ROUND 18 of the Telstra Premiership sees Saints travel to Parramatta for a highly anticipated match against the highly fancied Eels. Following a dismal display preceding the bye where Saints were out-thought and out-classed by the talented young Tigers, St George Illawarra missed a golden opportunity to move into the Top 4 and finds itself tittering on the inner edge of the Top 8 with a perceived tough draw ahead.
AFTER a series of strong performances for Newtown in the Premier League, added to a solid outing as a replacement last week against the Broncos, former New Zealand Warrior Vince Mellars has earned a promotion into the Sharks starting side for the match with Souths this Saturday night.
Mellars has made steady improvement this season with coach Stuart Raper opting to give him an opportunity in the top grade in what is his favoured position of centre. The 105kg Kiwi was used as a back-rower during the last 20 minutes of the match against Brisbane last Sunday.
?Vince has been playing well in the second grade and due to that good form he will get his chance against Souths,? Raper said. ?At this stage Paul Mellor has been named on a five-man interchange bench and I will decide on the final make up of the team later in the week.?
The return of Danny Nutley from State of Origin commitments is the only other Sharks change, with the Queensland debutant taking over from Hutch Maiava in the run-on side. Maiava, who more than held his own against Shane Webcke and the Brisbane pack last week, reverts back to the interchange bench.
The only Sharks player unavailable for selection is Greg Bird, the Sharks utility player set to will miss the remainder of the season with a serious foot injury.
Now on 22 points and just one win in front of a log jam of teams fighting for top eight positions, the Sharks will be keen to beat the Rabbits and to secure the two competition points and consolidate their place amongst the leaders.
Souths will be without forward Brian Fletcher for Saturday night?s match, the former international having been stood down from the Sharks clash while also losing the club captaincy due to a racial abuse issue involving Parramatta?s Dean Widders last Sunday.
The Sharks v Souths clash will kick off at 5.30pm at Aussie Stadium. Shayne Hayne is to be the referee. In the Premier League Newtown play Souths, also at Aussie Stadium, that match getting underway at 3.30pm, while in the Jersey Flegg the Sharks play Souths at Redfern Oval, beginning at 1.30pm.
BULLOCKING prop Josh Miller says he will continue to play with fearless aggression after being recalled to the Canberra Raiders starting team for this Saturday?s match against the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park.
EXCITING youngster Travis Burns has been chosen to make his NRL debut in The Sea Eagles side to play Penrith at Penrith Park on Saturday night.
PENRITH Panthers coach John Lang has named his team to take on the high flying Sea Eagles at Penrith Stadium on Saturday night.
Coach Langs team is;
NORTH Queensland Cowboys coach Graham Murray has named his side to travel to Newcastle to face the Knights on Sunday afternoon.
After the victory over the Warriors last Saturday night, Murray has been a little spoilt for choice with the return of his Origin rep players.
SEAN Hampstead has confirmed his position as the game?s best referee, with the ARL confirming his appointment as referee for the first State of Origin match at Stadium Australia next Wednesday.
AUSTRALIA coach Wayne Bennett is expecting a fiercely-competitive battle with Great Britain and New Zealand in the end-of-season Gillette Tri-Nations Series.
ANDREW Johns could be rushed into the Australian team for this year's Tri-Nations Test series if he can make it back onto the field for the National Rugby League finals.
THE results from last weekend's round for all grades are as follows:
QUEENSLAND five-eighth Darren Lockyer was today ruled out of the first State of Origin match at Stadium Australia next Wednesday night.
FRIDAY 21st of May 2004
AFTER gushing with pride over a State of Origin selection he had all but given up on, Bulldogs prop Willie Mason admitted he had not ruled out turning his back on rugby league.
THE audacious promoters of a National Rugby League (NRL) franchise in Wellington have All Blacks captaincy candidate Tana Umaga at the top of their shopping list.