Preview: Wigan v Huddersfield (Round 3)

WIGAN are hoping to avoid their worst start to a season for 21 years after being beaten in the closing stages of both their opening games against the Catalans and Leeds and are looking to get off the mark against Huddersfield at the JJB Stadium.Coach Ian Millward was delighted with his side?s battling performance against the Rhinos and is refusing to press the panic button.?If we keep improving at that rate, we will win more than we lose,? said Millward. ?The camp is very buoyant.?There are 28 rounds in Super League and there are still 26 great performances left in Wigan.?Huddersfield did the double over the Warriors in 2005 and it was their 26-24 win at the JJB Stadium - their first away victory over Wigan for 48 years - which cost Denis Betts his job as coach, paving the way for Millward to take over.?Huddersfield have been a bit of a bogey team for Wigan over the years,? admitted Millward.?Their form is very impressive. They had a good win against Warrington and they suffered a close loss to Leeds. They?ve recruited very well and have a lot of attacking flair.?Friday?s match marks the return to the JJB Stadium of Wigan-born pair Stephen Wild and Martin Aspinwall, who joined Huddersfield in the close season and scored their first tries for their new club last Sunday.?Making a first return to a former club can always be an emotional moment,? admitted Aspinwall.?But Wildy and me have already done that in the pre-season game earlier in the month and, as a result, it won?t seem quite so bad on Friday. Our sole focus will be on the game rather than the occasion.?Millward has named an unchanged 18, with stand-off Danny Orr hoping for a recall after being surprisingly dropped against Leeds last Friday.Huddersfield are hoping influential Australian hooker Brad Drew will shake off a leg injury sustained in Sunday?s win over Warrington to enable him to maintain his ever-present record for the club. Paul March will step into his shoes if he fails to make it.Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants, JJB Stadium, Friday February 24 2006Wigan 18-man: Ashton, Calderwood, Vaealiki, Richards, Dallas, Orr, Moran, Logan, Higham, Hargreaves, Tickle, Hansen, O?Loughlin, Paleaaesina, Seu Seu, Godwin, Brown, Tomkins.Huddersfield 18-man: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, De Vere, Donlan, Thorman, Paul, Crabtree, Drew, Nero, Snitch, Wild, Jones, Jackson, March, Smith, McDonald, Torrens.Referee: P Bentham

Preview: St Helens v Leeds (Round 3)

AT least one of Super League?s four 100% records will go on Friday night when St Helens, the title favourites, take on beaten Grand Finalists Leeds at Knowsley Road.Both sides have made impressive starts to the season and it would surprise no one if the Roses showdown is repeated in October?s Grand Final.Saints coach Daniel Anderson would like nothing better than to do battle at Old Trafford with his old Parramatta colleague Tony Smith, the Leeds boss, but insists it is too early to make judgements.?It may pan out that way - I hope so anyway - but it?s too early to tell,? he said.?Hull are going all right too, they are scoring 40 points a game and not letting many in.?Even the teams that are losing don?t seem to be playing that bad either.?Anderson began his reign at Saints with a 38-24 win over the Rhinos last May, and they went on to pip their rivals to top spot, but Leeds gained their revenge when it mattered most, in the final eliminator.Smith, who will give a debut to teenage winger Danny Williams, is hoping for a repeat of that 19-16 victory as they look to build on their opening successes.?The challenge of going to Knowsley Road is always one we look forward to and seems to bring the best out in us,? he said.?We know Saints are a very dangerous side. They have quality players across the field, having recruited well and getting players of the quality of Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe back to full fitness.?St Helens are without prop Nick Fozzard but Paul Anderson has recovered from injury to take his place and second rower Jon Wilkin is also back in the squad after sitting out last week?s win over Castleford.St Helens v Leeds Rhinos, Knowsley Road, Friday February 24 2006St Helens 18-man: P. Anderson, V. Anderson, Cayless, Cunningham, Fa?asavalu, Gardner, Gilmour, Graham, Hooper, Long, Lyon, Meli, Pryce, Roby, Sculthorpe, Talau, Wellens, Wilkin.Leeds 18-man: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Feather, Scruton, Williams.Referee: A Klein

Catalans appoint Mick Potter as new coach

SUPER League newcomers Catalans Dragons have appointed Australian Mick Potter, a former assistant at Bradford Bulls, as their new head coach.Potter, who cut his coaching teeth as right-hand man to fellow countryman Matthew Elliott at Odsal in the early years of Super League from 1996-99, succeeds Englishman Steve Deakin, who was sacked just before Christmas.Potter has spent the last four years as coach of St George Illawarra?s Premier League team, whom he took to two Grand Finals.Dragons chief executive Grant Mayer said: ?This is a great day for the club. To sign someone with as much experience as a player and a coach as Mick Potter is a great testament to the project we have here.?David Waite, Matt Adamson and Paul Donkin have done a fantastic job here with the team since Christmas, however we are now really looking forward to the next stage and that means having a single dedicated head coach.?Potter was recommended for the post by former Great Britain coach David Waite, now director of football at the Catalans.He played under Waite as captain and full-back for St George and also played for Canterbury Bankstown and Perth Reds.After leaving Bradford in 1999, Potter took charge of the New South Wales Under-17s, guiding them to consecutive wins over Queensland.Potter is now making arrangements for the move from Australia to France and is expected to be in Perpignan for the Dragons? third home match against Leeds on March 11.

Where to see the Newtown Jets playing this weekend

THIS Saturday (February 25th) the Newtown Jets line up at home for another trial match in what will be a real ?no prisoners taken? inner-city local derby at Henson Park.5.00pm - Newtown v South Sydney (Premier League and Jim Beam Cup combination trial match)3.30pm - Roosters v Rabbitohs (SG Ball junior representative trial match)2.00pm - Roosters v Rabbitohs (Harold Matthews junior representative trial match)Full canteen service available.After the match on Saturday we ask all Newtown supporters and friends to patronise your own licensed club - the Jets Sports Club, Holbeach Avenue, Tempe. The newly-refurbished bistro is open for business again and renowned chef Daniel is turning out some superb cuisine.On Sunday (26th February) the Newtown Jets VB Premier League squad plays St.George-Illawarra at WIN Stadium, Wollongong at 3.00pm. This match is the main curtain-raiser to the Roosters-Dragons NRL trial at 5.00pm. There still are tickets available for the 2006 Newtown RLFC season launch, in what will be a terrific prelude to one of the most exciting seasons in this club?s 98-year history. Why not get a group of friends together and take a table for this function? The details for the 2006 Newtown RLFC official season launch are -Date and time: Wednesday, 8th March 2006, 7.00pm for 7.30pmPlace: Petersham RSL Club AuditoriumPrice: $125.00 per head. Call Jenny right now on 1300 36 36 90 to reserve your places.Once again an impressive array of guest speakers has been arranged.Guest speakers include the inspirational Matt Laffan and League legend Ron Coote. Compere: Graeme Hughes from 2SM?s Talkin? Sport program. (Photo caption:This North Sydney player is in trouble during the recent trial match against Newtown at Henson Park.Photo supplied by Hugh Martel.)

North Sydney Bears locker room report

JERSEY Flegg Coach Steve Carter has another tough day at the office this weekend after a strong showing by the new players being trialed against Parramatta on Saturday. ?They did what I asked of them ? they came out with more aggression,? said Steve. During the week Greg Florimo also lectured the team on how he played the game to the hilt. Further cuts are to be made after the final trial against the Bulldogs next week.Final squads in Harold Matthews and S G Ball are being decided this weekend after trials against Mt Annan at Kirkham Oval, Camden. In weather that alternated between blinding sun and approaching thunder strikes the Matts played Mt Annans' under 18s side while the Ball performed well against an open age reserve side.S G Ball half Liam Foran has come through uninjured in his trial appearance with the Melbourne Storm side. Liam was quoted as saying he ?enjoyed the match and found it a great experience?.While not the flashiest game of footy the Bears claim for the Leagues Club Challenge Cup after the Tweed won the last 5 times was emotionally significant enough for Coach Josh White to recall his Bears Jersey Flegg win in 2004 at Belmore oval against the Dogs in the second last round. Grown men shed a tear or two as the players and crew realised the win placed them in the first finals appearance of a North Sydney side since 1998.PHOTO: Victory! The Men behind the scenes: Paul Collins, Trent Rosa, Josh White and Greg Florimo with the Leagues Club Challenge Cup.

Superleague Round Three Preview

ROUND Three gets underway on Friday night with three matches that could all easily go either way.Wigan are at home against Huddersfield, hoping to play out 80 minutes this time and get their first win of the season following losses to Catalans and Leeds. However Huddersfield are more than capable of holding their own, having also lost to Leeds but getting a win against Warrington at home last start.In the televised game, St Helens look to measure their early season form against a competitive side when hosting Leeds. Both teams are undefeated so far this season and this is shaping up as an excellent match between two teams that should be near the top all season.There are also two undefeated teams in the last of Friday night?s match-ups, when Bradford host this season?s surprise packet Salford. Bradford struggled at home to get the draw against Harlequins last week, while Salford haven?t put a foot wrong in registering comfortable wins against Warrington and Catalans. Moving to Saturday afternoon, that draw against Bradford should leave Harlequins confident of a good showing at home against winless Wakefield, hoping to keep the crowd numbers ticking through their new shared ground at Twickenham Stoop. While in the televised match that evening, Warrington attempt to get their season started against an undefeated Hull side that aren?t afraid to rack up the points against inferior opposition.There is only one game on Sunday afternoon, when Castleford probably have their best chance at a win so far against the travelling Catalans, who will be without their injured captain Stacey Jones.

Newcastle Knights 2006 season preview

LIKELY squad: Milton Thaiday, Brian Carney, Kurt Gidley, Matt Gidley, Brad Tighe, Jarrod Mullen, Andrew Johns, Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Josh Perry, Steve Simpson, Clint Newton, Daniel Abraham.Interchange: Luke Davico, Adam Woolnough, Reegan Tanner, Kirk Reynoldson.Strengths:Andrew Johns. I don?t believe any more explanation is required after mentioning the name of one of this era?s greatest players. If Johns remains fit, and that is a big IF for Andrew, then there is no telling what the Knights are capable of.I believe if Michael Hagan went with the starting line up above he?d have great success. Jarrod Mullen is one of the best prospects to come through Newcastle and he needs to play an entire season under Johns to make him reach that extra level. He is a talented young man with a huge future and the move to centres for Kurt Gidley will do him and Newcastle the most amount of good.The Knights last season went through a tough time, but in doing so blooded a lot of young players. Hence one of their strengths this season will be their depth, with players like Dustin Cooper and David Seage not getting a run.The Knights have a solid 1,6,7,9 combination. They have two of the worlds best at 7 and 9, and two young exciting players at 1 and 6 who showed their potential last season. With these players on the field at the conclusion of last season, it was showed that they can compete at the top level and they will be needed so much this season.The recruitment of Brian Carney, rated by good judges to be the best winger in the world, is a critical one for the Knights. While injury prone, he has the ability to finish off a try from anywhere on the field and his ability will be shown once he has Andrew Johns feeding him the ball. Weaknesses:The Knights don?t have a great coach in the engine room. While Michael Hagan may have been a QLD coach, I don?t believe he is the best tactician in the NRL and his gameplans are rather easy to figure out. His lack of creativity does not bode well for Newcastle this season and may cost them a premiership.The Knights? injury problems are a concern. Hopefully with the recruitment of medical staff, in 2006 we may finally see an injury free Knights. The key players of Johns, Carney, Buderus and Simpson cannot be injured for great portions of the season, otherwise the Knights will struggle. One to Watch:When you ask Newcastle supporters who they feel one of the best prospects is, there is one name that keeps cropping up. That is 19 year old Kade Snowden. A rangy backrower weighing in at 106kg, he is a second rower the Knights supporters feel can finally fill the gap left by Ben Kennedy?s departure. All through the grades Snowden has been impressive, only a couple of years ago winning Newcastle the SG Ball competition and touring with Australian Schoolboys. He is highly respected in the Newcastle camp and widely regarded as a second rower with a lot of ability and potential to lead the Knights into the future. His best attributes are his never-say-die attitude, his ball skills and his strong defence, including a shoulder charge that would make Sonny Bill Williams proud. While he got a taste of First Grade last season when the Knights injury crisis was at its worse, he?ll be looking for another opportunity this season to show what he?s got. Gains and Losses:Gains: Brian Carney, Luke Davico, Luke Hession, Chris BaileyLosses: Mark Hughes, Dane Tilse, Craig Hall, Andrew Price, Blake MuellerAssessment:I tried hard to find weaknesses in the line up of Newcastle. People can doubt the players? ages, their skill level, etc, but when I look at Newcastle?s team I see balance. I see a well-balanced forward pack capable of matching it with anyone in the NRL. I see a well-balanced backline, one that may not be the most creative, but can finish off a try. I see a well-balanced halves combination with the mix of greatness and potential and I see a well- balanced bench. However, while I see balance, I don?t see the ability to win the competition. I believe the Knights will make the 8 and I believe they will be well inside it. However, should the Knights suffer an injury to Andrew Johns, balance becomes no commodity any team wants. Every team needs a strike man. Unfortunately for Newcastle, they only have one that has the ability to win them a premiership. My prediction is Johns to play two-thirds of the season and guide Newcastle to between fifth and ninth.

Redcliffe Dolphins Flashback - Peter Leis

THE Lovely Life on the Leis Farm means fine fine footyPeter Leis loves his Dayboro farm - up there in the picturesque hills about 30 km behinf Redcliffe he tends to his cows and crops with the utmost contentment - and this is why he is playing mighty football. It is one good reason why he is topping the try scorers.And what's the connection between the lovely life on the Leis farm and Rugby League?. Well it proves Peter Leis theory - that a man in a happy frame of mind plays top football.No worries, no discontent, no frustrations and day to day satisfaction means a fellow is at his mental and physical peak, says the 30 year old Redcliffe centre. And the way Cowboy Pete is going, who can disprove his theory?This is a slashing season for Peter - with 20 tries to prove it. Yet, before the season started he was undecided about fronting up for another season with Redcliffe.Now in his 13th season in A Grade football, he was inclined to fade out of the League picture. But Redcliffe is a "matey" club, and he decided to give it a go - to see if he could have a hand in the Dolphins having a crack at that big title - the '78 premiership.Nineteen tries later it's obvious that farmer Pete has had a fine football harvest, no doubt due to good teamwork, and that blissful farm life.Next on the try scoring list is Pete's colleague, "Bunny Pearce" with 14. "If Bunny looks like scoring a few against Valleys I'll tackle him myself," Pete joked. (The top try scorer for the season wins $300 and a replica of a trophy - these are donated by Gary Balkin of the Melbourne Hotel.)Peter, who had second thoughts about playing this year, is dead keen to be with the Dolphins next year. A modest man with a keen sense of humour, we observed, "It's certainly not a case of being fast, because I never had any pace in the first place. "But I know a few short cuts."Sheer hard work on the field, plus awesome determination makes him one of the best centres in Brisbane. Peter has one other point to make in Redcliffe's strong run for the premiership .... and that's Tony Obst's role in the team."I reckon Tony is the reason for for our success," Peter said. He is my idea of a complete footballer. "His attitude to the game and the team is unbelievable. It doesn't matter what happens, Tony never rubbishes anyone.""The way he keeps encouraging the chaps is amazing. He is not one of those critics who finds excuses or pass the buck. "He gets around and talks to all the chaps. You can't possibly talk about our team without giving Tony a good mention."And this Peter Leis observation no doubt will give many a League fan a respectful opinion of Tony Obst - the formidable figure on the field, also known by some as "The Enforcer". Peter hopes Tony will be back next year.With other veteran goers like Bevan Bleakley and "Bunny" Pearce steaming strongly as ever, ther is something about Redcliffe that keeps their players charging on. In Peter Leis's case, he can say it's contentment among the cows. Not many Brisbane League players can say that.This article was published in the Brisbane Rugby League programme in 1978.

Warriors have until Friday to respond

THE New Zealand Warriors have until close of business Friday to respond to preliminary findings of salary cap breaches. The NRL issued the Warriors with an official notice of breach today and have requested the Auckland-based club to respond in writing before the end of the week.NRL chief executive David Gallop has refused to comment on media speculation that the Warriors will be heavily fined and docked up to six competition points before the start of the new season. The cap breaches relates to some player payments and arrangements organised by the previous Warriors administration.

Webb back for Warriors

THE New Zealand Warriors has finally received some good news with Kiwis fullback Brent Webb poised to make his 2006 debut against the Bulldogs on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.Rocked by revelations the club has breached the NRL's salary cap, and face heavy fines and possibly loss of points, Webb is a welcome inclusion for the final trial match at Carrara Stadium after two losses already this year. Webb's return has heartened the squad, the former Queenslander enabling head coach Ivan Cleary to field his strongest combination before the season opener against Melbourne Storm at Ericsson Stadium on March 12.Tony Martin, who started the first two trials, shifted onto the six-man bench to make way for Webb.Warriors: Brent Webb, Todd Byrne, Jerome Ropati, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei, Sione Faumuina, Nathan Fien, Ruben Wiki, Lance Hohaia, Steve Price (c), Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu, LouisAnderson.Interchange: Tony Martin, Patrick ah Van, Grant Rovelli, Micheal Luck, Epalahame Lauaki, Evarn Tuimavave.

Geddes ruled out of Rabbitohs trial

SOUTH Sydney prop Scott Geddes has been ruled out of the Rabbitohs final trial match against North Queensland at Mackay on Saturday.Geddes is suffering a slight shoulder injury but is expected to be fit for the opening round of the NRL season against the Roosters on March 12. Michael Greenfield has been called into the Rabbitohs side and will come off the interchange bench.Rabbitohs: Todd Polglase, Nathan Merritt, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Balin Cupples, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Peter Cusack (c), Stuart Webb, Jaiman Lowe, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Shane Rigon.Interchange: Manase Manuokafoa, Michael Greenfield, Shane Walker, Ben Rogers, Beau Champion.

O'Meley out for Bulldogs

TEST prop Mark O'Meley is among three injury-forced omissions to the Bulldogs side originally named by coach Steve Folkes.O'Meley is suffering from some general hamstring tightness and will not play the New Zealand Warriors on the Gold Coast this Saturday. Club doctor Hugh Hazard expects O'Meley to be right for the Dogs? first round NRL match. Ben Czislowski (groin) and Brad Morrin (wrist) are the other changes to the 20-man squad.Jon Green, Daniel Conn and Chris Tuatara have been added to the interchange bench, with Chris Armit moving from the bench to the starting line-up.Bulldogs: Luke Patten, Namila Davui, Reni Maitua, Willie Tonga, Hazem El Masri, Daniel Holdsworth, Brent Sherwin, Chris Armit, Adam Perry, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan (c), Tony Grimaldi.Interchange: Nate Myles, Jon Green, Corey Hughes, Trent Cutler, Ben Roberts, Chris Tuatara, Daniel Conn.

Fitzgibbon to captain for first time

AUSTRALIAN rep Craig Fitzgibbon will officially captain Sydney Roosters for the first time in Sunday's trial match against St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium.Coach Ricky Stuart has named an imposing line up for the final trial match, with injured fullback Anthony Minichiello the only first grade regular missing from the 19-man squad. Star recruits Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison will again line up for the tri colours after last weekend's thrashing of Manly.Roosters: Amos Roberts, SAM Perrett, Ryan Cross, Iosia Soliola, Joel Monaghan, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Adrian Morley, Craig Wing, Craig Fitzgibbon (C), Anthony Tupou, Chris Flannery, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Michael Lett, Jamie Soward, David Shillington, Lopini Paea, Shane Shackleton, Steve Meredith.

Eels team to play Penrith

PARRAMATTA coach Brian Smith has recalled the majority of his first grade squad for the Eels final trial game against Penrith at Port Macquarie this Saturday.The Eels fielded a largely second string outfit in last weekend's 30-24 win over Melbourne, but Smith has recalled several stars including halfback Tim Smith, winger Eric Grothe and captain Nathan Cayless. Other Eels to return for the final trial will be Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, PJ Marsh, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon and Glenn Morrison.Eels: Wade McKinnon, Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Delaney, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless, PJ Marsh, Justin Tsoulos, Chad Robinson, Daniel Wagon, Glenn Morrison.Interchange: Matt Petersen, Dean Widders, Josh Cordoba, Aaron Cannings, Luke O'Dwyer, Zeb Taia, Marcus Perenara, Peter Lewis.

Croker to play for Raiders

CANBERRA veteran Jason Croker will play his first game of 2006 coming off the bench in the Raiders four-quarter trial match against Jim Beam Cup teams Windsor and Wentworthville this Saturday night at Queanbeyan.It is the Raiders final hit out before the NRL season kicks off with coach Matt Elliott cutting his squad to 17 for the match. Ensuring they will be up against fresh opposition the entire time, the Raiders will play Windsor in the first and third quarters, and Wentworthville in the second and fourth periods. Captain Clinton Schifcofske will be rested after taking part in the first two trials.Raiders: William Zillman, Adam Mogg, Phil Graham, David Howell, Adrian Purtell, Jason Smith, Lincoln Withers, Terry Martin, Simon Woolford, Willie Raston, Ben Jones, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Alan Tongue.Interchange: Jason Williams, Jason Croker, Todd Carney, Troy Thompson.

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