Boyd officially signs with the Newcastle Knights

After much speculation and innuendo surrounding the situation, it has finally been resolved, as Dragons fullback, Darius Boyd, has finally made his decision public, deciding that he will join the Newcastle Knights in 2012.

Whether that is a move that will make him a better player, or whether he will only be touted as going there, as to follow his current coach at the Dragons, Wayne Bennett.

The move will see Boyd play at the Knights for 4 years, and ironically, the deal will go for the same length as that of Knights coach from 2012, Wayne Bennett.

Whether all Knights fans are a fan of the move, that is unknown, but for Hunter Sports Group CEO Troy Palmer, he is confident that Boyd’s signing will re-install faith for the fans in the team and in management.

“The signing of a current international and premiership winning player clearly highlights the enthusiasm of NRL players wanting to join the club and be part of our exciting future.

“It is very important that we don’t get in front of ourselves and continue to concentrate on our current job of a top 8 semi-final position this year.

“The job that Rick Stone and the playing group have been doing each week has given fans the feeling that even better things are to come this year and that they are continuing to lay down a great platform for the future.” He concluded.

Campbell signs a one-year extension

He is not only one of the Titans favourite sons, but also a favourite son of the NRL, and for those that have tracked him over the years, they will get to do so again, in 2012, after Preston Campbell signed a 1-year extension with the Titans.

As one of the Titans inaugural signings upon their admission into the NRL, the thought did cross Campbell’s mind that it was time to retire, but with a little help from Body Science, his 35-year old legs feel fresh enough to go around once more.

Another telling factor behind his decision to stay on was the chance to play alongside players such as Jamal Idris, Luke Douglas etc. – players that he cannot wait to play with.

“The main reason is I’m feeling really good at the moment. The way we’re going as a team isn’t that great but hopefully we can finish on this season on a good note,’’ said Campbell.

“We’ve got a bit of a changing team and there will be some fresh faces here next year so I’m really excited to play alongside those boys.

“I’m also happy to continue helping the club with its work in the community and through programs like the Learn Earn Legend initiative for indigenous students.’’

For Titans CEO Michael Searle, he is over the moon that they managed to convince Preston to stay for another year, and is keen to have him as a role model for the younger players coming through the ranks.

“Preston has been an integral part of what we’ve been able to build here on and off the field so for him to be playing on as the club embarks on a new era is fantastic,’’ said Searle.

“He’s still playing some great football and contributing to the club in so many different ways.’’

Titans Coach John Cartwright said that he too is pleased with Preston re-signing, as despite his age, it will be his nature, and football skills that will help the team in the future as they progress.

“It just makes you feel better knowing that Preston is going to be involved next year,’’ said Cartwright.

“He has such a great influence on his teammates and I’m really happy that he’s decided to go around again.’’

Cowboys CEO caught drink-driving

It is generally an incident that we see happening to players, but this time, a CEO has been caught in the act, after Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain was charged with drink driving, following a Cowboys win in Townsville, on May 14.

Jourdain admitted that he had indeed been drink driving, after police pulled him over for a random breath test, where the Cowboys CEO registered a blood alcohol level of 0.054.

“This matter is now before the courts and I intend to plead guilty to the charge of drink-driving,” he said in a statement.

“At the time, I did not think the amount of alcohol I had consumed would put me over 0.05 and I am extremely remorseful and embarrassed that this has occurred.

“I accept what I have done is wrong and I wish to apologise to the Cowboys’ board, sponsors, members, supporters, staff and players for my actions.

“I have learned a valuable lesson and vow not to put myself in this position again.”

Laurence Lancini, the Cowboys Chairman said:

“It is clear our CEO has made an error in judgment and I know he is extremely disappointed in himself and sorry for what has taken place.

“While any drink-driving charge is regrettable and drink-driving can never be condoned, it is important to note this was a reading which was just over the limit.

“Knowing Peter as I do, I am sure he will not put himself in this position again and he will have learned a lesson which will be reinforced to the rest of the Cowboys’ staff.”

It is an unfortunate coincidence that the Cowboys players’ leadership group took a stand on drinking alcohol this season.

Ryan keen to remain with the Bulldogs

He is rumoured to be out of the club, but if you ask him yourself, Bulldogs captain and second-rower Andrew Ryan said that he is keen to remain with the club in 2012.

As more headlines continue to emerge that the Canterbury board want both Ryan to leave, and for Moore to be sacked, Ryan felt as if he should have his own say.

“My preference is to stay at the Dogs,” Ryan said.

“It’s something we spoke about at the start of the season when I was coming back from injury. I’m feeling good and I want to play next year.

“I’m pretty relaxed about it all. I haven’t put a date on when to get it all done.

“If there was some semi-interest from an English club, I’d have a look at it. But for me, the priority is to stay here.”

For Ryan, at the age of 32, he can qualify for the long-serving player scheme, having been with the Bulldogs for 8 seasons – which means that he can receive $200,000, without the amount going towards the Dogs cap.

With Todd Greenberg, the Bulldogs Chief Executive set to make a decision on the future of Ryan within a month, for him, and the Bulldogs board, it is deciding which second-rowers to keep, that is the hard part.

“(Ryan) has told us he wants to be here again, and that’s the sign of a great club man,” Greenberg said.

“We just need to balance that desire out with the salary cap, the pathways for younger players coming through and making sure it all aligns together. It’s never an easy decision.”

Queensland question NSW decisions

He was always going to come under scrutiny, but you would think that such scrutiny would not come from the opposing camp – well, now it has.

QLD coach Mal Meninga, says that with the inexperienced two prop-pronged attack, the Blues may have handed QLD their sixth successive series on a silver platter.

With the decision to move lock Paul Gallen into the second-row, and only having one prop on the bench, in Tim Merrin, with Tim Mannah the other starting prop, it is a move that has Meninga completely stumped.

Meninga is not the only one questioning the decisions made by NSW, but QLD hooker, Cameron Smith, also believes that to dump two props like they did, may have been the wrong decision.

“That was the strangest call for me, taking the two starting props out of their team,” Smith said as the Maroons gathered on the Sunshine Coast to begin preparations for Origin II.

“Taking two specialist props out of your team is always a bit of a gamble.

“I think they (King and Snowden) were pretty unlucky under the circumstances from game one.

“We had the majority of the ball in that first half and they were doing a lot of defending.

“I would take my two blokes (Scott and Civoniceva) any day of the week before a couple of mobile guys.”

Despite expressing surprise at Stuart’s decision to only play 3 props, he is wary of the assets the Blues side does possess.

“In Origin and any game, you need people playing in (specialist) positions, that’s my belief,” Meninga said.

When asked if Meninga would do the same, and pick only two props, he said:

“Only if we were devoid of front-rowers. We haven’t had to make that decision, we have the best front-rowers in the game playing for us,” he said. “Matty Scott, Petero, Benny Hannant, David Shillington, big Dave (Taylor) and Jacob Lillyman … we’re in a very envious position.

“They have picked a very mobile side, very well-skilled.

“They are a bit short on front-rowers but will try and play an up-tempo game.”

Titans still focused on top 8 finish

As they languish at the bottom of the table, Titans coach John Cartwright refuses to concede that his sides season is over, and says that they believe they can still make the finals.

After stepping down as NSW assistant coach to focus working on getting the ailing Titans back up the ladder, he refuses to have people writing the Titans off.

“No way in the world am I looking towards next year, my focus is on the here and now,” Cartwright said, brushing off suggestions the Titans may start building towards next season.

“None of us ever intended to be in this situation but if anything I’m excited.

“I think it’s a challenge, we’ve not been here before but no way in the world have we given up.”

Historically and statistically, this is not the greatest season for the Titans, with their start to the season, their worst since their inauguration, winning just three games so far this season.

Despite that however, in a sign that shows how close the competition is, they sit just outside the 8, trailing the 8th placed Tigers by 4 points, as they prepare for their clash against an under-strength Dragons side.

“I don’t like talking about finals because we don’t deserve to be in the semis,” he said.

“But the fact is, when you look at the table anyone who can win four or five games in a row is going to be pushing up to the eight. We realise our pre-season goals haven’t been met, but we’ve got half a season still to finish as high as we possibly can.

“We’ve spoken about the fact that when we win that first game it won’t be pretty, because you don’t go from where we are to the very best in form overnight.”

For Cartwright, he cannot pinpoint any one particular downfall for the Titans, but he does say one thing.

The Titans side of 2011, is far different, from the Titans side 0f 2010.

“People are comparing us to last year but the fact is we’re a different side to last year,” he said.

“Mat Rogers retired and we’ve been without (Nathan) Friend, (Anthony) Laffranchi, (Brad) Meyers and (Kevin) Gordon for pretty much the whole year and on top of that we’ve had other injuries.

“We’ve had five different halves, four different five-eighths and five different fullbacks, so we just haven’t been able to get any momentum.”

Taufua moves North to the Sutherland Shire

With the Knights seemingly interested in players left, right and centre, another one has been forced to leave, with prop Mark Taufua the latest casualty – heading to the Sharks on a 2-year deal, starting in 2012.

The decision comes just a few days after fellow Knights forward Cory Paterson, made the decision to also leave the club, as he too searched for greener pastures in 2012.

John Frare, Taufua’s agent has confirmed that the deal will go ahead, with Taufua likely to sign the deal next week, when he has a look around the Shire.

Despite being contracted to the Knights for the 2012 season, Taufua is making his way out of the club, after receiving a tap on the shoulder from incoming Knights coach, Wayne Bennett.

“His heart is in Newcastle and obviously, he would have liked to have stayed,” Frare said.

“There was a fair bit of interest for him and there was a three-year deal on the table from another NRL club that he considered. But the contract was back-ended with the money next year just not enough.”

Moore given an ultimatum for remainder of the season

With the Bulldogs struggling in form and to get results at the moment, their coach Kevin Moore has been given a final ultimatum for the season – make the top 4, or you get the sack.

Whilst his contract will be reviewed in a months time, it is unlikely that Moore will be sacked mid-season.

With the club seemingly out of sorts, and playing poorly, Bulldogs board members have had enough of the poor form, and are growing increasingly restless and angry, as a result.

In a clear sign that there is perhaps some tension between coach Moore and club officials, Moore wants captain Andrew Ryan to remain with the club for another season, whilst club officials believe that it is time for him to move on, probably to the ESL.

“Kevin wants to be careful. If he keeps pushing to keep Ryan, it could ultimately cost him his coaching gig,” says the source.

With the Bulldogs, on paper, having one of the NRL’s best rosters, they expect nothing but a top 4 finish, and expect a grandstand finish to end the season, culminating in a top 4 romp.

“The board feel we recruited strongly and should be performing better. It’s that simple,” the source said.

“There isn’t a split at board level. Everyone is together in their thinking.

“The next month will be vital for Kevin. We have a good roster and should be winning more games.

“But there is no way Kevin will be sacked this year. He will finish the season. But if we don’t make the final four, I can’t see Kev coming back next season.”

With rumours also rife that Moore and assistant coach Jim Dymock are having a war of words between each other, such reports have been denied, as CEO Todd Greenberg said that the club is working on reversing their fortunes, and, their results.

“We all have a collective responsibility and we are all in this together,” he said.

Farah the hero as he kicks game-winning field goal

With NSW already forced to make several changes as it is, due to injuries, they may well be forced into another one, after Knights and NSW winger Akuila Uate, was put on report for a spear tackle late in the game against his sides loss to the Tigers.

The game itself, regarded as a rather scrappy and dour affair, took 87 minutes to produce a result, after Tigers hooker Robbie Farah scooted out of dummy half, and slotted home the winning field goal, a much needed win for the Tigers.

Despite all this however, the main talking point from the game, was ‘that’ tackle by Uate, as he lifted Tigers debutant Tim Simona into the air, before crushing him into the ground.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens was furious with the tackle, and said that Simona had to ice his shoulder after the completion o the game, due to soreness, as a result of the tackle.

With Uate himself too distraught to talk after the game due to the tackle, Knights coach Rick Stone said that the incident can be described as an “amateurish error”.

“Looking at the replay he’s got his hands between his legs, but the player looks to land more on his back,” Stone said.

“Any time you put the hand between the legs it’s a grey area and they crack down hard on that.

Sheens however was far from sympathetic for Uate, and got straight to the point.

“He’s picked him up and I think he had his hands in the wrong place. He’s dumped the kid on his shoulder, and the kid has got icing on in there. There’s no doubt it wasn’t a good tackle,” Sheens said.

“It’s not my problem, the judiciary will take care of it.”

The only downside for the Tigers, one that is sure to mar their win, is the possible season-ending injury for winger Lote Tuqiri with a knee injury, who only just returned from a broken arm last night.

Dally M Points

3 Robbie Farah

2 Benji Marshall

1 Neville Costigan

Raiders fined $5000 for approaching referees

Canberra have today been issued with a $5,000 fine by the NRL, after Raiders coach David Furner approached match officials at half-time, during his sides clash with the Cowboys at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Both referees and the ground manager confirmed that Furner did indeed approach the match officials, as he questioned some of the decisions that they made in the first-half.

Clause 1.32.2 f. of the NRL Operations Manual states: “Under no circumstances are match officials to be approached, questioned, or harassed in any way by Club Officials either during or after a match”.

The definition of a Club Official includes; the Club CEO; a director or employee; a coach; a member of the coaching or football staff; a member of the medical staff.

“While the comments were in no way abusive, we cannot allow a situation where coaches or officials make comments towards match officials while the match is still in progress,” NRL Director of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk, said.

“There are plenty of opportunities for clubs to question decisions relating to a match but this simply was not one of them.”

The Raiders have five working days to respond to the breach notice.