THE room was dark and smoky. The regular sound of poker chips coming together gave an unsteady rhythm, replicating the mood of the players left seated at the table. Onlookers shuffled around nervously, sensing that something big was about to happen.
THE 2005 engage Super League "Dream Team" has been named, and includes five players from St Helens, four from Leeds Rhinos, two from Hull FC plus players from Bradford Bulls and Warrington Wolves.
BENJI Marshall is happy to play through the pain barrier to prolong the eye-catching Wests Tigers National Rugby League (NRL) finals run, but his bravery is likely to be bad news for the Kiwis.
THE Australian Tertiary Students Rugby League team are currently on a tour of the South Pacific and will end their campaign in New Zealand when they take on the Auckland Tertiary Students team at Ericsson Stadium No.2 on Friday 23 September 2005.
ENGLAND have organised home internationals against France and New Zealand this autumn.
Karl Harrison's team will play France at Headingley on 23 October and then take on New Zealand at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium on 6 November.
FORMER Broncos captain Gorden Tallis says Darren Lockyer should skip the coming Tri-Nations series to improve the Broncos' chances of claiming the NRL premiership next season.
WIDNES Vikings' Adam Hughes (pictured)is facing a battle against time to be fit for Wales' crucial opening fixture in this year's Rugby League European Nations Cup writes Ian Golden.
Wales open their campaign on Sunday 16 October against Scotland at the Brewery Field (kick-off 3pm). Scotland v Ireland is in Edinburgh on Sunday 23 October before Wales face Ireland at Terenure University RFC in Dublin on Saturday 29 October. The winners of this group will then play the winners of the European group between France, Georgia and Russia in the final in France on Sunday 6 November.
Hughes, who is due to have an operation on his hand,?played his final match for relegated Widnes Vikings on Sunday at London Broncos losing 10-68. The centre is bound to be disappointed to leave the club in such a fashion but is now looking forward to the future.
"I'm finished with the Vikings so I?m a free agent now," commented Hughes at Griffin Park last Sunday. "I'm looking out for a new club for 2006 and I'm just waiting to see who comes in for me."
Hughes has not ruled out a move to Wales. Celtic Crusaders RLC, the new primary tenants of the home of Welsh Rugby League, Bridgend's Brewery Field, start life in the LHF Healthplan National League Two next season and part of their policy is to aim to recruit a 24-strong playing staff containing at least 18 Welshmen. Crusaders' Chief Executive Chris O'Callaghan is known to want players with Super League experience in his side to aim to get promotion to National League One at the first attempt so acquiring Hughes for the side could be a positive move for the ambitious new Welsh club.
But in the meantime, it is the Wales international side and the European Nations Cup that Hughes is aiming for.
Hughes has played in every senior Wales rugby league international since 2002 and was?man of the tournament for Wales in the 2003 European?Nations Cup?so?does not?want to miss out on European Rugby League's premier annual international tournament this year.
"I'm going to be having the operation on my hand very soon," said Hughes. "If this is a success then I?hope to?be there. I don't like missing out on playing for Wales."
Wales have a poor record in the European Nations Cup since the competition was re-introduced two years ago winning just one out of four matches. However, the success of?the Wales A side, who have won four consecutive Home Nations titles and have only lost two matches in 12 in the last four years, may prove an inspiration for the senior side's hopes of lifting the trophy for the first time in ten years.
For information on ticket prices and availability for the European Nations Cup tie against Scotland on Sunday 16 October, please contact Celtic Crusaders RLC on 01656 651515 or email [email protected]
HUDDERSFIELD Giants have beaten off competition from three top six Super League clubs and an NRL club to sign highly rated Wakefield back row forward Steve Snitch.
AS the pressure intensifies on St George Illawarra, senior Dragons players are confident a lack of fitness won't be a factor in Saturday night's preliminary final against Wests Tigers.
AFTER lengthy negotiations St George Illawarra fullback Clint Greenshields has today agreed to terms for a further twelve months with the Dragons.
ONE of rugby League's biggest questions has been answered tonight (Thursday, 22/09/05) with the Gold Coast launching their new name, the Gold Coast Titans, at Robina Town Centre in Queensland.
DEAN Widders admits he has finally matured as a rugby league player.
SATURDAY, 24th September 2005
RUSSELL Crowe has ruled out making any bid to buy his beloved South Sydney NRL club, for the time being.