Thursday, November 28, 2013

Aust v NZ for World Cup Glory

This is a World Cup final that will, for the next four years at least, provide some certainty about which nation can claim to be world champions, but it may also resolve some of rugby league's most enduring conundrums.
Is it better to go in to a decider battle-hardened or are the bumps and bruises too much to overcome in the space of seven days?

 World Cup Final: Australia v New Zealand
Old Trafford, Manchester
Saturday, November 30 2.30pm (UK)
Sunday, November 31 1.30am (AEDT), 12.30am (AEST) Tune in to 7mate

Is it the forward pack that determines victory or are the halves the architects of their team's success?
Is it better to have a halfback with fast feet or a No.7 who is quick between the ears? Is Sonny Bill Williams or Greg Inglis the greatest rugby league player on the planet?

Will Billy Slater recover in time to shift Inglis back to the centres, and will Roger Tuivasa-Sheck overcome the leg injury that threatens to derail a spectacular World Cup performance that has established his place as a permanent member of the Kiwi Test team?

Does Issac Luke have genuine claims to Cameron Smith's mantle as the premier hooker in the world?
All tantalising questions in their own right and all to be answered over the space of 80 minutes on one of the world's grandest sporting stages, Old Trafford in Manchester.

A quick examination of the respective semi-final victories shows some fascinating trends.

Against England, New Zealand finished on the wrong side of the statistics in try assists, line breaks, line-break assists, missed tackles, errors and possession, yet somehow came away with one of the most memorable victories ever seen in international rugby league.

On the other side of the draw and against far inferior opposition, the Kangaroos had 58 per cent of the ball, ran for 1,690 metres, made 12 line breaks and missed just seven tackles (compared to Fiji's 53).
Drawing a line through that form to determine a winner is just as difficult as deciding what's nicer between ice cream or pizza but whichever way it plays out we're sure to have a satisfying conclusion to a six-week rugby league feast.

Watch out Australia: Some purists may argue that a pass that hits the ground should be considered a dropped ball rather than an offload but the extraordinary ability of Sonny Bill Williams to extend the play has the potential to create problems for the seemingly impregnable Kangaroos defence. Such is his proficiency that there is even a Facebook page dedicated to his out-and-out refusal to be tackled with the ball titled, 'I hate it when I tackle Sonny Bill Williams and he just offloads'. Sonny Bill's 17 offloads in the World Cup thus far are five more than anyone else, and he missed the game against France and went off injured before half-time against Scotland. Only two players have made more line breaks than him and his three try assists are more than Johnathan Thurston has been given credit for.

The Kiwis can't beat the Kangaroos in a game of chess but second-phase play that brings Issac Luke, Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck into play could upset the structure of the Australia defence. Just like he did in the NRL Grand Final, Sonny Bill lifted his side to new heights when all hope seemed lost in the semi-final against England and his importance to New Zealand's chances won't be under-valued by the Kangaroos.

Watch Out New Zealand: Much attention in the build-up will focus on Greg Inglis's possible return to the centres for Australia but Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney would be wise not to ignore the threat posed by the man on the opposite side of the field. When the Kangaroos squad was announced six weeks ago Jarryd Hayne's inclusion was seen as a way to cover wing or fullback should the squad be struck down by a crisis of injuries. Yet a gamble by coach Tim Sheens to go with the Eels superstar at right centre ahead of the experienced Brent Tate for the quarter-final clash with the United States saw Hayne score four tries, becoming just the eighth player to score that many for Australia in a Test. When he was rewarded with a spot in the team to play Fiji in the semi-final, Hayne's output was three tries, two try assists, 176 metres, nine tackle-breaks and four line-breaks. Bryson Goodwin has been outstanding defensively for South Sydney and the Kiwis in 2013 but even he would concede that a match-up against Hayne was one that he wasn't expecting.

Key Match-up: Cameron Smith v Issac Luke
Not since Steve and Kerrod Walters vied for representative selections against each other have two such outstanding hookers plied their trade in such dramatically different fashions. Like Kerrod, Issac Luke provides his side impetus through his running game while Smith is more from the 'Boxhead' mould of strength in and around the ruck and a complete control of his side's attacking structure. In an unrelenting forward battle, Luke ran for 109m against England last weekend while Smith, in the Kangaroo canter against Fiji, ran for just 35m. While Luke's energy and power propel his side downfield, it is Smith's smarts that keep the Kangaroos structured and constantly applying pressure to the opposition. Throughout the World Cup Smith has, somewhat surprisingly, had more carries (113-93) and dummy-half runs (93-73) than Luke but the Kiwi No.9 leads the way in metres gained (635-464) and tackle-breaks (19-5). They're polar opposites yet equally vital to their side's chances and their individual battle will go a long way to determining the rugby league world champions.

Where It Will Be Won: The big blokes who start up front will invariably be the ones who put their respective side on the front foot but in a World Cup Final it will be the best overall forward rotation that determines who controls the ebb and flow of proceedings over the course of 80 minutes. The expected return of Frank Pritchard to the Kiwi line-up bolsters their depth while Andrew Fifita, Corey Parker and Josh Papalii have made significant contributions off the bench for the Kangaroos. With a prop forward rotation of Waerea-Hargreaves, Bromwich, Matulino and Kasiano the Kiwis have the edge in pure size whereas the Kangaroos are more reliant on the tenaciousness and work ethic of the likes of Bird, Gallen, Thaiday and Parker.

And then there's a bloke called Sonny Bill. When the Kiwis were desperate against England it was 'SBW' who they turned to and on a number of occasions he went close to delivering the seemingly impossible, including taking a George Burgess smack across the mouth to earn his side the crucial penalty in the final minute. His late inclusion in the Kiwi squad at the expense of Tohu Harris caused widespread controversy but if he can find a way to lead his side to a successful defence of their title he will take his place among the most extraordinary sportsmen that the southern hemisphere has ever produced.

Televised: 7mate – Live from 1am Saturday (NSW); midnight (Qld)

The Way We See It: All Australia can do is beat those who are put in front of them and the fact remains that they have not conceded a try in their past 324 minutes of football. Is their defence that good or has the opposition attack been less than potent? New Zealand got a fright against Samoa then demolished France, Papua New Guinea and Scotland and somehow found an escape route against a committed England team to earn the right to defend their title. So is their form patchy or exactly what's necessary ahead of a World Cup Final against the Kangaroos? For the Kiwis the ride has been emotional while the Kangaroos have been clinical but the next time the defending champions head to the well they may find it has run dry. Kangaroos by 4.

Quick Update Regarding 2014

The mighty Western Suburbs Magpies will again compete in the Ron Massey Cup, SG Ball and Harold Matthews in 2014.

2014 RMC Signings - Shawn and Dayne Craig, Sam Aiga, Limoni Kamuta, Tala Mapesone, Jerome Mose, Michael Stevens, Seffa Silafau, Soni Paasi and Mason Talolua.

Wests Magpies are actively recruiting players to strengthen an already strong squad. Once those negotiations have been finalised, a further update will be provided.

Training commenced at 5.30pm on Tuesday 12/11/13.

We are indeed lucky to have the following members of our Coaching Staff return for season 2014 under the direction of Head Coach Leo Epifania. Con Spanos and Mark Cudmore Strength and Conditioning (Mark retuned to the Magpie Nest after a season with Wests Tigers NSW Cup team) David Mc Ewan Head Trainer, Bluey Schafer Gear Manager, John Harbon Assistant Manager, Valerie Mc Ewan Trainer/Strapper, Horrie Jowsey Trainer/Strapper, Jeff Aplitt Change room official, Charlie Tuxford Change room official, Keith Topolski Ground Announcer and Media, Stephen Hartas Gate and Merchandise, Bruce Moschner and Scott 'The Magpie' Morris along with the many other volunteers who assist during the year.

On behalf of the Directors and Management of Wests Magpies, I sincerely thank all associated with our Club.

Steve Reeves
General Manager

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Players looking for Work

We have some new players joining the mighty Magpies in 2014 that are looking for work opportunities. For example we have a new signing from Western Australia looking to continue his plumbing apprenticeship however he is willing to take any appropriate position.

If any of you Magpies out there know of work opportunities that our players might be interested in, please contact Steve Reeves on or call (02) 9601 2002

2013 RLWC Grand Final - Aust vs NZ

With just five days to until the Rugby League World Cup Final at Old Trafford, spoke with several stars of the Kangaroos pack to get their thoughts ahead of the big occasion.
Corey Parker admitted the players did not see the game unfold before their own Semi-Final clash with Fiji, as New Zealand recorded a stunning last-gasp win over England to book their place at Old Trafford.
“I’ve only been able to catch the highlights of the game, but it was a contest, wasn’t it? Footy can be a fickle game at times, and maybe the English guys are cursing their luck,” Parker told

“But full credit to the Kiwis. They didn’t stop and they got their rewards right at the death there, and they should provide a tough contest on Saturday.”
But Parker doesn’t believe the Kangaroos would have been better prepared had they been challenged by Fiji, who they coasted past with an 11-try performance.
“You can only play the cards you’re dealt, and although the scoreline didn’t flatter Fiji they certainly turned up and had a go physically.
“The game prior to us was an epic, but we’ve all faced similar game throughout this competition, and England had us on the rack in that first game.
“But it’s down to 80 minutes on Saturday.”
Parker’s team-mate in the pack Greg Bird says he was delighted that the team were able to stretch their phenomenal defensive record to four games, after they shut out the Bati at Wembley.
But he concedes that Saturday’s opponents will make the Australian defence sweat to guard their goal line.
“It’s a great source of pride for us. We did struggle a bit against England in that area so it’s something we’ve really focused on since then.
“We have pride in our defence and want to be the best in that area. We always knew we could score points, but defending is always hard, especially when you’re fatigued.
“We’re not expecting to continue it this weekend against the Kiwis, as I know they’ll throw absolutely everything at us,” Parked added.
“A lot depends on the conditions. If it starts raining then it could get tight, but either way it’s going to be tight on the scoreboard and a great game.”
Meanwhile, James Tamou says he is relishing the opportunity to play at Old Trafford, following Kangaroos fixtures at the Millennium Stadium and Wembley Stadium at RLWC2013.
“It’s my very first time in the UK and my very first time playing in a Rugby League World Cup, so to be having this conversation ahead of a Final is extremely exciting.
“It’s a bit tough with the weather sometimes, but the atmospheres we’ve played in front of have been fantastic.
“It’ll definitely be a highlight of my career to play at Old Trafford. I’ve heard all about the history of the ground, and just to be playing there will be unreal.
“I won’t forget it in a hurry, whether we win or lose.”
Also competing in his first Rugby League World Cup is Josh Papalii, and the youngster admits the chance to erase the memories of the Kangaroos’ defeat to New Zealand at the same stage five years ago is one he is relishing.
“I was still at school when the last Final was being played, and to be honest I don’t remember watching it, but I know it’s still big for the fans.
“There are a few players in the squad who played in the game, but it isn’t mentioned much by those guys, if at all.
“It’s five years down the line now and a different squad completely. We have our own goals and our own gameplan, so there’s not too much looking back.
“It would mean heaps to be named in the team for this one though, and be a part of the team that hopefully puts it all right.”