THE NRL’S MONEY TREE
The National Rugby League says part of the new Chief Executive’s duties will include concentrating and growing the grassroots level of the game, something we’ve heard time and time again without any real action. That means some real money being invested instead of empty promises from men whose salaries seem to be growing substantially by the year. It’s very hard for us to swallow that rugby league heartlands are diminishing when the wallets at League Central are getting fatter. There’s also talk that the search for a new CEO could take as long as six months. That’s crazy. One of former CEO Dave Smith’s legacies that has been glossed over is the management positions he created around him costing the game almost a million bucks per year. Smith created Head of Strategy and Head of Football and employed Shane Richardson and Todd Greenberg to the respective roles on huge salaries. And who has the job of finding the game’s next CEO? That honour goes to Signium International who will also be paid at least $300,000.
ARE SOWARD AND WALLACE ON BORROWED TIME?
Ask yourself what Penrith Panthers team looks more dangerous on paper. A Penrith outfit with veterans Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward in the halves and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the wing or Matt Moylan at five-eight and Watene-Zelezniak at fullback with either Soward or Wallace fighting for the halfback role? The Panthers have already sacked their coach Ivan Cleary because he was “tired” with former Brisbane mentor Anthony Griffin taking over. Don’t be surprised if we see some major changes to the Panthers squad to start 2016. Moylan and DWZ roaming the field together trailing James Segeyaro through the middle third could make the Panthers an immediate threat next season.
HAYNE’S CAREER NOT OVER IF 49ERS CUT HIM
Who says Jarryd Hayne’s career is over if San Francisco cut ties with him? Hayne has shown enough to have plenty of franchises interested. Remember that there are 32 clubs in the NFL.
It’s sad to see how far the French have fallen after being destroyed by England 84-4 last weekend. In the early 1950’s, Les Tricolores were the best team in the world beating Australia in Australia in two separate series. In 1954 they lost the World Cup Final as host nation to Great Britain 16-12 and appeared in their last Cup decider in Australia in 1968. It’s been a decline ever since and they’ve now officially hit rock bottom.
THURSTON’S FIRST MOMENT OF IMMORTALITY
I was watching a replay of the 2004 NRL Grand Final between Canterbury and Sydney Roosters the other night and I’m certain I’ve found the moment Johnathan Thurston began his road to future Immortality. It’s late in the game and Bulldogs lead 16-13, both teams are out on their feet. Bulldogs are struggling in their own end and the Roosters are winning the tussle for field position. With only a minute or two left in the match Channel Nine’s Peter Sterling calls for a good kick from five-eight Braith Anasta. At that time Anasta was the star and Thurston a mere bench player and his presence obviously didn’t cross Sterling’s mind. But the pass didn’t go to Anasta, it went to Thurston. With all the class in the world Thurston punches the kick into touch forcing a scrum ten metres from the Roosters line. From the scrum on the next play Thurston then chops the legs out from under the legendary Brad Fittler. This was the makings of Johnathan Thurston.
KEARNEY PUTS PRESSURE ON LOLOHEA
Tui Lolohea is a gun and he’ll prove that in the coming years which is why Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney had no dramas picking him as their first choice playmaker for their England tour with fellow rookie Kodi Nikorima and Manly winger Peta Hiku his other playmaking options. Surely there was room for legend Benji Marshall and if anything, Marshall’s presence would have helped Lolohea’s development. And for the record the Kiwis told Marshall he wouldn’t be selected prior to the Dragon having surgery.
RAIDERS TO GO WITH SAM WILLIAMS FOR ROUND ONE
Expect to see Ricky Stuart start with Sam Williams at halfback to start 2016 with either Aidan Sezer or Blake Austin moving into the forwards. Stuart likes Williams and brought him back to Canberra from the Dragons when the coach first signed.