Moves, Rumours,Judiciary, NRL news etc... Burgess child names; Wests Tigers comp for places; Matty Johns on Frivolous Expansion; Josh Reynolds the Tiger!

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The message from Ivan Cleary is loud and clear — nobody at Wests Tigers is guaranteed a start for Round 1.

Doesn’t matter who you are, how you played last season or anything else — competition, every day on the training paddock, will determine Cleary’s best 17.

Most had all but pencilled Tui Lolohea in as the club’s fullback for the season opener against the Roosters.

Lolohea played some of the best footy of his career since transferring from the Warriors last season and starred for Tonga in the World Cup.

But that doesn’t matter now. The light-stepping 23-year old has been relegated to the reserve grade trial this week behind Corey Thompson.

Similarly, Taane Milne was a revelation for Fiji and was pegged as a definite starter at right centre after joining the club from St George Illawarra.

But instead he’s on the bench, behind Kevin Naiqama and Esan Marsters.

Neither of them are kicking stones and both plan to make it back into the top team, but their demotion illustrates the new ethos Cleary is building at the Tigers.

“Me and Ivan had a good chat and there’s things I need to do, so I get a good chance this week to play reggies,” Lolohea said

“We don’t really want to make a big deal of it.”

“It’s good to have a lot of pressure around the club. I just want to get an 80 minute performance this week.”

Lolohea had a mixed bag in the trial game against North Queensland last week, making a break with his first touch, but also struggling to field some loose balls, a consequence of his still developing skills as a fullback.

The former Warrior has worked extensively with 2005 premiership winner Brett Hodgson, a new addition to the Tigers coaching staff, in order to improve his mastery of the position.

No spot in the outside backs is certain, especially in the centres, but Milne believes the rivalries will only make the team stronger in the long run.

“Every day at training we’re competing for spots,” Milne said.

“Everyone knows it’s going to be a competition and everyone’s working hard.

“Whoever they pick there, we’ve got a lot of confidence in them and we’ve got a lot of depth, so it’s good for the club.”

The Fijian international says a major focus of his pre-season has been adapting to the new defensive systems at the Tigers, particularly with fellow recruit Josh Reynolds.

“It’s a lot different to what I’m used to. I’m improving on that, working together with the coaches and the boys,” he said.

“Getting used to different combinations. We’re a new team and we’re building.”

In other team news, promising hooker Jacob Liddle confirmed he would miss the start of the season as he continued to rehab a shoulder injury.

While no definite return date has been set, Liddle is confident he’ll be back on the park in the opening stages of the season.

“It’s coming along well, but there’s still a couple of weeks to go. Starting weights on it, haven’t started contact, but it’s feeling really good,” Liddle told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s a bit grey, but they won’t tell me much. Still have to build it up and make it strong again.”

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Matty Johns has slammed “frivolous” talk of expansion in the NRL and outlined his vision, including a radical move that would see the inclusion of a Pacific Islands team. The ink is only just dry on the confirmation of Peter Beattie’s ascension to the chairmanship of the ARL Commission but Johns has already expressed his concern at the former Queensland premier’s talk of expansion two weeks out from the start of the 2018 NRL season.

Speaking on Triple M’s The Grill Team on Thursday morning, Johns said that the NRL risks weakening its status just as it builds to a position of strength.

The Knights legend believes any new teams must be based where an existing rugby league footprint already exists.

“I don’t want to sound conservative but the talk of expansion… frivolous talk of expansion really worries me,” said Johns, host of Sunday Night with Matty Johns on Fox League.

“I’m an advocate of expanding the competition but we’ve got to be really careful where we pick to add to the competition.

“This could be the best year possibly in 20-30 years because for the first time for a long time we’re seeing that most clubs — not all clubs — but most clubs having depth in player talent.

“If you expand to markets that have little or no junior base it drains and weakens the other clubs so it weakens the competition.

“If we were to set up a team tomorrow in Adelaide for instance, think about your team and think about every team in the competition.

“Take a very good player out of your side, take out a very good honest player, and take out a very good up and coming player.

“Take them out, because that’s what it does.

“I don’t know whether in the next couple of years we’ll be ready for that because I think at the moment we’re really just starting to bolster our stocks.”

If the NRL was to add new teams anytime soon Johns is an advocate for a second team in Brisbane and wants administrators to investigate the long-term viability of a team based out of a Pacific nation such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa or Tonga.

“If you were to expand tomorrow and make a decision you must expand to markets that have a huge talent base,” said Johns.

“Western Brisbane is an absolute must, you’ve got to have another side to take on the Broncos in that area.

“It’s got the player talent and the talent base to be able to supply a team there.

“The other one would be a Pacific Islands team.

“That’s a long-term one but for me it’s a no-brainer because you’ve got huge oil companies there that will fund it and you’ve got a mass of talent there in the Pacific Islands.

“It’s a huge emerging market and for me it makes sense and would be tremendous for the competition.

“I’d love to see rugby league in Perth again but we must do it right in how we set it up and we must get the timing right.”

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Wests Tigers recruit Josh Reynolds has revealed he was in a state of panic on his way to his first training session with his new club, as the thought of lining up with new players, learning new structures and being an elder statesman in a younger team was almost too much for the 28-year-old.

Reynolds spent seven years at Belmore and played 138 matches for the Bulldogs, including two grand finals in 2012 and 2014 where he lost to Melbourne and Souths respectively.

After debuting for the club in 2011, Reynolds earned an Origin call-up in 2014 and said he fought back tears when telling his Bulldogs teammates of his decision to leave.

Despite the big change, Reynolds believes he has become refreshed after becoming too comfortable in the Doggies setup.

"It's definitely a bit different. Coming from the Dogs, being there for so many years, obviously having that tie, growing up there and stuff," Reynolds said.

"It's fresh for me. Being at the same place for a long time, you're used to everything, drop into first gear sometimes when you could go a bit harder.

"I overthink things a lot. I think of heaps of scenarios that can happen. I thought 'what if I get here and my first day I get a vibe and I can feel the boys are a bit weird with me.'

"On the way, it was a bit scary."

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If it were twins then...

Boys: Cleckheaton and Liversedge

Girls: Heckmondwike and Gomersal

I feel these name reflect that necessary ‘inspired individuality’ while covering the twins’ base.


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