“Texas A&M is a tremendous team,” LU coach Steve Holeman said. “They have won 13 in a row against some of the best teams in the country.” The Cardinals (18-3-1) bring a 12-game winning streak into the contest, while the Aggies (17-2-1) have reeled off 13 straight wins. Senior goalkeeper Lauren Lovejoy, who has played every second for the Cardinals this season, enters the tournament with a 0.90 goals-against average and a school-record 10 shutouts this season. Lovejoy said this team fully believes in each other and the coaching staff. The Aggies are 7-1-1 on their home field, 3,500-seat Ellis Field, one of the best college soccer venues in the nation. The Aggies averages almost 2,800 fans per home game. “We know we have a tough task, but we’re still playing soccer in November,” Holeman said. “More than 260 teams already had their season come to an end. No matter what happens, this has been a season to remember. We’re going to do our best to make even more memories.”Courtesy of Lamar Athletics “We have such a great chemistry on this team,” Holeman said. “The returning players really bought into our system, while the newcomers wanted to be part of building a successful program and being part of history.” Junior forward Kelso Peskin, a transfer from Tyler Junior College, leads the Cardinals in scoring with 27 points on eight goals and 11 assists. Her 11 assists are a single-season school record, while her 27 points are one shy of the single-season LU mark. Freshman forward Lucy Ashworth is second on the team in scoring with 16 points on four goals and eight assists. Eckart (6-3-15) and freshman forward Madison Ledet (4-7-15) are tied for third in scoring. Ledet was the MVP of the Southland Conference Tournament. The winner of Friday’s game advances to the round of 32 next weekend to meet the winner of this weekend’s IUPUI at Notre Dame game at a site to be determined. WATCH LIVECOLLEGE STATION, Texas – Two of the hottest teams in the nation clash in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Lamar University Cardinals travel to College Station to take on the host Texas A&M Aggies. The game will be shown on the SEC Network+. “It’s a great soccer environment,” said Holeman, who coached games at Texas A&M while at Ole Miss and Georgia. “This should be a tremendous experience for our players.” “We couldn’t have won the regular-season championship and the tournament unless everybody did their part,” Lovejoy said. “Not just the starters, but the reserves. Not only in games, but in practice. I am so proud to be part of this team.” The Aggies have outscored their opponents 43-15 this season. Ally Watt leads Texas A&M in scoring with 24 points on 11 goals and two assists. Goalkeeper Cosette Morche, like Lovejoy, has played every second this season. She sports a 0.73 goals-against average with seven shutouts. The Cardinals, who went 2-14-3 last season, are just the second team in NCAA women’s soccer history to have 16 more wins than the previous season, are making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the 11-year history of the LU soccer program. “This has been such a special season,” said senior midfielder M.J. Eckart, a first-team All-Southland Conference selection. “The past few seasons were tough, but this makes it all worthwhile. I’m excited to get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.”
Southland weekly award winners are nominated and voted upon by each school’s sports information director. Voting for one’s own athlete is not permitted. To earn honorable mention, a student-athlete must appear on at least 25 percent of ballots. Honorable Mention: Randi Brown, New Orleans; Taylor Baudoin, Central Arkansas. The Colonels are the No. 4 seed in the 2018 Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament and earned a bye into the second round. They will face the winner between No. 8 McNeese and No. 5 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday at 11 a.m. CT. All early round games of the Southland tournament will broadcast on ESPN3. FRISCO, Texas – For the fifth time this season, Nicholls junior guard Cassidy Barrios is the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league announced Sunday. Southland Players of the Week are presented by UniversalCoin.com. Women’s Basketball Player of the Week – Cassidy Barrios, Nicholls – Jr. – Guard – Raceland. La.Barrios ended the regular season with her 14th and 15th overall double-doubles, leading Nicholls to its eighth win in the last nine games to secure the No. 4 seed in the Southland Conference Tournament. In last week’s games, Barrios averaged 19.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks. With Nicholls leading by just one point at the break against Southeastern in the finale, Barrios took over in the second half with 16 points to lead the Colonels to their fourth-straight victory.
THE STRONACH GROUP LAUNCHES FULLY-INTEGRATED DAILY SPANISH SHOW HIPICA TV All Races at Stronach Group Tracks to be Televised Daily in SpanishAlfonzo, Casella, Carlos Palma and Spadaro to HostHALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The Stronach Group announced today that it has launched Hipica TV, a daily live show streamed on Stronach Group websites and YouTube.com/HipicaTV that will show races, replays and offer handicapping selections on races from Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park, Laurel Park and Golden Gate Fields.During testing its first month on GulfstreamPark.com and LaurelPark.com, Hipica TV has reached an average of 76,000 unique viewers each week and nearly 800,000 total views. Hipica TV will soon be featured on SantaAnita.com and GoldenGateFields.com.Along with live races, Hipica TV will also include live interviews, feature stories, and insights from four talented and respected hosts.“We’re incredibly proud to provide this ground-breaking service free to our viewers,” said Tim Ritvo, COO of The Stronach Group. “In just the past few weeks during our testing phase we’ve received incredibly positive feedback, and viewership continues to grow. We believe Hipica TV is ground-breaking, relevant, and once again shows The Stronach Group’s commitment to Thoroughbred racing. We strongly believe Hipica TV will continue to grow as we build our brand nationally and internationally.”Alfredo Alfonzo founded the popular VideoHipico in 2006, a website and social media agency dedicated to promoting horse racing. A native of Venezuela, Alfonzo is also a partner in My Social House, a premier digital marketing agency in Fort Lauderdale. Alfonzo has handicapped Gulfstream’s races for the Spanish audience for more than a year at GulfstreamPark.com.Juan Carlos Palma, also known “El Caribe Palma,” is recognized as one of the most respected and successful handicappers in Latin America. He has spent more than 30 years covering Thoroughbred racing and has directed and produced numerous Thoroughbred handicapping shows in his native Venezuela.Pedro Casella’s race calls are some of the most exciting you will hear, rivaling Andres Cantor in the world of professional soccer. Casella, who holds a degree in Broadcast Journalism, is a native of Venezuela and is founder and CEO of “Redes de Campeones,” a public relations company specializing in horse racing.Claudia Spadaro, a native of Venezuela, grew up around horses. She holds a degree in public relations and broadcast journalism from the University of Miami and is fluent in English and Spanish. Spadaro has worked with The Stronach Group on the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
Hugo Lloris has now made nine errors leading to goals in the Premier League since the start of the 2016/17 season, only Asmir Begović has made more (10).It goes from bad to worse for Spurs. 😬 pic.twitter.com/PZXFLmB0RK— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2019 However, Lloris made up for his error in the second half with a string of fantastic saves as Spurs managed to beat the Saints 2-1.The Frenchman’s nightmare came just moments after Serge Aurier was sent-off for two bookable offences within FOUR MINUTES of each other after Tanguy Ndombele had given Spurs the lead.The right-back made a cynical foul on 26 minutes to prevent left winger Sofiane Boufal advancing on out wide.But just seconds later he was given his marching orders for committing another reckless foul.Again Boufal got the better of his man after he raced clear on the left hand side following a through ball from Pieree-Emile Hojbjerg.LATEST TOTTENHAM NEWSHARRY ALL FOUR ITKane admits Spurs must win EIGHT games to rise into Champions League spotGossipALL GONE PETE TONGVertonghen wanted by host of Italian clubs as long Spurs spell nears endBELOW PARRSpurs suffer blow with Parrott to miss Prem restart after appendix operationPicturedSHIRT STORMNew Spurs 2020/21 home top leaked but angry fans slam silver design as ‘awful”STEP BY STEP’Jose fears for players’ welfare during restart as stars begin ‘pre-season’KAN’T HAVE THATVictor Osimhen keen on Spurs move but only if they sell Kane this summerSensing he had been beaten for pace and position again, Aurier pulled back the Saints winger and was shown a second yellow.He will now miss the trip to Brighton next week.But Harry Kane was Spurs’ man of the hour once more, scoring just before the break and Mauricio Pochettino’s side held on for an important three points.4 Serge Aurier was given his marching orders for Spurs before half time against SouthamptonCredit: Reuters4 The full-back was dismissed for two yellow cards and will now miss the trip to Brighton next weekCredit: Reuters HUGO LLORIS was branded “a clown” after a calamitous mistake against Southampton – but redeemed himself with a string of second-half saves as Spurs won 2-1.The skipper left supporters and team-mates with their head in their hands after he gifted the visitors the leveller in farcical fashion.4 Hugo Lloris made an absolute howler to gift Southampton an equaliser at SpursCredit: Getty Images4 Danny Ings was able to pounce on his mistake to inflict huge embarrassment on the goalkeeperCredit: AFPThe keeper completely missed the ball while attempting a Cruyff turn inside his six-yard area, allowing striker Danny Ings to score the easiest goal of his career.Spurs fans were raging, one tweeting: “He has just had a brain fart.”Another said: “Lloris is a clown. Pass it on.”While a fellow fan demanded: ”Lloris needs that f***ing captain’s armband stripped now.”Even ex-Spurs striker Gary Lineker got involved.He wrote: “Oh dear Hugo. There are cock-ups and then there are giant cock-ups. Lloris’s is up there in the giant category.”Oh dear Hugo. There are cock-ups and then there are giant cock-ups. Lloris’s is up there in the giant category.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 28, 2019
THESE are beginning to feel like the end of days for Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.The bare statistics tell us enough.5 The situation looks ominous for Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs despite the amazing job he has done in previous years5 It finally seems there is the possibility Spurs supremo Daniel Levy could sack Mauricio PochettinoCredit: Rex FeaturesRelegation form for nine months — 25 points from the last 24 games — and no away win in the Premier League since January.Throw in the crushing humiliations of a League Cup defeat by Colchester and a 7-2 Champions League home drubbing by a Bayern Munich side who have since sacked their manager and it is clear that breaking point is nigh.Add to the mix Pochettino becoming a sulky, high-maintenance manager, increasingly remote from his players, and the situation appears irrevocable.For the first time in a working relationship of 5½ years, the prospect of chairman Daniel Levy sacking Pochettino is said to be a genuine possibility.Some at Spurs fear the shadow of Jose Mourinho hanging heavily over a once-happy club, with the Portuguese’s camp briefing their man would fancy the job.This is ironic given that some inside Spurs are likening Pochettino’s mood to that of Mourinho at Manchester United.The impression is of a burnt-out manager, who has fallen out of love with his job after five years of workaholic striving.STARK CHOICE SOONPochettino’s insistence that he should be referred to as ‘head coach’ rather than ‘manager’ due to a lack of influence over recruitment is also key to the sense of drift.After 18 months without a signing, the summer’s transfer business was hailed as a success by many.Yet £65million club-record buy Tanguy Ndombele has been inconsistent, Ryan Sessegnon has yet to start and loanee Giovani Lo Celso is very one-footed.Overall, Pochettino’s tenure has been a roaring success, of course.Consistent Champions League qualification — even despite almost two years in exile at Wembley — was a magnificent achievement, given a negative spend in the transfer market.Yet Spurs are already 11 points adrift of the top four, meaning Champions League football next season is highly unlikely.And while the march to last season’s final was historic and dramatic, the no-show against Liverpool in Madrid kicked off a summer of discontent for Pochettino, from which he hasn’t recovered. A club with a wonderful new home and perhaps the best centre-forward on the planet, Harry Kane, is the envy of many.But with several senior players disaffected with their treatment by Levy, a freshening up is now much needed.LADBROKES 1-2-FREE Simply predict Man City vs Chelsea, Rangers and Man Utd scores this coming weekend and win £100Should Spurs suffer defeat at West Ham on Saturday — and the out-of-form Hammers have a habit of raising it against their London rivals — Levy will face a stark choice.Does he send Pochettino packing with the sort of hefty pay-off he is always so reluctant to make?Especially in the knowledge that Manchester United could easily hire the Argentine should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suffer another downturn.With 3½ years left on his £8.5m-a-year deal, Pochettino will not walk away without compensation for himself and his trusted coaching staff.So unless results improve dramatically, a Mexican stand-off over money could paralyse the club.Spurs players know that West Ham is a huge fixture. While many still feel great loyalty and affection towards a manager who has improved them individually and collectively, they detect a sense of disconnection and weariness in their boss.5 Tanguy Ndombele has been erratic since his record arrival in the summerCredit: Getty – ContributorCan they rouse themselves from a desperate slump and kick-start their season with a first away win in ten months?Or will they leave Levy with a serious decision to make?The long-serving chairman has made some poor choices of managers down the years — Jacques Santini, Juande Ramos and Andre Villas-Boas — while Louis van Gaal was his preferred choice before Pochettino took over in 2014.Mourinho and Levy in the same building is a potentially explosive mix.Max Allegri is a candidate, while Carlo Ancelotti could be back on the market soon, with his job at Napoli under threat.Levy’s preferred options of Gareth Southgate and Brendan Rodgers are both highly unlikely to leave their current employment right now.So there is no easy way out of this mess for Levy or Pochettino — but sometimes it is best for both parties to recognise that all good things must come to an end.BRIGHT LAMPSCHELSEA began the season having lost star player Eden Hazard, operating under a transfer ban, with a rookie top-flight boss and a bunch of kids relatively untried at the highest level.So you would have got good odds against the Blues travelling to Manchester City in November ahead of the champions in the Premier League table, as they will do on Saturday.Boss Frank Lampard is performing a minor miracle at Stamford Bridge and with Fikayo Tomori becoming the ninth Chelsea academy graduate in two years to receive an England debut, this is becoming the unlikeliest of feelgood stories.5 New England defender Fikayo Tomori is the latest starlet to profit from the Frank Lampard reignCredit: Getty – ContributorJURGIE TIMESO five of the Liverpool players who featured in their last fixture — the win against Manchester City — have sat out matches during the international break.It will be interesting to see how many of Mo Salah, Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez are available for Saturday’s visit to Crystal Palace.Sir Alex Ferguson was a master of this sort of thing during his title-winning heyday. Jurgen Klopp is cut from the same cloth.WENG’S JOB FITCONGRATULATIONS to Arsene Wenger on his appointment as Fifa’s head of global football development.It feels like the sort of job the Frenchman had been craving throughout the second half of his Arsenal career — plenty of chance to theorise without the results of pesky football matches proving him wrong.AJ’S RING STONE5 Holding the Anthony Joshua re-match with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia, while charging £25 to watch on pay-per-view at home, is treating boxing fans with contemptCredit: Getty – ContributorANTHONY JOSHUA’S four fights which packed out Wembley and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in 2017 and 2018 were a genuine phenomenon.Support for the heavyweight was off the scale of anything previously seen for a British boxer.Yet anyone wanting to attend Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7 must travel to Saudi Arabia — a state where human rights are primitive and which is also completely dry of alcohol, rather putting the kibosh on the idea of a big night out.And if you want to watch from home, pay-per-view will set you back a whopping £25.As an object lesson in abusing the loyalty of fans, this takes some beating.most read in footballTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticSOME YOU WHIMI ENJOYED the performances of Harry Winks during England’s two recent games.Yet this intelligent and inventive player has failed to get into the starting line-up of a struggling Tottenham team for their last two matches.Another one of our outstanding midfielders, Phil Foden, faces an even tougher situation at Manchester City.One of the chief frustrations of Gareth Southgate, heading towards the Euro 2020 finals, is that he remains beholden to the whims of club managers.GRIMSBY have sacked manager Michael Jolley after an extraordinary rant at local radio reporters which included 58 F-words.Even the godfather of managerial profanity, Joe Kinnear, could manage only 52 swear words in a press conference at Newcastle in 2008.Tottenham would be crazy to sack Pochettino despite form slump, insists ex-boss Harry Redknapp
PIERS MORGAN condemned Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho for giving “completely the wrong signal” as he conducted a public training session amid the coronavirus pandemic.The Spurs manager, in a full club tracksuit, was pictured leading a session with three first-team players on Monken Hadley Common in Barnet.3 Piers Morgan condemned Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho for conducting a public training session amid the coronavirus pandemicIt came just hours after Davinson Sanchez and Ryan Sessegnon were filmed running together with the club having to remind their players of the government guidelines on social distancing.But Good Morning Britain host Morgan was furious with Mourinho – who he praised for his work in helping deliver essential food to the elderly stuck indoors – for failing to show responsibility and leadership during the crisis.He said: “I was very surprised about because Mourinho has been very good in delivering food parcels for the media and so on.”But Jose Mourinho, the Tottenham manager, to be having an unofficial training session with players, in which they’re clearly ignoring the social distancing rules.”It sends out completely the wrong signal.”Any young guys who want to be out there kicking a ball around with their mates, they shouldn’t be doing it.”Ex-Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told talkSPORT: “I imagine they all live near the training ground somewhere, surely they’d be better off popping into the training ground wouldn’t they?”I mean that would be empty, there would be no one there. It’s probably as close as the park though, when you think about it, I don’t know.”Listen, we’ve all got to obey the rules, haven’t we. If we want to clear this thing up. We’ve got to make sure if we’re told to stay in and keep our distance, then we’ve got to do it.”Arsenal fan Morgan – who slammed Manchester City defender Kyle Walker’s “disgusting hypocrisy” for hosting a sex party before urging fans to stay at home – was joined by Dr Hilary Jones.Most read in football THROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’ExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidNEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticREF RELEASEDChampions League ref Vincic released by cops after arrest in prostitution raidKEANE DEALEx Man United youth ace David Jones says Roy Keane negotiated a contract for himNICE RONCristiano Ronaldo goes on family bike ride with partner Georgina Rodriguez & kidsREF RAIDChampions League ref Vincic ‘arrested in raid into drugs and prostitution ring’The ITV show’s medical expert also did not hold back on ex-Chelsea and United manager Mourinho.She said:”It sends the wrong signal and people need to be constantly reminded of what the guidelines are: one form of exercise for a short period of time, not sitting on the grass sunbathing – that doesn’t have any benefit, whereas exercise does.”There are multiple reasons why we give these guidelines and if people follow them we will save lives and protect the NHS.”3 Tottenham stars Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sanchez were allegedly spotted jogging as they ignored social distancing orders3 The Tottenham pair were captured on video jogging by a car on the green in close proximityPiers Morgan blasts Kyle Walker after the footballer hosted a sex party with two hookers before telling fans to ‘stay at home’ while in coronavirus lockdown
BARCELONA have emerged as shock contenders to sign out-of-favour Tottenham Hotspur defender Juan Foyth, according to reports.The 22-year-old was highly-rated by former manager Mauricio Pochettino in North London.2 Foyth has been a rarely-spotted figure at Spurs this seasonCredit: ReutersBut since Jose Mourinho’s arrival, the ten-cap Argentina international has struggled to even make the substitutes’ bench – falling behind Japhet Tanganga in the pecking order.Having suffered an ankle injury in pre-season, Foyth had just returned to full fitness when Pochettino was axed – featuring in his compatriot’s final three games in charge.But he has only featured three times since – being completely cast aside by Mourinho following a mistake against Norwich City in December, after which the young centre-back was substituted at half-time.According to the Mirror, LaLiga champions Barcelona could rescue Foyth from his spell on the Spurs sidelines, seeing him as a cheap replacement for the seemingly outgoing Samuel Umtiti and Jean-Clair Todibo.A brave and talented distributor, Foyth would fit in to Barcelona’s traditional style of play.But his young career has been unfortunately littered with costly errors, having given away a number of goals – as well as being red carded at Bournemouth last season as a substitute.Having made only 32 appearances since moving to North London from Estudiantes in 2017, however, he has been unable to sustain a run of games in which to iron out his mistakes.And if they (Tottenham) won’t count on me, the best thing will be to find another club.Juan FoythAnd in the hunt for first-team football, he recently admitted that he could depart.He said: “You always want to play to feel like a player and feel good. It isn’t easy not to play either.”But I don’t know, we have to wait now for the transfer window to open.”If I am going to have opportunities here, I will be very comfortable. And if they won’t count on me, the best thing will be to find another club.”I would like to stay in Europe, all leagues have a high level.2 The Argentine was red-carded at Bournemouth last seasonCredit: AFP or licensorsMOST READ IN FOOTBALLTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’PicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidNEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticNICE RONCristiano Ronaldo goes on family bike ride with partner Georgina Rodriguez & kidsKEANE DEALEx Man United youth ace David Jones says Roy Keane negotiated a contract for him”My wish is to play at the highest level as long as I can. The main thing is to play.”Barcelona are set for a busy summer, in which they have to carefully juggle their finances in order to afford all of their key targets.Neymar and Lautaro Martinez are believed to be at the top of their wishlist – while Foyth’s team-mate Tanguy Ndombele is also on their radar.Gabriel Jesus and Juan Foyth pull out incredible skills as bitter rivals Argentina and Brazil battle in Copa America final
Still just 25 years of age, the Tigers represent McIlwrick’s fourth NRL club after previous stints with the Raiders, Roosters and Sharks in 2016.Although he featured in just two games for Cronulla in their historic season he was part of the training sessions that carried them all the way and believes there are similarities in what he has seen in his first couple of months at the Tigers.”It was good to be part of the premiership-winning side, I got a couple of games in last year and I guess now what I can say is that I know what it takes to win a premiership,” McIlwrick told Tigers TV.”I saw the training all the boys put in day in and day out and especially the unity that the Sharks had last year and I feel a very similar thing here at the Tigers.”All the boys are very tight and I see good things for the future of this club. The energy that the young blokes bring to training every day is second to none and that’s what you need in a footy side.”We’ve got a good mix of young blokes and a few older heads so it’s a pretty exciting time, especially for those younger guys in those senior roles.”There are good things going forward and hopefully we can win a premiership next year.”The departure of club stalwart Robbie Farah opens the door for a new No.9 to make their name at the Wests Tigers with McIlwrick wedged in between veteran Matt Ballin and outstanding prospect Jacob Liddle who made his NRL debut in Round 18 this year.With the established halves pairing of Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses and the brilliant James Tedesco at fullback, McIlwrick admitted that slotting straight into the Tigers spine requires plenty of extra homework.”Obviously coming to a new club you’ve got to learn a fair bit, different plays and different names for things but those boys have been great for me,” McIlwrick said.”They’re young and enthusiastic and already you’ve got one of the best halves and fullback combination in the game so exciting times ahead.”With 29 NRL games across five seasons at four different clubs, McIlwrick admits that 2017 shapes as a critical one in his career and that he is eager to turn his one-year deal at the Tigers into a more long-term association.”It’s a pretty big year for me. I’ve been at a few clubs now and I don’t really want to be going anywhere else,” he said.”It’s a massive year for me in terms of opportunity. If I do get an opportunity to play I’ve got to take it with both hands.”
Luke Brooks is set to make his first ever NRL Auckland Nines appearance, with the tournament set to take place on February 4 and 5 at Eden Park.As well as Brooks, Head Coach Jason Taylor has named experienced forwards Elijah Taylor, Joel Edwards, Ava Seumanufagai and Sauaso Sue to bolster the side.Taylor will captain the side at Eden Park, with Sue to feature as vice-captain.A host of exciting rookies will also make the trip over to Auckland, with Matt Eisenhuth, Watson Heleta, Esan Marsters and Bayley Sironen looking to impress as they strive for an NRL debut in 2017.New recruit Matt McIlwrick will pull on the Wests Tigers jersey for the first time, with the dummy-half joining the Club from the Cronulla Sharks.The 18-man squad features a number players familiar with the nine-a-side concept, with Justin Hunt, Kevin Naiqama, Jack Littlejohn, Kyle Lovett, Michael Chee Kam, Heleta, Seumanufagai and Sue all playing in last year’s tournament with Wests Tigers.Both Chee Kam and Naiqama have featured in all three previous NRL Auckland Nines tournaments.Wests Tigers have been drawn in the Rangitoto Pool and will come up against the Newcastle Knights, Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm.WESTS TIGERS 2017 AUCKLAND NINES SQUADJosh AloiaiLuke BrooksMichael Chee KamJoel EdwardsMatt EisenhuthJJ FeliseWatson HeletaJustin HuntJack LittlejohnKyle LovettEsan MarstersMatt McIlwrickKevin NaiqamaJordan RankinAva SeumanufagaiBayley SironenSauaso SueElijah Taylor
The nine are: Vagi Guba, Jason Kila, Hiri Hiri, Kabua Vagi Morea, Alei Nao, Riley Hekure, Pipi Raho, Kipling Doriga and Damian Ravu.The rest of the EAP side comprises of four players from Vanuatu and one Makoto Taniyama from Japan.The championships will be held in Mount Gambier in South Australia and will run from January 3 to 11.Six teams will take part: Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and the ICC East Asia Pacific side.