NEW Zealand-born rugby league player John Taituha can lay claim to playing his part in a quirky piece of Australian rugby league history.
STEPHEN Kearney has signed a two-year deal with Hull and will join the Super League club next season.
LONDON Broncos wish to thank all clubs from the Tetley's Super League for their commitment to the Matt King Appeal. All twelve Super League clubs have pledged their support .
FOLLOWING last weeks brilliant win at Clontarf, Dublin Blues look to stretch their winning sequence to six games when they take on East Coast Eagles at Stradbrook. With points difference increasingly likely to be a factor withthe group stage reaching its closing stages, the Blues would like a repeat of their 54-6 win earlier in the campaign.With leaders Treaty City Titans idle, the onus is on Kilkenny Wildcats and Waterford Vikings to stay in touch at the top in Munster. The Wildcats areseeking revenge when they entertain Kerry Kings following their narrow defeat earlier in the season while the Vikings welcome bottom side Cork Bulls to Dungarvan determined to bounce back from last weeks defeat to Kilkenny.Leinster FixturesDublin City Exiles v Kildare DragonsDublin Blues v East Coast Eagles P W D L F A Diff PtsCLONTARF BULLS 7 6 0 1 262 110 152 12DUBLIN BLUES 7 6 0 1 238 110 128 10KILDARE DRAGONS 7 4 0 3 126 215 -89 8DUBLIN CITY EXILES 7 2 1 4 162 178 -16 5EAST COAST EAGLES 7 2 1 4 132 212 -80 5CHURCHTOWN WARRIORS 7 0 0 7 19 158 -139 0Munster FixturesKilkenny Wildcats v Kerry KingsWaterford Vikings v Cork Bulls P W D L F A Diff PtsTREATY CITY TITANS 5 4 0 1 180 80 100 8WATERFORD VIKINGS 5 3 0 2 153 106 47 6KILKENNY WILDCATS 5 3 0 2 146 119 27 6KERRY KINGS 5 2 0 3 92 144 -52 4CORK BULLS 4 0 0 4 76 186 -110 0
SATURDAY 17th July - Total RL.Com Welsh Rugby League Conference Fixtures (2.30pm)
Bridgend Blue Bulls v Aberavon Fighting Irish (Maesteg RFC)
Torfaen Tigers v Newport Titans (Pontypool United RFC)
Valley Cougars v Swansea Valley Miners (Sardis Road, Pontypridd)
MANY Rivers Regional U21 Rep Side 6 v 46 BARLA Great Britain Lions
THIS Sunday 18th of July the Mighty North Sydney Bears travel to Newcastle to play northern neighbours the Newcastle Knights. The entertaining and flashy Jersey Flegg team will attempt to remain in touch with the top eight with a win against the Knights.
LONDON Broncos have appointed Rohan Smith to the position of Assistant Coach
for the remainder of the season.
Melbourne Storm skipper Stephen Kearney believes the time will be right to join the English Super League when he leaves the NRL for English club Hull at the end of the year.
Kearney has ended ongoing speculation about his future by agreeing to join Hull at season�s end and despite receiving previous offers to leave the NRL, the 32-year-old believes the time to make the move to England is fast approaching.
�I�ve had opportunities in the past to go there (England) and at that time of my career I didn�t think I was quite ready,� Kearney said.
�It has been an interest for some time but as the years in my career have drawn closer to an end I really didn�t think I�d get an opportunity to go to the UK, but as it�s turned out we I so I�m looking forward to it.
�The NRL is the toughest competition for our sport and when presented with the chance to go to the UK in the past I thought I still needed to challenge myself here.
�I think I�ve met those challenges and I feel that this will be a new chapter for my family and for my career.�
After helping the Storm claim the 1999 premiership in his first season with the club, Kearney has gone on to become one of rugby league�s greatest servants with a playing record unparalleled.
Kearney has made over 250 NRL appearances � the record for a New Zealand born player - and shares the record for the most international rugby league games having represented the Kiwis 45 times.
In his second season as Storm skipper Kearney, who will move to Hull with his wife and two young daughters, spent much time deliberating over the decision to leave the Storm at the end of the season.
�Obviously it�s a big career move with respect to taking the family to Britain, so with that in mind a lot of thought has gone into the decision,� said Kearney, who was the youngest ever skipper of his country at age 21.
�We are really looking at it as a new and exciting challenge and for me and my family it�s about making the best career move at this particular time in my career, if we go over there thinking it�s not the right move then it will be tough, but that won�t be the case.�
While a move to the English Super League is imminent, Kearney�s focus is solely on the Storm�s aspirations for the remainder of the 2004 Telstra Premiership season.
�Obviously there will be issues to address with the move to Britain but at the moment I�m totally committed to what I have to do as a leader of this side, he said.
�As always my focus is on making sure this team puts in the performance it is capable of each week and even more so I�m focused on getting right for Saturday night�s match.�
Kearney�s decision to join Hull was enhanced by the prospect of linking up with former Storm teammate and close friend Richard Swain who has been with the English club since the start of the year.
�I keep in contact with Richard quite a bit and he assures me that the club is very similar to us here at the Storm with a hardworking group. That was certainly a considerable factor,� he explained.
According to Kearney, the Storm�s depth is strong enough to cover his loss for the 2005 season and beyond.
�I feel supremely confident that I will be leaving my Storm jumper in very capable hands�the young guys coming through here are exceptional so I�ve no doubt that they�ll take up the jumper accordingly,� Kearney added.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy paid tribute to Kearney�s professionalism and his ability to lead the club despite battling ongoing groin and hamstring injuries recently.
�We wish Steve all the best, he�s been a wonderful player for the club, he�s been a wonderful help to me as a captain and as long as it�s the best decision for him and his family, we�re very happy for him,� Bellamy said.
�Steve manages his injuries probably better than anyone I�ve ever seen before, he puts a lot of time and effort into his preparation and I think he probably could have had another year here but hopefully for his sake he�ll get another two or three in England.
�All good things come to and end but he is still keen to play football and I�m sure he will do a great job over there with Hull - he�ll be welcome back here any time.�
Melbourne chief executive Frank Stanton echoed Bellamy�s admiration, highlighting the Storm skipper�s professionalism on and off the field.
�Steve will be a difficult person to replace because he�s such a role model for other players, his playing record speaks for itself and his standing in the game speaks for itself,� Stanton said.
�I�m quite delighted that he has been able to secure the situation that he has at this stage of his career and I�m sure that down the track he will achieve success in whatever role he chooses as either a coach or, due to his extensive business studies, as an administrator.�
TODAY, the Stop the Rot Team was joined by prominent Tiger fans united in their resolve to Stop the Rot and Save Leichhardt Oval.
A 16th franchise will be forced to field a "reserve grade" side unless the NRL grants it a dispensation to negotiate with off-contract players before next year's proposed October anti-tampering deadline.
IN-FORM Fone Zone Canberra Raiders half Mark McLinden could be ruled out of tomorrow's crunch match against the Penrith Panthers, after coming down with the flu this week.
AFTER overcoming an eleventh hour fitness test today Storm five-eighth Scott Hill will line up for his 150th NRL match tomorrow night when Melbourne takes on the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
COLLIES v Dapto 3pm Saturday July 17 - WIN #2 Ground The competition leaders face a desperate Dapto this weekend. The Canaries will fall six points out of the four, making a finals appearance impossible. Any late charge by Dapto this year must start against Collies, who are the form side of the premiership. Collies are in super form and it will take a massive improvement by the Canaries to compete with the Dogs. To make things even worse for Dapto, and every other team for that matter, is that Collies have signed several players mid-season to strengthen their already overflowing talent roster. The Dogs will therefore be odds on to end Dapto's season on Saturday. Uni v Wollongong 3pm Saturday July 17 - University Oval The clash between the depleted Bulls and underperforming Books is of no significance to the finals, with pride the only thing to play for this Saturday. Wollongong back up after an 88-12 humiliation at the hands of the Blacks, which is about the only thing that could make Uni's 56-14 loss to Wests look good. The Bulls have won only one match this season, and that was against Uni in the first round. The Books will be keen to avoid the embarrassment of letting that happen twice. Wollongong's chances will depend on the fitness of their large number of injured first graders. Uni are just about due to have a good game. Port Kembla vs Corrimal. 3pm Sunday July 18 - Noel Mulligan Oval The Corrimal Cougars travel to Noel Mulligan Oval to face Port for their second round clash after being soundly beaten in their deferred Wednesday night clash recently. The Blacks are in dynamic form, running in 15 tries last week against the Bulls. They way they are playing should produce a match with plenty of points and unless Corrimal can lift above their recent form, most of them will be scored against the Cougars. Port put 50 on their opponents last time they met and are likely to repeat this effort, so menacing has been their recent form. The Blacks have far too many stars to name, and all of them seem to be at the top of their game right now. Helensburgh v Thirroul. 3pm Sunday July 18 - Rex Jackson Oval Helensburgh have the unenviable task of facing the Butchers, who are heading towards the finals in a no-nonsense fashion. Helensburgh usually give Thirroul a hard match, but the class of the Butchers should prevail in the end, even at the Tigers' home ground. The Butchers also need the two competition points a lot more than their hosts, as a chance at a top two position will lost if Thirroul lose this match. It is hard seeing the Tigers matching it with Thirroul, but it will be interesting if Matt Tope can score enough points to ultimately gather the 47 needed to overtake the injured Mark Simon as the competition's leading scorer.
Loyalty vs Security
Why players should not be abused for going for the money
First Ruben Wiki, then Luke Davico, now Steven Price. NRL clubs Canberra and the Bulldogs have been rocked with the news that the very heart of their team has decided that the opportunity to secure a financial future for their families outweighs the rewards of staying one-club men over their career. There can be no second guessing the overriding motive for each players decision to uproot from the clubs they have been a part of for a decade and move to more lucrative pastures. They simply cannot justify for-going upwards of $100,000 a season to stay with their original clubs.For many fans this financial incentive comes a distant second to club loyalty, but if the roles were reversed and any fan was offered an extra hundred grand to do the same job as they do now with extra benefits, you would be delusional to knock it back. Sadly this flipside is ignored when it comes to football and the players do not deserve the hammering they receive for their decisions.At the end of the day, the clubs who have had ten plus years of service from these players have had to bite the bullett on the age issue. Each player is over 30, and are undoubtedly entering the twilight of their career in positions that place and awful lot of strain on their bodies week in week out. The extra money that is guaranteed regardless of injury is another huge factor in influencing any decision. That is not to say Wiki, Davico and Price won?t ?go the distance? but the reality is the odds are stacking up against them and their already battered bodies.If you need evidence of that find a rookie picture of any player and compare it to them in their tenth year of grade football, there is a stark contrast in appearance. Football is a tough, uncompromising sport not for the faint hearted (although some could argue that is not the case with some players), and the lifespan of a rugby league career is very short. Players make decisions in the end for their family and themselves and fans need to understand that no amount of praise or rejection will override that factor. Nor should we as fans forget the years of great and loyal service these players have given.
Recent established one-club player defections:
Timana Tahu: Knights to EelsJoel Monaghan: Raiders to RoostersNathan Fien: Cowboys to WarriorsPeter Cusack: Roosters to RabbitohsShannon Hegarty: Roosters to RabbitohsHenry Fa'afili: Warriors to Warrington
By Warrick Nicolson, [email protected]