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.
LEBANON have won the Orara Sevens tournament in Coffs Harbour after defeating Fiji Bati 24-22 in the final. The Cedars led 16-8 at halftime.The Malta Knights finished third after the Auburn Warriors forfeited due to injuries. Malta's Ben Sammut was awarded player of the tournament.Meanwhile, the Orara Valley Axeman defeated Narwan Eels 28-24 in the country final.Full list of resultsThe 2006 Orara Valley Axemen Sevens TournamentResults Day 1 - Qualifying GroupTeam v Team Score A Malta v Gold Coast Titans 28-22 A Crescent Head v Aust Maoris 10-0 A Gold Coast Titans v Aust Maoris 24-8 A Malta v Crescent Head 30-16 A Malta v Aust Maoris 26-8 A Gold Coast v Crescent Head 38-0 B Hoey Moey v Fiji Bati 20-8 B Renown v Sawtell 26-12 B Renown v Hoey Moey 20-16 B Fiji Bati v Sawtell 34-14 B Fiji Bati v Renown 46-0 B Hoey Moey v Sawtell 22-8 C Birrigan Gargle v Cook Island 20-12 C South Sydney v Woolgoolga 20-4 C South Sydney v Birrigan Gargle 28-0 C Woolgoolga v Cook Island 18-10 C South Sydney v Cook Island 22-14 C Woolgoolga v Birrigan Gargle 22-14 D Lebanon v Fiji A 18-4 D Guyra v Leichhardt Wanderers 20-12 D Fiji A v Guyra 36-26 D Lebanon v Leichhardt Wanderers 44-14 D Lebanon v Guyra 32-16 D Fiji A v Leichhardt Wanderers 24-20 E Auburn Warriors v Sydney Bulls 30-14 E Hunter Magpies v Nambucca Heads 22-8 E Hunter Magpies v Auburn Warriors 28-8 E Sydney Bulls v Nambucca Heads 34-16 E Sydney Bulls v Hunter Magpies 28-8 E Auburn Warriors v Nambucca Heads 38-8 F Moore Park v Sydney Metro 24-22 F Coffs Hotel v Comets 24-22 F Moore Park v Comets 32-16 F Sydney Metro v Coffs Hotel 18-16 F Sydney Metro v Comets 50-8 F Moore Park v Coffs Hotel 36-14 G Camperdown v Orara Gold 6-6 G Axemen v USA 24-4 G Camperdown v USA 22-14 G Axemen v Orara Gold 14-4 G USA v Orara Gold 24-24 G Axemen v Camperdown 22-22 H North Ryde Hawks v Japan 32-0 H Narwan Eels v Armidale 32-4 H Narwan Eels v North Ryde Hawks 14-0 H Armidale v Japan 16-14 H Narwan Eels v Japan 30-6 H North Ryde Hawks v Armidale 30-22 I NZ Maoris v Gimbisi I Tigers v Byron Bay 24-14 I Gimbisi v Byron Bay 16-10 I NZ Maoris v Tigers 26-12 I NZ Maoris v Byron Bay 48-10 I Tigers v Gimbisi 38-16 Results Day 2 - Finals GameTeam v Team Score Round 1 Malta v Sydney Bulls 34-26 Round 1 Narwan v Hoey Moey 30-20 Round 1 Lebanon v Tigers 16-0 Round 1 Moore Park v Axemen 28-22 Round 1 Fiji Bati v North Ryde 28-8 Round 1 Gold Coast Titans v NZ Maoris 14-8 Round 1 Auburn v Camperdown 30-4 Round 1 Sydney Metro v South Sydney 32-22 Quarter Final Malta v Narwan 30-8 Quarter Final Lebanon v Moore Park 28-22 Quarter Final Fiji Bati v Gold Coast 30-20 Quarter Final Auburn v Sydney Metro 24-22 Semi Final Lebanon v Malta 32-26 Semi Final Fiji Bati v Auburn 26-18 3rd v 4th Malta v Auburn Forfeit Grand Final Lebanon v Fiji Bati 24-22 Best Player Award - QualifyingName Team Votes Matt Austin Gold Coast Titans 6 Mejid Hussein Auburn 6 Wes Patten Moore Park 6 John Nash Coffs Hotel 6 Craig Trindle Sydney Metro 6 Best Player Award - FinalsName Team Votes Daniel Spiteri Malta 6 Jason Stanton Lebanon 5 Mejid Hussein Auburn 4 Mohamed Chanal Lebanon 4 Most Points for the WeekendName Team Points Jarrod Sammut Malta 38 Walter Imo Auburn 36 Shannon Walker Gold Coast Titans 44 Anthony Aviery Moore Park 44 Best Team AwardsAward Winner Best National Team Auburn Best International Team Lebanon Best Country Team Orara Valley Axemen Many thanks to Hans Van Der Donk from the Orara Valley Axemen. Website: www.oraravalleyaxemen.comAnd the Coffs Harbour City Council. Website: www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au
FIXTURES for 29.01.06Challenge CupHull 8 Hillside Hawks 40Keighley Cats 6 Castleford Panthers 26Bradford Thunderbirds 88 Warrington 6Wakefield Panthers byeFirst DivisionCopeland v Shaw Cross Sharks (No Result)Development LeagueMiddleton v Peterlee Pumas (No Result)Sheffield Hawks v Crofton (No Result)Rochdale Ravens v Pendle (No Result) Bradford Victoria v Stanningley (No Result)Brighouse Rangers v Swinton (No Result)
A match between Leigh Centurions and Halifax RLFC was dramatically postponed this afternoon after Halifax coach Anthony Farrell refused to play the game after referee Karl Kirkpatrick deemed the Hilton Park pitch playable. The contest should have been the Testimonial game for Centurion?s hooker Paul Rowley who has been a great servant to both clubs.On the Hilton Stand side of the ground there was a 30 metre by 10 metre patch of the ground that was found to be frozen and the ground staff of the club began to water that part of the ground to make it playable. The rest of the ground was bathed in sunshine and blue sky on a winter?s day. After Kirkpatrick had decided the game playable and the uncertainty gone, the gates were opened for the crowd half an hour to kick off.As kick off time approached the Leigh Centurion players were still warming up as Halifax coach Anthony Farrell and his coaching staff left the field, got onto the team bus outside ground were his squad was waiting for him. As the crowd were informed of the postponement the coach slowly drove away back to Halifax.Boos heard from the crowd after it was announced that the referee had said that the game was playable and that Halifax didn?t want to play it.The game will now be replayed this coming Wednesday evening with a 7.45pm kick off.Leigh Centurions general manager Mike Callaghan found the incident unusual and the first time something like this had happened to him in his long involvement with the game.?It?s very unusual I?ve got to admit,? Callaghan said.?It?s the first time in fourteen years being associated with rugby league that the referee calls the game on, not a problem. The coach of the away team decides that there isn?t a game, gets on the coach and promptly goes back to Halifax which is a bit perplexing to be honest with you.?Basically it?s been cold, everywhere has been slightly cold. We?ve got one small section of the pitch which had a little bit of frost in. I?ve got to say our players were fine with playing on it not a problem at all. The grounds men were working on it, the referee was fine with it, so as far as we?re concerned the game was on. The sun was out and the little bit of frost that was in it but I think there coach was forestalling that he didn?t want to play the game. It was getting later on in the day and by the time we would have finished it would have been around five to quarter past five and it would have begun to freeze again, I?m not happy about it?Callaghan was also disappointed that the postponement had spoiled Paul Rowley?s big day and the game being changed to Wednesday evening.?I am gutted for Paul because it?s his benefit game after being a good servant with Halifax and the Leigh Centurions and it?s something you don?t like to see. To be perfectly honest if Halifax had come here wanting to play a game, the game would have been on. No question about it.? There was no reason for it to be called off you play on a lot harder pitches in summer and I don?t take any excuse from any coach, we prepare the pitch as best we can and it was playable. The referee as I say was out there running up and down, walking up and down, [and] digging his heel in.?While the drama was unfolding Callaghan was trying to contact Emma Rosenthorne of the Rugby Football League.?I?m waiting for Emma from the RFL to contact me back because we?re not happy with the situation.? Callaghan said.?A game that could have been played postponed purposely because a head coach decides that he didn?t want to risk his players on a minor segment of pitch that had a bit of frost in it. I?ve just e-mailed Emma with the circumstances today because I am perplexed, the first time in fourteen years I?ve actually had this situation. I?ve been looking through all my various RFL notices, information rules and procedures and I can?t really find one to get an answer. I?ll have to wait for advice from Emma.?For referee Karl Kirkpatrick it was the first time he has been involved in as situation of this kind and he will be reporting the matter to the RFL.?I?ve never been involved in anything like this before and unlikely to be again.? Kirkpatrick said.?I inspected the pitch and deemed it to be playable however Halifax disagreed with my decision and refused to play.??I will be putting a report into the Rugby Football League.?Halifax coach Anthony Farrell was unavailable for comment as he, the rest of the coaching staff climbed onto the coach with the players for the trip back home.
LEEDS Rhinos will be at full strength for their only home pre-season friendly against Harlequins this Sunday at Headingley Carnegie, kick off 3pm.The team for the game will see players from squad number 1-13 line up to play Quins in the London clubs first game in their new guise in the UK.The game will see Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock make his debut for Leeds in the front row whilst there is also first appearances in the pre-season campaign for the Rhinos other test internationals Chev Walker, Keith Senior, Rob Burrow, Ali Lauitiiti, Gareth Ellis and Kevin Sinfield.Commenting on the game Head Coach Tony Smith said, ?Quins had a good win last week at Catalans and will be full of confidence coming to Headingley Carnegie. This is a chance for us to step up our preparations for the start of the season against Huddersfield. The players who have not played yet, particularly Jamie Peacock, are desperate to get a game under their belt and they will be up for a big performance, especially in front of our own fans.?We are still a fortnight away from the start of the season so we will be having a look at a few things but this is an opportunity to access where we are now and what more needs to be done before the campaign starts,? added Smith.The team in full is:1. Richard Mathers2. Scott Donald3. Chev Walker4. Keith Senior5. Lee Smith6. Danny McGuire7. Rob Burrow8. Ryan Bailey9. Matt Diskin10. Jamie Peacock11. Ali Lauitiiti12. Gareth Ellis13. Kevin Sinfield (c)14. Shane Millard16. Willie Poching18. Jamie Jones-Buchanan20. Nick Scruton21. Carl Ablett
SUPER League Champions Bradford Bulls were planning to play their full squad ahead of the Carnegie World Club Challenge in their weekend game against Hull KR, which is Robbie Paul?s testimonial game.Lesley Vainikolo and Paul Deacon will miss the game, together with Stanley Gene, knee and Chris McKenna, hamstring, but Brian Noble is keen to point out that supporters will see a very competitive game from the Bulls.?It is a really important game for us for two reasons. Firstly we need to say a fond farewell to Robbie Paul and place on record our thanks for the magnificent service he has given to both the club and the game over the past twelve years. He has had iconic status here and that is reflected in the people who are coming to play in his game, Henry Paul, Brian McDermott. James Lowes and Steve McNamara will all take part in the game at some stage.Secondly it is our last game before next week?s Carnegie World Club Challenge and it is a vital part of our build up. We will be fielding virtually our full WCC side and supporters will get a chance to see them in action ahead of next week?s game."After 11 years of loyal service to the club, the game will see Robbie Paul make his final appearance for Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium, before playing for Huddersfield Giants in 2006.Paul, who made his debut in the 1994?95 season, will play in a Bulls side that will include guest appearances by former stars such as Henry Paul, James Lowes, Brian McDermott and Steve McNamara.
WIGAN have unveiled their striking new away playing kit, which will see the Warriors wearing blue for the engage Super League XI campaign.The new 2006 playing kit has been manufactured by JJB, the club?s Technical Sponsor, and will be worn for the first time in Wednesday?s friendly at Leigh.The navy blue shirt, which sees a return to the colours worn when the Warriors last lifted the Challenge Cup in 2002, will feature a round neck, white sleeves and red piping. This will be worn with navy shorts and navy socks.The strip will be officially launched on Wednesday 15th February at the JJB store on Robin Park and also at the JJB Soccer Dome on Stadium Way in Wigan from 6pm, priced at ?25 for junior sizes and ?35 for adult sizes.The shirt will also go on sale that night from the two stores with first team players celebrating the launch at the Robin Park store. The kit will go on general sale on Thursday 16th February from selected JJB Stores along with Warriors World in Wigan Town Centre and online at wiganwarriors.comWigan Warriors Marketing Director Simon Collinson said:?Our home kit is on course to become a best seller and we are confident that our new blue alternative strip will follow suit.?
THE Huddersfield Giants have announced their new Captain, Vice Captain and Squad Numbers for 2006.On being announced as captain, Chris Thorman received a rousing reception from all the supporters who had gathered at the packed Billie Rox Nightclub as he came onto the stage at the Giants Season Launch Event and addressed the fans for the first time in his new role.Thorman was thrilled by the news: "It's a great honour to be named captain of this great club and I'm delighted to have been chosen. The players are really excited about the new engage Super League season and we cannot thank the fans enough for their massive turn out at the launch event"Australian Hooker Brad Drew was named Vice Captain and all the players received their 2006 playing shirts from their individual sponsors.Full Squad Numbers For 20061. Paul Reilly2. Martin Aspinwall3. James Evans4. Michael De Vere5. Stuart Donlan6. Chris Thorman7. Robbie Paul8. Eorl Crabtree9. Brad Drew10. Jim Gannon11. Chris Nero12. Steve Snitch13. Stephen Wild14. Stuart Jones15. Paul Jackson16. Paul March17. Paul Smith18. Wayne McDonald19. Jon Grayshon20. Andy Raleigh21. Mat Gardner22. Albert Torrens23. Tom Hemingway24. Bolu Fagborun25. Simon George
WARRINGTON Wolves home fixture with the Salford City Reds has been postponed due to a part frozen pitch at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.The match, a testimonial for Mike Wainwright, will be replayed on Wednesday, February 1, kick off 7.30pm ? dependant on the weather conditions. A pitch inspection will take place at 12noon.Those who have purchased tickets will be able to use them on Wednesday, those unable to make it please call in at the ticket office.
HUDDERSFIELD Giants Head Coach Jon Sharp has named a strong squad to travel to the Jungle on Sunday to face the Tigers (KO 3-30pm).Sharp commented 'This is another key part of our build up to the season's opening Super League game and I am sure that will be reflected in the performance. I was very pleased with the improvements we showed as the game wore on last week versus the Bulls which ultimately led to us winning the second half.'We have 7 new players in the squad and it naturally takes time for the training field work to take effect on matchdays but overall I was very pleased and am looking forward to seeing further improvements at the weekend.'We have got another good weeks work under our belts and everyone here is looking forward to the game'Missing out versus the Bulls but added to Sunday's squad is new signing Andrew Raleigh who admits he is itching to make his claret and gold debut 'Yes I'm very keen to play' said locally born Raleigh.
TWELVE former Aberavon Fighting Irish players are in the 20-man squad for Celtic Crusaders? first ever match, a friendly against Harlequins RL Academy this Sunday 29 January (kick-off 2pm).None of the club?s big name Australian imports have been selected for the match against the club formerly known as London Broncos as assistant coach, Anthony Siebold, has decided to use this game to showcase the local rugby talent.Out of the 12, Sean O?Brien, Geraint Davies, Scott O?Kelly, Andy Llewellyn, Dean Scully and Mark Burke are all Wales A internationals. O?Brien has also turned out for Cardiff Blues? under-20 side, while Llewellyn and Scully have played Welsh Premiership rugby union, for Neath and Aberavon respectively.Two more of the former Fighting Irish stars have also played professional rugby union. They are Gareth Lewis who is a signing from Llanharan, while skipper Lee Jones is a former Corus RFC player.Completing the Aberavon contingent is Lee Williams, Gareth Moore, Gareth Owen and Phil Cushion.Williams, Moore and Owen are all products of the Fighting Irish?s award winning youth set-up and have all played for the Wales under-18 side. Owen has had trials with St Helens while Williams, still aged only 18, has also won four Great Britain under 18 caps. Crusaders? Chief Executive Chris O?Callaghan has often described his as one of the most exciting rugby league prospects in years.Phil Cushion played for the Fighting Irish last season after being released by Swinton Lions last year. He is one of two experienced National League Two players in the squad after making over 100 appearances for the Manchester-based side in his six years with the club.John Breakingbury joins the Crusaders from Sheffield Eagles, making 45 appearances and scoring 15 tries in four years following his move from Cardiff Demons. However, his final season was plagued by injury and the Abercynon-born second-row played out the 2005 season with Valley Cougars.There will be a couple overseas imports in the Crusaders side, both of whom start on the bench. Tylan Mafi stems from Tonga. An under-24 international for his country, he is the nephew of the great Mateaki Mafi, the Tongan dual code international who was in the Tongan squad for the 1995 Centenary World Cup and also played for Bridgend RFC during his union days.Andre Boon starts the match on the bench. New Zealand born, he is the second of three former Cardiff Demons players in the squad. Boon has also played Division One rugby union in New Zealand for Northland Taniwha while also having trials for the New Zealand Maoris.Completing the squad are Oliver Hughes, Chris Vitalini, Dave Evans, Lloyd O?Connor and David Simm.Hughes is the third Demons player and is a product of their Academy side, making his breakthrough into the first team in 2005. He has also won caps for Great Britain under-18s.Vitalini has been selected for the Crusaders? first ever match at full-back after impressive performances with Newport Titans last season. Chris has also turned out for Wales Students and has played rugby union for Newport-Gwent Dragons under-20s.New to rugby league, Evans is a signing from Neath RFC, while O?Connor, a former Bridgend Blue Bulls star, has played for Maesteg RFC. He is the son of Maesteg coach, Leighton.Finally, David Simm, who starts the match in the second row, is a Scotland international. Formerly with Edinburgh Eagles, Simm is now studying part-time at Bristol University and was spotted while playing for his university side. Harlequins Academy have already played one game this season, beating Cambridge University 46?12 last week after being 12-0 down in the early stages of the game. Included in their squad for Sunday is Australian first team regular, Mark Tookey. Formerly of Parramatta Eels, New Zealand Warriors and Castleford Tigers, Tookey is a strong prop who is well known for his charging runs through Super League defences. He is certain to be the danger man for the Crusaders in their first outing.Harlequins? coach, Stuart Singleton was the Welsh Development Officer for six years and founded Cardiff Demons rugby league club. He is looking forward to returning to south Wales.?I spent many happy years down in Wales,? said Singleton. ?It was a great honour to help develop rugby league in the area and it?s been fun watching the country?s development since I?ve been in London. I wish Crusaders and Wales rugby league all the best this season but expect no mercy on Sunday.? Sunday 29th January ? Celtic Crusaders v Harlequins RL Academy ? Brewery Field, Bridgend, kick off 2pm.Crusaders: Chris Vitalani, Sean O?Brien, Geraint Davies, Lee Williams, Dave Evans, Gareth Lewis, Scott O?Kelly, Andy Llewellyn, Lloyd O?Connor, Phil Cushion, David Simm, Dean Scully, Lee Jones (captain). Subs: Andre Boon, Gareth Moore, Oliver Hughes, Mark Burke, John Breakingbury, Tylan Mafi, Gareth Owen.Harlequins: Peter Hodgkinson, Olly Bloom, Jamie Boston, Joe Price (captain), Dennis Tufour, Tim Hartley, Steve Owen, Louey McCarthy, John Sullivan, Mark Tookey, Dave Williams, Michael Worrincy, Ian Lane, George Coogan, Graeme Spencer, Tristan Roberts, Tom Bold, Ken Dowdy, Lamont Bryan, Tas Kushnirenko.
RUGBY league has its best chance yet to establish itself in south Wales, according to former Warrington forward Mike Nicholas.
PRE SEASON trials for 2006 involving Queensland Wizard Cup, Fogs Cup, FOGS Colts Challenge and National Rugby League clubs (QLD-held games only).JAN 27 ? Gladstone v Central Comets at Marley Brown Oval, GladstoneJAN 28 ? Central Highlands v Central Comets at SpringsureFEB 4 ? Mid West v NQ Cowboys at RichmondFEB 4 - Central Comets v Manly at Browne Park, RockhamptonFEB 4 ? Ipswich v Souths Logan at Centenary (FOGS Cup)FEB 4 ? Wide Bay v Brisbane Broncos at Childers FEB 11 ? Norths v Western Districts at Albany Creek Juniors (FOGS grades)FEB 11 ? Cudgen v Ipswich at CudgenFEB 11 - Wynnum v Toowoomba/Aspley at Kougari OvalFEB 11 - Easts v Souths Logan at Langlands ParkFEB 11 ? Tweed Heads v Easts at BallinaFEB 11 - NQ Cowboys vs Brisbane at Browne Park, RockhamptonFEB 17 ? Burleigh v Norths at Pizzey Park (FOGS Colts Challenge)FEB 17 ? Burleigh v Wests Newcastle at Pizzey ParkFEB 18 ? Burleigh v Norths at Pizzey ParkFEB 18 - Central Comets v Cronulla at Browne Park, RockhamptonFEB 18 - NQ Cowboys v NZ Warriors at Barlow ParkFEB 18 - Ipswich v Wynnum at QLD Group StadiumFEB 18 ? Sunshine Coast v Easts at Quad Park (FOGS grades)FEB 18 ? Tweed Heads v Tugun at Piggabeen Complex (FOGS grades)FEB 18 ? Tweed Heads v North Sydney at Boyd St Oval, TugunFEB 18 ? Western Districts v Souths Logan at Kev McKell Oval (FOGS grades)FEB 18 - Brisbane v Canberra at Port MacquarieFEB 18 - Redcliffe v Brisbane/Toowoomba/Aspley at Dolphin OvalFEB 18 ? NQ Young Guns v PNG Development at Barlow ParkFEB 21 ? Ipswich v NZ Warriors at QLD Group StadiumFEB 24 ? Aspley v Western Districts at Kirby RdFEB 25 ? Burleigh v Tweed Heads at Carrara StadiumFEB 25 ? Bulldogs v NZ Warriors at Carrara StadiumFEB 25 ? NQ Young Guns v Central Comets at Mackay JuniorsFEB 25 ? Toowoomba v Norths at Clive Berghofer StadiumFEB 25 ? Brisbane Broncos v Melbourne Storm at Clive Berghofer StaiumFEB 25 - Easts v Ipswich at Langlands ParkFEB 25 - NQ Cowboys v South Sydney at Mackay JuniorsFEB 25 - Wynnum v Redcliffe at Kougari OvalFEB 26 ? Burleigh v Tweed Heads at Pizzey Park (FOGS grades)FEB 26 ? Sunshine Coast v Norths at Quad Park (FOGS grades)MAR 4 ? Sunshine Coast v Tweed Heads at Quad Park (FOGS grades)MAR 4 ? Souths Logan v Redcliffe at Brandon Park
AS a Raiders fan, our golden era is a time not likely to be repeated any time soon and this has become evident as Raiders management are set to offer current coach Matt Elliott a one year extension on his deal that expires at the end of the 2006 season long before the first round of the 2006 season.Sound absurd to you? Thought so! Glad I'm not alone.Long before a ball has been kicked in anger for season 2006, the Raiders are planning to offer an extension to a coach that led the team to 14th place on the premiership ladder after regressing from fourth in 2003, to eighth in 2004 to a whisker off the wooden spoon in 2005.Like any job, your tenure and value should be evaluated upon your performance and be results driven. So why would a club sign a coach for next season when they have no inclination as to how the side will perform this season? It sure is a remarkable leap of faith and one that would have Matt Elliott grinning from ear to ear. If only we could all secure a job under those circumstancesI think re-signing Elliott so early can only be a bad thing for the team as there is no pressure to perform and get the best out of the coach if the comfort zone has been established well before the start of the season.It is no surprise to see the captain come out and applaud the potential appointment but you would expect any captain of any team to put a positive spin to give the perception of stability within the ranks. By the way, I am in no way suggesting there is disharmony in Canberra, merely pointing out Clinton Schifcofske is doing what all captains do, and that is not rock the proverbial boat.If Raiders management were fair dinkum and I have my doubts if they are, they would keep their cards close to their chest and wait until at least mid season to see how the results have gone and if any new talent has emerged to replace the aging veterans who are the band aid solution for the Raiders to keep themselves out of the premiership cellar.This move has to be questioned by the fans and one wonders if the club really has the success of the football team as its main priority or are they interested in acquiring more leagues clubs to keep the poker machine cash cow ticking over?The Raiders are equal favourites with South Sydney for the wooden spoon and have a bare cupboard when it comes to depth and elite talent with many players looking for the door over the past three seasons and yet we are continually told we are close to the limit on our salary cap and we are the only club willing to offer misfits from other clubs (Willie Manu, Jamie Lyon, Lance Thompson) a contract but yet none are yet to put pen to paper and likely never will.The moves to re-sign Elliott so early in the piece reeks of desparation and part of this can be put down to the Raiders geographical disadvantage of not being close to Sydney, a small town and a place that is bitterly cold in winter. This is the perception among players and it rings true when you consider Canberra rarely receive a free to air match on television and viewed by all fans as boring and unimaginative with a negative style of play.When you consider Ricky Stuart, Tim Sheens, Brian Smith and John Lang are all off contract at the conclusion of this season and as all coaches have either won a premiership or at the very least, appeared in a grand final in the past five years, you would think it prudent of Raiders management to at least speak with other potential candidates, especially hometown coach Ricky Stuart who knows the club an what it takes to return the Raiders to the winners circle.Personally, I think Stuart would relish the challenge of moulding the Raiders into a cohesive football side with skill on both sides of the ball and get them to play with the high intensity and ferocity the Roosters defence has been renowned for over the past four seasons under Stuart.Even though Brian Smith has an unenviable record in grand finals, he has the wherewithal to mould players into quality footballers and have them produce consistent, high quality football for 26 weeks at least. We saw the results with Tim Smith and Ben Smith last season and apart from the melt down against the Cowboys, he had the Eels finish the regular season as minor premiers with a team that was not expected by many to challenge for the top eight, let alone the premiership.Tim Sheens has already left his legacy in Canberra and would be at long odds to return to the club considering he has nothing to prove in Canberra.I doubt John Lang would come and is still riding the high on his success from 2003 and may view Newcastle as a more attractive option should the opportunity arise.I have nothing against Matt Elliott and if he has the Raiders firing on all cylinders and are in the finals mix come mid-season, then a contract renewal/upgrade is in order and I will be the first to congratulate the club for its shrewd business acumen in securing one of the best coaches in the NRL.While we wait for a decision, I'm going to go and ask my employer for a raise on projects I am yet to start and hope they see their way clear to offer me a significant pay rise regardless of my performance.I'll let you know how I go!
ST George Illawarra Dragons captain Trent Barrett has been given permission to negotiate with English clubs, a decision being likely before the end of February. Today's development paves the way for Barrett to leave the NRL at the end of 2006.Dragons chief executive Peter Doust and Barrett's manager Wayne Beavis met today following earlier speculation which linked Barrett to Wigan in the UK."I've got no comment on the likely outcome of today's talks. I wouldn't have a clue," Doust said yesterday.Beavis was equally guarded and insisted that linking Barrett's name to Wigan was "purely market speculation". "There's nothing to the story," Beavis said yesterday.But this afternoon, Doust announced that the Dragons five-eighth wanted to see what interest he could attract from Super League clubs in England."He's going to contemplate a move overseas for 2007 and beyond," Mr Doust said."That doesn't mean that he's decided to go. He's just going to consider the offers and see what comes of it."I think that's the way things are going over there these days - they're looking to attract players of that calibre and so I think they'll be interested, no doubt."