Former New Zealand Test hooker Tevita Latu has secured a short term contract with English Super League club Wakefield two months after being sacked by Cronulla and deregistered by the NRL for punching a woman.
Latu's Auckland-based manager Peter Brown says the deal is for the remainder of the English season and he's expected to start with struggling Wakefield next week. Brown has revealed he can't comment about the result of an application to the Australian parole board to delay a community service sentence Latu has to serve.
Latu needed the parole board's permission to leave Australia and is already in England.
Latu's NRL career ended abruptly after an early morning incident in Sydney on May 22, when a 19-year-old woman had her nose broken. The Sharks tore up his contract and the NRL deregistered him, which meant no other club in the competition could sign him. A Sydney court originally sentenced him to eight months' periodic detention, but a successful appeal led to that being reduced to 200 hours' community service.
With a deal with Wakefield on the table, Latu made an application to the parole board to delay his community service until after the Super League season.
Meanwhile, former club coach Stuart Raper says a win against Newcastle, and not necessarily a spot in the top eight, is his primary objective heading into tomorrow night's crucial NRL clash at Toyota Park.
With both sides locked on 22 competition points the match will have a huge bearing on the top eight, with the loser a possibility of dropping to tenth by the end of the weekend's matches. But with four losses from their last four starts, Raper says the Sharks desperately need a win to build up some confidence before they can mount one last push for the finals.
Raper is hoping a return to Toyota Park will provide a lift for his side, with the Sharks to play four of their final six games on home turf.
Elsewhere, veteran five-eighth Jason Smith will seek the advice of his senior Canberra teammates before making a decision on whether to join North Queensland or the Gold Coast Titans for the 2007 season.
The 34-year-old Smith says he'll talk to his family and Raiders trio Clinton Schifcofske, Simon Woolford and Jason Croker before announcing a decision. He admits he hasn't a clue which way he's leaning but says the happiness of his family will be the overriding factor.
Although he'll be signing a one-year deal, Smith hasn't ruled out playing in the NRL in 2008.Like