14th February 2018
With Souths bowing out in all grades at the end of the premiership rounds for the second time in two years, coupled with no NRL 9s this year, has meant that this year has been one of the longest club off seasons in many a year. So glad the football is back.
When Souths signed Dane Gagi as a up and coming Queesland SOO star, no one expected the success he would have at the representative arena. Since putting pen to paper, he played in all 3 Queensland SOO matches, won the SOO player of the series and then went on to represent Australia in the Rugby League World Cup. So glad to see him arrive at Redfern and running around in the mighty cardinal and myrtle at training.
With our pathways changes for 2018 and coaching restructure our Reserve Grade-ISP and U20s-Jersey Flegg teams are having a significant new look about them. A number of players have moved on and a lot of new faces have arrived. Last year our U20s were building nicely towards the end of the year. But the loss of a number of forwards has left a big gap that will need to be filled. We have also seen our monster forward Jordan Mailata head over to the NFL and join the International train-on squad. We will watch with interest where this leads, as it is the first instance of the NFL poaching one of bright young stars.
Souths SG Ball U18s and Matts U16s got their season underway again this year. It is a new look competition without the two Academy teams of Western Sydney and South-West Sydney. The other significant grassroots change in 2018 is the re-laignment of the Newcastle Rugby League division to the NSWRL rather than the NSW-CRL. It was a tough assignment down in Canberra but the U16 boys had a great come from behind win. But a huge concern is the continuing downward trend in male particpation rates at juniors levels.
Womens rugby league continues to expand in significant numbers on the back of League-Tag. This year we will see a number of NRL play in the W-NSWRL premiership, including a Rabbitohs team. At U18 9s we see two new clubs, Newcastle and St George, join the competition. With the Sydney Roosters now taking over the Indigenous Academy squad. On top of all of this we will see the introduction of a new U16s carnival later in July.
The biggest success story of the off season has ben the runaway success of the 2018 Rugby League World Cup. The rise of nations like Tonga, Fiji and Lebanon has broken the perception of only there being a big 3 nations, when one of the big 3 New Zealand were eliminated from the Semi-Finals by Tonga. The crowds in New Zealand and PNG were great but scheduling and pricing seemed to have a big effect on crowds in Australia. Its really important the ARLC, RFL, NZRL, RLEF, APRLF and RLIF build upon this success.
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