NOT much more than a year ago, Jamie Thackray was thinking of calling it quits and going to work in a warehouse. Such was the faltering rhythm of his rugby league career that it stacked up as the more realistic option.
FOR the second time in less than a year, Brian Noble tonight stands on the threshold of the greatest achievement of his career, one he has been working towards for more than two decades: ending Australia's domination of international rugby league. The Lions coach is desperate to showcase the British game by taking full revenge for last year's rout by Australia.
NEW Zealand winger Jake Webster and second rower Frank Pritchard were taken to hospital for brain scans this morning as the Kiwis struggled to a late test win over France.
AUSTRALIA captain Danny Buderus has thrown down a challenge to the home crowd ahead of Saturday's must-win Gillette Tri-Nations clash with Great Britain in Hull.
DANNY Brough, hero of Hull's Powergen Challenge Cup triumph this year, has signed a new two-year contract which will keep him at the KC Stadium at least until the end of the 2007 engage Super League season.The 22-year-old former York half-back had a year left on his existing deal but he has now been given an upgrade."I had a special debut season with the club and I am now looking forward to many more," he said. "I feel that I have a lot more to prove."- - - - -In other news, Castleford have made their first overseas signing since clinching their return to Super League with the capture of Penrith?s reserve centre Luke Dyer on a two-year contract.The 24-year-old Dyer, who has made just one appearance in Australia?s National Rugby League, can also play in the second row. As a British passport holder, he will not count on the club?s overseas quota."Our new coach Terry Matterson knows Luke well and feels that he can make his mark in Super League and be a big asset to us next year," said Tigers chief executive Richard Wright.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for these stories.
GARETH Raynor's decision to return to rugby league after a brief flirtation with union has paid off after he was chosen to make his Great Britain debut in Saturday's must-win Gillette Tri-Nations match against Australia.
LAST week I wrote that Great Britain would need a minor miracle to come into calculations for the Tri-Nations final in a week?s time. Well, didn?t they show me up?
THE Queensland Wizard Cup Competition for 2006 was finalised this week by the QRL Board of Directors.
PARRAMATTA Premier grade coach Jason Taylor has emerged as early favourite to replace Brian Smith directing the Eels after next season.
THE Newtown Jets began official training for the 2006 season last Monday (November 14th) at their well-equipped gymnasium complex in Marrickville.Recently-appointed Newtown Jets VB Premier League coach Paul Young was on hand along with Jim Beam Cup coach Greg Matterson to oversee proceedings as the hand-picked training squad went through their paces.Four other Newtown players - Vince Mellars, Rimini Reweti, Eddie Leuluai and Lafi Manua - are in full-time training with the Sydney Roosters NRL squad at their Wentworth Park headquarters, and all four men have received good reports for their commitment to the Roosters rigorous summer training program.
THE Rabbitohs have today secured their long term financial future by signing a funding deal with South Sydney Juniors. The deal, which is reportedly a seven figure commitment, extends over the next two seasons, and will provide the club with new found financial security.
LEEDS Rhinos have made their fourth signing for 2006 with the capture of Australian forward Mark O'Neill, who was a member of the Wests Tigers Grand-Final winning team this year.The 30-year-old O'Neill, who has signed a 12-month contract, captained the Tigers before elbow surgery kept him out for 12 weeks in the middle of the season but he returned to the side and was an ever-present in their successful title run.O'Neill, who made 223 senior appearances in Australia, will join the Rhinos for the start of pre-season training next month and will play in the club's friendly against Wakefield at Headingley on Boxing Day."I am very excited at the opportunity to come to England and play for the Rhinos," he said. "The Rhinos have a great reputation over here and I am also looking forward to learning from Tony Smith."I've never been to England before and it will be strange to play on a cold Boxing Day morning but it can not come soon enough now."O'Neill made his debut for Balmain in 1994 and was an integral part of the Wests Tigers side since the merger of Balmain and Wests in 2000.He will join Bradford captain Jamie Peacock and fellow Australians Scott Donald and Shane Millard in a new-look Leeds outfit.Head coach Tony Smith said: "We are delighted to have signed a player of Mark's experience and quality. He is perhaps a player that some Super League fans may not know too much about but he has built up a tremendous reputation over the past decade in Australia."He is a no-nonsense player who can play in either the second row or at prop and will add a great deal to our forward options."- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this story.
STACEY Jones comesback again, with the mercurial halfback planning to play off the bench for the Kiwis against France on Saturday.
PENRITH Panthers got their tour off to a winning start against a gallant Great Britain side on a cold night in Leeds. They led 20-0 at half time but two converted tries within the opening six minutes of the second half put Great Britain within 8pts of the visitors. The Panthers replied with a try a short time later and after a tremendous arm wrestle by the home side a Frank Pritchard try on the hour gave his side a winning cushion and two further tries in the last ten minutes gave them a flattering victory. A Michael Jennings hat trick was the highlight of the Panthers performance.
HULL winger Gareth Raynor will make his Great Britain debut in Saturday?s must-win Gillette Tri-Nations match against Australia.