MELBOURNE - Melbourne NRL coach Craig Bellamy believes Storm utility Ryan Hinchcliffe is an ideal fit for the NSW State of Origin team following the season-ending injury to Kurt Gidley.
The former Blues coach praised Hinchcliffe's credentials before the Australian side was announced last month and reiterated his stance ahead of the NSW team announcement for the opening Origin clash with Queensland in Melbourne on May 23.
Former NSW skipper Gidley dislocated his shoulder for the second time this year while playing for the Knights on Monday night and Bellamy said Hinchcliffe could fill his super-sub role.
SYDNEY - South Sydney have moved to replace the departing Dave Taylor by securing the services of hard-hitting Brisbane back-rower Ben Te'o on a three-year deal from the start of next NRL season.
Taylor agreed terms last month to join Gold Coast after his family failed to settle in NSW, and the Rabbitohs moved for the former Wests Tiger, who was 18th man for Queensland in last year's State of Origin series.
"I've met with Ben and he's a highly motivated young man who wants to achieve great heights in rugby league," said Souths coach Michael Maguire.
MELBOURNE - Melbourne Rebels lock Adam Byrnes has been fined $7500 by SANZAR for his "unwarranted and serious verbal attack" on NSW centre Tom Carter.
Byrnes, who hasn't played since their round-two match after injuring his elbow, was found by judicial officer Nigel Hampton to have committed an "act of misconduct" for his comments published in Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper in March.
Hampton found that the interview contained "an unwarranted and serious verbal attack by Mr Byrnes on the integrity and good character of another player (Waratahs player Tom Carter), an attack such as well might impair public confidence in that other player's character and integrity".
SYDNEY - Todd Carney has declared he is mentally prepared for the demands of State Of Origin football.
Cronulla's five-eighth says his NRL club form and steady state of mind have convinced him he is ready for rugby league's toughest arena.
"I feel mentally right to go," he said. "A few years ago, I probably wasn't.
"I'm ready to put my hand up to have a go. If I do get that opportunity, I will give it all I've got.
"Everyone is fighting for that position. It doesn't matter who you are or where you have been, beating Queensland will be a tough ask but it's something I've always wanted to do."
SYDNEY - Danny Buderus' dream of a recall for the State of Origin opener appears doomed, with the Newcastle hooker ruled out for up to a month with Achilles tendinitis.
Buderus left the field during Monday night's 34-14 win over Penrith complaining of a pain to the Achilles injury which kept him out of last month's City-Country fixture and could sideline him until after the Knights' round-11 bye.
And while scans revealed there was no tear, the injury needs considerable recovery time and looks set to end his chance of reclaiming the NSW No.9 jersey.
PERTH - Western Force flanker Ben McCalman will miss the club's two-game Super Rugby tour of South Africa due to a shoulder nerve injury.
McCalman missed three games earlier this season with a similar injury, and has been ruled out of games against the Cheetahs and Sharks.
The Force are hopeful the 24-year-old will be able to return for the May 20 clash with the Rebels in Perth. In his absence, fellow Wallaby Richard Brown is expected to regain his place in the starting line-up after being relegated to the bench for last week's 17-3 loss to the Stormers.
BRISBANE - NRL strugglers Gold Coast face another stint without captain and playmaker Scott Prince.
Prince has been ruled out of the Titans' clash with Wests Tigers at Skilled Park on Saturday night with a cloud over his immediate playing future as he awaits more scan results.
The skipper had only recently returned from a bicep injury incurred against the Warriors and suffered a similar injury in the loss to Brisbane on Friday.
CANBERRA - The Brumbies have taken further steps to retain their promising young Super Rugby squad with four more players re-signing. Andrew Smith, Jesse Mogg, Scott Fardy and Ita Vaea have all signed contract extensions, with the latter signing for two years while the others committed for a further year.
The Brumbies, who lead the Australian conference, have re-signed nine players in the past two weeks. Massive Tongan-born loose forward Vaea knocked back offers from other Australian teams as well as overseas to stay in Canberra.