Former Wallaby David Pocock calls time on rugby union career, looks to conservation


Former Wallaby David Pocock is hanging up the boots for good, confirming he’s played his last game of professional rugby union.

The 32-year-old flanker was supposed to play in Japan’s Top League this season but has called time on his 15-year career.

Speaking to the ABC, Pocock said the decision wasn’t easy.

“It’s been a tough decision, but it really feels like the right time to step away from playing rugby and move onto other things,” he said.

“Author Rob Bell once said: ‘You can leave when it feels like a graduation, or you can hang in there and leave when it feels like a divorce.’

“I’m hoping it’s still going to feel like a graduation, but no doubt, like with any life transition, there’s going to be some challenges,” he said.

Pocock, regarded as one of the best openside flankers in the world, played for the ACT Brumbies and Western Force in the Super Rugby between 2006 and 2019, and the Wallabies between 2008 and 2019.

Pocock is regarded as one of the best openside flankers in the world.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

Speaking about his time in the game, he said he’s grateful to have played alongside so many amazing people, and to have had such immense support.

“As an immigrant moving to Australia it’s given me so many opportunities and I feel incredibly grateful for that.

“You really realise just what a myth individual achievement is and how much support you’ve had along the way and how much else goes into you being able to do what you do.”

The Zimbabwean-born Pocock moved to Brisbane with his family in 2002.

He debuted with the Perth-based Western Force as an 18-year-old and two years later he ran onto the field for the Wallabies.

“I was pretty pumped about the opportunity and enjoyed my time in Perth,” he said.

In 2012, he captained the Wallabies to a 3-0 series win over Wales in the June tests, just before picking up the first of a succession of knee injuries.

In 2013, after seven seasons with the Western Force, he moved over to the ACT Brumbies. But back-to-back knee reconstructions meant he only got to play five games across his first two years there.

But in 2015, Pocock returned to his best. He excelled at the Brumbies, was selected for the Wallabies and snagged a swathe of awards.

Winners are grinners: Pocock (R) thanks an adoring crowd.
Pocock (right) said the “time is right” to end his rugby union career.(ARU Media: Stuart Walmsley)

Pocock ended up playing in three World Cups, which he says were a real highlight of his career.

“They all ended in disappointment, but they are kind of the pinnacle of our game and to be able to experience that was a real thrill,” he said.

“I think when you think back its often little moments with teammates or special times with family around games that really stand out.”

Playing in some of those matches and others in his career, Pocock wore the Indigenous jersey.

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The Wallabies are set to wear it again in their next test against the All Blacks on October 31.

Wallabies back Dane Haylett-Petty previously said the group would consider taking a knee at that match in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but coach Dave Rennie says that won’t happen.

“Our focus is around the First Nations people and the Indigenous jersey, we’re not looking to make a political statement,” he said.

“We met with the leaders and the leaders met with the team. It’s a unanimous decision.”

Pocock said he’d support the team’s choice.

“I really think it’s up to them, they’re the ones out there wearing that jersey.

“I’m sure there are some good conversations about what’s going to honour that jersey the most, what’s going to hopefully unify people and raise what I think is a really important issue that’s not getting the attention at a political level in Australia.”

What’s next for David Pocock?

Pocock’s interest in conservation is well-known, so it’s no surprise that’s the direction he’s taking beyond rugby.

“I’ve been working on a project in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“It’s kind of regenerative agriculture meets community development and conservation. We’re starting to make some progress with that and hopefully head over there once things settle a bit and get stuck in.”

He’s passionate about bringing attention to climate change, and awareness to biodiversity and the rate of extinctions.

“I think regenerative agriculture offers some solutions to both of those, in terms of carbon sequestration and drawing down some of the emissions, creating healthier food, but then also creating habitat for wildlife.

“I find it really interesting and exciting and I’ve enjoyed learning more about it. It’s going to be good to have more time to dedicate to that.

“We’ve been doing a pretty rotten job of looking after the places that we live and I think that can change,” he said.

As for rugby, he’ll definitely stay connected to it both here and overseas.

David Pocock scores a try for Australia against Russia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup
Despite hanging up the boots, Pocock will stay involved in rugby both here and overseas.(REUTERS: David Gray)

“I’m an ambassador for a schoolboy rugby program in Western Australia where they’re looking to get a lot more schools playing rugby,” he said.

“Having had my first opportunity as a teenager in Perth I’m really keen to get behind that and hopefully give more kids that opportunity.”

“Then I’ve been talking to Zimbabwe rugby about ways that I can potentially give back there and they’re really keen to try and qualify for the next world cup, so we’ll see what that looks like.”

So we might be seeing David Pocock at another World Cup after all.



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Nine offers $30 million for rugby union broadcast rights


Former RA boss Raelene Castle was eager to get more free-to-air coverage for the sport to grow the sport’s audience. Nine’s offer is smaller than the bid incumbent broadcaster Foxtel made nearly two weeks ago. Industry sources familiar with the talks previously aid Foxtel had offered between $35-$40 million for the matches despite previous claims the pay TV operator did not believe the sport was worth that much. However, some Foxtel sources indicated they offered less than $35 million. Foxtel pays between $30 million to $40 million a year for the rights but was hoping to renegotiate price in the same way it landed new deals with the AFL and NRL.

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Foxtel has broadcast rugby games in Australia for two decades. The broadcaster, which runs Fox Sports, offered to sign a new five-year deal late last year but discussions fell apart earlier this year over the pricing. Foxtel has also reduced its rugby commentary budget in recent years and no longer has a mid-week show.

When talks first fell apart between RA and Foxtel earlier this year, Ms Castle approached Nine about a bid. A successful bid by Nine would also change the positioning of streaming service Stan, which currently runs international and local drama and film. Stan currently has 2 million subscribers, a large audience base for rugby union to try and attract. Kayo had 600,000 subscribers in September.

Any deal with the Nine would be short-term but if the involvement of Stan proves a success, it could open up the potential for other sports rights negotiations to include the streaming service in future. Such a move would put pressure on Foxtel which is heavily dependent on sport for subscribers.

Nine is the second free-to-air broadcaster to make an offer for the rights. Network Ten bid broadcast the Wallabies Tests last month but offered less than the $3.5 million a year it currently pays. Ten does not want to pay large amounts for the rights because of declining audiences. In 2015, the average audience for international Tests on Network Ten was about 345,000. In 2019 the audience figure was 194,000 and a lack of audience often results in less appeal for advertisers.

Network Ten’s chief sales officer Rod Prosser said last week low-rating sport was of no benefit to the broadcaster. “Sport obviously attract advertisers, and particularly blue chip advertisers in droves. What our clients are mostly in now is the audience [a sport] delivers. Having a low rating sport, just for the sake of sport, is of no benefit to me.”

One caveat on the value of the rights will be whether South Africa continues to participate in the Rugby Championship next year. South Africa confirmed last week it would not play in this year’s tournament but rugby sources have indicated it is considering playing in a Northern Hemisphere competition next year. The Rugby Championship is a highly lucrative competition for the governing body and the absence of South Africa will reduce its value. Interim RA boss Rob Clarke said late last week he was confident that the Springboks would not exit the Rugby Championship for good from next year.

Foxtel, Ten and BSkyB are at the end of a $285m five-year deal with RA signed in 2015. Securing a new deal is crucial for the financial security of the code (a large amount of RA’s revenue comes from broadcasters).



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Charlemagne – Can the European Union learn to love a common culture? | Europe


BAUHAUS AND Brussels are an uneasy mix. Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus art school, which shaped design in the 20th century, declared that a building “must be true to itself, logically transparent, and virginal of lies or trivialities”. A short stroll around the EU quarter in Brussels reveals buildings that happily violate all these rules. Post-modern monstrosities butt against merely ridiculous buildings with nicknames such as the Space Egg. Inside, things are often little better, with lurid colour schemes providing an absurd backdrop for serious discussion and layouts straight out of Maurits Escher’s paintings of “impossible constructions”. Bauhaus principles led to the iPhone, a triumph of simple design. EU design principles led to a building with floor numbers that go: 02, 01, 00, 10, 20, 35, 50, 60, 70, 80.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, believes a bit of Bauhaus spirit is exactly what the EU needs. As part of the bloc’s flagship “green deal” reforms, the EU will found a European Bauhaus movement to ape the influential design school that ran from 1919 to 1933 in Germany. “It needs to be a new cultural project for Europe,” said Mrs von der Leyen, speaking last month in the European Parliament, which is nicknamed Le Caprice des Dieux due to its resemblance to a cheese of that name. Although it was still nebulous, Mrs von der Leyen spelled out a vision of architects, artists and engineers combining as they did a century ago in Weimar Germany, except this time to help stave off climate change as well as designing natty buildings. “We need to give our systemic change its own distinct aesthetic,” she declared.

Such forays into the world of culture had become relatively rare for EU leaders. When European federalism was in its pomp, Jacques Delors, the commission president who oversaw the creation of the single market and the introduction of the Maastricht treaty in the 1980s and 1990s, warned that economic integration was not enough. “You cannot fall in love with the single market,” he put it, repeatedly. But a decade of crisis then led to leaders trying to avoid divorce rather than increase romance. Until Mrs von der Leyen’s speech, calls for a common culture were unusual. Officials in Brussels hide under the desk when someone mentions the C-word. Within the EU institutions, culture is often a punchbag. In “The Capital”, a satire by Robert Menasse set in the Brussels bubble, the main characters are frustrated officials in the commission’s culture department. The EU’s cultural efforts are easy to lampoon and the new Bauhaus is no exception. It can trigger a cartoonish image of fashionable men in expensive spectacles designing ecologically sound window frames in exchange for tax-free salaries.

For others, cultural projects are the missing part of an at-times-bloodless project. The EU was set up in part to stop proud European nations murdering each other. It did so via technocratic, economic and, frankly, rather dull means. When it comes to culture, there is a feeling of caution bordering on cowardice among European officials. For an example, pull out a wedge of euro notes. Rather than founding fathers or recognisable monuments that may inflame national jealousies, citizens are left with pictures of windows and bridges that do not exist (or did not until one enterprising town in the Netherlands recreated each bridge over a canal as a tourist attraction). It is better to have a row about who goes on bank notes than a pallid, purely economic relationship with an increasingly powerful institution, argues Giuliano da Empoli, director of Volta, a think-tank.

Worrying about the appearance of bank notes rather than their value can appear divorced from reality. Yet the EU’s critics have few qualms about fighting a culture war. In relative terms, the country that spends most on culture is not France, with its world-class museums and general fetish for intellectualism, but Hungary. Viktor Orban, the prime minister, rails against art that is pro-gay or anti-ruling party. His government spends a colossal 3% of annual GDP on “recreation, culture and religion”, often on things such as the swanky football stadium next door to Mr Orban’s country estate. For eurocrats to bang on about culture from an ugly building in Brussels during a pandemic may seem like a parody of disconnection. But if they avoid the topic, the EU’s enemies will happily fill the gaps, argues Mr da Empoli. “A realist in Europe knows that it is not rationality that wins elections,” he adds. “A realist is someone who knows that symbols are what carry the day.”

Don’t let the devil have all the best tunes

An emphasis on culture can come with a dark side. Hungary and other small countries, such as Estonia, which ranks second in the spending stakes on culture, invest so much because they worry about disappearing. Strip out language and culture and there is little left of small nations, points out one diplomat. They are no longer alone in this petrified world-view, which is found at the EU’s highest levels. Eurocrats veer between hoping that the EU will be a global superpower and worrying that it will become an irrelevant peninsula. “This civilisation—Europe is a civilisation—could be clearly threatened by this geopolitical evolution,” warned Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign-policy chief, in a recent speech. It is a sentiment with which Mr Orban would agree. And that should make leaders pause. After all, a paranoid bloc is not a wise one.

If the EU is determined to embroil itself in a clash of civilisations, its leaders must ponder some simple but fundamental questions. What exactly is European culture? How, exactly, can transnational politics shape it? And what, exactly, is the point? After six decades of integration, the EU has created a relatively homogenous economic bloc. But creating a shared European culture is a completely different kind of challenge. Brussels can tinker, setting standards for buildings, shovelling money into theatres and helping small countries preserve their languages. But culture is a living thing, that evolves from the bottom up. It is beyond the capacity of any superstate to control.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Learning to love the c-word”

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Tasmania Fire Service chief lashes union over alleged ‘degrading’ behaviour


Senior staff within Tasmania’s fire department are refusing to meet with union representatives after an explosive meeting that the state’s fire chief alleges left employees “anxious and concerned”.

Tasmania Fire Service chief officer Chris Arnol emailed all staff this week to lash United Firefighters Union for behaviour he said “can only be described as inappropriate and degrading”.

“No-one needs to raise their voice, talk over, use aggressive tones and body language, and continually interrupt others to get their point across,” he said, in in an email obtained by the ABC.

“This is not the first time this type of behaviour has occurred and is far more than ‘minor’ as the UFUA claims, which is evidenced by the distress it has caused a number of people on the receiving end,” the text reads.

“Until … this pattern of behaviour stops, the Deputy Secretary [of the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management] has advised the State Fire Commission that Business and Executive Services employees will not attend meetings with representatives of the UFU.”

Mr Arnol’s email said he supported the department’s position, calling on TFS employees to “speak up” if they witnessed disrespectful behaviour.

Not all TFS personnel are happy with Mr Arnol’s intervention.(ABC RN/Jess Davis)

Neither the TFS nor United Firefighters Union would comment more specifically on the allegations.

However, some staff appeared to take umbrage at Mr Arnol’s all-staff email.

Tasmanian Fire Service chief Chris Arnol on stage behind a podium
Chris Arnol said he was committed to working cooperatively with the United Firefighters Union.(Supplied: Rose Grant)

One employee who identified themself as a union member replied to suggest that if the matter involving union representatives was serious, it should be referred to police.

“If you are requesting a ‘commitment to values’ for union members, can I suggest a commitment of ‘no deliberate delay’ by all negotiating,” the person wrote.

Another person replied: “Also over the years this has been happening with some senior management but no-one has been concerned then.”

A third employee raised four points of concern related to broader workplace health and safety issues — including the promotion of a staff member facing serious criminal charges, which have apparently since been dropped — saying issues were not confined to the union’s conduct.

Another example was alleged slow progress on four hazard reports related to remote firefighting concerns.

“Where is the plan and desire to actually reconfigure our bush firefighting capability to meet the needs of today [let alone tomorrow],” the person wrote to Mr Arnol.

“None of the above should diminish the seriousness of the incident you have alluded to … it’s just that it’s a bit disrespectful of the organisation to pick and choose when to play the game.”

In a statement to the ABC, Mr Arnol said he was committed to working cooperatively with the United Firefighters Union.

“However, in recent times there have been several instances of disrespectful and intimidatory behaviour towards members of staff displayed by some members of the UFUA (Tas),” Mr Arnol said.

United Firefighters Union Tasmania senior industrial officer Leigh Hills declined to make broad comment while an internal TFS inquiry was underway.

“A work health and safety issue was raised in regards to the United Firefighters Union and we’re currently dealing with that via the state fire commission,” Mr Hills said.



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Jacksonville and Kathy’s well-paid union mates


As regular Independent Australia readers would be aware, Kathy Jackson was back in court to audition for Who Wants To Make A Deal and emerged with the deal of the century, despite being both guilty and convicted of fraud.

Jackson’s deal was sewn up in court last Monday (5 October) after close to a decade ducking and diving from the media, the law and any kind of accountability. Given IA has been at the forefront of calls to see her before the courts to answer the mountain of allegations against her, we published an update last week on her conviction.

Many in the media have reported how Jackson looked after some of Australia’s lowest-paid workers and this is true in most cases. However, we wanted to point out that not everyone associated with the Health Services Union (HSU) was a low-paid worker. Three people spring to mind: Matthew Lawler, Donald Lawler and Rob Elliot.

Back in 2009, most of the HSU members in Jackson’s branch would have been on the then-minimum wage of $14.31 per hour. There were two union staff members directly employed by Kathy Jackson, brothers Donald and Matthew Lawler, who, despite their young age and lack of experience were paid $24.14 per hour. By sheer coincidence, their father was none other than Michael Lawler, who had been appointed seven years earlier to the role of vice president of the Fair Work Commission (then the Australian Industrial Relations Commission).

Michael Lawler sat as the equivalent of a High Court judge at an organisation that presided over disputes involving the union where his sons were employed at an exceptionally good pay rate, according to their payslips which IA published exclusively. Conflict of interest, anyone?

Who knows why the exceptional pay rate? Maybe they shared their father’s phone skills?

Four Corners on Lawler and Jackson: Car crash TV at its finest

Another HSU staff member paid handsomely was Rob Elliott. Rob was a secretary at the HSU and after resigning, signed a contract in 2010 with the union that saw him paid a tidy $150K per annum, plus generous benefits for ten years. But the best part was that he didn’t even need to show up. The contract was signed by Rob Elliott, Kathy Jackson and Michael Williamson. Again, the contract was published exclusively by IA while the mainstream media continued to sing Kathy Jackson’s praises.

One staff member at the HSU that thought she was a low paid worker was Kathy Jackson herself. While publicly she acknowledged she was on a substantial salary, Jackson clearly thought she deserved more, convincing the Union’s business committee of management (BCOM) to sign off on a $63K honorarium payment (although the minutes to that meeting mysteriously disappeared). That’s a bonus of about three times the average total annual wage of the union members at the time. Most other union leaders responded with outrage at Jackson’s salary.

Speaking of Michael Williamson, it is hoped he has learned a thing a two about remaining calm and putting the past behind him. Reports that the deal Jackson has achieved for herself involves avoiding prison time must sound a bit like justice gone mad to someone like Williamson, who served approximately five years in prison. Particularly given it was for similar offences, related to the same union and over allegations of similar amounts of money.

Say what you like about Williamson – and while he may have deserved every day behind bars that he served – at least he did it with some dignity. They say there is honour among thieves, well, it appears Jackson may have missed out. Williamson faced his charges head-on, made his deal, copped it on the chin, packed his toothbrush and headed for the slammer — the time this took can be measured in weeks.

Jackson, however, has spent years dragging out court appearances, wasting court time and doing her best to manipulate the system. It is a sign of how long she has dragged this out that Williamson is now out of prison while Jackson is still yet to face sentencing.

While we’re talking about those who bear grudges, in the process of reporting on what IA dubbed the Jacksonville saga over more than eight years, we have butted heads with many within the union and in the mainstream media. Many in the media didn’t like that a light was being shone on their “heroic” whistle-blower and their chief source in their quest to utterly humiliate former Labor MP Craig Thomson.

We’re pleased to report that at least one of those media representatives has publicly acknowledged our efforts:

Thanks, Mike, we appreciate it.

Peter Wicks is an Independent Australia columnist and a former Federal Labor Party staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @MadWixxy.

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Expanding the length of season and number of teams will be a huge carrot for Australia’s rugby union Sevens stars to play rugby league again


But should we be doing more to ensure we retain them in the future?

Maybe the answer isn’t in individually lobbying them to stay, but creating a competition that can be a professional path where it can be real employment for these athletes.

Australia’s rugby union Sevens star Ellia Green was a hit in her first NRLW match for the Warriors.Credit:Getty

Travelling the world as Australian Sevens players and aiming for an Olympic Games every four years is basically their job, yet it’s still uncertain what impact COVID will have on the worldwide rugby union programs next year.

No doubt the Olympics is a huge drawcard for them, but in my opinion in rugby league we have the best overall experience of any oval ball sport.

We have state leagues, an NRLW competition, an annual State of Origin fixture and then an international schedule on top of that. We have to market that clear representation as best as we can, to offer this talent the chance to be able to represent at so many different levels.

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To me the key to attracting – and retaining – better talent is by seeking to grow the number of teams and length of the NRLW season. This year COVID stunted any plans for a home-and-away season. It would have been great to have more than three rounds and the grand final.

But who is to say if we can’t add either one or two teams next year and have them all play each other twice during an expanded regular season, some of the Sevens girls won’t be thinking twice about playing again? It would only be a small step, but I think it would be a significant one.

I firmly believe we need to keep moving forward. This is the third year in a row where the competition has been capped at four teams, and even given the difficult financial climate we should be looking at expansion for 2021.

There has been such a high turnover of talent in the first three years of the competition so, in my mind, we have enough quality players to sustain extra teams. That comes back to having more space and opportunity for those that are good enough.

The more time these girls spend in a professional environment like an NRL club the better they’re going to be and the faster they are going to improve. That’s not just their physical ability, that’s their mental capacity, game knowledge and skill set too.

Roosters cross-code star Charlotte Caslick leaves Kezie Apps clutching at air.

Roosters cross-code star Charlotte Caslick leaves Kezie Apps clutching at air.Credit:Getty

I’d like for girls to spend longer in these professional environments.

Olympic gold medallist Emma Tonegato started playing rugby league. I’d love to see her come back into rugby league. It would be sensational.

The answer might be in creating a competition she simply can’t ignore.

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Union Minister and LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan passes away at 74


Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister and Lok Jan Shakti Party patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan passed away at a private hospital in New Delhi on Thursday. He was 74 and had recently undergone a heart surgery. His son and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan broke the news on Twitter.

“Dad, you are no longer on this earth. But wherever you are, I know will always be with me. Miss you papa,” he tweeted in Hindi.

On 11 September, the late Union minister had revealed that he had been hospitalised with an illness for some time. He added that his son Chirag had taken complete charge of the party and any decision on the alliance in Bihar he would take will be final.

Paswan in a series of tweets had said that his health started to deteriorate during the coronavirus crisis, but he did not go to a hospital because he had to fulfil his responsibilities as the food minister. “There was no laxity in the work. I continuously served the country as food minister and made every effort to ensure food reaches on time everywhere,” he wrote.

 

He had been in active politics for more than five decades and was one of the country’s most noted Dalit leaders. Starting out as a member of the Legislative Assembly in Bihar, he first entered the Lok Sabha in 1977. He remained the member of the lower house until 2019, when he chose to move to the Rajya Sabha. He however lost the 1984 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections unexpectedly, entering the Rajya Sabha after losing the second time.

Known as “mausam vaigyanik (weather forecaster)” for his shrewd political alliances across the political spectrum, Paswan served as a Union Minister under six different prime ministers — an Indian record.

 





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Parramatta Eels star Dylan Brown eyeing off cross-code switch to rugby union to fulfil All Blacks ambition


“Yeah, 100 per cent. That’s probably the best thing you can do in team sport from my point of view, winning the Rugby World Cup,” Brown told the Herald.

“Who knows? I will definitely keep my books open if the All Blacks want me. [Laughing] If the All Blacks scream my name, I’ll definitely be running. I’m open to anything.”

Dylan Brown is considering a cross-code switch.Credit:Getty Images

The Hikurangi Stags junior said he prioritised rugby league when faced with a decision over which code to pursue because it provided a clearer pathway to the elite ranks.

“I was playing everything, other sports as well like touch,” he said. “I got to intermediate, so I was about 12 and started playing league at school to get days off.

“I played club when I was 14 and, when I was 15, I picked rep league instead of rep rugby, I had to pick one. I got picked in the nationals there.

“Rugby is harder, you have to wait longer for your opportunity, whereas league I was 15 and got picked up.

That’s one thing I enjoy most about rugby, it’s the teams they play against, like England and South Africa.

Dylan Brown

“I know some of my [rugby] mates were the best in New Zealand and they still haven’t been given a crack and they are 20 or 21 and still waiting their turn.”

Brown said the chance to travel the globe was another benefit of union.

“Just in terms of travelling, in the NRL you don’t get as much,” he said. “Rugby is pretty cool. That’s one thing I enjoy most about rugby, it’s the teams they play against, like England and South Africa.

“When you play in South Africa you learn about South Africa, same with [other countries] … Doing the haka, all that stuff is awesome.

“[I’ll consider it] down the track. I’ve got three more years here. I just want to focus on that and when the time comes I’ll be ready [to make a decision].”

Asked who his favourite rugby players were, Brown said: “If I wasn’t naming a superstar like Dan Carter – everyone wants to be Dan Carter – all the Smiths. Conrad, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith are all good players.

“I like those hard players, not necessarily those [flashy ones].”

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Brown’s interests aren’t limited to the rugby codes. In a bid to stay occupied in lockdown, he created a clothing label, We The North. The brand is a nod to his heritage in northern New Zealand and he operates it with his mother and brother from Sydney.

“I don’t make it so that only people from the north can wear it, everyone can wear it,” he said. “It just gives me an extra drive to make it and has a bit more meaning behind it.”

Brown is also proud of his Samoan heritage, but will elect to represent New Zealand if given the opportunity at international league level.

“I was born and raised in New Zealand,” he said. “I talked to Dad and asked him and he said ‘whatever makes you happy son’. I want to play for the Kiwis.”

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Network Ten bids for rugby union, Amazon also enters picture


One of the challenges for sports codes is the coronavirus pandemic has allowed broadcasters to renegotiate the amount they pay to air sport. For years the cost of broadcasting sport has increased but the suspension of matches and lack of stadium audiences allowed Foxtel, Nine and Seven to secured deals with codes such as the NRL and AFL. Seven is separately currently trying to terminate its contract with Cricket Australia while Foxtel is trying to secure a reduction.

RA’s package gives broadcasters the option to select different competitions and types of rugby content and air them on television screens. For example, a broadcaster can bid for combination of existing products like Bledisloe Cup matches and Shute Shield and new products such as a ‘State of Union’ three-game series. Sources have previously indicated Ten, which is owned by US entertainment giant ViacomCBS, wanted a $1 million annual reduction on what it pays, meaning it would give RA $2.5 million a year. The majority of the sport’s broadcasting revenue comes from Foxtel.

Ten is the only free-to-air broadcaster to put in a bid for the rights so far. Seven West Media told Rugby Australia it was not interested while Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead) has informally discussed options. However, no expression of interest or bids have occurred despite the governing body indicating to other bidders that a formal offer was made. Nine is closely watching the negotiation process.

Foxtel has not formally put in its bid but remains in discussions about airing Super Rugby and Test matches. Sources said that Foxtel’s main priority is the cricket, not rugby union. Foxtel declined to comment. Fox Sports has broadcast Super Rugby since its began in 1996, but Foxtel boss Patrick Delany said earlier this month the subscription television operator would focus on acquiring TV rights to ‘tier-one’ sports moving forward.

Amazon, which last week secured the rights to a one-off Eight Nations tournament in Europe, previously declined to comment on whether it was involved in the local tender process. However industry sources since told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that they were interested, but is it unclear whether they intend to put in a formal bid. Optus was previously considered the front-runner for the rights to the rugby union but did not express a formal interest in the revised broadcast rights package when it was released last month.

The amount that rugby union receives could be influenced by how the cricket talks play out. If Seven successfully terminates its deal with CA, former broadcaster Nine and Ten could try to replace it and air the Test matches and Big Bash League. There are talks between these two broadcasters about a potential acquisition of the rights. If they pay for the cricket, it does not leave a large amount of money to bid for rugby union.



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Brisbane Broncos, Anthony Seibold’s career lifeline, Eddie Jones, England rugby union team


Axed Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold has been handed a career lifeline just weeks after his exit from the Broncos.

Seibold and Brisbane parted ways after his side won just three games in the 2020 season and finished with a historic wooden spoon.

The 46-year-old, who was replaced by Kevin Walters last week, was given a break by the Broncos to tend to some personal issues towards the end of his tenure in early August.

He did not return to the club with the former Souths coach splitting with the club later that month.

Watch the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals on Kayo. Every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Now, though, Seibold has been given a way back into coaching and it involves switching codes.

Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has reached out to Seibold to assist with the England rugby union team.

“I’m using Anthony to help me out in the area of video analysis,” Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I want to go on the record to say that I think he is a coach with promise and a good person and I haven’t liked the way he has been treated and hammered by people. I trust his eye for football.

“We got on well and I was really impressed with (Seibold’s) knowledge and ability to communicate.

“I enjoyed my time with him and I know that he will bounce back and coach at the top level again.”

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Jones, who has recruited Storm assistant Jason Ryles to join him at the end of the 2020 season, has often used league heads to help him.

“When I was at the Brumbies I got (Phil Gould) to help me,’’ Jones said.

“He has one of the best brains in sport and I got him to look at things.

“I really believe in getting people to offer their views even if they are experts in other sports, like league.

“We see players switch codes and adapt, so I have no problem taking advice from people with an expertise in league.”



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