CASTLEFORD Tigers have acquired two top class forwards from the NRL in former Warrington star Danny Nutley, from the Cronulla Sharks, and the St George-Illawarra Dragons Tongan international back rower Willie Manu.31-year-old prop forward Nutley - who is a quota player - started his senior career with South Queensland before joining Warrington Wolves in 1998.The prop made 99 appearances for the Wolves, who were very keen to retain him but he opted to return ?home? and join the Sharks where he has spent the past three seasons.At the Sharks Nutley took the Player of the Year award in 2003 and represented Queensland in the State of Origin.25 year-old Manu is a 16 stone six foot second row forward who has made 14 appearances for the St George-Illawarra Dragons this year taking his NRL first grade appearances to 83 since making his debut for the Wests Tigers in 2002.Manu - who is a non-quota player - had two years with Wests and then a season at Souths before his switch to St George for the 2005 season.Although born in Sydney, Manu is qualified to play for Tonga and represented the country firstly in the 2000 World Cup competition. Most recently he played against Samoa last month in the build up to the 2008 World Cup.Castleford CEO Richard Wright said: ?We believe that these are two excellent acquisitions for the Tigers who will add strength and toughness to our pack.?We have had to work very hard to bring the duo to the club, with Terry Matterson playing a big part, as both were first team regulars and under contract.?Danny capped a tremendous season this year with State of Origin selection and Willie is a regular in the Tongan set up, and both just the type of quality players that we have been looking to bring to the club to augment the talent who took us back into Super League. ?We always felt that with patience we could land the right players and now we feel that we are reaping the benefits and building a group of players who will give us a very competitive side in 2006.?On Wednesday Castleford completed the signing of St Helens? Welsh international prop forward Keith Mason.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
SEVEN time winner of the Uncle Toby?s Iron Man Series and multi-champion ironman Guy Leech has introduced the North Sydney Premier League squad to his unique style of water and beach based fitness training, at his OzPaddle headquarters at the Manly Pavilion. Early Sunday mornings most of us are lying in bed enjoying a sleep-in. But not Guy Leech and not the North Sydney Bears. In the first of 4 training sessions Guy has combined kayak work and beach running in a 2 hour session. The players were split into 2 groups, with one kayaking out to about one kilometre, rounding the post and heading back and the other group combining sand running with sit ups and push ups. The session then ended with a combined relay race on Manly beach. But this is only an introduction to more intensive training, ?I want to have the boys for 2 more one hour sessions before a final Iron-Man style event in the New Year. We want to train them in alternate groups of forwards and backs because their abilities vary. It will be more intensive. We will take them further out to the National Park?.Ironman Champ Guy Leech issues directions to the Bears Premier League team on Sunday. Photo: Steve LittleTo see more Photos of the Bears training with Guy go to the photos section of the Bears website http://www.northsydneybears.com.au.For more information on Guy Leech?s OzPaddle training programs go tohttp://www.ozpaddle.com.au.The North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website at http://www.northsydneybears.com.au.
SELECTION trials are not always the greatest spectacles due to the fact they are usually held in the off season, not to mention the heat that comes along at this time of year. The quality of the recent trials is testimony to the training program undertaken by the 2 squads over the past 5 weeks. The players were fit, skilled and hungry for their chance to represent the red and black. The result was a clearer indication of the talent on show and some spectacular footy with great tactical kicking, defence and running football. Then comes the difficult task of culling the current training squads down to the final 2006 teams. A task made more difficult for training staff after over seeing the 4 weeks of training. ?This is the most difficult cut because we have spent 4 weeks already with these kids and got to know them really well. I really do wish all of them that missed out well in the future? said SG Ball Manager Darren Allard. As the day finished a warning was issued to the boys ?The training will get harder from here on in boys. You may want to think about that when you make your decision to play? said Harold Matthews coach Kevin Nichols, comments that were echoed in the SG Ball camp. The North Sydney Club would like to sincerely thank all players that have missed out, for the effort they have put in over the past 5 weeks and wish you all good luck in the world of Rugby League. Greg Florimo tries to keep his cool while refereeing at the final Junior Rep trials for 2006. Photo: Steve LittleFor details of the final playing squads and to see more photos from the final junior rep trial day go to the Bears websitehttp://www.northsydneybears.com.au.The North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website at http://www.northsydneybears.com.au.
CRAIG Wing is confident he will be fit to play for Australia in Saturday's Gillette Tri-Nations final against New Zealand.
WIGAN Warriors will be the first opponents for engage Super League newcomers Les Catalans after the fixtures for the forthcoming season were announced.The Perpignan-based club will kick off their campaign against the Warriors at the Aime Giral Stadium on Saturday, February 11, in a match to be televised live by Sky Sports.Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay said: "It?s no surprise to me that we are the first club invited to play in France to usher in the historic entry into Super League of Les Catalans Dragons."I am sure it will help them to fill their ground and, of course, it will be a very tough fixture for us."It will still be winter in the south of France so our fans will miss the warm weather, which many other clubs will enjoy throughout the year. It is still a great honour for us and one we are delighted to be part of."Coach Ian Millward said: "We are pleased to be the first club to tackle the Dragons in France. It is a very difficult start for us as they will certainly be fired up for their opening fixture, but it is one we as a club are very much looking forward to."Promoted Castleford Tigers will kick off Super League XI with a home match against Powergen Challenge Cup winners Hull at the Jungle on Friday, February 10, while champions Bradford Bulls will launch the defence of their title against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Belle Vue on the Sunday.In other opening fixtures, Harlequins - formerly known as London Broncos - take on St Helens at the re-named Twickenham Stoop on the Saturday and Leeds Rhinos meet Huddersfield Giants at Headingley while Warrington Wolves are at home to Salford City Reds on the Sunday. - - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
PROMOTED club Castleford have completed the signing of St Helens? Welsh international prop forward Keith Mason and moved closer to capturing former Warrington front rower Danny Nutley.The 23-year-old Mason had a year left on his contract at Saints but has agreed a 12-month loan deal with the Tigers, where he will join former Wigan prop Danny Sculthorpe.Mason started his professional career with Wakefield, although he had a brief spell with Castleford?s junior academy, before moving to Australia for a stint with Melbourne Storm, where he played under new Tigers coach Terry Matterson for their feeder club, Brisbane Norths.?We have been looking to bring Keith to the club for some time and we are all very pleased that we have been able to conclude a deal today,? said Castleford chief executive Richard Wright.?Keith is a big strong forward and, along with Danny Sculthorpe gives us two young prop forwards who have a lot of belief in themselves, are ambitious and are very keen to make their mark at the Jungle.?We hope to announce more new signings over the next couple of days and when those deals are completed and announced we think the fans will start to gain confidence in our ability to compete in Super League next season.?One of the imminent signings is thought to be the 31-year-old Nutley, who has been released from the final year of his contract with Cronulla Sharks.Nutley, who played for Warrington before joining Cronulla in 2002, has agreed a two-year contract with the Tigers.?The Sharks have supported me 100% during the four years I?ve been and the club and they are continuing to support me by allowing me a release and the opportunity to accept the Castleford offer. I?m very grateful to the club for that,? Nutley told the Cronulla website, www.sharks.com.au.?At this point in my career, I?m 31 with a family to look after and the Castleford offer is a very attractive one.?Cronulla coach Stuart Raper, formerly in charge of Castleford and Wigan, said: ?I really enjoyed working with Danny. We will definitely miss his toughness and competitiveness.?It was a difficult decision to grant him the release, but life goes on. It is a great opportunity for him over there at Castleford.?- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this report.
STATE of Origin forward Danny Nutley has been released from the Cronulla Sharks so he can take up a two-year deal to play with English club Castleford.Sharks chief executive Steve Rogers signed the release papers this morning. Rogers now heads off to another meeting where he will try to sign dumped St George Illawarra forward Lance Thompson for next season.Rogers says the decision to release Nutley does not set a precedent. He tried to do the best thing by a loyal player who's been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set himself up financially. He says Castleford have offered Nutley a deal the Sharks could not hope to match.
NEWCASTLE Knights management has met with coach Michael Hagan amid speculation he is being pursued by Parramatta for the 2007 NRL season.Hagan has been linked to a move to Parramatta with the Eels having declared their intention not to renew Brian Smith's coaching contract beyond the 2006 season. While Knights chairman Mike Tyler says no firm decisions were made as a result of today's discussions, the club is comfortable with Hagan's position.The board plans to review Hagan's position midway through next season and Hagan says his priority is with the team.
INJURED Australian utility Craig Wing says he's in no doubt for Saturday's Tri Nations final with New Zealand at Elland Road. Coach Wayne Bennett seemed concerned by Wing's sternum injury which caused him problems late in Australia's 26-14 Test win over Great Britain last weekend.
SALFORD have been given the green light to press ahead with plans to build a new 20,000-seater stadium just off the M62 motorway.Salford City Council has approved the Reds' ambitious proposals for the ?32million stadium, along with a hotel, shopping and leisure facilities, on a 30-hectare brown-field site near junction 11 of the M62.Salford have played at their present ground, The Willows, for the last 100 years.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
NEW Zealand have confirmed that Stacey Jones will play for them in Saturday's Gillette Tri-Nations Series final at Elland Road.
ST Helens have announced a profit of ?140,000 for the 2004 season, compared to a loss of ?380,000 in the previous 12 months.Chairman Eamonn McManus said: ?The financial results are exceedingly pleasing and reflect three years of very hard work by management to reach financial stability.?The situation continues to improve and now places us in a strong and healthy position to continue our success on the field as well as to enable us to advance further negotiations relating to a new stadium.?Meanwhile, Saints have agreed to play a pre-season friendly against National League Two club London Skolars at Leinster?s Donnybrook ground in Dublin on Sunday, January 22.- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.
AUSTRALIAN utility player Craig Wing is battling to overcome a sternum injury but has been named in coach Wayne Bennett?s squad for Saturday?s Gillette Tri-Nations Series final against New Zealand at Elland Road.
STATISTICS in the National Rugby League show that the average career span for a player is only 53 games, little more than two seasons. These are pretty concerning figures in a professional sport where the time constraints of playing and training leave many players having to rely solely on their match payments as financial income.Up until the last few years, there had been little or no education on the erratic nature of the financial rewards, nor the need to have a backup career or education for life post-football. However, now the League has been building programs and increasing their involvement in player welfare and education. NRL game liaison manager, Michael Buettner, said the League had implemented part-time education and welfare officers at club level along with a committee with representatives ranging from the NRL, the Players Association, Club representatives and academics from Sydney University. This is bringing to fruition programs designed to educate players on behavior, both on and off the field.?Obviously through media reports there has been a focus on the issues relating to alcohol and attitudes towards women amongst NRL players which have been addressed with all players participating in workshops relating to these issues,? Buettner said.Many clubs have also taken it upon themselves to offer guidance for a life after sport, under the direction from the NRL. This is designed to encourage players to take part in educational programs through work experience or traineeships.The NRL is now looking at better ways to improve the amount of education younger players receive from not only the current courses offered but also through existing players getting involved in workshops with younger players. ?The NRL was able to conduct workshops to the majority of the clubs under 20?s Jersey Flegg teams this year and also the Australian Schoolboys team and will continue this in 2006 with plans to extend this to under 18?s and under 16's level,? said Buettner.A preliminary Rookie camp made up of a spread of talented youngsters from each club debuted this year. At the camp, the junior players were pioneered on the ins-and-outs of the game. The first camp was considered a huge success and plans are already in the pipeline for a follow-up in 2006. As well as facilitating programs at an introductory level, the NRL are also strong supporters of the ?Men of League? organisation. The idea for the ?Men Of League? grew over three years ago out of concerns legendary back-rower Ron Coote held for former players who were doing it tough. Approximately 2,300 ex-players and officials now form the ?Men of League?, making it a successful support network for those in need.Rugby League has taken a giant step forward in guiding its players to acknowledge a career in life after football. Unfortunately, like many sporting careers, League is not a lengthy one. The approximate two seasons that an average players? career will span, based on the salary cap of $3.3 million, will only earn him an average of $65,000 a year. This is based on the assumption that the top 25 will be paid equally from the cap. In reality, however these figures are not the case. Just look at St George-Illawarra back-rower, Lance Thompson who last year took a significant pay cut so other star players at the club could be resigned.As Buettner says, life after football is a consideration all players have to take into account.?Therefore the average NRL player will not find the game financially rewarding and in fact will require him to focus a lot more on what he is doing post football,? he said.
NEW Zealand coach Brian McClennan claims his Kiwis are underdogs to end Australia's three decades of dominance in Saturday night's Tri Nations rugby league final at Elland Road.