Jet-lagged Jones on top of the world

STACEY Jones has lost track of the number of flights he has made over the last six weeks but he has no doubt that victory in the Gillette Tri-Nations Series has made them all worthwhile.As a jet-lagged Jones prepares to complete the final leg of his weary, whistle-stop, globe-trot, he will bask in the glory of one of the most stunning wins in the history of rugby league.The Kiwis? 24-0 triumph over Australia ended the Kangaroos? world supremacy in emphatic fashion on a memorable night at Elland Road.The Aussies were condemned to a first series defeat since they lost both Tests to France at the end of the 1978 Kangaroo tour and a first series defeat by the Kiwis for 52 years.In nilling the Kangaroos for the first time for 20 years, New Zealand equalled their biggest-ever win over Australia, a 49-25 victory at Brisbane in 1952.It was a fitting way for popular skipper Ruben Wiki to mark his 50th Test appearance and special, too, for Jones, who won his 40th cap just 26 hours after rejoining his team-mates.The 29-year-old scrum-half, who originally flew to France to link up with his new club Catalans Dragons, returned home to Auckland to watch his wife Rachelle deliver their third child but he was back at the airport within five hours of the caesarean birth.?I?ve lost track of days and time,? he admitted. ?I can?t wait to get back home. I guess I?ll sit back in the next few days and reflect on it all. I?m pretty tired at the moment and there?s a long flight home too.?But for sure it?s worthwhile and the people I?d like to thank are the players who let me come back to the team without being involved. The boys have been great. The appreciation should go to them and to my wife as well for letting me come.?Jones, the 2002 Golden Boot winner, retired from the international game 18 months ago and, after some gentle persuasion from new coach Brian ?Bluey? McClennan, agreed to play the first two Tri-Nations games in Sydney and Auckland.After ending the tournament as an ever-present and leading scorer with 42 points, the little general revealed that it was a sense of being wanted that persuaded him to continue on the comeback trail.?I wasn?t hounded to play last year but Bluey said ?we?re going to get you to come back and play?. They were struggling for players, with Thomas Leuluai and Benjamin Marshall out, so it made it easier. Ruben asked if I could play. Last year I was left alone.?Jones went into Saturday?s final without a training session but slotted neatly back into the fray, setting up first-half tries for Paul Whatuira and Manu Vatuvei with high kicks and providing the telling passes that created other tries for the 19-year-old Vatuvei and Brent Webb.He failed with his first three conversion attempts but, aided by the Australians? growing indiscipline, found his accuracy with a couple of penalties to stretch his side?s lead to 16-0 by half-time and he added two more goals in the second half.?I was finding the first half pretty hard but the guys knew what they were doing and made is so much easier for me,? he said.?We?ve played together for six weeks now and that?s been a big part of it. The team has got a great culture going and they train really well as well. The game plan we have is pretty basic really. I just had to do the kicking. The guys dominated around the ruck and the defence was huge.?Jones, who will take his enlarged family to France in January to help prepare for the Perpignan club?s entry into Super League, says Saturday?s momentous victory will act as a tonic for the 13-man code in New Zealand, where the game is overshadowed by the success of the All Blacks.But he was magnanimous in victory, insisting that Australia will still be favourites to regain the trophy when the Tri-Nations Series heads down under in 2006.?They?ve been bullying us for a lot of years so it?s about time we got one over on them,? he said.?I don?t think we?ll be favourites next year. It?s all on the day. We dominated today (Saturday) but Australia always seem to be favourites to win any rugby league game. We were just fortunate that tonight it was our night.?- - - - -Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this report.More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130

Humble Aussies give Kiwis credit

AUSTRALIAN captain Danny Buderus admits defeat in the final of the Gillette Tri-Nations Series to New Zealand left ?sour taste? in the mouths of a group of players who have only ever known the feeling of victory.

McLennan lauds over Kiwi majesty

NEW Zealand coach Brian McClennan hailed his side?s ?huge? achievement after Australia were finally dethroned as kings of international rugby league.

New Zealand stun Australia to take Tri-Nations title

FULLTIME score: Tri-Nations Final New Zealand 24 def. Australia 0

10 Teams to contest 2008 World Cup

THE 2008 Rugby League World Cup in Australasia will feature 10 nations. Australia, New Zealand, England, France and Papua New Guinea are expected to receive direct entry but other nations are likely to have to qualify.

Game VII: The Antipodean Final

THE day of reckoning has arrived for Australia and New Zealand as they prepare to take the field in Elland Road, Leeds, and do battle for the title of Tri-Nations Champions.

Player news ? Dragons, Storm

CASTLEFORD has thrown a rugby league lifeline to axed St George Illawarra forward Willie Manu.The controversial forward will join ex-Cronulla prop Danny Nutley at the recently promoted English Super League club which has officially unveiled new coach, Australian Terry Matterson. Manu, 25, has signed for 2006 after being released from his Dragons contract - which was due to expire next season ? after several off-field incidents this year.Meanwhile, teenage sensation Greg Inglis has extended his contract with Melbourne until the 2009 NRL season in a deal worth in excess of $1 million.The new deal marks one of the most lucrative contracts ever offered to a rookie, with the 18-year-old set to become a millionaire after playing just 13 first grade games for the Storm. The retention of Inglis was a priority for coach Craig Bellamy, who recently compared him to "a young Laurie Daley".

Schifcofske new Canberra Raiders captain

THE Canberra Raiders have appointed star fullback Clinton Schifcofske as captain for their historic 25th season in 2006.Schifcofske was officially named as Raiders skipper following a two-day tactical camp at the Australian Institute of Sport.Schifcofske has played 116 of his career 211 first grade games with the Raiders. The former Queensland State of Origin representative said he?d never been more prepared for the captaincy role.?I?ve played first grade for 10 years and this is obviously something you always aspire to,? Schifcofske said. ?I think I?m ready for it and that?s something which has come with age, maturity and responsibility.?I?m a firm believer that actions speak louder than words, but I heard a good quote the other day. I?m an NFL fan and TV commentators were talking about the great quarterback Dan Marino. They said captaincy, leadership and respect isn?t announced, it?s earned.?Schifcofske paid tribute to his predecessor Simon Woolford, who stepped down as captain last week after five seasons as Raiders skipper. Woolford wants to focus on his personal form in 2006 and is intent on having his best season for the Green Machine.?Simon?s been terrific,? Schifcofske said. ?He?s a real competitor and I know I?ll get plenty of support from him this season. With experienced players like Simon, Jason Croker and Jason Smith, we?ve got a good platform for leadership.?Schifcofske has enjoyed his best form since joining the Raiders in 2001, winning the club?s Player of the Year award in 2001 and 2004.?I thought about whether the captaincy would distract me, but I think the extra responsibility will make me a better player,? Schifcofske said.Raiders coach Matt Elliott said Schifcofske was a natural leader.?The keys are his seniority and the respect he has for his teammates and from his teammates,? Elliott said. ?He has a desire to do the job, to develop the team and the club.?Starting with David Grant in 1982, the Raiders have had a fine tradition of captains. The list of former skippers includes Australian captains Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley.CLINTON SCHIFCOFSKENickname: ChocDOB: 10 November, 1975, in Moranbah, QldPosition: FullbackHeight: 183cm Weight: 91kgJunior Club: MoranbahContract with Raiders: end of 2008Representative: One State of Origin for Queensland in 2002. Australian Prime Ministers XIII in 2005. Previous Clubs: South Queensland Crushers (1996-97); Parramatta Eels (1998-2000)FG Debut: Crushers v Norths, April 21, 1996.Raiders Achievements:Games: 116 (211 career games)Points: 898 points (1454 career points)Raiders Player of the Year: 2001 and 2004Most Points in a Season: 245 points in 2001

Junior Dolphins Chosen

THREE junior Dolphins will reap the first benefits of the recently signed Broncos-Redcliffe partnership agreement.Promising under 17 forward Matt Handcock, Colts outside back Matt Gillett and 2005 under 14As best and fairest Matt Humphreys have been chosen to attend a Broncos elite players training camp this month.Although not contracted to the Broncos, the Redcliffe trio has gained spots at the camp, which features the cream of the broncos' scholarship holders from across Queensland and New South Wales. Redcliffe development officer Grant Cleal said the junior Dolphins chosen by Redcliffe were first and foremost of good character and would represent their club with pride.

Shippy Steers Way Back Home

TO a rugby league player, a decade is a lifetime.Mark Shipway will discover time has not stood still when returns to Dolphin Oval next season.The last time he donned the red and white jersey was in 1996 in a Brisbane grand final against Souths.The teenage centre had already played in that season's Queensland Cup grand final, carrying a dislocated shoulder, before popping it again in the premiership decider.Ten years later he has signed with Redcliffe as a hard-hitting backrower who has been with two NRL clubs and a Super League outfit."I went from Redcliffe to the Cowboys for five years," he said. "Then it was two years with Manly before two seasons with the Salford City Reds."At 29, Shipway believes he still has plenty of football left in him and always intended to come home with his Australian bride Jodie, the daughter of former Redcliffe coach John Barber."I had still been following Redcliffe's progress on the Internet and had a couple of mates from the Cowboys playing with the club," he said."Of course, I had played with James Hinchey and kept in close contact. When it came time to come home to live here, it wasn't a hard decision to sign up."Like all footballers, I've had a few little injury problems but the body still feels good."'Shippy' will find former team-mates scarce at Dolphin Oval, although the indestructible Troy Lindsay shows no signs of weakening."The guys I played with were the likes of Hinchey,Wayne Miller, Crusher Cleal,Ricky Hewinson, Robbo and Danny Nutley," he said."I know Greg Bourke well from my time at the Cowboys but I can't put any faces to the names who will be at the club next season so it's hard to say how we will go, but we will be training hard in the next couple of months so I'm bound to get a good idea of our prospects."I've not seen any games but I know that the Queensland Cup goes from strength to strength especially with the NRL clubs using it as a feeder system." Shipway needs no introduction to coach Anthony Griffin, who was Redcliffe's development officer during his time with the Dolphins.Super League clubs are allowed three overseas players and ironically there was a Redcliffe connection to Shipway's departure from Salford.The Reds swooped on former Dolphin Aaron Moule from the Widnes Vikings, signing the free-scoring centre for two seasons."I enjoyed England and it was all a great experience," he said. 'I got to travel around and have a look at the world, but it's good to be back here in a warmer climate."Shipway also is trying to tie up a new profession after a fulltime playing career.He has applied for a QRL development officer post, saying he had attended numerous schools and camps during his time with the Cowboys and Manly as well as helping coach an under 16 team at Salford. "I've never had to apply for a job as my last job was in the office at the Redcliffe Leagues Club," he said. "It's time to get back to a normal life."

Kiwi squad named for Tri-Series Final

KIWIS coach Brian McClennan expects the Gillette Tri-Nations series grand final against Australia to be an extremely tough contest.

Nutley and Manu to Castleford

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.

Guy Leech Begins Training With The Bears

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.

Tough Decisions And Top Footy At Bears Junior Trials

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.

It's snow joke for Aussies

CRAIG Wing is confident he will be fit to play for Australia in Saturday's Gillette Tri-Nations final against New Zealand.

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