Saturday wrap

A quick look around the traps from reports around the rugby league world. Referee bosses sacked, Hayne tops All Stars voting, RLWC ticket sales and more...



Harrigan and Raper shown the door

It's been a few months coming, but the ARLC finally pulled the trigger on the tenure of Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper as NRL Referees Coaches on Friday.

Citing a restructure of the refereeing department, the ARLC appointed former Test and current NRL video referee Russell Smith as interim Referees Manager, as they look to start the search for an Elite Performance Manager. Smith and leading referee Tony Archer have emerged as favourites for the role according to reports.

It's the final nail in a season-long coffin for Harrigan and Raper, who were forced to admit error of their refereeing squad on countless occasions throughout the 2012 NRL Season, most notably in a number of late-season and finals matches.



Hayne tops early All Star voting

In a surprising turn of events, Jarryd Hayne has led the list of NRL All Stars voting, with News Limited reports this morning detailing the top-voted players in early counting for the February 9 match with the Indigenous All Stars at Suncorp Stadium.

The Eels fullback and teammate Fuifui Moimoi both find themselves in the top ten. National captains Cam Smith and Benji Marshall are automatic selections, while both Brett and Josh Morris, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Adam Reynolds and Akuila Uate all find themselves popular with voters. Voting remains open on the official NRL website.



Signing news

The off-season shuffle continues around a series of clubs as we near the official start of the 2013 contract period (November 1st).

Interim 2012 Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has signed on for the role of assistant coach to Geoff Toovey at the Manly-Warringah club, with the Sea Eagles confirming the move late last night.

Former Bronco, Cowboy, Tiger and now Titan, Scott Prince, seems almost certain to leave the club he helped build five years ago, with a deal with Hull FC almost finalised. The move brings to a close reportedly bitter fallout between Prince and club management, despite having a year remaining on his contract with the club which saw itself in damage control both on- and off-field in 2012.

Meanwhile, the South Sydney Rabbitohs confirmed yesterday that Bulldogs winger Bryson Goodwin would join the club, adding depth to their backline ahead of the new season.



RLWC Ticket Sales strong early

With exactly a year until the tournament gets underway, tickets for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup went on sale yesterday. Organisers reported a fantastic start for sales, with 50,000 tickets having been sold in the first 24 hours. The most popular events were the opening double header in Cardiff, the Semi-Final double header at Wembley, and the RLWC Final at Old Trafford.

The tournament, to be held in England and Wales, starts on October 26 2013. Fixtures, ticketing details and more at www.rlwc2013.com.



Bans upheld for player agents

The Rugby League Accredited Player Agents Scheme's has dismissed an appeal from player agents David Riolo and Issac Moses. The pair were banned for six months along with George Mimis following the Melbourne Storm salary cap breaches in 2010, with the RLAPAS committee enacting the bans in April 2012. Riolo and Moses were granted leave to work on the appeal, and continued to work throughout the season to assist their clients with some big-name and big-money deals executed. The upheld bans now extend to March 28 next year, a full three weeks after the new NRL season begins.

Mimis' appeal was dropped last month and as a result his ban concludes next week.



Naming rights up for grabs

Two of the biggest products in Australia's rugby league landscape are looking at new naming rights deals. Harvey Norman confirmed its withdrawal from State of Origin (it will continue in other community sponsorship roles including the Women in League Round) yesterday, leaving the rights to arguably one of the ARLC's premier products available.

Meanwhile, the ARLC is continuing to work on the media and radio rights, and while Telstra is favoured to win those media rights, Fairfax reports yesterday suggested that several other companies were showing interest in the NRL naming rights which the telco currently holds. These including car manufacturer Kia and fast-food chain KFC. The car giant already enjoys a strong association with Australian tennis, notably the Australian Open in Melbourne each January; while KFC has long been associated with Australian Cricket, sponsoring both the domestic and international Twenty20 programs.

The news comes as the ARLC is set to release a report indicating that expanding the 16-team NRL competition will be on hold at least for another three seasons.

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