Friday footy news: NRL sanctions announced, Widnes saved

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A look at what's happening in the rugby league world this Friday, March 1st 2019.

Panthers issue statement on fresh video rumours

Penrith have issued the following statement regarding a video that is reportedly doing the rounds:

Penrith Panthers has been made aware of a video allegedly involving a Panthers player.

The club is cooperating with the NRL Integrity Unit and will be making no further comment at this time.

Club statements

Both Canterbury and the Wests Tigers have issued statements responding to and accepting the NRL's sanctions on Dylan Napa and the Wests Tigers club respectively.

Cronulla have also indicated they will accept the sanctions issued and move forward, closing this chapter.

Sanctions confirmed

The NRL has now confirmed punishments for a range of matters. It covers Cronulla's salary cap matters, Dylan Walker and Zane Musgrove (both indefinitely suspended), Scott Bolton (suspension of 5 matches), Dylan Napa (fine only) and the Wests Tigers - salary cap penalties apply to them and the Sharks over the next two years. Full NRL media release here.

Walker stood down

The Manly club have issued a statement confirming Dylan Walker has been stood down under the NRL's new no-fault policy. CEO Lyall Gorman has indicated the club accepts the decision, and will continue to provide support to Dylan to ensure his welfare.

Walker is next due in court on May 10 on domestic violence charges.

Midday presser

The NRL will hold a press conference at midday with CEO Todd Greenberg to announce sanctions on a range of integrity related issues. NRL.com will live stream the conference.

Widnes saved?

Subject to RFL approval, it looks as though UK club Widnes, relegated to the Championship division this year, have been saved.

The club went into administration just last week and have been frantically raising funds to ensure their survival. On Thursday, a consortium reached an in-principle agreement with the administrators on a deal to take the club forward. It is likely that once approved, Widnes will face a 12-point penalty on the 2019 competition table for having entered administration, which may make it difficult to avoid further relegation, and in turn 

Super Saints

St Helens went - temporarily at least - to the top of the Super League table this morning with a classy 26-4 win over Salford. James Roby bagged two tries to see the Saints remain undefeated so far in 2019.

The squads and officials for Round 4 can be found here.

Gee whiz, hi-viz

A mining town through-and-through, it's no surprise that Newcastle have renewed their ongoing partnership with NSW Mining for 2019.

The Knights will don the now-familiar "hi-vis mining vest" style jersey again in 2019 on two occasions, and thankfully for NRL jersey aficionados, not against the Wests Tigers. The jersey will instead be worn at home against Manly in Round 5, before being taken on the road to Mudgee when the Knights face St George Illawarra in Round 10.

Olympic Park reinvigoration plan

The NRL, together with ANZ Stadium tenants Canterbury and South Sydney today welcomed news that the Sydney Olympic Park Business Assocation has released a five-point-plan to reinvigorate the precinct.

Entering its 20th year, the NRL via CEO Todd Greenberg continued their push to lobby government to refurbish ANZ Stadium and highlighted that such upgrades should not be done in isolation but indeed with connected infrastructure around Sydney Olympic Park. Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly highlighted the need for improved transport connectivity, along with better entertainment and dining options, while Canterbury CEO Andrew Hill reiterated the need for the precinct to offer a 'world class sporting experience'.

Trial teams wrap

Seven trials are ready to rock and roll tomorrow with all clubs bar one naming their lineups for the weekend's action. Check out full teamlists, officials, match and broadcast info here.

Starting in Whangarei NZ at 3pm AEDT, the Warriors have named a 26-man squad which omits only Issac Luke (shoulder), while the Wests Tigers side is nearly full strength save for the omission of Chris Lawrence, who broke his jaw during the week and is set to miss some game time in the coming months. Fox League will broadcast this match live in Australia.

The action moves to the Hunter Valley where the Knights host Cronulla at 5:30pm. Both sides have named strong lineups.

Two trials kick off at 7pm - the Roosters host Manly in Gosford, the premiers having named a relatively inexperienced side with the only recognised first graders being Angus Crichton and Nat Butcher. Manly's squad is yet to be named - similarly last week Des Hasler's side was only listed a matter of hours before kickoff.

Elsewhere at 7pm the Panthers host the Eels at the foot of the mountains. Penrith will miss Viliame Kikau (knee) after he sustained medial ligament damage in last weekend's victory over South Sydney, as well as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who is expected to be fine for Round 1. His brother Malakai will again play on the wing. Parramatta will be missing Kaysa Pritchard after he was granted leave by the club, but otherwise the blue-and-gold line up is relatively full strength with injured players Manu Ma'u, Nathan Brown and Will Smith all listed.

At 7:30pm the Charity Shield returns for another year, with the Dragons and Rabbitohs lighting up Mudgee. Souths' lineup includes new signing Ethan Lowe, but they remain without the services of Greg Inglis, George Burgess and Adam Reynolds, who are all likely to be good for Round 1. Adam Doueihi remains out indefinitely. The Dragons have brought Tyson Frizell and James Graham into the side after both missed last week's match against Newcastle in Wollongong. Fox League will also broadcast this match.

Action moves to Queensland with the Titans and Broncos facing off at 7:30pm AEDT (6:30pm local time) at Cbus Super Stadium. Gold Coast are near full strength, missing only Ryan James and Keegan Hipgrave. Brisbane meanwhile are without Anthony Milford and Tevita Pangai Junior.

The weekend's top-flight trial action concludes in Mackay where the Cowboys and Storm will play at 8pm AEDT (7pm local). North Queensland will blood their new signings Jordan Kahu, Nene Macdonald, Josh McGuire and Tom Opacic. Scott Bolton was originally named in jersey 17 but will not play. Melbourne are near full strength with a swag of rep players added to the lineup which lost to the Warriors in Geelong last Friday.

All matches not broadcast on Fox League are set to be streamed via the NRL and various official club websites.