While the end of season international calendar enters its final week there is plenty of other news around the game to keep the fans interested as we head towards the cold, dark, winter months and anticipate what the 2019 season may bring.
We’ve had a look back at the news over the last week to pick up on stories which you might have missed to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the greatest game.
Saints announced that long-serving winger Ade Gardner had left the club to take up a coaching role with the Warrington Wolves on a two year contract.
Wigan and England skipper Sean O’Loughlin ended speculation that he may leave the DW Stadium ahead of the 2019 season by announcing a new deal which will also see him take on some junior coaching duties. There had been some speculation linking O’Loughlin with a move to the Leeds Rhinos but it now seems that he will end a Wigan career which began in 2002 in the Charry and White.
Wigan Warriors announced that they have now made arrangements to play the Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge at the DW Stadium on Sunday the 17th February with a 19:00 kick-off. The marketing has already begun for the clash between the best sides from both hemispheres with Wigan hoping for a sell-out crowd as they seek to gain their fifth World Club Champions title.
The Huddersfield Giants have had the cheque book out again, this time signing Fijian star Akuila Uate from the manly Sea Eagles on a three year deal. The NRL’s best winger for three consecutive years (2010-12) will join England superstar Jermaine McGillvary in a formidable wing partnership.
After helping Hull KR through the middle eights it has been announced that veteran Todd Carney will not be returning to Humberside for 2019, instead staying in Australia and taking on a coaching role.
Newly relegated Widnes Vikings announced the appointment of ex-Leigh and England Knights head coach Kieron Purtill as they prepare for life in the Championship in 2019, hoping for a rapid return to the top flight.
As was widely reported last week, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity have swapped Danny Brough and Scott Grix with both players returning to their former sides for the 2019 season. With both players now in their mid-thirties, Brough has signed a two year playing deal while Grix will join the Giants training staff once he decides it’s time to hang up his boots.
With Sean O’Loughlin ruled out for the test it was announced that St Helens forward Luke Thompson would be given the number thirteen shirt while James Graham would take the captains arm band for the second test.
London Broncos Super League preparation continues as they announce the capture of Jordan Abdull from Hull FC. Abdull handed in a transfer request in August and it is understood that a fee was paid to secure his services.
It was a fantastic performance from England to come back from being behind on two occasions to secure a 20-14 victory and clinch a series win by overcoming the New Zealanders for the second time in the three Autumn tests. Hero of the day was Tommy Makinson who helped himself to a hat-trick, backed up by some excellent defence to keep the Kiwis at bay. The two sides move on to the third and final test at Elland Road in Leeds next Sunday.
It was confirmed that Warrington Wolves hooker Daryl Clark suffered a fractured and dislocated rib during Englands win over the Kiwis which will certainly keep him out of the third test.
News broke that George Burgess has been called before the match review panel charged with a Grade D offence ‘behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game’ for an incident during Sundays test. Burgess is accused of eye gouging against Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. If found guilty, the offence carries a three to five game suspension.
Rumours abound that Hull KR are in the running to sign out of favour Leeds Rhinos forward Mitch Garbutt who has been told that he is free to seek a new club, although KR are reportedly prioritising their recruitment plans around a half-back. Meanwhile the Rhinos are understood to have secured the signature of Penrith Panthers loose/utility forward Trent Merrin.
With Hull FC and Hull KR likely to meet in the season’s opening weekend, the two sides have announced the cancellation of their pre-season fixture. It is widely rumoured that the opening round of Super League will be comprised of derbies.
More departures from Salford were announced with Kriss Brinning and Gavin Bennion leaving the Red Devils with immediate effect.
It seems highly likely that the 2019 fixtures, announced at noon today (6th November) will see the Wigan Warriors and St Helens open their campaigns with a blockbuster start at the DW Stadium on Thursday 31st January 2019, the earliest ever start to a Super League season.
After playing through the NRL Grand Final 2018 with a fractured left scapula it has been revealed that the Sydney Roosters skipper Cooper Cronk has had a metal plate inserted, however, it is believed that he will be fit for the Roosters season opener against South Sydney. But the news isn’t so good for new signing Ryan Hall whose anterior cruciate ligament injury means that he won’t be fit for the start of the 2019 campaign.
Noon today sees the announcement of the 2019 Super League fixtures with a likely opening weekend of derbies, and a Magic Weekend at Anfield.