Closing system

Cowboys set to extend Payten deal, Hunt rejects Dragons’ improved offer and Super League overhaul

Todd Payten has revealed a new contract at North Queensland is imminent with Coach of the Year Dally M set to extend his stay until 2026.

Out of contract at the end of next year, Payten is set to sign a further three-season extension at the club after taking them to the top four this year.

The Cowboys are desperate to lock down the rising mentor given he would appear to be a real option for several clubs if they part ways with the coaches at the start of 2023.

But that would make Payten want to leave North Queensland. And as far as he’s concerned, that won’t be happening anytime soon.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“It’s close,” Payten said of the deal.

“Actually, I’ve been timing since Friday…I haven’t answered my phone.

“I have to apologize to our staff members for asking me questions…and I was in the wrong place to (answer).

“So as far as our contract goes, it’s going to happen. I want to stay, they want me to stay. It’s days away.

After growing up in the NSW country, Payten found a home in Townsville with her young family, having served there as an assistant.

His passion for the club is also clear, as evidenced by his endearing speech after being named Coach of the Year during Dally Ms.

“When we moved there, the children were six, four and two years old. They are now 13, 11 and 9 years old,” Payten said.

“After a month, (his wife) Jules and I talked about our love for the city.

“And we are country people. So coming back from Sydney to a country town, people’s values ​​are the same as we have. It’s a big city.

“We are punching well above our weight in the league, if you look at our stadium and our performance facilities.

“It’s the heart of rugby league and that’s why I love coaching there.”

Meanwhile, North Queensland have confirmed to AAP that Jason Taumalolo will serve his three-match ban for dangerous contact at the World Cup.

One of those games will be on a pre-tournament tryout, before the Cowboys lock goes through the first two group games and becomes free to start the next NRL season.

Hunt rejects improved Dragons offer

Ben Hunt is still hoping to strike a deal with St George Illawarra next week, despite the NRL club’s latest offer being rejected.

Hunt is out of contract at the end of next year and the Dragons are desperate to secure a new deal before he is free to speak to his rivals on November 1.

Hunt and the Dragons had signaled their intention to sign the deal ahead of the club captain’s departure for the World Cup, if selected, at the end of next week.

But those plans hit a snag on Wednesday, with news that Hunt’s management had rejected the club’s latest offer.

“We have a number and we’re getting there, but it’s going to take a little while,” Hunt said.

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“We are getting closer. We are very close. Both sides want to settle the issue before the World Cup. I’m sure we’ll do it this week.

Hunt’s comments came on the Dally M red carpet, where he entered as one of the favorites to win the top gong, but was beaten by Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes. Hunt was awarded Captain of the Year for the way he held the underperforming Dragons together.

The veteran half-back and the club have now been in negotiations for several months. This played out widely in the media as at one point an investigation by Hunt’s camp to have a clause linked to manager Anthony Griffin was rejected by the club.

The Dragons find themselves in a tricky position with Hunt their best player by some margin.

However, they are also keen to keep hold of rising star Jayden Sullivan, with the natural half spending time at hooker late in the season.

One option would be for Hunt to move to the No.9 shirt long-term to keep Sullivan at the club, but the man himself said that was not part of the talks.

Hunt said there was a bit of frustration with the protracted nature of the talks.

“Yes and no,” he replied when asked if he was growing frustrated. “That’s how contracts are made. Sometimes it’s like that. I understand that they try to do their best with the club and I try to do my best on my own.

“I’m still sure we can get there (if not before the World Cup). But the preference is to do it before them. Obviously after that it might get a bit more difficult.

Super League abandons automatic relegation

The Super League is set to scrap automatic promotion and relegation and elevate clubs based on a new ranking system, according to proposals unveiled by IMG.

The plans, released on Wednesday, are part of the global sports media giant’s 12-year “strategic partnership” with sport.

Clubs will be seeded into three groups based on a series of as yet undetermined criteria on and off the pitch, with teams in the top group ‘A’ guaranteed to earn their place in the next tier.

Those who achieve Category ‘B’ status will fill the remaining spots in a top-tier 12-team squad, but will face annual reassessment.

They would have to prove themselves worthy of promotion to protected ‘A’ standard or face the risk of being replaced.

The proposals are expected to come into effect at the end of the 2024 season, but only if a majority of the 37 professional clubs vote in favor.

The clubs were briefed by IMG ahead of a media presentation in Manchester.

Wigan's Jai Field scores a try

(Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

Matt Dwyer, vice president of sports management at IMG, said: “We have a unique opportunity to alter the growth trajectory of the sport.

“We believe the recommendations we’ve presented today will lay the groundwork for this growth and drive new investment into the game.”

Dwyer was keen to differentiate the new plans from the previous licensing model, controversially introduced when the Super League launched in 1996, and whose much more rigid criteria effectively prevented a number of clubs from reaching the top flight.

IMG maintains this because its new criteria will focus on a range of factors. It will still be possible for a club that lacks in one aspect – for example, inferior ground capacity – to achieve an ‘A’ license if it excels in other areas.

IMG’s proposals also include scrapping unpopular ‘loop’ fixtures and the annual ‘Magic Weekend’, securing a tighter domestic schedule that will allow time for an international break and pushing the Challenge Cup final back to its slot. of May more traditional.

York chairman Clint Goodchild, whose side are set to become the current top flight after reaching the Championship play-offs this season, widely welcomed the proposals.

“The public may be very fond of it (promotion and relegation), but the facts say it doesn’t work. Everyone likes the idea of ​​potentially rising, but I think it’s the hope that kills.

“Clubs are already overstretching themselves in areas that are not sustainable. They spend money on players thinking winning on the pitch will result in profitability and that has crippled the game.”

However, proposals were overlooked at Keighley Cougars, who this season won all 20 of their league matches as they were promoted to the second tier Championship.

“I appreciate the contribution IMG can make to the sport – they bring weight, talent and value,” said co-owner Ryan O’Neill.

“However, on what I saw today, I have reservations, they fully understand rugby league.

“It does not mean that super clubs are immortal at the risk of relegation. It means providing a competitive sport where losers can become winners and winners can become losers. Preserving glamorous clubs for vanity is not the solution.