Dragons and Trust reach agreement

THE Wollongong Sportsground Trust and the St George Illawarra Dragons today announced an extension to the Venue Hiring Agreement for WIN Stadium.The Dragons and the Trust had formally only completed a one year agreement for 2006 due to a number of critical issues some of which include:- the ongoing viability of the Illawarra Steelers- the possibility of further development of WIN Stadium, in particular the Western Grandstand- the determination of the full impact of the NSW Government?s Poker Machine Tax on both St George and the Illawarra Steelers Licensed Clubs.With the recent announcement of the significant financial commitment of WIN Corporation, the Dragons have now been able to confirm a longer term Venue Hire Agreement with the Wollongong Sportsground Trust.In essence, the one year deal for 2006 was formulated so as to provide a sound commercial basis for the future, this agreement has now been extended for a further five years, with a commitment to play six or on average 50 per cent of the Dragons home games plus a NRL Trial at WIN Stadium each year.The Wollongong Sportsground Trust and the Dragons were both very pleased to be able to communicate with Dragons supporters and the community generally about elite rugby league having a long-term future at WIN Stadium.Chairman of the Wollongong Sportsground Trust Mr Chris Christodolou welcomed the confirmation of the extension of the agreement with the Dragons.?I am really happy for Dragons fans and the people of Wollongong and the Illawarra generally,? saidChristodolou.?I am very also pleased for the Wollongong Trust and the NSW Government as thisoutstanding community asset, WIN Stadium, can be confirmed as the long-term home of a national sporting icon ? the mighty Dragons?.Chief Executive Officer of the St George Illawarra Dragons Mr Peter Doust reinforced how the Dragonsregional presence, at both Oki Jubilee and WIN Stadium was a very important business strategy of theDragons.?The commercial terms of this five year extension are sound however, the Trust and the Dragons have also agreed that it is imperative ongoing improvements to Corporate, Media and Player facilities occur over time,? said Doust.?The Dragons need to continue to grow their revenue yield and keep pace with appropriate standards of facilities going forward?.

Raiders re-sign Purtell for two years

CANBERRA has re-signed rookie winger Adrian Purtell for two more NRL seasons - less than a week on from his NRL debut against Manly.The 21-year-old caught Raiders coach Matt Elliott's eye after an outstanding 2005 season in the reserves and was given a first-grade run out after an impressive pre-season. Purtell's signing is the second of the week for the Raiders, who also re-signed promising centre David Howell for two more seasons.

I'll move Lockyer if I have to ? Bennett

WAYNE Bennett says he'll remove Brisbane five-eighth Darren Lockyer from the defensive firing line if he has to this NRL season.Lockyer missed 11 tackles against North Queensland last weekend, raising further concerns the Australian captain is being targeted by forwards continually running at him. Bennett says Lockyer is staying where he is for now but if the problem persists he'll have the courage to return him to his former position at fullback.Brisbane takes on Cronulla tomorrow with Bennett looking for his players to turn around their abysmal completion and handling rates from the 36-4 first-round loss to the Cowboys. Centre Justin Hodges has withdrawn with a side strain with utility Casey McGuire shifting from lock into the backline.

2006 Rugby League Almanac

NICOLSON Sports Consultancy is pleased to offer 2006 Rugby League Players Alamanc for download through Legends World of Sport on League Unlimited this weekend. After launching the Almanac last season, the 2006 edition is a cleaner crisper version featuring the most comprehensive playing rosters of all 15 NRL clubs.The Almanac, featuring over 700 players and the two new inductees to the NSC Rugby League Honour Roll, will cost you $22.00 AUD to download this year. But for your hard earned you not only get the 2006 Almanac but NSC will be delivering weekly League Player Ratings (LPR) directly to your inbox throughout the season.LPR will analyse the performance of every single NRL player each weekend and give them a objective rating out of 10. Only subscribers will have access to the full list of LPR each week. That means 238 exclusive individual ratings in PDF format will be sent directly to your inbox allowing you to track your favourite player and team?s performance.These ratings will not be available freely online. Only a weekly leader board will be listed in NSC?s League Unlimited Column every Thursday morning.The 2006 NSC Almanac and 2006 League Player Ratings are available only through Legends World of Sport on League Unlimited for much less than you will pay for a subscription to the print magazines on the market.http://www.leagueunlimited.com/static/nsc.aspEnjoy the footy in 2006.Regards,Warrick NicolsonNicolson Sports [email protected]: 0402 851 485 Fax: 02 9653 1483

Hodges out of Sharks clash

BRISBANE centre Justin Hodges has pulled out of tomorrow night's NRL clash with Cronulla in Sydney with a side strain.Hodges, Brisbane's best in their 36-4 loss to the Cowboys last weekend, has been replaced in the centres by utility Casey McGuire (pictured). Neville Costigan comes off the bench to fill McGuire's lock role with big Tame Tupou the new interchange player.Coach Wayne Bennett says he's just looking to his side to improve on some abysmal ball control.

Cooper joins Dragons sick list

ST George Illawarra Dragons centre Matt Cooper has been ruled out of this Sunday's game against the Penrith Panthers. Its understood the NSW and Australian centre has suffered a hamstring injury. His replacement Daryl Millard is expected to make his first grade debut.Cooper's omission comes after captain and five-eighth Trent Barrett was also ruled out after being hospitalised early in the week with a virus.In other news utility Shaun Timmins - who will also miss the match - has been cleared of serious injury following knee surgery on Wednesday. The Dragons will also be without winger Wes Naiqama who suffered an ankle injury last weekend and injured second rower Ben Creagh (knee) has yet to play in 2006.Meanwhile half back Mathew Head's recovery continues to remain on hold. Head suffered a season-ending knee injury in June 2005 (round 14). He was scheduled for a return in early April (round 5) but there is speculation this has been put back until round 9.The Dragons will be blooding two rookies in Millard and hooker George Ndaira this Sunday as well as forward Andrew Price who has played just one first grade game.The revised Dragons NRL team for Sunday's match in Wollongong is:1. Clint GREENSHIELDS2. Reece SIMMONDS3. Mark GASNIER4. Darryl MILLARD5. Colin BEST6. Dean YOUNG7. Ben HORNBY (c)8. Luke BAILEY9. Aaron GORRELL10. Jason RYLES11. Corey PAYNE12. Ashton SIMS13. Andrew PRICE14. Justin POORE15. Michael HENDERSON16. Matt BICKERSTAFF17. George NDAIRA

WIN Corp deal secures future of Illawarra

WIN CORPORATION, owner of Australia?s largest and leading regional television network, has covered a substantial amount of the Illawarra Steelers debts to joint venture partner St George, which will enable the Dragons to continue playing home matches in Wollongong.WIN Corporation Executive Chairman, Mr Andrew Gordon made the announcement today saying his media company?s investment of $6.5m in the Steelers would enable the repayment of most of the club?s debt to St George Leagues Club.?WIN Corporation originated in the Illawarra and proudly it is still based here today.WIN has always prided itself on showing strong support for locally based, national sporting teams,? said Mr Gordon. ?We believe the Steelers are a fundamental thread in the fabric of this region and I do not intend for this district to lose hosting NRL matches at WIN Stadium.?The deal is conditional on the Dragons arranging a new license agreement with the NRL until 2011 and negotiating a similar term arrangement with Wollongong Sportsground Trust ? allowing the St George Illawarra Dragons to play half of their home matches at WIN Stadium, plus a NRL pre-season fixture annually.?Mr Gordon said that besides providing the funding, which will be used solely to discharge the majority of the Steelers debt to St George Leagues Club; WIN Corporation will also receive 24 per cent of the Steelers share in the joint venture.?We will also provide business opportunities and management to improve the performance of the Steelers Club and ensure long-term continuation in the NRL by way of the joint venture,? he added.Steelers Chairman, Mr Peter Newell said his directors and members were indebted to Andrew Gordon, WIN Corporation and of course Bruce Gordon for their support of the club and the benefits NRL participation brings to the Illawarra region?s economy. ?The amount of money WIN Corporation has made available is one of the biggest investments that I can recall involving sport in the Illawarra,? said Mr Newell. ?The Steelers will still carry a level of debt, but WIN have given us the chance to not only survive, but will work with us on our future.?Mr Newell said that Andrew Gordon would be appointed to the St George Illawarra Dragons Board as one of the Steelers representatives.?WIN Corporation CEO, Mr George Papadopoulos will also be invited to join the Illawarra Steelers Board in an ex-officio capacity. Both these appointments will add strength and business experience to the respective boards.?The Steelers debts will not only be substantially reduced, but WIN?s involvement will enable the club to continue the propagation and development of the game of rugby league in the Illawarra and South Coast region,? Mr Newell said.St George Leagues Club and Dragons Chairman Warren Lockwood, who welcomed the involvement of WIN Corporation with the Dragons explains its impacts for the Dragons and St George Leagues Club.?A commitment from a corporate partner of the quality of WIN Corporation is a major coup for rugby league across the region and the game itself,? said Mr Lockwood.?In times when there is continuing pressure being mounted on the Licensed Clubs, debt reduction programs are essential.?The St George Leagues Club has always understood and supported the strategy of the St George Illawarra Dragons from the beginning. An essential component of this strategy, was sustaining viability of the Steelers and their contributions to the Dragons.?The repayment of capital and interest on loans extended by the St George Leagues Club will enable the Licensed Club to plan for its next phase of refurbishment and better cope with the pressure from increasing poker machine tax.?

Diskin agrees Rhinos deal

GREAT Britain hooker Matt Diskin has agreed a new four-year contract with Leeds Rhinos which will keep him at Headingley until at least the end of the 2010 engage Super League season.

Gareth Hock comeback delayed

THURSDAY - 16th March 2006

Chan escapes ban

CATALANS Dragons forward Alex Chan has escaped a suspension despite being found guilty of punching at a Rugby Football League disciplinary hearing.

Paleaaesina out for six weeks

STRUGGLING Wigan have suffered a major injury blow with the loss of prop forward Iafeta Paleaaesina for six weeks with a torn calf muscle.

Round 5: Matterson's Tigers win in London

CASTLEFORD coach Terry Matterson made a dream return to the capital as the Tigers overturned an early 14-point deficit to move above Harlequins at the bottom of the table with a 34-20 over the London side.

Round 5: Saints squeeze past Giants

ST Helens held off a spirited Huddersfield by 18-16 to maintain the only 100% record and return to the top of the engage Super League.

Round 5: Leeds punish Dragons

LEEDS picked up where arch-rivals Bradford had left off seven days earlier as the Stade Aime Giral witnessed a beating of the engage Super League rookies Catalan Dragons by 58-10.The Rhinos led 18-0 after just seven minutes, dishing out a triple whammy before the home side had even had possession of the football.After displaying a distinct lack of enthusiasm at times during their hammering by the Bulls last week it was anticipated that Tony Smith's team would feel the Catalans backlash but the reality was far from it.The Rhinos were on the board after just 63 seconds, when stand-off Danny McGuire was in support to take Ali Lauitiiti's pass and go on from close range.Before the Dragons could draw breath they went further behind after Leeds won a scrum against the head - a real rarity in rugby league - and Rob Burrow picked up the loose ball to stroll over from five metres.The visitors then extended their advantage immediately from the restart when McGuire took the kick-off on the full to exchange passes with Lee Smith and then race in from halfway.The home side hit back on their first attack when debutant Michael Dobson crossed for Laurent Frayssinous to convert, but Leeds were at it again when Scott Donald benefited from a brilliant Kevin Sinfield break to touch down.Keith Senior then made the most of some good fortune to get his name on the sheet while centre Chev Walker plus five Sinfield goals put the Rhinos 34-6 in front at the break.Catalan prop Alex Chan felt the wrath of referee Ian Smith when he was sent off for fighting, Walker taking 10 minutes for his part in the fracas, though the home side did reduce their deficit when Justin Murphy crossed with half an hour remaining.Leeds then put coachless Dragons firmly back in their place when Matt Diskin regained some momentum with their seventh score and the Rhinos cruised home after Lauitiiti, debutant Jordan Tansey and winger Lee Smith all joined in the scoring spree.Sinfield finished with seven goals and Burrow added a further two.Catalans Dragons: Frayssinous, Murphy, Wilson, Sadaoui, Verges, Rudder, Dobson, Chan, Rinaldi, Beattie, Hindmarsh, Guisset, Mounis.Replacements: Fellous, Teixido, Bosc, Fakir.Leeds: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Poching, Sinfield.Replacements: Feather, Millard, Kirke, Tansey.Catalans Dragons (6) 10.Tries: Dobson, Murphy. Goals: Frayssinous.Leeds (34) 58.Tries: McGuire 2, Burrow, Donald, Senior, Walker, Diskin, Lauitiiti, Tansey, Smith. Goals: Sinfield 7, Burrow 2.Referee: I Smith (Oldham)Att: 5,783

Round 5: Salford blast past Wakefield

SIMON Finnigan scored a hat-trick for Salford as they continued their fine start to the engage Super League season by outclassing a dismal Wakefield at the Willows by 48-10.The Reds? fourth win in five games was founded on a thrilling first-half performance in which Paul Highton (2), Finnigan (2), John Fitzpatrick and Andrew Brocklehurst all touched down to secure a 36-0 interval lead.Finnigan then wrapped up his hat-trick before Jamie Field and Jason Demetriou restored some pride to the visitors in the final quarter, and Luke Robinson added another late on for Salford.The in-form Reds burst into the lead from their first set following a high kick from Andrew Dunemann.Wakefield's Paul White appeared to lose sight of the ball, which bounced in the in goal area and back over his head for Highton to touch down.Wakefield then twice came within five metres of the Salford line but their New Zealand forward David Solomona then spilled the ball in his own half to hand the initiative back to the hosts.Scrum-half Luke Robinson lobbed the ball behind Wakefield's defence and Finnigan pounced on the ball - barely breaking his stride - to ease over with 11 minutes gone.Wakefield's scrum-half Sam Obst, back from a one-game suspension, was held out as he attempted to find an opening moments later.But then Salford hammered home their superiority, forcing the Wildcats back for Fitzpatrick inside in the 19th minute to touch down under the posts.Four minutes later, the Wildcats were again on the back foot, and Brocklehurst found a gap following Robinson's pass to go over.The Willows crowd were then expecting a cricket score after Finnigan charged over from close range for his second try in the 28th minute. Highton also added a second from close range a minute before the interval.Although Wakefield briefly stemmed the flow Finnigan registered his hat-trick within six minutes of the restart.The Reds loose forward strolled over after being fed by Dunemann, with David Hodgson making it seven from seven with the kick.Ryan Clayton, a close-season signing from Huddersfield, then came on for his debut, while hooker John Clough and prop Gareth Haggerty also came on for Salford at half-time.On the hour mark, Wakefield finally got themselves on the score sheet when Jamie Field bundled over on the right, and David March added the extras to make it 42-6.Demetriou further cut the gap five minutes later after breaking clear just inside his own half, and the Australian centre could have added another score moments later but knocked on with the try line at his mercy.Aaron Moule was denied a late try by the video referee but Robinson gained some reward for his endeavour by forcing his way over in the final minute, and Hodgson scored after the hooter for a 100% record with the boot.Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Littler, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Coley, Brocklehurst, Finnigan.Replacements: Clough, Haggerty, Clayton, Langi.Wakefield: Halpenny, White, Demetriou, Henderson, Tadulala, Obst, Jeffries, MacGillivray, Betham, Elima, Solomona, J. Field, Applegarth.Replacements: Griffin, Korkidas, March, Saxton.Salford (36) 48.Tries: Highton 2, Finnigan 3, Fitzpatrick, Brocklehurst, Robinson. Goals: Hodgson 8.Wakefield (0) 10.Tries: J. Field, Demetriou. Goals: March.Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)Att: 4,060

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