World Cup: SCOTLAND 26 TONGA 24 at Derwent Park, Workington

By STEVE MASCORD
LUKE Douglas’ fellow Scotland Bravehearts told him his mother was smiling down on them.
Scotland, 500-1 outsiders at the Rugby League World Cup, scored their greatest ever win on Tuesday night when they surrendered a 20-4 halftime lead to a star-studded Tonga and then surged back to snatch victory in at Workington’s Derwent Park.
For Gold Coast prop Douglas, it had already been an emotional journey. His first trip to the ancestral home of the Douglas clan 12 months ago was prompted by his mother Trish having suffered a heart attack en route from Australia.
When in hospital in the UK, she was diagnosed with a melanoma and died earlier this year. Father Chris had been reluctant to return to the scene of so many painful memories – but when Luke walked off at fulltime in Tuesday’s boilover, his dad was there in the grandstand beaming.
“I talked him into coming – he’s brought a mate over and hopefully he’ll get a few better memories this time,” Douglas tells Fairfax Media.
“One of the coaching staff said ‘someone was definitely looking down on us there’. Mum’s up there. Got us through a tough end period and we snuck home.’
The Tongan side boasting NRL stars like Brent Kite, Konrad Hurrell, Jorge Taufua, Jason Taumalolo and FuiFui MoiMoi was left shellshocked by the unexpected defeat, which featured four of their would-be tries being disallowed by video referee Ashley Klein.
The most telling of these was right on fulltime, when halfback Daniel Foster forced his way over but appeared to be illegally stripped in a two man tackle.
“He tried to pass it, that’s how it came out,” said Klein. “That was the ruling.”
It was Douglas who fell on the loose ball. “I know you’re allowed, in the act of scoring, to rake it,” he said. “It was touch and go.”
Tonga coach Charlie Tonga was angry at the call. “I was actually at the coaches meeting the other day and that’s something (referees boss) Stuart Cummings mentioned – that if there’s a two-man strip in goal it’s going to be a penalty right in front,” he said.
But rival Steve McCormack insisted; ‘I certainly don’t think people can look at that game and say we were lucky to get any decisions.’
The first and last Bravehearts tries in a famous victory were scored by fullback Matt Russell, the former understudy to Sam Tomkins at Wigan who will return from a stint at Gold Coast to play for Warrington next season.
His 14th minute effort saw him leave Kite, MoiMoi and Siliva Havili clutching at air. His match winner, with eight minutes left, involved him stepping inside Kite and past two other Tongan defenders.
“My time in Australia did make me a more professional player but in saying that, I was at Wigan before and they are pretty professional,” Russell said.
“It was a great win to be part of.”
Scotland’s North Queensland centre Kane Linnett finished the game in the sin bin for a professional foul while Tonga’s Wests Tigers forward Ben Murdoch-Masila appears to have played his last football for the year after suffering a suspected broken leg in his first hit-up of the night.
SCOTLAND 26 (Matthew Russell 2, Brett Carter, Ben Fisher tries; Danny Brough 5 goals) beat TONGA 24 (Sika Manu 2, Willie Manu, Glen Fisiiahi, Nafe Seluini tries; Samsoni Langi 3 goals) at Derwent Park, Workington. Referee: Shayne Hayne (Australia) . Crowd: 7630.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

DISCORD 2013: Edition 46

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD
WE don’t normally write much about the other code of rugby here but it was fascinating to see one of Ireland’s greatest-ever union players (and good mate of the Johns boys) Brian O’Driscoll sidelined by a doctor on Sunday.
At the time O’Driscoll was told he could not return to the field because he was showing signs of cocussion, Ireland was on the way to an historic win over New Zealand. Perhaps if he had returned, they may have held on.
Now, rugby union has been accused of not doing enough to protect itself against the sort of legal action over concussion that has happened in the US – but it’s still doing a helluva lot more than we are with its five-minute pitchside assessment policy.
In our World Cup, players have continued on after being assessed on the field, on the run, or seemingly not assessed at all.
Not one fine has been issued to an NRL club under the League concussion rules. The NRL’s chief medical officer, Ron Muratore, has to make an appointment if he wants to meet with … the NRL.
It looks suspiciously like our game has found itself in a legal bind – officially acknowlege any concussion and you can be sued down the track, so let’s pretend there’s none and talk our way through it.
But it won’t be long before someone with a record of being knocked around – and I am plucking Brett Hodgson’s name out of thin air here, as an example – brings the sport to account.
And the current head in the sand attitude is just going to ensure rugby league’s backside is kicked even harder.
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DISCORD had the pleasure attending a Wigan supporters evening on Tuesday, when the guests included Andy Gregory, Bill Ashurst, David Furner, Michael Jennings and Boyd Cordner.
Jennings and Cordner were of particular interest to the throng because they will, of course, playing for Sydney Roosters against Wigan at Allianz Stadium on February 22.
Things started well for Cordner when he was asked about Wigan and he said they must be a good side to win both Super League and the Challenge Cup.
But things went downhill when he added that the loss of Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards would leave Shaun Wane’s side “under strength”. Boo!
And the locals became even more feisty when Michael Jennings was asked how much Super League he watched on TV and answered he made a point of seeing “mainly St Helens”. Boo!
“I told the boys on the way in that all they had to say was they hated St Helens,” Furner, the Australian assistant coach, joked.
Speaking of the World Club Challenge, we’re hearing that the proposed game against the New Zealand Warriors is back on, possibly on the Wednesday preceding the NRL Nines.
The proposed Papua New Guinea game was to be played in Cairns, not Port Moresby, and isn’t completely out of the question, either.
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WE are reliably informed that Scotland’s Australian-based players – Luke Douglas, Kane Linnett and Peter Wallace – are the Bravehearts who gave back their expenses because of the SRL’s financial woes.
At the moment, Scotland can’t afford to fly them in for internationals next spring. Douglas, in particular, had an emotional journey this year in a campaign he dedicated to his late mum and wants to come back.
It certainly flies in the face of the idea that NRL players are self-centred and narrow minded, doesn’t it?
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OK, let’s address some comments\

read on

Douglas Is A True Braveheart

Gold Coast - Luke DouglasBy STEVE MASCORD
THE United Kingdom is a place of pride for Gold Coast prop Luke Douglas. And a place of sorrow.
Six decades ago, his grandfather Archibald Douglas – a name carried by noblemen in Scotland going back a thousand years – took flight to Australia in the face of difficult economic times. “He’s got a big book about it,” says 27-year-old Luke.
The former Cronulla front rower always intended to represent the Bravehearts rugby league team. It was just a matter of timing.
This spring, he’s in. But travelling to the World Cup won’t just be a case of honouring his grandfather.
“I’m trying to get my dad over,” he tells League Week in the Titans sheds after a recent victory.
“I was over there for a month last year, it was my first ever time. My mum and dad went over last time, that’s when she had the turn.
“It was just hospital every day.
“He’s a bit uncertain yet, because of what happened last time but I’m trying to get him to go over and see the Douglas castle and all that sort of stuff over in Scotland.”
Luke’s mother Trish died in May as a result of the illness that had led to her being hospitalised in Britain late last year. She had a heart attack on the flight over, prompting a dash across the world by Luke, before a melanoma was discovered.
One son, Jake, now plays domestic rugby union in England while Kane is a Wallaby and will be on tour at the time of the World Cup – the event Trish and Chris Douglas followed him on 11 months ago.
For many reasons, Luke Douglas is far from the image of an international rugby league ring-in with no knowledge of the language or culture of the team he’s representing.
“The manager put it (out there) and they asked me,” he said of the link with Steve McCormack’s team. “My pop moved over when he was about 25, 26. There’s pretty strong Scottish heritage there and it should be a good experience and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve learned fair bit off pop. He’s right up to date on all the heritage and it’s pretty strong. There’s a lot of history in the Douglas clans. I’m keen to suss it all out once I get over there.
“He’d be early eighties. (In Scotland), it’s mainly soccer, footy as they call it, and rugby’s second. He’s a soccer guy, all that Catholic v Protestant stuff. He’s brought up on that, came out just a year ago. He had to flee, it was a tough time (when he was young). The rich guys moved onto America and he came through to Australia. There was a bit of a war or something.
“I might spend a week after we get knocked out – hopefully we can go good – and do a bit of background and heritage.”
And despite being in a tough pool, Douglas is confident that with the likes of Keith Galloway, Danny Brough, Michael Robertson, James McManus and Kane Linnett, the Bravehearts can “go good”
“We’ve got a pretty strong draw over there, against Italy who’ve got a pretty good side and also Tonga, who’ve got a good side too,” the Yamba-raised Australian Prime Minister’s XIII rep says.
“We play them and also America. I’m not sure of our squad too much yet. I know Kane Linnett put his hand up. I spoke to (Keith Galloway) and he said if everything goes sweet … he’s just back from injury … he’s going to go … Michael Robertson … James McManus
“This could be my last chance so I thought I’d go and have a go.
“We should be able to give a good show. I think Tonga and Italy are pretty beatable, even though they’ve got good squads. Anything can happen if we can get through that initial pool stage.”
One way or another, Luke Douglas is not going to let a place get him down. His grandfather’s pride will ensure that. And he’s keen that father Chris overcomes his own traumatic fears to make the same trip that ended in tragedy just a year ago.
“I might get over there and get some good memories,” Luke says, “instead of the hospital.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

Sharks On Departed Stars: We’re Better Off Without You

Paul Gallen

By STEVE MASCORD

CRONULLA’S coach and captain have a message for stars who have left for “an opportunity” over the past two years – no offence but we’re better off without you.

While the Sharks fly high after six consecutive wins, the clubs of departed Blake Ferguson (13th), Luke Douglas (15th) and Kade Snowden (10th as of Monday) are struggling with a third of the 2012 regular season gone.

And those are facts not lost on Shane Flanagan and Paul Gallen, who on Sunday easily accounted for a Canberra side including Ferguson – the winger who left because he couldn’t see himself ever winning a premiership in the Shire,

“Fergo’s made a good decision – I think we beat them last year in the competition (table) too,” Gallen tells RLW.

“I shouldn’t say that, Fergo’s a good kid. He made a decision at the time that no-one could blame him for. We were going pretty ordinary.

“He made that decision and guys like Dougy and Snowy made that decision. With all respect to those guys, we’ve reaped the rewards – probably not on purpose, probably a bit more out of luck than anything. That’s what rugby league is like, you’ve got to make your own luck. Picking up guys like (Andrew) Fafita, (Bryce) Gibbs, Mark Taufua, Ben Ross, Jon Green – five front rowers and two have left.

“So, we’re probably better off at the moment.”

Flanagan adds: “I’m not shying away from the fact we got a little bit lucky with the recruitment, especially with Todd (Carney). Gibbs and Fifita, I rolled the dice there and proposed to them that I didn’t want one, I wanted both of them. They had cap issues, the Tigers, so we got lucky there for different reasons.

“The Tigers only wanted to release one. I said ‘I don’t want to take one, I want to take both’. Mark Taufua and Isaac de Gois weren’t in Wayne Bennett’s plans but they’ve done a great job for us. They’ve been outstanding.”

Gallen lamented the fact the Sharks were losing too many good players when Douglas headed to Gold Coast and Snowden to Newcastle. He thinks the tide might be turning – although it’s “premature” to say youngsters will now stay at Toyota Stadium.

“When you look at the clubs those guys have gone to, you probably would say that when they left they did have a better chance of doing better than what we did,” he said “(For instance) Canberra have a good roster, they’ve just been unlucky with injuries.

“Fortunately, we picked up some real quality players that other clubs didn’t want and then Toddy came along late last year. So, I think things have turned out for the best.

“It’s like anything, a lot of it comes down to dollars and what you can spend on players. Hopefully if the club’s going good and the price is right to keep the players, then we can keep a lot of players and sign some quality players in the future

“But this roster we’ve got at the moment is doing pretty good. I’ll keep saying it and I know it sounds crap, be we really are taking it one week at a time.”

“I’ve praised Todd Carney ever since he came here. Everyone feels like I pushed his barrow a little bit but I think it’s deserved. He’s doing his job. You look at a player like that, he told me – we’ve got the same manager but he did the best he could to get him the best deal – but he told me as soon as I rang him that he wanted to come here. For a player like that to say that, it’s a good sign.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK