NRL

Panthers upset Roosters

The Panthers racked up a third straight win by downing the defending premiers at Panthers Stadium, with Maloney providing three try assists and a field goal in an impressive showing to enhance his claims for a State of Origin recall.

Nathan Cleary came in for criticism following the Blues' State of Origin I defeat to Queensland in midweek, but he also put in a strong showing against the high-flying Roosters.

Mate Ma'a Tonga 2.0: Next generation of league stars making their mark

The Kingdom will face New Zealand in the opening round of the Oceania Cup in Auckland later this month, in a much-awaited rematch of their famous victory over the Kiwis at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Brisbane Broncos star Tevita Pangai Junior joined the likes of Andrew Fifita, Jason Taumalolo and Sio Siua Taukeiaho last month in committing his international future to Tonga, after turning down the chance to play State of Origin.

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Simaima Taufa making her voice heard in anti-violence campaign in Tonga

Taufa headed back to her birth place as part of the NRL's Voice Against Violence (VAV) program to continue the conversation around gender-based violence and gender equality, through the language of sport.

The Jillaroos lock said her reasoning for being involved in the trip was to be part of the change that the anti-violence program is going to bring for young girls and women in Tonga.

"For a long time in Tonga girls didn't play contact sport – it was also a bit of a taboo topic like domestic violence," Taufa said.

Whitbread ready for the Taumalolo challenge

With Jai Arrow named to play for the Maroons in Origin I, Jai Whitbread is likely to start at lock for the Titans on Sunday where he will go up against Cowboys colossus Jason Taumalolo.

The 21-year-old was called into the run-on side late last week when Arrow went down with a quadriceps injury during the captain's run and ran for 102 metres in 35 minutes.

More importantly, he limited the impact of Manly giant Martin Taupau.

Maroons Origin team: Emotional Walters names new faces, declares 'war'

The Maroons coach said debutants Moses Mbye, Joe Ofahengaue and David Fifita had earned their jerseys and would do the state proud as his eyes glazed over with the passion and emotion that has defined his tenure in charge of the Maroons.

Broncos forwards Ofahengaue and Fifita will come off the bench, as will Mbye with the Wests Tigers skipper beating Anthony Milford to the vital utility spot.

“I'm ready, we are ready. This is war,” Walters said.

Andrew Fifita hints at another Tongan defection ahead of Kiwis test

Cronulla prop Fifita suggested his cousin was considering committing to the Mate Ma'a for next month's test against New Zealand in what would be a massive blow for Queensland's depth.

David Fifita was thought to be a leading contender to grab a Queensland bench spot for Origin I in a fortnight.

But Andrew Fifita said he was one of a host of young players with dual eligibility who wanted to commit to the fast-emerging Pacific nation.

"I feel like change is coming, especially for the international game," Andrew Fifita said.

NRL slam door shut on fallen rugby star Israel Folau

Folau has decided against appealing Rugby Australia sacking him over his homophobic social media post though he hinted he wanted to continue as an athlete.

A route back to league where he started his stunning multi-code career has been largely dismissed and Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie dashed any faint hopes of that in a damning fresh statement on Folau.

When it was suggested that Folau hadn't been fined or suspended by rugby and there was a technical opening for him to switch back to league, Beattie hit back.

Aussie veteran Cooper Cronk to announce NRL retirement

The 35-year-old, who won two premierships with the Melbourne Storm and then another last season with the Sydney Roosters, will hang up his boots at the end of the current campaign.

Cronk's retirement comes 16 years after he first pulled on a Storm jersey and, in the years since, only Johnathan Thurston has received as many plaudits as one of the NRL's very best playmakers.

Through 360 NRL games, 22 Origins and 38 Tests for Australia, Cronk has won it all.

Emerging Tongans queuing up for Kiwis Test

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said the likes of Broncos pair Kotoni Staggs and David Fifita, as well as   hard-running Titans forward Moeaki Fotuaika would all be considered for debuts against New Zealand next month.

Fainu would have potentially made his first Tongan cameo against Australia at the end of last year had he not been suspended, said Woolf, while Souths prop Junior Tatola looked set to add to his one Test appearance.

Fifita and Prior should be right for Manly

The Sharks lost Fifita barely seven minutes into their Magic Round win over the Titans and Prior not long after.

But veteran skipper Paul Gallen lifted in the pair's absence along with big contributions from bench forwards Brayden Hamlin-Uele, Jack Williams and Jayson Bukuya to overturn an 18-10 halftime deficit to run home 26-18 winners over an ill-disciplined Gold Coast at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.