Wayne Bennett will not continue as coach of Queensland for the 2021 State of Origin series so he can focus on his job at South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

Bennett returned to lead the Maroons in October of last year, taking on the role after Kevin Walters had stepped down following his appointment at Brisbane Broncos. 

Queensland went on to win 2-1 - beating New South Wales 20-14 in the deciding game in Brisbane - but the search is now on for a new coach ahead of this year's series.

"We were really grateful that Wayne made himself available to help us out last year," Queensland Rugby League managing director Robert Moore said in a statement. 

"We understand the decision Wayne has made in his last year of his contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, as he's eager to concentrate his efforts on them because they've been so close [to a premiership]," Moore said. 

"With Wayne's decision, we've now moved to a process to consider the next appointment and we anticipate that process will be completed early this year." 

The Origin games are scheduled to take place in June and July, having been shifted to after the NRL season last year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jamaican-born Rugby League player Abevia McDonald has signed a one year contract with English League One outfit London Skolars. He is now the second Jamaican domestic player to sign a professional contract following the footsteps of Nathan Campbell who signed for the Toronto Wolfpack in 2016.

A former student of Excelsior Community College in Kingston, McDonald had signed a first-team contract with the team in 2019 but saw no action as the League One or the Championship were cancelled because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

He began playing while at EXED in 2013 and developed into a quality player who helped the Red Sharks to the National Club title in 2018. It would be his last game in Jamaica as he migrated to England shortly thereafter. He eventually joined the Skolars Reserve team and scored against Super League outfit Wigan Warriors.

He would go on to score more than a dozen tries for the team which led to his first-team signing in 2019.

"His journey is yet another example of inspiration for the local rugby league community. We know that some domestic players have the ability to crack semi-pro teams in the UK if afforded the opportunity,” said Jamaica’s Head Coach Romeo Monteith.

“We have and have had some quality players come through our local systems. He impressed me from the first time I saw him play, he has blistering speed and it's good to see him stick with the game and push on to where he is today."

Former Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward has retired from rugby league at just 27 due to the effects of concussions.

The forward, twice a Grand Final winner and a three-time Super League champion overall, sustained head injuries in January and February last year.

Ward says he still suffers daily symptoms and that the concussions "completely derailed plans and my ambitions".

He told Sky Sports News that he has suffered "one of the hardest years I've ever experienced".

Ward said: "[I have experienced] symptoms like migraines every day, balance and dizziness issues, sensitivity to light, screens and slurring my speech sometimes."

In a statement confirming his retirement, Ward said: "I have come to the conclusion, after over 11 months of severe symptoms, that I need to give this injury the respect and time it deserves and cannot put my health and brain to any further risk and detriment.

"I love the game of rugby league. I am immensely proud to have competed on some of the biggest stages next to childhood heroes and test myself to the absolute limit while feeling the incredible buzz from the Leeds fans after being one myself as a youngster.

"I thank every player that I have played with and against, and I am especially grateful for the incredible friendships the sport has given me.

"It is fair to say that my career has been only partly what I envisioned as a young fan stood in the South Stand, but I can honestly say it has surpassed my expectations in terms of how it has shaped me to become the person I am."

Discussions over the long-term effects of head injuries in rugby and football have risen to the fore again in recent weeks.

Temporary substitutions for head injuries are being trialled in some football competitions, including the FA Cup and Premier League. In rugby union, former World Cup winner Steve Thompson, who has early onset dementia and cannot recall winning the global trophy in 2003, is one of eight players reportedly planning to take legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Australia international Josh Addo-Carr will join Canterbury Bulldogs on a four-year deal from 2022, leaving Melbourne Storm.

Addo-Carr will depart Melbourne at the end of next season, having already won two NRL premierships with the Storm.

A nine-time New South Wales representative who has also played for the Kangaroos twice, Addo-Carr's move to the Bulldogs was confirmed on Wednesday after the wing was linked to numerous clubs.

"Having someone like Josh choose to join the Bulldogs after being the target of a number of clubs is another sign that we are gradually piecing together a squad that has the right mix of experience and quality," Canterbury chief executive Andrew Hill said in a statement.

"Josh has been a proven performer at whatever level he has played and he will bring those elements of speed and strike power that all clubs are looking for in their backline.

"Josh becomes another leader in our group and will bring the sort of winning attitude that the club is looking to create here at Belmore.

"We look forward to him joining us for the 2022 season and wish him all the best for next season."

Addo-Carr has scored 73 tries in 96 NRL games for Melbourne, having crossed for six in nine during his season with Wests Tigers in 2016.

The 25-year-old said he was looking forward to another season in Melbourne.

"I'm relieved to have finally sorted out my playing future and can now focus on making my last year with Storm another one to remember," Addo-Carr said.

"I owe so much to this club and have so many great friends and memories that have made me the person I am today.

"I now can't wait to get back into training with the boys and playing at AAMI Park in front of all our fans who didn't get to see us this year."

A two-point field goal will be introduced in the NRL from next year in one of several changes approved ahead of the 2021 season.

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) announced the rule changes on Friday, with some continuing on from 2020.

The most notable change is the introduction of a two-point field goal if teams convert from outside the 40-metre line.

Ten-metre infringement penalties will be replaced with a 'six again' ruling, while there has been a crackdown on scrums.

Players cannot break from a scrum until a referee's call, with a penalty awarded if they do – and a second infringement if the scrum is repacked would see a player sent to the sin bin.

Games will also resume with a play the ball rather than a scrum when the ball is kicked or carried into touch.

"These innovations will lead to less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans," ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said.

"The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear – the game became too predictable and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence.

"Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further."

V'landys believes the introduction of a two-point field goal will encourage teams to be more attacking.

"Providing the opportunity for a two-point play will give teams incentive to make attacking plays to get into field goal range at the end of a half," he said.

"It will also ensure teams who are down by one or two points in the dying moments of a match have a better opportunity to win a game or go to golden point."

Wests Tigers head coach Michael Maguire has extended his contract with the club until the end of the 2023 NRL season.

Maguire is set to become the second longest serving coach in Tigers history, behind Tim Sheens, after signing a deal for 2022 and 2023, having already been contracted for next year.

Former South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Maguire has led the Tigers in 44 games, winning 18, since taking charge last year.

Also coach of New Zealand, Maguire, 46, was happy to extend his stay with the Tigers.

"I'm really pleased to be able to re-sign with Wests Tigers," he said.

"We've put a lot of work in over the last couple of years and I’m seeing plenty of change for the club to move forward in a big way.

"We're all not happy with where we've been and everything we do now is about moving us forward towards a premiership.

"I love the people here and the passion around the organisation.

"The more I see people with a connection Wests Tigers, the more I see the hunger for success. This is a massive club with an incredibly rich history, and we're all determined to grow this year into a really strong season."

The Tigers have missed the finals in each of Maguire's two seasons at the helm so far, finishing ninth and 11th in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe believes the club are heading in the right direction under Maguire.

"As a club, we're really thrilled with the appointment of Michael," he said.

"Not only does this provide him with further security, it also provides our entire football program with a strong sense of direction. We have absolute faith in Michael and our football department in the sustainable team they are building here.

"Michael is a fierce competitor, and we love that. He shares the same set of values that our club is built on with his drive and passion for success.

"Together, we are building a football department, a team and a club that our members and fans are proud of and Michael is certainly the right man to continue that."

Jack Welsby's last-gasp try saw St Helens defend their Super League title in remarkable fashion in a low-scoring 8-4 victory over rivals Wigan Warriors at the KCOM Stadium.

Saints had tied things up late on in Hull through Lachlan Coote's penalty after Jake Bibby had scored the first try of the game for Wigan in the 66th minute.

Zak Hardaker missed a penalty of his own for Wigan and drama ensued when Zak Makinson's drop-goal for Saints hit the post.

Welsby reacted quickest to the rebound to score for Saints, who had peppered the Wigan tryline in the first half but led just 2-0 at the break, to make it back-to-back Grand Final triumphs.

It means veteran James Graham retires on top in the first Grand Final held away from Old Trafford, but for legendary Warriors star Sean O'Loughlin it was a heart-breaking end to a fine career.

Wigan, League Leaders Shield winners, have now lost three of the four Grand Finals they have played against their fierce rivals. 

Manly Sea Eagles prop Keith Titmuss has died at the age of 20 after falling ill following a pre-season training session, the NRL side have confirmed.

Titmuss was considered one of Manly's rising stars after emerging through their junior ranks and was part of the 30-man squad for next season.

He was taken from training in Narrabeen to Northern Beaches Hospital on Monday before being transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital, where he passed away.

Manly announced the tragedy in a statement on their official website and coach Des Hasler added: "We are all devastated by this news.

"Keith was a very popular character amongst the playing group. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten by the Sea Eagles."

Titmuss scored the match-winning try for the Sea Eagles in the 2017 NYC Grand Final and was named the Manly Jersey Flegg Cup Players' Player in 2019.

The NRL side's CEO Stephen Humphreys said: "Our club sends its deepest condolences to Keith's family and friends and will provide them with all of the support they need during this difficult period.

"We are working with the NRL's Wellbeing team to offer support and counselling to our playing group and staff."

The 2021 NRL campaign is scheduled to begin on March 11.

St Helens will have the opportunity to defend their Super League title against Wigan Warriors in the Grand Final after dismantling the undisciplined Catalans Dragons on Friday.

Saints were stunning 48-2 winners in a complete mismatch of a play-off semi-final as Kevin Naiqama ran in a hat-trick of tries.

James Maloney kicked the first points of the game for Catalans, but he soon departed for the sin bin following a rugged challenge on Regan Grace and the visitors fell apart.

Lachlan Coote - consistent with the boot throughout - nudged the champions in front with the opening try and there was no looking back.

Naiqama got his first score before James Graham's final Saints home game ended in disappointing fashion as he failed to return after a head injury.

It mattered not as his team-mates did the business in his absence after half-time.

A relentless display saw Naiqama in for his second three minutes after the restart, then Coote doubled his tally and Jonny Lomax added try number five.

Ben Garcia became the second Dragons man to see yellow and again Saints capitalised, scoring with James Bentley, Naiqama - completing his treble - and then Grace to seal a sublime victory.

Wigan Warriors powered through to another Super League Grand Final with a 29-2 thumping of Hull FC - setting up a grandstand conclusion to the career of club captain Sean O'Loughlin. 

Tries from Joe Burgess, Harry Smith, Zak Hardaker, Jake Bibby and Bevan French saw Wigan swamp their opponents in the first semi-final. 

St Helens and Catalans Dragons will do battle on Friday for the right to face the Cherry and Whites in next week's trophy match. 

O'Loughlin, who turns 38 next week, will retire at the end of the season and was thrilled to play his part in a resounding victory at the DW Stadium. 

The one-club man made his Wigan debut in 2002 and has been part of four Super League title-winning teams, most recently two years ago. 

To make it five would be a dream way to bow out. 

O'Loughlin said on Sky Sports: "I'm just overwhelmed we've reached a Grand Final. 

"It's weird playing here empty, a strange feeling, but I'm very honoured I got one more opportunity to play one more game here. Bring on next week. 

"It'd be special [to win the Grand Final]. There's not going to be an opportunity to celebrate with fans, but to get one more trophy would make it special."

Burgess put the finishing touch to a string of slick passes as he dashed through in the left corner for Wigan's first try in the 27th minute, before his kick through was grasped by Smith for the home side's second. 

The game was testy at times, with fractious exchanges between players despite it being played behind closed doors. 

Hardaker and Bibby put Wigan out of sight before French raced through in the 79th minute for his 13th try of the season, completing a polished performance. 

Wayne Bennett hit back at Brad Fittler's claims Jai Arrow showed the injured James Tedesco a "lack of respect" after the Queensland Maroons defeated the New South Wales Blues to clinch the State of Origin Series.

The Maroons ran out 20-14 winners at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Wednesday to win game three and a secure a first series triumph since 2017.

Fittler's Blues were dealt a blow when captain Tedesco, whose earlier score had put them on the board, was concussed after taking a knee to the head from Josh Papalii, causing him to lose his grip on the ball.

Arrow, seemingly unaware of what had happened, was seen pushing Tedesco into the turf as he lay on the ground before the Blues skipper was taken off the field, prompting a backlash on social media.

Asked for his thoughts on the incident after the game, Fittler said: "A lot of lack of respect. But I'm sure he'd learn from that."

Winning Maroons coach Bennett defended his player, though, saying the speed of the game meant he did not know Tedesco had been hurt.

"That was in instinct, mate. That happened so quick and he didn't realise that Papalii had hit him with his knee," Bennett said. 

"As soon as he realised what he'd done, he stayed there. He never moved, he didn't run away and get a high-five or something.

"It happens so quickly out there and he just didn't know what had happened. I thought he reacted really good. 

"If you look at his head, he never even seen what happened. He was in there trying to make the tackle, he never saw the knee go into Tedesco's head.

"Brad's kidding himself, okay? There was no lack of respect there. Just watch it again."

Cameron Munster was in inspired form as the Queensland Maroons defeated the New South Wales Blues 20-14 to clinch State of Origin glory in Wednesday's game-three decider.

A full capacity crowd at Suncorp Stadium, the largest globally since the COVID-19 pandemic put restrictions on supporters worldwide, witnessed Queensland end the Blues' hopes of a three-peat.

Playmaker Munster and debutant Harry Grant particularly impressed for a Maroons side who have now won seven of the last eight Origin games at Suncorp including the past three.

Valentine Holmes, who moved to the wing for the decider, scored first after three minutes with a leaping finish in the left corner following a well-worked Queensland move.

A mistake from Corey Allan allowed James Tedesco to quickly level but the Blues were dealt a blow when their captain and try scorer left the field with an injury.

Queensland dominated the rest of the half but it took until the stroke of half-time to engineer a 12-6 lead when Munster's kick was finished by Edrick Lee.

Holmes squandered a couple of try-scoring opportunities as the Blues kept the scoreline in check, but he added a penalty before Grant marked a fine bow by going over.

In a frantic finish, Daniel Tupou's try kept NSW in the match before Allan's sin-binning for a professional foul on Josh Addo-Carr invited late Blues pressure, which the Maroons held firm against to earn coach Wayne Bennett a series win 17 years on from his last spell in charge.

An entertaining 2020 State of Origin series will reach a conclusion on Wednesday when the Queensland Maroons take on the New South Wales Blues. 

Queensland recorded a surprise 18-14 win in Adelaide to open the series, only to be brought back down to earth last week when NSW triumphed 34-10 in Sydney on the back of a man-of-the-match display by Nathan Cleary. 

That means the series is intriguingly poised at 1-1 ahead of Game III at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. 

With the help of Opta statistics, we take a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the decider. 

Queensland have won the last five Game III deciders which have been played outside New South Wales. The most recent of those, in 2017, saw Valentine Holmes score a hat-trick as Cameron Smith was named man-of-the-match.

The Maroons have also won six of the last seven State of Origin matches at Suncorp Stadium, including the previous two at the venue despite trailing at half-time.

NSW, though, triumphed in the last two Origin series and are aiming to seal a third consecutive victory. If achieved, it would be their joint-longest winning run in the format, with NSW previously achieving a three-peat between 2003 and 2005 after their first such streak from 1992 to 1994.

The Maroons will have to improve defensively, having conceded 26 or more points in three of the last four State of Origin matches, three of which have been losses. They had only leaked that many points once in the 11 games prior.

Daly Cherry-Evans was man-of-the-match in Game I. He has 11 one-on-one tackles, the most of anyone in this series so far. Queensland players also come second and third in that ranking, thanks to the efforts of Dane Gagai (10) and Kurt Capewell (eight).

Phillip Sami has made a joint-series high two try saves for Queensland in this State of Origin campaign, level with Gagai (two) and as many as the entire New South Wales team combined (Tyson Frizell and Daniel Saifiti have one each).

Josh Addo-Carr has scored a series-leading four tries in 2020 and the New South Wales star needs one more to equal the record for the most in single edition. That is jointly held by Ryan Girdler and Lote Tuqiri, who had five each in the 2000 campaign.

Deciders played in Queensland have typically seen NSW start fast. They have led at half-time on nine previous occasions, going on to win in six of those fixtures (L3).

Having won last year's decider 26-20, New South Wales will be looking to claim back-to-back victories in Game III for only the second time in State of Origin history. 

They have only previously done so in 2004 and 2005. The 2019 decider saw them edge an entertaining encounter 26-20 courtesy of a last-gasp James Tedesco try in Sydney.

New South Wales' Tedesco has scored three tries in his last two appearances in Origin deciders. In those contests, he has also made four line breaks and 13 tackle breaks.

Hull KR have signed Ryan Hall on a two-year deal after the England international left Sydney Roosters. 

The former Leeds Rhinos winger left the Super League club two years ago to head to the NRL. 

However, problems with injuries restricted the 32-year-old to just 11 appearances during his time with the Roosters. 

Hall, six times a Super League Grand Final winner who also twice lifted the Challenge Cup with Leeds, is now excited to return to "familiar territory" under former Rhinos coach Tony Smith. 

"I loved my time over in Australia it was a great experience for me and my family. But I'm back to more familiar territory now, back in England and Super League," he told the club's official website. 

"I started off under Tony Smith, he gave me my debut at Leeds and then again with England, and also he's going to hopefully give me my debut for Hull KR as well.

"It's pretty cool and familiarity is a comforting thing, so as long as I get settled in as soon as possible I can get back to playing my best rugby. With my relationship with Tony and Danny McGuire, that should come pretty easily." 

Smith added: "Ryan had a number of choices in front of him, and he's chosen us, so we are delighted about that. I've worked with him before, and the amount he's learnt from his NRL experience since is enormous. 

"Roosters head coach Trent Robinson speaks of him highly. He's going to bring a wealth of experience to us. He's bought into the concept of improving our programme and he's got a strong desire to pass on his knowledge to others. 

"Anyone who knows Ryan will know he takes care of himself unbelievably well, he's in really good condition, he's got a body younger than most. He'll be a real asset to us and I'm delighted that he's decided to join us to be part of our rejuvenation."

Sam Tomkins delivered a sensational performance as Catalans Dragons set up a Super League semi-final clash with St Helens by seeing off Leeds Rhinos 26-14 on Friday. 

Tomkins' superb run from deep inside Catalans' half got the French side up and running in Warrington, the former Wigan Warrior keeping his composure to play in Tom Davies. 

The Dragons’ full-back then teed up Samisoni Langi and Israel Folau, who reeled in a high kick before twisting over the line, as the Dragons raced into an 18-0 lead. 

However, the Rhinos hit back either side of half-time thanks to tries from Alex Sutcliffe and Liam Sutcliffe, yet David Mead wrapped up the win for Catalans before Konrad Hurrell's late consolation. 

James Maloney was in fine form with the boot for the Dragons, converting all four tries prior to sending a late penalty over, pushing his team into the last four for the first time in six years. 

They will now face defending Super League champions Saints for a place in the Grand Final, which will take place at KCOM Stadium in Hull on November 27. 

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