YET another round of pre-season trials passes and is blighted by another scandal involving young footballers running amok. Predictably this is followed by another outpouring of public outrage at the actions of these highly paid professionals crossing so-called moral boundaries.
THE Valleys play host to two Wales under-16 Rugby League internationals over the Easter holidays. The action kicks off at Sardis Road, Pontypridd on Good Friday for the visit of England (kick-off 12pm) before moving up to Abercynon RFC on Thursday 31 March where France are the visitors (kick-off 5pm). Admission for each game is just ?3 for adults, free for children and senior citizens.
Valley Cougars' Mark Rowley has been instrumental in setting up these fixtures and is pleased to see that out of the squad of 22, nine are local lads.
Rowley comments: "It's a reward for all the hard work that's been put into local rugby league over the last few years. These lads were part of one of the best junior sides in Wales last year and it's great to see them being rewarded for their efforts."
Wales warmed up for these matches with an excellent 60-28 win over the London and South under-16 side at Reading last Sunday. What makes this win even more impressive is that the match was played without conversions meaning that Wales ran in 15 tries to the host's seven.
Wales coach Kevin Weaver was very impressed with the youngsters and is sure that this win will set them up nicely for the England match on Good Friday.
"We will always be the underdogs against England," Weaver comments, "But this young Welsh side has plenty of talent and they've come on leaps and bounds since they started training just three weeks ago. If they carry on putting in performances like they did against London then the future of Rugby League in Wales is in very safe hands. Last week's win was a tremendous all-round team effort. it was very pleasing to watch as a coach and I'm confident that we'll do well."
The England match will be the third fixture between the two countries at this level and England have won both the previous encounters. They were 40-0 winners in 2003 and emerged as 26-10 victors in 2004.
THE Mighty Bears produced a classic solid and workmanlike performance to beat a courageous Dragons outfit in a closely fought match at WIN Stadium on Saturday night, in front of a big crowd prior to the Storm V Dragons first grade match.
Souths Juniors name teams to take on the Canberra Raiders
Souths Juniors Premier League Match Report
SCOTLAND are recruiting players for the Scotland A team which will compete in the Parkhouse Recruitment Four Nations Championships this summer. With former Scotland captain Nathan Graham now coaching the side, Scotland are hoping to go even one better than last year when they finished runners-up to Wales.
TONY Rea has announced a 20-man squad to play Hull FC on Good Friday and it includes Kai Horstmann from neighbouring club London Harlequins.
LEEDS Rhinos have continued their unbeaten run in defeating Salford 30-12 on the weekend, and are fast becoming the dominant team of this decade. In a period where the standard of their opposition is rising, Leeds? record speaks for itself. Since the start of the 2003 season, that is, in the last 58 games, they have lost eight and drawn five. Indeed the last time a Leeds player has faced defeat was some nine months ago. Can you remember what you were doing nine months ago? Neither can I.
IN this week's Bulls Eye, Brian Noble and captain Jamie Peacock look ahead to Thursday's Engage Super League Round 7 game at Odsal when unbeaten Leeds Rhinos are the visitors to take on the Bulls in a repeat of last season's Grand Final.
WIGAN Coach Denis Betts today confirmed that Great Britain Winger Brian Carney will be sidelined for upto six weeks with a knee injury which he picked up in the final minute in the game against Leigh last Friday.
COACH Stuart Raper has named a modified team to play the Parramatta Eels this weekend. Keith Galloway will miss the game with concussion, which sees James Stosic come into the team to make his first grade debut. Brett Kimmorley also returns to the fold from a one match suspension while Paul Mellor has been added to the bench.
GOOD Friday, 25th March 2005.
MANLY Sea Eagles NRL club have sacked winger John Hopoate after he was suspended for 17 matches by NRL judiciary panel for his forearm king-hit to the head of Sharks forward Keith Galloway.
WARRINGTON Wolves coach Paul Cullen looks back at the two points gained over the Huddersfield Giants and looks towards a busy Easter period.
BRADFORD Bulls have received a major boost ahead of Thursday?s game against Leeds Rhinos with the news that Winger Lesley Vainikolo has signed a four year contract that will keep him at Odsal until the end of the 2009 Super League season.