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THE JOY OF SIX: International season week two 2014



TOP players would be hired as ambassadors and sent to promote the game around the world as part of one proposal if the new Rugby League International Federation office is based in Sydney. In a move which could address the loss of stars to rival codes, the scheme would provide legitimate additional earnings for elite players and also match the opportunities for travel offered by other sports, Set Of Six has learned. The scheme would be financed by assembling a portfolio of current NRL sponsors who are headquartered overseas and interested in broadening their involvement in the code. But at the moment it seems likely the RLIF will be based on the northern hemisphere and minimise its engagement with the NRL and NRL players, with its first fulltime CEO to have had no history in the game. In that case, the ambassador scheme would not get past first base.


THANKS to the Junior Kangaroos and Junior Kiwis for reminding us all about one of the perennial yarns of the Four Nations and Tri-Nations – the haka. Remember Willie Mason and David Kidwell? The young Aussies linked arms and advanced on the haka at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday before the junior international, actually touching heads in some cases – pretty remarkable scenes. Some of the forehead-lunges may have brought a penalty or worse after kick-off and the match officials got between the players as things got testy. Could we see Tim Sheens’ men do something similar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday? And we are already salivating at the prospect of pre-match formalities when the Kiwis take on the Samoans at Whangerei.


donate2ORGANISERS of the RLIF player of the year award have sidestepped the controversy surrounding Ben Hunt and Daly Cherry Evans at the Dally Ms by doing away with positional award voting. Manly’s Cherry-Evans made the Dally M NRL team of the year at halfback even though Brisbane’s Hunt polled more votes. The RLIF Award will be presented at a Brisbane luncheon on Thursday. Instead of judges being asked to vote for players in each position, they were simply given a shortlist and asked to provide a three-two-one on their top three candidates. Sonny Bill Williams got the gong in 2013; there must be a fair chance it will go to another departing star in 2014 with Sam Burgess and Jarryd Hayne among a group of nominees that also include Greg Inglis, James Graham and Johnathan Thurston. Teams for the double-header on Saturday will be named on Tuesday – tournament rules stipulate starting sides must be announced, not just squads as at the World Cup.


JARRYD Hayne isn’t the only NRL institution thinking global at the weekend. The Phantom Siren made his international debut when Fiji played Lebanon at Remondis Stadium on Sunday, doing his thing as Fiji made a break while ahead 22-12 a few seconds from halftime. “It’s one of the drummers,” radio sideline eye Daniel Pettigrew reported, in reference to the musicians on the Lebanon bench. Fiji didn’t flinch but also didn’t score before the proper bell rang out. By fulltime, they had run out 40-28 victors in the Hayne-Mannah Cup. “On behalf of all the Fijian-Australian boys, we wish Jarryd luck overseas,” Bati captain Wes Naiqama told a crowd of around 1000 as he accepted the trophy, the name of which seems unlikely to be affected by the Parramatta star’s flirtations with the NFL.


ROBBIE Farah is eying a 2017 World Cup send-off – by representing Lebanon alongside new Australia team-mate Josh Mansour. Under new World Cup qualification rules, Africa and the Middle East are guaranteed one spot in the tournament, to be held in Australia, New Zealand and possibly Papua New Guinea. That makes the Cedars odds-on to qualify after missing the last two tournaments by the barest of margins. “Hopefully one day I can get back there and help them out,” Farah told Set Of Six. “The World Cup in 2017 … I’ll be 33 so I’m not sure if I’ll still be picked by Australia or not. The Commission would be very happy if Lebanon qualifies, in terms of the crowd they will generate. I think they’ll get there this time and if we do, we’ll have a pretty good side – myself, Tim Mannah, the Robinson brothers (Reece and Travis), Mitchell Moses and Josh Mansour who is here with me.”


amazonONCE upon a time, you could comfortably make it to every rugby league international played in a given year. Now, it’s difficult to even keep up with the scores. Aside from events at Remondis Stadium on Sunday, Latin America beat Portugal 40-6 at Woolhara and in Lae, PNG beat Tonga 32-18/ Earlier in the weekend, the Junior Kiwis edged out the Junior Kangaroos 15-14 in Auckland, Ireland upset France 22-12 in Dublin, Greece beat Bosnia-Herzigovina 58-4 and Serbia flogged Hungary 50-0, both in Belgrade, while Scotland returned to happy hunting grounds in Workington to outclass Wales 44-18. The games in Serbia were part of a new competition, the Balkans Cup.


Under 20s International: JUNIOR KANGAROOS 48 JUNIOR KIWIS 16 at Dairy Farmers Stadium

THE fireworks came before and after last night as the Junior Kangaroos blitzed their New Zealand opponents, with Canberra’s Edrick Lee and Jack Wighton each posting try doubles.
The Australian under 20s tempted fate by advancing on the haka before kick-off, with players ending up nose-to-nose and jostling before team-mates separated them. Advancing on the haka is considered disrespectful but the Kiwis failed to gain any lasting motivation out of it.
The Junior Kiwis scored first through Warriors star Carlos Tuimavave but after that it was all green-and-gold, with Kelly Egan’s side leading 30-8 at halftime.
The avalanche of points continued in the second session but the final try touchdown – by Australia centre Tautau Moga – was followed by a renewal of hostilities.
NZ second rower Jason Taumalolo and Australia’s Kane Evans were involved in a shoving match that quickly escalated, with Taumalolo throwing the first punch and Evans returning service before players rushed in. Referee Gavin Reynolds quickly restored order and the other Australian prop, David Klemmer, failed in half-hearted conversion attempt to finalise the score.
It was a dramatic fall from grace for the Junior Kiwis, who won the corresponding game last year at Hunter Stadium.
Aside from a bit of biff, the game was also sandwiched by touchdowns from Lee, the cousin of NBA basketballer Patrick Mills.
He scored in the 12th minute off clubmate Wighton’s pass and again in the 60th with victory assured. While halfback Jacob Miller was able to kick his first six conversions, New Zealand’s Ngataua Manumalealii was unable to add the extras to any one of his side’s four tries.
Wighton’s tries came in the 37th and 54th minutes, both from close range.
Lachlan Maranta was a late withdrawal from the Junior Kangaroos line-up with a hamstring injury.
JUNIOR KANGAROOS 48 (E Lee 2 J Wighton 2 J Stockwell D Klemmer C Blair T Moga M Fonua tries J Miller 6 goals) bt JUNIOR KIWIS 16 (N Hukatai 2 C Tuimavave D Fusita tries) at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Referee: G Reynolds.
Filed for: SUN-HERALD