FORMER Brisbane forward Neville Costigan has agreed to a two-year deal with Canberra less than three weeks after being dumped by the Broncos.
WITH three rounds to go before the Superleague play-offs, the composition of the top six looks pretty set. It will only change if either Salford or Warrington lose their remaining three games while Harlequins or perhaps Wigan or Huddersfield also win all three of theirs. Possible by all means, but perhaps not very likely.So attention for the next few weeks will turn to the other end of the table, where teams are doing battle to avoid relegation to the division below for next season. Being relegated can have a big financial impact on a club, and can mean the exodus of many players and casual fan support. Some clubs bounce back from relegation, but some clubs don?t ? with the shift to an expanded franchise based system for Superleague from 2009, no club wants to risk being a step behind when push comes to shove. Amazingly there are five Superleague teams still in the running for relegation, so each match from here on is vital. How does it look for your favourite Superleague team? Which club holds the aces up their sleeve?Wakefield: 16 competition points, -124 points differentialR26: v St Helens (A)R27: v Bradford (A)R28: v Castleford (H)Players have been performing better in recent weeks under a coach in John Kear that seems up for the challenge. But it?s a tough looking draw for Wakefield ? away to the Challenge Cup holders and the reigning League Champions. A final round win over Castleford could see them jump the Tigers ? but only if Castleford don?t win another game. Chance of relegation 40 %Castleford: 17 competition points, -386 points differentialR26: v Harlequins (H)R27: v Salford (A)R28: v Wakefield (A)A string of recent losses (including one to Wakefield) will not have helped confidence in Terry Matterson's Tigers camp. But they have perhaps the easier draw of any teams in the bottom half of the table, and their destiny could be in their own hands ? if they can manage a win before they head to Wakefield for the final match. Chance of relegation 35 %Huddersfield: 18 competition points, -146 points differentialR26: v Salford (H)R27: v Catalans (A)R28: v Bradford (H)Huddersfield will be hoping their trip to France against bottom-placed Catalans will net them the necessary points to pull clear from danger. But if Wakefield can surprise St Helens or Bradford, then the Giants will need another win for safety ahead of the final round. So expect a spirited performance this week against Salford as Huddersfield try and re-focus from the Cup Final experience and get ahead of the relegation game. Chance of relegation 10 %Wigan: 18 competition points, -114 points differentialR26: v Bradford (H)R27: v Harlequins (A)R28: v Hull (H)Penalised two points for a 2005 salary cap breach, Wigan finds themselves still trying to make sure they avoid the drop. Good recent form should have the Warriors and Brian Noble feeling confident that they will compete in all three games, and pick up at least one win. But if they lose all three and Castleford win one of their games, there could be a nasty surprise in store should Wakefield beat Castleford on the final Sunday... Chance of relegation 10 %Harlequins: 19 competition points, -275 points differentialR26: v Castleford (A) R27: v Wigan (H)R28: v Salford (H)Harlequins can make sure of their status for next year with a win over Castleford this weekend to put them four points ahead of the Tigers with a virtually unsurpassable points difference in their favour. But if Wakefield can pick up a Cup hangover win against St Helens, a loss against Castleford this week would see the London club frantic for some points in their remaining games against Wigan and Salford. Chance of relegation 5 %So there you have it! Only three weeks until we know which one of these teams is likely to be relegated to National League One for 2007 (with bottom-placed expansion club Catalans Dragons exempt from relegation). The teams confirmed by the RFL to be in the running for promotion to Superleague for 2007 are last season?s relegated clubs Leigh Centurions and Widnes Vikings, as well as Hull Kingston Rovers ? provided one of these teams wins the National League One Grand Final to be held in October. More about that one later...
AFTER some dusty performances as a collective, the standard has picked up for this round but it still needs a heap of improvement to get to first grade standard.
PRESSURE pushing down on me
Pressing down on you
No man ask for
YOU wearily open your tired eyes and gaze around the dirty clothes and empty bottles that cover your bedroom floor. You can?t even remember what colour your carpet is, or when the last time you saw it was.
IT is no secret that the salary cap hasn?t worked as well as was intended. In 2002 The Canterbury Bulldogs lost all of their competition points bar the four that they were awarded for the two byes. More recently, the Warriors were deducted for a breach that the new owners reported ? a breach that occured before their time in charge.
SO, it?s August 2006 and I?m contemplating another September without the red, white and blues. I?m disappointed, but philosophical, surviving on the scraps of promise littering our late-season performances, hinting at a better 2007. But, it is not the Roosters I think about now, rather it?s the Eels and more specifically, a family of Eels, who pervade my thoughts.While September will bring its usual cacophony of cheers and elation, tears and despair played out between eight teams, for this family September brings heart pounding grief and remembrance and the hope that rides on the blue and gold backs of seventeen young men.You see, last September this Eels? family lost one of its members in the prime of his life, having only had a meagre thirty years of this life. He was my best friend?s husband. His name was Craig.My friend and I shared much of our lives, our joys and hurts over the years, but had maintained this friendship largely via telephone as her she worked the erratic and unfriendly hours of the hospitality industry, while I worked the standard nine-to-five. This is how I got to know Craig, through mistimed phone calls. I believe that football is the greatest bridge upon which to build friendship with a stranger - that spark of recognition of a fellow die-hard; that fire in the larynx when debate flairs over Origin selections, or the latest controversy. What I learnt about Craig from early conversations was that he was smart and that, coupled with being a huge smart arse, made him an always interesting, and often infuriating conversationalist, whose barbs forced you on your toes once the usual pleasantries had been paid homage to and footy talk commenced.After his death, my friend admitted to me, as if it were a sacred and secretly held truth, that Craig had really not liked the Roosters. I laughed at this, for one thing Craig never was, was complicite. But full credit to him, he was never blatant. He just simply wasn?t interested in hearing about them, thank you very much! He would allow me perhaps five minutes of ?rooster-talk?, before he would launch into ?Eel-speak?, segueing into his rhetoric as subtly as an Adrian Morley high shot! When I visited, Craig would remonstrate with his eldest daughter not to tease and taunt the guest with jibes about the Roosters, or to tone down the innocently obnoxious heralding of another Eels? victory that can only come from the mouth of a six year old, untouched by years of hope fallen short. But this tempering of a young spirit was only a loose gesture towards social etiquette on his part, as once the conversation got louder, probably to be heard over the clink of ice, niceties were all but set aside.Visits after an Eels loss were the most interesting, as I would be greeted at the door by the six year old making such an announcement like, ?Daddy broke the clock.? Even if I didn?t watch all the games, at that point I would know the fortune of the Parramatta side, along with the latest offensive inanimate object within Craig?s reach. Jerseys were flung onto the road, one was even burnt after the great debacle of 1998 against the Bulldogs. Craig lived and breathed his club, bound in a cycle of love and hate, familiar I would dare so to most Eels? supporters. The morning of his death he grinned through tubes that protruded from his nose and mouth when he heard that Nathan Hindmarsh would be returning from injury to play in that weekend?s final. As it turned out, Hindmarsh didn?t play, but it was a small solace that put a smile on the face of a man who by this time realised he would not be there to watch the game, nor any game thereafter.Now I live with my friend?s brother, close to their parents. I celebrate with the family all special occasions and I cry with them when the anniversaries of a shared life come and go without him. On the brink of this dreaded month I hope with every fibre of my being that the Eels can come through and give this beloved family some happiness, long deserved and overdue. And maybe, just maybe, Craig may have some conception of his long hoped for, but never witnessed, Parramatta grand final victory. R.I.P Craig Bennett. Husband. Father. Son. Eels Supporter.
AS NRL minor premiership winners, the Melbourne Storm will be awarded the James J. Giltinan Shield at this Saturday?s match against the Manly Sea Eagles.Named in honour of rugby league?s founding father, achieving the minor premiership title is a significant milestone in securing the development of the code in the Victorian capital.?Old ?Gilt? will be smiling down from above when the shield is handed over to the Melbournians. It was a dream of Giltinan?s, held from the very beginnings of rugby league in this country, that the code would stake a permanent claim on the Melbourne sporting landscape.Upon starting rugby league in Sydney in August 1907, Giltinan immediately opened negotiations with Melbourne?s John Wren, the famed sporting promoter and Collingwood Magpies patron. They began organising a match in the southern city between the NSW Blues and New Zealand All Golds.Both entrepreneurs envisaged the possibilities that founding rugby league in Sydney and Melbourne would bring ? with the holy-grail being the financial goldmine to be garnered from ?NSW v Victoria? inter-state matches.Their plans though were thwarted by the late arrival of the New Zealanders in Sydney, leaving no time for the Melbourne match before the All Golds were due to leave for England.Giltinan in particular was not dissuaded, and travelled to Melbourne in mid-1908 with hopes of making progress.He organised an exhibition match between the Australian Kangaroos and New Zealand Maori teams. Giltinan?s plans again came unstuck, this time unrelated court action in NSW brought the Maori tour to an abrupt end, and the Melbourne match was abandoned.A month later, travelling with the Kangaroos as their tour promoter and manager, Giltinan returned to Melbourne where the Australian team joined the ship bound for England.He took the opportunity to meet with Australian rules officials, in the hope of persuading them to open talks to create a hybrid football code with rugby league.The Victorians agreed to examine his plan, and ultimately the negotiations continued on-and-off until the 1930s ? the financial appeal of a ?National football code? embracing Sydney and Melbourne ensuring interest remained high.Unfortunately for Giltinan, labour strikes and dreadfully poor weather caused the 1908/09 Kangaroos? tour to end in financial disaster ? and Giltinan?s bankruptcy. His career in rugby league was over, and it would be 90 winters before a Melbourne club was established.Nearly a century on, Giltinan?s dream of professional rugby league gaining a permanent and successful home in Melbourne looks assured.
I was picked up for my expedition by the Samoans and we headed to the graveyard with anticipation running wild. It was Sione?s first live game watching the storm. I?d been twice before, seeing them beat my team from the mobile chook pen and leaving disillusioned both occasions. But this was different, oh hell was it different, I thought as I was handed a Schweppes bottle, frozen throughout the day and hiding the vodka marinating in it. Five eyes were on me, the sixth hopefully watching the road but it was hard to tell and I put the bottle to my lips. As the icy liquid rolled down my throat, the cheer went up?
SOUTH Sydney today promoted Jason Taylor to the head coaching position for the next two NRL seasons.
HOWDY all I hope you all had a good month, can you smell it in air and I don?t mean the smell when the wind is blowing from the wrong direction I?m talking about semi final football. With the Colts and First grade flying the flag for the Dolphins I?m sure we?ll be right in the mix to win both those competitions. But in saying that the good teams go to another level at this time of the year and we have to go with them. My only advice is, boys rip in and do the hard work in the games and more importantly at training and the rewards will come. It may take you 80 minutes like it did us against Easts in the 97 Grand Final, just stick at it.
I must congratulate a few guys first of all Cowboy Troy Lindsay who is now on top of the tree as the player who has played the most first grade games for Redcliffe after passing Peter Leis in Townsville against the Young Guns. Against Tweed Heads Danny Burke notched up his 150th first grade game for the Club in just 7 seasons, which is about 22 games a year which is astonishing when you consider how he plays the game. Full on collisions nothing is half hearted with Burkey. I never got the chance to play alongside Danny but I would have loved to. And last but not least, to Pikelet Head Adam Starr well done mate. If the boys don?t get a home semi Starry has played his last game on Dolphin Oval. You won?t find a more passionate Dolphin than Starry and he?ll be a big loss for the Club when he retires at the end of the year. I am lucky enough to have seen Starry?s first and last first grade game at Dolphin Oval. I can remember in his first game people in the crowd comparing him to Ian Roberts for his footy skills not for other reasons.
TWO good wins by the Dolphins Colts and Wizard Cup sides last weekend has given them the right to first shot at their respective minor premiers North?s and Toowoomba. The winner of these two contests will enjoy the following weekend off before loading up for Grand Final day on September 16th.
PARRAMATTA coach Jason Taylor has not ruled out seeking a release from South Sydney if a head coaching job was offered to him for next year.
FRIDAY, 1st September 2006
COACH Ivan Cleary has had his contract with the New Zealand Warriors extended until the end of 2008 with an option for 2009.