Off the Record: Rugby League Gossip #28

Mounties rolling

Canada’s entry into League 1 is no flash in the plan, we hear the north Americans mean business and are taking it very seriously. Players are being signed up on three-year deals, a sign that this is no short-term plan. The goal is promotion in the first season, and they have some experienced men in their ranks with Brian Noble and Paul Rowley to help them do that.

Clipped Eagles

One of our moles tells us there is concern in Sheffield about the Eagles poor start to 2016. Full-time Sheffield were expected to be one of the top teams in the Championship this year, but so far they have won just three of their first six games and have hardly set the world on fire. The worry is around their stuttering halves, with Cory Aston struggling and new buy Rhys Jack failing to impress so far. Meanwhile former Eagles playmakers Dominic Brambani is thriving at Batley and Kyle Briggs has been solid at Fev.

Social taking off

Word comes to us that the RFL have approached a digital marketing company to help boost rugby league’s profile on social media. This business, called Airship, specializes in social media campaigns, customer engagement and mobile marketing. Expect a push on the likes of Twitter and Facebook in the weeks ahead as the RFL tries to grow rugby league’s reach.

Lydon return?

Joe Lydon has quit his role in rugby union, resigning after three years with the RFU as their head of international player development. In that time Lydon managed the performance path of international players and covered the Under-18s, Under-20s, Saxons, Sevens and Women’s teams. The 52-year old is a rugby league great, starring for Widnes, Wigan the Roosters and Great Britain in the 1980s. Lydon had great success in the 15-man code and hopefully the RFL or a Super League club can entice him back into the fold.

Antipodean Frenchmen

French rugby league is filled with Aussies, from Catalans Dragons down to Elite One. But now there is a trickle of Gallic talent down under, with several French players making the move. Ex-AC Carcassonne half Russ Aitken is the one helping the players sort out deals, with former St Esteve Catalans Dragons centre Remi Vignau off to the Murwillumbah Mustangs and Carcassonne’s Julien Agullo headed to the Corrimal Cougars. Limoux Grizzlies prop Valentin Yesa is also off to the Cougars, joining Agullo and Aitken at the Illawarra club. More French players could be on their way to Oz soon, we are told.

Drinking culture

Rumours surround one Sydney NRL club where the coach has started up regular drinking sessions. This club has not started the season well, so it’s a surprise to learn the players and staff have been hitting the grog. One reason could be to help his new squad to gel together, but in these ultra-professional days it seems a strange strategy where most players hardly touch a beer in-season.

Bung hammy

Tyrone McCarthy was hoping to break into the NRL this year with St George Illawarra, just like his former Warrington teammate Mike Cooper did a few years back. But McCarthy has been battling a dodgy hamstring injury he picked up in pre-season in late February, which has kept him out for the past month. The forward has had no NRL or NSW Cup action ayet s the frustrating hammy takes a while to heal. We understand the injury is taking longer to fix than first expected, with hamstrings of course notoriously difficult to predict. We wish the Irish international, one of the game’s nice guys, a speedy recovery.

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