Locker Room

Canberra Raiders player Sami Sauiluma, with teammate Tony Milford, is dolled up to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Canberra Raiders player Sami Sauiluma, with teammate Tony Milford, is dolled up to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Photo: Instagram

They play one of the most brutal games on the planet, but Canberra Raiders players got in touch with their feminine side for a very worthy cause last week. The squad headed to Fyshwick beauty salon Be.you.tiful, where they swapped crunching tackles for manicures, pedicures, body wax and make-up to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. It's an initiative of centre Jarrod Croker, who is taking part in Canberra Celebrity Apprentice, which raises money for local charities. Josh Papalii's reputation as a feared NRL hit man may be in danger after he was spotted in a frilly apron handing out cupcakes, while young gun Anthony Milford proved a hit with the ladies at the kissing booth. But best on ground surely goes to outside back Sami Sauiluma, who agreed to a full makeover to help Croker win the contest. Milford posted this picture on his Instagram with the message "proud of one of me best mates finally coming outta the closet" .Talk about taking one for the team. Croker had raised over $11,500 as of Friday afternoon and was running second in the competition, which finishes at the end of the month. You can donate here.

Following a tradition

He made an aggressive bid to be head honcho in the Canberra Raiders coaching box, but Andrew Dunemann will be in the video referees' booth this season. In what is fast becoming a rite of passage for former Raiders assistants, Parramatta's win over the Warriors on Sunday was Dunemann's video referee debut. It turned out to be a baptism of fire, with the on-field referees heading upstairs a ridiculous number of times to ensure the former halfback earned his money. After David Furner was sacked by the Raiders, Dunemann took over for the final three games of the season and went all out for the top job, but was pipped by Ricky Stuart. After a season as a Raiders assistant in 2012, Justin Morgan also had a stint as a video referee last year before accepting a role as one of Craig Bellamy's deputies at Melbourne Storm.

Sami Sauiluma, Josh Papalii, Anthony Milford, Terry Campese (back) and Jarrod Croker

Sami Sauiluma, Josh Papalii, Anthony Milford, Terry Campese (back) and Jarrod Croker Photo: Instagram

Thurston gives his all

North Queensland Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston virtually carried his team on his back to pull off a stirring comeback win over Canberra last Saturday. So it came as no surprise his body failed him at the post-match media conference. Having brought his team back from the brink after trailing 16-0 in humid Townsville, Thurston was struck down by cramp mid-answer and was forced to leave to seek medical help. It all proved too much for Cowboys media manager Paul Munnings, who broke into hysterics before telling the skipper he could go. 

Kasiano looking at options

Jarrod Croker paints his mother Pauline's fingernails.

Jarrod Croker paints his mother Pauline's fingernails. Photo: Webstagram

It may seem an ideal fit given Canberra's wealth of off-contract veteran props, but Canterbury giant Sam Kasiano's manager insists he is yet to hear from Raiders officials to sound out his client. Mario Tartak confirmed in reports this week that his phone had been ''ringing off the hook'' after Andrew Fifita announced his pending big-money move to Canterbury, with the Bulldogs expected to shed at least one prop to accommodate the Sharks star. Kasiano is contracted until the end of next season at Belmore but the word is Bulldogs coach Des Hasler is keen to show who rules the roost after last year's disappointing season. "I haven't met with Raelene [Castle, Bulldogs chief executive] at all to see what's going on; it's all speculation at the moment,'' Kartak said. "I have had several clubs call me who are interested in him. He's one of those X-factor players, but when I talk to the Bulldogs and know more, then I can talk to the clubs who have been ringing me. I haven't had a call from anybody at the Raiders but if he is released I'm sure my phone will be ringing off the hook.'' Kartak said Kasiano would be willing to explore options outside Sydney should he be given permission to head elsewhere. "I've spoken to Sam previously before this happened and he's open to anything. Wherever he has to travel and he's going to be happy, he's definitely open to that.''

Kyrgios hits the clay

Canberra's tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios was spotted back home recently and hitting on the clay courts at Lyneham. It's not exactly warming up for the French Open, given the tournament at Roland Garros is still two months away. Especially given the courts at Lyneham are a hybrid clay, with a different feel to European clay. The new Lyneham tennis development will include six state-of-the-art clay courts but construction has been stalled by approval processes. Tennis ACT had been hoping to celebrate the opening of the complex with a big tournament next summer, but that is now likely to be pushed back until summer 2015-16.

Josh Papalii dishes out cupcakes to a youngster at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance fund-raiser.

Josh Papalii dishes out cupcakes to a youngster at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance fund-raiser. Photo: Belle Photography

Bruton primes Cannons

National Basketball League hall-of-famer Cal Bruton is still working behind the scenes to try and revive the Canberra Cannons. The NBL has apointed former Test cricketer Graeme Watson to oversee the sport's expansion, with a goal of bringing in four new clubs by the 2015-16 season. The NBL desperately wants a Canberra team and Watson was back in the nation's capital recently where he caught up with Bruton for lunch. It's understood Bruton is talking with two potential partners in order to rebuild the Cannons, which folded 10 years ago. The other areas in the expansion mix are Hobart, south-east Melbourne, Brisbane and Wellington, New Zealand. The NBL wants to have the four locations chosen by October, giving clubs a year to prepare for competition.

Shield final free

Jarrod Croker at the fund-raiser.

Jarrod Croker at the fund-raiser. Photo: Belle Photography

It's great to hear the gates are going to be thrown open for the Sheffield Shield final after patrons were charged $7 to attend last week's game between NSW and WA. Cricket ACT wanted to recoup some of the estimated $90,000 it costs to host a Shield game, with the ACT government also contributing funding. The final is run by Cricket Australia and it made the decision to have free admission. Cricket NSW has free entry to all of its Shield games held in Sydney.

Games people play

The NSW Waratahs made a hit and run mission to Canberra for Saturday night's massive clash with the ACT Brumbies. The Waratahs arrived on Friday afternoon and hit the road immediately after full-time. It's a contrast to football teams who play in the capital, who arrive at least one day before and usually don't leave until the following day. The Waratahs also snapped up the Brumbies' preferred captain's run training session timeslot in the afternoon, forcing the home side to move its session to 11am. Everyone loves Super Rugby mind games.

Canberra Raiders player Sami Sauiluma, with teammate Tony Milford, is dolled up to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Canberra Raiders player Sami Sauiluma, with teammate Tony Milford, is dolled up to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Photo: Instagram

Legend and the newcomer

The Brumbies will be bolstered by an Australian Wallabies Test legend at training this week. Retired No.8 Toutai Kefu will arrive in Canberra on Monday for some time with the Brumbies. Kefu will be in the capital to link with his assistant coaches from Japanese club Kubota Spears and player Harumichi Tatekawa. Tatekawa is the first Asian player to have a contract at the Brumbies. He is yet to play a game but Kefu will check on his progress and is confident the inside centre will get a chance before the end of the Super Rugby season.

Smith signs on

Jarrod Croker at the fundraiser.

Jarrod Croker at the fundraiser. Photo: Belle Photography

The Brumbies have finally got their man, securing George Smith's signature in Sydney earlier this week. Brumbies officials drove to Sydney to meet Smith, managing to convince him to sign on the dotted line. But Wallabies and Brumbies great Smith won't be back in Canberra as an openside flanker replacement for David Pocock. Smith was signing memorabilia for his record-breaking game that set a new mark for the most matches played for the Brumbies. Details of when the prized piece will be available will be out in coming weeks.

Pakistan emerges victor

Pakistan and India battled a low-scoring thriller in the Akram-Tendulkar Shield in Canberra last weekend. Two teams of amateur cricket players of Pakistan or Indian heritage from around the capital were locked in an intense super-over contest at Kaleen Oval. Team India batted first, scoring 83 runs off 19.2 overs before being dismissed. It seemed like Pakistan was destined for the Shield triumph. But it had to settle for a score of 8-83 off its 20 overs. In the sudden death super over, Pakistan scored 13 runs while India managed five. It meant Pakistan lifted the Akram-Tendulkar Shield, with deputy high commissioner of Pakistan Asima Rabbani presenting the winning shield to skipper Syed Jaffry.