Game IV Preview: Australia v Great Britain

THE Tri-Nation?s bandwagon continues to roll on with more controversy than a toaster road-test on A Current Affair.It?s impossible to ignore the Fien saga which, two years out from the World Cup, has resulted in exactly the sort of publicity the RLIF didn?t want. But if there?s a silver lining to this big grey cloud, I suppose we should all hope that they?ll have their act together by the 2008 Centenary Tournament.Moving on, and today Pryce drew pistols at dawn, with the British winger claiming he prefers Bradford to Manly and pretty much doesn?t like Aussies because all we do is bang on about how Poms whinge. Funny that. But then again when you run around glassing people in pubs it?s unlikely you?ll receive a warm welcome anywhere.On the Aussie front, Mason continues to snipe from the belltower, claiming the Pommies simply aren?t up to it after their performance against New Zealand. This game should hold special significance for the Aussie forward after debuting against Great Britain at this ground in 2002 with his prominent afro. The Kangaroos tore the Lions apart that night with Mason scoring a try and presumably keen to repeat his dominant performance.All this sets the stage for some wonderful theatre on Saturday night so let?s take a look at the teams, with the Poms up first?Great Britain: Paul Wellens, Brian Carney, Keith Senior, Kirk Yeaman, Leon Pryce, Danny McGuire, Sean Long, Stuart Fielden, Terry Newton, Jamie Peacock (c), Gareth Ellis, Gareth Hock, Sean O'LoughlinInterchange: James Roby, Adrian Morley, Lee Gilmour, Jon Wilkin, Gareth Raynor (one to be omitted).Just when we thought Noble had spared us one of the three Gareth?s by dropping Carvell, he pulls another one out of the hat, plonking Raynor on the bench as 18th man. There?s every chance he won?t play though. Gleeson has been dropped with exciting prospect Yeaman coming in and as widely anticipated, Morley moves to the bench with Peacock shifting up to prop and Hock gets a start this time around.The skilful Wilkin looks set to play this week, after being named in the no 14 jumper with the rest of the team unchanged.All these changes probably improve the Great Britain side and I?m sure they?ll be better for playing New Zealand last week. They lacked any real direction and penetration for the first 60-70 minutes before adding a couple of tries late in the game.Now to the Aussies, and here?s how they line-up:Australia: Karmichael Hunt, Brent Tate, Mark Gasnier, Jamie Lyon, Greg Inglis, Darren Lockyer (C), Ben Hornby, Mark O'Meley, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Willie Mason, Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke O'DonnellInterchange: Cameron Smith, Anthony Tupou, Brent Kite, Sam Thaiday.There are a couple of big name omissions who have been rested for this clash with King and Hodges in the backs being allowed to recover from niggling injuries. Tate and prodigal son Lyon take their places whilst Hornby gets a shot at halfback ahead of Thurston.Up front, Ryan has been given a spell with Mason coming back but into the second row. O?Meley starts alongside Civoniceva with Berrigan grabbing a starting berth at hooker ahead of Smith, who?s been benched. The balance of the team is unchanged with Thaiday playing his second game after Kaufusi was ruled out.I think the reshuffle will do the Aussies some good. Hornby is an interesting playmaker and Lyon?s recall will be one of the talking points of the match. Tate, a seasoned campaigner, won?t have any problems out there and again the backline is enormous in stature, very skilled and fast.The DecisionLike last week I can?t see anything other than a loss for Great Britain, but at least we?ll be able to gauge any improvement within their team.Morley off the bench makes sense as he offers some impact, a factor that let them down last week. But this may see them start the game a little skinny with Peacock up front. The man who has to stand up here is Fielden. For a guy who allegedly wants to smash people he was very quiet against the Kiwis. But maybe I?m not paying the New Zealand forwards enough respect as they have been the dominant forward pack so far in the tournament.I?m looking forward to watching Yeaman for the Poms. There?s big wraps on him and an interesting side issue has been the curiosity he?s generating out Redfern way. Obviously Bomber McRae still keeps in touch with the ESL.In the Aussie camp, the change-up by Stuart is a good thing and he?s already used most of his squad, which is a rarity these days. Hunt has been going well at fullback but the forwards just look menacing. Three starting props with two mobile backrowers and more of the same off the bench looks simply unbeatable from a British point of view.Then the size, speed and skill of the Aussie backs will be too hard to contain. Even after replacing King and Hodges the backline is still as ridiculously blessed with talent. I hope the addition of Hornby and his organisational skills will provide a bit more width and depth for Lockyer, Gasnier and Lyon to run amok.Australia should win this one well on home soil and the crowd ought to be a significant one. The past three games have yielded an average of 21,875 people, which for International Rugby League is pretty encouraging considering two matches were hosted in non-traditional surrounds.

NZ stripped of Tri-Nations points

NEW Zealand has been stripped of its two competition points and Nathan Fien barred from taking any further part in the Tri-Nations after the Rugby League International Federation ruled the Australian-born hooker ineligible to represent the Kiwis.

St.George Chairman announces new election Bylaws

IN the recently published St.George Leagues Club Journal (Nov 2006-Feb 2007), Club Chairman Warren Lockwood repeats his Board's concern about "overzealous campaigning" during the March 2006 Board election.

Vella goes to England

UNDOUBTEDLY the biggest name in rugby league to have Maltese ancestry - Michael Vella, has signed a three-year-deal with the UK Super League?s newest team, Hull Kingston Rovers.

Vella goes to England

UNDOUBTEDLY the biggest name in rugby league to have Maltese ancestry - Michael Vella, has signed a three-year-deal with the UK Super League?s newest team, Hull Kingston Rovers.

Fien decision adjourned

A decision on whether to penalise New Zealand for fielding an ineligible player in the Tri-Nations tournament has been adjourned until later today.

USA v Japan teams, scorers

THE USA Tomahawks defeated a spirited Japan Samurais 54 to 18 in front of 1,200 fans at the Aston Community Center Field to advance to the next stage of the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers.In an event which featured Youth Football and Rugby League, the Tomahawks entertained a large hometown crowd with some thrilling tries and big tackles. The Samurais were courageous but in the end size and power were the deciding factor for the USA. Chilly conditions on game night and torrential rain the evening before threatened to spoil the action on game day but the Tomahawks and Samurais were able to play some exciting Rugby League and develop a whole new base of support in the Delaware Valley region of Pennsylvania.Although they were defeated, the Samurais were a big hit with the vocal crowd and made many friends with their determined efforts throughout the match that resulted in a couple of long range tries from their speedy outside backs. Man of the match for the USA was Louis Tulio with great support from Marcus Vassilakopouls and Conway Maraki. The AMNRL, in association with Aston Bandits AA Youth Football, presented an entertaining day with over 2,000 fans enjoying a unique event which featured cheerleaders, t-shirts slingshot into the crowd, and skills challenges. The large crowd was able to purchase and sample some real rugby league treats, including the great Australian Pie, courtesy of sponsors Crikeys Pies based in Toledo, Ohio. The full day of great sports action featured touchdowns, tackles, pies, and tries with fans of both sports admiring the exciting skill and contact of Rugby League with a view to developing youth Rugby League programs in the future with Aston AA and Chichester AA. USA Tomhawks 54 (Louis Tulio 3, Marcus Vassilakopoulos 2, Conway Amraki 2, Cory Sheridan, Justin Zadnik, Phil Shipos, Ric Dortone tries, Marcus Vassilakopoulos 5 goals) defeated Japan Samurais 18 (Konishi Amane, Tainaka Noriyuki, Kazaoka Masanori tries, Oriyama Norihiro 3 goals). Halftime - USA 32 Japan 6. Match played at Aston Community Center Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, October 28 2006. Crowd 2,000+.USA Tomahawks1. Eric Hollingsworth2. Ric Dortone3. Jeff Preston4. Cory Sheridan5. Louis Tulio6. Conway Maraki7. Dave Niu8. Justin Zadnick9. Marcus Vassilakopolous10. Ed Woodbridge11. Chris Craig12. Kevin Deal13. Shayne Mains14. Mike Edwards15. Fred Backhaus16. Ryan Coleman17. Phil ShiposJapan Tour Squad 2006Backs:NAKAI Kazunobu (vice captain) IJUIN Kazunori ITAGAKI Masamichi USHIDA Narihisa INOUE Mitsutaka MIYAZAKI Hiroshi IGUCHI Jin OSHIMA Yasunori Forwards:KONISHI Amane (head coach) TAINAKA Noriyuki (captain) KITA Hirofumi TAKASHINO Mitsuo KAZOAKA Mansanori Benedict PENDER ORIYAMA Norihiro KONDO Ryo TAMURA Shunsuke Coaches: KONISHI Amane, Steve FREEBORNPhysio: UEDA HiroyukiSources: www.amnrl.com, www.geocities.jp/japaneserugbyleague, posters in Front Row Forum International Section

SKANDO TO RAISE FUNDS FOR CANCER FOUNDATION

WESTS Tigers prop John Skandalis may be heading for England but the welfare of sick children will see him raise funds at a family movie night in Campbelltown on Wednesday, November 29. In conjunction with Greater Union Campbelltown, Wests Tigers will hold an exclusive advanced screening of new family movie, Open Season, at the cinema with proceeds being donated to Skando's favourite charity, Kids with Cancer Foundation Australia. The evening will include appearances by some Wests Tigers players and mascot, performances by the C91.3 Wests Tigers Kittens, as well as the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes and give-aways. This is your chance to get up close and personal with Campbelltown's favourite son before he departs for Huddersfield. Tickets for this special event are available from Monday, November 6. Ticket Prices: $20 per adult $15 per child* $60 per family** Some treats from the candy bar are also included in the ticket price. Persons aged up to 15 years are classified as a "child". A family consists of two (2) adults and two (2) children or one (1) adult and three (3) children.To purchase tickets, download a booking form from www.weststigers.com.au or visit the box office at Greater Union Campbelltown. Seats are strictly limited, so get in quick. For phone bookings and enquiries, please contact Amy at Wests Tigers office on (02) 8741 3340. Please note that tickets will not be available for purchase on the night.John Skandalis will be meeting with children at Greater Union Cinema, Kellicar Lane, Campbelltown on Wednesday, November 8, at 10am.John will talk to the media about his career and his movie night to raise funds for the Kids with Cancer Foundation.Skando tribute dinnerWests Ashfield will stage a Skando?s Leaving the Nest dinner on Thursday, December 7, to celebrate his career with the Western Suburbs Magpies and Wests Tigers.Details can also be found at www.weststigers.com.au

One step forward, two steps back

THE NRL has taken a baby step forward by awarding Monday night football coverage rights to Triple M and two massive steps back by abandoning their heartland areas in the bush.Country folk without pay TV or internet coverage have no way of knowing who won the Monday night game until the next morning. The worst part of this debacle is that I don?t think many people were surprised by the decision of the NRL to once again shoot themselves in the foot.Outside of Sydney, you would need Austar or Foxtel to watch the game or the internet to follow it online via websites such as League Unlimited or via streaming audio on the Triple M website. For those in the bush with no pay tv or internet, well you my friends, you have been left to suck eggs once again as no one wants to know about you when it comes to Rugby League.Strangely at other times, these commercial entities claim to be champions of the battlers in the bush. Only when it suits them it seems!The NRL have again awarded 2GB the exclusive rights to call Rugby League and they treat the rights like a toy they don?t want to share with their friends. They lock it away, play with it when they want and toss it in the corner when boredom strikes knowing full well everyone else wants to play with it. We are left with coverage from a non-commercial station in the ABC while the exclusive rights holder prefers a lifestyle show over the footy.I recall Ray Hadley saying previously they (2GB) would like to open up the rights as they were that confident of their ability to retain their market share in a non-exclusive, competitive environment. Oh how the mighty have fallen! If being insulted and fat jokes are your go, then you?d better look away right about now.I suspect if the rights were non-exclusive Ray and his vaudeville sideshow may have some explaining to do to the shareholders of Macquarie Radio as to why their fortress was turned into a sandcastle in quick time. If people were given the choice I suspect they would switch off in droves to listen to something with a little more substance rather than crude humour and tired old ditties.The NRL are obviously happy with the fact 2GB give us a live call of two games per week with the Sunday game always a Sydney fixture because their head caller, Ray Hadley, now does the morning shift with 2GB and can?t travel interstate to call the game. More often than not we are left with the third choice game being called in Sydney when the match of the round is left to an around the grounds, intermittent update.Again, should we be surprised as Hadley is against a team from Melbourne participating in the NRL for what reason I have no idea. Could it be he feels a team on the Central Coast would be more beneficial to John Singleton, majority shareholder in Macquarie Radio and underwriter of the Central Coast bid for inclusion to the NRL?There is just so much wrong with the latest broadcasting rights deal that if this were a government department a royal commission wouldn?t be out of place.The AFL have set the pace by awarding commercial radio rights to four commercial stations that ensures the people in the bush get the opportunity to listen to the game on a weekly basis. Unless you live Sydney or Brisbane, as a league fan you are stuffed and this unacceptable scenario is in play for three years.The NRL have clearly failed in their duty to the fans regarding radio coverage and while the bottom line of the game is important, the expectations of the fans seem to be at the very bottom of the NRL?s list of responsibilities. Am I surprised? No.I expected nothing more and that is real crime here. Fans expectations of the ruling body are dropping by the day but so long as the powers that be continue to count their money, I doubt they would care if games were played in empty stadiums to sub-standard media broadcasts.

Broncos flex muscles in war over schedule

THE Brisbane Broncos have applied the heat to NRL administrators, claiming as premiers they deserve the right to open the 2007 season ahead of competition newcomers the Gold Coast Titans.

Great Britain side for Game IV

BRIAN Noble has named a side with a few changes for his side?s second outing in the 2006 Tri-Nations series.

France 28 Samoa 6

AFTER the disappointment of a first round loss to England, the Les Chanticleers have put their Federation Shield campaign back on track with a convincing 28 ? 6 victory over Samoa at Colomiers.

Lebanon v Russia teams, scorers

WORLD Cup Europe Group Qualifier match, played at New River Stadium London, Saturday 28 October 2006.

Gamble Leads Sharks In New Direction

A new sound has graced Saleyards Park and that is the sound of 1995 Junior Kiwi Rex Gamble barking instructions at his troops.

5th Edition of The Grizzly Now Available

THE 5th edition of the Bears official Newsletter - The Grizzly is now available. This weeks edition includes reports on recent trials against the Jets, Cessnock and Penrith. Also featured in this weeks edition is a history segment detailing how the Bears mascot was established!

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