LIKELY squad: Milton Thaiday, Brian Carney, Kurt Gidley, Matt Gidley, Brad Tighe, Jarrod Mullen, Andrew Johns, Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Josh Perry, Steve Simpson, Clint Newton, Daniel Abraham.Interchange: Luke Davico, Adam Woolnough, Reegan Tanner, Kirk Reynoldson.Strengths:Andrew Johns. I don?t believe any more explanation is required after mentioning the name of one of this era?s greatest players. If Johns remains fit, and that is a big IF for Andrew, then there is no telling what the Knights are capable of.I believe if Michael Hagan went with the starting line up above he?d have great success. Jarrod Mullen is one of the best prospects to come through Newcastle and he needs to play an entire season under Johns to make him reach that extra level. He is a talented young man with a huge future and the move to centres for Kurt Gidley will do him and Newcastle the most amount of good.The Knights last season went through a tough time, but in doing so blooded a lot of young players. Hence one of their strengths this season will be their depth, with players like Dustin Cooper and David Seage not getting a run.The Knights have a solid 1,6,7,9 combination. They have two of the worlds best at 7 and 9, and two young exciting players at 1 and 6 who showed their potential last season. With these players on the field at the conclusion of last season, it was showed that they can compete at the top level and they will be needed so much this season.The recruitment of Brian Carney, rated by good judges to be the best winger in the world, is a critical one for the Knights. While injury prone, he has the ability to finish off a try from anywhere on the field and his ability will be shown once he has Andrew Johns feeding him the ball. Weaknesses:The Knights don?t have a great coach in the engine room. While Michael Hagan may have been a QLD coach, I don?t believe he is the best tactician in the NRL and his gameplans are rather easy to figure out. His lack of creativity does not bode well for Newcastle this season and may cost them a premiership.The Knights? injury problems are a concern. Hopefully with the recruitment of medical staff, in 2006 we may finally see an injury free Knights. The key players of Johns, Carney, Buderus and Simpson cannot be injured for great portions of the season, otherwise the Knights will struggle. One to Watch:When you ask Newcastle supporters who they feel one of the best prospects is, there is one name that keeps cropping up. That is 19 year old Kade Snowden. A rangy backrower weighing in at 106kg, he is a second rower the Knights supporters feel can finally fill the gap left by Ben Kennedy?s departure. All through the grades Snowden has been impressive, only a couple of years ago winning Newcastle the SG Ball competition and touring with Australian Schoolboys. He is highly respected in the Newcastle camp and widely regarded as a second rower with a lot of ability and potential to lead the Knights into the future. His best attributes are his never-say-die attitude, his ball skills and his strong defence, including a shoulder charge that would make Sonny Bill Williams proud. While he got a taste of First Grade last season when the Knights injury crisis was at its worse, he?ll be looking for another opportunity this season to show what he?s got. Gains and Losses:Gains: Brian Carney, Luke Davico, Luke Hession, Chris BaileyLosses: Mark Hughes, Dane Tilse, Craig Hall, Andrew Price, Blake MuellerAssessment:I tried hard to find weaknesses in the line up of Newcastle. People can doubt the players? ages, their skill level, etc, but when I look at Newcastle?s team I see balance. I see a well-balanced forward pack capable of matching it with anyone in the NRL. I see a well-balanced backline, one that may not be the most creative, but can finish off a try. I see a well-balanced halves combination with the mix of greatness and potential and I see a well- balanced bench. However, while I see balance, I don?t see the ability to win the competition. I believe the Knights will make the 8 and I believe they will be well inside it. However, should the Knights suffer an injury to Andrew Johns, balance becomes no commodity any team wants. Every team needs a strike man. Unfortunately for Newcastle, they only have one that has the ability to win them a premiership. My prediction is Johns to play two-thirds of the season and guide Newcastle to between fifth and ninth.
THE Lovely Life on the Leis Farm means fine fine footyPeter Leis loves his Dayboro farm - up there in the picturesque hills about 30 km behinf Redcliffe he tends to his cows and crops with the utmost contentment - and this is why he is playing mighty football. It is one good reason why he is topping the try scorers.And what's the connection between the lovely life on the Leis farm and Rugby League?. Well it proves Peter Leis theory - that a man in a happy frame of mind plays top football.No worries, no discontent, no frustrations and day to day satisfaction means a fellow is at his mental and physical peak, says the 30 year old Redcliffe centre. And the way Cowboy Pete is going, who can disprove his theory?This is a slashing season for Peter - with 20 tries to prove it. Yet, before the season started he was undecided about fronting up for another season with Redcliffe.Now in his 13th season in A Grade football, he was inclined to fade out of the League picture. But Redcliffe is a "matey" club, and he decided to give it a go - to see if he could have a hand in the Dolphins having a crack at that big title - the '78 premiership.Nineteen tries later it's obvious that farmer Pete has had a fine football harvest, no doubt due to good teamwork, and that blissful farm life.Next on the try scoring list is Pete's colleague, "Bunny Pearce" with 14. "If Bunny looks like scoring a few against Valleys I'll tackle him myself," Pete joked. (The top try scorer for the season wins $300 and a replica of a trophy - these are donated by Gary Balkin of the Melbourne Hotel.)Peter, who had second thoughts about playing this year, is dead keen to be with the Dolphins next year. A modest man with a keen sense of humour, we observed, "It's certainly not a case of being fast, because I never had any pace in the first place. "But I know a few short cuts."Sheer hard work on the field, plus awesome determination makes him one of the best centres in Brisbane. Peter has one other point to make in Redcliffe's strong run for the premiership .... and that's Tony Obst's role in the team."I reckon Tony is the reason for for our success," Peter said. He is my idea of a complete footballer. "His attitude to the game and the team is unbelievable. It doesn't matter what happens, Tony never rubbishes anyone.""The way he keeps encouraging the chaps is amazing. He is not one of those critics who finds excuses or pass the buck. "He gets around and talks to all the chaps. You can't possibly talk about our team without giving Tony a good mention."And this Peter Leis observation no doubt will give many a League fan a respectful opinion of Tony Obst - the formidable figure on the field, also known by some as "The Enforcer". Peter hopes Tony will be back next year.With other veteran goers like Bevan Bleakley and "Bunny" Pearce steaming strongly as ever, ther is something about Redcliffe that keeps their players charging on. In Peter Leis's case, he can say it's contentment among the cows. Not many Brisbane League players can say that.This article was published in the Brisbane Rugby League programme in 1978.
THE New Zealand Warriors have until close of business Friday to respond to preliminary findings of salary cap breaches. The NRL issued the Warriors with an official notice of breach today and have requested the Auckland-based club to respond in writing before the end of the week.NRL chief executive David Gallop has refused to comment on media speculation that the Warriors will be heavily fined and docked up to six competition points before the start of the new season. The cap breaches relates to some player payments and arrangements organised by the previous Warriors administration.
THE New Zealand Warriors has finally received some good news with Kiwis fullback Brent Webb poised to make his 2006 debut against the Bulldogs on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.Rocked by revelations the club has breached the NRL's salary cap, and face heavy fines and possibly loss of points, Webb is a welcome inclusion for the final trial match at Carrara Stadium after two losses already this year. Webb's return has heartened the squad, the former Queenslander enabling head coach Ivan Cleary to field his strongest combination before the season opener against Melbourne Storm at Ericsson Stadium on March 12.Tony Martin, who started the first two trials, shifted onto the six-man bench to make way for Webb.Warriors: Brent Webb, Todd Byrne, Jerome Ropati, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei, Sione Faumuina, Nathan Fien, Ruben Wiki, Lance Hohaia, Steve Price (c), Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu, LouisAnderson.Interchange: Tony Martin, Patrick ah Van, Grant Rovelli, Micheal Luck, Epalahame Lauaki, Evarn Tuimavave.
SOUTH Sydney prop Scott Geddes has been ruled out of the Rabbitohs final trial match against North Queensland at Mackay on Saturday.Geddes is suffering a slight shoulder injury but is expected to be fit for the opening round of the NRL season against the Roosters on March 12. Michael Greenfield has been called into the Rabbitohs side and will come off the interchange bench.Rabbitohs: Todd Polglase, Nathan Merritt, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Balin Cupples, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Peter Cusack (c), Stuart Webb, Jaiman Lowe, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Shane Rigon.Interchange: Manase Manuokafoa, Michael Greenfield, Shane Walker, Ben Rogers, Beau Champion.
TEST prop Mark O'Meley is among three injury-forced omissions to the Bulldogs side originally named by coach Steve Folkes.O'Meley is suffering from some general hamstring tightness and will not play the New Zealand Warriors on the Gold Coast this Saturday. Club doctor Hugh Hazard expects O'Meley to be right for the Dogs? first round NRL match. Ben Czislowski (groin) and Brad Morrin (wrist) are the other changes to the 20-man squad.Jon Green, Daniel Conn and Chris Tuatara have been added to the interchange bench, with Chris Armit moving from the bench to the starting line-up.Bulldogs: Luke Patten, Namila Davui, Reni Maitua, Willie Tonga, Hazem El Masri, Daniel Holdsworth, Brent Sherwin, Chris Armit, Adam Perry, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan (c), Tony Grimaldi.Interchange: Nate Myles, Jon Green, Corey Hughes, Trent Cutler, Ben Roberts, Chris Tuatara, Daniel Conn.
AUSTRALIAN rep Craig Fitzgibbon will officially captain Sydney Roosters for the first time in Sunday's trial match against St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium.Coach Ricky Stuart has named an imposing line up for the final trial match, with injured fullback Anthony Minichiello the only first grade regular missing from the 19-man squad. Star recruits Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison will again line up for the tri colours after last weekend's thrashing of Manly.Roosters: Amos Roberts, SAM Perrett, Ryan Cross, Iosia Soliola, Joel Monaghan, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Adrian Morley, Craig Wing, Craig Fitzgibbon (C), Anthony Tupou, Chris Flannery, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Michael Lett, Jamie Soward, David Shillington, Lopini Paea, Shane Shackleton, Steve Meredith.
PARRAMATTA coach Brian Smith has recalled the majority of his first grade squad for the Eels final trial game against Penrith at Port Macquarie this Saturday.The Eels fielded a largely second string outfit in last weekend's 30-24 win over Melbourne, but Smith has recalled several stars including halfback Tim Smith, winger Eric Grothe and captain Nathan Cayless. Other Eels to return for the final trial will be Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, PJ Marsh, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon and Glenn Morrison.Eels: Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Delaney, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless, PJ Marsh, Justin Tsoulos, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon, Glenn Morrison.Interchange: Matt Petersen, Dean Widders, Josh Cordoba, Aaron Cannings, Luke O'Dwyer, Zeb Taia, Marcus Perenara, Peter Lewis.
CANBERRA veteran Jason Croker will play his first game of 2006 coming off the bench in the Raiders four-quarter trial match against Jim Beam Cup teams Windsor and Wentworthville this Saturday night at Queanbeyan.It is the Raiders final hit out before the NRL season kicks off with coach Matt Elliott cutting his squad to 17 for the match. Ensuring they will be up against fresh opposition the entire time, the Raiders will play Windsor in the first and third quarters, and Wentworthville in the second and fourth periods. Captain Clinton Schifcofske will be rested after taking part in the first two trials.Raiders: William Zillman, Adam Mogg, Phil Graham, David Howell, Adrian Purtell, Jason Smith, Lincoln Withers, Terry Martin, Simon Woolford, Willie Raston, Ben Jones, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Alan Tongue.Interchange: Jason Williams, Jason Croker, Todd Carney, Troy Thompson.
NORTH Sydney has come from behind to snatch a superb last minute victory and snatch the Leagues Club Cup from long time holders Tweed Heads.The ?Leagues Club Challenge Cup? became an annual contest between the North Sydney Bears and the Tweed Heads Seagulls Football teams after the North Sydney Leagues Club took over operations of the Tweed Heads Leagues Club six years ago.In hot conditions on Saturday night The Seagulls proved more than a match running away with the first half 10 to nil.But the reminder of a pact made by the North Sydney boys to ?win it for Flo? spurred them on in the second half with Aaron Trinder running in a try soon after the break.Then Bears player of the year Ben Ellis ran in under the posts to allow Ryan Russell to even the scores at 10 all.The game became a classic arm wrestle between the two rivals the score remaining even for most of the remainder. However in the last moments Andrew Moodie and Daniel Russell attempted to force a Tweed Heads player over the side line leading to a mistimed kick by the Gulls and a golden opportunity for Luke Fatnowna to run 50 metres and win the match as the final bell sounded 14 to 10.There was some good work by John Kagi in the hit-up department. Also Ryan Russell, John Russell and Aaron Trinder made good contributions. While Ben Ellis heroically topped the tackle count at 40, despite him not playing the full 80 minutes.Emotions were high in the Bears camp after the match the boys having made good their promise to North Sydney General Manger Greg Florimo.?The commitment was outstanding? said Coach Josh White, But stressed he is still looking for improvements in execution.THE 2006 LEAGUES CLUB CHALLENGE CUP ? NORTH SYDNEY 14 (Aaron Trinder, Ben Ellis, Luke Fatnowna tries Ryan Russell 1 goal) defeated TWEED HEADS 10(Jade McDermott, Joe Cudmore tries; Jade McDermott 1 goal).PHOTO: North Sydney Captain Ben Black proudly savours the Leagues Club Challenge Cup. Photo: Paul Collins.
MELBOURNE coach Craig Bellamy has named a near full-strength team for the Storm's final trial match against Brisbane at Toowoomba on Saturday.It is the third trial match in the Storm's preparation after two clashes with Parramatta in the previous weeks. Five-eighth Scott Hill will play his first match of the season and will be looking to form an instant bond with new halfback Cooper Cronk.Joining Hill in making a 2006 debut are internationals David Kidwell and Matt King while props Brett White, Scott Anderson, Ben Cross and Dennis Scott are all missing through injury.Storm: Billy Slater, Matt Geyer, Matt King, Greg Inglis, Jake Webster, Scott Hill, Cooper Cronk, Garret Crossman, Cameron Smith, Antonio Kaufusi, Michael Crocker, David Kidwell, Dallas Johnson.Interchange: Steve Turner, Adam Blair, Ian Donnelly, Jeremy Smith, Ryan Hoffman, Chris Walker, Nathan Friend, Jamie Feeney.
CATALANS Dragons have announced that Kiwis star Stacey Jones has undergone surgery after suffering a broken arm in last Friday night?s match at The Willows, Salford.The operation took place in Perpignan at lunch time on Monday and a metal rod was inserted into his arm to repair the break.Jones? doctors have said that the operation was a success and initial predictions that he may be out for six to eight weeks have been confirmed as correct.For the next two weeks Jones will be in total rest as he recovers from the operation.After the first couple of weeks of healing have passed he will be able start light fitness training. In five weeks time Jones? arm will be reassessed by his doctors to see the how the bone is healing and when he will be expected to take to the field again.Julien Rinaldi, who moved into the half-back position when Jones broke his arm, but who also exited the match with a leg injury shortly afterwards, has been cleared of serious injury.
THE RFL Disciplinary Committee has found John Wilshire of Salford City Reds guilty of a dangerous tackle in the match against Catalans Dragons (Round Two of engage Super League). Wilshire has been suspended for one match and fined ?350.
THE New Zealand Warriors are facing the possibility of losing competition points before the NRL season even kicks-off after revelations the club had breached the salary cap as far back as 2004.The club is also expected to cop a huge fine for the breaches, which the Warriors' new management is blaming on the old administration. It could have dire effects on the club, who are facing a maximum fine of up to $500,000 and potentially beginning the 2006 competition on -4 or -6 points. The follow-on effects could see sponsors pull out and crowds drop off.It is the second salary cap breach by the Warriors after being fined $100,000 in 2001, and the biggest salary cap scandal in the NRL since the Bulldogs were stripped of the minor premiership in 2002.
WESTS Tigers skipper Scott Prince will meet with Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen today to talk about moving to the Broncos in 2007.Prince has permission to negotiate with all three Queensland clubs until February 28, at which stage talks will begin with the Tigers. North Queensland has withdrawn its immediate interest in Prince leaving just the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans as threats to lure the premiership halfback away from Sydney.The Titans are hopeful of chatting with Prince in the next few days.