Crusaders agree to opening fixtures switch

FOLLOWING a request from the board of directors at Hemel Hempstead Stags, the Celtic Crusaders have agreed to switch the scheduled opening Northern Rail Cup home fixture from the Brewery Field to Pennine Way, the Stags home ground, on Sunday 12th February at 2pm kick off.The Crusaders now play their first three fixtures away from home. Crusaders? Chief Executive Chris O?Callaghan said: "I?ve agreed to this change at the request of the Stags. Originally, we were planning a full day out at the club, with a 12pm kick off at The Brewery Field and then a big screen showing of the Wales v Scotland Six Nations game but we?ve agreed to switch to assist the Stags."I?ve always liked starting any campaign by playing away, it welds the team together. The coaches now have three away games to get their act together and get their team tight as a drum. When they make their first appearance at home against London Skolars on Sunday 5th March here at The Brewery Field (kick off 3pm), in front of our own supporters, I will be expecting a polished performance and more importantly a home win."The Crusaders are planning a spectacular home opener against the London Skolars. Further details can be obtained by visiting the website www.celtic-crusaders.com or by telephoning the club office on +44(0) 1656 658535/ 651515. To book your place on the bus, email [email protected] Revised Celtic Crusaders Northern Trains Cup FixturesSunday 12 February ? Hemel Hempstead Stags (a) 2pmSunday 19 February - London Skolars (a) 3pmSunday 26 February ? St Albans Centurions (a) 2:30pmSunday 05 March - London Skolars (h) 3pmSunday 19 March - Hemel Hempstead Stags (h) 3pmSunday 26 March - St Albans Centurions (h) 3pm- - - - -The Northern Trains Cup is a pre-season competition for clubs playing in UK National Leagues One Two and Three.

Legal tug of war looms over McGoldrick

A legal tug-of-war is looming over the services of rugby league player Ryan McGoldrick with NRL champions Wests Tigers and English Super League club Castleford both insisting the former Cronulla centre had signed contracts with them.Both clubs have dug in their heels over the 24-year-old after Castleford claimed McGoldrick had signed a one-year contract with the side three months after Wests Tigers signed him for 2006.Castleford chief executive Richard Wright has told the BBC McGoldrick was able to obtain a release from his contract to join a Super League club. But Wests Tigers recruitment manager Warren McDonnell says Castleford had overstepped the mark and the NRL club hoped to clear up the matter when McGoldrick returns from a New Year break and meets with Tigers chief executive Steve Noyce and coach Tim Sheens on January 9.NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley says the matter may have to be decided legally if Wests Tigers refuse to grant a release.

Steve Rogers passes away, aged 51

FORMER Cronulla Sharks and Australian rugby league great Steve Rogers has been found dead in his unit in Sydney's southern suburbs.Sharks management confirmed that the 51-year-old had just returned from an overseas holiday with police saying there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.Sharks football manager Greg Pierce said the news had come as a great shock."He was due back at work on Monday and I was due to go off for a couple of weeks ... he had been on holidays in Europe for a period and we were just going to (talk) about the state of the nation kind of thing - and it's just quite unbelievable the fact that he won't be there," Pierce said.Rogers, 51, was the chief executive of the Cronulla club and had an outstanding career as a player with the Sharks and the Australian rugby league team. The gifted centre played 199 Games for Cronulla between 1973 and 1982 with a farewell season in 1985.He scored 1255 points for the club during those years including 82 tries and 502 goals. In the intervening years Rogers played with St George, featuring in 25 games. His representative career was no less impressive, the skilful back featuring in 19 games for NSW and 21 Tests for the Kangaroos.Considered one of the greatest outside backs the game has seen, Rogers formed a devastating centre combination with Parramatta great Mick Cronin when they played for the national side. Rogers' son Mat was a former player with the Sharks, also representing at state and national level before making a successful move to rugby union in 2002.Leagueunlimited would like to pass on its condolences to the Rogers family at this time.

McGoldrick going nowhere ? Tigers

NRL club Wests Tigers has dismissed claims by English side Castleford that it has signed Ryan McGoldrick.The English club announced the signing of the former Shark last week but West Tigers say McGoldrick has an NRL conract for 2006 and won't be going anywhere. He's a strong chance to chime into Wests Tigers' side for the World Club Challenge against Bradford on February 3.

Sullivan scores for Warrington in win over Bulls

FORMER Cronulla Sharks half-back Michael Sullivan scored his first try for Warrington as the Wolves easily overcame depleted engage Super League champions Bradford 30-6 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.The Wolves, beaten 24-18 by Widnes on Boxing Day, scored six tries to one against a Bradford side enjoying their first outing since their Grand Final triumph over Leeds in October.The Bulls have two more warm-up games before their World Club Challenge meeting with Australian champions Wests Tigers in a month?s time - and after fielding only three members of their Grand Final team, coach Brian Noble will not be losing sleep over Monday?s result.New signing Stanley Gene showed some nice touches on his first appearance for the champions, who will have a virtually new-look team when they open the new season.Sullivan, who filled in at hooker with Jon Clarke and Mark Gleeson both recovering from injury. caught the eye for Warrington who were superbly led by stand-off Lee Briers.Briers was the architect of Warrington?s 14-6 interval lead - his pin-point kicks setting up first-half tries for centre Ben Westwood, 16-year-old centre Matt Blythe and former Bradford half-back Chris Bridge.The Bulls led briefly, courtesy of hooker Ian Henderson?s opportunist try on 18 minutes, but they conceded six points while down to 12 men - with winger Andy Smith dispatched to the sin bin for obstruction.The youthful visitors were still in touch after an hour when newcomer Adam Watene was held up on his back over the line - but the Wolves cut loose to run in three more tries in the final quarter.Sullivan jinked his way over for the all-important score on 62 minutes, before Briers set up two further tries for Westwood and winger Richie Barnett with his clever kicking - and Bridge added three conversions.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.

Castleford in confusion over McGoldrick

CASTLEFORD are seeking to clear up confusion over their signing of Australian centre Ryan McGoldrick, with champions Wests Tigers insisting he is their man.The newly-promoted engage Super League club announced the capture of the 24-year-old McGoldrick on a 12-month contract from Cronulla Sharks last Friday.But Wests Tigers say they have tied the goalkicking threequarter to a 12-month deal and there would be no release.Their recruitment manager, Warren McDonnell, confirmed McGoldrick had received a Castleford offer and would discuss his playing future with the NRL club on January 9.Castleford chief executive Richard Wright said: ?As far as we are concerned, Ryan was able to obtain a release from his contract to join a Super League club.?He signed a contract with us and we thought everything was alright but obviously we need to clear the matter up.?Wests Tigers chief executive Steve Noyce said: ?He?s definitely got a contract that is registered with the NRL and is part of the Wests Tigers.?He?s signed a contract and has even been training with us. I think Castleford have spoken to him. But he?s got a contract with us and we will be making sure he honours it with us.?- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.

O'Neill injury blow for Rhinos

LEEDS Rhinos? new high-profile signing Mark O?Neill will miss the start of the engage Super League season because of injury.The 30-year-old Australian prop forward, who joined the Rhinos after helping Wests Tigers lift the NRL crown in October, suffered a shoulder injury just five minutes into his first appearance for the club during their Boxing Day friendly with Wakefield.?It?s not good news and he will certainly miss the start of the season,? said Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington.?But he has come to make his mark and there is no chance of him going back.?Leeds open their League campaign at home to Huddersfield on Sunday, February 12.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.

Doncaster coach St John Ellis passes away

RUGBY league was on Saturday mourning the loss of former Castleford and Great Britain winger St John Ellis, the Doncaster coach who collapsed and died following a training session.Ellis, 41, who was the longest-serving coach in the professional game, had just finished taking the National League One club for a pre-season training session in Castleford when he suffered a suspected heart attack.Attempts were made to resuscitate him and he was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.He leaves a wife, Melanie, and two young daughters, India and Mia."It's a great shock to us all," said Doncaster chairman John Wright."He was training with the lads this morning when he had some sort of seizure."His heart stopped and he never recovered. We had the physio there and other trained people who tried to give him mouth to mouth straight away."He was taken to Pontefract hospital very quickly and given electric-shock treatment but it was no good."You wouldn't believe it. There wasn't a fitter coach in the game. He was a fitness fanatic who never asked any of his players to do something he couldn't do himself."Ellis played for Castleford, Bradford, Halifax, Keighley, Hunslet and Doncaster before taking over as coach of the South Yorkshire club towards the end of the 1999 season.He was a member of the Castleford side which lost to Wigan in the 1992 Challenge Cup final at Wembley and won three Great Britain caps from 1991-94.Doncaster Lakers (formerly Dragons) play in National League One, competing for potential promotion to Super League. Assistant coach Tony Miller has been placed in temporary charge.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.

Dave Highton announces retirement

FORMER London Broncos, Warrington and Salford hooker David Highton has been forced to retire from professional rugby league at the age of 25 due to a shoulder injury.Highton signed for Halifax in November as a direct replacement for Hull KR-bound Australian Ben Fisher but has succumbed to a chronic shoulder injury, which was unsuccessully operated on in the autumn."It's very disappointing, both for David and us," said Halifax football manager Paul Dixon."He'd had the operation when we signed him, but the initial feedback from the specialist was that things had gone well."But he went back for a second check a couple of weeks before Christmas and he was basically told that the only thing he could do was to retire." - - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.

Castleford signs ex-Shark McGoldrick

ENGLISH Super League club Castleford has completed its overseas quota with the signing of Australian centre Ryan McGoldrick from Cronulla.The 24-year-old Queenslander has spent the last six years in the NRL with the Sharks, apart from a one-year stint in rugby union with New South Wales in 2003 when he also played sevens for Australia.McGoldrick is the 10th new signing for the newly-promoted Tigers and joins former Huddersfield captain Ben Roarty and former Cronulla team-mate Danny Nutley on the club's quota.

Gower summoned before board

PENRITH Panthers National Rugby League team captain Craig Gower faces suspension or a substantial fine over allegations of misbehaviour at a Sunshine Coast charity event.Penrith football manager Mick Leary has investigated claims Gower groped Balmain great Wayne Pearce's 17-year-old daughter Tatum at last week's Jack Newton Celebrity Golf Classic after-party. Gower is also accused of chasing Pearce's 16-year-old son Mitchell with a bottle at the Classic held at the Twin Waters Resort.Penrith club chairman Barry Walsh says the board decided Gower has a case to answer and will be called before the board on January 4. Panthers chief executive Glenn Matthews says Gower faces a fine of up to a quarter of his annual salary - about $100,000 ? or suspension if the allegations are proved correct.Gower has apologised to the Pearce family for the incidents.

Storm rain on Joey's parade

FULLTIME score: Round 1 STORM 48 v KNIGHTS 10

Terry Hill turns back clock in Manly victory

FULLTIME score: Round 1 WARRIORS 20 v SEA EAGLES 26

Broncos win Queensland's local derby

FULLTIME score: Round 1 BRONCOS 29 v COWBOYS 16

Griffin Happy to be a Dolphin

ANTHONY Griffin has welcomed the responsibility commensurate with his new role as head coach of Redcliffe, enjoying a 36-16 first-up win against Burleigh.

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