NRL News: First Vegas participants for 2025 set to be named, NAS might need long reggies stint


The NRL are set to meet this week to discuss the line-up for next year’s Vegas extravaganza – and one of the competition’s heavyweights has already been picked.

The threepeat Penrith Panthers are top of the list, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, with the club looking to take advantage of being forced out of their stadium by shifting one of their home games to the United States.

Penrith Stadium will be under reconstruction for all of 2025, with the Panthers likely to groundshare with Parramatta for the season, which gives them more incentive to take their fixtures elsewhere – with Vegas the obvious destination.

The NRL will meet on Wednesday to decide on the other three participants. Both Manly and the Roosters are bidding to go back, though it is thought that the preference would be for four entirely new teams.

Melbourne are also among the favourites, while Newcastle, Canberra, North Queensland and the Warriors have all thrown their hat into the ring.

A minor hiccup could be if Penrith make it four in a row by winning the Grand Final, as they would then be able to compete for another World Club Challenge against the Super League champions.

Penrith have made a point of attempting to secure the world crown, the only title they have never won, but have gone down to St Helens at home and Wigan away in consecutive years. Covid ruled out any chance they had in 2022, after their first Premiership.

Wigan pushed to take the match to Vegas last year but it was too late to pull the logistics together, but with further notice, it may be possible.

The NRL has looked into putting an NRLW game in as the first match of a triple-header, and the earliest timeslot available in Vegas would be the most amenable for audiences in both Australia and the UK should they choose to play the World Club Challenge then.

The league is also aware that a huge contingent of UK fans would likely attend in Vegas should a Super League side be included.

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

NAS set for longer reggies stint

Craig Bellamy has warned Nelson Asofa-Solomona may need more time in reserve grade before he can return from injury to Melbourne’s NRL side.

Barnstorming prop Asofa-Solomona has missed the opening three rounds of the NRL season after suffering a hamstring injury over the summer.

The hulking Kiwi international returned to training this month and made his return to the field for the Storm’s NSW Cup feeder side North Sydney in their 50-24 loss to Newcastle on Sunday.

Asofa-Solomona played restricted minutes in the middle of the park and later watched on as the first-grade side lost 14-12 to the Knights.

The Storm have the bye in round four but there’s no guarantee Asofa-Solomona will return to face Brisbane at NRL level the following week.

Bellamy was also unsure if five-eighth Cameron Munster could return from a groin injury for his first game of the season but thought Joe Chan may bounce back from a hand infection.

“We’ve got a bye next week so I’m not quite sure where everybody is at the moment,” the coach said.

“(Asofa-Solomona) has been out for a while, he hasn’t done a lot of training so he might need a little bit more time. 

“He aggravated it (his hamstring injury) a couple of times too. He’s missed a lot of training. He had two full weeks (of training) before today but he’s still pretty much underdone.

“We’ll just see how it progresses from here.

“But hopefully we’ve got Joey Chan back for the next game too.”

Bellamy’s prediction that Asofa-Solmona could remain in reserve grade comes following reports rival clubs were ready to pounce on the prop should he fall down the pecking order at the Storm.

Currently, Asofa-Solomona is contracted at Melbourne until the end of the 2027 season.

Bellamy played Asofa-Solomona on an edge at times last season but planned to use him in the middle once he returned.

Former Wests Tigers second-rower Shawn Blore impressed Bellamy making his club debut on the left edge in the loss to the Knights.

“If I had to answer that today, I’d say (Asofa-Solomona) is a middle,” Bellamy said.

“At the end of the day I thought Shawn did a really good job today … obviously Eli (Katoa) has made the right side his own.”

Storm captain Harry Grant is content to remain patient for Asofa-Solomona’s comeback if required, though admitting it would be “big” if he returned to face Brisbane.

“He might need a bit of time or whatever so we can’t really look too far ahead. We’ll just take our learnings from tonight and look forward to the Broncs and who we’ve got in the team then,” Grant said.

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