Category Archives: ESL/International RL

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.”

Rugby league in Papua New Guinea can now move on

In what can only be described as as turbulent time for rugby league in the country, Papua New Guinea is now free to move forward in their RL developments – following the dismissal of a court case, filed against their interim RL administration.

Ivan Ravu, who is the interim administrator at the PNGRFL was pleased with the court’s decision, saying that the game in Papua New Guinea could now move forward – rather than dwelling on the past.

With the annual Australian game against the Papua New Guinean Presidents XIII coming up in 8 weeks time, Ravu will have his work cut out in formulating a side for the fixture.

Things very nearly got ugly for Papua New Guinean rugby league, with Wabag RL president Joseph Kilipali, the President of the other 18 highlands, and Joe Tokam, were all against the interim PNGRL administration.

Due to the complexity of the case, it took some time – but the National Court dismissed the case against the interim administration in its entirety, citing a case that was without merit, as well as amounting to abuse throughout the process.

It was the Court’s ruling, that the payment by 18 highlands leagues and several others to Joe Tokam (who is a former highlands development officer), into a specified account, was improper.

“Those leagues are not recognised affiliates or members of the PNGRFL unless the affiliation fees are paid into the PNGRFL account in Port Moresby” the court said.

The Court also ruled, through Justice Ere Kariko, that because Tokam is no longer employed by the PNGRFL, he has no business or authority, to conduct any business related matters for the PNGRFL.

Kariko cited Tokam’s supposed authoritative gesture to collect money, something the Justice said Kariko was not allowed to do.

With the case now dismissed, Kariko stated that all the plaintiffs were responsible, for accruing the legal costs of the Court case.

Mead chooses not to play for Papua New Guinea

He is one of their most decorated players in the modern era, and having played for them in the past, he could have been a great ambassador for rugby league in the country.

Now however, upset by the way in which rugby league in the country is run, Papua New Guinean winger and Gold Coast Titans player David Mead, says he no longer wants to play for the Kumuls, due to the poor way in which rugby league is run in the country.

“My dad is Australian and my mum is Papua New Guinea. But PNG rugby league is all over the place. It is not really run professionally and that has put me off,” Mead said.

The PNG-born Titans wing said his aspiration now was to play Origin for the Queensland Maroons.

“I’ve spoken to heaps of PNG players and they have said if I get the opportunity to play Origin I should take it with both hands,” he said.

“When Adrian Lam said there was a possibility of playing for Queensland it lit my eyes up even more.”

In a sign that the PNGRL has some work to do, if they want to keep their top players playing international rugby league for them – former Kumul Stanley Hondina stands by the decision that Mead made.

“We’ve lost David, and we’re going to lose more,” Hondina warned.

“These players play for millions and they’d give anything to play for their country.

“But what do we have for them? We have to be prepared to look after them. We need players like David to be competitive on the international stage.”

Hondina also said that it is up to the PNGRL to get their own affairs into order, before things get worse – and to see internal conflict between management cease immediately.

“Look at the standard of the Digicel Cup, the amount of dropped balls, the number of missed tackles, the ill-discipline.

“No board in place, no chairman, no technical people, no proper house to make decisions for the good of rugby league.

“What are we doing?” Hondina asked.

Tony Kuni, who is the PNGRL Referees Association Secretary, agreed that that Mead had his reasons to leave.

“We have people doing their own thing and need a governing body in place immediately.”

David Mead

Cross shelves retirement plans and stays on for 1 more year

Ben Cross

Retirement was something that he considered, but for Widnes Vikings prop Ben Cross – he has made the decision to abandon immediate plans of retirement, signing a new 12-month deal with the ESL based club.

Cross, 33, joined the Vikings last year upon their return to the competition last year, but also had stints with both the Leeds Rhinos and the Wigan Warriors.

It is expected however, that Cross will hang up the boots at the end of next year, but in the meantime, the veteran prop knew that his body had enough for 1 more year.

“Having originally signed for just the one year, I now realise I’ve got at least another season left in me and I was keen for that time to be spent at Widnes,” he said.

“My body is still feeling pretty good and there are signs that we are definitely improving and moving in the right direction so I would have been foolish to look elsewhere.”

Cross, who was also in the NRL for a number of years, in stints with the Canberra Raiders, Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm, scored his first professional try not too long ago for Widnes.

Dennis Betts, Widnes coach said:

“Ben approached us and expressed an interest in doing another year and we were only too happy to go along with his suggestion.

“He is really happy at the club and we are really happy with him. He is a fantastic bloke and his experience in top-flight rugby league is invaluable both on and off the field.

“He is just starting to find his feet at Widnes. It’s a new club and he has a new group of players around him and they are only just getting to know each other.”

Paea commits to the Dragons

Lopini Paea

If you are a Roosters fan, you will have vivid memories of him – as Catalans forward and former Rooster Lopini Paea signing a new two-year deal at the Perpignan based club, that will see him remain there until the end of the 2014 season.

Paea, 28, is a Tongan international, and was off-contract at the end of the year with Hull FC linked to the hulking forward – but Paea is happy to have his future settled.

“I’m very happy to stay here,” he said. “We are building something great with the Catalan Dragons and I’m happy to be a part of it.

“I hope we’ll write the history in the next two seasons and win a trophy.”

Galea to leave Robins at season’s end

Ben Galea

He has always been a respected player among his peers as well as with the fans, but former Penrith Panther and Wests Tigers player Ben Galea, his tenure at ESL side Hull KR is set to come to an end – with the club and player unable to come to an agreement for 2013.

Galea, 33, who joined the Robins in 2008, has played over 100 games in four and a half seasons for the club – and admitted that he was keen for one more year before hanging up the boots.

Although a deal between club and player was not reached, Mike Smith, Robins Chief Executive said:

“In the four years that I’ve been here, Ben has been a pleasure to deal with. He’s a consummate professional, both on and off the pitch, and has often provided the link between the players and the club, even before he was made captain at the start of this year.

“He’s also an exemplary role model to the younger players we have at Hull Kingston Rovers and has played a big part in helping to establish the club in Super League during the past five years. We’d liked to have kept Ben here for another season but unfortunately an agreement couldn’t be reached, hence the reason he will be moving on at the end of the year.

“I have no doubt that Ben will continue to play a big part for the team during the remainder of the season and he will leave Hull Kingston Rovers with our very best wishes for the future.”

Galea himself admits that whilst he is disappointed at having to depart, he will do so with some great memories at the Hull-based club.

“I am extremely disappointed that the club and I have not been able to reach an agreement for the 2013 season,” he said.

“I still feel a huge desire to play rugby league now and beyond the 2012 season, making me extremely reluctant to hang up the boots.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the past five seasons at Hull KR and will be sad to leave. I would like to thank my team mates, the club and the supporters for making my time at Hull KR the fantastic experience it has been. I will continue to wear the red and white jersey with pride and give my best until the final whistle blows.”