Paper Talk: Catalans eye Webster, Higham on Leigh renaissance, historic paper shuns RL

Drew Darbyshire

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

There are transfer rumours, exclusive interviews and alarming stories in this week’s trade newspapers.

Higham wants Leigh to bounce back

Micky Higham wants Leigh to finish the season strongly after what has been a whirlwind week for the club, report League Express.

Centurions’ owner Derek Beaumont announced last week that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of the season, and Higham wants a quick rebuild at Leigh. He told League Express: “This last week has been one big rollercoaster, it has been very up and down. Hopefully we can rebuild now and have a good end to the year. We have got seven or eight games to give the Championship Shield our best shot.”

Oldest newspaper drops RL coverage

The Times, long recognised as England’s national newspaper of record, has axed its coverage of rugby league in the latest massive blow to the credibility of the sport, report League Weekly.

Chris Irvine, who had been the staff RL writer for The Times and Sunday Times since 1992, had his full-time contract ended in 2010 but had continued to work on a freelance basis until last week. Irvine will continue to supply limited coverage to the Sunday Times. He said: “We’re told no-one reads newspapers any longer, but The Times still sells 400,000 plus a day, with a wider online presence, and league’s voice, once prominent in the sports pages, has sadly been silenced.”

Newcastle after Finn

Newcastle Thunder are being linked with an audacious bid to bring Ireland international half-back Liam Finn to the North East for next season, report League Express.

League Express understands Thunder are close to announcing the signing of Wakefield star Finn, who will partner France international Remy Marginet in the halves. Newcastle coach Jason Payne said: “We have signed our other half-back, who will come in with lots of experience, but that’s all I can say for now.”

Reserves system receives boost

A new reserve grade competition is set to be launched for 2019, report League Weekly.

The league will not be mandatory, but it should include the majority of Super League clubs, according to Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer. He told League Weekly: “I’m delighted to say that there seems to be a mood of change in relation to [reserves]. I do believe that in 2019 there will be a very healthy-sized reserve grade competition.”

The RFL have the power, insists Rimmer

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer has insisted the game’s governing body has the authority and power to block any changes to the league structure if they are not approved by a majority, report League Express.

Rimmer insists that no matter what Super League’s intentions are in terms of scrapping the Super 8s, they cannot do it if it is not deemed to be in the best interests of the sport. He told League Express: “Quite simply, the RFL board has a veto on any changes to the competition structure. The RFL board would need to be convinced there is enough appetite to make a decision in the best interest of the entire sport to make a change to the structure.”

Catalans keen on Webster

Castleford Tigers fans could be saying their fond farewells to Jake Webster at the end of the season, report League Weekly.

The 34-year-old is being linked with a move to Catalans Dragons for next year and he has previously said that he would like to continue playing next season. However, he is yet to sign a new deal at the Tigers and could well leave the club at the end of 2018.

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