Category Archives: NRL Club News

Individual NRL Team and Club News

Sonny Bill Williams roped in by Mundine

Anthony Mundine and Ben Cousins meet the pressIt was a meeting and press conference that would have had Bulldogs officials slightly nervous about the growing bond between NRL star Sonny Bill Williams and human headline Anthony ‘The Man’ Mundine.

Mundine’s PR machine was in stunning form, as his manager and posse arranged an impromptu press conference centred around AFL bad boy Ben Cousins – the aim to spread an ‘anti-drug’ message and clear the air around the troubled Cousins – oh and to promote a little fight thats around the corner. In reality Ben Cousins didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, Mundine and his crew got priceless spots on the evening news and it was all perfectly stage managed in the heart of a Redfern gym. More bums on seats for ‘The Man’ perhaps.

Was it smart for the Bulldogs to let SBW get involved with such a PR stunt? Sure, Sonny Bill isn’t breaking any rules by being involved – but the mere fact that Williams was seen in association with the likes of Ben Cousins and possibly even Mundine wasn’t a smart move.

Ben Cousins has been constantly in the news in the past 12 months, his drug addiction and his general attitude a blight on the game of AFL and even Australian sporting hero’s both locally and internationally. Hats off to Cousins if he is trying to rehabilitate, but really – Sonny Bill Williams should be miles away from this kind of thing and his club should probably tell him so.

While Mundine might be a teetotaler and portrayed as a messiah by his PR machine, his reputation amongst the majority of the Australian public isn’t too glowing. Sonny Bill’s management have probably made a poor choice in pushing this hookup. While they may think it’s increasing the SBW brand and potential, spending time with Mundine will probably do more harm than good.

While essentially the intentions might have been good, really it was a bad move. The SBW team should have supported the anti-drugs message in a better way and kept well clear of this Ben Cousins / Anthony Mundine circus act; especially at a time where the Bulldogs are in dire need of a new image. What it does show, is that Belmore management either don’t have a leach on their troops at all or their PR radar is in dire need of adjustment or replacement.

Daniel Holdsworth Re-Invented

Daniel Holdsworth BulldogsGiving some hope to the struggling Bulldogs is re-invented half Daniel Holdsworth. When Holdsworth relocated to Belmore from the Dragons, he was an instant hit. Combining well with halfback Brent Sherwin, Holdsworth really stated his claims as the clubs future five eighth.

Then along came Ben Roberts. The up and coming Kiwi put consistent pressure on Holdsworth which eventually saw him relegated to Premier League for most of 2007. While Holdsworth was a solid performer in the lower grades, only the relocation of prominent half back Brent Sherwin has given Holdsworth a sniff of the big time again.

According to reports from inside the Bulldogs, Holdsworth has been putting in extra sessions and really training the house down to force his way into the lineup and cement a spot for 2008. Even more impressive from Holdsworth was his victory at the NRL fan day; beating some hot competition to take out the NRL sharp shooter award for goal kicking.

Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan has confirmed Daniel Holdsworth’s high quality pre-season and credentials, stating last night “Holdsworth will be given first crack at the five eight spot alongside Ben Roberts at halfback.”

It seems club veteran Corey Hughes has also won back the hearts and minds of the training stuff with his position seemingly looking strong for 2008, even with boom rake Michael Sullivan joining the club. Andrew Ryan also confirmed “Corey Hughes and Sullivan will interchange at hooker for us at this stage and from what we’ve seen, we’re expecting big things.”

Its a much needed dose of medicine for the Bulldogs, who as we have reported are bouncing from one nightmare to another. Especially in the case of Holdsworth, he has the potential to rise back to the top and stamp himself as a true game breaker. He has that noted pace and possesses the ideal build for the perfect five eighth. With confidence in his game and quality kicking, he can help the Dogs regain their vintage form which has struggled under the guidance of Sherwin and more specifically Folkes in the past 18 months.

Jarrod Mullen; the Machine

Jarrod MullenSome say he has more pressure than any other player in the NRL. Newcastle Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen not only has to fill the shoes of Andrew Johns; but he carries the hopes of the Newcastle people – people torn by infighting and unrest at the Knights in 2007.

A natural talent, Mullen has developed quickly at the Knights and the timing of the Johns departure certainly hasn’t hindered this future star. He slipped into NSW Origin honours with ease in 2007 and he seems to handle pressure much better than those ahead of him. Even with additional heat put on him by coach Brian Smith during the selection period for Origin with claims of “Mullen’s not ready for Origin yet” and the on-going battle with injury last year – Mullen’s performances and his handling of pressure was impressive.

It seems that at the core of the Jarrod Mullen machine, is a consistent and driven work ethic. While gifted with all the silky skills required for big time NRL, Mullen isn’t one to cut corners. In a much similar way to Andrew and Matthew Johns, Mullen will get to training hours before the scheduled start time and begin his own drills and training and you guessed it – he is usually the last to leave when the team clocks off.

As NRL Rugby League is now a full time profession, you could understand the fact that players would be ready to head home after hours upon hours of gym, cross-training and skills work – they are living and breathing NRL 24/7 and most of the players would be eager to get some time away from their full time job.

Not Mullen.

Extra sessions, additional video homework and the reels of information garnered from guys like Joey Johns are part and parcel of the Mullen machine. It shows why Mullen is so valuable to the Knights not only in 2008 but as the rock to build their future on. New signings to the club for 2008 have been blown away by the work ethic of Mullen, new boys Ben Cross and Wes Naiqama have both claimed to be spurred on by the drive of Mullen.

Preparation and inspiration for this years season has come from months on the sidelines in late 2007; Mullen helplessly watching injured as his Knights teammates were belted week in week out. To compound the matter, the media spotlight on Newcastle and the ensuing drama involving Brian Smith and Kirk Reynoldson – only stood to further rip at the bond the Knights players had built together.

Mullen could be just the answer to the Knights woes. There is sure to be plenty of pressure heaped on the upcoming half as Newcastle look to him to spark things this year. As they have done for so many years, the Knights will look to the number 7 when the chips are down. Fortunately for Mullen, he seems to crave the pressure situations – already in his young career he has regularly taken the right option at critical times and certainly hasn’t shyed away when the game was on the line.

So as the Knights dig deep in their current pre-season, eager to bury the demons of 2007 – there’s no need to worry about Jarrod Mullen. The young half is seemingly able to put the pressure to one side and through his hard work, continues to rise to the top of the NRL ranks. All in a days work it seems, or should we say a days fun?

Nepean Motor Group plugs Panthers hole

Penrith Panthers NRL LogoIt was an 11th hour rescue deal that couldn’t have come quick enough for the Penrith Panthers club. As negotiations broke down with previous sleeve sponsor Parkview, the Panthers were quickly back in business when existing minor sponsor Nepean Motor Group stepped up their support and took the sleeve sponsorship role for the 2008 NRL Season.

Offering a 2 year deal, the local Nepean Motor Group is hoping to capitalise on their new level of visibility in 2008 and grow their local Penrith business in-line with the success of the Panthers. Former Panthers hooker, Shannon Donato now business development manager for the Panthers helped broker the deal which has the Panthers scrambling to get their 2008 playing strips re-done before season kickoff.

Jersey manufacturer ISC is working overtime to get everything in place for the Panthers as they prepare to begin their range of trial games for 2008. The Panthers get their official NRL season underway against the Broncos in Queensland in Round 1 – in what should be a great grudge match, with Joel Clinton and Peter Wallace now in Brisbane colours and former Queenslander Petero Civoniceva now the great hope for the Panthers – so expect plenty of fireworks.

Suzuki backs Melbourne Storm for 3 years

Melbourne Storm Away Jersey Playing Kit 2008 NRLWho said that an NRL side in Victoria would never work? On the back of their Premiership win in NRL 2007, the Melbourne Storm have announced a 3 year deal with major vehicle manufacturer Suzuki to be the sleeve sponsor for the next 3 years. It adds to an impressive linup of corporate backers for the Storm, with Medibank / Host Plus their major sponsors and additional deals with Reebok sweetening things – independent NRL audits have found the Melbourne Storm’s sponsors to be amongst the most recognised in the game.

An estimated value on the Storm’s advertising power is now around $2 million AU – a huge leap from previous years, as big name corporates fight to get a piece of the Storm’s hot real estate – their well recognised strip. With their value tripling in the last three years and a new stadium in 2010 – the Melbourne Storm look like a solid investment for the future. It all adds weight to our recent article about the health of the NRL and future expansion plans.

To capitalize on their growing brand, the Storm have just released a new away strip (pictured above) for their 2008 NRL season – helping their sponsors stand out even more with their increased TV coverage. Teams such as Canberra and Newcastle would kill for the financial backing the Storm now has. With a prodominantly white top, it certainly stands out from the rest.

And they said it would never work in Victoria? The Storm now have a top coach, a playing roster littered with stars and a growing corporate brand that is highly sought after. Well, maybe it was only Denis Fitzgeralnd that said the Storm would never work and they have been throwing egg on his face ever since.