League teams fire up for trials

By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THE first shots of the Gladstone rugby league senior season will be fired this weekend with the first round of pre-season trial matches at Marley Brown Oval.

Last year's Gladstone and District Rugby League A grade grand finalists Wallabys and Brothers did not have to wait long to renew their battle, meeting first-up tonight.

Brothers have been the most consistently outstanding side in Gladstone in recent seasons but with last year's Wallabys outfit capturing two titles and raising the bar another level, there should be no shortage of feeling despite the game's trial status.

Valleys and Tannum Sands did not threaten for titles last year but respective coaches Aaron Earnshaw and Graham Appo are confident of improved performances in 2005 and tomorrow night will test their progress.

Meanwhile, Gladstone referee Steve Kanowski will realise a new career highlight when he officiates in tonight's trial match between the North Queensland Cowboys and Central Queensland Comets at Rockhampton's Browne Park.

Kanowski was advised of his appointment via a phone call from Queensland Rugby League referees director Eddie Ward on Monday and is thrilled to be making the step up to a higher level.

'I've been doing Queensland Cup touchlines for a couple of years but to actually get into the middle was a bit of a suprise,' Kanowski said.

While determined to enjoy the experience, Kanowski will also go into the match aware that he is being trialled for possible Queensland Cup duties.

'I'll just try to treat it like any other game and see how I go,'' Kanowski said.

'I want to enjoy the moment.'

Kanowski's good news was tempered slightly by the fact Gladstone is struggling to raise the number of referees needed for the upcoming rugby league season. Anyone able to help can phone Gladstone referees director Clay Cornwell on 4973 9461.

This weekend's trial matches at Marley Brown Oval: Tonight ? Wallabys v Brothers; tomorrow ? Tannum Sands v Valleys. Times (both nights) ? 4pm under-19, 5.30pm reserve grade, 7pm A grade.

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