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Outgoing Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has left more than $500,000 and some parting advice for Rugby Australia on the table: in his view, they need to follow the lead of Phil Gould at the Bulldogs and Panthers and rebuild from the bottom up.
Jones also praised “the horse guy” – Peter V’landys – for the healthy state of rugby league. And he admitted the league itch remains, and he hopes to test himself in the NRL one day.
According to sources speaking on the condition of anonymity, Jones had a clause in his RA contract that allowed him to walk if the governing body was unable to implement the kind of high-performance set-up he wanted as part of his rebuild.
He could have taken a huge payout, but preferred the money be used for the development of a high-performance unit. Sources speaking on the condition of anonymity said Jones was entitled to a year’s salary – or, in this case, nine months, as he didn’t make a full year.
The cash-strapped RA jumped at the chance to leave the deal without a financial settlement. “The contract was designed so that after 12 months, if certain conditions weren’t met, there was an opportunity for either party to walk away,” Jones said. “And you know, I think that’s been the case.”
Jones is adamant the Wallabies can become a force again by the time the next World Cup rolls around.
“You’ve got to look at what Gus has done and is doing at Canterbury and what other teams are trying to do in the NRL, you’ve got to fix your development system,” he said. “You’ve got to recruit, retain, and develop the right talent at the early age.
Eddie Jones says Rugby Australia could learn a lot from Phil Gould (right).Credit: Nine
“Gus did it at Penrith, too, and everyone had a go at him for his five-year plan … but look at them now. It takes time, but I can see Australia having success by the time the next World Cup happens.”
Jones has been strongly linked to the Japan job and says he wants to keep on coaching. League is still an ambition.
“If I get an opportunity, I’d love to try it,” he said. “I’ve got great admiration for the NRL. That’s probably one of the things that’s hardest [for rugby] at the moment – the growth in the NRL and how well the horse guy is doing.
“He does a great job running that competition. And the game is buoyant and you can understand why kids want to play.
“The chance is there for rugby is to get themselves organised. Create the opportunity for talented players to pick rugby instead of rugby league and then, obviously things can change.”
Saab is Fab’s fastest model
Sprint guru Roger Fabri has dismissed the NRL’s Telstra Tracker as a gimmick that has declared Ronaldo Mulitalo as the fastest man in rugby league. The device measured the speed of every player in the game and has Mulitalo as No.1, followed by Jason Saab, Maika Sivo, Dom Young and Josh Addo-Carr fifth.
Fabri has coached most of the game’s speediest stars — including Mulitalo, who he says is eighth fastest. He has the times of all their sprint sessions and while he says Mulitalo is quick, he is not No.1.
Fabri’s own top 10 has Saab in top spot. “My impression of the Telstra Tracker is nothing short of a gimmicky tool to keep entertaining the public in the most sought-after race that will never happen: the fastest man in league,” Fabri said.
“The tracker does not take many key factors into consideration:
■ If the effort is done with or without the ball.
■ If the athlete is actually putting the accelerator pedal to the metal or just doing what they have to do to catch a rival or score the try.
■ The footballer will never ever be thinking, ‘I need to beat the tracker’.
■ It’s debatable that who is the fastest man in league will ever be found out as everyone has a different tolerance to speed conditioning, so if the effort of the footballer was late in the game and they are pre-fatigued but still have a great reading on the tracker, imagine if the same opportunity of being in space would have happened at the start of the game.
“Let’s just race them once and for all and then we will know.”
Roger Fabri’s Top 10
1. Jason Saab
2. Dom Young
3. Tolu Koula
4. Bronson Xerri
5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
6. Khan Pereira
7. Josh Addo-Carr
8. Ronaldo Mulitalo
9. Bailey Simonsson
10. Selwyn Cobbo
League of their own
Penrith boss Brian Fletcher has taken the ultimate swipe at rugby, saying his triple premiership-winning team would have performed better at the World Cup than the Wallabies.
Fletcher also maintained the Panthers brand is bigger than that of the Wallabies and any other sporting team in the country. Fletcher was speaking at the announcement of new naming rights sponsor MyPlace – one of the richest deals in NRL history.
“They probably should have taken us over for the World Cup, we would have done better for sure … a couple of weeks learning how to ruck and maul and they would have done well,” he said. Speaking of the Panthers brand, he said: “Tell me a bigger sporting brand in Australia … it’s certainly bigger than rugby and the Wallabies.
Would the Panthers have outperformed the Wallabies at the World Cup? Penrith boss Brian Fletcher certainly thinks so.Credit: Getty
“Our brand is big here and it’s only getting bigger … there will be another 200,000 people living in the area in the next six years. It’s hard to get a ticket now and it’s going to be hard in the future. The young people can really relate to our players like Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary and Brian To’o … it’s going to be a fun ride for fans over the next few years.”
Let’s start by acknowledging the vast majority of police do a magnificent job in difficult conditions.
But the good work and good name of many has been tarnished by the Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton case. What happened to the pair gives credence to those who say NRL players are not treated fairly in some situations.
Charges against Mitchell and Wighton stemming from an incident in Canberra were dropped this week after Sergeant David Power admitted to giving false evidence. Mitchell and Wighton are considering civil action.
Jack de Belin wouldn’t have been shocked to read Power’s admission. This column is not a de Belin sympathiser, but he deserves the truth to be reported.
Back in 2020, de Belin and fellow player Callan Sinclair were charged with sexual assault. During the first trial, the detective in charge of the investigation, Shawn Adams, received a Section 128 certificate to protect himself from self-incrimination after he perjured himself in court.
Unlike Power, who gave false evidence but didn’t commit perjury, Adams didn’t apologise and the judge in the first trial in Wollongong, which resulted in a hung jury, was scathing in his criticism of the investigation.
“Adams lied to the court in his affidavit, in his evidence-in-chief and in his cross-examination, immediately prior to his receiving the Section 128 certificate,” Judge Andrew Haesler said. “He admitted as much. The lies are also obvious when viewed with the objective evidence.”
A second trial, at Downing Centre, found de Belin and Sinclair not guilty of one of six charges while the jury was unable to reach a unanimous or majority verdict on the other five counts. The DPP chose not to pursue charges at a third trial. Both de Belin and Sinclair maintained their innocence throughout.
Apparently, Adams has been the subject of a Law Enforcement Conduct Commission inquiry but, after more than a year, the parents of de Belin and Sinclair can’t find out if Adams is still a serving member of the police force. They have been asking, only to be told he is the subject of an inquiry.
Match made in sporting heaven
We knew a little more than we thought it was fair to say when we first broke the news in August that Nathan Cleary and Mary Fowler were enjoying each other’s company. But out of respect to the pair and the early stages of their relationship, we didn’t go too hard. All that is worth saying is we wish them the best. It’s great to see them happy.
Take care, Joe
Peter V’landys has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest figures on the planet, but privately he is worried he is a jinx.
V’landys dined with the Queen not long before the monarch died last year. Now, after his recent dinner engagement with Joe Biden, he is carefully monitoring his health of the 80-year-old US President. Whilst the majority of rugby league fans love V’landys, he isn’t as popular south of the border in Victoria, and you can only imagine what the AFL types are thinking as he meets some of the most prominent people in the world and pushes rugby league at every turn.
The Biden meeting looked good, but the real value in his trip to the White House was some of the other contacts he made with high-profile business figures in the US. A number of Australians with a passion for rugby league were at the meeting. Expect some significant spin-offs from his US adventure.
Michael Clarke cops plenty in the media, but to cast doubt on his future on breakfast radio is not reasonable. He has been offered another year on the Big Sports Breakfast and is set to take it up. He loves the role and ratings for the show are better than ever. He often generates news for his views on cricket and even the NRL. And he laughs off most of the media interest in his private life.
On the BSB’s rival program on SEN, there have been some changes — fewer sports updates is a big one — but co-host Greg Alexander has agreed to another year. It will be a simpler year for Alexander as he quit as Blues chief advisor. His insights into next year’s series will be interesting.
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