Around the Grounds with Rosso

THE Bulldogs will be without representative stars Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason and Willie Tonga for this weekend?s Friday night blockbuster with the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval. Chris Armit moves from the bench to the front rower with Nate Myles going in to the backrow, who was under an injury cloud for this match after their loss to the Broncos on Friday.

Malta cancel tour to PNG

THE Maltese Rugby League Association (MRLA) have cancelled their proposed tour to Papua New Guinea for financial reasons, now channelling their energy towards a rugby league international in Sydney on October 8.

All eyes on London

LONDON will become the capital of rugby league thanks to a feast of events taking place around Saturday?s Powergen Challenge Cup final between Huddersfield Giants and St Helens at Twickenham.

Qld Cup Finals Teams Named

DUAL premiership winner Brent McConnell will return from NRL duty, while Mark Shipway will play at centre in Sunday?s Wizard Cup qualifying final between North Queensland and Redcliffe at the Townsville Sports Reserve.In the only major change ahead of the first week of finals, halfback McConnell returns to the Young Guns, pushing teenager Brady Payne into jersey 18 on an extended five-man bench.Combatants Redcliffe have turned back the clock and named Shipway in the three-quarter line, the same position he played in the 1996 State League grand final for the Dolphins.A former Cowboys first grader, Shipway helps cover for the loss of Nick Emmett (injury) and Kaine Manihera (suspension).Dolphins five-eighth Chris Fox is free to play in the match at 3.30pm Sunday after beating a contrary conduct charge from Round 21.In Saturday?s 2pm elimination final at the Piggabeen Complex, Tweed Heads and Easts have stuck solid with the men that have taken them this far, making no changes for the do-or-die clash.Tweed mentor Steve Murphy?s recently revealed this would be his last season at the Seagulls before joining the Gold Coast Titans as an assistant coach.Centre Mark McKenzie of Easts has been cleared of a striking charge after being placed on report in the 71st minute of last weekend?s game against Central.In lower grades, Easts has named 200-game Wizard Cup veteran Brett McPherson at five-eighth for the FOGS Cup A Grade qualifying match against Burleigh, also to be held at the Piggabeen Complex.Sydney Roosters signing David Hala will play prop for Redcliffe against the Tigers in the FOGS Colts game at 10.30am.On Sunday at BMD Kougari Oval, Aspley?s colts will field a host of players who have featured for Wizard Cup minor premier Toowoomba ? including Jacob Fauid, Charlie Fetoai and Brynjar Ragnarsson. The Devils play Wynnum Manly colts at 1.15pm.In the proceeding FOGS Cup A Grade match ?Rockin? Ronny Troutman may play his last game at old stomping ground Kougari when he turns out for the Souths Logan Magpies.The Magpies team, featuring USA Tomahawks prop Ashley Lanfranchi, has a tough task against a well-credentialed Wynnum Manly side boastinging ex-Queensland Resident Matt Ross, Queensland Rangers sensation Jim Baira and former NRL player Daniel Sorbello. That match kicks off at 3pm.North Queensland v RedcliffeVenue: Townsville Sports ReserveDate: Sun 27 Aug 2006Game Time: 3:30pmReferee: Michael WISE Touch Judges: Chris NITSO/Peter WORTH Interchange Official: Josh KERSEVANINorth Qld Young Guns Players: 1. Jason BARSLEY 2. Brenton BOWEN 3. Josh HANNAY 4. Jamie FRIZZO 5. Obe GEIA 6. Shane MUSPRATT 7. Brent McCONNELL13. Leigh COGHILL12. Scott BOLTON11. Mark DALLE CORT10. Sam FAUST 9. Kam WILKINSON 8. Daniel STRICKLAND (c)Interchange: 14. Dean PAYNE15. Ben LOWE16. James ANDERSEN17. Greg BYRNESCoach: Mick CRAWLEY Redcliffe Dolphins Players: 1. Ryan CULLEN 2. Chris GIUMELLI 3. Greg BOURKE 4. Mark SHIPWAY 5. Rory BROMLEY 6. Chris FOX 7. Marty TURNER13. Gerard PARLE12. Danny BURKE11. Grant FLUGGE10. Adam STARR 9. Michael ROBERTS 8. Troy LINDSAY (c)Interchange: 14. Nick WALKER15. Shannon FISH16. Danny GREEN17. Pat GARDNERCoach: Anthony GRIFFIN Tweed Heads v EastsVenue: Piggabeen ComplexDate: Sat 26 Aug 2006Game Time: 2:00pmReferee: Brett SUTTORTouch Judges: Damian BREEN/Rod SPAIN Interchange Official: Chris BUTLERVideo Referee: Tony MAKSOUDTweed HeadsPlayers: 1. Ryan MILLIGAN 2. Nathanael BARNES 3. James WOOD 4. Josh VAUGHAN 5. Ryan O'CONNELL 6. Brad DAVIS 7. Paul ROLLS13. Matt POW12. Andrew MORONEY (c)11. Tom PRICHARD10. Roy FRIEND 9. Matt KING 8. Matt AUSTINInterchange: 14. Cory BOND15. Selasi BERDIE16. Dean ALLEN17. Josh PEACOCKCoach: Steve MURPHY Easts Tigers Players: 1. Kevin STEPHENSEN 2. John TAMANIKA 3. David GEORGIOU 4. Mark McKENZIE 5. David TYRRELL 6. Matt LOCKYER (c) 7. Luke BRANIGHAN13. Scott SIPPLE12. Marty ALLEN11. Mark CANTONI10. Trevor EXTON 9. Steve GOODHEW 8. Steele RETCHLESSInterchange: 14. Cameron DURNFORD15. Damian DURNFORD16. Jamie TOMLINSON17. Scott YOUNGCoach: Michael BOOTH

Newtown RLFC Annual Reunion

THE Newtown Rugby League Football Club will be holding its annual players, officials and supporters reunion at Henson Park on Saturday, September 2, 2006.This is the club's last home competition game for the 2006 season, when the Newtown Jets play the St. George-Illawarra Dragons in the NSWRL VB Premier League competition starting at 3.00pm. This is a great opportunity for all former Newtown grade and junior players, administrators and supporters to rendezvous at Henson Park to meet up with all their old friends who have helped build the traditions of Australia's oldest Rugby League club. Following the match, everybody can adjourn back to the Jets Sports Club in Holbeach Avenue, Tempe. Tell all your old team-mates and other Newtown friends and supporters to meet up at Henson Park for what is always a terrific day. All the members of the 1966 Newtown first grade semi-finalist team and the 1996 Newtown Metropolitan Cup first grade premiership-winning team will be special guests of honour for the day.For all inquiries, ring the Newtown RLFC office on 1300 363 690, or email the club at: [email protected] official Newtown RLFC website is at:

Cayless likely to miss season

PARRAMATTA'S front-row crisis has worsened with skipper Nathan Cayless likely to be ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Nathan Blacklock retires

SUPERLEAGUE media (UK) reports that have Hull FC have agreed to release Nathan 'Tingha' Blacklock from his contract with immediate effect.The former St George and Australian winger has been plagued by a knee injury this season and will now retire from the game and return home to Australia.In the Superleague press release, Blacklock said: "I?m disappointed I?ve had to call it a day, but I simply can?t give the 100 per cent I want to anymore because of injuries. I can?t put my heart and soul into playing.""Everyone at the club, from the coaching staff to the players and the office staff, have been great to me and I wish the team all the best for the play-offs and the future."There are some good young players who deserve a chance. They will have more enthusiasm for the game than I can offer now."The 30-year-old product from Tingha arrived at the KC Stadium from the St George Illawarra Dragons last season. He quickly became a fans? favourite, scoring 16 tries in 24 Super League appearances to finish as the club?s leading try-scorer.In 2006, he has crossed for 13 tries in 21 games, frequently playing injured.Hull FC's Peter Sharp added: "Tingha has enjoyed a marvellous career. He has achieved some things in rugby league that most people can only dream about."He has contributed an awful lot to this club over the last two years and we wish him all the best in the future."Hailing from Tingha, New South Wales, Nathan Blacklock came to the Dragons in 1997 after making just five appearances (and scoring one try) with the Roosters in 1995. He then linked up with St George and went onto become the competition's top try scorer for three consecutive years in 1999, 2000, and 2001. He is the only player to score 20 tries or more for four seasons in a row.A crowd favourite and match winner, Blacklock often left his wing to attack the centre of the ruck. During the 1999 grand final, 'Tingha' gave fans one of many memorable moments when he accelerated onto a chip kick, scooped up the ball, and raced through a gap to score under posts 60 metres downfield.During an outstanding season in 2001, Blacklock was controversially overlooked for NSW selection. In the same year he was selected for Australia, playing in two Tests and scoring two tries.Following a short stint with the NSW Waratahs in rugby union, Blacklock made his return to the Dragons in 2003, where he was again the club's top try scorer in first grade.At 28, Blacklock left Australia after signing a two year contract with UK club Hull, beginning in 2005.A hugely popular player, Blacklock departed Australian club rugby league with first grade career total of 121 tries from 142 games.TINGHA FACT FILEBorn 4 April 1976. First club, Tingha Tigers. 1995: First Grade debut: Sydney City v Norths at SFS, July 8, 1995 (Rd 15). Roosters1995-1996: 5 games1 tryDragons1997-2004: 137 games120 tries, 14 goals. 508 points.The Competition's top try scorer: 1999, 2000, 2001.Club's top try scorer (first grade): 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003.Club's top point scorer (first grade): 2000.Hull2005-2006: 45 games 29 triesAustralian Kangaroos2001: 2 Tests2 triesCAREER FIRST CLASS TRY SCORING TOTAL189 games: 1995-2006152 tries

Player movements: Tigers & Storm

A one-on-one meeting with Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens this week will determine whether wayward star Chris Walker has a future at the NRL club.

Drug cheat caught

AN NRL player will face charges of using performance enhancing drugs it was reported today.

Eels warned over behaviour

NO action will be taken against four Parramatta players after the NRL club officially cleared them of misconduct during an alleged incident last week.

Round 25 Teams and Fixtures

FRIDAY, 25th August 2006

Tingha and Rads retire

HULL FC have agreed to release Nathan Blacklock from his contract with immediate effect.

Referee's report - Round 24

TONY de Las Heras makes his official refereeing debut on Sunday when the Rabbitohs are at home to the Cowboys. Tony came on late in the first half in Round five as a replacement for the then injured Paul Simpkins. He replaces Jason Robinson who was in charge of the Sharks and Panthers match last Saturday night.Sean Hampstead will control the Sea Eagles? important clash with the Dogs on Friday night at Brookvale Oval. A win for Manly will secure them a home semi final, so this match will have the quality of a Finals fixture. Just what Sean needs as the build up to September football continues.Shayne Hayne was again impressive in the Dragons home win against the Tigers on Sunday and has been rewarded with the Raiders important clash against the Storm on Saturday night. Shayne could be a dark horse for a final this year, while the Raiders need to win to confirm their place in September.Referee Paul Simpkins will have the local derby between the Dragons and Sharks in Wollongong on Saturday night. Paul was criticised for blowing too many inefficient penalties in the Eels? big victory over the Roosters on Sunday.Steve Clark has been given the important match of the round between Newcastle and Penrith. It has been rated the number one match as the equation is simple for the Panthers, they must win to keep their finals hopes alive. The equation is simple for Clark, keep refereeing at the good standard he has to ensure his first Grand Final appearance of his career.Russell Smith will have his second game back in first grade since spending along time in Premier League. Russell, who came over from England in 2005, was to just spend nine weeks in Australia refereeing, but has joined the Canterbury Refereeing District since then and looks to be a full timer when it comes to refereeing. Russell will be over in New Zealand this weekend when the Warriors are at home to the Roosters.Tony Archer, who made his first appearance in a finals fixture last year in the Sharks and Dragons clash, looks to be on the road to another one this year if he keeps up the good standard that he has over the past couple of months. Tony has the important match at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday where the Eels are at home to the Broncos. The game could be one of the matches in the first week of the finals which kicks off in the second weekend of September.

NRL blows out Storm?s hopes of securing Turner!

THE National Rugby League has officially sided with the Gold Coast Titans, refusing to register a playing contract lodged today by the Melbourne Storm and rising star Steve Turner.

Maroon defence underway

THE XXXX Queensland Maroons have begun preparations to defend their Harvey Norman State of Origin crown, following on from this year?s miraculous 2-1 series defeat of New South Wales.QRL Managing Director Ross Livermore said there had been encouraging outcomes from a special State of Origin Planning Committee meeting, held this morning in Brisbane.In attendance were Mr Livermore, incumbent coach Mal Meninga, team manager Steve Walters and selectors Des Morris and Gene Miles.Topics on the agenda included team selection, staffing, training and accommodation locations, promotional activities and public events.A willingness was again shown to again take the XXXX Maroons into regional areas. In recent years the team has held fan days in Maryborough and Rockhampton and spent significant time on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.In regards to staffing it was noted that several key support men, such as Neil Henry, Billy Johnstone and Steve Hooper, will be facing new challenges in 2007 with their club commitments. An undertaking was made to observe these personnel and assess any likely impact.Although head coach Meninga is yet to commit to the team for next year and beyond, there are positive signs of a continued involvement.?We have no reason to believe Mal won?t be the coach, but at the same time the situation is yet to be finalised,? Mr Livermore said.?Mal has significant business interests and the truth of the matter is that these will take some serious juggling with the commitment needed for the series and prior.?The 2007 State of Origin series will see matches held on May 23 (Brisbane), June 13 (Sydney) and July 4 (Brisbane).

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