AUSTRALIAN utility player Craig Wing is battling to overcome a sternum injury but has been named in coach Wayne Bennett?s squad for Saturday?s Gillette Tri-Nations Series final against New Zealand at Elland Road.
STATISTICS in the National Rugby League show that the average career span for a player is only 53 games, little more than two seasons. These are pretty concerning figures in a professional sport where the time constraints of playing and training leave many players having to rely solely on their match payments as financial income.Up until the last few years, there had been little or no education on the erratic nature of the financial rewards, nor the need to have a backup career or education for life post-football. However, now the League has been building programs and increasing their involvement in player welfare and education. NRL game liaison manager, Michael Buettner, said the League had implemented part-time education and welfare officers at club level along with a committee with representatives ranging from the NRL, the Players Association, Club representatives and academics from Sydney University. This is bringing to fruition programs designed to educate players on behavior, both on and off the field.?Obviously through media reports there has been a focus on the issues relating to alcohol and attitudes towards women amongst NRL players which have been addressed with all players participating in workshops relating to these issues,? Buettner said.Many clubs have also taken it upon themselves to offer guidance for a life after sport, under the direction from the NRL. This is designed to encourage players to take part in educational programs through work experience or traineeships.The NRL is now looking at better ways to improve the amount of education younger players receive from not only the current courses offered but also through existing players getting involved in workshops with younger players. ?The NRL was able to conduct workshops to the majority of the clubs under 20?s Jersey Flegg teams this year and also the Australian Schoolboys team and will continue this in 2006 with plans to extend this to under 18?s and under 16's level,? said Buettner.A preliminary Rookie camp made up of a spread of talented youngsters from each club debuted this year. At the camp, the junior players were pioneered on the ins-and-outs of the game. The first camp was considered a huge success and plans are already in the pipeline for a follow-up in 2006. As well as facilitating programs at an introductory level, the NRL are also strong supporters of the ?Men of League? organisation. The idea for the ?Men Of League? grew over three years ago out of concerns legendary back-rower Ron Coote held for former players who were doing it tough. Approximately 2,300 ex-players and officials now form the ?Men of League?, making it a successful support network for those in need.Rugby League has taken a giant step forward in guiding its players to acknowledge a career in life after football. Unfortunately, like many sporting careers, League is not a lengthy one. The approximate two seasons that an average players? career will span, based on the salary cap of $3.3 million, will only earn him an average of $65,000 a year. This is based on the assumption that the top 25 will be paid equally from the cap. In reality, however these figures are not the case. Just look at St George-Illawarra back-rower, Lance Thompson who last year took a significant pay cut so other star players at the club could be resigned.As Buettner says, life after football is a consideration all players have to take into account.?Therefore the average NRL player will not find the game financially rewarding and in fact will require him to focus a lot more on what he is doing post football,? he said.
NEW Zealand coach Brian McClennan claims his Kiwis are underdogs to end Australia's three decades of dominance in Saturday night's Tri Nations rugby league final at Elland Road.
SYDNEY Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello has been crowned the best player in the world ahead of Saturday's Tri National final against New Zealand in Leeds.Minichiello joined a list of elite players overnight who have won the prestigious World Golden Boot award. He was presented with the coveted award by former rugby league legend Arthur Beetson at a black tie dinner at the Elland Road Stadium where Australia will defend its Tri-Nations title on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEDT).Minichiello edged out Great Britain prop Stuart Fielden and Kiwi skipper Ruben Wiki for the honour - organised by Rugby League World Magazine and voted on by rugby league writers from around the world.He is the first fullback since Balmain's Garry Jack in 1987 to carry off the biggest individual prize in world rugby league.
RUGBY League?s International Federation on Monday confirmed next year?s Gillette Tri-Nations Series will be held in the southern hemisphere.
NEWCASTLE coach Michael Hagan will discuss his future with the club over the next 48 hours with rumours linking him to Parramatta in 2007.According to Channel Nine, Eels chief executive Denis Fitzgerald is hunting Hagan to take over the coaching position in 2007 after announcing Brian Smith will not have his contract renewed next year.Hagan has one year remaining on his contract at the Knights. He endured a horror 2004 season when the club won its first wooden spoon and he led Queensland's State of Origin team to a 2-1 series defeat.
THE cold snap in England's north is causing problems for the touring Kangaroos who have again been forced to delay training to allow the ground to thaw out.
FIXTURES for 20.11.05.Bradford Thunderbirds 36 Keighley Cats 6Wakefield Panthers 26 Castleford Panthers 6Hillside Hawks 50 East Hull 0Shaw Cross Sharks P Sheffield Hawks PPendle 0 Warrington 50Copeland P York Acorn P Frozen pitchDevelopment LeagueCrofton Cougars 12 Swinton Ladies 6Middleton P Brighouse Rangers P Frozen pitch Rochdale Ravens P Bradford Victoria P Frozen pitchChallenge Cup 1st RoundCastleford Panthers v York AcornCopeland Wildcats v Keighley CatsWarrington v Shaw Cross SharksDevelopment LeagueBradford Victoria v StanningleyBrighouse Rangers v Swinton LadiesMiddleton v Rochdale Ravens
BRISBANE Brothers will relocate its senior and junior teams to Gibson Park at Stafford in season 2006, continuing a lengthy assocation with the precinct.
NEXT week's Rugby League International Federation board meeting here could close the door on players being registered in two competitions at the same time, preventing a repeat of Andrew Johns's UK stint this year.
WHERES' Wally? That may be the last remaining question after Wynnum this week reverted to its former name, Wynnum-Manly Seagulls, the same moniker which the club sported in the 1980s while Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Colin Scott and the French brothers graced the Kougari turf.
KIWIS skipper Ruben Wiki has dismissed British reports that he has been offered a lucrative Super League contract by Monty Betham's new club, Wakefield Trinity.
THE future of the Tri Nations tournament should be clearer later tonight (AEDT time) after the Rugby League Federation executive meets in Leeds.
WAYNE Bennett could not guarantee he wouldn't make changes to the Australian side to play rivals New Zealand in next weekends Tri-Nations final at Elland Road.
SOUTH London Storm last weekend finished there season on a high when they were awarded the Club of the Year award by the Rugby League Conference. The National award is contested by all clubs playing in the top amateur Rugby League competition and South London won ahead of clubs from as far away as Cumbria to the north and Plymouth to the south.Storm were nominated for three awards narrowly missing out on two (Coach of the Year for coach Rob Powell and Player of the Year for Second Row/Prop Louis Neethling), but winning the Club of the Year award and also Louis Neethling gaining a place in the national Dream Team at Second Row.Arguably this was the award Storm wanted to win the most. Storm started the season off with one main aim and it was for the club to go back to its roots and become a club once more and a club for the players, spectators and the Juniors as a first thought and results to come second. This award proves that the Storm have indeed done that. ?This is a proud day for all those involved with the club. It is a shame for Rob and Louis who have been major forces both on the field and off it in the club but they deserve to be proud for being nominated for these prestigious awards.? Commented chairman Paul Brown on winning the award.?It is a great testament to the club that we have won this award and also won our division this year. The two do not always come together, a successful team does not always make for a good club and a good club does not always make for a great team but this year a great club helped this team become a great team.? ?The team played their hearts out all season and you could see they were playing for each other, making for a great club atmosphere at training and after matches. Many have put a great deal of time into the senior club and the many Junior teams we have and this is for everyone. It is a great day for the club and vindicates how hard people have worked.? South London Storm will be starting pre season training again in the new year. If you wish to take part please log onto www.southlondonstorm.com or call the club on 0700 596 8671.