Boyd Cordner confirms retirement from NRL due to concussions

  • Roosters, NSW and Australia captain has not played since November
  • Decision to walk away comes amid crackdown on high tackles

Boyd Cordner is all for the NRL’s crackdown on high tackles after making the heartbreaking decision to hang up the boots because of ongoing concussion symptoms, less than a week after his 29th birthday.

The former NSW State of Origin and Australian Test captain is the second player to announce his premature retirement in 2021 after enduring a series of worrying head knocks.

Related: NSW satisfy need for speed as Blues run Maroons ragged in State of Origin opener | Matt Cleary

Continue reading...

Blues rout Maroons 50-6 in State of Origin series opener – as it happened

I’ll bit you adieu for now, and leave you with a report of the match in case you’re after a succinct wrap-up.

Related: Trbojevic inspires NSW to record 50-6 State of Origin win over Queensland

Maroons captain DCE says “we just didn’t give them what we hoped”. He looks crestfallen. “We’ve got to shrug it off,” he adds. Suncorp Stadium is waiting, and if he shrugs for the next three weeks something might happen, if history is anything to go on.

But for now, there will no doubt be some soul-searching because that was horrendous for Queensland, and Paul Green’s tenure could not have sucked more. Not an eloquent way to put it, but true all the same. That’s not to take plaudits away from NSW, who were dominant in every area with 51-31 tackle busts and 9-1 line breaks.

80 mins: That’s all she wrote. The Blues have just tallied their biggest winning margin to date with that 44-pointsm rout.

77 mins: This is a bit decent from Queensland. They are smothered by some quick Blues defending on their line. Coates has redeemed himself with a catch as he hurtles into the right corner and JUST offloads in time to Gagai but Yeo is desperate and he’s there and has stopped a would-be consolation try. Fittler is banging his hands on the bench in front of him.

74 mins: Coates knocks on (again). Once Qld are back with the ball they have a sniff. They’re inside the 20, then closer, but the kick gives them no joy. There can’t be many times NSW have scored 50 points. I can think of maybe only one.

68 mins: Off the dummy half, Cleary is quick on his feet and threads between Munster and Capewell. He finds Tedesco, who dummies and passes to Trbojevic for his second Origin hat-trick.

65 mins: I can hardly keep up. I think they call this bonking. Queensland are tired. They have some possession but NSW get a penalty and they’re off and away. Saifiti has the ball under the post and the prop simply barges his way past defenders. Rather easy that looked. Not saying I could do it.

Mitchell, for his part, has clocked 33.1km/h in this match, bettering his highest speed in the NRL this year of 31.6km/h.

61 mins: Stop the count! It’s hard to believe there are still 20 minutes to play. Mitchell hasn’t had enough and scores again after Coates drops a bomb. It’s called a no try and sent upstairs after Haas is deemed offside but it’s given.

60 mins: Ray Warren lets out an involuntary “oh em gee!” as the omnipresent Trbojevic takes his side into the 30s. Luai cuts a swathe through the Maroons’ belly, beating Kaufusi. Mitchell is there and looks for Trbojevic under the posts. It’s too easy. This is unassailable. Trbojevic and Mitchell are the Blues Brothers on a mission from God.

57 mins: What was I saying about Martin’s baptism of fire? Munster has stuck his boot in to the Panthers player and is still on the field.

54 mins: The Blues are clearly not going to leave this to chance and have their opponents pinned back on their line. Murray is off for a HIA and Liam Martin has been brought on. Tough time for a debut.

Here’s Mitchell’s try.


Throw the book out the window, Tommy does what Tommy wants to do!

Watch: @Channel9
Stream: #NRL #Origin

50 mins: Latrell makes some magic, adding his own try at the left corner. NSW are having a lot of joy on the sides. Panthers teammates Cleary and Luai set it up and Trbojevic gives the ball a little kick right where Mitchell needs. Feldt is on report for attacking Murray’s head with upper arm or shoulder. Very difficult to see Qld coming back from this.

48 mins: This is becoming more aggressive. Sutton is having words with Luai. More accurately, he is repeatedly calling Luai, who is dawdling. Ofahengaue had just cleaned up Tedesco before he could take a high ball. Luai appears to have a crack and Ofahengaue ... slaps him? Luai eventually approached the ref and calls him “bro” before accepting his warning.

46mins: Munster kicks long and Tedesco scoops it up. NSW make up some ground but Haas can’t quite get an offload away. It bounces, and Cook has a fruitless crack. Bit of an opportunity here for the Maroons.

43 mins: Qld could do with a run of possession. They’ve been on the wrong end of a lot of the stats thus far and need to give this home crowd some love. Grant is on the move but tackled by Sims. Fifita is back on the field having passed his HIA. Yikes, Luai has been taken out contesting the ball in the air with Coates, who was clearly going for the ball. It was an accident and Luai is okay.

40 mins: Fittler has never clapped so hard in his coaching box, thrilled at Mitchell’s defensive stand to help the Blues off their own goal line. Now the Souths man is away and avoiding a tackle. Just as the whistle blows a melee breaks out. This pushing and shoving always makes me giggle. Apparently Murray did not like something Feldt did to Addo-Carr while he was on the ground. But it changes nothing, because the Blues lead by 14 points and have set Paul Green’s hosts a second-half task.

38 mins: Qld have six again and a good chance to close the deficit a little further. Munster takes a stab in the dark and To’o is on the ball before you can say ‘boo’ but he’s brought to ground and Qld have another set.

36 mins: Capewell is in, and boy did Qld need that just before half-time. Holmes is set quite an angle but he converts with aplomb. Trbojevic won’t be happy with the mistake that let Capewell through. Referee Sutton has just sent Cleary off the field to have his face seen to.

34 mins: Players are in the wars out there. Cleary’s cut keeps dripping and Fifita is now off for a HIA. Kaufusi drops the ball right after Qld had a six again.

32 mins: Here’s the first try from Trbojevic, who has been literally everywhere.

Who else but Tom Trbojevic to claim the first try of Origin I.

Watch: @Channel9
Stream: #NRL #Origin

27 mins: Queensland are on the ropes this entire set as NSW make short passes out to the left. Gagai has tackled Sims quite low which has left his arms free for a perfect pass to To’o in space to run the last couple of steps home. Cleary has been patched up and converts on the angle. To compound the bad news for Qld is news that Welch has failed his HIA. Unsurprising given how he looked.

24 mins: This time it’s To’o in the left corner. Cook is the orchestrator, weaving through the Maroons defence and letting fly a pass which hits Tedesco and bounces backwards. He regathers and then it’s Luai, Mitchell and To’o. Cleary has blood streaming down his face. But my, Cook is so fast. He is a surf lifesaving flags champion, did you know? Mitchell slots the conversion.

18 mins: Tommy Turbo! He’s rushing forward on the right and receives a long pass, gets on the outside of a static Capewell and is in. That was too easy, and my Queensland will be feeling about that needless penalty in the lead-up when Feldt took out Addo-Carr to give NSW six again right on their line. Trbojevic has been a standout so far.

16 mins: Looks like Munster hasn’t heard a six-to-go call. Crowd must be deafening. He kicks, and gifts NSW possession.

13 mins: Luai stabs the ball into Queensland’s corner and Holmes scoops up. Feldt brings the ball to the 30m line and Cherry-Evans kicks early. Ouch. Welsh is dizzy after a head clash. He stumbles attempting to walk and a trainer accompanies him off the field for an HIA. His night should be over.

10 mins: This game is lightning fast on this hard pitch. And how different the conditions are in Townsville at 18C while Melbourne, where this was supposed to be played is 18C and rainy. DCE is penalised and Nathan Cleary does the honours to give the Blues their first two points. Probably fair – they have had the better of the opening exchanges.

5mins: Kyle Feldt has had a nice couple of touches, a Townsville man making his debut at 29 as the Maroons edge forward. Fifita is up for it though. The ball is ping-ponging around before NSW are back in position but there’s been a needless drop as they approached the 20m line. Mitchell’s pass was not amazing but Sims probably should have caught it.

2mins: NSW run through a set before Cleary gets a kick away and Welsh and Grant makes some ground.

The players are out on the field and the Welcome to Country has been performed. Now it’s the anthem. Getting close.

I don’t have the benefit of Gallen’s wisdom, but from where I stand NSW will be best served with a couple of settling early tries, start on the front foot and remove Queensland’s home advantage. The stadium is seriously Maroon right now, maybe the most we’ve ever seen it.

Jarome Luai will be key, and I’m intrigued to see how the Panthers clique operates.

As the players warm up in the sheds, former Blues captain Paul Gallen is out on the pitch offering sage words of advice.

“Stick to the game plan. Give 100% effort, 100% of the time. And if all else fails, just smash them.”

Here’s more on the exceptional content out of Gladys Berejiklian’s ... darkened room? Only a matter of time before she’s trending.

Related: What is Gladys Berejiklian watching? Bizarre photo of NSW premier sparks ridicule – and memes

Here is the NSW team.

Your NSW team.

Watch: @Channel9
Stream: #NRL #Origin

The big question mark hovering ominously over this game is, of course, how the crackdown on high hits will manifest in terms of officiating.

The NRL has already stated it will instruct referee Gerard Sutton to operate in the same manner as he would an NRL game, which would mean strict penalties for high contact, accidental or otherwise.

The Queensland team has landed, and Ben Hunt is 18th man. All appears as expected.

Maroons confirm Game I team:

Gladys is getting the party started with all her friends.

Getting ready for Game 1. Go the @NSWBlues !

State of Origin week is rarely short of drama. Past years generated at least a headline a day and enough tit-for-tat to last a lifetime let alone 3x80 minutes of rugby league. In 2020, of course, the NRL backed down on its plan to forego the national anthem (hi ScoMo!).

Similarly, the build-up to game one of this series did not disappoint. Granted, it has not delivered on a Robbie-Kearns-falls-off-a-horse level, but still ... we have witnessed NSW acts of espionage to conceal a SWAP IN POSITIONS between Blues wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Brian To’o, Queensland’s “smokescreening” around Dane Gagai’s alleged tonsillitis, and Phil Gould’s deep anxiety about the high-tackle crackdown’s potential to soften Origin’s “gladiators”.

Continue reading...

State of Origin: Tom Trbojevic tipped to ‘cause some havoc’ in return to NSW Blues

  • Blues teammate James Tedesco says he looks better than 2019
  • Manly fullback scored a hat-trick in Perth two years ago

James Tedesco rates Tom Trbojevic an even more dangerous weapon for NSW in State of Origin now than when he scored a hat-trick two years ago. Trbojevic will make his return to the Origin arena in Wednesday night’s opener in Townsville, after missing all of last year’s series through injury.

The Manly fullback has arguably been the most dangerous player in the competition for the past two months, completing turning around the Sea Eagles’ season, but Origin will make for a different challenge.

Related: Tent city springs up in Townsville as State of Origin goes truly regional | Emma Kemp

Continue reading...

Tent city springs up in Townsville as State of Origin goes truly regional | Emma Kemp

A ‘Footy Basecamp’ has been built to accomodate an influx of fans to the new host city with traditional sporting locations no longer everything

There are probably a few State of Origin fans out there who had not planned on taking their post-match party back to a tent. But it says something about demand when hundreds of the canvas constructs are erected in Townsville to fill an accommodation shortfall for a rugby league match moved there at the last minute.

As has been the case more than once in sport during the pandemic, Melbourne’s loss has been Queensland’s gain, with Wednesday’s series opener shifted from the MCG to Queensland Country Bank Stadium. And a sell-out crowd has only reconfirmed that certain codes do not necessarily have to belong to certain locations.

Related: State of Origin series opener moved to Townsville amid Covid outbreak in Melbourne

Related: State of Origin 2021: injuries force Queensland Maroons to name extended squad

Continue reading...

Israel Folau seeks supreme court injunction against QRL

  • QRL will not register player without Catalans clearance
  • Folau seeking rugby league return with Southport Tigers

Israel Folau is seeking a supreme court injunction against the Queensland Rugby League in a bid to return to the playing field.

Backed by billionaire businessman Clive Palmer, Folau is locked in a desperate attempt to revive his rugby league career in Australia.

Related: Peter V’landys will live and die calling NRL shots from on high | Matt Cleary

Continue reading...

Jack de Belin named in Dragons squad for NRL return against Broncos

St George Illawarra have confirmed they will play Jack de Belin in the NRL at their first opportunity, naming him to come off the bench against Brisbane.

De Belin impressed in his return to rugby league via reserve grade last week after 987 days on the sideline through the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy while he faced sexual assault charges.

Continue reading...

State of Origin series opener moved to Townsville amid Covid outbreak in Melbourne

  • Game One moved from MCG due to Victorian lockdown
  • Melbourne will now host games in 2024 and 2026

The 2021 State of Origin opener will be played in Townsville after the Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne forced the match to be moved from the MCG.

Queensland Country Bank Stadium will host the game on 9 June, with Victoria in lockdown following the recent coronavirus outbreak in the state.

Related: State of Origin 2021: injuries force Queensland Maroons to name extended squad

Continue reading...

State of Origin 2021: injuries force Queensland Maroons to name extended squad

  • Kalyn Ponga and Cameron Munster must prove fitness
  • Tyson Frizell ruled out for Blues team with ankle injury

With several key players in doubt for next week’s State of Origin opener, Queensland coach Paul Green has named a 20-man squad for the Maroons. Injured pair Kalyn Ponga (groin) and Cameron Munster (foot) have both been selected but will need to prove their fitness before being able to take on NSW on 9 June.

There are also doubts over Gold Coast fullback AJ Brimson, who injured his knee in the Titans’ NRL loss to Cronulla on Sunday, while Melbourne back-rower Felise Kaufusi is facing a one-game ban after being charged with tripping Brisbane’s Jake Turpin.

Related: NRL 2021: South Sydney Rabbitohs crush Parramatta Eels – as it happened

Continue reading...

NRL 2021: South Sydney Rabbitohs crush Parramatta Eels – as it happened

  • Rabbitohs 38-20 Eels
  • Hat-tricks to Johnston and Gagai

One of these sides was always going to depart buoyant after bouncing back from a heavy defeat, the other destined for more soul-searching. From Damien Cook’s second minute try onwards there was never any doubt what the outcome was going to be.

South Sydney were irresistible on their left edge. Walker was supreme, timing his passes from five-eighth to perfection, inviting Mitchell, Johnston, and Gagai to eviscerate Parramatta’s problematic right-side defence. It was classic Rabbitohs, mesmerising in attack, to the point where you could convince yourself they were contenders again. But they still suffered lapses in defence, especially under the high ball, and Mitchell - not for the first time - went wandering from fullback.

The Bunnies bounce back. More pain for Parramatta’s right edge. A terrifically entertaining Indigenous Round contest, illuminated by some of the game’s Aboriginal stars.

78 mins: Rabbitohs 38-20 Eels - Parramatta continue to toil, trying to reduce the deficit late on, but Ferguson chips straight into touch on the burst down the right wing. Souths return fire and with Johnston bursting down the left Lussick knocks-on 10m out.

The Eels are throwing the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters, keeping it alive from right to left - and it pays off! After a series of offloads Arthur spots Mitchell isn’t at home at fullback, so he chips and chases with an age to gather and touch down under the posts. Lovely vision from the five-eighth, with his dad looking on from the bench.

Great vision from Jake Arthur!#TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

75 mins: Rabbitohs 38-14 Eels - Parramatta are raging against the dying of the light, expressing themselves in possession for the first time this evening. Another Moses bomb pins the Bunnies in the corner, but Mitchell throws a miracle pass as he falls into touch to keep the ball alive.

Parra get a consolation try in the left corner to celebrate. Not for the first time tonight Souths fluff their lines under a high ball and from the crumbs the ball spins wide to Sivo, who shows extraordinary strength, to resist three Bunnies and still reach out to touch down at full stretch.

Big SIVVVOOOOOO #TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

Souths have a full set in A1 field position. Guess what they do? That’s right, they go left, but Ferguson finally comes up with a tackle. So... they go left again, and this time Gagai finds a massive hole to run through to complete his hat-trick. Like shelling peas for that Souths left edge.

Reynolds kicks two more points.

Gags joins the hatty club #TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

67 mins: Rabbitohs 32-10 Eels - Parramatta have now conceded 20 linebreaks in two matches - yikes! To make matters worse Nathan Brown is the latest (sixth?) player from tonight’s clash on report, this time for a crusher tackle.

65 mins: Rabbitohs 32-10 Eels - Matterson is back on for Parra, but there’s nothing he can do about some Marshall magic in midfield, sending Mitchell through like a steam train. The ball goes left, which has spelt danger all night, but this time Gagai can’t wriggle through.

What do you do if you’re playing rattled for South Sydney? That’s right, give the ball to Walker and tell him to send it through hands until Johnston can dash over unopposed in the corner. Brilliant again from the Bunnies. Mitchell superb stepping into the line. Johnston has a hat-trick. What an Indigenous Round treat.

AJ x HATTY #TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

60 mins: Rabbitohs 26-10 Eels - Souths again fail to deal with a Moses bomb, the Rabbitohs letting the ball bounce and inviting chaos, but Arthur can’t capitalise with the follow-up kick. The Bunnies return possession to the Eels soon afterwards though, and Parra gain good yardage. This is all a little manic from the Rabbitohs, who do not look like a side 16 points up with a man advantage right now. out comes Benji Marshall to settle things down.

They might be down a man but the Eels have four more points. Blake does well to claim a huge Moses bomb to the left corner, then even better keep it alive. Sivo continues the good work before Papali’i wriggles down the blindside and dives over. Souths thought they had the situation under control, opting not to contest the high ball, but they pay the price.

Moses misses the touchline kick.

Papali'i is over for the Eels!#TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

52 mins: Rabbitohs 26-6 Eels - Again the Eels have a promising bulild-up scuppered on their right wing. This time Johnston completes a simple intercept to rescue Souths. The ball travels at speed downfield with Graham on the tear, then he, Milne, and Walker keep the ball alive near the line, but the sevens-skills come to nought when one pass too many is intercepted.

While there’s chaos near the Parra line, the referee brings play all the way back into the Rabbitohs’ half to sin-bin and report Matterson for crunching his shoulder into the face of a Souths ball-carrier already held.

49 mins: Rabbitohs 26-6 Eels - It seems a long time ago that the scoreline read 10-6 and the balance of play was with the Eels. Souths have been clinical cutting left through Walker.

Parramatta earn a repeat set in midfield and enjoy some yardage through Mahoney and Paulo, but when the moment came to execute on their right edge they fluff their lines and the ball flies into touch.

From the scrum, Souths spin the ball left, and - guess what - Walker feeds Gagai through the line on the left edge and the Bunnies score. This is a clinic.

Reynolds adds the two.

Doubs for Gags #TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

44 mins: Rabbitohs 20-6 Eels - Both units continue to keep things uncomplicated in these early exchanges of the second half. Sivo does well to claim a Reynolds bomb, and retain possession despite a brutal landing. The set is not complete though. On tackle five Brown shells a Gutherson pass that was destined for an outside runner. First mistake of the half.

In other news Majoney is on report... for something.

42 mins: Rabbitohs 20-6 Eels - The half begins with Paulo dropping his shoulder and sending Graham flying like a tenpin. Souths regroup and force Paraamatta to kick from range, and in turn complete a conservative set of their own.

The teams are back out for the second half.

“Hi Jonathan,” hi Harry, great to have you tuning in.

“Much better from my Bunnies this weekend (so far, I suppose I should stay :)). Very happy with the form bounce-back, though I’m not surprised. I’ve said that the Panthers and the Storm are streets ahead of the rest at this point in the season. Come September, who knows though. Still confident of a top-four finish, and I think our display backs that up.”

Agreed Harry. There should be no dramas on the top-four front, as much because there’s daylight to the chasing pack with Canberra’s drop-off and the Roosters’ injury-list. It’s hard to look past Penrith or Melbourne in the finals though. But with a busy Origin period coming up, stronger officiating, and who knows what else to come, it’s unlikely every side will be running out with their best XIII. In that case, if the Bunnies can keep their blistering backs on the park, they will damage any opposition and give their fans hope.

That half ebbed one way, then the other, but the difference was clear, Cody Walker and his incredible relationship with his runners down the left edge. The Bunnies cut the Eels, and their worrying right-side defence, open four times. Nobody expects them to relent in the second half. Parramatta have to control the ball and dominate territory, like they did for spells in that half, if they are to get something out of this.

Brilliant, simply brilliant, from Souths. Walker again picks his moment perfectly to turn a solid drive into a penetrating attack, and again it’s that devastating left edge. This time he throws a bullet cut-out pass to Gagai that sends his centre through on the burst and around behind the posts. Parramatta must have spent all week drilling themselves to defend against these plays, and they’ve had no answer on four occasions this first half.

Same play, different scorer BOOM!#TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

37 mins: Rabbitohs 14-6 Eels - The Rabbitohs go end to end in no time and on the last Milne chips infield from the whitewash and all the Eels can do is concede a drop-out.

35 mins: Rabbitohs 14-6 Eels - It’s taken 33 minutes of the contest but the first set restart has been called - in favour of Parramatta. That allows Papali’i to return to the field from his sin-bin. It also means Moses is gifted ideal field position to go aerially in the direction of Ferguson, prompting Johnston to palm the ball out under pressure. The Eels reload and this time feed left but just as Papali’i was hustling his way towards the line the Bunnies massed and swarmed the No 11 over the sideline.

The Eels think they’re through the line and away on the left wing but Gutherson is brought 50m back after a Blake obstruction. Instead of a Parramatta try, Souths take possession 30m from the posts. They pummel the middle for four tackles then, like clockwork, they head left. You know what comes next. Walker, to Gagai, to Johnston, try. The slickest hands in the competition, the most consistent attacking pattern in the competition, against the weak spot of Parramatta’s defence.

Reynolds misses another tough conversion.

Slick stuff from the @SSFCRABBITOHS #TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

26 mins: Rabbitohs 10-6 Eels - The Rabbitohs can’t make the extra man count with their first drive after some miscommunication behind the ruck involving Cook. Parramatta respond forcefully, getting within touching distance, allowing Moses to dribble to the corner where Ferguson is just unable to gather the bouncing ball.

Meanwhile Nicholls, who has industrious early, has failed an HIA and Souths are down to three on the interchange.

24 mins: Rabbitohs 10-6 Eels - After that blistering start for Souths the last ten minutes have been all Parramatta - but this will change things. Mitchell feeds Milne into a gap and he bursts out of defence towards halfway. Gutherson does superbly to halt him one-on-one but then Papali’i comes in and interferes with Milne’s ability to play the ball - and he’s sent to the bin!

21 mins: Rabbitohs 10-6 Eels - From the penalty Cody Walker finds himself on report for a swinging arm to Arthur’s head after Arrow had already begun the tackle. That prompts the Eels to try to bulldoze their way down the left wing but Souths’ right edge stands firm. Moses goes to the sky with his kick and there’s a good chase, but Gagai holds the bomb, under pressure. However, in his desperation to avoid conceding a line drop-out the winger is pinged for a knock-on. He immediately challenges - and is successful - turning a 10m scrum to Parra to the Bunnies’ play-the-ball on the try line.

19 mins: Rabbitohs 10-6 Eels - Souths, perhaps over-eager to regain momentum, try to spin the ball to the left wing, but it’s risky and ragged and eventually Gagai grasses it. Since that crusher penalty the game has changed completely.

Parra only need one opening to score. Early in the set Arthur spots a gap on the right edge so he drops over a beautifully weighted kick that bounces backwards, perfectly for the onrushing Gutherson to claim and put down. Poor Mitchell was bamboozled by that mystery-spinner. After that early clanger Gutherson is back on an even keel.

Moses kicks the extras.

Gutho gets there & Eels are on the board!#TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

16 mins: Rabbitohs 10-0 Eels - Now Gutherson tries to run out of defence but he’s pummelled by Gagai. Parramatta really need a break. And they get one! Cameron Murray is placed on report for a crusher tackle on Ferguson. Finally, after 15 minutes, the Eels can run the ball in South Sydney’s half.

14 mins: Rabbitohs 10-0 Eels - Ferguson tries to spark the Eels but he is smashed by Burgess and Arrow inside his own 20m. Moses is again invited to kick from his own half. South Sydney have given nothing away so far. They are making life very awkward for Parramatta.

12 mins: Rabbitohs 10-0 Eels -Another disciplined set from their own half is honoured by an excellent kick-chase. The Eels have not had any kind of launchpad in this game yet and once again they are forced to kick from range just to clear their lines.

The Bunnies have two tries early. Souths force a set restart following the drop-out and the weight of pressure and territory eventually counts. From the ruck in midfield the ball flies through three pairs of hands in the blink of an eye until it ends with Johnston diving over in the corner. The interplay from Walker and Mitchell, then onto Johnston, was superb. A real celebration of Indigenous Round.

Reynolds misses the touchline conversion.

All the way to AJ! #TelstraPremiership #NRLSouthsEels

7 mins: Rabbitohs 6-0 Eels - Souths take advantage of the penalty and attack nicely down the right with Nicholls busy. Then they head left and Johnston gets within a couple of metres before Walker’s grubber forces a drop-out.

5 mins: Rabbitohs 6-0 Eels - After that early drama both sides exchange solid sets until the Bunnies are gifted a penalty for a bunch of offside Eels chasing a menacing Moses torpedo.

From the first tackle of the game Kaufusi’s head meets a Rabbitohs shoulder and there’s an early pause to determine whether an HIA is required; it isn’t. Souths continue their set and Reynolds drives a long kick downfield, the chase is superb, and pressure from Arrow forces Gutherson to knock-on.

From the scrum Souths sneak out the back and Cook darts through the defensive line and dives over. What a start for South Sydney!

from the scrum!#NRLSouthsEels #TelstraPremiership

Third v fourth at ANZ Stadium. Here we go....

It’s dry at Stadium Australia but there’s a southerly breeze keeping temperatures on the chilly side.

Both sides are wearing a specially designed Indigenous Round jerseys this evening. The Eels’ uniform is predominately blue, with yellow accents. South Sydney are in a wavier version of their green and red hoops.

There are some flash boots on display celebrating NRL Indigenous Round. Here are Adam Reynolds’.

One match today has already concluded, and it will come as no surprise that the imperious Panthers continued their unbeaten start to the season, running out 30-4 winners over the Bulldogs.

We’re heading for another Penrith v Melbourne grand final, aren’t we?

Reagan Campbell-Gillard is suspended, so Oregon Kaufusi moves into the starting XIII with Marata Niukore joining the bench.

1 Clinton Gutherson, 2 Maika Sivo, 3 Tom Opacic, 4 Waqa Blake, 5 Blake Ferguson, 6 Jakob Arthur, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Oregon Kaufusi, 9 Reed Mahoney, 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Isaiah Papali’i, 12 Ryan Matterson, 13 Nathan Brown, 14 Marata Niukore, 15 Shaun Lane, 16 Joey Lussick, 17 Bryce Cartwright.

Four changes to the Bunnies with Cameron Murray, Taane Milne, Hame Sele and Jacob Host coming in for Liam Knight, Jed Cartwright, Jaydn Su’A and the concussed Josh Mansour.

1 Latrell Mitchell, 2 Alex Johnston, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Campbell Graham, 5 Taane Milne, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Jai Arrow, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Tevita Tatola, 11 Keaon Koloamatangi, 13 Cameron Murray, 15 Mark Nicholls.
Int: 12 Jacob Host, 14 Benji Marshall, 16 Hame Sele, 17 Thomas Burgess.

Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the Bunnies v the Eels from ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Kick-off in this third v fourth-placed clash is 5.30pm.

Both these sides will be desperate to bounce back after chastening defeats last Sunday. Souths were embarrassed by a rampant Penrith in Dubbo, while Parramatta slipped at home to a resurgent Manly.

Continue reading...

Jack de Belin’s return to rugby league prompts increased security

  • Dragons player will feature in reserve grade this weekend
  • Abuse will not be tolerated by NRL, says league boss

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo has vowed that abuse or vilification of Jack de Belin will not be tolerated as the St George Illawarra forward prepares to make his rugby league return.

Ex-State of Origin player de Belin will play his first professional match in more than two years on Saturday once rape charges are formally dropped by the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on Friday.

Related: Jack de Belin could return to rugby league field this weekend after sexual assault charges dropped

Continue reading...

Jack de Belin could return to rugby league field this weekend after sexual assault charges dropped

  • Dragons player will not be tried on rape charges for a third time
  • No-fault stand-down rule ‘worked as it should’, says Andrew Abdo

Jack de Belin could play his first game of rugby league in more than two years on Saturday, ending an exile from the sport while he defended rape charges that are set to be withdrawn.

St George Illawarra expect to register a new contract for de Belin with the NRL on Friday to begin his path back into first grade once the New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions withdraws charges at a hearing.

Continue reading...

Israel Folau’s return hits hitch as QRL refuses registration over contract issue

  • QRL awaiting clearance from previous team Catalans Dragons
  • Folau is hoping to play for amateur side Southport Tigers

Israel Folau’s hopes of returning to rugby league at amateur club Southport were thwarted on Wednesday with Queensland authorities refusing his registration due to a contract issue.

The dual code international is looking to play with his two brothers at Southport Tigers in the Gold Coast amateur competition, two years after he was sacked by Rugby Australia for social media posts deemed discriminatory by rugby union’s governing body.

Related: Israel Folau prepared to go to court if QRL refuses registration

Continue reading...