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5 Things We Learned #88

England look impressive

The teams were a bit of a miss-match, but there were plenty of positives to take from England’s win over France. Bennett’s attacking structure worked a treat, while the players on debut all stood up and didn’t look out of place. Admittedly, the New Zealand tests will be completely different ballgames, but the early signs are bright.

Tom Johnstone obviously stood out with his three try display and finally showed what he’s capable of in an England jersey. As far as attacking threats go, he’s definitely our biggest. England wingers often lack the physicality to match our overseas counterparts but Johnstone is the full package. He’s got the strength, speed and finishing ability to match anyone in the world.

Recruitment well and truly underway

The season may have just finished but clubs are already starting to build for next year with new signings coming thick and fast. Leeds, Wakefield, Hull, Warrington and Catalans all brought in new faces this week, as did Championship clubs Toronto, Halifax, Widnes, Dewsbury and York.

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Some pretty big news came out today, an opportunity came up for me to join the Leeds Rhinos for the next three years. I am excited about the chance to play in the Super league. It is sad to be leaving the titans earlier than I expected but at this time it made sense for me to make the move now and secure a long term contract and further my career in another competition. I really want to thank the Titans and Neil Henry for bringing me to the club. To the members and fans, thank you so much for welcoming me into the club and always supporting me no matter what. To the sponsors especially – Frizelles Sunshine Automotive and Phone a Flight – I am thankful for all the support you have given me over my time here in the Gold Coast. To my friends at Touch Football Specialized – You are so much fun to be around. You always humble me and keep me grounded. I am going to miss you all so much. To Garth and your staff, the staff up in the office and all the boys at Titans, I’m going to miss you guys, thank you for always keeping me honest. Wish all the best for next season. Leeds Club and Fans, can’t wait to meet you guys when I get there! LESSGO #chasingdreams #ouua

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The standout recruit for me is Rhinos’ new centre Konrad Hurrell. He’s an explosive runner with plenty of power and pace, and creates a scary centre combination with the equally dangerous Kallum Watkins. He’ll also partner up nicely with fellow Tongan recruit Tuimoala Lolohea. I also think Halifax have pulled off a real coup by bringing in Ben Kavanagh from Hull KR. The Scotland prop is a solid Super League-standard prop and had plenty of attention from other top division clubs. If this is Richard Marshall starting as he means to go on, then Fax fans will be in for a real treat this season.

Wigan back Hardaker

If Zak Hardaker was a cat, he’d be down to the last of his nine lives. Wigan have given him what must be the last-est of his last chances and decided to keep him at the club, although he will have to go on an alcohol treatment programme.

Again, Hardaker has said that this will be his last indiscretion, but we’ve been fooled by that before. His statement on Friday was scarily similar to the one released when he got in trouble at Leeds that also saw him apologise, admit he had a problem and say that he’d put all his efforts into rectifying it. Evidently, that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love him to turn himself around because he can be unplayable at his best.

International game gathering momentum

If you needed any assurance that the international game is on the up, then take a look at Australia’s clash with Tonga in Auckland on Saturday morning. It had everything – action, skill, passion, aggression and lots and lots of noise.

The stands were a wash with Tongan fans who all made themselves heard and while the Mate Ma’a players couldn’t deliver the goods, it didn’t take away from the atmosphere. The Tongan King and Queen were both in attendance and were treated to a spine tingling Sipi Tau ahead of kickoff. As far as the game goes, neither team looked like world beaters. Tuimoala Lolohea did what he could in attack for Tonga after losing halves partner Ata Hingano early on, but it simply wasn’t enough. The Aussie spine still looks very hit-and-miss though. Damien Cook and James Tedesco ran well but a halves partnership of Daly Cherry-Evans and Luke Keary was very unconvincing.

No Canadians at Toronto

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Thank you to each person who has been apart of my journey. I’m looking forward to my next chapter.

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I was gutted to hear that young Wolfpack player Quinn Ngawati has left the club. The 19-year-old has returned to Victoria, British Colombia, Canada to further his rugby development after spending two seasons with the Wolfpack. As their only Canadian-born player, Ngawati’s departure leaves Toronto with no natives on their roster, a stat that isn’t ideal for an expansion club.

As much as their main focus is reaching Super League, finding Canadian talent to represent the club should be near the top of the Wolfpack’s priority list. I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt over the past two seasons in terms of playing squad but now that they’re an established side, they should be building from within. Setting up an academy would be a good start.

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