Puletua new Panthers skipper

KIWI international Tony Puletua has been appointed Penrith skipper for the 2006 NRL season following the sacking of former captain Craig Gower earlier this month.

Puletua to lead Panthers in 2006

TONY Puletua is the new First Grade and club captain of the Penrith Panthers.The appointment was announced last evening by General Manager Michael Leary and Coach John Lang. Although born in Auckland, the towering second rower came up through Penrith?s junior ranks. He made his first grade debut in 1997 against the Western Reds in Perth. Since then he has played a major role for the club both on and off the field. His partnership with fellow Kiwi, Joe Galuvao, was a major factor in the club winning the 2003 minor and major premierships and finishing third in 2004.Tony is signed with Penrith until 2009.?Tony is a natural leader, not only on the field, but off it,? John Lang said tonight. ?He?ll have everyone?s support.??He does a lot for our community as well,? Leary said. ?I think the team and the club are in good hands.?Tony said he was really excited by the opportunity. "I'm looking forward to it - it's every first grader's dream. "I see it as a challenge and all I can do is my best."He doesn't believe that being a 60 or 70 minute player is a problem - "it's worked when I've captained the team in the past."Courtesy of:http://www.panthers.com.au

Jones named Dragons captain

NEW Zealand Test star Stacey Jones has been appointed captain of engage Super League newcomers Catalans Dragons for their inaugural season. The 29-year-old scrum-half, who is the Perpignan club?s highest-profile recruit, was chosen ahead of a host of French internationals to lead the side out in their historic opening match against Wigan at Stade Aime Giral on February 11. Jones, who has joined the French club on a two-year deal, was unveiled in front of fans at an open day. He has previous experience of captaincy both with his former club New Zealand Warriors and the Kiwi national team. ?It was an easy decision and has been received very well,? said Grant Mayor, the club?s chief executive.?When the players were told pre-training they all applauded. ?Stacey is one of the world?s best players and has captained his country. He has had so much success in the game and commands so much respect. ?When you look at the big challenge which faces us we need the right leader and Stacey will be an excellent mentor for the kids.?Jones was the last player to link up with the Dragons a week ago after enjoying a well-earned break. He made a memorable return to the international scene in the autumn, playing a key role in all five of his country?s Gillette Tri-Nations matches as the Kiwis lifted the trophy. Jones, a former Golden Boot award winner as the world?s leading player, was the tournament?s leading scorer and won his 40th cap in New Zealand?s stunning 24-0 win over Australia in the final at Elland Road.He will lead the Catalans for the first time in the pre-season friendly against Harlequins on Saturday week, and said: ?As a player you never expect this honour but now I have had some time to think about what this means, I am extremely proud to lead the team into the first season of Super League. ?They are all a great bunch of guys and with so much experience around me, I am sure that this team will develop into a very competitive team.?Thanks to:http://www.superleague.co.uk for another excellent article.

Top weightlifting coach joins Wests Tigers

WESTS Tigers have engaged on a consultancy basis Australian weightlifting coach Luke Borreggine to increase the players strength and power in 2006.Borreggine (pictured) is the current head coach of the NSWIS Weightlifting Program and spends three days a week with the NRL premiers under the guidance of Wests Tigers performance co-ordinator Ciriaco Mescia.Based at Burwood Police and Citizen?s Youth Club, Borreggine applies a combination of Russian and Bulgarian training methodology within the nationally focused NSWIS weightlifting program. A national and international coach for the Australian Weightlifting Federation since 1993, Luke has coached Australia at 14 World Weightlifting Championships during his career. He was also the Head Coach for the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Australian Olympic Weightlifting teams, and the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games teams. In December 2003, Luke was appointed Head Coach of the Australian weightlifting team for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Luke is a life member of the NSW and Australian Weightlifting Federation. He is also a life member of the Police and Community Youth Club and the Australian Weightlifting Federation. In 2000, he was judged as the NSW Coach of the Year. Weightlifting isn?t the only sport that Borreggine has been associated with. He spent 10 years working in rugby league and was associated with the Penrith Panthers club from 1990-93.?After having a long break from rugby league, it is great to be involved in the game again,?? Borreggine said.?I?m really enjoying working with the Wests Tigers.??

The Carnegie World Club Challenge ? When two worlds collide!

IT is less than a month until reigning engage Super League Champions Bradford Bulls do battle with Australian Premiers, Wests Tigers, for the right to be called the best Rugby League club in the world.The venue is Huddersfield?s magnificent Galpharm Stadium and the ground will shake when these two mighty clubs clash.The Bulls clinched their title with some breath-taking play and they boast a host of international players in their squad including Great Britain hero Stuart Fielden and new signing?s Chris McKenna and Marcus Bai.Wests Tigers produced an amazing performance to win the NRL Grand Final Down Under. They are lead by Kiwi wonder-kid Benji Marshall and also boast Australian half back Scott Prince.With playing line-ups like these, nobody should miss this awesome contest between the world?s best two club sides.The Carnegie World Club Challenge takes place on Friday 3rd February 2006 at the Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield (ko 8.00 pm).Tickets are already selling fast but are still available from Rugby League Events on (0870) 990 1313. Or you can get more information and book online at www.superleague.co.ukTickets are also on sale direct from Bradford Bulls at Odsal Stadium.Be there when two worlds collide!Tickets are available 24-hours on 0870 990 1313 or online at www.superleague.co.ukBook now to guarantee the best seats!Thanks to:http://www.superleague.co.uk for this article.

Giants land in Portugal for pre-season training

THE Huddersfield Giants have arrived and held their first training session at their state-of-art training venue in Portugal which will be their base for the next week. Brown's Sports and Leisure Club, situated in the Algarve, will house the Giants squad as they continue their preparations for engage Super League XI. The Giants have taken the full 24 player 1st team squad with the only absentee been prop Jim Gannon who has recently had appendicitis. Any illusions of an easy week in the sun for the players were quickly quashed as the team began their tough week of training.Giants Football Manager Stuart Sheard commented "The facilities at Browns are superb and this is the second year that we have returned to the complex. Some of the top teams in the world have used this as their base and it is easy to see why. With the issues regarding weather in the UK at this time of the year, it's great for the players to head away and also have a change of scenery. Trips such as this also allow time for the new boys to settle in and meet the lads, but training is just as hard, if not harder than it is at home, so it certainly isn't a holiday for the players." High resolution photos are available of the players completing their first training session at Brown's. If any media would like these in electronic format, please contact Jonathan Wilkinson at the club on [email protected] For any further media information, please contact Jonathan Wilkinson at the Giants on 0870 4444 677 ext 114.

Storm's first GB squad member, Tom Bold

SOUTH London Storm have received a boost this week with the announcement that they have their first Great Britain international squad player. Tom Bold has been playing for South London Storm RLFC Juniors (now named the Croydon Hurricanes) and South London Schools sides since he was 11. He also represented London & The South at U13, U14, & U15 ages inter-regional games against Wales, Cumbria, North West Counties, North East Counties and Yorkshire. He has now been called into the Great Britain Amateurs U18 squad to face the French. He has also just been offered a professional contract with Super League side Harlequins RL for whom he has been playing U18 Academy rugby last year. Tom is currently playing winter rugby for the South London Storm U21s side and is in the training squad for Harlequins Under 21s Senior Academy side. Storm have had internationals come through the ranks in the past, Iain Lane (Scotland Students), Adam Janokowski (England U16) and at senior level Corey Simms, Rickey Davey and Gavin Calloo (West Indies) and Louis Neethling, Louis Boschoff and Guisbert Huismenn (South Africa) but have never had a GB International.?This is the highest honour for any Under 18 player in the country and is absolute proof that we are approaching the way we bring youngsters into the game in the correct way. Tom has been a great asset to the club both on the field and off and this is a well deserved call up.? Commented club Chairman Paul Brown.?We are all very proud of Tom and wish him all the best in the Squad training and hope for him to be in the 17 and get a GB shirt. It would be a great honour for him and the club to be this close to an international cap.??I just hope I can play well enough in the trials and training to get the chance to pull on the shirt, it would be an amazing honour to do this, if not then this experience will help me grow in to a better player.? Tom commented on in his initial selection.Great Britain?s first game is on Tuesday 21st of February against France 'Espoirs' (U18s) - Great Britain also play Holland as a warm up game before playing France in the return away fixture. The team will also host Australian touring sides during the year (was Penrith Panthers U18s and AIS - Australia Institute of Sport - last year).

Scotland Name Players of the Year

HULL Kingston Rovers winger Jon Steel has been voted Scotland?s Player of the Year 2005 by the national team's coaching staff and management. The former Glasgow and Borders rugby union star, who won the last of his five Scotland RU caps marking New Zealand?s Jonah Lomu, impressed on his Scotland Rugby League debut against Wales in the European Nations Cup and backed that up with a solid display against Ireland. He will receive the Dave Valentine Award before an upcoming Hull KR match.Other winners:David Rose Award for Scotland A Team Player of the Year 2005 ? Barry Edgar (Glasgow Bulls)Roy Kinnear Award - Scotland Students ? Dave Simm (Napier University)Alan Tait Award ? Scotland Under-19s ? Kieran Seeds (Edge Hill College)Nathan Graham Award ? Scotland Under-16s ? Craig Owenson (Edinburgh)Each award will be individually presented at the start of the League season over the next few weeks.For more information call Scotland RL media officer Gavin Willacy on 07796 442041 or email [email protected]

Malta's welcome return

WHETHER it was the welcoming nature of the Coffs Harbour locals or that of the helpful committee of the Orara Valley Axemen Rugby League Club. Hollywood celebrity Russell Crowe?s pose in the ?Malta? rugby league jersey prior to their quarter final clash against the Sydney Metro Aboriginal All-stars, or the unanticipated fourth placing in their inaugural Sevens tournament, the fledgling governing body for Maltese Rugby League will return to the Coramba Sportsground for the 2006 Orara Valley Sevens tournament with only one main concern.One year stronger, on the back of a successful groundbreaking tour to the Maltese Islands where locals took in the novelty of a sport previously unknown to the Mediterranean island nation and with the addition of a number of fresh and upcoming faces to their impressive playing roster; the Malta Knights return to Orara Valley primed to put up an admirable challenge for the $10,000 first prize.Maltese Rugby League Association (MRLA) chairman Michael Borg is adamant the snowball effect of success in the MRLA?s historic first years within Australia is a major lever in controlling the future of rugby league on the Maltese islands.?It is the major factor??Due to mass migration from the 1950's onwards, there are thousands of Maltese or people with Maltese descent living in Australia, thus as a result practically every Maltese has a relative living in Australia and has strong connections with Australia? explains Borg.?? the success of the Australian-based MRLA made up of Maltese-Australians passionate about the game of Rugby League and keen to promote the game in Malta itself is vital to the establishment of Rugby League in Malta?Last year, the Malta Knights commenced their ?sevens? proceedings by gaining maximum points on the first day, before knocking out one of the tournament favourites, Fiji.Parramatta Eels SG Ball head coach and Malta Knights mentor Joe Grima describes the win as a major boost in belief for the Maltese team.?It was important. All the talk was about the Fijians and when we (Malta) put our hearts into it, we came out trumps. The Fijians were really disappointed and we used that?MRLA chairman Michael Borg attests it?s not only the players that rate Joe Grima as a passionate and innovative coach and backs the Malta Knights instructor to take them all the way in 2006, which would be a welcome monetary boost to the rugby league body on the Maltese islands itself.?absoloutely!...Joe is one of the most passionate people you will ever come across. He's developed a good rapport with the players and as a result the squad that went to last year's sevens had good camaraderie and simply went to enjoy themselves in a carnival atmosphere that is the Orara Valley Sevens??A non-profit and voluntary organisation such as ours would use the much-needed funds to direct towards development of the game in Malta? Borg confirmed.Malta eventually bowed out of the race for last year?s first prize after a golden point second half try which saw Malta go down 36-32, after Malta led 32-18 a minute into the second half of normal time. Nevertheless, the new boys on the block gained a whole lot of support from their inaugural appearance at the tournament, as well as experience that will see them return to Australia?s richest ?sevens? tournament with their eyes on nothing but the silverware and prize money on up for grabs on the Sunday afternoon, but coach Joe Grima is reserved in his expectations.?the competition is going to be much stronger this year than last, I?m not going into the tournament expecting to qualify for the Sunday(finals) games??We?ve got plenty of speed and enthusiasm in what is a youthful side yet we?re going up there with a lot of supporters. In having some fun, we?re going to display the skills and sportsmanship of the Malta Knights (MRLA)? tells Grima.The Maltese side won?t be led by Grima all weekend however, with Grima handing over the Saturday duties to assistant coach Tony Farr, due to Grima?s commitments with Parramatta Eels.Farr has been on the coaching panel from day one of the MRLA?s venture and recently added to his already sparkling resume, a pioneering tour to Malta where Malta defeated the England Lionhearts 36-6 at the Marsa Stadium in Malta.A well-respected figure within rugby league circles up to the highest level for the past twenty-five years, Farr will guide the young Maltese chargers through their day one pool matches.Equal top point scorer from last year?s tournament, Parramatta Eels' Simon Micallef will return again to represent Malta; as will 2005 Player of the Tournament and ex NRL star, Malta Knights skipper Ben Sammut.While the Eastern Australian state of NSW is well represented with Maltese talent, QLD doesn?t go unnamed with Mackay Brothers? Brendan Russell and Burleigh Bears? Paul Marzella forming part of the backbone in Malta?s back line that boasts an array of youth and speed that will key up with a wise but mobile pack of forwards that includes Wests Magpies premier league forward Pat Galea.Debutants in the red and white kit of the Malta Knights are Nathan Attard and Jarrod Sammut, both products of the Penrith Panthers junior rugby league nursery.Related links:www.malteserugbyleague.comwww.oraravalleyaxemen.com

Bulls warm up for World Club Challenge

ENGAGE Super League Champions, Bradford Bulls, jet out on Thursday to begin their final preparations for the Carnegie World Club Challenge game against NRL Champions Wests Tigers on February 3rd.The Bulls will spend a week at the prestigious Club La Santa in Lanzarote where they will be able to spend valuable time outside on firm pitches and will be put through their paces ahead of the WCC at the Galpharm Stadium. The Bulls will take a fully fit squad to the Canaries and Coach Brian Noble is looking forward to being able to plan ahead without recourse to the weather.?The World Club Challenge is a very prestigious game and gets the Super League season off to a very positive start. It is not too often that you get the opportunity to be a World Champion in any sport and we are determined to overcome what will be a tough challenge from West Tigers. Going out to Lanzarote will enable us to plan our training sessions knowing we will be able to up the intensity without the weather disrupting our plans. The squad are looking forward to the trip and to the game with relish.?Tickets for the Carnegie World Club Challenge at the Galpharm Stadium Huddersfield game on February 3rd are available from the Bradford Bulls Ticket Office on 08701 202040 or by logging ontowww.bradfordbulls.co.ukFor further information contact:Stuart Duffy Tel: 01274 762315M 07966 171991

Young Bears Join First Grade Storm Stars In Melbourne

THE Bears feeder club agreement with NRL club Melbourne Storm has given a chance for some of Norths talented young stars to join other young players from around the Eastern states, in an intensive week of training at Storm headquarters down south.Premier League and Kiwi junior rep Reihana Peters has joined Jersey Flegg recruit James Maloney, S.G. Ball?s Liam Foran and Bears head coach Josh White in Melbourne for 5 days of skills, conditioning sessions and sports related forums on leadership and sports science.?It?s very exciting. There are 26 young players here from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, even the Northern Territory! Today [Wednesday] we had a skills session with coaching staff Craig Bellamy & Michael Maguire and former first grade player Steve Kearney? said former Magpies first grader Josh White.Local Junior and SG Ball star Liam Foran said, ?It?s very exciting and a great experience!?The Norths crew fly back to Sydney on Saturday afternoon and ready themselves for what promises to be a huge season for the Bears.PHOTO: Bears under 20s halfback James Maloney and Premier League Coach Josh White at training prior to heading for Melbourne. Photo: Steve LittleThe North Sydney Rugby League Football Club can be contacted on 9466 8860, by e-mail [email protected], or check out the website athttp://www.northsydneybears.com.au.

Rabbitohs Announce Squad for Orara Valley Axemen Sevens Tournament

THE South Sydney Rabbitohs have announced their squad for the Orara Valley Axemen Sevens Tournament being held on January 28-29 being played at Coramba Sportsground.The squad is:Joven ClarkeJames DonlanAdham El-ZbaidiehJoe FalemakaBeau FalloonNathan GilchristWillie GordonRhys HanburyLuke MacDougall (c)Ray MoujalliGermaine PaulsonDean PetersLuke RobertsDavid RymanFetuli TalanoaCoach - Mark EllisonThe Rabbitohs first game will be against Woolgoolga on Saturday, January 28.The Gold Coast Titans will play their first games of Rugby League underneath their new banner at the Orara Valley Axemen Sevens Tournament, joining teams such as defending champions the Lebanese Cedars, Maltese RLFC, Wairere Australian Maori RL, Samoa National, Fiji A Rugby League, Japan, Cook Islands, NZ Maoris, USA Tomahawks, Fiji Bati and the Orara Valley Axemen.The Orara Valley Axemen Sevens Tournament is part of the Orara Valley Axemen Big Week of League, incorporating the Sevens tournament, a Kids to Kangaroos coaching clinic, Men of League golf day and dinner, exhibition sevens matches and senior internationals between Japan and the USA, and Fiji Bati and New Zealand Maori.For more information about the Orara Valley Axemen Sevens Tournament and the Big Week of League click on www.oraravalleyaxemen.com

Sheens talks on WCC

WESTS Tigers coach Tim Sheens says next month's World Club Challenge match against Bradford in England isn't a must-win game for the club, but it could help prove that last year's premiership was no fluke.The Tigers meet the English Super League champions on February 3 in Huddersfield with only a trial against country outfit Group 4 as their preparation. Sheens says the game is important but that his focus is on the premiers' NRL opener against St George Illawarra on March 10.If the Tigers claim the WCC title, they will achieve a rare treble by also holding the NRL premiership and being the reigning World 7?s champions.Sheens also says captain Scott Prince has given every indication that he wants to stay at the Tigers beyond the 2006 season.

Tigers wait to settle Prince's future

WESTS Tigers must sweat on premiership-winning captain Scott Prince's future until after next month's World Club Challenge against Bradford in England.Prince said today he would not be sitting down with club management until mid-February to discuss terms for an extension of his contract. The Tigers have a busy pre-season kicking off in Gunnedah on January 27th against Country outfit Group 4, who are coached by former Souths and Newcastle prop Matt Parsons.The premiers then fly to England to lock horns with the Bulls in the World Club Challenge a week later.

Pierce to act as general manager at Sharks

CRONULLA football manager Greg Pierce will assume the role of acting general manager at the Sharks rugby league club following the sudden death of club great Steve Rogers last week.A decision on a permanent replacement will be made later this month when the board of directors holds its next meeting. The board will also consider options for a memorial to honour the memory of Rogers during the January 24 meeting.Over 1,000 mourners packed the Shire Christian Centre on Saturday to farewell the former Test centre.

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