Brisbane Broncos make history beating Sydney Roosters for third straight premiership


“The girls dug deep, you saw everyone playing with all their heart out there,” the Broncos skipper said.

Head coach Kelvin Wright agreed that 2020 was a whole new level of play, with the competition getting stronger as the years go on.

Ali Brigginshaw of the Broncos holds aloft the Premiership trophy as she celebrates with team mates their victory over the Sydney Roosters.Credit:Getty Images

“There were a lot more nerves,” he said. “Our team had to really dig deep to bring it out of the bag.”

While acknowledging the Broncos’ achievement, Roosters coach Jamie Feeney expressed his frustrations over the women’s short four-week season, stating the players are not adequately rewarded for the work they put in.

“It’s not even semi-professional, yes they get paid for their time but it’s still like a junior reps type thing … where they fit everything else, their whole lives around their footy,” he said about the NRLW season.

“At this time of the year, they get paid very well for their time, but for the most part of the year, they’re committing their bodies, their minds and their lives to a game they don’t really get rewarded for.”

Chelsea Lenarduzzi celebrates after scoring for Brisbane.

Chelsea Lenarduzzi celebrates after scoring for Brisbane.Credit:Getty

Roosters skipper Corban McGregor said the short nature of the NRLW season made it difficult to build a campaign strong enough to take away the win.

“It is tough,” she said. “It’s such a short season and such a short preparation…a lot of our gym time, rehab and physio is done in our own time.”

The Sydney side started the match looking more like the Broncos NRL team with their defence shaky in the wet conditions.

It didn’t take long for Brisbane to take advantage of their opponent’s struggles, with Aiken putting a pass right to the chest of Tamika Upton to crash over the line just three minutes in.

After the successful conversion, the Broncos continued to take advantage of the noticeable cracks in the Roosters play with Hall smashing through the left edge like a wrecking ball to bag her side their second try.

Hall seemed eager to remind everyone she was back after her suspension period as she helped push the score out to 12-0.

When it felt as if all hope was lost, the Roosters finally managed to switch on via a successful captain’s challenge.

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The Roosters took the little win and turned it into a big one with Yasmin Meakes beating defender Julie Robinson to get their first points of the final. Despite a 73 per cent conversion rate this year, Zehara Temara was unable to find the extras.

Quincy Dodd proved why she has been one of the most talked-about players of 2020, crashing over the top of a number of players and finding the try line just five minutes out from half-time.

This time, Temara found the two points and brought her side back into the game heading to go to the break behind 12-10.

Chelsea Lenarduzzi ensured the Broncos didm’t allow the Roosters to mount a second-half comeback and managed a 34th-minute try with some help from Hall.

Lauren Brown somehow managed to avoid leaving the field for a HIA after a nasty head knock before it was Brigginshaw’s time to shine.

Showing her status as Dally M female player of year, the Maroons skipper set up Tallisha Harden who cruised over the line without a finger on her to finish off the effort.

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Penrith Panthers’ odds shorten late to beat Melbourne Storm in NRL Grand Final 2020


After being ignored by the majority of TAB punters since booking their grand final berth, Penrith has shortened today from $2.35 to $2.25 to defeat Melbourne ($1.65 to $1.70) in this evening’s NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium.

Even though the Storm have received 58 percent of support from TAB customers since the teams for this season’s premiership decider were confirmed, the ratio of money today is fifty-fifty for both sides.

In regards to betting for the Clive Churchill Medal, Cameron Smith has tightened today as favourite from $3.75 to $3.50 to be adjudged best-on-ground tonight.

Smith has attracted 35 percent of interest from TAB punters including a $4000 wager at $3.75 with Nathan Cleary ($4.25) next best at 19 percent ahead of Cameron Munster ($8; eight percent) and Ryan Papenhuyzen ($10; seven percent).

Josh Addo-Carr ($8.50 favourite) has garnered 13 percent of support from TAB customers to be the first tryscorer in the 2020 NRL grand final.

TAB ODDS

2020 NRL Grand Final

Head To Head

$2.25     Penrith                 opened $2.10 October 17 9:40pm; as much as $2.35 since

$1.70     Melbourne         opened $1.75 October 17 9:40pm; as short as $1.65 since

 

Normal Time Margin

$2.80     Melbourne to win by 1-12 points

$3.30     Penrith to win by 1-12 points

$3.80     Melbourne to win by 13+ points

$6           Penrith to win by 13+ points

$17         Draw at end of normal time

 

First Tryscorer

$8.50     Josh Addo-Carr

$9           Suliasi Vunivalu

$11         Josh Mansour

                Brian To’o

$13         Stephen Crichton

$15         Ryan Papenhuyzen

                Justin Olam

$17         Viliame Kikau

                Brenko Lee

                Paul Momirovski

                Brent Naden

$21         Dylan Edwards

                Tom Eisenhuth

                Tyrone May

$23+      Others Quoted

TOP 5 IN TERMS OF TAKE

  1. Josh Addo-Carr ($8.50)                   13%
  2. Viliame Kikau ($17)                          9%
  3. Suliasi Vunivalu ($9)                        8%
  4. Josh Mansour ($11)                         7%
  5. Ryan Papenhuyzen ($15)              7%

Clive Churchill Medal

$3.50     Cameron Smith

$4.25     Nathan Cleary

$8           Cameron Munster

$10         Jahrome Hughes

                Ryan Papenhuyzen

$11         Apisai Koroisau

$13         Jarome Luai

$17         Viliame Kikau

$21         Isaah Yeo

$23         James Fisher-Harris

$26         Dylan Edwards

$34+      Others Quoted

TOP 5 IN TERMS OF TAKE

  1. Cameron Smith ($3.50)                  35%
  2. Nathan Cleary ($4.25)                     19%
  3. Cameron Munster ($8)                  8%
  4. Ryan Papenhuyzen ($10)              8%
  5. Jarome Luai ($13)                          4%

TAB BETS OF NOTE ON 2020 NRL PREMIERSHIP

Penrith

$7700 @ $13 to collect $100,100 {March 23}

$20,000 @ $4 to collect $80,000 {August 20}

$5000 @ $7.50 collect $37,500 {July 9}

$9000 @ $2.75 to collect $24,750 {October 7}

$8000 @ $2.75 to collect $22,000 {October 6}

$900 @ $21 to collect $18,900 {December 7 last year}

$740 @ $23 to collect $17,020 {November 24 last year}

$1500 @ $10 to collect $15,000 {June 26}

$2560 @ $4.50 to collect $11,520 {August 14}

$500 @ $23 to collect $11,500 {November 28 last year}

$2000 @ $19.60 [collect $39,200] on Lachie Neale (2020 Brownlow Medal) | Richmond (2020 AFL Premiership) | Penrith {August 30}

$1000 @ $39 [collect $39,000] on Richmond-Penrith (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {July 20}

$2000 @ $11.50 [collect $23,000] on Richmond-Penrith (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {September 25}

$2150 @ $9.45 [collect $20,317.50] on Rafael Nadal (2020 French Open Men’s Winner) | Penrith {October 1}

$1000 @ $17.98 [collect $17,980] on Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev (2020 US Open Men’s Final – Thiem won 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6) | Lachie Neale (2020 Brownlow Medal) | Richmond (2020 AFL Premiership) | Penrith {September 13}

$100 @ $154 [collect $15,400] on Classique Legend (won TAB Everest at Randwick on October 17) | Richmond (2020 AFL Premiership) | Penrith {September 6}

$1000 @ $15 [collect $15,000] on Richmond-Penrith (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {September 2}

$500 @ $27 [collect $13,500] on Richmond-Penrith (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {August 10}

Melbourne

$20,000 @ $4 to collect $80,000 {August 31}

$20,000 @ $3.25 to collect $65,000 {October 3}

$8000 @ $4 to collect $32,000 {August 24}

$3300 @ $6.50 to collect $21,450 {March 11}

$2500 @ $7.50 to collect $18,750 {July 2}

$6000 @ $3 to collect $18,000 {October 9}

$4000 @ $3.75 to collect $15,000 {August 19}

$3000 @ $5 to collect $15,000 {August 5}

$8000 @ $1.80 to collect $14,400 {October 17}

$2000 @ $6.50 to collect $13,000 {February 5}

$5000 @ $13 [collect $65,000] on Richmond-Melbourne (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {September 21}

$5000 @ $10.50 [collect $52,500] on Richmond-Melbourne (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {October 11}

$5000 @ $10.45 [collect $52,250] on Richmond (2020 AFL Premiership) | Melbourne {October 12}

$2000 @ $12.18 [collect $24,360] on Geelong (2020 AFL Grand Final Team) | Melbourne {August 19}

$2000 @ $12 [collect $24,000] on Geelong (2020 AFL Grand Final Team) | Melbourne {October 10}

$5950 @ $3.20 [collect $19,040] on Richmond-Melbourne (2020 AFL-NRL Premiership Double) {October 23}

TO WIN GRAND FINAL (OPENED NIGHT OF OCTOBER 17)

Penrith

$20,000 @ $2.15 to collect $43,000 {October 19}

$10,000 @ $2.25 to collect $22,500 {October 23}

$10,000 @ $2.10 to collect $21,000 {October 17}

$9000 @ $2.20 to collect $19,800 {October 22}

$8000 @ $2.30 to collect $18,400 {Today}  ** two separate bets **

$5050 @ $2.30 to collect $11,615 {Today}

$5120 @ $2.15 to collect $11,008 {October 18}

$4350 @ $2.30 to collect $10,005 {October 24}

$4190 @ $2.15 to collect $9,008.50 {October 18}

$5000 @ $4.30 [collect $21,500] on Richmond v Geelong (2020 AFL Grand Final – Richmond won by 31 points) | Penrith {October 24}

$2000 @ $7.53 [collect $15,060] on Richmond v Geelong (2020 AFL Grand Final – Richmond won by 31 points) | Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje (UFC 254 – Nurmagomedov won by submission in the second round) | Brisbane v Sydney Roosters (2020 NRLW Grand Final) | Penrith {October 24}

Melbourne

$25,000 @ $1.75 to collect $43,750 {October 19}

$10,000 @ $1.75 to collect $17,500 {October 18}

$10,000 @ $1.70 to collect $17,000 {October 20}

$10,000 @ $1.70 to collect $17,000 {October 24}

$9000 @ $1.75 to collect $15,750 {October 18}

$8600 @ $1.70 to collect $14,620 {October 23}

$8000 @ $1.75 to collect $14,000 {October 18}

$6000 @ $1.75 to collect $10,500 {October 18}  ** two separate bets **

$5000 @ $3.17 [collect $15,850] on Richmond v Geelong (2020 AFL Grand Final – Richmond won by 31 points) | Melbourne {October 24}

$3000 @ $3.31 [collect $9,930] on Arizona v Dallas (NFL Week 6 – Arizona won 38-10) | Melbourne {October 20}

$652 @ $22.21 [collect $14,480.92] on Richmond -12.5 v Geelong/Over 126.5 Points (2020 AFL Grand Final – Richmond won by 31 points; 131 points scored) | Brisbane -6.5 v Sydney Roosters (2020 NRLW Grand Final) | Melbourne {October 24}





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NRL Grand Final 2020 pre-match entertainment: Amy Shark, Andrew Farriss, when does it start, Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers, live updates, start time, score, video


Before all the action kicks off at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night fans will be treated to spectacular entertainment from two Australian musicians at different stages of their career.

Aussie indie pop sensation Amy Shark headlines the pre-match show only a week after earning multiple ARIA nominations.

Her latest single ‘C’mon’ featuring Travis Barker was released two days ago.

Catch Fox League’s Grand Final Week coverage on Kayo. Stream all the latest news and insight right up until kick off plus half-time and full-time analysis from the Fox League commentary team. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Grand Final

‘Biggest fear’ for Smith

1:47



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Alex McKinnon’s gesture to Melbourne Storm skipper Cameron Smith after response to tragic tackle


‘‘I have no emotion when it comes to Cameron Smith these days,’’ McKinnon said this week. ‘‘I have forgiven everything that happened straight after the tackle, his response – I have forgiven him. It’s hard to hold on to hate. It really is. It’s wasted energy. It’s blinding.

‘‘At its worst, it can consume you and I’ll admit it did for a while there. There is no positive to being like that and, for that reason, I have moved past it and I hold no hard feelings at all.

Alex McKinnon on the ground after the tragic tackle in 2014 in Melbourne.Credit:Getty

‘‘The hard thing was for my family, my dad, to let it go. But I told them it didn’t do any of us any good at all to keep the hate. I talked with them about how it does not help anyone. And the family has been able to put it all to one side. My dad can now observe something that Smith has done and not see it in a negative light. Quite the opposite. And that has been some time in the making.

‘‘I work with [Knights coach] Adam O’Brien now and he has nothing but praise for Smith and [Storm coach] Craig Bellamy, and his love for Craig has certainly influenced my approach to the situation.’’

Smith has also been criticised for not reaching out to McKinnon after the accident.

‘‘I’ve got to accept that there was an attempt soon after it happened and my family wanted to protect me from that,’’ McKinnon said.

I am now looking for players like him. It’s my job to find the next Smith.

Alex McKinnon

The next move came from McKinnon. ‘‘I got his number from Matthew Johns and contacted him,’’ McKinnon said. ‘‘It’s just how it happened. My view of Smith has all changed now in my role as a scout with Newcastle. I see him in a totally different way. I watch what he does on the field, his interaction with players. I watch Smith the player without emotion. And I am now looking for players like him. It’s my job to find the next Smith.’’

So will McKinnon be cheering for the Storm tonight?

‘‘I used to hope they would lose,’’ he admitted. ‘‘In the past, I got something out of that for sure. Now I can just watch. To be honest, I’ll be watching it thinking what will it take for Newcastle to be there one day, and I’ll be upset that we are not there now.

“I don’t have any particular leaning. If it was Souths, I’d want them to win for Wayne [Bennett]. But I no longer want the Storm to lose because they are the Storm.’’

Gus goes extra mile

At one point in his stellar young career, even the keenest Penrith observers feared they had lost one of the club’s best talents, Jarome Luai. And for a while, they did.

‘‘Where’s Broadbridge?’’ asked then Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould as he cast his eye over the team sheet while watching a junior side a couple of years ago. Broadbridge was there, he’d just changed his name to what it is today, Luai.

‘‘We were living at his grandmother’s house and, while we were there, she wanted him to go under his name,’’ Jarome’s dad, Martin Luai, said. ‘‘So he did. He decided to change back a few years ago and I am so proud when I see him out there.’’

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The Panthers had another reason to fear they had lost him. Martin did two years in jail for drug trafficking. It was a bad decision made while his family was under huge financial pressure. That was a serious concern for the Panthers for a number of reasons, not least of which Martin faced being deported to New Zealand and the family being torn apart. References from Cameron Ciraldo – who coached Jarome throughout his junior career – and Gould helped Martin remain in Australia.

‘‘Martin Luai has acted illegally, irresponsibly and, dare I say it, stupidly,’’ Gould wrote. ‘‘Acting out of a sense of desperation to provide for his family is no excuse. Jarome is a hard-working dedicated young man … the qualities of Jarome speaks volumes for the loving and disciplined upbringing his parents have provided.

‘‘Your honour, Martin Luai and his family are already paying dearly for his actions. I genuinely fear for the welfare of the children and their futures if Martin is to be deported on top of his current penalty of incarceration.’’

Mum’s the word

Nathan Cleary has used grand final week to defend his father, Ivan, and the controversial way he joined the Panthers. He also declared that his mum, Rebecca, is the true hero of the Cleary family.

‘‘Mum is the rock,’’ he said. ‘‘She has helped both of us so much. She is probably the main reason we have been able to turn it around this year. She is the support system. She is always willing to have a chat. I’m so grateful to have her.’’

Roosters close in on Suaalii

We told you last week about Joseph Suaalii dropping the Rabbitohs and following the Roosters on Instagram. It’s hard to ignore because he is getting close to knocking back rugby and signing a deal with the tricolours.

A deal is being prepared and those who know the young man say he has been in discussions with the Bondi club. The Roosters are clearly working on a succession plan for James Tedesco, who is already regarded as the best player in the NRL.

Tedesco is off contract at the end of next year. He will be offered a deal that will extend his stay until at least the end of 2023. Suaalii is on a small deal with Souths next year, but every indication is that he doesn’t want to be there. The attraction of playing under Roosters coach Trent Robinson is significant to a young player.

Dally M muddle

The Dally M farce has led to unfair online attacks on News Corp journalist Phil Rothfield. He has been slammed for a mistake by another journalist, who published an article criticising the award, and for News Corp publishing the winners – including the winner of the Dally M Medal, Jack Wighton – before the ceremony began.

As big an error as it was – and as much embarrassment as it has caused the company and the game – there was no malice or intent as far as this column is aware. But the issue here is what happened on Fox Sports’ NRL 360. Rothfield was on the show on Monday night. He already knew the points tally, knew the winner and knew there was an unfolding drama with the story having been published accidentally. His phone was running hot on air.

When asked about the result, he said he was hoping Nathan Cleary would win. He should not have been asked the question because he already knew the winner and, therefore, could not give a genuine answer.

The only answer Rothfield could have, and perhaps should have, given was a declaration there and then that he knew who had won and had already filed a story on it. The credibility of the show would not have been brought into question.

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Equally concerning for a program that trades on its strong opinions and bags plenty of people for their errors, there was no mention of the stuff-up. The hosts of the show had the opportunity to come clean the next night and didn’t.

Sorry state

A group of officials on either side of the NSW-Queensland border are set to hand ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys his first significant defeat of 2020.

V’landys and NRL boss Andrew Abdo have backed and approved Karl Stefanovic’s behind-the-scenes Origin documentary, which was being shot for streaming service Stan. But now the blazer brigade, with support from Maroons coach Wayne Bennett, are set to block the move. V’landys won’t go down without a fight.

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Mansour finally has shot at NRL reward


Josh Mansour isn’t too proud to admit that he cried in the middle of ANZ Stadium when Penrith made the grand final.

“It was just the journey itself, everything hit me at once,” Mansour told AAP.

Because when it comes to journeys at the Panthers, the Penrith winger’s is up there with the best of them.

The 30-year-old has been at the club for nine years, their longest-serving first grade player.

In that time since being knocked back by South Sydney and picked up by Penrith in 2012, he has been there for everything.

All except for a grand final – and that will finally come against Melbourne on Sunday.

“It’s a lot of emotion,” Mansour said.

“The boys were like, ‘why are you crying?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know!’ I was just so happy.

“We worked so hard to get to this position. Honestly. We were riding the lows last year and now we’re just embracing every win.”

In Mansour’s first full season, he rode the wave to within one win of a grand final. It was enough to earn him Kangaroos selection.

Then Penrith bottomed out. Injuries befell them in 2015 and Ivan Cleary was sacked as coach.

Three successive semi-final disappointments followed, another coach’s exit and, amid it all, a badly injured knee and the kind of facial damage usually reserved for car crash victims.

None of that, however, compared to the torment of 2019 experienced by the club, when teammates were plunged into scandal and Mansour was briefly dropped after the team’s horror start to the year.

Now, finally, Mansour is getting his reward.

“It makes everything worthwhile,” he said.

“Last year was rock bottom. To have the year we’re having, I’m so grateful to be in this position and part of this team.

“It’s been one of the hardest years in terms of COVID and our training. Everyone is buying into the culture at our club.”

A challenge does, however, await on Sunday.

Mansour will be charged with stopping Suliasi Vunivalu and Melbourne’s dangerous left side, after they helped tear Canberra to shreds last week.

Sunday night will be Vunivalu’s NRL swansong before he heads to the 15-man game, with the impressive strike rate of 85 tries in 110 games.

“Big Suli, he is a very athletic Fijian,” Mansour said.

“I have to be on my game there. He is an aerial threat and such a good finisher of tries. Defensively we have to be very good.”





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Penrith Panthers forward Viliame Kikau planning something special for decider


Nate Da Barber – the mastermind behind Kikau’s hair, along with that of several other Panthers players, working out of his Jordan Springs garage – is a proud Penrith fan and had lost count of the number of youngsters who wanted to copy the star’s look. He simply refers to the style as “the Kiks”.

Viliame Kikau has raised the bar in terms of haircuts this year, but the giant forward says he’s got something special planned for tonight’s decider.Credit:Janie Barrett

Talk out at Penrith on Saturday night was Kikau had added three narrow strips to the side of his head, which would be coloured green, yellow and red, the same colour pattern as appears on the Panthers jersey.

Coach Ivan Cleary and maybe assistant coach Trent Barrett would be the only people at the club who could challenge Kikau when it comes to hair.

“Dad’s is pretty cool because it’s got the silver through it,” Nathan Cleary said. “Last year didn’t help the [grey] with the stress, but you still can’t beat Kiks.”

Liam Martin is a proud country boy, who still loves a good old-fashioned “No. 2 at the back and on the sides, with a little bit off top”, but even he’s been converted by Kikau’s hair-raising antics.

“I actually walked in with a mohawk one day; the boys loved it, but mum and the missus told me to get rid of it,” Martin said. “I do love Kiks’ hair. When he did it, I approved. You can’t beat it.”

Winger Brian To’o added: “If you were to flick him upside down he would be a mop. I reckon he actually looks like a lion. Nobody says anything to him. He bullies all the boys, him and ‘Fish’ [James Fisher-Harris]. But he definitely suits it.”



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NRL 2020: Storm vs Panthers grand final, Cameron Smith retirement, Nathan Brown Warriors


Incoming Warriors coach Nathan Brown believes Storm skipper Cameron Smith shouldn’t be crowned the greatest player of all time.

Smith has been the hottest topic in rugby league news for the last couple of months due to the uncertainty surrounding his future and it’s reignited the debate of whether the 37-year-old is the greatest rugby league player of all time.

As a two-time premiership-winning captain, nine-time Dally M Hooker of the Year, two-time Golden Boot winner and the first player to reach the 400-game milestone, Smith makes a very strong case.

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Grand Final

However Brown believes it would be inaccurate to crown any one player with the honour. He does think Smith deserves a slightly different one though.



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NRL Grand Final 2020: Josh Mansour Gus Gould


Gould tried to break the news to Mansour, even telling him he had to accept the offer, that it was too good to pass up. But the bearded winger was having none of it.

Mansour wanted to stay.

He told Gould he would settle for less to stay and to make him an offer. Gould said the Panthers simply couldn’t find that sort of money.

Mansour begged him to stay and Gould found some money.

In the end, Mansour settled for barely half the amount he could have earned in Canberra.

But he was happy. He was home.

Josh Mansour knocked back a huge offer to stay with the Panthers and that loyalty will be rewarded when he plays in his first grand final tonight.Credit:Janie Barrett

“Do I remember that conversation with Gus? I’ll never forget it,” Mansour tells The Sun-Herald. “We were sitting in the player dugout at the stadium. It was just me and him. The negotiations had kept going back and forth with the club and Gus said to me, ‘You should take this Canberra deal, it’s a great deal’.

“But I kept telling him, ‘I don’t want to leave’ and ‘Do what you can, I love this club too much’.

“Penrith had handed me my dream to play in the NRL. I wanted to repay the club for giving me that.

“I got emotional. So did Gus. There were tears in the eyes. Everyone was telling me to go to Canberra. Gus did. So did my manager. Everyone except me.”

Mansour and James Tedesco were photographed hopping off a plane from Canberra where they had just been given the Raiders’ grand tour by coach Ricky Stuart. The pair looked sheepish as they made their way out of one of the domestic terminals at Sydney Airport.

Scoring a try for the Kangaroos at the end of 2014, the same year he ignored a huge deal with Canberra.

Scoring a try for the Kangaroos at the end of 2014, the same year he ignored a huge deal with Canberra.Credit:Christopher Chan

Tedesco ended up signing a $1.8 million deal with Canberra before backflipping to remain with Wests Tigers. The deal lasted three days.

Mansour never agreed to anything but, like Tedesco, told Canberra he would remain in Sydney.

He still remembers sitting next to Tedesco on the flight home when they asked each other what they were thinking.

“Teddy was asking me if I was going to sign,” Mansour says. “I had a feeling he would have gone there had I gone there. I never asked him. That’s just a gut feel.

Panthers player Josh Mansour, wife Daniella and children Dre, left, and Siana.

Panthers player Josh Mansour, wife Daniella and children Dre, left, and Siana. Credit: Nick Moir

Tedesco was reminded of the pair’s trip together this week, and clearly would have enjoyed playing alongside the winger, saying: “He is a nice bloke, a funny bloke, and every time you get around him he makes you smile.”

For Mansour though, there was always something holding him back from moving to Canberra.

“I had a phone call with ‘Sticky’ [Stuart]. I told him I had all my family here and how it was holding me back,” Mansour says.

“I respected Sticky as a bloke and as a coach. We got along really well. I later called him, I said, ‘Mate, I don’t want to beat around the bush, I’m staying at Penrith. Thanks for your interest’.”

Mansour is mobbed by teammates after a try against the Wests Tigers this year.

Mansour is mobbed by teammates after a try against the Wests Tigers this year.Credit: Getty

Mansour gave up more than $500,000 over the three years of the deal to stay.

Raiders boss Don Furner remembers it well too. It was a tough period for the Raiders. But he appreciated Mansour going to the effort of contacting him personally. Furner says he can count on the one hand the number of players who have actually bothered to break the bad news themselves.

It says a lot about Mansour’s upbringing – and it says a lot about his loyalty.

“It was tough call because I knew how much I was giving up,” Mansour says. “I’ve always been loyal. I’ll do anything for my mates and teammates. If someone does right by me, I want to repay them tenfold.

“As soon as I laced up my boots for the first time as a kid, all I wanted to do was play in the NRL.

“I thought that dream was going to be with Souths. I wanted nothing more than to play for South Sydney. I came through their juniors, had a lot of mates there. We had a lot of success in the under-20s.

“Then Penrith gave me my dream. This is home.”

Born to a Lebanese father and Portuguese mother whose hearts were crushed when their son chose rugby league over football – Mansour was a talented striker who started out at Lakemba Sports, the one-time home of Tim Cahill – the 30-year-old is the longest-serving Panther involved in Sunday’s grand final.

Mansour is off contract at the end of next season and knows the club will need to weigh up experience versus youth.

Charlie Staines has a huge future and already knocked back Canterbury to recommit to the Panthers. He’s known as the “Ferrari” because of his blistering speed. If Staines is the flashy Italian sports car, Mansour is the trusty Holden that shows no signs of burning out.

Fan favourite: Josh Mansour meets supporters in Bathurst last season.

Fan favourite: Josh Mansour meets supporters in Bathurst last season.

Staines won’t find it easy to unseat the veteran. Mansour has bounced back into form this year along with fellow winger Brian To’o. The Penrith wide men are not the biggest, but have huge engines and have been key in getting the Panthers on the front foot in the club’s 17-game win streak by taking the first and second hit-ups in the tackle count. They were awesome last Saturday against Souths.

Playing outside rookie centre Stephen Crichton has also given Mansour a new lease of life.

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“I’ll keep playing as long as my body allows me to play,” says Mansour, who has overcome some shocking injuries in recent years, including an ACL he ruptured while on a Kangaroos tour and multiple facial fractures suffered in a collision in 2018.

He might be the Panthers’ longest-serving player but sadly Mansour remains a shocking singer and the only Penrith player to botch the words to the team song – despite the team singing it 17 straight games in a row this season.

“It was my 150th, I had to lead the team song, but I crumbled under the pressure,” he says. “The boys were squirting water in my face and I ended up going too fast. I stuffed it up.”

A small stuff up in the scheme of things, and one easily forgotten if he gets to sing the song alonside the the Provan-Summons Trophy on Sunday night.

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Bellamy selects Hynes in Storm GF side


Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy will rely on the same 17 to get the job done in Sunday’s NRL grand final, electing to stick with Nicho Hynes over powerhouse prop Tui Kamikamica.

Bellamy was tossing up whether to risk Kamikamica, who hadn’t played for almost a month due to an ankle injury, and only featured in five games for the season following back surgery, or keep utility back Hynes on the bench.

Both players ran with the side in their final training session in Queensland on Saturday before boarding a plane for Sydney ahead of their title clash with Penrith.

But the Storm confirmed on Saturday night that 24-year-old Hynes, originally from the NSW Central Coast, had got the nod and is set for a grand final debut.

Playing his first NRL game last season, Hynes has impressed with his opportunities this year to make 11 appearances and can play anywhere from fullback to the halves.

Melbourne assistant coach Ryan Hinchcliffe said that Bellamy would have talked to senior players such as Cameron Smith before going with his “gut feel”.

“It’s a bit of a gut feel for him (Bellamy) – I can’t explain exactly but he talks to players in the team and people around whose input he values and then he goes with his gut,” Hinchcliffe said on Saturday.

“He will choose who he thinks is going to suit our team best.”

Melbourne players were unable to have a final training run at ANZ Stadium and had to settle for a walk around late on Saturday.

While relieved they did not have to travel on the match day as they had done through the season, and the Raiders had to do last week, Hinchcliffe said it was not ideal to miss a run-through.

“You’d prefer to have the opportunity but in saying that it’s been one of those years where things that you’d want to do you can’t, so it is what it is,” he said.

“We played Souths there in about round 17 so it wasn’t that long ago that we played on that field.

“The players will go to the field and have a look around and the enormity of the situation will sink in.”

Rain and cool conditions have been forecast as well as a heavy track, in contrast to the hard, fast fields at their adopted ‘home’ of Sunshine Coast Stadium and Suncorp Stadium.

“There will be some adjusting to the conditions, there’s no doubt about that,” said Hincliffe, who was part of Melbourne’s grand final wins in 2009 and 2012.

“We will have to tweak a few things with what we do when we’ve got the ball but we’ve got a style of footy we think can hold up in dry and wet.

“It’s more around decision making with your passing and catching, and being selective with not putting your teammates under too much pressure.

“The conditions will play a part and the team that adapts to the conditions of the game, will go a long way to getting the result they want.”





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