Monthly Archives:March 2019

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney hasn’t been afraid to meddle with his triumphant Four Nations squad, recalling four players and removing 10 for this week’s Test against Australia in Brisbane.

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Fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, uncapped wing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and props Sam Moa and Ben Matulino are in the 18-strong squad for the Test on Friday, having not been involved late last year.

Injury has ruled out two members of the Four Nations squad – powerhouse North Queensland Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo and classy Penrith centre Dean Whare.

Eight other players from that squad have been dropped. They are Jason Nightingale, Josh Hoffman, Sosaia Feki, Gerard Beale, Suaia Matagi, Siliva Havili, Adam Blair and Bodene Thompson.

Moa and Watene-Zelezniak were both initially named in the Four Nations squad but were forced out for personal reasons and injury respectively.

Tuivasa-Sheck’s sizzling form since switching to fullback at the Roosters means he is likely to start there, with Peta Hiku potentially shifting into the centres to take Whare’s berth.

Likewise, Matulino has been strong for the Warriors.

Kearney warned this week he would be picking more on form than reputation and none of his selections represent a major surprise.

As signposted, there was no room for former captain and veteran half Benji Marshall despite his fine form with St George Illawarra.

Manly standoff Kieran Foran has overcome a hamstring injury while Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai provides the play-making cover.

“All of these players have been in good form so far this season and really put their hands up for inclusion,” Kearney said.

“It’s a sign that we are developing some great young talent and good depth in certain positions.”

Whare has nursed a hamstring strain for several weeks and didn’t play in Penrith’s win over the Sharks on Sunday.

Taumalolo left the field early in North Queensland’s win over Newcastle on Saturday with a damaged medial ligament and is likely to be sidelined for at least a month.

“It’s disappointing to lose those lads, but … we believe this team is capable of a job for us this week and its also an opportunity to take another step towards our ultimate goal, the 2017 World Cup,” Kearney said.

While the Kiwis dominated the Four Nations, winning the trans-Tasman final 22-18 in Wellington, their record in the Anzac Test is dreadful.

They have lost the past 13 encounters dating back to the lone win in 1998.

The Kangaroos were 30-18 winners last year in Sydney.

New Zealand squad: Simon Mannering (capt), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu Vatuvei, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Peta Hiku, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Sam Moa, Martin Taupau, Ben Matulino, Issac Luke, Thomas Leuluai, Kevin Proctor, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Tohu Harris.

Next Sunday’s City-Country clash shapes as a genuine selection trial for the hotly disputed NSW five-eighth slot after Josh Reynolds and James Maloney were named in the respective sides.

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Blues incumbent Canterbury star Reynolds, who has come under harsh criticism for his form from NSW great Andrew Johns, just holds the inside running for the Blues No.6 jersey for the opening State of Origin clash in Sydney on May 27.

But Sydney Roosters premiership-winning pivot Maloney is coming into form at the right time of the year, after a slow start to the NRL season.

With Blues coach Laurie Daley looking on 2013 NSW five-eighth Maloney and Reynolds will go head-to-head in Wagga Wagga.

“The thing is Laurie Daley has had a big input into both teams,” City and NSW assistant coach Brad Fittler said at the announcement of the sides at Rugby League Central on Sunday.

“So Josh will be playing for a reason, he has had plenty of energy of late, they (Canterbury) were not very successful on the weekend but hopefully this week he can put things in the right direction and have a good game.

“He has just come back from injury and I think the game time will really help him.”

Country coach Trent Barrett said Maloney had it all before him.

“I think James Maloney has a hell of a lot to play for,” Barrett said.

“It was two years ago he was the NSW five-eight alongside Mitchell (Pearce) and I have named him captain for a reason and this is a huge op for him.

“The two Roosters halves have been up and down a bit, but Jimmy’s last two weeks have been really good.

“We have to look at it as a real positive we have a lot of people to pick from in that NSW side.

“If we can get both of these guys to pay well and Brad’s halves to play well that will give Laurie a few options

Incumbent NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson has been rested from the match, as has Mitchell Pearce.

South Sydney’s City duo Luke Keary and Dylan Walker are both in doubt for the representative clash due to injuries suffered in the Rabbitohs’ loss to Canberra on Sunday.

Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said City No.7 Keary had some issues regarding bruising while centre Walker had a knee problem.

NSW City: Matt Moylan, James Roberts, Dylan Walker, Waqa Blake, Daniel Tupou, Josh Reynolds, Luke Keary, Andrew Fifita, Nathan Peats, David Klemmer, Curtis Sironen, Wade Graham (capt) Tyrone Peachey. Interchange: Blake Austin, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Kane Evans, Jason Clark. 18th Man Joseph Paulo.

NSW Country: David Mead, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, James McManus, James Maloney (capt), Jarrod Mullen, Dale Finucane, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Kade Snowden, Joel Thompson, Tyson Frizell. Josh Jackson. Interchange: Jack Bird, Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims, Ryan James.

Robbie Tarrant stood tall among a host of unsung heroes as hard-running North Melbourne ran over the top of Geelong to record a 16-point AFL win at Simonds Stadium on Sunday.

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Tarrant, 26, was picked up as a key forward by the Kangaroos at the 2007 national draft, but a run of bad luck and serious injuries have limited him to just 41 matches.

His shutdown job on Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins (one goal) was the pick of them, with Tarrant also picking up 23 disposals and nine marks.

“We have had trouble with Hawkins in the past so Robbie Tarrant, if he can get some continuity in his footy (and) if he can keep playing, he is going to be a valuable player for us,” said North Melbourne coach Brad Scott after the 12.11 (83) to 9.13 (67) victory.

“It wasn’t just Robbie, I thought it was a pretty effective performance from our defenders and reward for all the hard work they have been doing.

“(Tarrant) has been at North longer than I have – we saw him play forward early on but the team needed a big strong key defender.

“He is just a fantastic athlete, he just needed to get some continuity with training and playing to be able to show what he can do.”

Off-season recruit Jarrad Waite and discarded Tiger Robbie Nahas booted three goals apiece for the Kangaroos, Mason Wood was good in the midfield and debutant Trent Dumont kicked a crucial final-quarter goal minutes after taking off the substitute’s vest.

After opening brightly with the first four goals of the match, the Cats could only manage five more after quarter-time as they slumped to a 1-3 win-loss record for the season.

The Kangaroos put the clamps on the home side through the middle two quarters and then broke the game open with five goals in the final term.

After a below-average start to the season, Geelong star Steve Johnson started as the sub for the first time in his celebrated career before coming on and kicking two of Geelong’s three goals in the final quarter.

“It’s certainly not a precursor to anything we will do in subsequent weeks,” said Geelong coach Chris Scott.

“I don’t think it will be his main role in the future but it was the right thing for us, given the circumstances, this week.”

The Kangaroos moved to a 2-2 win-loss mark ahead of next weekend’s big clash with Hawthorn.

The Cats must regroup in time to tackle Richmond, who were humbled by Melbourne early in round four.

Chris Scott said the biggest issue for him on Sunday was the Cats’ inconsistency.

“We had control of the game today and then a few really bad errors halt your momentum and get the opposition back into the game,” he said.

The European Union was shocked into action last week by a shipwreck that killed more than 700 people, and pledged to triple the budget of its sea mission which had replaced a more comprehensive Italian operation.

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But differences of opinion over immigration policy mean the EU’s Operation Triton does not have an explicit mandate to search for and rescue migrants near the Libyan coast, where Italy’s now-defunct Mare Nostrum did much of its work last year.

       

“We only see that mission patrolling right around the borders of Italy. But all these boats that we have seen go down have been going down further afield, so closer to Libya, and these boats are simply not reaching that area,” said Amnesty International’s deputy manager for Europe, Gauri Van Gulik.

       

Last weekend’s shipwreck nearly doubled the death toll at sea this year to more than 1,800 and is thought to be the deadliest disaster in decades of migration on the Mediterranean.

      

The presumed captain of the doomed ship, a Tunisian, is accused of causing the fishing boat to collide with a Portuguese merchant ship coming to its assistance. Passengers are thought to have rushed to one side of the boat, causing it to sink.

      

The brother of the accused man told Reuters on Saturday that he was himself a migrant and had been forced at gunpoint to pilot the ship because he had experience as a fisherman.

       

Van Gulik said the rescue process posed its own dangers and many of the merchant vessels directed by the coastguard to help boats in difficulty lacked the right equipment and training to carry out safe rescues.

      

“Even though it is heroic, of course, what they are doing, this is causing boats to capsize because, for example, there is panic on board … and it is causing a lot of the deaths that we are seeing,” she said in the Sicilian port city of Catania.       

Italy’s coastguard said late on Friday it had rescued 228 migrants in two operations around 40 miles from the Libyan coast, and had also coordinated the rescue of 80 other people from fishing boats in Tunisian waters.

       

More than 300 people were brought to the Sicilian port of Augusta on Saturday afternoon and rescue workers in white protective suits began helping them ashore.

South Sydney captain Greg Inglis has implored his teammates to stick tough after the embattled Rabbitohs fell to a third-straight NRL loss on Sunday.

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The Bunnies blew a 12-point halftime lead to concede five second-half tries to Canberra at Cairns’s Barlow Park as the Raiders secured a 30-22 win.

Winger Edrick Lee picked up a double for the Raiders as they claimed their third consecutive away win and second victory in as many weeks after the fightback.

Following the loss, the first time Souths have lost three games on the spin under coach Michael Maguire, Inglis pulled his team together and delivered a blunt message of loyalty.

“Two weeks in a row, back-to-back, losing in the second half and that’s not what we stand for and what this team’s about,” Inglis said.

“I just got them together and we’ve got to stick together through this.

“We’re a team and we stick together. We’re a squad and we stick together. That’s what we stand by.”

Maguire backed his captain’s call, saying he wasn’t panicking despite the defeat being the Rabbitohs’ fourth in five games.

“Second half wasn’t good enough. A team came out and performed better than us in the second half,” he said.

“We’ve just got to make sure we stay at the things we’ve been practising and take them into the game.”

Souths trip back to Sydney will be further soured by a knee injury to star centre Dylan Walker, which forced the NSW State of Origin hopeful to limp from the field midway through the second half.

Forward Chris Grevsmuhl was also placed on report for a first-half high shot on Raiders’ winger Jordan Rapana.

Coach Ricky Stuart was cock-a-hoop after the victory, claiming it showed his team was being underrated by many.

The Raiders are now outside the top eight solely on points differential and Stuart said he just wants his players to keep confounding their critics.

“We’re not meant to win the big games. We’re just meant to turn up and be a part of it,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of respect there for the club and the players and I’m constantly talking to the boys about just keep being a nuisance.

“I feel like we are a nuisance a lot of the times and just keep being a nuisance to a lot of the teams.”

Souths’ task doesn’t get any easier with the Rabbitohs to face in-form St George Illawarra after the representative break while the Raiders host Gold Coast.