Broncos to get new rivals in 2023
The long overdue overhaul of the NRL judiciary system will ensure players won't miss a finals game for a minor offence, but apply heavier penalties for careless high tackles. All we long for now is consistency. Live-streaming the hearings is also a great move.
The soccer crazies on social media who live in denial and are so abusive towards anyone who comments on the problems facing their A- League. If these people actually bothered to go to the games, or watch on TV, the code would be in much better shape than it is right now.
Having missed out on Josh Morris from the Cronulla Sharks, there's some talk Wests Tigers centre Robert Jennings has been offered to the Roosters as a solution to their centre shortage.
Which NRL assistant coach had a few too many to drink on a night out in Perth for the Nines and gave his head coach a spray about their off-season preparation? Not a wise career move, matey.
Which NRL club handed out merchandise vouchers with their membership packs rather than supply the usual caps, beanies, scarfs or flags with their season tickets that arrive in the mail?
There is one minor problem, however. The club does not have a merchandise shop and the vouchers cannot be used online. This is terrible customer service.
Which sports radio presenter has fallen out of favour at his network over his out of control ego and arrogance away from the microphone?
The NRL has dumped Qantas and done a deal for the 16 teams to fly exclusively with Virgin this year - the same airline the AFL uses.
Recently-departed soccer heavyweights David Gallop and Luke Bould at a cafe in Clovelly. Couldn't the A-League do with their corporate connections right now? Bould was FFA head of commercial and signed the likes of Caltex, Bet 365, NAB, Aldi and Tag Heuer. He now runs sports consultancy business Alacria.
Old footy star Terry Hill has given up raiding lobster pots these days. Instead, he fishes for mud crabs and caught these two monsters (above) at Empire Bay on the Central Coast. They weighed 4kg each.
Not all clubs are as cost conscious as others. Senior NRL executives and most club CEOs flew economy to the Nines in Perth. The NRL's Nick Weeks in row 32 and Jim Doyle in 24. Eels CEO Jim Sarantinos in row 36. Not so Wests Tigers boss Justin Pascoe, who was up at the pointy end. For the record, your columnist was among the punters in 38B.
LUNCH SPECIAL AT CAFE SOFIA
A former NRL player turned drug lord, Kerry Packer's old personal trainer and a table of undercover police officers.
Welcome to the most unlikely brunch in suburban Sydney.
Former Balmain Tigers and NSW Blues star Les Mara has been catching up with old football acquaintances after doing 13 years behind bars for his involvement in a $30 million drug syndicate.
Released in December, Mara was recently spotted with former Newtown halfback Barry Wood, who was Kerry Packer's personal trainer and minder for more than 20 years, at Cafe Sofia in Erskineville. Wood is still employed by James Packer.
As the pair exchanged old footy stories from league's colourful years of the 70s and 80s, police officers were sitting at the next table, not knowing Mara and Wood were within earshot.
The notoriously private Wood declined to comment when contacted by The Sunday Telegraph.
It was another customer at the cafe who contacted us with the details.
"I was on the table next to the cops," he told The Sunday Telegraph. "They had no idea it was Les Mara and Barry Wood sitting next to them.
"They were working undercover and even discussing their next job. Barry and Les just sat there, had a bit of a chuckle and then the cops left."
Mara played for Balmain, Souths, Newtown and NSW between 1975 and 1982. He was jailed over his involvement in a $30 million cocaine importation racket that used baggage handlers at Sydney airport.
After an international manhunt that stretched from Europe and South America to Canada, Mara was eventually arrested in Nowra on the NSW south coast.
LEWIS CAN BE A WORLD BEATER
Anthony Mundine has a huge opinion of Daniel Lewis, the young Aussie boxer who will fight in front of two million pay-per-view fans in the US on the undercard to the Fury-Wilder heavyweight blockbuster in Las Vegas next weekend.
"He's got the ability to make good fighters looks average," Mundine said.
"The kid has tremendous power and he'd give Jeff Horn or Tim Tszyu trouble, I have no doubt.
"With a bit more experience he could beat anyone in the world. I honestly believe that."
Next Sunday in Las Vegas, the unbeaten Lewis will fight The Towering Inferno, American Sebastian Fundora, who has lost just one of his 13 fights.
Lewis is the only man to have beaten the highly rated Tim Tszyu in their days as amateur fighters.
No Aussie boxer has had this sort of exposure on the world stage since Horn beat boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane in July 2017.
BRISBANE RIVALS IN 17-TEAM COMP
REMEMBER where you read this first … the NRL will be a 17-team competition with two teams in Brisbane by 2023, when the current broadcast deal expires.
There will be an extra bye each week to help with player burnout.
That is the mail your columnist has been getting in Perth, where the game's powerbrokers have gathered for the Nines and a CEO conference.
The decision on expansion has to be made by July to enable NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys and commercial chief Andrew Abdo to take the new competition format to potential broadcasters.
The AFL's already out in the market.
Poor attendances at the Nines over the weekend should end any debate about having a team from WA in any expanded NRL competition.
SPOT THE COACH
NOT all NRL coaches are here in Perth for the Nines. There's no sign of Trent Robinson, Ricky Stuart, Des Hasler, Craig Bellamy or Anthony Seibold. Robbo has already left for Barcelona for a training camp before next weekend's World Club Challenge.
Dessie has a good excuse, too. He's had a hip replacement and is in rehab. The last thing he needed was a five-hour flight to Perth in an economy seat.
DALLY M REFORM
THE NRL has set up a working group to look at voting procedures for the Dally M Awards. This follows years of controversy over positional awards. Last year the NRL's best winger, Eels star Maika Sivo, was not even a nomination for Winger of the Year. There was also controversy over Craig Bellamy winning Coach of the Year ahead of Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler, who did such amazing jobs at the Raiders and Sea Eagles.
WE'RE hearing disturbing reports from grassroots cricket about batsmen refusing to wear helmets - which is against a CricketNSW mandate introduced five years ago.
In the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Association, three players have suffered concussion this year after being hit in the head while not wearing helmets.
You would think the tragic death of Phillip Hughes in 2014 would have encouraged all associations to ban any player not wearing protection.
EELS ENJOY MEMBERSHIP SURGE
THERE'S a huge rivalry building between the Eels and Rabbitohs over membership.
For years Souths have had easily the biggest numbers of the Sydney clubs, but now the blue-and-gold army is closing in.
Parra are about to smash an all-time record. Already they have sold 25,100 memberships, which is only 200 short of last year's record. That is more than 5000 ahead of the same time last year. Souths have 27,800 members.
TIGERS legend Wayne Pearce is suffering jet lag after flying from Sydney to Perth and back twice in just 48 hours (about 20 hours in the air). Pearce was in Perth on Thursday for an international board meeting but returned home for an important conference on Friday. He was back in the west late on Friday night to spend Saturday at the Nines.