Saint, Sinner, Shoosh: Another Tiger wants out
All the latest NRL chatter and more in Australia's hottest sport gossip column.
The NRL's tough stance and refusal to back down on Jack de Belin. Some might argue that a hung jury is a sign of doubt about his sexual assault charge. At the same time, the case will be retried and he should never be allowed to step on to a football field until he's been cleared.
The Penrith Panthers. Sex tapes, TikTok scandal, lies, biosecurity breaches … and cocaine. On the field the Panthers have such a wonderful side, but off the paddock there is much work to be done. Like it or not boys, NRL stars are role models.
Which Wallabies star has a packet-a-day smoking habit? He's rarely seen without a gasper before and after training, much to the horror of the team's high-performance sports science unit.
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The drug tests on five Penrith players after the loss to Melbourne Storm in the premiership decider were the first at an NRL grand final for three years. No tests were done in 2018 or 2019.
Wests Tigers could be about to lose another key forward. Front-rower Zane Musgrove is under contract until the end of next season, but he is keen to secure a longer deal at St George Illawarra.
One of the reasons John Morris is under pressure at the Sharks is because so many attractive options are available for 2022. We're now hearing highly regarded Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon is on the club's radar. There is also Paul Green and Penrith assistant Cameron Ciraldo.
Mitchell Pearce coaching youngsters in a touch football competition in Newcastle to help out while one of the dads got caught up at work. The Knights skipper has become a wonderful role model in the town.
Rugby league independent commission chairman Peter V'landys in the David Jones city store food hall on Tuesday.
Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary at Westfield shopping centre in Bondi Junction pushing his baby along in a stroller.
A $10 million surge in wagering revenue for the NRL, a huge bonus in the toughest financial year in the game's history, in which overall income was down by $100 million because of COVID and the reduced television contracts.
ROOSTERS PUT GAG ON STAR ROOKIE
The Roosters have placed a media ban on boom rookie Joseph Suaalii.
TV and newspaper journos have been warned off the 17-year-old with the hottest reputation since the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau started out as rookies.
This is a dumb decision from one of the more professional clubs that should know better.
If Suaalii is too young and too raw to be facing the media, how do they convince the NRL he is ready to play first grade before he turns 18 in August?
It's OK to be physically ready but the NRL needs to know he can handle the pressure and strain of being in the spotlight in the top 30 of an NRL squad.
Also, how do the Roosters sell memberships and get fans back to the football next year without the publicity and exposure this special young player can generate?
On the field, the Roosters have been so successful over the past decade.
However, their crowds and membership numbers are nowhere near the likes of South Sydney or Parramatta.
They are in an area dominated by the AFL and rugby union.
The Sydney Swans double their crowds.
In a couple of years the Roosters will be playing out of a new 45,000-seat stadium.
There will be 30,000 empty seats each week, especially while their media strategy is so restrictive.
FANS TURNED AWAY FROM SCG
Cricket Australia have slammed the SCG gates closed on fans wanting to watch the pink-ball Australia A v India three-day game starting on Friday afternoon.
Only members of the SCG are allowed in to see the likes of dashing young opener Will Pucovski, and boom all-rounder Cameron Green against Virat Kohli and the tourists in the final warm up game before the Adelaide Test match.
It is an ordinary look and a missed opportunity on the first day of the NSW school holidays to save costs.
Fortunately the day-nighter will be shown live on Fox Sports and Kayo.
MADGE AND THE BADGE
The Wests Tigers have hired retired referee Gavin Badger as a coaching consultant. He will work with the team in the off-season and next year.
Coach Michael Maguire says it will be beneficial to players.
"There's all the 1 per cent things in the game and the rule changes are one of them," he said. "We want to understand things from what refs see and get a bit more knowledge on it.
"Badge has been in the game a long time.
"He's got a good rapport with players and I'm sure he's going to be really helpful for us."
STORM SPLIT ON SMITH REPLACEMENT
The Melbourne Storm captaincy is a two-horse race between veteran NZ prop Jesse Bromwich and State of Origin forward Dale Finucane.
Football GM Frank Ponissi says a decision will be made in the new year, once Cameron Smith officially confirms he won't be at the Storm.
"We're fortunate to have such excellent candidates," Ponissi said.
"Jesse or Dale are outstanding leaders. It's going to be a tough call because they are both so good.
"We've also got Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen who are great talkers."
Bromwich, 31, is a fantastic comeback story. In 2018 he was chucked off the Kiwi Test side and banned by Storm for two games.
His behaviour and leadership since has been impeccable.
BYE BYE BERNARD
Former NRL referees boss Bernard Sutton has decided to leave rugby league and start a new chapter in his career outside the game.
The NRL has a high opinion of Sutton and spoke to him about potential alternative roles in administration. He declined.
A replacement will be revealed before Xmas and it looks a two-way race between ex-North Sydney forward David Fairleigh and Jared 'Horse' Maxwell.
SOUTHERN SEA EAGLES
Manly is doing everything possible to ensure star fullback Tom Trbojevic and returning pivot Kieran Foran are ready to fire when Round 1 kicks off in March.
The Sea Eagles' high performance staff sent the pair to Melbourne last week to consult Australia's leading hamstring specialist, who works with AFL players.
Foran and Trbojevic have been two of the game's most injury prone players in recent seasons. They were given new training techniques to take the stress and pressure away from the hamstrings.
The Matty Johns Show had its Christmas party at Bill and Toni's cafe in Darlinghurst on Friday.
Eyebrows were raised when Bryan Fletcher got ahead of himself, holding court ahead of Johns with the world's longest speech.
He left the premises and hopped into an Uber at 8pm.
The late celebrity agent John Fordham could always attract a good crowd - even a year after his passing.
This week the likes of Ricky Stuart, Peter V'landys, News Corp boss Michael Miller, Lisa Wilkinson, Alan Jones, Sylvia Jeffreys, Peter Stefanovic, ex-cop Gary Jubelin, Mark Taylor, Ian Chappell, Sony boss Denis Handlin and Foxtel's Brian Walsh will gather at legendary Italian restaurant Machiavelli to launch the Fordham Foundation to raise funds for head and neck cancer research.
Originally published as Saint, Sinner, Shoosh: Another Tiger wants out