St Helens Super League

Saints captain seals new deal

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St Helens’ hugely experienced hooker and captain James Roby has signed a new deal with the club which will take him to the end of the 2021 campaign, a deal which will see him extend his stay with the Saints to two decades with the club.

33-year-old Roby has made over 400 appearances for the 2018 Super League League Leaders’ Shield winners and won the Man of Steel in 2007. Since making his debut in 2004, the thirty-time England international has also been part of two Super League Grand Final winning teams, lifting the trophy in both 2006 and 2014. Boasting a World Club Challenge victory in 2007 as well, Roby has lifted all possibly major trophies during his time with the club.

Understandably, after extending his deal with the club he first joined in 2002, Roby was deilghted. “I have enjoyed many great years at the club and I will be doing all I can to bring more trophies in 2019 and beyond,” he told the media.

Melbourne Storm NRL

Munster keen to be one club man with Storm

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Following the departures of rugby league icons and Australian legends Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in the last twelve months, Melbourne Storm are looking for players to step up and fill the voids as they aim to remain one of the very best teams in the NRL – and Cameron Munster is relishing the opportunity.

Shortly after signing a new deal keeping him at the club until the end of 2023, 24-year-old Munster seems set to be the leading playmaker for Craig Bellamy’s Storm going forward – especially with club captain Cameron Smith not yet signed on for 2019. Despite the changing of the guard with many experienced players either having recently departed or coming to the end of their careers, Munster is excited for the future at the club. “I’m really excited for the new crop of players coming through – really excited about the youth coming through,” he told the media after extending his time with the club he has represented since 2014.

That deal – if seen through – will take his time at the club to a decade and, while he will only be in his late-twenties at it’s culmination, he is already eyeing a career where he solely pulls on the Melbourne jersey. “I would really like to be a one-club man but as you know it’s a business. They’ve put their faith in me for the next five years so it’s up to me to repay that faith now,” he explained. Indeed, with approaching ninety NRL appearances to his name with the AAMI Park club, he is one of the most experienced players in the squad and, despite suffering the ignominy of being sin-binned twice in their NRL Grand Final defeat to Sydney in September, he is one of the contenders to succeed Smith as the club captain. Munster, however, is backing another teammate. “It’s not just me but Jesse Bromwich has captained his country so he’d be next in line to captain the club,” he explained, continuing that, whoever gets the role, it will be the job of a group of players to ensure the Storm of the future – without Slater, Cronk and Smith (when he does call it a day) – carries on in the same vein.

Hull KR Super League

‘Leader’ Tomkins signs new KR deal

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Hull Kingston Rovers have today announced that second-rower Joel Tomkins has signed a new three-year deal with the Humberside club, tying him to the club until the end of 2021.

Having initially joined The Robins in June on an eighteen-month deal following his departure from Wigan due to an off-field incident, 31-year-old Tomkins has impressed in KR’s jersey and made nine appearances for the club. The former dual-code England international’s arrival came along with an upturn in The Robins’ form, losing in just two of his outings for Hull KR. Furthermore, his emergence as a key figure in the squad has impressed head coach Tim Sheens.

“Joel has become a leader within the group,” Sheens told the media following the announcement. “The idea is to really establish the team longer term and not go year by year in terms of changes to the squad. That is why we have tied down a number of our senior players to long-term deals, of which Joel is certainly one,” he added. Tomkins, who scored a try against KR for Wigan this season prior to his departure, shared his delight at extending his deal, admitting that he didn’t want to be anywhere else. “At the end of the season I had a chat with Neil [Hudgell] and Tim where they offered me a three-year deal and I jumped at the chance,” he remarked. “It really gives me an opportunity to really stick my teeth into it and I’m happy to be spending the next three years at Hull KR.”

The KCOM Craven Park club have explained that their approach to squad building has slightly changed now that the Super 8s have been discontinued. Their focus now is on recruiting quality rather than quantity and having a stable squad which will need minimal additions mid-season – the extension of Tomkins’ deal indicates that he is, indeed, set to form part of the nucleus of a strong KR squad for 2019 and beyond.

Super League Wigan Warriors

Manfredi pens new deal at Warriors

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Wigan’s Grand Final star Dom Manfredi has signed a new three-year deal with the Warriors, extending his stay with the club to at least the end of 2021.

After two years out with serious injury troubles, 25-year-old Manfredi returned to the Warriors team towards the end of the 2018 campaign at a time when he was needed – the club were already missing Liam Marshall and Joe Burgess due to injury. As the club chased yet another title, it was imperative that Manfredi returned from his long lay-off in good shape and, on the biggest stage of all, he delivered. Two tries in the 12-4 victory over Warrington at Old Trafford in October sealed the Grand Final trophy for Wigan and immediately dispelled the pain Manfredi experienced through his lengthy absence.

“I’m over the moon to be honest,” Manfredi told the club’s official website following the announcement. A Wigan academy graduate, the winger was understandably keen to remain with the Warriors going forward, adding that “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else as I love the Club, I love everything that it’s about so I’m really happy to extend my stay at the DW Stadium.” An incredible try-scoring record of 52 tries in 63 Warriors appearances show just how much ability Manfredi has and, after starring in the Grand Final, 2019 promises to be a big year for the wide man.

The Cherry and White’s executive director Kris Radlinski was also delighted to see the 2016 Dream Team inclusion sign a new deal. “It was great seeing Dom back in action at the back end of the 2018 season, doing what he does best. Everyone knows his quality,” he said, adding that “he’s been in some pretty dark places whilst he was injured and the way his return to action captured the imagination of the fans, players and staff was nothing short of remarkable. He’s worked incredibly hard in both a physical and mental sense to get himself back to playing Super League rugby once again.”