IT was a glorious day in Blackpool and a glorious game of rugby league at New Craven Park as Leigh Centurions beat Hull Kingston Rovers 22-18 in the Northern Rail Cup Final.
CASTLEFORD winger Waine Pryce will not play again this season after it was confirmed he broke both his tibia and fibula during the defeat by Harlequins.
HARLEQUINS have appointed Leeds assistant coach Brian McDermott to replace head coach Tony Rea.
LEEDS Rhinos hope to secure an early arrival of Kiwi and New Zealand Warriors centre Clinton Toopi so he can join them in time to boost their squad for the Super League title run-in.
Toopi was due to arrive at Headingley on a three-year deal from next season.
WILLIE Poching has won another New Zealand call-up for Wednesday morning's one-off international against Great Britain in St Helens.The 32-year-old former Vodafone Warrior was brought into the touring team last year to appear against England A. Now coach Brian McClennan has turned to him again, bringing him into his 18-man team for the Knowsley Road test. Poching's late inclusion follows more selection problems for McClennan after losing St Helens prop Jason Cayless and his clubmate Francis Meli to injury after the weekend's English Super League matches. Other test team contenders prop Joe Vagana (Bradford Bulls) and second rower Logan Swann (Warrington Wolves) are also unavailable through injury as is Swann's team-mate Paul Rauhihi. Vodafone Warriors great Stacey Jones has been chosen as captain. The 30-year-old half back has regained the captaincy in the absence of Ruben Wiki and Nigel Vagana, who led the Kiwis in the Anzac Test last month. The Kiwi 18-man team:Vinnie ANDERSON St Helens Monty BETHAM Wakefield Trinity Alex CHAN Le Catalans Henry FA'AFILI Warrington Harrison HANSEN Wigan Shontayne HAPE Bradford Stacey JONES (C) Les Catalans David KIDWELL Melbourne Ali LAUITI'ITI Leeds Iafeta PALEAAESINA Wigan Robbie PAUL Huddersfield Willy POCHING Leeds Ben ROBERTS Canterbury David SOLOMONA Wakefield Willie TALAU St Helens Motu TONY Hull Clinton TOOPI Warriors Lesley VAINIKOLO Bradford Meanwhile Great Britain coach, Brian Noble has shown faith in recently injured St Helens player Paul Sculthorpe who finally gets to captain the Lions as they take on New Zealand in the XXXX Test on his home ground at Knowsley Road.The St Helens forward was named Britain skipper in succession to Andy Farrell last year but was forced to miss the autumn Tri-Nations Series through injury.Noble acknowledges Sculthorpe's performances for Saints have been below par of late but he feels that could all change once the Test gets underway."This is the kind of game that can spark anyone up. It would certainly spark me up if I was selected for a Test jumper and being captain of my country as well." says Noble."You can turn your form around in one game and this might be the catalyst." Sculthorpe's Saints team-mate Leon Pryce will revert to the left wing after Gareth Raynor's withdrawal with a shoulder injury, with Danny McGuire likely to start at stand-off. Centre Martin Gleeson is set to be included despite missing the last two Warrington games with a broken finger, while prop Adrian Morley could start barely 24 hours after arriving in the country from Australia. The 18-man Great Britain squad:P Sculthorpe (St Helens, capt)S O'Loughlin (Wigan)T Newton (Bradford)J Peacock (Leeds)L Gilmour (St Helens)D McGuire (Leeds)J Graham (St Helens)R Burrow (Leeds)P Wellens (St Helens)A Gardner (St Helens)M Gleeson (Warrington)K Senior (Leeds)L Pryce (St Helens)S Long (St Helens)S Fielden (Wigan)K Cunningham (St Helens)A Morley (Sydney Roosters)G Ellis (Leeds). Both coaches were planning to name their match-day 17s just an hour before kick-off.Live coverage in New Zealand will commence at 6.55am on Sky Sport 1, Wednesday 28 June 2006, 8.00pm UK time Tues 27 June.
THE New Zealand Rugby League says it is ready to go to the international board if NRL clubs refuse to release players to take on Great Britain on 27 June. Coach Brian McClennan wants Fui Fui Moi Moi, Iosia Soliola, Jeremy Smith, David Kidwell and Billy Ngawini, who all play in Australia, for the one-off Test. "We're not asking for too much because we haven't asked for any stars," said NZRL chairman Selwyn Bennett. "I think it's getting to the stage where we're going to have to test it." McClennan wants to use the one-off match at St Helens to try out some new players, and hopes to play Ngawini alongside Stacey Jones at half-back. But Jones has indicated he is concentrating on regaining fitness playing for Catalans Dragons after a long lay-off with a broken arm before he thinks about playing for his country again. "In an ideal world, I'd love to play but I've got make sure I'm going all right for the Dragons before I start thinking about playing Test-match football," he told the Rugby Football League website. Source: bbc.co.uk
AS many as five of the 10 nations competing in the 2008 World Cup in Australia could be from Europe. England and France will be direct entries, along with hosts Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. But Wales, Scotland and Ireland will have the chance to join them through a convoluted qualifying process. West Indies, Japan, South Africa, USA, Holland, Georgia, Russia, Serbia, Fiji, Lebanon, Tonga, Samoa and Cook Islands are also chasing a place in the finals. Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Lebanon will be joined in a European World Cup qualifying tournament by the top two teams to emerge from a preliminary competition featuring Georgia, Holland, Russia and Serbia. Georgia and Holland met in Tbilisi on Friday, the home side winning 57-16 in front of a crowd of almost 11,000. The game was also shown live on Georgian national televison. The European World Cup qualifying tournament will begin in October, with the teams divided into two groups and playing reverse fixtures in 2007. The group winners will go through to the main draw while the runners-up will feature in a play-off against the winners of the Atlantic and Pacific groups to decide the 10th finalist. West Indies, Japan, South Africa and the USA will meet in the Atlantic group, with Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Cook Islands playing each other in the Pacific pool.Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk
HULL Kingston Rovers ran away with it in the second half as they reached the Challenge Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Featherstone.
AFTER initial delays, work on the new stadium was set to be finished in time for soccer's Community Shield on August 13.But that game, along with an England soccer friendly in August and two Euro 2008 qualifiers in September and October, will now be played at other venues.The completion delay means that rugby league's Challenge Cup final on 26 August will also be held elsewhere.The official deadline for the handover of the stadium was due to take place on Friday, but the FA is still waiting to hear exactly when the builders will finish the stadium.Multiplex are due to make an announcement to the Australian stock exchange on what progress they have made.Wembley was originally supposed to stage the FA Cup final on 13 May as well as the Football League play-offs, but the decision was made to move them to Cardiff in February.Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Challenge Cup final will be moved to Twickenham, the HQ of rugby union in England."We have contingency plans in place," an RFL spokesman told BBC Sport."We have a contract with Wembley, but we have not yet been told that there is a problem or that we won't be able to hold the game there."An RFU spokeswoman confirmed the Twickenham stadium was available on 26 August, but refused to comment on whether the organisation had been in talks with the RFL."There has been a lot of speculation and we don't want to add to that at the moment," said the spokeswoman.About 35,000 Challenge Cup final tickets have been sold, with many fans travelling to London from rugby league's heartland in the north of England - meaning another venue in the capital is the most likely destination if Wembley is not ready in time.The BBC has also learned that the delay has also affected four music concerts scheduled for this year.The building of the stadium has suffered numerous problems, with a roof beam collapsing last week, resulting in building work being cancelled for a day.There have also been problems with underground sewer pipes at the stadium and workers were sent home on Tuesday after disputes over pay and threats of redundancy.
DONCASTER have signed Karl Pratt after the former Bradford Bulls player was forced to quit top-flight rugby because of persistent shoulder problems."This opportunity was unexpected, but I am thrilled to join a club with huge potential," said the 25-year-old Pratt."I can't play at the highest level anymore, but I feel I can contribute the knowledge I gained to the Lakers and be part of something special here."National League One side Doncaster are chasing promotion to Super League.Lakers coach St John Ellis added: "It all happened very quickly. I told Karl what we are all about and where we are going and how I felt he could help."Having played at the very top level under coaches such as Brian Noble, David Waite and Graham Murray, I believe Karl can be an integral part of our team and help us move forward."He has a wealth of experience and talent and will be a massive help in improving our young players."Pratt, who began his career with Featherstone Rovers before moving to Leeds Rhinos, joined the Bulls in 2002.He went on to claim winners medals in the Challenge Cup, Super League Grand Final and World Club Championship.He also represented Great Britain against New Zealand in 2003. - - - - -Thanks to www.bbc.co.uk for this news.