The Bledisloe Cup match isn’t the only reason Sonny Bill Williams will be in Sydney over the coming days, with the All Blacks No.12 to continue negotiations with the Roosters about his long-awaited return to rugby league.
It’s been more than a year since the former Canterbury star first met with Roosters boss Nick Politis and, having confirmed last month he would return to the NRL next season, Williams and the Roosters are weighing up the right time to put pen to paper. If the Roosters lodge an NRL contract for Williams this week and it’s approved, Williams will officially become an NRL player, which may then see the salary cap auditor, Ian Schubert, pressure the club to include his Japanese rugby earnings in their salary cap. Embattled coach Brian Smith was put through the ringer at a Roosters members forum last night, where he attempted to placate disgruntled fans with assurances that the club would be more competitive next season with the arrival of Williams and James Maloney.
‘‘No one is hurting more than I am, but sometimes the deeper the cut the more the lesson learned,’’ Smith told the crowd. ‘‘There have been some times we have done quite well and other times we have not finished the job. Not finishing off winning performances is the difference in being in the run for the eight and not being there.’’ Smith said he was unwilling to confirm the signing of Williams. ‘‘Sometimes you know that I know that you know that I know,’’ Smith said cryptically. That didn’t wash with many fans, however. When pushed further, Smith said: ‘‘If he finishes up playing for us or anyone else in the NRL, any other club will be envious because he is a high quality rugby league player.’’
Mitchell on parade
This Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match won’t only be an opportunity for Drew Mitchell to remind people of his abilities but to show off his new skids, too. The winger, who hasn’t played a Test match in almost a year, didn’t waste his time away from rugby, developing iPhone app Drew Mitchell’s Runnin’ Rugby and a pair of signature playing boots. The 28-year-old will show off the creations on Saturday, putting him up there with the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Sally Pearson to have equipment designed and named in their honour.
Don’t bet on it
The NRL is supporting a NSW government plan to legislate for a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail for anyone guilty of match-fixing. The proposed Crimes Amendment (Cheating at Gambling) Bill 2012 will apply to anyone found to have engaged in or facilitated conduct that corrupts the outcome of an event. ‘‘[They] have moved to make a clear statement about protecting the integrity of sport,’’ ARLC interim CEO Shane Mattiske said. ‘‘We have been working with state and federal government for some time to ensure there are measures in place that reflect the seriousness of this issue. Importantly, it includes penalties for any person concealing information or who acts on information related to match-fixing.’’
Loose head pop
A few of The Inside Back’s colleagues were sent diving for cover earlier this week when a Blues Origin player let loose an almighty spray about a headline on an otherwise positive story in a rival paper. No stranger to the media, the player accused the reporters of being responsible for the headline – which, admittedly, was somewhat misleading – and refused to accept that wasn’t the case, despite the fact both scribes made clear that sub-editors, not reporters, are responsible for headlines. This column thought a little explanation was in order. A newspaper works a lot like a football club. The editor/coach makes the game plan, the reporters/forwards hit the ball up and the sub-editors/halves put the final touches on the story/play for the try. Halfbacks don’t hit the ball up and forwards don’t throw cut-out passes. The last time this scribe offered a headline to a story he was told, in no uncertain terms, to remove himself from the vicinity. Case closed.