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THE STARS are out in force in the Queensland Wizard Cup this weekend as State of Origin heroes Sam Thaiday and Ty Williams are joined by the likes of Neville Costigan, Brenton Bowen, Mitchell Sargent and possibly Chris Walker.
THE STORY: With both teams boasting the slimmest of finals chances, they?ll throw everything they have into this match, played at the special time of 12 noon. Wynnum Manly were giant-killers last week in a 40-18 win over Redcliffe and this week eye a Devils team they beat 34-12 back in Round 8. Norths fell 48-30 to Redcliffe a fortnight ago before encountering the bye, but are capable of big improvement.
THE STAT: Chris Walker has not played Wizard Cup since 2002 with Toowoomba, but he is a chance of being a late inclusion for Norths. He still holds the competition record for most tries in a single match with seven.
THE STAR: Opposing forwards Sam Crabb and Brendan Afitu both come from the Logan Brothers club and have interesting backgrounds. Crabb is a labourer from Carbrook, near Native Dog Creek. Afitu is a carpenter and cousin of North Queensland Cowboy Robert Tanielu. He features on the cover of this week?s Rugby League News. Crabb has played just eight Wizard Cup games, while Afitu has played 13.
CHANGES: WYNNUM MANLY ? No announced changes. NORTHS ? In: Smith Samau. Out: Chad Leach.
Wynnum Manly Seagulls Players: 1. Tangi ROPATI 2. Rodney BARBA 3. Simon PHILLIPS 4. Steve IRWIN 5. Bill WYATT 6. Jim AHMAT 7. Daniel EVANS 13. Luke DALZIEL DON 12. Darren BAIN 11. John BRUCE 10. Sam CRABB 9. Albert TALIPEAU 8. Fili SOFA Interchange: 14. Josh ROVELLI 15. Gary WINTER 16. Zac CHISHOLM 17. Kerry SMITH Coach: Neil WHARTON
Norths Devils Players: 1. Smith SAMAU 2. Aaron MORGAN 3. Jackson NICOLAU 4. Ryan SHORTLAND 5. Steve FRANCISCUS 6. James AUBUSSON 7. Isaac KAUFMANN 13. Matthew BARTLETT 12. Jamie FEENEY 11. Aaron BULOW 10. Jeffery LIMA 9. Brenton STONIER 8. Scott ANDERSON Interchange: 14. Sam TAGATAESE 15. Will SCANLON 16. Trent HENRICK 17. Brendan AFITU Coach: Wayne TRELEAVEN
SOUTHS LOGAN v BURLEIGH Brandon Park, Saturday July 22, 3pm Referee: Michael Wise
THE STORY: Brandon Costin is at long odds of returning for Souths Logan again this season after injuring his shoulder against old club Easts last weekend. His replacement is Chris Sandow, Player of the Championships at last week?s Australian Schoolboys titles. Burleigh has named Adam Hayden to return from an extended lay-off, moving Ryan Gundry to hooker.
THE STAT: It was all locked up at 24-all when these teams met at Pizzey Park back in May. It has been a season of inconsistency for both clubs, but neither is dead and buried in the finals race just yet.
THE STAR: Mindful of his Colts? finals ambitions, Souths Logan coach Mark Gliddon will allow youngsters Toe Faaee and Mase Laulu-Togagae to play under-19s before they suit up for Wizard Cup duties. Faaee is the most likely to feature in both grades, with the somewhat erratic Laulu-Togagae on notice to perform in the earlier game if he wants to cement his spot.
CHANGES: SOUTHS LOGAN ? In: Chris Sandow. Out: Brandon Costin. BURLEIGH ? In: Adam Hayden. Out: Matt Doeg.
Souths Logan Magpies Players: 1. Quentin LAULU-TOGAGAE 2. Tyrone COPPEDGE 3. Michael ANSCHAU 4. Damian WILLIS 5. Derek FLETCHER 6. Phil DENNIS 7. Chris SANDOW 13. Jason MITCHELL 12. Tanu WULF 11. Jerry AHERN 10. Josh GRIFFITH 9. Cameron JOYCE 8. Toe FAAEE Interchange: 14. Stanley FAU 15. Chris McGURK 16. Mase LAULU-TOGAGAE 17. Angus MARTIN Coach: Mark GLIDDON Burleigh Bears Players: 1. Reggie CRESSBROOK 2. Trent PURDON 3. Chris BARNES 4. Jordan ATKINS 5. Aseri LAING 6. Adam HAYDEN 7. Clay HARRIS 13. Robert APANUI 12. Adam HUTCHISON 11. Martin GRIESE 10. Shane O'FLANAGAN 9. Ryan GUNDRY 8. Ali BROWN Interchange: 14. James GRIFFITHS 15. Wayne PHILLIS 16. Jamie RUSSO 17. Marty MITCHELL Coach: Jimmy LENIHAN
TOOWOOMBA v REDCLIFFE Clive Berghofer Stadium, Saturday July 22, 3pm Referee: Justin Davis
THE STORY: Toowoomba has named one of the strongest Wizard Cup teams seen, with every member of the forward pack boasting NRL experience. Between them the front six have in excess of 100 games at the national level. Even the bench has two NRL-graded players. That said, the Clydesdales meet the most experienced pack at Wizard Cup level, boosted by the inclusion of veteran hitman Mark Shipway.
CHANGES: TOOWOOMBA - In: Nick Parfitt, Denan Kemp, Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannant, Ian Lacey, Nick Kenny, David Taylor. Out: Scott Minto, Chris Muckert, Fraser Anderson, Charlie Fetoai, Lynden Murphy, Lachlan Morgan, Joe Clarke. REDCLIFFE ? In: Rory Bromley, Chris Fox, Mark Shipway. Out: Tim Yee, Damian Jentz, Kaine Manihera
Toowoomba Clydesdales Players: 1. Nick PARFITT (c) 2. Denan KEMP 3. Steve MICHAELS 4. Jason MOON 5. Gideon MZEMBE 6. Joel MOON 7. Ben GREEN 13. Derricke WATKINS 12. Neville COSTIGAN 11. Sam THAIDAY 10. Ben HANNANT 9. Ian LACEY 8. Nick KENNY Interchange: 14. David TAYLOR 15. Ben VAEAU 16. John TE REO 17. Jamie SIMPSON Coach: Mark GEE
Redcliffe Dolphins Players: 1. Ryan CULLEN 2. Rory BROMLEY 3. Greg BOURKE 4. Nick EMMETT 5. Chris GIUMELLI 6. Chris FOX 7. Marty TURNER 13. Gerard PARLE 12. Danny BURKE 11. Grant FLUGGE 10. Adam STARR 9. Michael ROBERTS 8. Troy LINDSAY (c) Interchange: 14. Nick WALKER 15. Mark SHIPWAY 16. Danny GREEN 17. Shannon FISH Coach: Anthony GRIFFIN
NORTH QLD v EASTS Dairy Farmers Stadium, Saturday July 22, 5.30pm Referee: Gavin Morris
THE STORY: An Easts team chasing six wins in a row will meet a league-leading Young Guns side that boasts representative NRL players Ty Williams and Mitchell Sargent. North Queensland trampled their opposition 46-16 back in Round 8 and Easts will want to show it can compete come finals time.
THE STAT: It has been an overlooked fact that fourth-placed Easts has conceded more points this season than second-last Wynnum Manly. Although the Tigers have improved markedly, they have still allowed an average 20ppg in their four most recent wins.
THE STAR: Both Williams and Sargent need just four more games to bring up 100 NRL matches. You can be sure both will be highly motivated to give their best and hopefully achieve the milestone before the end of 2006.
CHANGES: NORTH QLD ? In: Ty Williams, Brenton Bowen, Brent McConnell, Mitchell Sargent, Ray Cashmere, Mark Dalle Cort. Out: Gavin Cooper, Dean Payne, Robert Tanielu, David Faiumu, Shane Tronc, Kam Wilkinson. EASTS ? In: Damian Durnford, Scott Young. Out: Marcus Jensen, Steele Retchless.
CHARGES: NORTH QLD ? Ben Lowe (Grade 1 Striking + 59 carry-over pts, Contesting Friday)
North Qld Young Guns Players: 1. Jason BARSLEY 2. Neil SWEENEY 3. Ty WILLIAMS 4. Jamie FRIZZO 5. Brenton BOWEN 6. Shane MUSPRATT 7. Brent McCONNELL 13. Ben LOWE 12. Scott BOLTON 11. Daniel STRICKLAND 10. Mitchell SARGENT 9. Clint AMOS 8. Ray CASHMERE Interchange: 14. Brady PAYNE 15. Jimmy ANDERSEN 16. Mark DALLE CORT 17. Sam FAUST Coach: Mick CRAWLEY
Easts Tigers Players: 1. Kevin STEPHENSEN 2. John TAMANIKA 3. Mike HOBBS 4. Mark McKENZIE 5. David TYRRELL 6. Luke BRANIGHAN 7. David GEORGIOU 13. Matt LOCKYER (c) 12. Martin ALLEN 11. Mark CANTONI 10. Trevor EXTON 9. Jamie TOMLINSON 8. Scott SIPPLE Interchange: 14. Cameron DURNFORD 15. Damian DURNFORD 16. Steve GOODHEW 17. Scott YOUNG Coach: Michael BOOTH
TWEED HEADS v CENTRAL Piggabeen Complex, Sunday July 23, 2pm Referee: Justin Eastwood
THE STORY: Needing a win to hold its grip on fifth place above Burleigh, Tweed Heads will go into this match minus injured pair Tim Maccan and David Strachan. Central has also experienced changes with big forwards Andrew Dale (injured) and Aaron Sweeney (suspended) ruled out. Young bull Tyron Haynes has been named despite fitness concerns.
THE STAT: One of Central?s biggest wins this season was a 29-16 triumph against Tweed Heads in Rockhampton. The Seagulls were seething after losing halfback Maccan early in the match and no doubt want to prove they are the better side with a full 13 on the paddock.
THE STAR: The suspension for Sweeney has opened the door for untried Comet Callum Wilson. The teenage forward comes from Tannum Sands, where he is coached by Gary Larson. Both Larson and Comets coach Matt Parish have a high opinion of Wilson, considered an unlucky omission from junior representative sides this year.
CHANGES: TWEED HEADS ? In: Brett Woolley, Josh Peacock. Out: David Strachan, Tim Maccan. CENTRAL ? In: Callum Wilson, Kristian Mene. Out: Andrew Dale, Aaron Sweeney.
Tweed Heads Players: 1. Ryan MILLIGAN 2. Nat BARNES 3. Brett WOOLLEY 4. Josh VAUGHAN 5. Ryan O'CONNELL 6. Brad DAVIS 7. Paul ROLLS 13. Matt POW 12. Dean ALLEN 11. Tom PRICHARD 10. Roy FRIEND 9. Cory BOND 8. Matt AUSTIN Interchange: 14. Andrew MORONEY 15. Selasi BERDIE 16. Josh PEACOCK 17. Andrew CROSS Coach: Steve MURPHY
Central Comets Players: 1. Jimmy McCONACHY 2. Marty HATFIELD 3. Guy WILLIAMS 4. Misi TAULAPAPA 5. McConkie TAUASA 6. Scott PORTER 7. Cheyenne MOTU 13. Matt RUA 12. Wayne BARNETT 11. Tyron HAYNES 10. Peter PENAIA 9. Jade WOGAND 8. Callum WILSON Interchange: 14. Mark SINIULA 15. Kristian MENE 16. Mick ESDALE 17. Herewini RANGI Coach: Matt PARISH
IPSWICH ? Bye