Rugby League

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Benny bounces in with a left-field solution to TV rights conundrum - buy into networks

Rather than selling off rugby league to the television networks, the game should be buying the broadcaster. The radical idea, the brainchild of former Balmain hooker Benny Elias, has already been put forward to the ARLC. ''I would go to Channel Ten and say 'you can have the TV rights, but I want 30 per cent of your company','' Elias explained. ''If the game did that, they could then on-sell it to, say, Foxtel, for big bucks so that the money goes into the game and to an asset they part own. You can privatise the game, float the NRL and then have the funds to expand the competition into Adelaide, Perth, Tasmania, Darwin - become a truly national competition. We need to be the leader in the market and not following the AFL. We need to look at different ways to make the game bigger and better. I've spoken to one of the commissioners about the idea and he told me it was 'very, very interesting'.'' Elias said the plan would give Lachlan Murdoch, currently on the board of the Ten Network, a chance ''to do what you couldn't do in 1995 - own the game''. ''I know it's a bit out there, but you need to think outside the box to grow the game,'' he said. ''It's a great chance to then on-sell things like State of Origin and footy finals to other networks.''


There's no stopping Jai Ayoub's rugby career, despite his involvement in the NRL betting scandal. Ayoub, the son of player manager Sam, has been charged with attempting to gain financial advantage by deception. That's the same charge levelled at former Parramatta playmaker Brad Murray, who has just copped a statewide ban from the Country Rugby League. However, former Randwick playmaker Jai Ayoub is part of Eastwood's Shute Shield squad.


Having scrapped the McIntyre finals system, the ARLC has made another progressive call. The judiciary system for all Test and Origin matches will work exactly the same as it does for premiership fixtures, falling under the auspices of the NRL match review committee. Previously, Test judiciary hearings were convened straight after matches, but a proper review process will now be undertaken.



Penrith's Dayne Weston is a man of many talents. We are reliably informed the big prop does a Ray Warren impression that would do Billy Birmingham proud.


Sacked Sydney FC boss Dirk Melton is set to return to the greatest game of all. Having made his name as an administrator at Canterbury, Melton is in discussions wit the Bulldogs about a role. ''The chairman of the leagues and football clubs have been talking about getting me back in some capacity,'' Melton revealed. ''It looks like I'll be doing some consulting work for them and there may be some sort of combined role. Time will tell.''


Manly saviour Max Delmege has taken a swipe at the antics of Nathan Tinkler and Clive Palmer, believing the billionaires are treating sporting clubs as their private playthings. Manly's co-ownership structure has been much maligned but Delmege, who tipped in close to $15 million to save his beloved Sea Eagles, reckons it's a better alternative to having a club beholden to just one owner. ''You don't want just one person steering the ship,'' Delmege explained. ''Now it's been proven, in hindsight, that one shareholder doesn't work. If one person controls it they can play it as if it's their own toy. When I privatised with Manly I ensured the supporters still retained a shareholding and had representation on the board.'' While Sea Eagles co-owner Scott Penn has spoken of his desire to limit ownership, Delmege said that recent history suggested the move was fraught with danger. ''When I sold shares I made sure I sold them to a third party to ensure there were more people involved. Financially that's more solid for the club as well,'' he said. Delmege's radio show, Taking it to the Max on 2SM, could have an expanded role when he returns from holidays.


So many good stories in rugby league. Like Semi Radradra. Before joining Parramatta this year, the Fijian rugby sevens international had never played league. The under-20 winger from the tiny village of Somosomo, Taveuni, had been supplementing his income by working down a mine, although he has bigger plans when he eventually returns home - to run a kava farm. ''It's our main business in Fiji, a source of income for our village. It's like No.1 medicine.''


And here's another. Great to see the Dragons give big Ray Cashmere a chance to resume his NRL career at Wests Tigers. Not that the move will be improving Cashmere's bank balance - he was earning considerably more working down the mines than he will earn with the joint-venture club.


If he decides to make himself available, Petero Civoniceva will become the oldest player in Origin history. ''It would be a good title to get, I suppose,'' chuckled the Brisbane bookend. ''I'll make a decision soon.''


So who will be the next Immortal? We put the question to betting agency as we countdown to the next inductee in the elite group.

$2.50: Mal Meninga & Andrew Johns

$7: Norm Provan

$10: Peter Sterling

$11: Ron Coote

$15: Allan Langer/Ken Irvine

$21: Steve Rogers

$51: Brad Fittler

Twitter -@proshenks