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Matterson seals four-year Eels deal, Doueihi wants six spot back

Ryan Matterson is staying at Parramatta, rejecting the Dolphins to pen a four-year extension to his contract at CommBank Stadium.

Coach Brad Arthur confirmed the deal live in the post-match press conference after his side’s victory over the Sydney Roosters, announcing that the Origin forward would be staying at the club.

In officiaully announcing the deal on Sunday morning, Parramatta general manager Mark O’Neill said Matterson’s retention was important in helping the Eels maintain one of the best forward packs in the NRL.

“Ryan is an integral part of our team moving forward, he’s a versatile player, has a great offload in his game and is the ultimate professional on and off the field. Since re-joining the club in 2020, Ryan has played his best football which was rewarded with selection for NSW in Origin 1.”

Doueihi wants six spot back

Adam Doueihi has declared he wants to play in the halves long term at Wests Tigers setting up a looming squeeze of three playmakers into two positions.

Doueihi will make his long-awaited return from his ruptured ACL on Sunday against Canterbury, after 10 long months of rehab.

The Lebanon star will come off the bench and expects to play limited minutes in the backline at CommBank Stadium, as he settles back into full fitness.

But he has made no secret of his desire to claim back the Tigers No.6 jersey.

Doueihi was the easily the club’s best last year before his late-season injury, before Jackson Hastings arrived and partnered Luke Brooks this season.

“Long-term I definitely see myself in the halves. No.6 or No.7,” Doueihi said.

Adam Doueihi

Adam Doueihi. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

“I probably prefer No.6. Anywhere in the halves down the track is where I see I will be most comfortable.”

Doueihi, Hastings and Brooks are all off contract next year, with a crucial decision ahead on how the Tigers best manage the trio.

Hastings had initially been brought to the club with the thought he could be used as a ball-playing lock, which potentially remains an option.

Doueihi meanwhile said there was no chance he himself would fill that kind of role, but was yet to speak interim coach Brett Kimmorley or head of football Tim Sheens over his long-term role.

“I have just been focused on getting my knee right,” Doueihi said.

“I am not fussed with where I play at the moment.

“I just want to get back out there and not muck around with the spine and let everyone do what they have been doing and ease me back in.

“When it comes time down the track we’ll sort it out.”

The 23-year-old was ready to return a matter of weeks ago, but he agreed with the club’s decision to take the cautious approach and hold him back.

Doueihi admitted there had been dark days during his recovery, which marked his second ACL tear in the same knee after a similar blow back in 2018.

He also watched Michael Maguire, the coach who handed him his first South Sydney contract before bringing him across to the Tigers, lose his job.

“There are definitely some dark days,” he said.

“You have those thoughts, a lot of spare moments to yourself. You think about some weird things.

“You obviously doubt yourself, will I get back to the player I was, will I keep improving? Will I do it again?

“Those thoughts obviously come in but I am happy to be out the other side now.”

Izack Tago scores. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Panthers sink claws into Tago until 2025

Penrith have denied their rivals the chance to poach exciting young centre Izack Tago, who has re-signed with the reigning premiers through to the end of 2025.

Tago is enjoying a breakout season and has helped to revamp the Panthers’ left edge alongside winger Taylan May, who also signed a contract extension this month.

The pair have scored 22 tries between them in the first 14 games of the season and will be critical to Penrith’s pursuit of back-to-back premierships.

Tago, 20, had already been contracted until the end of 2023 but would have been free to negotiate with other clubs from November 1.

“Re-signing with the club that I debuted for means so much to me. To stay with the boys that I’ve played with over the last few years makes it even better,” Tago, who is a local junior, said.

“I’m proud to represent this area. I’ve been here my whole life and this place is home to me. I’m excited for the opportunity to represent the community.”

Tago may have re-signed but the Panthers will struggle to keep every player who comes off contract next season.

Stephen Crichton, Liam Martin, Brian To’o, Spencer Leniu and Scott Sorensen are all without deals beyond 2023 and could follow premiership teammates Kurt Capewell, Matt Burton, Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau out the door.

This year, the Panthers have prioritised re-signing emerging prospects. Sunia Turuva, Lindsay Smith, Ativalu Lisati and Liam Henry have all recommitted to the club.

Samoa keep Origin door open

Samoa have not selected players from the State of Origin series opener in their squad for next week’s Representative Round but have left the door open to add them to their squad if not chosen for the second match in Perth.

The Matt Parish-coached Samoans will take on Cook Islands at Campbelltown Sports Stadium next Saturday but they have only announced a 20-man squad while they wait on Brad Fittler and Billy Slater to name their NSW and Queensland line-ups.

They are looking to avoid a potential clash similar to Tonga, who have chosen Daniel Tupou and Kotoni Staggs in their 25-man squad to face New Zealand next Saturday but are likely to be selected for NSW and remain with the Blues.

Young Warriors playmaker Ronald Volkman, who is making his NRL debut this Saturday against Penrith, is a chance to earn his first Test jersey next weekend, likely on the bench with club teammate Chanel Harris-Tavita and Knights veteran Anthony Milford also in Samoa’s squad.

Martin Tapau

Martin Taupau. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Parish’s team features plenty of seasoned NRL first-graders with international experience, including Marty Taupau, Jaydn Su’A, David Nofoaluma, Luciano Leilua and Josh Aloiai.

Blues winger Brian To’o, centre Stephen Crichton, five-eighth Jarome Luai and props Payne Haas and Junior Paulo, and young reserve Joseph Suaalii are eligible to represent Samoa. A couple of them may not be selected for NSW in Origin II.

From the Queensland team, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Josh Papalii, Jeremiah Nanai, Murray Taulagi are also potential Samoan selections but all but certain to be in the Maroons squad for the Optus Stadium stoush.

Samoa squad
Anthony Milford (Newcastle Knights)
Bunty Afoa (Warriors)
Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors)
Charlie Staines (Penrith Panthers)
David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers)
Francis Molo (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
Izack Tago (Penrith Panthers)
Jaxson Paulo (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Jaydn Su’A (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
Jazz Tevaga (Warriors)
Josh Aloiai (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Josh Schuster (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Keenan Palasia (Brisbane Broncos)
Luciano Leilua (North Queensland Cowboys)
Martin Taupau (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Mathew Feagai (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
Ronald Volkman (Warriors)
Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers)
Taylan May (Penrith Panthers)
Toafofoa Sipley (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

Murdoch-Masila out two months with elbow injury

Warriors veteran Ben Murdoch-Masila has been ruled out for eight weeks after undergoing an operation on Thursday to fix the gruesome elbow injury he suffered last weekend.

The front-rower was in excruciating pain after a tackle went wrong in the first half of the loss to the Sharks, his arm bent back at a horrible angle in the incident.

He has had a wretched run over the last two seasons.

A Lisfranc injury ended his 2021 campaign early and hampered his pre-season as he recovered. He missed another three games earlier this season after having his ankle injured in a hip-drop tackle which resulted in a suspension for Brisbane’s Thomas Flegler.  

The Tongan international, who is contracted to the Warriors until the end of next year, is hopeful of returning for the final month of this season, particularly with the club due to play home games at Mt Smart Stadium after nearly three years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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