NRL 2021: Alex Glenn, Broncos captaincy, testimonial game, Kevin Walters


Veteran forward Alex Glenn will retain the Broncos captaincy for 2021 with the club confirming the news on Friday morning.

The 32-year-old got the nod over Anthony Milford, Ben Te’o and Payne Haas. Andrew McCullough was also in the mix before making the move to the Dragons.

Glenn seems the most logical option considering Haas has been embroiled in off-field controversy and Milford has struggled with form over the last two seasons.

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Round 1

The announcement comes just in time for Glenn’s testimonial match on Saturday against the Cowboys at Dolphin stadium.

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Wounded NSW Waratahs face captaincy conundrum after Jake Gordon blow


The side’s woes were compounded when No.12 Joey Walton also left the field because of an ankle complaint. Next Saturday the Waratahs face the Brumbies, who knocked off the Western Force 27-11 in Perth on Friday.

The Waratahs said the severity of both blows won’t be known until Monday when the pair have scans, but for a team short on squad depth the prospect of major injuries is far from ideal.

Izaia Perese on his way to the sin bin on Friday night.

Izaia Perese on his way to the sin bin on Friday night.Credit:Getty

If Gordon is ruled out, NSW will need a new captain. Without Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons or Kurtley Beale this year, the cupboard is bare in terms of experience.

Fullback Jack Maddocks could be an option, and Alex Newsome was the side’s vice-captain last year but being out on the wing might work against him.

Back-rower Jack Dempsey played well and could fill the void, while reserve Hugh Sinclair, who has captained Norths in the Shute Shield, fronted the post-match press conference.

Jack Grant, the son of former Wallaby James Grant, is the favourite to start at halfback in Gordon’s place. The Waratahs also hope Tepai Moeroa will overcome a knee niggle to be an option at inside-centre.

But NSW still need to find a replacement for Perese, who in his first game for the club inexplicably tipped Hunter Paisami on his head. Perese lost possession in the lead-up and tried to hit Paisami as hard as he could before the tip-tackle gone wrong.

SANZAAR is yet to announce the date for a near-certain judiciary hearing, but NSW will be preparing for life without him for an extended period.

Penney, who took a punt on Perese following an off-field incident at the Brisbane Broncos, could not hide his disappointment.

“I just feel so heartbroken for Izzy,” Penney said. “He’s a talented young kid. He’s come back to try and re-establish his reputation and it’s a tough start for him. He’ll get a lot of support from us because we love him. It’s a tough start for him but he’ll get a bit of a learning out of it.

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“It was a fair call, no doubt. You’ve got to support the referees wholeheartedly.”

Penney said No.7 Carlo Tizzano had a tight hamstring following a standout performance. The 21-year-old made 25 tackles, twice as many as any of his teammates.

In the short-term, the Waratahs may have found an excellent replacement for Hooper.

“Losing sucks … but onto next week,” Tizzano said. “I’m just trying to do my best and see what I can do.”

Meanwhile, 97,000 people watched the Waratahs and Reds match on 9GEM, an increase on the 69,000 who tuned in for the corresponding game last year on Fox Sports to begin Super Rugby AU.

Stan Sport does not plan on releasing its viewer numbers during the year.

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Cameron McInnes ready to be stripped of Dragons captaincy after Cronulla Sharks defection


But St George Illawarra’s best for the last two years said he would be accepting if Griffin opted to go in another direction with the captaincy, while shooting down rumours of a rift with the new coach.

“When ‘Hook’ [Griffin] came in he said to all of us players, ‘don’t worry about leadership groups, captaincy or whatnot, let’s just rip into training and start to build something, then we will talk about that when footy comes’,” McInnes said.

“We haven’t had those discussions. I’d love to be captain, but if the club need to go in another direction for the future I completely understand and I will be doing everything I can to help that person and just being a leader in my own right.

“I’ll squash all that [rumour of a fallout] right now because that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“With the Origin squad unfortunately I wasn’t able to be back at training until after Christmas, but I spoke to ‘Hook’ a couple of times. What him and the staff have brought to the club has been really encouraging … and I really admire his approach to footy. I have only known him for three or four weeks and am still getting to know him.”

McInnes’ signature before the start of the season will make for a spicy round one when the Dragons host the Sharks at Kogarah on March 14.

“I’d love to be captain, but if the club need to go in another direction for the future I completely understand.”

Cameron McInnes

McInnes has signed to play lock for the Sharks – who are still yet to decide on their long-term coach – and said he would welcome the addition of Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough to the club this year.

“I want the club to be successful on the field so if Andrew McCullough was to come I think he would add a lot to the team with his experience and his toughness,” McInnes said.

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“He has played for Queensland and he has played in grand finals, so I would love to play with ‘Macca’ for sure. In terms of playing hooker I don’t care.

“If the Dragons want me to play lock I am 100 per cent ready for that and if they need me to play hooker I’ll do that too.”

Off-contract Dragons fullback Matt Dufty has already expressed frustration with the lack of progress in discussions about his future after a breakout season in 2020. And McInnes wasn’t willing to wait to hear the Dragons’ position on his future.

“From my standpoint where I’m at in my career I wanted something done sooner rather than later,” McInnes said. “The club were honest with me, open and I respected that. The club has done a lot for me.

“As far as I’m concerned we’ve still got another year and a great opportunity. Once it’s all said and done I’ll be leaving on great terms.”

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NRL 2021: Newcastle Knights, leadership group, Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Barnett, captaincy


The Newcastle Knights have unveiled a five-man leadership group as the club prepares for the 2021 season following Mitchell Pearce’s decision to step down as captain.

The Knights announced on Saturday that Mitch Barnett, Kalyn Ponga, Daniel Saifiti, Blake Green and Jayden Brailey will form part of the group.

The club said the players were chosen after an “extensive selection process” and that all five will lead “both on and off the field throughout 2021”.

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Round 1

The Knights said that the decision to select a club captain and on-field captain would be made in the coming weeks.

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BBL 2020-21 scores: Alex Carey 100, century records, Test selection, Tim Paine captaincy


The BBL10 century drought has been broken in the classiest and most impressive of circumstances. And the timing couldn’t have been better for Alex Carey.

The Adelaide Strikers vice-captain and Australia’s No. 1 short-form wicket-keeper on Thursday night produced a clinical and near flawless knock against the Brisbane Heat to notch the first BBL hundred of the summer.

Carey picked the Heat’s bowling attack apart and played the quintessential T20 innings at the Adelaide Oval on his way to his second ever BBL ton. He became just the sixth player to ever score multiple BBL centuries.

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The left-handed opener barely made a mistake on his way to 101 off just 62 balls – an innings that included 10 fours and three sixes. And when he was eventually caught behind by Jimmy Peirson off Mark Steketee, replays suggested he shouldn’t have been given out as the ball appeared to graze his shoulder.

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Steve Smith captaincy, cheating’ scuffing guard, Tim Paine sledging, future, reaction, Rishabh Pant


The drawn third Test against India showed us Tim Paine isn’t always as cool as we think he is, the tourists have more guts than we realised and Steve Smith can never captain Australia again.

The 31-year-old was shocked and distraught to be caught up in controversy when he was accused of scuffing up Rishabh Pant’s guard on day five at the SCG.

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The English came hard for Smith. Former fast bowler Darren Gough blasted it as “plain cheating”, 2005 Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan labelled it “very poor” and ex-player and coach David Lloyd wrote in a scathing column Smith must not have “two brain cells to rub together”.

The truth is it was a case of Smith being Smith. The eccentric batsman is forever in his own cricketing bubble and was simply shadow batting and marking centre — a quirky habit Paine assured us his teammate performs regularly in every game and Justin Langer said it couldn’t possibly have done any damage to the pitch.

But as questions are asked about how long 36-year-old Paine has left in the top job, especially after dropping three catches and sledging Ravichandran Ashwin, it’s become clear he can’t be replaced by Smith.

Rightly or wrongly, Smith will forever be tainted by his role in the 2018 ball tampering scandal, which saw him banned for a year and prevented from holding any leadership position in Australian cricket until 2020.

While many in the cricket world, including Australian Test players Trent Copeland and Mark Waugh, leapt to Smith’s defence after this latest furore, the overwhelming sentiment from cricket fans on social media was this: Why, after all Smith has been through, would he put himself in a position to be judged for something that, plainly speaking, was just weird?

He did nothing illegal but shadow batting as a left-hander when you don’t even have another innings to play, then scraping the crease line, left Smith open to criticism he could easily have avoided.

RELATED: Real reason ‘filthy’ Tim Paine blew a gasket

RELATED: Smith responds to ‘cheating’ accusations

The vitriol that came his way showed the scars of Sandpapergate run deep, and any tiny misstep such as this proves Smith can’t escape his past. He certainly won’t be able to if he captains again, because his every move will be scrutinised more than ever.

A repeat of the Sydney scandal — and howls of “the sandpaper villain is at it again!” — will always be just one quirky habit away.

There’s another reason Smith might be better-suited to role where his tactical nous in the field is sought out but it’s informal. When youngster Cameron Green was drafted into the ODI squad to make his international debut earlier this summer, the best since Bradman was asked if he’d had much to do with the all-rounder since he arrived in camp.

Smith said he’d barely spoken to the 21-year-old, because he was so focused on hitting balls in the nets and working on his batting.

As an uncapped player, you’d hope senior players would take the time to make you feel welcome and get to know you. It’s certainly something you’d expect from the captain.

But Smith was too ensconced in his batting bubble to be distracted.

That’s fine — Smith is going to make a lot of Aussie cricket fans very happy if he sticks to his demanding training regimen and scores truckloads of runs for the next five years.

He should feel empowered to take whatever steps are necessary to maintain his status as the best batsman in the world — but if he lacks the people skills to befriend newcomers, he can’t be captain at the same time.



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Phillips steps down from Crows captaincy


Two-time AFLW premiership captain Erin Phillips is stepping down from her leadership role at the Crows, with the club focusing on the future.

Phillips skippered Adelaide for the first four seasons alongside Chelsea Randall and together led the team to two flags.

The forward will now turn her attention to fast-tracking the development of the club’s emerging leaders.

Crows Head of Women’s Football Phil Harper said the move was important for the club’s future thinking.

“Erin’s decision has been made in conjunction with the club and while we have been discussing it for the last 18 months, we believe this is the right time to make a change,” Harper said.

“She has been a fantastic captain over the last four years but this is great chance to take the next step as a group.”

Adelaide’s 2021 AFLW leadership group will be decided ahead of their upcoming trial match, set to be played on January 17 at Norwood Oval.





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Mitchell Pearce speaks after giving up Newcastle Knights captaincy after texting scandal


The Knights improved last season to make the finals after a difficult period in the club’s history. They were knocked out in the first week by South Sydney and have been expected to build on that effort in 2021.

But that will hinge on a united group, with O’Brien assuring fans there would be no fractures behind closed doors despite a pre-season of unwanted drama.

Mitchell Pearce says he is “taking steps” to improve as a man after giving up the captaincy at Newcastle.Credit:Getty Images

“The group is not divided,” O’Brien said. “If anything, Tuesday served as probably galvanising them a little bit. They understand that the team is like a family. They understand that family members make mistakes.

“We’re a good family. You don’t turn your back on family members, you support them. That’s what the team spoke about.

“There was genuine remorse in that meeting and I think the players could see that clearly that there was a guy standing up there that was genuinely owning a mistake … a big mistake that’s hurt some people.

“That fact was clear was to the playing group. I think that’s what galvanised the group. They realised they need to get around a family member.”

Pearce, speaking alongside O’Brien, described the festive season as a “traumatic few weeks for my personal life and those I love” but did not take questions after reading a short statement.

“Unfortunately, my actions have impacted the team and more importantly the people I have closest to me — Kristin and my family,” he said.

“I’m taking steps now to address these issues and I feel it would be in the best interest of the club to step down as captain for this season.

“I love this club and I love my family and I’m committed to working as hard as I can to be the best man I can be, both on and off the field.

“I’d appreciate some respect moving forward and a bit of time to get back to training.”

O’Brien said the decision was Pearce’s alone and they would now seek to move forward and put the matter in the past.

“Mitch came to it himself and I support him in it,” he said.

“We’ve had some productive conversations earlier this week but I’m confident this won’t have an impact on our season.”

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“It won’t be used as motivation and it won’t be used as an excuse, we’ll get on with it as professionals.”

Pearce was set to be married in Byron Bay at the end of December and, at the time, attributed the postponement to the unfolding COVID scenario within NSW.

Some 150 guests were due to attend and a number were informed as late as Christmas Eve that the nuptials were no longer to take place. Kieran Foran was among those on the invite list.

The timing isn’t ideal for the 31-year-old Pearce, who is off contract at the end of this season and in the midst of trying to extend his deal at the club. He insists he can play for another five years but there is little chance of an extension on his current $1m pay packet, with the club said to have offered a two-year deal at half that amount per season.

He’s no stranger to pre-season controversy, having spent a month in a Thai rehab clinic in 2016 after the infamous Austalia Day video in which he simulated a sex act with a dog. He was fined $125,000 and suspended for eight games.

Since then, he has found a home at the Knights and will now be desperate to produce for them on the field after providing an unwanted pre-season hurdle for a team with top-four aspirations.

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The “long-term” decision Hawthorn should make with its captaincy


With Ben Stratton retiring, Hawthorn is now in the process of deciding their next captain.

Nick Dal Santo believes the right man for the job is James Sicily, despite the defender tearing his ACL in Round 12 of 2020.

The former St Kilda star believes his absence from the field in 2021 should not impact the decision to make him the captain.

“I know that’s a little bit unusual (given his injury), but I think if it’s a long-term play, if it was anyone else I’d see it as more like a gap filler,” Dal Santo told SEN Breakfast.

“(Liam Shiels), gap filler, doesn’t mean he’s not a great leader, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a superb captain.

“If it is Sicily as the long-term option, then Shiels can do it for the next 12 months until Sicily is back.

“I know Sicily has the ups and the downs, but I love that about him. You’ve got to take the good with the bad with him.

“I’d back (Sicily) in. I think he would be better with the leadership and the captaincy next to his name.”

Dal Santo hopes Hawthorn’s key forward duo of Jonathon Patton and Mitchell Lewis get a clean run at it in 2021 and a chance to develop some chemistry.

“That duo needs to be significant and be their focal point, not only for this year, but going on,” he said.

“Mitch Lewis has shown enough signs, has all the physical attributes, as does Jonathon Patton, but they need to be able to work together.

“Throw in Jack Gunston and a couple of smalls around them, Luke Breust is still going around.

“It may not click at the smart, it might take a while, but you’d love to see by the end of the year those two guys are working in tandem together.

“I still think there’s a really good opportunity for those two to work and develop together.”





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Knights captaincy under threat for Pearce


Newcastle are considering stripping Mitchell Pearce of his NRL club captaincy following a text messaging scandal with a staff member that saw the cancellation of his wedding.

The 31-year-old halfback is set to rejoin the group for pre-season training at the end of the week where he’s expected to address teammates to apologise in an attempt to move on.

However, the situation is made even more complicated with Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon a close friend of the partner of the staff member who exchanged texts with Pearce.

On day one of the 2021 pre-season, general manager of football Danny Buderus said Pearce’s conduct was unacceptable and confirmed the leadership of the team was under review.

“At this stage for several months we’ve been addressing and looking at our leadership model within the club,” Buderus said on Monday.

“Adam O’Brien is a big believer of strong leadership, group leadership, and we really need to hone down into that and work it out and we’re still to finalise those decisions into which way we’re going to go.

“We’re going to take our time and roll it out.

“We have got some good candidates for leadership within that group but that will be for Adam and his team to work out which way the captaincy will go.”

As a former Knights captain himself, Buderus said Pearce’s behaviour is not reflective of the culture that the club needs to be successful.

After making the finals for the first time in seven seasons last year, the Knights were looking forward to a bigger push for a title in 2021 with Origin forward Tyson Frizell joining the side on Monday.

The mood at Mayfield was a far cry from the enthusiastic welcome the Knights had hoped for Frizell given the uncertainty over Pearce and the potential fractures to the playing group.

However, Buderus said he’s confident the team can move on once Pearce addresses the group later this week.

“If it’s handled right it should be all OK for players to put it behind them,” he said.

“One of our players is close to one of the people in the parties, so he’s showed some leadership in and around it and understanding what he needs to move forward.

“We’re addressing all of those things within the group to make sure all parties are happy to get back out on the footy field and do what they love, which is play rugby league.

“It needs to be addressed when he comes back otherwise it can fester within the group and to be honest I think Mitchell will like to do it that way.”

The controversy comes at the worst possible time for Pearce professionally as he continues to negotiate with the club over a contract extension beyond this year.

He has previously stated that he wants to remain at the Knights but the sticking point is understood to be his asking price.

Buderus has confirmed Pearce will be at the club in 2021 but his future beyond that is yet to be finalised.





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