Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Roosters hooker Jake Friend escapes drug conviction

Regarded as the Roosters bad-boy by some, Roosters hooker Jake Friend has escaped a drug conviction for possessing restricted drugs.

Friend has been put on a good behaviour bond for 2 years, after he pleaded guilty to the charge of possessing three Diazepam Valium tablets and seven Diazepam Antenex tablets.

It was on June 5 of this year that he was found in possession of the tranquilizers containing the restricted drugs by police at Coogee in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

The magistrate in charge of Friend’s case, Jacqueline Milledge noted that the young fans of Friend in the NRL world would be reading and studying his case with some interest.

“A lot of people believed in him and he could not let them down”, she said.

“You need to be the best role model you possibly can,” Ms Milledge said.

The magistrate did admit that she hadn’t heard of Friend as told to defence lawyer Stephen Alexander.

“Should I know who he is?” she asked.

The defence lawyer used the plea of the references that Friend had at his disposal as a way to get him off, including a reference from perhaps the biggest figure at the Roosters club, CEO Steve Noyce.

In the reference from Noyce, he stated that Friend showed a lot of potential and future promise as budding young player.

The defence lawyer also stated that Friend had done significant rehab courtesy of the club as well as undergoing extensive counselling in a bit to curb his problem.

It’s also a well-known fact that Friend worked at a local Bondi cafe as a pot-washer as a result of a previous drink-driving charge whilst contracted to the Roosters.

“You and I are joined at the hip for the next two years, and I don’t want to see you again,” she said.

Marc Herbert signs with Bradford Bulls

Canberra Raiders back-up halfback has signed with the Bradford Bulls in a move that takes the club into double digits in regards to their off-season signings.

Herbert, who is 23 and has limited opportunities at the Raiders with Terry Campese and Josh McCrone in front of him, was released by the Raiders, and officially signed a 1-year deal with the Bradford Bulls.

Whilst there has been a large array of speculation that the Bulls were yet to officially release Orford, the former Manly and Melbourne half publicly stated that he wanted a release from the ESL club, despite having two years left on his contract.

“I am really excited to be joining the Bulls,” said Herbert, who is the club’s tenth new signing for 2011.

“Super League will be a different experience for me and I intend to make the most of the opportunity.

“Having spoken to Mick Potter, I am really looking forward to getting across and into pre-season training.

When the 2010 season started, it was actually Marc Herbert who was the man many believed would lead the Raiders forward and form a strong and invaluable partnership with five-eighth Terry Campese.

This all changed though, when Herbert began playing poorly, and was consequently injured, he lost his spot to current Raiders halfback, Josh McCrone.

Bulls coach Mick Potter said: “Marc is a player I have been aware of for some time. I am sure he will make a very good Super League player and he brings a lot of qualities to the side.

“I have spoken to him at length and outlined what I want him to do for the club. I have every confidence that he will be a big success in the role I see for him and I know he is really looking forward to joining the Bulls.”

Greg Inglis involved in bitter tug-of-war

The Greg Inglis saga has taken another twist with the Melbourne Storm refusing to release the star centre until he forks out an alleged $113,000 in supposed legal fees.

The money in question is related to the costs associated with his assault charge against fiancee Sally Robinson from August last year.

As a result, a bitter feud has erupted between the Storm and Inglis, with claims coming through that Melbourne are “holding the test star to ransom”, as they are sneakily trying to retain him next year.

Inglis, who recently underwent off-season shoulder surgery, is expected to join his new Broncos team-mates in seven days, but in a twist, Storm CEO Ron Gauci hasn’t made any guarantees that Inglis will actually be there.

“I don’t think anything is guaranteed,” Gauci said.

“I don’t know about the Broncos training situation, that’s for them …. hopefully everything is resolved sooner rather than later.”

Inglis managed to avoid a conviction from his assault on Robinson, but he was ordered at the time to attend a men’s behavioural change program, as well as paying $3000 to a women’s health organisation in the western region of Melbourne.

It’s the legal fees however that have been spent over the period of 8 months in an attempt to clear Inglis’s name that have led to this recent twist.

Inglis claims that he was hardly given a choice as to who would represent him at his trial, and how his defence would be decided upon.

It’s alleged that an agreement of the cost was made and signed by a former Melbourne Storm official, with Inglis’s defence not only trying to clear his name, but also to keep the Storm’s brand intact.

“And so a lot of the costs could be proportioned back to the Storm,” said an unknown source.

“Greg has argued that he was given no choice as to who did the work and how it was done and who was involved, yet he is bring told to cover the majority of costs. They appointed a QC, not Greg.

While both Inglis and the Storm are believed to be willing to pay part of the fees, the major sticking point in the whole saga is the amount that both should pay.

Keith Bagley, Inglis’s QC, has refused to discuss the matter in question.

“I’m Greg’s lawyer and I’m bound by solicitor-client confidence. I won’t be commenting,” Bagley said.

Allan Gainey, Inglis’s manager also refused to make any comments on the matter.

The unknown source however said that: “Essentially, he’s being held to ransom on a release to the Broncos and he’s being told that unless you allow us to deduct that money for what you would otherwise get for this season, then we’re not going to give you a release”.

“And they say they can get him under the salary cap [for next season]”.

The claims that have been made the Storm have been holding Inglis to ransom have been described by CEO Ron Gauci as “mischievous”, but he has raised the point that a release may not come until next season.

“He hasn’t been released because we’re trying to reconcile a statement of accounts and there are some other historical matters that we’re trying to resolve,” Gauci said.

“We’re hoping to have it resolved over the next week or so, but the deadline is the start of next season, obviously.”

When questioned about the fact as to whether or not the possibility remained that Inglis could be a Storm player in season 2011, Gauci replied:

“Anything is possible if negotiations break down. But what are the chances of him deciding to retire, what are the chances of him going overseas…that’s such an open question.”

Bruno Cullen, the current CEO of the Brisbane Broncos admits that the whole saga is a worrying concern for his club.

“Our position is that we’re just a bystander and we can only encourage all parties to get together and get it sorted as soon as possible,” Cullen said.

“We’re starting training on November 1 and that’s something we’ll have to get clarified in the next week because if he’s not cleared by November 1, I’m not too sure of the legalities of him actually joining the squad and training.”

David Gallop, the NRL Chief Executive has acknowledged that he is well aware of the whole situation and that at this stage, Inglis’s contract with the Broncos is yet to be registered with the NRL.

Israel Folau hurt by ARL’s treatment of him after move to AFL

Former Storm and Bronco player Israel Folau is displeased and hurt at the treatment he has suffered at the hands of the ARL in light of his move to the Greater Western Sydney AFL team.

Shockingly, his family’s first reaction to the whole saga was that they vowed the young star would never play the game of Rugby League again.

After the ARL’s latest stunt, Folau felt that he was obligated to break his silence on the matter after the ARL banned him from being a waterboy for Tonga.

Folau also admits that this whole saga has tarnished his initial exit from the game of Rugby League.

Folau also said that his parents had been left very unhappy and stressed by the way in which their son had been treated by the ARL.

“I get sad and frustrated when they treat you like this, especially when I’ve tried to give the game a lot over the past few years,” Folau said.

“It’s a bit of everything for me, it’s mixed emotions. Dad gets angry sometimes. I don’t know how to describe what they are trying to do.”

The initial stance was started by ARL and NSWRL chief Geoff Carr, but the power-brokers of the NRL have since caught on and defended the initial decision made by Carr.

Amazingly, the ARL blocked any possible selection in the Australian team for Folau in May, failed in somewhat of a public bid to have him banned from representing his state in Origins 2 and 3, banning him from even making the initial squad for Australia, and restricting him from being water-boy for Tonga.

In what some regard as a low act, Folau was excluded from the annual grand final day tribute to departing players, with the guise being that Folau’s contribution to the sport didn’t deserve a mention at the tribute.

“I was surprised about the water boy stuff,” Folau said.

“Fair enough about not playing, but I just wanted to help out the Tongan team. But they denied me that, too.

“The grand final stuff hurt a little bit more than being omitted from the team. You see blokes like [club player] Jesse Royal, and no disrespect to him, but I was a little sad not to get a mention.

“That’s the way they decided to go about things and I can’t do anything about it.”

Rugby league’s stance could have far greater repercussions than the estimated $2.4 million worth of free advertising it has already given its rival code – losing 21-year-old Folau for life.

“My family take it a lot harder than I do,” he said.

“I just hope if I’m looking at coming back and they [ARL] are going on like this, [that it isn’t still an issue].”

If he isn’t turned away at the gates, then Folau has every intention of attending the game on Sunday.

Gould officially accepts role with North Queensland

In Phil Gould’s eyes, having a North Queensland team in the NRL is imperative to the NRL’s future success, and that is the main reason why he has decided to accept the role as advisor to the club.

Regarded as the game’s best commentator and best mind tactically, Gould is set to arrive in Townsville next week to begin his role as the advisor with the North Queensland Cowboys.

As part of his role as advisor, Gould will sit down with and meet with all of the coaching and administration staff before pre-season training begins, to observe the day-to-day runnings of the Cowboys organisation.

Gould, who is also a former NSW coach, is well aware of the vast array of young and upcoming talent that exists in North Queensland, and he is ready to move the club forward in the right direction.

The last thing Gus wants to see is another disappointing season for the Cowboys, in which they don’t make the finals.

“North Queensland is extremely important to the NRL, they can’t afford to be back in that position,” he said.

“They have a great supporter base and the club is doing everything possible to turn that form around.

“Like all clubs they have undergone a review of what by their standards was a very poor season.

“They’ll be looking to give the players and the coaching staff every opportunity to turn it around next year.

“It will be an interesting challenge, I’m looking forward to it.”

In perhaps one of the biggest re-shuffles of the modern era, the Cowboys have parted ways with a staggering 16 players, as a mix of experienced players and youthful players have been signed in a revamped Cowboys outfit.

The club has also appointed a new CEO in Peter Jordain, as well as the new head of the high performance fitness unit, former Cowboy, Paul Bowman.

Gould’s primary role is to keep an eye on each individual area and aspect of the club as it goes through its transitional phase, and offer his experience to the board if he sees something he believes should be changed or adapted slightly.

Current chief executive Peter Parr is confident that with all of the changes in personnel and structure undertaken by the club, they will be a much better side for it.

“We don’t want to run down the bottom again,” he said.

“We’re really excited about reinvigorating the football team and ensuring that we get back to where everyone wants us to be.”

Sydney Roosters announce Jason Taylor as their new NYC coach

The Sydney Roosters have named former Eels and Rabbitohs coach Jason Taylor as their new coach for the Roosters NYC Under 20’s side in 2011.

In what is a fairly young team, following the departures of some players who have either moved to other clubs, or have become too old to play in the Under 20’s, Jason Taylor brings with him a wealth of experience.

Working alongside senior coaching staff, including Brian Smith whom Taylor played under during his years at Parramatta, Taylor will aim to take the young Roosters side, and use his experience from playing and coaching to get them as far as possible.

Taylor will also continue his role with the Roosters as kicking coach, a role in which he began with the Roosters in 2010.

“Jason has been a valuable asset to the Roosters in 2010 and we are excited about his appointment for 2011,” said CEO Steve Noyce.

“With his previous coaching experience we are confident Jason can take the young players and turn them into a successful team that follows the culture of this Club.”

Taylor too is excited about the opportunity to join the Sydney Roosters full time.

“I was delighted to be offered this opportunity and am excited to be taking on the challenge of coaching again,” said Taylor.

“There is something special happening at the Sydney Roosters and to be a part of that will be fantastic.

“We have a great group of young players here and I am looking forward to working with them and leading them into the 2011 season.”

All players in the National Youth Competition (NYC) will begin their pre-season training in November.

Storm gain new assistant coaches in Kevin Walters and David Kidwell

Two rugby league greats in Kevin Walters and David Kidwell have joined forces, and have been made assistant coaches at the Melbourne Storm.

Both Kidwell and Walters will assume the role after former Storm assistant Stephen Kearney left the club to take up the head coaching position at the Eels.

Walters, who was captain of the Broncos during some of the premiership wins, played in eight test matches and 20 State of Origin games for QLD, while David Kidwell enjoyed a 4 year stay at the Storm during his playing days, racking up 104 games in the process.

Walters, who only just returned to Australia was formerly the coach of ESL team Catalans Dragons, in which he took them to a preliminary final in just his first year in charge.

Kidwell assumes the assistant coach role at the Storm and leaves behind his coaching position as head coach of the Rabbitohs Under 20’s side in which he made the grand final with in 2010.

Craig Bellamy couldn’t disguise his content at getting the two on board at the Storm.

“We’re absolutely delighted that Kevin and David have decided to join the Storm family,” Bellamy said.

“I know Kevin and David will be able to contribute greatly to our preparations for next season, and both will bring great ideas, enthusiasm, professionalism and experience to our club.”

Whilst Walters will begin his role immediately at the Storm’s pre-season training beginning on Monday, Kidwell will only begin his role once his prior commitments with the Junior Kiwi side cease.

Parramatta firming as new club for Jonathon Thurston

The Parramatta Eels have emerged as the favourites to secure the services of North Queensland Cowboys five-eighth, Jonathon Thurston.

Despite still being contracted to the Cowboys for another three years, the Cowboys are believed to be wearing thin with patience in light of recent incidents.

Whilst the supposed smokescreen has been that of Matt Orford, after he demanded a release from his ESL club Bradford Bulls, it’s no surprise that the Eels have been keeping a close eye on Thurston, as they have done for some time.

Thurston, who has officially been ruled out of the Four Nations with an ankle injury, has had a tough few years in recent times at the Cowboys, and is believed to have fallen out with Cowboys coach Neil Henry.

Thurston, who was also recently charged with being a public nuisance has had those subsequent charges dropped, although the club still plan to conduct a review which could see Thurston lose the captaincy at the club.

It’s no surprise that Thurston appears to be favouring a move back to Sydney, having expressed a desire to do so on several occasions over the last few years.

The Eels are on a mission to secure a top-flight half, and they are one of the NRL’s few clubs with money left in the cap to chase a high-profile player like Thurston.

”I’ve heard the rumours, but as far as we’re concerned Johnathan is contracted to the Cowboys,” Eels chief executive Paul Osborne said.

”We’re concentrating on getting people who are actually available.”

If Thurston was to join the Eels, then the move would be a great way for new Eels coach Stephen Kearney to begin his tenure at the club.

Whilst Thurston would appear to the missing piece to the puzzle that is the Eels, Thurston’s manager Sam Ayoub has strongly denied that his client is going anywhere.

”I’m sure there would be clubs that would be delighted to have him on board, but he’s at the Cowboys and he’s contracted for three years,” Ayoub said. ‘

‘I would doubt [he will join Parramatta] very, very much. Just because someone has had a hiccup along the way doesn’t mean he won’t be there. I think people are reading more into it than they should.”

Billy Slater set to remain a Stormer for life

Just 8 years ago, all Billy Slater had when he arrived in Melbourne was a sole suitcase.

Now, arguably the games best fullback is set to sign a deal worth $1 million that will ensure he remains at the Storm for the remainder of his career.

As we draw nearer and nearer to the start of the Four Nations, Slater has declared he had no intentions to leave the club, which is a boost to Melbourne as they look to the future, in light of their recent cap scandals.

Despite already being contracted to the Storm until the end of 2012, Slater and his manager George Mimis have already begun discussing a 3 year extension to that deal, which will effectively mean that Slater will end his career at the Storm.

Just 8 months ago, such a deal would have seemed impossible due to the Storm’s cap scandal.

“But what happened over the last few months has only enhanced the camaraderie of the place,” Slater said.

“When things aren’t going so well, it’s easier for everyone to take their own direction, but the club is just so strong.”

Slater’s NRL career began at just 4 years old, when he played for the Brothers club in Innisfail in far North Queensland.

He almost gave the game up however, when at the age of 15, he quit league and worked as a trackwork jockey under Gai Waterhouse in Sydney.

League would have the last laugh however, as Slater’s love of the game couldn’t keep him away. His determination was evident when he travelled 20 hours to play for the then Melbourne Storm feeder side Norths Devils in Brisbane.

Later that day, after impressing those at the Storm in leaps and bounds, he signed his first NRL contract.

“I went down there as a 19-year-old kid. I was single, I had a suitcase – that’s all I had,” Slater said.

“Now I’ve got a house, a beautiful wife and two kids.

“I’ve grown a lot since I’ve gone down there. Melbourne’s home for me now.

“You always weigh up your options and your opportunities when you sit down and start thinking about negotiating a new contract.

“But that’s the place for me and if we could do a deal until the end of my career, I would be very proud to be a one-club man.

“I have been involved with the club for nearly 10 years now.

“It’s a place that’s given me an opportunity to fulfil my dreams and a chance for me now to finish my career at the place where it all started.”

Critics already writing Canberra off

Canberra stalwart and five-eighth Terry Campese has urged NRL fans and critics alike not to dismiss the Raiders as cellar-dwellars as he faces a lengthy stint on the sideline after knee sugery.

Campese has thrown his support behind Josh McCrone and Michael Picker to guide the Raiders next year, in light of his knee injury which is expected to keep him out until at least Rd 12.

The blow is detrimental to the Raiders chances of making a run for the top 8 in season 2011, and many critics believe that without Campese’s leadership and skill, the Raiders lack any real creativity.

Campese insists though that the production line of talent that the Raiders have coming through, is more than capable of filling the void.

“They can definitely handle it,” said Campese, who underwent knee surgery three weeks ago.

“Josh led us well this year and he’ll have a lot of confidence from that and we’ve got a great bunch of young halves at the club in Michael Picker and Sam Williams.

“They’ve played in grand finals for lower grades and they’re very confident and they can’t wait to get to training to start competing for that position.”

The calls come after Raiders CEO Don Furner dismissed any rumours that the club were attempting to coax former Panther Craig Gower or former Storm and Manly player, Matt Orford to the club.

Campese’s season ended in a painful matter, after he was stretchered off of the field in the club’s finals loss to the Tigers with a cruciate ligament injury to his knee.

Campese is faced with another five weeks in a leg brace, after doctors were forced to perform a skin graft to replace the ruptured ligament, thus meaning that Campese will not be able to run until at least Christmas.

The Raiders play-maker is aiming for a Rd 13 return, which will see them face the North Queensland Cowboys, and he remains adamant that the Raiders will have the attacking and defensive arsenal without him, to stay close to the top 8 by the time he comes back.

“I don’t think it’s any different getting written off if I was in the team or not,” he said. “We can take a lot of confidence out of the last few games and just hopefully everyone stays behind us because we’ve definitely still got the personnel capable to be right up there.”

Campese also noted that the Raiders fairy-tale run to the 2010 finals gave them the added impetus to continue that good form into season 2011.

“We learned coming seventh if we won a few games at the start of the year when we were leading we would have been right up there.”