FAR & WIDE: Number 40

Far & WideBy STEVE MASCORD
SYDNEY Roosters utility Daniel Mortimer has pulled out of the Welsh World Cup squad for a very straightforward reason – he doesn’t qualify.
“(My grandmother) always told me she was Welsh but she was born in England and moved there when she was six months old,” Mortimer tells Far & Wide.
“She was there until she was 20, she always considered herself Welsh but I couldn’t get the documentation to get it across the line, unfortunately.”
Details like that didn’t stop Chris Morley, brother of Adrian, from having a long and distinguished career with the Dragons. As Morely reveals in his biography, Chris merely told coaches he was Welsh, they believed him, and that was that!.
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WE can reveal here that ABC radio has secured the rights to the semi-finals and final of the World Cup.
After negotiations with IMG, which owns the broadcast rights to the tournament, the national broadcaster agreed to cover ‘The Big Hit’ semi-final double-header at Wembley on November 23 and the final at Old Trafford a week later.
So far, no deal has been done regarding the pool matches.
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MORE embarassment for the European game recently with Norway docked to European Shield points for fielding five ineligible players (good move, Daniel Mortimer!) against the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Omar Baghdadi, Sean Casey, Timothy Hackney, Tim Rowan and Isaac Schmidt have been suspended until such time as they can prove they aren’t ring-ins. Norway have also pulled out of a planned trip to Canada.
The European Shield will be determined on September 28 when the Ukrainians play the Czechs.
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PHILIPPINES captain Luke Srama – brother of Gold Coast hooker Matt – has opened a recruitment agency aiming to show players you can see the world playing rugby league.
Srama aims to put clubs in touch with players, and vice versa, through his facebook page Srama League Recruitment. He already has more than 1000 ‘likes’!
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BUSY week this week with the Jacksonville Axemen announcing plans to explore the possibility of expanding the game in the south-eastern United States.
“One of the clear goals of SERL has always been to expand and grow the game of Rugby League in our region”, said Axemen founder Daryl ‘Spinner’ Howland.
“It is now time to see if we can help other cities start their own team to compete in the USA Rugby League. The Axemen and our minor league teams are proof that this game can be viable enough to be self supporting, providing the right people come together to form the core of the operation.
“This (September 8) meeting will be about sharing our knowledge, the good, bad and ugly of the past eight years, and to gauge the interest in the cities we have earmarked as potential expansion markets.

“In addition to Daytona, Orlando and Tampa, delegations from Atlanta and South Carolina will attend the meeting to share thoughts, ideas, potential challenges and opportunities in each city.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

THE WRAP: NRL Round Six

NRL logoBy STEVE MASCORD
AS arguably the most important season ever of international rugby league prepares to kick off in Canberra, it can be revealed a member of one of Australia’s most famous footballing families is about to outdo his illustrious father and uncles.
Sydney Roosters star Daniel Mortimer has made himself available for Wales. If he plays in the tournament in Britain, Ireland and France at the end of the year, he’ll be the first member of his family to take part in a World Cup.
While having Peter Mortimer for a dad, plus Chris and Steve as uncles, may be daunting for a young rugby league player, Daniel will be able to boast has achieved something they didn’t.
The closest any of Canterbury’s favourite sons got to an RLWC was in 1986, when Chris played in a Test that doubled as a qualifier for the 1988 World Cup final, which was a stand-alone match.
“Daniel has mentioned something to me about playing for Wales,” Mortimer’s agent, Steve Gillis, tells NRL.com.
“I would say discussions are at an early stage. He has to make the team first.”
Gillis wasn’t sure how the former Parramatta five-eighth qualified for the Principality but it’s understood to be via the grandparent rule.
Friday’s Australia-New Zealand Test – it could be argued – does not technically mark the opening of rugby league’s 2013 international season. That happened way back on January 31 when Portugal beat Japan 26-20 at Sefton in Sydney’s west.
But Portugal and Japan are not involved in our 14th World Cup. Australia and New Zealand, of course, are and the road to Old Trafford on November 30 starts in amid the rugged Australian bushland of Bruce, in north-western Canberra, tomorrow.
This is without doubt the most extensive and high profile year international rugby league has ever had. The World Cup, the first major international sporting event in the UK after the Olympics, will be shown around the world as part of television deals negotiated by the International Management Group and around 40,000 tickets have already been sold for the final – even though no-one knows who’ll be in it.
In the meantime, England will play the Exiles – a team of Super League-based foreigners – for the third consecutive season, at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Friday June 14.
Closer to home, the NRL will help underwrite a Test between two foreign countries for the first time this Saturday night, when Tonga meets Samoa in a clash that gives us our first glimpse of the powerful squads these nations will take to Europe.
Before the World Cup kicks off in Cardiff on October 26, the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII will take on Papua New Guinea near Rabaul and there’ll be all manner of RLWC warm-up games, with Samoa to face up to the United States in Hawaii.
Australia coach Tim Sheens has ruled out a warm-up game but New Zealand’s Stephen Kearney is searching for an opponent in Europe.
Italy and the United States play their in their first World Cup after coming through the tough qualification process. Perhaps typically of our quarrelsome sport, both countries make their bows despite having rebel leagues on the domestic front.
Facing up to Mortimer in the tournament-opening double-header at Milennium Stadium will be the likes of Terry Campese, Anthony and Mark Minichiello, Craig Gower and Anthony Laffrranchi with the Italian Azurri.
In the main game, England can keep themselves away from Australia and New Zealand’s side of the draw by upsetting Tim Sheens’ men.

Read on at NRL.com

Adrian Morley: My Brother Lied To Play For Wales

By STEVE MASCORD
ENGLAND star Adrian Morley has sensationally admitted his brother Chris lied about his background in order to make 13 appearances for Wales.
In a cautionary tale ahead of next year’s World Cup, Adrian says in his newly-released biography, Moz, that Chris did not qualify to play for the principality on any basis and instead got into the team by speaking “fluent bullshit”.
Adrian Morley writes: “Mike Gregory, the assistant coach at St Helens, was also the Wales assistant. One day, when he was leaving training at Saints, he (Gregory) just so happened to mention he was heading to train the Wales team.
“‘I’m Welsh,’ Chris told him. ‘Well, my gran is… I’m not sure if that counts or not.’
“It counted.
“He travelled down with Greg to the training base, where he was asked more about his Welsh ancestry. And so Chris told them that she lived in a little village, just outside of Swansea which – even after all these years – he still couldn’t pronounce. Aber-something-or-other. Our gran hardly spoke a word of English, he told them, and she loved Wales more than anything.
“None of which was true, of course. My gran didn’t really speak fluent Welsh, but fortunately for Chris he spoke fluent bullshit. His little white lie proved his passport into the Wales team and, to make it even sweeter, it activated a clause in his St Helens contract which gave him a payment of a few grand for playing international rugby!
“I remember him phoning me up.
“‘Aje, if anyone asks you, our gran is Welsh,’ he said.
“‘I thought she was from St Helens.’
“‘Not any more.’”
In 2006, New Zealand’s Nathan Fien was kicked out of the Tri-Nations and his team stripped of two competition points when it emerged that his great grandmother – and not his grandmother – was a Kiwi. He has since qualified for New Zealand on residency grounds.
Morley’s story is likely to serve as a warning to organisers of next year’s World Cup, which will include 14 teams including dozens of players whose qualifications are by ancestry.

read on

WHITE LINE FEVER Column: One

By STEVE MASCORD
IN Townsville on Sunday, it was like the circus had left town. 
All that was missing was a few tumbleweeds blowing down Flinders Street, past the Mad Cow which will no doubt feel the effects of the end of the rugby league season as much as any business in Australasia.
Nate Myles was on his way to Braith Anasta’s wedding (landing half an hour before the ceremony). Johnathan Thurston was heading to New York with tickets to the World Series. Tim Sheens has the small matter of a job for next year to sort out.
Reporters and referees and cameramen and sound operators will see their families for the next twenty weekends or so. Sports nuts will turn their attention to cricket and whatever big-ball sport can come across as trendy enough for the summer months this year.
And it will be easy to forget that when the circus leaves down, it doesn’t cease to exist.
It finds another paddock, and up goes the tent again. Tackling pads, strapping, ballwork, tickets, interviews, precision and pain in roughly equal doses – they’re our tapeses and elephants and ghost trains.
This week in Bangkok, Thailand and Port Vila, Vanuatu, the caravan rolls on.
Titans Kevin Gordon and Matt Srama plus South Sydney’s Andrew Everingham will represent the Philippines against Thailand on Sunday at the Royal Thai Police Stadium.
It’s the first full international ever held in Asia and also possibly the first time a husband-and-wife refereeing team will control any sporting event of note.
NRL ref Gavin Badger was asked to take up the whistle for the game. He asked if his wife Kasey, who has controlled Toyota Cup games, could join him. The Thai Rugby League said yes.
After the game, a selection of Filipino players – hopefully including the NRL trio – will conduct coaching clinics in and around Manila, as well as visiting an orphanage. Next year, while 14 countries compete in the World Cup, these two plan a return bout on a military base outside the Filipino capital.
Next Saturday, Melbourne’s Justin O’Neill will be part of Vanuatu’s first home international, against Greece at the Port Vila Municipal Stadium. Also in the Vanuatu side are Jake and Joe Meninga, nephews of Queensland coach Mal.