Who are the NRL 2019 Contenders?

The Sydney Roosters narrowly finished atop the table in the 2018 NRL season, creeping ahead of the Storm in the final round and finishing just a solitary game ahead of the Warriors in eighth in what was an incredibly close season.

Throughout the finals series, however, they showed that they were every bit the best team in it, dismissing all challengers they came across with aplomb. This season, they are tipped to be the team to beat again, but nipping at their heels is a long list of talented teams. Let’s take a look at the top contenders heading into 2019.

Sydney Roosters

The Roosters, fresh off their fourth victory in the World Club Challenge in mid-February, will head into the 2019 season full of confidence and eager to become the first team since the league went national to win back-to-back Premierships. Despite their triumph last season, the Roosters will most likely be an even better side this year. Angus Crichton is a huge addition, the 23-year-old back rower set to make an immediate mark in a forward pack that is already one of the best in the league. Englishman Ryan Hall could be an important addition once he recovers from a knee injury, while all three of James Tedesco, Joseph Manu and Latrell Mitchell have the capacity to take their games to yet another level. The Roosters roster is a scary prospect for any side, and they are deserved favourites as we enter another season.

Brisbane Broncos

The Broncos are an enigma. In 2018, they finished sixth after an up-and-down season, and were promptly belted by the Dragons in the first week of the finals. A disappointing end to the year no doubt, but heading into 2019 there is plenty of reason for fans to be optimistic. The Broncos have a young but extremely talented forward pack, while Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima have the potential to be a dangerous halves combination. They will also receive a boost from the returns of Matt Gillett and Jack Bird, each of whom missed a large portion of the 2018 season due to injuries. Brisbane had a difficult off-season with Anthony Seibold taking over the coaching reigns from Wayne Bennett in controversial fashion, but the talent they have on the field is undeniable, and if they can put it all together they may just be one of the best chances to challenge the Roosters.

Melbourne Storm

The perennially successful Melbourne Storm deserved plenty of credit for making it through to the Grand Final last year despite the loss of Test halfback Cooper Cronk – who would ultimately play a vital role in the Roosters’ victory over his old side on Grand Final day – but that would have been of little solace after they failed to defend their 2017 Premiership. This year, they will again have a huge hole to fill after the retirement of Billy Slater, and how either Jahrome Hughes, or Scott Drinkwater fares as his likely replacement will have a major impact on how deep into the finals they are able to go. With Cameron Smith still hanging around, and plenty of capable support in the form of Josh Addo-Carr, Jesse Bromwich and Will Chambers to name a few, the Storm should find themselves there or thereabouts at the pointy end of the season.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

The South Sydney Rabbitohs won’t have to wait long for their chance at revenge against a Roosters side that knocked them out of the finals in 2018, with the Round 1 match-up between the two sides sure to be quite the spectacle. You can check out the full Round 1 fixture and odds here: https://www.odds.com.au/sport/rugby-league/nrl/.

The Rabbitohs were a good team last year, finishing the season in third place, and this year they will probably be even better – though not necessarily due to changes in on-field personnel. The most successful coach in Australia Rugby League history, Wayne Bennett, will attempt to lead the Rabbitohs to a 22nd Premiership in 2019 after moving across from the Broncos, and with a squad as talented as the one he has at South Sydney, it would be of little surprise if he managed to do exactly that.

Who looks the strongest team in the NRL?

There’s no doubt that the Sydney Roosters head into the 2019 NRL season as the team to beat – they were the best side last year and have made some valuable additions to their squad in 2019. As 2018 highlighted, however, the league is as close as it’s ever been, and there are plenty of teams more than capable of challenging the reigning Premiers. The Broncos are capable of beating anyone on their day, the Storm have a culture of success and the experience to go deep, and the Rabbitohs have added the game’s best coach to a great roster. Add to that the probable improvement of the likes of the Panthers, the Dragons and the Sharks, and it wouldn’t surprise to see yet another bottleneck at the top of the table come the end of the season. Bring it on.

 

Advertisements

Who Were the Top Five Standout Golfers of 2017?

An exceptionally strong core of young American golfers asserted its dominance over the sport in emphatic style in 2017.

US stars with an average age of 25 won three out of the four available majors and the future looks extremely bright for the American Ryder Cup team. Fans across the world were treated to another thrilling 12 months of golf in 2017, a year packed full of intriguing storylines, star turns from budding giants of the game and plenty of nail-biting finishes to big tournaments. Here are the top five stars of 2017:

  1. Justin Rose

Rose achieved T10 finishes in his final 10 tournaments of 2017 to move up to sixth in the world. He won three of his last six, including a sensational eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Open, and heads into 2018 in fine form. He went into a sudden-death playoff against his great friend Sergio Garcia at The Masters, only to miss out on winning a second career major. But he responded superbly and improved as the year went on. At the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October, he went into the final day trailing by eight shots but stormed back to overhaul world number one Dustin Johnson on the final day to claim an improbable victory. He will be a real threat to the golfing elite at this year’s majors thanks to his all-round brilliance.

  1. Hideki Matsuyama

Matsuyama can now lay claim to being the world’s best player without a major to his name. The Japanese has long held down a place in the top five of the Official World Golf Ranking chart and rose as high as number two when he finished runner-up at the US Open in June. He shared the lead at the halfway stage of the PGA Championship before falling away, and it seems like only a matter of time before the 25-year-old joins an elite club of major winners. But he still won three Tour titles, including his first World Golf Championship, along with $8.4 million in prize money in 2017, and displayed great consistency throughout the year.

  1. Dustin Johnson

It is testament to Johnson’s prowess that he held onto the world number one spot throughout 2017, despite suffering an injury that kept him out of the Masters. He did not add to his tally of majors in 2017, but he did win four Tour titles for the first time and moved up to sixth in the career money list. He also became the first player to ever win all four WGC crowns after a dominant performance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. Johnson is on the ninth longest streak atop the world rankings in PGA tour history and nobody looks like dislodging him any time soon.

  1. Jordan Spieth

Spieth roared back to form in 2017, winning his third career major at The Open and taking two further Tour titles. Spieth was named PGA Rookie of the Year in 2013 and continued to impress the following year, but really hit the big time in 2015. That year he won the Masters and the US Open at the tender age of 22, establishing himself as a superstar of the present and the future. He reached number one in the world and was expected to continue his dominance in 2016, but his form tailed off.

He suffered one of the most spectacular collapses of all-time at The Masters, blowing a five-shot lead, and dropped to third in the world, with just one title and no majors to his name.

2017 was a comeback year of epic proportions as Spieth, who took his 10th PGA title with a playoff win in the Travelers Championship. At Royal Birkdale he claimed The Open, becoming only the second man after Jack Nicklaus to win three of the four majors before his 24th birthday. A couple of runner-up finishes put him in contention for the FedEx Cup title, but he ultimately finished second, as well as ending up second on the 2017 money list. He is expected to continue his resurgence in 2018 and is currently the favourite in the US Masters 2018 odds as he has been exceptionally strong at Augusta over the years.

  1. Justin Thomas

Thomas enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 and usurped childhood friend Spieth by topping the money list, winning the FedEx Cup and claiming a first major.

Thomas was named PGA Golfer of the Year and earned a cool $9.9 million throughout 2017. While Spieth and Thomas were always considered wunderkinds, it was the former that rose to stardom quicker, soaring to the top of the world rankings, while Thomas claimed just one Tour victory in his first two years as a pro and was lurking on the outskirts of the elite. But Spieth’s success pushed him to achieve greater feats and he delivered on his promise in 2017, winning the PGA Championship ahead of Matsuyama.

He took five Tour titles in total and dominated the end of year awards. He finished 2017 at number three in the world rankings and the future looks extremely rosy for American golf thanks to the talents of Thomas, Spieth, Johnson, Rickie Fowler, US Open winner Brooks Koepka and more. But right now Thomas is in the ascendancy and he is the man to beat heading into 2018’s majors.

 

 

Stephen Hendry takes ‘Name That Table’ test

BetStars put Stephen Hendry to the test to see if he could remember some of the highs and lows of his trophy-laden career in ‘Name That Table’.

We presented the seven-time world champion with three significant situations from the past, but would he be able to recognise the tables when the pressure was on?

Click on the video below and hear the Scot talk about what those matches meant to him.

Stephen Hendry was speaking on behalf of online betting site BetStars. #Callit at BetStars.

Starc issues warning to England

Mitchell Starc has warned England that they should expect things to go from bad to worse for the remainder of the winter’s Ashes.

Starc has been in blistering form, taking 14 wickets in Australia’s two victories so far, and believes he and his colleagues have the scope to step it up another gear when the series heads to Perth.

England have not won in Perth since 1978, and Australia only need victory their to regain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead – regardless of what happens in the final two tests after.

The Aussie bowler is already licking his lips at the prospect of putting England under immense pressure, on a pitch which has been long renowned for being one of the world’s quickest.

“The exciting thing is our bowling group can still get better,” said the 27-year-old left-armer.

“We’ve obviously managed to take 40 wickets in the last couple of weeks and do some really good things, but I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Starc added: “‘Gazza’ (Lyon) is bowling outstandingly at the moment.

“That allows the other three of us to do what we need to do from one end if need be.

“Then Josh does what he does and allows Pat and me to bowl as fast as we want.

“I hope we see a nice, fast, bouncy wicket – a WACA of old – and we can get stuck into their batters again.”

Loftus-Cheek won’t let injury dampen positives from England bow

Ruben Loftus-Cheek will remain positive after a back injury cruely cut short his second appearance for the England national team, during the goalless draw with Brazil at Wembley on Tuesday.

Loftus-Cheek, who is currently on loan with Crystal Palace from Chelsea, put in an eye-catching performance on his debut for the national side against Germany last week.

The 21-year-old was then rewarded for that positive display by being given the chance to start for England when they faced Brazil.

However, the midfielder was only able to complete 35 minutes of the game with the South Americans, when a lower back problem flared up.

After the match, Southgate said he expected the issue to “settle down fairly quickly” and praised the contribution of Loftus-Cheek, whom he coached in the under-21s, as “absolutely outstanding”.

In a post on his personal Twitter account after the game, Loftus-Cheek wrote: “Disappointing to have my night cut short after being on the pitch with some amazing players. Will stay positive after a good week.”

An update on whether Loftus-Cheek will be available for Palace’s upcoming Premier League match is expected when Roy Hodgson holds a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles currently sit bottom of the table, and have picked up just one point since recording their first and only league win of the season, when they defeated Chelsea on October 14.

Alex Lozowski signs new deal with Saracens

Alex Lozowski
Image source: @alexlozowski10 on Twitter

England international back Alex Lozowski has signed a contract extension with the current Aviva Premiership leaders, Saracens.

The deal will keep Lozowski at the reigning European champions until 2020.

Lozowski, 24, has been a crucial player for the Saracens since he joined them from the Wasps last year, offering options not only at fly-half, but centre too.

His form has seen him rewarded with two England caps, whilst on the Argentina tour four months ago.

“We are delighted that Alex has agreed a new deal,” Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

“Alex will have an important role to play for us as he continues to develop as a player, so naturally we are very happy to announce that he will be staying at Allianz Park until at least 2020.

“In his brief time at the club, Alex has already shown how good a player he is, but the most exciting thing for us is how much improvement we believe there is to come from him alongside our core of young, hungry, home-grown players.”

Lozowski is not the only player to sign new terms with Saracens in the recent weeks, as he follows Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Nick Isiekwe to sign on the dotted line.

“I have really benefited from being in the environment and from being around good players and good coaches,” Lozowski said.

“I think being surrounded by the calibre of guys that we’ve got here is only going to bring your game up. I am really grateful to be part of this team.”

Worcester sign Lance on short-term deal

Jono Lance
Image source: @WorcsWarriors

Worcester have confirmed the signing of fly-half Jono Lance on a short-term deal, in the hope the Australian can boost their Aviva Premiership campaign.

The 27-year-old playmaker will help to add experience to the Warriors’ ranks at fly-half, alongside current players Sam Olver, Tom Heathcote and Jamie Shillcock.

“Jono is a player who’s got vast experience at the top level having won Super Rugby titles with different clubs,” said Worcester rugby director Gary Gold.

“He will help drive the competition for the number 10 jersey and we’re looking forward to seeing what he has to offer.”

Lance admitted he is looking forward to the move, adding: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to represent the Warriors in the Aviva Premiership.”

Police make arrest in connection to Chris Brunt coin throwing indicent

The Police have made an arrest in connection to the coin throwing incident, in which West Bromich Albion midfielder Chris Brunt was struck by the object after his side lost 3-1 at Reading on Saturday.

Brunt’s side were beaten comfortably by Reading, with the result sending the Royals into the FA Cup Quarter finals against the odds. The Northern Ireland international was heading towards the travelling faithful to hand a supporter his shirt when he was hit in the face, leaving a visible mark immediately.

Throwing a coin at a player is shocking enough, but the fact the coin was thrown the traveling Albion fans makes the case 10x worse. Brunt has made over 300 appearances for the club and is one of the longest serving players. He told the press of his “disgust” at the coin thrower, and was “ashamed” by the whole thing.

Thankfully, Thames Valley Police said the man was arrested on Tuesday, also announcing that the arrest was part of a joint operation held with the Hampshire Police department. The club have also announced that they will impose the “severest of actions” on the guilty party.

A case of ‘monkey see monkey do’, Chelsea fans were also guilty of coin throwing this weekend, as they pelted Manchester City player David Faupala and his teammates on Sunday as they celebrated their equaliser at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s statement following this incident stated they would impose lifetime bans for the offenders.

 

Hiddink is the man to replace Mourinho

Guus Hiddink is all set to become the interim manager at Chelsea following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal on Wednesday evening.

The former-Netherlands coach was in London on Friday to hold talks with the hierarchy at the Blues, as the two parties look to iron out a deal.

Saturday’s visit to Sunderland will be a game too soon for Hiddink, with the Chelsea players looking to bounce back from Monday nights 2-1 loss to unlikely Premier League leaders Leicester City.

Hiddink, who has hosted a host of clubs, had managed Chelsea before as the interim coach back in 2009. He won the FA Cup with the club that year.

Mourinho endured jubilation at the end of last season as he led his Blues to the Premier League title, but his joy was short-lived, as seven months later he is now without a job having led Chelsea to one of their worst first halves of the season in recent times.

Chelsea sit in 16th place, one point above the relegation zone going into Saturday’s game.

Rumours of the dressing room being against Mourinho may have been quashed by club captain John Terry, who described Wednesday as a sad day for Chelsea on his personal Instagram.

“Going to miss you boss,

“The very best I have ever worked with, unbelievable memories together. Thank you doesn’t seem enough.”

Terry was not alone in thanking his former boss, as Cesar Azpilicueta also claimed it to be a sad day.

“I would publicly like to thank Jose Mourinho for his contribution to this club and for everything he has taught me over the years.

“He will always be remembered. Thank you mister.”

Hiddink’s challenge for the remainder of the season will be to try and lead his team up the table and into the European places – whether that be the Europa League or Champions League, at a push.

The beginning

Hello there, and welcome to my new Sports news orientated site. My aim is to provide readers with as up-to-date coverage as we possibly can, whilst trying to balance this between a University degree and part-time job.

The creator and owner of Sportingwayoflife.com is a 22-year-old aspiring sports journalist who currently studies at the University of Huddersfield. Big Scunthorpe United fan, and currently help the club out in their media department on match days – which is a fantastic experience.

I also run two other sites http://www.anyoldironblog.com/ & http://gunghofootball.com/ – which have both received great support from readers.

The aim of the Sportingwayoflife is to provide news updates from a variety of sports. For the start it will Football, Golf, Horse Racing, Tennis and Rugby – but expect more categories to emerge in the near future.

I guess all that is left to say is thank you for visiting the site, please share it with your family and friends – and see you around hopefully.

Ross Gibson.