LISTEN: Will Greenwood’s podcast – Henry Slade

On this week’s podcast episode, Will Greenwood and Rupert Cox catch up with England and Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade.

Our duo chat to 29-time capped England international about his life in lockdown and the coronavirus worries he has experienced during these strange times.

The 27-year-old also discusses playing professional rugby as a Type 1 diabetic, and also the conversations he has held with the Exeter Chiefs doctor in relation to Covid-19.

Slade also chats playing at inside-centre, outside-centre and at out-half, and which is his favourite position to date.

Greenwood and Slade also face off in a quiz, while the latter talks through his role in Jonny May’s try against Australia in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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NRL 2020: Kalyn Ponga Newcastle Knights contract extension

Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga is set to ink a new deal that will see him remain in Newcastle for as long as five more years.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the 22-year-old is on the verge of signing lucrative deal of $1.1 million a season. The club is reportedly finalising the exact length of the contract, but it could be up to five years, keeping him a Knight until 2025.

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The deal — which is expected to be announced this week — means Ponga’s dream of representing the All Blacks will be put on hold and he will become one of five highest-paid players in the NRL.

Ponga’s father, Andrew took the reins of contract negotiations after his son parted ways with former manager Wayde Rushton.

MORE TO COME

Originally published asPonga set to sign multimillion-dollar Knights extension

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19-game Panthers playmaker ready to fill void left by Nathan Cleary suspension

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He’s played just 19 games in his NRL career, but Jarome Luai insists he’s ready to become Penrith’s lead playmaker when the season resumes.

A two-game suspension to star halfback Nathan Cleary for being “untruthful” with the NRL integrity unit over a social distancing breach means a likely call-up for another up and comer, Matt Burton.

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Finch the unlikely hero for Blues

NRL: Back in 2006, called up to play less than 24 hours before the start of Game One, Brett Finch would play the hero for the Blues when he kicked a last minuted field-goal to win the match,

Should Burton, who played his solitary first-grade game late last year, get picked, the Panthers would field the most inexperienced halves combination in round three.

But that is of no concern to Luai and the rest of the playing group.

“I played a few games with him in reserve grade, so we’ve got a few games under our belt together. He’s doing really well at training,” Luai told AAP.

“We’ve got a lot of faith in Burto to get the job done.”

Burton, 20, showed why he is highly regarded by the club when he impressed with a composed performance against Cronulla on debut.

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Luai, who is just 23, likens Burton to Cleary.

“He’s a bit similar to Nath in terms of having that calming influence out there on the field, especially out on that edge,” he said.

“He’s got a really good kicking game. He’s a big frame, he can run the ball.

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“He’s just a playmaker.”

Luai and Burton will enter Sunday’s match against Newcastle having played just 20 NRL games combined.

That stretches to 174 when the rest of the Panthers spine is added, which includes 109 from hooker Api Koroisau and another 45 from likely fullback Dylan Edwards.

Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce has 278 games alone, but Luai insists he isn’t daunted by the prospect of taking a more senior role.

Jarome Luai celebrates the Round 1 win over the Roosters.Source:Getty Images

“I’m a pretty confident guy,” he said.

“I’ve been around the boys a lot. I’m pretty sure they’ve got a lot of faith in me to get the job done for Nath and the boys.

“We’ve got a really good connection.

“I personally know that Nath plays a big role in our team.

“Those first two games we played already, he played a big role in getting the job done.

“Being that elder half now, I’ve got to take some responsibility and take some pressure off Burto as well.”

Originally published as19-game Panthers playmaker ready to fill void left by Cleary suspension

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Izack Rodda and two other Queensland Reds ending contracts leaves Rugby Australia unfazed

Rugby Australia do not expect a rush of players to walk away from their contracts after they agreed to release three Queensland Reds team-mates who refused to take pay cuts during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Wallabies lock Izack Rodda, fly-half Isaac Lucas and lock Harry Hockings were stood down by the Reds last Monday for refusing to accept the salary reductions and their agent said on Friday they had sought termination of their contracts.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said they had released the trio on Saturday, but he doubted the decision would set a precedent for other players to demand a release.

  • Reds trio terminate contracts after rejecting pay cuts
  • Rodda stood down for rejecting pay cut

“We haven’t had any indication from any other players that they are looking beyond our shores,” said Clarke. “We understand the challenges the players are going through, it’s no different from the staff.

“But every single business in this country and around the world are facing the same decisions (and) other rugby economies are suffering as much as we are.

“I suspect players thinking this is a ticket to a golden pot will be sorely disappointed.”

Rugby Australia implemented a 60% pay cut for its players last month after tense negotiations with the Rugby Union Players’ Association amid the governing body’s financial struggles that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Almost 190 players accepted the pay cuts, while RA also furloughed about 75% of its staff in March.

Clarke said the RA had ruled out taking legal action against the trio as it was always “the last resort”.

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Rugby set for a coronavirus shake-up with Six Nations changes and new a European league

Rugby union could be set for a major post-pandemic shake-up with the Six Nations moving to April and the launch of a new European League. Talks between the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship nations over an alignment of the northern and southern hemisphere seasons have made long overdue progress while the prospect of big changes at club level has grown after CVC bought a stake in the Pro14.

The £115m deal means the venture capitalists now own minority shareholdings in both the Premiership and the Pro14 which gives them the leverage to merge the leagues into one with wider appeal to broadcasters.

Both developments could be highly significant for the future shape of the game when it is eventually able to restart.

The Six Nations and the southern hemisphere SANZAAR nations issued a joint statement yesterday committing to pushing on with negotiations that would see the Six Nations move from its current winter slot into March and April. The northern hemisphere summer tours could also be switched to the autumn.

“A further consultation process will commence as all parties work towards an aligned global calendar that can deliver a clear and coherent narrative,” read the statement.

“The Nations, together with other key stakeholders, remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path.”

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CVC’s attempt to buy a £300m stake in the Six Nations is currently on hold because of the crisis but the company have managed to sign off their purchase of a 28 per stake in the Pro14.

In the short term their investment will help to alleviate financial problems caused by the shutdown in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy who become members of Celtic Rugby as part of the deal. South Africa, who also have two provinces in Pro14, will not benefit from the arrangement.

“CVC’s belief in our sport is clear, their commitment is hugely encouraging and this investment is great news for our teams and for Welsh rugby as a whole, although we are under no illusions that COVID has and will continue to have a significant impact on our organisation for some time,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

The end game for the notoriously opaque CVC remains unclear even to the Unions and clubs themselves – a five-year plan due to be presented to the Premiership before the pandemic has not yet arrived.

However the addition of the Pro14 to their portfolio would appear to bring an expanded joint league a step closer.

The mothballed Pro14 season will return behind closed doors on the weekend of August 22/23 with derby matches in each country.

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The South Sydney Broncos? Walker ban opens door for Bennett’s fifth ex-Brisbane star

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Troy Dargan is firming to make his debut for South Sydney, which would make him the fifth former Bronco to play for Wayne Bennett at the Rabbitohs.

The Sydney Morning Herald South Sydney are preparing to play Dargan if Cody Walker is sanctioned by the NRL over his role in a fight late last year.

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Holmes takes the lie detector

NRL: The North Queensland Cowboys were the next team to face Fletch and Hindy’s dreaded lie detector test, with Valentine Holmes clearly not well prepared.

Souths are hoping to know on Friday if Walker will miss any game time for karate kicking a man during the street fight in Casino.

The Rabbitohs will also learn if James Roberts can return to training or will have to isolate after leaving a rehabilitation facility on Thursday.

Troy Dargan during his Broncos days.Source:AAP

In a busy week the club will also learn if Wayne Bennett will be fined for not revealing any details about Walker’s Casino incident to the NRL and if Latrell Mitchell’s penalty for breaching social distancing laws will be changed.

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Any potential suspension for Walker allow Dargan, who was an Eels junior before moving to the Broncos and then following Bennett to South Sydney to debut for the club in Round 3.

While Walker was not charged by police and no formal complaint was lodged with Souths or the NRL, the video footage was still a bad look for the code.

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As for Roberts, he is keen to play against the Roosters, but could be forced to isolate for 14 days after spending time outside the Souths bubble.

He sought professional help for depression and anxiety because he had struggled without the routine of rugby league during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Abdo said if Roberts’ return was delayed, it would be “purely based on protecting the health of James, the Rabbitohs squad and the broader community”.

Originally published asSouth Sydney Broncos? Walker ban opens door for Bennett’s fifth ex-Brisbane star

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Nathan Earle signs Harlequins contract extension

England squad player Nathan Earle has signed a contract extension with Harlequins.

The former Saracens winger had scored 11 tries in 23 Quins appearances before suffering a long-term knee ligament injury in April last year.

The 25-year-old had been in England’s training squad for the 2019 Six Nations, having scored in an uncapped fixture against the Barbarians the previous year.

“I’m thrilled to be able to extend my time at The Stoop,” Earle told his club’s website.

“I felt like I was playing some of my best rugby before picking up a knee injury at the end of my first season.

“I’m still rehabilitating at the moment, but I’m excited to get back out there and pull on the jersey again.”

Head of rugby Paul Gustard added: “We’re thrilled to have Nathan recommit his future to the club. Prior to his severe knee injury, he was demonstrating to everyone what I personally already knew, that he is a fantastic talent with the potential for explosive, match-winning performances.

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Warrick Gelant: Springbok joins Stormers from Bulls

South Africa World Cup-winning full-back Warrick Gelant has joined the Stormers from their great Super Rugby rivals the Bulls.

Gelant will swap Pretoria for Cape Town and has been brought in to fill the gap left by another Springbok, Dillyn Leyds, who has moved to La Rochelle in France.

The 25-year-old was a free agent after his contract with the Bulls expired.

“Warrick has established himself as one of the most dynamic backline players in South Africa, so we could not be more thrilled to have him on our books going forward,” Stormers coach John Dobson said.

“With Dillyn Leyds leaving, we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to step into the 15 jersey. I am sure his presence will also have a hugely positive influence on the players around him.

“Warrick is a deadly finisher with a wonderful feel for the game and awareness of space, which is just what we need for the talent we already have in the backline to thrive.”

Gelant, who can also play on the wing, was part of the Bok squad that lifted the World Cup in Japan last November, though he did not feature in the match-day squad in the final win over England.

He has scored three tries in nine international appearances since making his debut against Italy in November 2017.

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Warriors farewell Tamworth with touching Haka and vow to be back after GF

Tune into our new show Fox League Live on Channel 502 Monday to Thursday at 6.30pm and on Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 5pm.

The Warriors performed the Ka Mate haka in the forecourt of the Tamworth hotel they have called home, ending a unique challenge for a professional sporting team.

The Maori ritual, to thank staff and the Tamworth community, was followed by a speech from coach Stephen Kearney before boarding the bus to their base for the remainder of the season on the Central Coast.

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NZ depart Tamworth with Haka

NRL: The New Zealand Warriors farewell Tamworth with a Haka as they head to the Central Coast ahead of the NRL season restart.

The Warriors will be housed for the remainder of the season at a gated seaside precinct in Terrigal, just outside Gosford, with Central Coast Stadium their ‘home” venue.

Chief executive Cameron George said the Tamworth community’s support for a team they couldn’t see or touch showed how much regional centres want to get behind rugby league.

Warriors staff and squad members will return to Tamworth this year to host school and community events, he said.

“We might have Mad Monday there after we win the grand final.”

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The embattled Warriors thanked their Tamworth hosts with a haka before rolling out of town digesting more grim injury news, 10 days out from their NRL opener.

Club officials confirmed the knee damage suffered by utility back Adam Keighran on Monday is serious and will require surgery before an “extended” period on the sideline.

That news completed a sour end to the Warriors’ 17-day stay in their Tamworth quarantine base, with three players having succumbed to significant injuries in the space of four days.

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Prop Leeson Ah Mau will have season-ending surgery on his pectoral muscle while loose forward Jazz Tevaga (knee) faces a spell on the sideline.

Keighran was the starting centre in place of an unavailable Peta Hiku in their last-start loss to Canberra two months ago, before the season was suspended.

His confirmed absence means nine of the Warriors’ 30-strong squad listed in early March can’t play in the round three match against St George Illawarra on Saturday May 30.

Originally published asWarriors farewell Tamworth with touching Haka and vow to be back after GF

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Greg Inglis Warrington Super League contract, star gives up South Sydney deal

Greg Inglis is reportedly facing a loss of up to $600,000 after announcing his bombshell move to Super League club Warrington on Tuesday night.

The 33-year-old, who retired in April, 2019, after declaring he wasn’t playing up to his usual lofty standards, was announced as one of Warrington’s biggest ever signings.

He revealed on Tuesday that he has agreed a one-year deal to play for Warrington in 2021 and will join the club in December.

The deal will reportedly see Inglis’ pathways manager role with South Sydney terminated — a rich deal reported to be worth $300,000-per year as part of the retirement bargain struck between the player and club last year.

After reportedly being knocked back by the NRL as the club tried to have Inglis medically retired last year, reports claimed the star and the club had agreed to allow the premiership winning fullback to receive the remaining $1.5 million on his South Sydney playing contract — which was only due to expire at the end of the 2020 season — through his new role in the club’s development department.

However, the cushy $300k-per-season deal is now expected to be terminated after less than two years, leaving Inglis out of pocket by around $900k-$1.2m.

It shows Inglis’ hunger for returning to football is true with early speculation he will earn around $600k-700k after signing a non-marquee deal to link up with the Wolves.

It leaves Inglis out of pocket by up to $600k if he is unable to win a contract extension with the Wolves for beyond 2021.

The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie said South Sydney and Inglis will mutually agree to terminate their current deal.

South Sydney NRL player Greg Inglis announces his retirement.Source:News Corp Australia

“Souths have said that his employment contract can be terminated straight away, basically null and void. They won’t pay any further money,” Ritchie told Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it is going to work as far as I know. It’s a complex issue but I don’t think Souths will now pay any further money to GI.”

The issue was further clouded by the NRL’s ruling last year that a significant part of Inglis’ rich playing contract could be removed from the club’s salary cap books in 2019 and 2020 — granting the club the salary cap space needed to sign former Roosters star Latrell Mitchell.

“The NRL determined that $900,000 of his $2 million contract would be included in the Rabbitohs’ cap,” Ritchie said.

“South’s were basically granted $1 million in salary cap relief,” he said.

“Under that deal with the NRL, it was understood that Inglis would work as a pathways manager to secure the money he lost.

“So it was deemed that he could earn that $1.5 million he lost through his new role at $300,000 a year.

“Given he wasn’t paid out as such, the NRL allowed Souths to take that Inglis money off their books.

The veteran reporter estimates Inglis’ deal with Warrington to be worth around $600k-$700k.

South Sydney on Wednesday welcomed Inglis’ shock announcement.

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly says the club are fully behind Inglis’ decision.

Inglis will finish his coaching commitments with the Rabbitohs this season and Solly said he has full confidence his decision is the right one.

The master and the apprentice.Source:News Corp Australia

“Greg has made a wonderful contribution to this club, both on and off the field, and following our discussions with him, we believe it is in his best interests for him to resume his playing career with Warrington next year,” said Solly.

“We have a wonderful relationship with Warrington so we know he is heading to a strong and well-run organisation under the guidance of co-owner Simon Moran, CEO Karl Fitzpatrick and head coach Steve Price.

“We wish Greg the best of luck for 2021 in England and we look forward to seeing Greg around Redfern Oval this year before finishing his current tenure with the Rabbitohs at the end of this season.”

Widely regarded as one of the best players of the last two decades, Inglis played 263 NRL games, made 32 State of Origin appearances for Queensland and logged 39 Tests for Australia.

The former Storm centre said simply he was happy to be back.

“I can’t wait to get over there and play for a club that has so much rich heritage,” Inglis said.

“I’ve played over in England many times in representative footy and love how passionate and vocal the supporters are.

“To get the opportunity to live in the UK, to play for such a powerhouse club that I believe is on the rise is something I’m looking forward to and hopefully I can add value to the team.”

— with AAP

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