Rugby Leaguer & League Express www.totalrl.com
7th February 2011 Lenagan defends the salary cap
Cardiff for a Magic
hen the RFL
announced last year that the new Super
League season would begin with the Magic Weekend in Cardiff, there were plenty of raised eyebrows.
The weather could be bad;
many people might have little money available after paying off their Christmas credit cards; Sky would be televising every game, giving fans the incentive to stay at home and watch the games while sitting on the couch; it is an awful long way to travel at a time when petrol prices are going through the roof; there is a shortage of cheaply priced accommodation in the Cardiff area; and the games were not going to be played over a Bank Holiday weekend, meaning that most supporters will be working next Monday morning, so that, if they are in Cardiff for the Sunday matches, they will be faced with a long journey home while being unable to recover the following day.
So that’s got all the reasons for not going to Cardiff out of the way!
But let’s think more positively! It’s the opening weekend of the season, and most of us have been starved of live, top-level action for several months. As our editor Martyn Sadler makes clear on page 11 of today’s issue, every single game this weekend has something very special to offer, whether or not you support any team in particular. The Millennium Stadium is
one of the best places in the world to watch Rugby League, bar none. The roof is likely to be closed for the weekend’s action, keeping out any bad weather that is likely to hit Cardiff.
And Cardiff is one of the great cities in the world in which to watch live sport, with the Millennium Stadium slap bang in the middle of the city. It’s a great place for every Rugby League supporter to be able to mix with the supporters from every Super League club, and to show the Welsh people what a great sport we all support.
If you have any doubt about making the journey to Cardiff, think again and join the throng heading down the M5 (that is, if you come from the north). After seeing 74,000 in the
stadium on Friday night for Wales’ Six Nations clash against England, what we don’t want to see is a half-empty stadium when the greatest game takes to the stage. So let’s get together and ensure that we fill as many of those seats as we can.
Let’s all get down to
By DAVID KUZIO
WIGAN Warriors Chairman Ian Lenagan believes the decision by Sam and Joel Tomkins to sign new five-year contracts is not only a boost to the club, but also to the game in general, and, contrary to some reports, he does not see the need to increase the salary cap. The
Super League Champions
revealed on Friday that fullback Sam and second row forward Joel would both remain at the DW Stadium until the end of the 2015 season.
Joel was due to be out of contract in November, and has ended speculation about whether he would join the NRL by agreeing a new five-year contract, while Sam has extended his own deal by a further 12 months.
On top of the news that the exciting siblings were to remain in cherry and white, the club also revealed that Liam Farrell and Josh Charnley have also signed new five-year contracts, while Darrell Goulding and Harrison Hansen
have put pen to paper on new three- year contract extensions.
Lenagan was delighted to have tied up the futures of some of the most talented prospects in Super League. “It is a great day for Wigan, but it is also a great day for England and Rugby League in general,” said Lenagan.
“Steve McNamara will be delighted to see players of the Tomkins variety being available for the England training squads.
“It shows you can keep the best quality players in Rugby League. “Sam and Joel both came through
Wigan’s Scholarship and Academy structure, and have worked extremely hard to progress to where they are today.
“Whilst rumours suggested they would move to NRL clubs or rugby union, we are delighted with their preference for Rugby League, their loyalty to Wigan and their belief that in Super League they can be part of an evolving and winning England team.” Joel, the elder brother, at just 23, is delighted his future has now been
“As a local boy, it was always my hope that I would progress and play for Wigan, but I never could have imagined what has happened to me.” Lenagan, who has been a vocal supporter of the salary cap for many years, believes the current cap of £1.65 million is set at the right figure, and he believes that investing and putting faith in youngsters will benefit the England national team in the future. “There has been a lot of discussion about the salary cap, and what we should do with it,” added Lenagan. “Should we make it higher because we cannot compete with rugby union? I think that is rubbish. I am a great supporter of the salary cap, not just for financial reasons. I have proven, just as other clubs have proven, that you can put together a very strong winning team by using home developed players, and that a balance between international and homegrown players is the future of Rugby League. “The more sensible use of allowances in the salary cap for players who have been at a club for ten years,
like Sean O’Loughlin in our case, indicates that Super League Chairmen are working hard in looking at innovative and exciting ways to respond sensibly without breaking the bank.
“If we raise the cap by another million pounds, where are we going to get that revenue from?”
Lenagan believes the majority of the clubs have accepted the salary cap rules, but that some supporters are still unhappy with it. “I don’t think it’s the clubs that
moan about the salary cap. It’s the fans who are frightened of rugby union. “You look at the letters in your paper
from Wigan fans and elsewhere saying the problem is the salary cap. We don’t have a salary cap problem, and we would not solve one by putting half a million on the cap. “We are at a cap of £1.65 million, and rugby union are around £4 million, so another half a million is not going to make a difference.
Wakefield going to find another half a million? Where are Wigan going to find it? It is absolute nonsense.”
RLW article led to Thomas movie By GARETH WALKER
GARETH Thomas has revealed how a Rugby League World magazine article written by Jamie Jones-Buchanan led to Hollywood star Mickey Rourke making a film of the Welsh player’s life. Rourke is expected to be in Cardiff this week for the Magic Weekend to hold talks with Thomas and gain an insight into the competitive nature of Rugby League. He has told Thomas that he is prepared to have two false teeth removed for the role, which will chart the Welsh star’s career and his December 2009 revelation that he is gay.
copy of Rugby League World magazine last year. “I did an article with Jamie Jones-Buchanan, and it was such a relaxed interview because he’s such a good guy,” Thomas said.
But talks only started after Rourke was sent a
“I wanted to tell him at the Leeds game (the recent friendly between the clubs) that it was his interview that sparked it, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see him.
“Mickey read that interview, and it sparked him to go online and read the whole story. “Then he got in touch with me directly, and the story has unfolded from there.
“There was a lot going back and forth through contractual issues, but I was in touch with Mickey through it all and I said ‘if you’ve got the passion to do this, then it’s a great tool for the promotion of the game and my story’. “The legal side got figured out, and here we are now – Mickey will be in Cardiff learning and watching the game.
union has cropped up way too much for my liking in my recent
interviews. This month it was impossible to avoid when I caught up with Gareth Thomas, a legend in the other code now playing Rugby League with Crusaders. I have to say, Gareth is one of the nicest
people I have ever interviewed. It is not too hard to understand why he has had such a successful career given that he is constantly on the look out for a new challenge and has the kind of mental toughness to adversity that you tend to read about in the typical sport star biography. It is rare for a top rugby union player to make the switch to Rugby League at all these days but Gareth has made the move wholeheartedly. The rough and tumble, organised chaos
of union had once caused him to have a stroke, so the first thing I wanted to know was which game was actually the toughest both physically and mentally and how he dealt with the transition. “For me, League is more physical without
a shadow of a doubt. Particularly in my position because where I played in union (centre, wing or fullback) you make maybe six or seven carries a game whereas in League you’re doing 15 to 20, the contact is more frequent and what I found in League is that even on the wing you can never rest. “In union there’s a lot of kicking and set
plays going on which seems to take ages to play, whereas in League if you shut down for a few seconds the players are so talented in recognising that you’re up or you’re out of the line and they put the ball into the air into a gap and score. It’s 80 minutes of working whereas in union you can rest and have a look at what’s going on in the crowd a lot of the time.
“It was tough at first, my first game was a little disastrous. I had only been training for a week. I don’t know what I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting that. They gave me a bit of a battering but I’m into it now and I am really enjoying the challenge. I’m just really enjoying the game, it’s so different to union but in a weird way it’s so much the same, but it was refreshing for me to do something different and try something brand new.
“I don’t have a great
deal of spare time. I’m on the field constantly and I have never trained so much in my life. It’s fairly intense and because the
training is tougher than it is in union a lot of my time I’m spending in the jacuzzi or pool or eating more food trying to put the energy back into me. In my spare time I like to chill out, ride my motorbike, listen to a bit of music or meet up with friends for a coffee. “I used to have a lot more time. I think League training is a little more specific to the game. I mean because, in my opinion, League is more physical game, training is up a notch
8 AUGUST 2010 - RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD
Welsh rugby union legend Gareth Thomas has been interviewed about many things, many times but here, for the first time ever, he talks publicly to a fellow professional player, our resident Super League star JAMIE JONES-BUCHANAN about his life on and off the field and his enthusiasm for his newly chosen sport of Rugby League.
can help Wales build on the awareness of Rugby League that was boosted by the country’s European Cup win last year.
Weekend have always preferred it when it’s in Cardiff.
“People I have spoken to about the Magic Thomas is hoping that Millennium Magic
rugby, and it’s a great promotion for Wales and the sport in general,” he said.
“Millennium Magic is a great carnival of
“It’s a great city, the stadium is smack in the middle with all the pubs around it, and people don’t have to travel. “Hopefully it will bring the Welsh fans out and bring out a lot of local interest in the game. And, if we’re successful, then it will promote what we’re doing as well. “It’s a magical stadium. I’ve got some bad memories there, but on the whole, great, great memories. “To go back there with a new team that I’m committed to, and a fresh, enthusiastic team in a game I’ve almost learnt to love, will be a different and very special experience for me.” Thomas has also confirmed his desire to take part in the Four Nations at the end of this season.
“Hopefully he will be speaking to some of the players, and learning what goes on in their heads.” Thomas added: “Mickey actually has two false front teeth from when he was a boxer, but they’re permanent ones.
became a bit famous with me having two teeth missing.
“His plan is to get them taken out for the look that
“If a guy is willing to go to those lengths, then he’s obviously serious about making a real film. “To me, it just shows his commitment to the whole process.”
“I went in there with the aim of being European Champions so that we could play in the Four Nations, and didn’t put myself through it not to have the opportunity to play against the real big guns in the world of Rugby League. “Hopefully it will be a fitting way for me to walk away in a competitive team. “And hopefully it will make Wales Rugby League and some of the boys household names. “The boys deserve a lot of credit, but because
Wales is such a union country, they don’t know much about the league players.
“I just want to be part of something that’s successful, leaving something of a legacy behind.”
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“I didn’t go through all that last year not to be involved,” he said.
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