Australia NRL News: Stuart facing ban for rant, McCullough may retire but Dragons set to miss out on Verrills
Every team’s run home: Who has toughest schedule for rest of NRL season after Round 20
There’s little more than a month left in the regular season, five weeks which will determine more than just who misses the playoffs. Careers are on the line for players, coaches and administrators as the 16 NRL teams jockey for position over the closing weeks of the schedule. Premiers Penrith are now not so certain to finish first after Nathan Cleary was sent off and banned for the rest of the regular season after his spear tackle on Dylan Brown in the loss to the Eels on Friday night.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart is facing the possibility of becoming the first coach in premiership history to be suspended over a post-match press conference tirade.
Many coaches have been fined five-figure amounts over the past few decades for unacceptable comments when fronting the media, including Stuart, who has repeated offences on his record.
Following his extraordinary spray on Saturday night when he attacked Panthers five-eighth Jaeman Salmon’s reputation, the NRL is set to come down hard on the Raiders mentor.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo is set to announce a breach notice on Monday which could result in Stuart being banned from attending Canberra’s Round 22 home game against the Dragons on Sunday.
Round 21 Preview Questions: Anyone have faith in judiciary? Manly Seven speak up? Griffin happy with his 17?
Try as we might as NRL onlookers, the judiciary can’t escape our collective bewilderment. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves grinds his forearm into a rookie forward’s face. That’s a grade-one charge. Nelson Asofa-Solomona drops his elbow into a tackled player’s head with such force that his opponent’s teeth are cracked. No sin bin, send-off or charge. Josh King gropes at the face of a Warrior in almost a mirror image of an incident that prompted a five-week ban the previous round. Nothing. Patrick Carrigan wrenches Jackson Hastings back in a three-man tackle in such a way that his leg snaps.
He would not be able to communicate from a remote location, as some coaches have done this year when stuck in COVID-19 isolation.
After Salmon had lashed out with his boot towards Raiders hooker Tom Starling during Penrith’s 26-6 win on Saturday night, Stuart fumed: “I know that kid well. He was a weak-gutted dog as a kid and he hasn’t changed now. He’s a weak-gutted dog person now.”
He tried to douse the flames on Sunday by issuing an apology: “I regret saying what I did on that platform after the game. I was speaking as a father and not as a football coach.
“My reaction was to a family situation that I thought I had dealt with, clearly I haven’t. I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and for that I am very sorry. There is a history between Jaeman Salmon and my family that I will not go into. I should not have brought it up after the game, but it just got the better of me.
Rugby League World Cup 2022: Which nations are NRL players representing?
Rugby League World Cup 2022: Which nations are NRL players representing?Brian To'o has played for NSW in the past two Origin series, but has made the decision to represent Samoa in the tournament, alongside his Panthers teammate Jarome Luai and QLD rep Josh Papalii.
“I am truly sorry that I have caused my family and the game unwarranted attention.”
The drama stems from an incident at a junior match in the Sutherland Shire more than a decade ago when Salmon was playing in the same team as Stuart’s son.
Video: Knights error hands Tigers try (Wide World of Sports)
Despite the coach’s carefully worded apology, the Salmon family issued a statement of their own, calling on the NRL to take action.
“We were disappointed by the comments of Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart after what was a fantastic game of football for the Panthers and our son, Jaeman. We were surprised by Ricky’s claim that he knows Jaeman personally as they have had no contact since Jae was 12 years old.
“We are calling on the NRL to take action as we believe Jaeman has been wronged in this situation. We will follow the correct procedures and let the NRL complete a thorough investigation.”
Round 21 team lists: Carrigan banned FOUR weeks, Klemmer axed, Arthur in for Moses, six of 'Manly seven' back
Brisbane lock Patrick Carrigan will not play again until Round 25 after being rubbed out by the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night for four matches. Broncos coach Kevin Walters did not bother selecting Carrigan for Thursday’s clash with the Roosters after the Maroons forward was referred straight to the judiciary for the hip-drop tackle which broke Jackson Hastings’ leg during the Wests Tigers’ upset win at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Penrith put out a statement on Sunday to say “With respect to the comments made post-game Saturday night, the club is monitoring the situation. Salmon’s wellbeing is the club’s priority, and Panthers is ensuring he is supported at this time.”
The NRL Integrity Unit investigation is expected to result in a hefty fine for Stuart as well as an unprecedented ban.
Their loss to Penrith means ninth-placed Canberra are two points adrift of eighth spot but they have a favourable draw in the final four rounds, playing teams below them on the table while many of the sides directly above them will face each other.
McCullough may retire but Dragons no certainty to sign Verrills
Veteran hooker Andrew McCullough could be hanging up his boots at the end of the season, but the Dragons are looking unlikely to land their main target to replace him, Roosters rake Sam Verrills.
Gold Coast are leading the race for Verrills’ signature with the premiership-winning hooker looking elsewhere following the Roosters’ acquisition of Kiwi international Brandon Smith from the Storm.
Samoa World Cup predicted squad: Panthers everywhere, Suaalii at fullback and biggest pack possible
There probably won’t be a squad announcement as hotly anticipated as when Samoa release their team. If the 2017 World Cup was defined by the emergence of Tonga onto the world stage as a genuine fourth contender for the title, then there’s a strong argument to be made that this year will be the coming out party for their eternal rivals. A lot of that has to do with the Samoan surge that has turned the Penrith Panthers into the best team in the NRL: the backline that Ivan Cleary picks on a weekly basis is highly likely to be available to Toa Samoa coach Matt Parish.
According to, McCullough is considering retiring despite being under contract for next year.
Moses Mbye has filled in at dummy-half this season so he could be an option for the No.9 jersey while the Dragons have also sounded out Verrills and Wests Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle, who is eyeing the exit with Panthers star Api Koroisau heading to Concord.
The Titans have been keen to bolster their inexperienced spine following this season’s disastrous campaign and have already signed Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran.
Verrills is only 23 but scored a try in the Roosters’ 2019 Grand Final win and could give the Titans much-needed creativity out of dummy-half. Erin Clark, better suited at lock, has been used for most of this season by Justin Holbrook while Aaron Booth suffered a devastating knee injury last week which will likely sideline him until midway through 2023.
Verrills understands Roosters' Smith call .
Sam Verrills has revealed how he tried to put doubts over his future to the back of his mind for the majority of the NRL season before signing with Gold Coast.Verrills signed a two-year deal with Gold Coast last week, opting out of his Roosters contract with Brandon Smith coming to the club next year.