AUSTRALIAN squad named today for the Tri Nations rugby league series:
HALVES Johnathan Thurston and Matt Orford will be looking to impress Test selectors when they line up for the Australian Prime Minister's thirteen against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby today.
ELEVEN players have been added to Australia's Tri Nations train on squad following the elimination of the Bulldogs and St George Illawarra from the NRL finals series.
FORMER Test great Mal Meninga says the quartet of young debutants named in the Prime Minister's 13 side to play Papua New Guinea later this month will all become Test stars.Parramatta rookie of the year Jarryd Hayne, South Sydney's leading NRL tryscorer Nathan Merritt, Manly fullback Brett Stewart and Newcastle halfback revelation Jarrod Mullen were all handed their first senior representative honours with selection in Meninga's side to play the Kumuls on September 30.Hayne, aged 18, Merritt 23, Stewart 21, and Mullen 19, all enjoyed outstanding NRL seasons. North Queensland halfback Johnathan Thurston and forward Luke O'Donnell, Penrith's Craig Gower, New Zealand Warrior Steve Price and Wests Tiger Robbie Farah will push for Test selection for this year's Tri Nations series in the one-off match at Port Moresby.
AUSTRALIAN coach Ricky Stuart has hit back at claims from Tim Sheens that only one Wests Tigers player had been considered for the Kangaroos squad.Premiership-winning coach Sheens slammed the Australian Rugby League for failing to let him know where his players stood on the representative scene. Sheens has told radio station Triple M he heard a rumour only one Tigers player was considered for the 44-man national squad which went into camp in Bondi this weekend.But Stuart says that was not the case and added he thought he was doing the right thing by the Tigers by allowing their players to miss the camp as they prepare for the World Club Challenge. The Tigers fly out to England tonight for Saturday's (AEDT) clash with English champions Bradford after playing a trial match on Friday in the NSW town of Gunnedah.Stuart says ARL boss Geoff Carr had explained the situation to both Wests recruitment manager Warren McDonnell and chief executive Steve Noyce.
THE Australian Rugby League has announced a 44-man squad to go into camp this weekend with new coach Ricky Stuart.The squad will meet to begin advance preparations for the Kangaroos' bid to win back the Tri Nations crown they lost to New Zealand last year. Andrew Johns, Ben Kennedy, Brent Tate, Craig Gower, Danny Duderus, Darren Lockyer, Petero Civoniceva, Shaun Berrigan, as well as players from the Wests Tigers side preparing to meet Bradford in the World Club Challenge, were not considered due to prior commitments.Bolters for the squad include Melbourne youngster Greg Inglis and Parramatta halfback Tim Smith.The full squad by club is: Bulldogs: Andrew Ryan, Mark O'Meley, Willie Mason, Willie TongaCronulla: Ben Ross, Brett KimmorleyManly: Brent Kite, Steve MenziesMelbourne: Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, Matt King, Michael CrockerNewcastle: Clint Newton, Steve SimpsonNew Zealand Warriors: Steve PriceNorth Queensland: Carl Webb, Johnathan Thurston, Luke O'Donnell, Matt BowenParramatta: Eric Grothe, Nathan Hindmarsh, Tim Smith, Timana TahuPenrith: Rhys Wesser, Trent Waterhouse, Luke LewisSt George Illawarra: Ashston Sims, Ben Creagh, Ben Hornby, Dean Young, Jason Ryles, Luke Bailey, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Trent BarrettSouth Sydney: John SuttonSydney Roosters: Anthony Tupou, Ashley Harrison, Braith Anasta, Craig Fitzgibbon, Craig Wing, Ryan Cross, Anthony Minichiello
AUSTRALIAN Rugby League chairman Colin Love wants Kangaroos coach Wayne Bennett to explain his controversial return from the failed Tri Nations campaign in Britain.But Love has all but confirmed Bennett will retain the national coaching job despite leading Australia to its first series loss in 27 years. Bennett caused a furore when he slipped past waiting media at Brisbane airport last Thursday.Love says he was less than impressed by Bennett's actions and will discuss the matter at next Monday's ARL board meeting in Sydney.
THE cold snap in England's north is causing problems for the touring Kangaroos who have again been forced to delay training to allow the ground to thaw out.
THE future of the Tri Nations tournament should be clearer later tonight (AEDT time) after the Rugby League Federation executive meets in Leeds.
AUSTRALIA'S Tri Nations defence could receive a boost with injured five-eighth Trent Barrett confident of proving his fitness at training in Manchester today.