NRL apologises to Wests Tigers

RED-FACED NRL officials have been forced to apologise to the Wests Tigers and Newcastle after bizarrely advertising Sunday’s clash as ”the battle for the spoon’’.

An email was sent to Tigers and Knights supporters from the NRL late on Wednesday, encouraging them to buy tickets and support the Voice for Mining Family Day.

The message then advised fans to “get there early to soak up the battle for the spoon!”

Tigers boss Justin Pascoe and Knights counterpart Matt Gidley were contacted hours later by the governing body.

It has been a tough year for both clubs who are anchored at the bottom of the ladder and been forced to pay big money to lure players for next year.

Newcastle great Matt Johns is known to enjoy a laugh, but did not see the funny side about the NRL alert.

“The NRL should be worrying about other things rather than trying to predict who will get the wooden spoon,’’ Johns said.

“Those blokes in the Newcastle team have been busting their arses all year, they’re young, and they’ve had some really close results. That’s not on. Leave that sort of stuff to the sports betting agencies.

“To have it from the governing body?

“I’ll be going to the game on Sunday, and I’ll be there to support the Knights. That’s what I’m going for. I don’t appreciate the governing body taking a cheap shot.

“Some marketing person has got a bit carried away. It’s not what you’d call a great selling point. Put it this way, I wouldn’t want them selling my house.’’

Former Tigers great and gun No.1 Garry Jack was also unimpressed.

“That’s unheard of. How is that marketing? It’s disrespectful. The ‘ponytails and earrings’ have gone crazy in there at Moore Park.

“Both teams could have two or three wins and then they’re clear of the bottom. That’s how quickly it can change.

“They’re both working their backsides off to get a win. Maybe the people from Moore Park can pull on a jersey and see how hard it is.

“When you’re down the bottom, everyone wants to put the slipper in.’’

An NRL spokesman confirmed an apology had been sent to the Tigers and Knights. “Clearly both clubs are working hard to climb the ladder in the coming weeks so the reference to the spoon was not appropriate,’’ the spokesman said.

“It was an error of judgment and we have now put in place additional checks to prevent it happening again.’’

Knights officials are banking on around 20,000 fans heading to McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Knights have won at home twice this year, and the Tigers are hoping to avoid an eighth straight loss.