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Big League Weekly Edition 2019 - Round 24

Your weekly guide to the NRL season, including the entire Final Series, the souvenir Grand Final program and our bumper Season Review. Every week Big League will feature stories on the big names, preview the big games and continue our popular Little League section for the young rugby league fans. With official team-lists, extensive statistics and up-to-date news, Big League provides everything you need to follow the NRL.

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in this issue

2 min
o’brien favourite to take knight shift

JAMES Tedesco says it would be sad to see attacking maestro Adam O’Brien leave the Roosters, but backed the club’s assistant coach to succeed if he were to take the vacant Knights head role in 2020 as expected. Given Nathan Brown has parted ways with the Knights effective immediately, O’Brien has emerged as the man most likely to replace him after serving under two of the best minds in the game. The sought-after rookie was an assistant to Craig Bellamy for a number of years and helped them become the most feared attacking juggernaut of the decade, while his move to Sydney’s east in 2019 has unsurprisingly seen the Tri-colours score the most points after 23 rounds. Considered the number one attacking weapon in the NRL, Tedesco has spent plenty of time with…

1 min
kicking off

WE were caught off-guard last week with the announcement that Nathan Brown would be leaving the Newcastle Knights, and again on Tuesday when it was announced he would depart the club effective immediately. As the days have passed plenty of news has continued to filter from in and around the club, and will continue to do so as their proud and passionate fans demand insight into what is happening next. Their performance against the Wests Tigers left plenty to be desired – to say the least – but the Knights are still in the running for a finals spot. If you’re a Knights fan and you need a little bit more pep in your step, we have a great story on page 18. Sione Mata’utia, who has come through as a young…

2 min
sharks getting up for gal

HE made his debut at Shark Park on a Sunday afternoon back in 2001, and 18 years later, Paul Gallen will run onto his home ground for the final time when the Sharks host the Raiders in a match that could all but seal their spot in the top eight. Sunday’s clash between the fierce rivals has a stack of storylines, but none compare to Gallen – the man who skippered them to their maiden premiership – as he prepares for his last game at home before he retires. “It’s going to be huge,” Sharks halfback Chad Townsend told Big League. “Gal’s career speaks for itself and everyone knows what he means to this club. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a statue of him outside the front of this ground in the…

1 min
eels brace for brown ban

PARRAMATTA’S hopes of finishing in the top four have taken a hit following a two-week suspension to gun forward Nathan Brown for his off-the-ball shoulder charge on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Brown has averaged 143 metres and 31 tackles this year, but will now miss the Eels’ final two regular season games against Brisbane and Manly. “He’s such a key player and it’ll be a big loss for us,” Eels hooker Reed Mahoney told Big League. “We love his aggression, we feed off it. In tough times he comes off our line and changes the game. That’s why he’s such a good player. “He just got put in the wrong position and didn’t get the tackle right.” Although Brown’s absence is a major blow to Parramatta’s top four hopes, Mahoney is adamant the squad has depth to…

1 min
dogs daring to dream

WITH six wins from their past eight games, the Bulldogs remain alive in 2019 – and they could miraculously qualify for the finals. Following a gutsy win over Parramatta last Thursday and other results going their way in Round 23, the Bulldogs remain mathematically in contention but still require a miracle to make the finals. Sitting on 20 competition points, they need to beat the Cowboys and Broncos in their final two games, as well as depend on six other games going in their favour. Although it’s highly unlikely, with bookies rating it a 30/1 chance, stranger things have happened in rugby league and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is staying hopeful. Coach Dean Pay has shared his desire to lead his side to success in 2020, but the new Bulldogs fullback said they’re still focusing on…

1 min
contract countdown begins again

ALL of the focus has been on where David Fifita will play in 2021 and beyond, but the signature of team-mate Corey Oates is equally important as the Broncos look to finalise their squad for next year. The powerhouse winger is off-contract and keen to secure a long-term deal after a couple of one-year extensions left his future clouded. The confusion surrounding his preferred position in 2018 led to a drawn-out negotiation period, but the Broncos star is hopeful that won’t be an issue this time around. “The one-years are not fun. It doesn’t make you feel secure or anything, you still don’t know where you are going to be the next year after that,” Oates said. “To get a long term deal would be great. It’s moving forward at the moment but...…