Marshall rules out opening night comeback

INJURED Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall hopes to be back on the playing field ahead of schedule, but has all but ruled out being available for the NRL season opener.The premier hosts St George Illawarra at Telstra Stadium on March 10 to kick-off the 2006 season in a rematch of last season's epic preliminary final. Marshall underwent surgery on his right shoulder shortly after the Tigers' grand final success last year but is already on the training paddock with contact work set to begin in two weeks.

Souths board to hear privatisation proposal

THE Peter Holmes a Court-Russell Crowe privatisation proposal will finally be heard by the South Sydney Board tonight.Holmes a Court will outline his proposal to the board which will then make a decision as to whether it will be passed to the members to vote on. Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson says he is hopeful the board will reach a decision tonight.Holmes a Court and Crowe are offering to pay $3 million for 75 per cent of the football club, which would give them the right to appoint four of the seven board members. The deal would also allow Souths members to retain control of the club's colours, name and logo and where the Rabbitohs play their home matches.Club patriarch and Souths Leagues Club chairman George Piggins has been a vocal opponent to the bid, believing the football club should remain in the hands of the members and the community.

Lyon yet to decide future

JAMIE Lyon is still undecided on his future plans as he prepares to embark on his second engage Super League campaign with pre-season favourite St Helens.The Australian centre is under contract with the Minor Premiers until the end of the year and the club is desperate to extend his deal at Knowsley Road. However, he is being courted by a number of Australian clubs - including Manly and the newly-formed Gold Coast franchise ? who would love to take him back to the NRL in time for the 2007 campaign.But the 24-year-old says he could find the lure of a return to his homeland with the chance to resume his representative career with New South Wales and the Kangaroos too good to turn down.

Gower likely to remain a Panther

PENRITH playmaker Craig Gower is likely to remain at the 2003 NRL premiers this season.Shortly after arriving in Sydney after his honeymoon in Vietnam, Gower has made it clear he wants to remain with the Panthers despite his recent disagreement with the club. Gower has told the Australian newspaper he wants to stay with the club and that the issue of him wanting to leave the Panthers was blown out of proportion.The Panthers livewire was axed as skipper and fined $100,000 - $70,000 of which was suspended - following allegations of misbehaviour at a charity golf tournament late last year. Penrith chief executive Glenn Matthews has welcomed Gower's latest comments and says he will meet with the player shortly to discuss a few issues.

Presenting? the Col Murphy Roast!

COME along and pay tribute to one of the genuine larger-than-life characters of both Rugby League football and the Newtown Jets. When: Sunday, 12th March 2006, 3.00pm Where: Souths Juniors Leagues Club, Anzac Parade, Kingsford Hosted by: The one and only Johnny Lewis. $50.00 per head - All profits from this function will go to children?s cancer research. Contacts: ?Chook? Certoma on 8802 4808 or 9564 6016; Ricky McVicar on 0414 250 598. Tickets are limited so make your reservations as soon as possible. Don?t miss what is sure to be a terrific afternoon. ?Murph? has been one of the definitive tearaways of Rugby League football, so his Roast will certainly be an occasion to remember! (Col Murphy pictured at a Sevens tournament in 2004).

Emerald Group Help Redcliffe Develop

IN RECENT times the Redcliffe Dolphins have become quite adept at staking their own territory. A new logo, a new jersey and a heightened emphasis on the ?Dolphin? are tell-tale signs the club is fiercely marking its own patch of turf.It could be considered a natural progression then that the club should form an alliance with the leading property developer on the Redcliffe peninsula, Emerald Group.Announcing a significant three-year sponsorship at Bayswater Apartments today, Redcliffe Chief Executive James Hinchey joined with Emerald Group Executive Chairman Eddy Faress to officially put pen to paper.The deal links two of the most prominent icons of the peninsula and ensures the Dolphins can remain front-runners from the Queensland Wizard Cup level right down to junior grades.?This allows us to maintain the standard we are known for,? said Hinchey, a grand finalist in four Queensland Wizard Cup seasons.?As the State League grows in levels of professionalism, it certainly doesn?t become any cheaper to run the clubs.?Emerald Group has contributed an amount that would compare very favourably and it allows us to really compete.?A further two-year option exists on the deal, which would then take the partnership between the Dolphins and Emerald Group through to the end of 2010. A long-time St George fan, Emerald boss Faress has transferred his passion for the red-and-white to the Dolphins, a club he considers central to the way of life on the peninsula.?Redcliffe Leagues Club is a true icon out this way and we look forward to a long and healthy relationship,? Faress said.?We?ve got another seven or eight years worth of development work left in the Redcliffe area - that?s without taking any more on the books.?It only seems fitting to me that we play our part and get as involved with the local community as we can.?Describing himself as the ?smallest lock ever? in the old Sydney Police Rugby League, Faress marvels at the talent on disposal at Dolphin Oval.A new affiliation with the Brisbane Broncos has seen several Dolphins train with the NRL squad ? including Shane Perry, Nick Emmett, Pat Gardner, Danny Green and Kaine Manihera.Linchpin Perry, 28, has been perilously close to being called up for the Broncos in previous years, given shortages in the club?s halves.Meanwhile 20-year-old Manihera has joined the Dolphins at the behest of the Broncos, with the young Kiwi viewed as a potential first-grader of the future.

Smith extends stay at Rhinos

LEEDS Rhinos have received a massive boost ahead of the start of the new engage Super League season this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie against Huddersfield with the news that Head Coach Tony Smith has agreed a new one year extension which will keep him at Leeds until at least the end of 2007.Smith, who will come up against his former club this Sunday, was named engage Super League Coach of the Year last season and was due to be out of contract at the end of the 2006 season. However, he has agreed a one year extension now having moved to Headingley Carnegie at the start of the 2004 season.Commenting on the announcement Smith said, ?I?m delighted to have been offered and accepted an extension to my contract. It is an honour to coach a club that is always competitive and pushing for titles. I would like to thank Paul Caddick and Gary Hetherington for their backing and I had no hesitation in signing my new contract.?I have enjoyed my time already here at the club and I am looking forward to the future and working with the exciting players and backroom staff we have in place now at the Rhinos. The strength of our team both on and off the pitch was a major factor in my decision and we will have some exciting times in the future.?I am pleased to have got the extension sorted out before the start of the season and we can now concentrate on the year ahead and doing our best. Having recently been back to Australia, my family are very happy here in England and this is certainly home for us now,? added Smith.Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, ?We are delighted Tony has accepted this extension and we are now looking forward to continue our progression under him and his coaching team over the next two years at least. Tony has done a tremendous job in his two years already at Headingley Carnegie and we are all looking forward to the new season now, starting on Sunday at home against Huddersfield.?

Kennedy to quit rep football

MANLY Sea Eagles and Test back rower Ben Kennedy will quit representative football after accepting the Club captaincy for 2006.The 31-year-old veteran of 13 Tests and 12 State of Origin appearances was offered the captaincy by coach Des Hasler last Monday. He will take over from Michael Monaghan.One of the best forwards in last year's Tri-Nations tournament, Kennedy joined Manly last year after five seasons with the Newcastle Knights (2000-2004). His first grade debut was with the Canberra Raiders in 1996 where he stayed until 1999.Kennedy was touted as a possible captain when he joined the Sea Eagles last year. But he said he wasn't interested, stating the prospect of changing clubs to be enough responsibility for one year. In what may be his final season in first grade football, Kennedy has indicated he will focus on Manly's 2006 premiership ambitions. "Manly has given me this honour and I should show some respect and show that I'm committed to getting Manly going in the right direction," Kennedy said."In regards to rep footy, I'm pretty much leaning towards last year being my last season. I haven't officially rung [ARL general manager] Geoff Carr or written a letter, but with this job and the change of coaches with the rep teams I'm thinking that it's probably time to sit back and let someone else have a go."Pic: Action Photos.

Delaney likely pivot in Ballina trial

BRETT Delaney is set to wear the number six for the Parramatta Eels after the 20-year-old was named at five-eighth for this Saturday's trial against the Melbourne Storm in Ballina.With regular five-eighth John Morris likely miss the start of the season, it appears that Delaney's selection at pivot will not be a one-off.Morris continues to recover from a pectoral injury prompting coach Brian Smith to search for an alternative five-eighth during the pre-season."We thought Brett was terrific in his two games in the centres last season and his development has continued during the off-season," Smith told The Sydney Morning Herald."I'm really excited about his potential, but it would obviously be hard for him to break through on a regular basis in the centres with Ben Smith and Timana Tahu there, so we're going to give him a shot at five-eighth while John Morris is out."What happens in the long term will depend on how Brett goes and how John goes when he is fit again, but competition never hurt anyone. Brett's got a junior background at five-eighth and lock and I'm pretty confident he'll handle it. I'm going to give [forward] Dean Widders a go at five-eighth during the trials as well."The Eels v Storm trial match kicks off at 5:45pm this Saturday 11 February at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.Other trial games this weekend include:Sat 11 Feb: Wynnum-Manly Seagulls vs Broncos/Clydesdales (7:00pm) Kougari Oval, Wondall Road, Manly West (Brisbane). Sat 11 Feb: Cowboys/Young Guns vs Broncos/Clydesdales (7:30pm) Browne Park, Rockhampton.Sun 12 Feb: NZ Warriors v Canberra Raiders (3.00pm) North Harbour Stadium, Albany (Auckland).List of pre-season trial matches: click herePic: Ballina Lighthouse. Photo: Annette Flotwell (

Orr refused agent accreditation

HIGH-PROFILE player agent Gavin Orr has been refused official rugby league player agent status by the Rugby League Accredited Player Agent Committee.The committee met tonight to review a number of applications for persons seeking accreditation and it was determined Orr would not be accredited. The decision follows Orr's refusal to offer information over allegations he forged the signature of Eels forward Fui Fui Moimoi.Orr, who runs Pacific Sports Management with brother Chris and looks after superstars such as Sonny Bill Williams, can reapply in 12 months. Orr can continue to act as an agent as the game does not have the power to prevent someone working in such a capacity.

State of Origin memorabilia for sale

FOR all the collectors out there, the Team at League Unlimited would like to offer this piece of memorabilia that would look great hanging over a bar.The first ever Queensland State of Origin Team to take the field at Lang Park back in 1980 has been captured and framed.We?ve only got 25 to sell, out of a total of 250 made. Plus they?ve become even rarer by the fact someone stole all the NSW ones!It has been signed by the whole team.From the top left down in order:Colin ScottKerry BousteadMal MeningaChris CloseBrad BackerAlan SmithNorm CarrArthur BeetsonGreg OliphantWally LewisRod ReddyRowen HancockJohn LangRod MorrisReserve: Bruce Astill (not used)Coach John McDonaldThe price tag is $2,000 plus postage and handling (about $400 off). If you have a genuine interest in purchasing one of these, please contact Matt Starkey via email: [email protected]

Ferns in training for '07 W.C.

THE Kiwi Ferns will tomorrow (Wednesday 8 February 2006) go into camp at the Millennium Institute in Auckland as part of their preparation in build up to the scheduled 2007 women?s rugby league world cup.As world champions and having never lost a test series the Kiwi Ferns are keen to stay in good shape to retain their world title status and know that they must continue to extend themselves and not rest on any laurels.A Kiwi Ferns squad, and for the first time a Kiwi Ferns development squad, were selected at the 2005 National tournament and were scheduled to play Australia in a two test series held in Auckland, New Zealand in October of last year.It was however with great disappointment that the Australians had to pull out of the tour, and therefore coach Stan Martin, with the support of the women?s committee realised that they must push on and had no hesitation in putting in place a camp where the selected players will gather together from around the country and partake in 4 intense days of fitness, skills, drills and game plan.Stan Martin, who is a very experienced coach, having taken many men sides and doing a four year stint as a professional coach in England at the Whitehaven club says ?It is a pleasure to coach the ladies and they are very receptive to learning. It is never too early to start working hard and is a good time to blood some of the young girls coming through. We will be setting our goals high for the World Cup.?It is exciting and positive times for the ladies game and with some very talented young athletes coming through the ranks, with girls such at 2005 Player Of Year, Rona Peters only being 17 it looks that the Kiwi Ferns will remain at the top of their game for some time to come.The NZWRL would like to thank SAS Sport Ltd, Mt Wellington Trust, Trillian Trust, South Auckland Trust, Pub Charity and Pelorus Trust for their continued support. For further information please do not hesitate to contact team manager Juanita Woodhouse (021-444-385) or Secretary Cherie Steele-Shanks (021-128-6438).

Tomkins extends Contract

WIGAN'S exciting 18 year old back row forward Joel Tomkins has signed an extended contract with the Club which will keep him at the JJB Stadium until the end of the 2008 season.Wigan Chairman, Maurice Lindsay said: "It always gives us an extra thrill when a player comes through our academy ranks and into the first team. Joel is a classic example of that and he is already looking like a regular member of our first team squad. He is set for a good career with us and he increases even further the number of local players in our group."Joel Tomkins said: "I love playing for my hometown club and there are quite a few of us now in the first team squad who have played together in our youth teams. I realise I have to be patient with so many other good players at the club, but I will work hard and do my best."Head Coach Ian Millward added: "It's another great tribute to the youth policy that the club has had in place for many years, and I am sure that if Joel carries on with his rate of progress he can make it to the top. He has got some healthy competition for his spot this year, but he is big and pacey with lots of potential."

Alf backs Hunt punt at halfback

FORMER champion halfback Allan Langer has backed Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett's punt to test run fullback Karmichael Hunt in the troublesome No.7 role.Teenager Hunt will get the first shot to show his halfback credentials in the club's second preseason trial against North Queensland this Saturday night in Rockhampton. The move is seen as a stop-gap measure while first choice halfback Brett Seymour recovers from a shoulder reconstruction.But Langer, who chalked up a club record 288 appearances at halfback, believes Hunt has what it takes to form a deadly halves combination with skipper Darren Lockyer.

Bears faithfull strong as ever

THE North Sydney Bears have now been absent from the National Rugby League competition for 5 years. However, the support for the club strengthens everyday. Bears faithfuls have remained loyal to the club through all the ups and downs and are not about to disappear now. The Bears are used to tough battles and the present is just another rock in the road of proud history of the Bears!

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