Your NRL club’s young gun to watch in 2017

first_imgBRISBANE – JAI ARROW: Former Australian schoolboy representative who only averaged 23 minutes in the 12 matches of his rookie year, but will likely to take on a more senior role following the retirement of Corey Parker.CANBERRA – CLAY PRIEST: Went from Sydney labourer to one of the real finds for the Raiders in attack during the second half of 2016 before injury cut short his finals hopes.CANTERBURY – ZAC WOOLFORD: Son of Canberra legend Simon, the dummy half could buck Des Hasler’s trend of four big forwards on the bench after moving from Canberra.CRONULLA – KURT CAPEWELL: Starred in four rookie games at the end of last season as the Sharks faced an injury crisis. Likely to come off the bench or could even start out wide in a reshuffle following the departure of Ben Barba.GOLD COAST – DAN SARGINSON: Sarginson arrives at the Titans as something of an unknown in the NRL but, at 23, the versatile back has already represented England three times, scored 44 Super League tries and helped Wigan to a grand final win.MANLY – BRIAN KELLY: Manly long laid claims as the best backline in the competition, but with Jamie Lyon retired and Steve Matai’s future in doubt, that era is long gone. Kelly possesses raw speed and will play a pivotal role in the centres.MELBOURNE – CURTIS SCOTT: A broken leg cruelled his rookie season but Craig Bellamy has confirmed he’ll add to his two matches in 2017.NEWCASTLE – DANIEL AND JACOB SAIFITI: There’s no lack of young talent at the Knights but the Saifiti twins were the most impressive in 2016.NORTH QUEENSLAND – COEN HESS: Played a starring role running angles for the Cowboys late last season following injury to Ethan Lowe.PARRAMATTA – BEVAN FRENCH: Certain to play his first full NRL season after Brad Arthur vowed to make the pacy French his fullback.PENRITH – TE MAIRE MARTIN: Showed his potential in the halves in 2016 before an injury cut his season short. Has since represented New Zealand.SOUTH SYDNEY – ANGUS CRICHTON: Impressed after debuting late last season by averaging more than nine metres per run after coming from the bench.ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA – LUCIANO LEILUA: Brother of Canberra’s Joey Leilua, he played with plenty of power in his five games late last season.SYDNEY ROOSTERS – CONNOR WATSON: Played in the halves for parts of 2016, but is likely to provide plenty of spark off the bench with Luke Keary arriving.WARRIORS – BUNTY AFOA: The 20-year-old added plenty of power to the Warriors’ pack last year, he showed tackle-busting talent in the four games he played and also scored two tries.WESTS TIGERS – JACOB LIDDLE: A year ago the 20-year-old was tucked behind Robbie Farah and Manaia Cherrington as a dummy-half, but both have gone opening up an opportunity for him.AAPlast_img read more

Read More

Why NRL strugglers could bounce back fast

first_imgBy the end of 2016, the Sharks were premiers while the Raiders had finished second in the regular season with the best attacking record in the league. Things can change quickly in the NRL, particularly the fortunes of struggling teams.The massive turnarounds for Cronulla and Canberra weren’t even out of the ordinary. While those teams were slumping to the bottom of the ladder in 2014, the Penrith Panthers were playing their way into the NRL top four – two seasons after running 15th. In 2013 the Sydney Roosters were the major and minor premiers, a year after finishing well outside of the finals race in 13th.In 2012, five of the eight teams in the finals had missed the playoffs two years previously. That includes minor premiers Canterbury, grand final winners Melbourne and future premiership winners North Queensland and Cronulla – the teams that had occupied the bottom four places in the league in 2010. And in 2010, the Panthers and Warriors both jumped nine league places in a single season to finish inside the NRL’s top five, while the Roosters jumped 10 spots in a season to finish sixth after taking out the wooden spoon in 2009.The salary cap doesn’t just level out the playing field by making it tough for the top teams to successfully defend a premiership – something that hasn’t happened since the unified NRL competition began in 1998. The cap also makes it possible for struggling teams to climb up the ladder – and fast.So, how do they do it? Let’s look at recent success stories the Sharks and Raiders.Both clubs have had some key youngsters come through the ranks in the past few seasons – in particular rep players Valentine Holmes (who debuted for the Sharks in 2014), Jack Bird (Sharks debutant in 2015) and Shannon Boyd (Canberra debutant in 2014).But the recruiting drives of both clubs has been arguably more vital. Both the Sharks and Raiders have overhauled their playmaking spines in the past few seasons. None of the players who lined up at fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker at the start of 2014 were still in those roles in 2016.The Sharks’ premiership-winning spine of Ben Barba, James Maloney, Chad Townsend and Michael Ennis were all recruited within the previous two seasons. The Raiders brought in Blake Austin, Josh Hodgson and Aidan Sezer in the last couple of years, after switching Jack Wighton to fullback in the final rounds of 2014. Of course, they weren’t the only signings – the Raiders in particular strengthened their starting side with the likes of back-rowers Sia Soliola and Elliott Whitehead and lethal edge duo Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua. The other notable factor for both those teams is that they blooded a lot of rookies in recent years – which meant they didn’t have to bring in untested players in 2016. For the Sharks this was a necessity in 2014, when 10 of their players made their NRL debuts after the peptides scandal hit the club. It’s meant they’ve only had to give debuts to a couple of players since then – Bird in 2015 and Luke Capewell last year.Last season’s results suggest teams who don’t use many debutants tend to win more games. In 2016, six clubs had no more than two players make their NRL debut – and four of those clubs finished in the NRL top four (the other two were Parramatta, who missed the finals after being stripped of competition points due to salary cap breaches, and Manly, who brought in a massive 13 recruits last season). By contrast, the three clubs with the most debutants last year – the Roosters, Knights and Rabbitohs – finished in the bottom four for the league in terms of wins. This isn’t a surprise (losing teams are more likely to drop players and look to the future) but on the positive side it could set them up for success in the future if the Sharks’ rapid rise since 2014 is any guide.The Rabbitohs and Roosters in particular could bounce back quickly considering the Rabbitohs had appeared in the past four finals series before 2016 and the Roosters were coming off three straight minor premierships. Both clubs boast several current rep players, while the Sea Eagles, who finished 13th in 2016, also have a few rep stars in their ranks and have already begun an overhaul of their roster under Trent Barrett.Will all the teams that struggled last year be finals contenders this season? Probably not. But don’t be surprised if at least a few of them aren’t back in the premiership race in a couple of years’ time.last_img read more

Read More

Trbojevic set to take fullback by storm

first_imgThe 20-year-old first picked up the injury during the 2016 pre-season and aggravated it in the Anzac Day win over the Knights. Ideally he would have had it operated it on, but given Manly’s horror injury toll, Trbojevic valiantly fought through the pain to see out the year before eventually going under the knife at season’s end. “I don’t think it hindered me too much last year. It was just that I’d pull up sore after games and I wouldn’t be able to train because of that reason. That’s the only negative that came out of it,” he said on Tuesday. “I had the ankle all fixed up and I’ve come back to training and I’ve tried to put a bit of weight on. I lost a lot of weight from the surgery, so I’m weighing about 105 now which is a couple of kilos up from last year. “It stabilised my ankle up so I do feel a lot fitter. I’ve been working hard with the strength and conditioning coach, Dan [Ferris] and the rehab staff to get that all better. I’ve been training really hard on the field so I feel a lot fitter and a lot stronger so hopefully that helps me out this year.”I was in a cast for two weeks and then I was in a boot for another four on top of that, and then I got the boot off and started walking around. It was a bit of a long process, but once it was done it was quite an easy transition back onto the field.”It feels 100 per cent. Obviously playing in the two trials gave me a lot of confidence because I had no problems with it. I’m just hoping it stays that way throughout the year and I can have an injury-free year.”With club legend Brett Stewart retired due to a chronic knee injury, Trbojevic is the Sea Eagles’ heir apparent set to make the No.1 jersey his own for the next decade. Already touted as an Origin player-in-waiting, Trbojevic could be forgiven for getting caught up in all the hype. But the level-headed youngster has no ambitions to replace the ‘Prince of Brookvale’ as the ‘Lord of Lottoland’ with Trbojevic paying special tribute to the man who helped him make the transition into first grade. “Brett Stewart is probably one of the best fullbacks to have played for this club. If I can do half the things he did in his game then I’d be very happy. They are obviously very big shoes to fill, but I’ll just be looking to do the best that I can,” he said. “I just try to keep a level head. I know that I’ve got to do a role in this team and that’s all I’m focussing on. I just try to do the best I can week in week out and don’t try to get mixed up in all that (hype).”The 20-year-old has played wing, centre and fullback since making his debut two seasons ago, but has only played 12 of his 32 games in his preferred position at the back.  That will change in 2017, and Trbojevic wants to repay the faith shown by coach Trent Barrett.”It does help a lot because that’s where I enjoy playing the most,” he said. “Getting an opportunity to start there, I need to thank Trent for doing that. I’m just hoping to stay injury free and hoping I can hold down that No.1 spot and do the best I can for the team.”last_img read more

Read More

Warriors club no quick sale

first_imgWhile it’s understood that the news that Watson could relinquish control of the Warriors has sparked interest in other prospective buyers, Davys says he’s pressing ahead with his interest in the club and he’s not being swayed by who the other potential owners might be.”That’s for Eric to decide, I’m focussed on what I’m doing to be fair,” Davys said.On Thursday, Warriors great Monty Betham launched a campaign for Warriors fans to buy the club.Logistically it might be tough to organise Betham’s crowd-sourced proposal fast enough when other interested parties are already down the track with their negotiations.But whoever does take control of the club will have to demonstrate to Warriors fans that the club would be heading in the right direction.When Sir Owen Glenn had his fall out with Watson he did suggest gifting his half of the club to Warriors fans. That didn’t eventuate and he sold his share back to Watson.Davys doesn’t feel it would be appropriate if there was a seat on the board for a representative from Warriors fans if he took over, but he does understand the frustrations supporters have had.”I do and that’s why I want to buy it, I’m a fan,” he said. “I sit there every year and there’s a taste of disappointment about the club.”It’s one of the reasons why I want to buy it.”For some, Davys has been seen as a knight in shining armour, who can at last bring success to the Warriors.However, he doesn’t regard himself in that manner.”Until I do something with the club and prove myself I think the jury is still out on me,” Davys said. “I don’t want to be seen as some messiah.”Warriors managing director Jim Doyle addressed players earlier this week to inform them about the ownership situation.A new owner wouldn’t have any effect on their current contracts and the hope is that they’ll be able to concentrate on the remaining games this season. Ownership discussions are out of the control of the players and management in Auckland.Even if someone has reached an agreement with Watson, it will still take a while for the documentation to be done and nothing will be concluded until well after the current season, so the club are continuing work on signing players for 2018.Davys acknowledges that while he’s making progress, it is going to be a couple more months before there is an official announcement.”That’s just realistic,” he said. “You’re not going to shake hands and say there’s the deal, these things take time.”The first thing is getting on the same page, the second is due diligence and the third is an agreement.”Personally, I think some of the media hype around this has jumped the gun.”Doing due diligence will allow Davys to look at the books and closely examine how the club operates.”You’ve got to look at the whole operation,” Davys said. “How much they spend on their football programme, how much is spent in the commercial department.”You’ve got to look at player contracts, agreements with the NRL and different agreements with players.”These days’ player contracts are quite interesting. In the old days you’d just sign up for a term and then renegotiate a contract, but when you get someone coming towards the end of their career, you might get someone promised a job or a promise to be an ambassador.”You have to look at all of these things.” Photo by: PHOTOSPORT Caption: Warriors fans and players won’t see a resolution on the ownership situation for a couple of months.last_img read more

Read More

Kangaroos’ centre stocks thin: Renouf

first_imgManly’s Dylan Walker – the Dally M Centre of the Year – was an unfortunate casualty of the Prime Minister’s XIII game in Papua New Guinea and would almost certainly have earned selection, but his absence leaves Chambers and Dane Gagai as the only Kangaroos to have played a minimum of five NRL games in the centres this season.Instead, the proliferation of fullbacks at the representative level continued with Meninga selecting five players who have spent significant time in the No.1 jersey during the course of the season.Having played in the centres in all three State of Origin matches for New South Wales this year as well as four times for St George Illawarra late in the season, Josh Dugan is the man favoured to partner Chambers in the centres against England in the World Cup opener in Melbourne on October 27.Dugan has scored five tries in his past four appearances in the centres for the Kangaroos but he is a long way from possessing the attacking potency displayed by Renouf who crossed for 11 tries in his 10 Tests for Australia.Laurie Daley used Dugan and Jarryd Hayne in the centres for the NSW Blues, and throughout the finals series we witnessed Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson employing Mitch Aubusson and Ryan Matterson in the centres for the Tricolours. The practice of substituting bigger-bodied back-rowers out wide was one regularly employed by other clubs also.Whilst that is primarily done to shore up the defensive line, Renouf says by using part-time centres a team can actually become more vulnerable.”I’m one of the true blue centres but it is a shame to be honest,” Renouf said of genuine centres being overlooked in representative teams.”I got offered the chance to play fullback back in my day but I bluntly said no to Wayne [Bennett] that I didn’t want to be fullback so I hung in there.”It is a very specific position and teams find other teams out.”If yoou’re not a true centre and you haven’t played most of your time there, defensively you can get caught out very easily.” “You don’t have the beauty of having that tight pack a bit closer in. You’re out there and you’re calling the shots with just you and your winger.”Ironically, Renouf will be one of the few Australian centres travelling around the country during the World Cup as he delivers the Deadly Choices program that encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have regular health checks.When the former Bronco made his Test debut in 1992 he did so alongside one of the most imposing centres to ever play the game in Meninga himself, but is somewhat disappointed that size is preferred over speed in the modern game.”Size is a big thing these days,” said Renouf, who played 183 games for Brisbane and scored a double in his final Test appearance in 1998.”We relied a lot on our speed both in attack and defence. I can remember Wayne saying to us – because we had a very quick back-line – his big thing to us was to show them the sideline.”If they beat you on the outside good luck to them but don’t let them ever go through you.”He had the faith in us that we’d run them down, which nine times out of 10 we did.”last_img read more

Read More

England’s Underhill in doubt for Six Nations

first_imgUnderhill injured his ankle playing for Bath in the English Premiership last weekend and is reportedly likely to be miss at least four weeks.England plays Ireland in the Six nations opener on February 2 in Dublin, putting Underhill under a cloud for that match.The 22-year-old was a breakout star for England in his debut Test year, playing nine Tests and becoming an important player for coach Eddie Jones.Bath released an update on his fitness on Thursday morning (AEDT), saying Underhill would visit a specialist to confirm his prognosis later this week.last_img read more

Read More

PNG U20 soccer girls balance school and training

first_imgThe 28 member train on squad is in intensive training camp at Goroka in Eastern Highlands Province as they prepare for the World Cup.24 girls are attending Goroka Grammar School, a private school near their camp at the National Sports Institute (NSI) while four of them are working at Pacific Gardens Hotel.For some it is a continuation of their schooling and for others it is a second chance at an education.Coach Lisa Cole said this week that she was looking forward to working with the team to ensure they balanced their training and education.She said training did not mean that they had made the team but she is setting a benchmark for them to keep fit so they move from one level to another.She added that each and every player has two aims and that is to make the final team and be in the first 11.last_img read more

Read More

FIFA to run workshop for World Cup

first_imgAttending the workshop will be representatives from the 15 participating teams of the U-20 Women’s World Cup including PNG. The workshop will involve meetings with the media, team services, marketing and venue managers including visits to the match venues, training sites and hotels. Meetings with the media will involve discussions around how operations will work on the match days while the meeting with the marketing team will involve speaking with potential national supporters and the requirements with regard to branding and marketing. The workshop is also for the team representatives to see the facilities they will be playing in as well as being informed of what they are to expect when they come with their teams in November. The workshop will run on August 31 from 10:00am -11:30am at the Stanley Hotel.Local Organising Committee (LOC) chief executive officer, Seamus Marten said the workshop is the time for team representatives to learn about the country they will play in.He said with less than 80 days to go, the preparation is ramping up to ensure that everything is set for the World Cup.“We’ve recruited team liaison officers to assist the teams during their stay because most of the teams coming do not speak English as their first language. They will also be attending the workshop and will get to meet with the teams that they will be attached with,” said Marten. Marten said preparation has picked up momentum with the various functional areas within the LOC. The security team are ironing out their plan for the stadiums, hotels and teams, the transportation team are working on ensuring the teams get to their match and training venues on time, the medical team are finalising their medical plans while logistics is ensuring that the infrastructural materials are delivered to the venues in time for preparation,” said Marten.He said while preparation is progressing well there is room for all stakeholders, from the government and private sector to come on board to support this historic event. “PNG is already making history by hosting the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and this tournament will definitely put PNG on the world map as well as inspire women and girls in Papua New Guinea to excel in their chosen field,” said Marten.last_img read more

Read More

Nacho comes to a stop ahead of Carnero

first_img6 22 Once he recovered, Nacho Martínez lived a situation that reminded us of the time when Luis César Sampedro seemed to take her with him and ostracized him, opting to use Javi Moyano on foot changed before him. It was not, far from it, so extensive, because it soon prevailed in battle. After sitting on the bench three times intermittently, against the Athletic Club It started again. Miguel Ángel Gómez Y Sergio González they have not hidden on more than one occasion their predilection for Madrid -the sports director has even ventured that they will work together when he retires-, of vital importance especially in the journey, now interrupted, by the First division. When it resumes, there is no doubt, on the left side of the Real Valladolid a beautiful struggle will continue.center_img For the first time since Sergio González arrived at Real Valladolid, Nacho has found strong and direct competition on the left side. It had to be with the arrival of the past winter market of Raul Carnero, immediate performance signing that took advantage of his competitor’s injury to take a place in the initial team as soon as he arrived. Nacho thus ended the seven league games who had disputed uninterruptedly Raul Carnero, since he landed in Skunk in mid-January and the need made him start playing already in Pamplona versus Osasuna. There were seven games in which he offered a good performance, although perhaps it was from more to less, making some small mistake of bulk that made it easier for his ‘rival’ to win the battle for the first time in the last game.last_img read more

Read More

Paco Jémez: “This is my most difficult year as a coach”

first_imgFUTURE “We want to finish the championship, but with zero risk for everyone” -This is not your first extreme situation, you have already experienced an earthquake in Mexico. EPIDEMIC “This teaches us that we are more vulnerable than we think” BALANCE -That earthquake also took the lives of many people. This teaches us that we are much more vulnerable than we think and much more stupid than we think. The moral is that we should enjoy our life more, which is spectacular. There are people who have died overnight. This should serve to help us more. The pity is that this happens and people forget.-Bukaneros put up a banner in support of the toilets in Infanta Leonor and Vallecas is showing solidarity.-It makes me proud, but it doesn’t surprise me. I know the people of Vallecas: humble and always ready to help. It is in your genes. It is a reason for satisfaction that is seen in the rest of Spain.-What is your assessment of the season so far?-It has been marked more by the extra sports than by the sport. We would like to be higher, but we have games ahead to achieve our goal. It has been a very bumpy campaign in everything and we can still fight to get into the top six. If we finish LaLiga, we will continue with the same idea. The team had a good dynamic and now everything stops suddenly. That makes the championship equal again.-Diagnosed Rayo fear of winning, why is it happening?-I can’t find any explanation. This team had to have won many more games, although it is true that it has lost few. Rayo has the potential to earn more and be higher. It costs him and I take some of the responsibility as a coach. We will continue working.center_img “The course has been more marked by the outside than by the sport” -How are these days being put at home?-We are living a situation that we had only seen in the movies. Every day I talk to Dr. Beceiro, in contact with the players in case they have symptoms, and with Cobeño, so they can keep me up to date. So far so good. Julio Muñoz (physical trainer) He has given them a planning, knowing what they have at home, so that they move a little and do not lose the general tone.-What guidelines have you given to the squad?-There are some who live in houses with a garden and others, in an apartment. We have told them to do sit-ups, self-loading … although it doesn’t make much sense. This is going to take a long time.-If LaLiga returns, would they need a preseason?-It will depend on how long we are unemployed, but if it were extended from four to six weeks we would already need a preseason to start.– It is spoken of the physical effects, and the psychological ones?-It is a new situation to which we have to adapt, due to force majeure. We have also given them these habits to keep them entertained at home, but we are talking about soccer when that is not really important, but to stop the coronavirus epidemic and emerge victorious from something that, at first, we had not taken very seriously . -This break can serve to recover Comesaña and Pozo.-All the teams are in that position. It is time that the injured can take advantage to recover, but we do not know how much. For them it is good because they did not expect it.– How it is seeing the winter signings?-I value them all very positively. They have fitted the team very well and we hope that, in this final stretch, they will bring us numbers and game. Of course, in terms of assists and goals, I am very demanding. We must continue working and improving. I still think there is a very good group and I am proud to be their coach.-The problem is that Embarba’s shadow is long: Rayo has lost 26% of goal.We knew that his loss would do us great harm. They have paid ten million for him, which is worth his numbers. To get them back you have to bring players of their level and those cost eight, ten or twelve million. This in football is pure mathematics. -How is a day in Paco’s life during this confinement?-I’m home alone. My daughter is a stone’s throw away, but I can’t go see her. She lives in Madrid and, in a sensible act, she has not gone to A Coruña, where my wife and my other daughter are. My mother and brother are in Córdoba. So I have everyone scattered. I call them every day and if they are well, I adapt to anything.-And what activities do you do?-I do sports at home, I had some gadgets and I have prepared a makeshift gym. And thank goodness we have the internet and books! The day you go to the supermarket you take the opportunity to stretch your legs and breathe clean air. This is the closest thing to being in prison.-Do you agree that the clubs do the tests?-I thank LaLiga and Thebes for caring about us, but I see it unnecessary to undergo tests that should be kept for people with symptoms. If we get sick, we have our doctor, who will guide us.-Do you think that LaLiga will resume?-No one knows the timing of this. Many jobs can be done from home, but we can’t get 40 together in a locker room. The Euro Cup has been suspended and we are already looking at the medium-long term. We have to get the short film out of our heads. If then we have to make an effort and play in the summer, it will be done. No problem. We want to end the season and we will do everything possible, but in conditions of zero risk for everyone. If you finally cannot, you will have to find solutions that surely will not be liked by anyone. -It was an ‘annus horribilis’: the animation strike, the sanction for the insults to Zozulia, the Advíncula Case, four serious injuries …-It’s being complete, yes. It has not been that perfect year in which everything blows in favor. Upside down. But far from complaining, we have worked. That is why I give so much importance to what the team is doing and the possibilities it has. We will fight against all odds.– It is being your most difficult season at the helm of Rayo?-It’s the most difficult since I started training.-He confessed that he had no relationship with the president, is there anything new about it?-There are no changes.last_img read more

Read More