Battle royal of the Harrys to hit Sydney

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Sydney will become ground zero in the battle of the Harrys this weekend, with Prince Harry and the equally infamous pop royal Harry Styles both flying into the harbour city on Friday.
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Officially, one of them is here to “review the fleet”, though it will be Sydney’s fair maidens who will eagerly be volunteering for their own review when the world’s two hottest Harrys touch down.

So ladies, start your engines.

While Prince Harry, who arrives on a commercial flight from London, is the official guest of the International Fleet Review, he will be in town for only about 48 hours.

Despite such a brief visit, plans are already afoot to make the most of what limited off-duty time the 29-year-old prince is expected have during his stay at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks.

A private party is planned for Saturday night, but he might also take in some of the night spots on Friday night – jet lag and official engagements permitting. There is talk of security teams sweeping several venues in case the prince wants to take in the city’s nocturnal delights.

A similar operation was carried out in 2010 when his older brother, Prince William, came to Sydney when he downed mojitos at Bungalow 8 on Kings Street Wharf.

Meanwhile, a few hundred metres away from Prince Harry’s Sydney digs, Harry Styles and his One Direction band mates are expected to check into the equally swish Park Hyatt Hotel, after arriving in Sydney aboard their private jet, which has been criss-crossing Australasia for the past week leaving a slipstream of screaming teenage girls in their wake.

One Direction’s first Sydney show is scheduled for Saturday night, leaving Friday night free for the boy band to wreak havoc on Sydney’s nightlife.

Styles, who alone is reportedly worth $24 million, has a reputation for partying and is considered one of the band members more popular among their legion of pubescent fans.

The 19-year-old has so far enjoyed his downtime Down Under by hitting the gaming tables at Perth’s Crown Casino in Perth.

But his management has expressed concern about his penchant for casinos, especially since he reportedly blew a six-figure sum on a roulette table.

Undeterred, Styles has a “17 Black” tattoo on his left shoulder, which is apparently a reference to the roulette wheel.

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

‘Ridiculous workload’ – Alan Kohler ends ABC’s Inside Business

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The ‘‘ridiculous’’ workload of host Alan Kohler has put paid to ABC TV’s Sunday morning business show, Inside Business, after 12 years on air.
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Kohler, who also works for News Limited, will continue presenting his finance segment during the ABC’s flagship 7pm news bulletin.

He said that writing a column for website Eureka Report in addition to filming Inside Business meant his workload on Fridays was ‘‘ridiculous’’.

He also writes three columns a week for the Business Spectator website, where he is editor-in-chief.

‘‘I’m not lining anything up, no no no,’’ Kohler said. ‘‘This is to have more of a sensible working life.’’

Last year Kohler and his business partners, Robert Gottliebsen and Stephen Bartholomeusz, sold their company Australian Independent Business Media, which publishes Business Spectator and the Eureka Report, to News Limited for a reported $30 million.

Kohler said the ABC decided to stop broadcasting Inside Business after he told the government broadcaster he was stepping down as host.

‘‘I’ve been doing Inside Business for 12 years, it really has been great,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve really enjoyed it. I designed the program, started it off, had fantastic people working on it.

‘‘I really enjoyed doing the TV interviews, so I’m going to miss that. I’d like to find a way to continue doing interviews, if I can.’’

He said he initially opposed the show’s recent change in format from magazine-style to chat show but as ‘‘time went on I warmed to it’’.

‘‘I think in the end it was actually a good move and I think the show improved.’’

He said the decision to wind up Inside Business had nothing to do with criticism last year that he had a conflict of interest following the sale of Australian Independent Business Media to News Limited.

The end of Inside Business is a win for Nine, which this year started broadcasting Financial Review Sunday using talent from The Australian Financial Review, published by BusinessDay’s owner, Fairfax Media.

However, ABC current affairs head Bruce Belsham said the government broadcaster ‘‘remains committed to strong business coverage’’.

‘‘We will continue to work with Alan on a range of business content,” he said in a statement issued by the ABC.

From next year sports panel show Offsiders, hosted by Barrie Cassidy, will directly follow politics panel show Insiders, also hosted by Cassidy.

Inside Business is to broadcast for the last time on December 1.

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

Tell-tale sign? Cemetery setting for Breaking Bad finale screening

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Eerie … A scene from the finale of Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White.Breaking Bad crew and cast, including Bryan Cranston (centre left) next to Aaron Paul (in yellow), at the Hollywood Cemetery. Photo: Michael Idato
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Gilligan wanting Walt White to winBreaking Bad spoilers v spoilsports

It seems fitting that the final episode of the dark series Breaking Bad would be screened in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Cemetery; a magnificent, sprawling gothic necropolis whose tombstones record the who’s who (or used to be) of Tinseltown’s A-list.

The show’s creator, producer/writer Vince Gilligan, and its cast, including Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, gathered on a stage surrounded by diehard fans, friends and the gods and ghosts of Hollywood.

“You have changed history,” Aaron Paul said to the show’s producer Vince Gilligan. “You have changed television. I cannot begin to thank you for giving me a career.”

Paul described his co-star Bryan Cranston as his mentor. “Without him I would not be the actor I am today,” Paul said.

Cranston paid tribute to the show’s crew.

“We were together for 13 or 14 hours a day,” he said. “These are our family members. The crew are the unheralded heroes of our show.”

The gothic backdrop, and those luminous ghosts whose star is diminished but never extinguished, set the stage for what may go down in history as the biggest TV finale since the end of M*A*S*H. On more than 25 hectares of landscaped memorial park are the remains of Cecil B. DeMille, Peter Finch, Fay Wray and Rudolph Valentino. Even Terry, the cairn terrier who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz, is buried here.

The special event was organised by one of the show’s stars, Aaron Paul, with the proceeds going to his wife Lauren Parsekian’s anti-bullying non-profit organisation, The Kind Campaign.

Last episode ever of Breaking Bad. It would not be possible without all of you. Thank you all for the amazing ride. Love you Vince!!!!— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 30, 2013

“@Provennoble100: @betsy_brandt The End Of An Era. :'(”. So true. XO— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 30, 2013

As the sun set on the Hollywood hills behind the cemetery, the total funds raiused had reached US$1.8 million.

When tickets for the event went on sale on September 4 they sold out within minutes. The guests were not the first to see the episode – that honour went to fans on the US east coast, which is three hours ahead – but they did get to see it with the cast and crew.

The final episode, 75 minutes long with commercials, was preceded by a special screening of the pilot episode. After the screening, members of the cast and crew answered questions from guest host, American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Gilligan revealed the producers considered a range of ways to finish the series.

“Our six writers considered just about every possible outcome with this thing. This was the one that felt right,” he said.

Cranston said the cemetery screening was the first time many of the cast and crew had seen the final episode.

“I saw it in a very unfortunate situation, [when] we did the DVD commentary and I was watching and going silent,” Cranston said. “It was a strange way to see it for the first time.”

The event was organised so Gilligan and the cast could take their final bow for a television series which, despite a modest kick off in 2008, had become one of the most critically-acclaimed TV dramas of all time.

Well, this is it. The last episode ever of Breaking Bad. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. Without you we never would have lasted.— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) September 29, 2013

Let’s do this bitch!!! Get ready everyone for some madness.— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) September 29, 2013

In the short space of five years it has become the benchmark by which other dramas are now measured.

Among the VIP guests at the cemetery screening were actor Ewan McGregor, Netflix boss Ted Sarandos, porn icon Ron Jeremy, and music legend Marilyn Manson.

Vince Gilligan. Creator of Breaking Bad. Thank you. You’ve changed my life http://t.co/pahkIBlMPp— dean norris (@deanjnorris) September 29, 2013

Breaking Bad party in NYC! Me, Michael Slovis, Andy Vogeli, and the rest of the family. #mariegaritaspic.twitter南京夜网/lWvbo1Wytu— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 30, 2013

Michael Idato is reporting from the Hollywood Cemetery in LA.

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

Jul 10

EDITORIAL: Plight of ‘at risk’ children 

IN Newcastle Coroners Court on Monday, Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott began an inquest into the tragic death of a morbidly obese 10-year-old boy.
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The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died three years ago this week.

Counsel assisting the inquest, Ian Bourke, told the inquiry that on four occasions between 2008 and 2010 the Department of Family and Community Services closed the ‘‘risk of harm’’ reviews it had opened about the boy in order to pursue the needs of other children deemed at greater risk.

The reviews were prompted by concerns over the boy’s weight and other issues, including his parents’ drug use. Despite the threat of criminal action over poor school attendances, he had missed about 100days of education a year for the final three years of his life.

Ms Truscott may well find that the department did its job properly, and that no blame attaches to the state government in the circumstances, or anyone else.

But it might turn out this case evokes memories of earlier tragedies, including tiny ‘‘Ebony’’ at Hawks Nest and Wyong toddler Tanilla Warrick-Deaves.

As well, months of parliamentary controversy over the department and its minister, Pru Goward, have done little to instil public confidence.

After the leaking of an Ernst & Young audit into the staffing of caseworkers, the government was forced to admit that staffing levels were well below those claimed by Ms Goward, and the opposition led calls for her scalp. Several weeks later, the minister remains in her job but the latest figures acknowledged by the government seem to confirm the concerns of her critics.

Just one in four children from the Hunter and Central Coast regions deemed at risk of significant harm are assessed face-to-face by caseworkers. In turn, the Hunter and Central Coast have the equivalent of 267 full-time caseworkers, 34 down on the full complement of 301.

With the numbers of notifications running at more than 17,000 a year, an 11per cent shortfall in caseworkers can only make a bad situation worse.

Full face-to-face assessments of all of these notifications may well be impossible, or even unwarranted, but the children involved are among our society’s most vulnerable members and they surely deserve better attention than they are apparently receiving.

The government may well say it doesn’t have the budget to do more but this is one situation where prevention will be much more cost-effective than any cure.

Jul 10

Julia Gillard Anne Summers interview 

Gillard on why she wrote to Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy here
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JULIA Gillard has thrown a thinly veiled barb at Kevin Rudd for disloyalty and for destabilising her prime ministership, declaring the difference between her behaviour and his was that she always worked for the re-election of the Labor Government.

She said while it was difficult to accept the outcome of the ballot which returned Mr Rudd to the prime ministership, she had quickly concluded the best course was to give her party ‘‘the gift of silence’’ and not making public comments before the election.

Speaking to Anne Summers last night, the only public comments she has made on the explosive events of June and Mr Rudd’s role in eventually replacing her, Ms Gillard justified her original move on Mr Rudd in June 2010 as ‘‘legitimate’’.

‘‘To ask your leader to have a leadership ballot, that’s legitimate, to do things continuously that undermine the Labor Party and the Labor government, then of course that shouldn’t be done by anyone,’’ she said.

‘‘The key difference is every day I was Deputy Prime Minister, I spent all of my time doing everything I could to have the Labor government prosper.’’

She also used the opportunity to hit out at media reports that she had split with her long-time partner Tim Mathieson, declaring the rumours completely untrue and claiming the original report in the Woman’s Day magazine had been written without contacting her.

In her first serious interview since her removal from office on June 26, Ms Gillard told a sell-out audience at the Sydney Opera House that she was all too aware of the sexist treatment of her on the internet and elsewhere but chose not to engage despite a feeling of ‘‘murderous outrage’’.

However, she expressed the view that it would hopefully be easier for a woman to follow in the future, all but endorsing Tanya Plibersek as a future female prime minister describing her one of the nation’s most gifted communicators.

She said there was ‘‘an underside of sexism, really ugly, violent sexism’’ in Australia but it was not clear that it was a merely a function of the new media age.

‘‘I would have thought we were beyond that and it’s kind of depressing that it’s not,’’ she said.

Ms Gillard also spoke of the difficulties of managing the minority parliament revealing she had needed to have the Prime Minister’s office ‘‘re-wired’’ in order to have the division bells ring when a vote was on in the House of Representatives because the numbers were so finley balanced the government could have been defeated at any time.

Ms Gillard said she regarded her April trip to China culminating in a new special relationship between Beijing and Canberra to establish annual meetings at prime minister level as her biggest foreign policy achievement.

The good natured exchange also brought out an admission that her first meeting with US President Barack Obama almost went awry when she asked him if he was ‘‘mad’’ for expressing jealousy about the parliamentary tradition of Question Time.

While the questions were almost universally friendly, it was a boy not even tall enough to reach the microphone, that stumped her.

Why, he asked, did she oppose gay marriage.

Julia Gillard and Anne Summers

As she had done during her prime ministership, Ms Gillard fumbled her way through an answer that ultimately went nowhere, and singled itself out as the only question for the night that received a qualified applause.

Head held high, Gillard gets the respect

TO the sound of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Julia Gillard strode onto the Sydney Opera House stage and back into public life yesterday, to be greeted with a standing ovation.

In her first appearance since being dumped as Labor leader in June, Ms Gillard reflected on the sexist abuse she endured as the nation’s first female prime minister.

‘‘There was this underside of really ugly violent sexism that came forward,’’ she said.

‘‘I think it finds expression because of the social media but it would have been there anyway.

‘‘Whoever the next woman [prime minister] is… we don’t want it to be like that for her again.’’

Ms Gillard said she was now in favour of a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, refused to back Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese for Labor leader and said Hillary Clinton would be an ideal first American woman president after the first African American one.

Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese both attended a Labor party members’ forum sausage sizzle in Perth yesterday, where they agreed to work with whoever won the leadership battle. They were reunited again on the ABC’s Q&Aon Mondaynight.

Ms Gillard also announced in her interview with Anne Summers that in addition to her University of Adelaide appointment, she had secured an education gig with Washington think tank the Brookings Institution.

In a wide-ranging discussion, one of the few words Ms Gillard did not utter was Rudd.

However, she obliquely acknowledged the man who did her down when asked how she remained motivated.

‘‘I certainly had moments of some stress and pressure. In my final speech as prime minister, I did say to myself I wouldn’t give to those people the satisfaction of seeing me shed a tear,’’ she said. About 80 percent of the audience were women. Most of the men were aged under 35.

Among the politicians were Wayne Swan, Tanya Plibersek, Stephen Loosley and David Cox.Ms Gillard appears at a similar event in Melbourne today.

Jul 10

Italian star to join Hurricanes

THE depth of female talent at the Hunter Hurricanes has attracted Italian Olympic gold medallist Elena Gigli and the interest of US college championship-winning coach Laszlo Hruza for the 2014 National Water Polo League season.
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In a major coup for Hunter, Gigli, 28, has announced on Italian media that she has accepted an offer from the Hurricanes to join them next season.

The 190-centimetre-tall goalkeeper will replace the departing Ellie Singleton on their roster.

Gigli, at 19 years and 48 days, became the youngest Olympic gold medallist for her country when the Italian women’s team won at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

She has since been a mainstay of the Italian team, competing at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Meanwhile, Hruza could also give the side an international edge next season.

Head coach at Arizona and Michigan state universities, Hruza will be in Australia in two weeks for a holiday until Christmas.

While in the Hunter, the Hungarian will meet with Hurricanes officials and players after approaching the club about the possibility of coaching the women’s team next year.

Hruza took Michigan State’s men’s side to the National Collegiate Club Championship in 2008 and was the Big Ten NCCA coach of the year in 2009. Last year he was head coach of men’s water polo at the Shanghai Swimming Association in China.

Previously he coached the Hurricanes’ South African imports Sarah Harris and Kelsey White at Arizona State.

Hilary Barton, director of the women’s program at the Hurricanes, said Hruza’s interest in the vacant women’s coaching position was a boost for the club.

‘‘He approached us and the reason he is interested is because of the girls in the team who have so much potential,’’ Barton said.

Hunter are on the search for a women’s coach after men’s boss Daniel Marsden stepped aside from the dual role at the end of last season.

The Hurricanes’ women’s side have struggled in the NWPL but had Julia Barton, Georgia McConville, Emily Grellman, Sarah McGowan, Laura Robinson and Montana Perkins in touring Australian under-age teams this year.

Star imports Harris and White provided experience and guidance to the young NWPL squad this year but they are not returning next season.

HUNTER BOUND: Italian Olympic gold medallist Elena Gigli in action. Picture: Joe Arma

Jul 10

X Factor recap: Nat’s horror showing

Natalie Basingthwaite had a bad week on The X Factor JTR sent home from The X Factor despite giving their best performance in the finals.
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Monday proved a bad night for Nat, as not only were both of her two remaining groups chosen in the bottom two, but they rather showed her up in terms of song selection, mentoring and all round capacity to get the best out of them.

Prior to the bottom two’s “save me” songs (as Dannii has dubbed them) Luke emphasises that “without any help from their mentor, the groups have chosen their songs for themselves.”

Based on tonight’s evidence, Nat’s groups could have done without any help from their mentor for weeks now.

The clear articulation that Nat had nothing to do with the song choices for the groups serves to provide a lot of ammunition to those who say Nat makes terrible song choices.

Both groups absolutely nailed their numbers and sang significantly better than they have all finals.

On the plus side, now Nat only has one group left she can never be faced with such stark reality again.

MONDAY NIGHT RECAP

After all the remaining contestants sing Counting Stars by One Republic, which actually sounds pretty good, we are reminded of the events of last night.

People sang, judges judged and Dannii cried at the end of Dami’s number.

At the end of the video highlights package we get a scene where Dannii joins Dami in her dressing room for a moment that is entirely unstaged, to reflect on the emotion she was feeling.

Back in the live show, Luke once again extends our feelings to Dannii who explains that for her music, “either has memories or it takes you somewhere.”

Tonight that somewhere will be home.

Luke tells us that Dami’s song from last night has hit #3 on iTunes, and she sits above Foo who’s Let Get Ridiculous is at #4.

Ronan admits he is expecting to have one of his boys in the bottom two tonight, more based on maths than anything else as he has almost 50 per cent of the remaining contestants.

Jessica Maouboy then sings Pop a Bottle and it’s so good that Foo’s ‘fro starts wearing ‘fetti.

Time for the results. Luke saves Dami (derr), Jai, Taylor, Omar (Ronan is a happy mentor) and Jiordan (who looked completely convinced she was gone) to leave both of Nat’s groups in the bottom two.

Jason Derulo then performs Talk Dirty using a routine where he almost falls off a human set of stairs created by his dancers, jumps the judges’ desk, drops the microphone and flashes his abs, before stumbling a bit on his final dismount as well. Then he threatens to move here. All in all it’s terrifying and a bit off the rails but still a fun song.

JTR – Lego House, Ed Sheeran

Once again the boys start standing in a row at the back of the stage, slowly walking forward as they each sing a section of the first verse before joining for some nice harmonies on the chorus.

This is probably the least twee that the group has seemed.

They are singing really nicely and a big fat key change sees them serenading the audience with Robin taking the lead towards the end.

Rating: 8/10 – Their best song to date without a doubt.

THIRD D3GREE – Dedication to my Ex, Lloyd

This trio also starts standing at the back, or rather gyrating at the back, with synchronised hip bumps going on.

Jordan kicks off the singing after Kelebek gives us a spoken word intro, then they charge into some fiercely impressive harmonies of their own.

They have good moves, they have parts that each of them is nailing, they finally have a song that is letting them shine.

If anything that was even more impressive an improvement than JTR’s.

Rating: 9/10 – A huge harmonic homerun.

Ronan: Feels there is some sort of tension between THIRD D3GREE. Jacinta nods at these words which would indicate he’s on to something. That said “that was a pretty cool tune you picked and what you gave it.” He admits he went back and watched last night’s performance which wasn’t good enough. He praises JTR’s harmonies and finds it funny that people “at the last moment” surprise you. Suggesting they’ve never reached or bettered the quality of their audition, he votes to send home JTR.

Dannii: Noting that JTR flew in from Stockholm, Dannii also gives a shout out to her friends who are on the phone to her telling her to save them. She thought MMMBop was great but tonight wasn’t as good. She feels their “save me” song was pedestrian. She then recalls that the group were thrown together and that there have been ups and downs. She thinks their “save me” song was one of their best performances so she votes for JTR.

Foo: Recalling how blown away he was by JTR’s first performance he tells us of their happy vibe back stage, and also how tough he has been on them, which has paid off as he feels they’ve been on a rise and tonight’s song was one of his favourites. As for THIRD D3GREE he says he loves Kelebek, because she’s a rapper, as he is, and she’s hot, as he is. He notes Jordan came out tonight with energy that he hasn’t seen until now. Equally he feels the last fortnight has been poor. Luke presses him for an answer and on his gut, after a long silence, he votes to send home JTR.

Nat says she knows JTR are going to be stars and that she can’t wait for people to hear their album, but first they will be tortured in the ritual known as breakfast television.

Finally Luke rubs it in by saying Dami has now gone to number one on iTunes.

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

Jul 10

George Brandis’ flimsy expenses excuse a sad reflection on a wedding

Attorney-General George Brandis has repaid travel claims for attending the wedding of a radio announcer friend. Photo: Sasha WoolleyFederal politics: full coverageJoyce repays expenses as Labor cries foul
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Two things occur from the revelations that the imperious George Brandis has been using public dollars to fund his private political and social interests.

One serious, one simply sad.

The serious part is that as a self-appointed guardian of the public good, a role he assumed with a pomposity even his party colleagues snigger about, the new Attorney-General had an obligation to be above reproach himself.

His pursuit of the erstwhile speaker Peter Slipper for among other things using parliamentary travel entitlements to visit Canberra region wineries had a near evangelical tinge as he sought justice for the long-suffering taxpayer.

Yet it now turns out that he hadn’t hesitated to put on the public tab his own attendance at the lavish private wedding of a friend and former right-wing radio opinionado, Michael Smith.

It’s not enough that mug taxpayers weather the pious verities and libellous ravings of shock-jocks and their parliamentary clients, but now it turns out they have been unwittingly funding such fetid collaborations as well.

We know this because Brandis promptly agreed to repay the sum of $1683.06 on the strength of one thing and one thing only: that it was revealed by Fairfax Media.

Indeed, so flimsy was the original claim that, on the claimant’s own reflection, it was not worth defending against even the prima facie scrutiny attaching to its public discovery.

Brandis’ argument that taxpayers should fork out because his attendance was “primarily a professional rather than a social engagement” is so ludicrously broad as to justify public financing of every party political function he has ever attended.

Smith, of course, is known for his feverish pursuit of Julia Gillard over the AWU slush fund allegations from the mid 1990s when she was a Melbourne lawyer.

Quite why taxpayers should subsidise the building of closer relations between two devotees of the same cause remains unclear.

But it does bring us to the sad aspect of this.

Brandis is reported to have spoken at the wedding – surely a joyous occasion when love is in the air and worldly grievances are left for another day.

Not for the angry right it seems.

“Senator the Honourable George Brandis, QC, gave an impassioned speech about freedom of the press and the pusillanimity and flagrant mendacity of some media proprietors,” the groom says on his website.

Pass the tissues. A loving union sealed with a flourish of fresh bile.

Brandis is said to have “carved up the dance floor” at the wedding.

Perhaps it wasn’t the only thing left in tatters.

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

Jun 10

Shaw weighs up several options to fly Magpie nest

In demand: Collingwood’s Heath Shaw will meet with rival clubs. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoHeath Shaw will meet at least six other clubs at both ends of the ladder as he considers vastly different financial offers and vastly different futures.
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Top four clubs in contention for the Collingwood defender include Geelong and premier Hawthorn. The Hawks’ interest in Shaw, and capacity to afford him, is likely to hinge on whether Lance Franklin stays or goes.

Shaw has a connection with the Cats football department through former teammates Shane O’Bree and Blake Caracella, who are assistant coaches.

Geelong on Monday delisted dual premiership defender Josh Hunt who as a free agent will explore possibilities of playing on somewhere else next year.

Paul Chapman is unlikely to be re-contracted and Joel Corey’s future remains uncertain.

If all three were to leave, Geelong would free up some space in the salary cap to accommodate a player such as Shaw, who is understood to be on about $400,000 a year for the next two years of his contract. The Cats’ first-round draft pick would be likely to be required for any trade.

Essendon has had preliminary discussions with Shaw and would consider an exchange of a draft pick the Dons would likely receive as part of a Stuart Crameri trade to the Western Bulldogs as a potential part of any trade.

Carlton has some interest in Shaw, while Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney are keen to explore a possible deal.

Shaw has to weigh up the choice of move to a top club in contention for a flag in his remaining playing years against the idea of working with young players and helping foster his ambition to become a development coach after football.

Shaw will this summer work with TAC Cup team the Oakleigh Chargers in a development role.

The choice of top or bottom club would also come at significantly different terms, with the two bottom sides likely to have to offer a longer contract.

GWS was believed to be prepared to do a straight swap of Shaw for homecoming midfielder Taylor Adams, who Collingwood is keen to secure during the trade period, as part of the Shaw exchange or not.

Given Shaw is a contracted player, any trade needs to be suitable to both player and club, so while Collingwood might have a preference for where he goes based on the best trade it can get, Shaw would have to agree. Similarly Collingwood is under no obligation to trade Shaw to the club he chooses if the deal is not right for the club.

Collingwood key defender Nathan Brown has agreed to a three-year deal, although the details have not been officially released.

Recruiting manager Derek Hine said the club could not confirm the contract until the situations surrounding Dale Thomas and Shaw were sorted out.

Meanwhile, Sydney has announced it has delisted defender Alex Brown.

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

Jun 10

Pushed to the limit and beyond

Robert Walls coaches Fitzroy. Robert Walls coaches Fitzroy in 1981.
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On the cold open tundra of Waverley Park, nearly 30 years ago, Robert Walls was as hostile as I’d ever seen. The Fitzroy coach’s usual demeanour was so grim that a scowl construed a positive comment.

Savage outbursts were not uncommon, yet Walls had raised the bar with this new level of seething hostility. He wrenched his hands open and shut, pacing in front of the race entrance, looking, it seemed, for someone to throttle. As players came onto the ground in dribs and drabs, they quickly averted their eyes and skittered away into their warm-up lap.

Fitzroy in the early-to-mid 1980s was a good team, with Roos, Pert and Osborne emerging, alongside old champions in Quinlan and Garry Wilson. The previous Saturday this team had put in a ”soft pissweak performance” and was easily beaten. Add to that it was against Walls’ old club, Carlton, and you start to understand Walls’ ignominy.

Yet what tipped Walls over the edge was finding a large number of players in the medical rooms, in high spirits, awaiting treatment for various injuries, real or feigned. Walls’ lividity at not having all the culprits from his team available for the torturous Tuesday evening training session he had so meticulously planned, was quietly terrifying.

As we gathered in front of Walls on this wintry eve, awaiting retribution, I realised this was the likely fulfilment of the nightmarish potential I had detected two years earlier.

My first clear memory of meeting Walls was arriving at Bulleen Park in January 1983 for my debut pre-season training session. He was wearing short running shorts and a singlet and was bellowing instructions at 60-odd Fitzroy hopefuls, all similarly garbed.

Sweat dominated, dripping off hair-matted foreheads, rolling from under bushy armpits, glistening hairy chests, and staining those short shorts. I was late, lithe, and to be honest, a little scared. When he spotted me, and scowled, I knew then I should run, to get away from this dreadful man.

But no, I naively put on short shorts, a singlet, and joined in what was a hard and torturous pre-season training campaign. For months I slept, ached, ate and trained, which allowed me to survive the near on three hours while Robert Walls extracted his pound of flesh.

He hounded and exhorted us into exhaustion, using all the contested training drills he could come up with, including corridor football with full-on shepherding, tackling, bumping and, of course, one-on-one contested drills.

During a contested man-on-man drill something remarkable happened. You know the drill, where the coach would roll, flick, kick, handball, throw the ball out in any direction he chose and two players at a time would battle each other to give it back to him – only to see the ball slapped away again, and the battle resumed, and so on until the coach thought you’d battled manfully enough and looked thoroughly exhausted and then you rested while two others went through the same thing.

If your kick or handball back to Walls was inaccurate, he would just let it sail past, rumble ”not good enough” and make you battle it out all over again. If he thought you were waxing with your opponent, or were one of the particularly poor players on the previous Saturday, or were faking exhaustion, then he kept you going until you could barely get off the ground, just to make sure.

Sometimes when you won a clear ball, the desire was to run right up to Walls and slam it into that soft paunch of his. And, as he bent over, to drive him into the ground, such was the frustration of this training night. But of course this never happened.

What did happen, which seemed remarkable, was that the lights went out. The dark descended like a loving cloak, leaving only a small pool of light illuminating the ground near the players’ race. Walls’ curses echoed off the stands, rolling off into the distance, but the lights remained off.

Eventually, Walls went to find out the problem while players jogged a slow warm-down lap thinking training had finished. I wondered who had the temerity to switch the main light towers off? And would they be found out?

When Walls re-emerged from the race, preceded, I swear, by the silhouette of a large grizzly bear, and followed by all the ”injured” players from the medical room, I had an answer.

Relief immediately turned to apprehension. Walls arranged all players in a large circle with arms outstretched, crucifixion style, and asked us to think about our game and whether we wanted to be a part of this club. I thought about a warm shower, mostly, and about how hungry I was, and about my first game under Walls.

Fitzroy had lost the first four or five games of the ’84 season and Walls was at his wits’ end. He dropped a couple of senior players and picked a couple of kids. I came on in the second quarter and was put in the forward pocket, with the message to change on ball with Garry Wilson. All quarter I waited to get a signal from Wilson to change, but it never came.

Walls asked pointedly at half-time why I hadn’t given Wilson a rest. I replied he hadn’t asked for one. ”Well make sure you change this quarter. You signal him, OK?”

The third quarter passed while I tried to get Wilson to change, but he wasn’t about to change with a kid from the country. I told Walls at three-quarter-time I had tried but Wilson didn’t want to change. Scores were close and he gave me his scowl and said if I didn’t change this last quarter then I was off. Five minutes into the last quarter I signalled Wilson to change and didn’t get a response so went on the ball as well. Then the runner comes out and says, ”The coach wants to know why you’re both on the ball?”

Unbeknown to me, the coach was gauging my mettle. Wilson was renowned for not changing off the ball; he was a fitness freak and could manage it. Walls was just seeing what I’d do. I kicked two goals and we won the game and I’m sure I saw a glimpse of a rare smile. A feast for a frustrated young kid.

But this night was no feast, at least not for the players. Arms were trembling with fatigue. Backs were beginning to bend to ease our shoulders, not to mention the weather closing in. Walls had gone up the race and was most likely trying to find out who switched off the lights, or was watching us from the darkness of the stands. We didn’t know which. The urge to drop my arms for just a second was strong, but I wasn’t going to be the first. So we stood arms forced out horizontally, in a bedraggled Monty Python portrayal of pilgrims re-enacting a Biblical scene.

When Walls came back he said, ”Keep your arms up Micky”. To which Conlan replied, ”You’d struggle too Wallsy if you had arms this big”. Walls glared a minute before saying that as soon as the first person dropped their arms we could all go and have a warm shower, just be sure to let him know who that player was. Rain fell, lightning flashed, thunder rolled, as Walls disappeared up the race. Nobody dropped their arms.

It may seem strange to hear that this article is a tribute to Robert Walls.

Yes, Walls gave many players the opportunity to push far beyond preconceived mental limits. And gave many players the chance to become far better than they were through sustained hard work and perseverance. Cheers Robert Walls.

Tim Pekin played 219 games with Fitzroy (1984-89, under Robert Walls in 1984-85) and St Kilda (1990-95).

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

Jun 10

McKenzie ponders kick or run tactics

ROSARIO: Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie gave no guarantee Will Genia would regain a starting role for the Rugby Championship wooden-spoon clash against Argentina, despite putting some spark into his slumping team.
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Long-term incumbent halfback Genia has been on the bench for Australia’s last two matches, including the demoralising 28-8 loss at the hands of the rampant Springboks in Cape Town on the weekend.

The Wallabies were down and out after only 19 minutes, trailing 20-3 as they stuck to a kick-at-all-costs mantra that was poorly executed by starting No.9 Nic White.

When Genia came on after half-time they finally switched to a running game and looked far more comfortable as he and Quade Cooper combined to spark the attack.

McKenzie said he was undecided what kind of game plan they would take into the Rosario clash against Argentina on Saturday, although he hoped the side could successfully execute both as required.

‘‘You saw against the Springboks two halves of footy; a kicking half and a running half,’’ said McKenzie.

‘‘Clearly, if we’re playing running footy Will’s our best exponent, but Whitey is with our kicking game so it depends on how we want to pitch the game.

‘‘We looked more comfortable running the ball in the second half, but the ideal game is when you’ve got variety in your game.’’

He acknowledged that Genia, who has captained the side, also offered unparalleled experience, which will be key at an Argentine rugby cauldron.

As for a swag of changes to the squad, McKenzie said the answers lay in the players he had.

‘‘Tell me who the other people are who are going to break the game open and suddenly give us the silver bullet. I think we’ve got the best players available.’’

Australia is ahead of last-placed Argentina on the Rugby Championship ladder going into the final round, but only by two points.

The Wallabies have four points from their sole win over the Pumas in Perth, while the Pumas have no wins but two bonus points.

The Pumas put world champions New Zealand under the pump in their weekend game, leading early in the second half before the All Blacks fired up for a 33-15 victory, which puts them in strong position to clinch the title against South Africa in Johannesburg this weekend.

McKenzie, who has stayed remarkably sanguine despite only having one win in the Rugby Championship, said he didn’t expect the Pumas to stray far from their usual forward-focused style. AAP

PRESSURE: Halfback Nic White tackles Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner on Saturday.

Jun 10

Jets ready to face Sydney FC 

NEWCASTLE Jets hired gun Nathan Burns is back training and on track to make a much-heralded A-League return in the round one blockbuster against Sydney FC.
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On-loan from Korean club Incheon United, Burns strained his hamstring in the warm-up before the Jets’ 1-0 friendly win over Melbourne Victory almost a fortnight ago.

In a double blow, marquee striker Emile Heskey tore the medial ligament in his knee after being collected by Victory defender Nick Ansell in the opening 20 minutes.

It was feared both would miss the start of the campaign.

Heskey is out until at least round three but, in a major boost, Burns trained fully yesterday and only needs to get through an intra-club hit out on Thursday to get the green light for the season opener.

‘‘I’m back training 100per cent and am pretty happy with that,’’ Burns said after an hour-long workout.

‘‘Initially it was thought I’d be out longer.

‘‘It healed pretty quick, but we had to strengthen the muscle.

‘‘We worked pretty hard today – three on twos, four on fours, a bit of game stuff which involved shooting and sprinting. It’s ready to go.’’

Jets coach Gary van Egmond had no hesitation in declaring Burns a certain starter despite the winger having played only 45 minutes, which included a superb goal, in a 3-0 win over Sydney Olympic since arriving from Korea.

‘‘He has shown enough,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘If he can get 45 to 60 minutes on Thursday, that will make him cherry ripe for the following week.

‘‘He is going to be very important for us this year.

‘‘He is able to go past players, he is able to score, he is able to create things – everything you want from someone in that front third.’’

Burns, 25, was still a teenager when he burst on to the A-League for Adelaide United, scoring nine goals in 28 starts, before signed by Greek giant AEK Athens and eventually heading to Korea.

‘‘It will be a bit like making my debut again,’’ he said.

‘‘It has been a few years since people have seen me play live.’’

Burns is expected to start on the right of a front three alongside Adam Taggart and Craig Goodwin, who scored a double in the 2-1 win over Central Coast in Tamworth on Sunday.

The win over an under-strength premiers was the Jets’ final competitive game.

‘‘First half was good, 2-0 probably flattered them to a degree,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘We created a number of chances.

‘‘In saying that, they had a very young team and we would expect to dominate the match and control the match the way we did in the first half.

‘‘We probably should have scored a few more goals but overall it was good.

‘‘Second half we took our foot off the gas which is something we need to address, and again we got scored against from a set piece. That was not good enough by any means.’’

The win was the third straight over A-League opposition – they lost 1-0 to Wellington in Weston in August – and van Egmond was happy with their progress less than fortnight out from kick-off.

‘‘It was a bit of a set back with the two injuries, in particular to Emile – in light of the fact that he got here early, a good solid two months prior to the season beginning,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘But from a fitness point of view, from a football point of view, from the boys in regards to their confidence, and really believing, and really buying in to everything. I’m very happy.’’

AQUATIC RELAXATION: Jets players recover in the Forum pool after an intensive pre-season training session yesterday. Picture: Ryan Osland

Jun 10

Anger at likely loss of art gallery director: poll 

POLL at bottom of page
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ART lovers are up in arms about Newcastle City Council’s restructure of senior management, saying it will destroy the reputation of Newcastle Art Gallery.

The restructure coincides with news that the existing gallery director, Ron Ramsey, has secured the donation of an $850,000 Brett Whiteley sculpture for the gallery forecourt.

The chairman of the gallery’s fundraising foundation, Dr Robert Henderson, said Mr Ramsey had personally negotiated the donation of the sculpture by the artist’s widow, Wendy Whiteley.

Although the council is yet to publicly confirm the detail of the restructure, critics believe the gallery director’s role will be abolished and a ‘‘cultural facilities manager’’ appointed to oversee the gallery, Newcastle Museum and possibly the Civic Theatre.

Dr Henderson has written a scathing letter to Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy about the impact on the gallery, saying the loss of a stand-alone director would ‘‘leave Newcastle open to ridicule and damage its reputation almost beyond redemption’’.

Dr Henderson said the foundation had raised the $40,000 or so needed to bring the sculpture to Newcastle from its present home at Millers Point, behind the proposed Barrangaroo development.

‘‘This will cost the council nothing,’’ Dr Henderson said last night.

‘‘Ron had been negotiating with Wendy and she wants to see it in Newcastle.’’

The art gallery dispute emerged last week after councillors voted in closed session to adopt a new management structure proposed by general manager Ken Gouldthorp.

Labor councillor Nuatali Nelmes said last night that she and other Labor councillors were considering lodging a recission motion on the restructure, although she acknowledged ‘‘we don’t have the numbers’’.

Cr Nelmes said she and the other councillors had ‘‘four minutes’’ to view the restructure before voting on it, which was a ‘‘totally unacceptable way’’ to expect democratic decisions to be made.

In a statement last night, Cr McCloy said the NSW Division of Local Government had confirmed the process as ‘‘appropriate and reasonable’’.

‘‘To claim council’s restructure is about one person (Mr Ramsey) is insulting to the 82 former staff affected by the restructure to date,’’ Cr McCloy said.

Newcastle Art Gallery director Ron Ramsey.

A sculpture entitled “Black Totem II”, made by Matthew Dillon from a drawing by the late Australian artist Brett Whiteley who died in 1992,

He confirmed that the latest phase of the restructure would result in 25 senior management positions cut to 19, which would all be advertised.