Older citizens stand up and be counted

We have a Motoring Enthusiast’s Party in the Senate for those who like cars; we have incompetents like Jaqui Lambie taking up a seat; and we have a host of other fringe groups seeking seats so they can advocate sex and cannabis and God knows what else.
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With millions of people now in the upper-age bracket, who are regularly relegated by governments to a status of uselessness, if not abject liability as far as society is concerned, why, oh why has a party not arisen to represent older citizens in the Senate and use the balance of power to protect older citizens?

With so many potential voters, it is the best and easiest way to influence government policy and cease this campaign of denigration that has been used to justify driving older folk into poverty.

Surely the marginalisation and impoverishment of those who have carried the burden of developing the society we now enjoy, is a little more important than cars.

When will we stand up and be counted?

Howard Smith


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Illawarra Opal card retailers few and far

The NSW government has declined to commit to placing Opal card machines on hub stations such as Thirroul and Helensburgh.
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On Monday, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian officially launched the 1000 new Opal retail outlets announced last week.

The Illawarra appears to have received just one of those 1000 – at the University of Wollongong Unicentre.

In Monday’s announcement, Mrs Berejiklian also mentioned cards would be sold via machines on station platforms as part of the rollout.

The Illawarra is sadly lacking card retailers – from Helensburgh to Kiama there are just 17.

Most of them are in Wollongong; Shellharbour has just two and Kiama one.

The most curious omissions are at Helensburgh and Thirroul, which feature as hub stations in the new timetable – stations where commuters can catch faster services to Sydney.

Despite funnelling more commuters to these stations, to date there are no Opal retailers nearby.

At Helensburgh, it’s 2.6 kilometres from the station, while the closest to Thirroul is actually two suburbs away in Woonona.

A Transport for NSW spokesman could not confirm whether either station would be prioritised for the machines.

The spokesman also said the machines would not sell Opal cards but rather just enable commuters to add money to it.

“Top-up machines will be available later in the rollout and the final locations and number of machines across the network is yet to be finalised,” he said.

He also said the government was working with Woolworths to sell the cards at their stores and petrol stations.

Meanwhile, the jobs of ticket sellers on the South Coast line appear to be safe, according to the NSW Rail Tram and Bus Union.

A union spokeswoman said 97 ticket seller positions have gone on the Sydney network in the wake of the Opal rollout, with another 60 expected to disappear soon.

However, she said the union understood it was only ticket seller jobs on the Sydney network that had been “earmarked” and Illawarra stations won’t be affected at this stage.

A NSW TrainLink spokeswoman confirmed this, saying there are no plans to reassign current customer service station staff.

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Kickstart in Corrimal aims to put mall in shade

Paul Boultwood and Annelies Voorthuis walk the talk. Picture: KIRK GILMOURBusinesses in Corrimal have a battle on their hands trying to draw attention away from the Wollongong CBD.
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Corrimal Chamber of Commerce president Paul Boultwood said the suburb had great businesses but so often focus seemed to be on the mall, including the new GPT development.

“We’ve got to deal with the mall – everything’s always in Wollongong,” Mr Boultwood said.

“Corrimal has been left to its own devices for the last 15-20 years. We’re not waiting for council any more. We’ve been waiting 20-odd years for the council to do something for the northern suburbs, we’re not waiting any more, we’re doing it ourselves.”

What that means is Energise Corrimal Week, where small businesses can receive a share of $15,000 worth of advice, mentoring and training from Enterprise and Training Company (ETC) through the NSW government’s Small Biz Connect program.

ETC will occupy a shopfront in Corrimal Park Mall where businesses can get more information on the range of workshops and services available.

Annelies Voorthuis, Illawarra co-ordinator for ETC, said the idea behind the week was to help small business get a little bit bigger by improving their performance, profitability and productivity. ” During Energise Corrimal Week, our team of experienced business consultants will be delivering workshops, offering free business health checks and raising awareness generally about the business support services available to small businesses in the Illawarra,” she said.

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Green’s role in mill reopening stalemate to be examined

WHY Labor Leader Bryan Green apparently did little to help Forestry Tasmania get the mothballed Triabunna woodchip mill reopened will be probed.
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A parliamentary inquiry starting today will cover what Opposition leader Bryan Green and the former government did to ensure the Triabunna mill reopened in accordance with the forest peace deal.

A parliamentary inquiry starting today will also cover what Mr Green and the former government did to ensure the mill reopened in accordance with the forest peace deal.

Mr Green said he remained disappointed efforts to get the mill operating were “frustrated” by its owners (wealthy environmentalists Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood).

The Advocate obtained letters that showed FT’s efforts to get the mill restarted appeared to have been ignored by Triabunna Investments, a Cameron-Wood vehicle.

Triabunna Investments in 2011 called for tenders to reopen the mill.

FT offered to do so if it could not find another operator.

Three months later, FT’s then-managing director, Bob Gordon, wrote to Triabunna Investments about having heard nothing back.

Triabunna Investments last month said it received no economically viable tender.

The mill is still closed.

It was reportedly trashed last year to ensure it could not be used for forestry without major expenditure.

Mr Green said FT’s board decided to express interest.

Mr Green, who was resources minister at the time, said he was briefed on that, and encouraged FT.

“I supported the decision, but suggestions that ministers should interfere in the transactions between a GBE and a business goes beyond ministerial responsibility,” he said.

“I was, and remain, disappointed that efforts to get the mill going failed and were frustrated by the mill owners.”

Mr Green said he would be happy to answer any questions.

Barnett rejects claims on mill inquiryWhish-Wilson seeking unity on forestry issuesBooth family in machinery dealTriabunna mill subject of parliamentary inquiryBarnett seeks Triabunna mill ‘facts’This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Barnett seeks Triabunna mill ‘facts’

Lyons Liberal MHA Guy Barnett set up a committee to examine the circumstances of the Triabunna mill’s closure, but the state opposition says it’s just a drawn out witch hunt.THE chairman of the parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the Triabunna woodchip mill hopes to “establish the facts” at public hearings in Hobart today, but the state opposition says it’s just a drawn out witch hunt.
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Lyons Liberal MHA Guy Barnett set up the committee to examine the circumstances of the mill’s closure, sale and dismantling by new owners, environmentalists Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron, after a national magazine exposed “disgraceful tactics of radical environmentalists”.

Mr Barnett said yesterday that he was “shocked and surprised” at the dismantling of the mill but also wanted to look at future opportunities for Triabunna.

“What we have seen are matters that need to be investigated,” Mr Barnett said.

“There are key questions that need to be asked,” he said.

Mr Wood and Ms Cameron are not on the witness list for the two day hearing, and Mr Barnett said witnesses have been written to and asked to give evidence.

Forest industry representatives dominate today’s witness list, including Forest Industry Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards and Forestry Tasmania chief executive Steve Whitely.

Triabunna Investments, which is owned by Mr Wood and Ms Cameron, hit back at criticism of their handling of the decommissioning of the site last month.

They maintain all staff acted in a lawful and professional manner in the decommissioning process.

But Mr Barnett has described it as a “very murky affair”.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said the Liberals were “looking back at a time when the state needs ideas for the future”.

“Mr Barnett talks about future opportunities for Triabunna but who on the witness list does he suggest will do that?” Mr Green said.

An attempt by Denison Greens MHA Cassy O’Connor, who will also sit on the committee, to change the focus of the inquiry from a “political vendetta against a private investor” to rebuilding the economies in struggling regional towns failed.

Barnett rejects claims on mill inquiryWhish-Wilson seeking unity on forestry issuesBooth family in machinery dealBooth not critical of mill actionTriabunna mill subject of parliamentary inquiryGreen’s role in mill reopening stalemate to be examinedThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

NSW Premier Mike Baird to block Cornwell expulsion despite ICAC revelations

NSW Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Peter Rae Andrew Cornwell. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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A motion to expel disgraced former Liberal MP Andrew Cornwell from the NSW Parliament will be blocked by the state government, which will use its majority in the lower house to vote down the move.

But the decision is expected to draw criticism of Premier Mike Baird from the opposition, Greens and independent MPs who believe Mr Cornwell should be forced out.

Mr Cornwell has admitted to a corruption inquiry that he accepted a $10,000 payment he understood to be a bribe from property developer Hilton Grugeon and used the money to pay his tax bill.

He also told the Independent Commission Against Corruption he accepted $10,000 in cash from another developer, Jeff McCloy, who is now mayor of Newcastle.

The money was used in Mr Cornwell’s campaign to win the seat of Charlestown. Property developers have been banned from donating to NSW political campaigns since 2009.

The expulsion motion is due to be moved by Greens MP Jamie Parker and may be brought on for debate as early as Tuesday afternoon.

But a government spokesman said on Monday night: “The government believes the ICAC inquiry should be allowed to run its course.”

It is understood the government feels the Greens motion is a stunt and no action should be taken against Mr Cornwell until ICAC hands down its findings, which are due by the end of the year.

However, Mr Parker said it would be “breathtaking if the Liberal Party provided political cover to an MP who has admitted this corrupt and unethical behaviour”.

“Failing to expel this MP would condemn the Liberals as a party not only condoning, but actively protecting corrupt behaviour,” he said.

Opposition leader John Robertson said Labor would vote in favour of the motion “because of the serious nature of what Mr Cornwell has admitted to”.

“I continue to be shocked by what we see playing out at ICAC,” Mr Robertson said.

“Despite promising to end the scandal, we continue to see a conga line of Liberals ministers and MPs dragged down to explain themselves.”

Independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, said he would vote to expel Mr Cornwell, but felt Mr Parker should have sought co-sponsors for the motion “to put it above party politics”.

“It is important the parliament restores community confidence and makes a united stand against corruption and expels those who have admitted to taking bribes,” he said.

Greg Piper, the independent MP for Lake Macquarie, said he would decide how to vote on the motion in due course. But he said it was “untenable for Andrew Cornwell to stay in parliament. One way or another he needs to leave.”

Mr Piper said he had been planning to move an expulsion motion against Mr Cornwell and was disappointed the Greens had chosen to “contaminate” the debate by “using it in a party political way”.

But Mr Parker said only one member could move for expulsion: “This isn’t about parties – it’s about the community’s faith in parliament”.

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Minister threatens sanctions over absenteeism in remote schools

Amata school kids performing at traditional dance for Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion. Photo: Justin McManusIndigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has vowed to impose sanctions on parents in remote indigenous communities whose children are not attending school.
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Senator Scullion declared his intention after figures showed the strategy to boost school attendance in remote communities without sanctions had failed to significantly improve attendance.

The minister yesterday met Greg Wirth, principal of the Amata Anangu School, south of Uluru, where fewer than 60 per cent of enrolled pupils attended school during second term.

Figures were similarly poor across other communities in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands in the north-west of South Australia.

Mr Wirth said there had been a spike in attendance after the new approach started in term one, with school attendance supervisors employed to boost school attendance.

The minister announced his intention at Amata after handing out certificates to children with unblemished attendance records.

One local described the plan as: ”No school, no pay.”

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Cambodia asylum deal to go ahead despite intense opposition

Scott Morrison is yet to confirm if he will travel to Cambodia. Photo: Wolter PeetersFull federal politics coverage
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Australia’s secret refugee deal with Cambodia is about to be signed, amid growing opposition to the  transfer agreement.

With a deal imminent, the office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison refused to confirm on Monday he was set to travel to Cambodia this week, while the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would not admit Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia, Alison Burrows, had been in meetings with the Cambodian government.

Cambodian officials were more forthcoming with details of the government’s activities in the impoverished south-east Asian nation.

“Regarding the issue of refugees, Australia Immigration Minister [Morrison] will soon, in the upcoming days, visit Cambodia. The minister will visit a number of areas in Cambodia,” the interior ministry told the Phnom Penh Post.

A ministry official also confirmed that Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia had met Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Friday in final negotiations on the deal.

The federal government has not divulged any details of the refugee transfer plan, but it has been speculated it will pay Cambodia $40 million to take up to 1000 refugees from the detention centre on Nauru.

Removing 1000 refugees from Nauru would almost empty the island’s detention centre – it is holding 1146 people – but would overwhelm Cambodia’s refugee infrastructure. The country has 68 registered refugees and 12 asylum seekers.

There are concerns Australia could be violating international law by sending refugees in its care to a place where they might face persecution.

Cambodia arbitrarily arrests members of minorities and government opponents, the United Nations says, and has previously sent asylum seekers back to their home countries where they have been jailed, or even sentenced to the death penalty.

Cambodia has said it will run background checks on all refugees Australia wants to transfer and will only take people who agree to be moved.

Labor and the Greens have criticised the government’s secrecy over its Cambodia transfer plan.

“It is time for the minister for secrecy to come clean on what the dirty deal is,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said. “What is it going to cost the Australian taxpayer and what are the arrangements.”

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said the government’s record of asylum deals with other countries was woeful.

“It is completely unacceptable that Scott Morrison continues to keep the Australian public in the dark about any proposal to resettle asylum seekers in Cambodia.”

Fairfax sought comment from the Immigration Minister on the details of the deal with Cambodia, but questions were not answered.

Human rights advocates, refugee campaigners and legal experts have lined up to condemn any proposed transfer deal with Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said Australia was outsourcing its refugee obligations.

“At its core, the Australia refugee dumping deal is all about Canberra violating its rights obligations and paying Phnom Penh to clean up the mess,” he said. ”Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government should be universally condemned for his central role in trashing the principle of refugee protection in the region.”

Daniel Webb, from the Human Rights Law Centre, said the government’s argument that the transfer deal was a regional solution was flawed.

“Cambodia is a poverty-stricken nation with a poor human rights record and no history of refugee resettlement. There are more refugees in the world now than there has been at any time since the end of WWII.

”Only a tiny fraction seeks Australia’s protection. Yet when they do they’re locked up on remote Pacific islands while our government prowls around the region looking for somewhere else to dump them.”

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, said “shamefully, the government is trying to draw yet another poor country into undermining the human rights of refugees”.

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Gallop promises ‘top 10’ club for 2015 All Stars

Winner … Simone Pepe celebrates after scoring for Juventus against the A-League All Stars on Sunday.Juventus’ saviour Simone Pepe praised the standard of Australian football and admitted the Italian champions were somewhat surprised by the A-League All Stars who made them work hard for a narrow 3-2 victory on Sunday night.
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Less than a day after Juventus entertained Sydney, Football Federation Australia revealed it is in talks to bring another European heavyweight to Australia next year. Manchester City are believed to be the frontrunners.

FFA chief executive David Gallop prolonged the public excitement surrounding the All Stars event by confirming a deal is in the works to bring a world “top 10” club to Australia next year. Several high-profile teams are being lined up for the 2015 A-League All Stars clash. Manchester City are in the frame following their takeover of Melbourne City.

It’s understood the FFA disclosed to A-League clubs a $1 million direct profit from the Juventus friendly match and confirmed the All Stars concept will remain an annual fixture for the foreseeable future.

Gallop remained tight-lipped on the identity of the opponent, but said it is a club that will maintain the standard set by past guests, Manchester United and Juventus. “We’re already in heavy planning to make sure there is another big fixture,” Gallop said. “I can’t exactly announce the team yet, but I can promise it’s a big one. A club inside the top ten in the world and it will be something fans will be really excited about.”

The All Stars concept received a favourable response from the Juventus players. Pepe, who scored the winning goal for the Italian champions, praised the standard of Australian football. The 30-year-old winger was warned not to underestimate the A-League players by former AC Milan and Australia goalkeeper, Zeljko Kalac, but his teammates were forced to learn the hard way against an exhibition side intent on snaring an upset. 

“I was speaking to [Zeljko] Kalac today who came and found me in the hotel, because we knew each other, and he told me there’s been great improvement,” Pepe said. ”In fact, I saw tonight that it was a great team because in their game they have strong individuals with good quality, even if we are a little off condition they gave us a great game.”

Juventus were impressive in their tactical set-up but offered little intensity in the opening half as they organised their tactical structure before their first competitive match on August 21. Pepe watched the bulk of the game from the bench before entering as a late substitute and was impressed with the speed and physicality of the All Stars.

“When I was on the bench I was aware of it but when I was on the field I became more aware that they’re in good condition physically,” Pepe said.

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NRL Power Rankings: Round 22 – Josh Reynolds should have been told to pull his head in

Josh Reynolds undoubtedly did the wrong thing by his teammates last Friday night in Brisbane by acting like a goose but he was also let down by the Canterbury’s leaders.
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Reynolds, who has been encouraged at club and Origin level this year to sail close to the wind, went over the top against the Broncos. He was rightfully penalised for lashing out with his boots after being tackled by Sam Thaiday, he should have at least been sin-binned for his trip on Ben Barba and after his high tackle, the referees should have sent him straight off instead of signalling 10 minutes in the sin bin (yes, it didn’t affect the time he missed because there were only a few minutes left but it still sends a stronger message).

Somewhere between brain snap #1 and the final act of foul play, he should have been told to pull his head in by captain Michael Ennis, another renowned niggler, or the message should have come down from supercoach Hasler to show some discipline or he would send him to the sheds before the refs next had the chance to do so.

The upshot is he’s facing three weeks, the Bulldogs have lost their fourth match on the trot and are rapidly fading from the finals equation.

1. Manly (last week 1): Manly are still the team to beat. Souths dominated them on Friday night at the SCG but don’t be fooled into thinking the Rabbitohs are the benchmark just yet. Manly have consistently been the better team throughout the season.

2. South Sydney (2): But in saying that, the Bunnies were very impressive in toppling Manly 23-4, Sam Burgess was unstoppable through the middle and on the edges of the ruck. Only Sonny Bill Williams can match him as far as class in the finesse and grunt work that comes with being a modern-day forward in the NRL.

3. Roosters (3): You can’t blame them for not getting up for Monday night’s tussle with the Titans in the freezing rain in front of a quarter-full Allianz Stadium. But they did whatever was necessary and got the win.

4. Panthers (4): Supercoach Cleary’s side only broke the line three times against the Dragons in Wollongong but they made only four errors. They’ve reeled in the attacking flair in recent weeks as they’ve lost players to injury but they’re still racking up the wins.

5. Warriors (5): They were lucky to get away with the win over the Sharks but after racking up the half-century the previous weekend against another cellar dweller in Canberra, a touch of complacency can be overlooked just this once.

6. Cowboys (7): Supercoach Green is officially hardcore. Refusing to take Johnathan Thurston off during the 58-point annihilation of the Tigers because it would look soft is a risky strategy but it tells the other NRL teams that North Queensland aren’t mucking around as the business end of the season nears.

7. Storm (6): Winger Sisa Waqa scored four tries on the end of the Melbourne backline in the last-ditch loss in Newcastle. He’s off to Canberra next year. They need that sort of strike power but unfortunately he needs classy players inside him.

8. Eels (9): That’s two weeks in a row where Parramatta would have lost if not for Jarryd Hayne’s individual brilliance – polishing off Canberra after doing the same to Cronulla. Perhaps it’s time for the likes of Will Hopoate and Chris Sandow to shoulder more of the attacking burden.

9. Broncos (11): All five running forwards in the starting side, plus bench prop Ben Hannant, made more than 100 metres against the Bulldogs. Only one Canterbury forward, Tony Williams, did the same. End result, Broncos 41, Bulldogs 10.

10. Dragons (10): Josh Dugan is still relatively new to the centre position but one thing supercoach McGregor needs to instil in him is the will to go looking for the ball when it’s not coming your way. He was too quiet against Penrith and St George Illawarra can’t afford that from their best strike weapon.

11. Bulldogs (8): In freefall after four straight losses. They looked like over-achieving this year and giving the premiership a fair shake. Now it looks like they will miss the finals and be left thinking what might have been on their earlier-than-expected Mad Monday. Parramatta should towel them up this Friday.

12. Knights (15): It’s way too late to save their season but as far as consolation wins go, that after-the-siren victory at home over Melbourne after trailing by 10 with three minutes left is one of the best of all time. Travis Waddell, who stole the ball from Billy Slater to score the crucial second-last try, is a talented player and it’s a bit of a mystery why he hasn’t played more first grade during his stints at Canberra and Newcastle.

13. Titans (13): Incoming supercoach Henry needs to have a look at the roster. In particular, the majority of the first-grade forwards are getting a bit long in the tooth. An injection of some fresh blood is needed.

14. Sharks (14): If bench hooker Pat Politoni is ever entrusted with playing first grade again, he needs to be told – if you make a break when the team trails by four with a few minutes left and you have the fullback to beat with a teammate looming in support, pass it to him. Michael Gordon would have scored under the posts on Sunday in Auckland to register a boilover win but Politoni panicked as Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins backed off to put him in two minds.

15. Tigers (12): They melted in the tropical heat of Townsville. It’s a tough place to win at the best of times, let alone when most of your first-choice starting 13 is unavailable.

16. Raiders (16): They’ve forgotten how to win. Can’t blame them, they’ve won just once since beating the Cowboys in May. Despite their apparent ineptitude, they’re worth a sneaky investment this weekend against the Dragons, a team they have a mystical stranglehold on.

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Newcastle Knights veteran trio Willie Mason, Chris Houston and David Fa’alogo may be set free

Taking charge: Incoming Knights coach Rick Stone with chief executive Matt Gidley. Photo: Darren PatemanIncoming coach Rick Stone has indicated the Knights could struggle to retain all three off-contract senior forwards Willie Mason, Chris Houston and David Fa’alogo.
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The Knights confirmed on Monday that Stone would replace Wayne Bennett for the next two years, but Bennett will remain in charge for the rest of this season. Stone will concentrate on trying to win a premiership with the club’s NSW Cup squad before taking the reins from Bennett, but he wants to meet with Knights chief executive Matt Gidley as soon as possible to start planning for next year.

‘‘There’s a few things – staff and player roster are important – so myself and Matt have got to get on to that pretty much straight away,’’ Stone said. ‘‘That’s going to be an important one, particularly for the players and staff that are involved in that situation, so that’s something we’ve got to get cracking at straight away. I’m comfortable to keep my role in what I’ve been doing as assistant coach and NSW Cup coach for the rest of the year.

‘‘I’ve got four games to go in the NRL, and hopefully we’ve got a few more games at NYC and NSW Cup once the semi-finals roll around.

‘‘We’ll get a review process sorted out at the end of the year and we’ll start planning and putting some things together to get ourselves ready for the next off-season.’’

Stone said the Knights needed to bolster their front-row stocks for next year. Mason wants to continue playing next season, even if that is not in Newcastle, and his manager Sam Ayoub said he had been negotiating with two other NRL clubs on Mason’s behalf.

Houston and Fa’alogo are keen to stay but contract talks were put on hold while they waited for the club to announce Bennett’s successor. ‘‘They’re three senior players that are obviously unsigned, and they’re players that we need to talk about as a group and make some decisions on,’’ Stone said.

Meanwhile, NSW winger James McManus is unlikely to play again this season. He suffered a toe injury in the Blues’ 32-8 loss to Queensland in the third State of Origin game on July 9 then backed up in Newcastle’s 31-18 victory over Cronulla  days later but has not played since.Knights high-performance manager Jeremy Hickmans said  McManus would wear a protective CAM Boot for two or three weeks ‘‘so we’re not sure if he will return this season’’.

Hickmans said scans had cleared fullback Sione Mata’utia of a broken jaw.

The 18-year-old rookie was injured in a tackle by Storm prop Tim Glasby in the 43rd minute of Newcastle’s miraculous 32-30 victory over Melbourne at Hunter Stadium last Saturday night.

Glasby was charged with a grade-one careless high tackle but escaped suspension.

Whether Mata’utia plays against the Warriors at Hunter Stadium next Sunday could depend on the fitness of five-eighth Jarrod Mullen, who missed the Storm win due to a torn abdominal muscle.

If Mullen returns against the Warriors, as expected, captain Kurt Gidley is likely to replace Mata’utia at fullback, where he was originally selected for the Melbourne game.

Hickmans said Beau Scott should return after missing the Storm victory due to concussion but fellow back-rower Robbie Rochow will need to pass a CogSport test this week to be cleared to take his place against the Warriors.

Hickmans said Darius Boyd, who has not played since checking himself into a mental-health facility three weeks ago seeking treatment for depression, remained sidelined indefinitely.

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Newcastle Knights coach-in-waiting Rick Stone knows how to rebuild team

Former and future coach: Newcastle mentor Rick Stone. Photo: Darren PatemanWayne Bennett reckons it will take ‘‘four or five years’’ to rebuild the Knights. Rick Stone cannot afford to wait that long.
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Newcastle confirmed on Monday that Stone, who Bennett succeeded three years ago as part of Nathan Tinkler’s takeover, will  succeed the Brisbane-bound mentor as the Knights’  coach for the next two seasons.

The announcement ended weeks of speculation since Bennett said on July 10 that he would not be returning to coach the Knights for a fourth season next year, though Stone was always among the favourites to replace him and firmed to odds-on when Garth Brennan withdrew from the race.

Two weeks earlier, when he was still undecided about his  future, Bennett emerged from a planning meeting with Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and club adviser John Quayle and suggested transforming Newcastle into a super-power would require more than a ‘‘quick fix’’.

‘‘It’s going to take four or five years, I’ve got no doubt about that at all, to get it up to speed and where they want to take it, and they want to do it with a new board and a new direction – all those things that are important,’’ Bennett said. Stone is understandably more bullish about the Knights’ shorter-term future.

Sitting alongside Gidley at a news conference at the club’s Mayfield headquarters on Monday to announce the second coming of the Stone age, the 47-year-old father of three sons was asked if Bennett’s prediction of a five-year plan was too pessimistic. ‘‘I’d like to think so,’’ Stone said. ‘‘I’ve only got two, so I’ve got to get busy and see if we can make some inroads in the next two, which would be really important. I’m confident we can do it, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’

An assistant coach to Michael Hagan in 2006 and Brian Smith from 2007, Stone succeeded Smith with four rounds left in 2009 and coached the Knights in 54 NRL games until he stepped aside at the end of 2011 to make way for Bennett. The Lakes United product and former carpenter continued at the Knights as an assistant to Bennett and has been Newcastle’s NSW Cup coach for the past two seasons, taking the club’s second-tier squad within a game of last year’s grand final and back to the finals this season.

Stone coached the Knights to the 2009 and 2011 NRL finals in his first stint and, given the strength of the squad he will have at his disposal, believes that is an attainable goal next season. ‘‘Initially, you need to get yourself into the top eight obviously, and I think we’ve got a roster that’s capable of doing that, and I’m sure Wayne would be the first to admit there’s still a roster here that’s capable of doing that,’’ he said. ‘‘I think Penrith are a great example of making some decent recruitment decisions and working hard as a group – not a flashy playing staff – but they have really got themselves in a good position this year, and we could possibly model ourselves on something like that.

‘‘At different times this year, we have let ourselves down and we haven’t played as well as we need to. We need to get some consistency back. It’s funny, because when I finished the job [in 2011], we were just starting to get some consistency, and it took a couple of years to get there.  We’ve seen the same sort of thing probably rear its head in the last couple of years where the consistency hasn’t been good enough. It hasn’t been good enough for NRL standard, we got some at the back end of last year when we made a run for the semi-finals, but apart from then, it’s fair to say that we need to improve with that.’’

Gidley said the Newcastle players welcomed news of Stone’s appointment when told.

‘‘It’s clear we went through a thorough process. Rick was always going to be a very strong candidate for the job, but given how important the role is, we felt we needed to go through a thorough process before we came to this position,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘Last week we arrived at the position of Rick to be our head coach, and we’re very pleased to be able to announce that today.

‘‘One of the keys is Rick has been a part of this group for the last three years, and he’s been in a senior coaching role at our club since 2006, so he understands the type of club we are and the type of club we can be, so that’s really important.’’

Gidley said the club’s selection sub-committee of himself, Quayle and chairman Paul Harragon seriously considered the claims of six other candidates but Stone was a stand-out.

‘‘I think one of the really encouraging things to come out of the process was the calibre of coaches that were attracted to come to Newcastle,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘I was really pleased by that. Rick was always a strong contender but there was a number of other coaches that we carefully considered before we decided upon giving Rick the job.’’

Stone dismissed any suggestion he had been promised a second chance by Tinkler or Knights management as part of a gentlemen’s agreement or otherwise, saying ‘‘I don’t think there’s any real guarantees in the game of rugby league in this day and age’’.

‘‘You don’t get many chances to come back and coach at the same NRL club as head coach, so it’s a unique situation for myself,’’ Stone said.

‘‘I’d like to think I’ve been pretty patient over those three years, and learnt a lot, and understand a little bit about Newcastle from the juniors right through to the top grade, and I’m really excited about our future.’’

Stone, who steered Fiji to the World Cup semi-finals last year, believed he was inheriting a stronger roster than the one he took to the 2011 finals, and that he would be a better NRL coach second time around after three years working with Bennett.

‘‘I think you mature. Every year you’re involved in coaching, you mature and you learn a little bit more from the experiences you take out of it,’’ he said.

‘‘[I] learned plenty from Wayne. He handles things really professionally. He’s an experienced campaigner, he’s been around, he knows how to coach in big games and I learned plenty out of the semi-final series we played last year …

‘‘The last three years has been a great learning experience.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Hayne Plane soaring higher than 2009

Jarryd Hayne says he is no superman, but the Parramatta fullback is on course to surpass the heroics of his incredible 2009 season.
Nanjing Night Net

His grand-final teammate Eric Grothe says the Eels star is playing better football than when he led Parramatta to the premiership decider five years ago.

Questions over whether the Hayne Plane would ever soar at such heights have haunted the No.1 since he produced the type of football that left many wondering if they had just witnessed a once-in-a-generation phenomenon.


In just 17 games this season he has scored more tries (17) and produced more line-break assists (8) than he did in 26 games during Parramatta’s run to the 2009 grand final.

And Grothe says the maturity and leadership he has added to his game has made him an even more potent weapon than 2009.

“In ’09 I don’t think he was as mature considering his experience, but now he’s really taken on the leadership as well as his freakish brand of footy,” Grothe said on Monday.

“It all happened very quickly in ’09, and it went from really bad to really good very quickly. But this year Haynesy has been good all the way through, and so have Parramatta – that’s why he’s a better player today than he he was back then.

“He’s still relatively young [26], so it will be interesting to see how much better he gets. I think ’09 was one of the worst and best things that happened to him. Everything he did after that has been compared to that one year. That’s unfair because the whole team hasn’t gone well, and they’ve been expecting him to produce magic when they haven’t helped. He’s also a good organiser of his troops these days.”

While the Eels have struggled since that grand-final loss against Melbourne, Hayne insists the hype surrounding his performances did not get the better of him.

“I had my head screwed on right,” Hayne said last month.

“I knew why we were winning and for me it will always be about the team. The blokes that I played with were playing out of their skin and I was just the bloke that finished it off. I’ve always said when Parra is going well and when I’m going well it’s because of the blokes up front. You see that with any club. When you’ve got forwards who want to run hard and tackle hard, I do my thing on top of that. But if they don’t want to do that, I’m no superman.”

The common denominator in both of Hayne’s best seasons in the NRL is Daniel Anderson, the former Eels coach who rejoined the coaching staff as the club’s football manager this season.

“I always liked Daniel as a coach,” Hayne said.

“At the time the board didn’t like him, so that was disappointing. I found him a really good coach. He’s just straight up and honest. He’s a bit old school, too, so he’ll tell you how it is. Some blokes don’t like that. Especially the generation these days, you’ve got to cuddle them and rock them into first grade and you can’t be too harsh on them.

“For me, I thought he was great, although he doesn’t have anything to do with the stuff on the field these days. With Brad Arthur, I think Brad is the most ideal coach for the club at the moment. He’s a great coach. We couldn’t have got anyone better.”

Hayne’s former teammate Matt Keating, who came off the bench in the grand final, says Hayne is almost back to the form of 2009.

“He’s not far off,” Keating said. “I think he feels like it’s his team now. As soon as he got the co-captains role, you could see another person coming out in him. It’s taken him 12 to 18 months to finally realise what that confidence and responsibility can do for him, and that he can get back to where he was [in 2009].”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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