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March 1: Captain's challenge gets green light; Toopi to the rescue

On This Day, Clinton Toopi saves the day, the Wayne Bennett era at Newcastle begins with a thriller and the Captain's Challenge gets the green light.


Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was born. A goal-kicking fullback and outside back, Cleary was a Manly junior and debuted for the club in 1992, before spending two seasons at the North Sydney Bears in 1993-94, four years at the Sydney City Roosters (1996-99) and finishing his playing career at the Auckland (later New Zealand) Warriors, retiring in 2002 after the club's grand final defeat.

He became an assistant coach at the Warriors and took over as coach in 2006, enjoying a winning record at the club in a six-year stint before moving to Penrith where he won the Dally M Coach of the Year award in 2014. After being axed by the Panthers Cleary spent two years at the Wests Tigers, before making his return to Penrith to coach his son Nathan in 2019 and taking the club to the grand final in 2020 where they lost to Melbourne and then a premiership in 2021, beating Souths in the decider.

Nathan and Ivan Cleary.
Nathan and Ivan Cleary. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos


Warriors centre Clinton Toopi showed some real heroics off the field, rescuing a drowning swimmer in a rip at a beach at Mt Maunganui, New Zealand. Toopi saved the man from heavy surf following a game of beach cricket with the Warriors.


Craig Wing scores a late try to hand the Rabbitohs a 24-20 victory over the  Dragons in the Charity Shield. It was a strong start to Wing's return season at the club where he had made his debut, following eight years at the Roosters.

Craig Wing was the Bunnies' hero in the 2008 Charity Shield.
Craig Wing was the Bunnies' hero in the 2008 Charity Shield.


The Manly Sea Eagles ended a five-year England winning streak in the World Club Challenge, defeating Leeds 28-20 at Elland Road. Brett Stewart and Anthony Watmough both crossed for doubles while Steve Matai also scored. Leeds had won two of the previous four titles, with Manly the first Australian team since the Roosters in 2003 to prevail in the annual fixture.


Wayne Bennett begins his reign at the Newcastle Knights with his new club hosting the first game of the season against his former club St George Illawarra. The Dragons prevail 15-14 with Jamie Soward clinching victory with a field goal.


Simon Mannering is named captain of the New Zealand Kiwis, at the age of 26, taking over from Benji Marshall. Mannering had been a member of the Kiwis' World Cup-winning team in 2008 and had played 28 Tests to that point, and would finish with 45 Tests and 301 NRL appearances with the Warriors to his name when he retired at the end of the 2018 season. In his second year as Kiwis captain Mannering led the Kiwis to the Four Nations title with a 22-18 win over Australia in the final.

Simon Mannering and the Kiwis after the 2014 Four Nations Final.
Simon Mannering and the Kiwis after the 2014 Four Nations Final. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos


NRL boss Todd Greenberg hands down a range of penalties to misbehaving players and sanctions Cronulla and Wests Tigers over salary cap infractions. Dylan Walker, Dylan Napa and Scott Bolton receive penalties while Cronulla are fined $750,000 and Wests Tigers have their salary cap cut by $319,500 for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.


The NRL confirm that the Captain’s Challenge rule will be introduced for the start of the NRL season.


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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