The Gold Coast rugby league team – unnamed and still without a
confirmed playing headquarters – has announced its first “star” signing for the
2007 season… and it’s an announcement that will leave many underwhelmed.

The club’s first signing is a former Gold Coast Chargers
player, and current Penrith Panthers first grader, Preston Campbell. He has
zero representative honours to his name and previously played with the Cronulla
Sharks.

While he’s generally regarded as a good first grade player, there’s
one factor that will surely trouble many Gold Coast fans. Preston Campbell was
born on 7 June 1977. On my calculations he will turn 30 half way during the
Gold Coast team’s first year in the NRL competition.

When the Gold Coast was awarded the licence some weeks ago, its
officials promised the Gold Coast team would not be a “retirement home” for
players.

Who knows, Preston Campbell might prove to be a good signing, but a
30-year-old five eighth/half back surely has his best years behind him! And
while Darren Lockyer, as just one example, is the same age one wonders how
many years after 2007 Lockyer plans to play.

The Gold Coast is reportedly close to signing the Dragons Luke Bailey,
who has excellent Origin and Test credentials as well as a strong club record.
And he will turn 27 just before the start of the 2007 season. Bailey will be a more significant and credible coup in the view of
many, but he needs to be one of many significant signings as soon as
possible.

The Gold Coast is in a difficult spot. It needs to sign as many players
as possible now – but it cannot promise them a game for more than 18
months!

And the fledgling club needs the largely dysfunctional Gold Coast City
Council to get its act together very soon. The council is still dithering over the club’s venue. One day it was the
existing Carrara stadium, then it was a vacant site at Robina, and more
recently two other sites have been mentioned.

The club and the NRL will be hoping the council not only makes a
decision soon, but ensures the tendering and construction phases are fast
tracked. If the club is forced to play its first season in a temporary,
makeshift stadium, it will be off to a less than desirable start – with fans,
sponsors and players alike.

But anyone who doubts the interest in rugby league on the Gold Coast
will be interested to know that the rather disappointingly rating Channel Nine Footy
Show
will be broadcast from the Gold Coast Convention Centre next Thursday
night. There were 5,000 seats available for the audience – and
a week out ALL have been taken up!