On this day, Big Mal, 'Golden Boots', Alfie and supercoach Bennett receive Australia Day honours, Rabbitohs and Rhinos take the USA by storm, and Manu Vatuvei suffers a cruel blow.
Former Melbourne and Warriors back-rower Ryan Hoffman was born on Australia Day in 1984. A member of the NRL's 300-game club, Hoffman debuted for the Storm in 2003 and played 170 games for the club before moving to Super League in 2011 for a season with Wigan. He returned to the Storm in 2012 and played in the premiership-winning side that season. In 2015 he shifted across the Tasman and chalked up 60 games for the Warriors before returning to Melbourne in 2018 and playing 20 more games before calling time on a stellar career.
Australian captain Mal Meninga is awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day honours list.
The ARL vow to keep the Gold Coast alive at least until the outcome of the Federal Court action is known. The club’s owner Jeff Muller sacks head coach John Harvey after he refused to sign an agreement which guaranteed Muller input into team selections.
Legendary Balmain fullback Keith Barnes is awarded an Order of Australia medal for services to the game as a player and administrator in Australia Day honours.
Former Brisbane and Australian star Allan Langer is appointed a Member in the General Division (AM) in the Australia Day honours list for services to sport at national and international level. Former Newcastle captain Paul Harragon receives an Order of Australia medal (OAM) for services to rugby league and the community.
St Helens score a shock 20-18 victory over NRL premiers Brisbane in the World Club Challenge match at Bolton.
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett is awarded an Australia Medal (AM) in official Australia Day honours.
Ground-breaking research undertaken by the Bulldogs indicates that the average Bulldogs NRL player spends only three percent of his “working life” on the field. A breakdown indicates that training occupies the majority of their time (41%), followed by community liaison (25%), education (9%), rehab (8%), preparation (5%), media (4.5%), video analysis (4.5%) and playing (3%). The study shows players “work” 45 hours per week.
South Sydney fall 26-24 to Leeds in a pre-season clash at Jacksonville’s Hodges Stadium. A curious crowd of 12,000 which includes Greg Norman, Chris Evert and Dennis Rodman watch the Rabbitohs stage a fighting comeback from 26-0 down at half-time.
Manly legend Bob Fulton throws his support behind the club’s bid to sign unwanted Sydney Roosters forward Willie Mason. “I think he’d be an exceptional buy for Manly,” Fulton said. Mason ends up at North Queensland in 2010 and then plays a season with Hull Kingston Rovers in 2011. He joins Newcastle in 2012 and plays 60 games across three seasons before finishing his NRL career at Manly in 2015.
Former Test captain George Peponis is honoured with an Order of Australia Medal for services to rugby league and the community. Former Penrith Test forward Mark Geyer is also awarded an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of his charity work.
Newcastle centre Dane Gagai is cut from Queensland’s Emerging Origin squad after failing to appear at a training session following a night out in Brisbane.
Former Warrior Manu 'The Beast' Vatuvei suffers a serious Achilles tendon injury a week before the start of England’s Super League season. Vatuvei had signed to play with Salford.
This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.