A new NRL club affiliation and a refreshed and re-energised roster are just a couple of the reasons the Newtown Jets think they can improve on last year’s heart-breaking VB NSW Cup regular-season finish.
In the last round of 2014, Greg Matterson’s Jets headed north to Newcastle with their finals hopes on the line and almost pulled off a remarkable comeback against the eventual grand-finalists following a thrilling late rally. The Jets, though, eventually lost the match 26-24 and finished outside the finals cut-off, a result far below the club’s expectations.
This year following the signing of an agreement with Cronulla and the cessation of a partnership with the Roosters, the Jets are optimistic about the future.
“It was disappointing not making the semi-finals last year but if you look at the side we put out each week we didn’t have massive support from the senior club,” Matterson said.
“We’ve got a new start, a new club and I think it’s a really good fit with Cronulla.
“Every club will say it but we genuinely feel like we’re a top-eight side. We’re aiming to make the finals and from that point onwards it’s a whole new ball game.”
Matterson nominates forward Tim Robinson, who debuted for the Sharks’ NRL side last season and played eight top-grade games in 2014, as one of his best new recruits.
“Tim ticks all the boxes. He plays in the middle, plays heaps of minutes and leads by example,” he says.
“He really sets the benchmark.”
GAINS: Kurt Dillon (Cronulla Under-20s), Winstone Asotasi (Cronulla Under-20s), Tim Robinson (Cronulla), Mitchell Mamary (Roosters Under-20s), Patrice Siolo (Cronulla Under-20s), Daniel Abou Sleiman (Wests Tigers), Leonardi Feiloakitau-Fetuani (Manly Under-20s), Blake Judd (Group 6, Ex Norths), Malakai Houma (Mt Albert, Auckland RL), Nesiasi Mataitonga (London Broncos).
LOSSES: Ryan Verlinden (Featherstone Rovers), Brett Lane (released), Chris Taripo (released), David Harris (released), Bobbie Goulding (Redcliffe), Brad Barrett (retired), Arana Taumata (Tumut), Junior Vaivai (Illawarra), Brad Croad (released).
(The following Roosters-contracted players who were with Newtown in 2014 are still contracted to Roosters in 2015: Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Samisoni Langi, Jack Siejka, Kane Evans, Willis Meehan, Nathan Stapleton, Jackson Hastings whilst Rhyse Martin & Jonathan Reuben (Q Cup), Remi Casty and Scott Dureau (Catalan Dragons) & Heath L’Estrange (St George Illawarra) have moved on since the end of last season. Daniel Mortimer (Gold Coast) & Tautau Moga (North Qld) moved clubs pre-June 30, 2014.)
REMAINING from 2014: Saulala Houma (signed with Cronulla), Kurt Kara, Ray Moujalli, Andrew Pearn, Josh Davis, Matt Evans, Jordan Galloway, Jack Noble, Jake Watts.