Des’ Canterbury no longer the Dogs of war

This story was first written for and published by The Roar.

Sunday afternoon’s game between the Penrith Panthers and the Canterbury Bulldogs was one of the strangest matches I have watched in 2017.

After being heralded as Premiership favourites at the start of the year, the Panthers went into this game having made wholesale changes to their squad. With Peter Wallace out due to injury, Mitch Rein finally made his Panthers debut at hooker.

That time I met Blake Austin at the Auckland Nines

The Canberra Raiders are a club that I have tremendous respect for.

It is no secret that for me, what happens off the field for a sporting team is just as important as what happens on the field and in my years of supporting rugby league, the Raiders are a club that have taken player behaviour off the field just as seriously as they have their performance on the field.

Why a Sharks win meant so much to me

I should begin this story be absolutely reaffirming that I am and always will be a Parramatta Eels supporter first.

Over the last 24 hours though, you may have seen me out and about in a Cronulla Sharks scarf.  You may have heard me singing ‘up, up Cronulla’.  You may have seen me celebrating as if it was my team that had just won a Grand Final.

Last night, it was not my team that won a Grand Final, but the Cronulla Sharks are always a team that have always been special to me.  Last night’s victory meant a tremendous deal to me and I would like to share why.

Farewell Parramatta Stadium, thanks for the memories

This article was first written for and published by The Roar.

People often ask me where my interest in rugby league began.

I grew up in a house with two brothers and a dad – all of them sport crazy. After the Konstantopoulos kids played sport on a Saturday morning, sport would be on the television screen, whether it was cricket, rugby, AFL, the Olympics or horse racing. But the most common sport to grace our television screens was rugby league.

When I was eight years old, I remember wanting to spend more time with my dad and brothers on the weekend. I would see them sitting together on the lounge to watch the footy together so thought that might be a good place to start.

Introducing Maria Sykes: COO of the Rugby League World Cup 2017

At the point in time when this story is published there are just 428 days until the Rugby League World Cup kicks off in 2017.

14 teams.  28 games.  5 weeks.  Next year’s Rugby League World Cup will see the best rugby league players in the world compete to be crowned champions in the pinnacle event in international rugby league.  Next year’s Rugby League World Cup will make history with games in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea giving our game the opportunity to shine in front of the most passionate fans in the world.

Kieran Foran should not play football in 2017

This story was first written for and published by The Roar

At approximately 5.15pm on Friday, July 29, 2016, the relationship between the Parramatta Eels and Kieran Foran officially ended.

Following a series of breach notices and weeks of speculation about his state of mind and his commitment to football, Foran was officially released from his contractual commitments at the club, and made a decision to temporarily walk away from rugby league.

Giving up not an option for the Newcastle Knights

This article was written for and published by The Roar.

There is almost no place in Australia that loves rugby league more than Newcastle does. In Newcastle, rugby league and the Knights are woven into the fabric and history of the town.

Newcastle takes great pride in their ‘old boys’ – men like Andrew Johns, Michael Hagan, Matthew Gidley, Paul Harragon, Allan McMahon and Danny Buderus, who have been some of the greatest servants for the red and blue since the club was formed in 1988.

If you need evidence of how much people in Newcastle love their rugby league, look no further than the crowd figures for home games at Hunter Stadium in 2016.

The NRL and our committed voice against violence

Thugs.  Bullies.  Neanderthals.  Over the course of my time as a rugby league fan, these are words that I have heard used commonly to describe the men that play the game of rugby league.  These are words I want removed from the rugby league vernacular.

These words are part of what I think is a widespread community view that rugby league players have a particular problem when it comes to attitudes and behaviours towards women.

This view is largely the result of a number of incidents which occurred in the early 2000’s.  What is important to remember though is that these incidents did not occur because the men were football players, it occurred because these were men who failed to behave responsibly and ethically in certain situations.

An open letter to SBS Zela

Dear SBS Zela

This morning, I watched our Australian women’s football team, the Matildas, defeated in the quarter finals by Brazil in the most heartbreaking of circumstances – a penalty shootout.  In the end, the score was 7-6 and as I watched these brave women sink to their knees and weep, I wept along with them.  For players like Michelle Heyman, Lisa de Vanna, Samantha Kerr, Lydia Williams and Caitlin Foord, this Olympics campaign meant everything and it has truly been a joy to watch this team grow in confidence and in ability this year.

The reason I share this story with you is because, without you, my interest in this team would certainly not be at the level it is today.  I probably would not have been given the opportunity to fall in love with the stories of these women and the courage it has taken for them to reach this point in the Olympics.

Women in League: Sonia Lewis

Each week as rugby league fans we are lucky enough to watch some of the most talented athletes in our country pull on jerseys for our respective teams and compete in the best rugby league competition in the world. From hard hitting defence, to spectacular tries, to characters on and off the field, our game truly has it all and we are reminded of how talented our athletes are week in, week out.

Women in League round is an opportunity to recognise the role that women play at all levels of the game.  Women’s roles as mums, cheerleaders, volunteers, administrators, fans and NRL employees ensure that we continue to be treated to the best rugby league competition in the world every single week. From women involved in the administration of our game, to women involved at a grassroots level – women and their contribution to rugby league are worth celebrating, not just this week, but every week.