Sailor banned after rape charge
Tristan Sailor has been banned from playing union by Rugby Australia after he attempted to join the Wollongong Vikings for the 2021 season while his alleged rape case is ongoing.
Sailor heads to court next month and must enter a plea after being charged with aggravated sexual assault inflicting actual bodily harm, relating to an incident with a 24-year-old woman in Sydney on October 3 last year.
Having been released by St George Illawarra Dragons, Sailor was attempting to reignite his sporting career in the Illawarra District Rugby competition, and had spent the pre-season training with the Vikings.
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However, NSW Rugby Union learned of the plan to register Sailor for the 2021 season a fortnight ago and immediately alerted RA, who coincidentally employed Sailor's father Wendell during his Wallabies career from 2002-06.
But like Jarryd Hayne, who had attempted to play for Shute Shield team Eastwood last season while his own rape trial was ongoing - Hayne was found guilty last month and now faces jail - RA has blocked Sailor under its registration policy that relates to alleged criminal conduct.
Under 12 (iii) of its policy, RA can deny registration to any player who "is under investigation by any State/Territory police service or other statutory authority or is the subject of ongoing criminal proceedings for any offence(s) that Rugby Australia deems is of such a nature and seriousness as to present a risk by that person to any other Player or Participant or to the reputation of any Rugby Body, Rugby AU or the Game at large".
RA also has a policy stating: "Rugby Australia respects and recognises suspensions and sanctions imposed by disciplinary bodies of other sports".
Sailor is unable to register for any league club while his legal matter is unresolved, so it's unlikely he'll be pulling on the boots anytime soon.
The 23-year-old is due back in Downing Centre Local Court on May 20.
Dragons set to welcome back legend
Mark Gasnier is on the verge of returning to the Dragons.
The premiership winner is part of a constitutional revamp on the St George side of the joint-venture which would enable Gasnier to be appointed to a board position unelected.
The St George District Rugby League Football Club has put a special resolution to its members this week which would enable directors to appoint three additional directors to the board.
As it stands, to sit on the St George District Rugby League Football Club board you must be elected to the St George Leagues Club board. The leagues club board then funnels into the district club who then appoint four members onto the St George Illawarra board. The only election is for a spot on the St George Leagues Club board.
The plan is to freshen up the St George District board with a football focus and help grow rugby league in the St George region.
Gasnier is the first person to be put up should the resolution be passed by 75 per cent of members at the club's AGM later this month.
Since retiring from the Dragons in 2011, Gasnier has had a host of roles working in sport and legal administration, commentator for Fox Sports and as chief strategic officer for Oztag Australia.
Gasnier said he was excited by the potential role.
"With the way sport is heading there is going to be a lot more responsibility and help needed from local and district clubs," Gasnier said.
"If I'm elected I hopefully can add some value there."
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More halves competition for Broncos
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has moved to bring son Billy to the Broncos from Wests Tigers next season, which creates further questions about their halves plans for 2022.
Tom Dearden is off contract, while Walters publicly said this week that five-eighth Anthony Milford hasn't done enough to earn a contract extension.
The Broncos had already approached the Tigers about getting an early release for Billy Walters this year so he could move immediately to Brisbane, however that was rejected.
We hear that the off-contract Walters has an agreement in place to join Brisbane next year when his Tigers contract expires.
With Dearden and Milford's futures uncertain at Red Hill, there is the potential for Walters to come in as a genuine halves contender alongside Brodie Croft and Kotoni Staggs - who the Broncs will pay big money for on a new three-year deal while promising him a shot at five-eighth to retain the in-demand star.
The Cowboys are aware of the situation and have contacted Dearden about joining them next season, while they're also in talks with Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds, who is set to leave South Sydney after the club could only offer him a guaranteed one-year extension.
Paralympic goal for former league star
From an NRL dream to a shattering life-changing injury, former Cowboys under-20s player Rogan Dean is now chasing a spot in Australia's 2024 Paralympic Games squad.
Dean has just taken up canoe sprint and has been taken under the wing of kayaking legend Curtis McGrath, who will be competing at this year's Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Dean, who had been playing for Ipswich Jets as a winger, was riding on his motorcycle last August when he was hit by a car and had his foot ripped off.
He made the call to have his leg amputated even further up than needed so he could wear a prosthetic limb to return to the gym.
Now, in a sign of his growing dedication, he's had more bone shaved from his leg to better fit the prosthetic limb and excel in his new sport.
Many in kayaking circles believe Dean will reach his goal of representing Australia in Paris in 2024, particularly after he completed seven marathons in seven days last year after recovering from his horrific accident.
Heavyweights stepping it up
With their heavyweight fight just three weeks away, Paul Gallen and Lucas Browne are taking no shortcuts in their respective preparations.
Browne has flown from his Perth home to base himself in Sydney until the showdown in Wollongong with Gallen on April 21, and next week will fly to Brisbane for sparring against former Australian heavyweight champion "Faiga "Django" Opelu.
Gallen, meanwhile, has been regularly travelling down to Canberra to spar Arsene Fosso, the Cameroon giant who took on Justis Huni last December and was stopped in the fourth round.
In the small world of Australian heavyweight boxing, they're all linked.
Opelu lost his Australian heavyweight title to Huni, who defended it against Fosso.
Opelu and Fosso will now fight each other in Canberra on April 23, on the undercard of the Brock Jarvis-Nort Beauchamp bout.
Meanwhile, Browne is contracted to fight Huni in July, while Huni has also called out Gallen.
Penrith Shute Shield worry
There are already growing concerns about Penrith's ability to field a competitive team in the Shute Shield, which kicks off this weekend.
Sydney club rugby officials have grown worried that Penrith, who two years ago were kicked out of the competition only to regain entry last season but finished last and winless, have been frantically trying to sign players this week.
Days before their first match against Norths, Penrith were ringing around offering players $200 per game for first grade.**
Bruiser Burgess muscles up for new role
George Burgess has battled COVID and a career threatening hip injury, but his toughest challenge in recent months was nailing a Russian accent.
The former South Sydney prop featured in Australian film Ascendant which was launched in cinemas on Thursday.
Burgess easily slotted into the role as a bit of Russian muscle.
"We're not nice people, I'll tell you that," Burgess told Sport Confidential from England.
"We do a lot of nasty things, which is very different to my usual character. It was fun to play that sort of role. It was intense when you do a few scenes where you have to get quite physical.
"I didn't have to say a lot of dialogue. A bit of shouting."
Burgess filmed the scene in 2019 during a time where he was suspended from the Rabbitohs. He has dabbled in acting before and may attempt to make a go of it as a career.
"It's something I have a lot of space for improvement, so that's exciting," Burgess said.
"I know I am starting at ground zero and would love to work my way up and see how far I can go."
Burgess and his wife, Joanna, contracted COVID in February. He described it as "having a bad flu" and "uncomfortable".
His playing career has been put on hold as he underdoes a serious hip operation later this month which will sidelined him for seven months.
Burgess will return to Australia later this year and has not closed the door on making an NRL return.
"I still have that fire to play some more," Burgess said.
"I just want to make sure it's 100 per cent. If I'm going to play in the NRL again, the speed of the game I want to make sure I can be the best I can. If I do continue my rugby, it could be back here (in England).
New 18th man rule explained
The NRL held a snap phone hook-up on Thursday morning to explain to each club's football managers just exactly how the 18th man rotation will work just hours before it was introduced.
Clubs were then sent a five-page memo detailing the rule change on the same day it was formally used between the Rabbitohs and Broncos clash. The 18th player will be easy to spot as they must wear a coloured vest while on the interchange bench until they are activated to play.
The key points included;
- The activation of the 18th player does not provide a team with an additional/free interchange - the player must be used in accordance with the existing interchange rules.
- The 18th player replaces a nominated player who has been ruled ineligible to return so that the team remains no more than 17 players at any one time.
- The player must be part of the 21-man squad named on Tuesday and the 19-man squad which is named 24 hours before the match. The club nominates the player an hour before kick-off.
- The team does not have to activate the 18th player immediately after a player has been fouled.
- After a player is activated the team manager must write the name of the player being permanently replaced on the 18th player replacement card as well as the number of the 18th player placement.
All eyes on the NRL
The NRL was awaiting paperwork from the Bulldogs regarding their handling of Lachlan Lewis' concussion last Friday.
The NRL is also yet to finalise its investigation into James Roberts and Will Smith attending last Wednesday's fight between Tim Tszyu and Dennis Hogan despite being warned not to attend.
Some rival clubs are watching the situation closely given how quick the NRL punished players last year for breaking COVID rules.
So close yet so far
There were a few eyebrows raised when Zac Lomax's attempt at a 26th consecutive goal was waved away during the Dragons loss to Newcastle on Sunday.
The NRL checked the tape and backed the decision by the touch judges to wave the goal away despite it looking very close during the live coverage.
Why orange just isn't Mitch's colour
You could forgive Mitchell Pearce for opting out of taking to the field the next time the Knights wear their miners jersey.
Newcastle's orange jersey has brought nothing but bad luck for Pearce who has now torn his pectoral twice when wearing the mining-tribute jersey which the Knights only take to the field once a year.
All in the family
Youssef Dib is hoping to join older brother Billy as an Australian boxing champion when he steps into the ring on Friday night.
Dib is fighting Hunter Ioane for the Australian super lightweight title at Punchbowl.
Dib is undefeated from his 14 bouts but faces his toughest opponent in Ioane, who was involved in a fight of the year last year against Jacob Ng.
Reynolds crashes back to earth
Josh Reynolds great start to his Super League career has been marred by a hamstring which will sideline him for about six weeks.
Reynolds has scored three tries in two appearances for Hull FC who have started the season with two wins.
NRL massages new partnership
The NRL has partnered with THERABODY, the creator of hand-hand massage therapy device Theragun, to become the NRL's official recovery partner. Through the partnership, the NRL will receive education on the importance of effective recovery.
ALL EYES ON
Can the Bulldogs score a point? Things don't get any easier for the hapless Bulldogs who play Melbourne on Saturday night. Coach Trent Barrett has again tried to shake-up the backline to try and find some spark for his side.
Wayne Bennett was in the midst of another contract wrangle on this day 10 years ago. After indicating he would leave St George Illawarra at season's end, Bennett was left with a choice - South Sydney or Newcastle, pitting Russell Crowe against Nathan Tinkler. Bennett opted for the Knights after Tinkler splashed the cash. South Sydney eventually got their man eight years later.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Jon Green 65 top grade games (Six Canterbury, 51 St George Illawarra, eight Cronulla) from 2006-2013.
Jon Green's first hit up in the NRL could not have any more intimating. He had just come onto the field as a 20-year-old prop and had watched Canterbury teammate Mark O'Meley lay Bryce Gibbs out cold with a ferocious line dropout return. Gibbs and O'Meley had been at each other throughout the Tigers and Bulldogs clash.
"I ran the ball and closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Green said.
"That's all I could do. Willie Mason was fired up. The crowd was deafening. The boys are like 'Greeny it's your run'. I said 'sweet'.
Green's journey to Canterbury came after impressing as a junior in Perth where his teammates included Bryson Goodwin and Daniel Holdsworth and he played against another future Bulldog in Lee te Maari.
He caught the attention of Cronulla's recruitment officers after shining in national championships. A ruptured ACL while playing for Cronulla's feeder-club Newtown soured his three-year stint and he was told by coach Stuart Raper he was unwanted at the club.
His knee was still an ongoing problem during his two years at the Bulldogs, which netted just six top-grade games.
Green joined St George Illawarra in 2008.
"I didn't get paid that whole off-season," Green said.
"I never signed a contract and I kept asking my manager what was going on. The club told me they wanted to see how my knee went. At the Christmas party (coach) Nathan Brown said he was going to sign me."
Green became accustomed to living through one-year deals. He spent his four seasons at the Dragons on a year by year contract.
His career turning point came during 2009 after a frank conversation with new Dragons Wayne Bennett. Green played just nine matches in his first two years at the Dragons before Bennett's intervention.
"I was playing for (then Dragons feeder club) Shellharbour and I was trying hard but I dropped a few balls," Green said.
"During training Wayne said to me he wanted to speak to me afterwards. He had never spoken to me one-on-one. He said 'keep trying hard and things will come for you'. No coach had ever given me feedback like that. During the next off-season he told me I'd be starting off the bench."
Green played the opening 13 games during St George Illawarra's 2010 premiership year before injuring his calf. He featured in the preliminary finals win as a late replacement for the injured Jarrod Saffy but watched from the sidelines as the club won the title a week later.
Green, who is a general manager in the construction industry in Brisbane, played in the Dragons' World Club Challenge win but left for an unhappy two-year stint at the Sharks.
Originally published as Sailor banned after training all pre-season