Warriors assistant coach makes decision to leave the club

He was the coach of the club for a few short weeks following the sacking of Brian McClennan, and an Assistant Coach for 3 years, but for Tony Iro, the time has come for him to pursue other opportunities – resulting in the the New Zealand Warriors granting his request, allowing him to leave his contract early.

Whilst the club was keen for Iro to continue in the role he has been in for the past three seasons, they did not stand in his way, and are grateful for his services to the club.

“Tony has made a major contribution since joining our football department in 2005, most recently with our NRL side,” he said.

“It’s disappointing he won’t be staying on but we gave him time to make his decision and respect the choice he has made.

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œWe’re extremely grateful for what Tony’s done for the Vodafone Warriors. He is looking at other opportunities and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.”

Iro, who was also the coach of the 2008 and 2009 Toyota Cup sides for the New Zealand Warriors, said that the time was right to seek new opportunities, but he is forever grateful for the 5 years he spent at the Warriors organisation.

“After so long here, I had a lot to weigh up,” he said.

“The Vodafone Warriors gave me the chance to start my coaching career. I’ve had plenty of great times with the club and I’ve learnt so much.

“I’m grateful for the chance I was given to start my coaching career here but I’ve decided to move on to explore other opportunities. I want to thank all the coaching staff, players past and present and staff I’ve enjoyed working with.”

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Prince saga ends as he puts pen to paper with the Broncos

It went on for longer than we had all anticipated, and the end result was something a bit unexpected, perhaps – but Gold Coast Titans half Scott Prince has made the decision to sign a 2-year deal with the Brisbane Broncos.

This will not be the first time Prince has played for Brisbane, having played 29 games over a period of three years, from 2001 to 2003.

Prince now rejoins the Broncos after 10 years, following stints with the Tigers, his debut years with the Cowboys, and his last club, the Titans.

With the Broncos initially showing no interest in Prince, things changed when coach Anthony Griffin was asked as to whether the club would be interested in pursuing the veteran halfback.

“Over the weekend, I got asked the question whether we'd be interested in Scott Prince because he'd been released by the Titans, so when that opportunity came up and the terms that have come up for us financially and Scott's attitude, I thought it'd be something that would make our club better,” said Griffin.

Prince, who still had one year left to run on his contract with the Titans, was formally given a release by the Titans earlier today – which included a severance package to the Broncos, enabling them to secure Prince's services.

“The deal for us isn't about money and I can say for Scott, that isn't about money,” said Griffin.

“If it was about money, we could never have gotten involved, so it's comfortably within our cap and we're not moving anyone – so you&

#039;d have to speak to the Titans about their end and their deal.”

With both Ben Hunt and Corey Norman off-contract at the end of next year, speculation is growing about their respective futures, and whether they have one at the Broncos.

“We weren't in the market, we weren't looking, and we were comfortable with our list, but when the opportunity arose, I spoke with Scott – and the thing I spoke with Scott about, was that I didn't want him coming here, if he was coming to retire,” said Griffin.

“He could have earned a bucket-load more money in England for a longer period of time and I actually put that to him – I probably tried to chase him away the first time I spoke to him.”

“Over the period of a couple days, he came back and said he wanted the opportunity, so we've followed up on it.”

The arrival of Prince undoubtedly result in a shake-up in the playing roster, with speculation already beginning about who will have to make way to accommodate Prince in the line-up.

“I'm going to worry about that in March, but the thing I can tell you about Scott, is that he starts from number 25 – I'm happy with the guys we got here,” said Griffin.

“He wanted that challenge, so I wouldn't have replaced anyone we've got here for him. He wants to take up that challenge and I think by him doing that, it makes us all a bit stronger, makes the competition healthy, and makes them work harder for their spots.”

“There's obviously a couple of negatives with it, some people will feel uncomfortable – but I don't think that's a bad thing at the moment.”

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Titans grant Prince an official release from his contract

It was a saga that took a while to be resolved, but things are finally settled – as the Titans officially release halfback Scott Prince from the final year of his contract with the club.

Prince, who was contracted to the Titans for 2013, sought a release which was granted, and so ends the halfback's six-year stint with the Titans.

Whilst the club is disappointed to see him go, they leave on good terms with Prince – as Titans Chief Executive Officer David May praised the contribution that Prince made to the club both on and off the field.

“Scott has been an integral part of the Titans’ image on the field and in the community, right from the beginning,’’ said May.

“He led the team out in the club’s very first match in 2007 and has continued to do so ever since. He will long be remembered as one of t

he club’s most influential players.

“But the reality is that all good things must come to an end. We wish Scott, wife Kristy and their two young daughters Taliah and Kahlen all the best with the next phase of their life, and I know everyone at this club will continue to follow Scott’s career with interest over the next few years.’’

Titans coach John Cartwright was also full of praise for Prince, who saw the veteran halfback as a leader of the Gold Coast community.

“Princey was a fantastic early signing for the club and a great role model for many in the way he handled himself on and off the field throughout his time here,” said Cartwright.

“He was terrific as joint captain in the first three years until 2009 when he was named stand-alone captain until 2012. He is also well respected for all the good work he does in the community and while it is unfortunate that he is leaving us, we wish Scott and his family well for the future.”

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Dragons re-sign 5 young talents

In any team, depth is always vital, as is the retention of younger players, and the St George Illawarra Dragons have re-signed 5 young players; Shannon Wakeman, Damien Cook, Blake Phillips, Adam Quinlan and Jordan Hay, all on 1-year deals.

Wakeman, who turned out for the Illawarra Cutters in season 2012, started out his career with the Dragons in the Toyota Cup Competition, before moving to the Panthers for three seasons from 2009 to 2011.

Cook, 21, started all the games for the

Cutters this past season, scoring 12 tries in the process – with Dragons CEO Peter Doust looking forward to the potential, future contributions of both Wakeman and Cook.

“The acquisition of both Shannon and Damien highlights the internal pathways on offer within the Dragons football-system,” said Doust.

“It is a just reward for their efforts and performances throughout the 2012 season.”

The retention of the three Toyota Cup players in Phillips, Hay and Quinlan, highlights the Dragons emphasis on youth, with all 3 members a part of the side that made their first finals appearance.

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Pride player signs professional contract with the Cowboys

They are the feeder team in the Intrust Super Cup for the North Queensland Cowboys, and for the Northern Pride, they will see another one of their players progress to the Cowboys side, with Ben Spina signing a train and trial contract with the Cowboys.

Just one of 12 players to play over 50 games for the Northern Pride, Spina has won 3 Player of the Year Awards, as he joins fellow Pride product Ethan Lowe in Townsville at the Cowboys.

“I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to just be happy with where I am, I strive for higher,” said Spina.

“I’m always trying to improve myself and pushing myself to play better.

“I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve been going, and I’m delighted to have been given an opportunity at a higher level.”

The Northern Pride, based out of Barlow Park, said that Spina moving to the Cowboys is a sign of the strong partnership between both the Pride and the Cowboys.

“No other sport or club in North Queensland can show the pathway the Pride creates for players and coaches from the region,” Sheppard said.

“This is just another example of the kind of opportunities we create for people within our great club.

“Pride youngsters are being selected b

y Queensland, our U18s made the State semi-finals this year, we have Pride boys currently in the North Queensland Cowboys U20s side, Joel Riethmuller and a number of other locals are in NRL squads, and we’ve got former NRL stars in our current Intrust Super Cup squad.

“We continually show that we’re all about creating opportunities for promising locals – and we have the evidence to back it up.

“Ben’s been one of our most consistent performers, with a workrate that’s second to none.

“He’s one of the first names on the teamsheet each week. He’s played prop this year against bigger guys, but he’ll play wherever he’s asked to play and is a real team man.”

Peter Parr, the Cowboys General Manager, said that on the back of his solid form for the last few years – Spina more than deserved a chance to play for an NRL club.

“Ben’s had an exceptional year for the Pride and we’re really looking forward to having him in our system for a couple of months,” Parr said.

“I know he’s one of the hardest trainers at the Pride, and has got a great attitude. He’s also got a great engine, and the Pride often tell me they wish they had two or three of him.

“We have a great relationship with the Pride, and we’re all about working closely with each other to create opportunities for stars of the future.”

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ARLC announce new five-year strategic plan

After much debate, and much discussion about the new direction of rugby league in Australia under the Australian Rugby League Commission – the ARLC has today released a 5-year plan outlining their strategies and principles for the future of the game in Australia.

Using the slogan, 'The Greatest Game Of All', the new plan ensures a continuous commitment towards a plethora of exciting, exuberant and out of this world rugby league performances, all whilst giving fans the greatest entertainment of all – to watch rugby league.

With their strategic forecast now set out, their plans come 2017 include:

• An NRL Growth Fund will have made $200m available for investment in key projects.
• Club membership will reach 400,000.
• Rugby League social media platforms will engage 5.8m people.
• Average attendance at NRL games will increase to 20,000.
• 700,000 people will play in competitions.
• 1.8m will be engaged in NRL

community programs.
• 1.65m will take part in Rugby League activities.
• 84% of all NRL players will be engaged in education or career training.
• Central revenue will have doubled to more than $300m.

With the new logo to be introduced across rugby league in its entirety, across all development programs, with all logos from from national and state competitions to incorporate the new logo, as part of a significant change for the game.

The whole purpose of the both the plan and the brand strategy is to ensure that everyone can identify their place in the game and work to a common goal,” Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman, Mr John Grant, said today.

“Underpinning each aspect of the Game Plan are strategic goals backed by detailed operational plans and budgets that the Commission will review on an ongoing basis.

“It is a fundamental change in the way the game does business and in the way it connects with people from regional Australia to the grassroots everywhere, and to the elite competitions.”

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Former Manly CEO returns to the NRL with the Wests Tigers

The NRL has gotten one-up on the AFL, as Grant Mayer, the former Chief Executive Officer at the Manly Sea Eagles, and a former Events and Operations Manager at the Bulldogs, has agreed to be the Wests Tigers General Manager of Commercial Operations for three years.

As well as stints at the Bulldogs and the Manly Sea Eagles, Mayer has also served as the Catalan Dragons CEO, and in his most recent role, he was the General Manager of Commercial Operations at AFL side, the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

As Mayer returns to the NRL, Wests Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys said that the club was excited to have someone with Mayer's experience joining their club.

“Grant has a wealth of management and commercial experience acros

s differing sporting organisations,” Humphreys said.

“The sporting landscape, particularly in Sydney, is extremely competitive for Clubs like Wests Tigers and I have no doubt we will benefit greatly from having someone with Grant’s knowledge and expertise.

“Our Club already enjoys a high profile in the game of Rugby League but with Grant’s guidance, I’m sure we will become one of the leading sports organisations in Australia.”

For Mayer himself, it is a role that he is looking forward to, at a club that has a proud history and tradition.

“Wests Tigers has such an impressive portfolio of sponsors on board and I can’t wait to meet all of them in due course,” he said.

“The Club already has an unrivalled reputation in terms of the value proposition for sponsors and we will continue to set the bar high in this regard.”

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Raiders Chairman in stable condition after collapsing

It started out as a day of enjoyment and recreation at the Queanbeyan Races, but it quickly turned sour, as Canberra Raiders Chairman John McIntyre collapsed, and was taken to Queanbeyan Hospital in an ambulance, where he is now in a stable condition.

Whilst merely taken there as an additional precaution, paramedics tended to McIntyre, after he fell ill whilst enjoying yesterday's meet

ing.

He had enough left wit left in the tank, however, when he gave friends his winning ticket, after God's Reward won the race.

McIntyre himself says that he is fine, and all the test being undertaken are merely precautionary.

“It's just the aftermath of some flu that I picked up overseas,” said McIntyre.

“I was just at the races and one of [Cleary's] racing family called the medicos, and they thought they'd better take me to the hospital and have a check-up. It's nothing drastic.”

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England turn on the afterburners as they thrash Wales

Not only did England themselves make a statement, but Wigan Warriors winger Josh Charnley made a statement of his own – scoring 4 tries on his international debut, helping the English side defeat Wales 80-12, in what was an absolute rout.

It was also some crafty work from English half Kevin Sinfield that set up a lot of tries, as well as scoring 24 points – winning him man of the match honours.

England fell just short of their record 74-0 win over Wales in 2009 in Bridgend, as Wales suffered their 6th straight defeat, leaving a lot of unanswered questions for Welsh coach, Iestyn Harris.

With England by far the better side, Harris admits that his side lacked the physicality the contest required right from the start.

“I thought we lacked physicality against them from the start. There was a bit of a realisation that we only have five or six full time professionals in there and a lot of guys are working,” said Harris.

“To get to that level of competition is difficult and six or seven of our full-time professionals have not been available to us this time.

“I don't want to hide behind that fact because those standards are not good enough for Wales Rugby Lea

gue. Losing by 80 points is not good enough for any team, but certainly not when they are putting the Welsh shirt on.”

With just 12 months before the World Cup, Harris also knows that his side has a lot to improve on, with his their physicality just one aspect that has to improve.

“The players are bitterly disappointed in there, but we have 12 months (before the World Cup) to put it right. Twelve months to show that, if we haven't got the physicality that is required at that level, then there is that time to be able to do that,” Harris said.

With some key problems portrayed during the game, Harris did not expect them to be so recognisable, as he works to ensure similar results are not a part of the agenda.

“There is some baseline testing next week for the first time in Welsh rugby league's history and trying to give the lads an idea of where they need to be, and what improvement they need to make,” said Harris

“We have areas we know are problematic for us, but I certainly didn't expect them to come out in such abundance this afternoon.

“I thought we looked dangerous with the ball in hand, but we just lacked physicality and when we had opportunities, they just seemed to power us in the tackle and get the next play which is an issue for us in an area we need to improve in.”

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Sims eager to roll his sleeves up and come out all guns blazing

The NRL can be a cruel world when it comes to injury at times, and one player who has learnt that the hard way over the last two years, is North Queensland Cowboys young back-rower Tariq Sims – who has suffered two shocking leg breaks, in the past two seasons.

As the 2013 pre-season approaches, the talented back-rower, who at one stage, was touted as a bolter for the NSW Origin side, will look to put all past injuries behind him, and is eager to get stuck into training at the club.

Suffering two lower leg fractures in consecutive seasons on the same leg, Sims had a rod and four pins inserted into his leg that meant recovery time was faster, as he looks to regain his spot in the Cowboys side.

“It's a completely different feeling to when I did it the first time,” Sims said.

“It was just as bad as the last one. I broke both the bones in the exact same spot. It was just because I had surgery this time, and the way that the surgery went and how it holds the bone together, it is just a lot stronger and I had a lot less down time out of training.”

Whilst some would suggest that cons

ecutive injuries of the same ilk would mess with the mental toughness for Sims, the young back-rower says he has no intention of paying attention to that.

“I don't know how many ladders or black cats that I've seen, but I'm sick of seeing them,” Sims said.

“It was a freak accident, I can't complain. I've always put a positive spin on everything and I'm not going to change my attitude now.

“All I can say is bring on 2013 and I cannot wait.”

With his ambition, spirit and drive never waning, despite the two horrific injuries, for Sims, he just has one thing his mind – playing footy.

“The nerves don't really bother me, I'm just eager. I just cannot wait to get out there and play football,” he said.

Following their controversial exit in the finals series this year, Sims said that the club is past the incident, and will look towards 2013.

“That's the beauty of our game, there's always next year,” Sims said.

“I'm not going to comment on what happened, but we're going to put that behind us and we've all banded together and I think it's made us even stronger and just the belief we've got at this club is unbelievable.”

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