'Disrespectful to the jersey' - Benji Marshall fired up over Jason Taumalolo's Kiwi World Cup snub

Veteran Kiwi rugby league player Benji Marshall has voiced his opinion on star Jason Taumalolo's decision to play for Tonga instead of New Zealand at this year's Rugby League World Cup, calling the actions "disrespectful to the jersey".

Marshall told Newstalk ZB's Veitchy on Sport show he is annoyed with the second rower's decision to switch teams so close to the competition.

"I just don't know what part of society has changed that you all of a sudden decide three weeks out from the World Cup you are not playing.

"It's just a bit disrespectful to the jersey when you've been part of the team for a certain amount of time. If you really think that, the decision could have been made seven or eight weeks ago.

"It is an honour to wear the jersey. It doesn't matter what the excuses are, you shouldn't be allowed to to-and-fro and choose, to say I don't want to play this year but I'll play next year."

Taumalolo has rejected the Kiwis and is set to play for Tonga at this year's Rugby League World Cup. Source: 1 NEWS

Marshall said the rule allowing Taumalolo to make the decision in the first place was "bizarre".

"Jason feels like he has the right. If you were in the All Blacks environment you wouldn't dare - I don't know why we feel like we can make these decisions."

Taumalolo announced yesterday he had decided to play for Tonga for the development of the Pacific Island nation and to help their campaign ambitions.

"I really enjoyed my time within the Tongan World Cup Squad last time and have had a long time association with Tongan Coach Kristian Woolf," said Taumalolo.

"I just feel it's time to give back and hopefully I can assist and inspire young Tongan players to chase their NRL goals.

"I see with the new international rule change an opportunity to represent both Tonga and NZ throughout my career, I have and will always be proud to wear the Kiwis Jersey. I just feel the World Cup provides developing nations like Tonga an opportunity to play on the big stage and I would like to help them with their campaign."

Tonga will take on the Kiwis on November 11 at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20:  Jason Taumalolo of Tonga is tackled during the International Test Match between Tonga and Samoa at Centrebet Stadium on April 20, 2013 in Penrith, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
Jason Taumalolo playing for Tonga against Samoa Source: Getty


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Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy defends Storm from Sharks 'grubs' attack

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says Cronulla's verbal attack on his team is laughable, adding further spice to their NRL preliminary final tomorrow night.

The AAMI Park clash is threatening to erupt after barbs were launched this week from the Sharks, prompting Bellamy to defend his team today.

Sharks prop Matt Prior claimed the Storm practised ugly, niggling tactics.

"Most other clubs in the competition would be sitting back laughing about them calling us grubs," Bellamy said.

"They're trying to make out they're holier-than-thou and they're the squeaky- clean Sharks.

"Well, we all know better than that."

No love has been lost between the two sides since Cronulla's drought-breaking 2016 grand final win, with the Sharks dominating Melbourne since.

Bellamy said the Storm needed to put the blinkers on and focus on playing their own game.

"Whatever that record is we haven't had the best of it but the games have always been close," he said.

Craig Bellamy coach of the Melbourne Storm. Source: Photosport

"We haven't changed things too much, some of our starts have been pretty poor when we've played them but we need to stick to what works for us and stick to the plan."

The Storm were preparing for Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen to play in the grand final qualifier despite a serious shoulder injury.

Gallen's inclusion will set the scene for another round with Storm centre Will Chambers, who was suspended for a grapple tackle on the Sharks forward earlier in the season.

Chambers hasn't played for the past month due to a three-match ban with his Storm coach saying he wanted controlled aggression from the Test and State of Origin centre.

"He's been training hard so hopefully he will be OK," Bellamy said.

"He's played a lot of big games, it's not like he's a 21-year-old coming in.

"Hopefully he's learnt from a couple of games this year when he's been suspended.

"We don't need that from him.

"We need him to go and get his job done and be aware when it's the right time to do certain things and when it's the wrong time."

Billy Slater. Vodafone Warriors v Melbourne Storm, NRL Rugby League round 19, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. 22 July 2018. Copyright Image: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
The Storm celebrate in their 12-6 win over the Warriors. Source: Photosport


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'We went away from game plan' - Warriors women eager to bounce back in must win Broncos match

The Warriors women face a tough task ahead of them tomorrow night, as they come up against premiership leaders the Brisbane Broncos in Melbourne in a must win match to keep their finals hopes alive.

Warriors hooker Krystal Rota says her team have learned from their Dragons 22-10 loss in Sydney last week and that her side need to return to what worked for them in their round one win over the Roosters.

"I just think we went away from game plan," said Rota.

"The first game we stuck to our game plan and defensive structures, when we played the Dragons we went away from that and obviously it didn't work for us."

The Warriors have to win tomorrow night's game by a big margin, to secure themselves a spot in next week's grand final.

Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack. Roosters v Warriors, NRL Holden Women's Premiership.  ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 8th Sept 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Warriors women player Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack against the Sydney Roosters. Source: Photosport


The Brisbane Broncos women are undefeated in the competition and are guaranteed a spot in the final.

Warriors hooker Krystal Rota believes her side will learn from their 22-10 loss to the Dragons as they prepare for Brisbane tomorrow night in Melbourne. Source: Te Karere

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Jared Waerea-Hargreaves says Roosters in fine form without enforcer Dylan Napa ahead of NRL finals

The numbers show Jared Waerea-Hargreaves won't rest without front-row starting partner Dylan Napa, but the Sydney Roosters hard man insists it's not a one-man job to uphold a perfect record without the Queenslander this year.

The Roosters will play without Napa for a third straight game in Saturday night's grand-final qualifier against South Sydney, after he was suspended last month for the knock out blow on Brisbane's Andrew McCullough.

Having battled injuries both during and after Queensland's State of Origin campaign before the latest suspension, Napa has missed six games this year - of which the Roosters have won all six.

And he largely has Waerea-Hargreaves to thank for it up front.

The Kiwi prop's top three running games this year have all come while Napa has been missing for either all or the majority of those games, including his herculean 215-metre effort against Penrith in round 15 when his Queensland front row partner had left the field early.

But he maintained it wasn't just he who had stood up this year during any absence in the pack.

"Obviously when you have players like Napa, Sio Siua (Taukeiaho), Zane (Tetevano) in the team with experience, you share the workload," he said.

"When you get these younger boys and they don't play as much time, obviously statistically you are going to do more work because you are out there longer.

"But we have guys in the team like (bench forwards) Lindsay (Collins), (Nat) Butcher and Ryan Matterson that I've really enjoyed their growth this year."

"To see them grow with the confidence they have now 26 rounds in, you build that relationship and trust."

Waerea-Hargreaves and the Roosters' pack have had their help too in terms of the territorial battle.

Cooper Cronk is ranked second in the league for average kick metres, while the 688 metres he booted against Cronulla in week one of the finals was the most by any player in any game this year according to Fox Sports Stats.

Blake Ferguson and James Tedesco are also the NRL's two leading metre-eaters in the competition this year, while Daniel Tupou is ranked sixth to make for the best running and most powerful back three in the NRL to kickstart their sets.

"For myself and Fergo we just love doing it," Tupou said.

"We know it helps the forwards out and puts them on the front foot.

"That helps out not just the forwards but the whole team, especially with Cooper and his kicking game."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves runs the ball during a Sydney Roosters NRL training session at Kippax Lake Oval on September 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves runs the ball during a Sydney Roosters NRL training session at Kippax Lake Oval in Sydney. Source: Getty


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'The public's only heard one side of the story' - Bunnies coach defends Sam Burgess over ongoing sexting scandal

South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold says people will soon be able to make up their mind on the sexting scandal that has embroiled Sam Burgess, claiming they had only heard one side of the story.

Seibold was also adamant the off-field controversy had only made the Rabbitohs tougher ahead of Saturday night's NRL preliminary final against Sydney Roosters.

The NRL integrity unit's probe into allegations lewd images were sent to a young woman from one of Burgess' social media accounts are expected to conclude by Thursday despite reports of a setback.

An emotional Burgess addressed the scandal on Tuesday, repeatedly saying he would be "happy for the truth to come out" without going into specifics.

Seibold echoed Burgess' thoughts after saluting his team's resilience for overcoming the off-field distraction in their dramatic 13-12 semi-final win over St George Illawarra.

The allegations were made public on the eve of the Rabbitohs' clash with the Dragons although the alleged incident occurred back in May.

"The public has only heard one side of the story," Seibold told Sky Sports Radio.

"The investigation will hopefully conclude today or tomorrow and then people can make up their own mind on the story that has been out there.

"Obviously it wasn't ideal having the club on the front page and being the lead story on most of the news agencies across the country on Friday and Saturday last week but I thought the guys showed a lot of resolve."

The Rabbitohs may be expecting a verdict before the grand final qualifier however reports suggest the NRL's investigation hit a snag.

Fairfax reported the woman at the centre of the allegations had refused to speak with investigators from both the Rabbitohs and the NRL when contacted while on holiday in South Africa.

Either way, Seibold said the ongoing scandal compounded by back to back one point finals finishes had only steeled his side ahead of their clash with the minor premiers.

South Sydney No.7 Adam Reynolds' three field goals helped the Rabbitohs pull off a stunning one point win over the Dragons a week after falling short 29-28 to Melbourne in a qualifying final.

"I think the hard football is making us tougher," Seibold said.

"And we've shown we can handle pressure. I think we have shown a lot of resolve and resilience.

"We are not fatigued by any means. We are really confident heading into the Roosters game."

Sam Burgess of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Photosport


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