Calls for transparency over ‘secret’ IMG vote and do RFL execs get paid too much? – Paper Talk

James Gordon

RLWC & RFL officials, Jon Dutton, Ralph Rimmer, Simon Johnson, Sir Linsey Hoyle, Brian Barwick at the Rugby League World Cup match between England and France. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Expect plenty of talk in the papers this week about the latest chapter in rugby league’s search for whatever it thinks its missing, which comes to a head when clubs vote on the new IMG proposals on Wednesday.

It’s the last week of club action too before domestic rugby league pauses for a weekend to accommodate the mid-season international between England and France.

Warrington and Wigan are battling at the top of Super League, Hull KR are one win away from setting a club-best start to a Super League season and Leigh have made an encouraging start.

The current state of play is perhaps best summed up by Yorkshire journalist Peter Smith in the latest Forty-20 magazine: “At this stage it looks like two long-running sagas – Wakefield’s battle against the drop and Featherstone’s for promotion – may reach a simultaneous conclusion.”

England candidates to kick-on

Former England captain Jamie Peacock says there is a group of players that need to kick on from being good Super League players to mainstay England players.

Shaun Wane has named a 40-man training squad for the mid-season international against France, and that’s without any access to the dozen or so England-eligible players in the NRL.

In his column in The Mirror, Peacock writes: “There’s a middle tier of players… we have players like Kai-Pearce Paul and Mikolaj Oledzki; players who, if England are to do well at the 2025 World Cup, they need to make that transition from good Super League players and England squad players to mainstay England players.

“There’s a third tier who are young players who have had an outstanding impact in Super League… I’m talking about people like Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis, Wigan’s Morgan Smithies, Huddersfield’s Will Pryce and Leeds’ Harry Newman.”

Calls for transparency over IMG vote

Batley chairman Kevin Nicholas wants to make Wednesday’s vote on IMG’s re-imagining rugby league public.

A secret vote is currently being proposed, meaning fans would be unaware what their club voted for.

Nicholas told League Express: “We have not learned lessons from previous votes that were secret. There should be no reason whatsoever why people can’t declare their vote.”

Value for money?

League Express editor Martyn Sadler appears to take aim at some of the executives in rugby league, questioning whether the sport is getting value out of the salaries it dishes out.

He writes in his weekly column: “In the RFL’s last published accounts, Simon Johnson was paid £48,750 as the chair… and the other non-executive directors each received £24,375.

“But what do they do for the money?

“The fact that so many people who hold such senior positions in rugby league seem to do so little to promote the game makes me wonder what they are actually expected to contribute.”

Sadler runs through several of the non-execs, noting their lack of presence on social media and/or their lack of promoting of rugby league.

He has got a point.

Two more England stars set for NRLW

Following the announcement of Hollie Dodd’s move to Canberra Raiders in the NRLW last week, two further England internationals are set to have their moves Down Under confirmed.

Former Woman of Steel Georgia Roche is set to join Newcastle Knights, and Leeds team-mate Fran Goldthorp is heading to Gold Coast Titans, according to the latest Forty-20 magazine.

There are fears that the Women’s Super League can ill-afford to lose its elite players, particularly with what looks like being a three-horse race for the title which is already being dominated by York in the early season.

But you simply cannot stand in the way of women’s players, effectively amateur in the UK in the main, in taking up professional deals in the NRLW – despite York offering up winning pay for the first time when they beat Leeds in the season opener.

As Danika Priim notes: “The girls don’t want people thinking they are rewarded like the men; there’s still a way to go. It’s a great step forward and that £50 could help with travel for the week or help feed their family, but it doesn’t make them full-time athletes.”

Ferguson back in the press

No stranger to a headline during his career, former Australia international Blake Ferguson has been in the press again over the weekend.

After departing Leigh in the off-season to return home, Ferguson has been ribbed by rivals for his social media activity.

The Daily Star says he has sent a couple of public messages to a ‘gorgeous OnlyFans star’.

It’s the fourth rugby league story the Daily Star has covered since Joe Westerman was ‘taunted by rugby fans with brutal chant in first game since sex act video.’

Thank God for us, eh.

Support rugby league in the media and subscribe to League Express & Forty-20 magazine, as well as checking out the regular coverage of the sport in The Mirror, The Sun, The Guardian and other national newspapers; the more you read, the more there’ll be. Rugby league paper talk.