JUNIOR RUGBY LEAGUE NEWS
RAIDERS UP AND RUNNING
|Joel Thompson & Daniel Vidot get ready to tackle (Photo : ourfooty media)
THE NRL trials kicked off last night with two referees and Canberra overcoming an early deficit to defeat the Cronulla Sharks at Seiffert Oval.
The first test of the two-referee system went well in a match which featured predominantly Toyota Cup players. Both Jarrad Maxwell and Gavin Badger combined well in monitoring the play the ball and 10m rule.
"It's early days, but the pleasing thing from the trial was the two referees weren't noticed,'' Canberra coach David Furner said. "The speed of the game was good and ruck was cleared pretty quickly, which is what we all want.''
The only lowlight for the Raiders was prop forward Cy Lasscock who was stretched off in the first quarter after suffering a dislocated knee. Lasscock left the ground on crutches and will have scans on Tuesday.
The Sharks started well and led 8-0 at the first break thanks to tries to prop John Mannah and hooker Tony Caine.
However, the Raiders hit back with five unanswered tries in the second of three 25-minute periods.
Halfback Josh McCrone crossed twice, along with prop forward Nick Skinner and centres Brad Cross and James Stuart.
The Raiders also finished the stronger in the final quarter and Furner said he was pleased with his side's first-up performance.
"I thought after a scrappy first quarter we started to play some good football and I was especially pleased with how we finished the game,'' Furner said.
The Sharks' best was hooker Tony Caine who played strongly on his return to rugby league following a knee injury.
CANBERRA 32 (J McCrone 2, J Stuart 2, A Edwards, Brad Cross, D Vidot, N Skinner tries) CRONULLA 12 (J Mannah, T Caine, P Latu tries).
SHARKS SINK TEETH INTO RAIDERS
MATCH REPORTS SOON
Cronulla Sharks won both their Matthew's & SG Ball Cup trials in the Nations Capital on a hot Saturday afternoon.
The Sharks gathered at Sharks (Toyota) Park for the long bus trip to Canberra for their unofficial trial games against the Raiders. - MoRe SooN & HeaPS oF PHoTo'S
It's looking pretty good at both camps Saturday's Harold Matthew's Cup trial games with coaches Dave Howlett (Sharks) and Brad Donald (Raiders) seeing many positives from the teams efforts.
Both the Matty's & SG Ball games where four 20 minute periods of footy.
Seiffert Oval is in fantastic condition.
The heat seemed to cause optical illusions when it appeared a lot of ball were either very flat or on the wrong side of flat, but it was hot.
|Cronulla Sharks '09 SG Ball Squad (Photo : ourfooty media)
||Canberra Raiders '09 SG Ball Team (Photo : ourfooty media)
|PLENTY of GR8 ACTION PHOTO'S from the Matty's & SG Ball
Raiders Vs SHARKS trials - Coming soon,
LAWRENCE HAS SIX APPEAL
|New playmaker . . . Chris Lawrence of the Tigers. Photo: Getty Images (SMH)
WESTS TIGERS will experiment with a dynamic new halves combination this season, with Chris Lawrence to make the transition from points scorer to playmaker alongside Benji Marshall.
Having made his name as a five-eighth, Marshall will make a permanent switch to the No.7 jersey, while Lawrence, 20, will be eased into the pivot role alongside the New Zealand international.
Tigers coach Tim Sheens is keen to get Lawrence closer to the action after he scored 28 tries from just 48 appearances in the centres. While utility half John Morris will remain in the mix for a halves position, Sheens wants Lawrence to be part of the scrumbase combination.
"I like the idea of [Robbie] Farah at nine and Marshall and Lawrence at seven and six," Sheens said. "It would give us a lot of spark around the ruck area in the key positions.
"Chris has played five-eighth before. [Bob] Fulton was a centre/five-eighth, and he's a lot like Brad Izzard, a powerful unit who runs the ball well on the edge of the ruck. Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing him to Bob Fulton or Laurie Daley or Brad Fittler, but Fittler and Daley started in the centres and went back to five-eighth. They were five-eighths as kids.
"Being close to Farah and Marshall is best for [Lawrence], he will get more ball there. If we have Lawrence with more ball in his hands, we're going to score more points."
While Marshall will have a new position, a new contract is still on the to-do list. The Kiwis star is off contract at season's end and is deciding whether to re-sign or to explore other league or union opportunities. Sheens said he hoped Marshall would sign a long-term deal at the club.
|KNIGHTS FEAST ON EELS
The Newcastle Knights have booked early favouritism for a double win in the junior reps this season by beating Parramatta in both Harold Matthews and SG Ball trials today.
In heatwave conditions at Ringrose Park Wentworthville the players tore into the action and both games were very competitive and close throughout the respective games.
In the end it was the mighty Newcastle Knights who prevailed.
Harold Matthews - Newcastle 7 trys def Parramatta 5 trys
SG Ball - Newcastle 7 trys def Parramatta 6 trys
All was not lost for Parramatta though as their under 15 Development teams got the money against the brave Knights by beating them 7 trys to 3.
BULLDOGS SG BALL DEFEAT NORTHS IN TRIAL
|Sharks Vs Bulldogs U15's in Action last year
(Photo's : ourfooty media)
The Bulldogs SG Ball side took on North Sydney at Neptune Park on Thursday night (January 22) defeating Norths 48-4 in a trial match played at Neptune Oval in Revesby Heights played over three 25 minute periods.
The opening stages of the trial were tough, but the Bulldogs gradually worked themselves into rhythm scoring three tries prior to the first break to lead 12-0.
The second stanza was all the Bulldogs as they raced in six tries against the second string Norths outfit to open up a 36-0 lead. The Bears to their credit scored a fine team team just before the final break.
The final 25 minutes of the match was riddled with errors. The Bulldogs still managed to cross for three tries to round off a neat 48-4 victory.
Norths fielded two squads as they were still trialing many players whereas the Bulldogs only fielded 19 players. The Bulldogs coaching staff were mostly happy with the hit out as their execution in attack and defence was solid for the majority of the trial.
The Bulldogs are back at Neptune Park on Tuesday night (January 27) for an SG Ball trial against Newtown with kick off at 7:30pm. The Bulldogs Harold Matthews side also plays that night against the Eastern Suburbs JRL with kick off at 5:30pm.
SEASON 2009 STARTS EARLY FOR EELS REPRESENTATIVE SQUADS
|Parramatta Eels are the defending Matthew's Cup Champions (Photo's : pross ourfooty media)
|The Eels district representative trial schedule for 2009 is as follows:
2009 DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE TRIAL FIXTURES
Saturday 24 January 2009,
Ringrose Park, Wentworthville
1.30pm: Under 15’s Development Squad v Newcastle
3.30pm: Harold Matthews Cup v Newcastle
5.30pm: SG Ball v Newcastle
Saturday 31 January 2009,
WIN Stadium No. 2, Wollongong
3pm: Harold Matthews Cup v Illawarra
5pm: SG Ball v Illawarra
Saturday 7 February 2009,
Ringrose Park, Wentworthville
6pm: Harold Matthews Cup v Manly
7.30pm: SG Ball v Manly
Story By : PARRAMATTA EELS
PHOTO : pross (ourfooty media)
Rugby League makes its return in the Parramatta district for 2009 tomorrow, Saturday 24 January, with the Pirtek Parramatta Eels SG Ball, Harold Matthews Cup and Under 15 development squads all involved in trials against Newcastle at Ringrose Park Wentworthville.
The under 15’s match kicks off the action from 1.30pm, with Matthews Cup at 3.30 and SG Ball at 5.30.
The 2009 squads have been in training since November last year under head coaches Mick Lewis (SG Ball) & Chris Bradbury (Harold Matthews Cup).
Both coaches have come through the Eels development pathway, with Lewis promoted to SG Ball after clinching the Matthews Cup title in 2008. Bradbury returns to the Eels after spending last season with the Western Sydney Academy.
Trials against Newcastle on Saturday and Illawarra next week will determine which players make the cut for the 2009 District Representative season.
“Newcastle & Illawarra are traditionally very strong opposition in both competitions so the trials will gives us a fair gauge to see where we are at so far in 2009,” Eels Development & District Teams Coordinator Ben Rogers said.
“We have very high quality squads of 45 players in both Matts & Ball, it's going to come down to the first two weeks of trials to see who is successful.
“We'll take around 23 or 24 players in each squad and those squads have a final trial against Manly before kicking off the season proper against Illawarra in Wollongong on February 14.”
Entry is Free, and all Eels supporters are encouraged to get along and support their teams.
SHARKS YOUNGSTERS TO GET A RUN
|Cronulla Sharks Toyota Cup players at training last year (Photo : ourfooty media)
The Cronulla Sharks have named an inexperienced squad to play the Canberra Raiders tomorrow night at Seiffert Oval.
Only hooker Terrence Seu Seu has NRL experience, with the rest of the squad made up of premier league and under-20s players.
The match, to be played in 25 minute thirds, will be the first trial of the year, with both clubs expected to field young players in what is expected to be warm conditions.
In contrast to the Raiders' naming seven players with NRL experience, Seu Seu will be the only Shark who played top-flight football last season.
He played 15 matches for the Sharks in 2008 and represented Samoa at the rugby league World Cup last year.
But Raiders utility Brett Kelly isn't worried about who he lines up against tomorrow night.
''I couldn't care less who we play, as long as we play well that's the main thing,'' Kelly said.
''It really doesn't matter who is playing we could be playing the Australian side and it wouldn't matter it's still just a trial.''
Kelly will be out to impress against the Sharks, with the former Cronulla player in a tight battle with Adrian Purtell, Phil Graham, Justin Carney and Joel Monaghan for a position in the outside backs.
But Kelly said the trial would give him an opportunity to show the Raiders coaching panel what he has to offer.
''There are a few spots in the side where a lot of blokes are going for the same position.
''I just have to play well we're playing three thirds and I'll play one third in the centres and one third in the back row I used to play there, it's only since I came to Canberra that I've been on the wing.''
TOMORROW - Raiders v Sharks at Seiffert Oval, Queanbeyan at 6pm. | LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CRONULLA JUNIORS |
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TIME : 6-30PM – 8-00PM
MATTY'S CUP TRIALS
|Tyrone Philips sets smashed by the Magpies D - Matty's Cup trial - Souths Vs Wests (Photo : ourfooty media)
Souths Vs Wests Vs SWSAS
It was a triple treat for rugby league fans at Hillier Oval in Sydney on Tuesday night with three Clubs giving their Matthew's Cup squads a good run in the heat.
The trial matches were made up of four 20 minute periods which allowed coaches to play different players for the different games.
In the first trail game, Souths face a big Wests Magpies outfit who like to get close to the line then give the footy to one of their big charging forwards who use defenders like ten pins.
All three clubs have some skillful young footyballers in their squads and it will be a hard decision to cut some of these boys from the squads. | ViSiT ouRFooTY PhoTo'S oF THe ACTioN |
WRIGHT TIME FOR A BABY SHARK
|Blake Williamson & Matthew Wright at the Toyota Cup Induction Camp day 2 (Photo's : ourfooty media)
|Feels Wright: Cronulla expect big things from new recruit Matthew Wright. Picture: John Veage
AT just 17, Cronulla Sharks new recruit Matthew Wright is still eligible to play in the under-18 SG Ball competition.
Despite this, Wright is more likely to play first grade then line up to face his fellow-aged SG Ball players.
Wright will travel to Canberra to take part in a combined NRL and under-20 trial against the Raiders this Saturday.
The Penrith junior joined Cronulla from the Panthers this year on a three-year deal. Wright, who turns 18 on January 30, played with the Australian Schoolboys last year.
He said he was enjoying full-time training. ``It is tough, but is has been a good learning experience,'' Wright said. ``I was a bit shy at first, but I've got used to the boys so it is all good.''
The versatile outside back can play anywhere in the backline, except for halfback.
Assistant coach Shane Flannagan said the club would closely monitor Wright's development this year.
``We've been watching him for a year or two in the junior rep program,'' Flannagan said.
``We identified him as a bit of a talent. He has great footwork, good speed and good size. He has got everything at the moment.''
Despite training full-time, Wright is expected to start the year in the under-20s competition, but he may push for a first grade spot later in the season.
``He might surprise us and get a game or two of first grade this year and that would be a bonus,'' Flannagan said.
``But we are probably looking more at next year. He needs a bit more development and time in getting his body right.'' | LeaRN MoRe aBouT the CRoNuLLa JuNioRS |
RAIDERS GENERATION NEXT ON SHOW IN FIRST TRIAL
|Raiders & AIS fullback Daniel Vidot spoils the Sharks attack in last years Australia Day trial at Gymea HS (Photo : ourfooty media)
||Terence Seu Seu
|COACH: DAVID FURNER
There will be a canteen operating with hot food and non-alcoholic beverages.
1.30pm Gates Open
2.00pm Harold Matthew’s trial Raiders v Sharks
4.00pm SG Ball trial Raiders v Sharks
6.00pm NRL/Toyota Cup trial Raiders v Sharks
CANBERRA RAIDERS V CRONULLA SHARKS
SATURDAY, JANUARY 24, 6.00PM, SEIFFERT OVAL, QUEANBEYAN
The CFMEU Canberra Raiders will use their opening trial of 2009 to test the depth of their playing roster, when they take on the Cronulla Sharks at Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan on Saturday evening.
Raiders Coach David Furner has named a relatively inexperienced squad for the Green Machine’s opening hit out, opting to save his more experienced campaigners for the Raiders official NRL trials in late February.
There are however some familiar faces that have been named in the squad for Saturday, with Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Justin Carney and Joel Thompson all taking part, while new recruits Stuart Flanagan, Sam Huihahau and Josh McCrone will also get their chance to impress.
With two games left on his seven week suspension the match will give Learoyd-Lahrs a much needed run before round one, as the remaining two trials will round out his suspension.
After naming his squad today Furner said it was not only important to give all of his young troops a chance to make an impact, it was also a chance to trial the new two referee system.
“This trial will be used to have a look at some of the emerging players that haven’t yet played first grade, as well as some guys that need a bit of time on the field,” Furner said.
“The other important factor will be that we’ve secured two referees so it gives us an understanding of how two referees control a game.”
New recruit Stuart Flanagan said he’s looking forward to his first chance at wearing the green jersey, and was out to make an impression on his new team mates and coaching staff.
“Its my first game with pretty much any of these boys so it will be good to get out there and see what the young guys have got,” Flanagan said.
The match will be three periods of 25 minutes.
Gates open at Seiffert Oval at 1.30pm on the day, with the Raiders Harold Matthew’s (under16’s) kick starting the day with a trial against the Sharks at 2.00pm.
Entrance to Seiffert Oval will be via the High St entrance, and spectators are reminded that this will be an alcohol free venue. No alcohol will be sold or permitted at the ground. | CRONULLA JUNIORS |
SYDNEY ROOSTERS THROW 16-YEAR-OLD BOYD CORDNER IN DEEP END
|Big impression ... Taree teenager Boyd Cordner. Photograph: Gregg Porteous / The Daily Telegraph
MEET the 16-year-old bush prodigy set to join superstars Willie Mason and Mark O'Meley in the Roosters glamour forward pack this season.
Little-known Boyd Cordner has quickly made an impression in the short time he has been training with the Bondi club and despite his youth and inexperience is every chance of forcing his way into coach Brad Fittler's top-flight outfit.
Roosters hardman Craig Fitzgibbon believes Cordner will be a "special player" who would handle the pressure-cooker environment of the NRL. Mason said Cordner was destined to become a "household name in the coming years".
Cordner, who weighs 95kg and is 188cm tall and still growing, was initially starstruck at Bondi but quickly learned to feel comfortable around some of the biggest names in the game.
He played Harold Matthews Cup last season for Newcastle and S G Ball and Toyota Cup officials at the Roosters secretly fear Cordner will spend limited time in the lower grades.
"I'd love to get a game or two under my belt this year, even just in the trials," Cordner said.
"I've been given this opportunity and I want to grab it. I've been playing footy in older age groups all my life so I know what it's like to play against some of the bigger guys."
Cordner will return to Old Bar, near Taree on the Mid-North Coast, to start Year 11 at St Clare's High School but Roosters officials have already indicated they will rush him to Sydney full-time should he shine on the field.
Cordner has been likened to Fitzgibbon because of his brilliant work ethic and maturity. The pair pushed each other to near exhaustion during several 400m sprint drills.
"He's a super kid," Fitzgibbon said. "He looks like he's got all the attributes to develop into a top player.
"I know a few of the boys have had big raps on him.
"From what I've seen the past two weeks I think he'll be special. I don't think age will be a concern.
"You only have to look at Mitchell Pearce. He played first grade at a young age and was in Origin the following year.
"The only factor that comes into it is how many years he'll be able to play at top level and hold his form.
"It's probably not beneficial to start playing straight away, but it doesn't look like he'd struggle at the moment."
Fittler said there was a new challenge for NRL clubs to unearth promising teenagers because salary-cap restrictions had made it tough to retain experienced campaigners.
The coach could not fault Cordner's short time in the tricolours.
But he was also mindful not to place too much pressure on the new recruit - which he said had been the case last week with 22-year-old limited overs cricketer and Roosters fan David Warner.
"Boyd's pedigree is good, he's from the bush . . . and like all guys from the bush, they have that natural toughness," Fittler said.
"He actually has a very similar style to Fitzy. He's got a good mentality, loves his footy and enjoys the challenge of training hard and being with the older players.
"It's one of those things where he could play first grade but then you hope he doesn't because that will mean we've got a few injuries. We'll just have to wait and see."
There was some other good news coming out of Bondi yesterday.
Fans will no doubt take comfort in the fact a fit-looking Anthony Minichiello moved freely yesterday, as did Mason, who continues his comeback from knee surgery.
'NO NAME' FEPULEAI READY TO MAKE MARK
|Looking for a shot: Daniel Fepuleai is hoping to force his way into the Dragons first-grade squad.
Story & Photo By : MICHAEL CARAYANNIS
THERE is an unknown factor surrounding Dragons player Daniel Fepuleai.
He was so unknown that incoming coach Wayne Bennett did not recognise his new charger.
Despite growing up in the St George district, Fepuleai was a Broncos fan and naturally adored Bennett, so his first meeting with him came as a shock.
``He thought I was [teammate] Ricky Thorby,'' Fepuleai laughed. ``He has my name right now, but it was a bit daunting at first. The boys still call me Ricky every now and then, but I just laugh it off.''
While Bennett may not have recognised the hooker when they first met, Fepuleai is hoping his new mentor is starting to take note.
Following the departure of hookers Simon Woolford, Rangi Chase, Ben Ellis and Stuart Webb, Fepuleai is in a battle with veteran Luke Priddis and utility Dean Young for the dummy-half position.
`` [Priddis] has really taken me under his wing,'' Fepuleai said.
``He always tries to get me involved in training. He doesn't let me hang back and if I start hanging back he pulls me in to have a go.
``He wants me to get involved. He has been a real mentor for me.''
The former Endeavour Sports High student has progressed through the Dragons junior ranks.
He spent last season as part of the inaugural under-20s squad, and said he was adapting to the riggers of full-time training.
``It has been nice and tough,'' said Fepuleai, who is contracted until 2010.
``Everything that I expected.
``Bennett has brought a different culture and we are all bonding together.''
A Hurstville United junior Fepuleai, 20, has played junior league grand finals at WIN Jubilee Oval.
He is hoping to play a few more games there this season.
``I enjoy playing there,'' Fepuleai said.
``Hopefully, I can play in front of a big crowd if I get a crack.
``I want to get a crack at some stage. It just depends if Wayne wants four forwards on the bench or if he wants a utility.
``I've just got to concentrate on training well and not getting my hopes up of playing first grade.
``If it comes, then it is definitely a bonus.''
Fepuleai has overcome his first obstacle of the season Bennett now knows his name.
UNDER 20S LOOKING FOR WORK
Source : Sydney Roosters
The Sydney Roosters Toyota Cup squad has some players that are not studying or have yet gained employment, which is a key requirement in the under 20s competition.
Roosters Player Development Manager, Brian Sinclair, said any job offer would be considered as long as it could facilitate 15 hours to full-time work.
This year the club is strictly enforcing the competitions “no work/study, no play” policy so it is imperative that the players without employment find something in the next two months.
The under 20s squad train four days a week in the evening so the working day cannot conflict with their football requirements.
Assistance from sponsors, Members or fans would be greatly appreciated by the players and the club.
If there is anything that matches the above criteria please contact Brian Sinclair at the Roosters office on | click here for more info |
All clubs will be needing assistance, if you can employ a young bloke starting their footy careers, contact your NRL footy team, they will love to hear from you | VISIT ourfooty teams page |
|THE JETS AND THE BEARS KICK-START THE 2009 RUGBY LEAGUE SEASON.
Newtown and North Sydney set the 2009 Rugby League season in motion when they played an SG Ball Cup trial match at the TG Millner Field on Saturday evening.
The Jets have taken the place of the Sydney Roosters in the NSWRL’s SG Ball Cup Under 18’s competition for 2009, while the Roosters will continue to field a team in the Under 16’s Harold Matthews Shield.
Newtown and North Sydney both trialled more than 30 players in their respective squads on Saturday and played a total of five twenty-minute sessions to get a good look at all of the aspirants.
The Jets eventually prevailed over the Bears by 48 - 36 after Newtown had led by 36 - 16 at the sixty-minute mark.
Newtown’s Head Coach Joel Greig was very pleased with the level of improvement shown in his squad since official training began back in early November.
He said that the benefits gained from all the hard work done throughout the summer were all there on show on Saturday evening.
The Jets’ Assistant Coach Sean Rudder said that there was plenty of work to be done before the SG Ball Cup competition commences in mid-February but there was much to be pleased about in Saturday’s performance.
The Harold Matthews Shield trial match was also an entertaining spectacle with the Bears edging out the Sydney Roosters by 28 - 24.
Newtown’s next SG Ball trial game is against the Bulldogs on Tuesday, 27th January at Neptune Park, Revesby with this match kicking off at 7.30pm.
The Roosters and Bulldogs meet in a Harold Matthews Shield trial at 5.30pm.
KAYNE FIELD OF DREAMS AT TITANS
|CARRYING the hopes of the Titans when they lose their `Friend', Kayne Lawton. Picture: Brendan Radke
MEET the new Nathan Friend.
He's Kayne Lawton, a level headed 19-year-old former Palm Beach-Currumbin student with a tan and sun bleached hair.
Lawton personifies a typical Gold Coast teenager -- but that's where the 'typical' stops.
He is the man Titans bosses hope will play in a handful of first-grade games this season before making the No 9 jersey his own next year.
The Titans yesterday extended his contract until 2011 after revealing the chances of Friend staying beyond this season were remote.
Everyone around the Titans seems to be talking him up, but the talented teenager is not looking to the stars just yet. He said he 'just wants to play good footy in the (under) 20s'.
"If I crack (it for) my debut, I'll be stoked. Anything more than that will be a bonus."
Even though he's still a teen, Lawton can bench press as much as the Titans big men.
With Lawton facing the prospect of being the club's permanent No. 9 by the time he is just 21, the Titans hierarchy could entice Preston Campbell to go around for one more season.
That would allow him to alternate with Lawton before the former Tweed Heads junior comes of age in 2011.
Yesterday's announcement resembled a new dawn at Titans headquarters, with the door all but locked on a Friend contract in 2010.
"It's fair to say that the likelihood of Nathan Friend staying here next season is highly remote," said managing director Michael Searle, who still has no doubt Friend will give his all this season as 'the ultimate professional'.
Lawton, who has a background in the halves, will bring plenty of creativity to the attack. It is hoped he will quickly gel alongside the likes of Scott Prince.
"He (Lawton) has got plenty of speed, he's got a lot of skill, he's got a good work ethic -- he's got everything you need," said coach John Cartwright.
With Robbie Farah staying on at the Wests Tigers, the Titans are in the market for another marquee player, more than likely a five-eighth or outside back.
YOU CAN PLAY NRL THIS YEAR
|Daniel Mortimer to aim for his NRL debut in 2009.
|Jason Baiteri & Daniel Mortimer ham it up for the ourfootyteam camera - Toyota Cup Induction Camp day 2 (Photo's : ourfooty media)
PARRAMATTA Eels coach Daniel Anderson has told Daniel Mortimer to aim for his NRL debut in 2009.
Anderson (inset) invited Mortimer to train with the NRL squad just before Christmas and the 19 - year - old has been doing his best with the big boys.
“I think they’re giving me the basic skills in case there’s an injury or something that might happen. I’m pretty excited,” Mortimer said.
Mortimer, who grew up in Orange, played with Parramatta’s Toyota Cup side in 2008 and will join them again in 2009.
But he’s also expected to get some NRL experience this year.
“(Daniel Anderson) said when I first went to training that I should be aiming for a debut,” Mortimer said.
“It looks like I might get an NRL trial as well, one of the three trial games. Daniel Anderson said I might get to play in the first trial against Panthers. That’s pretty cool.”
Working with the NRL squad has meant Mortimer is training full-time now, which includes two sessions six days a week.
“Training is pretty full-on,” he said.
“We’re usually in the gym on a morning for about two hours and then in the afternoon we do skills and conditioning for three or four hours. It’s pretty full-on but I love it.”
Mortimer joins a small list of names which can be used as the Eels’ halves combination, including Brett Finch, Kris Keating, Jeff Robson and possibly Feleti Mateo.
The former Australian Schoolboys representative will rejoin his Toyota Cup team-mates when the season kicks off but is a serious chance of making his first grade debut with the Eels.
Even if Mortimer doesn’t get to make his NRL debut this year, he still has plenty to achieve.
“I don’t know what’s ahead of me. Hopefully I’ll have a great year with the 20s, which I won’t be disappointed with at all because I love the 20s comp. Anything more would just be a bonus,” he said.
“We’ve got a pretty tight (Toyota Cup) team, so I think it should be a good year. There’s a few new boys and a lot of young kids who have come up. We lost a fair few players but Parra’s always got strong juniors.”
High on his priority list is coming back to Orange for the Australia Day weekend celebrations and he will be joined, once again, by some of his Toyota Cup team-mates.
“We’ve got the Australia Day weekend off so I’m bringing the boys home that weekend. Every chance we get they want to come over. They love it,” he laughed.
BRONCOS HAVE HIGH HOPES FOR PRODIGIOUSLY TALENTED ATHLETE
|Huge potential...Sixteen-year-old Sudanese javelin thrower Luanga Andria. Picture: David Tarbotton / The Daily Telegraph
MEET the 16-year-old Sudanese schoolboy who is being tagged the new Wendell Sailor.
Luanga Andria is on target to become the first African to play in the NRL, with the Broncos nurturing the prodigiously talented refugee.
But officials from rugby league and athletics could be in a tug-of-war for the youngster, who will tonight compete in the javelin event at the Youth Olympics in Sydney.
Broncos football manager Peter Nolan said that Andria reminded him of a one-time Brisbane player who is now based with St George-Illawarra.
"He's like a young Wendell Sailor. That's what attracted us to him," Nolan said.
"We went out and watched him play for his school, St James, in Brisbane. We contracted him at 15 and that's good through to grade 12 at school.
"He's really fast but he's also really good at the endurance end. He's coming along nicely.
"I'd like to keep him on. His work ethic and his attitude to training is second to none."
Andria is already on an elite development contract with the club, which will be reviewed later this year with a view to playing him in the Toyota Cup national under-20 competition.
But athletics officials are also keen on Andria pursuing his love of track and field events.
In winning the Pacific School Games javelin gold medal in December, with a record throw of 71.84m, he put himself in medal contention for the next World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy, in July.
It seems he inevitably will be forced to choose between his love for athletics and league, but Andria said yesterday he wanted to continuing doing both as long as possible.
"It's too hard for me to decide. I'm still too young. I guess I'll take what comes my way," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"I came to Australia eight years ago and now they're telling me I'll be the first Sudanese boy to make the NRL. When I started playing footy I didn't like it, although I like the physical stuff and I know the rules now so it's not confusing for me any more."
Massively framed at 183cm and 100kg, Andria plays wing or centre in the Brisbane club competition and has represented Queensland Schools even though his reading of the game needs maturing.
But Andria's athletics coach Greg Hallam believes his protege can still make a big name for himself away from the rugby league field.
"He won the Queensland primary schools state cross-country race and he can run 100m in under 11sec," Hallam said.
"He's the most extraordinary athlete you've ever seen.
"At the national all-schools in 2006 he won the long jump and the javelin, was third in the 100m and second over 200m. He's capable of being a great decathlete. And he's achieved what he's done in athletics on only two training days a week.
"If he was two or three inches taller he'd be perfect for the javelin, but boy he's got a rocket-propelled arm."
|LIONS INTO BIG LEAGUE
Western Lions Rugby League club of Townsville U19's have been admitted into the Townsville Rugby League Competition for the first year since it was established 6yrs ago.
Western Lions Rugby League club are the 2nd biggest Junior club in Townsville and have started training on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, so if you want to have a run, show up at training. Learn More about the Western Lions Rugby League club
KAYNE LAWTON RE-SIGNS WITH GOLD COAST TITANS
|Staying with the Titans...Kayne Lawton. / The Daily Telegraph
A DAY after Robbie Farah snubbed the Titans, the Gold Coast yesterday rushed to re-sign teenage talent Kayne Lawton until the end of 2011.
After missing out on Melbourne's Cameron Smith and then Farah - and with negotiations with current No. 9 Nathan Friend forever stalling - the Titans were more than happy to secure the 19-year-old.
Coach John Cartwright said while he was disappointed with Farah's decision to remain at the Wests Tigers, he had no concerns about luring big-name players to the Titans in the near future.
He also said the dramas surrounding Friend would not disrupt the team's 2009 premiership hopes.
As for the hooker headache, Cartwright hopes Lawton can be a ready-made replacement while he noted other players, including Souths' Beau Falloon and Parramatta's Kevin Kingston, were off contract at the end of the year.
Last year's 16-year-old sensation Jordan Rankin is likely to start the year in the Toyota Cup.
|REDCLIFFE TO STAGE FOLAU DEBUT
Story By : Andre Grimaux
REDCLIFFE is set to stage one of rugby league’s biggest stories for 2009 - Israel Folau’s highly-anticipated debut for the Brisbane Broncos.
Brisbane plays Canberra in a trial match at Dolphin Oval on February 21, with Folau an almost certain starter.
Just the former Melbourne Storm premiership hero’s presence will be a major drawcard for the game, which is already expected to attract a crowd of about 10,000.
The Broncos play the Gold Coast Titans in a trial match at Wynnum’s Kougari Oval the week prior, but new coach Ivan Henjak is not expected to run all his stars out in that game.
``I would say, yes (Folau will play against the Raiders), at the moment,’’ Broncos spokesman Trad McLean said this week.
``It’s a full scale trial match, so anyone whose fit will play.
``We play the Titans (at Wynnum) the week before, but there is not as much emphasis on players playing that game.
``The final decision will come down to Ivan, but I’d expect Israel to make his debut for the club in that Raiders game.’’
The Queensland and Test star was unveiled by the Broncos at Red Hill last week after the squad had returned from a training camp at Coffs Harbour.
Redcliffe Dolphins duo Michael Spence and Palmer Wapau were part of that camp, and Spence said the excitement was obvious when Folau and the Broncos World Cup players joined training.
``It was awesome, there was definitely an extra boost having those guys back,’’ the 2008 Broncos Toyota Cup second rower said.
``He (Folau) is a quiet bloke, but he’s got a lot of respect from the players. He looks sharp and ready to go.’’
|SG BALL TRIAL MATCH THIS SATURDAY
The Newtown Jets return to the NSWRL SG Ball Cup playing ranks for the first time in 26 years this Saturday.
The details for Saturday’s trial matches are:
Saturday, 17th January 2009
TG Millner Field (Vimiera Road, Marsfield)
NSWRL Official Trial Matches:
Harold Matthews Shield – North Sydney v Sydney Roosters – 4.00pm
SG Ball Cup – North Sydney v Newtown – 5.30pm.
NSW CCC STATE TRIALS
The 2009 NSWCCC State Selection Trials will be held at Scully Park Tamworth on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd May.
The convenor is Mr Mark Falkenmire from McCarthy College Tamworth.
After previously traveling to country venues such as Forbes, Kempsey and Dubbo, NSWCCC are once again taking the selection trials to rural NSW.
West Tamworth Leagues Club is assisting in staging the trials, whilst Country Comfort Tamworth Towers is the preferred accommodation supplier.
Students from Catholic secondary schools across NSW will be vying for selection in either the 15's or 18's NSWCCC teams to compete in the ASSRL National Championships in Adelaide (15's) and Newcastle (18's).
The Australian Secondary School Rugby League Championships for the under 18's will be hoted by NSW CIS from Sunday 12 - 17 th July with a pre Championship meeting on Saturday 11th July.
The ASSRL under 15's travel to Adeliade with the battles played from Sunday 28 th June to the 3 rd July 2009.
TONY CONCH BACK FOR ANOTHER CRACK WITH DE LA SALLE 16's
|Tony Conch with the 2003 U 16a Premiers - De La Salle
De La Salle Caringbah JRLFC have appointed Tony Conch as the Under 16’s coach for the 2009 season.
Tony last coached at De La in 2004; in 2003 he was the Premiership winning coach, winning the Under 16’s competition.
In 2005 Tony was Assistant Coach of the Kingsgrove Colts Under 21’s, Premiers in the St George District.
That same year he was selected as Assistant Coach of the St George District Under 21’s Representative Team which was victorious in a Inter District Challenge Competition which saw teams competing from South Sydney, Balmain, Eastern Suburbs, and St George districts.
In 2006 Tony furthered his football career by accepting a position as Trainer and Conditioner of the Erina Jim Beam Cup Team competing in the NSWRL Competition.
Tony tells me it was a tough and extremely rewarding experience.
In 2007 Tony linked with the Aquinas Colts A Reserve Grade team as an Assistant Coach and Trainer, taking the team to the Final.
The former Bulldogs Junior was also the Medical Trainer for the Australian Army Team against the English Army in the Rugby League Armed Forces World Cup late last year.
He aims to bring all his experience to his new team, on and off the field.
Tony is looking forward to the challenge of season 2009.. LEARN MORE
THE VALLEY EIGHTS - Day of Difference
$4,000 1st PRIZE
16 teams playing 8 a side rugby league
Entry Fee : $400.00
All proceeds on the day go to the "DAY of DIFFERENCE FOUNDATION"
For more information and entry forms, go to : http://valleyunited.leaguenet.com.au/ and follow the links to the V8’s or contact Anthony Rule 0411 800 866
|U18 LEAGUE BOOST
THE Fiji National Rugby League is looking to expand the Oceania Under-18 championship which will be held in Suva in September.
In previous tournaments, teams from New South Wales in Australia participated alongside the Fiji Junior Bati.
Fiji National Rugby League chairman Peni Musunamasi said the aim is to increase the number of teams in the competition to make it a truly international event.
He said they are targeting the inclusion of neighbouring islands.
"We would like to see the likes of Samoa and Tonga be included in the tournament," Musunamasi said.
"We also hope to extend invitations to New Zealand." Meanwhile the Vodafone sponsored FNRL 7s will be played on January 24.
A total of 26 teams have confirmed participation in the one day event at the Suva Grammar School grounds.
The tournament will serve as the initial trials for the Mini Pacific Games in the Cook Islands.
The Fiji Bati 7s side will be coached by former national rep Semesa Cadrakilagi.
1970's BOND STILL AS STRONG TODAY WITH WARIALDA BOYS
|Some of Warialda High School’s open rugby league side from 1972 36 years on (back from left) Robert Coote, Malcolm McInnes, Les Cleal, Alan Mitchell, Chris Kent, Gavin Jackson, Claude McClymont, Stephen Moore (front from left) Robert Cross, Noel Cleal, David Galvin, Michel Galvin, Bruce Withers, Steve Quinell.
WARIALDA held a special reunion in December to celebrate two rugby league school sides of the 1970s.
The 1972 and 1973 Warialda High School Year 10 and open sides were almost unbeatable in that era, success one of its stars, Noel Cleal, puts down to the close friendships and mateship between all the players.
Both he and older brother, Les Cleal, used those formative years to kick off hugely successful league careers.
They both won Clayton Cups in the bush before Noel and then Les headed to Sydney where Noel became a superstar with Manly-Warringah and played State of Origin and Tests for Australia.
Now a scout and recruitment officer for Manly-Warringah, he was delighted and humbled by the recent reunion.
“It was the best reunion I’ve been too,” Cleal said.
“We were pretty tight in those days and didn’t have any stars, just all played together.”
He said that bond of mateship was evident in last year’s Manly-Warringah side that won an NRL premiership with a stunning victory over Melbourne.
“They were pretty good sides back then, I think we lost just two games in two years, 6-nil to Farrer at the Inverell Showground and 30-20 to Moree in the Uni Shield, the year they won it.
“We led them most of the way too but ran out of condition and players. We had plenty of success too, winning carnivals at Glen Innes and Moree. There were some handy players too, the Galvin boys, Bobbie Barker went on to play Northern Division, Claude McClymont and coached by Alan Mitchell. The ironic part of it was eight of that side went on to become school teachers.
“But they were real special years for me And it was from there I realised I wanted to become a football player.”
Of all the hundreds of photographs of his playing days a picture of that schoolboy side holds pride of place on his desk at work at the Manly-Warringah club.
BRONCOS PARADE ISRAEL FOLAU
|Breath of fresh air ... Israel Folau flaunts his new jersey. Photograph: Annette Dew / The Daily Telegraph
THE NRL's most talented teenager is back where he belongs - and now officially a Bronco.
Israel Folau was paraded by his new club yesterday in the Brisbane colours he will proudly wear for at least the next four years.
The freakishly talented 19-year-old is destined to join the likes of foundation signings Wally Lewis and Gene Miles, legendary prop Glenn Lazarus and inspirational former Test skipper Gorden Tallis as being among the club's most significant coups.
Folau's signing was the boost Brisbane needed to help overcome the stigma of their off-field problems.
Like a breath of fresh air, the humble and ultra-polite superstar yesterday rolled into a boardroom laden with trophies, honour boards and premiership paintings.
While Folau is yet to strap on a boot for Brisbane - which incidentally will be of the adidas variety, at odds with the club's major apparel sponsor Nike due to an existing deal - he's already proving a major asset to a club intent on turning a fresh page with a new-look squad.
"As good a player as Izzy is, we're really happy about the kind of person he is as well," coach Ivan Henjak said yesterday. "We think Izzy is a really good fit here in terms of his personality and character.
"We're excited as much about that as we are about his playing ability. We believe the way Izzy plays his footy and the kind of person he is, he's going to be a very good fit for our organisation."
Folau's tight-knit Mormon family, who stayed put in Brisbane during his sensational two-year stint in Melbourne, was the pre-eminent factor in the teenager's decision to link with the club he idolised as a kid.
"I'm really excited to be back in Brisbane," Folau said. "I've got good support around me with the club, Ivan, the team and also my family.
"Religion is the biggest part of my life and that and football go together for me. Even though I was playing good footy in Melbourne away from my family, I think it's going to help me this year being back."
Henjak added: "That aspect gives Izzy a really good balance in his life. He seems a really grounded guy.
"Israel has a little way to go in terms of carving his own little piece of history here. He understands there's a long way to go, he still needs to fit into the team and that's going to be an important aspect for him to be able to perform at his best."
In other news, Test star Justin Hodges remains on track to return to the club on Australia Day after being granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. He won't play any trial matches.
COWBOYS SIGN YOUNG NT RUGBY LEAGUE TALENT
|LEAGUE AT HEART ... talented back Quinton Pomare-Anderson, 15, from Alice Springs at the camp
The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have signed young Alice Springs sportsman Quinton Pomare-Anderson on a three-year contract from 2009.
A gifted rugby league player, 15-year-old Pomare-Anderson will relocate to Townsville in early January 2009 before joining the Cowboys’ elite Top Gun Academy program and resuming high school.
The Top Gun Academy program is a pathway for selection to represent the Cowboys in the National Youth Competition (NYC), where talented players are hand-picked to receive top-level coaching and development opportunities.
Born and bred in Alice Springs, Pomare-Anderson’s signing caps a great year in which he was selected in the Australian Merit team at the Under 15 National Schoolboy Championships, as well as receiving a Northern Territory Institute of Sport (NTIS) national club representative award (southern region) for rugby league.
The Centralian Senior Secondary College (CSSC) student is a talented all-rounder, having represented the Northern Territory in Touch Football, Australian Rules and Rugby League.
NT Rugby League General Manager Gary Launt is delighted that the young sportsman’s talent has been recognised at this level.
“Quinton really is a precocious talent and we’ll be following his progress with the Cowboys with great interest,” Launt says.
“North Queensland have produced some great talent, including the likes of Matt Bowen, and we’re confident that Quinton will be in good hands during what will be a critical point in his professional sporting career.”
Cowboys Recruitment Manager Clint Zammit saw Pomare-Anderson’s natural talent and potential immediately.
“Quinton shows a natural ability to talk and direct on the field, which is a real plus at that age,” Zammit says.
“He shows vision and has a natural style that can be nurtured and developed.”
KNIGHTS ANNOUNCE JUNIOR SUMMER SQUADS
The Newcastle Knights have identified ‘Generation Next’, today releasing the 2009 Junior Summer Squads.
160 players trialed at Toronto’s Lyall Peackock Field in September, made up of an overwhelming 91 per cent of local juniors.
A who’s who of Newcastle and Hunter Valley Rugby League names is headlined by Hayden Fulmer (son of first Knights halfback, Steve Fulmer), Rodney Mason (brother of Willie Mason), Damien Menzies (nephew of Steve Menzies), Jaden Rosberg (son of Jamie Thorpe), Rylee Snowden (brother of Kade Snowden), Gene Brown (brother of Riley Brown) and Scone’s Adam Clydesdale, grandson of former Test winger and Newcastle Team of the Century nominee, Don ‘Bandy’ Adams.
One of the region’s most famous Rugby League breeding grounds is well represented with 14 players selected from the Scone, Singleton and Muswellbrook regions.
The Maitland Schoolboys region is prominent in the 2009 summer squad with 26 players named from the Cessnock, Maitland, Morpeth, Beresfield and Kurri Kurri areas.
Selections from the Newcastle and Port Stephens areas accounted for more than half of the 114-strong squad which also includes talent from as far afield as Townsville, Yepoon, Orange, Armidale, Glen Innes and Palmerston North.
“It’s encouraging to know it still means a great deal for local kids to trial for the Newcastle Knights,” said Knights Strategic Development Manager, Keith Onslow.
“It’s exciting to see so many second generation players coming through. Even the guys who are fixtures in the local competition, to see their sons coming through confirms this is a great footy area.
“We’ll always look to recruit and supplement from the outside if we have to but we’ll squeeze every bit of juice out of our region first,” he said.
The squads will begin training on Monday 3 November with the annual Myuna Bay Skills Camp to be held from the 5th – 7th November.
Final squad Harold Matthews and SG Ball Selection is expected to be announced soon after January 31, 2009.
|KNIGHTS THROW OPEN PLAYER POOL FOR NEWCASTLE CLUBS TO CHOOSE
NEWCASTLE Rugby League officials last night hailed a planned draft of Knights players into Hunter clubs as a "shot in the arm" for the local competition.
The Knights' decision not to field a reserve-grade team in the second-tier NSW Cup competition next year means players not required for first grade or National Youth Competition (under 20s) will be farmed back to local clubs to play each weekend.
About 15 Knights will automatically be allocated to the junior club they graduated from, then another 31 will be available in a pool of players.
Clubs will select players from the pool in the reverse order they finished this year, starting with the returning Maitland Pickers through to premiers Western Suburbs.
Each club will likely select two players each in the first round then one in the second round.
The top 25 Knights players, as determined by National Rugby League salary cap calculations, will not be allowed to play representative football for Newcastle or NSW Country.
The general committee of the Newcastle Rugby League discussed the concept after the league's annual general meeting last night.
No vote was taken, but there was an overall acceptance of the player placement program.
"I think it's a great concept. I think it's a shot in the arm for the Newcastle Rugby League, and I think it will only improve our competition," Newcastle Rugby League chairman John Anderson said.
Newcastle clubs must adhere to a flat-rate payment of $200 to senior Knights and $100 to NYC players.
As part of a proposed player allocation day in February, Anderson said the Knights would nominate 11 senior players who would act primarily as ambassadors for their designated club.
He said that would include Steve Simpson for his junior club, Singleton, who play in Group 21, and Kurt Gidley for his junior club, Western Suburbs.
Knights strategic development manager Keith Onslow said the club was still finalising the other nine "Category A" players, but that would be done in time for the AFL draft-style allocation day in February.
Anderson said the nine remaining Newcastle clubs would either pick the player they wanted as their ambassador or "pick one out of a hat like a Melbourne Cup barrier draw".
Newcastle club coaches and officials will meet with Knights coach Brian Smith next month to finalise details of the ground-breaking player placement program.
"We don't want the clubs to treat it as something to depend on each week; we want them to treat it as a bonus," Onslow said.
"There might be some weeks as the season goes on where some guys just won't play as a player-management issue over a 26-week National Rugby League season, but that's footy."
Provided there was no significant opposition at that meeting, Anderson said the league would then call another general committee meeting to ratify the program.
Long-serving Newcastle Rugby League and former Knights director Kevin Smith believed the program would only strengthen the relationship between the two organisations.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle Rugby League recorded a loss of $45,743 for the financial year to September 30 after a profit of $8640 in 2007.
Anderson said this was largely due to reduced income during the finals and increased expenses for representative teams.
The Newcastle board was returned unopposed and directors Vince Murphy and Trevor Crow were returned unopposed as the league's representatives on the Knights' board.
THE NEWTOWN JETS CLOCK UP 101 YEARS IN RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL
|Photo caption: The Newtown Jets are jumping for joy … There was plenty of excitement at Henson Park as Shaun Foley scored for the Newtown Jets in the Frank Hyde Shield decider against North Sydney in June last year. Photo courtesy of Gary Sutherland Photography.
The Newtown Jets will celebrate their 101st birthday on Thursday, 8th January 2009.
Following the cavalcade of events on and off the field in the Centenary Year of 2008, there is a definite mood of quiet resolution within the Jets camp as they make preparations for the 2009 Rugby League season.
Rugby League activities might seem far removed from the somnolence that prevails over Sydney in the Christmas-New Year period, but Newtown’s first trial match in the SG Ball Cup (Under 18’s) is fast approaching in mid-January and in the NSW Cup in early February.
The Jets resumed training on the 5th January after a brief break for the Festive Season.
Head coaches Greg Matterson (NSW Cup) and Joel Greig (SG Ball Cup) had their squads hard at work at Henson Park and in the club’s well-appointed gymnasium complex in very warm and humid conditions.
The SG Ball Cup competition rounds begin in mid-February while the NSW Cup competition gets underway in mid-March. In the meantime, it’s a happy 101st birthday to Australia’s oldest Rugby League club as the Newtown Jets prepare to begin their second century in the thirteen-a-side code.
MAKE-OR-BREAK LEAGUE SEASON FOR GREY
|Former Dubbo rugby league talent John Grey has returned home to spend time with his family after a gruelling six week pre-season training program with the Manly Sea-Eagles Toyota Cup squad.
Former Dubbo rugby league talent John Grey has returned home to spend time with his family after a gruelling six week pre-season training program with the Manly Sea-Eagles Toyota Cup squad.
Grey, 19, has spent the past two years with Manly after signing with them following a successful under-18s year with the Narromine Jets.
He described his last season efforts as successful and said this year would be his make-or-break season.
“This year I began the season in the Toyota Cup squad and finished in the NSW Premier League finals series,” Grey said.
“This year will be a make-or-break season for me and hopefully it will be a big step forward for me towards a career in first grade.
“I have a lot of work ahead of me.”
Grey said he would be focusing on the finer aspects of his game in 2009 in the hope that he is recognised by upper- grade coaches
He said it would be “all hands on deck” for both himself and the squad
following the three-week break over Christmas and the new year.
“If I can focus on and work at improving the finer skills of my game hopefully it will allow me to get noticed more this season,” he said.
“A lot of coaches look for those little one percenters when selecting players and the work they do off the ball.”
Grey said one Manly first grade player he had looked up to in recent months was David ‘Wolf Man’ Williams who had followed much the same path as he has.
“Williams came through the ranks much like I have and when given the opportunity he made a go of it,” he said.
“Hopefully one day I could fulfil the same role.”
Grey said he and his partner Cara Johnston had thoroughly enjoyed the northern beaches lifestyle an had no plans on moving as yet.
Currently the pair is in the process of setting up their own business after purchasing a Good Sports Home Services franchise recently.
Following his week at home in Dubbo, Grey and Cara were to spend a much-deserved week at the Gold Coast.