Packer to televise Super League: Rugby League

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The reunification of a game ripped apart in Australia by the rivalry between media moguls is suddenly closer with the news that Kerry Packer's TV network is to show Super League games.

The Packers and Channel Nine have been the Australian Rugby League's staunchest allies in their battle against Rupert Murdoch and Super League. But Kerry's son, Jamie, has announced that Nine will show Super League as well as ARL matches this season.

"The Nine Network telecasting both ARL and Super League will increase the prospect of a unified rugby league competition, which we believe to be in the best interests of the public, viewers and all parties," he said.

Unsurprisingly, Murdoch declared himself delighted with the new turn of events. "I applaud the successful outcome of negotiations and I am pleased to resume cordial commercial relations with Nine," he said.

In Britain, the Rugby League's chief executive and chairman of Super League's international board, Maurice Lindsay, also celebrated. "It could even be the first step towards a single game in Australia, which, of course, would be to everyone's advantage," he said.

But the ARL's chairman, Ken Arthurson, admitted that he was stunned by his old allies striking a deal with his arch- rivals. "I would be telling a lie if I said I didn't feel deeply wounded and bitterly disappointed," he said. "It's not really a great way to start the year, is it? Sometimes you really wonder what it's all about."

The Great Britain captain, Andy Farrell, is struggling to be fit for Super League's first international event of the season, the World Nines in Townsville in two weeks' time. Farrell has a niggling thigh injury and a decision will be made on his fitness over the next few days.

St Helens' captain, Bobbie Goulding, says that he has asked for a transfer, blaming "broken promises" for his wish to get away. The club insists that it does not want him to go.