NRL WA Premiership Preview 2024 – Rockingham Sharks

By Peter Rowe

Our final NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership preview takes a look at the Rockingham Sharks as PETER ROWE chats to coach Tom Murphy about his plans for the 2024 season.

After a disappointing 2023 it was no surprise to see Rockingham Sharks move quickly during the off-season to rebuild their squad.

Missing out on the finals last year hurt many at the club, including player-coach Tom Murphy.

In his first year at the helm, the ultra-professional and former Melbourne Storm youngster was disappointed with several aspects of play.

“Yes, there’s no escaping the fact that we got the wooden spoon last year,” Murphy said.

“We knew we had a lot of work to do starting with recruitment in key areas and most importantly our culture.”

Murphy moved quickly to snap up young half John McLaughlin, a product of the Sunshine Coast Falcons, one of his former clubs.

“We needed a controlling halfback who could lead us around the park and one who had a good kicking game, and we were very fortunate to get John,” Murphy added.

“I didn’t know him personally as he was at the Falcons after me, but he came with good recommendations.

“Then came exciting back rower Zac McEntyre from the Maitland club in NSW.

“I knew we needed not just good players, but good people with good DNA and both these boys have that,” Murphy added.

With most of last season’s core squad remaining, plus a few additions, Murphy got to work just after Christmas to mould his team.

“There’s some good kids here who have all bought in and it’s great to see AJ (Andrew Jeffery) back from injury. He’s a massive bonus for us.

“With very few departures the Sharks welcomed back big forward Ben Bolth, offering more game time thanks to a better work structure and centre Logan Barclay.

A fit again Sam Pera will partner Bolth in the middles with Murphy and McEntyre potentially in the back row, anchored by 2022 Ken Allen Medal winner Keelyn Tuuta-Edwards.

2023 rookie of the year Marcelle Loader has benefitted from a three-week training spell with the New Zealand Warriors and will be eager to show Murphy what he has learnt.

But the signing everyone is talking about is Super League back Samisoni Langi.

The former Tonga and France international played over 100 games for the Catalan Dragons and last season for Wakefield Wildcats before switching to the Sharks in February.

“Someone of Soni’s quality doesn’t come along too often, if at all,” Murphy admitted.

“But he is a massive plus for us as well – and again the right character.”

For Murphy it’s still a work in progress, but one he is enjoying and one he hopes, in the club’s 20th year, will see success.