THE JOY OF SIX: NRL Round 17 2015

The Joy Of SixTHE BEAST IS COMING FOR YOU

SO David Klemmer accidentally knocked out a NSW staffer who was holding a tackling bag? If he is on the field for a kick-off on Wednesday, Maroons players are best advised to stay out of his sight. The Beast Of Belmore has revealed he spots an opposition player from 30 or more metres away and tries to cause as much damage as possible by running over the top of him in such situations. “Whoever I see, I try to spot someone and run as hard as I can at them,” Klemmer told Triple M in the aftermath of the Belmore triumph last Monday. “I’ve probably got someone lined up to run at before the kick-off. As soon as I get it, I’m going straight for him.”

DOING THE RIGHT THING

THE silence flawlessly observed for Phil Walsh before the weekend’s three NRL games made your correspondent proud to be involved in rugby league. Such unity, such empathy. Now, if I add a ‘but’ to that, someone is bound to take it the wrong way. I’ll just say this: Danny Jones, James Ackerman and Zane Purcell died playing rugby league this year. Ackerman was honoured at two NRL games. I would like to have seen the whole comp observe a minute’s silence for each of them. Sometimes NRL clubs seem culturally isolated from the rest of rugby league – particularly overseas – while identifying themselves more closely with big time leagues in other sports. To reiterate, I fully support the solidarity shown regarding Walsh – maybe we can honour the three we lost on grand final day.

RISE FOR ALEX

IN a manner of speaking, I have a small inkling of how Cameron Smith feels after Sunday night’s 60 Minutes program. I covered the game in which Alex McKinnon was injured, for radio and for the newspaper. Like Cameron, I misread the situation completely. When people told me Alex’ treatment was “just precautionary” and that he reacted the way he did because he “got a fright”, I foolishly believed them. Fox’s Andy Raymond showed himself to be, frankly, a better journalist in the way he reported on the injury. Like Smith, I focused too much on the short term – in my case, trying to get a quote in the paper. I did that – but the quote was another well-intentioned smother. I am sorry for my performance and my decisions that night, which do not stand up to scrutiny. I wish I could change them. I’m sure Cameron feels the same.

IT’S LATE O’CLOCK

TEAMS are fined if they are late onto the field for a match but what if the game starts late? Who gets fined then? This was the dichotomy highlighted by St George Illawarra officials when they were told by the TV floor manager  to stay in the sheds an extra five minutes at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.  No-one could argue with the point made, either. Still at Wollongong, while the commentators sought to honour the days of the Steelers, it was a boy from the local suburb of Windang – North Queensland centre Kane Linnett – who was the hero for the visitors. Asked if Linnett was feeling the cold as much as his tropical team-mates, NQ captain Gavin Cooper said:  “He can wear a singlet because he’s got that much hair over his back.”

AS AN EXAMPLE….

I AM indebted to reader “Pete” for this example of why the idea of restricting representative suspensions to representative games is an intellectual miscarriage. “So Justin Hodges could go out on Wednesday night in his last origin game before retirement and cause absolute mayhem and cop six million demerit points and be suspended for next year’s origin series that he won’t be playing in anyway yet not miss any club games?” A million demerit points? I told you a trillion times not to exaggerate, Pete. Expect the Ennis loophole to be closed as soon as 9am Thursday. Suspensions will expire at the start of the following round.

MATE AGAINST STATE

ORIGIN shmorigin. The real rugby league grudge match was played over the weekend – and get ready with you “red zone” puns. Russia defeated the Ukraine 34-20 in neutral Belgrade to move a step closer to qualifying for the 2017 World Cup. “Russia was a really tough opponent,” said Ukraine coach Gennardy Veprik, no doubt echoing the thoughts of millions of his countrymen. Present at the game was RLIF chairman Nigel Wood, who will take part in something called the Founders Walk from July 19 to 24. Participants will walk 193km from St Helens to Hull, taking in the grounds of all the original Northern Union clubs from 1895.

Filed for SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

FAR & WIDE: Number 45

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

THE AMNRL is preparing to announce its program for the year following confirmation there will again be two competitions in the United States.
The AMNRL, which runs the Tomahawks national team, and rival USARL had been involved in peace talks for much of last year and a framework for a merger was drawn up.
But after an Independent Commission to run the sport in America was picked, the USARL clubs got cold feet and called the whole thing off.
Two AMNRL-aligned New York clubs, the Raiders and Knights, have distanced themselves from the peace deal and the existing administration in a media release and leaked email respectively.
But new AMNRL chairman, and Connecticut Wildcats owner, Curtis Cunz, says the establishment competition will fight on.
.
EDGARD Taturyan has been involved in Russian rugby league since 1989, filling a host of roles including that of national coach.
But after turning 75 last year, Tarturyan has decided to stand down. Despite the challenge presented by rugby union sevens being accepted into the Olympics, Edgard is confident our sport has a positive future in the former Soviet Union.
.
ALL the news on the TV from the Ukraine seems bad – but for rugby league, these are positive times.
The country has 45 sports schools and an agreement has been struck for all of them to include rugby league this year. Officials hope to soon boast some 2000 junior players.
.
RUGBY league’s 55-year tenure at Darwin’s Richardson Park is over.
Spiralling costs have been given for the reason to vacate the venue, which was said to once be home to a giant crocodile who patrolled the hill.
“Gone are the heady days of hosting 2000-3000 league fans for a home-and-away round and now, so are we,” was the pithy comment of NTRL general manager John Mitchell.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 34

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

THE Polish rugby league have gone the route of rock bands and artists by employing crowdfunding.

The game is a couple of years old in Poland, after a 20-year-old student saw some NRL footage on YouTube and decided he’d take it upon himself to start a local league.

His name is Lukasz Lukca and he’s started a club, hosted an incoming tour from the UK and applied to the government for official recognition.

But there’s still only one club. To play one away fixture in a neighbouring country and host one home game will cost just $2000 and the league has started a crowdfunding page to raise the money.

Go to crowdfunder.co.uk and search for polandrl. If you don’t know how crowd funding works, basically you pledge to help a certain cause if it reaches its target.

If the pledges fall short, you pay nothing. A great cause and a great outcome for not a lot of money.

.

WE’VE had a couple of European Bowl matches since our last column.

In Kharkov, the Ukraine had a big 42-14 win over Norway, Winger Oleksandr Korobov scored four of his side’s nine tries in seering heat. The Ukrainians were pre-tournament favourites.

“We know we have to beat the Czechs in September if we are to be promoted to the European Shield in 2014,” said UFRL president Artur Martyrosyan.

In Oslo, Norway then went onto beat the Czech Republic 26-14 in something of an upset. Isaac Schmidt was the star. The Czechs now have to beat the Ukraine by 20 in late September retain their crown.

.

GERMAN rugby league founder Simon Cooper is currently touring Australia with his wife and will be a spectator at 1300smiles Stadium on Friday for the North Queensland-Brisbane derby.

There was a time when Simon wanted to recruit Paul Gallen to the cause, perhaps because of his jawline.

But Far & Wide hears there might be some divisions in the German scene with Simon keen on nines when a full team can’t be assembled and the RLEF focusing on 13-a-side.

It would be sad to see a pioneer like Simon lost to the game and we hope the differences can be sorted out.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 31

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

MORE World Cup warm-up news from your favourite RLWC news source and New Zealand are set to take on the Cook Islands the week before the tournament commences.

Far & Wide has been told Doncaster is being looked at as a possible venue. It’s going to be a big moment for the Cooks to take on their ‘big brothers’, whom they are unlikely to meet in the tournament proper.

Of course, the Kiwis owe the Cooks big time after canning an international in Rarotonga at the last minute when the Warriors made the 2011 grand final the previous week.

At the time, there was great disquiet in the Cooks and demands for compensation.

Salford is likely to host the England-Italy warm-up while France will tangle with the United States in Toulouse on October 18.

Australia aren’t planning a warm-up but just about everyone else is. We’ll update you as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, Affiliated States combination will tour Samoa some time in September.

.

FRENCH rugby league has been restructured for the coming season, which runs during the northern hemisphere winter.

There will be an eight-team Elite One Championship and then Elite Two East and Elite Two West. You play every team in your league once and then there is some complicated inter-league system which Far and Wide is struggling to understand.

.

NORWAY have a bit European Bowl appointment with the Ukraine this weekend and if you think the State of Origin coaches bend the rules regarding bringing extra players into camp, check out coach Matt South’s squad.

He has whittled it down to …. 38 players. Ten are provided by the gun Oslo Capitals club.

The match is in Kharkov on July 6. The Ukraine squad is a much less unwieldy 20 players.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

FAR & WIDE: Number 26

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD

ORIGIN may be upon us but there’s also a big game coming up next week in Hawaii with the United States to take on Samoa.

After months of planning, the fixture finally got the green light last week. The clash is being held on June 1 to mark Samoan independence day.

Aloha Stadium, located in central Ohahu and the largest outdoor arena in the islands, is the venue for the big game. It hosts the NFL pro bowl game each year.

Former Samoan rugby union player Keikiokalani Misipeka-Kelemete, now with the Tomahawks, told a Hawaiian website: “The game comes so naturally to us and the physicality of the game is something we feed and thrive off of.

“The game continues to grow in the US sports industry. The fans love to watch hard nose physical sports. I believe rugby provides that type of intensity the US fan base wants to see.”

Disappointingly, the NFL has decided to finance a rugby union competition in the US. It should have been us, I tell you!

.

THE USARL Nines has been run and won, with Auckland Police taking the trophy for the third consecutive year.

Known as the “Fencibles”, the cops beat Philadelphia Fight 26 0 in the final. The Fight had an extra time win over Aussies the New England Echidnas, 16-12, to qualify for the decider.

Former NRL star Nathan Blacklock hobbled through the semifinal due to injury. A US under 23s side also took part in the Philadelphia tournament.

.

THE EUROPEAN Shield is also off and running and at Makis Stadium in Belgrade, Serbia have proven too strong for Germany, winning 46-10.

The star for the Serbs was Dorcol lock Stefan Nedeljković, who scored a hat-trick. It was only 18-10 to the locals at halftime but superior fitness kicked in during the second.

Serb winger Radovan Tajsić ran 100 metres for one try, after a team-mate fielded a kick in his own in-goal.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine is now a full member for the RLEF.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK