Club bosses fear rat in ranks after email leak
A leaked email regarding the future of player agents has led to simmering tensions between rival club bosses putting the chief executives at odds with each other.
Cronulla chief executive Dino Mezzatesta was instructed to lead a potential reform into the player management scheme. Mezzatesta drafted an email to his 15 other chief executives this week which he asked them to sign before forwarding onto the NRL.
Elements of the email were critical of the work that some agents do - they weren't named - and called for reform including a spike in agent fees.
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While clubs were largely in agreeance that change needs to happen, the email was passed on to agents before it was signed. Suddenly agents were ringing club bosses filthy with what was going on.
This prompted Mezzatesta to fire off another email to his cohorts on Thursday, critical of the leak and withdrawing the letter. It is expected the issue will be revisited at the end of the year.
The problem for the club bosses though is they fear a rat in the ranks as it wasn't the first time sensitive information has been passed on.
Earlier this year, South Sydney's Blake Solly and Melbourne's Dave Donaghy had their strategic plan for the NRL passed onto head office before it was completed shortly after sharing it with rival bosses.
A planned Test between New Zealand and Tonga has officially been scrapped. There was talk of a three-Test series during Origin at the end of the year but because of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, there will be no international league played in Australia this year.
ROOSTERS SOAK UP THE SUN
Roosters players took full advantage of the Sydney sunshine taking a dip at Bronte Beach on Thursday afternoon. Victor Radley, Mitchell Aubusson, Jake Friend and Drew Hutchison were spotted on the concrete fence near the water. Despite the bubble restrictions, players are allowed to go to the beach as part of their training recovery.
As Aubussson and Friend left the beach The Daily Telegraph asked the pair whether they were allowed to be at the beach as part of the NRL's strict covid protocol.
"Yeah, we are allowed to be here," Aubusson told the Daily Telegraph's Mitchell Van Homrigh. "The water was warm."
"We were down here for a recovery swim," Friend said. "We just have to tick off on the app that we have come down here."
HASTINGS EYES CODE SWITCH
Reigning Super League player of the year Jackson Hastings could make a shock switch to rugby with the Great Britain international in discussions to defect to the 15-man game. Hastings has opted against taking up the second year of his deal after having a favour his way to play another season at Wigan. Hastings has been targeted by a host of European rugby clubs, having joined Wigan this year after picking up the Man of Steel award and leading Salford to an unlikely grand final last year.
But Hastings' Wigan stint is expected to last one year with plans for the 24-year-old to move on at season's end. He will also explore the prospect of returning to the NRL.
If Hastings does leave, Wigan may make a play for Parramatta half Jai Field. Field was set to join Leeds this off-season before a deal fell through. Wigan are keen on Field who gets his chance in the halves again as a replacement for Dylan Brown on Sunday.
The appearance is critical for Field and Wigan as he needs more games to be eligible to sign with a Super League club. Field only joined the Eels on a one-year development contract but is now crucial to their premiership quest. Wigan are also among the clubs keen on Josh Reynolds if Bevan French returns home at season's end.
Giants sport stars Jamie-Lee Price and Harry Perryman are Australian sports latest "it couple".
While the netballer and AFL player are yet to go public with their budding romance, the news of the loved-up pair won't come as a shock to teammates. Both play for the Giants respectively, and funnily enough brought up milestone games recently.
Price, the daughter of Bulldogs legend Steve, played her 100th elite game on Tuesday night while Perryman, a midfielder, played his 50th AFL game against Carlton on Thursday night.
Bubble restrictions are making it hard for the pair despite being both in Queensland as part of their respective competitions getting the season away - with Price based on the Sunshine Coast and Perryman on the Gold Coast.
MAY EXTENDS STAY
Tyrone May has agreed to a one-year contract extension with the Panthers. May has been one of the many shining lights for the Panthers this year after the 24-year-old missed the entire 2019 season because of police charges. He has been Penrith's Mr-Fix-It this year, spending time at hooker, centre, lock and second-row during his nine appearances despite coming through the grades as a five-eighth.
GARRICK ON DRAGONS' RADAR
Discussions between the Dragons and rival club regarding a potential player swap for Jason Saab are ongoing. The latest player to be discussed is Manly winger Reuben Garrick. The Sea Eagles are keen on Saab and the Dragons are holding firm that they want something in return. Garrick is a Dragons junior who left the club after being unable to get a start in first grade last year. The Dragons would consider playing Garrick at centre. They are also considering making a play for James Tamou and Joe Ofahengaue.
The NRL's mental health program, State of Mind, has announced a partnership with not-for-profit mental health foundation Gotcha4Life. The partnership means Gotcha4Life join federal, state and territory governments in helping provide funds and awareness for the NRL's program and increase program delivery via the NRL's mental wellbeing partners - Lifeline, headspace, the Black Dog Institute and Kids Helpline.
Gotcha4Life co-founder and media personality, Gus Worland said the foundation was a perfect platform to continue the NRL's progress in encouraging positive mental wellbeing and resilience.
"I've been so impressed with the stories of male and female rugby league players, role models to many and comfortable expressing their feelings which reinforces to fans that it's totally fine to speak up and ask for help when they need it," Worland said. "It's the smart thing to do and ultimately, it improves their lives and the lives of those around them."
Injured Manly back-rower Joel Thompson is a mental health ambassador who has thrown his support behind the partnership.
"If I'm happy off the field, my footy goes up another level and I'm ultimately a better person to be around," Thompson said.
"The more awareness and support of the NRL's State of Mind program, the better. It means we can reach more junior rugby league clubs and equip them with mental fitness learning and support and the partnership with Gotcha4Life will certainly help achieve that."
JENNINGS' JOY AT WARRIORS
George Jennings wanted to play on Sunday - he just didn't care for who. Jennings won't line up for either Parramatta or the Warriors after the Eels decided against allowing Jennings and Daniel Alvaro to play against them. Alvaro and Jennings are on a week-by-week loan to the Warriors and have been part of the New Zealand club's revival of late.
Jennings said he just wants to play footy having featured in only three top grade games in two seasons before making the switch to the Warriors mid-year.
"Wherever it is I just want to play," Jennings said. "These guys (the Warriors) are a great bunch of blokes and have made the transition easier. They've been through a lot but keep turning up. It's good to play footy.
"I feel part of it. The first couple of days in they made me feel really welcomed. It's good to get some game time and play some footy. It's been the best thing."
The Eels' decision also robs Jennings of playing against brother Michael for the first time. He said he was happy to continue to play with the Warriors for the rest of the season if he isn't picked in first grade by Parramatta.
"If it meant I can play then definitely," Jennings said. "I'm off-contract so that's been a big thing, playing footy to show other clubs. If I was just training it would be very hard to find a contract."
DOGS STEER CLEAR OF BENJI
Benji Marshall won't be reunited with younger brother Jeremy at the Bulldogs with the club ruling out making a play for the 35-year-old. Marshall wants to play on next year after the Tigers opted against trying to re-sign the playmaker.
MAL'S MAGIC TOUCH
Immortal, successful representative coach and now leading lawyer. Is there anything Mal Meninga can't do? The Titans head of performance and culture has a 100 per cent strike rate when defending Gold Coast players at the judiciary. He helped Sam Lisone beat his charges this week having also successfully led the defence for Moeaki Fotuaika earlier this year.
The Hopoate family achieved something rare last weekend as three brothers took to the field for different clubs. But the joy of Albert's long-awaited Sea Eagles debut was short-lived after he, Will (Canterbury) and Jamil (Brisbane) lost their games. It's not the first time though three brothers have lost a match playing for three different teams on the same weekend. The MacDougall's - Adam (Newcastle), Ben (Manly) and Luke (South Sydney) - lost their matches in round 24 in 2003 according to league historian David Middleton.
The sporting community has rallied together to support the Red Cross Beirut Appeal following the devastating explosion last month. Rugby league figures Robbie Farah, Mitch Moses, Josh Mansour, boxer Billy Dib and soccer players Andrew Nabbout, Tarek Elrich and Moudi Najjar plus the Daily Telegraph's Fatima Kdouh have launched a campaign calling for help. To donate: redcross.org.au/beirut
FENECH SHAPES UP
Jeff Fenech distinguished himself as a boxing commentator late last month when he called enough on Jeff Horn's ill-fated fight against Tim Tszyu, specifically when he focused on the performance of Horn's trainer Glenn Rushton in the corner.
Get set for round two when Rushton joins Fenech on his podcast, Standing Eight, available on Spotify, where the pair promise to hammer out their differences.
Surprisingly it did not take a lot of negotiation.
Rushton was happy to join Fenech so long as it didn't disintegrate into a shouting match.
Fenech promised it won't.
"I respect you as a person," Fenech said, "but as a boxing trainer …"
The podcast will be recorded over the next couple of days.
ALL EYES ON
A blimp or a hole? That is the question which will be answered when the Eels play the Warriors on Sunday. Parramatta have lost two of their past three games but it is the way which they have been playing that would concern coach Brad Arthur. A loss will most likely mean they drop out of the top four and they play a spirited Warriors side who are starting to believe in a finals fairytale.
ON this day 20 years ago American loudmouth swimmer Garry Hall Jnr made the infamous "smash them like guitars" comment aimed at the Australian swim team. Tensions were simmering between the US and Australian swim teams in the lead-up to the Olympics. The Australian team had the last laugh though, winning the 4x100m swimming relay days later and celebrated by playing the air guitar.
BLAST FROM THE PAST:
48 top grade games (Three Canterbury, 38 South Sydney, seven Newcastle) from 2002-2007
Todd Polglase was scouted by a childhood hero. His parents had just witnessed their son streak away to score a long-distance try for Newcastle's Jersey Flegg team when a familiar voice popped up behind them.
"Terry Lamb was standing behind my parents at the game and he was asking who scored the try," Polglase said. "My parents introduced themselves. I was a fanatical Bulldogs and Terry fan as a kid. Anyone who meets their hero it is a bit surreal. One day you're watching him on television and the next you're talking to him."
Polglase joined the Bulldogs ahead of the 2000 and was earmarked as a long-term replacement for Rod Silva, who was nearing the end of his career. But a torn ACL just before his 19th birthday in an opposed session set Polglase back. While he was sidelined the club signed Luke Patten.
Polglase made his debut in the match made famous by Hazem El Masri's match-winning sideline conversion against Newcastle in 2002.
"Willie Talau was injured," said Polglase, who scored a try on debut. "I didn't really give it much thought until (coach) Steve Folkes rang me up and asked if I'd played in the centres before. I hadn't but he said I would be right."
Three appearances in just two years led to Polglase's Canterbury exit. He signed with Souths in 2004 and again ruptured his ACL in his right knee in round one. Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe purchased the Rabbitohs midway through Polglase's stint three-year stint.
"Meeting Terry Lamb is one thing, then you meet a worldwide superstar and you don't know what to say," Polglase said. "A lot changed. We went from having one bloke strapping 30 players to having caterers. We were at movie premiers and on his boat. When Russell took over it went from one end to another."
Polglase, who works in the Hunter Valley mines, signed a two year deal to return to Newcastle in 2007 but lasted just seven games before retiring at 26.
"After my second ACL I had a heap of hamstring problems," Polglase said. "During a bye weekend I tore my hamstring really bad at training. I couldn't come back that year. During the next pre-season I got through it and then it tore again. I couldn't cope, I was struggling to compete so I pulled the pin."
Originally published as Club bosses fear rat in ranks after email leak