2022 NRL WA Season Review – South Perth Lions

It is now time to head to the heart of Perth, where one of our foundation clubs the South Perth Lions stalks the competition.

Home Ground – George Burnett Park, Karawarra

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

Highlights – Well the Lions are a foundation club in the NRL WA and as so had their 75th year celebrations in 2022. Although it wasn’t the amazing year they had hoped for, they were still able to have a great year on and off the field, especially with the creation of the new Blueforce Cup against their rivals, the Sea Eagles.

In the Men’s, the Fuel To Go & Play Premiership side snuck into the finals in 4th position, on the back of a better for and against differential, while the Val Murphy Trophy side finished comfortably in 3rd. After a tough season, where they had to blood a bunch of new players, after a small exodus from their grand final teams from 2021, they still found both teams in the top 4. But both the FTG&P Premiership and VMT teams were ultimately outclassed by a hungrier sides in their elimination semi final, putting a small damper on their 75th year ambitions in the senior grades.

In the Women’s, it was a rebuilding year for the white and red’s. Their Women’s Tackle Premiership side struggled for numbers, with a massive exodus of players, but never quit, even after undergoing a massive rash of injuries, and still pushed many teams for the majority of the year. In the Women’s League Tag, it was more of the same. An exodus of some of the best players in the competition had the Lions still competing, but as a shell of their former selves. And in a competition as competitive as the WLT in Perth, they succumbed to the improvement of some other teams and finished in 5th place to just miss the semis, in what was a great effort considering the losses.

Players To Watch – In the Men’s, young Caleb Norton has turned the corner. While still relatively young, in 2022 he developed into a reliable leader in his own right, with his consistency at an all time high. His ball delivery and general game awareness means he will be a cruical tool in 2023. Another player who has developed through the system is the highly fancied Ethan Gourgaud. A second rower or centre, he is a great defender and underrated ball runner. His growth to regular first grader has made him an important part of the south perth landscape

In the ladies, Michaela Turner-Wallace is a linchpin for both the tackle and tag sides. While not the fastest or biggest player, between the ears she is one of the shrewdest minds in the game, and can comfortable play anywhere in the forward pack, or halves without an issues. And then when you add in a player like Zarah Suamili, who is an out and out gun in WLT, and dabbles in tackle, the Lions have the bones for some real players in both the tag and tackle versions of the game.

2022 Juniors – GLT, 13s Girls, 14s Boys, 15s Boys & 17s Boys
Highlights – 
The Lions made some big decisions in 2022, which should wield some long term benefits. Realising what the were missing, they chose to remove some struggling sides to quietly build up talent in the lower age groups, while putting in some strong younger female age teams for the future, which should see more and more benefits moving forward.

The 14’s Boys were an interesting group. With game winners in their side, they found themselves in a 3 way battle for 2nd place right at the end of the season, where they ultimately landed in the elimination. But they caught fire and rumbled their way to the grand final, only to be stopped by a dominant and phyiscal Bulldogs side. The 15s Boys were probably disappointed they didn’t achieve a premiership. They were the best side all season, and first into the GF, in a 15s age group that had some amazing sides. But they saved one of their inconsistent performances for the GF and had to accept the runners up. As for the 17 Boys, they couldn’t maintain their once usual consistency, with new players coming into the fold and injury and sickness playing havoc with their season. But they look like they will have a real crack in 2023.

For the Lions, the GLT lost in a heartbreaker in the Preliminary Final, against an underdog Fremantle side. A very young team, the Lions had a huge group of girls basically 13 years and under, and will only get better in the years to come. For the 13s Girls in tackle, they were a great team to watch. Full of speed and grit, their never say die attitude was really appreciated and for their first year they gave as good as they got on their way to their semi final finish. They will only get better with time.

Players To Watch
GLT – Amy Therkelsen –
The senior leader in the GLT team, Amy has the pedigree and ability to be a mainstay in the WLT Senior ranks. With better than average speed and a good sense of the game, she can normally see things before they happen and put herself in a position to make a difference on any given play.
U13 Girls – Lyra Senkeldam With a flash of red hair, Lyra flies into defensive work with absolutely no fear. While not that big, her rugged defensive efforts during the season, along with at State Championships made more than one person take notice. An above average ball runner, this little baller has a big future ahead of her.
U14 Boys – Lexdon Cooper – Fast and Flashy, Lexdon contains all the tools to be a dominant and dangerous player in his own division. While a gifted runner of the football, his mental side of the game along with his play making skill needs to go up a level to really assert himself in 2023. Will be crucial to the Lions chances in 2023.
U15 Boys – Gabriel Salele’a – WA State Representative, Salele’a produced one of the performances of the season in any grade when he put his team into the grand final against the Rockingham Sharks. And while they ended up runners up, Salele’a was a monster all year. A brilliant runner, who can pass and kick with the best of them, he has moved to the east coast to test his wares. We wish him nothing but luck in his endevours.
U17 Boys – Te Auturoa Awhitu-Kerei Affectionately known as Te-Te, Awhitu-Kerei is an amazing talent. A monster boot, coupled with great size, and all the tools for an amazing playmaker, he played a starring role for the WA Schoolboys side in 2022, along with putting the Lions on his back for most of 2022. Will be a great part of the Lions system for many years if he can transfer that into the senior grades.

And that’s a wrap of the on field stuff with the South Perth Lions for 2022, and we look forward to a bigger and better year in 2023 from the foundation club!

Stay tuned for other upcoming clubs.