2022 NRL WA Season Review – Rockingham Sharks

We are down to our second last metro Perth club, the monster of the south, the predator of the deep… the Rockingham Sharks!

Home Ground – The Kwinana Local Stadium, Lark Hill Sportsplex, Port Kennedy

2022 Seniors – ALL GRADES – Men’s Fuel To Go & Play Premiership, Women’s Premiership, Val Murphy Trophy & Women’s League Tag

Highlights – It was a case of so near, yet so far for the Rockingham Sharks senior grades in 2022. Showing plenty of potential in all competitions, they ended up leaving empty handed and a bit of a sour taste. But they learnt some lessons and will be ready and rearing to go in what should be a big 2023.

In the Fuel To Go & Play Premiership, the Sharks were probably the best side for a large portion of the year, leading the competition for a long stretch. But towards the finals the ship began to take on water as they seemed to lose their way, their cohesion and ultimately they were bundled out by a committed Sea Eagles side, who were probably not as talented as the strong Sharks lineup. The Val Murphy Trophy side also showed throughout the year that when they had their full side on the park, they could really turn it on. But the FIFO life is very alluring, and along with injury and suspension, the Sharks just missed the playoffs in a very competitive VMT ladder. If they can keep a large majority of their boys in 2023 in both grades, the rest of the clubs should be on high alert.

In the Women’s competition, both Sharks ladies teams were fairly similar. They both had fundamentally sound sides with experienced players mixed in with some youth. The Women’s League Tag side however lacked a measure of top line speed, which meant that when going set for set with sides they couldn’t hurt teams from their own territory. A solid defensive and completion side, if they got a chance they could hurt teams. In the tackle, their ability to put two consistent halves of football together seemed to be their Achilles heel. For one half of the game, they would if not dominate, then compete with the good sides, but it was unusual to see a complete game from the Sharks ladies.

Players To Watch – Ken Allen Medal winner Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards led them on and off the field last year. A humble and well respected young man, he is a handful for opposition defences. A devastating ball runner, who is quicker than he looks, and containing the ball skills of a half, and a handy offload, Keelyn kicks goals and in general play as well. Another bright light from last year was the growth from erratic ball player Karlo Trego in the halves. For a long time he has been seen as a player with plenty of talented but lacking the decision making and leadership abilities needed in a Premiership half. Towards the back end of the season, he stood tall as some players around him shrank. And last but not least the class of centre Quitin Fui was on display all year, along with Sirla Pera, as the wide dangers of the Sharks hurt plenty of teams.

For the ladies, in WLT Candice Tamatoa led from the front as a vocal and skilful member of the Rockingham Ladies. A smart player, and quicker than she looks, her ability to remain calm and simplify the game to those around her was a positive in their season. Along with gun player Hereripene Williams, Heddz or Willow for short, they tend to lead this grinding team around the field. In the tackle version of the game, Melissa Buchanan might be late to tackle rugby league, but she is a gun. A leading half, she is an on field general in both attack and defence. Even when her body was falling apart late last season, she refused to stop playing and with her natural ball playing and tenacious defence she was a crucial piece of their puzzle. The overall growth of hooker Lauren Lambert and dominating presence of Cherysh Leaf and Sera Ravatudei also allowed the Sharks to continue to compete with the better sides in 2022.

2022 Juniors – GLT, 13s Boys & Girls, 14s Boys, 15s Boys and Girls, 17s Boys
Highlights – 
The Rockingham Sharks are the largest Junior Club in WA. And as the reigning Junior Club Champions, they competed hard in every single age group, and are usually seen as one of the benchmark sides in almost every single age group. With a good retention rate, and strong sides from U6s all the way to U17s, the only side they didn’t field was the U17s Girls, and they have plans to continue to build the girls age groups.

The 13’s Boys never really got going in 2022, with them stuggling with the change over from U12s mod rugby league, to international U13s. But they got better as the competition continued and started to find some flair and form in the back end. The 14s Boys were similar and didn’t get going until late. But they caught fire and really looked like they could go the whole way and push the Bulldogs in the eventual GF. But alas they went down in a super contest in the elimination final so it was not to be. The U15s Boys won the Sharks their lone premiership, and while they weren’t a model of consistency, they had the power and belief to get it done when it got to the business end in a competition full of great sides. And the U17s Boys got to the grand final on the back of a brutal power game, but in the end were slightly outclassed by a smart and fast North Beach Sea Eagles side. Being a young team, alot of the boys will go again and the Sharks will be one of the favourites again in the U17s.

Fielding U13 Girls, U15 Girls and GLT, the Sharks attempted to end the northern stranglehold on the girls competitions, along with Kwinana. While the U15s Girls were brave in their games, they were a young side and filled with alot of girls who had never played tackle before, and they will be better with the year under the belt. The GLT side were probably the side most expected to push the Rabbitohs for the season, but they struggled to hold their form for the season. A well skilled group of girls, they didn’t bring the heat in their elimination game against the Lions and subsequently were bundled out. But the U13s Girls is the big story. The only lost one game all year and were the team to beat coming into the finals. With a nice mix of size and speed, they versed two committed sides in the Giants and then Rabbitohs, to lose in the preliminary finals and wonder what might have been.

Players To Watch
GLT – Brittany Dean –
Possessing all the skills and speed one would want, along with a level head and great feel for the game, young Brittany only needs the belief now. Capable of putting the team on her back and making plays, she can force her way into the top line of players for tag with pure self belief and dedication.
U13 Boys – Elijah Leilua –
Elijah has the makings of a great young front rower. Big with skill and with more speed than he is given credit for, he is guilty of probably just being a bit too “nice”. A big body, he needs to assert himself as playing a big boys game, while his actual skillset is quite good.
U13 Girls – Azalea-Maree Te Moananui – Another absolute star in the younger age groups, Azalea cause headaches for teams every time she touches the ball. With great speed and footwork, her natural strength allows her to break through and push off defenders with an ease at times which is scary. A fantastic prospect.
U14 Boys – Ben Cottam – Made the State team a year young, we could talk about his speed and ability to ball play that makes him a good player. But pushing him into the great category is his attitude. Ben’s a baller who takes every contest personally and will quite happily get physical with front rowers if he is of a mind to. A kicker as well, Ben’s competitive nature is rare.
U15 Boys – Weylan Antonelli – There are alot of deserving players in this side, but the hard working Antonelli gets the nod here. A damaging no nonsense backrower who can run a line better than most senior players, he is starting to fill out into the man he will become and is fast becoming a dangerous proposition. Big, fast and a team first player, he is a great foil for Haimona, Huriwai-Brown and Te Rauna in the spine.
U15 Girls – Te Whai-Aroha Huriwai Brown – Carries a big last name in the junior ranks in Rockingham, in terms of natural talent, Te Whai might be the best of the bunch. Only 14, she was the natural leader of the Sharks side, and yells, directs and runs like a person possessed. A smart player, and very coach able, she will be a figure in representative sides in the future if she stays the course.
U17 Boys – Archillies Packer – Another side with some serious talent, Archillies has really come into his own this year. A fleet footed outside back, he can really put the hammer down, and makes players miss with the ball in hand at will. While he is also capable of some tough carries coming out of territory. But what really sets him apart is his great defensive work. Growing as an on field defensive general he has great tackle technique and can pull in break away runners for fun.

And that’s a wrap of the on field stuff with the monster that is the Rockingham Sharks for 2022, and we look forward to a bigger and better year in 2023 from the predator of the deep!

Stay tuned for our last club, from the bottom of Perth….