Australian veteran signs on with Huddersfield

Chris Bailey

It is a name that is common to fans of the Newcastle Knights and the Manly Sea Eagles, as Chris Bailey – who last played for the London Broncos in the English Super League – will join the Huddersfield Giants on a 2-year contract.

Bailey, who is the younger brother of another former NRL player, one Phil Bailey, enjoyed a decent run of form for the Broncos and in the Exiles game, before injury in the representative clash prevented him from taking any further part in the season.

With his experience and proven ability to prove vital, the Giants Managing Director Richard Thewlis was pleased to have someone like Bailey come on board.

“He was a hot property in a fairly skinny recruitment market for quality players it’s true to say,” said Thewlis.

“He has had some stellar seasons for London and players of his experience are few and far between with versatility of position being a key attribute of his.

For him to choose our club is wonderful news, as his clear remit in talks with his manager and himself was that he wanted to come to a club with genuine silverware ambition.

We have that and it’s good that he recognises that and wants to add himself into what will be a competitive environment, as we look to make further strides forward.”

A proven player and a versatile one, his ability to play in several different positions will be an asset for the Giants side.

For Giants coach Paul Anderson, the versatility is something that he sees as key.

“What he will bring is plenty of experience and a new dimension to us,” said Anderson.

“He can play in numerous positions at 13, in the back row or as a half and therefore he has a lot of utility value.

The role we have planned for him in and around the middle of the field will add another element to our attack. He’s got a lot of quality and has some good experience in the NRL with Manly and then a few years at London.

He’s always someone we’ve had to look out for when we’ve played against them.

Chris is not coming to the Giants to see his career out he has come to win something and challenge for honours and that was the key for me.”

Equally excited is Bailey himself, who is relishing the chance to play for the Giants.

“I am ecstatic to be joining Huddersfield Giants,” said Bailey.

“They are a team with a strong Rugby League tradition and history, amazing fans and facilities.

“I was talking to a few clubs both in the UK and overseas, but Huddersfield because of their focus on building a strong team over the past few years and the strength of the coaching team were always top of my list. I look forward to joining them in pre season for 2014 and again thank the Broncos for my time with them.”

Former Cowboys coach joins the Titans as an assistant

Neil Henry

Let go by the North Queensland Cowboys during the 2013 season due to a poor run of form, not even a purple patch towards the end of the season was enough for the club to keep him and so Neil Henry, the now former Cowboys coach, has joined the Gold Coast Titans as an assistant for the 2014 season.

Agreeing to join the club next year, Henry will work alongside fellow assistant coaches Trevor Gillmeister and Steve Murphy as well as head coach, John Cartwright.

For the club, it is a boost and that is exactly how coach Cartwright sees it.

“Neil has plenty of experience coaching in the NRL so to have someone of his calibre joining the club will add enormously to our coaching group,’’ said Cartwright.

“I’m sure the players are going to be the ones that benefit, as an extra member of the coaching staff will ensure that they receive more one-on-one time with the coaches.

“We have a great coaching group here already and I’m sure Neil’s skill set will bring a new element to the table.”\

Also excited is the man himself, who said he is keen to return to the role of assistant.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Titans and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Henry.

“The Titans are a relatively new club with a strong and exciting playing roster moving forward so I’m looking forward to contributing in a coaching capacity.

“The club has made a commitment to strengthening their coaching staff and that gives me the opportunity to work a bit more hands on with the players than you do as a head coach so I’m excited about that.”

Energy drink company enter new partnership with the Welsh Rugby League

Exposure and gaining awareness for your side is imperative and for the Welsh rugby league side, they have welcomed Pr1mo Energy on board, as they start to shape their Rugby League World Cup campaign.

With the Pr1mo energy drink set to compete on the open market, the company logo will appear on the back of the Welsh jersey during their World Cup campaign.

Louisa Chiarelli, Pr1mo’s Energy Sales and Marketing Manager said the company is thrilled to be involved with Welsh rugby league and looks forward to the partnership in the future.

“We are thrilled to be sponsoring the Wales Rugby League team especially with the excitement surrounding the World Cup in October,” said Chiarelli.

The Welsh themselves are also excited with the partnership, as WRL’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Thair says the new partnership is a win-win for both Welsh rugby league and for the emerging Pr1mo company.

“We are delighted to enter a new partnership and have listened closely to what they wish to achieve as a business,” said Thair.

“Pr1mo will gain considerable exposure from the World Cup and we have already started to put them in contact with our existing portfolio of partners who may be able to assist their growth.

It is a great tasting drink and we welcome them to the Wales Rugby League family”.

The current partnership will run through until 2014, before being reviewed after that period is up.

Rooster overpower Knights and earn themselves a GF appearance

Aidan Guerra

The last few days have been quite nerve-wracking for the Sydney Roosters, particularly with the recent reports that have come out surrounding the apparent use and awareness by some of their players when it came to forms of drugs, as ASADA continued their investigation.

But, despite all that off-field turmoil, the Roosters let their play on the field do all the talking, as they overpowered a spirited Knights outfit and ended up winning comfortably 40-14.

In front of a crowd of just over 38,000, Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted that the entire week and lead-up to the game was tough to deal with, in light of alleged reports that three of his players were involved with banned substances.

“It was a challenging week and it was the players that got us through,” Robinson said.

“They knew it was wrong to put those guys on the front page and they supported them quickly.

“There’s a lot of pessimism in our sport about what happens in our game and the guys knew what they did, they were happy with what they’d come to and the boys decided to get going on Thursday morning.

“They came in, talked about it and the way those guys played today was impressive.”

For Knights coach Wayne Bennett, he felt the turning point was when inspirational hooker and captain Danny Buderus went off with concussion, with the Newcastle Knights legend taken to hospital as a precaution, despite regaining consciousness.

“A lot of his mates are upset he has such an impact on the club and he is rated so highly by everybody he plays with,” Bennett said.

“It’s probably the most upset I have seen blokes coming off a footy field.”

Although his side lost, Bennett was also pleased with how his side responded after the Roosters 14-minute blitz, proud of his side for not throwing in the towel and giving up.

“I was really pleased with them, everything was going against them,” he said.

“For seven or eight minutes in the second half we were matching them and then we got an awkward bounce go against us … and they go down the other end and score.

“We dropped a ball here and missed a couple of tackles there. But I was pleased with the way we finished and it showed why they’ve finished like they did.

“They have a lot of good qualities.”

3. Aidan Guerra
2. Mitchell Pearce
1. Jake Friend

Manly come from behind and become first team into the NRL grand final

Jamie Lyon

It what was billed as a huge game to see who would qualify for the NRL grand final and it lived up to the expectation, as the Manly Sea Eagles recorded a come-from-behind win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs, taking out the game 30-20.

The win means that Manly have now made their 4th grand final in the last 7 years, to assert their period of dominance in the NRL, a sign that the team is well and truly equipped to go all the way.

It was 42 years since Souths last reached a decider and they were on their way towards breaking that drought, as they raced out to an early 14-0 lead, with Manly on the ropes at that point in time and Souths had all the ascendancy.

After that, however, it was all one-way traffic, as Manly took the bull by the horns and scored 30 unanswered points to virtually wrap the game up after stellar performances by some of their key players.

The 44,456 strong crowd were vocal and passionate, willing their sides on, as both vied for the chance to make the grand final.

In the end, it was experience that got Manly over the line, as Souths were forced to dwell on another missed opportunity.

For Souths five-eighth John Sutton, it was a moment of disappointment for he and his Souths team.

“It’s tough. I’m devastated,” said Sutton.

Souths coach Michael Maguire echoed similar sentiments but did admit that his side could not deal with the experience of the Manly side.

“We played a very experienced team. A very resilient team,” said Maguire.

“We lost our way at the end of the first half.”

“They’re a tough team and they managed to find their way back into the game.”

Although they would have liked to have made next week’s grand final, Maguire says the loss has made the club stronger as a whole from the fans to the organisation.

“We’re getting stronger as an organisation,” said Maguire.

“We’ve got a club that supports everyone. We stick by each other.”

For Manly, whilst they were pleased to win the game, for coach Geoff Toovey, it means nothing if they cannot win the premiership next week.

“It’s exciting and we’ll all enjoy it, but it doesn’t mean much if we can’t come up with a duck egg at the end of the week.

3. Jamie Lyon
2. Daly Cherry-Evans
1. David Williams

England dealt a blow as Ellis retires from international rugby league effective immediately

Gareth Ellis

The English rugby league side have suffered a blow with veteran back-rower Gareth Ellis retiring from the international game effective immediately.

After consultation with England coach Steve McNamara and his club side Hull FC, Ellis felt like stepping down from the international arena was the right thing for him to do.

“It’s no secret that I’m heading towards the latter part of my career and after picking up untimely knocks over the last couple of years, I feel it is time for me to focus on my club,” said Ellis, who has played 22 games for England, as well as 17 caps for Great Britain.

“It will allow me more time to rest up and recover before taking part in a full pre-season, something I haven’t done since 2002 ,and hit the ground running in 2014.

“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and it’s been a very tough call to make as I was always very proud to represent England and it will be extremely disappointing to miss the World Cup.

Happy with his international career and some of the achievements he has had whilst representing his country, Ellis feels that now is the right time to focus on his club footy as he praised McNamara.

“I feel this could be the strongest England team for some years, but after 12 years I’ve had my opportunities on the international scene and I want to focus on a big year for Hull FC,” said Ellis.

“We made it to Wembley this year which was a great achievement, but I want to be there again next year and the year after. I want to be able to play my part for the club week in and week out, and make a contribution to help us achieve things and I feel the best way for me to do that now is to retire from international rugby.

He added, “Steve [McNamara] was very understanding when I spoke to him regarding my decision and I would like to wish him and the team the very best of luck ahead of the upcoming tournament.

“I will certainly be supporting the boys from the stands and I hope to see as many Hull FC fans there getting behind England throughout the tournament.”

With the effect of Ellis’s retirement still to come, McNamara praised Ellis for his achievements and commitment to the England side.

“Gareth has made a massive contribution to England, both on and off the field, where his attitude was never anything other than totally professional,” said McNamara.

“The standards of his performances with Wests Tigers demonstrated that England players are among the best in the world and though he has had a difficult season with injury I have no doubts that he has lots to offer Hull FC in the years to come.

“We fully understand the reasons behind his decision and wish him all the very best for the future.”

beIN Sport given exclusive rights to broadcast the World Cup in France

It is an event that has a global exposure and one that fans across the world want to see and for French fans of rugby league, they will now have a chance to watch the World Cup, with beIN Sport granted exclusive rights to show World Cup games in the country.

beINSport, a global network of sport channels that is owned by Qatari Sports Investments, operates in both France and the USA, with coverage to be anchored by Rodolphe Pires, Louis Bonnery, Laurent Bidot, Vincent Pochulu and Bertrand Begue.

Someone who is pleased with the recent development in TV rights coverage, is the President of the French Rugby League Federation, Carlos Zalduendo.

“I’m very pleased that current Rugby League broadcaster beIN SPORT has acquired the exclusive rights in France to Rugby League World Cup 2013,” said Zalduendo.

“This is another step forward in our approach to media coverage of Rugby League. Beyond the regular Rugby League public, we hope to reach sports fans who are looking to enjoy the sporting event of the year.

“The broadcast of this world-class event organised in the UK and France will demonstrate the popularity of Rugby League in Europe.”

Equally pleased are the RLWC officials themselves, with tournament director Nigel Wood pointing out the significance and importance of this news.

“It is great news for the tournament that beIN SPORT will be broadcasting the tournament in France,” said Wood.

“Sports fans in France know they can rely on beIN’s experience of covering not just domestic and international Rugby League but other world class sporting events too.

“We know we’ll be staging the best Rugby League World Cup to date, with competitive matches in front of passionate fans. The games in Perpignan and Avignon promise to be compelling encounters staged in front of partisan packed crowds.”

Warriors youngster granted early release from the club

Sio Siua Taukeiaho

Clubs sometimes part ways with players as they seek greener pastures and for New Zealand Warriors youngster Sio Siua Taukeiaho, the club and player agreed to mutually part ways, with the youngster wishing to pursue other opportunities.

Still only 21, Taukeiaho was initially off-contract at the end of next year and has been a part of the NRL squad at the Warriors for the last two years.

To date, he has played just the one game – one that came in the final game of the regular season this year.

Playing out most of the season with the Auckland Vulcans in the NSW Cup, the club wished Taukeiaho all the best with his future endeavours.

“We thank Siua for his efforts for the club and wish him all the best for the future,” said the Warriors General Manager of Football, Dean Bell.

Hull local appointed as new coach at Hull FC

Lee Radford

Soon after the club parted ways with Peter Gentle, Hull FC have acted swiftly to secure a new coach, with hometown local Lee Radford appointed as the new coach of the club for the next three years.

At just 34 years old, Radford is the youngest coach in the Super League and with an intent to focus on to focus on nurturing the club’s young players, the new coach is keen to instill the correct attitude and work ethic in the players moving forward.

“It’s not a decision that has come easy to me, it’s one that I’ve contemplated and gone over every aspect of it. It’s a massive job and I’m fully aware of that,” said Radford.

“My job is to bring the best out of this playing group and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do. We’ve got a hard-working fan base and working class people within the city, and they want to see that duplicated onto the field.

“That’s something the players are going to have to buy into and if they don’t they won’t be donning the Black and White jersey, it’s as simple as that.”

With the fans placing high expectations on just how far Hull FC can potentially go in a season, Radford knows improvement is needed and that the key to catching up with the elite sides of the Super League, is to ensure consistency.

“Everybody knows the expectations of this club and to achieve that, we’ve got to play a little bit of catch up as from 2006, we’ve consistently been behind four or five clubs. Whenever I’ve ran a race, to catch somebody in front of you you’ve got to go a little bit harder and that’s what we’ve got to do.

“We want to be a power in this competition and to achieve that you need consistency. I’ve got plenty of ideas about how we’re going to achieve that consistency, and I can’t wait to get going.”

There will be a new look coaching staff in general also, with Andy Last moving back into the assistant coaching role and former winger Motu Tony becoming the Football Manager of the club.

For Radford, it is a comfortable feeling, given he knows the two well, as he hopes he has found the right mix of staff to make Hull FC a better side.

“The job Andy’s done over the last two or three years with the youth is unparalleled.

“I got two phone calls from two current Super League coaches whose teams are still in the play-offs and both said your backroom staff is going to be crucial and will play a massive part in what you are trying to do.

“They asked me who was going to be my assistant and when I told them, both said they had both made plays for him recently. It’s a credit to him and a credit to how he is thought of in the game that he is so sought after and has still decided to stay within this club.”

He continued, “I’m fully aware of the job I’m taking with regards to the club from top to bottom. There’ll be no excuses of he’s not my signing or anything like that and everybody who’s in the position they are at the moment I’m very comfortable with.

“One of the advantages we have from being at the club so long is that we’ve got a good understand of what works for the club and what doesn’t. We’ll take a look at the things that do and look to implement those moving forward.”

NRL veteran announces his retirement

Michael Crocker

Retirement is inevitable for players and they know when it is time to step down and for South Sydney Rabbitohs back-rower Michael Crocker, that time is now, with the NRL veteran calling time on his career.

In a career that has been littered with both club and representative achievements, it was back in 2001 when Crocker made his debut for the Sydney Roosters.

Over the course of his career, Crocker enjoyed stints with the Sydney Roosters, the Melbourne Storm and the Rabbitohs and has played in 204 total games winning grand finals and representing both Queensland and Australia.

With six Australian games to his name and 15 State of Origin’s, it has been a career to remember for Crocker, who wanted to return to the playing field at some point but knew that it just was not possible on the back of his most recent injury.

“After undergoing surgery in April, my focus has been to get back on the field. My goal was to captain South Sydney to a grand final win and to play again next season,” Crocker said.

“It has been a challenging year and I have explored every possible option to get myself back playing. Unfortunately, I have arrived at the point where my knee is unable to meet the demands of professional football. Sadly, this means I will be unable to play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the remainder of this season.

Crocker enjoyed his time as an NRL player and had many people to thank including fans, family and the clubs he played for.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody involved in my Rugby League career. From my parents who allowed me to play the game I loved as a kid, to the Members, fans, corporates, coaching staff, medical staff and support staff; I thank you,” said Crocker.

“To every player I have played alongside and against over the past 29 years; it has been a privilege and I sincerely thank you.

“Finally, I would like to thank my beautiful wife Sally for having the biggest influence on my life, on and off the field. Thank you for your guidance, patience and support. You have encouraged me to become the best person and player I could possibly be.

“It has been an incredible 13 years playing in the NRL and my career has been blessed. I am honoured to have played for my state and country and I am privileged to have experienced grand final success at both the Roosters and Melbourne Storm.

“I have played at three fantastic clubs, coached by arguably some of the best coaches of all time. I have enjoyed every success that football has to offer and most importantly I have made lifelong friends along the way.

“My wife and I are excited about the next chapter of our lives and no matter the path I choose to pursue, I will always remain involved in the football community.”

Although he has not played as much footy this year as the club may have wanted him to, coach Michael Maguire is well aware of the impact Crocker has had on the team and culture during his time at the club.

“From the time of my arrival, ‘Crock’ has been a major part of the cultural change that has occurred here at the Rabbitohs,” said Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire.

“Through his experience, his dedication and his will to find ways to improve his game at the back end of his career, it’s a real credit to him as a person to have seen the effort he has put in over the past two seasons here.

“He has definitely left his mark as a player and as a person on our squad, and I wish him all the best in his next chapter.

“If he dedicates himself to his next path in the same manner he has as a Rugby League player, I’m sure he will be very successful in whichever field he chooses.”