Wigan Warriors: Super League champions docked two points ahead of 2019 season

30 Jan

Super League champions Wigan Warriors have been docked two points for a salary cap breach.

The breach occurred during 2017 and the penalty, which includes a £5,000 fine, relates to six separate payments totalling £14,700, which were not declared to the Rugby Football League.

Super League champions Wigan have been docked two points

It means that Wigan Warriors, now under new head coach Adrian Lam, will begin their title defence at St Helens on Thursday night on minus two points.

The RFL says the club were charged with breaches in late 2018, following the audit of the 2017 salary cap, in relation to a number of payments that were not declared, including the payment of agent fees and a flight allowance.

Dom Manfredi celebrates scoring a try for Wigan during the Super League Grand Final

The Warriors initially disputed that these payments were relevant to the salary cap, leading to the establishment of the independent tribunal, but then admitted prior to the tribunal that all but one of the payments should have been included in their salary-cap valuation for the season.

Wigan intend to appeal against the points deduction, arguing it is disproportionate.

The club claim the breach was due to an administrative error arising from six small invoices of between £2,000 and £3,000 for agents’ fees which were overlooked and meant they exceeded the £1.825million cap by 0.8 per cent.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said: “This is not an integrity or dishonesty issue, purely an administrative error by a new financial team in an exceptionally busy and disruptive circumstance.

“This breach clearly did not affect the competitive balance of the competition in 2017 yet the immediate deduction of two points does affect the competitive balance of the competition in 2019.”

Arsenal, Leeds, Manchester United and Newcastle among confirmed stadiums to host Rugby League World Cup 2021 matches

29 Jan

Arsenal will host a Rugby League World Cup match in 2021 to make it the first event other than football to be played at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium will host a Rugby League World Cup semi-final

The 60,260-capacity stadium is among 21 confirmed hosts for the tournament, along with Leeds’ Elland Road and Manchester United‘s Old Trafford hosting the final, but surprisingly Wembley, England’s national stadium, misses out.

Newcastle’s St James’ Park will host the opening ceremony on October 23.

Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and Coventry’s Ricoh Arena are some of the other listed venues.

The women’s and wheelchair events will be run alongside the men’s competition for the first time also.

“I would like to congratulate all of our chosen hosts who have worked so hard in submitting such compelling bids,” Jon Dutton, chief executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 said.

“Each and every host now has the opportunity to galvanise and inspire their respective communities ahead of the competing nations arriving in England.

“With all three tournaments running concurrently, RLWC2021 will give the chance for people across the country to engage in a variety of ways and really look forward to October and November 2021.

“This was an incredibly tough process given the large number of interested parties and the impressive nature of their bids.

“With so many competitive bids, we’re confident that our chosen hosts will help play a role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time.”

Confirmed Rugby League 2021 venues

  • Newcastle – St James’ Park (52,405 capacity)
  • Sheffield – Bramall Lane (32,702) & English Institute of Sport
  • Doncaster – Keepmoat Stadium (15,231)
  • Hull – KCOM Stadium (25,586)
  • York – York Community Stadium (8,005)
  • Huddersfield – John Smith’s Stadium (24,500)
  • Leeds – Elland Road (37,890) & Headingley Stadium (21,062)
  • Liverpool – Anfield (54,074)
  • Manchester – Old Trafford (74,994)
  • Preston – First training base to be revealed
  • St. Helens – Totally Wicked Stadium (18,00)
  • Warrington – Halliwell Jones Stadium (15,200)
  • Leigh & Wigan – Leigh Sports Village (12,000)
  • Bolton – University of Bolton Stadium (28,723)
  • London – Emirates Stadium (60,260) & Copper Box Arena (7,500)
  • Middlesbrough – Riverside Stadium (34,742)
  • Workington – Workington Community Stadium (under construction)
  • Coventry – Ricoh Arena (32,609)

The best sports books to buy this Christmas, by talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham

14 Dec

Stuck for a Christmas present to buy special someone this year? Well, Adrian Durham is here to help!

talkSPORT’s Drivetime host is an avid reader of sports books and here, he offers up his recommendations.

Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.

 

A biography of the greatest golfer ever needs to be special and the level of detail in the research for this is nothing short of breathtaking.

The Beautiful Badge by Martyn Routledge and Elspeth Wills

A lovely gentle football book telling the story behind football club badges in the UK. As you can imagine it leads down some meandering paths full of amazing information. Amidst the explanations of Latin mottos and Bible references and club badges, not a lot will beat the Coniston AFC logo “Nowt Caps Coniston.” Genius

In Search Of Robert Millar by Richard Moore

This has been out for around 10 years now and is the fascinating story of the author’s search for the former Tour de France King of the Mountains, British cyclist Robert Millar. She came out as transgender in 2017 and is now Philippa York.

The Ali Files by Norman Giller

Anything by the doyen Norman Giller will be worth reading and this is an account of all Ali’s fights. The golden nuggets of information that pop up regularly make this very special. For example, Jean-Pierre Coopman, floored by a devastating Ali uppercut in 1975, quit boxing and worked on restoring old churches in Belgium. He also earned a living as a portrait artist of famous boxers including the Greatest. As Giller says it’s the only time he had him on the canvas.

Angels With Dirty Faces by Jonathan Wilson

Wilson’s ability to take football writing to undiscovered levels is stunning – a deep thinker, and a super-intelligent writer. This is a long but very readable account of the history of Argentinian football, but morphs brilliantly into a socio-political history of Argentina at the same time. Brilliant.

The Gaffer by Neil Warnock

He writes like he speaks so this is an easy read and an honest account of what it’s like to be a football manager. It focuses in on his time at Palace, QPR and Leeds.

Between The Lines by Michael Carrick

I’m biased because he was one of my favourite players, I wasn’t convinced this book would be that brilliant but it is. It came out this year, it’s opinionated and detailed and even has a chapter explaining the West Ham Way. Worth it for that alone.

The Romford Pele by Ray Parlour and Amy Lawrence

Yes he’s my talkSPORT mate but the difficulty of bringing an autobiography together that strikes the right tone yet manages to include divorce, success, England disappointment, and an incredible sense of humour is immense. Ray and Amy get it spot on. Terrific stuff.

A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing by John Sitton

My favourite football book by some distance. If you’ve ever checked out John’s “Bring Yer Dinner!” rant when he was in charge at Orient then you need to read this. Brutal, powerful, emotional and thoroughly readable, this is John’s own raw account of his life. Self published, he actually wrote it out by hand (his daughter typed it up) and sells it through his own website, www.therealsitts.co.uk.

Colours Of My Life by Malcolm Allison

I absolutely love old football books and this from 1975 is right up there with the best. Allison was a true character with a great story. Some fantastic photos as well. Written with the journalist James Lawton, who passed away in 2018.

And one more….

Judas by Paul Cooke and Adrian Durham

I wasn’t going to leave this out now, was I? Paul grew up supporting Hull KR, played and won the Cup for Hull FC, then walked out on them to join Hull KR. Abused viciously in the city of Hull, his life spiralled out of control. The book is the first time he’s told the story of what really happened. On its third reprint and paperback coming out next year, I think it’s quite good.

Tony Adams: Former Arsenal and England defender to become Rugby Football League president

12 Dec

Former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams is to become the 29th Rugby Football League president in 2019.

Adams, who captained both his club and his country, has been nominated for the position and will succeed Andy Burnham, the current president, next summer.

He has close links to the sport through the Sporting Chance charity, which he founded in 2000.

Adams said: “It will be an honour to become the next President of the RFL. I am passionate about working with everyone in the sport to raise the profile of mental health, wellness and resilience, for players and for everyone in Rugby League.

“I’d like to play my part in championing this brilliant sport on the national stage.”

It was also confirmed that Carl Hall will succeed Pat Crawshaw as vice-president in July. New Zealand Hall first came to England to play for Doncaster in 1988, and currently works as the club’s chief executive.

RFL chairman Brian Barwick added: “Tony Adams is known and respected throughout sport and beyond, not only for his outstanding playing career with Arsenal, but more recently for his pioneering work with Sporting Chance.

“The charity has helped more than 400 rugby league players since the RFL entered into an official partnership with Sporting Chance in 2011, and Tony himself delivered seminars at Wigan and Hull earlier this year.

“The game has recognised the importance of mental health, for players and everyone else involved, and Tony’s election is another significant step in that regard.

“I also welcome the election as vice-president of Carl Hall, who has given so much to British rugby league since arriving here from New Zealand 30 years ago. This is well-deserved recognition for him, and for the Doncaster club.”

Adams captained Arsenal and England during his playing days, but his managerial career was much less successful

Chris Hurst, a digital sports specialist, will join the RFL Board as a non-executive director.

“Chris Hurst will be a tremendous asset to the RFL Board,” Barwick continued. “His highly successful career across the world of sport and as a proven leader in the field of modern digital communications will be invaluable in helping us maximise the value and profile of some of the sport’s key properties.

“He has worked in some of the top organisations in sport and broadcasting, and is well networked across both industries. Chris is also a huge advocate for the growth and development of women’s sport as evidenced by his Board membership of the Women’s Sports Trust.”

South Africa Rugby World Cup winner Naka Drotske shot in attempted robbery

30 Nov

Former South Africa hooker and World Cup winner Naka Drotske is in a critical condition in hospital after being shot during a robbery.

Drotske and his old Test teammate Os Du Randt were victims of a robbery near Pretoria on Thursday night.

Naka Drotske playing against Australia in the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham

“Our thoughts are with former #Springboks Naka Drotske and Os du Randt and their families, who were the victims of a robbery near Pretoria last night,” South African Rugby tweeted.

“Naka was shot and is currently in critical condition in hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery.”

South Africa-based outlet News24 reported that 47-year-old Drotske is being treated in the intensive care unit at Netcare Montana Hospital.

The incident happened when Drotske was visiting family with Du Randt – and the pair were attacked by four men. Du Randt is understood to have been uninjured.

Drotske won 26 Test caps and was part of the Springboks’ 1995 World Cup-winning squad.

He also played in all three Tests against the 1997 British and Irish Lions, and is an ex-coach of the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs.

Naka Drotske played 26 times for South Africa

The Cheetahs tweeted on Friday: “Free State Rugby is very shocked by the news.

“Naka and Os are two of our legendary players, coaches and friends, and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers. We wish Naka a speedy recovery and wish the families involved all the best in this difficult time.”

Drotske is also a former London Irish player, making more than 50 appearances for them between 2001 and 2003, and the Exiles tweeted: “Our thoughts are with former London Irish player Naka Drotske after this shocking news. We wish him a speedy recovery.”

England 20-14 New Zealand: Tom Makinson hat-trick gives England unassailable Test series lead

4 Nov

Tom Makinson scored a sensational hat-trick of tries to help England wrap up the Test series with New Zealand with a game to spare.

The St Helens winger completed a remarkable introduction to the international scene with a man-of-the-match display in England’s hugely-impressive 20-14 victory.

Tommy Makinson celebrates the first try

Wayne Bennett’s men twice came from behind to finally see off the plucky Kiwis, whose captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak threatened to win the game on his own.

Among a host of heroes was James Graham, an Everton fan leading England out at Anfield, but special mention goes to rookie prop Luke Thompson, who looks a natural at this level, while centre Jake Connor made it four tries in as many appearances.

Connor managed just one goal from his four attempts as England outscored their visitors by four tries to two.

England drew first blood after Kiwi prop Jesse Bromwich was punished for a late tackle on Sam Tomkins and Connor kicked the penalty to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Esan Masters is tackled by Jonny Lomax, Sam Tomkins, and Oliver Gildart

However, the tourists struck back just three minutes later when full-back and captain Watene-Zelezniak sliced between Tomkins and Oliver Gildart for the game’s first try and Shaun Johnson’s conversion made it 6-2.

With Johnson pulling the strings, the Kiwis twice went close again through right winger Jordan Rapana but Makinson was rock solid in defence.

Makinson also came to England’s rescue by getting his body underneath second rower Kevin Proctor as the Kiwis pummelled their line.

England spent most of the first half defending and, in rare breaks, centre Gildart, their match-winner in the first Test, twice spilled the ball.

But the home side looked sharper when hooker Daryl Clark came off the bench and, after twice opting to run penalties from in front of the posts, their enterprise paid off two minutes before half-time when a cut-out pass from stand-off George Williams got Makinson over at the corner.

Connor was unable to add the goal, which left the scores locked at 6-6, and New Zealand went back in front just four minutes into the second half with an exceptional try.

Watene-Zelezniak was put through a gap on halfway by Kodi Nikorima’s short pass and he toyed with the England defenders before sending winger Ken Maumalo over at the corner.

Johnson landed the touchline conversion and added a penalty five minutes later to extend the lead to 14-6.

Tempers became frayed once more, fuelled by a late hit by substitute James Fisher-Harris on Tomkins, which seemed to galvanise both England and the 25,000 crowd.

Tommy Makinson touches down

Deft passes from full-back Jonny Lomax and Connor got Makinson over for his second try in the 56th minute and Tom Burgess bundled his way over the line three minutes later only to be held up in a three-man tackle.

The momentum was all with England by then and they drew level after 63 minutes when Canberra team-mates Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead combined neatly to get Connor over for the third try.

Connor this time struck an upright with the difficult conversion attempt, but England had a chance to clinch victory when Makinson broke clear only to ruin the final pass to Lomax.

Makinson quickly made amends, though, stepping inside and wrong-footing the back-pedalling Kiwi defence to complete his hat-trick and Tomkins rounded off the scoring with the conversion.

Liverpool news: New Zealand rugby league team train at Melwood and perform Haka for Jurgen Klopp and his players

31 Oct

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was left inspired by the New Zealand rugby league team as his players got to watch the famous Haka in a canteen.

The Kiwis visited Liverpool’s training facility at Melwood, where they trained and ate alongside the Premier League footballers, in preparation for Sunday’s second Test against England at Anfield.

Klopp was happy to take tips from the Kiwis

Klopp, who chatted with New Zealand head coach Michael Maguire and was presented with a Kiwi jersey by prop forward Jesse Bromwich, watched on as the tourists performed the Haka in the canteen.

“It was great,” Klopp said. “They are a bunch of real sports guys, I think it’s the third time now that we’ve had the opportunity to host them.

“It’s really cool. They had a good session, I hope. They are always welcome.

“We’re a very open-minded club, we’re open to learn from different sports.

“I’m interested in it actually. Obviously the sport is quite different but it’s still interesting to talk and have a chat. I enjoyed it a lot.”

New Zealand utility player Gerard Beale, who was also among the 2015 and 2016 tourists that visited Melwood, said: “Each time it’s special.

New Zealand perform their famous Haka

“It’s a privilege to be able to come into Liverpool’s home and share their facilities. To mix and mingle and rub shoulders with some of the players was really special.

“They are as famous as, with people like Mo Salah but the biggest thing was seeing how genuine and approachable they are.

“It’s cool that we could share the Haka with them and we put in a good session so morale is definitely up there.”

Wigan 12-4 Warrington: Warriors secure fifth title with victory over Wolves in Super League Grand Final

13 Oct

Wigan coach Shaun Wane went out on a high as his side managed to grind out a fifth Super League title – beating Warrington 12-4 in an error-strewn but entertaining Grand Final.

The hero was Warriors winger Dom Manfredi, who scored two of his side’s three tries after being out of the game for more than two years with a career-threatening knee injury.

This is Wigan’s fifth Super League title

The Wigan players attempted to play down the sentimental factor in the build-up but the tears at the end of an absorbing contest told a different tale as they joyously celebrated with Wane, who will now go into rugby union with a third Grand Final ring.

There was also a fitting finale for Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton but there were tears of a different kind for the Wolves as they slumped to a fourth defeat in as many Grand Finals.

Tyrone Roberts, George King and Bodene Thompson were all on the losing side in their final match for Warrington, who also fell agonisingly short in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August.

The drama unfolded on an unseasonably balmy evening in Manchester where it was red-hot out in the middle.

This is Warrington’s fourth defeat in as many Grand Finals

Tempers were frayed throughout the first half and appeared to boil over as the teams went down the tunnel at half-time.

The Rugby Football League says the fracas, which appeared to be sparked by a push from Warrington centre Bryson Goodwin on Wigan full-back Morgan Escare, will be included in the match commissioner’s report and scrutinised on Monday.

In the fiery contest, Tomkins went desperately close to becoming the first man to be sin-binned in a Grand Final as he escaped with warnings from referee Robert Hicks for a trip on Goodwin and using his knees to the head of Daryl Clark.

Yet in between the spats and a flurry of handling errors, watching England head coach Wayne Bennett, who was seen chatting with England rugby union coach Eddie Jones at half-time, will have appreciated the flashes of creative brilliance from three members of his squad chosen to face New Zealand.

Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford’s cut-out pass got former Wigan winger Josh Charnley over for the game’s first try while classy centre play from Oliver Gildart worked Manfredi over for an equalising score and Wigan’s other winger Tom Davies touched down an inch-perfect kick from George Williams to put his side in front.

There were also acts of bravery worthy of such a big occasion, notably from Wigan scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, who went off with a head knock six minutes before half-time but returned for the start of the second half, and Manfredi who sustained a nasty facial cut while forcing his opposite number Tom Lineham into the corner flag but was thrust back into the action after undergoing repairs.

Trailing 8-4 at the break, Warrington lost much of their direction in the second half and relied on the cutting thrust of man of the match Ratchford to find a way through the Wigan defence, where he found replacement full-back Escare an immovable last line of defence.

The kicking game of Williams kept the Warriors on the front foot and the Wolves suffered a blow when Roberts was forced off with a knee injury 15 minutes from the end.

Manfredi’s late try secured the triumph for Wigan

Wigan’s best scoring chance in the second half came from a break by Escare, who was stopped in his tracks by the excellent Ratchford, while the Frenchman made a hash of a drop-goal attempt and Tomkins was wide with an ambitious penalty shot from almost halfway.

However, Wane’s nerves were finally settled four minutes from the end when Manfredi took Tomkins’ pass to dive over for his second try and the outgoing coach punched the air in celebration.

St Helens’ Ben Barba named 2018 Man of Steel ahead of return to Australia

9 Oct

St Helens full-back Ben Barba has been named 2018 Steve Prescott Man of Steel ahead of his return to his homeland of Australia.

The 29-year-old was voted Super League’s outstanding performer this season by a poll of his fellow players and presented with the award at the annual ceremony in Manchester.

Barba has been named Man of Steel ahead of his return to Australia

Barba, who held off competition from club-mate James Roby and Wigan forward John Bateman, is cutting short his stay in Super League after becoming homesick and will play for North Queensland Cowboys in 2019.

He made a blistering start to the season with a string of man-of-the-match performances to put Saints on their way to winning the League Leaders’ Shield.

The former Cronulla and Brisbane full-back is only the second player to win both the Man of Steel and the NRL equivalent, the Dally M, which he earned in 2012 during a spell with Canterbury Bulldogs.

Former Hull KR forward Gavin Miller won the Dally M Award as a Cronulla player in 1988, two years after being named Man of Steel.

Barba, who was Super League’s top tryscorer with 28 touchdowns, is the first Australian to win the award since former Wigan winger Pat Richards in 2010 and the sixth in all.

He is the eighth St Helens winner of the prestigious award, which was introduced in 1977.

Wigan’s Shaun Wane was named coach of the year for the first time after steering the Warriors to a fifth Grand Final in seven seasons in his farewell campaign at his hometown club, and Castleford’s 19-year-old half-back Jake Trueman was named young player.

Super League news: Wigan announce coach Shaun Wane to leave at the end of the 2018 season
Wane has been named coach of the year for the first time just before he leaves Wigan

Castleford’s Georgia Roche, 17, made history be becoming the inaugural winner of the Woman of Steel award.

Warrington were named club of the year for not only reaching both the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup final but for their off-field work which includes a leading role in the formation of Physical Disability Rugby League.

Sam Burgess pulls out of England rugby league squad for autumn internationals

5 Oct

England have suffered a major blow ahead of the autumn internationals with the withdrawal of talismanic forward Sam Burgess.

The former Bradford favourite, named this week alongside his twin brothers Tom and George in Wayne Bennett’s 24-man squad, picked up shoulder and wrist injuries playing for South Sydney in the latter stages of the NRL season and says he cannot delay surgery.

Sam Burgess is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines

“I’m gutted that I have to withdraw because I love playing for my country and it is a great honour,” Burgess said.

“The reality of the situation is that it’s imperative that I get these surgeries done and, with a view to the next three or four years, I need to get them done now.

“I’ll be watching on from Australia and cheering on England against France and New Zealand, and I’m sure the team will do England proud.”

Burgess, who recently signed a four-year contract extension with the Rabbitohs, captained England in the 2017 World Cup final in December in the absence of Sean O’Loughlin and won his 23rd cap in helping them beat the Kiwis 36-18 in Denver in June.

Sam Burgess in action for club side South Sydney Rabbitohs

England say they will name a replacement over the weekend, allowing Bennett to assess contenders in the Super League semi-finals.

St Helens forward Matty Lees and the Warrington trio of Harvey Livett, Jack Hughes and Joe Philbin will all be hoping they caught the coach’s eye in Thursday’s game and there will be other candidates on show at Wigan on Friday.

Castleford’s Oliver Holmes is in the England Knights squad for the tour to Papua New Guinea, while team-mate Mike McMeeken was a member of Bennett’s World Cup squad.

England play France at Leigh Sports Village on Wednesday, October 17, in their first match on home soil since 2016 and take on the Kiwis at Hull’s KCOM Stadium on October 27, at Anfield on November 4 and at Elland Road on November 11.