Weekend Wrap

Nathan Friend eyes up future

Gold Coast Titans hooker Nathan Friend is reportedly unhappy with his club's attempt to entice Wests Tigers rake Robbie Farah to make the move north of the border.

One the Titans' best players in 2008, Friend is contracted to the Titans until the end of 2009.

Farah was given a grand tour of Titans' facilities recently and has been offered the Gold Coast No.9 jersey from 2010. Friend told Brisbane's Sunday Mail that he has no intention of playing second fiddle to Farah.

"If they want to purchase Robbie Farah, who's a great player, if they feel he's better suited for the position, so be it,'' Friend said.

''But I'd have to venture elsewhere.

"I felt I achieved a few things in the two years I've been here.

''I feel I've done my apprenticeship and I really don't need to play second fiddle again.

''If need be, it would be great to wear the No. 9 jersey at another club.

"I'd love to stay at the Titans.

''But in the end, it's just a business and I have to cop that.

''I felt I couldn't have done any more this year."

To complicate matters further, Gold Coast CEO Michael Searle said the Titans had to suspend talks because Friend's manager, Peter Whitehead, was not an accredited NRL player manager.

"The only reason we are talking to others is that Nathan has not accepted the offer which has been on the table for three months," Searle said.

Friend has reportedly been offered a two-year deal by the Titans worth $350,000. It's understood Friend's manager has asked for a four-year deal worth $1 million deal at $250,000 per year.

Bye bye Benji?

The Wests Tigers rumour mill went into override this weekend with reports that five-eighth Benji Marshall is set to defect to rugby union.

Marshall, who is off-contract at the end of 2009, has had a number of offers from the European Super League. But the 23-year-old is now tipped to switch codes and follow former NRL stars Craig Gower, Sonny Bill Williams and Mark Gasnier.

Marshall is expected to make the announcement in the next week.

The reinventing of Ribot

In other news, John Ribot was elected to a position on the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) Board of Directors last Thursday, but the former Super League boss missed out on a place on the Australian Rugby League (ARL) board.

QRL directors voted for former deputy premier and treasurer Terry Mackenroth to be their new representative on the ARL. Mackenroth replaces John Barrett from St George who has retired.

Ribot joins chairman John McDonald, Mackenroth and businessman Bruce Hatcher on the QRL board. John Moore (Cairns) also retired from the QRL board with his place as alternate director to the ARL taken by Michael Borland from Rockhampton.

QRL managing director Ross Livermore welcomed the appointment of Ribot as being, "the right fit for our revamped board." Meanwhile Parramatta CEO Denis Fitzgerald declared Ribot as being a "divisive character" and that the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) should "do everything it can to stop Ribot."

They only come out at night

Meanwhile, off field antics of players have made the headlines again with Canberra prop Dane Tilse being involved in a 'night club incident' last week.

Tilse was reportedly sprayed with capsicum during his arrest for fighting with Bulldogs lock Nick Kouparitsas. The incident was confirmed by police with 23-year-old Tilse being taken into custody after he was spotted in a brawl at 4:45am. Tilse and another man were detained by police until dawn. Tilse turned up for training yesterday sporting a black eye.

Tilse made headlines in 2005 after being sacked by Newcastle for a pre-season incident.

The Raiders sacked winger Bronx Goodwin for fighting in public three months ago.

Reni get support from unknown assailant

Reni Maitua's future is still up the air despite news that he has been cleared of any wrong-doing during a nightclub brawl a week ago.

The 26-year-old forward was sacked by the Canterbury Bulldogs for missing a training session the day after the alleged incident at Cronulla's Fusion Bar. Afterwards, the Bulldogs requested for Maitua's deregistration from the League to stop him playing for any other National Rugby League (NRL) club. The Bulldogs have also approached Broncos forward David Stagg as Maitua's replacement.

But last Thursday, another man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has claimed that he was the one that provoked the fight.

"I was really pissed when I saw Reni at the club," the man told the Daily Telegraph.

"I started hassling him and then threw a punch. He didn't retaliate, didn't do anything wrong - it was all my fault.

"I've decided to speak out because I want people to know the truth. I've felt bad over the past couple of days knowing that I put Reni in this position."

Maitua has reportedly received a personal apology from the man, and accepted it. Maitua also launched an appeal against his sacking.

NRL stars join the Crusade

In European related news, Manly Sea Eagles star Mark Bryant will be joining a list of NRL players signed up the newly promoted European Super League side the Celtic Crusaders.

Other players signed by the Welsh club include Ryan O'Hara (Wests Tigers), Adam Peek (Sharks) and Lincoln Withers (Raiders).

The Crusaders are visiting Brisbane this month on a training tour.

Bird saga - part XVII

The Greg Bird saga has taken another twist with the sacked Cronulla Sharks five-eighth reportedly training by himself in readiness for a return to the NRL.

The 24-year-old continues to fight an off-field battle over his sacking following an alleged assault and glassing of girlfriend Katie Milligan last August.

A decision from the Sharks board on Bird's future isn't expected until December 16. The club, however, are deliberating over the contents of a 10-page document delivered by Bird and his manager to the club last Thursday night.

Gallen on the mend

Meanwhile, Sharks' Paul Gallen has undergone elbow surgery. The second-rower required an arthroscope to repair the joint he first damaged some four years ago, The Kangaroos forward was released from Mater Hospital in North Sydney on Friday and is expected to spend the next six weeks in physiotherapy before resuming training on January 12.

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