FAR & WIDE: July 2015

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

GAMES, dates and venues have been confirmed for this year’s European Championships.

It all starts on October 16 when Scotland plays Wales at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham. The next day, France takes on Ireland at Albi.

There’ll be only one game the following weekend, with Scotland hosting Ireland in Galshiels. That’s the same weekend as the Kiwis kick off their English tour with an old-style club game against Leeds.

Wales take on France in Cardiff on October 31. The series concludes on November 7 with France playing Scotland in Avignon and Ireland meeting Wales in Bray, with the winner being determined on a first past the post basis.

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VALENCIAN Warriors have won their first title, taking out the Spanish Cup final over Irreductibles Mislata, 32-12.

LeagueWeek Back IssuesCentre Christian Domínguez crossed twice for the victors. It’s the second year in a row that Irreductibles have lost the Cup final.

The Latvian premiership has also been determined, too. RC Fenkss finished on top of the four-team competition, ahead of Ķekava Warriors, Grobiņa Vikings and Livonia.

And the 10th Jamaican season has just kicked off.

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THE latest installment of Far & Wide 360 is back this Wednesday night as the final segment of NRL 360 on Fox Sports.

See an interview with rugby POW Sol Mokdad and the latest from everyone’s favourite hipster club, the Brooklyn Kings and the latest on a police request to ban State of Origin broadcasts in Papua New Guinea!

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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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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

McManus Will Finally Play For Scotland

Newcastle - James McManusBy STEVE MASCORD

IT’s taken a while, but the NRL’s favourite Scotsman is about to play for his homeland.

Newcastle and Country Origin winger James McManus says he plans to change his country of election after the State of Origin series so he can turn out for the Bravehearts in the World Cup.

“I’d love to play for Scotland in the World Cup, I’ve been in touch with them,” said McManus, who moved from Banff to Katherine in the Northern Territory while in primary school.

“It would be a great experience going over. I’ve got loads of family over there I’d love to catch up with.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been over there but it’s still home, it’s still where I’m from. The last World Cup, I needed groin surgery. I was locked into the surgery, my season was over.”

McManus scored the winning try in Sunday’s 18-12 win over City but is unsure of his chances of adding to one NSW cap in 2009.

“I guess it’s competition, how well you play and really what the coach is looking for,” he said.

“What Trent Barrett wants in this team might be different to what Laurie Daley wants in the State of Origin team.

“Baz gave me a job to do … and if Laurie sees that that’s what he wants, I’ll be grateful to be picked. If not, I’ll be a better player at club level for the experience.”

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 19

By STEVE MASCORD

PREPARATIONS are on in earnest for Vanuatu’s league debut, against Greece in Port Vila on October 20.

The Vanuatu Rugby League have signed a sponsorship deal with Ford. The team will assemble in Port Vila on October 16 ahead of the international, with Storm grand final star Justin O’Neill in line for selection.
At the moment, October 20 is also the day France plays Wales in Lens and Thailand takes on the Philippines in Bangkok. We’re hearing the latter game may, however, be subject to minor time and/or date changes (NB: Now confirmed for Royal Thai Police Stadium at 3pm on October 21).
On Monday, October 22, the Philippines side (featuring Matt Srama, Kevin Gordon and Andrew Everingham) will travel to Manila to undertake coaching clinics. Far & Wide understands the first of these will be on Wednesday, October 24. The clinics will over the course of that week will be held in Manilla and in another venue about two hours’ drive from the capital.
We’ve been waiting a while for the draw of the Tri-Nations, involving England, Wales and France. Things seem to have progressed since we last reported on this.
The second game of the series is between Wales and England at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham on October 27 and the third a week later between England and France at Craven Park, Hull. The final, on November 8, is penciled in for Salford City Stadium.
It’s hope the matches will be shown live on BBC at 3pm UK time.
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THE rubbery nature of international eligibility is not limited to the southern hemisphere.
Huddersfield’s Dale Ferguson has had a strong year in Super League. He started his representative career for Scotland before switching to England Knights, the second tier England team. Now he’s going back to Scotland.
But his Giants team-mate Joe Wardle, who made his Scotland debut alongside Ferguson, is still with England Knights and will play AGAINST Scotland in Edinburgh on October 28. Are you with me?
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TIME to honour the premiers around the country.
Northern Territory: Brothers, 36-10 over Nightcliff. South Australia. Centrals 21-10 over Norths. Western Australia: North Beach 17-10 over Fremantle. Victoria: Altona, 25-22 over Sunbury.  ACT: Belconnen United, 38-22 over Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Tasmania play in the summer.