Bondi Beat: August 2017



COULD apathy and poverty actually give us the much-mooted World Club Challenge at a neutral venue that enterprise and daring could not?

So far for early 2018 we have Wigan taking on Hull at WIN Stadium and a double-header involving those teams a week later at ANZ Stadium.

Then, supposedly, the WCC will take places as usual in the UK. If Wigan or Hull are involved, they will fly home before playing a visiting NRL side.

But what if it’s Castleford v Melbourne.

Castleford in the past have been one of the sides considered hypothetically unable to put up the necessary financial guarantees to bring over an Australian team. Or, more to the point, Wigan, St Helens, Warrington and Leeds have been identified as the only clubs who can afford it.

On the other side of the globe, Melbourne have been nominated as a team reluctant to travel to the northern hemisphere for the match because of the impact it has on their campaign for the rest of the seaon.

These are the competition leaders in the NRL and Super League. The portents aren’t good. Would it be possible to hastily arrange a showpiece in Singapore or Dubai? Is it too late to have fans travel?

Please don’t say Dubai. Rugby league, last time we looked, is illegal there.


HERE’S  a thought – once the World Cup moves out of its offices in Haymarket, Sydney, why don’t Super League move in?

Or maybe Wigan. Do they still have that commercial office in London. Surely one in Sydney would be less expensive and just as lucrative given the Warriors have two matches there next year alone.

The NRL’s lack of expansion has left the door ajar for Super League to go to all the places League Central snubs.

February 10 could, with a bit of forethought, be just the start.


PLAYERS at the 2008 World Cup in Australia were given $50 per diems but had to pay for their own breakfasts.

This year its $30 with breakfast included. What would you prefer? Most players prefer the cold hard cash in their hands and for that reason there is a little unrest about the arrangements in 2017.

Of course, England, Australia and New Zealand stars don’t have to worry about all that – they’ll get five star treatment. But for everyone else, 20 bucks is worth haggling over and Bondi Beat hears there will be submissions about it to the RLWC office.


AT THE time of writing there was quite some hoo-ha about the front page of the Sydney Daily Telegraph that carried the headline Bulldog And A Bomb.

The page carried a picture of alleged terrorist Khalid Khayat in a Canterbury jersey, describing him in the first paragraph as a Bulldogs fan and butcher.

Now, I am no fan of right wing newspapers fanning hatred and division.

However, why aren’t butchers as outraged as Bulldogs fans at how he was described? Because there is already a negative narrative regarding the Bulldogs and their fans which this is seen as fanning.

In other words, it can’t logically be what is printed on the paper – he is clearly a Bulldogs fan unless the jersey was photo-shopped into place – that is really upsetting people. It’s what they think was in the mind of the person writing the story, writing the headline, laying out the page. (c0ntinued below)

Yet those people can point to what they did and say “we just stated facts”.

In my mind NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg was beyond his remit to get involved. What’s he going to say when he rings up the Telegraph? “You stated verifiable facts that make us uncomfortable?”

The same goes for the Newcastle Knights getting upset about the local paper calling Daine Laurie a “former Knight” when he got in trouble with the law. It’s a Newcastle paper – it’s part of the job to find a reference point for the audience to make the story relevant to them.

Look I wasn’t a huge fan of the focus on what rugby league team the guy supports but I understand it and when you’re going to blow up about things, you’re better off waiting until they are wrong.


SOONER or later there will be a day of reckoning regarding the right strategy for expanding rugby league in North America.

What I mean by this is: Toronto has been earmarked as a good place to have a team in Jason Moore’s domestic league. Toronto already has a team in the British competition.

New York is understood to be being targeted by both.

Does it serve the interests of the game more to launch a continent-wide domestic league, or to play in Europe.

The same debate has been taking place in France for years. The difference is, they already had rugby league there.


I MUST say the first month of promoting my book, Touchstones, has been an eye-opening and rewarding experience.

It’s also been very emotional. The first book I sold at a launch was to my childhood hero, John Dorahy. The second was to Rod Wishart, who must be pretty close to the best Illawarra Steelers player.

My sisters, Tammie and Stephanie, were at the Brisbane and Sydney launches respectively and quite a few tears were shed.


And people have been coming out of the woodwork to congratulate me in terms that have caught me completely by surprise.

I’ll be repeating the process in the UK this month, and in the US in September. The London launch will be at Riley’s Sports Bar, August 31, at 6.30pm. See you there!

Dates in the north to be announced.


THE other thing I’m doing is trying to put together an international rugby league merchandise business with the great Phill Browne.

It’s amazing how readily national governing bodies in rugby league do …. Nothing.

You write them an email offering to spend thousands of pounds on merch and they just don’t respond. It’s weird.

But while the NRL get a bad rap for ignoring correspondence from emerging nations, apparently it also works in reverse. I know of one NRL heavy hitter who wrote to a Pacific country a year ago offering to go through the front door in recruiting players rather than conduct clandestine raids.

He, too, is still waiting for a response.



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