The Year’s Biggest Story

MARTYN SADLER reflects on what could be the biggest story of the year so far.

There is little doubt that the Toronto Wolfpack signing of Sonny Bill Williams last week was one of the biggest stories of the Rugby League season so far.

It’s unlikely that in the last seven weeks of the year that we will hear of a bigger story.

Although perhaps we should hold our horses.

Over the weekend there were two stories emerging that were intriguing, even if they don’t actually come to fruition.

In Australia there were reports that England rugby union coach Eddie Jones would like to coach Rugby League at an NRL club, with South Sydney, who are currently coached by Wayne Bennett, being his apparent most favoured club.

Apparently Jones has always been a fan of the NRL and at the recent World Cup he invited Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart to speak to the England team, although we can’t be sure what Stuart said to them.

Jones still has a couple of years left on his England coaching contract, apparently, but it would be a seismic shock if such a major figure in the other code were to get involved in the NRL.

And yet it wouldn’t be altogether surprising.

Jones clearly loves a challenge and there could hardly be a bigger one that coaching an NRL team, especially given the profile the NRL enjoys in Australia and New Zealand.

I’m sure a lot of Australians would love nothing more than to see him taking on the challenge, either with South Sydney or anywhere else, and I will wait to see whether and how this story develops.

Then there is the case of George Ford, who has recently been playing at halfback for Jones in the World Cup.

Ford, who plays for Leicester Tigers, is of course the son of Mike Ford, who had a fine Rugby League career. I understand that George played Rugby League exclusively until the age of 15, but was then persuaded to give the other code a try and the rest is history.

Now, at the age of 26, he has apparently suggested that he still hankers after playing Rugby League professionally.

That’s great to hear, although he could hardly command the money he is presumably earning as an England international if he were to switch codes.

Nonetheless one report at the weekend suggested that Leeds Rhinos may be interested in talking to him.

I don’t know whether that’s genuine or not, but it’s another story that may or may not have legs.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

But at least it’s all positive publicity for Rugby League.


This article first appeared in this week’s issue of League Express in Martyn Sadler’s ‘Talking Rugby League’ column.