Super League Sides Struggle With ‘Grinding’ NRL Style, Says Cuthbertson

By STEVE MASCORD

SUPER League sides struggle to adapt from their week-to-week freewheeling style to matching the grinding tactics of Australasian teams in the World Club Series, according to Leeds star Adam Cuthbertson.
In Sunday’s world title decider at Headingley, the Rhinos matched NRL premiers North Queensland for the first half but were gassed in the second as they crashed 38-4.
“It’s just a different style of football,” said Cuthbertson, 30.
“You go from playing in the Super League where we play the style of play we have to play every week, and then you go into a grinding battle with the NRL teams.
“We definitely didn’t get the best results in terms of the series over the weekend but there’s something there for improvement and growth,
“I dare say that if we (Leeds) had a full team in, it would have been a different story.”
Meanwhile, Cuthbertson does not see the appointment of Wayne Bennett as good news for his England chances.
Bennett has said he will consider any eligible player, regardless of that player’s background. Cuthbertson qualifies under the parent rule.
“It doesn’t change things, the coach,” he said.
“I’ve got to still be playing good footy to be up for selection so I wouldn’t expect to have a run just because the coach changes.
“It really comes down to how I’m playing and whether he thinks I’m the best fit for the team.”

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The A-List: Ryan Hall (:eeds & England)

Hall, RyanBy STEVE MASCORD

HE can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 45 seconds, once addressed his team-mates on how Pythagorus Theorum affects every day life and plays saxophone, piano, guitar and violin.

Leeds’ 105kg Ryan Hall may or may not be the best winger in the world – his team-mates call him ‘WBW’ anyway – but half an hour in his presence has convinced A-List he is the most interesting player in either the NRL or Super League today.

Hall, 27, is known to most casual observers as a tank of a man who regularly scores against Australia and New Zealand and who was controversially denied what would have been a match-winning touchdown at AAMI Park during last year’s Four Nations.

But for all his peroxide-headed heroics on the field, the Leeds local is a singularly distinctive character off it – a prodigy who would be studying pure mathematics at university if he wasn’t terrorising his opposite number each weekend as a pro rugby league player.

We sat down with Ryan on Friday morning at the Virgin Active gym in Kirkstall after a recovery session to find out what makes WBW tick.

EARLY YEARS: “I was a footballer. All my core mates at school played football (soccer). I play from seven up until about 11. At that age, football was on Sundays and I found out rugby (league) is on Saturdays. I did both up until 14 and then football changed. I was a goalie. I was a small guy, I didn’t grow until quite late on. I realised I were miles better at rugby than I were at football. I switched back to rugby, I was playing amateur, no rep games or anything. I played for fun. When I got to 17s and 18s, I used to play first grade as well – open age. Our 18s team trained twice, the open age team trained twice, so I trained four times a week and played on a Saturday and a Sunday. I did a lot more rugby then than I do now – it’s quite funny. In comparison to other players, I did get spotted quite late – 17 or 18, playing down at Oulton. I fullback … not much of a passer.”

PYTHAGORUS THEORUM: “At a pre-season camp, Brian (McDermott, coach), got everybody to stand up and address the donate2team. He likes to get you out of your comfort zone. Some of the lads talked about their lives growing up in rugby. I don’t get much of an opportunity to hold an audience. I thought I’d prove to the lads Pythagorus Theorum, using shapes and all that, is real, and where it comes from. That’s basically it. If you could see matrix, you’d see how it works. You’d see the trees breathing, you’d see equations going through. It does affect everything.”

MUSICAL LAD: “All through school, my mum encouraged me to do something different, to add another string to my bow – so to speak. I played violin in year two, junior school, and I gave that up and did saxophone. Technically (it’s my best), although I haven’t played it in a while. Through school … music’s quite transferable. If you can play saxophone, you can read music, you can play other instruments. I was in all the orchestras at school, I was in all the productions. I played in the bands at school and then we went touring. Every year the band would go to Paris, London, nice places like Amsterdam …. I’ve got a guitar. I didn’t play any at school but I thought ‘it’s more sociable. You sit around with people, it’s better to have a guitar than a saxophone’. I can play songs now, I’m not very intricate with it but I can play along with some chords. It’s a bit of an escape for me. People like watching TV – I like doing that.”

@BoringRyanHall TWITTER ACCOUNT: The parody account says things like “Brett Delaney just called me bro – which is very strange because he’s not my brother’. “I’ve got a couple of candidates but it keeps taking right turns,” Ryan says. “I think I’ve got it, and then it throws me. I quite enjoy it, so I’m not too bothered about getting to the bottom of it. I think the fans enjoy it too.”

GOING TO THE NRL: “I’ve never said ‘no’ to it directly but I’ve never had a full opportunity to do it. I’ve always been in a amazonlong-term contract at Leeds. Gary must have been quite smart, keeping me tied down. At the end of the last series, the Four Nations, I said I would like to come over if circumstances were different. If Gary was willing to let go and I was going to a good club, I’d think about it seriously. Here and there (there are whispers) but it goes away from me because it’s a back-room chat. I might regret that in my later life but I’m playing at such a good club in Leeds.”

WORLD’S BEST WINGER: “The boys say it when they’re taking the mick a little bit. It was started by the commentators at Sky, after the 2012 World Club Challenge. It’s nice from pundits to say that sort of thing but it gives people a bit of ammo to have a go at you. It also sets you up for a bit of a fall. At some time, I’m not going to be the best in the world and then they’ll be, like, ‘what’s happened to him?’.”

THAT TRY IN MELBOURNE: “I thought it was a try, speaking honestly. A lot of people said ‘why didn’t you celebrate?’. I couldn’t see the ball. I was diving over GI and just blindly taking a swipe at it. I felt contact with it. But I didn’t know if ball were in air, and I knocked it dead for a 20 metre restart, or I got it down. I didn’t want to start carrying on if I’d knocked it tWLBd41422314935dead. When it got referred upstairs, I thought ‘we’ve got a chance here’ and when there were images showing me touching it on the floor, I thought ‘it’s a try’. I’ve never beaten the Aussies and I’ve been playing them since 2009. I thought that was our chance and it was in their back garden as well.”

THE HAIR: “The first time I did it, it was (charity) Sport Relief and everyone had to do their hair red. You bleach it so the red will take better. It went blond first and then you put the red on top of it. All the lads hated it, they’re all vain – ‘not gonna pull with this hair cut’ so they all got rid of it as soon as they could. But I liked it. I like being different. I kept it. It also ran alongside my girlfriend being pregnant for the first time. I kept it all the time she was pregnant because I thought once I was a dad, I’d have to be a responsible adult. Then I actually quite liked it, I enjoyed looking at the videos of me playing with it, so I kept doing it sporadically throughout the year. I’ll do it again this year, don’t know when.”

RUBIK’S CUBE: “Forty-five seconds is my best. I did it on Soccer AM, the TV show, in just over a minute. That’s maths. You can solve it writing it down on a piece of paper. In fact I went back to my old secondary school and the head of maths is still there from when I was there. He asked me to come in and do some little chats because it’s hard to get people to concentrate on maths at times. If they get someone with a bit of a profile to go in, it makes a difference. So I went in and I wrote it down with the Rubik’s Cube for the classes, to show it’s mathematical, it can be done.”

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FAR & WIDE: Number One 2015

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
TOP flight rugby league is kicking off early, and in unusual surrounds, this Sunday when Leeds play the United States Pioneers at the University of Northern Florida in Jacksonville.
The Rhinos have been to Florida for pre-season camps three times previously. On this occasion, they have brought in several players from their new sister club in the US, the Atlanta Rhinos, to train with them.
The really historic aspect of the game is that this is the first time the Pioneers are taking the field as the official representatives of the governing body in the US, following the collapse of the AMNRL.
It was the AMNRL that sent the Tomahawks to the 2013 World Cup. The USARL has taken over the running of the national side.
The Rhinos have taken a number of supports with them for the game. Kick-off is at 2pm local time.
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FRENCH Federation president Carlos Zalduendo was recently part of a government delegation – headed by president François Hollande, to Australia.
donateAfter returning from the trip, Zalduendo declared his intention to strengthen his federation’s ties to the Pacific.
“We want to work again with New Caledonia, where we had a presence less than ten years ago, involved in player, coach and referee development,” Zalduendo said.
“This could be an excellent way to bring New Caledonia closer not only to its South Pacific neighbours.”
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ANOTHER big event coming up is the Reconciliation Nines in Redcliffe on January 24 and 25.
Thailand is the only international side currently taking part and they are looking for recruits. Hit them up on Facebook for details.
amazonThere’s another Nines tournament coming up in Mexico in February.
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DANNY Brough was recently voted Scotland’s player of the year.
The Huddersfield Giant continues to choose the Bravehearts over England – and the SRL continues to be grateful. Gold Coast’s Luke Douglas was the 2013 winner of the award.

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Decision Not To Join Cronulla Pays Off For Tom

Briscoe, TomBy STEVE MASCORD

JUST a few hours before the club he was to join was left holding a likely wooden spoon, Tom Briscoe scored a try before 77,000 people at Wembley on the way to a Challenge Cup winners’ medal.

“I think that’s justified me staying in the Super League and choosing the Leeds Rhinos,” said Briscoe, who was widely reported to have agreed to a contract with Cronulla this season.

“It were pretty close but when I got the offer from Leeds, it just made sense for me to go and were one I couldn’t refuse.”

Briscoe lost the previous year’s final while playing at Hull in what was to be his last season before heading to the NRL. Leeds lost six consecutive Challenge Cup finals but Briscoe won in his first at the club.

“It’s pretty incredible, in my first year at the club, to be part of a team that’s had such a struggle in this competition,” he said.

“It’s great to be involved in this group of players who have finally got that monkey off our backs.

”It meant so much to so many people at this club who’ve only got so long left in the game. To finally get that trophy, one that’s eluded the club for so many years, is great to be a part of.”

Leeds other winger, Ryan Hall, won the Lance Todd Trophy with two tries – including one where he treated hapless defenders like flies on a speeding car windscreen.

“I think he’s the only man who could have scored that – from 10 metres out with about three players on his back,” said Briscoe.

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“A very deserved man of the match there.”

Super League round 16: WIGAN 20 LEEDS 16 at Etihad Stadium, Manchester

By SOPHIE ARNOLD

LEEDS coach Brian McDermott labelled replacement video referee Ian Smith “anal” as the curtain came down on the Magic Weekend in suitably controversial style.

Referees boss Steve Ganson was to have been the eye in the sky for the final game of the carnival weekend at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium but he sensationally stood himself down after getting wrong a crucial call in the Hull-Hull KR derby.

And so it was Smith who disallowed a 72nd minute Danny McGuire try that would have tied the scores between Wigan and Leeds with eight minutes remaining.

“I don’t want to use that as a reason why we lost the game, numerically it stops us getting points on the board so it had a bearing. It was an anal decision I thought, a very anal decision,” McDermott said.

“Nobody was obstructed, it didn’t have an effect on the play. So whoever pressed the button there understands the rules, probably doesn’t understand the game.”

Wests Tigers-bound Wigan flanker Pat Richards played a crucial role in securing the 20-16 win by scoring a try, sending four goals over and suffering a nasty cut to the head. He needed 20 stitches to a cheek wound but was on hand to make a crucial tackle at the death.

The first try of the game came from fullback Sam Tomkins after just eight minutes and Richards’ conversion saw Wigan gain the lead they would only lose once.

leeds - Brian McDermottA late tackle from Michael McIlorum gave Leeds a penalty that captain Kevin Sinfield opted to kick and safely put their first points on the board.

Sinfield weighed-in with a try in 20th minute, fed by Zak Hardaker’s break, and an easy conversion gave Leeds the upper hand for the first time.

But this didn’t last for long as two minutes later Richards capitalised on a spill from Ryan Bailey and converted to give Wigan the lead they would precariously maintain for the remainder of the game.

Richards then extended the lead to 14-6 from another penalty before Kallum Watkins closed the gap with a gutsy effort in the 35th minute as the video official confirmed he just found the corner under close scrutiny from several Wigan defenders.

Josh Charnley scored a dazzling four-pointer on the bell for halftime as Matty Smith scooped up a kick which had smashed into Chris Tuson to send the winger clear.

In the early second half stages, Sam Powell almost managed to put the Warriors into a comfortable lead with a dainty run over the line but the video was used to make the first controversial call and it was disallowed for a Liam Farrell obstruction.

Yet another Wigan penalty was awarded and Richards opted to kick again, keeping Wigan in front by four.

In the 52nd minute winger Joe Vickery made the most of some quick Leeds passing to nip round the Wigan defence and make the score a dangerously close 20-16 after Sinfield pushed the conversion wide.

The score would remain the same for the last half an hour but it was not without drama.

The disallowed  McGuire try sent an audible sigh of relief round the Wigan camp.

“I was relieved obviously,” said Wigan coach Shaun Wane. “I’d rather them not score but I was more concerned with how it happened and the build up to it.

“The referee dealt with it correctly and we move on but I’m still pleased with our attitude, we stayed in with them and even though our attack was nowhere near as crisp as it had been.

“Leeds are a team that can score, they’ve got that much quality in their team. You can never write them off but I still thought we could pull something out of the bag.

“Sam (Tomkins) is playing with the energy. I thought Matty Smith could do something. I was confident we would get over, ourselves.”

Richards, meanwhile, was typically modest from the Warriors changing room. Straight from the doctor’s table and the last to get changed after taking the bang to the head with 15 minutes of the game to go, Richards explained his tactics.

“Leeds were doing the same thing – with games like this you have to take the two points when you can get them and we did that tonight and it worked out well for us,” said Richards.

“I think we ground it really and we did well to shut them out near the end. With a quality side like Leeds we are pretty happy with our defence.”

Wane admitted: “At times we were trying to go round them instead of through them. I thought our middles played really well but when we did put our plays we just weren’t at our best.

“I think we have come a long way from the defeat at Leeds in March and that was my big challenge for this year.

“I wanted to make sure our second string players like Sam Powell, I wanted them to be ready to play and that’s where we fell short last year.”

With just six minutes to go, the clock was not stopped while Richards was treated for the bloodied head wound that would later receive more than 20 stitches.

Yet the 2010 Man of Steel carried on to make the match winning tackle on Vickery with 56 seconds to go.

“It was alright – there are plenty of other tougher blokes in the side than me,” said a modest Richards.

“I was just doing my job out there and everyone has played their role today. It was just good to get the win.”

Wane said: “It was a real arm wrestle for many periods of the game and that was the most satisfying thing. I thought it was a quality game for spectators.”

WIGAN 20 (S Tomkins P Richards J Charnley tries P Richards 4 goals) bt LEEDS 16 (K Sinfield K Watkins J Vickery tries K Sinfield 2 goals) at Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Referee: R Silverwood.

Final team lists:

LEEDS: Zak Hardaker; Joe Vickery, Kallum Watkins,  Joel Moon, Ryan Hall; Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield; Liam Sutcliffe. Chris Clarkson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Bailey, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai. Res: Paul McShane, Ian Kirke, Mitch Achurch, Brad Singleton.

WIGAN: Sam Tomkins; Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Iain Thornley, Pat Richards; Sam Powell, Matty Smith; Sean O’Loughlin, Liam Farrell, Harrison Hansen, Lee Mossop, Michael McIlorum, Ben Flower. Res: Epalahame Lauaki, Chris Tuson, Logan Tomkins, Dom Crosby.

Future Of World Club Challenge Hangs In The Balance

2013 World Club Challenge - Leeds Rhinos v Melbourne StormBy STEVE MASCORD

IT’S quite possible that Gary Hetherington beat the Melbourne Storm to Australia at the weekend.

While the ultra-professional Storm shipped off home after their solid and entertaining 18-14 win over Leeds on Friday, the Rhinos chief executive also headed to the airport for the 24-hour flight.

Melbourne’s mission is to defend their premiership. Hetherington’s is to breathe new life into the World Club Challenge concept.

Friday night’s contest, in front of a sold-out 20,400 crowd, was the 13th in a row to be played in England. The 1997 22-team WCC was such an embarrassment that the fixture was put on ice until 2000, when the Storm played St Helens.

Since then, it’s been in holding pattern. You could convincingly argue it has in fact regressed, moving from large soccer stadia like Elland Road and the Reebok at Bolton back to the home grounds of the Super League clubs involved.

Aside from badges and bootlegged scarves being sold on street corners, there’s been no real WCC merchandise produced for years. Planning has taken place on a year to year basis between the teams involved and St George Illawarra negotiated so many guarantees in 2011 that the prizemoney became an RFL secret because it was so small.

This year’s match sponsor, PRObiz, signed on just two days before the match!

Hetherington’s journey to meet NRL club bosses could well determine whether the WCC realises its potential or withers and dies.

Before leaving England, Hetherington said: “I think the time is right to look to expand the concept. Rugby league needs to embrace the demand for global, international sporting events and this offers an ideal opportunity.

“We have seen in recent years the success that the American NFL and NBA have enjoyed by bringing fixtures to London and a concept such as this, further down the road, could prove very attractive to a number of cities around the globe, which will obviously improve the global reach of our game.”

While the working group including South Sydney’s Shane Richardson and St George Illawarra’s Peter Doust has agreed to move the game to Australia and include six teams in the UK in 2015, the decision is yet to be ratified by the NRL.

When Warrington majority shareholder Simon Moran last week wrote to a host of clubs asking if they supported the six-team concept, they didn’t answer.

That’s because they wanted to get the opinion of all clubs before responding. As you’ll read on page ??, even the Storm have doubts over the viability of pitting third versus third and second versus second on a Friday and Saturday in February 2014.

The Australian clubs also want the profits shared equally between all franchises in both competitions, not between the competing teams.

In England, SKY claims to already own the rights to the WCC. So selling the rights in Australia – perhaps meaning some rather unusual kick-off times in 2015 – to generate new income appears to be the key.

According to victorious Storm coach Craig Bellamy, ”It’s well known that some clubs don’t take this seriously”.

But the obsessive mentor and his staff were determined that would not be an issue for their travelling party, which arrived 10 days before the Leeds game and was denied a lead-up game against London by politics.

“To these guys’ credit … this is the third time I’ve been over with this group and this is probably the best preparation we’ve had,” said Bellamy.

“They just had a really good attitude to training, they had a really good attitude to doing the little things they need to do away from training. We went out last Friday night and had a few beers but aside from that the boys haven’t drunk at all.

“They’ve been tremendous with their attitude.”

On-field, the story of the night was 21-year-old back rower Tohu Harris. The debutant was presented with his jersey by father Paul and scored the try of the match just after halftime – the one that put Melbourne ahead 18-8.

“He lasted a lot longer than we thought,” said Bellamy. “We thought we might have to replace him in the first half but he got out 65 minutes. It was 65 good minutes. He worked really hard and came up with a couple of really nice touches and defended pretty well.”

Fullback Billy Slater also impressed in his first full game after a pre-season ankle injury.

Bellamy is close to finalising his team for the March 10 clash with St George Illawarra. Brett Finch missed the cut on Friday but remains in contention, while Bellamy was unhappy with a couple of errors from winger Sisa Waqa.

“Kevin Proctor, he won’t be available for a couple of months,” he said. “Matt Duffie, he might be available again.

“I’d imagine the 17 will come out of the 18 or 19 that were named for (this game).”

According to try-scoring prop Jesse Bromwich, a holiday approach just wasn’t an option for the players.

“I don’t think Craig takes it easy,’ said the Kiwi, “so why should we?”

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Jesse Bromwich Set To Become Dominant Prop

Melbourne - Jesse BromwichBy STEVE MASCORD

TEAM-mates have warned that giant Kiwi Jesse Bromwich’s powerhouse try in the World Club Challenge is but a glimpse of the havoc he’ll wreak on the NRL this year.

The 193cm, 110kg Bromwich ripped the clash with Leeds wide open on Friday night by beating four defenders on a 20-metre run to the line just after halftime, putting the Storm on course for their 18-14 win at Headingley.

“Jesse has come on in leaps and bounds since last year and I think playing the Test match has given him a heap of confidence,” said back rower Ryan Hoffman.

“I think he’s building on the way he finished last year. He’s just got to build on his game. He works very, very hard on it and if he keeps going the way he is, he’s going to be great player for us.”

Bromwich rated the try alongside one he scored in last year’s preliminary final against Manly.

“I don’t know what happened there, I just got lucky,” he said. “But it’s up there as one of the best tries I’ve got, along with the one last year in the prelim. It was a good feeling.

“I just remember hearing Cooper (Cronk) outside me and the next minute I was sliding over the tryline. I was stoked.”

Bromwich and another tryscorer on Friday, 21-year-old debutant Tohu Harris, were each discovered by the late Storm recruitment manager, Darren Bell.

“I get on good with (Harris),” said Bromwich. “He’s been training with us for two years now. I’ve known him for a while and he played well – I think he’s going to be a good player for this club, hopefully for a very long time.

“(Bell) was very good at his job and it is a nice little reward for him if he’s looking down on us. It’s always nice to have another Kiwi in there too.”

Bromwich’s brother Kenny made the trip to England but went home early to take part in a lower grade trial.

“He got injured in training a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t played a game yet,” Jesse explained. “It would be pretty special playing alongside my little bro.

“Mum and Dad would be stoked and so will I.”

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