'There was never an uproar when they were taken out of the Tongan teams' – coach slams those who criticise stars

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf has slammed the reactions of others after several key players chose to represent the nation of their heritage at this year's Rugby League World Cup.

The likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita have turned their backs on New Zealand and Australia respectively, opting to represent Tonga - drawing criticism across both sides of the Tasman.

Woolf though, questions why a similar fuss wasn't made when the players were picked for other nations in the first place.

"I find it a little bit funny," Woolf told 1 NEWS.

"If you want to find out about Jason maybe you should ask Jason and the Tongan team," said Nikau. Source: 1 NEWS

"Every one of those guys have played for Tonga before the other nations.

"There was never an uproar when they were taken out of Tongan teams.

"The decision that these guys have made, and the sacrifices that they've made, is one most people wouldn't make.

The Kiwis coach is still upbeat about his side's chances of taking out the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Source: 1 NEWS

"They've made a very brave call."

Kristian Woolf says the double standards are "a little bit funny". Source: 1 NEWS


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Roosters enforcer Dylan Napa returns after suspension for NRL grand final

When the full-time siren rang out at Allianz Stadium on Saturday and Dylan Napa realised he hadn't cost the Sydney Roosters a grand final berth, the Tri-Colours enforcer was a whirlwind of emotions.

For the past month Napa has been forced to sit on the sidelines for an ugly shot on Andrew McCullough in which he led with his head.

He was suspended for three weeks for the incident which led to calls for him to change his tackling technique, having also connected with Korbin Sims in similar fashion earlier in the year.

Asked about the tackle, and the feeling of not being able to contribute during the Roosters' finals games to date, Napa said: "I didn't feel guilty because I feel like I've given my all to this team every time I've played.

"It's a funny feeling but I'm just really excited that I've been given the opportunity to play."

Without the Queensland prop in their engine room, the Roosters beat Cronulla and South Sydney to win through to Sunday's grand final against Melbourne.

The match will be Napa's first in a little over five weeks.

On game days, he was subjected to a brutal assault bike circuit in the gym by the Roosters training staff, leading him to insist he'll be primed to go against the Storm.

"When you spend a few weeks on the sideline with suspension you usually get flogged in the gym," Napa said.

Being forced to watch on as his side battled to keep their premiership dream alive was a difficult experience for the 26-year-old.

He said he never wavered in his belief that his teammates could get the job done without him.

"I had so much faith in our team to get here," Napa said.

"It's really rewarding to be here at the end of the year.

"I was just really proud of our team and what we've achieved getting into the grand final.

"Make no mistakes, we're not going out there (to be runners up), we want to win it.

"It's been our goal. We're going to finish off the year."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 25: Referee Gerard Sutton places Dylan Napa of the Roosters on report as Jake Friend of the Roosters watches on during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos at Allianz Stadium on August 25, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Referee Gerard Sutton places Dylan Napa of the Roosters on report as Jake Friend of the Roosters watches on during the round 24 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos at Allianz Stadium. Source: Getty


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'I'm a long shot' - Roosters' Cooper Cronk still a chance to play in NRL grand final

Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk admits he is a "long shot" to play in Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne due to a shoulder injury.

Cronk is racing the clock to be fit to take on his former club after suffering "severe" damage to his rotator cuff in the Roosters' preliminary final win over South Sydney.

The 34-year-old fronted media with a sling on Monday but has vowed to do everything he can to make himself available for the match.

"I could move it, the best thing is just to immobilise it so I can get some recovery done, try and strengthen it up so the muscles don't get worked over too much," Cronk said.

"The whole idea for the sling is to keep it in place, so it's protected, and do everything I can."

Cronk was unwilling to divulge the extent of his injury but was unsure about what his realistic chances were of taking the field.

"I'm a long shot. That's not lying," he said.

Should he complete a miraculous recovery, the Roosters playmaker is certain to need a painkilling injection and is adamant he could play through the pain.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Cooper Cronk of the Roosters holds his shoulder during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cooper Cronk of the Roosters holds his shoulder during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Source: Getty

Having suffered the injury in the first half against the the Rabbitohs, Cronk bravely fought through the second half despite being unable to kick or run the ball.

"Pain is what it is, you make it out to be as much as you want it to be. I'll deal with it," he said.

"It's a step process. (I need to be) passing, kicking, tackling, just being able to functionally move it.

"The pain, I'm not superhuman, but the pain I'll be able to deal with.

"It's just whether I can functionally move it."

While he conceded it would be ideal to make an early call on his status in order to give his replacement time to mentally prepare, he has given himself until kick-off to decide.

Utility Ryan Matterson and back-up halfback Sean O'Sullivan are options to take his place.

"There's no doubt that whoever does play, needs the repetitions. But I think considering the magnitude of the game, I might be given up to kick-off," he said.

"Eighty per cent's a decent number. I'd go out there at 50 per cent. I'd go out there at 30 per cent.

"The whole idea about this game is we're in an opportunity to play in a grand final."

Cronk says he will do everything he can to play in his side's final match against the Melbourne Storm. Source: Sydney Roosters


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Roosters star Cooper Cronk a 'long shot' to play in NRL grand final

Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk admits he is a "long shot" to play in Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne due to a shoulder injury.

After scans confirmed the 34-year-old had suffered "severe" damage to his rotator cuff in the Roosters' preliminary final win over South Sydney, Cronk today said he would do everything he could to be fit enough to face his former teammates.

"I can move it. The best thing to do is just immobilise it ... I don't know what my realistic chances are but I'm a long shot," said Cronk, who had his arm in a sling at the Roosters media day.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Cooper Cronk of the Roosters holds his shoulder during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cooper Cronk of the Roosters holds his shoulder during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. Source: Getty


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Panthers star Nathan Cleary signs long-term deal with Penrith, locked in until 2024

Penrith have re-signed halfback Nathan Cleary on a long-term deal that will keep him at the club until the end of the 2024 NRL season.

The move ensures the Panthers wrap up their star playmaker before the Wests Tigers and any other rivals can approach him at the start of November.

"There was always going to be speculation but in the end it was an easy decision for me to make ... I want to become a leader here at the Panthers and I'm determined to help deliver a premiership to Penrith," Cleary said.

He said his decision to sign a five-year contract extension had nothing to do with his father Ivan, who is contracted as Wests Tigers coach until the end of 2020 and has expressed a desire to work with his son.

Penrith axed coach Anthony Griffin in the second half of the season and he was replaced on an interim basis by his assistant Cameron Ciraldo, who steered the Panthers into the finals.

"I was happy to make the decision by myself, what happens in the future with dad is out of my control," Cleary said.

"I don't think I ever thought I was going to leave, even with what was going on.

"I always thought I would stay and it would all work itself out eventually and it did.

"This is a real happy place to be in at the moment."

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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