Footy News December 2007 - Rugby League news & stories, schoolboys footy
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Melbourne recruit James Woolford and his uncle, former Canberra skipper Simon Woolford. Picture: Mark Graham
Melbourne recruit James Woolford and his uncle, former Canberra skipper Simon Woolford. Picture: Mark Graham
MELBOURNE STORM POACHES PROMISING JUNIOR
Sun Herald
MELBOURNE Storm has completed a major signing coup by poaching promising Canberra junior James Woolford, nephew of former Raiders captain Simon Woolford.

Tagged with the nickname "Bacteria" to complement his uncle's moniker "Germ", Woolford's first choice was to stay with the Raiders.

The hooker, 17, will complete his year 12 studies in Melbourne after signing a three-year contract with the NRL premier.

The Raiders' S. G. Ball (state under-18 competition) and New South Wales under-17 hooker last season, Woolford has been snapped up by Storm to ply his trade in the new national under-20 competition as the understudy to Storm hooker and captain Cameron Smith.

"To be honest, he wanted to stay in Canberra because he's only young and he was a little a bit sceptical about moving so far away," Simon Woolford said.

"At the end of the day the Raiders probably expected him to stay, but then other clubs came out and showed more interest in him so the decision was basically made for him.

"I know he was a little bit disappointed in the level of interest Canberra showed in him as opposed to the Storm and the (St George Illawarra) Dragons.

"But it's good that it's worked out the way it has. I don't want to talk him up too much but he has got a fair bit of ability and I know he's certainly got the attitude to be successful.

"He could do a lot worse than going to the Storm for the next three years, where he'll be coached by Craig Bellamy and have Cameron Smith teaching him all the tricks of the trade."

A Young (southern NSW) junior, Woolford is the son of Simon's brother Stephen and already has nicknames at Storm.

It was Bellamy who came up with "Germ" when he coached Simon Woolford in the Canberra juniors in the 1990s.

"The boys have given me 'Germ', 'Virus' and 'Bacteria'. I didn't really get a choice in the matter," Woolford said.

"To be honest, Simon and I are very similar. I've learnt plenty of stuff from him and he's always only too happy to give out a few pointers.

"Melbourne was actually my last preference. I really wanted to stay in Canberra because it was close to home.

"But then the Melbourne offer was much better and the more I thought about it, the opportunity really appealed."

Bellamy described the family similarities as uncanny.

"James has certainly got Simon's confidence, but he hasn't quite got his brashness, which is a nice change," he said.

Canberra general manager Don Furner said while the Raiders were interested in keeping Woolford, the lucrative Storm offer was simply too good.

"He's a good kid but we just can't go paying that sort of money," Furner said.
David Taylor has said he wants to remain a Bronco for life.
Big unit ... David Taylor has said he wants to remain a Bronco for life.
TAYLOR-MADE FOR BRONCOS
Story & Photo By : Peter Badel Sunday Telegraph
PROP sensation David Taylor is a fortnight away from signing a new deal at Brisbane, revealing his desire to become a Bronco for life.

The NRL's hottest front-row prospect will shun lucrative offers from rival clubs and dedicate his best years to the Broncos.

Taylor, who will be off contract at the end of 2008, held pre-Christmas negotiations with Brisbane boss Bruno Cullen, who expects a new two or three-year deal to be finalised within the next fortnight.

Several rival NRL outfits expressed interest after Taylor's magnificent rookie season in 2007 that stamped him as a future Origin and Test star.

Such was his stunning entry to the NRL last season, Test great Steve Roach called for the Broncos to sign the 115kg powerhouse to a lifetime contract.

It is understood the upgraded contract is worth $180,000 a season, and Taylor is determined to forge a successful career at the Broncos.

"A lot of guys change from club to club but I'd like to be a one-club man and finish at the Broncos,'' he said.

"I really don't want to go anywhere else. I know one year can be a long time in the game and things can happen over the years, so you never know what's to come.

"But my first priority is to stay at the Broncos. They've treated me awesome the last couple of years.

"For the moment, I just want to concentrate on playing some good footy and not let my form slip.''

Cullen said the 19-year-old former Australian Schoolboy would be tied to the Broncos until at least 2010.

"We're just sorting out the length of the contract,'' Cullen said.

"I'm fairly relaxed with where we are. Dave wants to stay, we want him to stay, so we just need his signature.

"I know there's been talk about signing him to a lifetime deal but it's a balancing act. Dave is only young so we're conscious of rewarding him appropriately and making sure he earns the money he should be earning.

"Hopefully, he will be the next big-time prop and he could be playing State of Origin next year, but he might develop slower than that.

With new recruits Joel Clinton and Ashton Sims likely to support Ben Hannant in the front row, Taylor said he would he happy to fill the back-row void left by Brad Thorn.
Lachlan Hall - Multi-talented ... new Roosters signing Lachlan Hall. Photograph: Glenn Barnes
Multi-talented ... new Roosters signing Lachlan Hall. Photograph: Glenn Barnes
BOOM ROOKIE NOT SURE ABOUT LIFE IN THE BIG CITY

THE Sydney Roosters have outbid the Broncos to sign a boom young halfback from Ipswich - but he has signed only a one-year deal because he's unsure he'll like life in the big city.

Lachlan Hall, a 17-year-old who represented Queensland Schoolboys at rugby union last season, resisted an approach from the Broncos to join the Roosters on a one-year deal.

He has already been training with the Roosters for the past five weeks.

"I have only signed for one year because I wanted to see whether I liked it down there," Hall said.

"I also felt like a bit of a change. The Broncos have said they could be interested in me if I come back.

"So far I have enjoyed it. They are a professional club yet quite relaxed and Brad Fittler is a good coach."

Hall's signing shows how aggressive the Roosters have been recruiting at both ends of the player spectrum.

His friends joked yesterday that the Roosters had now signed the big three - O'Meley, Mason . . . and Hall.

The young Queenslander has formed a close bond with another rising Roosters halfback in Mitchell Pearce, son of former international Wayne. "Even though we play in the same position I get along really well with him," he said.

Hall has set himself the goal of consolidating a position with the Roosters' under-20 side next season.

A multi-skilled sportsman who also excels at cricket, Hall has been playing at the Queensland Country Week cricket carnival this week.

Ipswich Grammar School has a distinguished history of producing quality footballers, including the Walters family.
SIGNED AND SEALED . . . junior development camp participant Joe Taylor, 14, of Emerald grabs Cowboy David Faiumu's autograph during a break in proceedings at JCU yesterday
SIGNED AND SEALED . . . junior development camp participant Joe Taylor, 14, of Emerald grabs Cowboy David Faiumu's autograph during a break in proceedings at JCU yesterday
JUNIORS LIVE THE DREAM
Story & Photo By : ANTONY STEWART Townsville Bulletin
MORE than 250 teenagers have been having the time of their lives this week, living and breathing rugby league 24 hours a day.

But with Cowboys NRL players lending a hand at the Queensland Rugby League' annual junior development camp at James Cook University, that experience just got better.

Junior players from all over the State and even Darwin have descended on Townsville for the 21st staging of the six-day live-in camp.

QRL Education and Development manager Robert Moore said coaches have been taking players, aged between 13 and 17, through the fundamentals of the sport.

"They cover all the skills of the game," Moore said.

"We try and make sure that our coaches do things with them that they may not necessarily get at normal club training _ to try and extend the kids a little bit.

"Then, in the evening they play a modified tag football game . . . where the coaches reinforce the skills they have learned in a game situation."

Since yesterday Cowboys players, including Sione Faumuina, David Faiumu, John Williams and Mark Henry, have helped the coaches take the potential stars of the future through their paces.

"They love it," Moore said.

"These kids come from all over (Queensland) and a lot of them that don't have any access to the Cowboys players and have never been in a situation where they are able to talk to them and be coached by them, so it's great for them."

However, it is not all fun and games.

The senior and development squads are given a taste of exactly what their NRL heroes go through every day.

"The younger kids are pretty much on the paddock most of the time but the older kids have access to gyms, swimming programs, ice baths," Moore said.

"They have a bit of input with the Cowboys with their programs as well.

"We try and take those kids to a point where they could walk into a development squad at an NRL club and not be out of place."

With the skills the teenagers are learning, Moore said some members of the camp might not be too far away from achieving their dream.

"It's not a recruiting camp by any means but it is amazing, there are so many networks in the game now that kids get found out about and these types of camps are a fair place for kids to stand out, that's for sure," he said.

As well as catering for the kids, the camp is a training facility for coaches looking to make it in the senior ranks.

Former Cowboys Shane Muspratt and Chris Sheppard are tackling the course as they attempt to earn their certificate two qualification ahead of their respective coaching roles with QRL teams Mackay and Cairns.

"What that entails is two and half days of lectures and then they work with the kids," Moore said.

"They are assessed on sight by one of the senior coaches here and by the end of the week, if they are deemed competent, they go away with their senior club coach certificate."

The camp concludes on Saturday.
Greg Waddell on his way to the try line Vs Leeds after the Panthers successful tour of England (Photo : ourfooty media)
Greg Waddell on his way to the try line Vs Leeds after the Panthers successful tour of England (Photo : ourfooty media)
Ben Jones plaYING FOR THE nsw uNDER 17'S AT TELSTRA STADIUM THIS YEAR (Matraville SHS) passes the footy (Photo : ourfooty media)
Ben Jones plaYING FOR THE nsw under 17'S AT TELSTRA STADIUM THIS YEAR (Matraville SHS) passes the footy (Photo : ourfooty media)
Shannon Walker running around the Welsh U 19's last year (Photo : ourfooty media)
Shannon Walker running around the Welsh U 19's last year (Photo : ourfooty media)
ROOKIES READY TO RUMBLE
ourfooty media
ROOSTERS recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan reckons they are getting better every year.

Advanced training, diet, coaching and development programs are creating super athletes, he says.

Teenagers built like men. And big men at that.

It is hard to argue with O'Sullivan, considered the game's best scout, when you remember that Israel Folau, Krisnan Inu, Michael Jennings and Mitchell Pearce were nobodies last year.

This season the new breed includes a teenager touted as the next Sonny Bill Williams, a schoolboy who signed with the Panthers on a deal which could earn him a reported $500,000 and a young kid who could be the quickest thing the NRL has seen.

Meet the rookies who will set the NRL alight next season.

KARL FILIGA (FORMERLY KARL MCNICHOL)

THE Sharks earlier this year beat off five rival NRL clubs to sign the teenager, who has been heralded as the next Sonny Bill Williams. Filiga, a 105kg 18-year-old, didn't come cheap. Ricky Stuart and the Sharks reportedly forked out $200,000 to snare the kid, who hasn't yet played a minute of NRL. Stuart has warned fans not to expect too much from Filiga. He is only a kid.

But you can expect to see the Wellington junior make his NRL debut this season. Insiders at the Sharks say Filiga, who has impressed everyone during pre-season training, will have forced his way into the top grade before round 10. Expect to see him in the back-row.

AARON GROOM (BULLDOGS)

MANLY fans were outraged last year when the Bulldogs swooped to poach boom 20-year-old halfback Aaron Groom. The Fijian-born pivot was outstanding for the Sea Eagles in the Premier League, breaking games apart with his footwork and deft passing game.

But with Matt Orford in front of him, Groom has gone to Belmore in search of an NRL berth. And with the shock departure of Brent Sherwin to play in the English Super League, he might just get what he wants.

SHANNON WALKER (TITANS)

O'SULLIVAN has declared Walker, a former Australian schoolboys winger, one of the quickest players he has ever seen. An 18-year-old from Kyogle in northern NSW, Walker was last year signed by the Titans and played for the Tweed Heads Seagulls in the Queensland Cup, where he was crowned young Titans player of the year.

"He has blinding acceleration,'' O'Sullivan said. "Quicker than anyone in the NRL. "He is a natural ball-runner but he needs to get bigger to compete in first grade. He is a strike weapon who might start on the wing.''

JOSH MCCRONE (PANTHERS)

MATT Elliott unearthed this talented half as a 16-year-old playing A-grade in Wagga Wagga when he coached the Raiders. When he moved to Penrith in 2006, Elliott never took his eye off the youngster and jumped at the chance to lure him up last year.

"He can play going to the line and there's not many halfbacks that can do that these days,'' Elliott said.

GREG WADDELL (PANTHERS)

CONSIDERED one of the game's hottest talents, Waddell, 16, earlier this year signed an incentive-based deal with Penrith which could see him earn $500,000 by the end of 2010.

The St Dominics Year 11 student was chased by every club in the NRL after staring in the centres for the Australian Schoolboys. The Panthers don't want to rush the teen prodigy into grade but Waddell's talent may prove hard to resist.

MARTIN KENNEDY (ROOSTERS)

A 115kg prop who at just 18 is expected to play in the NRL this season, Kennedy was voted man-of-the-match in the final of the Australian Schoolboys carnival held in Townsville earlier this year.

As far as props go, O'Sullivan says the Queensland product is as good as they get. "He has a massive build and a massive motor,'' O'Sullivan said.

"He is a front-rower, so you take it a bit easier with them. He might play one or two games. We don't want to put him in too early. We want 10 years out of him.''

BEN JONES (ROOSTERS)

A CHEEKY utility from Matraville High, Jones, 18, will this season become the man Brad Fitler looks to for impact off the bench.

One of the quickest players in the Roosters squad, the blood-nut 18-year-old has been branded a "natural footballer''.

"I reckon he will play up to 10 games this year,'' O'Sullivan said. "He is a real footy player who can read a game.

He will play off the bench and learn his trade. He just needs to keep learning and he will be the bloke who'll give us some impact.''

JOSEPH TOMANE (STORM)

A BRISBANE schoolboy rugby sensation who was early this year at the centre of a cross-code tug of war.

The Waratahs attempted to lure Tomane to rugby union after the 17-year-old signed a three-year scholarship with the Storm.

The Storm fought bitterly to keep Tomane, considered as good as Folau but "more athletic''.

RAY THOMPSON (COWBOYS)

BEING the understudy to the world's best halfback can't be a good thing - or can it?

Insiders at the Cowboys say Thompson, 17, has come on in leaps and bounds under the guidance of Johnathan Thurston and may force his way into the top grade this year as a five-eighth.

The youngster is rated one of the best halfback prospects in league but may have to move to another club if he wants to wear the No.7.

TONY WILLIAMS (EELS)

BIG, strong and quick - the 19-year-old has been compared to Feleti Mateo.

Williams, a big centre destined for the back-row, has been carefully nurtured in the Eels' lower grade sides.

A player Michael Hagan will blood this year.
NRL.COMNEW NRL RULES FOR 2008

The 2008 Telstra Premiership will include two experimental rule amendments to the laws of the game as well as changes to the interpretation used by referees in six key areas.

The most significant will be a reduction in the number of interchanges from 12 interchanges per game (using a maximum four replacement players) to 10 per game (using a maximum of four replacement players) and the confirmation of measures to combat ‘contact with the head or neck’ by tacklers – often referred to as grapple tackles.

Approval from the RLIF Executive members to allow the NRL to implement two experimental rule changes was received on Christmas eve and concluded a rule revue process which canvassed the views of coaches, players (both current and former), referees, Chief Executives, Club Chairman and the Boards of the NRL and ARL.

Interpretation changes within the Telstra Premiership do not require RLIF approval.

THE APPROVED EXPERIMENTAL AMENDMENTS TO THE LAWS OF THE GAME ARE:

1. The number of interchanges to be reduced from 12 to 10 per game

2. Ball stripping permitted if the ball-carrier is in the act of attempting to ground the ball for a try

APPROVED REFEREEING INTERPRETATION AMENDMENTS ARE:

Grapple Tackle/Wrestling/Dominant Tackle:

‘Grapple’ tackles should be eliminated from the game

A tackler making any accidental/incidental contact with head or neck will be required to immediately release contact from that area

Any prolonged contact with head or neck is to be penalised and in more severe cases charged by Judiciary

In tackles where a player uses his body weight to bend and exert pressure on another players head/neck (i.e. ‘The Crusher’), these tackles are to be treated by the Judiciary as “very serious” incidents and graded accordingly

Referees must be consistent and enforce throughout the entire season

Less tolerance will be shown by referees when players are held in upright tackles as a method of slowing the play-the-ball

Legs of players held in upright tackles should not be lifted or targeted

BALANCE BETWEEN ATTACK & DEFENCE/SPEED OF THE GAME

Referees are to require scrums to bind better with props on the ‘feeding- side’ to have outside leg forward with half-back feeding the ball into the tunnel. This should help to minimise forwards breaking early and play breaking down at scrum base

Referees are to allow quick 20 metre restarts once officials are in position regardless of whether defence is ready or not

USE OF VIDEO TECHNOLOGY
Referees to be permitted to ask video ref to check on ball stripping if unsure (to be confirmed subject to NRL reaching agreement with broadcasters on a suitable process so the game is not unnecessarily delayed)

PROTECTING KICKERS
It is the responsibility of the tackler or tacklers not to make dangerous contact with kickers (i.e. if a tackler decides to target a kicker and this results in any dangerous contact the tackler must face the consequences)

One indicator of this would be a defender who leaves the ground when attempting a tackle or charge down resulting in contact with the kicker after the ball has been kicked

TIME WASTING
Clubs will be advised of a standard acceptable time for goal line restarts and if this time is exceeded the referee will warn once and then award a penalty kick 10 metres out if the warning is ignored. The video referee will monitor the time and advise the referee accordingly

Players getting head start on 10 metres at ruck - Referees to be more vigilant
TEENAGER ADDS DEPTH

TEENAGE Rockhampton rugby league star Simon Batts received an early Christmas present from the Central Comets this week.

Batts, 17, was promoted to the Queensland Wizard Cup club's full-time squad after the departure of local products Yoren Major, Christian Davies and Willie Munns from the program.

Fresh out of year 12 from Rockhampton State High School, Batts has been earmarked as a future prospect and joined his new team-mates for his first training session on Wednesday.
St Johnís are going forward, on and off the field.
St John’s are going forward, on and off the field.
SAINTS NEW BOARD PREPARES FOR SEASON

With its fundraising appeal ticking over nicely, St John’s Junior Rugby League Club is preparing for the 2008 season.

The club recently held its annual general meeting with an enthusiastic committee selected to help the club rebuild from the damage caused by vandals that destroyed the club’s equipment.

Currently the fundraising tally stands at close to $30,000 with about $16,000 of that coming at a special luncheon held at Lazy River Estate a fortnight ago.

President John Walkom said that in difficult times, it was imperative to have continuity and that is something that St John’s has got.

“Your club can only grow when you have committed people working for it,” he said.

“The committee we have got now are all keen on seeing St John’s prosper and I think the fact we have had no more than 12 presidents in 37 years has allowed us to have a strong club tradition.”

Mark Dunworth has taken the role of senior vice-president while Peter Frew and Peter Thornton will share the role of junior vice-president.

The club has ordered some new 1970s-style retro jerseys for next season to replace those damaged in the fire.

The new jersey style was chosen to help rugby league celebrate its centenary season in 2008.

St John’s has also opened applications for coaches and managers for the 2008 season.

It is seeking people to fill these roles in all age groups from under-8s through to under-16s however it will need two of both in each group from under-8s through to under-11s.

“We field two teams in these age groups as we believe it is important to have the numbers coming through early,” Walkom said.

“Traditionally the playing ranks thin out when you get to the older age groups so by having two teams in the mini and mod ranks we are able to keep ourselves strong right through to under-16s.”

With the fundraising taking up a great deal of time during the off-season, the St John’s committee will have a break in January before holding registration days in February.

“On the first Saturday in February we will be re-registering players from the 2007 season and on the last Saturday in February we will have an open rego day with the other junior clubs,” Walkom said.

The 2008 St John’s executive

President: John Walkom.
Senior vice-president: Mark Dunworth. Junior vice-presidents: Peter Frew, Peter Thornton.

Secretary: Cathy Dries. Treasurer: Geoff Sturt. Registrar: Debbie Woodham.

Committee: Mat O’Hehir, Mal Woodham, Sue Runciman, Lyn Wilson-O’Neill, Tim Nelson, Norm O’Neill, Mick Dries, Jim Mayers.
Man mountain ... Storm sensation Israel Folau, at 194cm, squeezes through the door at Melbourne headquarters. Photograph: Michael Klein
Man mountain ... Storm sensation Israel Folau, at 194cm, squeezes through the door at Melbourne headquarters. Photograph: Michael Klein
FOLAU AN EVEN BIGGER HIT
Daily Telegraph
THIS is the sight rugby league players around the country had been dreading.

Israel Folau, the 18-year-old Melbourne Storm sensation who produced one of the most memorable debut seasons in living memory, now has to duck through doors within the club's headquarters after an off-season growth spurt.

Folau stood 190cm and tipped the scales at 93kg when he arrived in Melbourne for pre-season training last January.

And by the end of the season he weighed 100kg.

Now, Folau, who expects to grow further in the next 12 months, has measured in at 194cm and 103kg.

His stunning transformation from wonderboy to superman is complete - it's now just a matter of how big he actually gets.

"I'm not sure how much I've grown in height but I know I've put on plenty of kilos," Folau said.

"It's a good and a bad thing for me as well. I know I've got a lot more growing to do so I'll do a few more weights this year and get bigger."

Folau registered impressive results in the gym this month.

He improved his maximum bench press from 90kg sets last January to 110kg and his maximum squat from 120kg to 170kg.

Folau said maintaining his speed was vital as he increased his bulk. He has been doing extra sprint training sessions in a bid to build on his stunning 21-try rookie year that ended with an NRL premiership and two tries in his Test debut for Australia against New Zealand.

"With all the weight I've put on from the start of this year, all the way to the end, I'd lose my speed," Folau said.

"So I've been working on my speed and getting my technique right as well."

The stunning pre-season results have put him well ahead, at least physically, of the rugby league great he was constantly compared to during his debut year, former Queensland and Australian captain Mal Meninga.

When Meninga played his first State Of Origin game for Queensland, at just 19, in 1980, he was 183cm and 89kg.

By 1994, in his last interstate series, he had grown to 185cm and 107kg.

Folau should make his Origin debut this year - under the guidance of Maroons coach Meninga.

Storm strength and conditioning coach Alex Corvo said Folau was just one of a number of Melbourne players who had increased their bulk during pre-Christmas training.

"At this stage of the year we're in very good shape," he said. | Learn More About IZZY HERE|
Paul Gallen & Ben Pommeroy at Cronulla Mall (Photo : ourfooty media)
Paul Gallen & Ben Pommeroy signing autographs at Cronulla Mall (Photo : ourfooty media)
GALLEN TO CAPTAIN THE SHARKS
Story By : Sharks.com.au
Photo By : ourfooty media

The Cronulla Sharks have appointed NSW State of Origin forward Paul Gallen to the club captaincy for the 2008 season.

The 26-year-old Gallen, who assumed the role in the absence of an injured Brett Kimmorley towards the end of 2007, was humbled by the appointment and was looking forward to contributing to what is hoped will be a successful season for the Sharks next year.

"While I captained the team towards the back end of last season, to have the job on a permanent basis is a great honour," Gallen said. "I really enjoyed my time as captain and was hoping it would one day become full time, so getting the news today is a big thrill.

"Noddy will be hard act to follow but I realise I still have a lot to learn as far as the captaincy goes and he is one guy I’ll be looking for to provide some advice and guidance."

The decision to step aside as captain was made by Kimmorley himself, who thought the time was right to take somewhat of a back seat and to concentrate more on his own game.

"While I know I’ve still got plenty to offer the team, I thought it best that I worry about myself and my own footy, rather than to also deal with the responsibility of the captaincy," Kimmorley explained. "If I can work towards getting back to my best by doing that, I think the team will certainly benefit."

"Gal did a great job while I was on the sideline last year, I’m sure he’ll do well in the role again next season and I’ll be giving him my 100 per cent support."

Injured in the final game of the State of Origin series last year, Kimmorley missed the remainder of the 2007 season following knee surgery. He also had an off-season operation to repair wrist ligament damage, but is expected to start 2008 fully fit.

Sharks coach Ricky Stuart, who spoke to Kimmorley, then Gallen, earlier today, praised Kimmorley’s unselfishness in making the decision he has.

"Brett’s decision is obviously one he has made for what he believes is in the best interests of the team," Stuart said. "He sees the importance of personally having a big season himself in 2008 and I fully support him in the decision he has made."

The Sharks wound up their pre-Christmas training today and will return on January 7.
DEVELOPMENT CAMP CONDUCTED FOR LOCAL LEAGUE JUNIORS

RECENT development camp organised by the Country Rugby League (CRL)and Australian Rugby League (ARL) Development staff for Group 16 talented young Rugby League players was a great success.

An attendance of with 74 players aged from 14 -17 and 10 coaching staff participated in the activities.

The CRL and ARL Development acknowledged the generous support of major sponsor Bega Cheese and the contribution by other local businesses, Elders Real Estate's Bega and Tathra, Bega Betta Electrical and Group 16 Senior Rugby League whose support made the camp possible and successful.

They also thank the lecturers who attended as their professionalism brought a great wealth of information ranging from personal fitness, to injury prevention and management to healthy lifestyle choices.

The organisers also appreciate the contribution of Stuart and his staff from Wambiri Youth camp for providing such a great venue and service.

The camp was also fortunate to have Leigh Woodbridge from the Canberra Raiders and Chris Brennan from the Newcastle Knights in attendance along with Development Officers from across NSW.

At the camp it was possible for the players and coaching staff from Group 16 to get a close look at the standards and training of the NRL and for the coaches to take back to their clubs new training techniques as practised within the NRL.

The camp was also well supported locally by the Tathra Minor Rugby League volunteers and sponsors.
FWAS new buildings
Workers put the finishing touches to the new FWAS and tennis club building
Far Western Academy team
FWAS rugby League side that played the Cronulla Sharks U14's (Photo : ourfooty media)
ACADEMY RELOCATES TO WARREN

The move of the Far West Academy of Sport from Cobar to Warren is in its final stages, with the academy expected to be open for business on December 19, with full operations for 2008 commencing from the January 14.

“The new FWAS facility is located at Victoria Park, Udora Road, Warren,” said Kathy Barber, FWAS Executive Officer.

“This is in a sporting precinct which accommodates the Warren Sporting and Cultural Complex.

This precinct plays host to netball, tennis, cricket, rugby league, and athletics, and is one of the best local sporting facilities in the far west region.

“While we are sad to leave our many friends in the Cobar community, we are

looking forward to a new beginning in Warren.”

The move will enable the FWAS to expand its regional operations and continue to provide high quality sporting programs and services to athletes in the Far West of the state.

The FWAS can be contacted by telephone call 02 6836 2970.

To email either the executive officer, Kathy Barber at kbarber@dsr.nsw.gov.au or development officer, Matthew Thompson at matthew.thompson@dsr.nsw.gov.au.

| See the photo's of the Cronulla Sharks U14 Vs FWAS |
STUART SIGNS ON FOR THREE MORE YEARS
Story By : SHARKS

Cronulla Sharks head coach Ricky Stuart today (Saturday) agreed to extend his contract for three more seasons and under the new arrangement will remain at the club through until at least 2011.

The current Australian Kangaroos coach, Stuart joined the Sharks for the 2007 season and was due to come off contract at the end of 2008.

His management, The Fordham Company, had been in negotiation with Sharks CEO Tony Zappia over a contract extension for the past two weeks.

Zappia was understandably pleased to have secured Stuart’s services for three more seasons.

"Signing Ricky to an extended term of three years beyond 2008 was paramount to us maintaining our current stability and our long term future," Zappia said. "In the short time Ricky has been at the Sharks, the club has made excellent progress on a number of key fronts.

"From a football perspective, we are confident that with Ricky calling the shots for another four years we will be a strong and respected force in the NRL."

Likewise, Stuart was delighted to have confirmed his immediate future and was confident he could steer the Sharks in a positive direction.

"We made very satisfactory progress in the 2007 season and I can only see us building on that in 2008 and beyond," Stuart said. "I appreciate the club's confidence in wanting me on board for a few more years."

Stuart previous coaching successes include a premiership victory back in 2002 with the Sydney Roosters.
Matt Bowen scores another try for the cowboysMATT BOWEN WINS 2007 RLPA PLAYER OF THE YEAR

North Queensland’s, Matt Bowen has been awarded 2007 Rugby League Professionals Association Player of the Year Medal in front of a gathering of more than two hundred players and partners at a gala luncheon, at Randwick Racecourse today.

Test Skipper Darren Lockyer took out the Australian Representative Player of the Year, Krisnan Inu the New Zealand Representative Player and Penrith’s Michael Jennings the Rookie of the Year.

Canberra’s Allan Tongue was named clubman of the year and Panthers hooker Luke Priddis awarded the Education and Welfare award.

Bowen beat off challenges from team-mate Jonathan Thurston, the Titans skipper Scott Prince, Warriors captain Steve Price, Newcastle’s Kurt Gidley and Brisbane’s Petero Civoniceva.

The award is voted by players after each match in the season with RLPA delegates conducting a team vote of the best players in the opposition team on a 3-2-1 basis. Those votes are sealed and then counted at the end of each season.

RLPA Chief Executive Matt Rodwell said the award was cherished by players because it was an acknowledgement by their peers of form week in and week out throughout the year:

“This award holds an important place in the game and in the hearts of the players

“The players respect each of the various awards in the game but this is a sincere expression of how the guys who are out there each week rate one another on a match by match basis – and it means a lot to them.”

THE FULL LIST OF AWARD WINNERS IS AS FOLLOWS:

RLPA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matt Bowen receives the 2007 Player of the Year Medal, a Sony Bravia Plasma Television, courtesy of Harvey Norman and $1,000 plus an F1 Melbourne Grand Prix Experience, courtesy of Red Bull

RLPA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Penrith’s Michael Jennings, narrowly defeated, Melbourne Storm sensation Israel Folau, to claim the RLPA Rookie of the year. Jennings, along with a crystal trophy, receives a V8 Supercar experience with Rick Kelly, courtesy of Red Bull.

RLPA AUSTRALIAN REPRESENTATIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Darren Lockyer, after leading QLD and Australia to victories this year. Lockyer, along with a crystal trophy, receives treatment as a VIP guest of VB at ‘Warnies day at the cricket’, thanks to VB and an Xbox 360, courtesy of Xbox.

RLPA NZ REPRESENTATIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Krisnan Inu, following a composed and professional performance in his debut Test.

Inu, receives a crystal trophy, a $1000 Rebel Sport Gift Voucher, thanks to Rebel Sport and an XBox 360, thanks to Xbox.

RLPA CLUBMAN OF YEAR: Canberra Raider’s Captain, Alan Tongue.

This award is to recognize an RLPA Representative, who provides an effective link to other members at a Club and who is pro-active in RLPA issues. Tongue, receives a crystal trophy and four (4) nights accommodation and flights at the Coffs Harbor Novotel Resort, courtesy of Accor Hospitality and a $250 gift voucher, thanks to Under Armour.

RLPA/NRL PLAYER EDUCATION AND WELFARE AWARD: Penrith Panthers, Luke Priddis.

This award voted on independently by the RLPA/NRL Education and Welfare Committee, acknowledges Priddis’ outstanding work with the ‘the Luke Priddis Foundation’ supporting autism, ongoing personal development through consistent and continued tertiary study, working full-time as a Financial Planner and playing in the NRL. Priddis receives a crystal trophy, a Ben Sherman suit, shirt and tie, thanks to Ben Sherman and a $250 Under Armour gift voucher, thanks to Under Armour.

RLPA/NRL EDUCATION AND WELFARE EMPLOYEE AWARD: joint winners, Cowboys Jason Gray and Warriors Tony Iro.
This award voted on independently by the RLPA/NRL Education and Welfare Committee, recognizes the outstanding contribution made by an NRL Club Employee in sourcing, co-coordinating and implementing Education and Welfare programs within the Club environment to Players. Both winners receive a plaque and a digital camera, courtesy of Harvey Norman.
Chase Stanley and Jeff Hardy (Photo : ourfooty media)
Chase Stanley and Jeff Hardy (Photos : ourfooty media)
Justin Poore presents award to opens players of the year
Justin Poore presents award to opens players of the year
SEE THE PHOTO'S
CHASE STANLEY WINS THE DAU MEDAL
ourfooty media
Sydney's Endeavour Sports High School celebrated their TSP Rugby League season with a great night at the Caringbah Baptist Church on Friday evening.

Former International & Dragons player Jeff Hardy played MC for the night which was also attended by currents NRL stars, Mitchell Browne & Justin Poore from the Endeavour Old Boyz.

The night was a hugh success with a couple hundred students and parents cheering the award winners on.

Chase Stanley who has completed his HSC this year was the winner of this years DAU MEDAL.

The Dau Medal has been introduced to honour the memory of DAU KOROIBUL'LEKA

Dau was a valued member of the Endeavour TSP Rugby League when he was tragically killed in December 2001.

He was a member of the Under 15's team that was the first ESHS side to win a NSWRL All Schools KO title in August 2001.

Dau played every game in the same way - with passion and flair.

He had a strong sence of team spirit and enjoyed being at TSP because it meant being with his mates, playing the game he loved.

The Dau Medal is designed to recognise an individual who has made an outstanding on-field and off-field to the TSP Rugby League Program at Endeavour Sports High School in 2007.

This award includes academic and social achivements in the school community as well as sporting accolades. It encompasses performances for ESHS and at all level of Representitive Rugby League in schoolboys and club football.

Congratulations to Chase Stanley for winning this well deserved award in his final year of school. | LEARN MORE ABOUT ESHS |
Adrian Purtell and Nigel Plum
PRE-MATCH RAID: Jacob Duncan was one of the first at Metroplaza brave enough to meet visiting NRL players Adrian Purtell and Nigel Plum yesterday – even if he didn't follow their team.Photo: STEVE GOSCH
WHO’S SUPPORTING THE RAIDERS PLAYING HERE?

BOTH Adrian Purtell (left) and Nigel Plum (right) remember growing up in a regional centre and how excited they were to see a top-class rugby league player, so they are keen to play an NRL pre-season trial in Orange next February against Brisbane.

The Canberra Raiders pair were in Orange yesterday to promote the February 23 clash at Wade Park with both happy to be taking part in the game.

Purtell is from Albury while Plum is a Wagga Wagga boy so they can relate to young fans, like those they came across yesterday during school visits and appearances around Orange.
Ricky Stuart to stay with the Sharks
Ricky Stuart to stay with the Sharks
STUART TO STAY

AUSTRALIAN coach Ricky Stuart is staying with the Cronulla Sharks, but he'll start the new NRL season without goalkicking whiz Luke Covell and without the advantage of playing home games.

The big winger yesterday underwent surgery to reattach his tricep and repair ligament damage and older bone chips.

Despite speculation Stuart could be poached at the end of the 2008 season, he will this weekend confirm that he plans to sign on for another two years and reject interest from other clubs.

"Ricky is really looking forward to next season, with a fit Brett Kimmorley and Brett Kearney rejoining representative stars Greg Bird and Paul Gallen and some exciting new talent at the club," a Sharks spokesman said.

"He's here for the long haul and building on what could have been last year, which turned out to be a bit frustrating with close losses and just missing the semis."

Nine matches lost by four points or fewer coinciding with injuries to most of their star players eventually saw the Sharks miss the finals race by one win.

But, Stuart said, he was heartened by the team's performances under duress and their winning form in the closing rounds, together with the improvement in Bird (state and Australian representative) and Gallen (state).

Covell, too, again proved that he is one of the Sharks' most consistent players and won selection for New Zealand, his father's country of birth, in the Trans-Tasman Test in October and for the subsequent tour of France and the UK.

However, during the opening exchanges of the Test against Australia, Covell dislocated an elbow and was forced from the field for the rest of the game and later deemed unfit to tour with the Kiwis.

He underwent surgery to his elbow yesterday afternoon, with Covell looking at about four months for the elbow to heal properly.

Early indications were that after the elbow joint popped back in, he could avoid surgery.

"I'd been back at training a few weeks and had a few minor knocks, but the healing process wasn't going as well as expected and a specialist recommended an MRI and then immediate surgery to properly reattach the tricep," he said.

With the Sharks playing their first five matches away because of the stand and development works at Toyota Park, Covell's injury is a blow to Stuart and the team.

The coach is now expected to decide between utility Brett Seymour, new buy Blake Green and Mitch Brown to replace Covell as the team goalkicker, with Bryson Goodwin and Greg Bird also capable.
Joel Romelo with the 2006 AIS/ARL squad (Photo: ourfooty media)
Joel Romelo with the 2006 AIS/ARL squad (Photo: ourfooty media) Joel is 2nd from the left on the bottom row
Joel Romelo says G'day Redcliffe SHS earlier this year (Photo: ourfooty media)
Joel Romelo says G'day Redcliffe SHS earlier this year (Photo: ourfooty media)
Joel Romelo running up the middle of Shark Park against the Roosters (Photo : ourfooty media)
Joel Romelo running up the middle of Shark Park against the Roosters (Photo : ourfooty media)
PANTHER ON THE PROWL
Story & Photo By : ourfooty media
Twelve months ago Joel Romelo was in England representing the AIS on the AIS/ARL tour of France & the UK, and he was a student at the highly rated Redcliffe State High School in Brisbane.

Come forward 12 months to Dec '07 and Joel was back in England smashing poms, this time as a member of the Penrith Panthers National Unders 20's squad.

Joel and the rest of the awesome Panthers were in England for 3 trial matches.

2007 was a mixed year for young Joel, having left his home in Brisbane, he moved south to the Sutherland Shire to play for the Cronulla Sharks.

After a bit of a shakey start to the season, Joel finally found his form towards the end of the Jersey Flegg season, only to injure his wrist and hand. No, it was a footy injury.

But no worries, Joel got his injury fixed as good as gold and moved out west to Panthers territory & everything is great.

Joel was good enough to allow ourfootyteam to interview him on his way home from training on Tuesday night. (This is the 2nd time we have interviewed Joel.)

 

HI JOEL, HOW ARE YOU GOING?
I'm good mate

WHY DID YOU TRANSFER TO THE PANTHERS FROM THE SHARKS?
Ah, they're a stronger side and Cronulla didn't have much to offer.

ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF AT THE PANTHERS?
Yes mate, i'm loving it

YOU BOYS HAVE JUST RETURNED FROM ENGLAND, WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?
We had 3 trial games, we played against Leeds, St. Helens and the England Students

THE BOYS DID WELL?
The boys did fantastic

DID YOU SCORE ANY TRIES?
yeah, i scored 2 tries, the first one was against St. Helens & the 2nd one was against their students

WILL YOU BE PLAYING IN THE NYC IN '08, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NYC?
Yes, i will be playing in the Toyota Comp, I reckon it will be a good comp and very tough.

LOOKS LIKE THE PANTHERS HAVE AN ALL STAR LINEUP, WHO DO YOU THINK ARE THE BEST PLAYERS?
Where do I start? we have Waddell, Ward, Graham. Isa, Mate - the side is just awesome, i'm just proud and honoured to be a part of it

WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO APART FROM FOOTY?
I work in a bank

LOL, OH YEAH, WHICH BANK
the Commonwealth Bank

YOU WENT TO REDCLIFFE HIGH LAST YEAR, DO YOU MISS SCHOOL?
Yes, i miss being there, the atmosphere, my mates, Reddy is a great school

WHAT SORT OF CAR DO YOU OWN?
Holden Astra

WHAT SORT OF CAR DO YOU WANT TO DRIVE?
WRX

WHAT IS YOUR INSPRIATION?
My family and friends

WHAT FOOTY TEAM DID YOU SUPPORT AS A KID?
Cowboys

AND NOW?
Cowboys & the Panthers U20's

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE DIFFERENCES OF RUGBY LEAGUE IN THE UK HERE IN AUSTRALIA?
Way faster in Australia, they are more physical and dirty over there.

GOOD ON YA JOEL, THANKS FOR THAT MATE
yeah no worries
Mitchl Picker
Mitchl Picker
MITCHL PICKER IS A GREEN MACHINE.

The Mustangs player and St Paul’s College student is currently training with the Canberra Raiders under 20s Squad.

The 18-year-old has told his family even though he has maintained his training since the end of the football season he was surprised at the intensity of the Raider’s training.

However he is enjoying the experience of training with a National Rugby League Club.

Mitchl, who plays centre began his rugby league career as an under 12s player with Kempsey Junior Rugby League Club (Dragons).

In more recent years he played with the Macleay Valley Mustangs in the Group 2 senior competition. This year he also played in the first grade competition.

A highlight of this season was playing in the Under 18s Group 2 grand final against the Macksville Sea Eagles.

He has been a Group 2 representative player as well as representing his school in the Combined Catholic Colleges’ Squad.

He was also a member of the under 18s team which won the 2007 NSW Country Championships.

Earlier this year Mitchl along with his St Paul’s College team mates made the top 32 in the Arrive Alive Rugby League Competition.

Mitchl will return home for Christmas and then its back to Canberra to begin a Science Degree at Australian Defence Force Academy.
DYKES ON A MISSION
Story By : HULL FC

New Hull FC signing Adam Dykes is looking forward to seeing plenty of England – but insists he is not in the country for a holiday.

Former Cronulla and Parramatta stand-off Dykes was unveiled by the club alongside fellow new recruits Shaun Berrigan, the ex-Brisbane Broncos star, and Todd Byrne from New Zealand Warriors.

Dykes, 30, has long fancied a move to Britain and after relocating with his family, hopes to make a big enough impact in engage Super League to stay beyond his initial two-year contract.

“Everyone’s been really helpful and the club have been unreal in terms of setting me up and making me and my family feel welcome,” said Dykes, who arrived in the UK last Friday.

“I’ve got three little boys and my wife’s over here; they’re really enjoying it so far. Hopefully we’ll get around see plenty of England.

“I’ve got a two-year contract but if all things go well – which I’m planning them to – there’s a chance for an extension.

“I am a pretty vocal player – that’s my job as a half-back. I’ve got to get out there and set an example straight away.”

Dykes sees plenty of potential at Hull, who under-achieved last season after reaching the 2006 Grand Final.

The club have a strong reputation for producing homegrown players and Dykes claims this is one of the aspects that appealed to him.

One of those local players is Great Britain international scrum-half Richard Horne, whom Dykes is looking forward to linking up with.

“They are a big club with a lot of English players and young local kids,” he said.

“The club I came from had a lot of local kids too and hopefully I can settle into that culture and help the local team to win.

“Richard is obviously a great ball-runner and a really good support player. I will let him do his stuff and my goal is to fit in and help the team be successful.”

Coach Peter Sharp has also emphasised the need for the club to hit the ground running next year.

Sharp accepts last season’s poor start set the wrong tone for a campaign in which they lost 11 regular season games and he is determined to put that right.

“It was well documented our poor start last year,” Sharp said. “We have come back a lot earlier and hopefully we can get a lot better start this year.”

On his new signings, he added: “These boys bring a lot of experience to the club and a lot of leadership.

“That’s something we needed to address and they’re pretty good players as well. They’ll improve the team no end.”
Israel Folau is the right age to play in the NRL's new Toyota Cup.
ELIGIBLE . . . talented Storm winger Israel Folau is the right age to play in the NRL's new Toyota Cup.
NEW YOUTH COMP CERTAIN TO BE A HIT WITH FANS - BUETTNER

THE NRL has hit back at critics of its fledgling under-20s competition, claiming more than 70 per cent of NRL stars cut their teeth in the top grade.

Reacting to comments from outspoken knockers Steve Roach and Mark Murray - who argue the imminent competition will damage the game - the NRL has lashed out.

The game's ruling body has dismissed Roach's assertions the under-20 cut-off will prove futile.

It said 72 per cent of 2007 NRL players made their first-grade debuts at 20 or under and 90 per cent at 22 or younger.

The game's administrators point to this fact as proof elite up-and-comers can make a successful transition straight from the Toyota Cup into the NRL.

"This is a common pathway for all players in the competition now, from which they can make their way into the NRL," Toyota Cup manager Michael Buettner said.

"We're not saying this is the only pathway. There's obviously the Queensland Cup and Premier League in NSW, but it's exciting from a Queensland point of view in that we've got the best young footballers in Queensland competing in a competition week-to-week.

"All the next exciting players in the game are going to come through this competition at some stage.

"Whether they go directly from here into the NRL or choose another pathway like the Queensland Cup, it provides a common pathway."

Buettner is confident fans will embrace the new concept, a first for professional sport in Australia.

"It's great value for fans," he said.

"They get the opportunity now to go to games and see the same teams competing in two games, which is a huge plus, and it's also bragging rights for them.

"They get to see the next Johnathan Thurston or Matt Bowen coming through this competition.

"From that perspective, it's a huge plus, and for the game in general to put on show our most exciting young players week in, week out.

"The beauty from this competition is a guy like Israel Folau is still eligible to compete. So for whatever reason, bad form or injury, he's still eligible and I'm sure fans would like to see that as well."

The NRL recently hosted a two-day induction camp on the Gold Coast for players from Brisbane, North Queensland, the Titans and the Warriors as its preparations continue to amp up for the inaugural Toyota Cup.

Last month Roach lashed out at the concept, declaring: "I hate it. No forward in the history of the game has ever made it at 20. You learn the craft from the older blokes."

Roach's viewpoint seems to be shared by Queensland clubs Brisbane and the Gold Coast, who will ensure their fringe players -- particularly forwards -- continue to serve their apprenticeships in the state league.

But the NRL responded by pointing out that leading props such as Willie Mason, Roy Asotasi, Steve Price, Nathan Cayless and Carl Webb all made their debuts at 20 or younger.

With Roach wanting the age barrier to be extended to under-23, the NRL is open to a review after 2008, with its rationale for the under-20 cut off next season to ensure the competition remains "elite".

Murray has been another long-term critic of the under-20 concept, labelling it a "disaster for the game" and warning it will handicap, not advantage, promising young players.

The format for the under-20s game was ratified at this week's NRL CEOs' conference in the Hunter Valley.

The games will kick off two hours before first grade and will be contested over 40-minute halves, with no golden-point provision.
Canberra Raiders Junior Development JUNIOR DEVELOPMENT CAMP A HUGE SUCCESS

The CFMEU Canberra Raiders have continued their series of successful junior development camps, with the latest camp held in Canberra last week.

The Camp which ran last week involved 18 players aged between 13 and 14, with the junior talent arriving from areas such as the South Coast, Riverina, the Central West and South Queensland.

This particular camp involved testing fitness and skill levels of the juniors both on field and in the gym, a series of class room lectures targeting nutrition and goal setting, a conditioning session at Lake Burley Griffin and a joint pool, training and recovery session with the Raiders Harold Matthew’s and SG Balls squads.. | LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CANBERRA JUNIORS |
AFP/RAIDERS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM 11-13 DECEMBER 2007

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Canberra Raiders have developed a formidable partnership in recent years, implementing programs to deliver positive community messages, mentor players within the club, and aid the professional and physical development of both police and athletes.

The AFP Management of Serious Crime Program (MOSC) and ACT Policing have worked closely with the Raiders to develop a professional development program based on the MOSC program outdoor exercise delivered by the AFP to national and international law enforcement agencies.

On Tuesday 11 December 2007, the AFP will deliver this unique program to Raiders players for the first time. The program will run for three days, culminating on Thursday 13 December in a formal presentation on Springbank Island in the centre of Lake Burley Griffin.. | LEARN MORE |

Jarrad Hayne - Loyal man ... Jarryd Hayne is keen to remain at Parramatta
Loyal man ... Jarryd Hayne is keen to remain at Parramatta
HAYNE PUTS LOYALTY BEFORE CASH

JARRYD Hayne is poised to ignore a $2million windfall to stay loyal to Parramatta, the club that gave him his start.

The teenage sensation has given the clearest indication yet that he will re-sign with the Eels.

Hayne is among the hottest talents on the market and is on the Rabbitohs' hit list courtesy of a five-year deal estimated at $400,000 a season.

But Hayne, whose Parramatta deal expires at the end of next year, said he won't be swayed by big numbers.

"Hopefully we can finalise something as soon as possible with Parramatta,'' Hayne said. ``I want to stay at Parra. It's where I was born and bred and where I've gained my start. I really don't see myself leaving.

"I see myself as just a kid still growing ... so there's no point chasing coin and the massive deals.

Right now, there's no reason to leave or go chasing money here or in England.

"I don't need the money. I'm happy where I am financially at now.''

However, the emerging superstar is at the centre of a major bidding war.

It's understood Hayne and his manager Wayne Beavis will meet with Eels officials this week.

But Russell Crowe's cashed-up Rabbitohs have made no secret of their desire to lure Hayne to the club where his father Manoa Thompson played.

The NSW and Australia outside back is seen as a potential marquee player at Redfern, but Thompson's allegiances to the Rabbits will have little influence on Hayne.

"That won't even come into it. I'm my own man. I've got to look after No1,'' Hayne said.

He is also in the sights of the Bulldogs and the Sharks.

"The only thing that would make me want to move was if I didn't find it a challenge at the club ... and I still find it a challenge here at Parra.

"With Nathan Hindmarsh and Nath Cayless, they're going to be legends for both Australia and New Zealand, so there's no worry from my end as far as talent and experience goes at the club.

"I've got a lot of good mates and a lot of friendships there. Where we're at now we can really give the NRL (premiership) a real shake.''

Hayne added that the prospect of switching to centre, following the departure to rugby union of Timana Tahu, offered further appeal, stating: "There's an opportunity to nail down that spot for a few years at Parramatta.''

The only downside to Hayne's likely decision to stick with the Eels would be the effect on close friend and team-mate Krisnan Inu.

Inu, also off contract at the end of next year, is still a major priority for the Eels but fitting them both under the salary cap could prove difficult.

After a breakout year, Inu, now a New Zealand international, is also in the sights of several clubs.

"I know it's tough for the club ... there's a few guys off contract, including Krisnan,'' Hayne said.

"It would be a good challenge (playing against him) ... especially if we came up against each other in the centres.''
French Juniors Rugby League
French Juniors Rugby League Vs Great Britian Community Lions Dec '07
French Juniors warm up before the game
French Juniors warm up before the game
YOUNG LIONS FIGHTBACK TO STUN FRENCH

France Juniors 26 v 26 Great Britain U18 Community Lions - Pamier, France

The Great Britain U18 Community Lions staged a late comeback to share the spoils in a pulsating contest in southern France.

In a contest that swung one way and then the other, full back Jonathan Leather crossed with barely seconds on the clock to level the scores and make it a happier trip home for the visitors.

The game was played in Pamier – a prominently rugby union area – to celebrate and showcase Rugby League for the new club which has been formed there, and the locals cannot have failed to be impressed with the skills on show from both sides.

The action set off at a tremendous pace with the play moving from end to end, however it was Great Britain who opened the scoring with a long range interception from Scott George who raced over from inside his own half to touchdown between the posts.

France Juniors 26 v 26 Great Britain U18 Community Lions
French FlagFRENCH
JUNIORS
1. Jonathan Leather (Widnes St Maries) 1- AMBERT Thomas
2. Adam Owens (Leigh Miners Rangers) 2- AMAT Geoffrey
3. Gary Williams (Valley Cougars) 3- PINEAU Anthony
4. James Ritchie (Orrell St James) 4- GRAU Jérémy
5. Jamie Knight (Waterhead) 5- BIENES Clément
6. Pat Toft (Waterhead) 6- BONNET Guillaume
7. Scott George (Kells) 7- BARTHAU William
8. Cayci Pearson (Elland) 8- HEROLD Maxime
9. Anthony Nicholson (Leigh Miners Rangers) 9- GIGORD Yohann (Capitaine)
10. Richard Barr (Keighley Cougars) 10- MENCARINI Romain
11. Joe Longford (Queensbury) 11- DJALOUT Nabil
12. Joe Maude (York) 12- BOUTOUBA Yacine
13. Andy Ainscough (Orrell St James) 13- COMTAT Vincent
   
14. Ben Hinsley (Elland) 14- GRAZIANI Jimmy
15. Paul Shaw West Hull 15- DE LA ROSE Gregory
16. Mark Wool (Valley Cougars) 16- TISSEYRE Yoan
17. Lloyd Curtis (West Hull) 17- GIGOT Tony
  18- GAUTIER Damien
  19- PALA Mathias
  STAFF
  Directeur : ANRIGO Michel
  Entraîneur : DESPIN David
  Assistant : DUPUY Laurent
  Manager : CANCIANI Pascal
  Docteur : GRENET Pierre
  Kiné : AZNAREZ Eric
  Préparateur Physique : CHAUTARD Florian

HALF TIME SCORE : 12-10

Scoring Seq: 0-6, 0-10, 6-10, 12-10, 18-10, 20-10, 20-16, 20-22, 26-22, 26-26

Soon after a kick from influential stand off Pat Toft was collected by Gary Williams to further increase the Lions advantage, before the hosts hit back with two converted scores of their own to leave Britain stunned.

As the first period drew to a close a further effort from the French meant the visitors were 16-10 at the break and the Lions entered the break on the back foot.

The second half started in exactly the wrong fashion for Britain as the hosts further increased their lead just a few minutes in courtesy of a try, conversion and penalty, however undeterred the Lions roared back just moments later with impressive prop Cayci Pearson crashing over to put the game back in the balance.

The Lions were now on top and despite forcing four successive sets near the home line they couldn’t manage to break through. As always this resulted in only one outcome, as the French increased their advantage on a rare excursion into the British half.

This then set up a grandstand finish, before the pressure finally told and Leather crossed to earn GB share of the spoils.

Coach Carl Briscoe was full of praise for his side. “We showed a lot of guts and determination out there and I was delighted with our overall performance.

We maybe got a few rough calls throughout the 80 minutes but I’m really pleased for the entire squad that we didn’t lose out.”

WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE GAME -
CLICK HERE TO OPEN IN WMP
(.wmv 350meg)

The GREAT BRITAIN Under 18 Squad

Charlie Herbert Bradford Dudley Hill
Adam Myers Castleford Lock Lane
Liam Booth Castleford Panthers
Dane Manning Dewsbury Celtic
Liam Walmsley Dewsbury Celtic
Clayton Sutton Distington
JP Brocklebank Egremont Rangers
Dean Gamble Featherstone Lions
Reece Fox Hensingham
Ashley McDonald Kells
Michael Ramsden Kells
Mark Smith Latchford
Ryan Smith Leigh East
Tom Dawson Leigh Miners Rangers
Jacob Kinney Leigh Miners Rangers
Andrew Sarsfield Leigh Miners Rangers
John Dawes Maryport
Daniel Rooney Maryport
Patrick Vaughn Maryport
Tom Bush Milford
Adam Fairhead Milford
Ben Fawcett Milford
Dave Watmough Milford
Brad Crellin Millom
Lee Fewless Myton Warriors
Scott Parsons Normanton
James Richies Orrell St James
Steve Fisher Rylands
Sean McCormack Siddal
Craig Render Skirlaugh
Johnny Young Skirlaugh
Liam McKay Stanley Rangers
Layton Sharpe Stanley Rangers
Jamie Knight Waterhead
Michael Maxwell Wath Brow Hornets
Liam Martin Wath Brow Hornets
Kaya Crawford West Hull
Lloyd Curtis West Hull
Royce Petty West Hull
Paul Shaw West Hull
Johnny Leather Widnes St Maries
Liam Gannon Wigan St Patricks
Danny Ljazouli York Acorn
BARLA GREAT BRITAIN UNDER 18’S MANAGER MARTIN SOWERBY NAMES TRAIN ON SQUAD

BARLA International Under 18’s Team Manager Martin Sowerby has selected a 43 man train on squad for the BARLA Great Britain Under 18 side who have been invited to attend the first training session at Shaw Cross sharks ARLFC on Saturday 22nd December.

The first training session is the preparation to a proposed tour of New Zealand in 2008. As well as the train on squad Martin as assembled the following management and coaching team.

Dave Whalley as his Assistant Team Manager, Kelvin Lockett will continue as Head Coach of the side and will be assisted by Ian Sampson. The Physio and Conditioner of the squad will be Rachel Feather.

Martin Sowerby said, “We have assembled a squad at the end of many weeks of scouting, and evaluating.

The players have been selected on merit, and their approach to playing and training, and attitude to the game.

We are looking to tour New Zealand in June 2008, and to meet that tough and physical challenge, the players, coaches and staff will have to be at their best.

“I believe that my team is dedicated to providing the best possible start to these players, most of which have no previous International experience, and I am confidant that these players will develop, and learn from many years of experience my Coaching team will provide.”
NO RISKS: Johnathan Thurston gives Cowboys teammates advice at a training session.
NO RISKS: Johnathan Thurston gives Cowboys teammates advice at a training session.
JOHNATHAN THURSTON DELAYS COMEBACK AFTER SURGERY

JOHNATHAN Thurston will miss the first month of the 2008 NRL season, with the Cowboys sensation pledging to take no risks in his return from two bouts of shoulder surgery.

Back in pre-season training, Thurston detailed the depths of his injury struggles, admitting he won last year's Dally M Medal despite a shoulder problem he carried for six months.

Such was the extent of damage, Thurston revealed doctors broke surgical tools attempting to fix his battered shoulders.

The 24-year-old is eyeing a comeback against St George Illawarra in Round 5, giving him just three weeks to impress Test selectors ahead of Australia's showdown against New Zealand on May 9.

But the man touted as Australia's long-term playmaking successor to Andrew Johns promised a no-rush approach in his bid to reclaim his Queensland and Kangaroos jumpers in a World Cup year.

"I want my shoulders to be 100 per cent right before I even consider coming back. I never want to go through anything like this again," said Thurston, who missed Australia's 58-0 thumping of New Zealand in October due to surgery, allowing Melbourne's Cooper Cronk to clinch the green and gold No.7 jumper.

"The Test jumper is so far away at the moment. I hold that jumper close to my heart and I'd love it back, but I can't afford to risk anything by coming back too early.

"The doctor says my recovery is five-and-a-half months, and Round 3 is the five-month mark. Next year is a really big year with the World Cup so hopefully I'll be playing well before the Origin series and that will give me every chance of being in the Test and Origin squads."

The North Queensland skipper admits he still can't believe he surged to Dally M glory given the weekly pain he was forced to endure.

Thurston first damaged his right shoulder in Round 4. By mid-season, just after Queensland's Origin I clash in May, both shoulders were shot.

By finals time, the Maroons maestro was struggling to lift his arm or pass the ball.

"My shoulders were in really bad shape. The surgeon said he had no idea how I finished the season. He said my shoulders were so bad they actually broke tools trying to fix them.

"Towards the finals it was torture. I couldn't put my arms above my shoulders, I couldn't lift weights and my shoulders would hurt for two or three days after a game. I was very surprised to win the Dally M Medal with the pain I went through."

Cowboys chief executive Peter Parr was amazed by Thurston's ability to dominate end-of-season matches under duress.

"There are a lot of words people use to describe Johnathan but the first one I think of is 'tough'," Parr said.

"He showed enormous courage to battle on. Not a lot of guys could have coped with the pain he was feeling."

Thurston said his shoulders felt "brand new" and has sought the advice of Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall, who has undergone six shoulder operations in five seasons.

"I was pretty nervous about it, it was my first major surgery so a lot of doubts were running through my mind.

"I've spoken to Benji about the operation and he told me I'd be crazy to rush it. Hopefully, I can play well for the Cowboys when I get back and put myself in contention for the (representative) stuff."
In focus: Greg Byrnes is shaping as one of the Northern Pride's forward leaders in the 2008 Queensland Cup.
In focus: Greg Byrnes is shaping as one of the Northern Pride's forward leaders in the 2008 Queensland Cup.
BYRNES ADDS MUSCLE TO PRIDE

FORMER North Queensland Young Guns forward Greg Byrnes will slip on his new colours this morning when he has his first training session with the Northern Pride.

The recruitment of Atherton product Byrnes gives the Pride with some "extra grunt up front," head coach Andrew Dunemann said yesterday.

"Greg was a key signing for us and adds a lot of strength and depth to our forward pack for next season which, as any coach knows, is vital to be successful at this level," Dunemann said.

"He had a good year with the Cowboys last season and his signing with the Pride allows him to keep in the eyes of the Cowboys for next year. We expect Greg to be one of our forward leaders next season."

Joining Byrnes at this morning’s weights session will be the Pride’s other new signings Chey Bird and Josh Vaughan.. | LEARN MORE |
Parramatta Eels star Nathan Hindmarsh with members of the sporting groups that will benefit from the various grants that were distributed at Apex Oval yesterday.
Parramatta Eels star Nathan Hindmarsh with members of the sporting groups that will benefit from the various grants that were distributed at Apex Oval yesterday.
‘HINDY’ HAPPY TO HELP - PARRAMATTA STAR HANDS OUT GRANTS

Parramatta Eels star Nathan Hindmarsh hopes to become more involved in grassroots rugby league programs such as the 2007 Telstra Assistance Fund that he was in Dubbo to promote yesterday.

The 28-year-old presented eight sporting clubs and organisations with funding from the NRL’s major sponsor Telstra to assist with purchasing equipment.

Hailing from Robertson in the Southern Highlands, Hindmarsh recognised the need for high-profile professional athletes to make an effort to get out to country areas.

“This is a great program that Telstra has got going to supply assistance to sporting clubs in rural areas,” Hindmarsh said yesterday.

“Today we handed out tackling pads, first aid kits, drink bottles and some educational tools to rugby league, soccer and AFL clubs.

“I never had the opportunity to meet any of my stars when I was growing up but things have changed now. Professional athletes are noticing the responsibility they have in country and rural areas.

“I was just thinking on the plane over I wouldn’t mind trying to organise something with myself, Andrew Ryan and a few other country blokes to try to do more than we currently do. There are a lot of talented kids in the country who don’t get noticed.”

Players and officials from the Dubbo Demons AFL, Dubbo Bulls FC, SASS Strikers, Westside Panthers and Newtown Soccer Clubs, PCYC and Eastridge Junior Rugby League Clubs and Dubbo Junior Rugby League were on hand to receive the benefits from Hindmarsh.

The Telstra Assistance Fund has allocated $1.5 million among 1391 clubs across Australia to purchase new equipment and materials.

Hindmarsh and the Eels’ preparations for 2008 began with the first training session on Tuesday including some of his teammates receiving one-on-one tuition from Andrew Johns.

“There was a lot of media for nothing seeing as Johns has retired,” Hindmarsh said.

“But I do think he’ll do a great job especially for people like Tim Smith, Brett Finch and up and comer Matty Keating.

“It’s too early to say we’ll win the grand final but we haven’t lost too many players so we should do fairly well.

“I’d like to play State of Origin again but the fact that we lost the series this season didn’t really help. If I don’t, I’ll put my faith towards winning the grand final and hope to make the World Cup squad at the end of the year.”

Hindmarsh was the NRL’s second leading tackler in 2007 behind Warriors second rower Michael Luck and won his sixth Ken Thornett Medal as the Eels’ players’ player.

The loyal Eels man has played 212 matches for the club - the sixth most of all time - and is contracted until the end of 2008.
Josh Miller, Glen Buttriss and Michael Weyman.
PICTURED: Members of the Dream the Pathways program alongside Raiders players Josh Miller, Glen Buttriss and Michael Weyman.
RAIDERS HELP DREAM PATHWAYS FOR YOUTH

The CFMEU Canberra Raiders welcomed a group of young men from Western NSW to Raiders HQ on Wednesday morning, as part of a special program which targets opportunities for young members of rural communities to explore options for their futures.

The ‘Dream the pathways’ program is run by Centracare’s Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese, which this week brought children from the rural communities of Condobilin and Lake Cargelligo, to the nation’s capital to see explore options for the children’s future.

Michael Brown from Centacare is a youth worker who has helped implement the program, and said the trip to Canberra had been a huge success.

“Through our dream the pathways youth program we take these kids out of their home community, and show them different opportunities in bigger areas that they can strive to go to,” Brown said.

“The trip to the Raiders has been a big part of our visit, which has also included the AIS, the Centrelink careers centre and the Canberra institute of Technology, so it gives them an idea of what’s outside their home town.”

The boys participating in the program where given a tour of the Raiders facility, as well as a rare insight into Raiders training sessions, such as wrestling and weights programs.

As an added bonus Raiders Coach Neil Henry spoke to the youth’s about setting and achieving goals, and what it takes to make it at the top level.

Mr Brown said the experience had been a huge learning curve for the young men, and showed them how much commitment is needed to succeed not only in the NRL, but also in the community.

“For the Raiders to show these boys things such as setting and achieving goals it proves they don’t just turn up here on a Saturday morning to play footy there’s a lot more involved,” he said.

“The commitment that’s needed to succeed as a professional sportsman is what these guys need to see.”

Mr Brown said the success of this week would hopefully open up doors for some other Centacare initiatives to take place, from even more remote community environments.

“We’re based at Forbes and work with these guys at Lake Cargelligo and Condobilin, but if this all goes well we’d like to incorporate in the future where we can bring kids here from our other centres of Bourke and Narromine as well.”
Marko Milinkovic congratulates Raiders skipper Alan Tongue
PICTURED: Raiders supporter Marko Milinkovic congratulates Raiders skipper Alan Tongue (and Becky Tongue) on winning his second Raiders fans choice player of the year award last week.
RAIDER’S FANS NAME TONGUE AS THEIR 2007 CHAMPION


Canberra Raiders Fans have chosen inspirational skipper Alan Tongue as their best and fairest player for 2007, presenting him with his second Canberra Raiders fans choice player of the year award last week.

It’s the second year in a row Tongue claimed the honour of the fans best, after taking out the award in 2006.

The award is determined through an online voting system through www.thegh.com.au, where fans submit their 3-2-1 votes each week based on the Raiders performances.

These votes are then tallied by site administrators, with the top vote getter each week receiving three points for the award, while the second and third vote getters get two and one points respectively.. | LEARN MORE |

UNDER 14 REDBACKS 30 - 0 OVER SHARKS

Masses of Rugby supporters gathered for the final matches of the Twilight Rugby competition, last Friday night and were entertained by some very committed and spirited matches.

Brumbies players Anthony & Saia Faingaa, who made a special guest appearance for the night's games, were amazed at the skill and tenacity of some of the players in the various games that they watched.

During the after match presentations to the winning teams, Brumbies centre, Anthony Faingaa said "we saw some tremendous football talent on show tonight in both boys and girls teams. Some of the running and tackling was really awesome. We had no idea that this standard of football was being played on the South Coast".

Once again, Braidwood u14's scored an emphatic 30 to nil win over the Sharks to maintain their undefeated record for the competition.

The Sharks u10's made it two winners trophies for the Bermi/Cobargo based club with their 45 to 10 win over the Dolphins.

In the u12's the equal competition leaders Dolphins and the Bay/Swamp Rats match-up produced a 25 to 0 win for the Dolphins on the night.

In the u16's match the Bega Bulls convincingly defeated Narooma Whales by 45 points to 5 in a fast and entertaining match.

Earlier, the girls u15's Southern zone team reversed the result over the Northern zone girls.

In the non-contact Walla-rugby match between Batemans Bay and the Dolphins, both teams continued to improve once again and all of the players were presented with a medal for their participation by the Brumbies players after the game.

The final night's Rugby saw 32 teams play 16 matches in front of a record crowd for junior rugby on the South Coast. FSC Junior President, Ken Hall thanked the players, referees, the parents, club supporter's and his FSC Junior zone committee for their participation and support for another highly successful Twilight Rugby competition in 2007.
Gerard Beale makes a break
Gerard Beale makes a break (PHOTO GALLERY) Photo : RLPhotos & ourfooty media
SMITH HAPPY WITH UNDER-17S DISPLAY

England Head Coach Tony Smith was delighted with the Under-17 Academy’s performance in their 38-22 victory over the Australian Institute of Sport at Wakefield’s Belle Vue.

The hosts shrugged off the disappointment of the previous week's two-point defeat at the hands of the same opposition to square the series with a performance of real quality and determination.

"I'm very pleased," said Smith who watched both matches.

"We made improvements as the series went on, and I thought that our boys were very comprehensive out there tonight.

They showed a lot of determination on their own try-line, and that proved to be a big part of their success, and I thought they played some good Rugby League in both games.

"The improvement was certainly in the defensive area tonight, and I thought they played strong.

"A couple of boys got hat-tricks and I was pleased for them, and I thought there were a whole lot of contributions across the whole team. | LEARN MORE |
Sam Burgess voted best teenage Rugby League Player in the world
Sam Burgess voted best teenage Rugby League Player in the world
BRADFORD BULLS TEENAGER VOTED 'BEST IN WORLD'
SAM BURGESS GIVEN JUNIOR AWARD

Bradford Bulls are delighted that Sam Burgess has been voted the world’s best teenager by Rugby League World Magazine in a list of fifty outstanding juniors in world rugby league.

Rugby League World Magazine writers from across the globe looked at all the game’s outstanding junior talent before naming Burgess as the winner.

Burgess, who made his Great Britain debut in the recent Gillette Fusion Test series against New Zealand, is still just 18 years of age and topped the poll of players, who had to be 19 years old or under as of November 30 2007.

Burgess took the award ahead of Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne, who was second and Melbourne Storm’s exciting winger Israel Falou, who was third.

Burgess is naturally delighted to have been given the award and said: “It’s a great honour for me and a totally unexpected one.

The calibre of people on the list is very high and I can’t believe that I have been chosen.

“I know I will have to work very hard next year to justify people’s faith in me and I intend to do just that and not let anyone down.”

Bulls chairman Peter Hood added: “It’s a tremendous achievement by Sam to take this award.

Sam has had a great year both for the club and for Great Britain and to take this honour whilst still only 18 years of age makes it all the more remarkable.”
Greg Bird at the Wooloware Golf Club for this years Ricky Stuart Golf Day (Photo : ourfooty media)
Greg Bird at the Wooloware Golf Club for this years Ricky Stuart Golf Day (Photo : ourfooty media)
SHARKS NOT ABOUT TO LET INTERNATIONAL BIRD FLY

KANGAROOS five-eighth Greg Bird is on the verge of signing a seven-figure deal that will keep him at the Sharks for the rest of his career.

Bird is one of several key players the club is in the process of re-signing before it shifts its focus to luring internationals Jarryd Hayne, Krisnan Inu and Israel Folau.

Bird is already contracted for another two seasons but is negotiating to extend his stay until 2012 - a massive five-year deal that will make him a millionaire.

"I like the area and haven't made any plans to go elsewhere," Bird told The Sun-Herald. "I'm not staying just because I love the town and I love the team, I want to win a comp and I really think we've got the potential to do it.

"It would be awesome. I reckon they'd knock the bridge down if it happened, that's really my main goal.

"After the representative season I had I was looking to secure a couple [more] years and I was pretty happy with the team.

"I really think there's some young blokes coming through, and if we can keep the squad we've got now for a few years, under the experience of Ricky Stuart's coaching, we're definitely a top-four team."

Sharks boss Tony Zappia confirmed talks were well under way, with an official announcement expected before Christmas.

"He's a player the club wants to keep long term," Zappia said. "We've met and hopefully we can come to some sort of agreement.

"He's been at the Sharks now for six or seven years and has earned Australian and Origin honours."

The Sharks are also in negotiations to stitch up their most promising prospects.

Prop Luke Douglas, on the fringe of higher honours after gaining selection in the Prime Minster's XIII match against PNG, is in negotiations to extend his contract beyond next season. Officials have opened talks with centre Ben Pomeroy and forward Jacob Selmes.

NSW lock Paul Gallen recently signed on until 2011.

Zappia, a former Eels footballer manager, said retention was his top priority but the focus would then shift to luring Hayne and Inu from Parramatta. Storm sensation Folau is another star on his hit-list.

"They're good players, obviously, but it becomes a matter of whether you can or can't do it," Zappia said.

"We'll have to see what's available in the cap once we've retained the blokes we want to retain."
James Munns gets ready for the National Under 20's Comp
FRO THE BALL . . . Cowboys under-20 player James Munns training with the side at Dairy Farmers Stadium
THERE'S LIFE OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE
Story & Photo BY : ANTONY STEWART Townsville Bulletin

THE 2008 season will be return to a bygone era for the North Queensland Cowboys' under-20 team.

Just as players did before rugby league became professional, the Cowboys' up-and-comers will juggle fulltime work with a rigorous training regime and playing in the newly established Toyota Cup.

Whether they take on a job, an apprenticeship or further their education at TAFE or university is up to the individual, but they must choose at least one to be eligible to play.

It is a system put in place by the NRL to ensure players are ready for a life when their football career ends.

The Cowboys fully support the initiative, which caters for players aged between 16 and 20.

"I think it is essential that these young people are developing other skills that allow them employment and success in other aspects of their life around rugby league," said North Queensland under-20s coach Grant Bell.

"It's terrific that they are involved in something else meaningful and setting themselves up for a life after football.

"One of the expectations from the NRL through to the clubs is that all the guys must be in some form of career-based endeavour because for a lot of the guys in the 20s squad they can't all be players that will go through and get to first-grade."

Cowboys first-grade coach Graham Murray, who played for Parramatta and South Sydney between 1976 and 1983, remembered combining his football and work commitments as a hectic, but rewarding time.

At one stage the long-time first-grade mentor played for the Eels, coached an under-16 team and worked as a fulltime teacher.

It meant Murray was on the go seven days a week.

"When you look back on it you probably think `how did you manage it?' but you did because one was a job and that's where most of your money came from, from your job, not from playing football," he said.

"If it meant enough to you, you did it and you found time to do things . . . you just put your head down and do it.

"That's how it was a long time ago and I think we are too quick to put them (players) into full-time (rugby league) employment, because they don't all make it, so I think it's a great initiative.

"What it does is give them an idea of what happens out there when they do have to work and juggle their sporting lives."

But just because the 35-strong squad spend their days working does not mean they will be given any breaks on the training paddock.

The under-20 team has been hard at it for the past three weeks and fit in nine training sessions before and after work from Monday to Friday.

"The expectations of the training on these guys is certainly of a high level and they are expected to train basically every day and they get their weekends off," Bell said.

"The training is still quite intense and expectations are still quite high.

"But, in saying that, there certainly is a priority for the guys around work."

The Cowboys will continue training until December 22 before taking a Christmas break and returning to pre-season preparations on January 7.

Greg Waddell runs 60 mts to give the Panthers the lead YOUNG PANTHERS COMPLETE CLEAN SWEEP

The Panthers U19s completed a clean sweep of their UK tour overnight, beating a British Students side 44-4.

Zoram Watene scored five tries and Michael Mate landed six out of eight conversions.

The team will spend a couple of days in London before returning home.

"It's been a very successful tour," said Assistant Coach Matt Adamson, "and has provided some good experience for the boys."

Penrith Panthers 44 (tries: Zoram Watene 5, Sonny Tuigamala, Chris Ward, Joel Romelo; goals: Michael Mate 6/8) British Students 4.

Earlier wins were over St Helens and Leeds.
Raiders support 'movember'
Pictured L-R: Paul Beath (City), Deputy Police Chief Officer Shane Connelly Shane Connelly, Adrian Purtell (Raiders), Constables Nick Medway and Nathan Babbs (Belconnen)
RAIDERS AND AFP UNITE FOR MOVEMBER

The CFMEU Canberra Raiders and the City and Belconnen AFP branches have joined forces this month, to help with the popular Movember campaign.

Over the course of Movember, members of the Belconnen and City AFP outfits challenged each other to grow the best mo, with Matt Carpenter from the Belconnen team declared the official winner.

The Raiders Senior Leadership Group were the official sponsors of the challenge and donated $500 to the winning team, which will now be donated to the Movember cause.

As part of the month Raiders flyer Adrian Purtell took the chance to represent the Raiders along with teammate Terry Campese, as a means to further raise awareness for the cause.

Purtell said Movember was an excellent way to raise awareness and money for a great cause, and was happy to have his top lip hairy for 30 days.

“It’s been fun and at the same time we’ve helped raise some money which will help fight the Movember causes of male depression and prostate cancer,” Purtell said. “Both Terry and I have enjoyed growing our mo’s and its something we’ll probably be involved with again next year.”

AFP Deputy Police Chief Officer Shane Connelly said he was proud of the efforts made by both squads during Movember, and thanked the Raiders for their continued support.

“I think its really important, we’ve got a lot of men in the Police force obviously and Men’s health is often forgotten, and men can be reluctant to do something about their health, so if we can promote men’s health through this worthwhile cause and men’s illness than it’s a great thing,” Deputy Police Chief Connelly said.

“We’ve got a great relationship with the Raiders and they’re obviously involved with health and sport, and if they can encourage kids to get involved in sport than that’s a terrific thing because sport keeps kids out of trouble.”.
Former Red Bend student and Canberra Raiders player, Joel Thompson.
Former Red Bend student and Canberra Raiders player, Joel Thompson.
Joel Thompson playing for the Australian Schoolboys against BARLA '06 (Photo : ourfooty media)
Joel Thompson playing for the Australian Schoolboys against BARLA '06 (Photo : ourfooty media)
THOMPSON ON LIFE IN LEAGUE

Red Bend College product Joel Thompson was in Cowra as part of the Raiders’ pre-season trip earlier this week.

The 19-year-old Junior Kangaroo – after recently linking with the Raiders from Melbourne – took time out of his hectic schedule to speak about country rugby league, pre-season training and future expectations.

Cowra Guardian: How important is it to come out to country areas like these?

Joel Thompson: It is pretty important for rugby league. The country rugby league doesn’t get much chance to see the NRL teams so it’s good to get out here to the grass roots.

CG: Is it something the boys enjoy coming out to the country areas like this?

JT: Yes, it is something different. A few of the boys like me, Joshy Miller and Nick Colley are from that Western Division area so it’s good to come back out this way.

CG: How many boys do you think you have got in the whole squad that are from country areas?

JT: It would be about half, pretty high.

CG: How has pre-season training been going so far?

JT: It’s been going good, pretty tough. The last couple of weeks they’ve been drilling it into us but it’s not too bad.

CG: The conditions in Cowra?

JT: Pretty hot.

CG: What about the expectations for the club next year and personally what are you trying to achieve next year?

JT: Hopefully get a few games in if there is an opportunity, but if not just stay in the 20s and play good in the 20s.
Josh Miller training with Nynganís Nick Colley at Cowra.
Former Forbes local Josh Miller training with Nyngan’s Nick Colley at Cowra.
JUNIOR’S CHANCE

Canberra Raiders rugby league coach Neil Henry is banking on the support of a couple of Junior Kangaroos to pilot his 2008 squad towards another finals appearance.

Laced with the talented duo of Joel Thompson and Michael Brophy – both junior Kangaroos who recently completed a whirlwind three-game tour to Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand – the Raiders are hoping to forge their way into the list of 2008 contenders.

The pair joined the likes of established first grade stars Israel Folau (Melbourne), Michael Jennings (Penrith) and Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers) in the Junior Kangaroos squad.

Thompson and Brophy are yet to taste NRL action but Henry is hoping the talented duo crack the top grade squad and make an immediate impact next campaign.

He labelled exciting fullback William Zillman and 2007 rookie Joe Picker as other players he is expecting to blossom.

“Will Zillman needs to build on his year from last year,” he said.

“Joel Thompson was another junior Kangaroo last year who we’re hoping to see big things from.

“Michael Brophy will step up and Joe Picker, who played nine first grade games last year, showed that he has got some potential as well.”

Thompson, originally from Forbes’ Red Bend College, made the switch from premiers Melbourne Storm to the Raiders only months ago in search of a first grade spot. Canberra’s proximity to his home town also enables him to make regular visits back to Forbes.

Henry claimed a fair percentage of his squad were like Thompson in coming from regional areas.

“We’ve got a few Tamworth boys, some from Forbes as well. There is some from Canberra and other regions like Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Moruya so it’s close to 40 per cent.”

The Canberra mentor, who was at the helm for his first season after acting as an assistant to Graham Murray at the North Queensland Cowboys for a number of years, said it’s important high-profile teams continue to promote the game in the country areas.

“We try and travel and train in two different places every year.

“It’s important to come to places like Cowra. It’s traditionally a rugby league town with some good footballing talent.

“Peter Garlick, president of the seniors, approached us and we sat down for a meeting with the committee and thought it would be a great idea.”

The Raiders wrapped up their two-day trip this week after visiting a number of schools in Cowra and Canowindra. They also conducted two sessions at Sid Kallas Oval in steamy conditions.
Israel Falou at the Sports AwardsYOUNG PERFORMER: ISRAEL FOLAU
ani - oft
AT THE beginning of the NRL season Israel Folau was on a contract worth just $35,000, but after a stunning debut year the teenage sensation's next deal is set to be worth about 10 times that amount.

Not even listed among the Storm players profiled in the main section of the NRL's 2007 media guide, Folau played every game for Melbourne and starred in the club's 34-8 grand final defeat of Manly.

The youngest player to represent Australia when he made his Test debut against New Zealand in Wellington on October 14 aged 18 years and 194 days, Folau was named Young Performer of the Year at last night's inaugural Herald Sports Performer Awards at the SCG.

He received the award from two-time world boxing champion and former NRL star Anthony Mundine, after edging out Australian Open junior tennis winner Brydan Klein, swimmer Emily Seebohm and cyclist Josephine Tomic.

Initially setting himself the goal of playing just one NRL match for the Storm this year, Folau surpassed his and the club's wildest expectations after starring on debut when called in for injured winger Steve Turner in the season-opening match against Wests Tigers.

Folau's match-winning try was to be his first in a club-record 21 for the season, and his potency in attack eventually prompted Storm coach Craig Bellamy to shift him to the centres.

"My goal at the start of the year was to play one game but I did a lot more than that, so I'm pretty stoked," he said upon being presented with his award last night. "I want to take the same attitude into next year and I'm not going to take anything for granted."

After his remarkable season, Folau's signature is currently the most sought after in the NRL as clubs vie for his services in 2009. Folau's manager Isaac Moses said at last night's awards that he planned to fly to Melbourne soon to open negotiations.

OFF-CONTRACT FEEDING FRENZY
Daily Telegraph
THE cashed-up Bulldogs are poised to embark on one of the biggest recruitment drives in the club's history with teenage superstar Israel Folau their No.1 target.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal $13.5 million worth of playing talent is coming off-contract at the end of 2008.

And the Bulldogs yesterday declared game on when they revealed they were in the market for a number of "high quality'' players including Folau and Parramatta star Krisnan Inu.

"We are going to be in there boxing with everyone else,'' said Bulldogs recruitment manager Keith Onslow. "Our plan is to be quite active in the market and we are in the hunt for players. I am working through it as we speak. The players you have mentioned are on our list.''

The shock departures of Brent Sherwin and Willie Mason has left the club about $700,000 under the salary cap for season 2008.

But instead of spending the money this season, Onslow yesterday revealed the club will front-load contracts in 2008 in a move which could give the Bulldogs a $1 million war-chest for the following year.

"We are working through it with a few at the moment,'' Onslow said. "The plan is to top-load their contracts. Over the two years they will still be getting the same money but they have to look at their own cash flow situation and make sure they aren't left short in the second year.''

Onslow confirmed the Bulldogs had begun recruitment for 2009. "There are no rules so we have already started,'' Onslow said.

"The players are on the market 24/7 so we have already begun. We are looking at outside backs, inside backs and front-rowers. There is plenty out there and we are working through it at the moment."

The Daily Telegraph understands the Bulldogs have already approached Folau's management about a switch to Belmore. However the giant teenager said he would not make a decision about his future until next year.

"I'm not worrying too much about that,'' said Folau. "I've got one year for Melbourne and I'm going to play that out and hopefully worry about that at the end of the season. All I'm thinking about is training hard, doing my full pre-season with Storm and hopefully I can get another good year.''

Asked if he thought the contract talks could prove a distraction, Folau said: "No, not at all. I've got a lot of good help around me with the coaching staff at Melbourne and also the players and my family. It's not a hassle at all.''

But the 18-year-old destroyer is just one of the many genuine stars of the game who will have the opportunity of testing the 2009 market.

There's Brett Stewart, Jarryd Hayne, Matt Cooper, Kurt Gidley and Benji Marshall. Joining them are NSW and QLD rakes - Danny Buderus and Cameron Smith as well as a wealth of valuable clubmen such as Steve Price, Ruben Wiki, Aaron Payne and Tonie Carroll.

The Gold Coast Titans alone have 17 of their top 25 players off-contract beyond next year.
Leading player managers last night predicted rugby league's biggest game of chess would truly move into gear after Christmas.

High-profile agent George Mimis said clubs were still finalising their cap for 2008 and moving players into the revamped under-20 competition. Currently locked in negotiations with Manly on behalf of Stewart, Mimis sought-after stars would present a challenge to poachers.

"It's quite rare to shop around a marquee player in the first instance, unless they are unhappy where they are,'' Mimis said. "The club's generally have a good idea of their market value.''

But should the likes of Folau and Inu delay their decisions, Mimis predicted ramifications for the entire market. Folau said he does not want to enter negotiations until after the grand final, and therefore looms as the $400,000 missing piece to this year's transfer puzzle.

"We saw the situation last year where guys like Civoniceva, Berrigan, Hodges, Ryles and Hornby weren't put to bed until late May,'' he said. "The market was stalled until they decided what to do. There are some players this year - like Folau - with the same potential.''

The electrifying Matt Bowen was on the list until last week - when the Cowboys roped him in until after 2012. North Queensland CEO Peter Parr said the club was keen to secure Bowen more than 12 months out, safe in the knowledge his form was slump-proof.

"With some of the other guys, we want to see that they are playing reasonable football before we commit ourselves,'' Parr said.
PLAYERS coming off contract next year:
* Option in player's favour: ** Option in Club's favour
Canterbury BulldogsBULLDOGS : Luke Patten*, Andrew Ryan, Kane Cleal, Corey Hughes, Cameron Phelps, Willie Tonga Brisbane BroncosBRONCOS : Tonie Carroll, Corey Parker, Dave Taylor Canberra RaidersRAIDERS : Todd Carney, Neville Costigan*, Mick Weyman, Adrian Purtell, Terry Campese
North Queensland CowboysCOWBOYS : Ben Farrar**, Carl Webb, Mark Henry, Jacob Lillyman, Aaron Payne, Steve Southern, Sione Faumauina Parramatta EelsEELS : Brett Finch, Jarryd Hayne*, Krisnan Inu, Ben Smith Newcastle KnightsKNIGHTS : Danny Buderus*, Adam MacDougall
Penrith PanthersPANTHERS : Luke Lewis, Luke Rooney, Joe Williams, Luke Priddis, Trent Waterhous Cronulla SharksSHARKS : Luke Covell, Luke Douglas, Isaac De Gois http://www.titans.com.au/TITANS : Matt Petersen, Brad Meyers, Chris Walker
South Sydney RabbitohsRABBITOHS : John Sutton*, Nathan Merrit, Jeremy Smith, Nigel Vagana* St. George Illawarra Dragons DRAGONS : Matt Cooper, Josh Morris, Jamie Soward, Rangi Chase, Jason Nightingale Sydney City Roosters ROOSTERS : Amos Roberts, Craig Fitzgibbon, Danny Nutley, Sam Perrett, Shane Shackleton, Dave Shillington, Anthony Tupou
Manly Sea EaglesSEA EAGLES : Brett Stewart, Steve Bell, Steve Menzies* Melbourne StormSTORM : Israel Folau, Cameron Smith, Matt Geyer, Jeremy Smith, Dallas Johnson New Zealand WarriorsWARRIORS : Steve Price, Ruben Wiki, Michael Crockett, Wrangi Tupou
  Wests TigersTIGERS : Benji Marshall, Brett Hodgson, Keigh Galloway*, Ryan O'Hara, Taniela Tuiaki  
Penrith Panthers vs Leeds Rhinos
Penrith Panthers vs Leeds Rhinos
Jamie Theoharour holding the Academy Challenge Trophy
Jamie Theoharour holding the Academy Challenge Trophy
Greg Waddell runs 60 mts to give the Panthers the lead
Greg Waddell runs 60 mts to give the Panthers the lead
Michael Mate kicks to get the game underway again
Michael Mate kicks to get the game underway again
Panthers celebrate Waddell's great try
Panthers celebrate Waddell's great try
PANTHERS TAKE LEED AGAINST RHINOS
Story By : Leeds Rhinos
Photo's By : ourfooty media& RLPhotos.com

The Panthers U19 tourists defeated their Leeds counterparts 10-6 overnight in a hard fought game.

Penrith lead 4-0 at halftime but surrendered the lead to Leeds. A brilliant individual effort by Greg Waddell - who ran nearly 60 metres to score - put them back into the lead.

According to assistant coach Matt Adamson, it was "a very good game with some excellent defence - the crowd of nearly 2,500 people got their money's worth."

The following report is from Leeds PR manager Phil Daly:

Leeds Rhinos U19s just missed out on being named the Carnegie Academy World Club Champions when they were defeated by Australian side Penrith Panthers in a closely fought contest at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.

The Rhinos team, who were made up of players from the club’s two Academy sides, put in a brave performance in what proved to be a tough and even match.

Penrith put the early pressure on the Rhinos with only some last ditch tackling preventing Bradley Goodwin from grounding the ball in the sixth minute for the Australians.

The visitors were not to be denied a minute later however when Luke Clydesdale offloaded to Michael Mate who powered his way over to put the Penrith youngsters ahead. Mate missed the conversion of his own try however bringing the score to 4-0 to the visitors.

Leeds’ best chance came in the 13th minute when Ryan Hall looked like he had broken free down the right, but as the Penrith players zoned in he was forced to make an offload that was unable to find the hands of any of his supporting team mates.

The Penrith players continued to ask questions of their Leeds counterparts, but the home side’s defence was outstanding and they were able to prevent them from extending their lead further when they went close in the 18th minute.

Both teams gave their all and it was some big hits throughout that ultimately kept either team from scoring again in the half. Towards the end of the first half Leeds really began to dominate the game but they just could not force their way over and the low score was testament to how close a contest this was.

And it was not just the score that showed there was little between these two sides - with both teams wearing predominantly white shirts in the first half it was difficult to differentiate between the sides, meaning the Rhinos were forced to change into their new blue and amber kit in the second half.

The new look Rhinos showed great determination as they begun the second half and it was not long before their efforts eventually led to points on the scoreboard, with Kyle Briggs collecting a short pass before evading a number of Penrith players who were standing in his way to find space and go over on the 47th minute.

Briggs converted the try himself to give the Rhinos the lead for the first time in the game at 6-4.

In the 63rd minute it looked like the Panthers were about to score their second try when good play found Sonny Tuigamala on the wing who looked to have plenty of space to run in, but once again excellent defence stopped him short of the line.

Three minutes later though there was a moment of inspiration for the Panthers when their winger Greg Waddell, who has represented New South Wales at U17 level, was able to break away from half way and, showing fantastic pace, he sprinted his way to the tryline to go over untackled next to the posts.

This time Mate successfully added the conversion to put the Panthers 10-6 ahead.

The Rhinos did not let their heads drop however and continued to search for that winning score.

With two minutes remaining it looked like they were going to snatch a try when Ryan Hall caught a high kick.

The winger then powered his way down the right hand side but he was unable to make it all the way on his own and his subsequent offload was picked up by a Penrith player.

This proved costly for Leeds who were unable to get their fairytale ending in front of the 2,221 home crowd, with the final score ending 10-6 to Penrith Panthers ...

Penrith Panthers 10 (tries: Michael Mate, Greg Waddell; goals: Mate 1/2) Leeds Rhinos
RugbyLeaguePhotos.com Thanks again to Dave Williams from ourfooty meates at RLPhotos.com
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