Gold Coast pair join Titans Elite Academy

THE Gold Coast Titans rugby league club has beaten rival code rugby union and league premiers Wests Tigers to clinch the signatures of two of the city's most promising footballers.Keebra Park State High firsts captain Matthew Francis and The Southport School first XV co-captain Mitchell Herlihy were yesterday unveiled as the fledgling Coast club's latest recruits.The pair, who were schoolmates at AB Paterson College before sporting scholarships took them on different paths, will be part of a 27-member Titans Elite Academy.Titans football manager Scott Sattler described the signings as 'significant'. Francis, 18, had been a target of the Tigers who have a close relationship with Keebra, while Herlihy, 17, was already part of rugby's national identification squad.Sattler said Francis, a workaholic hooker, and Herlihy, a robust centre, were classic examples of the Titans plan to focus on homegrown talent."Matt Francis was captain of a team (Keebra) beaten in the final of the Arrive Alive Cup for the best school in the nation," said Sattler."At 17 he was playing first grade Mixwell Cup with the Burleigh Bears this year and was voted the Bears' player of the season out of all grades, including Queensland Cup. He is one of our feeder clubs' best players."Herlihy has not played rugby league but has been immersed in the code since birth. His father Graham is a former Brisbane Brothers first grade league player who later coached Brisbane Easts in the Queensland Cup."I think Mitchell is more suited to league than rugby," said Sattler. "He is in the mould of a Matt Cooper fast, strong, very good on his feet. Off the field he is a straight-A student."It is a coup to grab him because in the long run I think he will be one of those players that would have been a success at either code."The Elite Academy will have its first gathering on Sunday at Bond University, and Sattler has high expectations of the group."The players in the Elite Academy will meet on a monthly basis and will be fast-tracked a little more than your usual academy players," he said."We would like a few to jump out of the ground and vie for a spot in the top 25 squad for the 2007 season."They will work hand-in-hand with first grade coach John Cartwright for the next 12 months and have a relationship with him that no other player will have in the NRL."In fact, they will have 12 months jump on a lot of our NRL players that are arriving in October next year to start training with the Titans. John Cartwright may like the way some of the academy players are developing and throw them in the deep end."Francis and Herlihy were excited yesterday over their signings."I am really happy, actually a bit stunned about being selected," said Francis. "It's going to be a great experience, especially working under John Cartwright and Scott Sattler."I had offers from the West Tigers to move to Sydney but it is great to be able to live here on the Gold Coast and concentrate on trying to make the grade for the Gold Coast Titans."Herlihy is confident he can successfully cross over to league."It's a great opportunity to get some great coaching and further my skills and hopefully make it to the top level," he said."I've grown up watching league and I am expecting the transition to league to be a little tough for the first couple of games."It's (playing rugby league) something that I've thought about and the Titans being put in the NRL has been the catalyst for the move from union."Francis and Herlihy started at AB Paterson College in the same year, Francis in Year One and Herlihy in pre-school. But Francis pursued a rugby league scholarship at Year Nine, firstly Coombabah State High and then Keebra. He also played all his junior league with Runaway Bay.Herlihy joined TSS in Year 10 on a rugby scholarship.

Fiji RL questions PNG's auto World Cup entry

THE Fiji National Rugby League Bati coach Shane Morris believes Papua New Guinea should not receive direct entry to the 2008 world cup, which will be held in Australasia.PNG, which is rated above Fiji in the rugby league world rankings, is likely to get a direct entry in the ten-nation competition.Morris said the Fiji Bati is capable of beating the PNG Kumuls."There are talks of direct entry for some nations and PNG is one of them," Morris said."I don't feel that PNG should get a direct entry. We can beat PNG. Both Samoa and Tonga can do the same. I will be talking with the Rugby League International officials."World champions Australia, New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea are expected to receive direct entry.The other nations will have to play in the qualifying rounds. The 2008 world cup will be the sport's first since the failed event in the United Kingdom in 2000 which had 16 countries. Details of which teams will have to qualify will be finalised next year.Morris said Fiji will face Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands in the playoff. He said two nations will qualify for the world cup while the third place team will have to play against the bottom placed European nation. In its recent meeting the Rugby League International Federation set up rules regarding the make-up of each country's squad to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2000 when Lebanon fielded a team comprised entirely of Australia-based players. The new rules require every squad to contain at least six players who have either played in the relevant domestic competition for at least one year, or who have played in one of that nation's junior international teams in the 18 months prior to the tournament. Meanwhile, New Zealand are expected to host three of the pool matches in the 2006 Tri-Nations series between Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.

Sam Harris ready to step up

THE task of being at his best each week is a challenge new Wests Tigers recruit Sam Harris is looking forward to.The former Manly second-rower started pre-season training last week with the 2005 premiers. Harris is signed to the Wests Tigers until the end of the 2008 season.Speaking on Talkin Sport (2SM 1269AM) on Thursday, December 1, Harris said he been made to feel very welcome at the Concord Oval headquarters."All the boys are still really down to earth and there is a really good feeling throughout the club,'' Harris said."The players know that they are not world beaters and they still have to work hard next year to be a top side. I'm sure (coach) Tim Sheens has got some big plans for the team."It was a little bit daunting to come to the club after the grand final victory. It is good though because I have never been in this situation before where I have played for such a successful team."It will feel a bit different next year running out onto the field knowing that you have to be at your best each week because the opposition will be at their best, wanting to beat you.''Harris said negotiations with the Wests Tigers club began after the side had crushed Manly 49-24 at Leichhardt Oval in round 17."I played one of my better games that night and Tim Sheens gave my manager a call a week later to see if I would be interested in coming to the Wests Tigers because there was talk that Manly were looking to release me with a view to getting Matt Orford,'' Harris admitted."I wanted to stay at Manly but the more and more I thought about it, it just seemed like a better move.''Harris said he enjoyed watching his future team-mates achieve their incredible run of success in the finals."Everyone kept putting the Wests Tigers down because they were too young and too inexperience,'' Harris said."I could tell that they had something special. I'm not saying that I thought they were going to win the grand final but they obviously had a good nucleus of a team that if everything clicked, they were going to be very hard to beat. It showed in the grand final."It was good not to kind of jump on the bandwagon but ride the wave of it and watch them succeed.''Harris said he was already impressed by the professionalism of the club and of the direction being taken by Sheens and assistant coach Royce Simmons."I've only been at the club for a week but Tim already demands plenty of respect,'' Harris said."You listen to every word he says because you know he is right on the ball. Royce is the same and they really have a good system working at the club."It just looks like the Wests Tigers are going to be a powerhouse for years to come.''

BULLS ANNOUNCE KARL PRATT DEPARTURE

ENGAGE Super League Champions Bradford Bulls have today announced that utility player Karl Pratt, released from his contract by the Bulls, has taken medical advice and has decided to retire from the game as a result of persistent shoulder injuries.Pratt, who is 25, joined the Bulls from Leeds Rhinos in December 2002, played in 62 games for the Bulls, scoring 21 tries and was member of the Bulls team that won all the available domestic trophies in 2003, playing in both the Challenge Cup and Grand Final of that year and the World Club Challenge against Penrith in February 2004.?Bulls Coach Brian Noble said today:?It?s a major blow for Karl and I am very disappointed for him. To have to retire at such a young age is a bitter blow and I wish Karl well for the future. It should serve as a warning to other players to make the most of their careers whilst they can because you never know what is round the corner.?Karl Pratt is understandably disappointed at having to quit the game:?I am devastated at having to leave the game but the Specialist?s advice has to be adhered to and it has left me no other option. I would like to thank everyone at Bradford, especially Brain Noble and Chris Caisley, for the way they have handled this matter and I wish the Bulls every success in the future.?

England Academy v Australian Institute of Sport

THE England Academy showed the senior Great Britain side the way forward with a resounding 30-10 victory to level the Two Series 1-1. The side led 28-0 at half time producing five scintillating tries and although the Australian Institute of Sport came back with two tries to win the second half 10-2 England centre Steve Tyrer had the last word with a penalty ten minutes from time to finish with a personal tally of 14 points.In a team superb effort by England loose forward Paul Clough was outstanding never taking a backward step making massive holes in the Institute defence in creating tries for his side. Scrum half Thomas Lee linked well with his partner stand off Scott Moore bringing the backs and forwards together and he capped his performance with a brace of tries.The early moments of the game were scrappy with loose ball by both sides but England Academy opened the scoring after four minutes when Lee finished off a move following a penalty which they decide to run rather than kick for goal. Tyrer added the extras.They doubled the lead four minutes later when Clough made a break down the short side and he passed inside to substitute Thomas Coyle who had come on for a blood spattered Moore, and he passed to fullback Chris Frodsham who scored to the left of the posts and the conversion made it 12-0.Clough made two further break down the middle of the defence and his fellow forwards Sam Burgess, Joe Walsh, Steve Bannister served him well and Michael Mllorum quick play the balls gave them the go forward they required.In the 17 minute Clough made another 25 meter break down the middle and on the next tackle Lee combined with Bannister to put Tyrer through for an angled run to the corner and he converted his kick as England were scoring at a point a minute. The Institute although initially shell shocked dug in as stand off Joel Moon and scrum half Bradley Payne tried to get his troops moving and props David Taylor and Alex Switzer certainly put themselves about as did substitute Nathan Strudwick. Matt Smith?s introduction helped his sides go forward with some probing kicks.Moore who had returned to the fray was prominent with his kick and chase game for England and put in some shuddering tackles on his opponents who went down to twelve men on 33 minutes when Strudwick was sin binned by referee Craig Halloran.The Academy again decided to run the penalty and were rewarded for there enterprise on the second tackle when Mllorum?s quick play the ball saw his pass find centre Sean Gleeson who flicked the ball out to Riley who scored in the corner to make it 22-0.Three minutes from the break England scored the decisive try when more indiscipline from the Institute saw another penalty against them and Lee took the ball up from the play the ball and scooted over from 20 meters. Tyrer?s conversion made it an impressive and unbelievable 28-0. The first had had shown England?s attack and sliding defence at it?s best.In the second half the Institute took the game to England and they were rewarded when winger Mitchell Griffiths went in at the corner, following a move down the line by Switzer, Smith and Zac Russ. Talon couldn?t add the extras and the Academy were still in control.They then took the game to England and during this spell sloppy passing let the Academy down giving the Institute the initiative and good field position. Indiscipline came into the England ranks and following this the Institute scored a converted try on the hour. Following two quick penalties Smith put a grubber kick into the in goal behind the posts and Talon reacted quickest to touch down and he added the extras to make it 28-10.With the Institute comeback in the First Test from 14-4 down to a 28-14 lead England coach Lee Crooks must have had a feeling of de javu, but his side buckled down with a strong defensive stint in the final quarter, although at times they lost the ball in good positions in the final twenty of the Institute?s half.With ten minutes remaining they made sure there was to be no comeback when they were awarded another penalty. This time they decide to go for goal rather than run with it and Tyrer duly obliged from 35 meters out to put the final points of the game on the board.It got a little fractious towards the end but as the whistle blew for fulltime it was time for England celebrations in front of 700 happy England supporters.The Australian Institute of Sport Man of the Match was awarded to Joel Moon and Paul Clough was awarded the England man of the Match. England Academy second row forward Steve Bannister who had two cracking games for the side was named as the Man of the Series.ENGLAND ACADEMY U/17S: 1. Chris Frodsham (St Helens), 2. Chris Riley (Warrington Wolves), 3. Sean Gleeson (Wigan Warriors), 4. Steve Tyrer (St Helens), 5. Dean McGilvray, 6. Scott Moore (St Helens), 7. Thomas Lee, 8. Sam Burgess (Bradford Bulls, 9. Michael Mcllorum (Wigan Warriors), 10. Joe Walsh (Leeds Rhinos), 11. Steve Bannister (St Helens), 12. Danny Colquitt (Warrington Wolves), 13. Paul Clough (St Helens), 14. Thomas Coyle (Wigan Warriors), 15. Dale Ferguson (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats), 16. Michael Cooper (Warrington Wolves), 17. Ben Kavanagh (Wigan Warriors).Tries: Lee 2, Frodsham, Tyrer, RileyGoals: Tyrer 5/6AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF SPORT: 1. Zac Russ, 2. Daniel Greaves, 3. Alex Talon, 4. Isillell Folan, 5. Mitchell Griffiths, 6. Joel Moon, 7. Bradey Payne, 8. David Taylor, 9. Harry Witt, 10. Alexander Switzer, 11. Martin Lewis 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Nathan Beckett, 14. Matthew Smith, 15. Nathen Strudwick, 16. Zachary Padzkowski, 17. Jay Aston.Tries: Griffiths, TalonGoals: Talon 1/2

Dragons Continue Commitment to Youth in 2006

THE St George Illawarra Dragons have continued to develop and reward their junior talents with 10 players from the Club's 2005 Premiership winning Jersey Flegg team joining the full-time training squad for 2006.Jersey Flegg "Player of the Year" Tom Haberecht, Tom Hewitt, Chris Houston, Jason Klimis, Charlie Leaeno, Daryl Millard, George Ndaira, Danny Wicks and the Morris twins Brett and Josh have all earned the opportunity to train alongside their NRL heroes.New recruits to the Dragons for 2006 include:Damon Alley-Tovio (Canberra)Matt Bickerstaff (France)Bryson Goodwin (Cronulla)Sam Isemonger (Cronulla)Andrew Price (Newcastle)Lagi Setu (Rugby Union)Richard Williams (South Sydney)."Our priority has always been with the development of our local juniors and we are fortunate to have such a talent base," said Coach Nathan Brown. "Our young guys have earned their place in our full-time squad and will be pushing for a place in the top grade."We have a number of representative players in our squad and it was important to ensure we have depth and strength with "value for money", first grade players to help cope with our ongoing representative requirements".Dragons Full-Time Squad for 2006 Damon Alley-TovioLuke BaileyTrent BarrettColin BestMatt BickerstaffReece BlayneyMatt CooperBen CreaghMark GasnierBryson GoodwinClint GreenshieldsTom HaberechtMathew HeadMichael HendersonTom HewittBen HornbyChris HoustonSam IsemongerJason KlimisCharlie LeaneoDaryl MillardBrett MorrisJosh MorrisWes NaiqamaCorey PayneJustin PooreAndrew PriceJason RylesLagi SetuChris Sheppard Reece SimmondsAshton SimsShaun Timmins Willie TupouAaron Wheatley Danny Wicks Richard Williams Dean Young

Bennett's job safe - Geoff Carr

AUSTRALIA'S coaching and playing staff will face no serious ramifications despite the group?s disastrous end to the Tri-Nations series, ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said last night.The Kangaroos produced one of their worst performances in recent decades to crash 24-0 at the hands of a passionate and well-coached New Zealand side in Sunday morning?s decider at Elland Road. It was the nations? first series loss since a 2-0 defeat to France in 1978 and the first time in 52 years they have conceded a series to the Kiwis.The result was also the first time since 1985 an Australian side has been held scoreless in a Test match.But despite the enormity of the green-and-gold?s loss, Carr said there will be no major overhaul within the Kangaroos set-up.Carr has already confirmed Broncos? Wayne Bennett will continue as head coach if he wants it and last night said the players should not expect to be axed after one bad performance.?Good players don't become bad players overnight. They're all proven at this level and at Origin level,? he said in The Daily Telegraph today.?We had the final where we expected a lot of players to stand up and get us out of a hole but that didn't happen.Carr admitted a post-tour review would be conducted, as normal, but dismissed there would be an analysis of the selection process and policies.The on-tour selection method however is one aspect that may be looked at and changed. Currently, four selectors pick the preliminary squad for tours but Bennett is the only selector on tour, a practice that has drawn plenty of criticism from league personnel in Sydney because of the team?s the Queenslander picks.The question of having another selector on tour was put to Carr yesterday.?I can't see it going that way. On this tour there is not only Wayne Bennett but (NSW?s) Craig Bellamy, his assistant, who are two experienced NRL coaches,? he said. ?You have a strength and conditioning coach who knows how to ensure players peak for a game and you have a person providing video analysis of each match. ?So the level of expertise is there for the selection process.? Carr yesterday refused to accept the Kiwis were now the world?s premier league nation after their history breaking win.?They've got the right to be called Tri-Nations champions and May 5 (next year) could tell the story, if they can beat Australia again (in the Anzac Test),? the ARL boss said.?It was two games all in 2005, so 2006 might decide it.?The first group of Kangaroos players arrived back home last night with the remainder expected to be touching down from England tonight.Bennett and his Broncos Test skipper Darren Lockyer seemed to have not landed home last night.They are expected to emerge from the plane this evening to a barrage of media questions over the side?s lack-luster performance in last weekend?s final.

Win some, lose some ...

SHE worked in the canteen underneath the Cronin Stand at Parramatta Stadium. I used to see her every fortnight, as my dad and I had Eels season tickets. It was my job to go downstairs and buy the snacks every game, and she would always serve up our two pies, hot chips, one coke, and one cup of white tea (no sugar) with a laugh and a lively smile. It was 1990, I was in year twelve doing the HSC, and had never had a girlfriend or even been on a date.I'd always go downstairs during the first half of reserve grade, when the queues would be shortest. While she gathered up our order she'd always have time for a chat. Ends up that she too was doing the HSC, and so was working part-time at the stadium until school was over. Around May we swapped names as she was handing me the change. She just threw out a casual "By the way, what's your name?" and added "My name's Belinda-Jayne - with a y - and don't forget it!" One day in June, as Belinda-Jayne (with a y) was getting my hot chips out of the fryer, she said "Can I ask you a question?" I said "Sure" and then she asked "Would you like to spend my break with me? It's just that I get a bit lonely here, and I don't really like football." So I took dad's pie and white tea back to him upstairs, and explained that I'd bumped into someone I knew, and was going to go and chat with them for a while.We sat out in the shade behind the grandstand, carefully away from the canteen so that Belinda-Jayne's middle-aged supervisors couldn't see us. It was a really, really good getting-to-know-you chat - one of those rare times when new people find so much in common! Her break was only half an hour, but we'd chatted for 45 minutes. She went back to work, and I went back to my seat just in time to watch first grade. I was a nervous kid in some ways, not blessed with the confidence or immunity to risk to make it easy for me to ever ask anyone out. So the season wore on and Belinda-Jayne and I continued our ritual of, flirting in the canteen and then chatting during her breaks each game, no longer constrained by the stainless-steel counter that had once stood between us. I really enjoyed her company, and was beginning to wonder about what would happen when we reached the end of the season?Belinda-Jayne made a point of checking that I'd definitely be at the final home game, which (for those days) would be a rare night game. I was a ball of nerves as that day approached.... I knew what I felt, but I had no idea what to do. There was a big crowd in that night, and as I went downstairs to get our regular order for once the queues were quite long. When I got to the front, Belinda-Jayne explained that it was too busy for her to have a break tonight, but could I possibly meet her quickly after the game? Now I just had to think of some way to make dad go back to the car ahead of me, to give us some privacy? Parramatta lost to Manly, ending our slim semi-final chances. As the crowd made its way out of the ground after the game I frantically looked around for Belinda-Jayne. finally spotting her sitting down near the gate. She was holding something in her hand, something small and white? We smiled as our eyes met and we headed towards each other. She said "Sorry about tonight, it was so busy. Here?" and she handed me something, kissed me on the cheek, and disappeared into the night. I'd been too nervous to say anything at all. I'd just hoped that she had been feeling that same spark between us, and that her confidence had somehow transformed a way for us to keep seeing each other into the thing I now held in my hand. I nervously looked down. It was a folded over hotdog wrapper from the canteen. Inside she'd written: "In case you want to keep in touch, 686-4392, x". Perfect! My team may have missed the semis, but that night I walked away happy, and about to try and arrange my first ever date?(Phone numbers have been changed to protect the innocent)Posted in the 'The Front Row' Forum Sevens Competition. To view the full competition,

Calling All Former Players with the Newtown Rugby League Football Club

WITH the Newtown Rugby League Football Club?s Centenary rapidly approaching in January 2008, all former Newtown Jets and Bluebags players and officials are invited to make contact with the club to ensure that their name, address and other contact details can be added to the club?s data base of ex-players and officials.The Newtown RLFC can be contacted as follows ? Phone: 1300 36 36 90 or 95500999; Email: [email protected]; Fax: 95500244; Postal: 40 George Street, Leichhardt. NSW. 2040.The club?s official website is at: www.newtownjets.com

Wakefield move in for Catic

WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats have announced the signing of Australian utility man Ned Catic.The 27-year-old has moved to the Super League club from Sydney Roosters after signing a two-year contract.Catic, who can play prop or second row, takes Wakefield's last overseas quota place alongside half-backs Ben Jeffries and Sam Obst."We are delighted to have signed a player of Ned's experience and quality," said coach Tony Smith."He is exactly the sort of player we have been looking for to complete the picture for 2006."He is a tough, robust prop who can play 80 minutes, and has been in two NRL Grand Finals so brings bags of experience with him."- - - - -Thanks to www.skysports.com (UK) for this news.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

ENTERING one of Melbourne?s busy metropolitan hospitals on a crisp winters morning at 0640hrs, rugged up in a woolen coat, gloves, beanie and scarf, I was horrified to see a man sitting on the steps of the main entrance with a young girl in a pushchair. The man had a sign in front of him, ?please help feed my daughter?. The child, wearing a light summer dress, her blond curls matted under a Richmond Tigers beanie, had the biggest blue eyes, a feature that stood out on her dirt stained face. I paused; my thoughts briefly back in India, but only long enough to see security coming to move them along and went on my way to order my ritualistic pre-work cappuccino. The image soon left as I set about dealing with the latest intake of homeless, drug affected admissions to my unit. Ahh Melbourne?.the city of great food, better coffee and the AFL.

Souths fine players after unruly behaviour

SOUTH Sydney Rabbitohs' players John Sutton and Stuart Webb have fined by the club following unruly behaviour at Erskineville Bowling Club last week.

Wests Tigers to play in Gunnedah

COUNTRY rugby league supporters in Gunnedah will get the opportunity to see the 2005 NRL Premiers Wests Tigers in action in late January.Wests Tigers will play a combined Group 4 representative side at Kitchener Park, Gunnedah, on Friday, January 27, at 7pm in their first game for 2006.The match will give Wests Tigers players a chance to warm-up before the World Club Challenge against Super League champions Bradford Bulls at Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield, on Friday, February 3.Kevin Sheridan, President of Gunnedah Rugby League Football Club, said the community was excited about seeing the Wests Tigers up close."This is a great opportunity for young bush footballers to match their talents against some of the best players in the NRL,'' Sheridan said.With the Australia Day holiday on the Thursday prior to the match, Wests Tigers will also take part in the Australia Day celebrations in Gunnedah, giving the community a chance to meet the players beforehand.Following the World Club Challenge match, Wests Tigers will play Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in a trial at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, February 25, in their final hit-out before kicking off the NRL season against St George-Illawarra at Telstra Stadium on Friday, March 10.Due to the World Club Challenge and the schedule of the trial against Manly, Wests Tigers will not play a charity shield match at Campbelltown Stadium in February.On February 11, Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers and Western Suburbs Magpies will both play Premier League trials against Parramatta at Campbelltown Stadium.Balmain and Western Suburbs will also play each other in a lower grade Jersey Flegg (U20) trial.

Women's Rugby League Association Press Release

FOLLOWING the resignations of Chris Mawdsley, Chair and Bernie Senior, Treasurer of the Women?s Rugby League Association the WRLA Committee met at Brighouse Rangers ARLFC on Monday 28th November and John Cobb was elected as Acting Chair and Doreen Metcalf Acting Treasurer until the next AGM of the Association.It was also decided that at the end of the Qualifying Competition which concludes in January next year there will be a five team Premiership and First Division.Pendle Panthers and Sheffield Hawks, who currently have young inexperienced personnel in their squads have moved into the Development League and there results will be expunged forthwith from the Qualifying Competition.The draw was also made for the 2nd Round of the Challenge Cup:Keighley Cats v Castleford PanthersEast Hull v Hillside HawksBradford Thunderbirds v WarringtonWakefield Panthers ByeThe ties to be played in January 2006.

2008 - I Can't Wait

OCTOBER 2008

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