Paper Talk: SL owners back Toulouse, McDermott has fans to win over & Thompson COVID controversy

Rugby league paper talk joseph leilua

It’s time for this week’s rugby league paper talk.

Pearce on verge of Super League move

State of Origin half-back Mitchell Pearce is on the verge of a signing a million-dollar deal to join Catalans. The 32-year-old wants to follow in the footsteps of James Maloney, and has requested an early release from his contract at Newcastle Knights. (League Express)

Thompson causes COVID controversy

England forward Luke Thompson has reportedly upset his NRL club Canterbury Bulldogs for his stance over the COVID vaccination.

The Bulldogs have stated all players must be double-vaccinated before returning to pre-season training in November.

Danny Weidler writes in the Sydney Morning Herald: “He has been butting aheads with the Bulldogs management about COVID vaccination.

“He has told them a number of times that he does not want to be vaccinated. He didn’t even want to wear a mask in Brisbane when players were required to do so after the competition was relocated to Queensland.”

At least 75% of Super League owners back Toulouse

Wigan owner Ian Lenagan says Toulouse’s promotion is great for Super League and that at least 75% of owners are in favour.

He told League Express: “I don’t think many people among the ownership of Super League clubs question the value of Toulouse to the competition now. We’ve got the fourth biggest city in France joining our competition, we should be proud of it and we should be talking our game up.”

McDermott will have to win over Fev fans

You don’t have to look far past any story on Brian McDermott’s appointment at Featherstone to see reference of comments he made about “small northern towns” in the aftermath of Toronto Wolfpack’s Grand Final victory over Featherstone in 2019.

And Garry Schofield believes he will have a few fans to win around as a result.

He wrote in League Express: “Some Rovers fans will no doubt remember some of the things Brian said in the wake of that Million Pound Game in Canada. He’ll have to win them over, and also completely turn around his record of the last two years.”

NEW COACH: Brian McDermott outlines only objective after becoming Featherstone boss

French teams’ hard graft

The NFL has just held its 30th game in the UK – and still an international franchise isn’t part of its plans.

Step forward then, the slapdash approach to expansion in rugby league, that is referenced in The Guardian discussing the prospect of two French teams. Both Catalans and Toulouse have made it to Super League the hard way.

Gavin Willacy writes: “Super League has stumbled into its international expansion, almost by accident, certainly without a plan.

“Rugby league did not even feel the need to dip its toe in North America with a series of exhibition or on-the-road games. It just welcomed Toronto Wolfpack into the shallow end and hoped they would swim when in deep water. They drowned.

“Robert Elstone was widely castigated for his sceptical attitude to the Wolfpack when he took over Super League, his public bafflement at the game’s random expansion strategy.

“Or rather absence of strategy, as invites to clubs built on rich man’s sand proliferated. The long-overdue renaissance of French rugby league is down to the ambition and graft of two great clubs, not the work of Super League – and both clubs know it.”

Support rugby league in the media and subscribe to League Express, 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 appears on the site every Monday.

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