The Cumberland Throw

The Corner Post – December 7, 2023: Massive Injury News And Signings Roll On


If you thought last week was a big way to kick off the first month of summer, think again. Rugby league continues to heat up with significant injuries, signings, and an award or two occupying the headlines.

Its time to discuss what the league world is talking about.

Tracey And Oloapu Battle Injuries 

The “Utility Bulldogs” have stayed in the news after announcing that young gun Karl Oloapu underwent back surgery this week, and that former Sharks winger Connor Tracey was suffering an injury picked up during his final session with his old club.

Tracey’s injury will see him sidelined and unable to begin training with his new teammates until mid-January.

Oloapu’s surgery was the result of long-term back pain suffered by the young half. It’s hoped that surgery will save his career, after early retirement was looking like a genuine option.

I would like to wish a speedy recovery to both players in their rehab journey.


Matto Pre-Season Blues

There was a negative for Eels fans with the club announcing that Ryan Matterson had suffered a quad strain which will keep him out of training for the next month.

After missing the start of last season due to suspension, a hampered pre-season was the last thing that the big forward needed going into 2024.

Matto’s decision to opt for a three game suspension in the first three rounds last year, was arguably the catalyst for a disastrous 2023 season for the entire team. Suspensions and injuries accounted for top 30 players missing over 120 games during the season.

Hopefully Matterson’s rehab will be completed well before the new season commences.


Titanic Injury Blow

Titans second rower David Fifita Jr has had his pre-season cut short by injury and will undergo pectoral surgery. With his chances of starting in round 1 now effectively eliminated, the focus will shift on how soon the powerhouse forward can return. In all likelihood, it might not be until the Origin period.

Fifita embodies the famous “Queenslander spirit” so he will no doubt be aiming to be back on the field and leading by example well before the Maroons team is selected.

The Gold Coast have high ambitions and a new coach in Des Hasler as they set their goal of playing finals football. Hasler has overcome his share of adversity, and the Fifita injury will be an early test in his new gig.


Critta Makes An Early Return To The Pre-Season

Stephen Crichton provided Bulldogs fans with an early Christmas gift when he made a surprise start to the his preseason, two months ahead of schedule. For the last few months, the Penrith utility’s transfer has been one of the League’s most anticipated signings.

The Bulldogs have struggled to find their permanent outside back pairings, shifting Jake Averillo and Jacob Kiraz, signing Braidon Burns and Hayze Perham, promoting Blake Wilson and releasing Paul Alamoti. 

Bulldogs faithful will be looking for Crichton to strengthen the spine and lead them in their quest to end an eight year finals drought.


Warriors News

This Warriors have confirmed the extensions of both Jackson Ford and Rocco Berry until 2025 and 2026 respectively. Both players have been crucial to the Warriors improved performances, with Ford playing a dominant role on the edge following his arrival from the Dragons, and Berry covering the centre position extremely well.


Simultaneously, the Broncos have announced their release of Kurt Capewell to the Warriors, following his publicised meeting with coach Andrew Webster just last week.


The New Zealand club signed the Origin star and premiership winner to a three year deal. Cape well brings his Panthers Premiership experience and has played in three of the past four grand finals.

This signing will add much needed depth to the Warriors forward pack, especially following the departure of Josh Curran to the Bulldogs.


Olakau’atu Monster Deal

The Manly Sea Eagles have reportedly tabled their second row superstar Haumole Olakau’atu a monstrous 8-year $8,000,000 deal, which would see him a Sea Eagle until the end of the 2031 season. Olakau’atu has become a force for the club, with his hard-hitting tackles and destructive charges a feature in their 2023 highlight reel.

Manly’s deal signals their intent to build their pack around a young firebrand who is edging closer to NSW Blues selection with every season played,

An 8 year deal is always a large uncertainty for any NRL club, however another day spent in free agency could have seen the talented forward locked up by another club for well over $1M a season.


JFH And Hale Win Golden Boot Awards

New Zealand captains James Fisher-Harris and Georgia Hale were the recipients of this years prestigious Golden Boot accolade. Voted on by international media representatives, it has previously acknowledged the likes of Jonathan Thurston, Andrew Johns, Jessica Sergis and Racene Mcgregor, as the outstanding players of the year.

Fisher-Harris surpassed fellow kiwi Joseph Tapine, Australian powerhouse Payne Haas, and English halfback Harry Smith to take out the award. Getting the better of Haas in 2023 was no mean feat, as the Broncos prop had a season right out of the box, playing 23 games, breaking 113 tackles, running 1662 post contact metres and tackling at 98.5% tackle efficiency.

A premiership, victory in the Pacific Test final and now a Golden Boot – the list of personal achievements for Fisher-Harris made it one for him to remember.

As for Georgia Hale, she led the Titans to their first NRLW grand final and the Kiwi Ferns to historic wins over the Jillaroos and Mate Ma’a Tonga in their Pacific Test campaign. From a stats perspective, in her eleven match season she collected 383 Post contact metres and made 501 tackles with a 98.8% Tackle efficiency rate.

Hale is the first forward to claim the award, edging past rivals such as Dally M and Karyn Murphy medal winner Tamika Upton, the tough Mele Hufanga, and speedster Apii Nicholls.

I extend my congratulations to both award winners on outstanding 2023 seasons and I wish them all the best in their preparations for next year.



Project PARRAdise Drops

This week, the Parramatta Eels teased and then released their 15 minute film “Project Parradise”. The film is a behind the scenes glimpse for the Parramatta faithful, detailing the squads experiences as they undertook a preseason camp in Wiseman’s ferry.

The project provided an insight into the clubs mentality and focus heading into the 2024 season,. After a disappointing 2023 campaign, the Blue and Gold army will be looking for reasons to believe in a resurgent Eels team next year.


The film highlighted senior players like Mitchell Moses and Reagan Campbell-Gillard displaying leadership qualities that the team will rely on in 2024.

How will the players define themselves and the team was a focus question from the camp. We heard some examples from the staff, with Baz pushing the importance of the legacy they will leave for those who follow. For now, the response from the team will remain in the vault.

As the camp continued, players solved challenges and collaborated on tasks. “ Excitement” joined “legacy” as a key theme powering the side in 2024. It will be interesting to learn more about the response of the players who participated, not to mention how potential recruits would look upon the positive culture on display.





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