ST Helens scrum-half Sean Long has ruled out touring with Great Britain again and may turn his back on international rugby altogether.
AS the Wallabies continue to bumble and fumble their way through Europe, it is hardly surprising there is speculation the Australian Rugby Union will again try to "raid" rugby league to boost its player ranks.It is therefore somewhat surprising that yesterday?s conference of NRL coaches and senior players (with the usual exception of Wayne Bennett) seems to have discussed just about everything except how any raid would be repelled.Two weeks ago, Daily Telegraph Union writer, Peter Jenkins, said it was "time to raid the NRL again", and the Wallabies fortunes have hardly improved since then.The 2006 "raid" hardly proved to be spectacularly successful ? Clinton Schifcofske left the Canberra Raiders to join the Queensland Reds rugby team, but he did turn 31 last week.And the Roosters' Ryan Cross switched codes to join the Western Force, but during an eight-year rugby league career he made just one representative team, the City side playing in Origin trial matches.The raid on Mark Gasnier did not succeed, nor did the earlier attempt to snare Andrew Johns.But the NRL, and its 16 clubs, should not be complacent. Rugby union is apparently not short of cash, and when you look at the Wallabies' performance this year, the ARU will be under enormous pressure to open its purse.If that does not concern the NRL then it should.Despite the new television agreement with Nine, most NRL clubs are not particularly flash financially. But a handful would be able to match a serious offer from the ARU for a top player.That is unless the NRL came to the party, as it did ? through PBL Ltd ? when Andrew Johns was being tempted to switch codes.It is a subject the NRL and the clubs seem reluctant to address, because it inevitably raises questions about the issue most don?t want to talk about ? the salary cap.The ARU surely knows that. And it is why Peter Jenkins might get his wish sooner rather than later.And it is one reason why the Gold Coast Titans' prospects ? or any other club?s prospects ? of securing a return to rugby league by Lote Tuqiri (the most successful convert in the modern era) are not much better than zero!
IT?S been an up and down year for us Bandwagon fans, following the greatest game of all. It?s been a year of heartbreak, embarrassment and fleeting success. We?ve toiled hard trying to find the right team to support, followed their ups, disowned them in their downs, and then rejoiced when they rose again.
NATHAN Hindmarsh is a player who is renowned for his ungainly appearance. Having established himself as a stalwart for Parramatta, New South Wales and eventually Australia, he often leaves pundits wondering how he keeps going like he does. He looks out of shape, overweight and is a perennial sufferer of the dreaded ?plumber?s crack?. He?s even been aptly described as having a ?sway gut and funny bum?. Yet he almost always seems to be the first defender on the scene when there?s a break, the first player rushing up on a field goal attempt, and the least likely candidate for a replacement.
A Team Mate?s Letters to the Prodigal Son?
THE late and great 'Killer' Ken Kearney was part of a rugged pack of forwards who knew how to hang onto the ball and pummel the defensive line. It was during a time of unlimited tackles when all games had a traditional 'softening up' period - no quarter asked, and none given - and far less compromising than what we have in the modern game.A World War Two veteran, Ken Kearney served in the RAAF before representing his country in rugby union. In 1948 he joined rugby league whilst in England, playing with Leeds before linking up with St George where he stayed until 1962. A ruthless professional and champion hooker, 'Killer' instigated revolutionary coaching methods and was captain to six grand final victories. He played for New South Wales and Australia and has a representative record which speaks for itself.Kearney played when scrums were properly contested. A cagey hooker, he was supported by a strong pair of props who in turn were backed by a well-drilled second row to drive them forward, and a lock forward to keep it straight. They only needed timing and brute strength to make every scrum a winner. Sounds easy, but the opposition would have their say and the front row was no place for the faint-hearted.With much of the skill and off-ball shenanigans being hidden from the public view, the writing was on the wall for the real scrum. The advent of 'good TV' and a rise in scrum penalties, particularly in the 1980s, saw the end of half backs feeding the ball squarely into the tunnel. The rule interpretations altered to allow the ball to be tossed into the second row, effectively making the scrum hooker's role redundant.The introduction of limited tackles and subsequent interpretations has also done much to take the game away from the players.Old stagers referred to a time when forwards would grind out territory by forcing their opponents back - regardless of who controlled possession. It was up to the players to enforce their authority on the territory and the ball. This method of battle was still a coaching tactic up until just a few years ago. Nowadays, when a ball-carrier is swamped and driven back by defenders, the referee has an annoying habit of calling 'held'. This begs the question, would the referee call 'held' if the ball-carrier, with the support of his team mates, was being driven forward?While many will point to these as improvements, I'm not so sure. For over 50 years, the game prospered quite well without the need for 'clayton' scrums, limited tackles and the made-to-order mind-set that gave rise to the modern TV game.Recollections are but golden memories.'Killer' was arguably the best hooker in his day and he knew how to win scrums, but he also knew when to lose them. If his forwards were unable to crack the opponent's line, Kearney would pack down and deliberately kick the ball into the opposition's side of the scrum. In the next ruck, the lumbering rake would take up position in the defensive line and say, in full earshot of the opposition, "right, let's kill the bastards!"This signalled his team mates to go hell-for-leather with spears and coat hangers, delivering their opponents to the turf with ruthless tenacity. It was an onslaught which would leave in its wake an assembly of broken teeth, fractured ribs and dazed heads. Inevitably the ball would be jolted loose and the opposition wouldn't want to touch it again.Perhaps this is what our forefathers called limited tackle... the real version as enforced by the players on the football battlefield, not by some pansy rules. To the old guard, the four-tackle and subsequent six-tackle rule must have looked like an absurd notion where a team willingly handed the ball back to their opposition!I hasten to add that I understand the whys and wherefores of modern rugby league. Nevertheless, I wonder if we have gone too far in appeasing the beast, just to enable us supporters to enjoy the comforts which come with being a higher class of cattle. With progress there always seems to be a price to be paid. The rules, their interpretations, and TV-friendly policies have lorded over an erosion of what was the very essence of the game.
SECOND-YEAR syndrome is a common term in both Rugby League and sport in general. It relates to a rookie whose second year doesn?t reflect the ability they had shown in their rookie season. While the stigma associated with second-year syndrome affects some players, it manages to bypass others, so is there such a thing as second-year syndrome? Or is it a myth created to strike fear into the hearts of young players as they embark on their careers?
I feel for the Melbourne Storm, I really do. Aside from the obvious connection Parramatta fans have to Melbourne's 2006 plight (being the dominating side for an entire season before falling at the final hurdle), I have watched with great joy the 2006 Melbourne Storm side, who have played a brand of football above and beyond all other teams in the competition.
GREAT Britain has given Richard Horne the hot seat at halfback vacated by Sean Long for the Tri Nations rugby league Test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday night.
THE Gold Coast Titans have given defiant Melbourne winger Steve Turner less than two weeks to start training for the new NRL club.
THE NRL have released the full draw for the 2007 season with the Grand Final to take place on Sunday September 30 and the competition to begin on March 16.Melbourne will have to wait until round seven before getting a shot at redemption against Grand Final conquerors Brisbane.It's the first 16-team competition since 1994 thanks to the addition of the Gold Coast Titans, the Storm will meet Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium in April for the first time since the controversial 2006 season decider.In a packed schedule in which teams will play 12 home and 12 away games with one bye, up to five days of football a week will be played during the 25-round regular season.The pools were based on finishing positions for 2006. They are: Pool A: Storm, Knights, Sea Eagles, Eels, Cowboys, Panthers, Sharks, Titans. Pool B: Bulldogs, Broncos, Dragons, Raiders, Warriors, Tigers, Roosters, Rabbitohs.HOME AWAYROUND 1 16-19 MARCH 2007BRONCOS V COWBOYSKNIGHTS V BULLDOGSROOSTERS V RABBITOHSSEA EAGLES V RAIDERSSHARKS V PANTHERSSTORM V WESTS TIGERSTITANS V DRAGONSWARRIORS V EELSROUND 2 23-26 MARCH 2007COWBOYS V ROOSTERSDRAGONS V KNIGHTSPANTHERS V BULLDOGSRABBITOHS V EELSRAIDERS V STORMTITANS V SHARKSWARRIORS V BRONCOSWESTS TIGERS V SEA EAGLESROUND 3 30, 31 MARCH, 1-2 APRIL 2007BRONCOS V PANTHERSBULLDOGS V TITANSDRAGONS V COWBOYSEELS V WESTS TIGERSRAIDERS V KNIGHTSROOSTERS V SEA EAGLESSHARKS V RABBITOHSSTORM V WARRIORSROUND 4 6-9 APRIL 2007 (EASTER)COWBOYS V WESTS TIGERSEELS V RAIDERSKNIGHTS V STORMPANTHERS V TITANSRABBITOHS V BULLDOGSROOSTERS V BRONCOSSEA EAGLES V WARRIORSSHARKS V DRAGONSROUND 5 13-16 APRIL 2007BULLDOGS V SEA EAGLESDRAGONS V STORMPANTHERS V EELSRABBITOHS V KNIGHTSRAIDERS V ROOSTERSTITANS V BRONCOSWARRIORS V COWBOYSWESTS TIGERS V SHARKSFRI FRIDAY 20 APRIL 2007 TEST MATCHROUND 6 21-23 APRIL 2007COWBOYS V RABBITOHSEELS V BULLDOGSKNIGHTS V BRONCOSSEA EAGLES V TITANSSHARKS V RAIDERSSTORM V PANTHERSDRAGONS BYEROOSTERS BYEWESTS TIGERS BYEWARRIORS BYEROUND 7 25, 27-30 APRIL 2007 (ANZAC DAY)BRONCOS V STORMBULLDOGS V WESTS TIGERSCOWBOYS V SEA EAGLESKNIGHTS V SHARKSPANTHERS V RAIDERSRABBITOHS V WARRIORSROOSTERS V DRAGONSTITANS V EELSTHURS THURSDAY 3 MAY 2007 CITY V COUNTRY - COFFS HARBOURROUND 8 4-7 MAY 2007BRONCOS V RABBITOHSBULLDOGS V KNIGHTSDRAGONS V PANTHERSEELS V ROOSTERSRAIDERS V SEA EAGLESTI TITANS V COWBOYSWARRIORS V SHARKSWESTS TIGERS V STORMROUND 9 11-14 MAY 2007COWBOYS V PANTHERSKNIGHTS V WARRIORSRABBITOHS V RAIDERSROOSTERS V TITANSSEA EAGLES V EELSSHARKS V BRONCOSSTORM V BULLDOGSWESTS TIGERS V DRAGONSROUND 10 18-21 MAY 2007BRONCOS V SEA EAGLESBULLDOGS V SHARKSDRAGONS V TITANSEELS V COWBOYSSTORM V ROOSTERSWARRIORS V WESTS TIGERSRABBITOHS BYEPANTHERS BYEKNIGHTS BYERAIDERS BYEWEDNESDAY 23 MAY 2007 STATE OF ORIGIN 1 - BRISBANEROUND 11 25-28 MAY 2007BRONCOS V KNIGHTSBULLDOGS V COWBOYSEELS V WARRIORSPANTHERS V WESTS TIGERSRAIDERS V DRAGONSSEA EAGLES V STORMSHARKS V ROOSTERSTITANS V RABBITOHSROUND 12 1-4 JUNE 2007COWB COWBOYS V SHARKSDRAGONS V BRONCOSPANTHERS V SEA EAGLESROOSTERS V KNIGHTSSTORM V RABBITOHSTITANS V RAIDERSWARRIORS V BULLDOGSWESTS TIGERS V EELSROUND 13 8-11 JUNE 2007DRAGONS V SHARKSKNIGHTS V WESTS TIGERSRABBITOHS V PANTHERSRAIDERS V EELSROOSTERS V COWBOYSWARRIORS V STORMBRONCOS BYEBULLDOGS BYESEA EAGLES BYETITANS BYEWEDNESDAY 13 JUNE 2007 STATE OF ORIGIN 2 - SYDNEYROUND 14 15-18 JUNE 2007BULLDOGS V BRONCOSCOWBOYS V STORMEELS V DRAGONSKNIGHTS V RAIDERSPANTHERS V ROOSTERSSEA EAGLES V RABBITOHSSHARKS V WARRIORSWESTS TIGERS V TITANSROUND 15 22-25 JUNE 2007BRONCOS V WESTS TIGERSRABBITOHS V SHARKSRAIDERS V COWBOYSROOSTERS V EELSSEA EAGLES V BULLDOGSSTORM V DRAGONSTITANS V KNIGHTSWARRIORS V PANTHERSROUND 16 29,30 JUNE, 1,2 JULY 2007BULLDOGS V ROOSTERSDRAGONS V SEA EAGLESKNIGHTS V RABBITOHSPANTHERS V BRONCOSRAIDERS V WESTS TIGERSTITANS V WARRIORSCOWBOYS BYEEELS BYESHARKS BYESTORM BYEWEDNESDAY 4 JULY 2007 STATE OF ORIGIN 3 - BRISBANEROUND 17 6-9 JULY 2007BRONCOS V TITANSCOWBOYS V WARRIORSDRAGONS V RAIDERSEELS V KNIGHTSRABBITOHS V STORMSEA EAGLES V ROOSTERSSHARKS V BULLDOGSWESTS TIGERS V PANTHERSROUND 18 13-16 JULY 2007BULLDOGS V PANTHERSCOWB COWBOYS V BRONCOSEELS V RABBITOHSRAIDERS V TITANSROOSTERS V SHARKSSEA EAGLES V WESTS TIGERSSTORM V KNIGHTSWARRIORS V DRAGONSROUND 19 20-23 JULY 2007BRONCOS V EELSKNIGHTS V ROOSTERSPANTHERS V DRAGONSRABBITOHS V COWBOYSSHARKS V SEA EAGLESSTORM V RAIDERSTITANS V BULLDOGSWESTS TIGERS V WARRIORSROUND 20 27-30 JULY 2007BRONCOS V SHARKSDRAGONS V BULLDOGSEELS V SEA EAGLESRABBITOHS V TITANSRAIDERS V PANTHERSROOSTERS V STORMWARRIORS V KNIGHTSWESTS TIGERS V COWBOYSROUND 21 3-6 AUGUST 2007BULLDOGS V EELSCOWBOYS V RAIDERSKNIGHTS V DRAGONSPANTHERS V RABBITOHSROOSTERS V WARRIORSSEA EAGLES V BRONCOSSHARKS V STORMTITANS V WESTS TIGERSROUND 22 10-13 AUGUST 2007BULLDOGS V RAIDERSDRAGONS V RABBITOHSEELS V SHARKSPANTHERS V COWBOYSSEA EAGLES V KNIGHTSSTORM V BRONCOSWARRIORS V TITANSWESTS TIGERS V ROOSTERSROUND 23 17-20 AUGUST 2007BRONCOS V BULLDOGSCOWBOYS V DRAGONSKNIGHTS V PANTHERSRABBITOHS V SEA EAGLESRAIDERS V WARRIORSSHARKS V WESTS TIGERSSTORM V EELSTITANS V ROOSTERSROUND 24 24-27 AUGUST 2007BRONCOS V RAIDERSBULLDOGS V STORMDRAGONS V EELSKNIGHTS V COWBOYSROOSTERS V PANTHERSSHARKS V TITANSWARRIORS V SEA EAGLESWESTS TIGERS V RABBITOHSROUND 25 31 AUGUST, 1-3 SEPTEMBER 2007COWBOYS V BULLDOGSEELS V BRONCOSPANTHERS V WARRIORSRABBITOHS V ROOSTERSRAIDERS V SHARKSSEA EAGLES V DRAGONSSTORM V TITANSWESTS TIGERS V KNIGHTS7-9 SEPTEMBER SEMIS14-16 SEPTEMBER SEMIS21-23 SEPTEMBER FINALSSUNDAY 30 SEPT (7PM) GRAND FINAL (LONG WEEKEND - NSW)2007 TELSTRA PREMIERSHIP DRAW
NORTH Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston has reclaimed the Test halfback spot in a reshuffled Australian team that will tackle Great Britain in Saturday night's Tri Nations clash at Suncorp Stadium.
NOT that it needed much to do so, but the credibility of the rugby league Tri-Nations series is today on the rocks.
Firstly, the Great Britain half-back, Sean Long, flew back to the UK yesterday, and team management behaved like a Brian Burke Ministerial mate trying to explain it away.
THE North Sydney Bears have moved to sign three talented players from their under 17s development squad who have a long and successful history in the District and are full of the passion needed in the NSW Rugby League S. G. Ball Competition.Berowra under 17s Grand Finalist Curtis Johnston and North Sydney Brothers under 16s Premiership winner Josh Nicholls have both signed two year contacts while Ashley Calvert-Evers also a Berowra Grand Finalist, has signed for one year with an option for 2008.Despite only signing initially for the 2007 season, talented Berowra half back Ashley Calvert-Evers is ready to commit to one of the toughest junior competitions in the World. Reserved off the field Ash's outstanding performance in a recent trial against the Sharks is believed to have cemented his spot in 2007. "My plan is to have a good season in Ball and hopefully get a run in Jersey Flegg. I hope to get the call up to play in Premier League in 2008" said Ash who has played for Berowra since seven years and represented the Bears in Harold Matts in 2005. "Norths is my local area. I've been with Berowra for a while, playing for the Bears is very important to me".Curtis Johnston's passion for the Bears is unmistakable beginning in 1996 at North Sydney Brothers garnering best player awards four years running before moving into the North Sydney Development ranks and dual representation in Union and league for St Leos College and Asquith Boys High. "All my life I've wanted to play for the Bears. I've supported them since I was 2 or 3". North Sydney Team of the Century centre Greg Florimo believes "He has a great football brain and he's become very strong and has a good frame for a centre". Curtis claims "I plan to perform to the best of my ability while showing loyalty and give 110% to have a winning team on the field in 2007".2006 Harold Matthews captain and lock Josh Nicholls comes to the under 18s fresh from a grand final win for North Sydney Brothers in the U16s against Belrose and the competition winning North Shore Marist Catholic College side who defeated the Kogarah team. "It's a big deal to play for Norths. I've been in and around the Club most of my life and to run out in the Red and Black is a big deal". Josh admits to not being that interested in sport in his early years but was guided by his parents in to the sport of rugby league and never looked back. "My plan is to get a starting position in the S G Ball team and make the NSW under 17s representative team. Second to play Jersey Flegg and move on up from there".The Bears will hold further trials possibly against Penrith and Western District after the New Year.PICTURED: Signed and ready to deliver! From left Josh Nicholls, Coach Jamie Papa, Ashley Calvert-Evers and kneeling Curtis Johnston.PHOTO: Steve Little.
THE Great Britain rugby league team maintain Sean Long's abrupt departure from the Tri Nations touring party is due to "personal reasons" and not a disciplinary punishment.