TRYTime - playing for one Christmas only

THERE'S a new game on the block this Christmas, it's a rugby league game, it's called TRYTime, and like a fine wine, there is more to it than first meets the eye.The gaming experience, and it is an experience, starts when you are handed the stylish box."It was important for us to create a game which exceeded the expectations of all our customers, we are constantly disappointed by the quality and ingenuity of modern toys and games, and we refuse to compromise on quality." says Richard Woodward, the games chief designer.The next thing which strikes you is that the game is heavy, but then with the solid plastic box, game board, player holders, ball, ball slider, dice, 8 unique game pieces, money, 600+ cards - you get the gist, you can see why.Absolutely everything about TRYTime oozes class, from the game components right through to the game play. It is highly unusual for a game to work as well with 2 players as it does with more, yet TRYTime does just this."It is true that we are very excited about how the game looks, but it really is the games sharp play and cohesion we are most proud of. We set out with the goal of creating a unique and enthralling game dedicated to the sport we love, but it turned out to be so much more than that. We see TRYTime now more as one of those once in a lifetime products, the ones which get people really excited, the gaming equivalent of the iPod."So what does the future look like for TRYTime?"TRYTime - Rugby League is a one off, we won't be producing any more in 2006 or beyond. We will continue to produce updated player packs and team charts, but we will be turning our attention to other sports in the New Year, with an Australian Rugby League version with NRL players included, American Football, Rugby Union and a special World Cup football version of the game all on the agenda for release in 2006 or 2007. We launched first with GB Rugby League as it's the game we are most passionate about."And you can certainly tell that.TRYTime is a fantasy board game based on the English Super League. It is available through League Unlimited and as a special offer to our readers, each order will recieve a FREE League Unlimited mousemat.For more info, please CLICK HERE.

Great Britain claim 3 places in World 13

THREE of Great Britain's Tri-Nations line-up have been named in this season's World XIII. Keiron Cunningham, Stuart Fielden and Jamie Peacock were all included in the side unveiled in the December issue of Rugby League world magazine. There are just two New Zealanders in the side - Lesley Vainikolo and Ruben Wiki - despite their Tri-Nations win. Australia make up the majority of the team even after their 24-0 defeat to the Kiwis on Saturday. The World XIII is selected by journalists from all the major league-playing nations. Rugby league World XIII 2005:A Minichiello (Australia); B Tate (Australia), M Gasnier (Australia), M Cooper (Australia); L Vainikolo (New Zealand); D Lockyer (Australia), A Johns (Australia); S Fielden (Great Britain), K Cunningham (Great Britain), R Wiki (New Zealand), C Fitzgibbon (Australia), J Peacock (Great Britain), B Kennedy (Australia).

Huddersfield Giants Announce pre-season games

THE Giants have today released full details of their pre-season programme in the build up to engage Super League XI. A highlight of the pre season fixtures will be the visit of Robbie Paul's old club when the Bradford Bulls come to the Galpharm on Sunday the 22nd of January (3:00pm). The Giants will also visit engage Super League new boys Castleford Tigers on the 29th of January as well as taking part in the Infirmary Cup match at Halifax and Kris Radlinski's Testimonial game at Wigan on the 2nd of February.Speaking about the fixtures, Giants Head Coach Jon Sharp commented:"We are absolutely delighted with our pre-season games. We will get some tough tests against 3 engage Super League teams and the boys should be well prepared when we visit the Leeds Rhinos for the first round of the engage Super League." Full Pre Season FixturesMonday 2nd January- Halifax RLFC- Away- Kick Off 3:00pmSunday 22nd January- Bradford Bulls- Home- Kick Off 3:00pmSunday 29th January- Castleford Tigers- Away- Kick Off 3:30pmThursday 2nd February- Wigan Warriors- Away- Kick Off 7:45pmSunday 5th February- Batley Bulldogs- Away- Kick Off 3:00pm

Bulls Announce pre-season games

ENGAGE Super League Champions, Bradford Bulls, have today announced that they will play four more pre season friendly games prior to the start of the 2006 Super League season.As well as the fixture at Warrington on January 2nd, they will play Dewsbury Rams at Rams Stadium on Sunday 8th January at 3.00pm, Huddersfield Giants on Sunday 22nd January at 3.00 pm, Hull KR at Odsal on Friday 27th at 8.00 pm, this game will be a Testimonial Game for Robbie Paul and their final pre season game will be at Keighley Cougars on Sunday February 5th at 3.00 pm.

NZRL Awards night

KIWI captain Ruben Wiki won the New Zealand Rugby League's Player of the Year at the annual NZRL awards evening in Auckland last night.Wiki achieved a monumental 50 internationals after leading the side to a 24-0 win over Australia in the Tri-Nations final .He beat fellow Kiwi team mates Benji Marshall and Paul Whatuira.Marshall was named Rookie of the Year.Brian McClennan won the Bartercard Coach of the Year award after winning the title with Mt Albert and he also won Personality of the Year.Canterbury Bulls Chris Newton won the Bartercard Cup Player of the Year as well as the supreme achievment trophy. Best domestic junior went to Sam Rapira.Top referee award went to Glenn BlackWomens player of the year went to Rona Peters

GB's RFL reveal 'road map' for future

THE Rugby Football League on Friday outlined plans for a Lions tour to the southern hemisphere included in an exciting "road map" for the international game.RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis, who is vice-chairman of the International Federation, says officials at their recent meeting in Leeds mapped out outline plans for the next eight years.Among the highlights are a Great Britain tour down under in 2010, another Tri-Nations Series in this country in 2009 and a World Cup, also in Britain, in 2012 or 2013."Our road map for the international game is very clear," said Lewis. "We know what we want to achieve, it?s a question of delivering it."Lewis, who revealed this year?s Gillette Tri-Nations Series made a profit despite Great Britain?s failure to reach the final, said the triangular tournament had raised the profile of the international game.He is confident the 2006 series which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand will whet their appetite for the 2008 World Cup down under.Lewis confirmed the start of the 2008 Super League season would be put back at least six weeks to accommodate the World Cup, which will be held in March of that year, and that next year?s European Nations Cup would be used as part of the qualifying process which will see two European nations join England and France in the main draw.He also revealed plans to expand the proposed 2009 series involving England, Australia and New Zealand to include the French.The national team will, after next year, only come together as Great Britain for Lions tours, with England taking on the New Zealand tourists in 2007.Attendances for the recently-completed Tri-Nations Series were down considerably on the 2004 event which made a profit of ?750,000 but, although the audit has yet to be completed, the tournament finished in the black."Clearly it will not be anything like last year but it exceeded our budget expenditure," said RFL operations director Nigel Wood. "It will definitely make a profit."Wood also revealed that most Super League clubs are operating at a loss, although finances are improving across the board."No more than three Super League clubs are in profit but the level of losses has come down significantly since 2001," he said."Although there is much to do, we are making progress."Super League attendances have increased each year since 2001 and Lewis said today television audiences were up by around 30 per cent this year, with League matches watched by an average 150,000, rising to 200,000 for the play-offs.Meanwhile, the RFL on Friday launched a new corporate identity, complete with new logo, in an effort to maintain the game?s recent progress."We want the RFL to be seen as modern, dynamic, commercial, caring and professional," said director of marketing Simon Malcolm.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this report.

Gold Coast pair join Titans Elite Academy

THE Gold Coast Titans rugby league club has beaten rival code rugby union and league premiers Wests Tigers to clinch the signatures of two of the city's most promising footballers.Keebra Park State High firsts captain Matthew Francis and The Southport School first XV co-captain Mitchell Herlihy were yesterday unveiled as the fledgling Coast club's latest recruits.The pair, who were schoolmates at AB Paterson College before sporting scholarships took them on different paths, will be part of a 27-member Titans Elite Academy.Titans football manager Scott Sattler described the signings as 'significant'. Francis, 18, had been a target of the Tigers who have a close relationship with Keebra, while Herlihy, 17, was already part of rugby's national identification squad.Sattler said Francis, a workaholic hooker, and Herlihy, a robust centre, were classic examples of the Titans plan to focus on homegrown talent."Matt Francis was captain of a team (Keebra) beaten in the final of the Arrive Alive Cup for the best school in the nation," said Sattler."At 17 he was playing first grade Mixwell Cup with the Burleigh Bears this year and was voted the Bears' player of the season out of all grades, including Queensland Cup. He is one of our feeder clubs' best players."Herlihy has not played rugby league but has been immersed in the code since birth. His father Graham is a former Brisbane Brothers first grade league player who later coached Brisbane Easts in the Queensland Cup."I think Mitchell is more suited to league than rugby," said Sattler. "He is in the mould of a Matt Cooper fast, strong, very good on his feet. Off the field he is a straight-A student."It is a coup to grab him because in the long run I think he will be one of those players that would have been a success at either code."The Elite Academy will have its first gathering on Sunday at Bond University, and Sattler has high expectations of the group."The players in the Elite Academy will meet on a monthly basis and will be fast-tracked a little more than your usual academy players," he said."We would like a few to jump out of the ground and vie for a spot in the top 25 squad for the 2007 season."They will work hand-in-hand with first grade coach John Cartwright for the next 12 months and have a relationship with him that no other player will have in the NRL."In fact, they will have 12 months jump on a lot of our NRL players that are arriving in October next year to start training with the Titans. John Cartwright may like the way some of the academy players are developing and throw them in the deep end."Francis and Herlihy were excited yesterday over their signings."I am really happy, actually a bit stunned about being selected," said Francis. "It's going to be a great experience, especially working under John Cartwright and Scott Sattler."I had offers from the West Tigers to move to Sydney but it is great to be able to live here on the Gold Coast and concentrate on trying to make the grade for the Gold Coast Titans."Herlihy is confident he can successfully cross over to league."It's a great opportunity to get some great coaching and further my skills and hopefully make it to the top level," he said."I've grown up watching league and I am expecting the transition to league to be a little tough for the first couple of games."It's (playing rugby league) something that I've thought about and the Titans being put in the NRL has been the catalyst for the move from union."Francis and Herlihy started at AB Paterson College in the same year, Francis in Year One and Herlihy in pre-school. But Francis pursued a rugby league scholarship at Year Nine, firstly Coombabah State High and then Keebra. He also played all his junior league with Runaway Bay.Herlihy joined TSS in Year 10 on a rugby scholarship.

Fiji RL questions PNG's auto World Cup entry

THE Fiji National Rugby League Bati coach Shane Morris believes Papua New Guinea should not receive direct entry to the 2008 world cup, which will be held in Australasia.PNG, which is rated above Fiji in the rugby league world rankings, is likely to get a direct entry in the ten-nation competition.Morris said the Fiji Bati is capable of beating the PNG Kumuls."There are talks of direct entry for some nations and PNG is one of them," Morris said."I don't feel that PNG should get a direct entry. We can beat PNG. Both Samoa and Tonga can do the same. I will be talking with the Rugby League International officials."World champions Australia, New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea are expected to receive direct entry.The other nations will have to play in the qualifying rounds. The 2008 world cup will be the sport's first since the failed event in the United Kingdom in 2000 which had 16 countries. Details of which teams will have to qualify will be finalised next year.Morris said Fiji will face Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands in the playoff. He said two nations will qualify for the world cup while the third place team will have to play against the bottom placed European nation. In its recent meeting the Rugby League International Federation set up rules regarding the make-up of each country's squad to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2000 when Lebanon fielded a team comprised entirely of Australia-based players. The new rules require every squad to contain at least six players who have either played in the relevant domestic competition for at least one year, or who have played in one of that nation's junior international teams in the 18 months prior to the tournament. Meanwhile, New Zealand are expected to host three of the pool matches in the 2006 Tri-Nations series between Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.

Sam Harris ready to step up

THE task of being at his best each week is a challenge new Wests Tigers recruit Sam Harris is looking forward to.The former Manly second-rower started pre-season training last week with the 2005 premiers. Harris is signed to the Wests Tigers until the end of the 2008 season.Speaking on Talkin Sport (2SM 1269AM) on Thursday, December 1, Harris said he been made to feel very welcome at the Concord Oval headquarters."All the boys are still really down to earth and there is a really good feeling throughout the club,'' Harris said."The players know that they are not world beaters and they still have to work hard next year to be a top side. I'm sure (coach) Tim Sheens has got some big plans for the team."It was a little bit daunting to come to the club after the grand final victory. It is good though because I have never been in this situation before where I have played for such a successful team."It will feel a bit different next year running out onto the field knowing that you have to be at your best each week because the opposition will be at their best, wanting to beat you.''Harris said negotiations with the Wests Tigers club began after the side had crushed Manly 49-24 at Leichhardt Oval in round 17."I played one of my better games that night and Tim Sheens gave my manager a call a week later to see if I would be interested in coming to the Wests Tigers because there was talk that Manly were looking to release me with a view to getting Matt Orford,'' Harris admitted."I wanted to stay at Manly but the more and more I thought about it, it just seemed like a better move.''Harris said he enjoyed watching his future team-mates achieve their incredible run of success in the finals."Everyone kept putting the Wests Tigers down because they were too young and too inexperience,'' Harris said."I could tell that they had something special. I'm not saying that I thought they were going to win the grand final but they obviously had a good nucleus of a team that if everything clicked, they were going to be very hard to beat. It showed in the grand final."It was good not to kind of jump on the bandwagon but ride the wave of it and watch them succeed.''Harris said he was already impressed by the professionalism of the club and of the direction being taken by Sheens and assistant coach Royce Simmons."I've only been at the club for a week but Tim already demands plenty of respect,'' Harris said."You listen to every word he says because you know he is right on the ball. Royce is the same and they really have a good system working at the club."It just looks like the Wests Tigers are going to be a powerhouse for years to come.''

BULLS ANNOUNCE KARL PRATT DEPARTURE

ENGAGE Super League Champions Bradford Bulls have today announced that utility player Karl Pratt, released from his contract by the Bulls, has taken medical advice and has decided to retire from the game as a result of persistent shoulder injuries.Pratt, who is 25, joined the Bulls from Leeds Rhinos in December 2002, played in 62 games for the Bulls, scoring 21 tries and was member of the Bulls team that won all the available domestic trophies in 2003, playing in both the Challenge Cup and Grand Final of that year and the World Club Challenge against Penrith in February 2004.?Bulls Coach Brian Noble said today:?It?s a major blow for Karl and I am very disappointed for him. To have to retire at such a young age is a bitter blow and I wish Karl well for the future. It should serve as a warning to other players to make the most of their careers whilst they can because you never know what is round the corner.?Karl Pratt is understandably disappointed at having to quit the game:?I am devastated at having to leave the game but the Specialist?s advice has to be adhered to and it has left me no other option. I would like to thank everyone at Bradford, especially Brain Noble and Chris Caisley, for the way they have handled this matter and I wish the Bulls every success in the future.?

Skolars Skool report

SKOLARS RESERVES AIM TO WIN BACK TO BACK CUPS The London Skolars reserves are aiming to hold onto the clubs silverwear when they take on Gateshead in the final of the Conference Cup in Derby on Sunday. The Skolars won the final last year and are favourites to regain the trophy after an impressive victory last weekend against South London which qualifiedthem for the final. With the Skolars NL2 side having the weekend off, coach Stu Singleton can pick from a large squad of regular second teamers and a number of players who have NL2 experience but have also played at the conference level this season.

Sharks Victorious In Golden Point Thriller

SHARKS centre Nigel Vagana put the demons from last night's test match to rest after he scored the match winning try in golden point extra time as the Sharks beat the Eels 18-14 in a thriler at Parramatta Stadium.

Crunch time for joint venture

CRUNCH time for Illawarra's involvement in the St George Illawarra joint venture is drawing closer with the National Rugby League set to offer a new licence sooner rather than later.

Storm overpower Cowboys

THE Melbourne Storm have put in a polished performance disposing of North Queensland Cowboys 28-6 at Olympic Park tonight.

Raiders hold on but look shaky

THE Canberra Raiders have run out unconvincing 19-18 winners over the Newcastle Knights at a chilly Canberra Stadium this evening.

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