Maitland flyer earns pre-season with Storm, Wests coach confident of return and Old Boys' days celebrations

Matt Soper-Lawler. Picture: Maitland Mercury

Matt Soper-Lawler. Picture: Maitland Mercury

Former Maitland Picker Matt Soper-Lawler will trial for a contract with the Melbourne Storm after being invited to join the NRL heavyweights’ next pre-season.

The 21-year-old winger/fullback is coming to the end of his first full season of senior football with Storm feeder club Sunshine Coast Falcons and is fifth on the Queensland Cup try-scoring list with 14.

Soper-Lawler, the son of Maitland president Frank Lawler, played in the Newcastle Knights under-20s and NSW Cup last year.

RD 15: Saturday: Cessnock v Maitland, Kurri Kurri v Lakes United. Sunday: Western Suburbs v South Newcastle, Central Newcastle v Macquarie.

RD 15: Saturday: Cessnock v Maitland, Kurri Kurri v Lakes United. Sunday: Western Suburbs v South Newcastle, Central Newcastle v Macquarie.

** Wests are the only club yet to confirm their coach for next year but Matt Lantry is confident he will stay on.

Lantry has taken Wests back to outright top of the ladder in his first season in charge and, while he hasn’t put pen to paper for 2018, he has started retention plans and says “90 per cent” of his squad “are in position to sign if they haven’t already”. 

“I had a mid-season chat with [Wests CEO] Phil Gardner and he’s more than happy with the direction of the senior club,” Lantry said. “The committee are quite happy with where we are as well and I’ve basically got a verbal agreement.”

In a further boost for the club, gun recruit Ryan Walker has agreed to terms for another two years.

** Cessnock, Wests, Kurri and Central will celebrate Old Boys’ day this weekend.

Against Souths on Sunday, Wests utility Matt Herman will play his 120th grade game, giving him club life membership. Cessnock will recognise 250 grade games for winger Chris Pyne and the 40th anniversary of their grand final clean sweep when they host the Pickers on Saturday.

The Goannas will hold a reunion and wear retro 1977 OAK jerseys as part of the celebrations.

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