Darren Lockyer during Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos NRL qualifying final at SFS in Sydney.
Darren Lockyer during Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos NRL qualifying final at SFS in Sydney.

How Lockyer was robbed of Immortal status

THE death of rugby league's 'Bible' robbed Broncos legend Darren Lockyer of becoming the code's ninth Immortal.

In a week in which the NRL detailed some guidelines for the game's next Immortal, it has emerged Lockyer would have been a shoo-in if not for the closure of Rugby League Week.

The iconic magazine, which launched the concept in 1981, planned to unveil another Immortal last year and Lockyer was the raging favourite among judges before the magazine folded.

The NRL promptly purchased intellectual-property rights to the Immortals from RLW and so the judging process begins again. Lockyer can only hope the same judging panel is retained.

If Lockyer misses out this year, he will have to wait until 2022 to be considered again.

Darren Lockyer is one of the favourites to be named an Immortal later this year.
Darren Lockyer is one of the favourites to be named an Immortal later this year.

CARNEY A STEP CLOSER TO NRL RETURN

TODD Carney has met with the NRL and plans to move to Townsville as the Cowboys step up plans to sign the former Dally M winner.

Blindside can reveal Carney flew to Sydney on Tuesday for talks with NRL integrity unit officials, who outlined the steps the rugby league bad boy must take to have any hope of playing for the Cowboys.

NRL bosses are keen for Carney to undertake some personal development courses before they register the 12-month contract that was lodged by the Cowboys a fortnight ago.

Carney currently resides in Cairns, where he is playing for North Queensland's feeder-club Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup.

Todd Carney has been playing for the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup. Picture: Evan Morgan
Todd Carney has been playing for the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup. Picture: Evan Morgan

But it is understood Carney is set to move to Townsville in the coming weeks so he can train with the Cowboys on a more permanent basis.

While Carney has enjoyed a decorated NRL career at five-eighth and halfback, the Cowboys are keen to use him at fullback as a support act to Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan.

CHANNEL 9 DROP THE BALL

CHANNEL Nine's farcical decision to move Queensland's premier league competition - the Intrust Super Cup - from a Sunday to Saturday timeslot is proving a disaster.

Queensland Rugby League bosses should be furious with plummeting ratings. After two rounds in the new Saturday afternoon timeslot, the ISC is averaging just 23,100 viewers in the Brisbane metro region _ a worrying 22 per cent drop on last year's figures.

Former Queensland Origin prop Ben Hannant in action for the Burleigh Bears. Picture: SMPIMAGES.COM
Former Queensland Origin prop Ben Hannant in action for the Burleigh Bears. Picture: SMPIMAGES.COM

In regional Queensland, ratings are downright embarrassing. Bush viewership has plunged by a staggering 51 per cent, with just 8300 viewers tuning in to last week's clash between Ipswich and Townsville, the 2015 grand finalists.

In the Sunday timeslot last year, the competition regularly attracted between 35,000-50,000 viewers. The QRL must start making noises or risk Channel Nine killing the famous competition.

Another problem for the competition is the reluctance of clubs to promote it.

The Burleigh Bears made no public noise about former Queensland Origin prop Ben Hannant's shock comeback last Sunday.

This was on the back of the Northern Pride's short-lived media ban which was met by a huge backlash.

The Intrust Super Cup is a well-liked competition, but those in power are doing little to help its promotion at the moment.

BOMBERS WON'T SURRENDER

THE Brisbane Bombers aren't going away. That's the message from former Broncos Thoroughbreds boss and Bombers chairman Craig Davison in the wake of CEO Nick Livermore's departure. As revealed by The Courier-Mail, Livermore has tendered his resignation, saying he is sick of waiting for the NRL to add a fourth Queensland team, but Davison is soldiering on.

"We are still very much engaged in the process and we have a very supportive board behind us," he said.

"We will continue our investment in the Bombers to bring another NRL team to Brisbane. I believe it's inevitable there will be a second team in Brisbane. Whether that's 2020 or 2023 or 2026, it doesn't matter. Nick has done a wonderful job, but I and several other directors are committed to the Bombers bid."

CLUBS CHASE GREAT DANE CLONE

FORMER Titans young gun Brian Kelly has become one of the most sought after centres in the NRL and drawn comparisons with Origin star Dane Gagai.

Kelly, 21, has made the most of his move to Manly since being released by former Gold Coast coach Neil Henry.

Brian Kelly was let go by the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Brian Kelly was let go by the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Phil Hillyard

He has now made 25 NRL appearances and is catching the eye of cashed-up clubs looking for a young centre on the rise.

The Sea Eagles are making moves to retain the off-contract Kelly, possibly for another three years.

Kelly, who scored four tries for NSW in the 2015 under-20s Origin, is turning out to be the one that got away from the Titans.

Former Rabbitohs recruitment officer Scott Sattler tried to lure Kelly to South Sydney in 2015 and said he could be on the NRL's next big things.

"He is a really respectful kid with a great character," Sattler said.

"He has a great raw, athletic ability. He reminds me of Dane Gagai.

"I tried to get him to South Sydney when I was doing recruitment work for them.

"He is a really good kid. He is low maintenance."

O'NEILL HAS UPPER HAND

COWBOYS centre Justin O'Neill says he will weigh up his options before deciding whether to stay at North Queensland.

O'Neill told Blindside he has an option in his favour to remain at the Cowboys in 2019.

The former Maroons centre is technically a free agent this year, however he can simply activate an option to secure a one-year extension at North Queensland.

When asked if he would take up the option, O'Neill said:

"That would always be great (to stay)," he said.

"I've got to talk to my manager and see what my options are. I haven't had a chat with the manager yet.

"That will be coming around soon and we'll see what the options are."

O'Neill only scored one try in 2017 but equalled that tally after the first match of this season.

WE WANT MORE OF THE SAME

QUEENSLAND legend Billy Moore has been the centre of a radio bidding war.

Blindside understands Triple M made a big play to poach Moore from ABC this season.

Billy Moore is sticking with ABC’s rugby league call team this season. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Billy Moore is sticking with ABC’s rugby league call team this season. Picture: Steve Pohlner

The loyal Moore rejected the approach, telling his ABC colleagues he didn't want to call for a rival station from just two doors down at Suncorp Stadium.

Moore's expert commentary and strong opinions are making him a media darling.

 

CAMERAS SENT TO THE SIN BIN

THE NRL has banned its own cameras from dressing rooms.

The revamped NRL website has been on a mission to challenge the big media players, but it cannot even film interviews in its own stadiums.

Under the current broadcast deal, only rights holders Channel 9 and Fox Sports are allowed cameras in dressing rooms after matches.

The NRL flew its own cameras and presenter to Suncorp Stadium last week, only for them to be disallowed entry.

 

KING HENRY HOLDS COURT

FORMER Titans coach Neil Henry is staying involved in rugby league.

Henry, sacked by the Gold Coast late last season, made a somewhat awkward commentary debut for Fox Sports in what was Garth Brennan's first game in charge of the Titans against Canberra in Round 1.

And he was spotted alongside long-term sidekick Terry Matterson at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast last Saturday watching the Burleigh Bears play Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup.

Henry has an astute football brain and could easily pop up again at another NRL club, most likely in an assistant coaching capacity.

 

Corey Norman and the Eels have had a nightmare start to the season. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Corey Norman and the Eels have had a nightmare start to the season. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

BARRETT'S WALKOUT STUNS FOUNDATION

THE Men of League Foundation has been rocked by the sudden departure of CEO Frank Barrett.

Barrett, former Queensland state manager, departed the organisation after nine months in the top job.

Barrett was replaced in the Queensland role by former Maroons prop David Shillington.

Men of League members have told Blindside that Shillington has been working tirelessly in the role and also at the grassroots of the game.

He has taken on a coaching role at Brothers' Juniors.

Shillington was training with Brothers at one stage, with the thought of possibly playing, but has put those plans on ice.

 

PLAYING STOCKS

RISING

Daly Cherry-Evans

Queensland coach Kevin Walters has to seriously consider DCE for Origin I. The Manly skipper was outstanding against the Eels with his 22-point haul and on current form is the frontrunner for the Maroons' No. 7 jumper.

Daly Cherry-Evans is an early frontrunner for the vacant Maroons No. 7 jersey. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Daly Cherry-Evans is an early frontrunner for the vacant Maroons No. 7 jersey. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Tevita Pangai Jnr

The Broncos were tipping big things from the Tongan Test star this year and he is starting to deliver. His performance in last week's derby was game-changing and exactly what the Broncos need from a big forward.

Jai Arrow

The Titans forward has been sensational in his first two matches for the Gold Coast playing in the front row and is an early contender for buy-of-the-year.

Jamayne Isaako

Has impressed on the Broncos' flanks with his speed and confidence for a young man. Is also proving a handy goalkicker. Currently off-contract, NRL rivals should have a look at him.

 

FALLING

Corey Norman

Has the talent to play State of Origin but was blown off the park by Daly Cherry-Evans last week. The Eels' No. 1 playmaker needs to find his mojo quickly and get the Eels rolling.

Corey Norman and the Eels have had a nightmare start to the season. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Corey Norman and the Eels have had a nightmare start to the season. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Valentine Holmes

Fancies himself as a fullback but he was terrible against the Dragons last week. He ran for just 46 metres and made two handling errors and needs to lift to retain his Queensland Origin jumper.

Ethan Lowe

The Cowboys forward seemed out-of-sorts in last week's derby loss to Brisbane, making just nine tackles in 49 minutes on the field, and was left out of North Queensland's best 13.

Kieran Foran

Canterbury's big-money recruit has had next to no impact in his first two matches for the Bulldogs and is somewhat lucky it was halfback Matt Frawley that got the axe this week.

 

GOT SOME INSIDE INFO? Email Peter Badel or Travis Meyn.



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