Inspired: Sonny Bill Williams meets Sam Burgess last season. Photo: Dallas KilponenUltimate League: Click here to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game
1. BURGESS’ URGE INSPIRED BY SBW
The truth is out: Sam Burgess was inspired by Sonny Bill Williams in his decision to change codes. Burgess has steadfastly refused to talk about the motivation behind his switch; although despite suggestions he has been affronted by the coverage of the news, he is talking football with journalists and TV inquisitors again.
His supporters reckoned the suggestion his decision he was influenced by the man he will face on Thursday night at ANZ Stadium is nothing but scurrilous gossip. But here’s what the Bath rugby union coach (and former South Queensland Crushers pivot) Mike Ford said on BBC Radio Manchester’s Rugby League Extra.
”I think he’s seen what Sonny Bill Williams has done, switching from one code to the other and how successful he was, playing in New Zealand in the World Cup in 2011. He boxed as well, Sonny Bill. That’s the challenge he wants.”
Over to you, Sam.
2. POACHERS ARE WELCOME
Papua New Guinea’s new team in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup has a message for NRL scouts: please steal our players. And Manly may be about to take the advice; Set Of Six’s sources at Dolphin Oval during the historic 24-18 win over Redcliffe tell us forward Mark Mexico is on the verge of signing with the Sea Eagles.
Another World Cup Kumul, Wellington Albert, is already on Penrith’s books.
”That’s why we have entered a team in this competition,” PNG Rugby League chairman Sandis Tsaka said.
”NRL scouts don’t come to PNG, we wanted to put our players in a competition where they will be seen.
If one player leaves, we have 15,000 kids who will want to take his place.”
3. NRL REFEREES TO FOLLOW SUIT?
A few weeks after video referees were heard explaining their decisions on TV coverage of the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, the NRL introduced a version of the system for the finals. Instead of appearing live as they deliberated (as happens in England), however, our officials got the decision out of the way and then gave a short explanation.
Since then, the English have lifted the bar again by showing the video referees on camera as they toggle the vision before ruling yay or nay. This necessitates spiffy suits and turtlenecks for the likes of Ian Smith and Phil Bentham.
It didn’t stop St Helens winger Mark Percival being denied a fair try in the 38-0 win over Salford on Thursday. Will the NRL follow suit?
4. IT’S A GAS
Having got off to a winning start on Sunday, PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum says Australian teams are set for a culturally enriching experience when they visit Kopoko for their away matches.
”Back at home, there will probably be a few gas guns outside chasing people away who are trying to get in,” he said enthusiastically.
”That’s the way we play the game up there; people are passionate about the game.”
Hunters players have spent 11 weeks in a police camp preparing for the Intrust Super Cup and many have not seen their families in this time.
Tsaka says he is trying to organise a Test against the winner of the Samoa-Fiji Test at Penrith in May and another against another national team.
5. WILLY WONKA LEAGUE
The latest weapon being prepared to fight the financial might of the NRL was first devised by Roald Dahl half a century ago.
Feisty racing magnate and Salford owner Marwan Koukash has called for Super League clubs to each be given a ”golden ticket”, a la Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to sign players outside the salary cap.
”If a club does not want to use its golden ticket, I will buy it off them for £200,000,” Koukash told Sky before watching his Reds humbled 38-0 by St Helens on Thursday night.
The marquee-player concept was voted down last week but will probably return to the agenda of Super League clubs. Koukash is causing a stir in England.
6. RADIO NO RAH-RAH
Will we soon have a 24-hour-a-day rugby league radio station?
The emerging internet radio industry is awash with specialist stations and Sydneysider Alby Talarico – the man behind the Coogee Dolphins – has spent a pretty penny setting up a footy frequency at his Steele Sports site.
He already broadcasts for six hours on a Saturday during the season, boasts decent audiences and has plans to further expand. He thinks a full day of footy isn’t far away.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.