NRL News: Rooster in shock Kangaroos call, Star made bumper offer to stave off retirement, Coaches against NRLW expansion


Sydney Roosters forward Nat Butcher has emerged as a shock option for the Kangaroos after he was added to Mal Meninga’s train-on squad following the Chooks’ exit from the finals over the weekend.

Players drip through to the international squad as they exit club football through the year, and Butcher was a surprise call to report for Australian duty along with teammates James Tedesco and Lindsay Collins.

The backrower was one of his club’s most impressive players this year, particularly in the early part of the season when results were poor, but few expected him to be tapped for rep duty. He has never so much as made a squad for NSW.

Also included are Kalyn Ponga, who is in line for a Test debut, and Bradman Best, who starred for NSW in Origin and could provide an answer to the Kangaroos’ lack of depth in the centre position.

Meninga has been a fan of Ponga for a long time and has spoken about his desire to include the fullback in his thinking, though many had wondered if he would actually be selected.

Ponga’s favoured fullback role will be filled by Kangaroos captain Tedesco, and Reece Walsh will also enter camp at the conclusion of the Broncos’ season, while the player is struggling with an AC joint injury and has demonstrated that he sruggles to defend anywhere other than at the back.

Both celebrated the end of their season on Monday and will now head into camp with the Kangaroos ahead of fixtures against Samoa and New Zealand next month.

Star made bumper offer to stave off retirement

Wade Graham has been made an offer to delay his retirement for another year, with Super League club Catalans Dragons making a play for him to go around again in the South of France.

Graham was happy to call it a day with the Sharks and was chaired off the ground following their finals defeat to the Roosters, but could be convinced to suit up for another 12 months if the offer was right.

One aspect that could play in the Dragons’ favour is Graham’s wife, Karrianne, who is a French-Canadian from Quebec. Graham has spoken in the past about his desire to learn French and practices the language at home with his children.

The Dragons are yet to make a marquee signing and will have salary cap to spend. Though they have brought home French superstar Theo Fages, they will lose both Mitchell Pearce and former Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins – twice named Man of Steel in the Super League – and thus have plenty of space for overseas signings.

Graham’s teammate Matt Moylan has also been discussed as an option to make the move to Perpignan.

(Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Coaches against NRLW expansion

Most coaches involved in the NRLW believe the competition is not ready for an expansion to 12 teams, a poll has revealed.

The NRL is considering options for the women’s game, asking non-participating clubs to indicate their preferred entry date into the NRLW.

After increasing from six teams to 10 this season, initial planning had centred around two further teams joining in 2024.

But the suggestion has largely been rejected by players, who have concerns over squad depth and the number of blowout scores late in this season once injuries took hold.

There are also questions over how new clubs would be able to build a competitive roster, with almost 60 per cent of all players already signed to existing teams for next season.

An AAP survey of the 10 NRLW clubs found that seven coaches are against any expansion next season.

An eighth does not have a strong opinion either way, while a ninth coach said the only expansion they could see working was if the Warriors were introduced as an 11th team next year.

Only one of the 10 coaches said there would be enough players to support 12 teams next year.

Several coaches also believed that increasing squad numbers from 24 players should be a higher priority for the NRL.

“We need bigger squads. I had a third of my salary cap sitting on the bench last week,” St George Illawarra coach Jamie Soward said.

“The eligibility for age needs to be looked at. You shouldn’t have to be 18, because our development squads are all 17-year-olds. We also need to have some feedback and sit in a room with the coaches. 

“We’re the ones getting our hands dirty, why aren’t we having some contribution to the game, what it looks like and when new teams are coming in?”

But the coaches are confident the game is going in the right direction for significant growth in the second tier and next generation.

It’s expected the NSW Rugby League will move its state cup to the same window as the NRLW next season, making it a proper reserve grade competition.

The introduction of a full NSWRL under-17 competition below the under-19s is also likely to help.

“It’s 100 per cent going to be building up the standard of the NRLW in years to come,” Sydney Roosters coach John Strange said.

“But it’s not going to improve the product next year if any more teams come in, it’s as simple as that. There has to be a step backwards to go forward in this journey, but two in 2025 is the maximum.

“If they go more than two in 2025 or two next year, the game is going to go backwards and I believe it will hurt the brand.”

With AAP

#NRL #News #Rooster #shock #Kangaroos #call #Star #bumper #offer #stave #retirement #Coaches #NRLW #expansion

Leave a Comment