Carting it up with Stevo

SUNDAY too far away

Bulldogs and Broncos news

BULLDOGS prop Roy Asotasi has passed his final fitness test and is a certain starter for tomorrow night's preliminary final against Brisbane at Aussie Stadium.

Gasnier & Asotasi

ST George Illawarra centre Mark Gasnier will test his abdominal injury for the first time today as he chases a return for the Dragons preliminary final against Melbourne on Saturday.

Tigers give up on League reprieve

AFTER discussions with the RFL, following the Club?s relegation at the weekend, the Tigers have accepted that there will be no reprieve on the basis of Super League expanding to 13 or 14 teams and have agreed to the RFL?s request to accept the current process.The Tigers would like to thank the many Super League clubs that have offered to support the Club's request for a review of the current rules of promotion and relegation. In addition, the Club thanks those clubs that have given their commitment to allow the Tigers to continue to progress the development of the Club?s leading junior players. The Club is appreciative of the wide-reaching and genuine support received and would like to believe that such support is a reflection of the respect for the Tigers from within the Game and the concerns surrounding the current promotion and relegation rules.Everyone acknowledged that the challenge facing the promoted club is incredibly tough. The Club believes that this season it has proved this challenge to be too tough. No other sport lays down such an insurmountable challenge.Only 3 of last year?s National League 1 Grand Final winning team, Andrew Henderson, Michael Platt and Michael Shenton, were in the Tigers? starting line-up against Wakefield. Only 10 of the 17 players selected at Wakefield made it to the Club's pre-season camp in Tenerife, 4 weeks before the Club's opening game against Hull. This limited preparation was the unsatisfactory and unfair foundation for the Tigers entering the most competitive Super League ever. A competition in which one team had exemption from relegation despite having 12 months longer than the Tigers to prepare - although the Tigers? would like to go on record as fully supporting the ?advantages? offered to the Catalan Dragons.The dice are impossibly stacked. The Tigers had, and continue to maintain, a solid financial base. The Club averaged well over 5,000 per game in the National League and attracted the 7th highest average in Super League in 2006. Even with this degree of stability (shaken to its core by a season in National League), the commercial platform of our fan base, an excellent coach and the likes of Nutley, Manu, McGoldrick and Sculthorpe the Club failed. 19 points, but failure. In short, the Club believes that the Game?s promotion and relegation rules are flawed, a view clearly held by the Game at large as evidenced by the introduction of the franchise system in 2009.In conclusion, the Tigers would like to thank, in particular, those Super League clubs that were prepared to accept reduced revenue distributions for the greater good of the Game and also thanks the wider rugby league community for their overwhelming support in fighting for a change in the rules. The Tigers thanks its coach and its playing squad for the marvellous efforts of 2006. Most of all, the Tigers thanks the fans; our Super League journey has been temporarily suspended. We will be back.Source: www.castigers.com

Sione signs for Quins

NEW Zealand international Sione Faumuina has joined Harlequins RL from New Zealand Warriors on a three-year deal.

Nutley leaving with heavy heart

CASTLEFORD Tigers captain Danny Nutley will return home to Sydney next month with mixed emotions after failing to keep his side in engage Super League.

Superleague signings round-up

SIGNING news from Superleague over the past week or so, with six clubs having finished their commitments for the season...

Around the Grounds and Referee's Report

THE Bulldogs have been boosted just a few days ahead of their Grand Final qualifier against Brisbane with Kiwi international Roy Asotasi passed fit to play along with Reni Maitua. Asotasi injured his knee against the Broncos back in round 24 and at first analysis was ruled out until the Grand Final, but will play off the bench against Brisbane. Maitua also injured his knee but against the Panthers in round 26 and missed the side?s Qualifying Final victory over the Canberra Raiders. These two are the side?s only two changes while the team will have to overcome poor recent form against the Broncos with two losses this season to them 25-6 at Suncorp Stadium and 30-0 back in Sydney.

Lolesi off to UK

WESTS Tigers have released utility Jamaal Lolesi from his contract, allowing the former Bulldog to join Huddersfield in the English Super League.

Sharks board to call special meeting

CRONULLA will consider calling a special board of directors meeting after the Mercury Grou presented chief executive Greg Pierce with its performance review.

Kennedy & RLPA, King injury

THE Rugby League Players Association says all players are eligible for its end of season awards regardless of their membership status.

The NRL's 'no Sunday' finals folly

WHEN the NRL CEO, David Gallop, tires of the politics of rugby league, he should follow his deputy, Graeme Annesley, into real politics. He will take to it like a duck to water given his capacity to explain the unexplainable.His latest explanation in response to anger from fans over the abandoning of Sunday afternoon finals matches (not to mention the grand final) would do Howard and Beazley proud.Last year, matches on the second and third weekends of the finals were held on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. This year they are on Friday night and Saturday night. Because that's how Channel Nine wanted it.David Gallop?s justification for the no Sunday afternoon finals is that the NRL believes it is fair to keep the two matches as close as possible, so one winning team does not get an undue advantage with a longer lead-up time to the grand final. Hmm, so which is closer: a Friday night and a Saturday night final, or a Saturday night and a Sunday afternoon final?Sunday matches have been a key part of the NRL for decades, yet you get the impression that the Eels' irrepressible CEO, Dennis Fitzgerald, might be close to the mark when he calls for the end of Sunday afternoon football full stop.Why? It?s all driven by television, or, more particularly by Channel Nine. The wishes of fans have been ignored, but that has never bothered Nine in the past.The switch from Sunday afternoon to Friday night finals is a happy coincidence (really?) with Nine?s decision to televise one match of each round live next year on a Friday night, to be followed by a second Friday night match on replay.So it is hardly surprising the second and third weekends of the finals this year feature Friday night live matches.Following a campaign by sections of the media, notably the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the NRL has promised to revisit the question of Sunday afternoon finals in the off season. If you expect there to be a change then you are more of an optimist than I am!Meanwhile this Friday night is going to be an interesting ratings battle in Sydney ? and to a lesser extent in Brisbane. The Bulldogs v Broncos game will be live on Nine, and the Swans v Fremantle game live on Ten.And wonders never cease ? on Saturday night, Nine in Melbourne will be showing the Melbourne Storm v St George-Illawarra Dragons live!

Matai Added To Kiwis Train On Squad

MANLY centre Steve Matai is the latest player to be added to the New Zealand Rugby League train-on squad.

It?s the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans

AN hour ago whilst cruising at just over 30000 ft en-route to the Gold Coast from Sydney, the Gold Coast Titans officially became the ?Jetstar Gold Coast Titans? with the announcement of a five year multi million dollar naming rights sponsorship.Gold Coast Titan?s Managing Director Michael Searle said announcing the club?s naming rights sponsor onboard a Jetstar flight was a tribute to the airline and to the thousands who benefit from the low fares offered every day by booking and flying with Jetstar.?This truly is a landmark day for the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans and to be able to make the announcement to 177 passengers on route to Titans Territory was too good an opportunity to miss?, said Searle.?Having an organisation of Jetstar?s quality as our Naming Rights? partner is a perfect brand alignment for the emerging Gold Coast Titans. As the NRL expansion licence we can learn a lot from the hugely successful strategies that Jetstar have employed to become a truly national and soon to be international airline carrier. We both have very similar target audiences and the benefits that Jetstar have brought to the Gold Coast have resulted in an outstanding fiscal result for this city. The opportunity to partner a brand with such strong recognition can only accelerate our own brand recognition in the highly competitive sporting market.??This partnership highlights the importance that the Gold Coast market presents to the national business community. This city has morphed into a growing youth market that is not only attractive to tourists but to businesses and permanent residents alike.?Searle said the naming rights sponsorship will be signified by the player?s jersey carrying the Jetstar logo on both home and away jumpers.Jetstar Gold Coast Titans Chairman Paul Broughton said, ?Jetstar is already the airline of choice for thousands of Gold Coasters and with Jetstar set to provide rugby league fans with low fares and attractive flight and accommodation packages, the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans and the National Rugby League will be even more accessible to more fans in the very near future..?Jetstar General Manager of Commercial Bruce Buchanan says having the Gold Coast return to the National Rugby League will ignite the entire region. ?With the Gold Coast being Jetstar?s most popular destination in our network - this partnership has all the potential to be a real winner. We are thrilled to be making such a significant commitment to the local community here on the Gold Coast,? Mr Buchanan said.The involvement of Jetstar will enable more rugby league fans to attend Gold Coast and interstate matches each year ? for less - and allows Jetstar to make a major direct investment in the game through the naming rights? sponsorship of the Titans.?By getting behind the Gold Coast Titans, we will allow people to take advantage of our every day low fares to travel to and from the Gold Coast to support the team from its kick-off in the NRL in 2007,? he said.?Since launching in May 2004, our airline has grown to now offer over 200 direct weekly flights between the Gold Coast and 5 other cities, including Christchurch in New Zealand, helping generate ongoing record passenger numbers for Gold Coast Airport.?Jetstar is thrilled to be associated with the Gold Coast Titans from their inaugural season,? Mr Buchanan said..NRL CEO David Gallop was onboard for the mid-air announcement and like his fellow passengers was impressed by the creative launch. Gallop said, ?This is another important step for the Gold Coast Titans and yet again they?ve shown an innovative approach in how they go about their business. We are pleased that a brand as strong and successful as Jetstar has formed a partnership with the Gold Coast Titans who continue to take all the right steps as they head towards kickoff. It?s ?win win? scenario for both organizations.??From the playing and coaching staff they have recruited to the way they are putting the business together behind the scenes, the Titans are already earning plenty of respect in the game,? said Gallop.?There?s a lot of work ahead but importantly they are giving the Gold Coast Community something to look forward to in 2007 and beyond,? said Gallop.

Kennedy, Sharks, Dragons

RETIRING Manly backrower Ben Kennedy has reportedly been stripped of the prestigious Rugby League Professionals Association player-of-the-year award because he did not pay his union fees.

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