Here comes the 2016 Rugby League season – and the Jets start training on Monday, 9th November

Newtown’s 109th season in Rugby League football gets underway this Monday … by Glen ‘Bumper’ Dwyer

The Newtown Jets head into the second year of their Inner-West Side Story rugby league partnership with Cronulla-Sutherland, and both the Jets and Sharks recruiting and retention staff have been kept busy in the off-season. The Newtown Jets begin their pre-season training program this Monday, 9th November.

These players have already signed or are likely to sign with the Newtown RLFC for 2016:

Brett Anderson (ex-St George-Illawarra NYC and Illawarra Cutters NSW Cup); Daniel Abou-Sleiman (played with Newtown in 2015 and recently with Lebanon in Rugby League 2017 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa); Kurt Dillon (played with Newtown in 2015); Tarek Elmasri (played with Newtown in 2015 and with Lebanon against South Africa); Matt Evans (played with Newtown in 2014 and had a shoulder reconstruction in 2015); Malakai Houma (played with Newtown in 2015); Ben Jones (a much-travelled player who has been with Newtown previously. Was with the Mackay Cutters in 2015); Kurt Kara (heading into his sixth season with the Jets); Corin Smith (played with Newtown in 2015 and scored four tries against North Sydney in last year’s Reunion Day game); Levy Sopi (ex-Cronulla Sharks NYC); Arana Taumata (returning to Newtown after stints at Tumut as captain-coach and with South Newcastle); Tevita Vaea (ex-New Zealand Warriors).

Apologies for any omissions. Updates to this list will be supplied in upcoming emails.

Our NRL partners the Cronulla Sharks have been very active in the player market and are well placed to put together a very strong and well-balanced full-time NRL squad. Along with the players who have signed for Newtown in 2016, there is every expectation of a highly-competitive Newtown Jets NSW Cup squad being assembled … and it all gets underway on a serious basis from this Monday onwards.

The Newtown RLFC regrets to announce the recent passing of Steve Hanson, who played with Newtown in 1991. That was a year of some historical significance to our club, as it was Newtown’s comeback season in the NSWRL Metropolitan Cup competition. Steve played for North Sydney from 1985 to 1990, representing City Seconds in 1985 and NSW State of Origin in 1988. After his one year with Newtown, Steve played with Eastern Suburbs in 1992 and 1993. The Newtown RLFC extends sincere condolences to his family members.

Congratulations to the four 2015 Newtown Jets players – Ray Moujalli, Daniel Abou-Sleiman, Tarek Elmasri and Ahmad Ellaz – who all represented Lebanon in the two 2017 Rugby League World Cup qualifying matches played against South Africa at Brakpan near Pretoria recently. Lebanon won both games and now go through to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup tournament that will be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua-New Guinea.

Pat Politoni played with Newtown in 2015 and represented Tonga in that country’s recent World Cup qualifying win against the Cook Islands, played at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday, 17th October.

The Newtown club extends good wishes to the popular Tinirau Arona and his family who will be moving to the North of England in the near future. Tinirau has signed a contract with the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in the English Super League. “T” played 58 NSW Cup games with Newtown between 2010 and 2015 and represented the NSW Cup representative team and the Cook Islands, as well as playing more than 70 NRL matches with the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla-Sutherland. Tinirau will be linking up with Brian Smith (his former coach at the Sydney Roosters) at Wakefield Trinity.

Former Newtown Jets players turn up in the most unlikely places. Dustin Cooper, the older brother of Gavin Cooper from the North Queensland Cowboys, played with the Jets back in 2003. He recently captained the Boston 13’s to the 2015 USA Rugby League National Championship title.

Newtown Jets membership packages for 2016 will be made available for sale very soon. 2015 members will be contacted by email in the near future. Please favourably consider renewing your membership for 2016 or taking out a club membership package and encouraging others to do so. The revenue from club memberships is becoming an increasingly important component of the income of so many Rugby League clubs, and this source of revenue is of vital importance to the ongoing survival of the Newtown RLFC.

The annual Newtown Festival is on this Sunday, 8th November 2015, at the Camperdown Memorial Rest Park from 9.30am to 6.00pm. This is a huge inner-western Sydney occasion and attracts in excess of 90,000 people. The Newtown Jets will have a clothing and merchandise stall there so be sure to call by and make some early Xmas gift choices. You can of course always buy Jets merchandise online by going to the website at: www.newtownjetsclothing.com.au

The current England-New Zealand Rugby League Test series is shaping up as a real thriller. England surprised with their 26-12 win in the First Test and there were three former Newtown Jets in the Kiwis First Test lineup: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sio Siua Taukeiaho. The Second Test is at the Olympic Stadium, London on Saturday, 7th November at 2.30pm GMT. It will be shown here live on Fox Sports One on Sunday, 8th November at 1.30am, AEDT.

There might not be any former Newtown Jets players in the England Rugby League Test squad, although Henson Park ground announcer John Lynch recalls seeing the current England Test five-eighth Gareth Widdop playing for the Melbourne Storm against Newtown at Henson Park on Saturday, 22nd May 2010. This was the same day that the Newtown Jets fullback Luke Towers scored one of the most exceptional individual tries ever seen at Henson Park: