'I know we have to win back our fans' - Pressure on Warriors to deliver in first home game of new season after big win in Perth

Faithful fans of the Warriors are less than 72 hours away from knowing what part of the rollercoaster ride their on with their team’s first home game at Mount Smart Stadium on the horizon.

Last week's Perth demolition of the Bunnies is now a distant memory, and both players and management at the Kiwi NRL club know it's time to face the home fans.

"I know we have to win back our fans," CEO Cameron George said.

"And I know we have to win back a lot of people's faith in the club."

However, it seems many are already convinced.

A flood of calls for memberships followed the big win along with close to 14,000 tickets have already been sold for the game against the Titans on St Patrick's Day.

A portion of those sales is going towards rebuilding Tonga after the small Pacific nation was hit hard by Cyclone Gita.

George said it’s about giving back.

We've got a target of 25 plus thousand dollars in terms of what we want to donate and we're already up over the 10,000 mark.

The Warriors’ own rebuild may have saved coach Stephen Kearney, who some insiders said had just three games to impress this season or face an early exit.

George said that pressure wasn’t just on Kearney though.

"Stephen was never under threat in my mind. And there's no time limit.

"We all need to get results whether it be Stephen or me."

The change in fortunes has been noted by prospective owner, American Richard Fale.

Fale has extended his stay to watch Saturday's game and told 1 NEWS the sale is extremely close to being finalised.

"Whoever [the new owner] is, all I know is that they'll get a team that's committed to trying to win every time we play," George said

Another big win would definitely help get the deal across the line.

The pressure from fans is being felt everywhere - from players to coaches and even the CEO. Source: 1 NEWS



'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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Panthers set to stick with stand-in coach Cameron Ciraldo for 2019 NRL season

Penrith are set to install Cameron Ciraldo as head coach for next year's NRL as they continue to be linked to Ivan Cleary in the long term.

Panthers boss Phil Gould suggested that Ciraldo would remain in charge in 2019 after guiding the Panthers through the final six weeks in a caretaker capacity.

The 33-year-old was handed the reins after Anthony Griffin's sacking four weeks out from the finals and Gould said the club had no reason to bring in anyone else.

"I don't see any need to change anything we've been doing for the last five or six weeks," Gould said on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast.

"I've been very impressed with Cameron Ciraldo and the academy staff and we threw everything in our academy at the NRL preparation.

"They did an outstanding job, I was really impressed with them."

Ciraldo is contracted for next season after serving as an assistant under Griffin.

On Wednesday it was reported that the club's board had rubber-stamped his ascension to the top job on a full-time basis.

The club's move to oust Griffin so late in the season resulted in speculation Cleary was set to exit the Wests Tigers, with two years still to run on his contract.

Cleary stated his promise to "honour" his deal with the joint venture, however, has since refused to answer questions.

It's believed that the Panthers are readying to offer Cleary the role for 2021 - which is viewed by many as an attempt by Penrith to force the Tigers' hand and release him.

Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe has been contacted for comment though the club has, until this point, flatly refused to entertain the idea of Cleary leaving early.

NRL clubs are not allowed to negotiate with players more than 12 months before their contract expires.

The NRL said that chief operating officer Nick Weeks was set to examine a request from some clubs to alter the laws governing coaching negotiations so that they be brought in line with those that regulate player rules.

Gould denied any knowledge of any negotiations between Cleary and his club.

"I have nothing to do with the Ivan Cleary situation at all," he said.

A return to the Penrith job, from which he was axed in 2015, would allow Cleary to team up with his son Nathan, who is expected to sign a rich multi-year contract extension.

The NSW playmaker has reportedly been offered a lucrative deal until the end of 2023 and has stated his desire to sort out his future in the next few weeks.

The 20-year-old returned to Panthers headquarters on Tuesday and Gould said he was confident of getting an agreement over the line.

"No confirmation but I'm confident we'll get a deal done and he'll be at Panthers for a fair while," he said.

Nathan Cleary. Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers, Round 19 of the 2017 NRL Rugby League Premiership season at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. 14 July 2017. Copyright photo: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
Panthers half Nathan Cleary in action against the Warriors. Source: Photosport


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Former Warriors hardman Motu Tony wants to restore 'Kiwis family feel' to team after taking new role at NZRL

Rugby league's administration is full of former players looking to give back in some way, but it's fair to say only few deserve to be there as much as Motu Tony.

Having helped transform one of the UK's powerhouse clubs, he's now looking to do the same as the high performance manager behind the Kiwis.

After an illustrious 11-year career, Tony took on some serious advice from former team manager Sir Peter Lietch in 2012.

"I remember the Mad Butcher saying to me, ‘you're not Stacey Jones,' so I knew that quite early [in my career] I wasn't the most talented player."

An embarrassed Sir Peter admits he doesn’t quite remember dishing out the harsh dose of reality but knows what he meant by saying it.

"I would've only said that to help him because some guys are going to have a big career in football and some aren't."

Remembering the Mad Butcher's advice, the 13-Test Kiwi ended his career in the UK and started a bachelor's degree.

Just months into study, he returned to his former English club Hull as the youngest ever senior sports administrator in the game.

"I was told that I was the only Pacific islander in senior sports administration," Tony said.

"I know it's flattering for me but it’s something I’m keen to sort of change."

The best recruiters make a name taking risks.

Last year, the 37-year-old packed up his family of seven to take a role as interim CEO of Baseball New Zealand before joining the NZRL as their general manager for high performance.

His first task - getting the Kiwis to restore pride against the Kangaroos next month.

"When you have the Junior Kiwis, the Kiwi Ferns and the Kiwis all playing on the one day, one venue, it promotes the Kiwi family feel again.

"That's something we haven't had in our sport for a very long time."

Tony will bring all his experiences as a player and sports administrator to the organisation. Source: 1 NEWS | Sky


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Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita headline strong Mate Ma'a Tonga squad for Kangaroos Test

Mate Ma’a Tonga’s head coach Kristian Woolf has named a strong 29-man squad to take on the Kangaroos in a historic Test match in Auckland next month.

NRL powerhouses Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita headline a squad full of talent and stars.

The New Zealand Warriors have four players in the squad - wing David Fusitu’a, centre Solomone Kata and forwards Agnatius Paasi and Leviaha Pulu.

"We are very pleased with the depth in the squad we have managed to name for this very important Test match," said Woolf.

"We feel it is representative of the depth of Tongan rugby league in both the NRL and English Super League and also rewards players that have made firm commitments to playing for their country of heritage.

"This will be a huge occasion for Tonga to take on the top-ranked rugby league country in the world, so we need every player we can committed to the goal."

The Test will be played at Mount Smart Stadium on October 20.

Mate Ma'a Tonga squad:

Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles), Mahe Fonua (Wests Tigers), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), David Fusitu’a (NZ Warriors), Siliva Havili (Canberra Raiders), Ata Hingano (Canberra Raiders), Will Hopoate (Canterbury Bulldogs), Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans), Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels), Robert Jennings (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Samisoni Langi (Catalans Dragons), Tuimoala Lolohea (Wests Tigers), Sika Manu (Hull FC), Sam Moa (Catalans Dragons), Ben Murdoch-Masilla (Warrington Wolves), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos), Tevita Pangai Junior (Brisbane Broncos), Agnatius Paasi (NZ Warriors), Leviaha Pulu (NZ Warriors), Scott Sorenson (Cronulla Sharks), Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield Giants), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Tevita Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters), Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters).

Jason Taumalolo leads the Tongan haka.
England v Tonga, Semi-Final, Rugby League World Cup 2017. RLWC2017. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland New Zealand. Saturday 25 November 2017 © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Jason Taumalolo has committed to Mate Ma'a Tonga. Source: Photosport


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