RL Today: Bateman’s pain, brutal Cas injury and Dodd speculation starts here
Running you through some of the big headlines and stories from today in rugby league.
One to ponder the next time you blow your nose. Castleford forward Nathan Massey did just that shortly before he was due to come back on the field against Warrington in their heavy defeat last Friday, and feared he’d popped his eye socket!
Turns out he’s “only” fractured his nose.
Still interim Castleford coach Andy Last said: “These rugby players are tough and Massey is one of the tough guys. He got the all clear from the doctor and he said he wants to be up for selection.”
Last laughed off questions over the vacant coaches role, saying that the powers that be hadn’t spoken to him since Friday’s turnover by the league leaders.
If you thought that was bad, NRL physio reckons England forward John Bateman suffered one of the most painful injuries in rugby league playing for Wests Tigers at the weekend.
Despite being cleared of rib fractures and being named in the Tigers squad to face Brisbane this week, the rib cartilage injury is rated as a bad one – causing pain with “every breath you take, every move you make.”
Someone call the Police.
Casualty Ward: Catalans triple blow, update on Wire duo & Castleford’s concerns
Derby build up
Say what you want about the Leigh Leopards re-brand, but Derek Beaumont is certainly doing his bit to drum up interest in the Leythers.
Both Leigh and Wigan have been creating interest around their televised derby clash on Thursday, and why not. Leigh have proved to be more than competitive at the start of this season, and if they can’t be ambitious enough to be bold about forging a long-term rivalry with their borough rivals, then why bother.
Leopards star John Asiata said: “I think with the squad we have, we’re looking to challenge other teams and this is another test for us to make sure we can stick with them.”
How Leigh-Wigan is the new Broncos-Cowboys for Leopards star
The start of a new long-term Super League rivalry
Meanwhile, one man with a foot in both camps will be with Wigan this week.
Joe Shorrocks has been on loan at Leigh, but has been recalled by Matt Peet ahead of the derby.
No doubt armed with plenty of insider information. Shrewd.
“A 19-year-old scally from Oldham with a billionaire polishing my shoes”
Not enough is made of player stories from the game, though it’s hard to know whether it’s through not having the opportunities to tell them or the fear of it causing controversy!
No worries about either of those things in this piece with Paul Sculthorpe, about the time he agreed terms to join London Broncos prior to his big-money move to St Helens.
St Helens may have to brace themselves for some big money approaches to take players from them.
The four-time Super League and new world champions have some of the hottest properties in the game, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by NRL clubs.
Having virtually conquered everything already in their young careers with Saints, Jack Welsby and now Lewis Dodd are likely to be on NRL shopping lists.
Dodd has attracted attention this week after it was revealed he had signed with an Australian agent.
He’s on contract until the end of 2024, but expect plenty of speculation about where he may or may not end up between now and then.
Saints have been extremely good in warding off interest in their top talent in recent years, though even they might struggle to keep Welsby and Dodd for the whole of their careers.
You can’t blame any player for wanting to test themselves in the NRL, and losing English stars Down Under isn’t the disaster some would have you believe.
St Helens boss comments on Lewis Dodd NRL speculation after half-back signs with new agency
While we’re worrying about losing UK stars to the NRL, the NRL may have a problem brewing with losing their own stars to rugby union.
Joseph Suaalii’s big money code switch was announced at the weekend, and union chiefs Down Under reckon there’s more to come.
Chief Hamish McLennan said: “He wants the international exposure, the big stadiums and the international events.”
READ: More could follow star to rugby union for ‘international exposure’
Adding the extras
From Paul Sculthorpe’s anecdote about a helicopter with Richard Branson to Jon Wilkin telling a story about a sh*t sandwich shop in Warrington.
Wilkin is a very welcome addition to the commentary box on Sky Sports, and his appearance on their weekly podcast brings some good stories too.
Check out the latest one, starring Wilkin (and his surprisingly bare ankles) and Kevin Brown.
"If you're gonna waste your breath and say something to a player, make it good!" 😅
Kevin Brown joins Jenna and Jon this week to talk career highlights, whether stadiums should have names, representing his country and the best prank he's played on a team-mate! 👀👇
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) March 28, 2023
Expect to see it syndicated (ripped off) umpteen times on a website near you soon.
We might be waiting for someone to finally confirm what on earth is happening with international rugby league this year, but there is at least one World Cup legacy bubbling.
The RFL has launched its new project, RugBees, aimed to encourage more primary school aged girls to take up the sport.
It was unveiled at the Women’s Super League launch at Headingley earlier today.
England women’s star Jodie Cunningham said: “There is so much evidence to support that playing sport in a mixed gender setting isn’t right for all young girls’ and can be a barrier to participation which is why we are introducing RugBees to help tackle this.”
What do York and Uganda have in common?
Rugby league apparently.
York have announced they will be providing financial and material resources to the development of the sport in the African county, overseen by Valkyrie Director of Rugby Lindsay Anfield.
Fortunate Irankunda, the Founder of The Whales Rugby League Academy Uganda, said: “Having a partnership with York RLFC is the biggest step to the promised land. It’s like an athlete’s journey to the long-awaited gold medal.”
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