NRL WA 2022 Representative Wrap – Open Men’s

As we head into the end of the year that was in 2022, its time to look back on the year that was, starting with a representative wrap of our state teams and show them the love they deserve for representing our great state of Western Australia.

Lucky last, its our Open’s Men’s team.

The Open Men’s side participated at the Combined Affiliated States Championships in 2022. The competition took place at Pizzey Park, Miami QLD, the home of the Burleigh Bears. In conjunction with the Open Schoolboys championships, the Open Men’s division consisted of Victoria and Northern Territory.

2022 was a big year for the WA Open Men’s team. With COVID not allowing CAS to be contested in 2020 and 2021, the last time the championships was held, was in 2019, with the Victorian side defeating Western Australia for the title for the first time in a decade, which stopped the WA run short at 9 wins in a row.

Day 1 – Game 1 – Win 22-6 – Victoria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P24U_P8cBPY
In what was the kick off of the Men’s tournament, Victoria scored before WA even had the ball, and it was a case for the try of the tournament as the ball went through several sets of hands and had two kicks. But after the opening crazy spell, the boys in black and gold went to work as Crotty crossed off some great shortside play from Edwards and Proudler, and when Woolley got put away by a slick backline move, it was all Western Australia as they put the icing of the cake to run away with a comprehensive victory.

Day 1 – Game 2 – Win 8-0 – Northern Territory
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqP6jy5W_Y4
Western Australia made sure they struck first in this one, with a simple scrum play from Rangihaeata putting Solomon in space, where he duly drew and pass to Pera for a gift passage to the line to open the scoring. And unfortunately the NT team couldn’t catch a break with a few of their big boys getting hurt on Day 1, causing their rotations to change drastically. A beautiful backline move saw Rangihaeata be provider again as Solomon hit a beautiful hole to end the scoring and secure a win for WA.

Day 2 – Game 1 – Draw 12-12 – Northern Territory
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMRKmNxMaeY
On a much hotter day, the black and gold team looked like the side to beat after a couple of big performances on day 1. But they were in for a big shock on Day 2. Falling behind early, it seemed WA began to panic and over playing their hand on their plays and failed to dictate like they had the previous day. A great kick chase from Butler and a sneaky try from Smith after the ageless Edwards played the ball before 4 defenders allowed WA to sneak away with a draw in a listless performance, and they had to go back to back with a game against Victoria next.

Day 2 – Game 2 – Loss 10-6 – Victoria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaiRWmy4XLU
With the frustration of last game still in their minds, and tired against a fresh and pumped up Victorian side, almost everything that could go wrong did in this game. Dropped balls, penalties and some poor decision making led to meaning WA had to show up on Day 3 still with everything to play for, instead of locking in the trophy early. Some dropped opportunities along with a stop start contest didn’t play into WA’s hands, and although a late try to Taomia off a Crotty offload in traffic kept WA in the contest, Victoria deserved the chocolates in this particular fixture.

Day 3 – Game 1 – Win 24-4 – Northern Territory
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoV4EziR120
Having just watched the Schoolboys miss their opportunity to secure the title earlier in the day, it was important the men started fast and take care of a hurting but extremely brave Northern Territory team. And the coaching team left nothing to chance. Hunt went to fullback, with the veteran Edwards in the halves, and powerhouse Porter in the starting lineup WA got it done emphatically. Porter scored first, leaving no less than 6 defenders on the floor as he ran over and around the NT side. And when Edwards and Solomon put Woolley in the right hand corner the game was always going to be black and gold. A huge match loomed against Victoria, with the winner winning the CAS trophy for 2023.

Day 3 – Game 3 – Win 24-6 – Victoria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMRzaLPNfxc
In a grudge match for the ages, WA left nothing to chance. Their first turn on the line, Edwards threw a beautiful triple cut out pass which hit the man of the moment Woolley on the chest, who made no mistake with the try. But it wasn’t just the fancy stuff. Wilson-Wylie and Porter were punching holes at will, and Proudler and Jeffery were playing real rugby league and kicking deep, which was forcing Victoria to play a grind game with the black and gold men. When Day and Woolley again were recipients of tries from great kick chase in back to back sets, the writing was on the wall. Full credit to Victoria who scored to make a game of it and never went away, but it was WA’s time, and they brought the trophy back to WA after its hiatus.

CAS Merit Selection
2 – Ryan Woolley – North Beach Sea Eagles
4 – Kani Solomon – North Beach Sea Eagles
7 – Eddie Proudler – South Perth Lions
8 – Bjorn Crotty – Fremantle Roosters
9 – Andrew Jeffrey – Rockingham Sharks
11 – Payden Porter – Joondalup Giants

Highlights

Wow Woolley
While still young enough to play in the WA Schoolboy’s side, who also competed over this weekend, Ryan was selected on the right wing in the Men’s and boy did he take his chance. A stunning tournament where he excelled on the end of some of the best ball players in WA, he was the top try scorer, goal scorer and point scorer, winning a place in the CAS merit team and joyfully showing some great rugby league in the process. Picking up a contract in Canberra in 2023, means we won’t see him in WA, but we wish Ryan all the best on his rugby league journey.

Veterans Stand Up When It Counts
Delane Edwards, Eddie Proudler and Andrew Jeffrey might be three of the most capped WA State Players to grace out game, and are almost legendary figures in the WA scene. But on Day 3, when it was all on the line, the coaching staff turned to the experienced spine and they delivered a flawless performance. With an amazing mix of patience, flair and game management, the veterans didn’t let Victoria or Northern Territory into the games at all and brought the trophy home where, in Edwards words, “it belongs”.

The Trophy Comes Back To WA
It was heartbreaking in 2019, as a combination of a desperate Victoria, with some old WA players, and some quirks in the time sent the trophy away from WA for the first time in 9 years. And every since then, some veteran players and staff have been waiting for a chance to get it back. And this was accomplished with a great tournament which was well managed from some amazing staff. Darren Shaw and John Hough who were waiting for redemption as coaches, and Scott Swadel and Roger Steward who were the men on the ground. But the real heroes, the boys will tell you, must goto the medical staff. With Head Trainer Lynette Wikaira, Assistant Trainer Ryan Foster and Doctor Lionel Lim, the boys were in top condition for the 3 day tournament, to give WA basically a full roster all weekend, where other teams were falling apart around them.

For player and staff pictures of the team please visit
https://nrlwa.com.au/mens-2022/

From all of the team at NRL WA, we would like to thank the Men’s team and their staff for their dedication and successful CAS tournament and look forward to seeing everyone back in 2023 to defend the title.