THE St George Illawarra Dragons have announced their Premier League and Jersey Flegg teams to take on the Parramatta Eels at Oki Jubilee in Kogarah this Friday.Jersey Flegg kicks off at 3:50pm while the Premier League kicks off at 5:30pm. The main NRL fixture will kick off under lights at 7:30pmPremier League Dragonsv Parramatta Eels5.30pm Friday 2 JuneOki Jubilee StadiumCoach: Steven Price1. Josh MORRIS2. Bryson GOODWIN3. Jess CAINE4. Lee TE MAARI5. Dane KERSHAW6. Reece BLAYNEY7. Chris SHEPPARD (c)8. Charlie LEAENO9. George NDAIRA10. Chris HOUSTON (c)11. Tom HABERECHT12. Sam ISEMONGER13. Aaron WHEATLEY14. Jamie DUNNING15. Andrew PRICE16. Beau MUNDINE17. Jamie KEITH18. James JIMENEZ19. Willie TUPOUJersey Flegg Dragonsv Parramatta Eels3.50pm Friday 2 JuneOki Jubilee StadiumCoach: Corey Pearson1. Jason NIGHTINGALE2. Rota SETU3. Junior SEUMANUTAFA4. Chase STANLEY5. Ryan MILLARD6. Richard WILLIAMS7. Blake DUREAU8. Dan HUNT9. Brad DAVIDSON (c)10. Chris FARRELL11. Matt PRIOR12. Lagi SETU13. James KEELAN15. Francis LANGIFISI16. Daniel JARVIS17. Matt SEAMARK18. James GREHAN
INTERNATIONAL centre Matt Cooper returns from a hamstring injury for the Dragons first home game at Oki Jubilee stadium against the Eels this Friday night.
ROOSTERS: Jamie Soward, Vince Mellars, Iosia Soliola, Ryan Cross, Amos Roberts, Braith Anasta, Brett Finch, Adrian Morley, Craig Wing, David Shillington, Chris Flannery, Ashley HarrisonInterchange: John Doyle, Anthony Tupou, Nigel Plum, Lopini Paea, Shane Shackleton (one to be omitted)
SEA Eagles: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Matai, Chris Hicks, Travis Burns, Matt Orford, Mark Bryant, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Steve Menzies, Anthony Watmough, Ben Kennedy ?
Interchange: Shayne Dunley, Luke Williamson, George Rose, Kylie Leuluai
VETERAN Manly backrower Steve Menzies has signed for another two NRL seasons with the Sea Eagles. The NSW Origin forward was off contract at the end of the year but decided to remain at the Sea Eagles until the end of the 2008 season.
ON any given day, when speaking about Willie Mason or Brett Finch, we?d probably be snarling at another off-field misdemeanour or on-field tantrum, but not this week.That?s right Blues fans. These two bad boys delivered victory for NSW in State of Origin I and they should receive just credit. But perhaps this wasn?t just a one-off never to be seen again movie spectacular type thing. Maybe they have turned the corner ? for good.I remember a day back in 2004. I went into my room and sat down on my chair on a Sunday afternoon as I do. Having a read of the Sunday morning newspapers, while at the same time, eagerly awaiting the afternoon?s matches as I?m sure most leaguies can relate with. I turned on the radio and began listening to Ray Hadley?s Continuous Call Team. They were holding their regular talkback segment. I must point out; this was around the time the NSW Blues had a late night out which turned into front page news the next day ? enough said.A group of NSW players were at fault, but the main player scrutinised was Mason ? given that his whole ADHD debacle had surfaced.I remember salivating to myself. I could not believe the torment which was being directed at Mason, not necessarily whether he deserved it or not, but to me, the extent of the ridicule seemed unprecedented. To this day, I cannot remember any individual being subjected to such scrutiny on a talkback radio station. I wondered how Mason would fight back from such stout criticism from all sections of the rugby league community. Caller after caller were shouting for his expulsion from the game. Even John Hopoate wasn?t exposed to disparagement of this extent when his antics reached their heights.Mason subsequently won the Clive Churchill medal in 2004. But at that stage he had only earned the rugby league community?s respect as a footballer ? not a person or ambassador for the game.Brett Finch could be regarded as an on-field version of Willie Mason?s off-field behaviour ? if you get my drift.For years, Finch has been subjected to Mason-like criticism ? although in Finch?s case, it was for a lack of on-field performance. Finch?s is unique given the fact that his harshest critics are his own supporters. And when he made the comment that ?those so-called supporters can kiss my arse,? the Roosters? patience had almost reached boiling point.Now I can hear people saying: ?Sure, they played great football but how does that illustrate a change in character?? This is where it gets interesting.After being awarded with the $2000 man of the match award on Channel Nine, Willie Mason donated his winnings to the Cancer Council. And yesterday, Finch, inspired by crash victim Sophie Delezio, decided to auction off his field-goal kicking boot ? with the proceeds to be donated to the Children?s hospital at Randwick.This previously controversial pair has cleaned up their act. It?s terrific to see and good luck to them both. But it does beg the question: Do the good have evil in them? Or do the evil have good in them? You can be the judge of that. Here?s to Willie and Brett for their changing in fortunes. RR salutes you both.Now to a few other issues in and around the rugby league world.- I think I?ve criticised South Sydney enough this season. So I?ve decided to let Adam MacDougall do that for this week. Here are a few things he had to say after his team was thrashed 44-4 by last year?s premiers, the Wests Tigers. ? ?If I knew it was going to be like that today I would have just turned the oven on at home to 500 degrees and jumped in it.?? ?I should have given my friends and family tickets behind the goal posts; they could have seen more of me.?? ?When you have your bad days out wide it feels like you?re in the bottom row of the Titanic, all the water?s coming in pretty quick and there?s not a lot you can do.?MacDougall has been sacked for these comments, and by the sounds of it, Mad Dog wouldn?t have too many qualms about getting the tap on the shoulder. - Just when I thought the Dragons were back after a scintillating 38-12 demolition of then competition leaders Newcastle, Trent Barrett is charged with grade five striking and may be on the sidelines for up to six weeks. A huge blow to a club that were starting to gather momentum and cohesion as a unit. Also on the Dragons, their decision to keep Mark Gasnier was a good one, but why at five eighth? I think that?s a big mistake and if that?s the case, they?d better put more emphasis on winning this season because it could be their only opportunity for a while.- One position we have worked out so far is the competition?s pretenders, namely the Bulldogs. They have absolutely no hope this season and the only reason they?re fifth on the competition table is that they have had simple opponents to this point. Pundits rave about the strength of their forward pack but when they come up against a pack with any real substance, they don?t aim up. Brent Sherwin just doesn?t seem to have fired like his coach would have wanted on his lengthy break from first grade. The Bulldogs could very well miss the top eight this season. Look no further than the Canterbury club for the season 2006 Pretenders? Award.- I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Cronulla club on its swift handling of the Tevita Latu debacle. The club was informed of the news early last Monday morning, and they didn?t even see out the remainder of the day before sacking Latu. The NRL also didn?t waste any time, de-registering Latu on the same day. Applause all-round for both parties. Perhaps the Bulldogs could take a leaf out of the Sharks? book. Although we must outline some positive Bulldogs? publicity when it becomes apparent. Billy Ngawini was the player who came to the girl?s aid after she had been struck by Latu. A nice touch there.That?s all for this week. Come and have a read next week of my mid-season report card. Assessing where each team is at the halfway mark, and where you can expect them to be after 26 rounds and leading into the 2006 finals series.Until next week, enjoy your footy!
BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Sonny Bill Williams, Reni Maitua, Cameron Phelps, Daniel Holdsworth, Brent Sherwin, Mark O'Meley, Corey Hughes, Roy Asotasi, Willie Mason, Andrew Ryan (c), Tony Grimaldi
Interchange: Trent Cutler, Chris Armit, Brad Morrin, Nate Myles, Billy Ngawini (one to be omitted)
BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Tame Tupou, Shaun Berrigan, Brent Tate, Darius Boyd, Darren Lockyer (c), Shane Perry, Shane Webcke, Casey McGuire, Petero Civoniceva, David Stagg, Corey Parker, Tonie Carroll
Interchange: Brad Thorn, Ben Hannant, Sam Thaiday, Ian Lacey, Brett Seymour, Greg Eastwood (two to be omitted)
BRENT Webb, Tony Martin, Wairangi Koopu, Simon Mannering, Misi Taulapapa, Jerome Ropati, Grant Rovelli, Ruben Wiki, Nathan Fien, Steve Price, Awen Guttenbeil, Loius Anderson, Sione Faumuina
Interchange: George Gatis, evarn Tuimavave, Clinton Toopi, Michael Luck
JOEL Reddy, Jarryd Hayne, Brett Delaney, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, John Morris, Jeremy Smith, Nathan Cayless ?, Pj Marsh, Fuifui Moimoi, Nathan Hindmarsh, Chad Robinson, Glenn Morrison
Interchange: Mark Riddell, Dean Widders, Daniel Wagon, Michael Vella
PANTHERS: Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Danny Galea, Luke Lewis, Luke Rooney, Preston Campbell, Craig Gower, Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Craig Stapleton, Matthew Cross, Tony Puletua (c), Trent Waterhouse
Interchange: Frank Puletua, Matthew Bell, Luke Swain, Paul Aiton, Lee Hookey (one to be omitted)
CELTIC Crusaders? Shawn Van Rensburg has made himself available to play for Wales in the World Cup qualifiers later this year. Signed from Newport Gwent Dragons earlier this year, the big second-rower has also played union for Bridgend, Neath, Pontypool, English Division One side Coventry and French side Toulon. Wales will play against Scotland and the winner of the qualifying group between Russia, Georgia, Holland and Serbia in the autumn. This is now more than likely to be Georgia following their 57-16 win over Holland in front of almost 11,000 fans in Tbilisi last Friday. Van Rensburg was born in South Africa but is now a Welsh national after his marriage to Bridgend-born Sharon. They also have a Welsh-born son, eight month old, Louis. He was picked for the Welsh rugby union squad during his days with the 15-man code but didn?t manage to get a game. He now hopes that his World Cup ambitions will be achieved with Wales in the 13-man code. Van Rensburg said: ?I now feel more Welsh than South African. I have firmly made Wales my home and I want to represent what is now my country. ?I was disappointed that I didn?t get a chance to represent Wales in union but I?m now a league player and my goal is to help Wales qualify for the 2008 World Cup Finals in Australia. ?Celtic Crusaders is a good club to play for ? we?ve got a fantastic team spirit and I?m really enjoying myself here. I want to help them to promotion and then finish the 2006 season by representing Wales.? CymruRL chairman, Mark Rowley is pleased that Van Rensburg has made himself available for Wales. Rowley said: ?It?s great that someone of Shawn?s quality has come over to rugby league and we?re pleased that he?s playing so well for the Crusaders. He?ll be looked at along with all the other Welsh players and will be kept in mind for selection for the World Cup qualifiers when the time comes.?
WESTS Tigers utility Dene Halatau is back on the sidelines and likely to miss two matches with an ankle injury. Halatau twisted his ankle in the Tigers' 44-4 win over South Sydney on Sunday and will get the results of scans tomorrow.
KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley, Brian Carney, Matthew Gidley, George Carmont, Anthony Quinn, Todd Lowrie, Andrew Johns (c), Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Adam Woolnough, Steve Simpson, Kirk Reynoldson, Reegan Tanner
Interchange: Luke Davico, Clint Newton, Josh Perry, Riley Brown
ST George Illawarra captain Trent Barrett will miss six matches after entering an early guilty plea today on a striking charge. Barrett was charged yesterday with a grade five striking offence by the NRL's match review committee after his forearm came into contact with Newcastle winger Brian Carney's head during the Dragons' 38-12 win over the Knights on Friday.