HULL are without Nathan Blacklock as they look to get back to winning ways at home to engage Super League bottom side Harlequins.Blacklock is sidelined with a knee injury but Paul Cooke is available despite a court appearance on Monday. Coach John Kear is boosted by the return to fitness of Ewan Dowes (hamstring) and Chris Chester (shoulder and quad injuries).Luke Dorn returns to the Harlequins squad after overcoming a hamstring injury but a similar problem continues to rule out Mark McLinden.Filimone Lolohea also comes into contention for Tony Rea's side, who are still searching for their first win of the new campaign.Hull FC v Harlequins RL, KC Stadium, Friday March 3 2006Hull 18-man squad: Briscoe, Brough, Carvell, Chester, Cooke, Domic, Dowes, R. Horne, King, Lupton, McMenemy, Radford, Raynor, Swain, Thackray, Tony, Whiting, Yeaman.Harlequins RL 18-man squad: Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, Mbu, Mills, Purdham, Smith, Sykes, Temata, Tookey, Weisner, Williams.Referee: A Klein
LEEDS Rhinos coach Tony Smith welcomes Lee Smith back into his squad for the home meeting with Castleford Tigers.The winger has been included in the 18-man squad after missing last week's defeat at St Helens with an ankle injury.Danny Williams, who made his debut as Smith's deputy, has retained his place in the squad although Gareth Ellis is out following minor knee surgery.Castleford prop Danny Ward is ruled out of making an instant return to the club that sacked him in January by a knee injury although Matt Whitaker (ankle) returns for the Tigers.Richie Fa'asao misses out withdrawing from last week?s win over Catalans with a shoulder problem. Coach Terry Matterson has left out prop Keith Mason.Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers, Headingley, Friday March 3 2006Leeds 18-man squad: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Feather, Ablett, Kirke, Williams.Castleford 18-man squad: Platt, Pryce, Shenton, Dyer, Blanch, Handforth, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Haughey, Bird, Huby, Whitaker, Viane, McGoldrick, Boyle, Fletcher.Referee: P Bentham
SALFORD welcome back John Wilshere from a one-match suspension as they prepare for the visit of Wigan Warriors.Luke Robinson, who has missed the start of the season with shin splints, is hoping to feature and Stephen Myler may also come into contention. Kevin McGuinness remains on the sidelines.Wigan are likely to select from the same 18 that made the final squad for last week?s win over Huddersfield. Danny Orr will hope for a recall to the side after being dropped for the last two matches.Second rowers Bryan Fletcher and Gareth Hock are making progress but are still about three weeks away from featuring.Salford City Reds v Wigan Warriors, The Willows, Friday March 3 2006Salford 18-man squad: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Finnigan, Charles, Highton, Langi, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Clough, Baldwin, Brocklehurst.Wigan 18-man squad: Ashton, Calderwood, Vaealiki, Richards, Dallas, Orr, Moran, Logan, Higham, Hargreaves, Tickle, Hansen, O?Loughlin, Paleaaesina, Seu Seu, Godwin, Brown, Tomkins.Referee: K Kirkpatrick
WARRINGTON Wolves have mixed news on the injury front heading into their home clash with engage Super League leaders St Helens.Wolves are still without Stuart Reardon (hand) and Paul Rauhihi (hamstring) but Rob Parker (ankle) and Andy Bracek (virus) are ready to return.Michael Sullivan will hope for a Warrington recall after being left out of the starting line-up for the last two games.Saints must make do without captain Paul Sculthorpe, who is suspended after a striking offence against Leeds last week.Prop James Graham is also out as he sits out the first game of a two-match suspension and fellow front-rower Nick Fozzard is out for up to six weeks with medial ligament damage.Mike Bennett (shoulder) is in training but not ready to be considered.Warrington Wolves v St Helens, Halliwell Jones Stadium, Friday March 3 2006Warrington 18-man squad: Grose, Fa?afili, M. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Wainwright, Noone, M. Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Lima, Barnett, Bracek, Bridge.St Helens 18-man squad: P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Bennett, Cayless, Cunningham, Fa?asavalu, Gardner, Gilmour, Hardman, Hooper, Long, Lyon, Meli, Pryce, Roby, Talau, Wellens, Wilkin.Referee: I Smith
WESTS Tigers captain Scott Prince has this morning informed coaching staff and team members of his decision to head back to Queensland and play for the Gold Coast Titans from 2007.Whilst yet to sign a deal, Prince will firm up the details over the weekend and is understood to have agreed to a four-year term at the new NRL club.He will join a strong group of players who have already signed for the club including Preston Campbell, Luke Bailey and Brian Carney.
THIS Saturday (4th March) 2SER FM?s ?A View from the Hill? will be returning to the airwaves and taking calls from listeners on whatever you would like to talk about in Rugby League.The panel will be discussing the very exciting 2006 NRL season coming up in less than a week.An innovative and sometimes controversial radio program, ?A View from the Hill? can be heard Saturdays from 11am-12 Noon (AEST) on FM band 107.3Supporters wishing to air their views can phone in to the show on 02 9211-1977.The show can also be heard online at: http://www.2ser.com/streaminglink.html
LIKELY squad Anthony Minichello, Lelea Paea, Ryan Cross, Isolia Soliola, Amos Roberts, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Craig Fitzgibbon, John Doyle, Adrian Morley, Chris Flannery, Anthony Tupou, Ashley HarrisonInterchange: David Shillington, Mark Edmondson, Lopeni Paea, Craig WingStrengths:The Roosters have one of the better backlines in the competition. While it may not be the best, they have a tremendous amount of skill. Amos Roberts and Anthony Minichello spearhead the backline and if both men fire on their day, the Roosters will run riot over anyone.The starting forward pack is also very strong. Despite the losses of Jason Cayless, Luke Ricketson and Michael Crocker the Roosters still field a very strong starting pack. Tupou and Morley are intimidating figures in the side while new recruit Ashley Harrison will prove to be what many believe as the buy of the season. The rangy lock is one of the best in the game and will finally get a chance to prove that he is Origin standard.The use of Craig Wing off the bench will be vital for the Roosters. His impact can break a game wide open and set up wins for the Roosters. If he isn?t on his game when he is put into the attack it could spell dramas for the Roosters.Weaknesses:The Roosters? bench is not the strongest in the competition and apart from Craig Wing, none of the other players would be the type of player to strike fear into the hearts of opposition teams. While the three guys have potential, they do not have that ?fear factor? in order to give a team an edge when the game is in the balance after 20-30 minutes. This is a problem for the Roosters.The Roosters? depth seems a bit shaky at the moment. While they have quality players in Premier League, they neglect to have the adequate first grade experience to be an instant success and compare to the depths of the likes of the Tigers or Eels. This could be a problem for the Roosters should the inevitable injuries occur.Brett Finch is a weakness to this team. He would possibly have to be the most one-dimensional halfback in the competition. He lacks the adequate creativity to win the competition for the Roosters. Last year showed why the Roosters were so reliant on Brad Fittler and this season they will be relying on Anasta. The Roosters have the better solution in Jamie Soward in Reserve Grade, but that would mean the administration would have to swallow their pride and put a form player in, instead of someone who they pay big dollars.One to Watch:Adam Schubert is the player to watch for the Roosters this season. The 94kg, 182cm workhorse second row has built up reputation as being a damaging and tenacious defender. He got a real taste of First Grade in 2005 when the Roosters had injury dramas and Origin duties and he didn?t disappoint.In his debut against Manly in an epic battle which eventually Manly won, Adam was one of the best on field making crucial tackles and much needed metres. His best assets are of course his defence and also his working ethic. With the Roosters losing many forwards in the off-season, you?d have to think Adam would be foremost in the mind of Ricky Stuart and rightly so. He definitely has a future in the game.Gains and Losses:Gains: Ashley Harrison, Braith Anasta, John Doyle, Charlie Tonga, Mitchell Pearce, Glen Hall, Mark Edmonson.Losses: Michael Crocker, Luke Ricketson, Chris Walker, Jason Cayless, Ben Hannant, Stuart Webb, George Rose, Ned Catic, Grant Rovelli, James Aubusson, Jack Rampling. Richard Fa?osoAssessment:The Roosters have the team to make the top 8 if they can keep the same 17 on the park every week. If they get injuries however, particularly in the forwards, they will struggle to remain consistent enough to threaten for any title. They have lost aggression and inspiration in the off-season along with valuable depth, something that hasn?t been adequately replaced. I see the Roosters finishing between 7th and 10th.
HUDDERSFIELD Giants Steve Snitch is going back to Wakefield with a point to prove...The 23 year old makes a first return to Belle Vue in Saturday's engage Super League clash. It will be the first time the 23-year-old has faced the club he served for five seasons.Snitch's main concern though is about helping his new club to gain two points in front the Sky TV cameras."The key on Saturday is for the Giants to show that the defeat at Wigan was a one-off. This match is the chance to prove to everyone that Huddersfield are better than the Wigan result suggests. As a squad, that defeat last Friday hit us hard. We just didn't do ourselves justice at all. The only positive we can take is the way we responded after the nightmare start and if we can reproduce the form we showed in the second half against Wigan, we'll give ourselves a great chance." Yet even though Snitch knows Saturday is all about the Giants, he admits the game will be extra-special for him."Obviously this first visit back to Belle Vue is special and I want to do well. We are expecting that the game itself will be a close one, but I'm really looking forward to it."The first thing I did when the fixtures came out was to look when we played Wakefield. I obviously haven't had to wait long and am really looking forward to going back on Saturday as I have had some really good times there. It will be good to see and catch up with all of my old teammates, but again, the important thing is the two points."
THURSDAY 2 March 2006 Ericsson Stadium No.2, Auckland NZ Maori vs TokelauNZ Maori 64Tries: D. Laulu, W. Heta, J. Trott, H. Raihe, S. Kuru, S. Skinnon, S. Hunter (2), J. Paikea (2), P. Atkins (2)Goals: W. Heta (1), J. Trott (2), C. Motu (5) Player Of The Day: Paul Atkins (No.15) Tokelau 4Tries: S. ManuPlayer Of The Day: Bobei Tuifelaei (No.11) Halftime Score: 30 ? 4 To NZ Maori Samoa vs Cook IslandsCook Islands 42Tries: N. Nga?a, J. Tou, T. Raela, J. Burgess, P. Russell (2), J. Taurarii (2), S. Mataora (2)Goals: S. Mataora (1), W. Vaea?u (1)Player Of The Day: Terry Taia (No. 8) Samoa 0Player Of The Day: Luka Iosefo (No. 7) Rugby League International Federation ? Pacific Cup Finals Fixtures 2006 Sunday 5 March 2006 Waitemata Park, Henderson, Auckland Tokelau vs Samoa 12.00 noon Kick Off NZ Maori vs Cook Islands 1.30 pm Kick Off Fiji vs Tonga 3.00 pm Kick Off
WIGAN have announced that former Great Britain full-back Kris Radlinski is retiring from Rugby League with immediate effect.Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay, said: "This is dreadful news for both Kris and the club and indeed for the whole of the Rugby League.?Kris has been battling against one injury after another since the time he was injured against Australia in Sydney in 2002. The final straw arrived when he could not make sufficient recovery from his long standing knee injury.?We fully understand his right to give up the struggle particularly as he has been such a great servant to the club and the game itself. Kris only managed to play in 15 games in the 2005 season and has only played one game since July."The retirement of Kris Radlinski probably marks the end of a remarkable phase in the Wigan club's history.?Kris played alongside the likes of Andy Farrell, Jason Robinson, Gary Connolly, Terry Newton, Mick Cassidy, Martin Offiah, Denis Betts, Adrian Lam and many others, but we now have a new team which will hopefully produce new stars.?If the current players show the same character and courage that Kris Radlinski showed us, we will be more than successful."Radlinski himself added: "I am so disappointed that I have to give up the game I love so much. To be honest I think the day has been coming for a little while and I need to be fair to the club as well as myself.?I want Wigan to be successful. The club has been great to me over the years and now that I have made this decision they can start planning. I've talked it over at length with Maurice Lindsay and we both agree this is the best way forward.?Maurice has suggested to me that I consider getting involved with the clubs youth division, that is something I will consider in the future. I want to thank everyone at the club and especially the fans who have been great to me over the years.?I have so many memories to treasure with possibly none more so than winning the Lance Todd Trophy at Murrayfield in the Challenge Cup Final of 2002. I will always remain a Wigan fan which is where I started."Head Coach, Ian Millward, stated: "It is a sad loss for the club and I am personally sorry that I never got a chance to work with Kris. He was a player I much admired
FOUR games on Friday night make it a big night for Superleague in Round Four! The televised game will be Warrington hosting undefeated St Helens, although the Saints will be without captain Paul Sculthorpe and young forward James Graham who were both suspended last week. Warrington played themselves into form with a comback against Hull last week, and will be looking to consolidate in front of a home crowd. Michael Sullivan can't buy any game time for the Wolves at the moment, so on the day they've got talent. Could be a close one?Also on Friday, Harlequins hope to regiater their first win of the year, but are travelling to Hull who will be desperate to make amends for their poor showing last week. Harlequins almost beat Bradford in their last road trip, so anything's possible. Salford host Wigan, and after coming back to earth against Bradford last week the Reds will be hoping to show their early season form was no fluke. Wigan are fresh off their first win of the year, and will be looking to make it two in a row. And Castleford will hope to test Leeds at Headingley, to follow on from their win against Les Catalans last week. But having lost in a tough encounter against St Helens the Rhinos will be banking on getting back to the winning list here.Saturday's televised game is Wakefield v Huddersfield, a win for either team will keep them with the pack vying for a top six spot. Both teams have shown they have the talent to win games, but consistency is the issue. And finally, Bradford make the trip to the south of France to face Les Catalans, who will be hoping to make the Bulls their next home ground victim...
LIKELY squad: Rhys Wesser, Nick Youngquest, Luke Lewis, Danny Galea, Luke Rooney, Preston Campbell, Craig Gower, Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Bryan Norrie, Trent Waterhouse, Tony Puletua, Shane RodneyInterchange: Frank Puletua, Matthew Cross, Frank Pritchard, Junior MoorsStrengths:The Penrith forward pack once again remains intimidating. They have purchased young prop Bryan Norrie from the Dragons and he comes to the club with big raps from many. Trent Waterhouse will hopefully go back to his best position in the second row to reap havoc at the fringes with his brilliant running and offloading ability, while 80 minute player Shane Rodney will be in his destined position.The Penrith bench is once again strong. Frank Puletua really reached his potential as a player last season, while Matthew Cross?s emergence in the closing part of the season really showed what potential he has as a player. Frank Pritchard is back on the bench and will provide that valuable impact boost the Panthers craved last season while youngster Junior Moors will hopefully get a shot to show he is First Grade material.The halves at Penrith would have to rate amongst the best in the competition. The toughness of Craig Gower with the creative genius and elusiveness of Preston Campbell is a vital combination for Penrith to succeed in the competition this year.Penrith, like South Sydney, have purchased in numbers and potential rather than names for the upcoming season. Penrith signed journeymen Craig Stapleton and David Thompson to play reserve grade and bolster their forward depth. They also signed a plethora of outside backs to cover the shortfall that existed all last season. This will only aid in the Penrith rebuilding phase.Weaknesses:The Penrith backline is once again going to be their downfall this season. Unless new purchases really kick into gear, then there will be grave fears for Penrith fans as we will once again be the butt of all jokes. While Rhys Wesser, Luke Lewis and Luke Rooney will provide great resistance, it is really up to the younger guys who will fill the 2 and 4 to get the team to a position of respect once again.The whole Craig Gower ?will he or won?t he? saga has to be affecting the players. While Gower?s first indiscretion was enough to harm the reputation of Penrith, the turmoil surrounding whether he wants to stay at the club or not has to be affecting the playing group.One to Watch:Junior Moors would have to rate amongst the best second row prospects in the game today. The parochial talent has a great bloodline as well. His cousin is New Zealand representative and Panther Tony Puletua and when you watch Junior play, you can definitely see the similarity.A NSW Under 19?s representative, he was the only shining light in a team that got belted by Queensland. He is a hard ball runner and has a handy offload. While he still has work to do on his defence he has been known to cream a few players and they know they?ve been hit. At 19 years of age, he still has some growing to do, which makes his 108kg, 192cm frame all the more impressive.Junior will look to feature on the bench this season for Penrith as the club rebuilds and losing the likes of Joe Galuvao and Ben Ross has paved the way for some young forwards to be given a shot. I have no doubt John Lang will be thinking of the name Junior Moors by the end of the season.Gains and Losses:Gains: Bryan Norrie, Nick Youngquet, Mark O'Halloran, Bob Blair, Matt Bell, Wayne Bond, Liam Georgetown, Chris NewtonLosses: Ben Ross, Joe Galuvao, Ben Rogers, Ben Pomeroy, Garrett Crossman, Shannon Donato, Trent Clayton, Paul FranzeAssessment:If Penrith can manage to get it together as a team before the season starts then I believe they have the potential to make the top 8. If this whole Gower saga affects the mental status of the team then they could be looking at the wooden spoon. Also with the recent change in coach and the way the management handled it with regards to John Lang, it may affect the team?s attitude on the field. Many people have tipped Penrith for the spoon this season, but the reality is that there are just too many good players in this team to finish with the spoon. I think Penrith will finish mid table, as high as 6th and as low as 11th.
BACK-ROWER Awen Guttenbeil will return from a rib cartilage injury to lead the Vodafone Warriors in their Round 8 clash against the Melbourne Storm at Ericsson Stadium this Sunday. Guttenbeil has been cleared by the club?s medical staff after missing the side?s previous match against the Bulldogs.
CANBERRA Raiders coach Matthew Elliott has named his side for this Sunday's round 8 NRL blockbuster against the Sydney Roosters.
THE weekly column here at Leagueunlimited is to highlight what we here on the site think are the best players in each round of the 2004 NRL competition.
Based on the opinion received from the Leagueunlimited.com live updaters, we have put together what we think is the team of the Round 7.