Category Archives: ESL/International RL

German international extends Leeds contract

Jimmy Keinhorst

He may only be a part-time player at this stage, but his experience at the international level for Germany, and his solid form for Leeds in his games so far, has seen German Jimmy Keinhorst rewarded with a new 3-year deal by the club.

Keinhorst, 22, is currently in his third year at Leeds Metropolitan University, studying a degree in sports science, and has played in 4 games so far, making his first start against Salford last week.

“I am really happy to have signed a long-term contract with the club,” he said.

“Studying at Leeds Met has been great for me, and I definitely would not have got the chances I have had in rugby league without the close ties between the university and the Rhinos.

“I am going into my final year now and I know it is going to be tough, but it is something the Rhinos are fully supportive of.

“I am excited about the opportunities I have at the Rhinos, but I also want to finish with a strong degree after three years hard work, so it will be a busy time.”

Brian McDermott, the Leeds head coach was full of praise for Keinhorst.

“Jimmy has impressed everyone at the club this season with his performances for the Under-20s and the first team, and he deserves this new deal.

“For a 22-year-old to have played at Wembley in his fourth senior appearance is an incredible achievement, and something that will stand him in good stead for years to come.”

Mariano earns new 1-year deal with Wakefield

Frankie Mariano

He was not quite hitting his straps early on in the season, and there was reluctance to re-sign him – but now, Wakefield Wildcats back-rower Frankie Mariano has been rewarded with a new deal, following stellar performances over the last 6-8 games.

The 25-year old did enough to earn a new one-year deal, that will take him through to the end of the 2013 ESL season.

“Frankie’s really earned his new deal,” said coach Richard Agar.

“He has had a stop-start year.

“He wasn’t hitting the levels that we needed him to hit for him to be a player that would contribute enough for our team.

“We laid some challenges down to him five or six weeks ago and he has now totally gone the other way and was once again one of our best players last week.”

French captain agrees to return to Catalans

Olivier Elima

He made the move away from his home country to enjoy a successful stint at the Bradford Bulls, but now, for French captain Olivier Elima, he felt it was the right time to move back to France, signing a 2-year deal with the Catalans Dragons.

It will not be the first time that the 29-year old has played for the Perpignan based club, with the French international a player in Catalans from the 2008-10 seasons.

“I’ve been at the club before, I know the players and I’m obviously the France captain,” Elima said.

“It’s just an easy link for me to go back there with my family.”

In a twist of fate, Elima’s final game for the Bulls will be against the side he is headed to for the next two seasons, in Catalans.

Purtell unsure of playing future, following heart attack in May

Adrian Purtell

If you ask him, he will tell you that he wants to return to the field, though from a realistic standpoint, Australian centre Adrian Purtell, now playing at the Bradford Bulls in the ESL, knows that that will not be the case immediately.

It was after his side’s defeat, back on May 27, that Purtell suffered the heart attack.

I’d be silly not to think of the worst case scenario. I have hopes of coming back to play but I know my body has gone through a massive trauma,” Purtell said.

“I’m hoping for the best but I am expecting the worst.”

I realise I’m very lucky to have got through what I did to be feeling quite healthy now.

“I’m pretty much back to normal now. I’m back training, I don’t do as much as the other boys but I’m in the gym and it’s hard to believe I had a heart attack four months ago.”

In order to determine if he will have to retire, Purtell will be meeting with a cardiologist, to undergo further tests on his heart.

Despite his not being out there playing, Purtell has praised his team-mates for the way that they have rallied back, in light of the recent off-field dilemmas.

“It’s disappointing that I’ve not been able to play and help the boys out because they’ve been awesome,” he continued.

“They can hold their heads up high because with all the uncertainty that’s been going on it can be hard to concentrate on playing so they should be very proud to still be in with a chance of reaching the play-offs.

“It seems like things are heading in the right direction off the pitch too, so hopefully that gets sorted soon.”

Australian halfback in Bradford returns home, to join the coal mines

Ben Jeffries

As a player, you know when the time is right to return home, and for Australian halfback Ben Jeffries, who is currently playing for the Bradford Bulls in the English Super League, now is that time.

Jeffries announced that he plans to retire from full-time rugby league, following stints with the Bulls and the Wakefield Wildcats.

The 32-year old Australian plans to return back to his home country with his family, where he has been offered a spot in the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs side, as well as a job in the coal mines, as a result.

“I’ll be playing for Kurri Kurri Bulldogs, which is more of a local competition but is pretty much classed as the best in New South Wales below the NRL and the Under-20s.

“Through that, I’ve been offered a job in the mines, which allows me to earn the same sort of money I earn now for the rest of my working life if I want to stay in that industry.

“It’s a no-brainer really. I don’t know what my exact role will be just yet but I’ll be working in the mining industry and I know that when I get there I can diverse into certain categories of mining – I can be open-cut or underground.

“Coal mining is a massive industry in Australia and people are queuing up to get into that line of work so I’m grateful to have landed this job.

“I’ve loved playing for Wakefield and Bradford but starting a nine-to-five job and living in a country I’ve not lived in for 10 years represents a new challenge for me now.”

Those of you who are Wests Tigers fans or St George Illawarra fans may remember him – before he made the decision to move to the ESL in 2002.

Bulls coach Mick Potter, whilst disappointed to see Jeffries depart, acknowledged the commitment he gave the club.

“He has given great service to both the Bulls and the Wildcats.

“I would like to thank him for what he has done for the club and wish him and his family every success in the future.”

Suspended Panthers utility signs with Super League side

Travis Burns

We all know that he is currently suspended from playing in the NRL, but in a move that has been bubbling for a while, Panthers utility Travis Burns has signed a 3-year deal with English Super League side, Hull KR.

Burns, who saw his NRL career end temporarily, after receiving a 12-match ban for two separate incidents, will link up with Craig Sandercock once more – who was a member of staff during Burns’s time at the Sea Eagles, a former club of his.

Burns said that for him, the move is the best fit, and he looks forward to his time at Hull.

“Myself and my family are very excited about heading over to Hull KR.

“I’ve been watching a lot of the games on TV and I see a young team which is not far off being a real force in the Super League.

“Opting to join Hull KR was an easy decision for me as I know that the people of Hull are very friendly and love their football.

“Craig was also a big reason why I decided to sign. He was an assistant coach when I started my NRL career at Manly and I always knew he would coach at the highest level.

“The conversations I’ve had with him about his plans for me and the club going forward made my decision easy and I can’t wait to pull on a Robins’ jersey for the first time.”

Sandercock believes that with the addition of Burns to the side, he can add a new dimension to the way that Hull KR play.

Former Warrior to play in France for Catalans

Brent Webb

Those of you who are New Zealand Warriors fans, you will know him well, with former fullback Brent Webb signing a 2-year deal with ESL side, the Catalan Dragons, in a move from fellow ESL side, the Leeds Rhinos.

Webb, 31, is a former New Zealand international, and is a direct replacement for the departing Clint Greenshields, who is a former Dragon, following 6 years with Catalans in order to return home.

With Catalans in need for a talented utility back, coach Trent Robinson is pleased to have signed Webb, who scored 86 tries in 156 games for Leeds.

“I’m very happy to welcome Brent into our squad for next season,” said Dragons coach Trent Robinson.

“He is a class player with a wealth of experience which will add value on and off the field.”

Minister of rugby league appointed in Papua New Guinea

It is almost commonplace in every country to see a Sports Minister, but rarely would you expect to see a Minister for rugby league – but this is what has happened in the Papua New Guinean Government, as the country seeks to rectify ongoing tussles to do with the sport itself.

It was left up to Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko, who made the decision to appoint a Minister, with the Minister choosing one of his own vice-ministers in Labi Amaiu, in the newly appointed role of the Minister for rugby league.

This was confirmed at the presentation of the Kumuls sponsor last Friday, with the game against the Prime Minister’s XIII fast approaching, on September 23.

“What better person to provide direction for where we want to take rugby league from the state it is at currently,” Tkatchenko said of his deputy.

“Vice-Minister Amaiu comes with years of experience and association with the sport, especially at the helm of the premier competition in the country.

“We want to go about putting a good team in place for the future growth of the game and the minster will be directly responsible.”

The task will not be easy for Amaiu, however, given the bad blood that has existed among some figures in rugby league in the country – but Amaiu thanked the sponsors for showing their gratitude, as he works to resurrect PNGRFL development programs, as well as open up regional offices for the game.

“I hope this money will be put into good use, I thank the minister for the trust and pledge my full support in our drive to guide rugby league through,” Amaiu said.

Ivan Ravu, who is the PNGRFL Administrator, knows that the ongoing conflict is a direct result of in-fighting at the organisation, but says that any immediate work to fix rugby league in the country, may have to wait till after the PM XIII’s game.

“Right now the PMs XIII event is the priority, and there is a lot of work to be done,” Ravu said.
“We will need the help of volunteers, people and groups who must work together to enable us to host this game.

It’s a big event on the PNG rugby league calendar so we want to put all efforts into making this event a success, and then we can go about properly setting our house in order for before the Rugby League World Cup 2013.”

Bradford Bulls saved as businessman buys out the club

There was a very real concern for all those involved at the Bradford Bulls, that no-one would be able to save them from liquidation, with the situation becoming potentially very serious.

Enter businessman Omar Khan, however, the director of OK Bulls Limited, as well as a successful restaurateur, who bought the club out in full – with administrators confirming the sale of the club.

Gerry Sutcliffe, the MP for Bradford South and a former Sports Minister is another one involved with the business, as Omar Khan tweeted that he had officially bought out the club.

“Omar Khan’s and Gerry Sutcliffe Save the Bradford Bulls and are the new owners of the club.”

Sutcliffe himself also posted on Twitter, saying: “Thanks to all #BradfordBulls fans for your incredible patience and support. Hard work starts now. See you all tomorrow #coyb.

“And thanks also to (coach) Mick Potter, coaching staff, players and all club staff. Shown devotion above and beyond the call #BradfordBulls.”

Although Khan has bought the club in its entirety, they still face a nervous wait, as to whether or not they will retain their place in the Superleague.

“This is a great achievement for Bradford Bulls, the players, fans and the city of Bradford,” said Brendan Guilfoyle, the Bradford Administrator.

“My main duty as administrator is to get the best return for creditors – and this was the best deal on the table.

“Omar Khan has also passed the Rugby Football League’s test as being a ‘fit and proper person’ to run a rugby club as well as being a passionate fan of the Bulls.”

Guilfoyle has made some tough decisions in the past to attempt to save money and keep the Bulls alive, but he is pleased that they have managed to keep the side together.

“I am really pleased that we were able to retain the playing squad without selling off young stars – which in the end was a crucial decision to achieve the sale.

“There are many people to thank in making this deal possible, not least employees, coaches and the interim chief executive who have all been working without pay.

“But I’m sure they would join me in saying the fans’ support has been outstanding and they have played a major part in this rescue.

“And through all this the players have won an extraordinary string of matches.”

Interim London Broncos coach credits Chairman for decision to stay on

Tony Rea

It is not often you see external factors playing a part in the decision making process for a coach, but for former Bears hooker Tony Rea, this was the case – with the interim London Broncos coach agreeing to a 2-year deal to be the full-time coach.

Rea, who initially had no interest in the role full-time when he took over, says that it was the enthusiasm of the club’s Chairman David Hughes, and his re-discovered passion for coaching, that convinced him to say yes.

“There is a desire to coach and I was confident doing it,” Rea said.

“It was an easy decision to make.

“I think David Hughes was a big factor, making me think about the decision. I pretty much made the decision at that meeting but I had to go through a few things to make sure it was do-able.”

Like any decision, it was about consulting the family first – and both Rea’s family and the London Broncos players, were happy with the decision.

“They’re really happy with the decision,” he said.

With the London Broncos finding themselves on a run of good form, Rea says that all of that is purely incidental.

“I don’t think it was much to do with the results, but more probably the effect and influence I’ve been able to have on the team,” he said.

“The players have brought about the change themselves. I helped create the environment for that to happen.”

For the Broncos Chairman Hughes, it was a difficult process to find the coach they felt was the right fit, but he believes that Rea is that man.

“We’ve had lots of applications and have given them all due consideration.

“One shouldn’t underestimate what a tough task it is coaching a club like the London Broncos but I think Tony Rea is the man for the job.

“I believe in his coaching. His prowess has strengthened in his time away from us.

“He’s experienced another code and, allied to his motivational work, this has made him the ideal candidate.

“He’s got a massive desire to coach again and he’s impressed on me that coaching is all he wants to do.”