On this day, Johnathan Thurston tormented the Storm, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck claimed Dally M honours, while Eric Grothe was sacked from the Australian squad.
Future Parramatta Eels cult hero Fuifui Moimoi is born in Nuku'alofa, Tonga. Moimoi played 201 games for the Eels from 2004-14 before finishing his career overseas. He represented New Zealand 12 times and his native Tonga on eight occasions.
The Broncos make it two in a row with a 14-6 defeat of St George in the grand final. In an unspectacular match, Brisbane score three tries to Saints’ nil. The pre-match entertainment, featuring rock superstar Tina Turner singing her signature tune Simply The Best, draws heavy media criticism.
Adam Ritson fights for his life in St Vincents Hospital after 14 bouts of brain surgery.
South Sydney coach Craig Coleman retains his job for 2003 but the club’s board makes sweeping changes to the coaching structure with former representative player Phil Blake appointed as coaching director, Paul Langmack as defensive co-ordinator and Edgar Curtis as chief conditioner. Sponsorship manager David Tapp is appointed interim chief executive.
The Sydney Roosters advance to their fourth grand final in five seasons after beating North Queensland 19-16 in a cliffhanger at Telstra Stadium. The result sets up a tantalising grand final showdown between heavyweight clubs the Bulldogs and the Sydney Roosters. The Roosters qualify for grand finals in all three grades following victories in Premier League and Jersey Flegg preliminary finals.
Australian coach Ricky Stuart sacks Parramatta winger Eric Grothe after he fails to appear at an Australian train-on squad medical.
Melbourne defy the loss of suspended captain Cameron Smith to sink Cronulla 28-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium and advance to their third successive grand final. After the game coach Craig Bellamy launches into a long-winded attack on the NRL, the judiciary, bookmakers and the media following the suspension of Smith. Bellamy’s comments are endorsed by Storm CEO Brian Waldron. NRL boss David Gallop reacts by slapping the Storm with a record $50,000 fine. He accuses the pair of launching an “unprecedented, irrational, premeditated and defamatory attack on the integrity of the judiciary panel and the game’s judiciary process.”
Melbourne set up a grand final showdown with Parramatta by thumping an injury-disrupted Brisbane 40-10 at Etihad Stadium.
Newcastle sign dual grand final-winning back-rower Jeremy Smith after the 32-year-old is released from the final two years of his contract with Cronulla on compassionate grounds.
South Sydney fight back from a 12-0 deficit to overpower arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters 32-22 in a preliminary final at ANZ Stadium and qualify for their first grand final since 1971. The result brings down the curtain on the career of Sydney Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello, who became the club’s most capped player, eclipsing the record of 301 games by former team-mate Luke Ricketson. It also signals the departure of superstar forward Sonny Bill Williams, who was headed back to rugby union with the Waikato Chiefs.
Halfback maestro Johnathan Thurston steers North Queensland into their second grand final following a 32-12 defeat of Melbourne at AAMI Park. Thurston plays a prominent role in five of his team’s six tries.
Fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is crowned Dally M player of the year at the annual awards ceremony in Sydney. He becomes the first Warriors player to win the award and only the third New Zealander after Gary Freeman (1992) and Jason Taumalolo (2016). South Sydney’s Anthony Seibold is named coach of the year and Brisbane’s Jamayne Isaako carries off the rookie of the year title. The NRL finally recognises the Dally M award won by St George halfback Steve Morris in 1979 after the honour was overlooked for almost 40 years, while in a special touch, the Dally M Top Tryscorer award won by the Warriors’ David Fusitu’a is renamed the Ken Irvine Top Tryscorer Award.
This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.