Trent Barrett, the Cronulla Sharks captain, has ended months of speculation about his future by confirming he will retire at the end of the season. The former Australia international played for Illawarra, St George Illawarra, Wigan and the Sharks in a career spanning 14 years. He played 11 games for New South Wales and 15 Tests for the Kangaroos.
Shane Flanagan, the incoming Cronulla coach, was keen for Barrett, 32, to play one more year in the Australia's National Rugby League (NRL), while the Eels also tried to lure him to Parramatta for a farewell season. Barrett will stay close to the game in retirement, working with the NRL to promote the game in the country's rural areas. "I have decided after long and careful consideration to announce my retirement from rugby league at the conclusion of the current season," he said in a statement yesterday.
He said: "Among one of the highlights of my career was that I got to play with and against many of the genuine superstars of the game. "Rugby league has been good to me and I hope to continue my involvement in the game with the NRL and Country rugby league, helping to foster and promote the sport in the bush. "I leave rugby league completely satisfied and proud of my achievements and with plenty of lasting memories."
The Melbourne Storm have withdrawn their legal action against the NRL over heavy sanctions imposed for a salary cap breach that became one of the biggest scandals in Australian sport. Leon Zwier, the Storm lawyer, said the club's new directors instructed him that legal action be discontinued and the club would pay the NRL's legal costs. New directors were appointed last week when the full extent of the salary cap breaches were revealed. Melbourne have been fined, stripped of their 2007 and 2009 NRL titles and prevented from earning any competition points in the 2010 season. Leading players from the club will also be forced to leave so that the Storm can fit back within the league's salary cap.
In England, the national team's new coach, Steve McNamara, is set to risk controversy by considering Willie Manu, Hull FC's Tongan second-row forward, for the Four Nations series. The 30-year-old Manu played for Tonga in the 2008 World Cup but now qualifies for England through residency, having moved to the UK in 2006 - initially to play for Castleford - and he was brought into McNamara's squad for a get-together this week.
Tony Smith, McNamara's predecessor, created much debate after handing the Samoa-born prop Maurie Fa'asavalu a Great Britain debut in 2007. "Willie Manu qualifies to play for England on residency and has made himself available," said a spokesman for the Rugby Football League, the game's administrators in England. St Helens have confirmed the appointment of Royce Simmons, the former Australian hooker, as their new coach in succession to Mick Potter.
Simmons, 50, will quit his assistant's role with the Australian national team to take charge of Saints from next season on a two-year contract. * Agencies