Fogarty extends stay at Gold Coast Titans

JAMAL Fogarty will stay a Titan for at least another two years after inking a contract extension with the Gold Coast club.

Already confirmed for next year, Fogarty has committed for a further season that sees him stay a Titan until the end of 2022.

After joining the side mid-season, the 26-year-old has starred for the side in his 17 games, even being named captain for round 15-18 while Kevin Proctor was side-lined through suspension.

Titans Coach Justin Holbrook says Fogarty has been a wonderful addition to the team and he’s thrilled that he has committed long-term.

“I think it is really exciting for myself as coach to have Jamal extend at the Club,” Holbrook said.

“He has shown what he has done for the team and also individually how much he has improved over the back half of this year

“It’s exciting that he is going to have a full pre-season and a couple of years with us.

“He’s a great player and a really good person and it’s great for our Club to have him extend.”

Caleb Serong claims AFL Rising Star ahead of Gold Coast young gun

GOLD Coast Suns star Noah Anderson has finished runner-up for the 2020 NAB FL Rising Star Award, with Fremantle’s Caleb Serong claiming the honours.

Serong won the award with 48 votes ahead of Anderson on 39 votes.

St Kilda’s Max King, the twin brother of Suns player Ben King, finished in third with 28 votes.

The Gold Coast’s Izak Rankie was fourth with 16 votes.

Serong was the hot favourite to claim the win after a standout first season, averaging 16.8 disposals, 3.4 clearances, 4.1 tackles and over two marks in his 14 games in 2020.

He clinched the nomination after what was his best game of the season against Geelong where he went head to head with Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield.

In what was only his fifth AFL game, Serong managed 22 disposals, laid seven tackles and kicked a goal in the tight contest against the accomplished Dangerfield.

Serong was honoured to be recognised for his outstanding debut season.

“It is a massive honour to receive this award and there are some great players who I look up to who have won the NAB AFL Rising Star in recent years,” Serong said.

“There are some great players who have gone on to do some great things in football and it’s nice to be recognised with those guys and it’s truly humbling and a massive honour.

“My biggest goal at the start of the year was to play AFL footy and to make my debut, ideally to just keep my spot in the team. I think I set a few goals from the shutdown period just to initially debut and once I made my debut I didn’t want to give up my spot in the team.

“Ever since I was four or five I wanted to play AFL footy. I just wanted to run around the backyard, kicking the footy, that was just always my dream. My family have always been there to support me and I love them very much and thank them.”

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said Serong should be proud of his outstanding debut season.

“He deserves it. He’s been a really solid contributor for Fremantle. On the field he’s done a great job with all the challenges we’ve thrown at him, he’s been asked to play on some really good players and done it extremely well while being able to win his fair share of the ball as well. I’m really proud about the way he’s gone about his year,” Longmuir said.

“It’s his competitiveness and the strengths he brings to the table that gave us the confidence as a coaching group to give him those challenges. He prepared for a challenge really well, did his homework, and was able to execute most of the time. He’s had a really great year and we’re looking forward to seeing so much more from him in the years to come.”

He received the Ron Evans Medal, a $20,000 personal investment portfolio and a dedicated personal banker, courtesy of NAB, at the AFL Awards ceremony held virtually from the Gold Coast this evening.


Lions star Lachie Neale crowned coaches, players MVP

BRISBANE Lions star Lachie Neale is on track to complete a clean-sweep of the AFL’s biggest individual awards after being named both the coaches and the players MVP for 2020.

Neale took home the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players’ Association’s Most Valuable Player, while he was also crowned the AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year.

The Brownlow Medal favourite had a superb season with the Lions and led the League for disposals and finished top-five in the competition for both clearances and contested possessions.

Neale was voted the most outstanding player by his peers by a huge margin, polling 1120 votes, more than double that of Port Adelaide veteran Travis Boak (419 votes) in second and Melbourne gun Christian Petracca (398 votes) in third.

“It’s an award that I’m super proud to have won, to be voted by those who I play with and against makes it a really special award,” Neale said.

“I really respect the opinion of the other players and to be voted by them this year is something that I will look back on and be really proud of. To be alongside some of the other names who have won this award is a feeling that hasn’t sunk in yet.”

In claiming the AFLCA Player of the Year, Neale becomes the first Brisbane player to do so since the award’s inception in 2003.

In six games this season Neale polled the perfect ten coaches votes to finish with 93 votes ahead of Melbourne dynamo Christian Petracca on 78 votes, one vote ahead of Port Adelaide star Travis Boak, who polled 77 votes to finish in third place.

“I’m thrilled to receive this award. The coaches are the greatest minds in the game and to receive this type of recognition from them is very humbling and something I’m proud of,’’ Neale said.

Lions coach Chris Fagan said it was Neale’s dedication to his craft that made him the player he had become.

“Lachie is relentless in his efforts to improve, he wants to be the best player he can be and he wants success for our club,’’ he said.

“That drive sets a standard for everyone at the Lions.

“His preparation is first class, he works incredibly hard on the fundamentals of the game and his appetite to learn is insatiable.

“As a coach you can’t ask for any more than that.’’

Justin Holbrook

Titans enhance status as ’21 team to watch

Justin Holbrook is doing well to hide his excitement at what Gold Coast will be like with David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.

Favourites for their second straight wooden spoon at the start of the season, the Titans are now surely the No.1 team to watch for 2021 outside of this year’s finals.

And in fact, if this was a normal length 25-round season, the Titans could probably have pushed for a finals berth this year on form.

Saturday’s 42-24 pounding marked their fourth straight win, the most the club has strung together since 2014.

The points they put on Manly was the equal-most the club has scored in one match, and that came with just 48 per cent possession and two players on the bench after halftime.

And that’s also with a side that’s still set to welcome two of the game’s best young guns into their pack for next season.

“As a coach you always want to get going straight away,” Holbrook said when asked if the turnaround had come quicker than expected in his first year.

“But that wasn’t to be, it took us a while.

“We had a lot of new combinations in Jamal Fogarty, Corey Thompson and Young Tonumaipea. All the guys who weren’t at our club until the season started.”

Gold Coast haven’t played in the finals since 2016.

It’s been even longer since their sole victory in a finals match, way back in 2010.

But with Holbrook, there must surely now be some belief.

It’s also no surprise the resurgence has come with AJ Brimson’s return from a back injury.

He scored a double on Saturday, making it five tries and 29 tackle busts in the eight games since the Titans took the cautious path with his comeback.

It makes for another frightening prospect if he’s fully fit at the back in 2021.

“I love AJ, we had him right in November-December and he was struggling a bit and we had to back right off,” Holbrook said.

“The long-term for him was to pull him out of everything and wait until he was 100 per cent.

“We did the right thing to hold him back and he’s just an exciting player. I love having him in our side.”

© AAP 2020

Storm’s Welch fined for NRL bubble breach

Melbourne prop Christian Welch has been fined $20,000, with half of that suspended, by the NRL for breaking the Storm’s biosecurity bubble.

The breach notice issued by the NRL on Saturday came after Welch admitted to inviting an unregistered guest into the team’s Sunshine Coast hub on Thursday night.

Welch was stood down by the club on Friday after they informed the NRL of the COVID-19 breach and he will miss Saturday’s clash against Wests Tigers.

The State of Origin forward will be permitted back into the Storm’s bubble providing satisfactory completion of COVID-19 testing.

“Complying with the protocols is absolutely critical to our season,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said in a statement on Saturday.

“The protocols ensure we protect the safety of our players, staff and the community,”

“Any player or official who breaches the protocols will face a significant fines… It is critically important that compliance continues.”

Welch – who was due to return from suspension for a crusher tackle – apologised for his actions, which meant he was unable to train on Friday or play against the Tigers at Sunshine Coast Stadium, leaving coach Craig Bellamy livid.

“I’m incredibly remorseful and sorry for my actions,” the 26-year-old said in a statement on Friday.

“I love this game and everything it has given me and I’m shattered that I have let everyone down… I know it’s a privilege to play in the NRL and I want to apologise to all for any damage I have caused.”

© AAP 2020