Brian Smith and Clint Newton Fallout at Knights

Newcastle Knights coach Brian Smith is apparently the man responsible for Knights forward Clint Newton seeking and gaining a release from the club and today signing with the Melbourne Storm.

Newton held a press conference yesterday to explain his actions and announce his intentions to move on. Accompanied by his golfing father Jack Newtwon, Clint spoke of feeling unwanted by his long standing club and that Brian Smith has made his intentions clear – that the Knights forward wasn’t being considered in future plans.

Client Newton also reportedly had heated discussions with Newcastle Knights boardmember and Footy Show star – Paul Harrogan; before pulling the pin on his ties to the club. The spotlight has now moved to other Newcastle Knights forwards Adam Woolnough and Josh Perry – as the rumour mill kicks into overdrive. Surprisingly Newcastle fans flooded talk back radio this morning in support of the moves – feeling a clean out at Newcastle is well overdue.

In other NRL player movement, Jamie Soward was today signed by the St George Illawarra Dragons, moving from the Roosters to immediately start for the Dragons this week in the halves. The Saints released Luke McDougall who joins his brother at Newcastle and will also go close to getting a run in the side this weekend.

Manu Vatuvei Drops Bundle

Parramatta Eels haunt NZ Warriors all night
Eels 30 def Warriors 6

The Parramatta Eels tonight proved tipsters right, and ran away with the Monday Night NRL match against the Warriors by 24 points. The Eels survived the early arm wrestle and overcame a close half time scoreline of 12-6 to race away with the game and give the Warriors plenty of headaches at the same time.

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei had one of the worst games any single player could have. The unlucky Kiwi winger simply dropped every ball that came his way, after his hands failed him early on – the Parramatta kickers targetted him all night and reaped the rewards time after time. The only positive for the Kiwi winger was an incorrect call by video referee Bill Harrigan who wrongly awarded a penalty to the Warriors for an alleged strip on Vatuvei that led to a Ben Smith try. Judging by the replays and Vetuvei’s handling – it was a blatent drop and Billy boy got it wrong.

The expected forward battle never eventuated with Warriors prop and noted hardman Ruben Wiki getting slightly over 40 minutes game time and less than 50 metres gained all night. While fellow prop Steve Price tried hard all night – the Eels front men hit the advantage line hard and simply blew the Warriors away with steam rolling runs. Obviously this made it much easier for small men such as Brett Finch and Tim Smith to kick for field position and play the smart way for the Eels.

Daniel Wagon for the Eels had an outstanding night, constantly threatening in attack with his kamakazi runs at the fringe – he seemed to be extremely enthusiastic for the Eels and this resulted in spoils for the veteran with an explosive try in the 47th minute – running on to a Tim Smith grubber at speed the Wagon touchdown was a good one in traffic.

Timana Tahu lasted only 40 minutes for the Eels after again hurting his hamstring. The injured centre will be disappointed by the latest setback after setting up a nice Hayne try tonight and being dangerous in attack and defence for the Eels. Kristian Inu will gladly and capably take the Tahu jersey for their clash with the Wests Tigers next Monday Night at Telstra Stadium.

The Warriors walk away from Parramatta Stadium with Manu Vatuvei staring at the crossroads of his career, with the bukly winger surely to be sacked after this latest nightmare and halfback Michael Witt who tonight failed to make an impact and was cannon fodder for his old teammates. Ivan Cleary was clearly the dejected man at the press conference and failed to highlight his areas of concern. As the Warriors try to play a structued and safety first game, it’s taking away the impact of their once feared forwards and things are going from bad to worse after such a good start the NRL 2007 season.

The Eels move into 6th position on the NRL 2007 table and we now have 4 teams anchoring the points table on 8 points.

Be sure and check our updated NRL Ladder today and check back tomorrow for our Tuesday review and report from ‘The Grubber!’ our newest NRL Rugby League Expert.

Remember NRL News gives you the opinionated reviews of every team, after every game. We tell you how it is, no matter how brutal. You don’t get boring minute by minute game reports here – simply the real outlook on your NRL team. Thanks again for your continued visits!

NRL Points Table after Round 11 (Click Here)

Parramatta v Warriors Preview

The out of sorts New Zealand Warriors are away from home, deep in the Golden West tonight – as they face the Parramatta Eels coming off a large home win against the star-less Cowboys last weekend.

The Ivan Cleary coached Warriors will be hell bent on making amends for the last few weeks, and after such an explosive start, the Warriors have fallen away recently. The Warriors won’t want to keep slipping back in the pack as we head into the middle phase of NRL in season 2007.

State of Origin team members Steve Price, Nathan Hindmarsh and Jarryd Hayne all return for this clash – as does Parramatta’s Timana Tahu, Fui Fui Moi Moi and Chad Robinson slips into the starting side for the injured star Feleti Mateo.

Parramatta are a different side in night games and win 50% more matches under the moonlight. As Phil Gould tells us nearly every week on Channel 9 commentary coverage – the Parramatta Eels do love the soft, dewy surface and it really brings their grinding style into play. The Eels have enjoyed good rotation from hookers PJ Marsh and Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell (Pictured) – who have swapped perfectly this year to cause opposing teams headaches around the ruck. Riddell spoke with the media yesterday, and stressed the importance of the Eels getting a back to back win tonight and stringing a few wins together.

Looking at the Warriors, I think this could be the opposite. Their strong and speedy outside backs, who have a tendancy to get the dropsies – a la Manu Vatuvei and an out of sorts Wade McKinnon last week. Expect to see plenty of traffic at Manu’s wing, and the Eels will hunt former recruits Witt and McKinnon as the old boys got one up on them earlier in the year with a win in Auckland.

Home ground advantage, cover of darkness and the return of their stars – should see Parramatta outshine the Warriors as the game wears on.

Parramatta Eels by 16 points.

Stay tuned tomorrow, for our new column by ‘The Grubber’ – after great feedback from his first posting last week, our NRL News fans will continue to enjoy his specific opinion and sarcastic style on your teams – as opposed to other on-line NRL websites who simply provide minute by minute game reviews with no opinion provided.

Sunday NRL

Tigers hot, win 6 on trot
Wests Tigers 25 def Penrith Panthers 24

A controversial win today for the runaway Wests Tigers sends the 2005 NRL Premiers into 3rd spot on the NRL 2007 Points Table.

The Tigers started flat today at CUA stadium, but they warmed to the challenge as the hapless Panthers weren’t able to take advantage of the periods where they dominated. The Tigers were down 6-0 early, but it easily could have been 12-0 in their favour had some simple opportunities been taken.

The Tigers recovered and scored nice tries through Liam Fulton and Daniel Fitzhenry. The latter Fitzhenry try an absolute scortcher of a try, with the classy outside back beating 4 defenders and putting a massive step on Penrith fullback Rhys Wesser to speed around the fullback and score under the posts.

This try lifted the confidence of the Wests Tigers, and they led 25-12 with under 20 minutes to go. With the game seemingly over, the Panthers staged one of their big late combacks and go to within a point – with the controversy errupting after the Panthers declined to take a shot at goal after a late try. With the scores, 25-22 – the Panthers smartly declined the conversion shot (as the rules state it’s not mandatory) so they could quickly get back to receive a kickoff and score again. However rookie referee Jarred Maxwell incorrectly forced the Panthers to take the shot at goal and the wasted seconds ultimately ended the game for the mountain men.

The Wests Tigers have been unstoppable in the past 6 weeks and the Benji injury hasn’t hurt them at all, with the classy Liam Fulton slotting into the side and proving a match winner with 3 tries now in the past few weeks. The Tigers are lavishing in the skills and raw power of youngster Chris Lawrence and kiwi Taniela Tuiaki. The giant Tuiaki continues revelation for the Tigers, the big unit is a scary sight when he runs at the line, regularly requiring 3 opposition defenders to stop him. All this is capped off with sublime game plans from the exerienced Tim Sheens, not only do Sheens and Simmons have the blueprints – but their troops are one of the best at following instructions to the letter.

Penrith continue to lick their wounds and fans wonder what the future holds. Talk of the talented Peter Wallace heading to the Brisbane Broncos and the possibility of snaring Brent Tate continues to abound on club forums and gossip corners. New coach Matt Elliott needs to bring harmony some how and quickly, as things get worse – the public will cry out for a scape goat and this usually the coach. Elliott must be extremely frustrated with the fact that not only are Penrith troubled, but his old troops in Canberra find themselves well entrenched in the top 8 after a solid win this weekend.

Angry Penrith fans flooded 2GB and other talk back radio stations tonight, airing their frustrations to Andrew Moore, Steve Roach and Darryl Brohman on the Continuous Call team. Many of the calls related to Penrith CUA Stadium ground announcer Steve McCrae – who is under fire for critising his own team for poor performance.

Broncos belt Knights
Brisbane Broncos 71 def Newcastle Knights 6

A dynamic Broncos side today finally clicked into gear at the expense of a wounded, sick and sorry Newcastle Knights outfit. The reigning premiers, Brisbane scored 12 tries in a romp that lasted until the final minutes of the match.

Brisbane’s previous biggest NRL wins were 58-4 over North Queensland and 60-6 over North Sydney, both in 1998.

Newcastle were forced to make numerous changes to accommodate the savage losses of Origin stars Kurt Gidley (shoulder), skipper Danny Buderus (foot) and forward Steve Simpson (calf) who were all late withdrawals.

Brisbane led 25-6 at half-time. Centre Justin Hodges, winger Brent Tate and forward Tonie Carroll each scored a double in Brad Thorn’s 200th first grade game. Hunt was named man of the match.

Knight’s halfback Jarrod Mullen, whose passing game was impressive, scored the visitors only try in the 33rd minute beating Hunt and Hodges with a neat sidestep.

The win lifted Brisbane off the bottom of the NRL after the Roosters scored an upset win over the Sharks. The latest halfback experiment with Michael Ennis seemed to work well. I am sure Wayne Bennett was much more upbeat at the press conference, and maybe Brian Smith should have asked Wayne to answer his questions at the after match chat – as it seems to have worked well for old timer Bennett after last weeks arrogant showing.




Unrelated: DOTA, WoW

Raiders, Cowboys Win Friday Games

Cowboys 26 def Bulldogs 16

Tonight the Cowboys trounced the Bulldogs at Suncorp – with the audience treated to a Thurston sideshow. The Queensland halfback was in cruise mode – as he put on every trick in the book, making the Bulldogs rue their decision to turn their backs on him all those years ago.

The game was very uncontrolled early from both teams, with plenty of dropped balls and errors. The Dogs forwards tried to muscle up, but the Cowboys big men had every answer. Bluey Southern and Tronc in particular really gave the Bulldogs back the tough stuff.

As the forward battle swung the Cowboys way, Thurston was able to simply run amok and did entertain.

The Bulldogs remain in the NRL wilderness for 2007 and need to find the spark soon. Ben Roberts had a forgettable night and the outside backs aren’t a force with the dogs engine room misfiring.

Canberra 30 def St George Illawarra 6

The icey ACT was the graveyard tonight, as the sour Saints continue their horror run. The Raiders without bad boy Todd Carney (who as of today remains with the Canberra Raiders) – we served through Adrian Purtell who took a hat trick of tries home for the night.

Zilmann the Raiders custodian found his form from the early rounds and was a danger all night.

The Dragons failed to click in attack and rarely threatened the Green machine tonight in a comprehensive loss. The only positive for the Dragons right now, is Matt Cooper remains injury free and the only weapon the red vee possess.

State of Origin Game 1 2007

QLD ORIGIN REVIEW
PLAYER RATINGS
KARMICHAEL HUNT 7
Hunt was solid at the back, positioning himself perfectly to return serve on the full from the Mullen and Anasta kicks. Safe hands and some good charges.

BRENT TATE 6
Nothing spectacular from ‘Buzz Lightyear’ but Tate warmed to the challenge and kick chased well after the 55 minute mark. Will improve as series goes on.

STEVE BELL 5.5
Limited chances, not a high involvement from the Manly man. Bombed a certain try for the QLD team.

JUSTIN HODGES 6.5
Apart from the miss on Hayne before half time, Hodges defence was strong – and as QLD got more ball he proved a hard worker and carted the ball up well, beating several tacklers.

GREG INGLIS 7
Inglis played well and bagged a double. Had a top game, but can play even better. NSW Origin team need to watch him in games 2 and 3 – a possible series breaker.

DARREN LOCKYER (c) 7
Controlled things beautifully for QLD Origin. Never panicked and the kicking game from Locky and JT was first class. Always popped up in attack and defence, the Hayne cleanup try typifies Lockyers work ethic.

JOHNATHAN THURSTON 8.5
Combined surperbly with Lockyer. JT passed and kicked to perfection. Didn’t overplay his hand and topped things off with a sublime field goal to put the result beyond doubt. He will be Queensland Origins foundation for the next decade.

PETERO CIVONICEVA 7.5
The ‘Rock’ – Petero was faultless in his effort. While not totally unstoppable, the big man didn’t put a foot wrong for his QLD team.

CAMERON SMITH 8
While not frequently noticed in State of Origin Game 1 – Smith was his usual tradesman self. Smith shut down most NSW dummy half scoots and his probing raids caused headaches for NSW all night.

STEVE PRICE 9
Keeps on Keeping on. His robotic charges are still so hard for the opposition to handle. Price is a fit, hard working and smart prop – who on current form will put QLD in good stead to win the series and will surely win his Australian Kangaroo jersey back.

TONIE CARROLL 8.5
Terrorised the NSW side. From the opening whistle Carroll was like a caged lion released. Intimidation was his goal and he well and truely achieved it. Put Brett White out of commission and played a lot of minutes.

NATE MYLES 6
Not a lot of involvement, appearance will give Myles more confidence and will improve as series goes on.

DALLAS JOHNSON 7
Busy night in defence for the Maroons. Johnson never stopped tackling and had some good carries. Played well above his weight.

SHAUN BERRIGAN 6
Limited opportunities, didn’t make mistakes when given the game time.

JACOB LILLYMAN 6
Not well known, but the Cowboy was everywhere and tackled everything that moved.

NEVILLE COSTIGAN 6.5
Had some heavy contact and was a handful on the fringe for the NSW team. Didn’t see a lot of ball. Will be a factor in games 2 and 3.

ANTONIO KAUFUSI 6
Injury ruined the party for the big bopper. Showed some good signs early. 2007 is over now for the Storm star.

NSW ORIGIN REVIEW

PLAYER RATINGS

ANTHONY MINICHIELLO 8
Positional play was top notch. Carted the ball back at speed and did plenty of housework in goal – defusing sticky situations. Proved selectors right. Star.

MATT KING 5
Had a bad night in defence with some poor reads and had limited chances in attack. Will be disappointed.

JAMIE LYON 5
Wasn’t seen all night. Low involvement and had some bad misses in defence. Fell short of expectations. Tahu will press for his spot in game 2.

MATT COOPER 6.5
Nabbed the early try for the NSW team and tried to lift his side with some courageous hitups – taking the pressure off his forwards. Missing his mate Gaz.

JARRYD HAYNE 6
Hero to zero. Hayne had a good night apart from the dreadful mixup at the back. Will be so much better after the debut, a future superstar.

BRAITH ANASTA 5.5
Set up a try and looked good early on. Went missing as game went on, and didn’t execute kicking game well enough. Found Hunt on every kick.

JARROD MULLEN 5.5
Had an encouraging start, but was too much for the young kid to handle when things started to go against the Blues. Needed to demand the ball on 1 or 2 occasions. Forwards let him down in the back end.

BRENT KITE 6
Some solid charges from the knee lifter. Got driven back regularly though. Was impressive without being dynamic.

DANNY BUDERUS (c) 5.5
Was outgunned by Cameron Smith. Tried hard without effect. Will be fired up to return serve in Sydney.

BRETT WHITE 5
Talked the talk before hand, but Carroll laid him to rest with the first hitup. Broken nose hampered his night – will be interesting to see his next effort. Carroll got away with his rough stuff, so expect to see the NSW origin side flaunt the physical rules in game 2.

NATHAN HINDMARSH 6
Got the first Blues try and made some desperation saves for the Blues. Never stopped trying.

WILLIE MASON 5.5
Hamstring hampered the big man. Really needed to stand up to get the Blues back on a roll. Didn’t have a big impact and was nailed a few times on the hitup.

ANDREW RYAN 6
Bobcat had a good night, setup an early try and was extremely busy. Needed to put his hand up in the back end to lead the team forward.

LUKE BAILEY 5.5
Got a little bit of extra time with the White saga. Didn’t do enough. Lacked mongrel.

STEVE SIMPSON 6
Should have been a starter. The NSW Origin side needs his physical intimidation, he is a street brawler and needs more time.

ANTHONY TUPOU 4.5
Limited minutes, threw some silly offloads that hurt the NSW side. May lose his spot for Game 2.

KURT GIDLEY 4.5
Had a few nice runs, but injury killed off his night. Would have wanted to run riot in the back end – as opposition forwards tired.rwards tired.

NSW kicking game killed them. Forwards from NSW won the battle for 60 mins, but lacked agression in later parts. Mullen played well for the Blues, Hayne went from hero to zero – thinking it was a 40/20 kick. NSW line defence was poor, rush defence needs altering for game 2. Hindy try really wasn’t a try – so NSW could have been even worse off.
QLD played a patient game, after copping it early – The Queenslanders through Locky and JT came into play with sublime long kicks. Good dummy half service from Cam Smith setup the Steve Price try to get QLD back on a good roll. Tony Carroll was fierce all night and drove the Blues backwards – really giving good lift to his team. Should QLD pick Slater in game 2 they will be even more potent. A good close game that typified Origin contests.

Rugby League Power Rankings How is your team placed?
By The Grubber

The Grubber is NRL News’ newest team member. With years of media experience in League circles, the Grubber has all the inside contacts to know what’s happening with your club. Here is his new ‘Power Rankings’ column.

Power Rankings:

1. Melbourne: Could probably field two sides and still sit atop the table. Great depth, solid offensive execution. Will be tested this Saturday at Brookvale, but should benefit from a longer turn-around than the Sea Eagles. Power score: 9/10, Odds of cracking it for a mention in the sporting pages of the Melbourne papers by 2050: 20-1.

2. Wests Tigers: Getting it done without Marshall through opposition specific game plans and solid completion. Young forward pack have met tough challenges in recent weeks and have come through nicely. Supporters finding it increasingly hard to continue talk of “NRL conspiracy” against them. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Brett Hodgson relinquishing fullback spot for Benji upon return: 100-1.

3. Manly: Solid defence and high completion rate has set up top of the ladder position. Need to improve offensive production and execute better when opportunities present themselves. Need all the points they can get at the moment with tough 6 game road stretch at end of season. Power score: 8/10, Odds of Laurie Daley being able to correctly pronounce “Nick Bradley-Qualilawa” during game commentary 30-1.

4. Cronulla: Mobile pack with outstanding back row and reliable, if not brilliant, half combination. Completion was outstanding against weakened Dogs. Kimmorley’s manager desperate to talk up price with ludicrous suggestions that other clubs are interested in signing him. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Sharks supporter being seen at away fixture: 100-1.

5. New Zealand: Play well in patches but consistently let themselves down at crucial stages. Will probably struggle for consistency for most of season. Teflon keen to reopen sponsorship discussions with Manu Vatuvei after talks stalled during ’06 Tri-Nations series. Power score: 7/10, Odds that local “NZ Sky” commentators would be employed by any other media organisation: 1000-1.

6. North Queensland: May lose premiership points for mistakenly fielding Queensland Cup team in NRL fixture vs. Parramatta. Club has vowed to check kick-off times more carefully in future. Power score: 7/10, Odds that Cowboys could win a game without Thurston 25-1.

7. Parramatta: Continue to rack up big scores against mediocre opposition. Smith and Finch may be beginning to settle down behind underrated forward pack. A great effort given that heart and soul of the club, Nathan Hindmarsh was missing. Power score: 7/10, Odds of Luke Burt being asked to endorse shoulder pads: 500-1.

8. Canterbury: Poor effort without stars. On the positive, SBW has finally begun to stand up when needed. Will struggle during Origin series but will surely improve when representative players return. Power score: 6.5/10, Progress report on number of chants Canterbury supporters have stolen off the Barmy Army so far this year: 1 (“We are the army, the Bulldog Army”).

9. Newcastle: A chance every week with Gidley’s current form. Mullen will no doubt come back to them an improved player no matter how badly he tanks the Blues in Origin. Power score: 6.5/10, Percentage of NSW selectors who mistakenly believed they were selecting former Newcastle #7 Andrew Johns for Origin: 75%.

10. South Sydney: Enjoyed much needed BYE with extensive Origin commitments. Supporters will hope that current slump is only temporary and not a hangover from losing culture. Well poised to pick up victories during the next couple of months. Power score: 6/10, Odds of John Sattler and George Piggins being seen enjoying the carvery at Souths Leagues: 60-1.

11. Penrith: Lean forward pack who may be beginning to turn the corner. Will battle without Gower though. Matt Elliot must find a way to improve completion rate and discipline or may soon find himself under pressure. Power score: 6/10, Number of pre-emptive warnings from Panthers director Greg Alexander to Craig Gower regarding the consequences of speeding from Police: 5.

12. Brisbane: Seem to be suffering the premier’s curse this year. Tough to gauge their true form during Origin period, however young players stood up well against Sea Eagles. Power score: 5/10, Number of words used per answer by Wayne Bennett during press conference: 1.

13. Gold Coast: Seem to have trouble winning away and now missing Preston Campbell like a fat kid misses cake. Power score: 5/10, Odds of newspapers dragging out “Remember the Titans” headline when losing streak is eventually broken: 2-1.

14. St George-Illawarra: Improving marginally week to week as rookies gain valuable NRL experience. Head may be returning to decent form and will be a crucial part of a rebuilding effort to try and salvage the season. Power score: 4.5/10, Number of weeks before Dragons board announce they have “full confidence in Nathan Brown”: 5.

15. Canberra: Just a young squad struggling to find their feet. Todd Carney may yet reinvent himself as race car driving instructor to Australian Idol Dean Geyer. Power score: 4/10, Odds of Canberra major sponsor CFMEU preventing Carney from switching careers without appropriate Race car Drivers Union membership: 13-1.

16. Roosters: Have now written off season by conceding that this year is a “rebuilding” one. Struggling for go-forward with senior citizens in front row. A tough ask to lose 4 players when propping up the ladder. Power score: 3/10, Odds of a second Roosters player bagging a Miss Universe contestant: 800-1.

And…some quick “around the grounds”:

1. Warren Smith: Who else read Warren Smith’s whine (he calls it a rant) in Big League last week? Just when I thought Smith’s op-ed pieces couldn’t get any less relevant, he chose to spend this week’s 300 words on the “success” of the Melbourne Storm. Specifically, a slap to the face of anyone who happens to disagree with, to put it bluntly, the existence of the Storm. Now we all know that Warren Smith is News Corp’s cabana boy, but isn’t even he stretching it a little far to suggest that the on-field performance (and modest growth in crowd figures) is somehow the final word on whether a team should exist in Victoria? OK, so Melbourne may be a great football team (and one that has certainly been consistent for a extended period of time), but wouldn’t we expect that?! I mean, this is an organisation which is effectively been financially underwritten by News Ltd. You’d think that they’d be able to construct a good football side considering that they don’t have the financial concerns and stresses of pretty much every side in Sydney. As for the crowds, I can’t say I’m that impressed with what they’ve achieved. We’re talking about the most solid (and at times exciting) side of the last five years. You’d be deeply concerned if they couldn’t draw the 15,000 they tend to get given the promotion the game has had in Melbourne in the last 18 months AND the fact that they have now been in the NRL for 9 seasons. I’m not calling for the demise of the Storm, but let’s put their “success” in perspective. Even Warren Smith should be prepared to admit that Melbourne exists solely as part of the Bigger Picture Ideology being pursued by the NRL and its boss News Ltd.

2. The Footy Show: I used to love the Footy Show like Phil Gould loves a Sharks loss. But now? Spare me from that drivel they serve up on a Thursday night. Why do I feel when I’m watching it that I’m sitting in the dressing sheds after a Newcastle Knights game circa 1997? Could it be because this program has become completely dominated by the Red and Blue? The Merewether Mafia have even found a way to work in Andrew Johns. Andrew Johns?! A man who has all the onscreen personality of a goal post. He even made Brett Kimmorley look like Rodney Dangerfield. Is anyone out there seriously prepared to argue that just throwing on an old tape of a game from say 1987, would rate any worse than the Footy Show? A lot of supporters would love to relive the old days of the 5 metre rule, no blood bin and a world without “The Chief”, “Matty” and “Barge-arse”.

3. Eric Growthe: Give us some respect Eric. Just a slight nod to our collective intelligence. The cellular telephony age has been with us long enough now that most of us know the difference between when a mobile phone is switched off and when it is “out of range”. Yours was clearly switched off. Can’t say I’m really that upset with you though. I know how the conversation would have gone with Denis Fitzgerald. “Listen Eric, I know Jamie is your mate, and you just wanted to help him out, but when it comes to the hearing, just switch your phone off son. We don’t help Manly, alright?”

Yours in league,
The Grubber.

State of Origin 2007 Preview

Ok, it’s the eve of Origin and NRL News takes a look at who will win the war and how it will be won.

Queensland have obviously lost some raw power in Carl Webb. The big battle axe has lost the battle with his hamstring injury and won’t be in the line-up. The halves are where Queensland will be so strong – Lockyer and Thurston holding the aces in this game.

A lot of talk has centered around Jarrod Mullen and his ability to cope with the pressure. I think Mullen will be assisted by a NSW forward pack intent on laying plenty of foundation. To combat the Queensland halves, the NSW forwards must get tough and bash the Maroons back.

Queensland will really need to win the wrestle at the ruck, losing this battle will make things harder for their talent on the fringes. Queensland have done well to put the focus on Mullen – but really there is some pressure on the Queensland pack – with NSW boasting a lot of the Australian forwards.

The bench is also an interesting situation. The NSW Blues have Gidley, Bailey, Tupou and Simpson ready to rock and roll. With Kurt Gidley in top form and playing a roving role or style can be expected.

Queensland have some impact men in Neville Costigan and Jacob Lillyman but Nate Myles.and Shaun Berrigan are only finding their best form in current NRL ranks. The big force for Queensland will be Justin Hodges. The agressive former Rooster always lifts for the big occasions and Justin Hodges loves to talk it up and act the goat Anthony Mundine style – after putting his Origin disasters of yesteryear behind him – he is a key man.

Paul Simpkins plays an interesting role – as he has let things flow in 2007, unlike colleagues such as Steve ‘The Terminator’ Clark.

Simpkins’ flowing style could suit the speed game of Lockyer and Thurston – but once again if the forward battle is lost, this speed game is nullified.

With Suncorp Stadium or the Cauldron as it is known as the venue for Game 1, State of Origin 2007 – the support will be fierece and Queensland are favorites in the eyes of NRL News.

So take care at the Caxton Hotel before the big game – and good luck to both sides in the big one!

NRL Team Line Ups Round 11 Named

Many teams have named their Origin stars to backup after a fierce Origin encounter. The fatigue and injuries of these players will play a part in determining how your team will fare. Expect big things from the stars that don’t play in Origin, guys like Sonny Bill Williams for the Bulldogs, Matt Bowen for the Cowboys, Ben Hornby Saints, Matt Orford for Manly, Billy Slater Storm, Brett Kimmorley for the Sharks, Craig Fitzgibbon for the Roosters (well overdue for a big one), Scott Prince for the Titans, Corey Parker for the Broncos, Craig Gower Penrith, Brett Hodgson for the Tigers and Eric Grothe for the Eels. All these players will be disappointed the spotlight isn’t on them – and will put in big games to show their wares. Bring on Round 11 of the NRL !

ALL the teamsheets for round 11 of the NRL premiership (all times AEST):

FRIDAY
BULLDOGS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS at Suncorp Stadium, 7.30pm
BULLDOGS: Luke Patten, Hazem El Masri, Daryl Millard, Willie Tonga, Andrew Emelio, Ben Roberts, Brent Sherwin, Chris Armit, Corey Hughes, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Andrew Ryan (captain) , Reni Maitua. Interchange: Adam Perry, Lee Te Maari, Kane Cleal, Jarrad Hickey, Nick Kouparitsas, Mark O’Meley (two to be omitted).
COWBOYS: Matt Bowen, Brenton Bowen, Scott Minto, Paul Bowman, Ty Williams, Jason Smith, Johnathan Thurston (captain), Shane Tronc, Aaron Payne, Ray Cashmere, Steve Southern, Jacob Lillyman, Sione Faumuina. Interchange: David Faiumu, Scott Bolton, Sam Faust, Ben Vaeau, Jackson Nicolau, John Frith, Rod Jensen (three to be omitted).
Referee: Tony Archer

CANBERRA RAIDERS v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm
RAIDERS: William Zillman, David Milne, Marshall Chalk, Adrian Purtell, Bronx Goodwin, Terry Campese, Michael Dobson, Scott Logan, Lincoln Withers, Dane Tilse, Neville Costigan, Glen Turner, Alan Tongue (captain). Interchange: Josh Miller, Troy Thompson, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Michael Weyman, Trevor Thurling, Ben Jones (two to be omitted).
DRAGONS: Ben Hornby (captain), Jason Nightingale, Keith Lulia, Matt Cooper, Josh Morris, Dean Young, Mathew Head, Justin Poore, Simon Woolford, Jason Ryles (captain), Ashton Sims, Beau Scott, Ben Creagh. Interchange: Adam Peek, Danny Wicks, Corey Payne, Ben Ellis, Sam Isemonger, Dan Hunt (two to be omitted).
Referee: Steve Clark

SATURDAY
MANLY SEA EAGLES v MELBOURNE STORM at Brookvale Oval, 5.30pm
SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Michael Robertson, Steve Bell, Steve Matai, Chris Hicks, Jamie Lyon, Matt Orford (captain), Jason King, Michael Monaghan, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Luke Williamson. Interchange: Travis Burns, Glenn Hall, George Rose, Mark Bryant.
STORM: Billy Slater, Steve Turner, Matt King, Anthony Quinn, Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Brett White, Cameron Smith, Ben Cross, Antonio Kaufusi, Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Jeff Lima, Ian Donnelly, Jeremy Smith, Israel Folau, James Aubusson (one to be omitted).
Referee: Shayne Hayne

THE SHARKS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS at Toyota Park, 7.30pm
SHARKS: Brett Kearney, Misi Taulapapa, Ben Pomeroy, Fraser Anderson, Luke Covell, Adam Dykes, Brett Kimmorley (captain), Ben Ross, Kevin Kingston, Craig Stapleton, Paul Gallen, Lance Thompson Greg Bird. Interchange: Luke Douglas, Phil Leuluai, Reece Williams Isaac De Gois.
ROOSTERS: Amos Roberts, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Sam Perrett, Joel Monaghan, John Williams, Setaimata Sa, Mitchell Pearce, David Shillington, Craig Wing, Danny Nutley, Shane Shackleton, Craig Fitzgibbon (captain), Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Mickey Paea, Lopini Paea, Nigel Plum, Mitchell Aubusson.
Referee: Sean Hampstead

GOLD GOAST TITANS v SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS at Carrara Stadium, 7.30pm
TITANS: Richie Mathers, Matt Petersen, Mat Rogers, Brett Delaney, Smith Samau, Matt Hilder, Scott Prince (captain), Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, James Stosic, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichello, Luke Swain. Interchange: Kris Kahler, Michael Hodgson, Gavin Cooper, Josh Lewis.
RABBITOHS: Reece Simmonds, Nathan Merritt, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty, Paul Mellor, Jeremy Smith, Joe Williams, Peter Cusack (captain), Daniel Irvine, Roy Asotasi (capt), Luke Stuart, David Faalogo, Dean Widders. Interchange: Shane Rigon, Joe Galuvao, Manase Manuokafoa, Jaiman Lowe, Scott Geddes (one to be omitted).
Referee: Tony De Las Heras

SUNDAY
BRISBANE BRONCOS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS at Suncorp Stadium, 2pm
BRONCOS: Karmichael Hunt, Steve Michaels, David Stagg, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Darren Lockyer (captain), Shane Perry, Dane Carlaw, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Tonie Carroll, Brad Thorn, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Joel Moon, Ben Hannant, Mick Ennis, Corey Parker, Denan Kemp, Brent Tate (two to be omitted).
KNIGHTS: Kurt Gidley, James McManus, Adam MacDougall, Brad Tighe, Stephen Gordon, Marvin Karawana, Jarrod Mullen, Josh Perry, Danny Buderus, Clint Newton, Steve Simpson, Mark Taufua, Kirk Reynoldson. Interchange: Michael Young, Cory Paterson, Kade Snowden, Adam Woolnough, Daniel Tolar, Riley Brown (two to be omitted).
Referee: Ben Cummins

PENRITH PANTHERS v WESTS TIGERS at CUA Stadium, 3pm
PANTHERS: Rhys Wesser, Michael Gordon, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Nick Youngquest, Peter Wallace, Craig Gower (captain), Joel Clinton, Luke Priddis, Brendan Worth, Frank Pritchard, Tony Puletua, Nathan Smith. Interchange: Frank Puletua, Junior Moors, Tim Grant, Paul Aiton, Geoff Daniela (one to be omitted).
TIGERS: Brett Hodgson (captain), Daniel Fitzhenry, Dean Collis, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki,Liam Fulton, John Morris, Todd Payten, Robbie Farah, Bryce Gibbs, Ben Galea, Chris Heighington, Dene Halatau. Interchange: Chris Lawrence, Ben Te’o, Bronson Harrison, Jarrod Saffy.
Referee: Jared Maxwell

MONDAY
PARRAMATTA EELS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS at Parramatta Stadium, 7pm
EELS: Luke Burt, Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Timana Tahu, Eric Grothe, Brett Finch, Tim Smith, Nathan Cayless (captain), PJ Marsh, Aaron Cannings, Nathan Hindmarsh, Feleti Mateo, Daniel Wagon. Interchange: Mark Riddell, Josh Cordoba, Chad Robinson, Fuifui Moimoi.
WARRIORS: Wade McKinnon, Patrick Ah Van, Tony Martin, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jerome Ropati, Michael Witt, Ruben Wiki (vice-captain), Nathan Fien, Steve Price (captain), Louis Anderson, Logan Swann, Micheal Luck. Interchange: Lance Hohaia, Wairangi Koopu, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Rapira, Evarn Tuimavave (one to be omitted).
Referee: Paul Simpkins

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