Australian team for Game VI

NORTH Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston has reclaimed the Test halfback spot in a reshuffled Australian team that will tackle Great Britain in Saturday night's Tri Nations clash at Suncorp Stadium.

Tri-Nations credibility on the rocks

NOT that it needed much to do so, but the credibility of the rugby league Tri-Nations series is today on the rocks. Firstly, the Great Britain half-back, Sean Long, flew back to the UK yesterday, and team management behaved like a Brian Burke Ministerial mate trying to explain it away.

Bears sign top local talent

THE North Sydney Bears have moved to sign three talented players from their under 17s development squad who have a long and successful history in the District and are full of the passion needed in the NSW Rugby League S. G. Ball Competition.Berowra under 17s Grand Finalist Curtis Johnston and North Sydney Brothers under 16s Premiership winner Josh Nicholls have both signed two year contacts while Ashley Calvert-Evers also a Berowra Grand Finalist, has signed for one year with an option for 2008.Despite only signing initially for the 2007 season, talented Berowra half back Ashley Calvert-Evers is ready to commit to one of the toughest junior competitions in the World. Reserved off the field Ash's outstanding performance in a recent trial against the Sharks is believed to have cemented his spot in 2007. "My plan is to have a good season in Ball and hopefully get a run in Jersey Flegg. I hope to get the call up to play in Premier League in 2008" said Ash who has played for Berowra since seven years and represented the Bears in Harold Matts in 2005. "Norths is my local area. I've been with Berowra for a while, playing for the Bears is very important to me".Curtis Johnston's passion for the Bears is unmistakable beginning in 1996 at North Sydney Brothers garnering best player awards four years running before moving into the North Sydney Development ranks and dual representation in Union and league for St Leos College and Asquith Boys High. "All my life I've wanted to play for the Bears. I've supported them since I was 2 or 3". North Sydney Team of the Century centre Greg Florimo believes "He has a great football brain and he's become very strong and has a good frame for a centre". Curtis claims "I plan to perform to the best of my ability while showing loyalty and give 110% to have a winning team on the field in 2007".2006 Harold Matthews captain and lock Josh Nicholls comes to the under 18s fresh from a grand final win for North Sydney Brothers in the U16s against Belrose and the competition winning North Shore Marist Catholic College side who defeated the Kogarah team. "It's a big deal to play for Norths. I've been in and around the Club most of my life and to run out in the Red and Black is a big deal". Josh admits to not being that interested in sport in his early years but was guided by his parents in to the sport of rugby league and never looked back. "My plan is to get a starting position in the S G Ball team and make the NSW under 17s representative team. Second to play Jersey Flegg and move on up from there".The Bears will hold further trials possibly against Penrith and Western District after the New Year.PICTURED: Signed and ready to deliver! From left Josh Nicholls, Coach Jamie Papa, Ashley Calvert-Evers and kneeling Curtis Johnston.PHOTO: Steve Little.

Long `asked to quit Britain tour`

THE Great Britain rugby league team maintain Sean Long's abrupt departure from the Tri Nations touring party is due to "personal reasons" and not a disciplinary punishment.

Long flies home

ENGLISH halfback Sean Long is on his way back to England after parting with the Great Britain Tri Nations squad.Long, who starred in the Lions' 23-12 upset win over Australia earlier this month, was seen at Sydney Airport this afternoon after failing to attend a recuperation session with the side at Manly Beach this morning.A Great Britain media spokesman said the reason for his departure was personal."Sean Long has left the Great Britain training camp base and has returned home to the UK for personal reasons," the statement said. "No replacement will be called up and the squad will now continue preparations for the match against Australia at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday."But rumours abounded as to the exact nature of the halfback?s departure with English news agency the Press Association reporting his return has come amid allegations that he gambled on the results of matches.Meanwhile, some good news came out of the British camp with Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin putting an end to speculation linking him with a move to new NRL side the Gold Coast Titans by signing a new two-year contract with the English Super League club.

Robbo Reckons

HOWDY people well it?s the off season but we still have the tri nations to give us our footy fix. I made the trek down to Sydney to watch the NRL grand final with my good mates Iggy Graham and Scott Martin, congratulations to the Broncos on their win they should be very proud and Redcliffe should be proud to. If you look through the line ups and include the injured Michael Crocker there was Petero Civonceva, David Stagg, Dane Carlaw, Brent Tate and Shane Perry who have all worn the red and white of Redcliffe at sometime during their career that is an outstanding achievement for our Club and speaks highly of our development programs. I understand the boys had a good time on their trip away to Cairns they done all the normal things checked out the local library, art gallery, photo gallery and other sights well that?s the story I am getting told anyway. If you believe that you?ll believe anything. Well we?ve had the Peter Leis Medal, the Sunstate Player of the Year, the Courier Mail Player of the Year, The Dally M?s now for the most important and prestigious awards of the year The Robbo?s. The Best Sledge: A bloke in the crowd at the Queensland Residents game in Melbourne who yelled out to Adam Starr ?Hey number 16 take the pikelet off your head? referring to the follicle challenged front rower. The Saturday Night Fever Award Rory Bromley hands down he can cut a rug. I believe he had a whole night club in Cairns stop and watch him dance even the blokes. The wish I didn?t do that award: Assistant first grade coach Paul White who jumped and air punched when Rory Bromley scored his match winning try against the Young Guns at Dolphin Oval and tore his calf muscle. BHP Award The Quiet Achiever: Grant Flugge he doesn?t always get the raps of his higher profile team-mates but ask anyone of them who they want beside them going into battle and it?s him. The Lowes Award: Ryan Cullen I am sure his whole wardrobe comes from an OP shop. The Jones Award This award is dedicated to the Jones family Bob, Ben, Daniel and Terry and is given to the player seen the most times without a shirt on and the winner hands down is Nick Emmett. The Cadbury?s Award Strength and Conditioning Coach Tony Guilfoyle who lost his cookies after just one and a half cans of beer on a bus trip home from a game. The Ironman Award CEO James Hinchey who was in bed by 1.00 the first day of the trip away you may say 1.00am isn?t early but it was 1.00 in the afternoon on the Friday just 2 hours after the boys arrived. The Happy Holiday Award. It?s a triple dead heat between Steve Bleakley, Terry Webb and Wally Fullerton-Smith who despite not having played for the club in about 20 years still managed to find themselves on the trip away. I?m sure they were just there as Chaperones.

Day Awarded Life Membership

AT the recent annual general meeting of the Redcliffe Dolphins, the members voted unanimously to award life membership to Trevor Day or Charlie as he is better known to everybody around the Club.

Junior Dolphins News

WELL, the 2006 football season may well have been run and won but the planning for 2007 has been in full swing for a number of weeks. Many changes to the Dolphin Oval complex will be obvious over the off-season with major redevelopment work to Talobilla Park already under way. This work will have the Talobilla fields at a top-notch standard for the start of next season. Also obvious to all who travel past the Leagues Club is the "great wall" of Dolphin Oval. The wall will soon become the new football building which will be the biggest around and will contain all of the necessities to cope with junior and senior football. It will house six huge dressing rooms, fully equipped gym for the seniors, meeting rooms, medical and strapping rooms for both home and away teams as well as storage room for equipment. While on the subject of equipment, the junior Dolphins have just purchased $2000 worth of tackle shields. We can all thank Redcliffe's Miss Junior Rugby League entrant Andrea Chapman for this purchase as the funds she raised this season paid for the shields and will also pay for more training aids in the coming months. A fabulous night was had by our coaches and managers in the Leagues Club last month. This night is to say thank you to a group of people who make it possible each weekend for the kids to enjoy their football, make friends and develop skills. The importance of these people is not lost on this club and will never be. We all enjoyed a wonderful meal, individual award for each team, trivia quiz and sing-a-long music by guitarist and vocalist Trevor Day. Officials from the Narangba Rangers Club also enjoyed the night and shared some stories of 2006. Congratulations to Jane Mulhern from the under 13 division 1 for taking out the Manager of the Year award for her efforts in 2006. Jane has a happy knack of finding a positive in every situation during the season and because of this the players, coach and parents all seem to enjoy their year a little more. Well done Jane. Our two development squads completed their commitments recently with matches against Wynnum's Development Academy. The under 13 to 15 squad proved too strong for the baysiders from Wynnum, winning 44-4. Nathan Karami and Kyle Hall were two of the home team's best on the night. The under 16 to 18 squad game did not pan out at all similar to the early match, even though we won 12-8. The squad of 2006 has shown maturity and discipline beyond its years. Their last two games for the season have been won in the final seconds. Best on the night were Mitchell Rivett and Ryan Best. Both squads have been great to work with all season and I am sure they learned a lot during 2006. Finally, congratulations to all of the award winners at junior presentations at the end of last month. The under 13s to 17s enjoyed a top night in the Leagues Club while the little fellas had a fun day on Dolphin Oval to cap off a super year. Coaching applications for next season should be received by me by the first week in November. The Junior Award winners were U18 PREMIER Best & Fairest Rhys Cooke Best Back Jack Reed Most Consistent Clayton Grant Most improved Cameron Durston

England 32 Tonga 14

ENGLAND beat Tonga to win the inaugural Federation Shield but the match will be remembered for a fiery finish in which two Tonga players were sent off.

Kiwis Hammer Great Britain in Game V

TRI-NATIONS Game 5 New Zealand 34 v Great Britain 4at Westpac Stadium, WellingtonReferee: Paul SimpkinsMatch Summary:The New Zealand Kiwis have hammered Great Britain 34-4 in Game Five of the Tri Nations to give themselves a very good chance of making the final. The Kiwis scored six tries to one in front of a crowd of 16,401.After an untidy opening few minutes, both teams found themselves down to 12 men after a 10th minute fight. Steve Matai took exception to a tackle and got into a fist fight with Keith Senior, and both players found themselves in the sin bin for their efforts.The Kiwis took advantage during the 10 minutes with reduced men and scored two tries. Nigel Vagana fooled the British defence with a big dummy from dummy half and forced his way over just a minute after the sin binnings. Four minutes later the Kiwis extended their lead with a brilliantly timed pass from Stacey Jones to Brent Webb who dotted down out wide, and the Kiwis were up 10-0.Great Britain struck back quickly care of a trademark Manu Vatuvei error. The big winger fumbled a bomb that was recovered by Great Britain and Gareth Ellis dotted down in the corner, Long missed the conversion. Brent Webb collected a double for the Kiwis in the 26th minute after a steamed onto a Jones pass and dotted down under the posts. Great Britain ought to have been awarded a second try just before half time after Gareth Raynor appeared to have forced a Wellens grubber kick, however in a decision that will be talked about all week, he was ruled to have lost control of the ball, and the Kiwis were up 16-4 at half time.The second half was, for the most part, one way traffic. Great Britain started the half in a chasing points mode, and this led to a number of errors. The Kiwis opened the second half scoring after 10 minutes after a Jones kick was recovered in the in goal by Nathan Cayless who claimed a try. The lead was extended to 28-4 after the Kiwis found space out wide, and Vatuvei picked up a try. The Kiwis final try was a ripper. Jones put in a chip kick that was almost exactly similar to that for the Cayless try, except the ball hit the crossbar and dropped right into the hands of Ruben Wiki who fell over to claim the Kiwis sixth try and the 30 point final margin.The equation for next week is simple: If Great Britain win they make the final. If they lose the Kiwis will play in the final, due to New Zealand?s now superior points differential.Tri-Nations web site - news, results, teams and history > click hereScorers:New Zealand: 34Tries: Nigel Vagana, Ruben Wiki, Brent Webb(2), Nathan Cayless, Manu VatuveiGoals: Stacey Jones 5/6Great Britain: 4Tries: Gareth EllisGoals: Sean Long 0/1By the Clock:Good evening from the Cake Tin in Wellington for the crucial New Zealand/Great Britain test match.The Poms will no doubt still be celebrating their 23-12 victory over Australia last weekend, while the Kiwis will take what they can from their 34-4 victory over the New Zealand Residents last week.This match is the biggest of the tournament. Great Britain are two competition points ahead of New Zealand in the race for a final berth. Should Great Britain win they will qualify for the final, if New Zealand win it is likely that Australias oppenent in the final will be determined in Brisbane.Teams taking to the field now. Beautiful evening in Wellington.Teams are lined up for the national anthems. Kick off very shortly. Kiwis are performing the Haka now.1 min: And we're off in front of a strong crowd.1 min: The Kiwis put some offloads together and go very close to making a break, only to lose the ball.2 min: Soliola makes a huge break only to pass the ball to Senior.3 min: Great Britain go on attack and throw a poor pass that is recovered by the Kiwis.4 min: One of the first tidy bits of play, Jones finds touch five metres out from the Great Britain line.6 min: The Kiwis go on attack for the first time, great defence from GB.9 min: Great Britain are penalised for obstruction while hot on attack.10 min: FIGHT - Matai takes exception to a tackle and it results in a bit of push and shove that is still going on after the referee has called a player out.10 min: SIN BIN - Steve Matai given a spell for his part in the fight.10 min: SIN BIN - Keith Senior gets a sit down as well, Matai and Senior still having words.11 min: VIDEO REF - For a Nigel Vagana try.11 min: TRY New ZealandVagana gets the ball from dummy half, sends a huge dummy and forces his way down just to the right of the posts. Jones adds the extras and the Kiwis are up by 6. New Zealand 6-013 min: Jones puts up a bomb and New Zealand recover but are unable to get the ball away.15 min: TRY New ZealandMagnificent play by the Kiwis, great interchange of passes and Jones puts Webb over out wide. Jones hits the posts after the ball constantly falls off the tee. New Zealand 10-016 min: Weather degenerating, gusts of wind and dark clouds over the stadium.20 min: TRY Great BritainVatuvei drops the ball from a bomb, Great Britain recovers and Ellis grabs a try. Somehow Senior was back on the field from his sinbinning before Matai, despite Senior being sent second. Long misses the goal. New Zealand 10-426 min: The Kiwis get six more tackles hot on attack.26 min: VIDEO REF - For a Brent Webb double.26 min: INJURY - Webb has injured himself in scoring the try, appeared to be accidental knees to the side.26 min: TRY New ZealandWebb scorches onto a Jones pass and scores under the posts. He's no longer hurt. Jones converts. New Zealand 16-428 min: GB throw the ball around on the last tackle and eventually make an error. A penalty puts the Kiwis right on attack.30 min: The Kiwis force a line drop out.32 min: VIDEO REF - For a highly unlikely Kiwis try...32 min: NO TRY - Pritchard drops the ball with the line begging.33 min: Sean Long back to his old tricks, a dreadful kick that goes dead without offering anything. Kiwis lose the ball on halfway.35 min: Long drops the ball while GB are building an attack - a lack of attention.37 min: The game is getting a bit untidy as we head towards halftime.38 min: VIDEO REF - For a Great Britain try.38 min: NO TRY - A horrible video referee decision robs Gareth Raynor of a certain try, he was ruled to have lost the ball in the in goal.39 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL New ZealandJones attempts a field goal, the chase traps Wellens in goal for a drop out. New Zealand 16-440 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL New ZealandWebb attempts a field goal right on halftime and misses it wide right. New Zealand 16-4Halftime, and the Kiwis are looking the much better side, despite that poor video referee decision.Teams are back for the second half.40 min: Back underway in Wellington!42 min: Wellens takes a dangerous Jones bomb magnificently.43 min: Great Britain spin the ball wide on the last and drop it.46 min: Wilkin can't grab the ball to score a Great Britain try.49 min: The Kiwis get six more tackles after GB fail to clean up a kick.50 min: VIDEO REF - For a New Zealand try...50 min: TRY New ZealandJones puts in a chip kick, the ball bobbles in the in goal and Cayless dots the ball down under the posts. Jones converts. New Zealand 22-454 min: The Kiwis recover a chip kick and Cayless offloads the ball to Pritchard who makes a break and picks up a penalty.55 min: TRY New ZealandThe Kiwis find space out wide and Vatuvei takes the ball around under the posts. Jones adds the extras, next week is huge. New Zealand 28-463 min: Kiwis kick out on the full, the Kiwis appear to be slowing down.66 min: VIDEO REF - For a Great Britain try...66 min: NO TRY - Pryce is denied a try due to a blatant obstruction. We also have a streaker on the field.67 min: Raynor fails to take a bomb, Long loses the ball forward into touch.68 min: The Great Britain defence holds strong and force a poor pass, only to turn the ball over.70 min: TRY New ZealandJones puts in another little chip kick, it bounces off the cross bar, Wiki goes up for the ball and dots down under the posts. Jones adds the extras. New Zealand 34-473 min: Jones puts in a great kick and finds touch five metres out.77 min: CROWD - 16,401FULLTIME: The Kiwis win big to give themselves a huge chance of playing in the final.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Stacey Jones (Kiwis)2 - Brent Webb (Kiwis)1 - Nathan Cayless (Kiwis)-----------------------------------------

Kiwis Hammer Great Britain in Game V

TRI-NATIONS Game 5 New Zealand 34 v Great Britain 4at Westpac Stadium, WellingtonReferee: Paul SimpkinsMatch Summary:The New Zealand Kiwis have hammered Great Britain 34-4 in Game Five of the Tri Nations to give themselves a very good chance of making the final. The Kiwis scored six tries to one in front of a crowd of 16,401.After an untidy opening few minutes, both teams found themselves down to 12 men after a 10th minute fight. Steve Matai took exception to a tackle and got into a fist fight with Keith Senior, and both players found themselves in the sin bin for their efforts.The Kiwis took advantage during the 10 minutes with reduced men and scored two tries. Nigel Vagana fooled the British defence with a big dummy from dummy half and forced his way over just a minute after the sin binnings. Four minutes later the Kiwis extended their lead with a brilliantly timed pass from Stacey Jones to Brent Webb who dotted down out wide, and the Kiwis were up 10-0.Great Britain struck back quickly care of a trademark Manu Vatuvei error. The big winger fumbled a bomb that was recovered by Great Britain and Gareth Ellis dotted down in the corner, Long missed the conversion. Brent Webb collected a double for the Kiwis in the 26th minute after a steamed onto a Jones pass and dotted down under the posts. Great Britain ought to have been awarded a second try just before half time after Gareth Raynor appeared to have forced a Wellens grubber kick, however in a decision that will be talked about all week, he was ruled to have lost control of the ball, and the Kiwis were up 16-4 at half time.The second half was, for the most part, one way traffic. Great Britain started the half in a chasing points mode, and this led to a number of errors. The Kiwis opened the second half scoring after 10 minutes after a Jones kick was recovered in the in goal by Nathan Cayless who claimed a try. The lead was extended to 28-4 after the Kiwis found space out wide, and Vatuvei picked up a try. The Kiwis final try was a ripper. Jones put in a chip kick that was almost exactly similar to that for the Cayless try, except the ball hit the crossbar and dropped right into the hands of Ruben Wiki who fell over to claim the Kiwis sixth try and the 30 point final margin.The equation for next week is simple: If Great Britain win they make the final. If they lose the Kiwis will play in the final, due to New Zealand?s now superior points differential.Tri-Nations web site - news, results, teams and history > click hereScorers:New Zealand: 34Tries: Nigel Vagana, Ruben Wiki, Brent Webb(2), Nathan Cayless, Manu VatuveiGoals: Stacey Jones 5/6Great Britain: 4Tries: Gareth EllisGoals: Sean Long 0/1By the Clock:Good evening from the Cake Tin in Wellington for the crucial New Zealand/Great Britain test match.The Poms will no doubt still be celebrating their 23-12 victory over Australia last weekend, while the Kiwis will take what they can from their 34-4 victory over the New Zealand Residents last week.This match is the biggest of the tournament. Great Britain are two competition points ahead of New Zealand in the race for a final berth. Should Great Britain win they will qualify for the final, if New Zealand win it is likely that Australias oppenent in the final will be determined in Brisbane.Teams taking to the field now. Beautiful evening in Wellington.Teams are lined up for the national anthems. Kick off very shortly. Kiwis are performing the Haka now.1 min: And we're off in front of a strong crowd.1 min: The Kiwis put some offloads together and go very close to making a break, only to lose the ball.2 min: Soliola makes a huge break only to pass the ball to Senior.3 min: Great Britain go on attack and throw a poor pass that is recovered by the Kiwis.4 min: One of the first tidy bits of play, Jones finds touch five metres out from the Great Britain line.6 min: The Kiwis go on attack for the first time, great defence from GB.9 min: Great Britain are penalised for obstruction while hot on attack.10 min: FIGHT - Matai takes exception to a tackle and it results in a bit of push and shove that is still going on after the referee has called a player out.10 min: SIN BIN - Steve Matai given a spell for his part in the fight.10 min: SIN BIN - Keith Senior gets a sit down as well, Matai and Senior still having words.11 min: VIDEO REF - For a Nigel Vagana try.11 min: TRY New ZealandVagana gets the ball from dummy half, sends a huge dummy and forces his way down just to the right of the posts. Jones adds the extras and the Kiwis are up by 6. New Zealand 6-013 min: Jones puts up a bomb and New Zealand recover but are unable to get the ball away.15 min: TRY New ZealandMagnificent play by the Kiwis, great interchange of passes and Jones puts Webb over out wide. Jones hits the posts after the ball constantly falls off the tee. New Zealand 10-016 min: Weather degenerating, gusts of wind and dark clouds over the stadium.20 min: TRY Great BritainVatuvei drops the ball from a bomb, Great Britain recovers and Ellis grabs a try. Somehow Senior was back on the field from his sinbinning before Matai, despite Senior being sent second. Long misses the goal. New Zealand 10-426 min: The Kiwis get six more tackles hot on attack.26 min: VIDEO REF - For a Brent Webb double.26 min: INJURY - Webb has injured himself in scoring the try, appeared to be accidental knees to the side.26 min: TRY New ZealandWebb scorches onto a Jones pass and scores under the posts. He's no longer hurt. Jones converts. New Zealand 16-428 min: GB throw the ball around on the last tackle and eventually make an error. A penalty puts the Kiwis right on attack.30 min: The Kiwis force a line drop out.32 min: VIDEO REF - For a highly unlikely Kiwis try...32 min: NO TRY - Pritchard drops the ball with the line begging.33 min: Sean Long back to his old tricks, a dreadful kick that goes dead without offering anything. Kiwis lose the ball on halfway.35 min: Long drops the ball while GB are building an attack - a lack of attention.37 min: The game is getting a bit untidy as we head towards halftime.38 min: VIDEO REF - For a Great Britain try.38 min: NO TRY - A horrible video referee decision robs Gareth Raynor of a certain try, he was ruled to have lost the ball in the in goal.39 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL New ZealandJones attempts a field goal, the chase traps Wellens in goal for a drop out. New Zealand 16-440 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL New ZealandWebb attempts a field goal right on halftime and misses it wide right. New Zealand 16-4Halftime, and the Kiwis are looking the much better side, despite that poor video referee decision.Teams are back for the second half.40 min: Back underway in Wellington!42 min: Wellens takes a dangerous Jones bomb magnificently.43 min: Great Britain spin the ball wide on the last and drop it.46 min: Wilkin can't grab the ball to score a Great Britain try.49 min: The Kiwis get six more tackles after GB fail to clean up a kick.50 min: VIDEO REF - For a New Zealand try...50 min: TRY New ZealandJones puts in a chip kick, the ball bobbles in the in goal and Cayless dots the ball down under the posts. Jones converts. New Zealand 22-454 min: The Kiwis recover a chip kick and Cayless offloads the ball to Pritchard who makes a break and picks up a penalty.55 min: TRY New ZealandThe Kiwis find space out wide and Vatuvei takes the ball around under the posts. Jones adds the extras, next week is huge. New Zealand 28-463 min: Kiwis kick out on the full, the Kiwis appear to be slowing down.66 min: VIDEO REF - For a Great Britain try...66 min: NO TRY - Pryce is denied a try due to a blatant obstruction. We also have a streaker on the field.67 min: Raynor fails to take a bomb, Long loses the ball forward into touch.68 min: The Great Britain defence holds strong and force a poor pass, only to turn the ball over.70 min: TRY New ZealandJones puts in another little chip kick, it bounces off the cross bar, Wiki goes up for the ball and dots down under the posts. Jones adds the extras. New Zealand 34-473 min: Jones puts in a great kick and finds touch five metres out.77 min: CROWD - 16,401FULLTIME: The Kiwis win big to give themselves a huge chance of playing in the final.-----------------------------------------Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:3 - Stacey Jones (Kiwis)2 - Brent Webb (Kiwis)1 - Nathan Cayless (Kiwis)-----------------------------------------

England v Tonga preview

CENTRE Ryan Atkins retains his place in the England team for Sunday?s Federation Shield Final against Tonga at the Halton Stadium, Widnes (Kick off 3.30pm).The Wakefield Trinity Wildcat staked his claim for selection in the Final with a hat-trick of tries and a Man-of-the-Match performance in England?s 38-14 win over Samoa in Hull last Sunday.Ashley Gibson of Leeds Rhinos moves from the centres to take over at hooker from his clubmate Matt Diskin, who has a leg injury.Wigan?s Chris Ashton, who started as fullback against Samoa after being on the interchange bench for the first two rounds in the tournament, is given the number one jersey while Leeds Rhinos back row forward Jamie Jones Buchanan returns to the second row after missing the Samoan game following the birth of his son.Skipper Rob Purdham makes his fourth positional switch of the tournament moving back to the centre where he will partner Ryan Atkins. He has previously played at centre, stand off and loose forward.Paul Cullen, the England Head Coach, said: ?Throughout the tournament all the players in the squad have been given an opportunity to earn selection and we have gone for the players who have demonstrated the best form.?Although we are unbeaten in the tournament so far, we recognise that Tonga have been improving. Their only defeat was against us at Twickenham Stoop and since then they have achieved an impressive victory in France.?To win so convincingly in France demonstrates their potential and we shall have to be at our best if we are going to overcome them on Sunday.?Ashley Gibson is normally recognised as a centre but he ably filled in when Matt Diskin went off so I have every confidence that he will do a good job for us in the front row against Tonga?.Harlequins RL forward Solomon Haumono had to miss Tonga?s decisive Federation Shield win over France last Sunday because he had flown to Australia to get married.But now that Tonga are facing hosts England in Sunday?s inaugural Federation Shield Final, he will jet back across the world to play in the big game.Haumono left the Tongan squad immediately following their 40-18 defeat by England at the Twickenham Stoop Stadium on October 29 but indicated that if Tonga reached the Final he would consider flying back.William Edwards, the Tongan squad manager, said: ?Solomon telephoned to congratulate the boys on winning in France.?While he was on the line we asked him if would like to be part of the team for the Final against England and he jumped at the chance. He?ll be back with us on Friday.?He?s been recognised as our captain for quite some time but it?ll be up to our coach Jim Dymock whether he returns to that role in the Final. For the moment we?re just overjoyed that Solomon is able to come back for this important game.?Added Edwards: ?I spoke to Solomon?s new wife, Margaret, about the situation and she was happy for him to come back to Great Britain.?We all realise that Solomon is coming towards the end of his career and she understood what playing in the match and for Tonga means to him?.Dymock is expected to name a team similar to that which played against England in London for the Final although they have still to check the fitness of centre Andrew Emilio.Federationn Shield Final, Engalnd v Tonga, Sunday November 12 2006, Halton Stadium Widnes 3pm. England team: Chris Ashton (Wigan Warriors); David Hodgson (Salford City Reds), Rob Purdham (Harlequins RL and captain), Ryan Atkins (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats), Mark Calderwood (Wigan Warriors); Paul Cooke (Hull FC), Jamie Rooney (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats); Eorl Crabtree (Huddersfield Giants), Ashley Gibson (Leeds Rhinos), Ryan Bailey (Leeds Rhinos), Lee Radford (Hull FC), Jamie Jones Buchanan (Leeds Rhinos), Brett Ferres (Bradford Bulls). Interchange: Lee Smith (Leeds Rhinos), Ewan Dowes (Hull FC), Graeme Horne (Hull FC), Nick Scruton (Leeds Rhinos).Likely Tongan team:Fetuli Talanoa (South Sydney)Makasini Richter (Western Suburbs)Andrew Emelio (Canterbury Bulldogs)Tyrone Smith (London Harlequins)'Etuate (Tonga) Uaisele (Parramatta)(Ali) Feleti Mateo (Parramatta)Joel Taufa'ao (South Sydney)Fuifui Moimoi (Parramatta)Eliakim Uasi (Counties Manukau NZ)Solomon Haumono (London Harlequins)Lopini Paea (Sydney Roosters)Richard Fa'aoso (Castleford Tigers)Willie Tupou (St George-Illawarra)Mickey Paea (Sydney Roosters)Taniela Tuiaki (Wests Tigers)Samuela Moa (Wests Tigers)Lelea Paea (Sydney Roosters)Sione Foliaki (Vaini Doves)Joe Falemaka (South Sydney)Source: www.therlf.co.uk

Game V Preview: New Zealand v Great Britain

LAST week?s upset by the Brits has breathed some life into a Tri-Nations tournament that was beginning to drown in a pool of its own blood.Once again, just when International Rugby League was struggling to pinch a headline from hybrid Gaelic football, the Gods of controversy summoned human backpage Willie Mason to belt Stuart Fielden into his own private universe.But the Lions rallied and played some good footy, showing the world stage that there is life in the Old Dart after all. I thought Peacock and Wellens went well, with Pryce a capable five-eighth and Long showing some quality form.Thanks to Fien?s disqualification and New Zealand?s subsequent point?s fine, Game V of the series holds quite a lot of significance in the context of the tournament.Let?s take a look at the teams?Great Britain: Paul Wellens, Brian Carney, Keith Senior, Kirk Yeaman, Gareth Raynor, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Stuart Fielden, Terry Newton, Jamie Peacock (c), Gareth Ellis, Gareth Hock, Sean O'LoughlinInterchange: James Roby, Adrian Morley, Lee Gilmour, Jon Wilkin, Danny McGuireNoble has made no changes to the side that took the field against Australia last week with late withdrawal McGuire taking his place on the bench and Raynor holding his position in the halves. McGuire will likely drop off the bench with the remaining replacements all playing strongly.Now for the Kiwis?New Zealand: Brent Webb, Shontayne Hape, Iosia Soliola, Steve Matai, Manu Vatuvei, Nigel Vagana, Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki (c), Dene Halatau, Roy Asotasi, David Kidwell, Simon Mannering, David Fa'alogoInterchange: Motu Tony, Nathan Cayless, Adam Blair, Frank PritchardMy initial thoughts of disbelief at the exclusion of Jason Cayless have not quite subsided. I?m glad to see Blair and Pritchard back on the bench but I still can?t fathom how Mannering gets a start ahead of big Jase.Halatau has another shot at hooker, but adds little creativity from there, I?d prefer to see him running on the fringes of the ruck a little more and I?d expect Tony to spend a bit of time at dummy half.In the backs, Hape comes in for Tupou, with Matai coming back from injury. Vagana shifts up to five-eighth with Ropati dropped altogether. Stace remains at no.7 and the rest of the team is unchanged from their last outing in Christchurch.The DecisionLast week I picked the Aussies, probably like most people, but I did conclude that we could at least gauge any improvement in the British team.I think it?s fair to say that there were some encouraging signs for the Lions and now that they?ve had a bit more time on the park together you?d think they?d continue to work better as a unit. Let?s not forget that they took on a massive Kangaroo pack and came out on top, even with Fielden?s limited game time.But it was also a case of the Aussies playing pretty poorly, grassing several chances and probably the worst offender was Mason close to the line. They scored a try from an intercept and that?s never a positive indication of a team?s attack.Up front, I?m keen to see how Fielden responds to the current circumstances he finds himself in. His early knee injury against the Newcastle XIII, a quiet start to the series and then Mason?s punch last week have all added to a colourful tour for the big prop. And now it?s emerged that his mother passed away shortly before the tour, so one would assume he has plenty on his mind right now.The Kiwi?s won?t give an inch though and they have an imposing pack with the exception of Mannering. Wiki and Asotasi have been brutal, we?ve all seen what Kidwell?s capable of and Fa?alogo is developing into a versatile backrower.Off the bench they also have hitmen in Pritchard and Blair whilst Nathan Cayless offers a more steadying influence. They?ll need it though, the Lion?s bench was great last week with veteran Morley playing fiercely and good support coming in the shape of Roby, Wilkin and Gilmour.There are also some similarities in both teams, like three-quarters Vagana and Pryce at five-eighth.This is a tough game to call and following the match in Christchurch I thought this would be the one to decide who would meet Australia in the final. As it turns out things aren?t that simple and the Lions have another chance to make the final next week in Brisbane.But after beating Australia last week could they do it again? My feeling here is that New Zealand know this could be their last game in the 2006 tournament and they won?t leave anything on the field.So I?m going to tip the Kiwis in a contest that has the potential to be very physical, and let?s hope we finally see the best of Fielden.

Carr says if it ain't broke, don't fix it

AUSTRALIAN Rugby League boss Geoff Carr says the sport's international eligibility rules are adequate and don't need to be changed.

Orford named Manly's new captain

MATT Orford has agreed to one of the toughest jobs in rugby league, taking over the Manly captaincy from inspirational leader Ben Kennedy.

Advertising Opportunities
Advertising Opportunities