Like old times: Laurie Daley and Benny Elias at a post-game function.The NRL has held secret talks with Facebook about the prospect of forming a revolutionary partnership as part of the next broadcast rights deal.
The governing body is thinking outside the square about rights negotiations, particularly when it comes to digital assets. There is a belief sport will increasingly be consumed via smartphones and other devices in the future in a potential shift away from traditional mediums such as television and radio. Google already has a seat at the negotiating table, a move likely to put pressure on incumbent digital partner Telstra to ensure it retains rights ownership. Other digital multinationals have also been approached, but none are bigger than Facebook. According to the NRL’s latest financial report, more Australians follow the NRL on Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, than any other team or sport in the world. The NRL already has a Facebook audience fast approaching one million on its official page. Global Media and Sports boss Colin Smith, who worked for the NRL on the last TV deal and has also advised the AFL and ARU in previous negotiations, believes the NRL’s decision to engage potential new media partners will pay off.
“If you have the view that young people stay with smartphones and tablets [in favour of traditional media], digital in the next 10 years becomes the pre-eminent media,” Smith said.
Roosters are Hayne’s fallback option
If Jarryd Hayne doesn’t make it in the NFL, expect him to become a Rooster upon his return to rugby league.
Hayne jetted back to Australia for a minor foot operation but the procedure won’t affect his chances of making the cut at San Francisco. The Dally M medallist is confident of fulfilling his gridiron dream and the 49ers have been impressed with his transition to date. But if he falls short, the Roosters are the club most likely to sign him if he returns to the NRL. Hayne would be the perfect replacement for New Zealand-bound No.1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the tri-colours are watching his American exploits with interest. The Roosters have Blake Ferguson and youngster Latrell Mitchell as fallback options at fullback but neither has first-grade experience in the position. After years of carrying Parramatta on his shoulders, Hayne would relish the chance to join the battalion of stars at Bondi Junction.
Toovey may outlast Manly chief
Manly CEO Joe Kelly has reportedly applied for leave after just eight months in the chair, sparking fresh speculation about his future at the club. Grant Mayer had already been linked with a return to the Sea Eagles after parting company with Wests Tigers and now Kelly’s desire for a break at a crucial time for the last-placed club suggests there could be another change coming. The former South Sydney staffer has plenty on his to-do list, most notably managing the departure of club legend Geoff Toovey, who is poised to be replaced as coach by Penrith assistant Trent Barrett. It would be ironic if Toovey, who has been undermined by factions well before the beginning of the season, lasts longer.
Young Eel good with the gloves
Parramatta wrecking ball Pauli Pauli was a pretty handy boxer in his teenage years … and is prepared to pull the gloves on again to take on Sonny Bill Williams or Paul Gallen.
Pauli may only be 20 years old but he is already an imposing figure at 193cm and 120kg. He excelled at boxing and volleyball while attending Mount Druitt College and would have represented Australia in the latter sport if his parents allowed him to tour with the national team.
“We were supposed to go to New Zealand but my mum and dad didn’t let me go,” he said.
“I’m glad my parents dropped me out of those things to play rugby league, it’s why I’m where I am now, playing first grade. There’s nothing better than being here with the boys.”
The big forward could also throw a mean punch
“I competed a couple of times but it was just amateur boxing,” he said.
Asked if he would step into the ring to take on renowned footballing pugilists Gallen and Williams, Pauli said: “If I was offered, 100 per cent, I would do it. But I’m not a celebrity at the moment.”
US mantra – stick with the plan
There are sportsmen’s lunches. And then there’s the shindig Hall Chadwick heavyhitter David Kenney hosted at Manta on Thursday. NSW coach Laurie Daley didn’t enjoy a single wink of sleep after masterminding the epic win over the Maroons at the MCG but honoured a commitment to address some of Sydney’s most influential businesspeople in Sydney. Daley and NSWRL boss David Trodden provided some wonderful behind-the-scenes insights at an event MC’ed by fellow Blues legend Ben Elias. When asked about the most tangible thing he took away from his study tour of the United States, we expected the champion pivot to point to some gizmo or do-hickey that is all the rage in the major leagues. Instead, he offered: “For me, it was about having a plan and sticking to it rather than deviating from it.
“If you are a strong leader and you believe in something and you know it’s right, give it a chance to come to fruition rather than changing. Don’t doubt yourself. All the clubs, the teams – baseball or whatever – that is what they are doing. They stick to it. That’s what we’re doing here.”
Melbourne turns on a winner
There will always be an outcry whenever an Origin game is taken from the heartland states, but you can’t fault the experience that was attending the MCG on Wednesday night. A record crowd was treated to an open game and the result ensures the decider will be bigger still. In his address to 1200 guests at the Storm’s pre-game Origin function, NRL CEO Dave Smith paid Melbourne the ultimate compliment.
“If there is one area where we remain envious of Victoria it is the way you do sporting events,” Smith said.
“You have great stadiums, easy transport and the CBD is on your doorstep. You make it easy for fans to be part of the game and they love it as a result. That’s what we need in Sydney … what you have here.”
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