Feb 10

Jennings family set for huge day of deciders

Day of reckoning: Michael Jennings is ready for the big one. Photo: Wolter PeetersSydney Roosters centre Michael Jennings says at the start of the season he hadn’t expected to be playing in Sunday’s grand final – let alone have brother George play on the same day.
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Jennings, who joined the Roosters after receiving an off-season release from Penrith, will watch as George plays for the Panthers in the under-20s curtainraiser against the Warriors before preparing for his own game.

“I wish we were playing for the same team but unfortunately we are not,” Jennings said. “I am so proud of him and he will obviously be playing before us, so it should be a good day for the family. I am excited for him.”

Jennings said he had not thought about winning a premiership this season when he signed with the Roosters after being on the outer at Penrith.

However, the NSW Origin centre said Roosters coach Trent Robinson had helped him to make changes on and off the field that improved his game.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be here at the start of the season,” Jennings said. “I was just really nervous coming to a new club and I really just wanted to do my job and do everything right by the team and earn the boys’ respect.

“It has changed my whole life off the field and especially on the field. I am more clear about what I am doing and I am more mature in my approach.

“Obviously it was a new club, a new attitude and I had to change a lot of things.”

Despite being committed to the Roosters, Jennings said he would not try to persuade George – a centre or winger – to move from Penrith or even to choose a career in the NRL.

“I tell him to do whatever he wants to do. Whatever path he chooses is his decision, I won’t try to change that,” he said.

“That’s his decision because he is quality, he is good enough. It is just the choice and if he really wants to be there.”

Jennings also has another brother, Robert, coming through the juniors ranks with Penrith’s SG Ball under-18s team. “Everyone has got good raps on him but there is still a long way,” Jennings said.

“It was my goal to see my brothers come up.”

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Feb 10

Watmough rejects silvertails tag

“We were battlers there for a while, we’re getting back there but we’re definitely not the silvertails”: Anthony Watmough (far right). Photo: Marco Del GrandeGrand final week: Read The Manly Mirror
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Anthony Watmough implored rugby league supporters from Sydney’s west to get behind Manly in Sunday’s grand final by describing his Sea Eagles as their socio-economic brethren and not the long-despised silvertails.

Manly was bestowed the tag by Fairfax columnist Roy Masters in the late 1970s when he coached the Western Suburbs Magpies. He declared a class war when he baptised the Magpies “the fibros” and the beachside Sea Eagles “the silvertails” to make the perceived differences in personal wealth between the two areas a cause for his team to fight for.

It stuck, but as Watmough prepared for the NRL decider against Sydney Roosters – a team that represents Sydney’s most expensive real estate – the tough forward said that life on and off the field on the northern beaches was far from a sunbake in the land of milk and honey.

“How are we the silvertails?” said a bemused Watmough. “[Our club] has been broke, we’ve been brought up from the ashes … we’ve been together for a long time. I don’t know how we’re the silvertails. We were battlers there for a while, we’re getting back there but we’re definitely not the silvertails.”

Watmough, who moved to Narrabeen when he was only eight, described life for the average Joes on the peninsula as a constant struggle. “People don’t own their own houses over here,” he said. “People choose to live here and pay rent and work their butt off to pay their rent because of the lifestyle; it’s a great lifestyle over here but the mums and dads who work 70 or 80 hours a week, to come home to pay the $1000 rent so their kids can have a good lifestyle and good upbringing, they’re the battlers.

“I don’t think any of my mates own a house.

“They just work hard to pay the rent to live the lifestyle they do.”

Watmough said he would give his all for his mates – and other battlers – from Narrabeen and beyond on Sunday.

“It means a lot to me,” Watmough said of the place he calls home. “Playing for Narrabeen, I was a Narrabeen junior, all the guys get behind us and it’s such a good feeling knowing that support is there. And it’s not just Narrabeen, you go down the road and every second person now is congratulating you.

“The buzz around this area is amazing at grand final time. We explained it to the guys who haven’t experienced it before, we just said sit back and enjoy this week because it’s going to be something special you’ll remember.”

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Feb 10

She’s Archie keeps giving Weir reason to be happy

When 40-1 shot She’s Archie nearly pulled off a huge boilover in the 2003 Melbourne Cup, beating home all bar the mighty Makybe Diva, the four-year-old mare put little-known trainer Darren Weir on the map.
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Back then, Ballarat-based Weir was familiar to punters who ploughed Victoria’s provincial circuit in pursuit of winners, but his metropolitan success rate was low. That year, for example, he had only four city winners, and the following season he had none at all.

These days, Weir has a much higher profile: he prepares the Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune, has become a group 1-winning handler and is atop the Melbourne metropolitan trainers’ table.

But he is still closely connected with the mare that almost gave him the biggest prize in Australian racing.

May’s Dream, a daughter of She’s Archie (by New Approach) scored easily in the opening race at Caulfield on Sunday and shapes as a likely chance to allow Weir to tick another career box by giving him his first classic winner, in the Thousand Guineas.

The filly won with a minimum of fuss under Nick Hall, running down the David Hayes-trained Bulbula in the straight to score in the manner of a progressive filly and gain her second win in four starts. It was the first winner in a treble on the day for Hall, who has a high opinion of the lightly raced three-year-old.

Weir will press on to the Guineas, for which May’s Dream is among the main challengers to the favourite, Guelph. But the trainer’s only concern is that May’s Dream is a small filly and a late foal and she may not stand up to the rigours of a demanding spring campaign.

”She began better than expected and Nick gave her a beautiful ride and she was really strong to the line,” Weir said after she won over 1400 metres in a small field on Sunday. ”The Thousand Guineas is the plan … the only query is that she is a November foal, and looking at her in the yard, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of her.”

May’s Dream is the third foal of She’s Archie, whose name still brings a smile to Weir. ”She’s Archie came along at the right time in my career. She was a great horse to us and it’s great to get one out of her that looks as though it’s got a bit of potential.”

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Feb 10

Hoop dreams: how to stay in the black this spring

Still got it: Jim Cassidy. Photo: Mick TsikasDuring the spring carnival millions of dollars will be wagered on the biggest races in the country, and the decisions by the jockeys on what to ride and how to ride their mounts will decide which horses salute.
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While the horses change and trainers have their influence, the common thread in all group 1s is the men who ride them. Who is the best and why are they the best? Here’s Roots ‘n’ All’s rankings.Group 1

Glen Boss

No one is more outwardly confident than Boss. He has the ride on Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune and Rupert Clarke winner Rebel Dane. He rides light and will be highly sought by trainers and owners.

Hugh Bowman

Always in high demand and will ride in most of the major group 1s. Given the right horse, Bowman usually gets the job done. Should find some handy rides.

Jim Cassidy

On 99 group 1 wins in a great career. He has the rides on Zoustar and Hawkspur, which he has declared the Melbourne Cup winner. Might not get the opportunities, but is still highly effective.

Kerrin McEvoy

Should open his group 1 account for the year on Guelph in the Flight Stakes on Saturday and also has the ride on Doncaster winner Sacred Falls for Chris Waller in the Epsom, though being Darley’s No.1 can limit outside opportunities.

Craig Newitt

Already has two group 1s in his bag. Not the first name that comes to mind when big rides are on offer but can ride light, which is an advantage.

Nash Rawiller

A good chance of kicking off his tally for this season with Fiorente in the Turnbull. He has been at the top of his game for the past couple of years. Rides for Gai Waterhouse and when he doesn’t, Chris Waller is keen to put him on.

Michael Rodd

Should have the rides on Atlantic Jewel and Super Cool, which is right in the Caulfield Cup mix, as stable jockey for Mark Kavanagh. Only kicked home two group 1 winners last season but was placed in 19 of 39 top-level rides.

Craig Williams

Only had three group 1 winners last year but is always on the top of the list of trainers. He will have to decide what to ride, rather than taking the first offer that comes.Group 2

Tom Berry

Had a breakthrough season in 2012-13 and now must back it up. He has the backing of the Waterhouse yard and will have fond memories of this weekend last year when he won the Epsom-Metropolitan double on Fat Al and Glencadam Gold.

James McDonald

Champion Kiwi finding his way at the top level. His past five group 1 wins in Australia have been on It’s A Dundeel. He is one of the stars of the spring but McDonald needs to prove himself on other rides.

Luke Nolen

Nolen will always be known for his deeds in the salmon and black spots of Black Caviar. Stable rider for Peter Moody and will get his chances to shine during the carnival, although his team looks a little slim at the moment.

Damien Oliver

Controversy dogged Oliver last spring and eventually led to 10 months on the sidelines for placing a bet. He has come back focused but got a suspension on Friday night, so misses this weekend.

Glyn Schofield

The former South African has travelled the world riding and proven himself in many markets. He has a great book on Saturday with Boban in the Epsom and Moriarty in The Metropolitan.

Blake Shinn

Already a Melbourne Cup winner on Viewed, Shinn has worked hard to get back to the top level after a lengthy ban for betting. He won the George Main on Streama and rides equal Epsom favourite Toydini. Both are trained by Guy Walter, for who he does most of his riding.

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Feb 10

Fire destroys family’s bus, home, business

TO a group of arsonists on a late-night spree of senseless vandalism they must have been just two more vehicles that could be spray-painted and torched.
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But to a young family on the other side of the world, the two motorhomes parked in a quiet Heatherbrae street were their life, their livelihood and their home.

Trish Tucker-May, her husband Joe May and their children Roary, 3, and Jack-Patrick, 5, were in England in early August when an Australian friend sent them a link to a story on the Newcastle Herald website about two motorhomes that had been gutted by fire.

Ms Tucker-May, who runs a mobile fresh-pressed juice business, and Mr May, a clown, have split the past 10 years between England and Australia, stopping at festivals like Glastonbury in the UK before spending summer travelling to places like the Woodford Folk Festival, WOMADelaide, Rainbow Serpent in Victoria and the Tasmanian Circus Festival back home.

‘‘While we are in Australia we are on the road for four or five months,’’ Ms Tucker-May said.

‘‘Our bus is where we live, where we home-school our children and where we run our businesses.

‘‘It is our everything – our office, our lounge room, our bedroom and the way we travel to each festival.’’

Ms Tucker-May said without family in Forster they would be homeless when they returned to Australia.

‘‘We have festivals booked and rents paid and now our season cannot happen,’’ she said.

‘‘This has deeply shocked our family.’’

Ms Tucker-May said in 20 minutes vandals had destroyed what her family had worked 10 years for. ‘‘Vandalism sucks,’’ she said. ‘‘It destroys people’s livelihood, it destroys people’s homes. ‘‘It took us 10 years of work to buy that bus.

‘‘We are not rich grey nomads travelling around in our retirement fund, we are a hard-working family making a living out of our small businesses and that has a lot of challenges.

‘‘Your actions have ruined what we have worked for.’’

She said a mix-up with the paperwork had meant the bus was not insured.

The motorhome blaze was one of more than 20 late-night fires across Port Stephens within a few weeks.

Police suspect an arsonist or arsonists are responsible.

Friends in England have started a crowd funding page to raise money to buy a new bus/home for the family.

The page can be found at: http://www.gofundme南京夜网/4dohv0

HOMELESS: The Tucker-May family have lost their home in a suspicious fire which gutted their motorhomes.

UP IN SMOKE: The two motorhomes were destroyed in a fire believed to have been started by arsonists.

UP IN SMOKE: The two motorhomes were destroyed in a fire believed to have been started by arsonists.

UP IN SMOKE: The two motorhomes were destroyed in a fire believed to have been started by arsonists.

Jan 10

Farmer feels housing pressure 

A PORT Stephens macadamia farm is feeling the pressure of housing development, but its owner is determined to protect what he describes as a ‘‘unique place in the concrete jungle’’.
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Scott Leech has been operating Medowie Macadamias for 14 years.

‘‘All the land around me has been bought by developers,’’ Mr Leech said.

Mr Leech said development and increasing complaints from neighbours led him to believe the farming side of his business may not have a future – at least not on its present scale.

‘‘It’ll definitely be an issue over the next five years,’’ he said.

‘‘If you can’t do the farming practices you have to do, pests become an issue which effects the product and how much you can grow.’’

The Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that prime agricultural land in the Hunter was under threat from development.

Mr Leech believes there should be a way for farming and urban development to co-exist.

‘‘I don’t think we need to keep clearing land and putting McDonald’s on every corner,’’ he said.

He said councils and the state government should show more support for businesses like his.

‘‘Talk is cheap, but I need the powers that be to show they want places like ours to be viable,’’ he said.

Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said there was a buffer zone to protect the macadamia farm ‘‘that lets them spray’’.

‘‘We don’t want residents up against the fence – I don’t think that philosophy has changed,’’ Mr Baumann said.

‘‘He should be right to trade for as long as the trees are viable.’’

The NSW government Lower Hunter discussion paper, released earlier this year, said zonings and planning policies could ‘‘establish the circumstances in which housing can be developed near agricultural uses’’.

‘‘Such development requires robust assessment regimes to limit its effect on high value and critical rural and resource lands,’’ it said.

The five-hectare macadamia farm employs 13 people, with 1000 macadamia trees, a gift shop and cafe.

Mr Leech said the cafe and shop had a promising future and, if farming ever ceased, he would not remove the trees.

‘‘People come for the tranquility, with the cafe perched in the middle of an orchard so close to suburbia,’’ he said.

‘‘Developers offered to buy us out years ago, but I stood my ground and wasn’t blinded by money.’’

MP go nuts for Port Stephens macadamias

THE popularity of Medowie Macadamias goes right to the state political corridors of power.

Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said ‘‘everybody loves’’ the nuts, along with politicians.

‘‘One minister in particular, Pru Goward, loves them,’’ Mr Baumann said.

‘‘She can’t function without at least a half-kilo bag each sitting Tuesday.’’

He keeps macadamias in his office.

‘‘Coalition and Labor MPs can come in and have a few nuts if they want, as they’re passing,’’ he said.

Macadamia farmer Scott Leech on his farm in Medowie, which is feeling the pinch from encroaching development. Picture Jonathan Carroll

Jan 10

David Williams defends trainer’s program

“He’s got 100 per cent of my support. I talk to him every day”: Williams. Photo: Anthony JohnsonDavid Williams has leapt to the defence of Sean Carolan, the personal trainer and nutritional guru who conducted unsanctioned tests for human growth hormone at Sydney Roosters in the pre-season, saying his own association with the Nubodi Group owner consisted of being “either in the gym or eating at a sushi bar”.
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Carolan, 39, was sacked by the Roosters in January after it was discovered his company, hired to implement a dietary and detox plan, had been testing players’ HGH levels without the knowledge of club doctor John Orchard.

Last week, Fairfax Media revealed that blood test results were found on a seized telephone belonging to Khan Alameddine, 28, a person with known links to organised crime. These showed six players had elevated HGH counts. Later testing by club medical staff did not show higher than usual levels of HGH in the players.

Carolan, who denies any wrongdoing, was introduced to the Roosters via front-rower Martin Kennedy, whom he had trained privately. Manly winger Williams is another of his clients, having met him through his manager George Mimis in January. He said adopting Carolan’s raw-food diet had been life- and career-changing.

“He’s a bloke that doesn’t need defending because he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Williams said.

“It’s absolute bullshit. We’re either in the gym or we’re eating at a sushi bar.

“He’s got 100 per cent of my support. I talk to him every day.”

Manly forward Tom Symonds, formerly of the Roosters, is also an adherent of the “caveman” diet – which includes eating meat, fish, fruits and eggs, all raw.

Williams was an outspoken advocate of the program before Carolan and Nubodi featured in revelations about the Roosters.

Having battled shoulder, knee and neck injuries that have sidelined him at length since his Manly debut in 2008, the former NSW and Australia winger has made it no secret that he believes his alternative eating regimen has been key to keeping him on the field.

He has played 26 games this season, scoring 20 tries.

“A lot of people don’t think that but it’s a bit naive not to think that,” said the Sea Eagles winger, who is off contract and to date without a club after Sunday’s grand final.

“Your foods obviously give you your energy and that’s the natural recovery systems in your body. Obviously getting on the piss is a simple one; you don’t recover as well from that. So you take that out, you take all the other toxins out of your body, then your body doesn’t have to deal with that. It’s working on the recovery process. It’s putting all its energy into that, so how can it not be beneficial?”

Williams said he still has the odd drink and a scheduled break from the intake of solely raw food as he chases a second premiership. He played in Manly’s win in 2008, but missed their grand final victory in 2011 with a broken neck.

“After the years that I had consecutively, and being my last year at Manly, it was give all, end all.

“I gave it a whirl and I’m very glad I did,” he said.

“I definitely think the work we’ve put in warrants us being here and I’m just glad that I can be a part of it, for a change.”

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Jan 10

Foot soldier Gower on tenterhooks for big one

When David Gower glanced over to coach Geoff Toovey on Monday morning, he was hoping for a sign. A hint that five-years’ worth of one-year contracts across three clubs, after a stint in England, would amount to a grand-final appearance.
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Gower has put his hand up to fill the vacancy left by prop Richie Fa’aoso, who broke his neck in Manly’s preliminary final win against South Sydney on Friday night.

But Toovey was giving little away as Gower battles for a bench spot along with rookie James Hasson. “I’ve shot him a couple of looks but he has given us nothing,” said Gower, who turned 28 on Monday.

Gower, like Fa’aoso, is a rugby league journeyman. After playing for Salford for two seasons, he returned to Wests Tigers in 2009, he managed just one game for his junior club before switching to St George Illawarra where he made seven appearances in two years.

“It would be nice to know earlier so we can prepare correctly,” Gower said. “In saying that, when they decide to tell us we’ll just have to deal with it.”

Gower was the NSW Cup player of the year in 2009, and has been a mainstay in the reserve-grade team of the year in recent seasons.

After switching to Manly following the recommendation of Illawarra Cutters coach Paul McGregor, Gower has managed just 11 top-grade appearances this year.

While Gower is uncertain about Sunday, his long-term future is clouded, too. He is off-contract at the end of this year and unlikely to extend his one-season at the Sea Eagles.

“I know you can’t stay where you want to sometimes,” Gower said. “The club are in a tough situation financially. It’s looking tough to stay.

“It’s just been the way I’ve had it. If I get to play in a grand final, hopefully there are a few clubs watching and I can contribute to a win.”

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Jan 10

Survival kit for being average will help Wallabies fans now … and in future

There has been one benefit to following Irish teams throughout my life – a tremendous ability to cope with crushing sporting disappointment as if it were a friendly neighbour knocking on the door for a cup of tea.
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It was Michael Lynagh who started that association with despair, scoring a dagger of a try against Ireland in the quarter-final of the 1991 World Cup. It all seemed such a surprise – the heartbreak, the “what-ifs” – but little did I know it was the beginning of a pattern.

But what use is this resource if it cannot be shared? So it’s with great generosity that I can bring to modern Wallabies fans something to serve them well in the present – and possibly the future: a survival kit for being average.Messiahs

Anointing saviours is absolutely crucial to maintaining a cheerful disposition. Do not be led down the path of reason, it is not your friend. Pick a player or coach – it doesn’t matter which one, any will do – who has enjoyed any form of success and attach all your dreams to them. Of course, you know deep down that one man alone cannot turn the tide, but you will learn to suppress that to keep the confronting truth at bay. And when they fail it doesn’t matter. Discard them and choose another, and yell so loudly about their qualities that everyone will forget about the one who has been dispatched to the gutter.Humour

The blacker the better. Happily, Wallabies fans are already embracing this with gusto. Peek at the timelines of Twitter feeds during and after Tests and it reads like a competition to produce the best gallows humour. This is for the eventual betterment of the nation.Alcohol

This is often linked to the above, in the eyes of the consumer at least. But drowning your sorrows to sporting failure serves another purpose – it allows you to produce another excuse for unacceptable behaviour when the others are starting to wear thin. For example, if you’ve had a few too many the night before and fall asleep in a park while you’re supposed to be looking after the kids – meaning they got up to goodness knows what for three hours – it wasn’t actually your fault. “It was the Wallabies.” Flexible enough to work in a variety of scenarios, from leaving your work iPhone in the pub to brushes with the law. Remember: “It was the Wallabies.”Denial

There are many subsets in this category for those with nimble minds. “The wind conditions” (even if the stadium is enclosed), “the new balls”, “the English/All Blacks”, “Paddy O’Brien” and so forth – the creative denier is never left without something to hold on to. The best strategy is to mix-and-match, so that any accuser who cannot see that the planets were simply aligned against your side is unable to pin you down for repetition.That glorious day in the sun

It comes to all teams. Twenty years after Lynagh’s cruel try, even Ireland had their moment against the Wallabies one famous Auckland night in 2011 (never mind the subsequent loss to Wales). And when it does, it is accompanied by a rare joy that has been heightened by all the near-misses.

You see, it is not all bad being average. The Wallabies will return, and when they do you will appreciate it even more.

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Jan 10

Guilty of attempted rape

MICHAEL Kendall was found guilty on Mondayof attempting to rape an elderly lady in her Lake Macquarie unit with the jury needing little more than an hour to arrive at its verdict.
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Kendall told his mother he loved her as he was escorted from Newcastle District Court following a one-week trial that focused heavily on DNA evidence.

The Crown case also included witness accounts of what happened on the afternoon of July 7 last year and Kendall’s own version of events that included a meeting with another man.

Kendall, 26, pleaded not guilty to three charges and was convicted of two, namely aggravated break, enter and commit indecent assault and inflicting actual bodily harm with intent to rape.

No verdict was required for the back-up charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Kendall initially approached some young girls near the victim’s unit at Jewells before he knocked on the victim’s door.

He had recently been released from a rehabilitation centre for substance abuse and had decided to celebrate by drinking alcohol before he asked the victim if ‘‘Julie’’ was there, the jury heard.

The victim said no one called Julie lived there and she went outside to begin assisting Kendall before he forced her inside.

She fell on the floor and he pinned her down while he indecently assaulted her.

She screamed and scratched his face before he fled and yelled, ‘‘She attacked me, she attacked me’’.

The witnesses, including the girls, gave descriptions of Kendall and police were able to compare them with security camera footage from a nearby bottle shop he’d visited that afternoon.

When one of the witnesses did a photo identification test on a police computer he selected Kendall and another man out of 20 photos.

But crucially, Kendall’s DNA was found on the victim’s fingertips possibly underneath a fingernail from when she scratched him.

Kendall told police that after leaving the bottle shop he met a man while walking to his sister’s Jewells’ home.

He said he rolled the man two cigarettes, they shared a bottle of beer and shook hands.

His barrister argued that Kendall’s DNA could have been transferred to the man who then transferred it to the victim’s fingertips.

Kendall even admitted to deviating from his route home and to speaking to the girls near the victim’s unit, but denied he was the attacker.

He was arrested about a week after the incident at a Newcastle hostel.

He was on parole at the time for a serious assault and will be sentenced in November.