BARTERCARD CUP COMPETITION - ROUND 5 RESULTS (2nd Week Split Round)
BULLDOGS centre Willie Tonga will be sidelined for two NRL matches after entering an early guilty plea to a grade two dangerous throw charge from his side's 30-16 win over the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday.
MANLY front-rower Brent Kite has been called into the Australian squad ahead of Friday night's rugby league Test against New Zealand.Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart today requested an 18th man be added to the squad and Kite will join the team when it flies to Brisbane tomorrow morning for the one-off Test at Suncorp Stadium. Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr says having the extra player on hand is just a matter of covering all contingencies in case of illness or a training mishap.Marshall to start for Kiwis
WESTS Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall has been named in New Zealand's starting side at halfback for Friday night's rugby league Test against Australia at Suncorp Stadium.
BEFORE I get started with today?s rant, I?d just like to make it clear that Sunday?s feature article - which included my Test teams - was based on the teams which I thought would be named, as opposed to the teams I thought should be named. Hence, the reason I picked Matt Cooper ahead of Justin Hodges.Usually when a representative coach makes a nepotism-based selection, they generally put it down to discretion alone. But in one of the more blatant cases with the selection of Australia?s team for Friday night?s Test, coach Ricky Stuart has made no secret of his intentions.Usually we?d be saying; ?we all know the real reason why Justin Hodges wasn?t selected.? However, this time, no assumptions were required. Stuart already made his reasoning quite clear.The reasons are as follows:1. It appears as though he dislikes Justin Hodges personally.2. He doesn?t want to convey that former Test coach, Wayne Bennett, has any selection authority over him whatsoever ? although I guess this point has taken a slight twist with the naming of Karmichael Hunt at fullback for Australia, but we?ll keep that powder dry for now.The first reason could possibly be justified, given that Hodges was more of a paid spectator than a player during his time at the Roosters. But is it right that Hodges? past indiscretions should cost him an Australian jumper simply because of his history with the current Test coach? That in itself is blight on Stuart?s coaching ability ? Bennett?s expertise enabled him to get the best football out of Hodges, whereas Stuart was unable to realise Hodges? potential.They say you know when you?re being effective by the strength of your enemy?s tricks. I think Bennett may be one up on Stuart here ? but that?s only round one completed, the games will continue. You could argue that Hodges may have matured as a footballer and his sudden form surge has nothing to do with his mentors, but this issue seems to stem further than that.The second reason just illustrates the ongoing agendas and egos which exist in our game. For now though, I?d rather not dwell on that. Let?s try to focus on what potentially could be one of the best Test matches of all-time. For starters, yes, I won?t hide from the fact that Karmichael Hunt?s selection at fullback in place of the injured Anthony Minichiello, and ahead of other more capable fullbacks, was one of the most political of all-time. But I?ve had enough whining about selections, and enough has been said about Hunt?s selection already, so let?s get straight to the game itself.Looking at the two sides on paper, I?m going with the Kiwis. They were clinical in the Tri-Nations final and with the addition of Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams, the Kiwis look all the more formidable. Australia on the other hand hasn?t changed all that much since November last year. They have strangely decided to stick with loyalty, despite the fact that those policies brought them unstuck last year. Willie Mason?s selection at prop is a litigious one; he would have been more pertinent as an impact player off the bench for mine. The Kiwis look as though they?ll be able to dominate up front, and with the added spark of Marshall and Williams, I think they will get over the line here.I know Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer will have different ideas, but with the pressure of the New Zealand forwards, I can?t see those players having it all their own way on Friday night.I?ll stick my neck out and say the Kiwis to win by six.Now to a few more significant issues this week:- I honestly thought the Warriors were certainties in Sunday's game against the Bulldogs. But what happened? Yep, you guessed it ? they displayed an absolute shocker ? failing to string back to back performances together. They know the difference between right and wrong, they just decide to choose the latter for some reason.- The surface at Telstra Stadium is an absolute joke. After seeing both NRL and AFL fixtures there in the last couple of weeks, that turf will be lucky to hold out for another month. Time for a complete removal of the current turf and a complete replacement to occur.- Surprise surprise. A Bulldogs player caught drink driving once again. It?s time for that club to make a stand and sack Maitua, which may be the only way to save face after another embarrassing week for the Canterbury club.- Congratulations Brett Finch! He played a great game on Saturday night and full credit to him. But do you think the following response was warranted? ?All those critics, especially some of the Roosters fans, so-called fans, they can kiss our arse.? Come on Finchy, surely your footy can do the talking. That one lacked class.That?s all for this week. I?ll catch you at the same time next week with a full round-up of the test match and round nine which promises to be a cracker. I?m particularly looking forward to the Roosters/Bulldogs clash at Aussie Stadium on Sunday. Those two clubs generally dislike each other and have built up a bitter rivalry over the last few years. Given that both of those sides notched up wins last round, I have a feeling that match could be something special. Until next week, enjoy your footy!
AUSTRALIAN captain Darren Lockyer says he can't remember more interest in a rugby league Test than what the Kangaroos are dealing with in the lead-up to Friday night's showdown with New Zealand in Brisbane.
SYDNEY Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan says the NRL club won't be taking any action over halfback Brett Finch's comments that Roosters critics and fans could "kiss our arse" after their win over North Queensland.
MILTON Thaiday's Queensland Origin dream is all-but over for 2006 with the Newcastle fullback likely facing six weeks on the NRL sidelines with an ankle injury.
MATT Bowen's controversial omission from the Australian side for the Anzac Test has stunned North Queensland, with CEO Peter Parr saying he was "surprised and disappointed" the Cowboys flyer was snubbed.
THE inclusion of no less than seven Melbourne Storm players in the Bears line up has helped Norths defeat the Bulldogs at North Sydney Oval on Saturday. Scott Hill, Jamie Feeney, Ryan Shortland, Chris Walker, Adam Blair, Ben Scott and Mathew Bartlett all made an appearance in the famous red and black.
THE Newtown Jets registered good wins in both grades on the weekend, setting the scene for a big crowd at the first home games double-header for the season at Henson Park next Saturday (May 6th).In the VB Premier League match played at Campbelltown on Friday night, the Jets were too strong for last-placed Western Suburbs, winning this match 42-6 after leading by 22-0 at half-time. The Magpies offered plenty of resistance in the first half, with Newtown asserting their ascendancy in the ten minutes prior to the break.Jets half-back Jamie Soward turned in the game?s standout performance, with five of Newtown?s nine tries coming directly from his broad repertoire of accurate kicking options. Newtown?s forward pack, spearheaded by Glenn Hall, Danny Williams, Mickey Paea and Lopini Paea took control early in the match and laid the basis for the Jets? nine tries to one victory. Fullback Aidan Kirk and winger Troy Malcolm collected two tries apiece, as did five-eighth Josh Lewis, prior to his leaving the field midway through the second half after being on the receiving end of a dangerous head-high tackle.In the third round of the Jim Beam Cup competition on Saturday, the Jets completed their Central Coast travelling requirements with an away game to The Entrance and would have reason to be pleased with the quality and character of their 34-18 win. Newtown had led by 16-14 at the break, but things looked ominous when The Entrance grabbed the lead early in the second half. Newtown Director John Lynch reports that superior fitness, physical strength and team spirit saw the Jets surge home for a very useful win. Ritchie Parker, Billy Baleilomaloma, Khalid Deeb and Rimini Reweti were Newtown?s best forwards, with Toufic Nicolas and Anton La Vin giving strong performances in the backline. The Parkes Spacemen disappointed their Pioneer Oval home crowd when they crashed out badly in the Group 11 first grade match against Dubbo CYMS to the tune of 42-12. The Newtown Jets return to Henson Park next Saturday (May 6th) for the first competition games double-header for this season. Action gets underway at 12 noon when the Newtown Jetettes face off with the Windsor She-Wolves in the Sydney Women?s Rugby League. The Jets clash with Wentworthville in the Jim Beam Cup at 1.15pm, while in the VB Premier League main game, Newtown take on the Bulldogs at 3.00pm.[Pic: Newtown winger Troy Malcolm has been a prolific try-scorer for the Jets this season. Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.]
NIGHT football will make its much-anticipated return to the Dragons' spiritual home following the NRL's announcement that the St.George Bank Dragons will play the Parramatta Eels at OKI Jubilee Stadium on Friday, 2 June. Kick-off has been scheduled for 7:30pm and the match will be televised on Channel Nine.
MINICHIELLO fails medical test
NEWCASTLE has suffered a blow to its NRL campaign with livewire fullback Milton Thaiday expected to spend up to six weeks on the sidelines nursing an ankle injury.
NIGEL Vagana will be free to play for New Zealand in Friday's Anzac Test despite being charged by the NRL match review committee for a grade one careless high tackle.