Joey Manu signs with Japanese rugby club; Dragons prepare big offer for Penrith Panthers star Sunia Turuva

“I also eagerly anticipate playing alongside all the talented players at the club and working with the staff. I can’t wait to play in front of the team’s passionate supporters.”

‘Perfectly suited for that [Origin] environment’: Why Edwards can topple Tedesco

Ask Ivan Cleary about why Dylan Edwards is ready to wear the NSW No.1 jersey, and he says: “He’d never let them down.”

“And I think he’s perfectly suited for that environment and these type of games when there is lots of ball in play,” Cleary, the Penrith coach, said on Monday.

Will this finally be the year Dylan Edwards plays State of Origin?Credit: Getty Images

“ ‘Dyl’ is also so good defensively. If you watch him play NRL, he’d bring so much of that to Origin.”

NSW coach Michael Maguire will be in Melbourne on Tuesday to help promote the 2024 Origin series.

Arguably the biggest selection debate will be whether to stick with his skipper Tedesco or inject someone like three-time premiership winner Edwards.

Edwards made his Kangaroos debut last year but has had to bide his time behind Tedesco when it comes to taking on Queensland.

Penrith legend Greg Alexander said on SEN last week that Tedesco deserved to be retained for at least game one, but it would be a “close call”.

“If you’re going to pick it on form, Dylan Edwards couldn’t have started the season any better,” Alexander said.

“Dylan was outstanding against the Eels, Broncos and even last week in a beaten side [against Manly], he was very good.

“But James Tedesco has had a pretty good start too. He hasn’t been out of form.”

James Tedesco has enjoyed a solid start to the year before he was knocked out.

James Tedesco has enjoyed a solid start to the year before he was knocked out.Credit: Getty Images

Edwards attended Maguire’s first camp at the start of the year and was invited to a meeting with all the NSW “spine candidates” last Tuesday, but decided to enjoy some time with family.

“Every kid grows up [and] wants to represent his state, and I’m no different,” he said on Monday, ahead of Saturday’s clash in Bathurst against Wests Tigers.

“Our style of footy here at Penrith, and the way we want to play, I try to play a high work rate style of footy, and that’s the type of footy you need to play in Origin.

“You never know until you’re thrown in there. But I just have to play well here. I know that’s a cliche.

“[Making it] in my position is tough because we’ve got Teddy, he’s the NSW and Australian captain, and every time he plays Origin he plays really well.”

Edwards has the on-field chemistry with fellow Panthers Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, Brian To’o, Liam Martin and Jarome Luai. Api Koroisau, now at Wests Tigers, won the 2022 title with the Panthers.

But Edwards was just as quick to point out Cleary and Tedesco had forged a good understanding of each other’s games.

Tedesco suffered a concussion against the Bulldogs but is expected to return on Thursday against Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Cleary is no certainty to return this weekend as he nurses a hamstring injury.

It is his second hamstring injury in 12 months, and while he is expected back in the coming weeks, Maguire must be wondering what he can do should Cleary break down again in the next six weeks.

Mitchell Moses would normally be the back-up No. 7 but is overcoming a foot injury, while Brisbane’s Adam Reynolds has had a disrupted start to the year because of hamstring and knee issues.

Fellow Panther Luai picked up a knee injury against Manly but expected to start against his future club.

‘He’s on another planet’: Stuart fires back at Hasler over ref criticism

Ricky Stuart says Des Hasler is “on another planet” after the Gold Coast coach blasted the refereeing in his side’s golden-point loss to Canberra.

Raiders halfback Jamal Fogarty spared his team’s blushes, slotting a 90th-minute field goal after conceding two tries in the last four minutes of normal time to squander a 10-point advantage.

But Hasler criticised referee Kasey Badger and said her performance was “pretty poor” after his team conceded five penalties to three, and gave away eight set restarts to the Raiders’ one.

He also questioned probably the game’s most decisive play, suggesting Canberra’s teenage debutant Chevy Stewart was offside when he blocked Titan Kieran Foran’s close-range field-goal attempt.

Stuart fired back and accused the Titans of “cheating” by wrestling his players for extended periods while they attempted to play the ball, suggesting they could have received “another 10 or 12” set restarts.

“If he’s critical of the six-agains and the penalties, he’s on another planet,” Stuart said. “He coached well … but the way they cheated when they were standing there with their hand on the ball … the way they cheated on the ground.

Ricky Stuart was unimpressed by Des Hasler’s comments on Sunday.

Ricky Stuart was unimpressed by Des Hasler’s comments on Sunday.Credit: Getty

“I feel sorry for Kasey the way they were in her face all night. She had to withstand a lot of pressure.

“I’m going to be making sure I ring [referees boss] Jared [Maxwell] to find out who’s right or wrong here, because I thought Kasey, under pressure, she did a really good job.”

Hasler, who joked he’d be fined $25,000 for his rant, viewed replays of Stewart’s charge-down before his press conference and said he was about a metre offside.

“Did they review it? They didn’t review it. So why not?” he queried. “So from that point of view, it was heartbreaking.

Des Hasler was unhappy with the refereeing in Sunday night’s match.

Des Hasler was unhappy with the refereeing in Sunday night’s match.Credit: Getty

“The refereeing performance was pretty poor … 10 six-agains to one, some of those are warranted … some of them just leave us battling field position the whole time.

“Possession ends up 60-40, sure, some of that’s our own fault but it’s difficult.”

Stuart, who began his retort saying “f— me”, could be fined for his language after previously being hit with a financial sanction for swearing in a press conference. AAP

Sunia Turuva celebrates a try.

Sunia Turuva celebrates a try.Credit: NRL Photos

Dragons ready to blow Panthers out of the water for Turuva signing

The Dragons have tabled Sunia Turuva a three-year deal with the option to vie for the club’s fullback jersey as the Panthers prepare an 11th-hour bid to keep the premiership winner.

Having already nabbed back-rower Luciano Leilua, St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan is eyeing arguably his most significant scalp since joining the club with the Dragons leading the chase for the Dally M Rookie of the Year.

St George Illawarra has spoken to Turuva about the potential to take over the No.1 jersey – putting the pressure on off-contract fullback Tyrell Sloan – if he takes up an offer to join the Dragons until the end of 2027.

The Knights have also expressed an interest in luring Turuva away from the three-time premiers, but there will be no chance of him playing fullback in Newcastle given Kalyn Ponga’s presence.

Turuva’s management will meet with the Panthers this week to gauge their position, but it’s highly unlikely Penrith will be able to get near the financial terms on offer from rivals such as the Dragons.

The Panthers want a decision on Turuva’s future imminently after re-signing centres Izack Tago and Taylan May on big-money deals.

The club has long believed that having the future of off-contract players sorted early has helped their title credentials, with high-profile stars Api Koroisau, Viliame Kikau, Stephen Crichton and Jarome Luai all signing elsewhere before a ball was kicked in their final seasons at Penrith.

“We’re endeavouring to meet with his management this week,” Panthers rugby league chief executive Matt Cameron said of Turuva.

“We love ‘Tito’, he’s a huge part of our club and we want to keep him at the Panthers. We know there’s external interest, but we haven’t given up retaining him.”


The Panthers have the McLean brothers – Jesse and Casey – banging on the door for NRL inclusion in coming years and understand they might be priced out of the Turuva sweepstakes.

The race for one of the hottest free agents left on the market comes at the same time the Dragons prepare for a future without Zac Lomax, closing in on a deal to keep back-rower Jaydn Su’A in the Red V.

The Dragons have offered a three-year extension to Su’A, who has been one of Flanagan’s best players in the opening weeks of the season.

Talks between St George Illawarra and Su’A’s management have been ongoing since early this year, but both parties agreed to put them on hold until after the first month of the season.

The Dragons are expected to increase their efforts in landing a big-name signing and securing retention targets with Lomax agreeing a four-year deal to join the Eels from next year. It has freed up $850,000 from the Dragons’ salary cap in 2025 and a further $875,000 the following year, with Lomax taking a reduced salary to join Brad Arthur’s Parramatta, who firmly believe they’re still in a premiership window.

Roosters’ own Forrest Gump just wants to keep running

For Connor Watson, football is like a box of chocolates – he never knows which position he’s going to get.

That’s the reality of a utility. Sometimes he’ll play at hooker, other times he’ll play lock. In Thursday’s victory over the Knights, his former club, Watson played five-eighth.

“I just roll with the punches,” Watson said. “First and foremost, the role that I play for the team is to be that utility.”

Watson just loves playing footy. A ruptured patella tendon in his knee suffered late in the 2023 pre-season meant a painstaking 558 days between NRL games and the fear that his days in the game were over.

But the Tricolours handed Watson a two-year extension to keep him at the Bondi club until the end of 2025.

With the club suffering a string of injuries this season – including a concussion for Luke Keary in round two, Sandon Smith sidelined with an elbow injury, and Sam Walker subject to the mandatory concussion stand down last week – Watson has had his fair share of game time in 2024.

Roosters utility Connor Watson.

Roosters utility Connor Watson.

“I’ve probably played more five-eighth than I have anywhere else this year, especially in first-grade, which has been a little bit weird because the whole pre-season I trained to be at nine, I’ve trained to be at 13, and little bits here and there just because you know you might have to be covering [someone],” he said.

“There are a lot of injuries, so you’ve got to be able to cover positions. So, wherever I have to play, I’m happy to do it.”

If you ask him where he prefers to play, it’s not a simple answer.

“I like lock, I like the freedom of lock, defending in the middle is good too, I don’t mind that, but I enjoy playing hooker as well, I enjoy playing centre. I just love playing footy. I like the challenge, it’s different all the time, you never know what you’re going to get. I sound like Forrest Gump,” he laughs.

Terrell May will remain a Rooster.

Terrell May will remain a Rooster.Credit: Getty

“I think as my career’s gone on, I’ve come to understand that I can impact the game in different ways and different positions. Just to be able to cover all those spots and help out the team any way I can is something that I really want to do.”

On reflection, Watson says Joey Manu is the real Forrest Gump of the team because he really does just keep running. On Thursday, Manu totalled an astonishing 347 run metres at fullback.

It’s also a title that could go to rising star Terrell May. May, who officially inked a two-year extension with the club on Sunday, has earned a reputation for his high workrate. Roosters enforcer Victor Radley said May was relentless, even when the rest of the team were exhausted.

“He’s a beast. He was so good last year, and he’s been awesome this year,” Radley said of May. “He just doesn’t stop playing … he’s just a work machine, works so hard, and [it’s] good to lock him up for a few years.”

The rising prop said he always planned to stay at Bondi.

“I love this club and I really didn’t want to leave,” May said.

“I just had the media saying I was leaving, but nah, 100 per cent I wanted to stay. The only thing that kept me from signing [sooner] was the brother situation.”

The ‘situation’ May is referring to is his desire to play alongside his two brothers at some point in his NRL career. But with younger brother Taylan signing a two-year extension at the Panthers, and older brother Tyrone playing for Hull KR in England’s super league, it won’t be happening any time soon, even if May remains open to it in the future.

Sea Eagle clipped for Johnson challenge

Manly have had insult added to injury with Josh Aloiai facing suspension for his controversial challenge on Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson, which caused the NRL’s first draw of the season.

The NRL match review committee hit Aloiai with a one-match ban for making contact with Johnson’s legs as he tried an audacious last-minute two-point field goal to send the game to golden point.

The ensuing penalty gave Johnson an easy penalty goal attempt to send the match beyond the 80 minutes. Neither team were able to score in golden point.

The grade two dangerous contact charge will result in a two-match ban if Aloiai unsuccessfully challenges it at the judiciary, but an early guilty plea will see him miss the Sea Eagles’ clash with former coach Des Hasler and the Titans on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Manly prop Josh Aloiai.

Manly prop Josh Aloiai.Credit: Getty

Sharks winger Sione Katoa also faces a one-match ban after being issued a grade two careless high tackle charge for his contact on Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray on Saturday night.

Murray failed to return to the game after half-time having failed his concussion test, leaving South Sydney down to one man on their bench following injuries to Junior Tatola and Tyrone Munro.


The Rabbitohs will give coach Jason Demetriou more time to turn around their struggling fortunes despite just one win from their opening six matches of the season.

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