See you in court, says Arthurson

THE Australian Rugby League has begun aggressively returning serve to News Corp as the two organisations battle for control of the code.

After being caught off guard by Rupert Murdoch's Super League attack a fortnight ago that netted over 100 of league's best players, the ARL is now fighting back. League officials are embarking on an all-out assault in a bid to save the game becoming part of Murdoch's massive global media empire.

ARL chiefs Ken Arthurson and John Quayle have been travelling around the country, giving their side of the story of confused players and fans, while the league has also taken out television advertisements to push its cause.

The ARL has attempted to match Murdoch's massive payments to players, signing a host of big names including Test stars Brad Fittler and Paul Harragon. Players who have signed with the Super League on the spot after having massive sums of money thrown at them are also being urged to seek independent legal advice. 'We believe that a lot of young players were signed under duress,' said Quayle.

'I feel that players in that position who are having second thoughts should speak to legal representatives. 'I am sure that there is a good case for showing they signed under duress. 'We are fighting for control of our game against a media baron who only wants to make it into a profit making vehicle.

'If he gets his way, many of the clubs that have been around for over 80 years will cease to exist. 'The game as we know it will totally change and a lot of fans will be left out in the cold.' The ARL is bitterly disappointed with its British and New Zealand counterparts, who have defected to the Super League en masse. Their move means that the ARL's trump card over the rebel code - the ability to play Test football for Australia - has all but been negated.

The Super League issue has divided the game and an increasingly bitter dispute came to a head during a fiery meeting between the two factions at the Cronulla club this week. Johnny Raper, regarded as Australia's finest post-war player, launched an angry attack on recently retired Test skipper Mal Meninga, now a spokesman for the Super League.

At a fiery meeting that saw many emotional outbursts, Raper described Meninga as a traitor. 'I'm ashamed of what you've become,' said Raper.

Legal representatives of both sides are working overtime, with the dispute destined to be settled in the courts.