Segment 1: Panel

·       Introduction

·       Review trials

·       Should clubs be given salary cap concession for criminal charges?

·       Latest news

·       Mooney’s Niff Nuff Award 





Segment 2: Greg McCallum

- our resident NRL expert former 1st grade referee, English Super League boss and Chairman of the NRL March Review Committee for 10 years

·       Comments:

o   Should clubs be given salary cap concession for criminal charges?

o   Commission update

·       Conclude analysis, key signings, loses etc. and chances of the remaining 8 clubs for 2019 in alphabetical order

o   Already analysed Broncos, Canberra, Canterbury, Cronulla, Gold Coast, Manly, Melbourne and Newcastle

o   Tonight its New Zealand Warriors, North Qld Cowboys, Parramatta, Penrith, St George, South Sydney, Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers


Segment 3: Panel

·       Follow up to Greg’s comments and assessments etc. (1)




Segment 4: Panel

·       Follow up to Greg’s comments and assessments etc. (2)

·       Trial games this weekend 

·       Latest news (cont’d) 


Sign off


Segment 1: 6.02-6.18pm

NRL games last weekend:

·       Brisbane Broncos star Tevita Pangai Jr says he ‘felt a pop’ in his hamstring in a worrying sign the big man could miss the start of the NRL season. The injury, which is a recurrence of the hamstring issue which continues to plague him, forced Pangai Jr from the field after just 18 minutes of the Broncos’ 26-12 trial win over Wynnum-Manly.

·       Penrith without Viliame Kikau for 6 weeks after the bulldozing Fijian went down with a knee injury in the Panther’s 28-8 trial win over South Sydney.

  • Manly coach Des Hasler says he expects to be without Tom Trbojevic for at least a month after the Kangaroos fullback sustained a hamstring injury in the 28-22 pre-season trial loss against Cronulla.


  • Jake Clifford’s bid to win a North Queensland NRL starting jersey has gathered momentum after an eye-catching performance against Gold Coast. The 21-year-old scored late in Saturday evening’s game to complete a hat-trick of tries in a 22-16 trial win for the Cowboys. More than 10,000 people crammed into at Sunshine Coast Stadium to watch an intriguing audition from contenders Clifford and Te Maire Martin.

·       Jack Wighton has set up two tries in his five-eighth audition for Canberra, with the Raiders coming from behind to beat Canterbury 28-22 in their NRL trial in Bega on the NSW south coast. In what would be his only game in the No.6 jersey before the start of the season, Wighton made his move from the fullback spot on Saturday evening in triumphant style in what also doubled as his return from a 10-week ban at the end of last season. After the Raiders trailed by 22-6 at halftime, Wighton put on a long cut-out ball for Nick Cotric to score in the left-hand corner for Canberra’s first try of the second half.

  • The New Zealand Warriors produced a strong defensive performance to defeat the Melbourne Storm 12-6 in their pre-season trial match in Geelong on Friday night. A youthful Warriors outfit ran in two tries to Melbourne's one in an even contest.
  • Newcastle’s new star halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga looked good in their 18-10 trial loss against the Dragons in Wollongong.

Intrust Super Cup squads were also put to the test during trial games at the weekend, just two weeks out from the official kick-off to the 2019 season. 

Sunshine Coast Falcons beat Norths Devils 28-16 beat Norths Devils 28-16 at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Falcons coach Eric Smith said he was "pretty happy" with his team, and glad to finish the trial period fairly unscathed. Smith said he was most impressed with Jake Ainsworth in the centres.

Tweed Heads Seagulls beat Burleigh Bears 20-18. Seagulls coach Ben Woolf said  he was pleased with his side’s final trial hit-out while Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan said his side had some work to do before their Round 1 fixture against Norths.

Easts Tigers beat Ipswich Jets 16-8 at Langlands Park. Tigers coach Scott Sipple said the stand-out performers for him were young winger Rakheem Auda, Bennett Leslie, who has joined the squad from Mackay Cutters, and John Puna. 

Souths Logan Magpies beat Redcliffe Dolphins 32-24 at Acacia Ridge. Magpies coach Jon Buchanan said the win provided a much-needed confidence boost for the squad after losing to Brisbane Broncos the week before.

Central Queensland Capras beat Mackay Cutters 34-10. Capras led 24-0 at half time and added another 10 points to the board with some big runs and solid defensive efforts. 

Northern Pride beat Townsville Blackhawks 28-10

Brisbane Broncos beat Wynnum Manly Seagulls 26-12. Wynnum-Manly look set to have a strong season in the Intrust Super Cup. The control and guile of half Sam Scarlett was a highlight as was the incisive running of fullback Edene Gabbie and former Wests Tigers back Delouise Hoeter.


·       Parramatta hooker Kaysa Pritchard has been granted a request for time away from rugby league to contemplate his playing future. The 24-year-old battled serious shoulder and groin injuries that restricted him to just eight games for the Eels last season, and it appears they have taken a toll. Eels might just attract Isaac Luke –surprise, surprise who is believed to be on a cut-price deal with the Warriors and has been reportedly offered a big-money two-year contract with the Eels. However, it’s been reported the Warriors are working on removing a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave if he receives a lucrative offer from elsewhere. The Warriors are keen to retain their No.9 and are speaking with Luke’s agent to give him more money.

  • A mutual understanding reached between NRL veteran Cameron Smith and the Melbourne Storm could allow their star hooker to call time on his 18-year career at the end of this season. Despite inking a two-year deal with the franchise, which will likely see the veteran become the first player to reach 400 NRL games, Smith has revealed he doesn’t have an opt-out clause in his new contract but that won’t stand in his way of retirement if his performance or desire wanes. Smith has said he had come to a verbal understanding with club management that he would hang up the boots a season early under circumstances. After a protracted period of contract negotiations with the club, Smith agreed to the two-year deal that has put him on course to smash a series of records at the beginning of this year.
  • The Melbourne Storm has reportedly been threatened with exclusion from the first round of the NRL if the 2018 runners-up don’t get their salary cap issues in order. Mentioned last week that the Storm were attempting to offload three players to England before the start of the new season next month. The club subsequently denied the report but it appears Melbourne are struggling to squeeze under the cap for the start of the season. Reports have surfaced claiming the club is looking to offload Sam Kasiano after the NRL told the Storm they'd be facing extreme consequences if they couldn't get under the cap. The club is supposedly $600,000 over the 2019 cap, with Storm management told they needed to take action to avoid the potential of being unable to take the field in Round 1 or having to sit out their skipper Cameron Smith. The NRL has the option to force the Storm to get rid of Smith if they don't comply, given that he is the last player to sign a contract for the 2019 season with the club.


  • Ethan Lowe- off to Rabbits-replacement for Crichton no doubt


  • The Warriors lead half a dozen NRL clubs chasing the hottest property in England: Wigan halfback George Williams. Williams comes off contract at the end of 2020 but wants to play down under. Wigan may be prepared to release him for a juicy transfer fee. The Raiders recently made inquiries about Williams as they also are in the market for an established No.7, but the transfer fee put him out of their price range.


  • Some figures passed on to me from the Western Suburbs junior league in Sydney shows just how much trouble the code is in at grassroots level. In 2007, the Magpies - located in Sydney’s league heartland - had a whopping 392 junior teams. Last year, that number dropped to just 137 teams from under-6s to under-12s. The NRL’s tarnished image may be partly to blame but there are other factors. AFL and soccer are investing heavily in the area and making inroads, while the iPad and X-Box are also seeing many youngsters give up football. It’s a worrying trend and it’s throughout the game, not just in Sydney’s west, as kids find other things to keep themselves occupied.



  • The Cronulla Sharks have re-signed PNG international James Segeyaro for 12 months. The deal comes as a surprise given the NRL is still investigating a possible salary cap breach in the Shire. Segeyaro spent the off-season in limbo after rumoured interest from Newcastle and Parramatta failed to materialise, but will have the chance to add to the 26 games he played for Cronulla last year.


  • The NRL will offer salary cap relief to clubs who stand down players facing serious criminal charges, allowing clubs to sign temporary replacements. Under the new proposal, clubs which stand down players facing serious criminal charges will be allowed to sign temporary replacements up to the same wages as the suspended player. St George Illawarra will receive $600,000 in salary cap compensation if the NRL stands down Jack de Belin this week.


  • North Queensland skipper Matt Scott is set to hand the captaincy reins to the next generation, as the Cowboys look to drop their co-captaincy structure after eight years. Michael Morgan is tipped to get the nod over Jordan McLean.


  • Stephen Kearney is set to become the longest-serving coach in the Warriors' history with a three-year extension announced this week. Kearney is now contracted until the end of 2022, reward for guiding the Warriors to their first finals appearance seven seasons last year. Having started his tenure at the club in 2016, should he see out his contract he would join Ivan Cleary with six seasons at the helm of the Kiwi franchise, a welcome change from the 11 coaches the Warriors have had since inception in 1995.


  • Australia will play New Zealand in an end-of-season double-header at WIN Stadium on Friday October 25 ahead of an anticipated Test against Tonga a week later. The announcement of the trans-Tasman Testin Wollongong provides the first glimpse of the code's new international calendar, which is expected to include an Oceania Series and Great Britain Lions tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The Lions will begin their southern hemisphere tour with a Test against Tonga in New Zealand on Saturday, October 26.

The Kangaroos and Tonga are set to meet the following weekend, possibly as part of a triple-header in Auckland featuring the first of two Tests between the Lions and New Zealand as well as a clash between Fiji and Samoa.

The Australia-Tonga Test would be part of the Oceania Series, in which New Zealand will host Tonga on June 22 during the NRL's stand-alone representative weekend.

The Kangaroos-Kiwis Test at WIN Stadium would also be included in the Oceania Series, while Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea are expected to play each other during the mid-year Pacific Test and at the end of the season.

The Lions will travel to Port Moresby to play the Kumuls on November 16 after their second Test against the Kiwis the previous weekend.

The end-of-season international program will commence with the RLIF Nines World Cup at in Sydney, featuring 12 men's teams and four women's teams on October 18 and 19.

The Australia and New Zealand men's and women's teams will meet on October 25 June at WIN Stadium, with officials predicting the ground record of 19,608 for the St George Illawarra-Cronulla clash during the 2005 NRL finals series would be bettered. 

The Kangaroos previous Test appearance at WIN Stadium against Samoa in 2014 attracted a crowd of 18,456.

·       Shaun Johnson has refused to let his NRL move to Cronulla be derailed by speculation about him possibly being offloaded in a salary cap-enforced fire sale. Cronulla are expected to have their salary cap shaved this year, similar to the punishments given to the Wests Tigers and Manly. The Sharks signed Johnson on a three-year deal worth a reported $3 million in December as a replacement for NFL aspirant Valentine Holmes. It was reported that if Cronulla needed to offload players to be cap compliant, Johnson could be placed on the open market or be forced to sit out until the club had balanced its books.

Segment 4: 6.42-6.58pm

Super Saturday March 2: Warriors v Wests Tigers in NZ and Sea Eagles v Roosters: 7pm Central Coast Stadium

Knights v Sharks: 5.30pm at Maitland Sports Ground

Knights: 1. Connor Watson, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Jesse Ramien, 4. Sione Mata’utia, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Kalyn Ponga, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. James Gavet, 11. Mitchell Barnett, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Tim Glasby. Interchange: 14. Herman Ese’ese, 15. Aidan Guerra, 17. Daniel Saifiti, 18. Kurt Mann, 19. Hymel Hunt.

Newcastle are very close to full strength, with Hymel Hunt a chance to claim a starting spot in centre for round one which would mean Sione Mata'utia moving into the second row. James Gavet, Danny Levi and Tim Glasby all appear to have won starting spots in the pack for the opening round.

Sharks: TBC

Titans v Broncos: 7.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: 1. Michael Gordon, 2. Brenko Lee, 3. Tyrone Peachey, 4. Brian Kelly, 5. Phillip Sami, 6. Tyrone Roberts, 7. Ash Taylor, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Nathan Peats, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Bryce Cartwright, 13. Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14. Mitch Rein, 15. Moeaki Fotuaika, 16. Max King, 17. Will Matthews, 18. Jack Stockwell, 19. Alexander Brimson, 20. Anthony Don, 21. Dale Copley, 22. Treymain Spry, 23. Ryley Jacks, 24. Jesse Arthars

Michael Gordon beats AJ Brimson to the fullback role, with Brenko Lee pipping Anthony Don to a starting spot on the wing and Tyrone Roberts joining Ash Taylor in the halves. Star recruits Tyrone Peachey and Shannon Boyd start at centre and prop respectively while Bryce Cartwright holds a spot in the second row with Ryan James (knee) and Keegan Hipgrave (hamstring) in the casualty ward.

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (c), 2, Corey Oates, 3. James Roberts, 4. Jack Bird, 5. Jamayne Isaako, 6. Sean O’Sullivan, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Matt Lodge, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Joe Ofahengaue, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. David Fifita, 13. Matt Gillett. Interchange: 14. Kotoni Staggs, 15, Jaydn Su’A, 16. Thomas Flegler, 17. Shaun Fensom, 18. Patrick Carrigan, 19. Jake Turpin, 20. Richie Kennar, 21. Gehamat Shibasaki, 22. Tom Dearden.

Matt Gillett will make his long-awaited return from a fractured neck at lock, with Alex Glenn and David Fifita joining him in the back row. Brisbane has named a strong team with Anthony Milford and the injured Tevita Pangai jnr the noticeable absences from the starting side. Tom Flegler appears to be the front-runner to replace Payne Haas on the bench in the opening month of the season.


Cowboys v Storm 7pm (8pm AEDT) at Mackay

Cowboys: 1. Jordan Kahu, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O'Neill, 4. Ben Hampton, 5. Nene Macdonald, 6. Te Maire Martin, 7. Michael Morgan, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Jason Taumalolo, 12. Coen Hess, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. John Asiata, 15. Gavin Cooper, 16. Mitch Dunn, 17. Scott Bolton, 18. Tom Opacic, 19. Jake Clifford

New signing Jordan Kahu appears seat to wear the No.1 with alternative option Ben Hampton starting at centre. Jason Taumalolo has been switched from lock to an edge forward to make way for recruit Josh McGuire, with Gavin Cooper bumped to the bench. Te Maire Martin remains ahead of Jake Clifford in the race for the five-eighth role.

Storm: 1. Scott Drinkwater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Marion Seve, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Christian Welch, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenny Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith, 15. Tom Eisenhuth, 16. Tui Kamikamica, 17. Jesse Bromwich, 18. Tino Fa'A, 19. Joe Stimson, 20. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 21. Sandor Earl, 22. Billy Walters, 23. Justin Olam, 24. Cheyse Blair, 25. Patrick Kaufusi 

Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster, Cameron Smith, Felise Kaufusi, Kenny Bromwich and Dale Finucane are among the big names lining up for the Storm for the first time this pre-season, with Jesse Bromwich and Joe Stimson both named among the interchange.

Panthers v Eels: 7pm at Panthers Stadium

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Waqa Blake, 4. Dean Whare, 5. Malakai Watene-Zalezniak, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 9. Sione Katoa, 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Jack Hetherington, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. James Fisher-Harris. Interchange: 14. Wayde Egan, 15. Tim Grant, 16. Kaide Ellis, 17. Hame Sele, 18. Tyrone May, 19. Liam Martin, 20. Jarome Luai, 21. Tyrell Fuimaono, 22. Tyrone Phillips.

Big names Dean Whare, Nathan Cleary, James Tamou,Isaah Yeo and James Fisher-Harris return with Viliame Kikau (knee) sidelined for six weeks. Sione Katoa appears to have won the starting hooker spot ahead of Wayde Egan in a strong-looking Penrith line-up. 

Eels: TBC

Rabbitohs v Dragons – Charity Shield- 7.30pm at Glen Willow Stadium-Mudgee

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston, 2. Campbell Graham, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Braidon Burns, 5. Corey Allan, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Connor Tracey, 8. Junior Tatola, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 11. John Sutton, 12. Sam Burgess (c), 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14. Ethan Lowe, 15. Matt McIlwrick, 16. Tom Amone, 17. Rhys Kennedy, 18. Bayley Sironen, 19. Cory Denniss, 20. Kyle Turner, 21. Liam Knight, 22. Mawene Hiroti

Ethan Lowe will line up for his new club on the bench with the starting side unchanged from last week's John Sutton Testimonial against Penrith. Greg Inglis, Adam Reynolds and George Burgess are still to return to action.

Dragons (squad): Euan Aitken, Matt Dufty, Jai Field, Tyson Frizell, James Graham Jacob Host, Ben Hunt, Josh Kerr, Tim Lafai, Jeremy Latimore, Blake Lawrie, Luciano Leilua, Zac Lomax, Cameron McInnes, Corey Norman, Jordan Pereira, Mikaele Ravalawa, Reece Robson, Korbin Sims, Tariq Sims, Lachlan Timm, Paul Vaughan, Gareth Widdop.


ISC -9 March

Saturday, March 9


Ipswich Jets


Townsville Blackhawks

North Ipswich Reserve


Easts Tigers


Mackay Cutters

Langlands Park


Sunshine Coast Falcons


Wynnum Manly Seagulls

Sunshine Coast Stadium


Northern Pride


Redcliffe Dolphins

Barlow Park


Sunday, March 10

Tweed Heads Seagulls


PNG Hunters

Piggabeen Sports Complex

2.00pm (AEST)

Norths Devils


Burleigh Bears

Bishop Park


Souths Logan Magpies


CQ Capras

Davies Park



Local competitions: SCGRFL and Brisbane RL

NRL announces "No Fault" policy: ARLC has announced Dragons forward Jack de Belin has been stood down under a new 'no fault' policy. De Belin will be the first NRL player stood down under the new policy designed to "rebuild the reputation of rugby league".

The groundbreaking new policy will see players accused of "serious criminal offences" stood down until their matter is finalised before the courts.

Beattie said that would cover any player who faces a charge that attracts a maximum custodial sentence of 11 years or more. "Whatever decision we've made today would be controversial. This is about sending a clear message that the game does not tolerate violence, it does not tolerate violence against children, it does not tolerate any violence," Beattie said.

"Unless we do that and maintain that standard the reputation of the game will erode over time." Beattie said it was a "no judgement" policy, meaning that the NRL was not seeking to infer that players stood down were guilty of the crime they are accused of.

It's a line in the sand policy change that puts the NRL on a collision course with de Belin's club the Dragons, with legal action reported as a likely possibility should the NRL take this decision.

Beattie said he had made the Dragons aware of the ARLC's new policy and said the NRL would continue to "work in partnership" with the club regardless of what action St George Illawarra chose to take.

De Belin and any other player stood down via this new policy will be entitled to full pay and can continue to train with their club while the legal process unfolds.

The new policy will also allow clubs affected to apply for salary cap relief, although this will not be guaranteed.

In a robust exchange with the media, Beattie admitted that the sudden and drastic change to the way the NRL deals with players charged with serious crimes might be viewed as policy on the run but he said the Commission's hand was forced when it became clear that the previous policy was failing to protect the game's image.

"Let's not talk nonsense about this. These serious events were damaging to the game," Beattie said.

"We had to be seen by the community and fans as though we are doing something about it.

"It was all the events off-field. One or two of these events we would have left through the process, but we ended up with a tsunami. "In terms of my attitude, my attitude changed when the old rules weren't working. We had to intervene and do something."

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