International Rugby League, NRL and Super League News

Aussies make 2019 Super League Dream Team

Super League is delighted to reveal its 2019 Dream Team. 

St Helens, who won the League Leaders Shield, have five players who have made the line-up.

Warrington Wolves, Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils each have two in the 13 and Castleford Tigers' prop Liam Watts has made the team for first time.

Watts is one of nine debutants in the class of 2019 - the most since 2016.

St Helens' Tommy Makinson is the most experienced, making his third appearance.

Warrington Wolves’ Daryl Clark (2014), Wigan Warriors’ Liam Farrell (2015) and St Helens’ Luke Thompson (2018) are in for the second time.

Super League CEO Robert Elstone said: “It’s a stellar line-up and a team that highlights many of our modern-day greats.

"The Dream Team tells the story of the Super League season and this has perhaps been the best ever.

"We've seen the dominance of a brilliant St Helens, the emerging challenge from Salford Red Devils and a spread of talent from other clubs which has underlined the competitiveness and unpredictability of the league.

"Not surprisingly it has also got fans talking - and arguing - and with so many great options, it's made for some healthy debate.

"Congratulations to all those selected. It's well-deserved."

Chairman of the Man of Steel panel, Ellery Hanley added: “Each and every one of these players is a credit to the 2019 Super League season.

“Their consistently high performances throughout the year backs up their credentials as worthy members of the Dream Team.

“As we head into the play-offs I’m sure some of these players will once again step up to dominate games for their sides and put them on the course for Old Traffordand the biggest night in Super League. Congratulations to them all”

The full 13, with heritage numbers, is below:
1. Lachlan Coote, St Helens (177)
2. Tommy Makinson, St Helens (138)
3. Kevin Naiqama, St Helens (179)
4. Konrad Hurrell, Leeds Rhinos (180)
5. Ash Handley, Leeds Rhinos (178)
6. Blake Austin, Warrington Wolves (182)
7. Jackson Hastings, Salford Red Devils (181)
8. Liam Watts, Castleford Tigers (183)
9. Daryl Clark, Warrington Wolves (142)
10. Luke Thompson, St Helens (174)
11. Josh Jones, Salford Red Devils (184)
12. Liam Farrell, Wigan Warriors (150)
13. Morgan Knowles, St Helens (185)

2019 Super League Dream Team

Richard Agar’s Rhinos appointment a step in the right direction

Leeds Rhinos have moved quickly to appoint interim boss Richard Agar on a full-time basis before the season ends. The Rhinos look all but assured a place in the top-flight next season after Agar fulfilled his main objective of avoiding relegation but despite having done so, his appointment as permanent head coach has an increasingly frustrated fanbase even more divided. 

Whenever a new coach is presented to a set of fans in whatever sporting code, it is customary for supporters to set aside their differences regarding the appointment and get behind the team in the hope that a new broom sweeps clean. It is very much a case of being innocent until proven guilty when a new man arrives in the hot seat but in Richard Agar’s case at Leeds, the awarding of his 12-month rolling contract is seen as somewhat uninspiring. 

It’s not unsurprising to hear a few grumbles from a section of the support given that this doesn't feel like a fresh appointment with Agar having overseen 14 games already whilst only recording seven victories. The 47-year-old hasn’t set the world alight but also hasn’t failed miserably, like his win 50% win ratio, his record currently lies somewhere in the middle and that is never going to get a fanbase rocking with excitement. 

In reality, that is always going to be the cross any interim coach who is given the job fulltime has to bear. The challenge for Agar will now be to get the Rhinos playing excellent running rugby in an attempt to revive the interest of the supporters again. That was the key to their success 24 months ago but it’s safe to say they have drastically come off the pace since then for a multitude of reasons. 

When you look back now after the season that the Rhinos have endured, you’re left wondering how they have managed to come unstuck the way they have. It was only two seasons ago that they pummelled Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford in 2017 to win the Grand Final but since then the team have looked unrecognizable. That’s partly because Brian McDermott and Ryan Hall, two of the Rhinos' most influential characters, are no longer at the club. 

There is something to be said for the respective trajectories of the Rhinos and Hall since the 31-year-old left for the NRL. Instead of languishing down at the bottom of the table like the Rhinos have done, Hall is going well with the Sydney Roosters who are favourites to win the Grand Final in NRL betting. There certainly isn’t an I in team, but it's clear to see that the Rhinos have been left reeling since the departure of their stalwarts. You can say now without a shadow of any doubt that McDermott's sacking as head coach was the catalyst for this current slump.

That could be why the Rhinos hierarchy decided to stick with Agar in an attempt to build some continuity after a couple of seasons that have been fraught with change. The 47-year-old becomes the club's third coach in only a year after Brian McDermott was in the hot seat for eight years between 2010 and 2018. 

In many ways, the Rhinos board should be commended for identifying the root cause of their current underachieving and subsequently trying to change tack in a bid to build stability. Whether they have given the wrong man an extended stay remains to be seen but whatever way you look at it, it is a step in the right direction.


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St Helens have been installed as the clear favourites to win the Challenge Cup after they thrashed Wakefield to power through to the semi-finals on Saturday. The Super League leaders were at their majestic best in the first half of a 48-10 triumph at Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Morgan Knowles, and Regan Grace all scored. Further tries from Zeb Taia, Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax and Kevin Naiqama after the break wrapped up a comprehensive victory. They have won this trophy 12 times previously and they are now odds-on to make it 13 after enjoying such a strong season on all fronts.

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Super League lands biggest sponsorship deal as attendances increase

Super League and Betfred have today announced the biggest commercial deal in the history of the competition by extending their partnership for a further two seasons. 

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Salford Reds Player Hospitalised Following Horrific Fall

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Rugby League attendance record broken in Barcelona

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Six Super League Fixtures for Magic Weekend 2019

"Anfield where Liverpool FC play football is the new home of Super League's Magic Weekend" by Ruaraidh Giles (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Super League Magic Weekend has developed into an integral part of British rugby over recent times and Anfield, home of top Premier League football club Liverpool FC, takes over hosting duties this year.

Six rugby league matches packed into the late May Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 25 and Sunday 26) come thick and fast. But who is playing who and when during Magic Weekend 2019? Let's take a look.

Wakefield Trinity v Catalans Dragons (Saturday, 14:00)

Perpignan based Catalans can use their maiden Challenge Cup triumph last year as a springboard for greater success. Ex-England and Bradford Bulls boss Steve McNamara has done a great job since joining the French outfit and his side open Magic Weekend with a fixture against Wakefield Trinity.

Wakey have Scotland half-back Danny Brough in fine form this season, both assisting tries and kicking plenty of points. Full back Sam Tomkins was an eye-catching signing for Catalans from Wigan, meanwhile, and he's sure to have added plenty to their ranks.

Hull FC  v Huddersfield Giants (16:30)

A Yorkshire derby is second up on Magic Weekend as Hull FC of the old East Riding tackle Western opposition in Huddersfield. The Giants haven't started the season that well, but Hull are already putting forward their claims of a playoff place.

Marc Sneyd remains a very handy player for them among the backs. Huddersfield, meanwhile, could well be missing the aforementioned Brough from their ranks, as well as retired Australian forward duo Ryan Hinchcliffe and Tom Symonds.

Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves (19:00)

It's only fair to have a Red Rose derby as well as a White one on Magic Weekend. Two Lancashire sides do battle in a repeat of the 2018 Grand Final as Wigan face rivals Warrington once again.

Warriors do not look the same proposition without long-serving manager Shaun Wane in the dugout though. They are off the pace in the running for the League Leaders' Shield and, according to the latest rugby league odds with bet365, are 33/1 to finish the regular season top.

Wolves are 11/8 second-favourites for that honour, however, and equally fancied with St Helens in the market on the Grand Final to go one better. Josh Charnley has come back to haunt Wigan more than once since joining Warrington and the prolific try scorer could do so again here.

Salford Red Devils v Hull KR (Sunday, 13:00)

Day two of the Magic Weekend begins with what looks to all intents and purposes like a midtable clash between Salford and Hull Kingston Rovers. Loose forward pair Weller Hauraki and Ryan Lannon left the Red Devils to join KR for this season.

That makes for an interesting subplot among the packs on show in this fixture. KR have also made some international signings too with halfback Josh Drinkwater arriving from Catalans and Kane Linnett coming in from North Queensland.

Leeds Rhinos v London Broncos (15:30)

This fixture pits two sides that are struggling and have made poor starts to their Super League campaigns. Memories of Leeds doing the treble in 2015 seem somewhat distant now, but their Magic Weekend opposition are top-flight newcomers the Broncos.

Rhinos come up against a side which after the first 10 games have conceded the most points and score the fewest. Only the side that finishes bottom of Super League after the regular season will be directly relegated and both they and London will hope to avoid the drop.

St Helens v Castleford Tigers (18:00)

Closing out Magic Weekend 2019 are the regular season favourites Saints against the Tigers. Both of these teams were finished in the top three of last year's Super League, but lost in the playoff semi-finals.

St Helens are leading contenders again this term, but have lost the 2018 Man of Steel and Australia back Ben Barba, although did draft in Lachlan Coote from North Queensland to cover this. Paul McShane and Samoa back Pete Mata'utia have been creating tries aplenty for Castleford during the first few months of this season though, and this promises to be another absorbing game of rugby.


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