Monthly Archives: February 2019

NRL: Canberra Raiders close in on re-signing Jordan Rapana and Edrick Lee

The Canberra Raiders are moving to lock in one of the NRL’s hottest wingers as coach Ricky Stuart looks to keep his current team together until at least 2018.
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Both Jordan Rapana and Edrick Lee are off contract at the end of 2017, but Raiders recruitment manager Peter Mulholland was looking to extend the pair for at least another season.

With back-up hooker Kurt Baptiste on the cusp of re-signing with the club for another two years as well, it would mean almost the entire 17 that ran out against the Melbourne Storm in the preliminary final on Saturday will be with the Green Machine for at least another two seasons.

Mulholland said it was promising signs for the Raiders, who were “12 months ahead” of where they thought they would be at the start of this year.

Their charge to this year’s prelim has been rewarded with five players – Josh Papalii, Shannon Boyd, Joey Leilua, Jarrod Croker and Junior Paulo – added to Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos train-on squad on Monday

Rapana has been brilliant this season and he looks set to make his international debut for New Zealand after he set a new try-scoring record for the Green Machine this year.

His mark of 23 is the highest number of tries in a season in Raiders history, beating the previous best of 22 shared between Noa Nadruku, Brett Mullins and Jason Croker.

“We certainly won’t be moving [Rapana and Lee] on, we’ve already started talks with their managers,” Mulholland said.

“We’ve got a very stable squad until the end of ’18. I’d say that’s what Rick wants to work on.

“He’s done a marvellous job to assemble the squad and we’re probably 12 months ahead of where we thought we might be.

“Full credit to the players, but I think full credit to Ricky for what he’s done with them.”

They’re still waiting to find out if half Sam Williams will accept the deal they’ve offered him.

Williams slotted in seamlessly when either of the Raiders’ first-choice halves pairing of Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer were out injured.

He was named the NSW Cup player of the year as he helped guide the Raiders-affiliated Mounties to the grand final.

“If he decides to leave that’s great, it’ll be for greener pastures for him, but his contract offer is on the table for as long as he wants,” Mulholland said.

“I don’t want to make a rushed decision on it, and [chief executive Don Furner] and Ricky totally agree that it’s there for as long as Sam wants it and that’s out of respect to him, so we’ll see what happens.”

Mulholland expected the versatile Jordan Turner to arrive from England in November – if he doesn’t make the English Four Nations squad.

The 27-year-old can play in the centres, second row or at five-eighth and boosts the Raiders’ depth even further.

“He’s a squad player that will give us enormous depth and a lot of experience with over 200 Super League games,” Mulholland said.

“He’s an able replacement for someone like Brenko Lee, he’s an able replacement for Sam Williams [if he goes], he’s a support player for our edge back row.

“He’s like the other two Englishmen – he’s got a point to prove.”

Canberra have bolstered their front row stocks in signing Canterbury front-rower and Cook Islands international Makahesi Makatoa on a full-time contract, while under-20s prop Daniel Dole will remain with the club.

Back-up fullback Zac Santo has also accepted a one-year deal for next season.

Mounties second-rower Scott Sorensen will also join the full-time squad, while the club has opted to hold on to Mounties centre Brent Naden.

Other under-20s graduates Zeik Foster (halfback), Thomas Cronan (fullback), and Connor Cheeseman (lock) will “do some work with [the NRL squad] full-time and they’ll go back up to Mounties”.

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Cameron Munster and Valentine Holmes at odds over State of Origin blame game

Rival: Valentine Holmes passes the ball to a teammate during a Cronulla Sharks training session at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Monday. Photo: Brendon ThorneA pre-season night out in Brisbane that cost eight Queenslanders a chance to play Origin in 2016 has divided two of the NRL’s young superstars, who will square off in Sunday’s decider.
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Melbourne Storm fullback Cameron Munster hasn’t forgotten how he was hung out to dry and made the “scapegoat” for the indiscretions of several Queenslanders during this year’s Emerging Maroons camp.

While he didn’t want to make it public, Fairfax Media understands there was plenty of finger-pointing at Cronulla winger Valentine Holmes, who allegedly dobbed Munster into Queensland officials for missing curfew.

When asked about their relationship, the Storm No.1 hesitated when describing him as a friend, but made no secret of the fact “we’ll be going out there to take each other’s heads off” when they square off in Sunday’s NRL grand final.

Holmes was fined for causing a public nuisance and obstructing police at a taxi rank in Brisbane in January, with Munster, who says he wasn’t with Holmes at the time, later sanctioned for missing curfew.

Fairfax Media has been told that the Melbourne fullback was disappointed to be named and privately blamed the Sharks winger, with another six players consequently banned from playing Origin in 2016 by the QRL for missing curfew.

While Munster didn’t point the finger at Holmes when he expressed his frustrations over being made the “scapegoat”, he admitted he was disappointed with the way it played out.

“I was more disappointed in the fact that I was the only one getting thrown in the media,” Munster told Fairfax Media.

“I was a bit of a scapegoat, but I can’t whinge about it too much … I went out for late curfew. Val [Holmes] wasn’t with me at the time. Unfortunately he got caught and then unfortunately we all got caught. It was a silly decision that I made, but it’s made me a lot smarter and a lot more driven for success.”

Disrespectful – that was the word used by Cameron Smith when he summoned Munster into the club’s boardroom to discuss his pre-season behaviour.

“He just said, ‘Munster, can I have a chat?’ and I knew straight away what it was about,” Munster said.

Smith wasn’t impressed that his club teammate had tarnished the reputation of the Maroons when he decided to break curfew.

“Cam is the Australian captain and the Queensland captain,” Munster said.

“He sat me down in the boardroom and chatted to me about how disappointed he was that I disrespected Queensland. I knew at the time when he was talking to me – he didn’t yell at me – but just his voice and what he was saying really got through to me and I knew that I stuffed up.

“He had a bit of a chat to some of the Queensland boys and mentioned how hard the Queensland boys had worked to get that respect in the group and built the legacy for the Maroons. The way that us young boys disrespected it was unacceptable. I really thought about it and I knew I stuffed up.”

Munster was one of eight Maroons – a group that included Holmes, Brisbane trio Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford and Jarrod Wallace, Roosters prop Dylan Napa, Penrith’s Chris Grevsmuhl and Canberra’s Edrick Lee – banned from playing Origin this year.

While Munster’s indiscretion triggered the need for Smith to sit down with his teammate, the Melbourne hooker went into the meeting with his Storm and Queensland hat on, reiterating his expectations for those who play under him.

“It’s never easy conversations to have with teammates, but that’s just what we’re about at this club and obviously at Queensland also,” Smith said.

“It’s about honesty and protecting what players have built over a long period of time. It was a little bit to do with Queensland – that chat I had with him. But it was also about the person I do see in him and the way I like to see players in my team behave. I thought it was the wrong thing what he did that time and I let him know about it.

“The good thing about him is he put his hand up and knew he had done the wrong thing. He took it really well. He was disappointed with himself with what happened. He’s only a young guy and from time to time you make mistakes. It was just the wrong decision at the time. He took the feedback really well and has had a wonderful year so far.”   This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net. Continue reading

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Cronulla Sharks set to offer long-term deals to Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes

Confident: Jack Bird made his Origin debut in 2016. Photo: Matt Roberts Hungry Shark: Valentine Holmes wants to break club legend David Peachey’s try-scoring record. Photo: Getty Images
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Cronulla chief executive Lyall Gorman has issued a hands-off warning to suitors of their hottest prospects in Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes, claiming the star duo will not be driven solely by money when signing their next deals.

The Sharks will waste no time in trying to lock down two of the NRL’s brightest young stars, with Holmes and Bird, both 21, expected to be asked to the negotiating table within days of the club’s historic grand final appearance on Sunday.

They are off contract at the end of next year and despite the uncertainty about the salary cap when the new broadcast rights deal begins in 2018, Gorman and coach Shane Flanagan have stressed discussions will take place with their lethal right-edge pair within days of the clash against the Storm.

Flanagan has told the club to halt all negotiations during the past fortnight – notwithstanding the club inking skipper Paul Gallen to a one-year deal for 2017 which was considered a fait accompli – to allow his squad to concentrate on winning the Sharks’ maiden premiership.

But Gorman stressed the re-signings of Bird and Holmes on long-term deals were a priority, hence the club’s desire to start the ball rolling in the shadows of the grand final.

“Their commitment is very clear – they both want to stay here,” Gorman said. “They’re great boys, they’ve got a great future and we’ll be doing everything we can to work with them to secure their long-term future at the club.

“Money won’t be their only driver. They’re in a happy club where they’re growing and there’s a holistic approach. We’ve got a mantra here that we develop footballers and grow people.

“How do we help grow their career for the next 10 or 15 years? We need to secure their whole life plan, not just their next five or 10 years in footy.”

Holmes, who can break David Peachey’s long-standing club record of 19 tries in a single season if he can touch down against the Storm, has been courted by several NRL rivals as well as sounded out about a code switch to rugby union.

But he has just invested in an apartment in Sharks’ development adjacent to Southern Cross Group Stadium and is being groomed as the club’s long-term No.1.

Bird debuted at State of Origin level for NSW this year and mulled a switch back to his junior club St George Illawarra before signing an extension at the end of last year.

He is expected to revert to five-eighth in the long term, the position where he won the Dally M Rookie of the Year from during a sensational 2015 season.

“We’ve got a no clouds principle in our club – we need clear heads,” Gorman said. “We’ve got a plan in place and we’re not going to disrupt them with negotiations or anything this week.

“Post grand final and post the week after hopefully there’s a few hangovers for a few days and we’ll be fully supportive of those. We’ll sit down and have a chat to them then. We know they’re both incredibly content at the club.

“You see where Val is in terms of try-scoring, you see where Jack is in terms of State of Origin … we both know they want to be long-term part of our plans.”

Off-contract forward Sam Tagataese is another whose future has been delayed with Flanagan’s single-minded premiership focus.

The prop has been an integral part of the Sharks’ premiership assault and is vying for selection in Flanagan’s grand final side after missing close to two months with a shoulder injury.   This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net. Continue reading

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NRL chief Todd Greenberg supports Kieran Foran return but ‘only under right conditions’

NRL chief Todd Greenberg wants Kieran Foran to be back playing league again – but the chances of him being registered in time to take up a contract with New Zealand Warriors are remote.
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The Manly premiership winner and former Parramatta captain hopes to re-start his career with the Warriors next season after signing a one-year contract.

However, a clause in the deal with the Auckland-based club, which is believed to require Foran to be cleared by the NRL’s integrity unit by December, is almost certain to scupper those plans.

Warriors chief Jim Doyle is lobbying the NRL to green-light the 26-year-old’s return before that deadline but Fairfax Media has learnt that is next to no chance of happening.

Greenberg said on Monday he was keen to have Foran back in the game but “only under the right conditions”.

“I’m like everyone else. I want to see Kieran Foran back playing rugby league,” Greenberg said. “But we have to ensure that we understand fully the issues that he’s dealing with and our integrity unit will do that over the coming months.

“We need to be very careful on how we do that and it needs to be done appropriately so I’m not going to provide a running commentary throughout it. I’m a supporter of him playing football again but only under the right conditions.”

The NRL would need to be satisfied about the merits of Foran’s registration on a range of issues from his mental state to his links with controversial punter Eddie Hayson, who he continues to associate with.

The spectre of the NSW police strike force into claims of match-fixing in the game is also a factor.

If Foran’s re-entry to the code is not ratified before the period set out in his Warriors contract, the deal would be rendered null and void.

Foran told Fairfax Media last week that he and his godfather Don Mackinnon, an Auckland lawyer, had made contact with the NRL integrity unit six weeks ago in an effort to get advice on what conditions he would have to meet to resume his career in the competition, vowing that he would cut ties with Hayson if and when told he had to.

He has strongly denied any involvement in match-fixing and on Sunday night took to social media to again reinforce his claims of innocence and hit out at the media for “prying into my personal life”.

“I want to assure you, I have done nothing wrong,” he posted on Instagram. “I took a break from the game because I felt I wasn’t in the head space to uphold my commitments as a contracted footballer.

“I have been very open about my struggle with health issues and asked for time to concentrate on rebuilding my life. Every day I wake up with a positive outlook, but then I read my name in the headlines. This makes it very difficult to move forward with a positive mindset.

“All I have done, is gotten sick, admitted publicly to it and taken time out for myself. I just ask that I am given the time I need to heal in peace.”   This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net. Continue reading

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Criminals could face charges for texting under proposed laws

Criminals who text each other could be caught under the Queensland Government’s proposed organised crime laws. Photo: Glen Hunt GTHCriminals who text each other could be “consorting” and committing an offence under the Palaszczuk Government’s reforms to organised crime laws.
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A public briefing was held on Monday afternoon as the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee considers the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the new legislation meant officers did not have to head to pubs and racecourses to enforce the consorting law.

“So if A is meeting with B and C because they’re texting them, that’s a meeting,” Mr Stewart said.

“As long as it fits within the legislation, that can form the trigger to perform the first warning.”

The anti-association laws under which Queensland presently operates ban designated gang members and their associates from gathering in groups of three or more, regardless of whether they are facing charges, have convictions, or are wearing their gang insignia or colours.

Under the proposed bill it would be an offence to habitually consort with at least two recognised offenders, whether together or separately, and with at least one occasion happening after receiving an official warning.

Habitually consorting would include meeting with a recognised offender at least twice, but would not apply to a child.

Mr Stewart said if person A met person B and C – and if B and C had criminal records relevant to the legislation – an officer could officially warn the group.

“So if A again meets with B and C, that’s when the actual offence can occur,” he said.

“A does not need to have any criminal history. He simply consorts with two people who do have the appropriate levels of criminal history.”

There could also be “pre-emptive” consorting warnings. And Carolyn McAnally, from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, said there could be retrospective consorting warnings, based on police viewing CCTV.

LNP member for Coomera Michael Crandon questioned whether person A could meet with B and C, and then B and D and E.

“He could keep on meeting all day every day with B but as long as one of the others – C, D, E or F… doesn’t come for a second occasion, there’s no offences?”

Ms McAnally said: “A can meet with B, A can meet with C, D and E. A is required to meet one further time with B, C or D, but not with them all together.”

Mr Stewart described the amendments as taking inspiration from some of the best legislation around Australia.

“I think it provides the appropriate balance that will protect the community from organised criminals (and) it will help protect our officers in their work,” he said.

The reforms would ban Queensland bikies from wearing their club colours anywhere in public, not just in pubs and clubs, as under the existing Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act introduced by the former Newman government.

LNP member for Currumbin questioned whether innocent motorbike riders could be pulled over under the new laws.

But Mr Stewart said there had not been any complaints in the past two years from innocent bike riders, and commended the professional conduct of police officers.

“I would take you back a couple of years when that was a concern of many of the recreational motorcyclists,” he said.

“I have not seen one complaint in the last two years, an official complaint.

“It was a perception, it was a myth.”

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