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December 20: Gallen era begins at Sharks; Marcus says bye-bye

On this day, Daryl Halligan demands release from Bears, Paul Gallen takes over at Sharks and Marcus Bai says goodbye to rugby league.

1972

Josh Stuart was born. A key member of the North Sydney teams which went close to long-awaited premiership glory a few times in the 1990s, the prop played 133 matches at the club, the last two as part of the ill-fated Northern Eagles joint venture.

1989 

Leeson Ah Mau was born in Auckland. An Otahuhu Leopards junior, he made his NRL debut with the Warriors in 2009, then returned to the club after nine seasons in Australia - two with North Queensland (2010-2011) and seven with St George Illawarra (2012-2018).

He made his New Zealand debut in the 2018 Test against England at Mile High Stadium in Denver and appeared in each of the Kiwis' four end-of-season Tests against the Kangaroos and England after previously playing 16 Tests with Samoa, including the 2013 and 2017 World Cups as well as the 2014 Four Nations.

Leeson Ah Mau representing Samoa in 2017.
Leeson Ah Mau representing Samoa in 2017. ©NRL Photos

1993   

North Sydney winger Daryl Halligan demands an immediate release from the final year of his contract with the Bears, citing irreconcilable differences with coach Peter Louis.

1994   

Paul Sironen is cleared of serious knee damage and is given the go-ahead to play in the Tooheys Challenge competition.

1998   

NRL chief executive Neil Whittaker reiterates that 14 teams will contest the 2000 premiership, despite the push for 16 teams by a number of ARL-aligned clubs.

1999   

Influential NRL director Ian Frykberg resigns from his positions on the NRL board and partnership committees.

2000   

The Australian reports that Brisbane and Australian winger Wendell Sailor is seriously considering a move to rugby union.

2002   

ARL coach Chris Anderson questions the logic of appointing a full-time coach at national level at the end of 2003.

2004   

The NRL releases a 110-page report into players’ attitudes towards women, entitled Playing by the Rules. The key recommendations of the report, chaired by Sydney University professor Catharine Lumby, included: Education in the ethics of social and sexual encounters; the NRL to continue promoting responsible use of alcohol; and a uniform process be established for dealing with any woman who wishes to make a complaint regarding player behaviour.

2005   

The Sydney Roosters release forward Richard Fa’aoso from the final year of his contract to allow him to link with Castleford.

2006   

Melbourne Storm premiership-winning winger Marcus Bai announces his retirement from rugby league at the age of 34.

Marcus Bai left the Storm at the end of 2003, heading to the UK where he played for Leeds and Bradford before retiring in 2006. He returned home to PNG where he started a farming plantation and later worked in the mining industry. He then moved to the Gold Coast with his family.
Marcus Bai left the Storm at the end of 2003, heading to the UK where he played for Leeds and Bradford before retiring in 2006. He returned home to PNG where he started a farming plantation and later worked in the mining industry. He then moved to the Gold Coast with his family. ©NRL Photos

2007   

Cronulla forward Paul Gallen is appointed the club’s full-time captain, replacing halfback Brett Kimmorley.

2013   

The epic England-New Zealand World Cup semi-final is voted the greatest Wembley Stadium moment of 2013. “The drama of the Rugby League World Cup semi-final certainly befitted the occasion, so it is right to commemorate the match with a Wembley Way stone”, said stadium manager director Roger Maslin.

2014   

The NRL formally register a contract for Blake Ferguson, allowing the former NSW representative to resume his career after 16 months out of the game due to misbehaviour to play with the Sydney Roosters in 2015.

2016   

NRL clubs claim a major victory over the ARL Commission when chairman John Grant agrees to a revised deal that will result in the clubs receiving their promised annual grant of 130% of the salary cap as well as two seats on the ARL Commission.

Grant survives calls for his resignation but will stand down in February 2018, rather than the five years he was seeking. The funding package equates to $1 billion over five years.

 

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