FORGET about a beanie and some warm gloves, the only thing you need to take to Canberra Stadium this winter is your budgie smugglers and bikinis. Well, that's if the ACT Brumbies' plans to attract a new generation of fans at the southern end of the ground come off. The Brumbies have floated the idea of installing a spa at the southern end. That's right, a spa for home games. Frostbite could be a hazard, but we're tipping plenty of young punters would be willing to give it a go. The Brumbies have always attracted traditional rugby fans but their partnership with the University of Canberra is helping to attract young supporters. The new fans will please Brumbies coach Jake White - the South African wants to sell out Canberra Stadium every week. Winning helps.
Good to have him on board
HE PREFERS to keep a low profile, but new board member Terry Weber is proving a Raiders secret weapon when it comes to stopping other clubs pinching players. Formerly on the ACT Brumbies board before this year, Weber had not even attended his first board meeting with the Raiders before he was given the task of tracking down third party sponsorship to stop Josh Papalii heading to Parramatta. Just last year, he helped Canberra sign Josh Dugan in similar fashion, and it's highly possible the star fullback would be playing elsewhere this year if not for his assistance. Weber is a senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and brokered the Super League contracts of David Furner and Eels coach Ricky Stuart when Raiders teammates in 1997. Dugan's manager Paul Sutton was recently lavish in his praise of Weber's input in keeping Dugan at the Green Machine for the next two seasons. ''Terry's the man,'' Sutton said. ''I met Terry through Ricky Stuart and he's well connected and knows everyone, and he became a really good ally when I needed things in Canberra. He knows a lot of well-connected people in Canberra, and I don't know anyone.'' In other words, if you're a Raiders fan and you spot Weber at a bar, buy him a beer.
IN AN era where alcohol sponsorships are the norm, it's refreshing to see a local soccer club turn down the dollars in favour of maintaining its family-friendly reputation. Locker Room has heard the Monaro Panthers were approached by Queanbeyan watering hole the Royal Hotel, but politely declined. The Panthers struggle to compete financially with other clubs in the Canberra National Premier League but their long-term strategy is based on a strong junior base.
Morgan off Raiders
HE WAS a Raiders assistant coach last year, but Justin Morgan is already tipping against his old club. Morgan couldn't find room for the Raiders in his top eight, instead going for the Rabbitohs, Bulldogs, Storm, Roosters, Cowboys, Knights, Warriors and Broncos. Morgan was released with a year left on his contract at the end of last season.
Day at the races
WITH all the negative press in rugby league at the moment, it's timely to remember the good deeds achieved by the Men of League foundation. You can support this superb initiative at its annual race day at the Queanbeyan Race Course on April 21. The Men of League Foundation was established to assist past and present rugby league players, coaches, referees, officials and administrators, from all levels of the game, and members of their families who have fallen on hard times. Projects include a Men of League Scholarship Scheme, Men of League Residential Care and Rehabilitation Facilities, and the Sporting Chance Cancer Fund. Raiders coach David Furner will be on hand to lend his support. For more information, contact David Thom (0418 485 032), Graham Willard (0409 545 548), Paul Elliott (0419 426 200), or Ray Sweeny (0416 194 941).
SPEAKING of Furner, he was understandably in a great mood on Saturday after the club announced it had convinced Josh Papalii to renege on his Parramatta contract. Once the cameras and tape recorders were switched off, Furner joked he may wear a Papalii mask to Parramatta Stadium on Saturday. Canberra's NSW affiliate Mounties played Eels reserve-grade side Wentworthville, and Furner headed to Sydney to cast an eye on the likes of Glen Buttriss and Brett White.
FURNER headed to Manly last weekend to get some rest before the start of the season today. He stayed at Q-Station, in the Sydney Harbour National Park. He was shown the sights by a young lady, who turned out to be model Elle Watmough (nee McLeod), the wife of Manly star Anthony Watmough.
IT SEEMS the AFL has fallen on tough times. Those at Manuka Oval on Friday would have noticed a gap where the video scoreboard normally is. Apparently it costs $10,000 to hire the video screen - a bill the AFL found too steep for the NAB Cup third-round game. Perhaps they could get the ACT government to chip in some of the thousands of dollars of parking fines they bring in whenever a major event is held at the picturesque oval.