WE’RE getting close to the final game of our Tour of Australia and we are really looking forward to it. This trip has been a wonderful experience for the players and the staff and we have all grown together the more time we spend with each other. Today, we trained twice to enable us to be a sharp as possible for our match with Penrith. It was a great session and you can see the fruits of everything the staff are doing with the players. Having quality time with the lads is paying dividends but we know we face a really tough game against Penrith. Team spirit is great at the moment and the players are itching to get into their next match. On tour we ask a lot of the players – this very young group are training in a professional environment, some for the first time. It is a lot to ask of them but they keep responding and today’s double session was one of the best we’ve had. They worked really hard. We only have a few days to go now and the players are already excited by the prospect of climbing ‘The Bridge’. This is always a highlight of the trip and we’re all looking forward to it. Hope you’re enjoying the pictures back home!For all the latest on the Academy Tour, click here.
THE Original Saints Supporters Club made a special presentation to three of the Club’s departing players this week.Maureen Marsh, Gerry Moore and a number of other fans gave commemorative trophies to Sia Soliola, Anthony Laffranchi and Willie Manu to mark their time with the club.The Saints trio were understandably moved with Sia showing off his special shuffle dance as the group sung his song and Boofa giving a thank you speech.
DAY 10 – The tour party arrived back at base late on Wednesday evening from Central Coast after enhancing their impressive start to the tour with a second victory, writes Neil Kilshaw.A quick supper for the players, whilst the staff dissected the evening’s work followed, and the lads were sound asleep by midnight.Preparations for Sunday’s game versus Parramatta begun at 9am with a recovery session in the outdoor swimming pool to get those sore and aching joints moving again!Allegedly, Club CEO Mike Rush assisted Ian Talbot and Ste Leonard to prepare the BBQ breakfast whilst the players attended recovery – but with no picture evidence available this news must be treated with trepidation.We then went off Manly beach for a surfing lesson amidst the heavy rain of a Sydney afternoon. Chris Follin was particularly concerned that we wouldn’t be allowed to go in the sea whilst it was raining, and Jonny Skinner was in determined mood to make up for a poor showing at wakeboarding.There were some great performances out on the surf with Cameron Brown, Brad Billsborough, Brad Pinder, Harry Coleman and Matty Kilgannon all showing up well.Elliott Jenkins was the surprise package of the afternoon but yet again Neil Kilshaw was the pick of the performers… (even if I do say so myself…!)Special mention to Josh Eaves who fresh from an appointment at hospital – receiving positive news that his double jaw fracture doesn’t require surgery – was given permission to hit the waves.The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and unwinding mentally preparing for two training session son Friday and plotting a course for victory against a strong Parramatta side.
IN what has been a very sombre week for our sport, two people who have themselves endured the most terrible personal tragedy are joining forces to take on a huge challenge in support of Rugby League Cares.The inspirational Matt King OBE is preparing for more sporting heroics by completing the 2016 Great North Run.Ten years after he first made history by crossing the finishing line in the iconic half-marathon, Matt is taking to the road again to shatter even more preconceptions about disability.Matt, 29, was left paralysed from the neck down as a teenager while playing Rugby League for the London Broncos Academy after severing his spinal cord in a tackle.Since then, with support from the RL Benevolent Fund, he has gone on to achieve a first class honours degree in law, qualified as a lawyer, developed into an accomplished mouth artists and motivational speaker – and completed some amazing physical challenges.As well as the 2006 and 2007 Great North Runs, Matt became the first person with his level of disability to complete a marathon when he crossed the New York finish line in November 2007, a feat he achieved with help from the Christopher Reeve Foundation.Now, Rugby League’s own Superman is reuniting many of his original 12-strong support team from 2006 to take to the streets of the North East and complete an amazing ten year treble.Alongside Matt in his team of 12 will be none other than Lizzie Jones. Lizzie, who lost her husband Danny Jones, the Keighley Cougars & Wales international to an undiagnosed heart defect in May 2015, has never run any distance before but describes herself as honoured to have been asked to take part.Talented songstress, and Mum to twins Bobby and Phoebe, Lizzie touched millions of TV viewers with her appearances at the Challenge Cup final and BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She will have her sister Stephanie training and running with her in preparation for massive challenge ahead on September 11.In February of this year Lizzie launched the Danny Jones Defibrilator Fund, the aim being to ensure all rugby league clubs, from grassroots to Super League, have a defibrilator as part of their medical facilities.It is hoped some of the funds the team raises for RL Cares will be passed on to the DJDF.It is rather poignant that Matt and Lizzie are coming together in the same team. Danny Jones was in the Halifax academy side that took the field against London Broncos academy on April 4 2004, the game in which Matt suffered his injury.Sadly, some of Matt’s 2006 can’t be contacted or are unable to take part due to injury or illness and Matt is looking for a couple of volunteers – if you would like to join his team, please email [email protected] asapTo sponsor Matt & Lizzie’s valiant effort to complete a ten year treble of Great North Runs, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tenyeartreble and follow Matt on Twitter @tenyeartreble or his Facebook page TenYearTreble