England v Samoa preview

ENGLAND coach Paul Cullen will give debuts to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats centre Ryan Atkins and Hull FC second rower Graeme Horne against Samoa in the Federation Shield match at the KC Stadium on Sunday.

France v Tonga preview

THIS Sunday's Federation Shield clash in Castres should decide which of these teams will be England's opponent in next weekend's final. Both France and Tonga have registered one win each (against Samoa) so the winner here will join England in a battle of the top two teams of this tournament.The French lose Prop Matthew Griffi from the side that defated Samoa 28-6, with Adel Fellous regaining his place, and Damien Courtier moving into consideration from the bench.No information as to the make-up of the Tongan side as yet, but they are without captain Solomon Haumono who has returned t o Australia for his wedding this weekend, and may rejoin the team if they win and qualify for the tournament final. France v Tonga, Sunday 5 November at Castres (Stade Pierre Antoine, 15:45)French side:Renaud Guigue, Olivier Charles, Teddy Saddoui, Sebastien Planed, Frederic Zitter, Maxime Greseque, James Wynnes, Jerome Guisset (captain), Julien Rinaldi, Adel Fellous, Jamal Fakir, Eric Anselme, Gregory Mounis. Jean-Christophe Borlin, David Ferriol, Olivier Elima, Christophe Moly, Damien Courtier (one to be ommitted). Sources: http://www.ffr13.com

Ireland v Lebanon preview

IRELAND coach Andy Kelly has rung the changes for his side's second World Cup qualifying match against Lebanon in Dublin on Sunday.Veteran prop Barrie McDermott, who made a record-extending 13th appearance in Ireland's 50-12 win over Russia in Moscow a fortnight ago, sits out the next match, along with Liam Harrison, David Bates and Martin McLoughlin.Into a 20-man squad come Leigh full-back Scott Grix, Widnes winger Damien Blanch, former Hull forward Paul McNicholas, Salford prop Gareth Haggerty and Steve Nolan, Eric Roberts and Billy Treacy from Ireland's domestic competition.Kelly will finalise his line-up after Saturday's final training session in Dublin before Sunday's game which has a noon kick-off at Tolka Park.Ireland squad: S Grix (Leigh), D Blanch (Widnes), S Littler (Salford), T Stewart (Harlequins), G Dodd (Widnes), C Bridge (Warrington), B Beswick (Widnes), R Tandy (Widnes), P Cantillon (Rochdale), P McNicholas (unattached), M Cassidy (Widnes), G Corcoran (Oldham), D Allen (Widnes), S Gibbons (Carlow), G Haggerty (Salford), A Robinson (Coventry), S Nolan (Dublin City Exiles), W Kerr (Carlow), E Roberts (Kildare), B Treacy (Treaty City). Australian-born winger Damien Blanch will make his Ireland debut but Warrington`s former Cronulla half-back Michael Sullivan has been ruled ineligible.While Blanch, who moved from Castleford to Widnes earlier this year, qualifies through his Belfast grandparents, Sullivan has to go back three generations for his Irish heritage.Ireland coach Andy Kelly insists that all birth certificates are checked to ensure there is no breach of the rules."It is something we try to guard against," he said. "There have been one or two players we have reluctantly had to let go."If we were tempted to bend or break rules then Mick Sullivan would maybe have been one of the players we would have gone out of our way to do that for."Unfortunately, his was a great-grandparent entitlement and we stood our ground."The Lebanon side was successful in defeating Russia in Moscow last weekend, making this a clash for bragging rights at the top of the qualifying group ahead of the return matches in a year's time.Lebanon tour squad:ad Abinassif (AUB ? half back)Jai Ayoub (Bulldogs - half back)Daniel Chiha (North Sydney ? centre/2nd Row)Khalid Deeb (Newtown Jets ? 2nd row)Youssef El Helou (Club Libanais ? lock)Samer El Masri (Parramatta ? five-eighth/fullback)Adham El-Zbaidieh (South Sydney ? wing)Anthony Farah (Parramatta ? five-eighth)Rudy Hachache (LAU ? front row/2nd row)Gilbert Haydamous (Balamand ? wing)Charles Farah (Bulldogs ? front row)John Koborsi (Bulldogs ? 2nd row/centre)Ali Kourouche (Cronulla ? 2nd row/front row)Mohammed Amin Maassarani (Balamand ? front row)George Ndaira (St George IIIawarra ? hooker)Charlie Nohra (Sydney Bulls ? front row)Chris Salem (Sydney Bulls ? centre/wing)Frank Samia (Western Suburbs ? centre)Allen Soultan (Balamand ? lock)Phillip Takchi (Sydney Bulls ? lock) Sources: http://www.rli.ie, http://www.utvlive.com, http://www.lebrl.com

Dark day for International League

ARL chairman Colin Love has described the decision to strip New Zealand of its Tri-Nations points and ban Nathan Fien from the tournament as one of darkest days in the history of international rugby league.

NZRL Official Response - Nathan Fien

THE NZRL accepts the decision of the Tri-Nations Sub-Committee that found that the NZRL fielded an ineligible player in the Gillette 2006 Tri-Nations Tournament.

Latest from Dolphin Oval

IT might be the off-season but there is plenty going on at Dolphins headquarters. Coach Anthony Griffin is making preparations for the new season that begins with player orientation in only 11 days. The office is in full swing and an enormous amount of preparation is underway for Season 2007 that kicks off in just over four months.The Dolphins will be looking to defend their Queensland Wizard Cup Crown in 2007. "There is a lot of hard work to be done between now and when the season starts" said Dolphin Captain Troy Lindsay. "What we done this year is great but won't count for much once we take the field next season, All the other sides lift to play Redcliffe normally but with being Premiers they will be really gunning for us" added fullback Ryan Cullen.The majority of the 2006 Premiership squad have re-signed the most noticable absentees from the Premiership winning side will be front rower Adam Starr who has retired and winger Chris Giumelli who has returned to his home town of Mackay. Also returning to Mackay is A grade hooker Scott Gillis whilst Matt Anderton has retired.The Dolphins squad should be boosted by the return to Dolphin Oval of two time premiership winning back Trent Leis who returns after two seasons with the Burleigh Bears."It's good to be back, I can't wait to get back and see the boys" Leis said.Also no stranger to Dolphins supporters is hooker Jamie Tomlinson who makes his way back to Dolphin Oval after several seasons away with Easts and Ipswich. Tomlinson last played for the Dolphins in 1999 and was the Carbine Colt of the Year in 1998.Also joining the Dolphins in 2007 will be former NRL fan favourite Mark Tookey. Hailing from Sydney, Mark originally played for the Logan Brothers and Springwood junior clubs. Upon turning professional Mark signed for the ill-fated South Queensland Crushers, playing in the same team alongside former Dolphins Clinton O'Brien, Aaron Moule, Danny Nutley and Ben Roedder under the coaching of former Dolphin Steve Bleakley. After a two year spell with Parramatta in Sydney, Mark crossed the Tasman Sea to join the New Zealand Warriors. It was at the Auckland based club that Mark fully confirmed his reputation as a tough, rampaging forward. Stocky and relatively short of stature, Mark is an immensely powerful runner and from short range can a lethal finisher. After a successful 2002 season in Auckland, culminating in a NRL Grand Final appearance, Mark's opportunities at the Warriors became limited and in July 2004 he signed for Castleford Tigers in their ultimately unsuccessful bid to remain in Super League. During 2005, Mark's explosive running and big tackling has made him a huge favourite of the London fans; and nobody present at the seasons final home game will ever forget his 40 metre try-scoring charge to the line, much to the acclaim of those present. Place of Birth: Sydney, Australia Position: Prop Weight: 110Kg Height: 180cm Date of Birth: 09/03/1977 Former Clubs: South Queensland (1996-1997) 18 games, Parramatta Eels (1998 - 1999) 40 games, New Zealand Warriors (2002-2004) 67 games Castleford Tigers (2004) 10 games, London Broncos (2005-2006)55 games.Official training for all contracted players commences on Monday November 20.

Burke and Roberts Share Leis Medal

FOR the first time in its history, the Peter Leis Medal has been shared.Club stalwarts Michael Roberts and Danny Burke shared the 2006 version, finishing well clear of the field on August 29 in the count on the Dolphins presentation of trophies evening.Durable second-rower Burke also created history by becoming the first player to take out two medals in a row.Burke and Roberts also shared the major award of $1000 each thanks to Con Searle of Searles Garden Products."The grand final was the best day of my life," Roberts said. "And this is not far behind it. It's an honour to share the award with the blokes who have won it before. There's far too many people to thank."Burke paid testimony to his teammates and thanked Searles for their sponsoring the player of the year award.Lock Grant Flugge finished third in the medal counting after surging to an early lead.Flugge polled 17 votes in the opening five rounds to lead from prop Pat Gardner (10).Gardner overtook the lead in rounds six to 16 to have 24 points, three ahead of Flugge and half Marty Turner (16).Roberts came into his own in rounds 11 to 15 and sat on 29 points, still six behind Flugge and two ahead of Burke (27).In rounds 16 to 22, Burke polled 17 votes and Roberts 15 to finish tied while veteran Adam Starr gained 15 to finish fourth.The medal is decided by coach Anthony Griffin and two guest judges, who register their votes each week.Griffin paid tribute to retiring forward Starr. "It's been a privilege to be involved with Adam over the past two season," he said."He is a coach's dream, and we won't realise how much we miss him until he's not there."In other major awards, Logan Sullivan collected best forward in Colts, Matt Gillett best back Asher Elemani best and fairest.Tim Yee won Dick Turner's Patron's Colt of the Year prize.In A grade, Scott Gillis was judged best forward, Mitchell Simpson best back and Dominic Fallini best and fairest.The Clubman of the Year award, sponsored by Redcliffe Travel, was presented to Henry Holder, along with a trip for two to Hawaii.The Ian 'Bunny' Pearce Chaps Menswear Perpetual Trophy winner for most points scored during the season was presented by Michelle Feron to top grade centre Greg Bourke.Medal CountMICHAEL ROBERTS 44DANNY BURKE 44GRANT FLUGGE 35ADAM STARR 32GREG BOURKE 29PAT GARDNER 28NICK EMMETT 27MARTY TURNER 26

Game IV Preview: Australia v Great Britain

THE Tri-Nation?s bandwagon continues to roll on with more controversy than a toaster road-test on A Current Affair.It?s impossible to ignore the Fien saga which, two years out from the World Cup, has resulted in exactly the sort of publicity the RLIF didn?t want. But if there?s a silver lining to this big grey cloud, I suppose we should all hope that they?ll have their act together by the 2008 Centenary Tournament.Moving on, and today Pryce drew pistols at dawn, with the British winger claiming he prefers Bradford to Manly and pretty much doesn?t like Aussies because all we do is bang on about how Poms whinge. Funny that. But then again when you run around glassing people in pubs it?s unlikely you?ll receive a warm welcome anywhere.On the Aussie front, Mason continues to snipe from the belltower, claiming the Pommies simply aren?t up to it after their performance against New Zealand. This game should hold special significance for the Aussie forward after debuting against Great Britain at this ground in 2002 with his prominent afro. The Kangaroos tore the Lions apart that night with Mason scoring a try and presumably keen to repeat his dominant performance.All this sets the stage for some wonderful theatre on Saturday night so let?s take a look at the teams, with the Poms up first?Great Britain: Paul Wellens, Brian Carney, Keith Senior, Kirk Yeaman, Leon Pryce, Danny McGuire, Sean Long, Stuart Fielden, Terry Newton, Jamie Peacock (c), Gareth Ellis, Gareth Hock, Sean O'LoughlinInterchange: James Roby, Adrian Morley, Lee Gilmour, Jon Wilkin, Gareth Raynor (one to be omitted).Just when we thought Noble had spared us one of the three Gareth?s by dropping Carvell, he pulls another one out of the hat, plonking Raynor on the bench as 18th man. There?s every chance he won?t play though. Gleeson has been dropped with exciting prospect Yeaman coming in and as widely anticipated, Morley moves to the bench with Peacock shifting up to prop and Hock gets a start this time around.The skilful Wilkin looks set to play this week, after being named in the no 14 jumper with the rest of the team unchanged.All these changes probably improve the Great Britain side and I?m sure they?ll be better for playing New Zealand last week. They lacked any real direction and penetration for the first 60-70 minutes before adding a couple of tries late in the game.Now to the Aussies, and here?s how they line-up:Australia: Karmichael Hunt, Brent Tate, Mark Gasnier, Jamie Lyon, Greg Inglis, Darren Lockyer (C), Ben Hornby, Mark O'Meley, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Willie Mason, Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke O'DonnellInterchange: Cameron Smith, Anthony Tupou, Brent Kite, Sam Thaiday.There are a couple of big name omissions who have been rested for this clash with King and Hodges in the backs being allowed to recover from niggling injuries. Tate and prodigal son Lyon take their places whilst Hornby gets a shot at halfback ahead of Thurston.Up front, Ryan has been given a spell with Mason coming back but into the second row. O?Meley starts alongside Civoniceva with Berrigan grabbing a starting berth at hooker ahead of Smith, who?s been benched. The balance of the team is unchanged with Thaiday playing his second game after Kaufusi was ruled out.I think the reshuffle will do the Aussies some good. Hornby is an interesting playmaker and Lyon?s recall will be one of the talking points of the match. Tate, a seasoned campaigner, won?t have any problems out there and again the backline is enormous in stature, very skilled and fast.The DecisionLike last week I can?t see anything other than a loss for Great Britain, but at least we?ll be able to gauge any improvement within their team.Morley off the bench makes sense as he offers some impact, a factor that let them down last week. But this may see them start the game a little skinny with Peacock up front. The man who has to stand up here is Fielden. For a guy who allegedly wants to smash people he was very quiet against the Kiwis. But maybe I?m not paying the New Zealand forwards enough respect as they have been the dominant forward pack so far in the tournament.I?m looking forward to watching Yeaman for the Poms. There?s big wraps on him and an interesting side issue has been the curiosity he?s generating out Redfern way. Obviously Bomber McRae still keeps in touch with the ESL.In the Aussie camp, the change-up by Stuart is a good thing and he?s already used most of his squad, which is a rarity these days. Hunt has been going well at fullback but the forwards just look menacing. Three starting props with two mobile backrowers and more of the same off the bench looks simply unbeatable from a British point of view.Then the size, speed and skill of the Aussie backs will be too hard to contain. Even after replacing King and Hodges the backline is still as ridiculously blessed with talent. I hope the addition of Hornby and his organisational skills will provide a bit more width and depth for Lockyer, Gasnier and Lyon to run amok.Australia should win this one well on home soil and the crowd ought to be a significant one. The past three games have yielded an average of 21,875 people, which for International Rugby League is pretty encouraging considering two matches were hosted in non-traditional surrounds.

NZ stripped of Tri-Nations points

NEW Zealand has been stripped of its two competition points and Nathan Fien barred from taking any further part in the Tri-Nations after the Rugby League International Federation ruled the Australian-born hooker ineligible to represent the Kiwis.

St.George Chairman announces new election Bylaws

IN the recently published St.George Leagues Club Journal (Nov 2006-Feb 2007), Club Chairman Warren Lockwood repeats his Board's concern about "overzealous campaigning" during the March 2006 Board election.

Vella goes to England

UNDOUBTEDLY the biggest name in rugby league to have Maltese ancestry - Michael Vella, has signed a three-year-deal with the UK Super League?s newest team, Hull Kingston Rovers.

Vella goes to England

UNDOUBTEDLY the biggest name in rugby league to have Maltese ancestry - Michael Vella, has signed a three-year-deal with the UK Super League?s newest team, Hull Kingston Rovers.

Fien decision adjourned

A decision on whether to penalise New Zealand for fielding an ineligible player in the Tri-Nations tournament has been adjourned until later today.

Gamble Leads Sharks In New Direction

A new sound has graced Saleyards Park and that is the sound of 1995 Junior Kiwi Rex Gamble barking instructions at his troops.

5th Edition of The Grizzly Now Available

THE 5th edition of the Bears official Newsletter - The Grizzly is now available. This weeks edition includes reports on recent trials against the Jets, Cessnock and Penrith. Also featured in this weeks edition is a history segment detailing how the Bears mascot was established!

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