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NRL News: Dolphins fined in Broncos poaching scandal, Turmoil at Tigers with review into 'Pascoe fiasco'

14th September, 2023
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14th September, 2023
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The NRL has come down hard on the Dolphins for an anti-tampering breach, fining the club $25,000 for attempting to induce centre Deine Mariner to break his contract with arch-rivals Brisbane.

Mariner’s manager Dixon McIver has also been handed a warning.

Dolphins CEO Terry Reader told AAP the club was “perplexed by the breach notice and will respond in due course”.

McIver told AAP he had done nothing wrong and felt “violated” by the ruling.

Under contract with Brisbane until the end of 2024, Mariner had shocked the Broncos last October when he approached the club seeking an immediate release.

Brisbane rejected the request and made a complaint to the NRL regarding the Dolphins’ dealings.

AAP has been told someone called Mariner last year, not McIver, to say he would be paid a lot more money to join the Dolphins if he gained a release from his Broncos deal. 

NRL rules at the time prevented any rival club from making an offer to Mariner until November 2023, while it is also illegal for teams to attempt to persuade players to break contracts.

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The NRL has now completed an investigation into the matter, handing the Dolphins a breach notice with a $50,000 fine, of which 50 per cent is suspended.

“It is alleged that both the Dolphins club and the player agent contravened the NRL Playing Contract and Remuneration Rules (PCR Rules) in dealings concerning Brisbane Broncos player Deine Mariner,” the NRL said in a statement.

“Specifically, the breach notice alleges a failure by the club to comply with the record keeping provisions of the PCR Rules. 

“The notice proposes a $50,000 financial penalty (50 per cent suspended) for the club.

“The show cause notice issued to the Player Agent alleges a failure to comply with the player negotiation provisions of the PCR Rules and the record keeping provisions of the Agents Accreditation Scheme Rules (Scheme Rules). 

“(It) proposes a 12-month suspension of the Agent’s accreditation should he again breach the Scheme Rules or the PCR Rules in the next 24 months.

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Both the Dolphins and McIver have until next Thursday to respond to the breach notice.

AAP has been told the Broncos have a good relationship with McIver and do not blame him for what unfolded with Mariner.

“I can’t point the finger at the Dolphins for doing anything wrong and I also understand how the Broncos feel. I probably shouldn’t have spoken to anyone about anything,” McIver said.

“This has taken me by surprise because I have always played by the book. It feels like someone has robbed your house. You feel violated a bit.

“There is nothing for me to appeal against. I take a lot of pride in what I do. 

“The way I see things is that if I am not supposedly displaying good behaviour the next 24 months I should be suspended for five years. That is the way things should be.

“I know I have not done anything wrong. I thought this whole thing was done and dusted.”

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Turmoil at Tigers with review into ‘Pascoe fiasco’

The Wests Tigers could finally be ending the “Pascoe fiasco” with a review launched into the club’s operations after a second straight wooden spoon.

Fans have been up in arms about chief executive Justin Pascoe remaining in charge for nearly a decade despite a series of coaches being shown the door as the Tigers endure a finals drought which stretches back to 2011.

Club chairman Lee Hagipantelis has also come under heavy fire for the way the club has been run under his watch.

Former NRL chief financial officer Tony Crawford will head uyp a review for Benchmarking Matters, according to a NewsCorp report, which will examine how the joint venture club has failed to become finals contenders for more than a decade.

The Tigers sounded out Newcastle’s Peter Parr to take over as football manager but he is staying at the revitalised Knights. 

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: West Tigers Board Director Lee Hagipantelis and CEO Justin Pascoe look on before the start of the round 18 NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers at Qld Country Bank Stadium on July 01, 2023 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe and chair Lee Hagipantelis. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

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Disgruntled fans have held up banners at games and organised online petitions to have Pascoe removed. 

A group of around 40 Tigers fans chanted for Pascoe’s exit on the seven-minute mark of their final match against Manly, handing out flyers labelled “end the Pascoe fiasco”.

Multiple banners calling for the CEO’s exit were also hoisted on the Brookvale hill, before security forced them to be taken down at halftime claiming the venue had deemed them “offensive”.

Tim Sheens was dumped as coach with more than a year remaining on his contract with Benji Marshall taking over ahead of schedule.

Jason Taylor and Michael Maguire have also been dumped during Pascoe’s tenure as CEO while Ivan Cleary was released to join Penrith after Maguire had been lined up to replace him. 

Assistant coach David Furner is the latest high-profile staff member to be shown the door with John Morris coming on board Marshall’s staff next year after a two-year stint with South Sydney.

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The Tigers are also allowing fan favourite Alex Twal to leave next year despite being under contract if he receives a better offer.

Roosters rookie wants to represent multiple nations

Sydney Roosters rookie Siua Wong has declared he would love to win caps for every nation he qualifies for as the in-demand back-rower’s diverse background – and electric club form – makes him a target for the end-of-year Tests.

Wong has been a revelation for the Roosters this season and has been named to start in Friday’s elimination final against the Melbourne Storm.

Born in Auckland, Wong’s parents, father Akuila and mother Sekola, spent time in the New Zealand military and served in places as varied as East Timor, Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt.

Wong’s father has Chinese-Fijian and Tongan backgrounds and his mother is of Tongan-Samoan descent.

It has made the 20-year-old, who will no doubt be a target for the Kiwis too, want to win caps for every nation.

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“It’s been one of my goals, I’ve thought about loyalty and sticking to one nation but I’m all four of those cultures,” Wong, who played for Fiji at last year’s World Cup, told AAP.

“At the end of the day it’s about representing my family, I am all of those cultures.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“For me to represent wouldn’t be just for me, it would also be about giving back for my family.

“It’s a big mix and it’s hard to pick one because I feel that they are all a part of who I am.”

If John Ribot’s dream of league making it big in China ever comes to fruition then Wong could well win a cap there too.

“If they ever get a team over there I’d step up,” Wong chuckled.

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Wong has certainly done that for the Roosters this season, going onto make nine appearances after being given his NRL debut in round 18.

Plucked out of fabled rugby union school Mt Albert Grammar in Auckland, Wong says playing against seasoned professionals has been one of the toughest challenges he has faced.

“It’s been a big step up from playing against guys my age and then playing against men and men who’ve been in the game for many years,” Wong said.

“The preparation from Robbo (Trent Robinson) has been massive for me, as has the support of Jared (Waerea-Hargreaves).

“Jared has lived and breathed Roosters DNA and I want to learn so much from him because he’s what the club is and I want to try to be the future and express that as well.”

Tributes flow for first Maroons coach John McDonald

Queensland rugby league icon and inaugural Maroons State of Origin coach John McDonald has died after a wonderful career as a player, coach and administrator.

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McDonald, universally and affectionately known as ‘Cracker’, was 79 when he passed away yesterday in his home town Toowoomba.

His achievements were many but guiding Queensland to a 20-10 win over NSW as coach in the first State of Origin game in 1980 has been hailed by Maroons greats Wally Lewis and Chris Close as crucial.

“John was given the most challenging job of all in 1980 and his achievement in ensuring Queensland won that game was imperative to the reputation and future of State of Origin football,” Lewis told AAP.

A devastating centre and winger, McDonald played 13 Tests for Australia and made 10 interstate appearances for Queensland. He played in the 1970 grand final for Manly after lighting up rugby league fields in his home state.

“My dad used to talk about the exciting player he was. He told me that John would make people go to the footy just to watch him,” Lewis said.

As Queensland Rugby League chairman from 1992 to 2012, McDonald forged a powerhouse partnership with late QRL managing director Ross Livermore. The duo kept Queensland league strong and ensured the state was not done over by NSW at the administrative level.

“John was quite simply a remarkable individual who touched the lives of so many people around him,” QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher said. “His achievements within the game are unrivalled.”

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Close was man of the match for the Maroons in 1980. “In 1980 Cracker got a group of people together under the captaincy of Arthur Beetson, remembering that eight of those players were 21 years old or younger,” Close told AAP.

“He did a remarkable job to provide an environment to win that game. I had the pleasure of rooming with him in 1980. He was a very energetic person and an early riser. In those days I wasn’t.

“Cracker used to make a point of getting up at sparrow’s fart and grabbing The Courier Mail and then he would shake it, rattle it, fold it and make a racket just to get me out of bed.”

Close said McDonald has “a nice place to spend in my heart”.

“I am really saddened by his loss,” Close said. “He was a good man, a great mentor and a really decent human being. Since then I have got to know his family very well and they all have John’s stamp on them from a character point of view.”

Lewis said it was “a privilege” to be coached by McDonald, a person who he said was one of a kind. “He was a fantastic guy, always cracking jokes and lifting your mood,” he said.

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“If you ever wanted to get rid of someone that was a pest you would tell them to go and find someone that didn’t like John McDonald. It would be a long time before you saw that person again.”

A devoted family man, McDonald and his wife Joan raised six children.

NRLW game moved over air-quality concerns

Hazard reduction burning in Sydney has prompted the NRL to relocate a women’s game over air-quality concerns.

Wests Tigers’ round-nine clash against ladder-leading Newcastle will be held at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday night, rather than at its original venue Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

Campbelltown City Council informed the NRL on Wednesday that hazard reduction burning in Sydney’s southwest could make outdoor activity unsafe.

“The decision to relocate the match to Leichhardt has been made to prioritise the safety of patrons and players,” a statement from Wests Tigers said.

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The game will kick off at 7.45pm, with all tickets purchased for the original venue valid for Leichhardt Oval.

The venue move comes as the league pushes back Saturday’s NRLW games to avoid clashes with the Warriors’ men’s semi-final against Newcastle in Auckland.

Showing the game in Australian prime-time would have meant scheduling it later at night in New Zealand, which runs two hours ahead of Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Instead, the semi-final will kick off at 4.05pm AEST and finish immediately before the NRLW match between North Queensland and the Sydney Roosters kicks-off at 6.00pm AEST.

The second NRLW match for the day between St George Illawarra and Brisbane kicks off at 8.10pm at Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah.

with AAP

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