Details begin to leak out of the massive offer the Mitsubishi Electric Bulldogs have made to keep Sonny Bill Williams in the NRL. The five-year contract gives Williams the freedom to take on any number of cutting edge product placements in his native New Zealand to supplement his salary. First in line to take advantage are the Breville Sandwich Toaster, Shake and Vac, Rubikâ€™s Cube and the 1984 Vivienne Westwood collection, although the latter is unlikely to reach New Zealand until at least 2007.
With Andy Farrell looking more and more likely to switch codes, the game received some good news today with the announcement that Danny McGuire has extended his Leeds contract until 2009. McGuire was thought to be stalling on committing to the new deal having been courted by the RFU, but the prospect of still being captained by 'Andy The Albatross' at international level is believed to have been the deciding factor.
Kevin Sinfield speaks out on rumours that the Rhinos are in the hunt for Sonny Bill Williams. In an eerie echo of his autobiography, where he dismissed the idea that Nathan Blacklock would be able to hold down a place in the Leeds side, the Grand Final winning skipper said, 'Would Sonny Bill get in ahead of Chris Feather or Jamie Jones-Buchanan? I donâ€™t think so.' Care in the Community teams are said to be launching an inquiry.
London Broncos are hit by the RFLâ€™s refusal to register their new signing, New Zealand international Vinnie Anderson, due to the clubâ€™s perilous financial position. Rumours abound of a 'dirty tricks' campaign, with clubs likely to be competing to avoid relegation anxious that the Broncos should be allowed to bring Anderson in. 'After watching Vinnie play in the Tri-Nations', said an RFL spokesman, 'his signing for London would provide too great an advantage to the likes of Leigh, Salford and Widnes for the coming season'.
Saints have their preparations for the game at Leeds disrupted when they arrive at Headingley only 45 minutes prior to kick-off. 'I canâ€™t understand it', said the clubâ€™s driver and lifelong Leeds fan Arnold Wallace. 'I set off at five as usual, and at that time on a Friday the M62 is usually quiet'. Leigh coach Darren Abram demands that Leeds be forced to play their home games at Ferrybridge in order to reduce the burden on travelling sides.
Following Ian Millwardâ€™s call for full-time referees, Terry Newton vows to make 2005 the year he assists officials by improving his discipline.
Meanwhile, flights from Leeds-Bradford Airport are disrupted between 6:05 and 6:15pm, after three mysterious 'pig-shaped' objects are spotted dropping rapidly from the skies over Wakefield.
With rumours abounding that Danny McGuire will miss six to eight weeks with a groin injury, bookies lengthen the odds on Leeds retaining their Super League title. Tony Smith is said to be 'distraught', as the injury leaves him with only Australian Schools international Andrew Dunemann, England international Rob Burrow, or England Academy starlet Scott Murrell as cover for the half-back role.
More next week...