Rugby League


Channel Seven ready to climb aboard the Jarryd Hayne Plane and screen San Francisco 49ers games

It may have missed out in its bid for NRL games, but the Seven Network could still have a ratings bonanza on its hands if the NFL consents to its request to show all bar one of Jarryd Hayne's regular-season games on free-to-air television.

Despite its best efforts, Seven has failed in its attempts to screen San Francisco's remaining pre-season matches. Those fixtures, along with the NFL season-opening round, will remain the exclusive property of ESPN.

Cisco kid: Jarryd Hayne (left) rushes during a pre-season game with the San Francisco 49ers.
Cisco kid: Jarryd Hayne (left) rushes during a pre-season game with the San Francisco 49ers. Photo: Getty Images

However, Seven is negotiating for the right to show every other game involving Hayne, regardless of whether he remains at the 49ers or is picked up by another team.

If Seven is successful, the former Dally M medal winner will pull a huge viewing audience to the network, which will screen the Hayne Plane live and in high-definition on 7Mate. It would be a massive coup after Seven was beaten by Nine in the free-to-air battle for four NRL matches a week and the State of Origin series.

Girl power: The all-female referees line-up for the Balmain Junior Rugby League grand finals.
Girl power: The all-female referees line-up for the Balmain Junior Rugby League grand finals. Photo: Supplied

"Unfortunately, pre-season matches do not form part of the ESPN-Seven agreements with the NFL," Channel Seven's head of corporate affairs Simon Francis said.

"The NFL retains rights to those matches. We are working closely with the NFL and ESPN under the terms of our broadcast agreements to secure coverage of Jarryd Hayne's NFL matches."


If Hayne does make San Francisco's final 53-man roster, ESPN will be the only place you can witness his NFL debut against Minnesota, unless you purchase a digital season pass from the NFL website.

"ESPN has been the long-standing home of NFL in Australia – both on television and digitally on – so we are looking at how best to cover Hayne's progression in the NFL with in-depth coverage and expert analysis," an ESPN spokesperson said.

ESPN will broadcast the 49ers v Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday, September 15, at 12.15pm.

Rivals and housemates

Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings will not only be vying for the same Roosters No. 6 jersey, they will likely be doing it from the same house in Mascot.

We revealed a fortnight ago that Nikorima is switching from Brisbane to Bondi after being offered an opportunity to battle for the halves spot vacated by Cronulla-bound five-eighth James Maloney.

We hear Nikorima and Hastings are good friends, having been teammates at Australian Schoolboy and Junior Kangaroo level. The pair will battle it out for the right to play alongside NSW playmaker Mitchell Pearce, with the teen missing out on a chance to play at fullback or come off the bench as a utility.

The Broncos were desperate to keep Nikorima and tried to up their offer, but there wasn't a clear development pathway given Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford have cemented halves positions.

Eels eye Cornish

Parramatta are closing in on the signature of Canberra playmaker Mitch Cornish.

The Eels have offered Cornish, off-contract at the end of the year, a one-year deal to provide halves cover for Corey Norman and Manly recruit Kieran Foran.

Cornish has played 14 NRL games since making his debut last year, but has struggled to get a start in the top side in recent times.

The Eels have a trend of offering one-year deals to players – we recently revealed Rory O'Brien was switching from St George Illawarra – as an opportunity for them to showcase their wares and fight for a longer contract.

One player who has done just that is Reece Robinson. Robinson came to the Eels as a winger but has spent much of the season filling the void at fullback, despite his inexperience in the position. The former Raider will be rewarded for his consistent form with a new two-year deal.

Parramatta are also likely to welcome back Kelepi Tanginoa, who is poised to return after spending this season in North Queensland.

Caught out

Which former NRL player, currently in the Super League, has been busted having an affair with his teammate's partner? The club is aware of the situation and is desperate to off-load him.

More than just money

If you think Brad Arthur's stoush with Parramatta over his contract is about money, think again.

We revealed the coach is out of pocket after the Eels refused to make good on an upgrade and extension promised to him by chairman Steve Sharp, even after a new contract was belatedly tabled and signed.

If Arthur was in it for the coin, he would have taken the $1 million-a-season payday offered by arch-rivals Manly, where he would have not only coached Kieran Foran, but also Daly Cherry-Evans and the best rugby league back line outside of the Queensland State of Origin team.

But he is a man of principle and didn't want to walk out on the club he committed to. So you would think it only fair that Arthur should have that commitment and loyalty returned.

The last thing the Eels need is more legal action against them after Will Hopoate took them to the Supreme Court over his own contract, and former player Ben Smith is also contesting his disqualification from the recent elections.

Fundraising dinner

Alex McKinnon and his fiancee, Teigan Power, will be special guests at a fundraising dinner for injured footballer Kurt  Drysdale. Some of the biggest names in sport and entertainment will come together on September 24 at Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, which is hosting the event free of charge to ensure all proceeds go towards Drysdale's recovery.

Drysdale is paralysed from the neck down after suffering a serious spinal injury playing for Cabramatta in the Sydney Shield.

McKinnon, who suffered a catastrophic career-ending injury of his own, will join fellow big names Phil Gould, Andrew Johns and Noel Kelly, while entertainment will be provided by Justice Crew and Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner.

Tickets are $200, which includes food and drinks, and can be purchased from

Female referees

History was made in the Balmain Junior Rugby League when a five-member team of female referees presided over Saturday's grand finals.

Referee of the year Elysia Higgins, a former player herself, began proceedings with the under-9s, division-three match at Leichhardt Oval as part of the all-female whistleblowing team.

The district's Junior Referees Association has been encouraging women into the ranks and the feat is believed to be a first for the game.

On hand

In the ultimate case of karma, a referee abused by NRL footballers at junior rugby league games was on hand when one of them was put in the clink.

Tim Hannon, the whistleblower abused by the Fifita twins during a match in the Penrith district, doubles as a cop at the Blacktown command. Hannon was reportedly at the station when Wests Tigers forward Matt Lodge was brought in following domestic violence allegations.

While Hannon wasn't the arresting officer, we hear he was present when Lodge – who was also suspended from junior footy for his role when the Fifitas stepped out of line – was hauled in.

Penrith had expressed interest in Lodge, but the deal may fall over after he was charged with a string of domestic violence offences.