By STEVE MASCORD
ON the surface of it, the current plight of the Newcastle Knights proves that the NRL and Super League are not that far removed from each other.
Soft rock kings Dire Straits are in Salford and Newcastle? No, it’s the other way around.
We Australians like to think we’re flying, with our $1.025 billion television deal and players coming from all places and all codes to lace a boot in our competition.
But Nathan Tinkler, the Knights’ moneybags owner, seems to be slowly going broke and only recently the members board asked him to give the club back to them. Hunter Sports Group, which has a massive tax bill and is bleeding cash and letting go of many assets, ducked for cover when it came to public comment and instead left those with no real knowledge of the clubs’ financial situation to face the media.
At Salford, the council refused a bailout proposal for the Reds who are a the subject of a winding up petition – of which several out-of-pocket players are a part.
It seems they might have nicer weather and a better national team in Oz but there’s nothing new under the sun-or-not in rugby league.
But there’s a big difference.
Nathan Tinkler was not allowed to take control of the Knights until he put up a $20 million bank guarantee – and paid off ALL of the Knights’ bills. Now, he may have amassed some more debts in his short time in control but the club will be immeasurably better off if he departs during this season than it was when it took the reins last than two years ago.
Compare that to the plight of Salford. Their tax bill is only Stg50,000 but tell them they had a bank guarantee and they’d cry with happiness and head to the pub.
This writer can’t say he feels sorry for Tinker, who once told a reporter: “You’re a f—ing deadbeat, people like me don’t bother with f—ing you. You climb out of your bed every morning for your pathetic hundred grand a year, good luck.
”There’s a tall poppy syndrome; you would have heard of that because you hang around with the deadbeats and the losers who have done nothing with their lives.”
I’d rather do something with my life for enjoyment than for cash, Nathan. When you do something for satisfaction, you are rewarded instantly. Is it only money that gets you out of bed?
Might as well sleep in a bit this year…
IT’s a measure of how much anticipation there is about the current season that when Manly put out a lame sponsorship announcement the other day, it was not only seized upon but ripped the shreds.
Normally, a press release saying the club was now called the “Kaspersky Sea Eagles” would be summarily ignored. How many times have clubs around the world tried to sneak their sponsor into the paper with such announcements, with the releases sinking without a trace.
But instead of being treated with the usual disdain, the media release received such a big run in traditional and social media that people thought Manly were actually changing their name! They had to put out a statement climbing down from the original announcement!
Do you know that Brisbane were recently “called” the Wow! Sight And Sound Broncos?
Please calm down everyone. The season will be here soon enough.
SOMETHING is happening in the United States – and it’s too hard to say whether it’s good or bad.
The AMNRL site, owned by the establishment competition run by David Niu, is gone. The USARL site – run by the rebels – remains. Breakaway side Boston 13s recently Tweeted that they hoped to have players in the Tomahawks squad for RLWC13.
At the moment, players from the breakaway comp are precluded from playing for the national side. Apple Pope had to quit his Jacksonville Axemen to retain the Tomahawks captaincy.
As we told you last month, there is also new activity on the West Coast. It should be an interesting lead-up to the Americans’ World Cup bow. We aren’t even sure if coach Matthew Elliott will be holding onto the job after getting a start with the New Zealand Warriors.
IN Oz there was a commericial in the early eighties for a non-alcoholic mixer called Claytons, with the slogan being “The Drink You Have When You’re Not Having A Drink”.
Every since then, “Claytons” has been local slang for something fake.
And from what I can tell, we may be about to see a Clayton’s Shoudler Charge Ban.
From what I am told by sources deep within the refereeing ranks, shoudler charges will be OK in the NRL this year as long as the arm of the defender is extended. In other words, the difference between a shoulder charge and a legitimate tackle will be defined as whether the arm is tucked into the body or not.
I’m also hearing that if there’s no penalty on the field, and no high contact, then the match review committee won’t even bother looking at it.
I’m sure Chris Sandow’s coach, Ricky Stuart, would prefer him to stick his arm out anyway.
SO, will this month’s World Club Challenge between Leeds and Melbourne be the final one in the old two-team format …. finally?
The clubs want to stage a six-team tournament at the end of next season, perhaps in a neutral venue such as Las Vegas or Dubai.
The RLIF, on the other hand, is keen on a tour of some sort (more news as it comes to hand) in Australia and New Zealand at that time.
A compromise would see three Super League teams travelling to Australia for a pre-season WCC next year, with the clubs leveraging the games as part of their stadium deals.
In the mean time, in a couple of weeks the Melbourne Storm will be setting up shop at Eton, which may be the poshest school in the entire world.
MY own thoughts on Rugby League World‘s World XIII last month were that St George Illawarra’s Brett Morris was very lucky indeed to get in.
He can do much, much more than he acheived last year; remember the way he started 2011 playing for the Dragons against Wigan. His twin brother Josh has moved way ahead of him and is now an outstanding centre.
While on Josh, if you think rugby league players just like to go to cheesy holiday spots and get rolling drunk in the off-season, Josh took a group of Bulldogs to the South By Southwest (SxSW) music festival in Austin Texas last year.
Would love to go myself.
Cooper Cronk’s ascention to being the world’s best halfback is richly deserved and a great advertisement for patience, given the men he has been lining up behind for the best part of a decade.
WHEN Fiji coaching director Joe Dakuitoga told me shortly after one of Petero Civoniceva’s “final” appearances at Suncorp Stadium that the big fella was going to play a year in the Queensland Cup to stay fit for RLWC 13, I had to check it out from the man himself.
“Tell him to get off the kava,” Petero texted.
But as it turns out, Joe was right and Petero was … well, it would be a massive co-incidence if he had never considered this possibility until the Fijians presented it as fact to a reporter, wouldn’t it?
One can only surmise that Civoniceva didn’t want to take the lustre from his various farewell matches but admitting he actually had more than a year left in his career.
In fact, he may even get another run at Suncorp Stadium if his new team, Redcliffe Dolphins, may the Q Cup final.
I THOUGHT last month’s edition was a cracker and I particularly enjoyed reading about France’s 25-18 win over Great Britain at Headingley in 1990.
I was a spot 21-year-old on my first visit to the UK back then and remember two things about the match very clearly. One, the French were sponsored by Jiffi Condoms. Two, I was taking a pee when they scored the winning try.
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