Queensland Maroons urge new enforcer Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to mantain the rage in decider in battle with NSW Blues’ Payne Haas


“Payne was the big dog at schoolboy level so Tino took him on – that’s the competitor he is,” Mammino said.

Haas would later play down reports of any junior rivalry with the new Titans signing and said Mammino was “riding his coat-tails” to get some attention. Whatever the genesis of the disagreement, it’s clear there will be more to play out next week.

And the Maroons loved the passion and aggression shown by their new enforcer.

Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans was seen admonishing Fa’asuamaleaui after the game, but Maroons back-rower Felise Kaufusi said he didn’t expect either of the powerhouse middle forwards to take a backward step.

Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui clashed in game two and the Maroons expect more to come next week.Credit:

He said Fa’asuamaleaui had to keep everything within the rules, but wanted to see his fellow Storm premiership winner “smash him … legally”.

“In the heat of the moment they are both very passionate people for their state,” Kaufusi said. “When things are going either way, people are going to fire up. That is what they did.

“I expect them to go head-to-head [again]. Whether or not punches will be thrown, I don’t know, but they will be ripping into each other on Wednesday night. It will be good to watch that battle.

“[Tino] is aggressive and he is young. You definitely don’t want to lose that aggression, just be smarter and smash him legally and rip into him with his defence or his attack.”

Queensland fullback Valentine Holmes was another who urged Fa’asuamaleaui to take the fight to Haas, but called on the Storm forward to show a degree of restraint and try to dominate through punishing defence, not flying fists.

“Not in a silly way … but we want to go after all their middles to put it over them,” Holmes said.

“We don’t want [players] to be sent off for nothing. We need to be smarter this week, be stronger and hit harder.”

So few players let their hands go in the NRL these days that it almost had a sense of novelty value, with Haas firing off first before Fa’asuamaleaui responded over a pack of players who were doing their best to separate the angry duo.

And while it was a costly clash for both of them, it might have been exactly what the Maroons needed going into a home decider in front of what is expected to be a sold-out Suncorp Stadium, which can now host its full capacity of 52,000 as COVID restrictions are relaxed.

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Queensland were being badly beaten through the middle on Wednesday night on the way to a heavy defeat, but nobody could accuse Fa’asuamaleaui or throwing in the towel. Haas, who is usually a hard-working, but fairly relaxed campaigner for the Broncos, was no shrinking violet either.

It sets up a mouth-watering, old-school confrontation between the pair, who could square off in Origin for the best part of the next decade as well as clash in the local NRL derby now Fa’asuamaleaui has joined former Bronco David Fifita at the Titans.

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Former Blues prop Mark O‘Meley is inspiring Parramatta enforcer Junior Paulo ahead of his NSW Origin debut


Junior Paulo is ready to “run through blokes” on Origin debut for NSW after some inspiring words from his idol, former Blues prop Mark O’Meley.

Over a decade after watching O’Meley dominate for NSW, Paulo is primed to follow in his idol’s footsteps and star on the Origin stage.

The Eels enforcer has gained valuable insights from man nicknamed, “Ogre”, who has been in NSW camp as the team’s Covid-19 marshall, heading into Origin 1 at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night.

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“Mark was the king of coming off the back fence and it has been great to be able to learn off him,” Paulo said about O’Meley, who played 10 Origins for NSW between 2001 and 2006.



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Penrith Panthers forward James Fisher-Harris happy to play enforcer against Melbourne Storm playmakers


Penrith have made a point of pressuring kickers all year, but rival clubs have strangely struggled to apply the same pressure to Cleary and Jarome Luai.

Fisher-Harris shrugged and smiled when asked about his love of tormenting opposition playmakers.

James Fisher-Harris carts it up for the Panthers.Credit:Getty Images

“We’ve been trying to do it all year round,” Fisher-Harris told the Herald. “They’re playmakers, it makes it better if we can chop them.

“Nobody thinks much of it, but if you can sack them with the ball it’s a big play.

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“It’s not just my role. The whole team does it. I’m just in the right place at the right time. You have to be smart with it and not doing silly things.”

Liam Martin has also produced his share of decent tackles on rival halves, including Cody Walker last Saturday, and said: “You want to make Dylan [Edwards]’s job as easy as possible [returning kicks], and if we can help out anyway by putting pressure on the kickers, we will. There’s quite a bit of discipline involved.”

Geyer has always loved the game’s enforcers and naturally had a lot of time for the Kiwi this week included at prop in the Dally M team of the year.

“He is my favourite player, absolutely,” the Panthers legend and 1991 premiership winner said.

“I’ve always noticed he seems to make it his job to hassle the kicker and put the pressure on the main man ion their team. He’s also so hard to bring down one on one and stands in tackles.

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“I remember watching him against the Cowboys earlier this year and how Jason Taumalolo tried to bring him down a couple of times and had no luck. That’s when I started watching him closely. He’s a massive part of why Penrith are where they are. He speaks with his actions. He’s a tough man.”

A man of few words, Fisher-Harris collected the prop of the year gong at the Dally M awards at the start of the week to go with his Merv Cartwright Medal as Penrith’s player of the year last season.

Coach Ivan Cleary told the Herald earlier this month how he moved Fisher-Harris to the front-row this season so Isaah Yeo could move to lock forward, and said of the 24-year-old international: “‘Fish’ played almost 80 minutes every week in the middle during a tough year last year, and he was our player of the year by miles. But never for one second he looked like he was satisfied. He’s like that now.”

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Brisbane Broncos enforcer Tevita Pangai jnr breaks silence on phone call to Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis


However, the back-rower defended himself over contacting Politis in the aftermath of being sprung for the bubble breach. The conversation was interpreted by many as evidence of a desire to jump ship from Anthony Seibold’s hapless Broncos but Pangai jnr maintains he was simply seeking advice from the long-time Roosters chairman.

“He’s like a mentor to me. I’ve known him for a few years now,” he said. “He brought my brother to the club. He played lower grades at the Roosters. He knows my parents and has watched some footy with my family. He’s a family friend of ours. My parents have known him for years.

Tevita Pangai jnr is hoping to salvage his deal at Brisbane.

Tevita Pangai jnr is hoping to salvage his deal at Brisbane.Credit:NRL Photos

“I just contacted him for some advice. Obviously I was going through a tough time at the Broncos – he’s a winner and I just wanted some advice on my footy. He gave me some advice. I’ll keep that conversation private but it was nothing to get out of the club.”

The Broncos enforcer also said he had no links to the Mongols bikie gang, members of which were at the Brisbane barbershop when he visited it in the most flagrant of his transgressions.

“I’m a pretty social person. I had a friend that goes to the barbershop. I usually go there to get my haircut. There is no association. I just go there for a haircut,” he said.

“I’ve never met any of them before. I have no association and I won’t be going back there again.”

While Brisbane have signalled an intention to terminate his contract on a range of fronts – including his indifference to the coronavirus restrictions, his call to Politis and his on-field disciplinary record – he has struck up a bond with Broncos director and club great Darren Lockyer.

The Tonga international said Lockyer had been helping him try to be competitive and “stay on the park”, a reference to his shocking run with the match review committee and judiciary. Over the past two seasons, he has been suspended four times for a total of 12 matches on the sideline.

He is now missing even more time on the field. When handing down the penalty to Pangai jnr, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said he would need to demonstrate a commitment that he could comply with the biosecurity rules before being permitted to play again.

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In a move to satisfy those demands, the player said on Friday he could “guarantee that I’ll do the right thing now”.

He remains hopeful he can feature again this season for Brisbane, who he denied referring to as a basket case in his interview with NRL integrity unit officials.

“I was obviously disappointed,” he said of receiving a breach notice from the club. “But there are people there, the management, that have to make choices. My job is to play footy and do the right thing. I wasn’t doing the right thing and I put my hand up. I’m remorseful for my actions and my poor choices.

“I’m really passionate about the club. I owe it to the fans and the members. I came here as a young 19-year-old boy. I’m 24 now. In the five years I’ve grown to love the club. A few times I’ve come off contract I’ve had chances to leave and take a bit more money but I love the club so much.”

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Gold Coast Titans enforcer Kevin Proctor sent off for biting Cronulla Sharks half Shaun Johnson, first NRL player sent off for biting


Holbrook would have preferred the officials to sit at the post-match press conference and explain why his 250-game international was the first player marched for biting.

And Johnson sensationally defended his Kiwi mate after the game, even embracing him in the middle of Kogarah.

Kevin Proctor was sent off for biting against the Sharks on Saturday.

Kevin Proctor was sent off for biting against the Sharks on Saturday.Credit:Getty, Fox Sports screengrab

“Nothing happened. Let’s just leave it at that,” Johnson said. “We were both heated in the middle of the game, I was a little bit high on him, whatever happened happened. We’re still mates.

“I don’t see the value of taking it any further than what’s happened here today. I’ve got nothing but respect for Kevvie, I love him as a player and love him as a person, nothing more to say about it.”

Johnson said he would not provide evidence if required at the judiciary.

For all Johnson’s love and support for Proctor, it will count for little with the match review committee who will meet on Sunday and are all but certain to send the biting charge straight to the NRL judiciary.

The Saturday afternoon clash was a sleepy affair before Proctor and Johnson squared off.

Proctor was tackled by Johnson before he leapt to his feet and angrily said: “You were choking me you f—ing sook”. Replays showed Proctor’s mouth on Johnson’s right forearm. Johnson was furious and winced in pain.

Referee Henry Perenara wasted no time sending Proctor from the field. The bunker made sure Perenara came down with the harshest action.

The off-contract international became just the second player this season after Manly’s Addin Fonua-Blake to be marched.

Cronulla received the penalty, and Johnson made the visitors pay in the next set when his kick was caught beautifully by a diving Sione Katoa to break the 12-all deadlock.

Cronulla went on to triumph 30-18 – but the spiteful clash between two of New Zealand’s biggest names was the extraordinary talking point.

“I haven’t sat down to ask Shaun exactly what has happened,” Morris said. “I can’t go into depth about what may or may not have occurred.

“The bunker felt there was enough evidence there to send him off.

“It was a turning point in the game because we scored the next set and scored a couple of tries.

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“I couldn’t see the vision too much in the box. The vision I saw didn’t look great, but I won’t accuse Kevin of biting.

“Shaun felt something, it’s Shaun Johnson, he wouldn’t report something that didn’t happen.

“Kevin will have his chance to defend himself.”

Proctor re-emerged in a bright yellow Titans’ T-shirt at full-time and shook Johnson’s hand. They spoke briefly before patting each other on the back.

Proctor could have an extended stint on the sidelines coming. James Graham copped 12 matches for biting Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final. Canterbury’s Brad Morrin received an eight-week ban in 2007 for biting Timana Tahu while another Gold Coast player, Will Zillman, was rubbed out a month for biting South’s Jamie Simpson.

Just as many players, however, have been cleared over the years, including Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich who was accused of biting by Josh Dugan in 2015.

St George Illawarra’s Luke Bailey and Jarrod Saffy, Parramatta cult hero Fuifui Moimoi and long-serving Cowboy Scott Bolton were also all exonerated.

“You’ll need an official to answer the question,” Holbrook said. “I don’t want to say ‘no’ [he didn’t bite him] … both players know each other really well, they exchanged words, one has apologised … Kevin is disappointed.”

The win for Cronulla was their seventh in nine games and a nice mental lift after their heartbreak against Parramatta at the same soggy venue just six days earlier.

Johnson finished with a sore arm but will be more worried about a groin injury which forced him from the field with 15 minutes remaining.

The Sharks will be hoping Johnson’s injury is not serious as they face competition leaders Penrith next Friday.

Losing Proctor to suspension capped a horror hit-and-run trip to Sydney fore the Titans as they also lost Jai Arrow (shoulder) and Dale Copley (pectoral muscle) well before full-time.

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Former enforcer Laraque tests positive for COVID-19



FILE PHOTO: Former NHL Player Georges Laraque speaks during a news conference in Port-au-Prince July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Swoan Parker

May 1, 2020

Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque revealed over social media that he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I guess I’m not invincible, just got diagnosed with Covid, since I’m asthmatic, not the best news, will fight it off!” Laraque wrote Thursday night on Twitter.

The official Edmonton Oilers’ Twitter account replied to his post, writing “Get well soon, Big Georges!”

Laraque, 43, recorded 43 goals, 68 assists and 826 penalty minutes during his eight seasons with the Oilers (1997-2006). The Montreal native was selected by the Oilers with the 31st overall pick of the 1995 NHL Draft.

Laraque also played with the then-Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins before finishing his career with the Canadiens. He collected 53 goals, 100 assists and 1,126 penalty minutes in 695 career games.

–Field Level Media





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