Thank God Its Thaiday

IN early 2005 the Newcastle Knights announced the signing of Milton Thaiday to a two year deal. Rugby fans were aware of who Milton was, and those that follow the tabloids were also aware of his long battle against alcohol. Thaiday, a former NSW Waratah star, had quit Union after a long battle with alcohol abuse.

Saturday, The Eighth Of July

I woke up today anticipating a huge night of fun and football. There were two games I was taking a specific interest in, Canberra versus Penrith, and the Knights playing the Eels. The All Blacks were also playing, but they were only of a casual interest to me.

Defining The Royal Flush Of Rugby League

Hear The Lonesome Train Whistle Blow

SOME will ask what has a train whistle to do with football?

My Top 11 Reasons Why I Love Rugby League

IN my last post I gave my top eleven things that annoyed me about Rugby League. Not to be seen as a pessimistic sourpuss, in this post I decided to write about all the things I enjoy and love most about this game. And yes there are eleven of them again.

Broncos will test us: Scott

NORTH Queensland prop Matthew Scott says Saturday night's local derby against Brisbane at Dairy Farmers Stadium will be a massive test for the Cowboys forwards.

Fitzgibbon backs Finch

SYDNEY Roosters captain Craig Fitzgibbon has gone into bat for Brett Finch following revelations the utility is unwanted at the NRL club next season.

Overnight wrap: Murray, Finch, Timmins

UNDER-FIRE North Queensland coach Graham Murray has lashed out at the media after a two month losing streak with the Cowboys and the New South Wales State of Origin side.Murray yesterday ordered journalists and cameramen to turn off their equipment before claiming he had been the victim of what he called a "cook-up". The veteran coach says, in future, he won't be responding to any questions about off-field issues.North Queensland has been in damage control after club officials were forced to defend Paul Bowman's involvement in a pub brawl and, last week, release a statement denying rumours of an alleged in-house sex scandal.Murray has not tasted victory as a coach since NSW beat Queensland in the series-opening State of Origin game on May 24. It comes amid his decision to axe five players in response to his side's one win from its last eight matches.Ty Williams, Brent McConnell, Ray Cashmere, Mitchell Sargent and Justin Smith have all been demoted for the match against Brisbane in Townsville on Saturday while former Queensland Origin centre Paul Bowman will play lock.Elsewhere, Parramatta is firming as Brett Finch's destination for the next NRL season after his manager confirmed yesterday the Sydney Roosters are trying to offload him.Despite being contracted for 2007 and constant denials from the Roosters, Finch has fallen out of favour at the club and is unlikely to be there next season. His manager Steve Gillis says Finch has permission to talk to other clubs provided he gets back to the Roosters with any offer he receives.Parramatta are looking for a five-eighth following the loss of John Morris to Wests Tigers, while Brisbane are also believed to be interested in the former NSW Origin representative.Meanwhile, Castleford has signed former Australian international Shaun Timmins on a two-year contract from the St George Illawarra Dragons.The 29-year-old utility player, who has made more than 200 appearances in Australia's National Rugby League, will join the Tigers for the start of the 2007 season. Castleford coach Terry Matterson says Timmins is a big signing for the club and he is looking forward to working with him.

Ding Dong The Witch is Dead

DING dong the witch is dead! After 22 years and a truly bizarre sequence of events at fulltime, Wynnum Manly has finally beaten Redcliffe at Dolphin Oval.

Round 20 Teams and Fixtures

FRIDAY, 21st July 2006

Around the Ground with Rosso

MICHAEL Crocker returns for the Melbourne Storm on Friday Night when they take on the Cronulla Sharks at Olympic Park. It will be his first appearance since being suspended against South Sydney in Round Nine at Telstra Stadium.

Referee's report - Round 20

GAVIN Badger, a product of the South Sydney District, makes his long awaited return to NRL Refereeing this weekend when he will control the Newcastle and South Sydney clash at Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle. This will be Gavin?s first NRL fixture since Round 16 where he was in the middle when New Zealand obliviated Souths 66-0 in record fashion. Badger replaces young Ben Cummins, who has been dropped to running as a touch judge on Friday Night, because of not using the video referee when needed over the past couple of weeks.Shayne Hayne also returns to the middle this weekend after a week off when he will control the all important clash between the Tigers and Eels. Hayne, who was in charge of the Bulldogs? golden point victory of the Warriors, will be looking to continue his good form with the whistle as we lead in to the time when referees push for Semi Final positions.Jarred Maxwell has been rewarded for a good performance when in charge of the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles fixture on Saturday night, and will be returning to Telstra Stadium to be in charge of the always fiery Bulldogs-Roosters encounter.Steve Clark will once again take the number one referee position in to round 20 when he will referee Friday night footy down in Melbourne between the Storm and the Sharks. Clark, who had a sound game when in charge of the Bulldogs-Dragons match, is the front runner to replace retired Tim Mander as the Grand Final referee.One of the men closely behind Clark in the race for the Grand Final position, Paul Simpkins, will be the man with the whistle when the Dragons travel down to the Nation?s Capital, to take on the Canberra Raiders. Simpkins, who is a member of the South Sydney District, was the frontrunner for the Grand Final last year before wasting it on a bad call in the Storm v Cowboys Semi Final.Tony Archer will be in charge of the all Queensland fixture when the Cowboys are at home to the Broncos this Saturday night in Townsville. Archer, who refereed his first finals match last year in Wollongong between the Dragons and Sharks, will be looking to have a sound game to improve his chances of an appearance once again in the finals.Jason Robinson, who was a junior referee in the Penrith District, will travel to Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon, where he will be the man in the middle for Manly?s first home match in three weeks when they take on the Penrith Panthers. Robinson has held his position for the last three weeks in First Grade although talented referees Tony De Las Heras and Gavin Badger have been pushing for his spot. Former State of Origin referee Sean Hampstead will have a week off this weekend after crossing the Tasman for the Warriors-Eels match. Hampstead who did not appear in the Finals last year, will be looking to repeat his good form of the first half of the season, which earned himself an Origin appearance.

Aus v GB Uni Test Preview

AUSTRALIA is preparing itself for a tough final Test against Great Britain in Brisbane on Wednesday night, following close results in the opening matches of the international Universities series.Although the Aussies have a 2-0 advantage, they will head into the the third encounter at Kev McKell Oval, Arana Hills expecting a hard-fought encounter.The First Test in Sydney last Wednesday brought a 24-16 win to the home side, while the Second Test in Coffs Harbour on Saturday also saw the green-and-gold triumph with a 26-18 victory.Kick-off in the Third Test is at 7pm. Kev McKell Oval can be accessed via Dawson Parade (off Samford Rd) and is the home ground of the Western Districts Panthers and Arana Hills Junior Rugby League.In recent years University Rugby League has provided a number of players who have gone on to impact at higher levels including Nick Kenny (Brisbane Broncos/Toowoomba Clydesdales), Jordan Atkins (Burleigh Bears), Gerard Parle (Redcliffe Dolphins) and Kev Stephensen (Easts Tigers).Following the Third Test, Great Britain will remain in the Sunshine State to play Queensland Tertiaries on Saturday, July 22 at Davis park. Kick-off is at 2pm.On Saturday, July 29 Queensland will play New Souths Wales, also at Davies Park with a 2pm kick-off.Wednesday July 19Australian Universities v Great Britain Universities, Kev McKell Oval, Arana Hills. Kick-off 7pm.Saturday July 22Queensland Tertiary v Great Britain Universities, Davies Park, West End. Kick-off 2pm.Saturday July 29Queensland Tertiary v New South Wales Tertiary, Davies Park, West End. Kick-off 2pm.

Warriors sign Michael Witt

MANLY utility Michael Witt is joining the Vodafone Warriors on a one-year deal for the 2007 season while rookies Patrick Ah Van and Sam Rapira have signed new upgraded three-year contracts. In announcing the trio of signings today, Vodafone Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary said the club?s first-grade roster for next season was now almost completed. ?They?re signings that really help us to build depth in our squad,? he said. ?In Michael we have a player who has the ability to play in both positions in the halves as well as being a quality goal kicker. ?And with Patrick and Sam it?s clear we have players with great futures in the game. ?As rookies they?ve both impressed in first-grade football, Patrick mainly on the wing but also at fullback as we saw last weekend, and Sam coming into the side as an interchange prop. ?They?ve looked comfortable at this level from the moment they first came into the side.? Born on New Year?s day, 1984, Witt (22) has had a lean season at NRL level this year with just one appearance for the Sea Eagles after being used 19 times in 2005. ?With Matt Orford arriving at Manly this year it hasn?t been one of my best seasons,? he said from Sydney. ?I?ve been in premier league all year but believe I can still make a contribution at first-grade level. That?s why I?m coming to the Vodafone Warriors. I want to have a chance of playing in the NRL again.?

Barrett Returns for Raiders Clash

CAPTAIN Trent Barrett will make his return from suspension in a re-shuffled Dragons side for their clash against the Raiders at Canberra Football Stadium on Sunday. Barrett, 28, who has played ten matches this year will replace Mark Gasnier at five-eighth who has been ruled out of the match with a calf strain. Also returning to the side after injury is Jason Ryles (back), Dean Young (ankle) and Clint Greenshields (calf), whilst an injury to Daryl Millard shifts Ben Hornby into the centres. Unavailable Dragons are:Mark Gasnier (Calf), Ben Creagh (Quad), Corey Payne (Concussion), Shaun Timmins (Quad), Wes Naiqama (Ankle). NRL DRAGONS TEAMv Canberra Raiders 3.00pm Sunday 23 July Canberra Stadium Coach: Nathan Brown 1. Clint GREENSHIELDS 2. Colin BEST 3. Ben HORNBY 4. Matt COOPER 5. Brett MORRIS 6. Trent BARRETT (c) 7. Mathew HEAD 8. Luke BAILEY 9. Aaron GORRELL 10. Justin POORE 11. Sam ISEMONGER 12. Dean YOUNG 13. Matt BICKERSTAFF 14. Michael HENDERSON 15. Jason RYLES 16. Danny WICKS 17. Ashton SIMS LOWER GRADE TEAMSPremier League v Canberra Raiders 1.00pm Sunday 23 July Canberra Stadium Coach: Steven Price 1. Reece SIMMONDS 2. Josh MORRIS 3. Beau RYAN 4. Keith LULIA 5. Tom HEWITT 6. Reece BLAYNEY 7. Jamie KEITH 8. Charlie LEAENO 9. George NDAIRA 10. Chris HOUSTON (c) 11. Tom HABERECHT 12. Lee TE MAARI 13. James JIMENEZ 14. Dan HUNT 15. Willie TUPOU 16. Lagi SETU 17. Bryson GOODWIN Jersey Flegg v Canberra Raiders 11.20am Sunday 23 July Canberra Stadium Coach: Corey Pearson 1. Rota SETU 2. Ian CATANIA 3. Ryan MILLARD 4. Junior SEUMANUTAFA 5. Luke IRWIN 6. Matt SEAMARK 7. Blake DUREAU 8. Chris FARRELL 9. Brad DAVIDSON (c) 10. Jhi TANNER 11. Matt PRIOR 12. James KEELAN 13. James GREHAN 14. Luke YOUNG 15. Francis LANGIFISI 16. Luke MUTTDON 17. Lewis McPHAIL 18. Matt MUNDINE 19. Daniel JARVIS 20. Nathan WYNN

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