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NRL News: Warriors sign rookie Jett, Topine sues Dogs for $4m over 'psychiatric injury' from wrestling punishment

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24th April, 2024
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The younger brother of NRL star Nathan Cleary, Jett, has inked a three-year deal with the New Zealand Warriors to start in 2025.

Cleary, 19, currently plays in Penrith’s SG ball Under-19s side. The half was born in New Zealand whilst his father Ivan began his role as assistant coach with the Warriors in 2005.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George said it was pleasing to sign the youngster with such strong family ties to the club.

“The Cleary family has the strongest links with our club through Ivan’s time with us and it’s a special thrill to sign Jett and have the Cleary name back with us,” George said.

General manager of recruitment and development, Andrew McFadden said Cleary boasts “wonderful pedigree”.

“Jett has a big future in front of him and we’re excited to give him the chance to develop in our system.”


Topine takes Dogs to court after training tussle

Jackson Topine will pursue Canterbury for almost $4 million in damages after claiming he suffered “psychiatric injury” when made to wrestle teammates after being late for training at the NRL club.

The Bulldogs were on Wednesday left defending their handling of player welfare, after being served papers regarding Topine’s career on Tuesday.

In a statement of claims lodged with the NSW Supreme Court and seen by AAP, Topine’s legal team will claim the 22-year-old was made to individually wrestle up to 35 teammates one-on-one last year following a 90-minute session.

The forward will claim he was directed to do so by trainer Travis Touma, as a result of being eight to 10 minutes late for the session.

In the statement of claims, Topine’s legal team say the punishment was “unlawful” and a breach of procedural fairness, amounting to corporal punishment.

Topine will also claim he suffered “psychiatric injury, deprivation of liberty, humiliation, indignity, physical exhaustion, physical discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment and fear” as a result of the session.

Jackson Topine of the Bulldogs is tackled.

Jackson Topine of the Bulldogs is tackled. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

The local Bulldogs junior has not added to his 16 NRL games since the incident, and the document claims he has “suffered ongoing incapacity to play the game”.

The statement of claims also says the Bulldogs have stopped paying his wages since last November, and that the fallout has impacted his ability to play elsewhere beyond this year.

The case is expected to kick off in the NSW Supreme Court in June, with Topine pursuing up to $4 million in damages based on the average wage of players across a career span.

Canterbury would not speak specifically to the case on Wednesday, after coach Cameron Ciraldo and general manager Phil Gould defended the club’s training approach last year.

But in a statement, the Bulldogs have made clear they will deny some of the claims, while defending their handling of player welfare and mental health.

“The club does however have internal policies and procedures in place for employee conduct and a very sound review process that we stand by,” a Bulldogs spokeswoman said in a statement to AAP.


“We also take player welfare very seriously and place the best interests and welfare of our players and staff as our number one priority. 

“As we do take mental health concerns very seriously and given the appropriate sensitivities that should be applied in matters concerning mental health, the club will not be making any comment at this time on any of the individuals at the centre of the allegations.”

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson on Wednesday defended the character of Touma, who worked with him at the Tri-colours between 2013 and 2021.

“Travis is a very experienced trainer and a really outstanding person,” Robinson said.

“His care factor is as high as I’ve seen in any staff member at any club I’ve been involved with. 

“I can’t speak to the incident, but I know who Travis is and the quality of the person he is and the care that he has for his players.”


He also indicated he did not believe it was hard to find a balance between pushing players while also looking after their wellbeing.

“You have to push players to be at their best and you’ve got to care for them at the same time,” Robinson said. 

“You don’t always get it right, but if you care for your program and the players that you have in that program, then for the most part you’ll get it right.”

Flanagan says Sloan is his No.1

Shane Flanagan sees Tyrell Sloan as St George Illawarra’s long-term No.1, adamant the Dragons want to keep the young star in Wollongong.

Sloan is off contract at the end of this year, with negotiations between the Dapto junior and Dragons management crawling along.

The Dragons have one of the biggest salary-cap arsenals in the NRL, with big money available for 2025 and beyond.


They have made no secret of their desire to attract talent, including vocalising an audacious play for Joey Manu in the off-season before he signed with rugby.

The Dragons have also met with Penrith flyer Sunia Turuva, who has the potential to be a fullback in the long term.

Regardless, Flanagan says Sloan is the man he wants at No.1.

“Tyrell is 21, and the Turuva bit,  he could be at Penrith, so there is no use talking about it,” he said. 

“Tyrell was outstanding for us last week. He’s 21 years of age. He’s got a big future. He wants to stay here and we want to keep him. 

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“The development of Tyrell over this year and next year, hopefully he is the long-term fullback for the club. 

“Because they’re hard to find in any of those key positions, so he’s on the right track.”

Sloan has been one of the stars of the Dragons’ revival this year under new coach Flanagan, with four wins in seven rounds compared with five through all of 2023.

The fullback’s seven tries have him equal-third in the league, and his 90-metre effort against the Warriors last Friday showcased his silky speed.

“We’re endeavouring to keep Sloany,” Flanagan said. 

“We’re in discussions with his management company. It hasn’t been quick, but we would like to think that gets done.”

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 09: Tyrell Sloan of the Dragons celebrates after scoring a try during the round one NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and St George Illawarra Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium, on March 09, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)


In the short term, Flanagan has other decisions to make in his backline, with Jack Bird cleared to face the Sydney Roosters after missing last week with concussion.

Bird’s absence allowed Zac Lomax to be granted his wish of playing centre in Bird’s spot, carrying his career-best form on the wing into the centre role.

Lomax is at this stage named to stay at centre, with Flanagan weighing up leaving him there and using Bird as a bench utility.

Meanwhile, winger Mikaele Ravalawa did not train on Wednesday due to knee soreness.

If Ravalawa was to be rested from the Anzac Day fixture, Bird would come back at centre, with Lomax reverting to the right wing and Christian Tuipulotu on the left.