There are fascinating stories throughout the NRL, but none are more gripping than that of Jordan Rapana.
Istanbul-based Kadikoy Bulls will start as strong favourites to win the first-ever Turkish rugby league Grand Final after going undefeated throughout the domestic season.
It’s been tough going for Warrington Wolves fans during the Super League era. Prior to Tony Smith’s arrival in 2009, the Wolves had struggled to challenge rugby league royalty while elite sides such as St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos revelled in their failures.
But everything looks very different for Warrington these days. The Wolves had failed to cope in the years following an emotional move away from spiritual home Wilderspool but they now appear completely settled at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Since the beginning of 2009, Smith has led Warrington to two League Leader’s Shields and three Challenge Cup triumphs.
What's more, the Wolves have been challenging at the top of English rugby’s ladder for some time – reaching the Grand Final in two of the last five years, including an appearance that resulted in losing 12-6 to Shaun Wane’s Wigan Warriors in 2016. Twelve months on, Warrington will be out to prove that they have what it takes to win on Super League’s biggest stage.
At the time of writing, Warrington are priced at 3/1 to win the Grand Final with bet365 and it would take a brave man to back against Smith’s new-look outfit. The Wolves have made a number of key, high-profile signings ahead of what could be a memorable year; and former Widnes Vikings man Kevin Brown might be the most important.
Brown brings years of Super League experience to the Halliwell Jones Stadium and he could be the difference maker as Warrington hunt a first title in well over 60 years. At 32 years old, he is approaching his twilight years but Brown still has the talent to slug it out with the best players in the business. With 119 tries in 285 Super League outings, Brown is capable of influencing matches with his vision, movement and skill.
With so much young talent coming through the ranks, Smith is blessed with quality in key areas and the Wolves are strong across the park. In fact, some believe that Warrington, who re-signed Michael Cooper after the local lad spent two years in Australia with the St George Illawarra Dragons, now have the best squad in Super League.
The Brisbane Broncos will head over to England for a one-off clash with Warrington as part of the DACIA World Club Series later this month and Wolves fans will be looking for a solid effort against one of Australia’s finest sides. If Smith has his side well prepared, there’s no reason why Warrington cannot push Brisbane close. They probably won’t win but a stern test could be on the cards for Wayne Bennett’s men.
Warrington have been building a title-winning monster for some time and this could finally be their year to announce themselves on the world stage. A solid showing against Brisbane could give the Wolves confidence ahead of a gruelling start to the new season and Smith will be hoping that a clash with one of the best teams on the planet will help his side to develop further.
Nothing is a given in the Super League but Warrington have all the tools to challenge for Grand Final glory this year and Wolves fans will be quietly confident of an Old Trafford triumph at the end of the campaign.
Turkey, who have been playing rugby league for less than a year, made their international debut facing Greek Titans at the Kallipatira Stadium on the island of Rhodes.
A total of 19 coaches have graduated from the first level 1 course held in the municipality of Kadikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkey.
Gaming companies sponsoring Rugby Teams is common these days. People now expect that kind of thing with football teams, but it seems that they are going to have to start expecting it with rugby teams as well. Gaming companies are now sponsoring a wide range of different sports teams because it makes sense for them to do so, and the exact sport really doesn't matter for the gaming companies. One sports team is as good as any other. The gaming companies are able to get the exposure and the marketing that they want and need. The sports teams are able to get the funding that they need. It is a genuinely good situation for everyone involved.
This coming weekend is going to be a big one for international rugby league as 6 rugby league nations take to the field.
With Billy Slater’s NRL season finished and the ace fullback recovering from shoulder surgery, many are speculating that it isn’t just his season that’s over but also his career.