NRL

NRL players banned from pubs, clubs, movies under new Covid measures

The escalating Covid-19 threat across Australia has prompted the NRL to impose a series of hardline restrictions on its players, even though there’s still two months until season kick-off.

Part of the measures include a return to the bubble-like protocols which ensured the 2020 and 2021 seasons were completed, with sources familiar with the situation saying all players had been told not to enter pubs, bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys and cinemas until further notice.

No jab, no play for NRL player John Asiata

Asiata signed with the Bulldogs for the 2022 season after a stint with the Brisbane Broncos, but was handed a termination notice last month with the club requiring all players to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The NRL does not have a mandate in place for players to be fully vaccinated unlike the AFL, but Canterbury have been firm on their stance as an organisation.

"The Bulldogs and John Asiata have agreed to part ways by mutual consent," the club said in a statement.

"Asiata, signed with the club this season, but had yet to train with the squad.

Rugby League World Cup back on track as NZ, Australia commit to 2022

Just 100 days after pulling out of this year's event with little notice, Australian and New Zealand officials were among those to sign participation agreements for 2022.

A new schedule was released on Friday night, with the tournament starting a week earlier to avoid a clash with the FIFA World Cup but with the same order of games.

The Kiwis kick off their campaign against Lebanon in Warrington on October 16 followed by matches against Jamaica (October 22) and Ireland (October 28).

Sixteen-year-old sensation Latu Fainu signs record-breaking NRL contract

Just months after celebrating his 16th birthday, Fainu has inked a mammoth four-year deal with Manly. If he hits the performance targets in his contract extension, the teen pivot will earn a seven-figure amount during that period.

Moses Suli made history as the game’s highest-paid teen when he signed a three-year, $1.3 million contract extension in 2017 with Wests Tigers at the age of 18. The Sun-Herald can reveal Fainu will outstrip that figure if he triggers a series of bonus benchmarks once the deal kicks in next season.

How Aussie rugby league ‘wrecking ball’ Jordan Mailata went from operating table to $86m NFL dream

He likened it to being blindfolded, chasing a dream career in a sport that may as well have been a foreign language.

It is what makes Mailata’s rapid rise – a self-described “Hollywood movie” – all the more remarkable.

Earlier this month he was sharing the field with Tom Brady, who at 44 years old, is still breaking records and still redefining the quarterback age curve.

Mailata is doing some redefining of his own, shedding the rugby league identity of his past and forging a new one.

NRL refuses to mandate Covid-19 vaccine

On the same day the AFL mandated its players to be vaccinated by mid-February, Abdo took a slightly different approach.

The NRL has been grappling with mandatory vaccinations since the resumption of the 2020 season when several high-profile players including Bryce Cartwright, Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine expressed reluctance to receive the flu shot.

Despite many businesses and rival codes mandating employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, Abdo said the NRL would leave it up to the players.

Matty Johns’ left-field idea for 18th NRL team

On Wednesday, the NRL officially confirmed the Dolphins had clinched the league’s 17th licence, staving off bids from the Brisbane Firehawks and Brisbane Jets.

The Australian Rugby League Commission accepted the Dolphins as the preferred candidate on the back of the club’s $70 million assets and $20 million cash reserves.

Former Warrior Isaiah Papali'i named in second row for fans Team of Year

The 22-year-old – who has been a hit in the Parramatta Eels’ backrow this year – is one of four Kiwis in the select side, alongside Roosters centre Joey Manu, Storm hooker Brandon Smith and Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris.

Papali’i topped the annual NRL fans poll as the best recruit of the 2021 season with 35 per cent of the vote, was voted the best second rower – ahead of Titans’ $1 million man David Fifita – and was runner-up in the most improved player category (13 per cent), behind Melbourne Storm back Nicho Hynes.

Warriors play-off hopes hang in balance

With only two games remaining - against the Raiders and the Titans - the Warriors will be relying on other results to go their way if they are to make the top eight.

They were punished for a slow start at Suncorp Stadium, going 12-0 down after 25 minutes.

The Broncos' Storm-bound winger Xavier Coates provided Brisbane with a glimpse of what they'll be missing next year with two well-taken first-half tries.

George Burgess returns to Australia joining NRL side St George Illawarra Dragons

The England forward, 29, was released by Wigan in February and had surgery on a hip injury which ruled him out of the 2021 Super League season.

He had joined Wigan in 2020 on a three-year contract after eight years at NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs.

His twin Tom still plays for the Rabbitohs.

George made 149 NRL appearances for the Rabbitohs, winning the Premiership in 2014, where he played alongside Tom and his other brothers Sam and Luke, who have both since retired.