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Around The Grounds: Brailey's suspected Achilles rupture, Reece Walsh's arrest reveal, Warriors rally for Tonga

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16th January, 2022
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Newcastle Knights co-captain Jayden Brailey, who missed most of the 2020 season with an ACL injury, has suffered a further setback with a suspected torn Achilles.

The injury happened in a non-impact drill at preseason training on Saturday. The club is said to be awaiting scan results but are clearly bracing for the worst and fear he could be out for the season.

With Connor Watson having left for the Roosters, Chris Randall is likely to wear the No.9 jersey. Kurt Mann has also been named a potential replacement.

‘Our hearts go out to Tonga’

Warriors CEO Cameron George says the club has begun working on a relief package for Tonga in the wake of the volcanic eruptions and tsunami that struck the nation on Saturday.

While details are yet to be confirmed, George said in a statement that the club would do all it could to help the communities affected.

“Our hearts go out to Tonga and especially to the families and communities suffering at this difficult time,” George said.

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“Tonga and its people have always held a very special place for us and always will.

“A number of players in our current squad have immediate family or wider family in Tonga. They’re feeling for them right now and so is everyone associated with the club.

“Throughout our history we’ve had strong ties with Tonga through a large number of former players and staff and also our support base.”

George said the club had moved immediately to plan a relief effort.

“We had a Zoom meeting this morning and we’re ready to help,” he said.

“We’re committed to putting together a number of initiatives to provide support in critical areas and I know our players want to do what they can as well.”

The Warriors are the club home for Mate Ma’a Tonga internationals Addin Fonua-Blake and Ben Murdoch-Masila while Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is of Tongan descent.

Also on the roster are second rower Eliesa Katoa, hooker Taniela Otukolo and centre Viliami Vailea, all of whom were born in Tonga.

‘I got complacent and arrogant’

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Controversial teenager Reece Walsh admits he’d become arrogant after a meteoric rise to the NRL and revealed he had been offered drugs by strangers in nightclubs while engaged in excessive partying.

In an interview with the Sunday Mail, Walsh, 19, said he has not touched alcohol since his arrest on September 26 while partying on the Coast.

“It was massive, I learnt a big lesson about not thinking you’re better than everyone and on top of the world,” Walsh was quoted as saying on Sunday.

“I got complacent and arrogant. It’s been a huge learning curve. I’m glad I learnt it at this age.

“Even though it was disappointing and I was ashamed of what I did, I’m happy it’s happened now and not five or 10 years down the track. I could have still been doing the same stuff and having bad habits.

“It’s something I can learn from and also tell my story to young kids coming through when I’m a bit older and more experienced.”

“I got complacent and arrogant. It’s been a huge learning curve. I’m glad I learnt it at this age.

“Even though it was disappointing and I was ashamed of what I did, I’m happy it’s happened now and not five or 10 years down the track. I could have still been doing the same stuff and having bad habits.

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“It’s something I can learn from and also tell my story to young kids coming through when I’m a bit older and more experienced.”

Walsh won the RLPA’s Rookie of the Year award last season. He signed a deal to join the Warriors in March from the Broncos and was given an early release to head there.

Warriors coach Nathan Brown shifted captain and superstar fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to accommodate Walsh and the young gun responded in kind, scoring nine tries and setting up 11 others from 16 appearances.

It was enough for Queensland coach Paul Green to call him up for a State of Origin debut after just seven games, although Walsh never played after suffering an injury the day before the game.

Kenny signs new deal

Mitch Kenny has signed a two-year contract extension with the Panthers.

The 24-year-old hooker has committed to Panthers until at least the end of 2024 season.

“I’m completely stoked because Panthers is home for me,” Kenny said in a club statement.

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“The people at this club have shown faith in me from the very beginning and been patient with my development. I give them so much credit for making me the player and the person that I am today.

“It feels awesome to know that I’ll get to keep putting on the Panthers jersey and representing our community.”

A local junior with Windsor Wolves who progressed through the club’s development pathways, Kenny has played 36 NRL games for Panthers since making his first grade debut in 2019.

“Mitch has shown patience and dedication in developing his game over the last few years and we are thrilled to reward him with a contract extension,” Panthers General Manager Rugby League Matt Cameron said.

“He is a well-liked and highly respected member of the playing group, and there is no doubt his best years are still ahead of him.

“We consider Mitch a shining example for every young player in the Penrith district, and across the game for that matter, in regards to what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.”

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