FAR & WIDE: Number 43

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

BUMMED out because you’re not going to the World Cup? Never fear: there is a big day of international footy coming up in Sydney, with seven games at the same venue on the same day!

Lebanon will take on a Fijian combination made up of non-RLWC players at Club Italia, Lansvale, on October 19. The countries will also meet at under 18s, Under 16s and Under 20 levels and we’ll also have Malta playing Italy in an age group yet to be determined.

The remaining game will involve NSW junior representative teams and complete pretty much the longest day of football Far & Wide can remember.

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JACKSON Hastings, son of Kevin who Sydney Roosters recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan chased so hard, will be halfback for the Australian Schoolboys when the play New Zealand Under 18 Residents in Auckland this Saturday.

The game, to be played at 12.45pm (local time) at Bert Henham Park Mount Wellington, is an attempt to reward Kiwi kids who stay at home rather than join Australian clubs.

The sides played an earlier Test on Monday in Whangerei.

Australia’s Sione Matautia is the third brother from that family to represent the schoolboys, emulating the efforts of Shane, Ben and Chris Walker.

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TIME to get around the various state grand finals in Australia.

In South Australia, Centrals are the Division One winners after beating Norths 28-16 in the decider earlier this month. Well done boys.

In Western Australia, it was the North Beach Sea Eagles who lifted the trophy. They beat minor premiers Freemantle 16-8 in the wet a couple of weeks ago.

Onto Darwin an the NTRL, where Palmerston beat Brothers 36-22. It was the sixth premiership for Palmerston, who had to come back from 12-0 down.

And in Victoria, Sunbury lifted its first premiership, downing Altona 36-16 in a game that was televised on community television.

And it was a cliff-hanger in the ACT, where the Queanbeyan Kangaroos beat the Queanbeyan Blues 17-16,

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FAR & WIDE: Number 42

Far & WideSTEVE MASCORD

JAPAN appear to have pulled out of the Asia Cup.

“I have heard that,” Thailand coach Andrew Charles tells Far & Wide. “If that’s the case, we’ll still be going and we’ll play the Philippines.

“There has been some talk about us playing them twice. It depends on our flights. Personally, I’d be happy to play them once and just relax and enjoy the location.

“But I am sure there will be some discussions.”

The Asia Cup was to take place between October 19 and 23 at Clark, near Angeles City, in the Philippines. The Philippines-Thailand game was scheduled for October 23 and will probably go ahead on that date.

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FRED Gruhler was a pioneer of American rugby league, going back to the days of the Patriots in the World Sevens.

Fred was a US Marine, worked in the aviation industry and represented the Tomahawks and Patriots 25 times. He passed away last week in circumstances which are so far unreported, his obituary saying he died “suddenly on September 12, 2013 at his home”

Fred was involved in rugby league as a coach right up until his passing, which has shaken the sport in the US.

Far & Wide and Rugby League Week send our condolences to Fred’s family and friends and everyone in the wider rugby league community who knew him.

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TICKETS are now on sale for the Vanuatu-Solomon Islands international at Mackay’s Virgin Australia Stadium the night before the grand final, October 5.

They’re only $10 a pop and are available from the Mackay Events & Convention Centre website. A week later, Vanuatu will host the Niui Islands in Port Vila and we’ll be there.

Kick-off is at 6.30pm. The game marks the 150th anniversary of the Black Bird movement, where South Pacific were forcibly removed from their homelands to work in the sugar cane industry in Australia.

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FRANCE coach Richard Agar has been in Australia for a couple of weeks, checking out Les Chanticleers’ World Cup opposition.

Agar is also on recruitment duty for this Super League club Wakefield and has been spending plenty of time with Catalan’s 2012 coach, Trent Robinson, at Sydney Roosters.

Richard has a 40-man squad for the Coup du Monde which will be cut to 24 on October 1.

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FAR & WIDE: Number 41

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

IT’S not often we have a rugby league team that represents an entire continent but South America’s Latin Heat has been formally launched.

The side will make its bow in the Mitchelton Nines in Brisbane on Saturday, Sept 21.

“Forward Leighton Johanneson was raised in Colombia after his sugar cane-farming parents decided to become missionaries there,” enthuses organiser Robert Burgin.

“He was a goalkeeper for a Division A football team over there. His parents continue to work in some of Colombia’s poorest area, while he has returned to live in Bundaberg.”

The team has even secured sponsorship from the Guzman Y Gomez taco chain!

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NSW and Queensland Universities are set for an excellent adventure next month following confirmation they’ll be taking part in a tournament in Tonga.

The teams arrive in Naku’alofa two days after the NRL grand final. On October 10, two rep sides picked from the domestic competition, Tonga Tau’uta and Tonga Tautahi, play each other and so do the Australian states.

Then, two days later at the Teufaiva Stadium (venue for the whole tourney), the losers play each other and so do the winners.

There’s a whole heap of international football taking place post-season, aside from the World Cup, at all levels.

Far & Wide remembers when it was possible to go to every international rugby league game in a given year!

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FORGET all the doubts – the Asia Cup is going ahead at Clark, Philippines, next month*.

Unfortunately, the shoulder injury suffered by Matt Sarama in round 26 might stop him joining brother Luke in the Tamaraws side. It’s uncertain if Andrew Everingham’s move to Japanese rugby union will affect his involvement.

Organisers have suffered one setback – they’ve been kicked off the playing fields due to an army exercise! An alternative venue is now being sought.

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OOPS. We incorrectly reported last week that Demark had been disqualified from the European Shield for fielding ineligible players. It was, of course, Norway and that is also the country that cancelled its trip to Canada.

Apologies.

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FAR & WIDE: Number 28

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

AN interesting and mysterious yarn popped up in the wake of the United States-Samoa Test in Hawaii a couple of weekends back.

Ten members of the Samoan side, all picked from the domestic competition, failed to board the plane home. Initially, there were fears they had deliberately gone AWOL in America but a Samoan newspaper report said they checked in for the flight but were “turned away at the gate”.

Another report said one player was missing so 10 refused to leave Hawaii without him.

The Samoans won the game 34-10. We’ll try to get to the bottom of things in the coming weeks.

“It was hard work getting the visas and I’d hate to think anything had happened to endanger future teams travelling to Hawaii for matches,” said the RLIF’s Tas Baitieri.

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EXCITING news from the Philippines with the Asia Cup confirmed for a venue 80 kilometres outside Manila in October.

The Filipinos welcomed another player to NRL first grade two weeks ago – Gold Coast’s Shane Gray.

The tournament kicks off on October 19 with the Philippines taking on Japan at Clark Airforce Base. After that, Japan plays Thailand on the 21st and the Philippines play Thailand in a rematch of last year’s historic match in Bangkok, on the 23rd.

The Filipino boys arrive in Manila three days before the comp starts and will spend time coaching naval cadets who have been learning the game under former South Sydney official Tom Simpson for the last 12 months.

It is possible to see both NSW Country games on tour in South Africa and still make it to Clark for the opening Asia Cup game. We checked.

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THE latest European Shield game has seen Russia visit Belgrade and come away with a win against the Serbians.

Russia will win the Sheild if they beat Italy at the end of the month. Prop Sergey Konstantinov was the star, scoring two tries before a broken arm ruled him out of the clash with the Italians.

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