SYDNEY - Wallabies No.8 Wycliff Palu will remain in Australian rugby for at least another season after signing a new one-year deal to stay with the NSW Waratahs in 2013.
Hard-hit by injuries in the last two seasons, Palu said on Monday he had knocked back strong interest from Japanese clubs to continue in Australia, believing he's yet to play his best rugby. However, he said he was attracted by the Japan offers and may go there later in his career.
Meanwhile, Palu's Wallabies and NSW Waratahs teammate Tatafu Polota-Nau was given a day off training on Monday and will be reassessed later in the week to decide if he's fit to play against the Bulls on Friday night. The hooker suffered two heavy head knocks in Saturday's Super Rugby loss to the Brumbies.
Winger Tom Kingston (corked quad), the other big injury concern from that game, will also be assessed later in the week.
SYDNEY - St George Illawarra forward Matt Prior is facing a lengthy suspension after being referred straight to the NRL judiciary over a striking charge on North Queensland's Johnathan Thurston.
Prior became the first player sent off in the 2012 season when he was marched in the 55th minute of Friday's game for a high tackle on Thurston in their loss to the Cowboys.
The 24-year-old will face the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night. Four others were charged by the match review committee on Monday, with Parramatta's Reni Maitua, North Queensland's James Segeyaro and Newcastle's Joel Edwards all facing one week on the sidelines.
Maitua was hit with a grade one careless high tackle charge for his shot on Canterbury's Michael Ennis, while Segeyaro was charged with a grade two careless high tackle on St George Illawarra captain Ben Hornby. Edwards was given a grade one dangerous throw charge for his tackle on the Sydney Roosters' Mitchell Pearce.
Roosters hooker Jake Friend was charged with a grade one careless high tackle on Newcastle's Alex McKinnon but will escape suspension.
SYDNEY - Melbourne moved quickly to offset the disappointment of losing Queensland State of Origin centre Dane Nielsen on Monday by re-signing exciting youngster Justin O'Neill for a further two NRL seasons.
The Warriors announced on Monday that they had secured Nielsen to a three-year deal from next season, with the Storm moving quickly to lock up winger/centre O'Neill to ensure they have adequate cover.
O'Neill, 21, showcased his potential with a hat-trick of tries against Penrith on the weekend, and has already caught the eye of Queensland Origin selectors having been part of their emerging Origin squad.
"My decision to stay with Melbourne Storm was based on many factors, but the most important was the culture which the players and staff have created," O'Neill said in a statement put out by the club. "In this environment I think can play my best football here."
LONDON - Former Penrith Panther Nick Youngquest chalked up a fine hat-trick to help Ian Millward's Castleford Tigers get back to winning ways against Widnes in the Super League on Monday.
Ex-North Queensland coach Millward had previously seen his side collapse to Super League defeats by Warrington and St Helens as well as a Challenge Cup loss to Featherstone but they eased to a fourth win of the season at the Coliseum, downing the Vikings 36-12 on Monday.
Youngquest's treble was his first for the Tigers, while Daryl Clark (two tries) and Jordan Thompson also got in on the act, with Paddy Flynn and Stefan Marsh the try-scorers for visitors Widnes, who remained rooted to the foot of the table. Meanwhile ex-New Zealand Warrior Michael Witt's 10-point haul for the London Broncos was in vein as Bradford Bulls twice came from behind to claim a 29-22 win at The Stoop on Sunday.
Former Manly-Warringah wing Michael Robertson also scored for the Broncos, who romped into a 22-16 half-time lead as Witt kicked three goals to add to his try.
SYDNEY - Sydney Roosters have signed up-and-coming forward Tinirau Arona to a new two-year deal to keep him at the NRL club until the end of 2014.
Arona, who turned 23 on Tuesday, joins teammates Aidan Guerra, Anthony Minichiello, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joseph Leilua in signing contract extensions in the last three weeks.
"I'm so happy to commit to the Roosters. The club has been really good to me and I'm excited to be a part of the team for another two years," said Arona, the reigning Cook Islands player of the year. Roosters coach Brian Smith was pleased with the signing after Arona impressed in Sunday's 24-6 win over Newcastle.
"T' has worked really hard to get himself to where he is and had his best game of the season in our win against the Knights last weekend," he said. "With his great work ethic, he will only continue to grow as a player over the coming seasons and we are pleased to have him as part of our young and developing forward pack for another couple of years."
Arona has made 22 NRL appearances since his debut early last season.
WELLINGTON - Three key re-signings have boosted the under-siege Blues as they look to resurrect this year's Super Rugby campaign.
Charlie Faumuina, captain Luke Braid and Tom McCartney have each signed two-year deals with the franchise.
With just one win from 10 matches, the Blues are anchored to the bottom of the New Zealand conference, also sitting last on the overall table.
But prop Faumuina says he's committed to the struggling franchise, and is determined to play his role in the team's revival for 2013 and 2014.
"I enjoy being part of the Blues, I'm proud to wear the jersey and I'm determined more than ever to do what I can to help get this team get back to where it should be."
Braid and McCartney are also confident that better times are ahead for the Blues. "There's no doubt we're doing it tough this year, but the Blues environment is a good one and I want to keep on being a part of it," Braid said.
McCartney says the chance to keep developing his game alongside experienced campaigners like Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock played a big part in his decision