STEVE Clark has been retained as referee for the State of Origin decider in Melbourne tomorrow week. Clark was the whistle-blower in Origin II in Brisbane earlier this month when Queensland thumped New South Wales 30-6 to keep the series alive.
TEST prop Petero Civoniceva won't travel with his Queensland State of Origin rugby league teammates to Melbourne today due to illness. Civoniceva will remain in Brisbane but is expected to join the rest of the Maroons squad tomorrow.
WILLIE Poching has won another New Zealand call-up for Wednesday morning's one-off international against Great Britain in St Helens.The 32-year-old former Vodafone Warrior was brought into the touring team last year to appear against England A. Now coach Brian McClennan has turned to him again, bringing him into his 18-man team for the Knowsley Road test. Poching's late inclusion follows more selection problems for McClennan after losing St Helens prop Jason Cayless and his clubmate Francis Meli to injury after the weekend's English Super League matches. Other test team contenders prop Joe Vagana (Bradford Bulls) and second rower Logan Swann (Warrington Wolves) are also unavailable through injury as is Swann's team-mate Paul Rauhihi. Vodafone Warriors great Stacey Jones has been chosen as captain. The 30-year-old half back has regained the captaincy in the absence of Ruben Wiki and Nigel Vagana, who led the Kiwis in the Anzac Test last month. The Kiwi 18-man team:Vinnie ANDERSON St Helens Monty BETHAM Wakefield Trinity Alex CHAN Le Catalans Henry FA'AFILI Warrington Harrison HANSEN Wigan Shontayne HAPE Bradford Stacey JONES (C) Les Catalans David KIDWELL Melbourne Ali LAUITI'ITI Leeds Iafeta PALEAAESINA Wigan Robbie PAUL Huddersfield Willy POCHING Leeds Ben ROBERTS Canterbury David SOLOMONA Wakefield Willie TALAU St Helens Motu TONY Hull Clinton TOOPI Warriors Lesley VAINIKOLO Bradford Meanwhile Great Britain coach, Brian Noble has shown faith in recently injured St Helens player Paul Sculthorpe who finally gets to captain the Lions as they take on New Zealand in the XXXX Test on his home ground at Knowsley Road.The St Helens forward was named Britain skipper in succession to Andy Farrell last year but was forced to miss the autumn Tri-Nations Series through injury.Noble acknowledges Sculthorpe's performances for Saints have been below par of late but he feels that could all change once the Test gets underway."This is the kind of game that can spark anyone up. It would certainly spark me up if I was selected for a Test jumper and being captain of my country as well." says Noble."You can turn your form around in one game and this might be the catalyst." Sculthorpe's Saints team-mate Leon Pryce will revert to the left wing after Gareth Raynor's withdrawal with a shoulder injury, with Danny McGuire likely to start at stand-off. Centre Martin Gleeson is set to be included despite missing the last two Warrington games with a broken finger, while prop Adrian Morley could start barely 24 hours after arriving in the country from Australia. The 18-man Great Britain squad:P Sculthorpe (St Helens, capt)S O'Loughlin (Wigan)T Newton (Bradford)J Peacock (Leeds)L Gilmour (St Helens)D McGuire (Leeds)J Graham (St Helens)R Burrow (Leeds)P Wellens (St Helens)A Gardner (St Helens)M Gleeson (Warrington)K Senior (Leeds)L Pryce (St Helens)S Long (St Helens)S Fielden (Wigan)K Cunningham (St Helens)A Morley (Sydney Roosters)G Ellis (Leeds). Both coaches were planning to name their match-day 17s just an hour before kick-off.Live coverage in New Zealand will commence at 6.55am on Sky Sport 1, Wednesday 28 June 2006, 8.00pm UK time Tues 27 June.
I would just like to start this week?s rant by thanking everyone for their well wishes following my appearance on the Footy Show last Thursday night. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Whilst nervous early as was quite obvious with the footage, it turned out to be a very great night and one which I won?t forget in a hurry. There are a number of people to thank so I won?t name them in case I leave anyone out, but they certainly know who they are.
IT hasn't captured as much attention as it should have but there is a big issue facing rugby league right now, and that's the very strong push from Sydney for the establishment of a national under-20 competition.
MARK Gasnier has thrown a scare into the NSW camp after the Blues five-eighth was rushed to hospital this afternoon for x-rays on a hand injury.
THE North Sydney Bears have continued their strong showing in the second half but have lost out to the St Marys-Penrith Cougars at Beautiful North Sydney Oval.The game was virtually lost in the first quarter after the Cougars opened the scoring with 3 tries, before Standout half back James Maloney chip kicked and re-gathered to get the Bears in good field position and from there the ball was spread wide to Filinga ?Fingers? Filiga to score on the left. The Cougars scored twice more before Fingers offloaded to Andrew Moodie to score. Halftime score was 28-10.The second half was again a strong performance by the Bears with the Cougars only able to register 6 points (a penalty kick plus one try). The Bears scored a try through Matthew Bartlett after spectacular lead up work and Daniel Russell converted as the match closed 36-16 to the Cougars.Players? Player Karl Johnson was one of the best, KJ ran strong down the middle and linked well with Fingers for the first two tries. James Maloney?s skill with the ball shone and Luke Fatnowna and Bede Tuohy made a sizable impact from the bench.Making their debuts for the Bears were Brad Barrett and Sosaia Makisi. Brad, a big forward with big impact played for South Sydney in Premier League last year. ?I went alright and I got a bit of time. I don?t have match fitness yet. I guess we?ll see how I go? said Brad. Sosaia, a tall running centre previously played with Canterbury, Cronulla and up until round 12 this year with the Western Suburbs Magpies. Good luck boys!The score line in the Jersey Flegg match 46-16 to the Panthers was a poor reflection of how Norths play. The boys were competitive for long periods throughout. In the first half the Panthers scored 2 tries to be leading 12-nil. But the Bears were able to get some possession and Tupou Peaua and Chris Heasman were able to score. With 1 conversion to Gavin Duncan Norths were only trailing by 2 points at halftime and possibly deserved to be in front.In the second half the Panthers were able to score 6 tries with some wonderful attacking football and the Bears were able to score only 1 try to Jake Foster as the match finished 46-16 to Penrith.The Flegg played dominating aggressive football and showed great pride in the first half to fight back. ?They worked together as a team today? said Coach Steve Carter ?but the second half was very disappointing. I feel sorry for the players that put in?. ?I felt Bladen Baird was a standout, Tupo Peaua went well and Mick Morris faired better this week?.PICTURED: 'A try ref a try!' Norths Karl Johnson pleads his case for a try against the Cougars on Sunday. Photo: Steve Little.
QUEENSLAND State of Origin star Johnathan Thurston has agreed to extend his NRL contract with the North Queensland Cowboys until the end of the 2010 season.
MANLY five-eighth Travis Burns is facing a one-match ban after being charged over a high tackle by the NRL match review committee. Burns has been slapped with a grade two careless high tackle charge for his second half hit on Brisbane prop Sam Thaiday in yesterday's 16-10 win to the Broncos at Brookvale Oval.
SELECTORS have named the XXXX Queensland Residents team to oppose New South Wales Residents in the curtain-raiser to the third and deciding State of Origin match at Melbourne's Telstra Dome on July 5.1. Ryan CULLEN Redcliffe Dolphins2. Jason BARSLEY North QLD Young Guns3. Jackson NICOLAU Norths Devils4. Jordan ATKINS Burleigh Bears5. Simon PHILLIPS Wynnum Manly Seagulls6. Brandon COSTIN ? Souths Logan Magpies7. Luke BRANIGHAN Easts Tigers8. Troy LINDSAY Redcliffe Dolphins9. Michael ROBERTS Redcliffe Dolphins10. Scott ANDERSON Norths Devils11. Scott BOLTON North QLD Young Guns12. Mark DALLE CORT North QLD Young Guns13. Matt LOCKYER Easts Tigers14. Shane O?FLANAGAN Burleigh Bears15. Adam BLAIR Norths Devils16. Adam STARR Redcliffe Dolphins17. Shane MUSPRATT North QLD Young GunsCoach: Trevor GILLMEISTER
NEWTOWN led for seventy-three minutes of this match at Canberra Stadium but ultimately had to settle for a 26-all draw with the Raiders. The Jets had led 16-6 at half-time and increased this margin to 20-6 early in the second half. The Raiders had an advantage in possession and field position for most of the second half and Newtown could be well pleased at coming away with a competition point from what is always one of the VB Premier League season?s tougher assignments.Newtown fielded a side considerably changed from that listed in the match-day program and faced up to a bigger and more physical powerful Raiders pack. The Jets had the edge across the backline, with centre and NSW Residents representative Sam Perrett always dangerous. Jets half-back Jamie Soward had a field goal attempt ricochet away off the woodwork that would have given Newtown a 27-20 lead ten minutes from full-time. Likewise the Raiders narrowly missed a shot at field goal late in the game with the scores locked up at 26-all.The Jets forwards stuck to their task gamely as the Raiders poured on the pressure in the second half. Glenn Hall, John Doyle, Michael Burns and Mitch Aubusson were the best of a forward pack that might have copped a real pounding but never gave in. Jamie Soward, Sam Perrett, Aidan Kirk and Troy Malcolm were Newtown?s best backs, with Malcolm picking up yet another hat-trick of tries in an impressive display, including a sixty metres interception try in the first half.The Jets had a great win away to last year?s Jim Beam Cup premiers Windsor on Sunday. Newtown?s team in this grade also had a disrupted week?s preparation with several enforced changes to the listed side. Newtown ran up a big 32-4 lead early in the second half before consolidating a final winning margin of 38-22. This was not only a win against the odds but one achieved with considerable style.Once again Newtown?s forwards dictated the terms of play through the likes of Ritchie Parker, Khalid Deeb and new signing Matthew Eather. Halves Toufic Nicolas and Charlie Herekotukutuku made strong contributions, while Will Ingram and Adam Sarkis were other backs to stand out in this valuable away win.In the Sydney Women?s Rugby League competition, the Newtown Jetettes were well beaten by the Canley Vale Kookas. In Group 11, the Parkes Spacemen bounced back to winning form with a badly-needed 52-20 win against Nyngan at Pioneer Oval.The Jets have a bye in the VB Premier League this weekend while the Newtown Jim Beam Cup team, coming off Sunday?s morale-boosting win, take on Erina at the Narellan Sports Ground on Saturday, July 1st, at 3.00pm.
NSW selection chairman Bob McCarthy denies the Blues are taking a gamble by naming Mark Gasnier at five-eighth for Wednesday week's deciding third State-of-Origin rugby league match against Queensland.
PARRAMATTA utility John Morris has agreed to a three-year contract to join Wests Tigers at the end of the NRL season.
QUEENSLAND selectors have responded with a few changes to their line-up today, drafting Canberra fullback Clinton Schifcofske into the starting side ahead of other candidates in Matt Bowen, Rhys Wesser and Billy Slater.Cowboys Josh Hannay has been recalled to cover the loss of Steve Bell and although Justin Hodges has been named to partner him, he?s in serious doubt.Jacob Lillyman has been left out with the availability of Tonie Carroll seeing Nate Myles join the run-on side. The side is otherwise unchanged.The full squad is:Clinton Schifcofske, Brent Tate, Justin Hodges, Josh Hannay, Adam Mogg, Darren Lockyer (c), Johnathan Thurston, Steve Price, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva, Nate Myles, Carl Webb, Dallas JohnsonInterchange: Shaun Berrigan, Chris Flannery, Sam Thaiday, Tonie Carroll--------The NSW selectors have dropped a few bombshells for Game III at Melbourne?s Telstra Dome on July 5th.Both halves, Braith Anasta and Brett Finch, have been dropped with Mark Gasnier shifting to five-eighth and Craig Gower assuming the reigns at no 7. Matt Cooper has been drafted into the centres with the rest of the backline unchanged.There?s been a few shake-ups in the forwards as well, with Andrew Ryan and Brent Kite excluded from the team altogether with Luke O?Donnell and Luke Bailey their replacements. Paul Gallen (on debut) has been included on the bench, with Ben Hornby taking over the utility role from Craig Wing who has also been spurned.The full squad is:Brett Hodgson, Eric Grothe, Matt King, Matt Cooper, Timana Tahu, Mark Gasnier, Craig Gower, Willie Mason, Danny Buderus (c), Luke Bailey, Steve Simpson, Nathan Hindmarsh, Luke O'DonnellInterchange: Paul Gallen, Ben Hornby, Mark O'Meley, Steve Menzies
QUEENSLAND'S State Of Origin preparations have hit a snag with damaging centre Justin Hodges unavailable for Wednesday week's series decider in Melbourne.