THIS weekend sees the final round of Superleague XI, and two pressing issues remain unsettled ? the order of fifth and sixth place for Salford and Warrington will determine first week play-off opponents, and of course the result of Wakefield v Castleford will determine which team is subject to relegation. Other teams will be hoping for either a good hit-out ahead of the important play-off games to follow, or for a positive end to a long season. Game on!Friday ? Wigan v Hull at JJB Stadium (televised)With Wigan successfully clear of the relegation tussle, home fans will be looking for a win against second placed Hull to give them some positives to take into the off-season. This will be the last game in Wigan colours for halfback Michael Dobson, Brett Dallas, Scott Logan and Wayne Godwin who are all joining other clubs next season, while the club will also acknowledge recently retired Kris Radlinski. Wigan lost against Harlequins last week by a point while Hull lost to Warrington and will be hoping to return to form before the play-offs. Hull are not resting any players from the squad, knowing that they have earned a week off and will play their next game in the Qualifying Semi-Final against St Helens. Tip: Could easily go either way? maybe Wigan?Friday ? Leeds v Catalans at HeadingleyThird placed Leeds host last placed Catalans as the French club aim to finish their debut season on a high note. The team has won eight games and mirrored the performance of many teams having previously made their first step into the elite division. However their Superleague future is secure only because of the exemption from relegation granted to them as an expansion club. Dragons winger Justin Murphy currently heads the try scoring table on 24 and will be hoping to add to his tally here. Catalans were beaten at home by Huddersfield last start, while Leeds were outclassed by competition leaders St Helens. Hoping to hit some form ahead of next week?s Elimination Play-Off against either Warrington or Salford, Leeds are without injured centre Chev Walker, with Danny McGuire again listed to make his comeback from shin injury. Tip: Leeds.Saturday ? Harlequins v Salford at Twickenham StoopSalford can make certain of fifth place and an Elimination Play-Off against Bradford next week with a win here in London. A loss opens up the chance that they might face Leeds next week instead. Either way it is the first time Salford have qualified for the Superleague Play-Offs, with their win last week over Castleford. Andy Coley, David Hodgson and Stuart Littler were the winners at the Salford awards night mid-week. Meanwhile Harlequins, fresh off their one point win over Wigan, take the field this week in the wake of the news that their CEO since 2002 Nic Cartwright is calling it a day, and prop Danny Williams is also retiring. Luke Dorn is Salford-bound next year, and with eight players yet to be re-signed a surprise win could be in the works here if the players want to impress and pitch in to send each other off in style.Tip: Could easily go either way, but you?d think Salford...Saturday ? Wakefield v Castleford at Atlantic Solutions Stadium (televised) This game is the focus of this weekend?s round and the result could influence the future of both clubs. Castleford have been there before, losing at home against Wakefield in 2004?s final round to end up relegated to National League One. Meanwhile Wakefield won National League One and promotion in 1998 and have been playing Superleague ever since. Under ex-Hull coach John Kear, Wakefield?s recent performances have improved as their quest to avoid the drop intensifies, and following last week?s surprise win over Bradford it all now comes down to this game. Castleford had a patch of strong form around July, but have recently have slid back down to danger culminating in last week?s loss to Salford. The past two years of effort by the Tigers to climb back and survive in Superleague now comes down to this one game ? will that motivation be enough? May the best team on the day win? Tip: Um, Wakefield?Sunday ? Warrington v St Helens at Halliwell Jones StadiumBy game time on Sunday Warrington will know whether their opponent in next week?s Elimination Play-Off has already been decided, or whether they can influence their post-season path. The Wolves have made the Play-Offs for the third time in four seasons, and having beaten second place Hull last week will be trying for the quinella by knocking off the leaders. They come up against a St Helens squad that has taken all before them this season, winning the Challenge Cup and topping the League ladder to earn next week off. The Saints will be looking to again display their dominance for all to see as we near the important stage of the season. Tip: St Helens.Sunday ? Huddersfield v Bradford at Galpharm StadiumSeventh placed Huddersfield are now safe from relegation following last week?s win over Catalans, but the Challenge Cup Finalists will be hoping to finish the season on a positive note with a final win at home, given that they cannot make the play-offs. Huddersfield will farewell Michael De Vere, Paul March, Jim Gannon, Wayne McDonald and Jon Grayshon, however the Giants are yet to win over fourth placed Bradford in Superleague. The Bulls will be looking to put in a performance worthy of reigning Champions following last week?s defeat at the hands of Wakefield, and Great Britain rep Paul Johnson returns to the squad for the first time since May.Tip: Maybe Bradford. Next week?s games:Friday 22 September 8pm - Elimination Play-Off 1 Leeds Rhinos v Warrington or Salford at Headingley(Third Place v Sixth Place)Saturday 23 September 6pm - Elimination Play Off 2Bradford Bulls v Salford or Warrington at Grattan Stadium(Fourth Place v Fifth Place) (St Helens and Hull FC continue through to the second week.)
THE Canterbury Bulls plan to keep it simple in the Bartercard Cup grand final on Monday night.The Bulls take on the Auckland Lions at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland in a repeat of the 2005 grand final.Last year Brian McClennan?s Lions snatched victory in the dying seconds of the game.But this time the Phil Prescott coached Bulls will be out to take the silverware back to Canterbury.?We?ve got to hold on to the ball,? Bulls second rower Jonny Limmer said.?If we can complete our sets and play the game down their end it?s going to be a good start for us.?Limmer was one of the stars in the Bulls? 30-6 win over the Tamaki Leopards in the elimination semi-final.?I just tried to do my part for the team - making sure I didn?t make any mistakes and hanging on to the ball when I got it,? he said.And he heaped praise on Canterbury?s young halves combination of Josh Reuben and Duane Wineti.?Our halves have been outstanding this year especially in their first year of Bartercard Cup,? he said.?They?ve been tremendous.?The Bulls were in impressive form against the Leopards making nine line breaks and nearly 2000 metres on the run in a clinical display of football.But they will need to bring their best to Mt Smart for Monday?s grand final.The Lions comprehensively beat Canterbury 27-14 in their quarter final clash two weeks ago.And the Auckland side will not be willing to give up the trophy without a fight.Monday night will be a great night for rugby league fans in Auckland and around the country.The game will be beamed into living rooms all over the country live and free-to-air on Maori Television while fans who make it to the ground will be entertained by Kiwi music sensation Che Fu, a fireworks display and the All Star Cheerleaders.And the grand final won?t be the only footy action on show. The Warriors? Allied Work Force elite development squad will be going up against the Bartercard Cup All-Stars in the curtain raiser.Admission to Mt Smart Stadium is free and everyone who comes to the game will be in with the chance to win Tri-Nations spot prizes and a chance to be in to win a lunch with the Kiwis.The curtain raiser kicks off at 6.15pm and the grand final gets under way at 8.20pm.AUCKLAND LIONS vs CANTERBURY BULLSMt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New ZealandMonday 18 September 2006 ? 8.20pm Kick Off* LIVE & FREE-TO-AIR ON MAORI TELEVISION *AUCKLAND LIONS:PAUL FISI?IAHIMALOFOU SOLOMONAMIGUEL STARTHARRY AONGAROWAN BAXTERSTEVE BUCKINGHAM (C)KELVIN WRIGHTJULIAN O?NEILLREGAN WIGGSHANNON STOWERSPALETASALA ALEFABIAN SOUTERWAYNE McDADELEE WETHERILLWILLIAM SORENSONSIONE POUHADYLAN DAVISCoach - BRIAN McCLENNANManagement:BRENT GEMMELLPETER LAVEANIGEL RATTRAYMARK DENNISSTEPHANIE MARRCANTERBURY BULLS:LUSI SIONESCOTT HURRELLDONAVAN AITKENLEE FIDOWLUCAS TAMAKAHAJOSH REUBENDUANE WINETIVINCE WHARESHANE BEYERS (C)ALEX TIMOJONNY LIMMERDANIEL METCALFCOREY LAWRIEGARETH COOKBLAKE MILNERROSS TURILOUIS FANENECLINTON FRASERCoach - PHILIP PRESCOTTManagement:DARRYL COADDAVE PERKINSBRUCE MILNEANDY WIHARESTEVE WOODReferee: CRAIG PASCOETouch Judges: ARTHUR CLARK & AARON KESHA
VODAFONE Warriors captain Steve Price edged fullback Brent Webb to become the second prop in successive seasons to win the club?s most coveted annual award last night.
LAST week took me a bit by surprise. The more I think about them the more I?m impressed by the Bulldogs. They beat-up the Raiders without really working up a sweat and in atrocious conditions as well. I actually picked the Raiders figuring that they would turn up and have a real dig. It was looking promising for the first 10 minutes anyway. Canterbury again proved they have the forwards to dominate the comp and it wouldn?t surprise me to see Asotasi line-up next week. I feel for Grimaldi though, that?s a tough break for a fair dinkum toiler of the game.
AUSTRALIAN Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr has confirmed Danny Buderus will not be able to serve any of his six-game suspension during next month's Tri-Nations.Buderus was last month given permission from the ARL to skip the end-of-season series against New Zealand and Great Britain for personal reasons. And Carr says the Newcastle hooker, who would have otherwise been an automatic selection for Australia, would not be able to go back on his decision.Buderus received a six-match ban at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday for a dangerous tackle on Manly's Michael Robertson which ruled him out of the rest of the NRL final series. But he will miss three games at most at the start of the 2007 season, with the NSW Origin skipper able to serve up to two weeks during the pre-season in trials against NRL opposition.Meanwhile, Chief Operating Officer Graham Annesley says the NRL has no plans to review its judicial system in the wake of Newcastle hooker Danny Buderus' six-match suspension.Buderus called for the system to be reviewed last night after he was ruled out for the rest of the final series for a dangerous throw on Manly's Michael Robertson.It was Buderus' first suspension after 10 years in the NRL.But Annesley says the league has no current plans to review the system in the off-season.
MANLY centre Steve Bell has been ruled out of tomorrow night's sudden death NRL semi-final against St George Illawarra with a foot injury.
DEPENDING on who you want to listen to, this week was either a gigantic or an enormous week in Rugby League.
LAST weekend saw the Dolphins Wizard Cup side earn the right to contest its 8th Grand Final in the 11 years the competition has been running. A solid 30 points to 16 victory over Easts assigned the Tigers to their post season celebrations and presents the Dolphins with the opportunity to secure their 5th Qld Cup Premiership. Unfortunately an out of sorts Colts out fit were unable to stop the momentum of the Wynnum Seagulls side going down 42 ? 20.
WE are looking for players
FEW men have graced the mortal coil with honour and integrity. Even fewer who could combine that grace, skill and heart. One such man was born into the world on the 9th of April 1976 in the town of Wigan in England. That man is Kris Radlinski. The year was 1993. In the Australian competition the Brisbane Broncos were embarking on their journey to obtain their second title in consecutive years, a feat not easily obtained in that day and age. In the English competition, the Wigan Warriors were going for their own set of consecutive titles.Wigan has a proud history in the English game. They have won many titles throughout the history of Rugby league in the ?Old Dart?, 17 to be exact. They unearthed in 1993 a future legend in fullback, Kris Radlinski. Radlinski was a 17 year old Wigan junior, born and bred. The ?cherry and whites? saw the boundless talent he had and quickly put him into the First Grade team where he found his feet. He took to the game of league like mustard takes to a hot dog. His ability to diffuse a bomb was second to none. He had pace, skill, swerve and a will to succeed. But with any good tradesman, even if the right tools are on hand, he still needed to work to improve what he had and to evolve his own skills. He knew that he needed to grow as a player, but more than that, he wanted to.Radlinski was instrumental in helping to keep the Wigan legacy alive by helping them in their quest to win the treble. In Rugby League in England that consists of the Challenge Cup, the Premiership and the coveted World Championship. Wigan won that honour in the 1994 season, most notably taking the World Title off the Brisbane Broncos in front of a huge crowd at ANZ Stadium. On field honours aside, it is Kris? personality and his integrity off the paddock which makes him a true legend and it exemplifies the reason I have looked up to him since he came onto the scene in the early 90?s.After years of loyal service to the game of Rugby League, Radlinski was approached in 2001 to join the ranks of Rugby Union. In an era when Rugby Yawnion was approaching the big names of league to jump ship, it wasn?t a surprise to many that Rads was propositioned. With Wendell Sailor and Mat Rogers having agreed to join the other code after the powerbrokers had opened up their cheque books, it would have been hard to turn down such a lucrative offer. To quote Colonel Samuel Trautmann from Rambo: First Blood, ??that?s like bringing the pigeons to the cat.? But Rads stayed true to his hometown club and wanted to continue to repay the loyalty the Warriors had shown him. Radlinski went on to play a pivotal role in the 2002 Challenge Cup final, helping Wigan to beat their razor sharp rivals St Helens, winning the Lance Todd Trophy for player of the match. His performance is made that much more remarkable by having fluid drained from his foot hours before the game.
LAST night I sat in front of the tv watching the normal boredom of the annual Daley Messenger Awards and was thinking of the annual grand final bbq I religiously attend when the phone rang.It was my son who lives in Sydney and he wanted me to go fishing soon so he could make the bookings. I asked him what dates was he thinking of and he told me the 1-4th October as he couldn't get any more time off until Christmas. I was stunned and thought what? ?miss out on the grand final bbq, he knows I either go to a friends house every year or to the club for the day, watch the grand final and eat a steak or two?? As I held on and was silent I could hear him saying ?Dad do you want to go or not?. I told him I would ring him back shortly with an answer,Sitting on the lounge I wondered why over the years I had enjoyed going to the Grand Final bbq with my friends? I thought of the conversation and the ragging of each other as we had made fun of each other's team and the wearing our team colors. If our team had made the grand final, it gave us bagging rights over the rest. In fact it became our day as we were feted and waited on by others. Needless to say if your team won, you were King for the day.It all started in the days of teams we all associated with, the Roosters, Saints, Berries, West, Eels, Rabbitohs, Balmain, Manly, Norths, Newtown etc when we were young bucks. We grew up with these teams and were sworn supporters of our clubs.Something started to change, slowly but surely. Some of the guys stopped wearing their colors and jeans and shirts became more prevalent. I started to realize that the influx of new teams and the amalgamation of others had taken away something from the game for us. The year that Melbourne played Saints in the grand final was the watershed and only three of us had bothered to put our team colors on. Sure it was a great day and a good game of football but we were quieter than usual. Not one of us followed Melbourne. The friends that I have known for many years mean a lot to me as we have developed from acquaintances to become such staunch companions but I also noticed that several hadn't bothered to turn up at all last year. I had put that down to the fact that we are getting older and the next day is harder to handle after a good night out. In fact I also thought we used to have more turn up when the game was played in the afternoon.The question is ?was it age that had kept them away or the fact that they couldn't associate themselves with the two teams playing??I thought about this year's semi final teams and see names like The Raiders, The Storm, The Broncos, The Knights playing for the premiership. I wondered how many would turn up to the bbq if by some strange chance that the Broncos played Melbourne. Sure it would be a great game played by two very good teams but it wouldn't mean anything to me nor most of my friends.I could see the game had changed but we hadn't. We were the grass root supporters who could never change teams. Like most people we had not adapted but lived in the days of past glories and afternoon grand finals. Some of our friends are no longer with us and our families are getting older as we are. Time with the family now means a lot to us all. I think we had lost some feeling for the game.I thought of the offer from my son to go fishing. Burrunjuck Dam is full of wild life, birds that you can feed by hand, kangaroos that takes food from you, grassy camping grounds and plenty of trees that you can lie under and absorb the heat of the day. We normally play two handed euchre at night and listen to the crickets and just relax. The fishing could be good and the best thing about the dam is tha radio coverage isn't the best.So I rang back my son and said ?Lets go fishing Son?.
THE street lights were blazing, well those that still had bulbs in them were. The fact that some still had any capability of producing an iridescent glow was a miracle if you were to believe the press. Oh those TV commercials, paid for with tax payer money, the newspaper articles?they were working wonders. A dog barked incessantly, causing others to join and soon the cacophony ensured lights from the houses started to go on. They weren?t worried. Telephones were luxuries, no phone tag happening here. They moved quickly, not because they were worried they would be spotted but because the frost on the ground and the crisp early morning air was bone chilling. The banging on the door rang out, the sleepy occupant answering it bewildered as he was shoved into a room as police and their dogs charged through the house. As quickly as it started, it was over and three small frightened children, their mother, father, an adolescent male and a frail old lady were herded towards the waiting vehicle still wearing their pyjama?s and night gowns.Come out, come out, where ever you are?The dawn raids of ?76? were deemed a success by the right wing political party of its day, ensuring that ?overstayers?, those blights on society, the would-be law breakers, were shipped back to the countries they came from. Bloody trouble makers. They were necessary. They needed to be done in the early hours of the morning to ensure the people they were after would most likely be home. Human rights, civil rights, rights? Was there such a consideration? Oh, how far we?ve come in the past 30 years.?Fury over dawn drugs raid,? the headline screamed. No one would?ve blinked an eye, except it was in the rugby league section and it didn?t involve a search of the occupant?s home for drugs but rather, to procure a urine sample to test for drugs. Now anyone of Polynesian decent, with family in New Zealand will have grown up hearing a story about the 70?s. Friends disappearing one day, to find out later they were back at their Island of origin, family members pulled out of bed and put on the next plane home. Memories are long and to this day, a knock at the door at 5am can cause the heart to beat a little faster. Mrs. Pritchard could?ve been forgiven for briefly thinking she was stuck in time warp when she answered the door that fateful dawn.Rugby league openly supports the ASADA methods, but is it necessary to test players at 5am, in their homes? Homes that their children, partners and sometimes, their parents, sleep in. Homes that are often the one place they can call their sanctuary, relax and let their guard down in a world that has them under constant scrutiny, expects them to be role models and behave in ways far outweighing the expectations of the likes of you and me. Protection of the individual rights of personal freedom, privacy, dignity and property is a central plank of the law and even police can only enter private dwellings without a warrant under ?exceptional circumstances? and warrants are only granted if they have proved there is reasonable grounds that evidence of the commission of an offence is there or likely to take place within 72 hours.The upside is that rugby league?s stance on drug use is significantly tougher than other sports.Is ASADA breaking the law and breeching civil rights with their dawn drug tests? Should there not be policies in place that would protect the rights of the individual and see a mandate that there would have to be set criteria for suspicion to warrant the need for a dawn test in the players home, instead of blanket suspicion? And it seems there is blanket suspicion, ?If there are windows of opportunity where athletes know they can be tested, then there are equally windows of opportunities where athletes may be able to use drugs with impunity,? ASADA CEO Richard Ings said. If ASADA can use this attitude to justify an 'any place, any time' testing regime that gives them more powers and less accountability than the police for entering your home, what?s next? Yes, players should be tested for performance enhancing drugs, and performance enhancing drugs only, but let?s give them the same consideration that?s afforded you and I when at home. Hell, even New Zealand only does their dawn raids after 7am now.
NEWCASTLE hooker Danny Buderus has called for a review of the NRL judiciary process after he was rubbed out of the finals series last night.
INCOMING South Sydney coach Jason Taylor says there is still plenty of work to be done at the Rabbitohs as he attempted to hose down the club's expectations for 2007.
THE first week of the NRL Finals for 2006 have come and gone, with Canberra and Parramatta no longer in the picture and just six teams remaining in the hunt for October glory. With the Semi Finals kicking off Friday night, let?s take a look at the differences between the lineups the Sea Eagles, Dragons, Knights and Broncos had in their last game of 2005 and the sides they named for this weekend.