PARRAMATTA Eels hooker Mark Riddell and halfback Tim Smith have been dropped from first grade for this Friday's NRL match against the Penrith Panthers. The duo will be relegated to Premier League and fined $5,000 each after turning up to training drunk yesterday.The incident follows the shock resignation of coach Brian Smith yesterday with Jason Taylor taking over as interim coach.Eels chief executive Denis Fitzgerald said the pair had been drinking together at a local pub but the inicident was not related to Brian Smith's departure."They have let a number of people down with their behaviour, and the club will not tolerate it," Fitzgerald told the ABC."It's rare for any Parramatta players to have any problems off the field and we pride ourselves on the good culture that's been set down."[It's] a lot to do with Brian Smith and certainly a lot to do with the senior players, Hindmarsh, [Nathan] Cayless and [Michael] Vella in the nine years they've been with the club."Both players have issued apologies and Riddell said he was embarrassed by his actions."I've brought the club into disrepute," he admitted."I'd also like to apologise to my family. I made a bad decision yesterday. A wrong choice, and I've accepted the punishment."Riddell is expected to be replaced by PJ Marsh at hooker while Jeremy Smith has been named as half-back.
NEW South Wales centre Mark Gasnier has hit another hurdle in his race to be fit for next week's opening State of Origin clash against Queensland. Already battling to overcome a hip injury, the Dragons NRL star was unable to train with the Blues today because of a stomach bug.
WESTS Tigers Coach Tim Sheens has named his side to play the Warriors at Ericsson Stadium on Saturday, May 20. Kick-off is 5.30pm (AEST)Meanwhile New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has dropped Kiwis Test centre Clinton Toopi from the team after he failed to impress last weekend.The match will be centre Tony Martin's 99th first-grade appearance.WarriorsBrent WebbManu VatuveiTony MartinSimon ManneringMisi TaulapapaJerome RopatiGrant RovelliRuben Wiki (captain)Nathan FienEvarn TuimavaveAwen GuttenbeilWairangi KoopuSione FaumuinaInterchange:George GatisSam RapiraLouis AndersonMicheal LuckWests Tigers1 Shannon McDonnell2 Daniel Fitzhenry3 Dean Collis4 Paul Whatuira5 Shane Elford6 Benji Marshall7 Scott Prince (c)8 Todd Payten (c)9 Robbie Farah10 John Skandalis11 Bryce Gibbs12 Anthony Laffranchi13 Jamaal Lolesi 14 Chris Heighington15 Dene Halatau16 Keith Galloway17 Ryan O'Hara19 Taniela Tuiaki Wests Tigers casualty ward and unavailableBen Galea (hamstring - rd 12) Sam Harris (ankle - rd 15)Liam Fulton (shoulder - season)Brett Hodgson (NSW Origin)
THREE tries in a six-minute spell midway through the second half earned Catalans Dragons their second win over Castleford this season by 40-18.
JOHN Wilshere went from hero to villain in Salford?s engage Super League clash at the Galpharm Stadium as Huddersfield avenged defeat at The Willows last month with an easy win by 32-18.
WIGAN look doomed to relegation after losing their crunch clash with Wakefield in a tense and dramatic engage Super League encounter at a soggy Belle Vue by 10-8.
BRADFORD Bulls produced a classy display at the Twickenham Stoop to blitz Harlequins by 58-16 in an engage Super League fixture that was effectively over by half-time.
FORM team Hull climbed to third place in the engage Super League with their first win at Headingley for five years by 44-28.
UNDER-STRENGTH St Helens survived a second-half fightback from Warrington to ensure their remarkable stranglehold over the in-form Wolves continued with a 34-22 win.
THIS week Daniel Ramus takes a look at the NSW Origin line-up for next Wednesday's clash against Queensland, giving his thoughts on each player.
PARRAMATTA chief executive Denis Fitzgerald was to meet star players Tim Smith and Mark Riddell today over reports they turned up to full recovery session for the NRL club intoxicated.
JASON Taylor has been promoted from assistant to coach of Parramatta for the rest of the NRL season following Brian Smith's shock walk-out.
QUEENSLAND will have it first official training run at it's luxurious base at the Hyatt Regency resort at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast today.The seven rookies in the 17-man squad will train on the resort's driving range which has been transformed into a football field especially to meet their needs. Coach MAL MENINGA admitted the surrounds were superb but says they won't help Queensland win next Wednesday's first State of Origin match against New South Wales at Telstra Stadium.Centre Brent Tate, who has only played two games this season because of a foot injury following off-season shoulder surgery, says he'll probably ease into training this week. After training the players will test their golfing skills on the resort's championship 18-hole golf course which has been the venue for the Australian PGA Championship in recent years.The team will remain in camp at Coolum until next Tuesday and fly to Sydney on the eve of the first game of the series.Meanwhile, NSW coach Graham Murray says Parramatta winger Eric Grothe will be the first choice replacement if either Matt Cooper or Mark Gasnier can't make next week's State of Origin match. One of the selected wingers Timana Tahu or Matt King would switch to centre.Gasnier has a hip injury while Cooper has a hamstring strain but both are aiming to train with the side later this week along with injured forward Luke O'Donnell. Grothe is on standby with Penrith back Luke Lewis.
MATCH TWO WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS ? SERBIA 10 GEORGIA 45 ? Belgrade Saturday 13 May 2006 Georgian Rugby League has a new hero as Merab Kuirikashvili grabbed three tries and six goals for a 24 point haul in a hugely entertaining encounter in gloriously sunny Belgrade. The classy stand off was at the heart of his side?s best work in a match in which the visitor?s superior strength and pace was a decisive factor over a gusty Serbian outfit. The final score line did not reflect the amount of possession the Serbs enjoyed but highlighted the better strike power of the Georgian attack.The Georgians only failed to score in the opening set of the match when a poor final pass went to ground but that was only temporary respite as Kuirikashvili began his solo demolition with a try on the blind side from close in. He added the conversion and five minutes later extended the lead by a point with a field goal on a last tackle play.For the next 20 minutes the Georgians found themselves under pressure from the well marshalled hosts, with Jovan Vujosevic and Halifax?s Luka Simeunovic calling the shots, the latter popping up a superb pass for Tomic Nenad to crash on to and flatfoot the Georgian defence; Dalibor Vukanovic adding the conversion.That sparked a Georgian revival and almost immediately Kurikashvili again demonstrated his class by sidestepping over from 15 metres. Just before half-time, Georgia extended their lead when substitute George Nemsadze powered over from a superb pass by Kakhaber Kobakhidze.Serbia started the second half brightly but an excellent angled run from linking full back George Asatiani extended the visitors lead. More concerted home pressure failed to break the Georgian defensive cordon and on the hour they countered superbly when Pridon Udesiani was on the end of an overlap on the right. Two minutes later winger Lexo Gugava, picked up a loose Serbian pass and raced 70 metres to extend the lead; Kurikashvili potting the easy conversion. By now Georgia were in full flow and an overlap on the right allowed Gugava to pick up a simple second converted try.The Serbs finally gained due reward for their toiling efforts with the score of the game, ten pairs of hands keeping the ball alive in thrilling fashion for Zoran Pesic to claim the spoils. The final word was left to the star of the show as Kuirikashvili opened up the defence and swerved majestically around Vukanovic to claim his hat trick and his side?s eighth try. Watching RFL Performance Director, Graeme Thompson, commented, "I watched the corresponding fixture last year in Georgia and I am very impressed by the progress made by both nations.??They demonstrated that they are appreciating further technical and tactical aspects of the game and in time could challenge more mature nations.?The next match in the group sees Georgia host Holland in Tbilisi on Friday 26th May.GAME STAR ? Georgian play maker Merab Kuirikashvili showed that he could be a real force in the sport with a stunning hat trick.GAME BREAKER - George Asatiani?s touchdown in the 48th minute took the steam out of the Serb?s commendable fightSERBIA1. Dalibor Vukanovic2. Dimitris Daly3. Nenad Tomic4. Milan Dordevic5. Zoran Pesic6. Luka Simeunovic7. Mate Granvic8. Radoslav Novakovic9. Jovan Vujosevic10 Mario Milosavljevic11. Marko Jankovic12. David Milovanovic13. Marko ZebeljanSubs (all used)14. Valcic Radovan15. Milos Milinkovic16. Soni Radvanovic17. Darko NerandzicTries: Tomic (27), Pesic (71)Goal: VukanovicGEORGIA1. George Asatiani2. Lexo Gugava3. Manughar Namchevadze4. Alexandre Gilauri5. Zviadi Koberidze6. Merab Kuirikashvili7. George Sordia8. Tornike Ashvetia9. Beqa Kurashvili10. George Khositashvili11. Nikoloz Mkheidze12. Shalva Sutiashivili13. Kakhaber KobakhidzeSubs (all used)14. Pridon Udesiani15. Vakhtang Akhvlediani16. Roin Chikvaidze17. George NemsadzeTries: Kuirikashvili (2, 30, 78), Nemsadze (37), Asatiani (48), Udesiani (60), Gugava (62, 67)Goals: Kuirikashvili 6F/goal: KuirikashviliMen of the match: SERBIA - Luka Simeunovic GEORGIA - Merab KuirikashviliHalf time: 6-19Referee: Matthew Kidd (England)Source: www.rlef.eu.comMore International News: www.rlcup.com
EMBATTLED Parramatta rugby league coach Brian Smith has resigned effective immediately, according to the NRL club's website. The Eels Board will meet tonight to discuss a replacement for Smith, who is due to be replaced by Newcastle coach Michael Hagan next season.Smith says he informed the players, staff and management of his decision earlier this afternoon.He says it became apparent that someone else should be at the helm to guide the team in future matches, with Smith heading to Newcastle in 2007 in a direct swap with Hagan. Smith says it's a very sad day as he has given 10 years of service to the club.He believes his decision is best for the club. Parramatta has only won two games so far this season - with the club reaching an all-time low with player in-fighting during a recent defeat to Canberra.