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the following week? Will it affect his confidence?

Anderson knows the answer to the first question. No-one knows the second solution, until it happens.

There were three major policy changes announced by the ARLC a week before Christmas. The third is a matter dear to the hearts of most Forty-20 readers representative eligibility.

The problem: players moving to NSW or Queensland to be professional footballers were being deemed eligible for that state defeating the “of Origin” part of the competition’s name. From a domestic point, of view, that meant Greg Inglis, left, being raised in northern NSW but playing his whole career for Queensland.

Of more interest to most of our readers is James Tamou representing NZ Maori and then NSW and Australia - and Aquila Uate switching from Fiji to Australia.

The rule they’ve come up with is beautiful in its simplicity - though not without its own questions. Players must have lived in NSW or Queensland before the age of 13 to be eligible for that state. They must also be eligible for Australia, which is not what we hoped for - but it’s a step in the right direction. Origin had started

“Referees have been told the changes to the rules regarding should charges will be negligible...”

to do to other countries what NSW did to Queensland in in the 1970s - attract all the best players using money, then turn them against their place of birth.

A couple of days later, the ARLC announced a television deal with IMG Media that it said would “guarantee access to key markets including the UK, USA, Asia and the Pacific”. But what it has done is sell the international television rights to IMG, who on-sell for the likes of Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the ATP Masters Series, International Rugby Board (IRB), MotoGP, the National Football League (NFL) and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).

IMG hasn’t announced any new stations for the NRL yet but one aspect which should excite fans outside Australia is: “free digital NRL Channel for international fans featuring match vision and a mobile NRL app.” If there is no NRL on your local station, the ARLC statement said, games should be available on YouTube or Ustream. Let us know when round one comes around how that plays out...

On the surface, it sounds pretty damn positive for rugby league fans everywhere. Your local players don’t get stolen by Australia, and now you get to watch them play every one of their NRL matches.

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, it should give you an idea of what Christmas in summer feels like.

Dave Hadfield

Crus control: Dave McConnell takes it to Swinton in Ian Watson’s testimonial game

Watson guide

What better way to look forward to the main event of 2013 than at a testimonial match for a genuine World Cup hero?

I’d argue that Ian Watson is exactly that. Alright, he never won a World Cup. He didn’t win the match with which he is most closely associated - in fact, his team lost it 46-22 but he remains a hero none the less.

The occasion, of course, was the 2000 World Cup semi-final at Huddersfield, Wales versus Australia, and early in the second half Wales were winning! It is remembered as Lee Briers’ finest hour, but it was Watto’s as well. He scored the first Welsh try and his tactical kicking was a key element in putting the Aussies on the back foot.

Watson went on to become Wales’ mostcapped player, as well as having a long career at club level, which currently sees him at Swinton. For his testimonial, between Christmas and New Year, the Lions hosted the North Wales Crusaders and there was much to enjoy about the occasion.

Swinton won 34-14, but the Cru - with plenty of travelling support in the 600-plus crowd - played some decent stuff as well in an enjoyable match. As a bonus, because Watto wanted a family theme, there was a four-team U10s tournament, won by Langworthy Reds, with Andy Gregory presenting the trophies.

If you wanted to be picky, the pitch at the Leigh Sports Village was a little bit of a disappointment. After the amount of rain we had copped, it was reasonable to expect the sort of saturated track Watto has always loved, but the surface was just too true for his wetweather kicking game - surely one of the most expert of recent years.

Watson has now retired from international rugby, but one of his nearcontemporaries is considering a comeback for RLWC2013 with Italy.

In fact, Simon Bonetti had already retired by the 2000 World Cup, calling it a day after playing for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL Grand Final, in order to tend to his farm in the Riverina. He was, as I recall, a terrific hooker, but he hasn’t played for 12 years and will be 36 by the time this tournament rolls along.

According the a story which has “local newspaper kite-flyer” written all over it, Bonetti is considering playing the forthcoming season with the Yenda Blueheelers admittedly worth one season of anyone’s career for the name alone - in order to get up to pace. I fancy, though, that the Italians will have some rather more current NRL players than Bonetti in their party.

There looks to be a rather better chance of Petero Civoniceva playing for Fiji. He is almost as old, but has only just pulled the plug for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia. The plan is that he will play for Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup and see how he feels as the season wears on. Such is his totemic status with the Bati that they will move heaven and earth to get him here in the autumn.

If it’s any help, I know a club very close to the Fijian HQ in Bolton which would be happy to give him some match practice under local conditions if that appealed to him.

One hand that has definitely gone up is that of Pat Richards, Wigan’s goal-kicker par excellence, who wants to play for Ireland again. That sounds like great news and it is apart from the way that he played when he last appeared in the World Cup, against Fiji in 2008. He had just returned from best man duties at his brother’s wedding and, possibly for the only time in his career, kicked like a drain.

January 2013 Forty-20 39

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