Friday, October 30, 2009

Backroom role at Wolves for Carney

Warrington Wolves have named former Great Britain and Ireland international Brain Carney as their player welfare and services officer.

The role is the first of its kind in rugby league and will include developing the off-field talents of the players as well as their athletic ability.

"The Wolves are working hard to Autumn Internationals 2009 and strengthen their future by developing both the on-field and off-field activity," said a statement.

"The recruitment of Carney into the backroom staff is another example of the Wolves investing in the future of the club, having already appointed Chris Baron as head of strength and conditioning from Leicester Tigers and the three big on-field signings in Richie Myler, Ryan Atkins and David Solomona along with the up-and-coming talent of our youth teams."

Carney played over 100 times for Wigan Warriors before changing codes in 2007 to represent Munster.

He made four appearances for Ireland during his two years in rugby union until he joined Warrington this year.

The 33-year-old will take up his new role at the Wolves on a part-time basis.

"A role such as this is long over due in Rugby League clubs and I am excited about being involved with a Club pioneering a designated welfare officer position," said Carney of his appointment.

Wolves boss Tony Smith added: "Brian has a lot to give to the game, I'm pleased he will be staying with us in the future and adding his wealth of knowledge and experience to the club."ADNFCR-8000010-ID-19434259-ADNFCR

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England Difficulty in Autumn Test

England manager Martin Johnson has confirmed that his squad is expecting a difficult trio of games on the Autum Internationals 2009 started next month.

Johnson stated that despite a recent run of injuries causing him to bring in new faces, the squad still has "strength in depth".

Facing Tests against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand on consecutive Saturdays starting from November 7th, England are without Andrew Sheridan, Phil Vickery, Nick Easter, Riki Flutey and Delon Armitage, among others.

The England coach said: "Each of the players coming in has the opportunity to push themselves into contention for the opener against Australia."

Despite this, Johnson commented, the squad is still "looking forward" to the series and predicted that Saracens lock Steve Borthwick - who has been appointed skipper - will do an "excellent job".

The opener against the Wallabies will be held at Twickenham, with Betfair (Go to Betfair ») offering odds of 11/10 for an England win.

Looking ahead to the 2011 World Cup, Paddy Power (Go to Paddy Power ») considers Johnson's men a 14/1 shot to be champions.

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England victory over Australia in Autumn Internationals by James Roby

James Roby aiming for England victory over Australia

ST HELENS star James Roby is hoping an England victory in England V Australia match in the Gillette Four Nations will be the perfect present for his son Ollie who celebrates his birthday this Saturday.

Roby played a starring role for England in their 34-12 victory over France last Friday and the 2007 Man of Steel winner is hoping to experience a second career victory over the Kangaroos.

And he said: “I was lucky enough to play in the game in 2006 when we beat Australia and that was a brilliant feeling and day.

“It gives you so much confidence as a player that you’ve been over there and turned them over. Hopefully this Saturday we can do that again and it would be a massive personal achievement and a little birthday present for my son whose birthday is on Saturday.”

Roby will come head-to-head with Kangaroos hooker Cameron Smith, the 2007 Golden Boot winner and a player he respects greatly.

“I think he’s a brilliant player. I don’t watch too much of the NRL but every time I do see him he’s the stand out player. He’s a very good organiser, has a good kicking game and is a great tackler.

“He’s got a great all round game and I rate him very highly as a hooker and fellow pro,” said Roby.

As with many people Roby was glued to his TV on Saturday to watch Australia and New Zealand put on one of the best and most fiercely competitive games of rugby ever played in the UK.

And although impressed by both the Kangaroos and the Kiwis, Roby thinks it will not have any influence on Saturday’s game at Wigan’s DW Stadium.

Roby said: “There are a lot of people that speak about Australian and New Zealand rugby being better than our rugby and an aura that exists around the Aussies and the NRL.

“It was a fantastic game but I do think there is little bit of an aura about the NRL that I don’t really see. What have they got that we haven’t? It’s 17 players who are human and at the end of the day we can match them.”

In preparation for Saturday’s crucial game that could see an England victory all but eliminate Australia from the competition, Tony Smith’s men have set-up camp in Manchester, a move Roby believes is bringing the best out of the squad.

“We’ve had a good week’s training. Everyone’s staying over in the hotel and having a good laugh.

“Things are going well so far and hopefully we can take what we’ve been doing in training into the game.

“It’s vital this year that we’ve got a really good team spirit..

“All the lads will be more competent and excited for this game. No disrespect to France but when you play Australia it’s one of the biggest games you’ll play in your career.”

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England and Wales Preparation for Autumn Internationals rugby test

As the 2009-10 season starts to Autumn Internationals, the home nations are preparing for the annual visit of their southern hemisphere counterparts. The autumn internationals are now firmly entrenched in the sporting calendar and have produced some fantastic rugby over the past few years. Corporate hospitality group takes a look at how the home nations will fare during November’s festival of rugby.


England’s preparation for their test matches against Australia, Argentina and the New Zealand have been dominated by their injury crisis. Martin Johnson has over 20 of his first choice squad unavailable through injury, including his entire first choice front row. In response to the injury crisis, Johnson has called up three new caps in Courtney Lawes, David Barnes and Richard Blaze.

Of the new faces in the squad, the one that stands out is Northampton youngster Courtney Lawes. With only 20 1st XV games under his belt, Lawes has been described as a gamble selection, but Lawes aggressive performances have turned heads in the Guinness Premiership.

Lawes will bring a youthful arrogance and an enforcer-like attitude to the England squad, something which they have lacked since Johnson himself quit international rugby. Lawes may not be able to command a place in the international side straight away, but this early exposure to the set up will certainly benefit him for his future years.

Away from the injury crisis, Johnson will realise that his honeymoon period is over. Having been in charge of the national side for 18 months, Johnson will know that the bosses at HQ will now start to expect results and for the England team to rise up through the IRB world rankings.

Last season was a mixed bag for Johnson. A brilliant performance against France was coupled with some average performances against South Africa and Argentina. Johnson will know that this year’s international season needs to start well and that he will be expected to win a minimum of 2 of their 3 November matches. That would probably mean a victory over either New Zealand or Australia.

So how will England perform? Most supporters will be expecting a victory over the Pumas, while Australia and New Zealand maybe be a trickier prospect. There are reasons for optimism though. Australia and New Zealand are not the same teams they were 12 months ago. Australia looked woeful in the Tri-Nations, while the All Blacks have missed some key players recently. Another plus for England is that a revived and in form Jonny Wilkinson is back in the international fold. With Wilkinson likely to be surrounded by some new faces in the England side, his experience and form could be the key for Martin Johnson’s men.

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Wales come off the back of a disappointing 2009 season for them. Having raised the bar the previous season, Warren Gatland’s men would have been unhappy to have missed out on Six Nations glory, despite being tipped by many to retain the title.

The November tests see Wales face Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in Autumn Internationals with Warren Gatland, like Martin Johnson missing a few of his key players.

Whereas Johnson is struggling with his front row, Gatland’s headaches are based at scrum half. Lions star, Mike Phillips is set to miss all of the test matches and possibly the Six Nations while he undergoes surgery to repair his damaged ankle ligaments. Phillips obvious replacement is the star of the 2005 Lions, Dwayne Peel, however due to contract issues with Peel’s club, Sale Sharks, Peel looks unlikely to be made available for the first game against New Zealand at least, leaving Gatland forced into selecting 3rd choice Gareth Cooper.

Elsewhere, Gatland has headaches of a different kind. In James Hook, Stephen Jones and Dan Biggar, Wales boast three of the best fly halves in Europe. Although Jones has been unfairly labelled as a conservative fly half throughout his career, his experience looks set to keep him in the starting XV, probably with Hook at inside centre, leaving Biggar to come off the bench and add a spark, if required.

With Wales having beaten Australia last year, Gatland will be looking to go one further and defeat the All Blacks. Argentina will be a tough match, especially up front, but one that Wales should win, while Wales v Samoa matches will always be treated by the Welsh as grudge matches after the Islanders famous victories in the 1991 and 1999 world cups.

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Australia: autumn internationals form guide

The two-time World Cup winning Wallabies are on their way to British and Irish shores for a tilt at a Grand Slam over the home nations in the November Tests. Are they up to the task?


Robbie Deans, the former Canterbury Crusaders coach, is nearing the end of his second year at the helm, and badly needs a clean sweep of the home nations to add some gloss to an otherwise poor record. A popular figure in Australia if only for his bizarre ramblings at press conferences, where earlier this year he coined the phrase "deposit in belief".

Key men:

The Wallaby golden boy is undoubtedly fly-half Matt Giteau. A calming influence on his backs and a metronome with the boot. Deans' problem is that should Giteau ever get injured his side may crumble without him. Up front Rocky Elsom is the Wallabies' own personal wrecking ball and his absence from Leinster's ranks goes some way to explaining their slow start to the season.

Target area:

Defence. For a nation with rugby league (and its rigid defensive systems) in its blood, the Wallabies leaked around 20 points a game in the Tri-Nations. If the home nations can stick to their basics the defensive gaps will present themselves.


Plumb last in the Tri-Nations with only one win from six to their name, this is hardly a golden era for Australian rugby. They are like a punch-drunk boxer on the verge of a knockout blow. All three of Ireland, Wales, and even injury-ravaged England, will be targeting an Aussie scalp.

Likely XV:

Forwards: 1 Robinson, 2 Moore, 3 Alexander, 4 Horwill, 5 Mumm, 6 Elsom, 7 Smith, 8 Palu

Backs: 9 Genia, 10 Giteau, 11 Mitchell, 12 Barnes, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 14 Turner, 15 O'Connor


Nov 7 Australia V England, Twickenham, Sky Sports 2

Nov 15 Australia V Ireland, Croke Park, BBC2

Nov 21 Australia V Scotland, Murrayfield, BBC2

Nov 28 Australia V Wales, Millenium Stadium, BBC2

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A lot will depend on how competitive the stretched squads of England and Wales are in opposition but a win at Croke Park looks beyond Deans' men. 3/5 would represent a solid achievement, while a Grand Slam seems highly unlikely.