With Trent Merrin’s signing with the Penrith Panthers for 2016 and beyond, despite a ball not yet being kicked in 2015, once again the question of players signing for other sides has raised its ugly head.
Dragon’s fans, how do you feel about seeing a player who has already signed for another club, wearing your colours this season?
Merrin had, prior to signing with the Panthers, made it very clear that his future lay away from the club that gave him his NRL start. He was reported to be negotiating with the Broncos and Panthers after speaking to a variety of other clubs.
Merrin won’t be at the Dragons in 2016 and beyond
I’m not here to question Trent’s decision, or even whether or not he should have stayed loyal, but I am once again questioning whether this contract free for all is best for the NRL?
Daly Cherry-Evans’ contract negotiations have been a media circus, showing a player who is supposed to be focused on the season ahead with the Eagles visiting rival clubs with looks to 2015.
Manly fans are rightfully furious that their star halfback is taking trips to the Gold Coast and Cronulla to talk money instead of tactics for 2015 with his current teammates.
The question facing the Dragons now is how to manage Merrin. If he drops in form, do they stand by him knowing his mind may be elsewhere, or drop him and give players who will be at the club next season a go?
Sharks fans openly called for Blake Ferguson to be dropped when he publically spoke down of the club a few years back, prior to signing with Canberra. The Sharks stuck by him and had to reset the next season, where if they had dropped Ferguson to NSW cup, they could have blooded a younger, long term option.
While I am sure Sea Eagles fans would cheer their champion number seven as he carves up in 2015, will they, in their back of their minds, hold some resentment if he were to sign for the Titans or Sharks?
Is it time to introduce a trade period? Is a draft the answer?
I personally would like to see contracts put on hold until the halfway point of the season.
After fielding huge offers from the Titans and Sharks, DCE is still yet to decide his future
It’s a difficult job to manage the salary cap, and teams, should be allowed as long as possible to work out their rosters for the next season and beyond, hence why I wouldn’t introduce an end of season trade period, at least right away.
The anti-tampering deadline means that players can still change their mind and stay with their current club even if they have signed elsewhere. Merrin is quite within his rights to turn around in six weeks’ time and tell the Panthers “thanks but no thanks” and re-sign with the Dragons.
I don’t doubt at all that players have used this as a bargaining tool in the past, and although I’m certainly not accusing Merrin or the Manly halves of using this tactic, the fact it is there is unnerving.
Last season the Raiders signed James Tedesco, replacing the outgoing Anthony Milford, only for the Tiger custodian to change his mind at the final moment.
The anti-tampering deadline, which I would make round 12, should be the earliest players can sign contracts. Should they sign a contract elsewhere, they’re legally bound to honour that contract and should have to pay it out if they change their mind.
I’m not silly enough to think clubs wouldn’t approach players before this, and to be honest, so be it, but no contract should be signed until round 12.
If a player decides to sign elsewhere, or even announces it, until that contract is signed in round 12, all bets are off.
The current situation does not work. Dragon’s fans now look on as a representative back rower plays for their club despite signing elsewhere for 2016. Panther’s fans now have to hope that Merrin doesn’t change his mind.
Not an ideal situation for either club or their fans.
How do the fans feel? Something rule breakers don’t seem to ask too often.by Daniel
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In This Issue
- Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne interview + photo shoot
- One on one with Brad ‘Hollywood’ Pitt
- Fan Q and A with Dan Smith
- NRL Predictions
- AFL Preview
- Top 10: Australia’s most polarising athletes
- CWC Associates
- NRL bush footy weekend
- NRL surprise packet
- Much MUCH moreby Daniel
For quite a while there have been reports that NRL CEO David Smith wants to have all Sydney teams play their home games out of the two major Sydney stadiums.
He is now said to be lobbying for Allianz Stadium’s capacity to be expanded to 65,000 seats with the intention that the majority of Sydney based sides were to play out of the Moore Park based Stadium.
Teams such as the Sea Eagles, the Sharks, the Dragons, and the Tigers would be forced to relocate from their traditional homes to host games at Allianz.
In the AFL, all Melbourne based teams play out of either the MCG or Etihad stadium and attract big crowds. Even the Geelong based Cats host their major fixtures at the G rather than in Geelong.
I am all for progression, and I hate to be negative, but I don’t like the idea to shift homes games of the likes of the Dragons and Sharks to the city at all.
The system works in Melbourne as the teams that play out of the two major stadiums are based much closer to the stadiums than the NRL sides in question. Not to mention public transport to the G and Etihad are head and shoulders above the current arrangement to Moore Park.
A 65,000 seat stadium at Moore Park would see the Bunnies return closer to their Redfern base, which would be amazing for fans who have had to travel to Homebush to see home games.
The Sharks however would have to travel 45 minute (the time google maps estimated the trip at 9:30 at night) to attend home games. The Sea Eagles would have to travel at least 32 minutes to attend games.
We have seen how ‘successful’ Allianz based home games for the Sea Eagles have been in the semi-finals, and although you get the feeling fans would eventually get use to the idea and have to travel, the walls aren’t exactly bursting at either Remondis or Brookvale.
Dragons fans based in Kogarah would not be overly outraged, given that it’s only a 15 minute drive into the city, but long forgotten Wollongong based fans face a massive trek. The Illawarra would basically lose anything related to its joint-venture club other than its hyphenated name.
The same goes for the Campbelltown based fans of the Tigers.
Although the Eels and Panthers were not mentioned in the possible switch to Allianz, they would surely have to relocate to ANZ Stadium. Once again both sides would face drives of less than an hour, but given most fans are based close to home grounds, attending games after work would be made far more difficult.
I’m not one of those who dislikes the larger stadiums, in fact I’m one of the few who doesn’t mind a trip to ANZ Stadium, but I’m also a fan of the suburban grounds.
The days of taking your son or daughter to sit on the hill would be well and truly gone. The Sharks, who own their stadium, would be left with a 22,000 capacity venue used to host A-grade grand finals, and leagues clubs attached to, or close to suburban grounds would surely suffer.
Apart from a new mega stadium, I don’t see anything positive for the NRL or its clubs to come from this proposal.
I can’t imagine broadcasters would be too happy showing games in huge stadiums containing small crowds.
Can you imagine a Sharks home game at Allianz on a Monday Night vs the Cowboys?
The Roosters, who play out of the stadium full time can’t attract crowds of over 20,000 on a consistent basis, what hope do say the Sea Eagles have?
Memberships would surely plummet, and once again, leagues clubs would lose their busiest days and nights.
Sure, in a few years fans might begrudgingly accept that all games are going to be played out of these big stadiums, but that being said, those same fans might just find it is very comfortable sitting at home in the warmth, drinking well priced cold beer and pass on the live experience all together.
I’d love to hear the thoughts of fans of the Sharks, Sea Eagles, Tigers, Dragons, Eels and Panthers as to how they feel about the possible move.by Daniel
The below is a preview of Edition 01 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
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All Action – Luke Jackson Works Toward Aussie Title Shot
Article by Daniel Nichols … Photos by Chris O’Dea
Interview conducted in early January, before his Aussie Title fight was confirmed
With his seventh career victory, a dominant decision win over the vastly more experienced Ruben Manakane, Luke “Action” Jackson all but booked himself into an Australian Title match in early 2015.
Jackson, who won all but one round on one judge’s scorecard, is a testament to what good old fashioned hard work and effort can achieve, after comprehensively outboxing a man with twice as many victories as Jackson has professional fights.
Having started boxing in 2003 at the age of 19, Tasmanian born and raised Jackson certainly made up for lost time by becoming one of the country’s premier amateur boxers.
Most would recognise Jackson from his bronze medal win in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, describing it as “One of the best moments of my career.”
Jackson became such an important part of the boxing set up that he was chosen to captain the side at the 2010 Delhi games. Unfortunately he, like the rest of the squad, fell short of their goal at the games all was not lost, referring to the ‘great achievement’ of being made captain.
After capturing the Oceana title in 2012, Jackson entered the Olympic games in London full of confidence.
Unfortunately ‘Action’, who was once again named captain of the team, lost his first round match up despite being ranked in the top 10 in the world at the time.
“Besides my fight at the Olympics, I had a great time. I felt very tired in my fight and was very upset with my performance.”
Following the disappointment of an early exit from the London games, Luke called time on a very successful amateur boxing career and looked set to explore other ventures.
After admitting he still “had the hunger for boxing” Jackson returned to the ring and opted to turn to the professional ranks, adding “I love the training.”
Despite having over 100 fights at amateur level, you would have forgiven Jackson for suffering first pro fight nerves.
“My first fight i didn’t know what to expect and you can’t ever explain it to anyone, they have to experience it for themselves. I don’t get nervous anymore after 113 amateur fights and 7 as a professional it is like brushing my teeth.”
Jackson is now within touching distance of his goal of capturing the Aussie crown after his latest victory.
Having boxed well beyond his seven professional fights, fans and boxing experts alike all praised the 29 year old.
Jackson himself, commented on the fight saying “I thought I boxed very well. I had bad stomach cramps all through the fight and overtime I got hit to the elbows or stomach it took my breath away but I dug deep and didn’t let my opponent know and come away with a dominant win.”
“I always knew I could box long rounds but its good to finally go eight rounds. Bring on 12 next.”
The fashion in which he dismantled a far more experienced opponent surely makes it tough to overlook him for a shot at the national strap.
“Hopefully i fight next fight for the title, I’m waiting on my team to come back to me with options for my next fight.”
Jackson trains out of the Bodypunch Gym, which is run by legendary trainer Billy Hussein. Surrounded by the likes of former World Champion Billy Dib, WBO Oriental Champion Billel Dib and state champion Ahmed Dib, Jackson has given himself the best chance to succeed.
“Its the best gym in Australia by a mile, we have great sparring and great coaches. We are a family at BodyPunch.”
He was especially quick to praise training partner, the aforementioned Billel ‘Babyface’ Dib, saying, “Billel is a great guy, he welcomed me to the gym and has always shown his support to me. Very good boxer considering he had no amateur experience and has a big future ahead.”
Jackson, a humble yet driven individual set himself the goal of booking a national title shot by the end of this season and has completed every bag session, has excelled in every round of sparring, and suffered through every weight cut required to achieve his goal.
Having fought four times in 2014, Jackson has truly held nothing back in his quest.
Amongst the hardest working boxers in the country, Jackson is not willing to sit back and wait for an opportunity despite his obvious talent.
“I fell I’m close to my prime, I’m always learning and getting better. In boxing you never ever stop learning.”
Having witnessed Luke in ‘action’ in the gym, simply put, there aren’t many harder working, more determined fighters out there.
After speaking with him after yet another gruelling session, it’s almost as if Jackson revels in the ’pain’ most of us suffer through each and every time we enter a gym, although even he doesn’t enjoy dropping the weight from his super athletic frame required pre weigh-in.
“My training is 2 times a day 6 days a week with Sunday off. Losing weight is the hardest part about boxing, there is two things I hate, losing weight and losing.”
After mentioning he still had to lose three kilos before weigh-in when we spoke to him, we were stunned as to where said weight would come from.
Jackson laughed and mentioned that “getting hit in the face doesn’t tickle, but it’s nothing compared to losing those last few kilos.”
Not content with being one of the best boxers in the country in his division, Jackson also runs the Action Fitness Centre out of his home town of Hobart.
“I’ve wanted to open Action Fitness Centre for 12 years but like anything good it takes time. Everything I’ve done in boxing has helped me open AFC, without boxing there would be no gym”
Jackson often proudly posts photos of how far those who train under the AFC banner have come, seemingly enjoying their success as much as those who have succeeded with his help.
Simply put, Luke Jackson is a very likeable individual and doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone.
He was very quick to praise London 2012 room mate Jeff ‘The Hornet’ Horn, who is also fast establishing himself as one of the best fighters in his division in his quest to step into the ring with the likes of Manny Pacquiao.
“Jeff is a great fighter but a better person. I was his room mate and we got along very well. He has a big future.”
Speaking of Pacman, who is once again rumoured to be in talks to hopefully set up the super fight we have all been waiting years to see with Floyd Mayweather, Jackson was more than happy to offer his opinion on the fight.
“I really hope it happens for the sport of boxing and the fans. I will hopefully be there to watch it live. Mayweather takes him to boxing school.”
For those who haven’t yet witnessed the Commonwealth medal winner and former Olympic boxing captain in action you’re not likely to have to wait too long, with an early 2015 fight to be set.
Jackson, whose sporting heroes include Bruce Lee and Kostya Tszyu, has it all ahead of him.
If he can continue to develop at the rate he has thus far during his seven fight career, there is no limit to what he can achieve.
Backed by one of the premier gyms in the country, and with an unmatched work ethic, the recipe for success is well and truly there.
If it sounds like I’m almost cheerleading for the talented 29 year old, it’s because I am.
A kind, humble young man with a good head on his shoulders outside the ring, yet a ruthless cardio machine in the ring, you could do far worse than looking up to Jackson as a young boxer.
Anyone looking to sponsor Luke can contact him via e-mail at email@example.com, on twitter @LukeJackson or via his increasingly popular facebook page.
Although always happy to have a chat and talk boxing, Luke Jackson, and I’m almost embarrassed for resorting to the pun, is a perfect example of ‘Action(s)’ speaking louder than words.
MonstaSport Magazine – December Edition Out NOWby Daniel
The below is a preview of Edition 02 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
“We’ll be bigger and stronger come February”
Interview Conducted January 4th
Monstasport: How’s the injury coming along, can we expect to see you back soon?
Brendon: Yeah really good. I’m back running now. It’s not so much the shoulder anymore, it’s more the fitness. So I’m just working really hard to build up my fitness. Due to the Asian Cup break, it’s looking like at this stage I’ll be back sometime, hoping early February.
Monstasport: Speaking of the Asian Cup, how do you think we (The Socceroos) will go?
Brendon: I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people, although there is a lot of pressure on our national side at the moment to produce results. I think we’re going to see the best from our national team, and the boys are going to stand up, and make it to the final. That’s my prediction anyway.
I’m feeling confident. If you look at the games we played at the world cup, I thought against the opposition we were up against, we played exceptionally well. We have to close up our defence a little but for this Asian Cup. Hopefully that has been tweaked. I feel that in attack we have a lot of speed and pace and it’ll be dangerous to the opposition.
Monstasport: Do you think Tomi Juric will play much footy during the tournament?
Brendon: It’s hard to say at this point. Obviously it’s a huge competition and basically its Tomi’s first big competition with the Socceroos, so with limited experience, and his age at a huge tournament like this, I think he’ll be coming in off the bench. Either way, it’s huge for Tomi, it’s a great opportunity, one he deserves, and we all at the Wanderers are very proud of Tomi and Spira for their selection in the side.
Monstasport: What was the difference in atmosphere between the two legs of the Asian Champs League final?
Brendon: (laughs) It was amazing. At Parramatta we’ve got a very vocal crowd and we love playing in front of them, but over in Al Halal it was a whole other level. 63,000 or 65,000 in the stadium were inside the stadium an hour and a half to two hours before kick off.
It was unbelievable, and an experience I will never forget. We could not hear each other from two metres away, talking to each other because the crowds were that loud and their chants were all in sync. When you have so many people saying the same thing, it’s deafening. It was just an amazing experience to see that crowd.
Monstasport: When did the guys start believing they could actually win the Champions League?
Brendon: Well I think as we progressed through the group stages we knew what we were up against. I mean we went through some difficult times in the group stages. We lost our first game three-one. To come back from a 3-1 loss in the opening game and then overcome so many difficult hurdles through the group stage, I mean we overcame some fantastic hurdles that we probably didn’t believe ourselves we would do.
Once we progressed through the group stage we found that belief that we could be serious contenders for the ACL. So I think after the group stage, the boys really started to believe.
Monstasport: It’s been a tough start to the A League campaign to say the least. Can the squad turn it around and still make the finals, or is it all about damage limitation from here?
Brendon: It’s definitely been a frustrating first 11 rounds. It’s not a pretty position to be in. Hearing that there’ll be changes in January. I have no idea who is coming in, or who is leaving. We’ve got no option but to turn things around, otherwise we are in a sour spot at the moment, and unless we turn things around very quickly, it’s going to be a season to forget that’s for sure.
We have the Asian Cup coming up, which is probably great for us at the moment that we can we can regroup during the break. Get some good training in and be together. I think we’re heading off for a training camp some-time in January. I think this break will do us well and we’ll be bigger and stronger come February and hopefully turn things around and push for a finals spot, which is probably the best we can go for this season.
Monstasport: Having played for both Sydney sides, how heated is the rivalry between the fans and players of both clubs?
Brendon: (laughs) Yeah look it’s very heated and passionate, and it’s the best thing for football in the country. We always needed something like this. Every derby has been has been unbelievable and a great spectacle for A-League fans.
It’ll only get bigger and better. It’s great signs for Australian football that we can produce such a spectacle for football in this country like that.
Monstasport: You’ve scored some amazing goals over your career. Do you have a personal favourite?
Brendon: That’s a bit of a tough one. I scored goal of the year in the A League when I use to play for Sydney FC and that sticks out, but I think my ACL goal against Sanfrecce Hiroshima takes the cake for me.
We were down and out, we basically had to win two-nil at home and reverse a three-one deficit, after a grand final loss. For me the character that the team showed that day was the true Wanderers.
For me to score with five minutes to go, to progress through to the quarter finals of the Asia Champions League. Ya know, I never even thought I would be playing in the Asian Champions League, and to actually score the goal at that moment with five minutes to go, to put us through will always be a special memory for me.
Monstasport: How much of an honour was it to be nominated and win the Illawarra sports person of the year award?
Brendon: Very proud. It’s a proud moment. I’m a proud Wollongong boy and it’s a great breeding ground for a lot of great athletes. To have the people vote on my side, is for me, I’m over the moon. It’s a big award for me, I don’t know if other people look at it the same way but to me, it’s respect from the fans and the people voted for me. I’m delighted to win it.
Monstasport: How important is the proposed Stadium expansion at Pirtek for the club and the A-League?
Brendon: It’s very important because we have a lot of fans on a waiting list to buy memberships. It’s definitely not big enough for our club. After all our success in our last three years, we are now a big club. With a big club you need a big stadium.
The expansion will be good. I don’t know if it will be enough. I think they’re talking about three to five thousand seats, so it’s not a huge expansion, one that in the future probably needs to be bigger again.
Monstasport: The RBB (Wanderers active support), how does it rate against the support you have enjoyed across the world?
Brendon: The RBB have set a benchmark for all supporters in Australian football. Their support is second to none. They turn up at away games in huge numbers, and set a great example for other fans to go out and support their team.
I think they’ve lifted other fan bases throughout the A-League, which again is great for Australian football. They have to take some credit for their remarkable efforts and the work they have done.
Monstasport: Lyall Gorman, how important was he in setting up the Wanderers?
Brendon: I think we’ve seen in our first three years is that he is an unbelievable business man. What he created, along with everybody else at the Wanderers was just remarkable. To go from scratch and in two years make two grand finals, win a minor premiership and an Asian Champions League is beyond anyone’s dreams.
It just shows the job that he did and now he’s moved onto the Sharks. He’s very smart as the Sharks are down and out, he’ll look to bring them up, which he’s best at.
Follow Brendon On Twitter – @BSantalab
MonstaSport Magazine – January Edition Out NOWby Daniel
The below is a preview of Edition 01 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
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Top 10 New Faces Of The NRL
With Anthony Minichello, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess leaving the game at the end of 2014, the NRL, and Channel 9, will be looking for a new face of the game. We at Monstasport have been nice enough to do the work for them. Here is our ten suggestions for the next face of the game – Justin Davies
In recent seasons the ‘face of the game’ has been a poisoned chalice for the National Rugby League (NRL) players who took up the mantle. The exodus of talent from the code in the last year has left the position vacant for someone to step up. As a service for the community, here at MonstaSport, we have provided a list for the NRL upper echelon to peruse.
To outline some of the criteria for the nominated ‘face of the game’. No prior criminal convictions, hasn’t already had a shot at the title and lastly that the player has not been involved in any major off field incidents.
1. Shaun Johnson
The young halfback for the Warriors and New Zealand has recently won the four nations with his country but had won the hearts of many young female admirers some time ago. His baby-faced looks and charming demeanour would be a hit with most fans and a choice much like Minichiello last season that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows.
Photo By Chris O’Dea
2. Daly Cherry-Evans
Halfback for the Sea Eagles and all round good bloke, Cherry-Evans hasn’t strayed out of line since he burst into the NRL in 2011. His charm and down to earth nature would lead him to being a natural choice to succeed Anthony Minichiello for this season.
3. Trent Merrin
There has been quite some love for the backline players thus far so it’s time for the big boppers up front to have their due. Merrin stood out in a lacklustre Dragons line-up last season and brings some personality to interviews whenever he is put in front of the mike. The interchange forward also has Sally Fitzgibbon on his arm which doesn’t hurt his stock.
4. James Tedesco
An odd choice from the outset but Tedesco would be a choice for the persistence he has shown in coming back from multiple knee injuries. Tedesco may not be first choice for 2014’s face but the young fullback will take the mantle in the near future, if he can remain injury free and keep up the form he has shown.
5. John Sutton/Mrs Sutton
Rabbitohs and premiership winning captain, John Sutton will be an obvious candidate for the title but it was his mother, who provided the quote of the season at the Grand Final breakfast. Her ‘ripping and tearing’ quote will live on in rugby league folklore, as will son John’s candid post match interview. Sutton would be the the hard working boy come good story that people would gravitate towards.
6. Boyd Cordner
Last season had the self-proclaimed ‘mumma’s boy’ Anthony Minichiello, so this season – the NRL could follow down a similar path with the country boy in young Boyd. Cordner has broken into a competitive Roosters forward pack but was a part of the New South Wales set up in 2013. Cordner, much like Tedesco, would be a left field choice but would be safe in the regard of not getting into off-field trouble.
7. Trent Hodkinson
Canterbury and Origin winning halfback, Trent Hodkinson has achieved quite a bit in the last few years since he was unceremoniously dumped to NSW Cup a few years back. He worked his way back into contention and has led the Bulldogs and NSW to higher honours since being back in first grade. Hodkinson could provide the classic story of overcoming adversity to make it back into the top grade and is a recognised figure due to the Bulldogs success over the last few seasons.
Photo By Chris O’Dea
8. Jamie Soward
Often described a sook and sulky, Soward was a pariah when he left the NRL for London in 2013 but since his return to Penrith, the diminutive half has won quite a few plaudits from those who were chastising him during his time at St George. Soward would be an ideal way to show young children of all ages that you can succeed despite disadvantages and setbacks.
9. Corey Parker
The evergreen forward for the Brisbane Broncos has had a career renaissance in the last few years. His larrikin style would work well with NRL fans and give Parker a broader spectrum of support besides those who reside in the Sunshine state. It would be a left field choice but Parker hasn’t been involved in any incidents since his resurgence.
10. Andrew Voss
Our last choice is one right from the toolbox, Andrew Voss, who has earned a cult following with his game calls from New Zealand. Since the players continue to get into strife on and off the field maybe it’s time a commentator had a go at being the face of the game. Voss brings excitement and passion into all his calls and would surely liven up any function he was being presented in.
MonstaSport Magazine – December Edition Out NOWby Daniel
The below is a preview of Edition 01 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
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Nowhere but Up! Up! for Cronulla
After a horror 2014 the Sharks have turned things around off the field. Sharks fans will be hoping the club can replicate this on field. – Daniel Nichols
2014 – A year to forget
Unfortunately for fans of the club, 2014 simply was not the year of the shark, in fact it was the exact opposite.
The club, who played finals footy in 2013 finished with the dreaded wooden spoon after a season that can only be described as the worst season possible.
The injury toll suffered by the club was unprecedented. The club played large parts of the season without Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita, Todd Carney (prior to his release), Anthony Tupou, Beau Ryan, Bryce Gibbs and John Morris, just to name a few.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
If you’re like me, if you ever hear another ASADA related headline, it will still be far too soon. The investigation ended with five players being suspended, meaning that the squads for the final few games were almost unrecognisable to even the biggest fan of the club.
I’m sure the Sharks faithful don’t need further reminding of problems suffered throughout the season . One thing is for sure, there’s only one way for the club to head in 2014, and that is up.
Young Guns Emerge
It seems almost ridiculous to suggest that anything positive came out of 2014 for the Sharks.
However if it had not been or the horrific injury toll, the club may not have witnessed the debuts of Nu Brown (19), Valentine Holmes (19) and Jacob Gagan (21).
Holmes, a recent young Kangaroo, is perhaps the most promising youngster to grace the Shire since a young winger by the name of Mat Rogers.
Jacob Gagan, whose first try at NRL level broke a three week scoring drought for the Sharks, posted five tries in his seven games.
Coincidently, or perhaps not, each of three games in which Gagan crossed for four pointers, the Sharks went on to win.
Young Nu Brown was thrown into the deep end when chosen to replace Todd Carney at five-eighth.
Brown, who worked behind a largely dominated forward pack, certainly performed admirably before his season ending injury.
All three were signed to multiyear contract extensions. The club also extended the stay of 2014’s top try scorer and member of the New Zealand Four Nations squad Sosaia Feki (23).
In other re-signing news, the club was able to hold off advances from the Roosters and South Sydney to re-sign stand in and future captain Wade Graham.
Graham was arguably one of the Shark’s best last season and his long-term deal paves the way for the 24 year old to become an extremely important part of the club.
Despite originally signing with the Bulldogs, Andrew Fifita ultimately ended up penning a new upgraded, multi-year contract with the side that turned him into a test and Origin star.
Andrew’s brother David has also inked a new two-year deal. He may be called upon with far more regularity in 2015 given that the likes of Vave and Gibbs have left the club.
Here Come The Reinforcements
Even with the emergence of a few younger players, it was obvious to fans and officials of the club that new names were required to strengthen the squad.
In former Dally M medallist Ben Barba the Sharks have a genuine match winner. Barba brings an immeasurable X Factor that should compliment the solid game of Jeff Robson in the halves.
Returning coach Shane Flanagan has gone on record as saying Barba will be used in the halves after Michael Gordon’s brilliant efforts in 2014 at fullback.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
Although this may mean Nu Brown may be relegated to a bench spot or even the NSW Cup, Brown still has a bright future at the club, perhaps in the number seven as a replacement after the expected retirement of Robson.
Former Origin number nine Michael Ennis has arrived at the club after a signing a two-year deal. His presence will be vital in providing experience and aggression after the retirement of John Morris and the departures of Michael Lichaa and Isaac De Gois.
Although the club lost promising young gun Lichaa to the Dogs, the extremely experienced Ennis will hold the post for two seasons which should allow former Australian Schoolboy hooker Bradley Deitz to develop his game.
Returning to the club after suffering home sickness during his time at the Warriors is Jayson Bukuya. The return of the 25 year old back rower is a much needed injection of youth within an aging forward pack. Saulala Houma has also bring brought in from the Roosters to add size and youth to the forward pack.
The Sharks, who have for years had an A grade forward pack without the backs to match, have taken to the player market to fix their problem area.
Former Shark Mitch Brown (27) has, as with Bukuya, returned to the club, and the Sharks will be hoping he brings his try scoring form with him. Brown scored 22 tries during his time with the Bulldogs, after scoring just eight during his last stint with his local side, the Sharks.
Joining Brown is former Dragon and New Zealand international Gerard Beale. The 24 year old’s should enjoy plenty of space behind the likes of Gallen and Fifita.
He and Brown will likely join fullback Michael Gordon at the back with either Feki, Holmes, Gordon or Leutele filling the other two positions.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
Another recruit who may factor in backline selection is 19 year old junior representative Jack Bird.
Bird, the star of the Dragons Holden Cup side, has played mainly back row for his new club’s local rivals, however he is far more likely to play in the centres, or off the bench for his new club if chosen in first grade.
Bird, who has represented NSW and Australia at multiple levels and partnered Valentine Holmes in the backline in the recent
test against the young Kiwis, is perhaps the best long term signing the Sharks have made in many years.
Former Canberra outside back Sami Sauiluma has also joined the club and may play some part during the season.
Samoan halfback Kyle Stanley and QLD Cup standout Todd Murphy have signed short term contracts with the club to add depth to the troublesome halves positions.
Development Full Steam Ahead
The club saving development of the Shark owned land is finally starting to take shape.
For those unaware of the plans, the new Woolooware Bay will provide the Sharks with millions over an extended time, which will not only ensure the financial security of the club but will also transform it into one of the game’s best financially positioned outfits.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
Work is set to begin soon, with apartments selling extremely well.
New Group CEO Appointed
Perhaps the best recruitment made this season has been in the form of former Wanderers and A League boss Lyall Gorman.
Gorman, who has been in the job less than a month has already engaged fans with two fan forums and has fan confidence at an all time high.
His amazing results at the helm of the newly created Wanderers and his passion for his new role show that the Sharks in the best possible hands.
He has always said that success is a team effort, although his pure presence gives confidence to others involved.
He is supported by a very capable and very passionate board, headed by Hoyts CEO Damien Keogh.
Return Of Flanagan
Perhaps the biggest plus heading into 2015 is the return of coach Shane Flanagan.
Somehow the embattled coach was able to not only keep his players minds on the job in the face of off-field pressures but he was able to lead the club to the second week of the finals.
Without Flanagan at the helm the Sharks struggled to match the fight they produced in 2012.
Former Dragons coach Steve Price has been signed as an assistant to the returning Flanagan. They will be joined by James Shepherd who did an admirable job in tough circumstances as stand in coach.
Future’s Bright In The Shire
The combination of clever recruitment, the emergence of young talent and the return of Flanagan will surely lead to improved results on field. The on going cash injection thanks to the development coupled with the appointment of the extremely successful and universally respected Lyall Gorman to CEO should ensure the club thrives off field.
2014 is set to be little more than an unfortunate footnote as the club moves forward.
2015 and is sure to see the club finally reach its potential thus leading to a bright future for those in black, white and blue.
MonstaSport Magazine – December Edition Out NOWby Daniel
Reports indicate that the Cronulla Sharks will appoint Lyall Gorman as their new club CEO on Tuesday morning. This is arguably the best signing the Sharks have made since they welcomed a certain young, former Eels second rower to the club.
The impending appointment of Gorman, the man credited with creating the incredibly successful Western Sydney Wanderers brand, is a sign that the Sharks are dead serious in achieving success both on and off the park.
Gorman, who is also a former head of the A League, replaces former CEO Steve Noyce, whose position was made redundant by the Sharks board due to a management restructure.
I spoke with Mr Noyce during his tenure earlier this season for around half an hour. Even though we disagreed on many aspects of the season to date and the vision of the club, I could never doubt his passion for the club and its players.
Whether or not you were a fan of Noyce, there is little doubt that the Sharks, after a horror 2014, needed fresh blood and fresh ideas.
In Gorman, the Sharks have signed one of the best sporting administrators in modern time. His success at the Wanderers is absolutely incredible considering the club is still only its third season of existence.
The Sharks have enjoyed a successful off-season player movement wise. They have added former Origin hooker Michael Ennis and former Dally M medallist Ben Barba, amongst a host of new faces, proving there are plans in motion to improve on field.
Gorman’s appointment sends a very strong message that things off field are also going to take a turn for the better.
Reports earlier this season linked Gorman both the Brisbane Lions and Carlton CEO positions, while recently he was linked to a job within Racing NSW.
His appointment is truly a coup for the struggling Sharks, who have seemingly taken every step required to ensure 2015 and beyond is as far removed from 2014 as possible.
Since returning to the club, Shark’s coach Shane Flnnagan has spoken about overhauling the club’s culture. Gorman, who handled both the Danny Vukovic and Brendon Santalab cases with dignity, is just the man to oversee said cultural change.
Gorman has an incredible reputation as one of the best sporting administrators in the country, and his presence is NOTHING but a positive for the black, white and blue.
2015 is shaping up as quite the year for the Sharks. If the squad plays to its potential, and Gorman can work his magic, 2014 will be nothing but an afterthought.
For more on the Sharks in 2015, be sure to look out for “Nowhere but Up! Up! Cronulla in 2015” in Monstasport Magazine’s first edition, out December 15th.
Things may be about to become even better for the Sharks, as premiership and 4 nation winning centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been heavily linked with the club. His signing, which would be subsidised by the Roosters, would complete a formidable backline for the Shire club.
At only 26 years of age, SKD has done it all, and would add a serious attacking threat in the centres at the Sharks. His potential partnership with either Gagan, Holmes or Brown would be absolutely lethal.by Daniel
For those who have not yet heard, the international Golden Boot candidates have been narrowed down to just six names – Sam Burgess, James Graham, Greg Inglis, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich and last year’s winner, Johnathan Thurston.
With all due respect Bromwich and Johnson, although both have had outstanding seasons, are probably long shots when it comes to claiming the award.
Johnson was amazing at times during the season, and was probably the player of recent Four Nations tournament, but he had too many games during the season where he simply wasn’t a major factor.
Bromwich has a career best year but I don’t see him producing ‘big plays’ in terms of highlight reel passes, kicks or show and goes, to rate up there with the other four.
Feasibly any of the other four could win the award.
If a gun were held to my head, or my house was placed on the line, my money would be on Sam Burgess taking out the award.
As much as people, mainly non South Sydney fans to be honest, cringe as Russel Crowe and the majority of the Channel 9 commentary team fawn over the English superstar, there can be absolutely no denying his ability as a footballer.
For the record, I believe Greg Inglis to be the most completely footballer to play the game. If he were to win the award, I would not be at all surprised.
Burgess, man of the match in the Grand Final, exits the game to play Rugby Union, and in my view do so with the Golden Boot in his possession.
When the chips were down for South Sydney, Burgess was the man there to take the tough hit up or make that physical tackle. He scored ten tries in his 23 regular season games, which as a forward is an amazing achievement.
To put this effort into perspective, he outscored the Sharks top try scorer Sosaia Feki, who scored nine on the wing in 20 games.
He also chimed in for an astonishing 3800+ metres with the ball. Greg Inglis, from fullback where he has plenty of space to rack up metres from kick returns, only made 3279.
I doubt anyone could begrudge Burgess the award.
I have to admit tho, if I were one of the judges, I’d be very tempted to give the nod to co-Dally M medallist in Johnathan Thurston.
Thurston, at times, single handily won games off his own backs for the Cowboys. It’s no coincidence that the Cowboys positive run of results coincided with their superstar half’s return to form.
He has made a habit of making players around him look far better than they otherwise have.
Thurston could bag his second straight Golden Boot, and add it to his growing collection of individual honours, but hand on heart, and many may disagree, Sam Burgess was the man in 2014.
I wonder why the man Thurston shared the Dally M medal with, Jarryd Hayne, was not included in the short list. I would have thought he was a near certainty given his heroics for both club and state in 2014.
I almost can’t believe we will be treated to live Sunday afternoon footy next season. Unless of course you live in QLD, which NRL boss Dave Smith has often referred to as the heartland of the game. The big catch is the 4:15 time slot, which will mean, for the midseason rounds, games will finish in the cold of the night. Baby steps.by Daniel
This is a question I have addressed in the past, but after the fallout from Paul Gallen’s heat of the moment tweet during the week, I think it’s more than worth revisiting.
For professional athletes, not just in Rugby League, but across all sports, is social media worth the risk?
In this modern day and age, a comment can reach thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, within seconds thanks to twitter, facebook and the like.
A heat of the moment comment can cause irreversible damage before the person who posted said comment has time to even delete something they then deem unsuitable.
How many of us have woken up on a Sunday morning after a big Saturday night on the drink, looked through our posts from the night before and regretted posting something?
For those of us with around a thousand followers, mostly of like minded fans, that’s not a huge concern. For professional athletes, who are followed by tens or hundreds of thousands of fans of differing opinions, the outcome can be very different.
I’m neither defending nor encouraging Gallen’s comments, but I’d think it’s fairly safe to guess that a fair few people out there have had choice words about their employer on social media.
The only difference is, they don’t follow, nor have thousands of eyes watching over every comment.
This past week’s comment was not the only time social media has made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Who could ever forget the unforgivable use Robbie Farah had to endure thanks to a coward hiding behind the anonymity of twitter?
I won’t give that pest the satisfaction of repeating the tone of his comments but those who remember will surely be just as disgusted as I am.
Every single day I see pot shots taken at players of a variety of sports, sent by those who know very well they can hide behind a profile that doesn’t contain any details.
Just today I read numerous threats of violence toward a member of the press for a simple opinion. For the record I didn’t agree with the opinion, but I hardly wish harm upon someone with a different stance than mine.
Is it really worth it for these players to have social media?
In some sports, social media is the best way to make fans aware of upcoming events. Boxers for instance use the avenue extremely well to promote fights, and build fan bases.
The ability to interact with fans, and banter with those who are playfully taking a dig, is a fun way to get your mind off the day to day grind.
I’ve spoken to players who read messages of encouragement after losses, or enjoy the interacting with fans after big wins.
Surely players should be able to partake in something that the everyday man or woman can enjoy, despite the bigger percentage of idiots looking to get a reaction?
I’d love to get some feedback on this. If you were a professional footballer, or member of any sport, would you persist with social media despite the drawbacks?
England’s Big Chance
If England are unable to beat a Kangaroos side missing the likes of Thurston, Gallen, Scott, Tamou, Myles and co, they might as well give it up.
The Kiwis were brilliant last Saturday Night and totally outclassed the understrength Roos, setting up a must win contest against England for the home side.
A loss for the Australian side would hardly be the end of the world, and would probably be good for international football, but a loss for England would surely hurt far more.
England have the players to worry the Roos, but will have to improve ten fold on their efforts against Samoa to do so.
For the life of me I still can’t understand Tim Sheens’ decision to play Robbie Farah off the bench in the Four Nations.
I’ve gone on file, and will once again do so, in saying that I am a big fan of Farah’s, but I don’t see the need for a specialist hooker when you have the ultimate 80 minute hooker in Cam Smith.
I understand Farah’s utility value, but surely a specialist second-rower with the ability to slot in at five-eighth or hooker would be a better option.
Greg Bird is in the run on squad and has played plenty of five-eight during his time so there’s no real need to play a specialist half off the bench either.
Since when are sides picked on the possibility of injury anyways?
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