Sandow Coy On NRL Return

By STEVE MASCORD
CHRIS Sandow says the quality of his football will determine whether he returns to the NRL when his Warrington contract expires at the end of next year.
The former Parramatta no.7 is one game away from a Challenge Cup final at Wembley after the Wolves’ 20-18 success on Friday night at Halliwell Jones Stadium and says he’s enjoying the attack-oriented Super League.
“We can throw the footy around a bit more over here – that’s what Smithy (coach Tony Smith) wants us to do, use the ball,” Sandow tells League Week. “But we’ve just got to do it at the right time.
“The hamstring injury set me back. I did everything to come back and I’m feeling really good about myself. But it always takes time to come back after something like that. A hamstring, that’s a big injury.
“I just progress each week at training.”
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Parramatta have been embroiled in in-fighting, a salary cap scandal and the loss of star signing Kieran Foran since his mid-season departure in 2015.
“I still keep in contact with some of the boys back home but I’m over here and I’ve got to worry about my team here,” Sandow said. “I’ve got to keep progressing and winning games for Warrington.
“I’ve still got some good mates back home in both (Parramatta and South Sydney) and I wish them all the best. I moved over here to continue my dream of playing rugby league and I’m enjoying it.”
Could he be rejoining those mates in 2018? “I’m here til next year. I’ll let my footy do the talking. The club’s been really good to me so hopefully we can work something out, the club and my manager.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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The Biggest Season-to-season Form Reversals In Premiership History

rlwBy STEVE MASCORD (with research by David Middleton)

THE salary cap is often given credit for the fact we have had 10 different premiers since 1998 – but you can’t thank the salary cap for what Cronulla have done this year.

Maybe you can blame ASADA.

From wooden spooners in 2014 to eliminating the reigning champions in the first week of the finals in 2015, it’s a feat that has perhaps not really sunk in yet. We’re all taking it ‘one game at a time’, right? How will it be remembered? We love giving things context here at RLW.

In these days of fulltime professionalism, we perhaps expect things to go more or less according to plan. In the 1930s, when the premiership was played for beer money and there were only a handful of teams, we’ll believe such feats were possible.

But not now.

In the AFL (then VFL), Fitzroy actually finished last AND won the competition in the SAME year. It was 1916, and all but four clubs had withdrawn from competition due to the Great War.

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So the same four teams played the regular season, and all of them made the finals. That’s how Fitzroy performed a feat we are never likely to see again, even if it does sound better as a trivia question than a real achievement.

In rugby league, we have only ever had a team go from last to lifting the trophy the next year on one occasion – Western Suburbs in 1933-34.

But there’ve been some pretty big form reversals over-all – very few of which we can fairly attribute to the salary cap. Where would you slot the Sharkies into this list?

1. 1. NEWTOWN 1928-29

THE 1928 had no official minor premier but that didn’t matter to Newtown, who were last, . with just one win from 12 matches. This was the year where an administrative dispute led to the League deserting the Sydney Cricket Ground for Sydney Sports Ground (now Allianz Stadium, although the field ran east-west). And there, the first-ever night match was staged post-season, nine-a-side, without the approval of the administration. But anyway … the 1929 Kangaroos left halfway through that season and it could be argued this game the Bluebags something of a leg-up. The Bluebags finished clear fourth, beat St George b a point in the major semi-final and went down 30-10 to South Sydney in the decider. The outhouse to the presidential suite, if not the actual penthouse.

2. WESTERN SUBURBS 1933-34

KANGAROO Tours were actually an early version of the salary cap! Back in the 1930s, there was no question that international football was more important than the club scene and the Test side could hardly just hop on QF 1 to London. So, up until the time the Roos left in July, Wests had won four of their six games and had drawn another. After the team left, they did not win again. Gone were backline stars Frank McMillan, Cliff Pearce, Alan Ridley, Les Mead and Vic Hey. When they returned the following year, the Magpies made up for lost time. In a year which saw University begin a run of 42 consecutive losses (and the league ban radio broadcasts because they believed it was affecting crowds), Eastern Suburbs and Wests each finished on 24 competition points, with the black-and-whites taking out the premiership final against the Roosters, 15-12. That’s the feat the boys from the Shire were trying to match this month and next.

3. SOUTH SYDNEY 1955

LIKE Fitzroy above, South s squeezed their highs and lows into a single season. After nine rounds they were equal last, having won just three matches. They did not lose another for the rest of the regular season, finishing fourth to slip into the finals. It was a magnificent run – they actually could not have afforded to drop a game during that nine-week run. It is immortalised (pun intended) in the second-last game of the home-and-away rounds when Clive Churchill broke his arm against Manly but still kicked the winning conversion on the bell. In the grand final, the bunnies played the minor premiers and defending champions Newtown and they were without Churchill and Greg Hawick. The 12-11 win made it five GF triumphs for captain Jack Rayner.

advertise here4. PARRAMATTA 1962

WHAT would happen today if a side collected SIX consecutive wooden spoons? Perhaps that’s where the salary cap does even up the competition! That was Parramatta’s dismal run from 1956. But in 1962, they didn’t just get off the goot of the table – they made the finals! The man behind it was Ken Kearney, a 1947-48 Wallaby who had switched codes with Leeds and returned to play for St George in 1954. It was a classic early case of a coach remodelling a club, like Wayne Bennett at the Dragons years later. Parramatta coaxed him away from Saints for just three years, with ’62 being the first, and he changed things for the better. But in a reminder of how slowly the wheel turns in sport, they would have to wait until ’81 for their first premiership.

5. EASTERN SUBURBS 1966-67

SYDNEY Roosters proudly celebrate the fact they’re the only side to have competed every year since 1908. There’s a new book about their glory years, The House That Jack Built, that has tricolour pride pouring from its pages. But if the Roosters could miss one of those seasons, then they would no doubt choose 1966. Eastern Suburbs lost 18 from 18 that year. Then Gibson started as coach, and they finished in the top four, before being eliminated by Canterbury in front of 47,186 fans at the SCG. This was the first year for Penrith and Cronulla in the premiership and the first year of limited tackle football (four). Gibson welcomed innovation and dealt with these changes better than most.

6. CANTERBURY 2008-09

In 2008, Canterbury finished a round inside the top eight on only three occasions out of 26. They ended up last, with five wins and 19 losses in the year Sonny Bill Williams walked out for France.. Coach Steve Folkes did not survive to see the following year, with injuries and high profile departures given as the contributing factors. They led Sydney Roosters 20-0 at halftime and lost. Brett, Kimmorley, Josh Morris, David Stagg, Michael Ennis, Greg Eastwood and Ben Hannant joined the club the following year, Kevin Moore took over as coach and the Doggies finished second before being eliminated 22-12 by Parramatta.

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7. MELBOURNE 2010-2011

SLUGGED a wad of cash, two premierships and all their competition points in 2010 for their infamous salary cap breach, the Storm showed what they were made of the following year. The loss of Greg Inglis, Ryan Hoffman, Brett Finch, Aiden Tolman, Jeff Lima and Brett White prompted many to predict they would struggle but Craig Bellamy’s men won the minor premiership with 19 wins from a possible 24. In the play-offs they beat Newcastle before losing to the Warriors in a preliminary final, 20-12. It’s a season that set the tone for everything that came afterwards for the Storm, and perhaps made a statement about the bona fides of what had happened before. A year later they would win a premiership which no-one has since taken off them

8. SOUTH SYDNEY 2014

RUGBY league’s greatest comeback story – ever. Kicked out of the competition in 2000 and 2001 in an episode that because a cause celebre for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, the team named after depression street hawkers selling rabbit carcasses returned in 2002 and stumbled around for a few mediocre seasons (three straight wooden spoons) before actor Russell Crowe and businessman Peter Holmes a Court bought the joint in 2006. The Rabbits returned to the finals almost immediately and last October, Sam Burgess became the first South Sydney player to accept the medal named after one of its greatest, Clive Chruchill, when he led Souths to break a 44-year premiership drought despite a broken cheekbone. Sharkies, that is going to take some beating.

Malcolm Andrews writes:

“My first daily column for the Telegraph in 1983 was an interview with Wests winger Alan Ridley (of the early 1930s) urging the NSWRL not to kick Wests Magpies out of the Premiership. And interesting bloke. I wish I had accepted his offer to take away the diary he kept on the 1933-34 Kangaroo tour.

I have a feeling I read somewhere about Frank ‘Skinny’ McMillan that he ended up broke and used to cadge a few pennies for a beer at the Ashfield Hotel, just around the corner from Pratten Park, the Magpies home ground.

I lived 100 yards from Pratten Park and that’s why I always followed them. My first match was in 1953. That was the year when they won the wooden spoon, 12 months after winning the premiership.

The premiership win is unique in that they were coached by the former Test referee Tom McMahon – it was his first and only year as a coach. A perfect record. It was also the year that referee George Bishop is said to have backed Wests against the red-hot favourites Souths.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

BONDI BEAT: October 2015 – Disneyland, Globalisation & Jarryd Hayne

September 2015By STEVE MASCORD

ONE day, the Jarryd Hayne story will be held up as one of the great sagas of Pacific Immigration, a touchstone for all Melanesian people.

Manoa Thompson, the father of the San Francisco 49ers recruit who you cannot escape hearing about every day (no matter how hard you try) in Australia, was born in Fiji.

In a recent interview, the former Warrington centre recalled how he raised in idyllic conditions, playing barefoot on rough fields without a care in the world.

‘But I had an auntie in Sydney who couldn’t have kids – so my parents sent me here when I was 11,” Thompson told Rugby League Week magazine.

“I lived with my auntie as her son and she eventually adopted me.

“Luckily I played a little footy while I was in Fiji and got straight into it when I arrived, which helped me make friends and adapt.”

You can already see the sprawling movie shots of rough Fijian jungle and the poor south-western suburbs of Sydney, of broken noses and cold nights at training before Manoa had a child when he was barely a man himself.

“Looking back, I wasn’t as professional as I should have been,” Manoa, who made his name at South Sydney, continued.

“I cut corners and didn’t look after my injuries well enough. I didn’t push myself to the max at training. I didn’t enjoy it.

“Those are the lessons I learned and I can’t change the mistakes I made in my career but I tried to pass on those lessons to my son Jarryd when he was young and I think he got the message.”

Thompson played for the Auckland Warriors on their momentous opening night against Brisbane in 1995, before – in his words – being “shipped off” for an ill-fated stint with Warrington. He finished in reserve grade with Penrith and had two stints in France, one with Carcassonne.

Meanwhile, young Jarryd was growing up in Minto, south-western Sydney, mostly without his semi-famous dad.

“I was only 20 when he was born and it was hard – I was playing at Souths and working and he was living with his mum,” said Thompson.

“I didn’t get to see as much of him as I would have liked but we have become very close over the years.”

Jarryd’s journey has obviously already eclipsed even the colourful adventures of his dad. From smashing Darren Lockyer while played for Fiji (Thompson also played for the Bati, against the 1996 Lions) to being shot at in Kings Cross, it’s going to make a helluva second half for that movie.

donate2In trying to figure out what it means, the migration from Fiji to Australia and onto the US over the course of two generations can be seen as a metaphor for the changing face – and increasing globalisation – of professional sports.

Or, as always, it’s the other way around. Sport is a metaphor for life, and for the trends in wider society.

A generation ago, a young Fijian played rugby union for nothing and grew old in Fiji. Manoa Thompson had the opportunity to move to Australia at a time when most islanders didn’t migrate further than Auckland.

Jarryd, in turn, saw an opportunity that his father could never have dreamed of, and took it – in much the same way kids in all walks of life are doing just that now. It might just mean being the first person in the family to study at university or live overseas.

Or it might mean earning millions of dollars as an NFL star.

With each passing year, our horizons in the west get broader and geographical boundaries come down (as these from war-torn and poverty-stricken countries aspire in greater numbers than ever to emulate us, and risk their lives to do so).

Enough of the philosophy, right? What does I mean for rugby league?

The only reason our rugby league players live in Widnes and Campbelltown and Mount Eden and settle for whatever money we pay them is because their skills are not transferable. Rugby league is a specific game with specific attributes and specific historical, geographic boundaries.

In this way, rugby league exists within its own false economy. Regardless of how commercially successful or otherwise the sport is in its various cities and towns, it does not have to pay players the same as a soccer club or a rugby union governing body or … an NFL teams.

That’s because the vast majority of rugby league’s workforce does not have to the option of playing those sports.

But Hayne, Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Burgess and Brad Thorn do not want to be restricted by this quasi-monopoly. They have worked hard at adjusting their skills so they may enter the more lucrative, wider labour market for athletes.

advertise hereThey are breaking down barriers for those who will follow.

When assessing the impact of this trend on rugby league, we need to look at it from the point of view of athletes and from the point of view of fans and the general popularity of the game.

From a playing point of view, it is fair to say more players will look to follow in the footsteps of those above and adapt their skill sets in order to earn more money.

This is where the parallels with economic migration are apt. Economic migrants moving from countries like Fiji to somewhere like Australia will do more menial jobs in the hopes of working their way up the food chain.

Jarryd Hayne was willing to walk out on a sport in which, it could have been argued, he was best in the world – forgoing guaranteed financial rewards – to climb up the sporting food chain. Broadly speaking, over the course of the last 50 years, social and economic boundaries have been coming down for a large chunk of humanity; Thompson and Hayne how quicky this process has accelerated.

But if we accept the NFL is above rugby league in the food chain, what does that mean for our game?

I would submit that depends very much on the vision and courage of our administrators.

Let’s imagine the global popular culture is like the global, homogenised English that everyone speaks now. Local dialects and slang, you may have noticed, are disappearing. When I first traveled abroad in 1990, there were many things I said that locals did not understand, and vice versa.

Now … not so much.

amazonLet’s say 45 per cent of this global English comes from the UK and 40 per cent from the US, with the rest contributed by Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. “No worries” is one of Australia’s very few contributions to global English.

Now let’s imagine pop culture the same way, with the US contributing 65 per cent, say, and the rest of the world throwing in the rest. Global is all that matters, since local customs and tastes are being eroded by technology at an alarming rate

I beleve rugby league can buy itself a seat at a giant room full of seats and tables if it tries. As a curiousity, perhaps. As a niche sport for people who sit up all night and watch whatever is only Channel 57. As global sport’s answer to “no worries”.

But that’s a small piece of a gargantuan pie, a piece that would propel the sport far beyond where it is now.

Put another way, the river channels that flow into the soup of the world sports market are much wider from Los Angeles, London and New York than they are from Wigan and Brisbane. And the flow goes both ways – so the force of what’s coming from those cultural hubs pushes back into our tiny ponds.

If we don’t stop fighting amongst ourselves, putting club football ahead of internationals and sticking our hands out for as much TV money we can get from the governing body, instead of allowing them to pump our product back, we will eventually be swamped by globalisation.

We have to make sure we focus on that central reservoir and accept that soon there will be nothing truly local – even the sport we once used to define where we are from. That’s if we don’t want more kids from Fiji who merely see Parramatta as a step along the road to San Francisco.

The mythology of the US, of Twickenham, of the All Black jersey … they are as powerful as the cash one can earn by chasing them

As Jarryd Hayne’s dad said in the interview: “His little brother Julian cried when Jarryd said he was going to the USA.

“But then I said to him ‘Don’t worry – we will go and watch him play and go to go to Disneyland too.

“And then he was OK.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD

NRL round five 2014: PARRAMATTA 25 BRISBANE 18 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

SIX hundred and thirteen days after their last away away, Parramatta were teased, prodded and eventually rewarded by football fate at Suncorp Stadium.
Coach Brad Arthur was in the job for the first time when the Eels beat Parramatta at the same venue in July 2012.
During an enthralling 80 minutes on Friday night before 32,009 fans, there were times when the Eels looked certain to fall short, and others when victory seemed inevevitable.
In the end, it wasn’t until halfback Chris Sandow kicked a 42-metre field goal with five minutes left that the away drought was assured of ending.
Earlier, hooker Nathan Peats had forced his way over from dummy half after former Bronco Corey Norman bent back the home side’s defence on the previous tackle.

Brisbane has claimed the lead for the first time 11 minutes into the second session. Halfback Ben Hunt had burst into the clear, dummied outside to Ben Barba, and crossed near the posts for a converted try.
The seesawing continued nine minutes later, Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne beating Josh Hoffman one-on-one and the video referees clearing the Eels of obstruction in awarding the try.
Brisbane took four minutes to reclaim the ascendancy, when Parra winger Ken Sio fumbled a bomb. The video officials painstakingly checked possible knock-ons in the air by Alex Glenn and Todd Lowrie before giving prop Josh McGuire the touchdown.
With a minute left in the fist half, Parramatta were sitting pretty after scoring two sizzling tries which piloted them to a 10-0 lead – 613 days after their last away win.
At 24 minutes, prop Peni Taripo and halfback Chris Sandow combined over 50 metres, Sandow’s pass being knocked down by Broncos winger Daniel Tupou in the north-eastern corner.
The ball was snapped up by centre Will Hopoate who scored, Sandow unable to convert from the touchline.
The second blue-and-gold try was even more eye-catching.
Winger Semi Radradra was involved in the start and also finished off the 85-metre movement.
Hopoate and ex-Bronco Corey Norman also chimed in but Radradra produ dd the star turn as he powered down the left wing, ignored the support of Willie Tonga, and stumbled through Ben Barba’s attempted tackle to score.
Video referees Steve Clark and Grant Atkins ruled the ball had not touched the ground while Barba had a hand on Radradra, allowing the try, and Sandow’s goal brought up that 10-point advantage.
But iconic Broncos centre Justin Hodges was not happy to clock-watch.
Darting out of dummy half, Hodges palmed off Norman, sucked in two of his team-mates and then off-loaded one-handed to winger Dale Copley.
With a clear run to the line, Copley did his job and Corey Parker’s conversion narrowed the margin to four for the break,
Before kickoff, the Eels lost prop FuiFui MoiMoi to a badly cut leg.


Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

JOY OF SIX: round one 2015

The Joy Of SixBy STEVE MASCORD

SEEING RED OVER MOSES
WHAT if Dallas Donnelly pulled up outside an NRL ground in his time travelling Delorian and went inside for a gander? What would he make of a competition where you are sent to the sin bin for punching someone but stay on the field for a deadset coat-hanger? How can we be SOFTER on an offence now than we were in the seventies? It defies logic. The ban on referee comments stifled the debate on Saturday night surrounding Mitchell Moses’ shot on William Zillman. Set of Six will debate it; Moses should have been sent off. Flailing fists deter parents from letting their kids play rugby league – do we think mum wants little Johnny to do his best rag doll impersonation every weekend?
BATTLE AHEAD
WELL may Phil Gould and Penrith oppose an external draft – they have more juniors than most other clubs. But one donatechange in the game that has gone un-noticed over the summer has been the rebranding of the state leagues, aside from NSW and Queensland. The South Australian Rugby League is now NRL South Australia – and so on. They are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Moore Park HQ. No doubt, the aim is to do the same with the NSWRL, the QRL and the CRL. The NRL wants to be to rugby league what the NBA is to basketball – that is, just about everything. It will take care of all development and clubs will be shells focused only on winning first grade matches and attracting fans. Set of Six likes the idea.
COCKY FOWLS NOT SCARED OF FOULS
LOTS of things have changed this season by according to Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan, one thing hasn’t. “It’s a little bit faster, sides are trying to find their feet. Sides don’t want to give away too many penalties away – bar the Roosters. They were quite happy to give penalties away and then defend ‘em.” The Roosters do not like accusations they deliberately give away penalties. Flanagan nominated Trent Robinson’s team, South Sydney and Parramatta as sides who had “put their hand up” over the weekend. The Sharks boss wasn’t sure how he’d feel going to Remondis Stadium last night for his first game back from suspension. “Surprisingly, I’m pretty calm about the whole thing,” he said. “It’s not about me. I’ve got a job here to do and I’ve just got to get on with it.”
HELLO 2015
SOME random observations about our first taste of premiership football for the year. One, the game IS faster and there IS amazonless wrestling, and the crowds like it. Friday night at Pirtek Stadium, particularly in the first half, was a revelation; the word “fickle” just isn’t in the dictionaries of western Sydney. Your correspondent was at Headingley, where they sing all night, eight days previously and the local Blue and Gold Army outdid their British cousins easily. A bulked-up Anthony Milford in the halves is a gamble. We won’t get reliable forward pass rulings until there are chips in the balls. Dane Gagai and Joey Leilua could be the centre pairing of the year. Pat Richards could easily realise his ambition of playing in the 2017 World Cup. Live free-to-air TV coverage on a Sunday should have happened years ago.
THE SHAFT FOR SHILLO AND SHANNON
TRENT Merrin was only “dropped” for Monday Night Football if you don’t count the game against Warrington, which he also started from the bench. He was in the starting side for round 26 last year, though – we checked. Two men who WERE dropped, by any definition, are big Canberra forwards David Shillington and Shannon Boyd. They were named in Canberra’s first grade side on Sunday – Shillington in the starting front row – but played NSW Cup. Coach Ricky Stuart admitted the hot conditions were in his mind but “there’s a few other reasons – nothing untoward in regards to the two boys. We made the decision earlier in the week.” Stuart reckons the quicker rucks this year mean “dropped balls and penalties are making a big difference between winning and losing.’
CARNAGE IN FRANCE
Dwrq4E1421835700EVEN a broken rib for Todd Carney took a back seat to the scoreline in the Catalans-Salford Super League game over the weekend. The match finished in a 40-40 draw – which in the Australian premiership would make it the highest scoring drawn game ever, beat three matches which finished 34-34.. In England, there’ve been higher scores in draws – and there almost certainly have been in France, too. After a tackle by Lama Tasi, Carney – who missed the opening two rounds through injury – tweeted: “Just got home from the hospital, Broken Ribs Fingers crossed I won’t be out for long.” Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous said the tackle was illegal. “It is not acceptable that there is a late tackle on Todd Carney that has left him in the hospital with a broken rib,” he told reporters. Oh, and the penalty which gave Salford a late draw was a tad controversial, too.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

The A-List: JARRYD HAYNE (Parramatta, NSW, NRL All Stars & Australia)

Jarryd HayneBy STEVE MASCORD

IN the middle of this interview, Jarryd Hayne’s answers get shorter. It seems like he’s had enough.

Your correspondent has to spell it out: ‘this story has to run to about 1500 words, that’s why I’m asking lots of questions’. There’s a brief nod, and the answers get longer again.

It’s a neat encapsulation of what some people say makes the 21-year-old Parramatta flier tick. There’s a story they tell around South Sydney, about how Hayne’s father Manoa Thompson was worried he would sleep through his alarm and miss a early training session at Redfern.

So he drove to the oval the night before, pulled up in the carpark – and went to sleep there, knowing someone would wake him up as they walked past his car. An apocryphal story, perhaps, but like father, like son. Jarryd Hayne marches to the beat of his own drum and the route he takes to success on the football field is rarely the conventional one.

But he doesn’t leave success waiting. The two of them, Hayne and success, almost always meet at the appointed place and time and get on famously. In fact, Hayne’s best friend in most teams is success.

A-List won’t bore you with stories of pet dogs, banter with team-mates, shopping malls and nearby AFL stars this week. We got Hayne at a NSW media opportunity – a bit before most of the fourth estate descended – and the details make for tedious reading.

The Fiji fullback is sat in one of those cubbyholes they have in the home dressingrooms at Sydney Football Stadium, wearing regulation NSW training gear, and talked into a digital voice recorder.

So after experimenting with Rolling Stone-style profiles and sub-headings, this week we’ll utilise another old journalistic favourite – the Q&A:

A-List: You’ve come into Origin camp on the back of Parramatta’s 23-6 loss to Wests Tigers. How do you reflect on that game?

Hayne: “We were a bit rusty, I was a bit rusty myself. It was probably our worst performance all year so I was a bit disappointed but I had a bit of a virus, a stomach bug at the end of the week and that didn’t help. I got it on Friday. We trained pretty late and then we had a sauna session after. We were out in the cold, when I was pretty sweaty. Then Saturday, Sunday I was a bit rusty and I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not.’’

A-List: How would you sum up the year at Parra? And also your own year?

Hayne: “It’s been tough. It wouldn’t help any club to go through what we’ve been through. To not be coming last is a pretty good effort. To lose our halfback, to lose Feleti (Mateo). To lose one halfback, get a good combination going, and the lose another from the halves combination … it was very tough, it’s really taken it’s toll on the team. The state we’re in now, we’ve pretty much got to play our best every week to be competitive.’’

A-List: You’ve had a new coach coming in and changing things over the summer, there’s blokes off contract who do don’t know what they’re doing next year. Does that have an impact out on the field?

Hayne: “Yeah, it’s tough – especially when you’ve got guys who have been here for a while and they’re not sure if they’re going to be there next year or not. That’s what the coach is there to do. He wants players that he wants there. At the end of the day, it is what it is. There’s always fors and against. Obviously I’m going to lose some mates over the summer because they’re going to move on. I think he’s bought really well with (Shane) Shackleton and (Justin) Poore. I don’t know if he’s looking for anyone else….’’

A-List: You’re probably playing the best footy of your career right now. Is that how you thought 2009 would pan out? How would you describe the year for you personally and what’s changed?

Hayne: “I don’t know, just attitude. I’ve taken it upon myself to do a bit more and I’m a bit more confident in the team and I’m sort of take a bit more control of the team.’’

A-List: And being fullback must be a big boost to you as well…

Hayne: “Yeah, I’m rapt, I’m loving it. I hope to stay there, yeah.’’

A-List: For people why have never done it, tell us what it’s like to run out in an Origin game. What was it like running down that tunnel for the first time? Did anything surprise you?

Hayne: “Yeah, (it’s great) just being able to do it. You know it’s going to be fast, you know it’s going to be intense. Just being out there and in the moment, it’s good, it’s an awesome buzz. It’s one of the best feelings you can get, running out in the Blues jersey. You’re playing against the best players. The main thing is that everyone’s on the same level. From the intensity in training to just the little things, you don’t see the same things at club level you see at Origin level.’’

A-List: Are you more worried about making a mistake in Origin than you are in club football?

Hayne: “Oh, 100 per cent. It’s Origin footy. You can’t make mistakes, pretty much. A mistake, it takes something little to change a game.’’

A-List: But you are a creative player, you take risks. Does that affect your mindset going into an Origin game, if you are more worried about making a mistake?

Hayne: “No, not really.”

A-List: But in your first year of Origin, you tapped the ball infield and Queensland scored. How hard is it not to dwell on things like that?

Hayne: “Not that pass. I thought I was doing good for the team. I thought it was a 40-20, they’d scored two tries, we were on the back foot and I knew when it went out it really would have rattled us. It wasn’t like I was trying to do a magic play or I was trying to do something arsey or silly. That’s not why I did it.‘’

A-List: Everyone else is talking about four series in a row for Queensland. Are you fellas thinking about it a lot?

Hayne: “Yeah, of course. We don’t want want to play in the team that has been beaten four series in a row so it’s a major factor. I think the team we have now should be up for the task.’’

A-List: Tell us about how the side lifted in Melbourne after a poor period in the first half?

Hayne: “I think we were playing like that the whole game but sort of just weren’t getting the lucky chances we were getting in the second half. ‘’

A-List: Have you watched your no-try back on many occasions since then?

Hayne: “Yes’’.

A-List: And what are your thoughts when you watch it back?

Hayne: “What everyone else says. It’s a try.’’

A-List: What can we do to prevent those sort of mistakes happening again.

Hayne: “If there’s a touch judge there, what’s the point of going to the video ref? He didn’t put his flag up. So if he doesn’t put his flag up, why are we going to the video ref, you know what I mean?’’

A-List: So they should show more faith in the officials on the field?

Hayne: “Yeah’’.

A-List: You’ve played just one Test for Australia. At the end of the year there’s a Four Nations and a Pacific Cup? Would you like to play for Fiji again?

Hayne: “No, I think I’ll just stay with Australia this year. The World Cup was something special but I think you can only change a certain number of times in a certain amount of years. I’ll probably stick with Australia and if I don’t get selected I’ll go on a bit of a holiday.’’

A-List: When you say your attitude is different this year, what do you mean?

Hayne: “Before, I used to eat rubbish the day before the game. Now I’m eating right seven days a week and looking after my body a bit more, not going out as much. Just a bit more focus on footy. When I first came into first grade I was a bit young and got a bit sidetracked with the partying.’’

A-List: Was there a single thing that changed your outlook?

Hayne: “Just the World Cup. I really appreciate what I have and how many people wish they were in my shoes so that’s something that really drove me. Seeing the Fijian boys, how proud they were just to play for Fiji. To see them, puting the effort in and the enthusiasm they had really made me feel I should be doing more for myself.’’

A-List: And I suppose you were thrust into a leadership role there whether you wanted one or not.

Hayne: “I think that really helped me because I brought it back to Parra. The thinks I was doing in the Fijian team I was puting it upon myself to do with Parra. It’s obviously affected me in Parra as well.’’

A-List: And before that, you just considered yourself another footy player?

Hayne: “Oh, being young you don’t really want to be really stepping up and taking charge of a team. You had a whole lot of people there who had been around for a while and you just sit back and let them do their thing and you just finish it off at the end of it – which in ’06 I did. We had good halves and a good centre in Luke o’Dwyer who just looked after me. They all sort of left so I had to step up.

A-List: You will forever be known as the man who was shot at in Kings Cross. Is it still fun being a footy player or has scrutiny made it just a business?

Hayne: “Of course. I wouldn’t swap it for the world. It’s just a bit different now compared with back in the day, what the older players used to get away with. It’s a bit hard when you hear all these stories about what they used to get up to. Now, it’s like if you do anything near that you pretty much wouldn’t have a contract. It’s tough. It’s a new generation, a time when things are changing. We’ve just got to get used to it.’’

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Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

THE JOY OF SIX: International Season Week One 2014

The Joy Of SixSANDOW SIN BIN

WHEN we went to Parramatta with claims Chris Sandow had played in an aboriginal knockout and been sent off for a shoulder charge followed by an elbow, Eels CEO Scott Seward told us: “He had permission to play. He passed a medical and the coach gave him his blessing. Chrissy has told us he was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on a childhood friend. It was a bit of a joke between them.” But bootleg video on YouTube above appears to show a dismissal – with the elbow chiefly to blame. When Seward put this to Sandow, he insisted he wasn’t aware he had been sent off, only sin binned. We can’t find any record of a judiciary hearing. The title for the Murri Carnival at Redcliffe two weeks ago changed hands when it was discovered the winners, Murri Dingoes Blue, fielded a player who mistakenly believed his drugs suspension had expired. Parra’ refused permission for Joseph Paulo and Bereta Faraimo to play for the US in the Mitchelton Nines on Saturday.

PUNCHING ON 1

WE have often heard this year that “little guys wouldn’t be pushing big guys if they could still be punched”. It was just a theory until the Super League grand final, when little Lance Hohaia pushed big Ben Flower, then lunged at him with a raised forearm. As we know, Hohaia punched Flower twice, the second time when he was on his back, possibly unconscious. They both missed the rest of the game, leaving St Helens to limp to victory as they have all year. Had Flower – who left Old Trafford before fulltime – not opted out of Wales duty, he could at least have counted the upcoming European internationals against what will no doubt be a mammoth suspension. Condemnation of Flower has been widespread and almost unanimous. Soccer star Joe Barton Tweeted he had “little sympathy” for Hohaia because of the provocation, but later stressed he did not intend to defend the Welshman.

PUNCHING ON 2

LIKE Wigan’s Super League campaign, the proud 15-year-plus history of the United States Tomahawks may have come to an end with a punch at the weekend. The USARL is taking over running the game in the US and is likely to dispense with the old AMNRL trademark, meaning it was all on the line when the Americans trailed invitational side Iron Brothers 8-4 with three minutes left in a Nines quarter-final in Brisbane. The Tomahawks got the ball back but sometime-cage fighter Tui Samoa took umbrage to something a rival said and punched him. Water carrier Paulo – banned, as we said, by Parramatta from playing – helped separate them, Samoa was sent to the bin and Brothers scored again to eliminate the US 14-4.

GRACIOUSNESS AND GAFFES

AND what a mixed bag we had for rugby league public speaking at the weekend. On the plus side, congrats to departing Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, the club’s player of the year Ben Hunt and CEO Paul White for their oratory at the club presentation. “Ben Hunt was entitled to test his value on the open market but he didn’t,” White told around 500 guests. “Although at a backyard barbecue I was at, he did get his message across to me by changing the words of the Status Quo song to ‘down, down, prices are down”. Griffin said: “Whatever I do now, I’ll be a competitor. But I’ll never be a critic of this club or the people in it.” On the negative, St Helens’ Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, at fulltime on live TV: “I’m absolutely buzzing. I could fucking swear”. Yes, he said those words – in that order.

WORLDWIDE LIVE

SOUTHS chief executive Shane Richardson has savaged the running of the international game in Britain’s The Observer. “I look at the state of international rugby league and it just makes me angry,” Richardson – citing the departure of Sam Burgess as a symptom of the problem – said. “I know from the years I’ve spent in the game, and the contacts I’ve made in business, and the places I’ve been around the world, that there’s a potential to do so much more.” Nevertheless, Greece played their first home international at the weekend, beating the Czechs 68-16 in Athens, the Philippines defeated Vanuatu 32-16 on remote Santo and Norway were preparing to meet Thailand in Bangkok. Next weekend, Latin America faces Portugal and Fiji takes on Lebanon, both in Sydney while Tonga take on PNG in Lae and the European Championships commence.

RETIRING ON A HIGH

REPORTS of veteran rugby league photographer Col Whelan’s retirement were greatly exaggerated last year. The NRL weren’t quite ready to take over Col’s operation and he went around in 2014 for one last season – wearing a South Sydney cap to every game. NRL rules prohibit media from wearing club merchandise but the media areas are full of uniformed club staff posting on social media, an inconsistency the irascible snapper sought to highlight. At fulltime on grand final day in the bunnies rooms, players became concerned Col had stopped shooting. He was crying with happiness. At the Red and Green ball, Whelan presented every player with a disc containing 120 photos of their life-defining triumph. What a way to go out – enjoy your retirement, Col.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD