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Wigan Warriors have signed imposing Kiwi centre or back-rower Anthony Gelling.

The 21-year-old Cook Islands international joins the Warriors from New South Wales Cup outfit Auckland Vulcans.

Gelling was previously with Sydney Roosters but he was sacked in 2010 after being accused of defecating over a hotel room.

Warriors head coach Shaun Wane said the youngster had been highly recommended by Wigan legends Kevin Iro and Dean Bell.

He said: “He maybe unknown to the rugby league public in the UK, however, some of English Rugby League’s most successful imports have come over with similar reputations.

“Players like Kevin Iro, Henry Paul, Frano Botica and even George Carmont were little known over here but proved to be world class acquisitions.

“I know he has learned from his experience both at the Roosters and in New Zealand and comes to the club fully prepared to buy into the Wigan culture and establish himself as a firs team player.”

Gelling has been handed squad number 24 and is due to fly out to Florida with his new team mates for the Warriors pre-season training camp today.

He said: “I am delighted to be here and am really looking forward to getting straight into training with my new team mates.

“It will be an honour to play for the world-famous Wigan club and I’ve already heard about how passionate the Warriors supporters are.

“I know the squad is packed full of talent so I will have to work hard to earn the opportunity to show the coaching staff and fans exactly what I can offer.”

Wrexham-based brothers Owain and Iwan Brown have been unveiled as North Wales Crusaders first signings.

Head coach Clive Griffiths previously worked with both players while coach of the Wales Students side and Great Britain Students assistant coach.

Crusaders have also named former Great Britain and St Helens prop John Fieldhouse as Griffiths’ assistant.

Prop Owain, 27, and 25-year-old second row forward Iwan first played rugby league with Wrexham Raiders.

Owain said: “Both myself and my brother are delighted to be able to represent our home town club and can’t wait to get into training.

“We’ve always been massive rugby league fans and when the call came from Clive Griffiths we both jumped at the chance.

“It will be brilliant to be able to play at the Racecourse, which is a fantastic ground in front of our friends and families.”

Owain’s most recent club was National Conference League outfit Leigh East while Iwan has played for Halton Simms Cross.

Griffiths said “These two boys have a huge amount of experience and will be a massive asset to the squad.

“The fact that they are local lads just makes it all the more special.”

Both Owain and Iwan were part of the successful Great Britain Students squad which toured Bali and Australia earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Griffiths believes the addition of Fieldhouse as his assistant will prove to be a shrewd appointment.

The pair have previously worked together at South Wales RLFC in 1996 and on the backroom staff at Warrington Wolve

“I wanted someone who I could trust as my assistant and I have known John for years,” he said.

“He is an experienced campaigner with a wealth of knowledge and experience and has done a really good job with the BARLA Great Britain side and has brought a lot of amateur players through that have gone into the professional ranks.

“He knows the territory around here as well and historically ticks all the boxes for me. I’m delighted to have him on board.”

Griffiths hopes to announce further signings later this week

n0ticeAs a strong believer in the power of ‘community journalism’ and an advocate of hyperlocal news sites, I’m eager to see how www.n0tice.com develops.

Developed by The Guardian, n0tice is currently in private beta but early impressions are good. Described as a ‘community noticeboard’, it will allow users to share news, publicise upcoming events and advertise items for sale. It will be almost entirely free to use, although members will have the option to pay for premium adverts.

Just like the traditional village noticeboard, n0tice is location based and everything on display can be viewed by anybody in the vicinity. Users are encouraged to contribute and give feedback on postings.

It is a white label platform so users will be able to customise noticeboards, something which lends itself to the development of hyperlocal sites.

The Guardian has experimented with the idea of social news before (Guardian Local closed earlier this year) and encouraging a more bottom-up approach might be the answer.

So far I’ve created a noticeboard for Chester (http://chester.n0tice.com) and posted a couple of reports to test the water. The site is invite only at the moment and you can register for updates at http://www.n0tice.com, however I have a few spare invites for those who are keen to find out more. Get in touch @jimcgreen on Twitter if you would like one.

Of all the possible outcomes at the Super League licensing announcement, the decision of Crusaders RL to withdraw their application has to rank as the widest of outsiders.

The anger and fury with which the new has been greeted demonstrates how far out of the left field this has come.

There was always a chance the club’s licence application could be judged to be inferior to that of Wakefield or the other clubs thought to be under threat.

But the general consensus was that the RFL’s desire to strengthen its foothold in non-heartland areas would outweigh any concerns over Crusaders lack of financial stability and dwindling gates.

That the club would simply resign itself to failure and pull out of the race seemed implausible.

But late on Monday afternoon rumours began to circulate that Rod Findlay, the chief executive of Crusaders, had spent much of the day locked in talks with RFL officials.

It was unclear whether the talks related to the licensing process but the timing and sudden nature of the talks suggested it might be.

Ever since Crusaders relocated to Wrexham from Bridgend the club has effectively been reliant on three backers; Geoff Moss, Ian Roberts and the Rugby Football League.

Should one of more of these key players decide to withdraw, the club would in effect become house of cards waiting to crumble into the rugby league abyss.

In recent months it has become increasingly apparent that the club’s owners no longer had the desire to underwrite a Super League club in Wrexham.

With both Moss and Roberts embroiled in a protacted and complex deal to sell Wrexham FC and the Racecourse Ground their involvement with Crusaders has perhaps become an unwelcome distractions.

The abrupt way in which Crusaders three-year stay in Super League was brought to an end suggests one or perhaps both of Moss and Roberts decided enough was enough.

The way in which the club’s withdrawl from Super League has been handled is rotten, damaging and regretful.

Serious questions must be asked of the RFL, the club’s owners and the processes that led us to this situation.

Crusaders supporters – and let’s not forget they still have a loyal bunch who number around 2,000 – will rightly feel cheated and hurt.

They must now take stock of the news and ultimately it is they who will decide whether rugby league has a future in North Wales. I doubt the club can survive in the Championship but I hope I am proved wrong.

The game in Wales will survive thanks to people like Ian Golden but the progress made in recent years has suffered significant damage. This will perhaps be felt most strongly in the international arena.

Does the failure of Crusaders prove that expansion is a worthless exercise? No, but one hopes it will make the RFL take a close look at its expansion strategy.

I remain convinced that Super League could and should have flourished in Wrexham. There were many ingredients in place that suggested rugby league could prosper in the area and there is evidence it was beginning to take hold.

The fact Crusaders failed is not proof that our sport will forever be limited to the M62 corridor. It proves that the wrong people were involved and a more considered approach to expansion is needed.

This story appeared on the front page of The Leader on Thursday, July 14.

A LUCKY 70-year-old pilot escaped without a scratch after crashing his microlight aircraft into a field.

Huw Lloyd-Jones was forced to make an emergency landing when his engine failed at 1,200 feet.

It flipped onto its roof as he attempted to land in a field near Mold but he walked away unharmed.

Read the full article at www.leaderlive.co.uk

If you have a story for Flintshire, Wrexham or Chester please drop me an email to jim.green@nwn.co.uk

Of the 14 coaches in Super League, just five were born in the UK.

That statistic is one of the primary reasons why Brian Noble believes the Rugby Football League isn’t doing enough to support homegrown coaches.

Writing in the newly launched magazine Forty-20, Noble said: “If I were a young, eager and enthusiastic British coach setting out now, trying to learn my trade, I would be incredibly disillusioned.

“Most likely, I would not even be tempted to try.”

Noble argues Super League clubs penchant of looking to Australia for coaches means the future for British coaches is bleak.

Responding to Noble’s comments, the RFL said it was powerless to prevent clubs appointing coaches from Down Under.

It also said it was actively encouraging senior players to move into coaching when they retire.

But is that enough? Why are club’s choosing southern hemisphere coaches over their UK counterparts? What can be done to better promote homegrown coaching talent?

The below list details the nationality of each club’s head coach and assistant coach or coaches:

Bradford Bulls – Mick Potter (AUS) – Francis Cummins (ENG) and Lee St. Hilaire (ENG)
Castleford Tigers – Terry Matterson (AUS) – Andy Hay (ENG)
Catalans Dragons – Trent Robinson (AUS) – Laurent Frayssinous (FRA) and Jérôme Guisset (FRA)
Crusaders RL – Iestyn Harris (ENG) – Barry Eaton (ENG)
Harlequins RL – Rob Powell (ENG) – Latham Tawhai (NZ)
Huddersfield Giants – Nathan Brown (AUS) – Paul Anderson (ENG)
Hull FC – Richard Agar (ENG) – Andy Last (ENG) and James Webster (AUS)
Hull KR – Justin Morgan (AUS) – Chris Chester (ENG)
Leeds Rhinos – Brian McDermott (ENG) – James Lowes (ENG)
Salford City Reds – Matt Parish (AUS) – Phil Veivers (AUS)
St Helens – Royce Simmons (AUS) – Keiron Purtill (ENG)
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – John Kear (ENG) – Paul Broadbent (ENG)
Warrington Wolves – Tony Smith (AUS) – Willie Poching (NZ)
Wigan Warriors – Michael Maguire (AUS) – Shaun Wane (ENG)

While less than 40 percent of Super League head coaches are homegrown, 10 of the 13 UK-based clubs employ a British assistant coach.

Does this suggest coaches are, for whatever reason, stalling on the development pathway?

It’s also worth casting an eye to the Championship and Championship One where the likes of Daryl Powell, Karl Harrison, Mark Aston and John Stankevich probably believe they are deserving of an opportunity in Super League.

One suggestion put forward is that coaches should count on a club’s overseas quota.

The RFL has so far been reluctant to impose such a restriction and is perhaps fearful of blocking those coaching imports who can have a hugely positive impact on the sport in the UK.

It’s also been suggested that the RFL should only allow coaches with first grade experience in the NRL to take positions at Super League clubs. But under this rule Michael Maguire and Tony Smith would have been prevented from coming to the UK while somebody like Shaun McRae would be welcomed with open arms. I am sure that would concern Salford fans.

It is clear that far more needs to be done to promote British coaching talent and to ensure opportunities exist at the highest level.

However Super League chairmen will, perhaps justifiably, argue they are entitled to appoint the best man for the job.

The problem facing the RFL is convincing club’s the best man is just as likely to be British as he is Australian.

 

After five straight series defeats, New South Wales head into next week’s State of Origin opener on a mission.

The Blues pride is hurting after last year’s whitewash series defeat in which Queensland were far superior across the field. New South Wales were unable to compete with a well drilled Maroons side.

There were problems off the pitch too with Blues centre Timana Tahu storming out of the camp after assistant coach Andrew Johns, who later quit his post, was accused of making racist comments.

However, New South Wales head into the 2011 series with a renewed sense of belief.

The returning Ricky Stuart, who replaced Craig Bellamy as coach, has spoken openly about the need to replicate the model used by his former team mate and current Queensland coach Mal Meninga.

“I’d like to be able to replicate what Mal has done in regards to his team,” said Stuart, who played alongside Meninga at Canberra.

“Outside being a very good footy team, they’re a very happy and comfortable team and that comes back to the environment that Mal creates.”

Stuart said that sense of togetherness echoed their successful spell at the Raiders yet the former Australia coach is intelligent enough to know that team spirit alone does not win a State of Origin series.

The Maroons major advantage has been the quality of talent at their disposal and the consistency of their side. While New South Wales chopped and changed, Queensland were able to rely on their outstanding spine of Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer, Jonathon Thurston and Cameron Smith.

Recognising the need for New South Wales to develop their own core, Stuart has made some fairly drastic changes to the Blues line-up. He will hand Origin debuts to Josh Dugan, Akuila Uate, Jamie Soward, Jason King, Trent Merrin, Tim Mannah and Dean Young.

Stuart has also spoken of the importance of choosing the right type of player, believing that it takes a certain kind of person to handle the Origin cauldron. In naming the fiercely combative Paul Gallen as his captain, Stuart has made his clear that his side will be looking to take the initiative to Queensland.

There is much to like about the Blues team for game one. Dugan is an exceptional talent, Uate likewise while the forwards are unlikely to take a backwards step. Questions remain over the half back pairing of Soward and Mitchell Pearce but the former undoubtedly deserves his chance.

Whether this Blues side is capable of defeating Queensland on their patch remains to be seen. The Maroons are missing Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges but the trusted spine remains in place and, with a passionate crowd behind them, will take some beating.

For New South Wales this opening game is about redemption. Regardless of the end result, they must show the desire and pride that was missing in 2010.

State of Origin Game One

Wednesday, May 25 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

New South Wales: Josh Dugan, Brett Morris, Michael Jennings, Mark Gasnier, Akuila Uate, Jamie Soward, Mitchell Pearce, Jason King, Michael Ennis, Kade Snowden, Beau Scott, Greg Bird, Paul Gallen (Bench: Ben Creagh, Trent Merrin, Tim Mannah, Dean Young)

Coach: Ricky Stuart

Queensland: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Dane Nielsen, Willie Tonga, Jharal Yow Yeh, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston, Matthew Scott, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Ashley Harrison (Bench: Cooper Cronk, Ben Hannant, Corey Parker, Jacob Lillyman)

Coach: Mal Meninga

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