“After nights like this, you can see why IMG wanted to invest in Rugby League,” writes Phil Caplan in his match report for Leeds against St Helens on Friday night.
The time investment from IMG in partnering with the RFL for a 12-year strategy is vital for the future of rugby league.
Though not quite as vital as the terms of the new television deal, with the current agreement due to expire at the end of this season.
Caplan adds in League Express: “With the need for a new television contract, the negotiators should enter the talks armed with a recording of this match to seal the deal.”
St Helens won a thrilling finale in golden point, just 24 hours after another blockbuster won by Wigan at Hull KR, also live on Sky Sports.
There hasn’t been a great deal of external worrying yet about the broadcast deal, and maybe fans are blissfully unaware of the possible carnage that could be caused if a new TV deal is less than the current arrangement.
Clubs have already had to soak up a loss of around 30% from the last broadcast deal, which left a hole of around £300,000 each in Super League club finances.
Chiefs are keeping their cards close to their chest over the ongoing negotiations, which are likely to be at a sensitive point following the announcement of Sky Sports’ renewed deal with the EFL, believed to be holding up all other talks.
Tigers in the market
Castleford are in the market for a forward following the departures of Adam Milner and Daniel Smith recently.
Papua New Guinea international Nixon Putt is being linked with a move to the Tigers by Yorkshire Live, though it appears his arrival won’t be until 2024.
Putt is currently playing for Central Queensland Capras, where he has played alongside English centre Oliver Gildart. Capras are a feeder club for new NRL side the Dolphins.
Matt Shaw reports that the “Tigers are thought to be working on a deal to sign a forward to join the club immediately.”
Magic boost for Catalans
Catalans are hoping to welcome back a clutch of stars for their Magic Weekend crunch against Wigan at St James’ Park.
League Express reports that Mitchell Pearce, Sam Tomkins, Tom Davies, Adam Keighran and Manu Ma’u are all hopeful of being in contention.
The Dragons were beaten by Warrington at Magic Weekend last season, but enjoyed a thrilling victory over St Helens the season before on their way to a maiden league leaders’ shield.
They have an indifferent record at Magic though, winning five and drawing one of their 12 games there to date.
Strange move for Rovers?
Garry Schofield has expressed his surprise at Featherstone’s move to install former York coach James Ford as Director of Rugby.
In his League Express column, Schofield writes: “I find the appointment a bit strange. I’m not at all convinced such a job is needed in rugby league, and always wonder about the relationship between the director of rugby and the coach, who might end up unsettled and looking over his shoulder.
“To be fair, only Featherstone know how things will work within the club, and it’s obviously their prerogative to do as they see fit.”
Word reached us following the appointment that maybe there were murmurs of discontent in the backroom at Post Office Road.
But Long has appeared confident and assured throughout the season, and was the same following their latest win at home to York.
It would take a brave man to displace a coach who has won every game in a campaign, and it seems more likely that Long will be a Super League coach with Featherstone in 2024.
York to showcase Super League potential
A fortnight after showcasing itself for the Summer Bash, York will once again get the chance to put its best foot forward in the Challenge Cup.
The Knights are the last remaining Championship club in this year’s competition, and they welcome Leigh in the quarter-finals on Friday June 9, televised live on ViaPlay.
Coach Andrew Henderson said: “Drawing Leigh at home is a great opportunity to showcase a Super League side to our home fans and to the wider public, and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves.
“As a club we have made it very clear to the wider rugby league world that we have aspirations and genuine ambition to be a Super League club, ideally by 2025, but certainly in the future.”
Calls to change ruling on young players
Wakefield coach Mark Applegarth has called for changes to the compensation rulings after re-signing Jack Croft.
Croft has been left in limbo for the past six months after turning down a new deal at Wakefield, who continued to pay him to protect their right to compensation.
Had Croft, or team-mate Isaac Shaw, moved to another RFL member club then Trinity would have been entitled to a fee.
Applegarth said: “The compensation ruling, in my opinion, needs changing. I’d probably attach compensation after so many games.”
The compensation rule is in place to protect clubs who develop their own players from losing them for no fee.
With no RFL club willing to pay a fee for Croft, that meant he had to seek opportunities in Australia to continue playing rugby league.
The situation highlights the tough situation that both clubs and players find themselves in – a limited player pool to go at but limited resources to either keep players on decent terms, or to pay compensation for relatively untested youngsters.
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