Watch: Mate Ma'a Tonga rookies get pummelled by laughing teammates as they run through brutal jandal gauntlet

The rookie initiations for new players in Mate Ma'a Tonga keep getting better and more brutal, with the latest task involving a man-made runway and some searing flip flops.

Moeaki Fotuaika, Junior Tatola and Robert Jennings were all named as possible debutants heading into this weekend's Pacific Test against Toa Samoa for Tonga but with it comes some unique welcome traditions from their teammates.

The latest initiation the rookie trio endured saw them run through a "gauntlet" - a runway lined with players on either side - where they were struck by teammates using flip flops as they ran through.

The trio protected their heads as they dashed through the painful pathway while star teammates such as Konrad Hurrell and Will Hopoate filmed the hilarious action.

It's not the first bit of fun and pain rookies in the Tongan squad have endured either.

Earlier, they exposed their backs to teammates who fired ping pong balls at them as well.

Mate Ma'a Tonga had their first training today after yesterday's sqaud announcement.

They play Toa Samoa on Saturday night at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Sydney at 9pm.


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'He's going to be an outstanding member of our club' - Phil Gould hails Nathan Cleary's new Panthers deal

Penrith boss Phil Gould is convinced locking up star halfback Nathan Cleary for the next six years will help the club retain and recruit players and keep their NRL premiership window open.

Cleary yesterday committed to a five-year contract extension, three months after fellow NSW Origin representative Reagan Campbell Gillard penned a similar deal.

"This is a contract built on potential, it comes with great responsibility," said Gould, who described it as the biggest deal he had been been involved in.

"This is still a contract he will grow into over time.

"We know that he's going to be an outstanding member of our club and it will also help us retain players, or recruit players if we have to do that down the track."

Arguably the most popular player with Penrith fans and members, Cleary opted against testing his value on the market when he would become available to receiving offers from rival clubs.

The club will now turn its attention to locking up first-grade regulars Waqa Blake, James Fisher-Harris and Sione Katoa, all of whom are off-contract at the end of next year.

They will also have to replace the holes left by Tyrone Peachey and Corey Harawira-Naera.

"This year we've extended the contract of Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Viliame Kikau and we've got a few more to do before the end of next year,' Gould said.

"Salary cap pressure has meant that we've had to move Corey Harawira-Naera and Tyrone Peachey this year.

"But we haven't had any player put himself on the market and I'm not surprised Nathan was exactly the same.".

Cleary's decision ended any chance of him joining his father Ivan at the Wests Tigers, where his dad is contracted as head coach until the end of 2020.

He still hopes he will work with his father one day and that Ivan will have a second stint at Penrith, where he was coach for four seasons before being sacked at the end of 2015.

Gould pointed out Cleary had now signed two contracts with Penrith since his father had left.

"I've been here since I was 14, so they've pretty much taught me everything I knew," Cleary said.

"I came over here from New Zealand. I think if I never made that trip over and dad never got the coaching job here, I honestly don't even think I would be playing first grade.

"I owe it all to the Panthers and I do owe this club."

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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Storm's Will Chambers focused on Roosters' Latrell Mitchell ahead of grand final

Melbourne centre Will Chambers isn't about to reignite his on-field feud with Sydney Roosters counterpart Latrell Mitchell in NRL grand final week.

But that doesn't mean he's forgotten he has a score to settle with the young NSW star.

The battle between Mitchell and Chambers was one of the highlights of the Origin series, beginning with June's opener in Melbourne.

Chambers baited his opposition centre at every opportunity and Mitchell responded with his actions. He even admitted it had spurred him on.

In the first two games with the series on the line, Mitchell busted through 18 tackles and scored two tries. Importantly, while Chambers had 11 misses in defence, Mitchell had none.

"I haven't got the wood (over him) yet," Chambers said on Monday.

"We've played each other about four times already this year and we are playing each other for the fifth."

The showdown between the pair on the Storm's right edge will be crucial at ANZ Stadium.

This year's decider features the two best defensive teams in the competition, and Mitchell is the Roosters' Ferrari sitting in the garage.

Will Chambers Source: Getty

After missing last week's preliminary final win over South Sydney through suspension for a crusher tackle, Mitchell is the kind of X-factor that can decide the title.

"He is a big boy and he is hard to handle," Chambers said.

"I know they will be getting him the ball and I will have to be on my game defensively.

"It is another tough night and it will be a tough challenge ... I am looking forward to it.

"I know he will be up for it. He is a big-game player."

What Chambers won't discuss though is the on-field sledging.

Asked on Monday if he would try to get under Mitchell's skin again, he responded bluntly: "I don't want to talk about that mate."

Nor is Chambers fussed by his own reputation.

Banned two times this year for crusher tackles and once for dangerous contact on Damien Cook in Origin, Chambers did not believe he had to change his game or owed the Storm anything come the back end of the season.

While popular among his teammates, Chambers is aware of what it's done to his image off the field.

"It's the media and however I'm portrayed, I'm portrayed," he said.

"I'd like to think I'm a loving, caring father and a great friend to the boys at the club.

"That's footy, that's life. I live in front of these cameras and that's our life printed in media.

"It's pretty easy to be a keyboard warrior, people don't really say stuff to your face.

"It's easy to print it in a newspaper but they won't come and say it to you.

"But everyone wants a story, it's pretty funny don't you think?"

Latrell Mitchell. Vodafone Warriors v Sydney Roosters, NRL Rugby League round 10, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. 12 May 2018. Copyright Image: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
Sydney Roosters star Latrell Mitchell in action against the Warriors. Source: Photosport


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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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