GIVEN the current climate with the Australian coaching position, I thought I?d take a look at where it has all gone wrong for Australia following their defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the 2005 Tri-Nations campaign.It would be unfair to dump the whole bucket on the 2005 side, as there have been a few ongoing problems for the past 10 years. After going down in game one of the series 38-28, the Kangaroos hit back the next week in Auckland, winning 28-26. They began to look good on the British leg of the tour, with successive wins against Great Britain. However, they never got the better of a more passionate Kiwi outfit, minus superstars Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall I might add. Admittedly Australia was minus their halves combination, the world?s two best players, Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer. But given the depth that the Australian Rugby League has at its disposal this is no excuse. All Australian supporters, ex-players, players and coaching staff were stunned after being thrashed 24-0 by the Kiwis in the 2005 Tri-Nations Final, and we have a detailed look at the roots of the problem here.It has always been an argument of form versus loyalty, incumbency, or reputation. Former NSW State of Origin coach Phil Gould has consistently promoted the case for form in the Test arena, realising that Australia?s form side will always beat any opposition side that?s thrown onto the park. Coaches of Australian sides over the last 10 years have abused their powers at times, selecting players they favour personally, rather than the players who deserve the position on their merits. The Australian team?s failure in the 2005 Tri-Nations series has finally exposed these agendas which have been in place since the mid 1990s under the guidance of former Manly coach Bob Fulton. In the past, Australia has had enough depth to get away with it, not to mention the poor standard of the opposition. But Bennett?s side has been caught out, and it?s time to give the system a complete overhaul.During Fulton?s reign, he selected Manly players like Daniel Gartner, Nik Kosef, Danny Moore and John Hopoate in the Green and Gold. I would argue that these players didn?t really warrant selection, with the only deserved players from Manly was Geoff Toovey. Even Terry Hill had the odd lucky roll of the dice. Fulton even went to the extremes of selecting David Gillespie in the Kangaroo side in 1996, years after last playing for Australia and even without taking part in the State of Origin series earlier in the season. This can be taken within the context of the Super League War, but these sorts of decisions send a poor message to younger players aspiring to play for their country, but again, Fulton isn?t the only one.Let?s have a look at the two stalwarts of coaching over the past decade. Arch rivals Bennett and Anderson. Bennett coached Australia in 16 tests, winning 12, losing 3 and having the 1 draw. He took Australia to the 2004 Tri-Nations title, as well as winning a series in 1998. Unfortunately for Bennett, punters will remember him for losing the 2005 Tri-Nations Final, and so they should. Anderson on the other hand coached Australia in 18 tests between 1999 and 2003, winning 15 and losing 3. He managed to come away victorious in every series at the helm. The pair both held agendas by favouring certain players, making certain selections which can be described as contentious at best. In 2003, Cronulla finished well outside the top 8. Anderson selected club halfback Brett Kimmorley as the Australian no.7 ahead of Premiership winning halfback Craig Gower. Most would agree that Gower?s form was superior to Kimmorley?s at the time and it was widely rumoured that Gower was the winner of the Dally M Player of the Year, although the awards were cancelled. Anderson argued that Kimmorley had done the job before and therefore warranted selection. He then went on to play a starring role in the series and Anderson had got away with it, but that doesn?t make it right. He also selected utility Phil Bailey on the same tour. Most scribes would rate Bailey no better than an average NRL player. But it?s amazing how things can go your way if you know the right people. Luke Lewis was also picked in the squad, another Premiership winner with the Panthers. Australia led 2-0 in the series, and with a mounting injury toll, they struggled to field a team for the final game of the series, a dead rubber. It was thought that Anderson would give Lewis a game, but he strangely turned to the ageing Darren Smith, a mate of Anderson?s from his days of coaching Canterbury. Remembering that this game was a dead rubber makes it even more bewildering to bring in an outsider from the squad playing in the UK, particularly over a man who hadn?t even played a match previously on tour. Lewis hasn?t played a Test since, and if he never does, he can quite rightly feel very hard done by.Bennett showed loyalty to a group of players who were loyal to him, not necessarily from his side at Brisbane. Willie Mason is a classic example of this. He spoke out about how much he idolised Bennett as a coach, and Bennett repaid him with Australian selection. Willie himself would probably admit that his selection wasn?t warranted for this tour. He stated a case for Tigers prop John Skandalis to be selected ahead of himself, a decision which may have resulted in a better outcome for the Australian side. Brisbane prop Petero Civoniceva showed real signs of slowing down in the 2005 series, but was retained right throughout the tour without fuss from Bennett. This became evident in the final, with a younger, tougher more enthusiastic Kiwi pack proving too difficult for the Aussies to handle. Tonie Carroll is another player that Bennett has been loyal to in his time as Australian coach, allowing him to play for Australia despite the fact that he played previously for New Zealand.Now for the new man in the hot seat, Sydney Roosters coach Ricky Stuart. The Canberra great and former Bulldog has enjoyed a stellar start to his coaching career, which began at the Bulldogs with a Jersey Flegg Premiership in 2001. He then went on to coach the Roosters to a first grade premiership in 2002, and Grand Final appearances in both the 2003 and 2004 seasons. He has enjoyed representative success also, coaching Country Origin to victory in 2004, and a NSW Origin series win this year. Stuart is a much younger coach with new ideas, and wants the Australian side to have more passion. He does have a tendency to lose the plot on the sidelines though. When things aren?t going well for his side, he carries on like a baby without a lollie. Some say that it?s great that he wears his heart on his sleeve, but how are his players supposed to respond when seeing him behave in that way? A classic example in the 2004 Grand Final was when Justin Hodges and Chris Walker were making mistake after mistake, and Stuart was seen screaming and kicking chairs on the sidelines. This could work against Australia in the coming seasons if he doesn?t learn to keep his cool and stick to his strategic plans.With the job now Stuart?s, it remains to be seen whether these problems continue. A possible solution would have been to pick a coach who has no current affiliation with any NRL club, similar to what the Queensland Rugby League is doing with their State coach ? Mal Meninga. This would ensure that the Australian Team is chosen on merit, avoiding the continuous favouritism which has plagued representative rugby league for too long.
IT is just over four weeks since Paul Deacon overheard that his life was in danger as he lay on a treatment table at Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium with blood pouring from his mouth after his upper jaw had been smashed by New Zealand's Nigel Vagana in the Tri-Nations. But already the Great Britain scrum-half has set his sights a February comeback at the same ground for Bradford in the World Club Challenge against Wests Tigers."I can't wait to get back playing again," said Deacon, speaking publicly for the first time since the controversial incident in Britain's 38-12 win against the Kiwis on November 12. "I can eat what I want now - I had my first steak last week. I go back to see the specialist on December 22 and hopefully he'll give me the all-clear to start full training again."Deacon had enjoyed his best half-hour as an international player before he was hit by Vagana's swinging arm. "I didn't realise what I'd done at first," he said. "It was only at half-time when Brian Noble [Britain's coach] came back into the changing room and I heard the doctor, who was treating me, tell him it could be life-threatening. That was a bit of a shock."Still, the 26-year-old insists he holds no grudge against Vagana. "I've seen a lot worse tackles do a lot less damage," he added, refusing to be drawn on how he felt watching Vagana play in the final two weeks later after serving only a one-match suspension. "I don't want to comment on that, but I'll talk to Nigel no problem."- - - - -Andy Wilson is the rugby league writer for The Guardian and The Observer newspapers in the UK. We thank them both in reproducing Andy's article here.
DONCASTER have signed Karl Pratt after the former Bradford Bulls player was forced to quit top-flight rugby because of persistent shoulder problems."This opportunity was unexpected, but I am thrilled to join a club with huge potential," said the 25-year-old Pratt."I can't play at the highest level anymore, but I feel I can contribute the knowledge I gained to the Lakers and be part of something special here."National League One side Doncaster are chasing promotion to Super League.Lakers coach St John Ellis added: "It all happened very quickly. I told Karl what we are all about and where we are going and how I felt he could help."Having played at the very top level under coaches such as Brian Noble, David Waite and Graham Murray, I believe Karl can be an integral part of our team and help us move forward."He has a wealth of experience and talent and will be a massive help in improving our young players."Pratt, who began his career with Featherstone Rovers before moving to Leeds Rhinos, joined the Bulls in 2002.He went on to claim winners medals in the Challenge Cup, Super League Grand Final and World Club Championship.He also represented Great Britain against New Zealand in 2003. - - - - -Thanks to www.bbc.co.uk for this news.
NEWLY-PROMOTED Castleford Tigers continue to strengthen their squad for 2006 with the capture of former Huddersfield Giants skipper Ben Roarty and former Widnes and St Helens centre Gray Viane.Huddersfield released Roarty after a neck injury prematurely ended his 2005 campaign but he has had a subsequent operation to repair the damage and this proved a complete success.A former Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers player, Roarty had lengthy experience in the NRL before switching to the Giants in 2003.The back row forward?s leadership qualities won him the captaincy at Huddersfield and his signing is likely to complete the Tigers forwards compliment for the 2006 season.The Australian will fill the second place on the Tigers overseas quota and has signed a one-year deal.Gray Viane is a Samoan centre who played with the Widnes Vikings after signing part way through the 2005 season from St Helens, who he joined in 2004.He starred for Widnes although they were relegated, scoring 12 tries in 14 Super league appearances.An Australian Schoolboy international, the 23-year-old centre joined Saints in 2004 from Wests Tigers club where he gained experience in the NRL.Castleford Head Coach Terry Matterson said: ?I?m very pleased to have got Ben on board at the club. He is a real professional who you can guarantee to give you 100% effort week in week out.?He is a very experienced player who sets a terrific example and I believe that these qualities will make him a very valuable player for us in Super League.?And it?s good to have Gray on board. He is a big strong guy who can play in a few different positions and he certainly knows the way to the line.?He gives us some depth, bolsters a few positions and compliments our forward signings.?- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
HARLEQUINS Rugby League have announced the signings of Daniel Heckenberg - from NRL club Many Sea Eagles - and Tim Hartley from Salford City Reds ahead of their inaugural season in the engage Super League.Heckenberg, an athletic prop forward was released by Manly after two seasons and will again pack down with fellow NRL teammate Chad Randall in the Harlequins pack, who play their first game on February 11 at the Twickenham Stoop against St Helens.Harlequins Head Coach Tony Rea said: ?He (Heckenberg) is powerful with the ball and that will be a big asset. He will also bring a lot of experience to our team in its first season as Harlequins.?Stand-off Tim Hartley has made the move from Salford City Reds, where his performance in the 2005 season established him as one of the exciting up and coming youngsters in the game.Hartley commented: ?I?m really appreciative to have been given the opportunity to play top flight rugby here in London."?So far everything has been going really well and I?m looking forward to getting to know the all lads a bit more. I have settled well and I think we will have some really good times ahead of us as a club.?Rea added: ?Tim has adapted to pre-season training really well and we are really happy to have him here.??He caught our eyes as being one of the boom youngsters in the engage Super League last season and I believe he has the attributes to make a big impact in 2006.?- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
LEEDS Rhinos have agreed to release promising stand-off Scott Murrell, who is poised to join leading National League club Hull Kingston Rovers.Murrell, 20, is in talks over personal terms on a two-year deal with Rovers, who are set to beat Castleford and York to his sought-after signature.It is thought Rovers will have to pay around ?15,000 for Murrell, who played six Super League matches on loan to London Broncos in 2004 and made his Leeds debut in July.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
HULL FC and Hull KR have announced that the Clive Sullivan Memorial Trophy between the two clubs will be now played at The KC Stadium on January 8 2006.The two clubs have come to an amicable agreement which is equitable to both parties, and includes an amount which will be given to Charities chosen by Hull FC, Hull KR and Ros Sullivan, the widow of Clive Sullivan.In order to donate a large amount of money to each charity, ticket prices have increased by ?1 for adults and 50p for concessions.Hull FC Chief Executive David Plummer said: "I think it is good news for the City of Hull that the Hull derby is to go ahead, and with it, three worthy causes will benefit."It has taken time to renegotiate but hopefully we can now all look forward to the 8th January."Hull KR Chief Executive Paul Lakin added: "I?m delighted that we have been able to reach a new agreement as Hull is the only place in English rugby league that can truly boast a ?one city? derby."I am particularly pleased for the supporters who can enjoy the occasion and the three charities who will benefit greatly from this unique game."- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
CRONULLA forward Hutch Maiava has been fined $10,000 by the N-R-L club for his involvement in a fight with team-mate Jacob Selmes at training.Maiava was also suspended from training until January 4 for his part in Thursday's incident when Selmes required stitches to his face. Sharks chairman Barry Pierce says the incident is totally out of character and the player has been an exceptional trainer and clubman in his time at the Sharks. Maiava has apologised for his actions, saying he is embarrassed with what has happened.
CRONULLA coach Stuart Raper says prop Hutch Maiava will remain a member of the Sharks squad in 2006 despite punching a team mate at training yesterday.Young forward Jacob Selmes required 12 stitches after being punched by Maiava during an altercation in a weights session at pre-season training. It is unclear what caused the scuffle.Maiava has been suspended from training while the board considers his punishment. He is unlikely to train again this year. Raper said Maiava had been very remorseful for his actions and had apologised to Selmes.The Sharks coach claimed there would be no issue with Maiava playing with the Sharks in 2006.
SOUTH Sydney could have another ugly boardroom battle on its hands following reports George Piggins is backing a campaign to depose chairman Nick Pappas.Piggins has pledged to throw his support behind veteran powerbroker Henry Morris to take over from Pappas - the lawyer who masterminded the court victory to have the Rabbitohs reinstated to the NRL - according to reports in News Limited newspapers.Morris says he will stand for the board when elections take place in early March.
Forwards Not The Only ProductGunnedah, the New South Wales northern tablelands town, has produced many fine rugby league players.It is particularly noted for it's forwards, including former Test props John O'Neill and John Donnelly and more recently state prop Lindsay Johnston. Redcliffe's consistant hooker, Bob Jones is another forward product of the town. But Gunnedah also has it's good backs, among them is Tony Murphy who is making his mark with Jones club, Redcliffe.Murphy joined the Dolphins last season and quickly established himself as a challenger for first grade. He was one of the Dolphins most consistant performers in reserve grade and late in the Winfield Cup premiership was given his chance in first grade. But Redcliffe stuck with a more experienced centre combination for proved to be a disastrous knockout semi-final against eventual premiers Wynnum-Manly.Murphy's consolation was his role in the Dolphins 11-10 reserve grade grand final victory over Valleys. He was of the Dolphins stars, scoring one of their three tries.This year he was used as a reserve in three Redcliffe Winfield State League squads before finally forcing his way into the first grade starting line-up for the June 26 Dolphin Oval match against Valleys.The Dolphins clicked in the heavy going and Murphy combined brilliantly with his state representative centre partner Mitch Brennan to often have the highly fancied Diehards at sixes and sevens. Unfortunately thye following week Murphy's form dropped to mediocre along with most of the other players on the field in the scrappy match of the day loss to Souths.Former Brisbane representative Steve Cherry was brought back into first grade after proving in reserve grade that he had recovered from a bad arm injury. But Murphy, at 21 has time on his side and with a little more confidence could soon become a regular first grader.Murphy lives at Redcliffe and is employedin the service division of the Dolphin's sponsor Village Motors. His reserve grade team-mate Bob Jones is one of his former junior coaches and New South Wales prop Lindsay Johnston (Who plays with North Sydney) is a former team-mate at Gunnedah.This article appeared in a match day programme in 1983.FootnoteAfter spending time as football manager of the Dolphins and then Operations Manager of the Redcliffe Leagues Club Tony took over the role as General Manager of the Football and Leagues Clubs earlier this year.
WIGAN Warriors will be chartering a second plane to take fans to the first game of the new season against Les Catalans Dragons on Saturday 11th February 2006. (7.05pm kick off CET).The first aircraft SOLD OUT and the club have experienced unprecedented interest from fans wanting to travel to this historic clash.We can confirm that the return flight (as with the first plane) will depart from Manchester airport and will be direct to Perpignan. Coach transfers to the game will be provided. The flight will depart on the morning of (Saturday) 11th February, and return the same day after the game (times to be confirmed). Match tickets will not be included in the price but will be guaranteed for all passengers travelling on this package. Ticket prices will be confirmed in due course.The cost of this package will be ?212.00 including meals, taxes and transfers. On booking confirmation we will require a ?50 non-refundable deposit with the balance due 4 weeks prior to the game.(There is a slight increase in cost for this second aircraft due to limited availability of aircraft on this day.)Anyone wishing to book, on a first come first served basis, should call our official travel partner Flight Options on 0207 8218112 (opening hours 9.00am - 6.00pm Monday-Friday, 10.00am - 2pm Saturday) and speak to Rachel, Mike, Nikki or Paul.Bookings made by credit card will incur a charge of 1.5%. You will be responsible for your own transport to Manchester Airport. The agent operating the flight on our behalf is ATOL registered, number 4233.- - - - -Bradford Bulls have an opportunity to charter a plane to take supporters to Perpignon for our game with Catalans Dragons on Saturday March 4th. This would be subject to there being enough supporters wanting to make the trip.The return flight would depart from Manchester airport and will be direct to Perpignon. Coach transfers to the game in Perpignon will be provided. The flight will depart on the morning of (Saturday) 4th March and return the same day after the game. Match tickets will not be included in the price but will be guaranteed for all passengers travelling on this package. Ticket prices for the game will be confirmed in due course.The cost of the package is ?199 including in flight meals, taxes and transfers. A non refundable deposit of ?50.00is payable on booking with the balance due four weeks prior to departure.Any supporter interested in taking advantage of this offer should contact Angeline Robinson as soon as possible on 01274 762313. Flight Options PLC ATOL Reg No 423
BRADFORD Bulls took two awards, Best Gameday Experience and Best Internet Site, at the engage Super League Awards Night held at Headingley last week.The Bulls were also nominated in Best PR & Media, Best Mascot, Best Matchday Magazine and Best Community Programme.Bulls Media & PR Manager, Stuart Duffy said today:?We are delighted that we have been recognised within the game for the standards we try to set at Odsal. All the clubs have performed excellently this year and to win two awards and be nominated in four others is a great achievement and honour and is testimony to the hard working staff we have at the club who strive to keep it at the forefront of the game.? - - - - -The Huddersfield Giants are today celebrating after winning the 'Most Improved Marketing Operation' title at Super League's Awards Ceremony in Leeds. Pictured claiming the award from the Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications Simon Malcolm, are Giants Marketing Officer Jonathan Wilkinson and Giants Community Marketing Manager Lisa Jagger.Speaking of the award, Wilkinson commented "It's a massive honour for the club to win this award and represents the huge amount of work done behind the scenes in order for the Giants marketing to function. It's a team effort at the Giants and a massive coup for the club, but we are keen to push on next year and have some exciting plans for the Giants engage Super League campaign."Giants General Manager Richard Thewlis commented "I am delighted that Super League have acknowledged the fantastic work that is going on at the club which resulted in our gates rising by over 22% and season ticket base by over 80%."The staff here work long and hard to spread the Giants gospel and these awards can only help. It would be wrong too not to acknowledge the help of our supporters in creating such a positive buzz around the town at the moment in respect of what the Giants are doing and where we are heading."Over 24,000 Community contacts have been made by our development staff alone this year - a figure which I expect to rise next year and we can now confidently say on the back of our Sky TV rating of 10 out of 10 that we offer the best value family day out in the competition in the superb setting of the Galpharm Stadium. Our policy of free admission for all under 12's be they Giants or opposition supporters has gone well as has the Richard Allan backed 7's scheme which enabled around 1000 youngsters to have a 2005 Giants replica shirt. Both schemes are to be continued into 2006 and I am confident both will continue to grow our supporter base which is a clear goal of the club."It really is a very very exciting time to be a Giants supporter and I look forward to being able to announce that further marketing goals are being exceeded in the run up to Super League XI."- - - - -Harlequins RL were awarded a special discretionary award at the engage Super League Club Awards on 8th December at Headingley Lodge. The award was given to recognize the excellent transition and re-branding Harlequins RL has made from being London Broncos.The awards are intended to recognise excellence and good practice by clubs during the 2005 engage Super League season in areas of their business such as PR, marketing, commercial activity and community development.A number of discretionary awards are also made at the event to recognise activity which does not fall into established categories. The judging was carried out by an independent panel.Harlequins RL (as London Broncos) were also nominated for Best PR and Media, Best Match Day Magazine, and Best Internet Site.The club was also recognized as runner up for the special engage Partnership Award by Super League?s main sponsors engage Mutual Assurance.Chief Executive Nic Cartwright was delighted with the awards, ?Our team has done an excellent job and worked extremely hard to make the transition from London Broncos to Harlequins Rugby League. Our goal was to make the launch as big as possible and we received excellent press coverage.??The club continues to work hard in establishing an excellent programme in marketing, community, and commercial work for next season, and we are already beginning to see the benefits of this.?It is an honour to be recognised for our efforts and with our new name, set-up and stadium, we look forward to challenging for many awards next year.?Community Marketing Manager Kurt Pittman was pleased for the club to be recognized for its work with engage. ?Our club has always had an excellent relationship with engage. We share many of the same goals for work in the community. We look forward to working even more extensively with them next season.?2006 Harlequins RL season tickets are now on sale. Prices start at ?99 for adults, and great seats are still available. Call 0208 410 6000 to book now or order online at www.quins.co.uk. - - - - -Leeds Rhinos picked up three awards at the Annual Super League Marketing Awards with Blue & Amber named Programme of the Year for the fourth year running.The Rhinos programme has now been voted the best in Super League in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. The Rhinos also retained the title of Best Media & PR Department having won the award for the first time last year.The Rhinos also received an award for Best Strategic Commercial Partner for our partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University.The club were also nominated for best community programme, best club website and best mascot.Commenting on the awards Media & PR Manager Phil Daly said, "The awards for the programme and our media and PR work are fantastic and great recognition for the hard work and dedication by a lot of people involved with the club. A big thank you must go to Ignition Publications who design and print the programme to such a high standard. We have worked closely on the programme for the last three years and the results have been shown in the amount of programmes we sell each game. We won the Programme of the Year for the Tykes as well this year so it is a real boost. I must thank Pete Smith and Phil Caplan for their excellent contribution to the programme."Marketing Manager Abigail Furniss added, "Our partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University is highly innovative and far reaching. This award recognises the unique working relationship we have had with the University this year and hopefully it will grow even stronger in the years to come." - - - - -Wakefield Trinity Wildcats? prolific mascot ?Daddy Cool? has scooped the engage Super League Mascot of the Year award in the 2006 Super League marketing awards. The awards, held at Headingley Stadium, celebrate all the good work done by Super League clubs off the pitch. Daddy Cool fought off stiff competition from Bradford Bulls? Bull-Boy and Leeds Rhinos? Ronnie the Rhino to win the top-prize. The award recognised the level of entertainment which Daddy Cool brings the Wildcats fans, but also the huge amount of work he does in the community.Speaking on behalf of Daddy Cool, Wildcats marketing manager Ed Curran said ?It?s a great prize for the Wildcats, Daddy Cool is present in a Wakefield School every single day during the week, backing up the healthy eating assemblies and free coaching that our community department deliver, whilst on a matchday he continues to entertain and sometimes amaze fans with his antics?The Wildcats marketing department was presented with a commerative plaque in recognition of the prize.- - - - - Warrington Wolves Community Team have bagged the Best Community Programme award for the 5th time in 6 years at the 2005 engage Super League Marketing Awards evening at Headingley on Thursday evening.Winning the award 4 times in a row before losing out to Leeds Rhinos last season, this years award is testament to the hard work of the Community Team with the programme at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium being held up as the benchmark for other clubs to aspire to.The Wolves beat top Yorkshire clubs Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls to the award and a delighted Sean Mellor and Community team were on hand to accept their certificate from Simon Malcolm of the Rugby Football League.The Wolves also picked up one of a number of discretionary awards of the evening for "Best Tactical Marketing Campaign" for the effort and succes of managing the signing and merchandising of Andrew Johns.
NEW Australian coach Ricky Stuart says the excitement and passion that New Zealand showed during the recent Tri-Nations series was a lesson for the Kangaroos.Stuart says international rugby league has entered a new era in which Australia will find it more difficult to dominate. Stuart says the depth in Australian rugby league means early season form will see players fighting for spots in the Australian side.
SYDNEY Roosters and New South Wales coach Ricky Stuart has been handed the reins of the Australian rugby league team for 2006.