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Offline Gintara

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O.P. « 2020-Dec-31, 03:19 PM »
For those of us who love the greatest game of all  8)
« Last Edit: 2022-Jan-01, 06:33 AM by PoisonPen7 »

Offline Gintara

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« 2020-Dec-31, 03:19 PM Reply #1 »
Tidying up the Souffs thread before they lose all their teeff   :biggrin:

Oh dear,

Pearce dumped by fiancee and probably his club too....

Leopards and spots.....


As a knights fan, I am happy to see him go as he achieved part of what we needed him for. He was a key part of attracting talent to us after the spoon days. However, even he would admit that he has not been at his consistent best in last two seasons.

I just don’t think he is the one to lead us to a competition win. We need more depth and his salary space to build our team again.

The trouble is Jeunes - who? i doubt you'll find anyone better to trade up with, so you probably slip backwards.

The problem for us is that we have spent too much money on some players but the nuclei of the team is very strong for the next 2-4 years. That is our premiership window.

If Ponga goes up another level, we have Lee, Best, Mann, Frizell, Safiti, Fitzgibbon,  Klemmer and Brailey who at their best will hold their own. We got some decent kids who played a couple of years but not consistently. We just need a good half and captain to pull it together. I just don’t think Pearce is that consistent.

Pearce is being offered $500k from 2022 for 2 years which is half he is on now. There are talks that Pearce might end up at Roosters again in 2022 or earlier due to flexibility of the Roosters Salary cap.

The Roosters might get salary cap relief over next year or so due to the concussion saga with Cordner and to a lesser extent Keary. There is also the prospect of the retirement of the Morris brothers at the end of the 2021 season. Then the Crichton trade rumour mill will be given a mention again but he was to me their best forward this year.

I feel sorry for Wayne Pearce. He is a genuine good bloke and this must hurt him a lot to see the rumours around Mitchell’s personal life again.

Would 550k make him one of the lowest paid halves?

The question is as a half (five eight or half) worth it?

Some good halves going around will probably be less and they include Dylan Brown, Sam Williams, Lam, Fogarty, Luai etc. Some of them should get contract upgrades in the future. There are kids coming through too. Good consistent halves and / or hooker usually gets you to the finals and even a premiership. Nearly all premiership winning teams have 1 or 2 in those positions.

Unless one of their kids steps up like Crossland or Sasagi step up to partner Kurt Mann they have no choice but to keep Pearce

That will depend on the game time and will they stick with them long term.

Just to appease the bunny supporters, if you look at Reynolds and Pearce, both won premierships around a similar age but fast forward 6-7 years later, that has been the pinnacle and both are now 30-31 years. Both are inconsistent and only one is on million dollars a season.

Reynolds........ inconsistent

 :what: :wacko: :what: :wacko: :what: :wacko:

C’mon.  Let’s be serious. Is he origin halfback material? If Souths had no Walker or Cooke, he would struggle big time.

Where would you rate him as a halfback compared to what is on offer at the moment?

Offline Gintara

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« 2020-Dec-31, 03:22 PM Reply #2 »

C’mon.  Let’s be serious. Is he origin halfback material? If Souths had no Walker or Cooke, he would struggle big time.

Where would you rate him as a halfback compared to what is on offer at the moment?

I don't rate Walker, granted he's not an organiser like Pearce or Reynolds but without one of those to steer the team around and create the space he's got nothing imho  :shy:

Online Jeunes

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« 2020-Dec-31, 04:20 PM Reply #3 »
I don't rate Walker, granted he's not an organiser like Pearce or Reynolds but without one of those to steer the team around and create the space he's got nothing imho  :shy:

That’s my point in regards to the consistency of Reynolds. He has sone wonderful players around who are quite good and should do better at times as he has been playing around them for awhile.

I think Cleary is the best half going around at the moment with DCE, Moses, Hughes, Williams and Reynolds fighting out 2nd to 6th with Morgan at his best giving them a run.

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Jan-01, 08:12 PM Reply #4 »
With the Covid19 cases and border shutdowns, there is increasing speculation that NRL might commit to a bubble sooner rather than later.

The warriors might also be homed in Australia as Jacinta is not committing to a travel bubble over next few months with NSW cases and now Victorian cases over last two weeks.

However if the SCG test and crowds go ahead, it won’t be that much of a financial hit as they will have crowds.

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Jan-17, 08:51 AM Reply #5 »
The first major test for V’landys and NRL board in 2021. Do they suspend or wait till it goes to court? The precedents have been there where players can still play if involved in brawls and awaiting court.

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Jan-17, 03:17 PM Reply #6 »
I think the stand down policy revolves around 'serious' crime - rape, DV, etc etc  :chin:

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Jan-17, 05:50 PM Reply #7 »
More details emerging regarding Haas. I think there is more information to come out this week. Haas got a suspension previously for not cooperating with the Integrity Unit so not sure if there was a suspended sentence hanging over him.

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Jan-26, 04:46 PM Reply #8 »
Arthur and Moses feeling the heat as jury is out on position that needs filling: Eels best 17

Mark St John

    January 25, 2021 7:58am
    Mark St John
    Source: FOX SPORTS

The Eels have been one of the more consistent teams in the NRL over the last two seasons, but their tendency to fade during the championship rounds is a worrying trend.

Parramatta have finished fifth and third the last two years, but they have saved some of their worst form for the pointy end of the season.

The big issue for the Eels is how to plug their notoriously weak defence on Waqa Blake’s side of the field.

The loss of Michael Jennings as he fights to clear his name over the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs is a massive blow to the Eels’ attack and defence.

Jennings was not only their best attacking threat over the last couple of seasons, but his defence helped make up for the deficiencies of Blake on the other side of the field.

Arthur needs to get the best out of his new centre pairing of Blake and Oldfield or it could be a long year for the Eels’ faithful.

The Eels have been quite active in the player market though it remains to be seen if the pieces they have added can take them to the next level.

Isaiah Papali’i from the Warriors and Keegan Hipgrave from the Titans should improve their bench rotation although the jury is out on new signing Bryce Cartwright, who left the Titans last season.

Tom Opacic from the Cowboys and Oldfield will fight it out to partner Blake in the centres and Joey Lussick as well as Nathaniel Roache provide good back-up for Reed Mahoney.

Of the players the Eels let go Stefano Utoikamanu (Tigers) could prove to be a loss down the track, but Brad Takairangi (Hull KR) and Kane Evans (Warriors) are past their best.

Daniel Alvaro (Dragons) and George Jennings (Storm) still have plenty to offer so time will tell if letting them go was the right call.

The Eels need to improve their backline defence and create more try-scoring opportunities for their wingers out wide or it could be a season where they slide down the ladder.


Settled spine. If you are looking at the ingredients that make up successful teams in the NRL a settled No.9, No.6, No.7 and No.1 would be right at the top of the list.

In skipper Clint Gutherson, halves Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses and hooker Reed Mahoney the Eels have one of the better spines in the competition on paper.

The Eels led the competition for much of the early part of the 2020 season on the back of some excellent work by their key playmakers.

The challenge for these four stars is to maintain that sort of form for the duration of a long season, especially as the NRL will return to 25 Rounds in 2021.

Reigning Dally M Fullback of the Year Gutherson and Eels No.7 Moses are entering the prime of their careers and need to find the sort of consistency that the best players in the game maintain on a weekly basis.

Mahoney has been mentioned as a future Queensland representative player and Brown is an exciting livewire who could be anything as he matures.

If their spine can click and deliver on their promise on paper then this Eels team can challenge most sides in the competition.


Brad Arthur. Now entering his eighth season as full-time coach at Parramatta the time has come for the 46-year-old to turn around his poor record in the finals.

Twice in the last four seasons in 2017 and 2020 the Eels were bundled out of the finals in straight sets despite finishing fourth and third on the ladder.

Their only win of note in the finals was a 58-0 demolition of the Broncos in 2019 when they finished fifth, but they were thrashed 32-0 by the Storm the very next week.

Arthur’s tenure at the Eels has been similar to Paul McGregor’s reign at the Dragons where he had some early struggles, before a couple of successful seasons and then a steady decline.

There are signs that the Eels have reached their peak under Arthur and the decline could be coming in the next few seasons.

It is up to Arthur to secure a top four finish in 2021 and win some games in September or it could be time for the Eels to go in another direction after eight years with Arthur and little success.


Dylan Brown. After two seasons in the top grade it is fair to say Dylan Brown is already a star, but there is still scary room for improvement for the young five-eighth.

Still only 20 years of age, Brown has only scratched the surface of his enormous potential in rugby league and he will only get better with every new season.

In Mitchell Moses Brown has the perfect halves partner to take the pressure off him and allow him to play his game and test the defence with his devastating running game and silky passing skills.

After a frustrating period during the coronavirus pandemic, halves coach Andrew Johns should hopefully be able to spend more time in a hands on role with the Eels in 2021.

In Johns Brown has the perfect teacher to take his game to the next level and make him a more consistent and well-rounded playmaker.

Brown has scored nine tries in 33 games to date and if the Eels forwards can set the platform up front then look for Brown to score and set up plenty more in 2021.

Haas embarrassed & ashamed after arrest

Haas embarrassed & ashamed after arrest1:49


Marata Niukore, Ray Stone, Will Smith and Jordan Rankin. The strength of the Eels halves and forward pack is set to cost some players some game time in 2021.

At 24 Niukore has played 56 games and will feature prominently throughout the season, but he may have to bide his time while the Eels find out what recruit Bryce Cartwright has left to offer. Cartwright is a special talent with ball in hand, but his defensive game needs a lot of work and time will tell if Arthur can get the best out of him.

At 23, Ray Stone has provided strong back-up to the pack and Mahoney at hooker in his 19 games to date, but may have to wait until injuries strike and the Origin period to come around to get his opportunity.

Smith at 28 is a reliable back-up half having scored 10 tries in 58 games and he provides strong utility value, but will struggle for minutes behind Moses, Brown and Mahoney.

Rankin’s career has taken a different route having played just 40 games in the NRL, but the 29-year-old has scored 37 tries in 120 games in the Super League and provides experience should injury strike in the halves.


Mitchell Moses. Rightly or wrongly the Eels’ success always seems to be linked to the No.7 jersey given their last premiership winning halfback was Peter Sterling back in 1986.

Until a halfback can lead the Eels to a drought-breaking premiership then that scrutiny of the main playmaker is just par for the course.

At his best Moses is one of the most dangerous halfbacks in the competition, particularly with his kicking game that can create try-scoring opportunities at will as it did in 2019.

However Moses’ kicking and running games deserted him last year after a mid-season injury disrupted his and the teams’ rhythm.

Moses need to shorten the gap between his best game and his worst and become a more consistent and reliable main playmaker for the Eels.

The 26-year-old is coming into the best years for a playmaker and with Johns as his teacher he should be able to realise his potential if he is focused and injury-free.

After 25 tries and 712 points in 150 games, Moses has the experience to lead a team deep into the finals, but time will tell if he is good enough to inspire this Eels team to greater heights.


1 Clint Gutherson

2 Maika Sivo

3 Waqa Blake

4 Michael Oldfield

5 Blake Ferguson

6 Dylan Brown

7 Mitchell Moses

8 Junior Paulo

9 Reed Mahoney

10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard

11 Shaun Lane

12 Ryan Matterson

13 Nathan Brown

14 Bryce Cartwright

15 Isaiah Papali’i

16 Keegan Hipgrave

17 Oregon Kaufusi

2021 squad: Waqa Blake (2023), Dylan Brown (2023), Nathan Brown (2021), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (2022, PO 23, CO 24), Bryce Cartwright (2021), Blake Ferguson (2021), Clint Gutherson (2022), Keegan Hipgrave (2021 PO 22), Michael Jennings (2022), Oregon Kaufusi (2022), Shaun Lane (2023), Joey Lussick (2021), Reed Mahoney (2022), Ryan Matterson (2021, PO 22), Mitchell Moses (2021, PO 22), Marata Niukore (2022), Michael Oldfield (2022), Tom Opacic (2021), Isaiah Papali’i (2022), Junior Paulo (2022), Jordan Rankin (2021), Nathaniel Roache (2021), Maika Sivo (2021), Will Smith (2021), Ray Stone (2021)

2021 gains: Joey Lussick (Salford), Tom Opacic (Cowboys), Isaiah Papali’i (Warriors), Michael Oldfield (Raiders), Keegan Hipgrave (Titans), Nathaniel Roache (Warriors), Bryce Cartwright (Titans)

2021 losses: Stefano Utoikamanu (Tigers), Kane Evans (Warriors), Andrew Davey (Sea Eagles), George Jennings (Storm), David Gower (retired), Jai Field (Wigan), Daniel Alvaro (Dragons), Brad Takairangi (Hull KR), Peni Terepo (retired), Rhys Davies (unsigned), Jaeman Salmon (Panthers)

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Jan-26, 04:48 PM Reply #9 »
Premiership or bust as Latrell returns in star-studded backline: Rabbitohs best 17

Mark St John

    January 19, 2021 6:29am
    Mark St John
    Source: FOX SPORTS

South Sydney will be one of the premiership favourites heading into 2021 with a strong and deep squad, devastating backline and master coach Wayne Bennett leading the way.

The Rabbitohs have one of the most settled sides in the competition on paper and have plenty of depth should injuries strike.

Given the strength of their team the Rabbitohs were not overly active in the player market, but they have added representative players Jai Arrow and Josh Mansour, who will provide plenty of experience and strike power.

Souths have parted ways with a number of stars, including James Roberts to the Tigers, Corey Allan to the Bulldogs and Bayley Sironen to the Warriors, but it is hard to see any of them making the starting team if they were still at Redfern in 2021.

Joseph Suaalii’s defection to arch rivals the Roosters could prove costly down the track, but given he is no guarantee of playing in 2021 due to the NRL’s eligibility rules, the 17-year-old will likely not be a massive loss this season.

Coach Bennett has stood down from State of Origin duties with the Queensland Maroons in a bid to focus solely on the South Sydney premiership charge, which is a good sign for the club.

The biggest question mark will be how Bennett fits locks Cameron Murray and Jai Arrow into the same starting side.

Both Murray and Arrow’s best footy has come at No.13 and moving Murray to the second row last season blunted his attacking game with the increased defensive workload.

Most likely Murray will start at lock, but will spend time on the edge to give Arrow a chance to play his preferred position and to help with the bench rotation depending on the game situation and the opposition.

The Rabbitohs have made three preliminary finals in a row, but have lost all three and will be hoping to break their hoodoo and make a first grand final since 2014 when they last took out the title.

Given the depth in their squad, the Rabbitohs have what it takes to go all the way in 2021 and in Bennett’s last year at the club it is premiership or bust for Souths.
Josh Mansour signs for Souths


Star-studded backline. It is hard to believe one of the best attacking backlines in 2020 has gotten better, but the Rabbitohs have done just that.

The return of Latrell Mitchell from a long-term hamstring injury will add another dimension to Souths’ attacking game which still smashed the Roosters 60-8 without him last year.

That is a scary proposition alone, but the addition of former representative star Josh Mansour has made the South Sydney backline arguably the most complete in the NRL on paper.

Souths now have five current or former Kangaroos in their team in Mitchell, Alex Johnston, Dane Gagai and Mansour, while Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker have represented the Blues in State of Origin and Campbell Graham was only denied a NSW debut through injury last year.

There will be some growing pains as Mitchell and Mansour come into the backline, but given the class of all seven players it is going to be fun to watch when they click.

Expect plenty of tries for the Rabbitohs in 2021 and Reynolds has to be favourite to win the point-scoring title given the amount of conversions he is likely to get.
Arrow ROUGHS UP Teddy after KO


Wayne Bennett and Jai Arrow. Master coach Bennett enters the last year of his deal at South Sydney and possibly his last in rugby league as a head coach.

Bennett’s record speaks for itself having won 533 games in the NRL and a record seven premierships, but his last title was 11 years ago with the Dragons.

That is a long time between drinks for Bennett who has lost the 2013 preliminary final with the Knights, the 2015 Grand Final with the Broncos and the last two preliminary finals with the Rabbitohs since last tasting premiership glory.

The knock on the 71-year-old is that his old-school style is outdated, particularly when it comes to the big end of season games where defending strongly and completing your sets doesn’t always lead to premiership success these days.

Bennett needs a bit of luck with injuries that has eluded him in recent seasons, but he also needs to let his brilliant backline chance their arm in the big games and not just play percentages.

Arrow was targeted by Souths as an ideal replacement for Sam Burgess, which puts plenty of pressure on him before a ball has been kicked.

With Cameron Murray in the team, Arrow doesn’t have a clear path to his preferred position and will need to be flexible in playing on the edge and in the front row just as Burgess did.

The 25-year-old gives the Rabbitohs the size and power to match it with some of the bigger packs in the NRL, but he needs to work on his consistency from week to week, which wasn’t always there at the Titans.

If Arrow can produce what he did for the Maroons last season on a weekly basis at club level then the Rabbitohs will be a scary proposition for opposition sides.

But if he can’t adjust to his new role then the Rabbitohs pack could be a little disjointed.


Keaon Kolomatangi. The 22-year-old debuted last season and was a revelation off the bench for Souths to help with a mid to late season injury crisis.

Kolomatangi was impressive in 14 games in his first season in the top grade and was a metre-eating colossus when he came on.

The young gun provides the Rabbitohs with a point of difference off the bench and has the power and strength to provide a platform for Damien Cook to open up opposition defences when they tire at the end of each half.

The next step for Kolomatangi is to add an offload and passing game to his repertoire, which will make him near on impossible to contain.


Jaxson Paulo, Braidon Burns, Tautau Moga, Steven Marsters. All four players would likely be in first grade at most other NRL clubs, but they are stuck behind a formidable back five at the Rabbitohs.

Mansour’s addition to the squad is likely to cost incumbent Paulo a spot in the team and given Johnston was the leading try scorer last season, Dane Gagai looks set to continue in the centre position.

That leaves one of Bennett’s favourites in Burns and recruit Moga on the outer if everyone is fit and Marsters is stuck behind Graham, Burns and Moga in the centre pecking order.

Paulo is perhaps the most unlucky after scoring four tries in 13 games last season and impressing at the back end of the year after Mitchell’s injury.

Injuries are a part of footy so all four players will have a role to play throughout the season, but if everyone is fit it is hard to see them cracking the top 17.


Latrell Mitchell. Rightly or wrongly the spotlight always seems to shine on the Rabbitohs fullback and 2021 will be no different.

Last year the question mark on Mitchell was could he make the transition from centre to fullback and he well and truly rose to the challenge before injury prematurely ended his season.

This year the question will be can Mitchell return to his best after a long-term injury and fit in to the Souths backline that performed so well in his absence.

Given his form before his hamstring injury the answer is most definitely yes, but it could take time for him to reach peak fitness.

Many experts believe Mitchell could have been the difference between the Rabbitohs bowing out in the preliminary final and going all the way last season.

If he can stay fit in 2021 the 23-year-old will test that theory and he could be the star power that pushes the Rabbitohs over the top and leads them to a first title since 2014.

Mitchell’s evolution as a fullback will be under the microscope again in 2021 and look for him to provide plenty of try assists for Johnston and Mansour.

If Mitchell is fit and firing the Rabbitohs can win the title, but if not then they may struggle to go one better than a fourth straight preliminary final.


1 Latrell Mitchell

2 Alex Johnston

3 Dane Gagai

4 Campbell Graham

5 Josh Mansour

6 Cody Walker

7 Adam Reynolds

8 Tom Burgess

9 Damien Cook

10 Tevita Tatola

11 Jaydn Su’A

12 Jai Arrow

13 Cameron Murray

14 Liam Knight

15 Jed Cartwright

16 Keaon Kolomatangi

17 Mark Nicholls

2021 squad: Jai Arrow, Tom Burgess, Braidon Burns, Jed Cartwright, Damien Cook, Joshua Cook, Troy Dargan, Dane Gagai, Campbell Graham, Jacob Host, Dean Hawkins, Alex Johnston, Liam Knight, Keaon Kolomatangi, Patrick Mago, Josh Mansour, Steven Marsters, Taane Milne, Latrell Mitchell, Tautau Moga, Cameron Murray, Mark Nicholls, Adam Reynolds, Hame Sele, Jaydn Su’A, Tevita Tatola, Cody Walker

2021 gains
: Josh Mansour (Panthers), Jacob Host (Dragons), Taane Milne (Warriors), Jai Arrow (Titans), Tautau Moga (Knights)

2021 losses
: Corey Allan (Bulldogs), Jack Johns (Knights), Bayley Sironen (Warriors), Ethan Lowe (retirement), James Roberts (Tigers), Joseph Suaalii (Roosters), Tom Amone, Cory Denniss, Kurt Dillon, Ky Rodwell

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Jan-26, 04:53 PM Reply #10 »
Filling the No.7 hot seat as Tri-colours plot revenge mission: Roosters best 17

Mark St John

    January 20, 2021 7:00am
    Mark St John
    Source: FOX SPORTS

The Roosters may have gone out of the finals in straight sets last year, but they will still start 2021 as one of the favourites for the premiership title.

The Bondi club boast one of the most settled line-ups in the competition and they are led by arguably the best coach in the game in Trent Robinson.

The Roosters may have been one of the least active clubs in the transfer market in terms of player signings, but the players they re-signed are worth their weight in gold.

The Tri-colours locked up the services of Luke Keary and James Tedesco to long-term deals and they are players they can build the club around.

They also lost Kyle Flanagan to the Bulldogs, Mitch Aubusson to retirement and Sonny Bill Williams, but they would all struggle to make the starting 17 in 2021.

The club chose to part ways with Flanagan after just one season for a combination of factors relating to form, salary cap issues and the faith Trent Robinson has in Lachlan Lam and Sam Walker.

Who partners Keary in the halves and how successful they are in complementing his game will go a long way to deciding how far this Roosters team can go.

Joseph Suaalii from the Rabbitohs and Adam Keighran from the Warriors are the lone signings, but the Roosters locked up the services of the Morris twins which is a huge coup for the clubs’ 2021 premiership hopes.

How Victor Radley and Sam Verrills return from long-term injuries will be crucial to the sides’ hopes of winning a third title in four years.

The 2020 Roosters missed Radley’s dominant defensive game and Verrills’ ability to take the pressure off the ageing Jake Friend, especially in the grind of the regular season.

Concern surrounds the fitness of Friend’s co-captain Boyd Cordner as he tries to overcome a series of worrying head knocks that cut short his 2020 Origin series campaign.

The Roosters, Storm, Panthers and Rabbitohs will again be the teams to beat in 2021 and Robinson’s side will be ready for a revenge mission as they plot a return to the big dance this season.


Experience. All but four of the Roosters’ starting 17 have won a premiership with only Josh Morris, Sitili Tupouniua, Lindsay Collins and Lachlan Lam yet to taste Grand Final glory.

Most of the team have won multiple premierships and will know exactly what it takes to return to the last game of the season.

The return of Radley and Verrills will only add to that winning pedigree and improve the sides’ defensive wall and the bench rotation.

Like the Storm anyone predicting the Roosters will slide after the retirement of players like Cooper Cronk combined with an ageing roster are underestimating the strength of the club.

They still boast one of the most formidable rosters in the competition on paper and if they can have some better luck with injuries next year they will be at the pointy end of the table come finals time again.

If they can get to the preliminary final the majority of the squad knows what it takes to go all the way and they will have learned some tough lessons from last year’s failed attempt at a three-peat.


Lachlan Lam and Sam Walker. Filling Cooper Cronk’s shoes is no easy task just ask Kyle Flanagan who was discarded after just one season, despite almost leading the competition in points and leading the club to a top four finish.

Lam looks set to get first crack at the halfback jersey this season with Walker still very green at just 18 years of age.

However it is likely that both players will get time in the No.7 hot seat throughout the season as they audition to be Luke Keary’s long-term halves partner.

22-year-old Lam has the edge in experience, but most of his 11 games have come off the bench at dummyhalf, while Walker is yet to debut.

However the son of former Broncos half Ben Walker has huge raps on him and will get an opportunity to stake his claim for a first grade spot sooner rather than later.

The knock on Flanagan was that he didn’t challenge the line enough and take pressure off Keary by creating opportunities for himself and others.

Lam and Walker need to hold their own defensively and run the ball to take the pressure off Keary and let him run the attack.

Whoever learns on the run best will get the chance to play with Keary and their rate of development will have huge implications for the Roosters’ premiership push.


Joseph Suaalii. He may not have even played a game yet and can’t play until 2022 under current NRL rules, but nothing about Suaalii’s rise to the NRL ranks has been normal.

Suaalii turned down a $1.7 million extension with the Rabbitohs to link with arch rivals the Roosters, who are keen to fast track his NRL debut if the rules are changed.

Suaalii faces an uphill battle to crack the Roosters’ starting team this season with James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou and Brett Morris all locked in to back three positions.

However in a long season with injuries and the return of the mid-year Origin series, Suaalii could get his chance to show what all the hype and fuss is about this season.

The NRL have said they are willing to review the NRL eligibility rules and Suaalii’s prodigious talent is one of the main reasons for that.


Matt Ikuvalu, Nat Butcher, Billy Smith, Sam Walker.

The Roosters’ depth has been a staple of their squads in recent seasons, but it means some very unlucky stars don’t play nearly as much as they could at other clubs.

Ikuvalu became the first Roosters player to score five tries in a match since 1955 last season when he filled in for injured flyer Brett Morris.

Butcher won a Grand Final with the Roosters in 2018 and may struggle to make the 17 some weeks given the rise of Sitili Tupouniua and the return of Verrills.

Smith was set to be the long-term replacement for Latrell Mitchell before a knee injury rubbed him out of the entire 2020 season.

Suaalii and Walker are still very wet behind the ears, but given their talent they will be unlucky to miss out on regular first grade football.


Luke Keary. The Roosters’ chief playmaker is by no means coming off a bad season, in fact he was one of the Tri-colours’ most consistent performers in 2020.

However the Roosters’ straight sets finals exit coupled with being dropped after his NSW Origin debut would have left a sour taste in Keary’s mouth and he will be out to prove a point in 2021.

Keary has shown he is capable of putting the Roosters on his back as he did to claim the 2018 Clive Churchill Medal, but until he leads the side to a premiership without Cooper Cronk critics will remain.

The fact he will either have an 11-game youngster in Lam or debutant rookie in Walker as his halves partner shows the size of the task facing Keary.

Now with 154 games and three premierships to his name the 28-year-old is entering the prime of his career and will be focused on leading the Roosters back to the promised land.

If he can be successful at club level then Keary is a big chance to return to the Origin arena for some redemption in 2021 and even add to his two caps for the Kangaroos.

If he can’t then it is difficult to see the Roosters returning to the mountain top.


1 James Tedesco

2 Daniel Tupou

3 Josh Morris

4 Joseph Manu

5 Brett Morris

6 Luke Keary

7 Lachlan Lam

8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

9 Jake Friend

10 Siosiua Taukeiaho

11 Boyd Cordner

12 Angus Crichton

13 Victor Radley

14 Sam Verrills

15 Sitili Tupouniua

16 Lindsay Collins

17 Isaac Liu

2021 squad
: Fletcher Baker (2021), Egan Butcher (2021), Nat Butcher (2022), Lindsay Collins (2022), Boyd Cordner (2023), Angus Crichton (2021), Jake Friend (2021) Drew Hutchison (2021), Matt Ikuvalu (2022), Luke Keary (2024), Adam Keighran (2022), Lachlan Lam (2022), Isaac Liu (2021), Joseph Manu (2022), Brett Morris (2021), Josh Morris (2021), Victor Radley (2023), Billy Smith (2021), Joseph Suaalii (2022), Daniel Suluka-Fifita (2022), Siosiua Taukeiaho (2022), James Tedesco (2024), Christian Tuipulotu (2021), Daniel Tupou (2021), Sitili Tupouniua (2024), Sam Verrills (2024), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (2023) Naufahu Whyte (2022, development), Tuku Hau Tapuha (2022, development).

2021 gains
: Joseph Suaalii (Rabbitohs), Adam Keighran (Warriors), Sam Walker (promoted)

2021 losses: Kyle Flanagan (Bulldogs), Poasa Faamausili (Dragons), Mitchell Aubusson (retirement), Ryan Hall (Hull KR) Sonny Bill Williams (unsigned)

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Jan-26, 04:57 PM Reply #11 »
Futures of off-contract stars — and coach — on the line in make or break season: Sharks’ best 17

Darcie McDonald

    January 22, 2021 6:00am
    Darcie McDonald
    Source: FOX SPORTS

While the Sharks made the finals last year, many will concede it was a disappointing season for the club

There was a tug of war over veteran centre Josh Morris, a positive drug sample that rocked the career of the club’s brightest talent in Bronson Xerri and a number of big name players faced increased scrutiny for not living up to their hefty pay cheques.

But the team did just enough to scrape through to the finals — even if they did bow out in the first week.

There were, however, some positives to take out of 2020 too. The development of Toby Rudolf and Siosifa Talakai as well as Shaun Johnson’s sublime form to silence his critics before a season-ending injury.

As they gear up for the 2021 season, there’s a lot to play for. Coach John Morris is off-contract, as is a handful of his highest profile players including Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods.

Johnson will miss the opening eight to 10 rounds and Talakai — one of the Sharks’ best in the back end of the season — is also likely to miss the opening few games too.

Their absence will be huge but it also opens up an opportunity — particularly in the halves — for others to prove themselves.


Shaun Johnson

All successful teams have an elite playmaker. Although the Sharks haven’t been hugely successful over the last two seasons, they have the tool to get them back to being a top four team — Shaun Johnson.

We all know what the 30-year-old is capable of. He’s got 196 NRL games under his belt, 32 appearances for New Zealand, won the 2014 golden boot award and away from the field is a top notch role model and ambassador for the game.

Johnson copped a bit of heat early on last season. Champion halfback Cooper Cronk said he had been “firing blanks” since joining the Sharks in 2019 and Johnson responded exactly how the most elite do.

The nifty No.7 kicked his game into gear from then onwards and went on to become the first player to reach double digits in try assists for 2020. Johnson led the competition in assists for majority of the season until he suffered an Achilles injury in Round 19, which ultimately saw Penrith’s Nathan Cleary and South Sydney’s Cody Walker take the lead by one.

Cronk also did raise a fair point that Johnson “can be the best player in the world” and if the Sharks are going to be successful Johnson “needs to be the star.”

That’s the thing with Johnson, when he is on, he is the best player in the world and that’s exactly what makes him such an asset to the Sharks. Johnson is the key to their success.

It’ll be a challenging start to the season with Johnson watching on from the sideline but we’re tipping the superstar half to return firing. He’s off-contract and will be bitterly disappointed with how 2020 ended.


John Morris

Not because he’s doing a poor job — he’s doing quite a good job actually — but purely because he’s without a contract for next season.

It may not seem fair that Morris is in the pressure cooker given the challenges he had to face last season — but such is the brutal world of the NRL. As we know, when a team doesn’t hit its mark, more often than not it’s the coach who bears the brunt of it.

Minimal cap space, farewelling Josh Morris to a rival club and then also losing Xerri all contributed to a bumpy 2020 season for the Sharks, but under Morris they still managed to make the finals.

He’s blooded some impressive rookies over his two seasons at the helm like Blayke Brailey, Toby Rudolf, Ronaldo Mulitalo and most recently Siosifa Talakai.

But regardless of that, the 40-year-old is off-contract at the end of 2021. He’s one of four coaches without a new deal... but Wayne Bennett will step aside as part of a succession plan, Craig Bellamy is weighing up retirement and Des Hasler is close to signing an extension.

It was reported last year that Morris had actually approached the club mid-2019 about a new deal, but his bid for an extensions was rejected. That’s a worrying position to be in for a coach still in his early years.

If Morris can’t negotiate a new deal in the next seven weeks you’d imagine the uncertainty around what 2022 looks like will be in the forefront of his mind... and if it isn’t he’ll still be constantly reminded by sharpshooting journalists asking the tough questions.


Siosifa Talakai

He made his NRL debut back in 2016 but he really stamped his place in first grade in 2020. The 23-year-old debuted for the Rabbitohs before signing with the Panthers in 2018 but didn’t make any NRL appearances. Talakai then joined the Sharks’ feeder side Newtown Jets, with whom he won the Canterbury Cup and State Championship with in 2019 and earned himself an opportunity — a train and trial contract with the Sharks in 2020.

It ended up being a masterstroke move by Morris. Talakai signed on for the year and was seriously impressive after making his club debut in Round 4. He was one of five Sharks players to clock over 2000 running metres in 2020 and his stellar rise was rewarded with a nomination for the club’s player of the year award.

Talakai was an absolute beast on the field. He ran hard and tackled hard — and then at the end of the season we learnt just how tough he is when the club revealed he had played the final rounds with a shoulder injury that needed surgery over the off-season.

He’ll be missed in the opening rounds but hopefully Talakai can have just as much impact when he returns as he did in 2020.


Braydon Trindall

It’s expected Matt Moylan or Connor Tracey will get first shot at the No.6 jersey, with the other to be used as a bench utility. It’s a shame for young half Braydon Trindall who impressed in the five games he played last season.

The 21-year-old steered the Sharks’ Jersey Flegg side to a premiership in 2018 and played an integral part of feeder side Newtown Jets’ Canterbury Cup and State Championship win.

He’s shown he has just what it takes to be a regular first-grader but at the moment his path is blocked by the club’s extensive depth in the halves.


Matt Moylan

Moylan played just eight games last season and before that he played 11. That’s two seasons now that the Sharks haven’t been able to get their money’s worth out of a player that was once dubbed the next Darren Lockyer.

It’s important to note the 29-year-old has had a horror run with injuries but when he did take the field last season he looked far from his best.

Moylan — who is reportedly earning around $800,000 this year — is off-contract at the end of the season. He has faded far into the background in over last two seasons and his career very much hangs in the balance.

The former representative star, who was named man of the match on debut for Australia, has everything to play for.

If he can round out pre-season in good shape and injury-free, Moylan will likely get first shot at five-eighth with Johnson out for the opening eight to 10 rounds. From there, it’s up to him to play well enough that Morris is forced find a way to keep him in the starting side when Johnson returns.

Woods, Dugan and Johnson are also playing for contracts in 2021.

Woods is understood to be on a deal around $600,000 a season and although his workrate last year was admirable, the former Origin forward hasn’t quite had the same impact he had when he shone for the Wests Tigers.

Meanwhile, Dugan revealed last year that he had entered talks with the club about an extension but with no deal inked just yet the 30-year-old will need to stay injury-free and rediscover his best form to get an offer anywhere near his current salary, said to be around the $900,000 mark.

Johnson is another big-earner coming off contract at the end of the season. He’s probably in the most comfortable position out of the four of them in regards to re-signing — but it may be a tricky task to negotiate a new deal worth the $1 million-per season salary he’s currently earning when he’s expected to miss the first 10 rounds.


1. Matt Moylan

2. Sione Katoa

3. Jesse Ramien

4. Josh Dugan

5. Ronaldo Mulitalo

6. Shaun Johnson*

7. Chad Townsend

8. Braden Hamlin-Uele

9. Blayke Brailey

10. Aaron Woods

11. Wade Graham

12. Briton Nikora

13. Toby Rudolf

14. Connor Tracey

15. Aiden Tolman

16. Andrew Fifita

17. Siosifa Talakai*

*Shaun Johnson is expected to return from injury in Round 8-10, while Siosifa Talakai is likely to miss the opening rounds as well.

2021 squad
: Blayke Brailey (2022), Josh Dugan (2021), Andrew Fifita (2022), Wade Graham (2022), Braden Hamlin-Uele (2022), Mawene Hiroti (2021), Royce Hunt (2022), Shaun Johnson (2021), Sione Katoa (2023), William Kennedy (2021), Billy Magoulias (2021), Matt Moylan (2021), Ronaldo Mulitalo (2023), Briton Nikora (2022), Jesse Ramien (2023), Toby Rudolf (2021), Aiden Tolman (2021) Chad Townsend (2023), Connor Tracey (2021), Braydon Trindall (2021), Jack Williams (2022), Teig Wilton (2023), Aaron Woods (2021), Bronson Xerri (2021), Nene Macdonald (2021), Siosifa Talakai (2021)

2021 gains: Aiden Tolman (Sharks), Luke Metcalf (Sea Eagles on development deal)

2021 losses
: Jayson Bukuya (retirement), Cameron King (Townsville Blackhawks), Scott Sorensen (Panthers), Cruz Topai-Aveai (released), Bryson Goodwin, Kayleb Milne (both unsigned)

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Jan-26, 05:00 PM Reply #12 »
Clearys feel the pressure as minor premiers try to replace two club stalwarts: Panthers best 17

Mark St John

    January 26, 2021 6:58am
    Mark St John
    Source: FOX SPORTS

The Panthers are coming off their best season in 17 years, but after letting go of two of their most experienced stars picking up where they left off will be no guarantee in 2021.

Penrith are on a hiding to nothing trying to emulate a season where they won a record 17 games in a row and fell one game short of a first title since 2003.

A return to a full 25 Round season will make it very difficult to maintain that sort of success again in 2021, especially with the return of the mid-season Origin series, which should feature a number of key Panthers players.

Ask any grand final and minor premiership winning side and they will tell you it is much harder the following season when every club is out to knock you off your perch.

The Panthers’ two biggest losses from last season are captain James Tamou (Tigers) and winger Josh Mansour (Rabbitohs), but they have also lost premiership winner Zane Tetevano to (Leeds).

The club also let handy back-up players Jack Hetherington (Bulldogs), Caleb Aekins (Raiders) and Kaide Ellis (Dragons) walk out the door.

The Panthers were not overly active in the player market as they prioritised re-signing a number of young stars in a bid to keep the bulk of their grand final side together.

However they did sign handy back-ups Jaeman Salmon (Eels), Robert Jennings, Matt Eisenhuth (both Tigers) and Scott Sorensen from the Sharks.

Ivan Cleary faces a delicate balancing act to continue what worked for the Panthers last season, while being careful not to make the Panthers predictable, particularly in attack.

The Panthers conceded the fewest points (308) and fewest tries (53) last season so keeping that strong defensive unit will be a priority.

They also scored the most points (626) and the most tries (106), but backing that sort of output up year after year has been something only clubs like the Roosters and Storm have managed consistently.

If the young Panthers can deal with the extra pressure that comes with being reigning minor premiers then they have the tools to go all the way in 2021.

But if the players think they can just rock up and things will carry on from last year they are in for a rude shock.


Squad stability and youth. The Panthers have managed to keep the bulk of their minor premiership winning side together with the exception of Josh Mansour and James Tamou.

Ivan Cleary has chosen to put his trust in a young core of players who have come through the ranks together at the club after letting go of the two veterans, Mansour to the Rabbitohs and Tamou to the Tigers.

After winning an amazing 17 games in a row last year, the Panthers fell one game short of a first premiership since 2003 after going down to the Storm in the decider.

However the young squad would have learned plenty from their experiences last year and they will be a tighter unit from having gone through it all together.

The pain of their grand final loss to the Storm should provide plenty of motivation to go one better in 2021 and hopefully that will see them avoid the dreaded second-year syndrome.

The Panthers will be marked men in 2021 as they become the hunted rather than the hunters and every team will get up to play them each week.

Their settled spine in Dylan Edwards, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary and Apisai Koroisau should give them plenty of stability to deal with the increased competition from the rest of the league.


Nathan Cleary. The Panthers halfback is coming off his best season in the NRL and he was unlucky not to take out the Dally M Medal, which went to Raiders star Jack Wighton.

However unfortunately Cleary saved some of his weaker performances for the pointy end of the season in the Grand Final and in games one and three of the Origin series.

Time will tell if those experiences scar Cleary going into the new season or whether he can use them to take his game to even greater heights in 2021.

So much of the Panthers’ success is built around Cleary’s influence at halfback and his ability to create opportunities for himself and his teammates on the edges.

However given his success in 2020, Cleary will have plenty of players coming his way in defence in an attempt to blunt his attacking prowess.

The 23-year-old now has scored 36 tries and 809 points in 100 games for the Panthers and is coming into his prime years as an NRL playmaker.

Cleary led the NRL with Cody Walker in try assists in 2020 with 24 and the Panthers will need that sort of output again if they are to maintain the rage this season and go one better.

How Cleary handles the spotlight each week and the extra attention from rival defences will go a long way towards deciding the Panthers’ fate in 2021.
Glenn wants to keep Broncos captaincy


Charlie Staines. The sample size may be small, but the Panthers winger has made a massive splash since bursting onto the scene in 2020.

Staines has scored six tries in just two games for Penrith since making his debut against the Sharks last season in a game he scored a remarkable four tries.

Staines is actually a fullback, but looks set to continue his promising career on the wing, with Dylan Edwards having a mortgage on the fullback position for the foreseeable future.

The fact that the Panthers let go of club legend Josh Mansour after one of his best seasons and with two years remaining on his contract says a lot about the faith they have in Staines.

30-year-old Mansour was told he would play reserve grade in 2021, despite scoring 12 tries in 22 games last season, with the club preferring to start Staines on the wing.

Salary cap constraints no doubt played their part in Mansour’s departure, but at 20 years of age Staines is clearly the future and the Panthers feel his time has come to start on a regular basis.

Staines struggled with hamstring injuries at the end of last season and hopefully they do not become a recurring theme.

If Staines can stay healthy look for him to score plenty of tries on the end of this seriously good backline in 2021.


Matt Burton, Mitch Kenny, Dean Whare, Robert Jennings and Scott Sorensen. It is little surprise that last year’s grand finalists have one of the deeper rosters in the NRL.

You don’t win 17 games on the trot without having plenty of competition for spots and players to fill holes when injuries strike.

Even accounting for the loss of Tamou and Mansour the Panthers again have plenty of depth in 2021.

Matt Burton provides excellent back-up for Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary in the halves before he joins the Bulldogs in 2022.

Mitch Kenny would likely be a starting hooker at a number of other clubs, but will struggle for consistent game time behind Api Koroisau.

Dean Whare is stuck behind grand final heroes Stephen Crichton and Brent Naden, while Robert Jennings scored 19 tries in 21 games for Souths a couple of seasons ago.

Scott Sorensen played 14 games for the Sharks last year and provides depth to the Panthers’ bench rotation should injuries strike.
Haas embarrassed & ashamed after arrest


Moses Leota. Replacing club skipper and seasoned front-rower James Tamou will be no easy task and Leota seems the man most likely of filling the void at prop.

Leota has played over 20 games the last three seasons, but mostly off the bench and it will be a new challenge to start up front on a weekly basis this season.

At 25 Leota has now played 81 NRL games and is at the right point of his career to test himself as a regular starter.

Tamou and James Fisher-Harris provided an excellent platform for the Panthers as they charged to a first minor premiership in 17 seasons last year.

How Leota fills the void left by Tamou could have big repercussions for how Penrith back up from their impressive 2020 season.

Leota can’t be expected to fill the captaincy void left by Tamou, but he does need to offer them stability in defence and plenty of metres in attack if the Panthers are to push for the title again in 2021.


1 Dylan Edwards

2 Charlie Staines

3 Stephen Crichton

4 Brent Naden

5 Brian To’o

6 Jarome Luai

7 Nathan Cleary

8 James Fisher-Harris

9 Apisai Koroisau

10 Moses Leota

11 Viliame Kikau

12 Liam Martin

13 Isaah Yeo

14 Tyrone May

15 Kurt Capewell

16 Matt Eisenhuth

17 Spencer Leniu

2021 squad
: Dean Blore (2021), William Burns (2022), Matt Burton (2021), Kurt Capewell (2021), Nathan Cleary (2024), Stephen Crichton (2021), Dylan Edwards (2022), James Fisher-Harris (2022), Robert Jennings (2021), Matt Eisenhuth (2022), Mitch Kenny (2021), Viliame Kikau (2022), Apisai Koroisau (2022), Spencer Leniu (2021), Moses Leota (2022), Jarome Luai (2021), Liam Martin (2023), Tyrone May (2021), Brent Naden (2021), Jaeman Salmon (2021), Charlie Staines (2023), Scott Sorensen (2021), Brian To’o (2023), Dean Whare (2021, MO 22), Isaah Yeo (2021)

2021 gains
: Jaeman Salmon (Eels), Robert Jennings, Matt Eisenhuth (both Tigers), Scott Sorensen (Sharks)

2021 losses: Josh Mansour (Rabbitohs), Caleb Aekins (Raiders), Jack Hetherington (Bulldogs), James Tamou (Tigers), Zane Tetevano (Leeds), Kaide Ellis (Dragons), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Pat Hollis, Brayden McGrady (all unsigned)

Offline wily ole dog

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« 2021-Jan-26, 06:43 PM Reply #13 »
Moses is a myth, no team will ever win a premiership whilst he is their halfback

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Feb-01, 08:57 PM Reply #14 »
Could be some interesting times for the Queensland teams if Vlandys expansion plans done to fruition.

The Broncos could suffer but it will be difficult for a team to be competitive in the first few years with many good players on long term contracts.

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Feb-02, 01:15 PM Reply #15 »

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Feb-09, 07:37 AM Reply #17 »
Good guide on what current squads and acquisitions / losses since last year. Just scroll down midway.

On paper South, Titans and Dogs have probably done the best of everyone as some other teams will be hoping their new acquisitions will hit form. Titans may yet pick up someone that might even bolster them further if the rumours are true.

Offline Gintara

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« 2021-Feb-09, 05:48 PM Reply #18 »
Good guide on what current squads and acquisitions / losses since last year. Just scroll down midway.

On paper South, Titans and Dogs have probably done the best of everyone as some other teams will be hoping their new acquisitions will hit form. Titans may yet pick up someone that might even bolster them further if the rumours are true.

What about the video 1/2 way down of Dave Taylor  :o Looks like he's hidden a sheep up his shirt  :/ I doubt we ever saw the best of him, he looked like he was destined for stardom early on before really just fading out of sight after jumping through a few clubs.
« Last Edit: 2021-Feb-09, 05:52 PM by Gintara »

Offline wily ole dog

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« 2021-Feb-10, 07:31 AM Reply #19 »
I thought he was very good for us but a few off field “issues”

Offline JWesleyHarding

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« 2021-Feb-10, 12:45 PM Reply #20 »
Yes, there were times when he got a head of steam up he was just about unstoppable.

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Feb-11, 06:01 PM Reply #22 »

Online Jeunes

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« 2021-Feb-16, 12:48 PM Reply #23 »
The injury list is quite large even before the major trials start.

Online Jeunes

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