NRL 2021: Roosters shock play for All Blacks great TJ Perenara, Jake Friend, Michael Cheika, Frederic Michalak


Last year they gave Sonny Bill Williams a SOS, now the Roosters are in talks to sign All Blacks World Cup-winner TJ Perenara to fill the void left by Jake Friend.

A report from 1 NEWS in New Zealand said Perenara is “seriously considering” the code switch, with the halfback uncontracted beyond 2021.

The 29-year-old, who played 69 Tests for the All Blacks and featured at two World Cup campaigns, left Super Rugby last year to take up a short-term contract with Japanese Top League team Red Hurricanes.

He is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2021 and said late last year his Japanese sabbatical “doesn’t mean it’s the end for me” in New Zealand.

But life after Perenara has already begun and there are a number of young No.9s on the rise across the ditch despite playing five of six Tests for the All Blacks last year.

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The sobering statistic that has Jake Friend on the verge of retirement


After suffering three concussions in the space of six matches, he’s poised to announce his retirement.

He is expected to have a frank discussion with coach Trent Robinson about his future any day now, although the details remain unclear.

Robinson politely declined to comment when contacted on Monday, while Friend’s long-time manager, Steve Gillis, suggested it could be days before any announcement – if any – is made.

What you can be assured of is the Roosters will rely on the best medical advice about their co-captain, just as they have with their other co-captain, Boyd Cordner, who remains on track for a mid-season return.

Friend’s anticipated retirement will bring a deluge of stories and cranky panel discussions about salary cap implications.

It will also be seen through the prism of legal risk.

Because that’s what this is all about, right? Making sure rugby league isn’t open to the same successful billion-dollar class action inflicted on the National Football League seven years ago by 4500 past players?

Rugby league needs to start looking at concussion in terms of protecting its players, not how much it could hurt the game in the courtroom.

The ARL Commission’s bizarre decision last week to rush through an 18th man protocol was classic arse-covering. It brought further confusion to an already complex issue.

A replacement can be used only if three players have failed Head Injury Assessment tests. That’s happened twice in the past 1500 matches.

The 18th man can only be an “emerging player”, whatever that means.

This edict isn’t designed to protect the player. It’s designed to stop coaches from exploiting it, so much so that it will never be used because of the conditions around it.

The only way the NRL can convince those who follow the game that it’s serious about concussion is being as transparent as possible, and on that score it’s never been particularly strong.

The confusion about Nathan Cleary’s status leading into the Panthers’ round-three match against Melbourne is a case in point.

For days, the word out of Penrith was they wouldn’t play Cleary – even though he’d apparently passed his HIA against the Bulldogs.

Then it emerged that he hadn’t passed it. It was nearly impossible to get an answer. The NRL said it didn’t know. Perhaps it should.

Meanwhile, Cleary was telling people on the eve of the match that he was hopeful of playing. Then he was ruled out. When was the call made? On the Monday.

NRL clubs have been playing funny buggers with team selection for years. They should not be allowed to use concussion to throw off the opposition.

Last week, Robinson spoke about the frustrations of dealing with the NRL on this issue – and it is concerning.

“We’ve had no involvement from the NRL at all in any of this,” he said. “They’re not strong enough in their understanding of what happens to a player, because they don’t deal with players. They’re obviously administration and that’s their role. So it is up to us to deal with it.”

Sure, advisory panels and medical staff are being ushered in but what the NRL fails to do is keep clubs accountable.

Players who have been concussed can’t play for 11 days – although they can seek independent medical advice. But that advice means little because the ultimate decision rests with the club doctor.

There’s no need for a “clearance” or “exemption”, as some have reported.

For players like Cordner and Friend, who have long histories of concussion, there are fewer protocols in place.

When the Roosters worked out an action plan for Cordner to return mid-season, it didn’t have to be signed off by anyone at the NRL. Not a single soul. I find that ludicrous.

If the Roosters had wanted to play Cordner in round one earlier this year, they could have.

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You could trust Robinson and the Roosters to do the right thing by Cordner. You trust them to do the right thing by Friend, whatever that turns out to be.

But the NRL needs to start taking the lead on the most pressing issue in sport in order to protect its players – not just itself.

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AFL round 3: Essendon Bombers vs St Kilda live score, result Shane Warne Twitter, Jake Stringer


One of St Kilda’s biggest fans has given a scathing assessment of their recent performance, calling the side “horrendous” and “lazy”.

An injury-riddled St Kilda outfit has been utterly outclassed by the Essendon Bombers on Saturday afternoon — even their most famous supporter has turned against them.

Essendon had lost 11 of their previous 12 games leading into the round three clash at Marvel Stadium, not recording an AFL win since round 14 last season.

But the Bombers — who also boast a heavy casualty ward — were at their destructive best on Saturday, kicking 12 goals in the first half and racing towards a comfortable 22.11 (143) to 9.14 (68) victory.

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With Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder unavailable for the match, St Kilda coach Brett Ratten was forced to deploy Shaun McKernan and Jake Carlisle in the ruck, the inexperienced pair conceding the first five centre clearances.

The Saints midfielders were also worryingly ineffective in the first half, registering just 13 tackles from 222 Essendon’s disposals.

Former Bombers captain Brendon Goddard told ABC Grandstand: “Saints have been really poor defensively … we’re seeing too many Saints midfielders standing still and ball watching.

“If I was a senior member of the Saints backline … I’d be coming in at half time and saying to the midfield … your ability to slow the ball is absolutely horrendous.”

Even outspoken St Kilda superfan Shane Warne was unimpressed with their performance, blasting his beloved club in a series of scathing tweets.

“Tackles way down, horrible out the middle, looked slow and nowhere near ferocious enough at the ball. Essendon look hungrier right now than us. Lift Saints — let’s play aggressive, fast and please can we use the ball properly,” Warne posted on Saturday.

“Saints look lazy and not interested — how can that be! Effort is free and it has to be said — there is zero effort from the Saints besides our skipper! Work rate is non-existent two weeks in a row. Wow, feel like turning the TV off, as this is embarrassing!

“Where’s the effort? Two weeks in a row! Horrific and hope the coach gives them the hair dryer treatment.”

READ MORE: Swans embarrass defending champs

To rub salt into the wounds, St Kilda midfielder Jade Gresham suffered a suspected Achilles injury in the second quarter, and at halftime was spotted on crutches in a moon boot.

Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall told Fox Footy: “Gee that’s innocuous.

“I hope that’s not an Achilles because he just grabbed at it … That’s one of the worst injuries you can have.”

Although St Kilda’s intensity lifted considerbly in the second half, it wasn’t enough to prevent a mammoth 75-point defeat.

Essendon forwards Jake Stringer and Cale Hooker were standout performers on Saturday, booting four majors each.

St Kilda will next face the West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium, while Essendon will take on the red-hot Sydney Swans at the SCG.

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Essendon Bombers regain Jake Stringer, likely to blood Archie Perkins


Beset with injuries and facing a prospective 0-3 start to 2021, Essendon will be buoyed by the return of explosive forward Jake Stringer and the probable debut of top 10 draftee Archie Perkins.

Hurt by the loss of key players Dylan Shiel and Sam Draper and recruit Jye Caldwell, the Dons will regain Stringer, their most potent forward after he missed the opening two games as he recovered from achilles issues, and are expected to select Perkins for his first game in their match against St Kilda, making him the second of Essendon’s top 10 draft picks from 2020 to play seniors, with tall utility Nick Cox having played both games.

New Bomber Archie Perkins.Credit:Getty Images

Perkins, selected at pick nine in the national draft, is a 188-centimetre midfielder who can play forward and had a knack for kicking goals in the NAB League for the Sandringham Dragons. He has been described by the club as “confident”.

The third top 10 pick, Zach Reid, a key defender, is also a chance to be blooded soon in what the club has defined as a development year – a process that seems certain to be fast-tracked by the injuries.

Skipper Dyson Heppell, who suffered a back spasm and withdrew from the team that was beaten soundly by a powerful Port Adelaide, is rated no better than a 50-50 chance to resume against the Saints.

While the loss of Draper and potential unavailability of seasoned back-up ruckman Andrew Phillips mean Essendon’s ruck brigade will be weakened, their opponents, the Saints, will be without Paddy Ryder, veteran ruck and ex-Bomber and emerging gun ruck Rowan Marshall, who the Saints hope will play a half in the VFL.

If Phillips doesn’t play, the Dons can bring in young ruck Nick Bryan and also deploy Peter Wright, recruited as primary a key forward, in the ruck for periods.

Essendon started the season light on for seasoned key-position players, due to the hip problem and infection suffered by their premier key back Michael Hurley and the loss of Joe Daniher to Brisbane, plus the absence of James Stewart (hamstring), who can fill a hole at either end.

Caldwell suffered a long-term hamstring injury against Port, while Draper badly injured his ankle and is slated to miss eight-10 weeks. Shiel (knee) will miss four-six weeks.

Without Daniher – who admittedly seldom played since 2017 – and Orazio Fantasia, Stringer is viewed as the primary scoring threat remaining in the Essendon side.

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Sydney Roosters set to sit down with Jake Friend to make call on veteran’s future


As Friend continues to watch from the sidelines, Roosters fans will welcome the return of Victor Radley from an ACL injury in Friday’s grudge match against the Rabbitohs.

Robinson said Radley had been “ready to play” for a while but had been forced to wait due to a two-game suspension that came as a result of a Byron Bay melee.

The match between the game’s oldest rivals will see James Tedesco and Jai Arrow come face to face for the first time since the Origin decider. Arrow was fined $550 after the game for picking up and dropping a concussed Tedesco during the match.

“Players care about Teddy and it shouldn’t have happened,” Robinson said. “So we’ll see what motivation that brings on Friday.”

Robinson also had strong words about Dally M voting, which has created controversy this week after Luke Keary failed to receive a point in Sunday’s big win over the Tigers at Campbelltown. He had three try assists, a line-break assist and made two line breaks in the Roosters’ 40-6 win.

“To be honest, if Luke didn’t get points, then someone should go back and watch the game,” Robinson said.

The Roosters are yet to bring in Joseph Suaalii despite gaining approval for the youngster to play before his 18th birthday and Robinson indicated the Roosters would not be rushing him in.

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“He’s had a pretty good start to his reserve grade career,” Robinson said. “He’s training really well, but he’s also playing really well.”

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Patrick Dangerfield bumps Adelaide Crow's Jake Kelly




Patrick Dangerfield was sent directly to the AFL Tribunal for his bump on the Adelaide Crows’ Jake Kelly on Saturday March 20.

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Geelong Cats star Patrick Dangerfield claims he had no alternative other than to collide with Adelaide Crows’ Jake Kelly


“It’s a contact game but we’ve also got to make sure that we’re looking after concussion and approaching that in the right way, and respecting that. But it’s also a game that’s played in 360 [degrees] at high speed and it’s been a part of the game for a long period of time.

“I think it’s folly to look back through different cases because it can change, who knows how it’s going to play out.”

Patrick Dangerfield has been sent to the tribunal for his hit on Jake Kelly.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley did not provide his opinion on what the sanction should be, but said players were fully aware of the repercussions of serious head knocks.

“That rule has been in place for a while now. I don’t think we are in between eras in that regard. We are always in between in the old and the new and it’s often a significant event that will reinforce the line between what was accepted and what is now expected,” Buckley said.

“It is difficult when you are playing the game, though. You have got to put pressure on in that instance and the type of pressure that you choose to put on is really a matter of choice.”

However, Buckley believes Dangerfield had not shown any malicious intent.

“We operate to the laws as they are written. When I say we, the 18 clubs and the coaches and players within it,” he said.

“I think it’s important to note that those two are really good mates. Things happen on the football field. I am pretty sure Patrick, there wasn’t any malice or malicious intent in the action as such but there was head contact and the laws are clear around that.

“The AFL or the tribunal have a decision to make. Good mates who met each other on the football field, Patrick’s actions were understandable because you want to put pressure on a player but there was a head clash and there were repercussions from that, so I suppose we all sit and watch for the tribunal to validate the laws that have been put in place and to what level.”

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Patrick Dangerfield facing big AFL suspension over clash that knocked out Jake Kelly



Patrick Dangerfield is staring down the barrel of a big AFL suspension after being sent directly to the AFL Tribunal for his bump on the Adelaide Crows’ Jake Kelly.

The second-quarter bump caused a head clash between Dangerfield and Kelly, leaving the latter knocked out on the Adelaide Oval turf on Saturday afternoon.

The AFL’s match review panel deemed the hit careless conduct, severe impact (the highest grading) and high contact.

Kelly was coming out of defence and got a handball away before Dangerfield made contact. Kelly left the game on a stretcher and did not return.

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While his shoulder did not hit Kelly’s head, Dangerfield’s decision to bump, rather than simply brace himself for unavoidable contact, means he is facing a potentially long stint on the sidelines.

Boom Brisbane recruit Joe Daniher can accept a $2,000 fine with an early guilty plea for his strike on Sydney defender Dane Rampe.

Essendon duo Mason Redman and Nik Cox can also accept $2,000 fines after being charged with rough conduct and striking respectively.

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Patrick Dangerfield sent to tribunal for hit on Jake Kelly


Geelong champion Patrick Dangerfield has been sent straight to the tribunal for a clash that left his Adelaide opponent Jake Kelly with a broken nose.

Dangerfield was charged by match review officer Michael Christian with engaging in rough conduct and the incident was assessed as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact.

The collision happened during Geelong’s shock 12-point loss to the Crows on Saturday, and also left the 2016 Brownlow Medal winner with blood flowing from his head.

In other match review news, Brisbane’s Joe Daniher was fined $2000 for striking Dane Rampe, while Essendon’s Nik Cox was fined the same amount for striking Hawthorn’s Oliver Hanrahan.

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Penrith Panthers star Nathan Cleary ‘feels sorry for Jake Averillo’ as Canterbury Bulldogs pursuit of Matt Burton rages on


Penrith superstar Nathan Cleary says he feels sorry for Canterbury playmaker Jake Averillo who has constantly had to put up with his own club’s hot and very public pursuit of rival No. 6 Matt Burton.

Burton will finally get to play as the Canterbury five-eighth this week, albeit during an opposed field session to help the Panthers prepare for Saturday afternoon’s western Sydney grudge match.

The Dogs have hardly been subtle in letting it be known they want 20-year-old Burton to ditch playing reserve grade at Penrith for the chance to be their starting five-eighth immediately.

The Panthers need Burton as cover and are refusing to budge. Cleary said he could only imagine what kind of impact all the talk about Burton has had on the Dogs’ young local junior Averillo.

“The way Matty Burton has gone about things, he’s a class act, he’s been the best trainer all pre-season, he’s never kicked stones, he’s come in with a good attitude every day,” Cleary said on Tuesday. “[The early release] is constantly brought up.

Canterbury and Penrith will meet on Saturday in what is cheekily being dubbed the Matt Burton Cup.Credit:Getty

“Averillo is a good player himself, he’s playing five-eighth for the Bulldogs, and he’s been a bit hard done by.

“I do feel a bit sorry for him. He’s a really good player. We’ll have to be on our A-game defending him. It’s a situation I’m happy I’m not in.”

Averillo is respected by Canterbury but is also a player who is young and can shift to fullback or even centre to accommodate Burton. When Averillo signed his latest extension until the end of 2023, he did so knowing Canterbury were advanced in their talks with Burton to play in the same five-eighth position.

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