Hayne to control stadium clash
By GREG WHITE
LEADING National Rugby League referee Shayne Hayne has been appointed to control the main international fixture at BCU International Stadium on January 25.
Hayne has been a regular fixture in the city handling many of the trial and feature matches involving NRL clubs but on this visit will be in charge of the 'test' match between Fiji Bati and Cook Islands.
A sometimes controversial official, Hayne refereed the 2006 Premier league grand final between Parramatta and Newtown Jets.
Local Group 2 referee Nathan Grace continues his meteoric rise in league after being handed control of the curtain-raiser between Malta and Japan.
Just four seasons back, Grace was still an active player but made rapid progress to land his initial first grade grand final last season between Port Macquarie and Sawtell.
Malta Knights are well advanced in their preparations with coach Joe Grima predicting a 'fracas at the coliseum' in the tangle with the Cherry Blossoms.
"I don't know where the Japanese players are coming from," he said to begin the war of words.
"However if you don't turn up to play you'll end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard and this will be no different.
"I remember seeing them last year and the crowd really encouraged them so we will have to deal with that also."
In 2006, the Japanese flew a squad to Australia on match eve with ironically, two of their best later being contracted to the Newtown Jets.
"Everyone loves the underdog tag," Grima declared with the understanding the Knights will start favourites.