Category Archives: NRL News

Regular and General NRL News Articles and Information

Bulldogs old boys challenge for control

malcolm-noad.jpgTo add fuel to the fires over at Belmore, it seems that a boardroom battle is about to erupt as former Bulldogs stars gather in an attempt to regain control of the once proud club. Former players Paul Dunn, Graeme Hughes, Barry Ward and Andrew Farrar have created a rival ticket to try and wrestle control of the NRL club from it’s current Malcolm Noad governed state.

At the heart of the challenge, the Bulldogs old boys want a return to the days of Peter Moore. In the days of Bullfrog Moore, the Bulldogs club was heavily envied – they had a tight knit family structure and continued to produce quality players and won a stack of Premiership Titles.

Since the passing of Peter Moore, it seems the Bulldogs have limped from one crisis to another. Apart from tasting glory in 2004, the Bulldogs have been constantly in NRL headlines for all the wrong reasons. Rape allegations, wild parties, boozing on the job and a revolving door that lost millions of dollars worth of playing talent are the key problems the club has faced.

It’s interesting to see how the tide has turned against Malcolm Noad. The one time News Limited man and previous NRL chairman was a favourite son of the News crowd sometime ago; how things have changed. News Limited papers continue to bag Noad and make like continually difficult for him at the Bulldogs and current chairman George Peponis remains uncomitted to either Noad and the rival ticket – keeping his eggs in both baskets.

Surely things can’t get worse for the Bulldogs, their new training facitily at the Sydney Showground is undergoing serious renovations and is currently doubled booked well into the NRL season. With morale at an all time low, should the Bulldogs drop a few games early in the season they simply might not be able to bounce back before heads roll.

Gary Kemble angrily quits Kiwi job

Embattled Kiwi Rugby League coach Gary Kemble has finally quit his post as head coach of the NZ side after weeks of in-fighting and an eventual player revolt – led by Roy Asotasi and David Kidwell.

Citing the best interests of the team and his country, Kemble eventually had enough of the finger pointing and constant spot light from NZ and Australian media. Since taking the reigns, Kemble has been in control of some of the biggest ever defeats the NZ Rugby League has seen.

With such a quality side, it was gobsmacking that Kemble couldn’t pull it all together and making the matter worse was the fact that when Wayne Bennett had control of the All Golds touring side (a side with similar Kiwi personnel) he had them firing on all cylinders.

With Kemble walking away, it opens the door for Australian Wayne Bennett to get involved with the Kiwi’s and bring some respect back to their national side. The quality of player is certainly there and while it hasn’t been mentioned in the press, there is no question Wayne Bennett would like to exact some revenge on the Australian side after his eventual dumping to Ricky Stuart several years ago – this is the chance of a fresh change and a new challenge for the aging Bennett.

A competitive Kiwi Rugby League side is critical to the success of the league internationally and the World Cup around the corner – the Kiwis need to pull together ASAP or risk drifting further afield.

Fatty’s Son signed by Titans

Paul Vautin in his Manly playing daysFormer Rugby League icon and now NRL Footy Show Host Paul Vautin is beaming at present, with the news the Gold Coast Titans have scouted his son into the ranks of the young NRL club.

A skinny 17 year old, Matt Vautin is quite the opposite of his father – Vautin Jnr is a pacey outside back with a decent step, something his old man would have loved back in his heyday. With a good amount of height and the ideal weight at 93kg – the signs for the future for the young Vautin look good.

Initially the Titans had no idea they were scouting the son of former star Paul Vautin, but the rest as they say is history. The Titans have opened the cheque book and Matt Vautin has now relocated from the Northern Beaches of NSW to the tourist strip of the Gold Coast.

Vautin Snr has asked old mate Trevor Gilmiester to keep a close eye on his son over the remainder of the off-season and the man they called the axe is reportedly assisting young Vautin with tackling technique and an increased fitness regime in addition to the help he is receiving from the Titans.

The trend of former players sons entering the NRL seems set to continue, with several already scattered throughout the clubs and the upcoming stars in Pearce Jnr at the Roosters and Roach Jnr at Cronulla will see the trend continue along with Fatty Jnr and his deal with the Titans.

Stacey Jones re-joins Warriors in 2008

Stacey Jones Warriors 2008The NZ Warriors will be boosted for the NRL 2008 season by the addition of former halfback Stacey Jones to their coaching staff for their assult on the premiership.

The sublimely talented Jones has recently come back from several years in the UK Super League and his presence should surely add some guile and creativity to the improving Warriors half combination of Michael Witt and Grant Rovelli. Since his departure, the Warriors have always struggled in the halves – apart from an impressive 2007 which saw New Zealand not only reach the NRL Final 8 but actually host a home final.

Things are seemingly on the rise for the Warriors, they have secured the services of a quality coach in Ivan Cleary and their roster boasts several Australian Internationals which helps bring a nice blended brand of football to the sometimes over exuberant polynesian style they previously possessed.

With Steve Price having the year of his life in 2007, the Warriors will be hoping they can achieve the same with the aging Brent Tate. Tate’s natural talent and passion cannot be questioned, but the popular Queenslander has struggled deeply with injury in the past 2 years and many feel it may be a big ask for the former International representative to again climb to the lofty heights of the past. Under a new coach and new environment, it might be just the tonic Tate needs to revive his best game and brush off the injury woes; fortunately for the NZ Warriors his presence alone on the field will add confidence and structure in 2008 – something in the past that goes MIA at the Warriors.

Judging by 2007 results, a strong home crowd following and the addition of some quality troops and coaching skills in Stacey Jones, the Warriors are a realistic chance of taking the NRL Premiership in 2008. Many say Melbourne cannot be beaten, but the style of NRL the Warriors can sometimes turn on might be just the magic to topple the might of the Storm juggernaut.

NRL 2008

The NRL in 2008 gets underway with a stack of trial games around the country, as the NRL takes the game to bush and promotes it against strong rival codes. The bush is regularly forgotten as a Rugby League breeding ground and as the AFL continues to push hard into the western states and the remote areas – the NRL and Rugby League in general needs to keep working hard to increase popularity.

Here’s a list of the trial games for NRL 2008 and where they will be played:

Brisbane Broncos:-

16/2/08 v North QLD Cowboys @Browne Park, Rockhampton
23/2/08 v Canberra Raiders @ Wade Park, Orange
01/03/08 v Melbourne Storm @ Dolphin Park, Redcliffe

Canterbury Bulldogs:-

23/2/08 v St George-Illawarra Dragons @ WIN Stadium
29/02/08 v Penrith Panthers @ Telstra Stadium

Canberra Raiders:-

16/02/08 v Gold Coast Titans @ Briggs Rd Sporting Complex, Ipswich
23/02/08 v Brisbane Broncos @ Wade Park, Orange
01/03/08 v North QLD Cowboys @ Brothers RL Park, Mackay

Cronulla Sharks:-

23/02/08 v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
01/03/08 v Newcastle Knights @ Cessnock

Gold Coast Titans:-

16/02/08 v Canberra Raiders @ Briggs Rd Sporting Complex, Ipswich
23/02/08 v North QLD Cowboys @ Barlow Park, Cairns
01/03/08 v Wests Tigers @ Skilled Stadium, Robina

Manly Sea-Eagles:-

16/02/08 v Melbourne Storm @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Melbourne Storm:-

16/02/08 v Manly Sea-Eagles @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
22/02/08 World Club Challenge – v Leeds Rhinos @ Elland Road, Leeds
01/03/08 v Brisbane Broncos @ Dolphin Park, Redcliffe

Newcastle Knights:-

15/02/08 v New Zealand Warriors @ North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
01/03/08 v Cronulla Sharks @ Cessnock

New Zealand Warriors:-

15/02/08 v Newcastle Knights @ North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
29/02/08 v Manly Sea-Eagles @ Kawana Waters

North QLD Cowboys:-

16/02/08 v Brisbane Broncos @ Browne Park, Rockhampton
23/02/08 v Gold Coast Titans @ Barlow Park, Cairns
01/03/0/8 v Canberra Raiders @ Brothers RL Club, Mackay

Parramatta Eels:-

22/02/08 v Penrith Panthers @ Lavington Oval, Albury
01/03/08 v Sydney Roosters @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Penrith Panthers:-

22/02/08 v Parramatta Eels @ Lavington Oval, Albury
29/02/08 v Canterbury Bulldogs @ Telstra Stadium

South Sydney Rabbitohs:-

26/01/08 v Leeds Rhinos @ Hodges Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
23/02/08 v Cronulla Sharks @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
01/03/08 Charity Shield – v St George-Illawarra Dragons @ Telstra Stadium

St George-Illawarra Dragons:-

23/02/08 v Canterbury Bulldogs @ WIN Stadium
01/03/08 Charity Shield – v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ Telstra Stadium

Sydney Roosters:-

15/02/08 v Combined Group 1 and 2 @ Coffs Harnour
23/02/08 v Wests Tigers @ Sydney Football Stadium
01/03/08 v Parramatta Eels @ Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Wests Tigers:-

23/02/08 v Sydney Roosters @ Sydney Football Stadium
01/03/08 v Gold Coast Titans @ Skilled Stadium, Robina

Anthony Laffranchi Court Case continues

Anthony LaffranchiTHE rape case against rugby league player Anthony Laffranchi has heard of a secretly recorded conversation, in which his alleged victim was thanked. The woman, who cannot be named, told the Burwood Local Court she used her mobile phone to make the recording moments after she woke up in a strange Sydney apartment in September 2006.

The 26-year-old said she became distressed after she went to the bathroom to discover her vagina was “red and sore”, and her black shorts were inside-out. “I remember waking up on September 4 at about 8am … I was on a lounge with a brown doona cover over me … I was quite dazy,” the woman said today. “I’ve gotten up from my chair and gone into the bathroom and I realised that my pants were inside-out. “In fear, I was so scared, I pushed record on my mobile phone as I was walking out of the bathroom.”

The court then heard details of the phone recording, in which an unidentified man is heard to say “thanks for the orgasm”. “You’re gonna be sorry, your mate will be sorry” the woman says in the recording. The woman had woken up in the inner western Sydney apartment of Wests Tigers player Ryan O’Hara, where overnight end-of-season celebrations had involved a number of players. Laffranchi, who has since transferred to the Gold Coast Titans, has strenuously protested his innocence to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent. He sat silently in the courtroom as his committal hearing got underway, and he did not look at the TV screen showing the woman giving her evidence by video-link today.

The woman also said she had been drinking heavily and dancing with friends at clubs in Kings Cross the night earlier, and she had no recollection of how she came to be in the apartment. She said she was crying when she left the apartment to catch a cab to a friend’s home. “I told him to ‘hurry up, I think I’ve been raped’.”

Under cross examination by Laffranchi’s lawyer, the woman denied the rape allegation was payback because she felt “disrespected” the morning after she had consensual sex with one or more of the men. “You wanted to pay him back,” Tony Bellanto QC said. “No,” the woman replied.

The court also heard the woman made 21 calls on her mobile phone, and caught several cabs, during the hours she said she could not remember. The committal hearing is yet to hear from the doctor who gave the woman a medical check-up. Magistrate Caroline Barkell adjourned the committal hearing to March 27.

Telstra Stadium becomes ANZ Stadium

anz-stadium.jpgUnder the cover of Christmas, the premier sporting stadium in the state of New South Wales – Telstra Stadium became ANZ Stadium for the next 7 years. Home to many sporting codes, the change has a larger effect on the NRL as several Rugby League teams base their campaign out of the high capacity stadium.

Telstra have held naming rights to the stadium since 2002 and it took a $4.5 million a year injection from ANZ to secure the new rights in what is the largest ever stadium sponsorship deal inked in this country. Owner operator Stadium Australia was no doubt pleased with the deal that will ensure the stadium remains a premier sporting icon for NSW and Australia in the years ahead.

Telstra will continue to be the flagship sponsor of the NRL, however it will take Rugby League fans quite some time to get used to the new name ‘ANZ Stadium’. Adding to the confusion, is the fact that ANZ previously sponsored the QE2 Stadium in Brisbane, which was the home of the Broncos from 1993-2003. Once considered a top quality, high capacity stadium – sadly QE2 Stadium in Brisbane (now known as the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre) is now mostly retired. Few events are held at the former landmark and it’s mostly used for school athletic meetings and similar small events.

As the Rugby League clubs continue their drive for cash, the future may see more stadiums use naming rights as a revenue raising vehicle. Clubs such as Cronulla have sold their stadium naming rights for years, Endeavour Field the Sharks home turf has been known as; Caltex Field, Toyota Park, Shark Park and various other names and more recently the Penrith Panthers inked a large deal and lent their stadium naming rights to the large Credit Union Australia (CUA) Group for a handsome sum.

Tonie Carroll to retire from NRL

Tonie Carroll to retire from Origin in 2008Has Tonie Carroll picked the right time? The Broncos and Queensland Origin hardman, has announced he will not play State of Origin in 2008 and will retire from NRL duties at the end of this year.

It’s been an interesting journey for Carroll. While always being close to Queenslanders hearts, the experienced Carroll has spent time in the UK Super League, played for Australia and even played at International level for the New Zealand Kiwi’s side. Very few can claim such a long list of achiements in Rugby League.

His physical presence alone dominated opposition players; with Carroll regularly driving attackers into the dirt and creating nightmares for his enemies when he had the ball in his hand. It’s easy to see why; the thought of the heavy but mobile Carroll running at you would give anyone night terrors.

While given the task of protecting Darren Lockyer more recently when Lockyer was moved to five eighth, Carroll has taken on a new role of the senior mentor within the Broncos side. His faultless defence and high workrate have regularly helped Brisbane win matches. His change in role has also helped prolong his career, as previously the amount of work in both attack in defence from Carroll would have easily nullified his impact and his longevity.

The problem for Tonie Carroll of late has been the injury factor. Like so many other experienced NRL players; Tonie Carroll just can’t seem to keep his aging body together for long periods. So often his dynamic and exciting work on the NRL field would be punctuated by an agonizing injury and long spell on the sideline. While Wayne Bennett would have not wanted to lose Carroll, surely everyone in the Broncos camp has agreed it’s time to freshen the crop for future years – with Carroll to mentor the juniors this year and put his bulky frame on ice and retire in 2009.

While achieving so much in the game; it would be fitting for the likeable Carroll to end the year on a high note. Certainly a tough ask with Brisbanes green crop of players – however some smart buys at the Broncos might just give Carroll and his team the boost it needs for NRL 2008.

Joey Johns to give Tim Smith the edge

Eels No.7 Tim SmithThe Parramatta Eels have offered troubled halfback Tim Smith the olive branch; allowing the crafty no. 7 back into the squad to resume training.

Smith has not only had to battle the bottle, but is still overcoming his shoulder surgery and hurriedly trying to piece everything together to be ready for 2008. At the insistence of coach Michael Hagan, Joey Johns will remain close to Smith and aid his recovery on top of teaching the promising half the finer tricks of the trade.

The private battles Andrew Johns fought in his own corner would surely be of help to Tim Smith who at 22 has seen more than most on and off the field. Adding to the chorus of help Tim Smith has had, reformed bad boy Chris Walker has reportedly been in touch with Smith to lend him some advice.

For all his skill, Tim Smith still remains lucky to be at the Eels. While we did feel his initial blow up with a pub patron prior to his suspension from Parramatta was a little blown out of proportion, continued offending has seen the blame keep coming back at Smith.

Well past his last chance, the young halfback obviously needs to really put his best foot forward or risk throwing away what could be a stellar career.