back to their best. Yet

A little over 12 months ago, Collingwood demolished Port Adelaide on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the MCG in the first of many, many signs in 2023 that they were destined for a premiership.

For two quarters on Saturday against the same opponent, at the same venue, with even the same weather, the Magpies looked every bit back to their best, ripping the Power to shreds with a ferocity and a speed that few sides in the competition could hope to match.

The result was a 41-point win that will reaffirm in the eyes of many that the Pies, after a sluggish start to 2024, are back in business – and indeed, I’d have felt the same if I only looked at the margin and the quality of the opposition.

But for all their dominance, there are still some bugs in the Magpie machine that need fixing, most of them without the ball, and you can bet other teams that don’t turn up their toes the minute the heat goes up like the Power did at the MCG will be able to punish them without getting so comprehensively ripped apart the other way.

No doubt overturning a 31-point deficit so commandingly will give the Pies a huge confidence boost, as well as send a shiver down the spines of their foes; but any team that can give up a lead like that is still vulnerable, no matter what they have in reserve.

Part of the reason I’m still holding out on declaring the Pies back in business is also the manner with which that tore the Power up.

Having been exposed repeatedly on the outside throughout the opening term, Craig McRae’s solution was simple: simply deny Port as much ball as possible, take complete control of all stoppages, and surge the ball with pace and purpose forward to a backline outsized but with speed to burn on their bigger, slower defenders.

It was a game plan made for the rangy Will Hoskin-Elliott, often a whipping boy among Magpies fans, who had what might be the best game of his career: with 21 disposals and nine marks, all of the latter by half time, his superb second quarter was the catalyst to spark the Pies into life.

Just as impactful, though, was their completecontrol at the coalface: after losing the contested possession count by one in the first term, the Pies proceeded to win it by 17 in the second and 17 more in the third, ending up with a whopping 41-possession advantage.

Their eventual tally of 161 is their equal-most under McRae, tying at the top with what they mustered in a wet-weather scrap against Richmond last year; only once since the start of 2022 have they won the stat by more. That was, as it happens, in the corresponding match against Port in 2023, when they won it by a frankly outrageous 57 (155-98).

To do it in sunny conditions against an opposition with three of the most acclaimed midfielders in the game in Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis is a commanding performance.

Butters’ gradual waning of influence summed up the change in mood: of his 15 first-quarter disposals that consistently punished the Pies going from inside stoppages to outside, not a single one was considered a clearance, with the number 9 playing a more peripheral role as the link man outside stoppages to capitalise on Jason Horne-Francis and Ollie Wines’ hard work over the footy.

When the Pies took over, those handballs out dried up, and Butters’ impact waned, with just six disposals in the next two quarters before building his numbers up again in the last with the contest all but decided.

There’s a caveat to it, though: this isn’t the way the Pies have historically won games of footy since Macrae took over, especially not in the dry. It’s just the 20th time since he took over that they’ve won the contested possession count, across 57 games.

If this is a sign of a new, hard-nosed Collingwood that wants to work teams over for the hard ball, then tremendous, especially with Jordan De Goey back to his explosive best after a rough start to the season.

But those numbers back up the eye test that the Power were shown up when the going got tough, be it a one-off shocker or a sign that this highly touted midfield of theirs has a glaring weakness. Which is enough to ask the Pies to show that sort of ferocity can be maintained, and – and this is key – that they can do it without sacrificing their one-wood of fast, silky outside play, before hailing them as a force once more.

The other factor to consider is just how vulnerable the Pies looked in that first quarter, with the Power piling on six of the game’s first seven goals before the reigning premiers could so much as blink.

What was concerningly apparent was the lack of trust that proved the cornerstone of the Magpies’ defensive structure from last year; often last year the defence and wingmen would hold their ground away from the contest, prevent as much overlap run as possible, and entrust whoever was at the ball and responsible for the opponent with it would stick doggedly to the task.

That’s a hard trait to maintain, especially when you start losing and desperately want to be the one to turn it around: that’s the only reason I can think of for why Patrick Lipinski would leave Butters all on his own and try to block Sam Powell-Pepper here, rather than entrust that job to Steele Sidebottom and Lachie Schultz.

Four of Port’s six goals essentially came from decisions just like Lipinski’s; some were obvious, while others, like Jeremy Howe abandoning Willie Rioli near the goalsquare to try and influence a contest he was never going to get to, were less so, with only Jackson Mead getting the job done himself preventing him from looking even sillier.

This has been a common problem for the Pies all season long, with GWS’ fleet of small forwards in particular shredding them in Opening Round. For it to remain such an issue in a match they won by 41 points makes it less pressing of an issue, but I’d be shocked if McRae didn’t make that a focus at training during the week.

There’s no denying Collingwood’s best on Saturday afternoon was breathtaking, and a stern reminder that they can still turn it on to a level few other teams can match.

But there will be teams to give them a much sterner contest for the hard ball than the Power managed; and when – and it is a when – that happens, the Pies might not look so comprehensively back as they do right now.

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#Footy #Fix #Pies #embarrassed #Port #theyre

‘Every time we do black and white, it doesn’t work’: Does anyone actually understand the obstruction rule?

The NRL likes to go through phases where everyone throws their hands up and wonders what the rules actually are – and boy, are we in one at the moment.

The last week of footy has been a riot of interpretations of the obstruction rule, from Jake Trbojevic’s seemingly understandable call last week to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ totally inscrutable call on Thursday night via a plethora of given and not given examples.

The rules as most people understand them are fairly simple, but the interpretation of those rules is anything but.

Here’s the best attempt to work out what they actually are. You’re allowed to run decoy lines, but not if you take anyone out.

“The onus is on the attacking players or ‘block-runners’ not to initiate contact with the defenders,” reads the NRL’s advice on this, and that seems easy enough to follow.

If the defender takes the bait on your decoy, that’s their choice and well done.

“If the defender initiates contact, it will not be deemed to be an obstruction, says the official guideline, and ‘defensive decision’ is what you’ll hear the Bunker say.

But wait, there’s more.

“The ball carrier must not run behind an active block-runner and disadvantage the defensive line,” it continues, adding “Block runner(s) (who do not receive the ball) must not stop in the middle of the defensive line” and “must not run at (chest or outside shoulder of) defender(s) and initiate contact”.


“Attacking players who run a ‘Sweep’ line must receive the ball beyond the inside shoulder of the ‘Block’ runner(s)”


Don’t stop in the line, you’d think, would be easy to police, but given the moving nature of the line and the vital point of where the ball is in relation to anyone’s theoretical ability to make a tackle, it really isn’t.

If a winger on the other side of the field moves up and stands in the line, it’s obviously not an obstruction, so clearly there is a level of proximity necessary to make it relevant, and that’s a grey area at the discretion of the Bunker.

Given that we’re invariably talking about these calls after a try has been scored – aka when the line has been broken – then where that line becomes a point of discussion, too.

Jurbo stopped in the line, but far enough that the impeded defender, Luca Moretti, mightn’t have made it anyway, which the Bunker then has to rule on.

Jared didn’t stop in the line, but was close enough to another defender, fullback Dylan Edwards, that the Bunker had to rule on whether he theoretically could have.

Then you throw in the 13 moving parts in a defensive line, all making microscopic mini-movements and it becomes even harder, and the myriad patterns in attack and you wonder why we don’t make more mistakes than we actually do.

It’s not *that* complicated, honestly, but given the complexity inherent in it, there’s a lot of room for interpretation. That’s why coaches tend to be slightly philosophical about the whole affair.

Ivan Cleary, for example, saw the futility of it all.

“I’m kind of trying to avoid talking about bunkers and stuff this year,” he told the post-match media conference following his side’s victory at the Roosters in which, in fairness, it was easy to say something like that as he had just won and, undeniably, been the beneficiary of an obstruction call that fell right in the middle of the confusing section.

“If you got me at the right time on the right night then I could talk for half an hour, but I’m not going to tonight. It is what it is. You win some, you lose some.

“I’ll say one thing – I feel like every time we’ve done a black and white interpretation in rugby league, it’s been a failure.

“I’m not saying that was the case tonight – I’m not saying yes or no – but every time we have, it doesn’t work. That’s just my opinion.”

The next morning, Anthony Seibold – who had been on the other side of an interpretation the weekend before – wanted to point out how hard the refs had it, and that players knew that there was an advantage to be gained and could always play up to it.

“I think the biggest challenge for the referees and officials is if someone is through the line,” explained.

“Jared did a good job – Dylan Edwards is working really hard, so I’m not saying he did this – but sometimes you see a defender literally run into the back of an attacking player.

“That didn’t happen last night so I want to be really clear on that, but they’re hard for the referees, touch judges and the Bunker to rule on. 

“It’s a tough a job, right? They don’t need an extra person shouting from the rooftops on what I think, they’re doing the best that they can. But it’s hard sometimes because defenders will play for penalties and that’s the grey (area) for officials.”

Graham Annesley, who writes the rules and fronts the media frequently on them, had already admitted that the call on Thursday night was wrong.

“Last week I supported two obstruction rulings by the Bunker,” he said on Friday morning.

“I talked about the need for the lead runner to continue through the defensive line, and for the play not to be turned back through the gap created by a collision with a defender.

“Neither of these factors were present in last night’s decision (on the Waerea-Hargreaves incident).

“In the circumstances, the Bunker does have discretion to consider whether a defender could have prevented the try.

“In my opinion, the try would have been scored regardless and the on-field decision should not have been overturned.”

Without going full Alcoholics Anonymous, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Annesley, to his credit, is happy to front up when these things go wrong and say as much, and generally does it in a way that doesn’t also throw his refs under the bus.

But in doing so, he proves that the rules are wide open to whatever the Bunker sees, which can often be wildly different from what everyone else sees.

It’s not so much that the law is an ass, but that the law is inspecific about what equine is in question at all. Fans love the idea of consistency, but when you have interpretation, consistency is unattainable.

We thought that bringing in tighter policing of these things with the Bunker would lead to greater clarity, but (as anyone could have told you in advance, had they put their mind to it) the more you look at a grey area, the greyer it gets.

Soccer struggles to deal with an offside law that has three moving parts: the attacker, the defender and the ball.

Cricket struggles with LBW, which has just two: the ball and the batter.

Rugby league is faced with far, far more than that. It’s an impossible task and bound to go wrong a lot of the time and, crucially, we only really care in the most heightened moments.

Ivan Cleary knows more about this than almost anyone, and Anthony Seibold the same. Both think it’s too difficult to police and anyone asking for consistency isn’t going to get it. Maybe we should all take that approach.

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#time #black #white #doesnt #work #understand #obstruction #rule

Deja vu for Tane as Drua deliver another heart-breaker to under fire Coleman

Two weeks after missing a late chance to beat the Highlanders, Tane Edmed muffed his lines once again as the Tahs fell to a heartbreaking first-ever loss to Fijian Drua in golden point in Lautoka.

Suffocating heat, then pouring rain, a brutal burst of brilliance from a player deemed not up to NRL standards, and a brave Waratahs comeback marked the Drua’s 39-36 win.

The game was won in the 88th minute when Rob Valetini’s brother Kemu sent over a field goal. A few minutes earlier Edmed was set up in good position but shanked a wobbly kick low into the upright.

“Proud of the effort, it was a slog out here today and it was a physical game with ebbs and flows,” said Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon. “They had momentum in that first half, we came out in the second half and we won the confrontational battle up front and started to play some good footy off there. Like the last two or three weeks, the crucial parts of the game we let it slip.”

At the end of it Darren Coleman’s Waratahs have lost a fourth game from five this season, leaving their campaign, and the future of the coach twisting in the wind.

It’s no shame to go to Fiji and be overwhelmed – the conditions make it tough for FIFO footy players against players used to the sapping humidity – but there was no reason for the Tahs to be caught completely cold.

What was stunning was the Tahs incredible turnaround after going to the sheds behind 16 points at halftime to force golden point.

The Tahs made it so hard for themselves in an ill disciplined first half.

Frank Lomani scored one of the easiest lineout tries you’ll see, sneaking over as the Tahs forwards were still trying to organise themselves, while centre Iosefo Masi scored a first half hat-trick – the first by anyone for the Drua – giving Izzy Perese in particular an absolute bath.

Watch every match of Super Rugby Pacific ad-free, live & on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport

Masi, an Olympic Games gold medallist, had a short stint at Townsville Cowboys but they cut him loose before he played an NRL game.

He’s yet to play a Test for the Flying Fijians but that can’t be far off – he now has five tries in two weeks and was unstoppable at times.

Questions over Coleman’s future have been around since the start of the season – mostly driven by unnamed sources speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald. He was reported to have four weeks to prove himself ahead of a NSW board meeting that would determine if he deserves a contract extension. That’s now five weeks and there were questions about his future raised again midweek, with the meeting pending.

The Tahs had lost their past two by narrow margins and but for a Edmed missed kick against the Highlanders and some poor execution a week ago against the Blues, they could well be sitting at 3-2 rather than 1-4. But footy is a results business, and this was another one that went against them.

The Tahs started well in 30 degree temperature and high humidity and went to an early 10-0.

Hooker Mahe Vailanu crossed off a clever lineout play. As the Drua expected the visitors to set up a rolling maul, Jed Holloway, Ned Hanigan and Charlie Gamble traded quick passes before sending their No.2 over.

Edmed added the conversion from out wide and another penalty in front before Fiji, urged on by the incessant noise of vuvuzelas, warmed to the task.

Their opening try owed plenty to the Tahs’ indiscipline. The hosts had an option for an easy three points but chose to tap and run. They turned it over on the first phase and the Tahs tried to pass and run it out from their own in goal. Perese had a chance for a clearing kick but passed it up and the ball was shunted out over the sideline giving the Drua a lineout in a good position.

From the set piece, Masi stepped outside a grasping Perese and inside Mark Nawaqanitawase to cross for his first.

The second came from another error, this time by young fullback Max Jorgensen, who spilled a high kick under little pressure. Two minutes later the Fijians crossed as the Tahs fell asleep and failed to track Lomani’s run at the line out.

That gave the hosts a lead they never surrendered, although Jake Gordon twice passed up easy kicks for three only to watch his pack repelled from the set piece.

Masi grabbed his second, finishing off an excellent piece of backline play. Jorgensen hardly covered himself in glory – he was slow to close the space on the marauding Drua centre and then his shoulder high tackle attempt seemed more like a gesture of concession than real commitment.

Masi added a third when he took a simple pass from Masi and just punched right through Perese. The Tahs centre announced this week he was leaving the club at the end of the season, and maybe he was preoccupied in what was a dismal first half from the Wallaby.

His Test teammate Nawaqanitawase, with his Fijian father in the stands, was low key and only noticed when he was yellow carded a mniute before the break for a deliberate knockdown.

The mood was ectastic in the stands at halftime and the Tahs looked cooked, down 26-10. Driving rain during the break added even more resistance to the heavy field but the visitors turned the match on its head dramatically.

With Nawaqanitawase still in the bin, Joey Walton ran direct off a scrum and Perese popped a pass up for Charlie Gamble to begin the comeback. Fiji hooker Tevita Ikanivere restored the advantage but then Walton got a try of his own, followed by two tries in two minutes from Vailanua and Lachie Swinton.

After looking down and out the Tahs were level heading into the final 15 minutes.

The Tahs had their chances to grab the win in normal time, but Jorgensen knocked on with the Drua on the rack. A second opportunity was also let drift away, before the Drua also threatened on the break as the siren sounded.

But after 80 minutes in oppressive conditions, with five tries apiece, the teams faced off for 10 more minutes.

Within two minutes the Fijians were down to 14 as referee James Doleman yellow carded Peni Matawalu for slapping a Tahs player three times on the head in a maul, leaving the hosts without their reserve scrum half for the rest of the game.

A poor Drua lineout gave the Tahs a perfect chance to attack and they made excellent progress down the left before setting Edmed for a drop goal attempt. He drilled his kick low and into the post – a shaky strike when he needed composure.

Instead the Drua held theirs and worked it up field. With advantage on their side Valetini nailed his snapped attempt.

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#Deja #Tane #Drua #deliver #heartbreaker #fire #Coleman

Points of emphasis: NBA taking steps to rein in scoring explosion after pendulum swings in offensive fashion

The pendulum has swung way too far towards offence in the NBA and the referees are finally doing something about it. 

After the three-point revolution has led to scores going up and up, the NBA has decided enough is enough and they’re actually empowering referees and the players to reward defence. 

The NBA will never go back to yesteryear when scores in the 70s and 80s were commonplace but fans have grown tired of 130-plus scorelines where neither side puts in much effort at the defensive end. 

That lethargy on defence didn’t just happen in a vacuum. 

Because the refs had been told to clamp down on any kind of contact, offensive players were given way too much latitude to score. 

Players like James Harden, Luka Doncic and Trae Young have games the system by milking fouls for the slightest of contact to inflate their already impressive offensive outputs. 

There has been a growing trend over the second half of this season to cut the number of defensive fouls handed out. 

The play is getting more physical, without being dangerous, scores are coming down and the contest between the player in possession and the defender is now just that again – a contest. 

This has repercussions for coaches with the line-ups they use – most teams are rolling with one dedicated defensive stopper on court at any given time and devoting their resources to players who can shoot, particularly from three-point territory. 

With the refs being more lenient with regards to contact, the he value of defensive-minded players will rise. 

While the brilliance of the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard is often cited as the example of the effectiveness of the three-point explosion, the flip side is that pretty much every player now is encouraged to be or thinks they are a long-range threat. 

And that has led to average, and many below-average, jump-shooters jacking up deep bombs that clank off the ring, which is hardly what anyone would call attractive basketball. 

The average points per team this season is 114.8, the highest it’s been since 1969-70, according to Basketball Reference.

From 1995-96 to 2012-13, it hovered between a low of 91.6 in 1998-99 and 100.4.

Apart from a small step back in 2021-22, it has risen every year over the past decade, meaning on average there’s now about 30 more points scored per game than just 10 years ago (when LeBron James was at the mid-point of his career).

NBA executives are in the midst of negotiating their next broadcast rights deal, which is tipped to net the league more than $60 billion dollars over the course of seven years. That’s roughly three times what the previous deal was worth. 

Scoring has been inflated in recent years to provide a more entertaining product but it’s refreshing to see the NBA realising that there can be too much of a good thing by actively reducing the bias towards offence. 

Another option which has been floated is to get rid of the corner three. 

The current layout of a basketball floor allows for the three-point line to be 22 feet from the basket while it rises to 23.75 feet above the break at the top of the key. 

A possible counter ploy to the high proportion of corner threes in the game is to extend the arc of the three-point line until it reaches the sideline. 

This is a step too far. 

It would look weird for the three-point line to extend to the sideline on each side and the ability to be able to exploit the advantages that come with the corner three is a huge tactical manoeuvre for coaches to have in their plans at both ends of the court. 

As has been the case over the 75-plus years of the NBA, the league is cyclical. 

The defensive era of the 1990s and early 2000s has given way to an offensive mindset of the past decade that has been dominated by the rise of three-point attempts. 

Fans watch the NBA to see the stuff they could only dream about when it comes to athletic dunks and worldly shooting capabilities. 

But they also want to see genuine competition not just between the teams on the score of but an even battle between the player with the ball and the opponent trying to stop it from ending in the basket. 

Scores will naturally shrink in the playoffs when the rotations get smaller in each team and the intensity lifts. 

The NBA doesn’t need gimmicks or outlandish rule changes to stop teams continually chucking up shots with little regard for the defence. 

But it does need to strike the right balance and allowing a little more physicality and contact at the defensive end should fix that problem. 

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#Points #emphasis #NBA #steps #rein #scoring #explosion #pendulum #swings #offensive #fashion

Captain’s knocks, new faces and match-winning braces: The A-League players who were the difference in Round 19

Round 19 was an interesting weekend of football with no draws, 19 goals in six matches, two five-goal games on Sunday and for the third consecutive week three teams kept a clean sheet.

In the three games where a team claimed three points, the winning team had less possession than their opponent.

Take a look at who made a difference.

Macarthur FC

Bernardo Oliveira scored two goals that came ten minutes apart, early in the second half.

The 19-year-old broke the deadlock in the 47th minute, in what was a finish that he made look easy, thanks to a marauding run down the right-hand side by former Melbourne City player Raphael Borges Rodrigues, who caused havoc for the City defence.

The future star showed his class with a clinical finish in the 57th minute with a curling shot that hit the post and ended up in the back of the net. Credit to Ulises Davila for the assist, but the young talent still had plenty to do.

What’s great about him is that he’s so level-headed: “Good to be winning this game and actually got to celebrate it tonight. The first goal was great from Raphael. We obviously want to keep going.”

Melbourne City

Alessandro Lopane did his utmost to try and get City back into the game in a gutsy performance coming off the bench in the 67th minute when the deficit was two goals.

The young prospect created three chances and was unlucky not to score in the 79th minute as his shot hit the post, due to a brilliant save by Bulls goalkeeper Filip Kurto.

Western United

Josh Risdon was everywhere; he put in a real captain’s knock, as the right-back never shirked a contest and was the player who was in the right place when it counted.

The 31-year-old provided the assist for the goal that broke the deadlock through youngster Noah Botic with a defence-splitting pass.

He summed it up succinctly post-match: “It was positive to put on a pretty good performance today. I’m happy to get an assist.”

Perth Glory

Darryl Lachman led from the front for the Glory, as the score would’ve been worse than 1-0 without his intervention.

The Dutch defender was at his best when it mattered and showed all his experience and guile.

Newcastle Jets

Ryan Scott made three crucial saves to keep the Jets in the game; the first two were a double save from point-blank range in the 40th minute from Mariners midfielder Max Balard.

The Jets goalkeeper kept the deficit for the home side at one goal with a great save against Mariners left-back Jacob Farrell in the 77th minute.

Central Coast Mariners

Josh Nisbet was rewarded for his persistence when he broke the deadlock in the 75th minute, with a clinical finish on his left foot; you wouldn’t have known that he’s right-footed!

The 24-year-old broke the drought, scoring his first goal of the season and proved his worth to the Mariners team, in a game that was lacking a goal.

As per usual Nisbet was perceptive in his post-match comments: “Thankfully we got the goal and we got the clean sheet today. It shows the character.”

Western Sydney Wanderers

Zac Sapsford was responsible with the only goal of the game scored by the Wanderers with his shot deflecting into the back of the net through Sky Blues centre-back Jake Girdwood-Reich in the 72nd minute.

The 21-year-old substitute proved his worth; as well as being involved in the goal, he created three chances and was unfortunate not to score from a header in the 93rd minute, which was brilliantly saved by Socceroo goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.

Sydney FC

Fabio Gomes scored a brace and it could’ve been more.

The Brazilian cooly slotted the ball into the back of the net from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, to make it 2-0.

Clearly, he has been working on his pressing, which brought about the fourth goal of the game for the Sky Blues due to a calamitous error by the Wanderers defence and goalkeeper Daniel Margush in the 59th minute.

Wellington Phoenix

Ben Old scored twice in what was a great performance, in a game where the Phoenix midfield displayed his potential.

The Kiwi international broke the deadlock in the 34th minute with a superbly timed run and inch-perfect pass from Tim Payne.

In the 69th minute, Old may have scored another goal, if not for Phoenix substitute Oskar van Hattum getting a touch, just before the ball crossed the line.

The 21-year-old scored a crucial goal in the 78th minute, as it gave the Phoenix what proved to be an unassailable two-goal lead.

Adelaide United

Harry Van der Saag took to his attacking role well, even though he usually plays as a right-back.

The 24-year-old was there when the Reds needed him to be as he won a penalty in the 59th minute after drawing a foul from Phoenix skipper Alex Rufer. The resultant penalty, which was scored by Luka Jovanovic made it 1-1 in the 60th minute and gave Adelaide United some hope.

Brisbane Roar

Marco Rojas produced when he had to in what may prove to be an important win for the Roar.

The ‘Kiwi Messi’ scored a brace, with both of his goals scored with his head; he broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute following an effort from Thomas Waddingham that was saved by Victory goalkeeper Paul Izzo.

His second goal was scored in the 56th minute, thanks to a pinpoint cross by Keegan Jelacic, which made the score 2-1 in favour of the Roar.

The NZ international showed why he’s so highly thought of post-match: “Happy and grateful to have started the game.” He also said in relation to Victory: “I have a lot of respect for that club.”

Melbourne Victory

Zinedine Machach got Victory back into the match with an equaliser in the 35th minute with a great run and a clinical finish, which made the score 1-1.

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#Captains #knocks #faces #matchwinning #braces #ALeague #players #difference

Viva Las V’landys: Vegas party has started for the NRL but it is hard to tell if there’s an American flavour … yet

From Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas

If Peter V’landys wanted a party, that’s certainly what he got in arguably the party capital of the world.

Ever since the gates opened around two hours before kick-off there was no shortage of sounds, music, light shows, fun food and drink as the crowd slowly built before kick-off.

There was a DJ at one end of the ground rocking out the classics from ACDC to even Elvis Presley throughout the evening.

The indoor stadium, home of the NFL’s Raiders, not only provided the stage for one of Australia’s biggest sporting codes to showcase itself, but it was also a refuge from the atrocious wind that would have had many fans at a regular season game back home in Australia doubting whether they would even leave the couch.

The wind was reminiscent of a 1990s game in Wollongong, where balls were travelling backwards, which would have almost eliminated the effect of the high ball from Daly Cherry-Evans or Adam Reynolds.

Gusts reached a peak of nearly 100km/h across parts of the city, and any ball above shoulder height would easily have ended up crossing the state border en route to New York.

The American National Anthem performed before the NRL Doubleheader in Las Vegas – March 3, 2024.

Inside it was all about one thing – and it was clear that it was a rugby league event. Jerseys from right across the NRL made up most bays in the stadium; even fans not in the contest.

Parramatta fans were shaking hands with Bulldogs enemies, and Rabbitohs supporters were having a beer and a yarn with Manly-clad spectators – supposedly bitter enemies in the opening game of the double-header.

There was even a Wests Tigers supporter spotted on his feet clapping every line break and big hit, even though he had no personal interest in the score, except for his overall love of the game. It was like an Origin, but instead of having two colours, it was a rugby league kaleidoscope.

For the nostalgic fans, North Sydney was represented, along with one jersey from the old City Origin days. Many even made the trip over from England with Super League logos among the mix.

Foundation club South Sydney also had the honour of being the first out on US soil, with the famous Glory, Glory to South Sydney tune introducing the players to the crowd.

South Sydney and Manly supporters watching the Doubleheader in Las Vegas – March 3, 2024.

Then you had the vocal atmosphere of an NRL match – the crowd yelling their opposition at the ref “get him onside”, “what was that for” – and unfortunately for Sea Eagles fans, they received the loudest boos of the opening game. So, another country, but league fans didn’t seem more welcoming. However, Manly had the last laugh on the scoreboard.

It wasn’t long before the NRL had something to show the Americans; the opening set had plenty of big hits, fast gameplay, and later in the half, Jason Saab broke the game open with two line-breaks that had everyone on their feet.

There were plenty of light shows and entertainment that would compare to a blockbuster NBA or NFL game, giving the Aussies a taste of the American sporting stage (it wouldn’t be possible to get this atmosphere at Brookvale or Kogarah) – even if the fog from the fireworks lingered into the game.

One disappointment was the national anthems, which were performed half an hour before the teams ran out onto the field, rather than having the teams lined up, as they would in a finals game or State of Origin – and before many fans found their seats.

Allegiant Stadium NRL 4

Fans preparing to watch the NRL Doubleheader in Las Vegas – March 3, 2024.

However, the big question that was not clearly evident from the ground was whether this festive show of rugby league actually penetrated the American audience.

I mean, there was definitely some interest, a few stadium ushers who did get a chance to observe some of the action in between showing spectators to their seats asked what the loud horn signalling a ruck infringement was, why passes couldn’t be thrown forward, and how long the halves went for (but who knows if it’s just so he knew when he could sit down again).

A few more explainers on the big screen would have been nice, especially for those inside the stadium watching what was a brand-new game to them.

If speed was a point of difference in selling the sport to a new market, it was a case of blink and you miss it as the games changed over almost seamlessly and the Broncos and Roosters took to the field.

Manly captain, DCE himself was distracted at the press conference trying to keep up with the second game, and the elevator operator at the stadium was left questioning if it was indeed a second game – or a continuation of the first.

At 8.30 pm local time, and after 80 minutes of one game, it seemed no one at the stadium had lost any energy – or at least nonetheless lost their voices. Wherever you were sitting in the stadium, you were drawn in by the crowd atmosphere alone.

Even if it was sloppy at times, thanks to the off-season rust, all the teams competing in the doubleheader wanted to entertain.

On a field designed for the NFL, there were a few fitting cross-code moments as the Broncos thought they were playing the American game with shoves across the sideline – fans didn’t need to be a rugby league technician to get excited or voice frustration at the calls.

Nor when James Tedesco fearlessly came flying through after the short drop-out and collided heavily with Ezra Mam, the gasps from the crowd summed up how tough you have to be to play this sport. What would a game be without players trying to ‘bring back the biff’?

Even if many in the crowd will be kicking on in Las Vegas on a Saturday night, they had the perfect warm-up with the DJ’s playlist featuring the likes of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and Daryl Braithwaite’s Horses, showing no one had tired by well after halftime in the second game.

But it was only the entree as Brisbane kicked into gear and threatened a comeback with exciting passages of play in the second half – you could sense that a close game is what everyone wanted to see!

This was the atmosphere the NRL dreamed of, if nothing else, there was definitely a bang for your buck coming to ‘the footy’ in Las Vegas.

There’s also definitely a bit of curiosity among a small number of Americans here in Las Vegas about what the game is and how it works – but most of the noise, most of the show, most of the celebration up until this point has been Aussie-driven.

That’s how anything has to start, I guess, but ensuring that more locals come to the party in future years is going to be key to the growth of the NRL in this country.

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