Dec 10

The white stuff

All froth? Choosing milk for your coffee is a serious business. Photo: Justin McManusMost Melbourne coffee drinkers take their brew with milk. A straw poll of cafe owners suggests about 85 per cent prefer white coffee.
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We’re getting fussier about our beans but we’re still slow to care about the milk that goes into our morning cuppa. It does matter; a standard latte is only 15 per cent coffee, the rest is milk.

Milk plays a big role in how coffee tastes, according to Preston coffee roasting company Ducale Coffee. It holds regular milk-tasting sessions for cafe owners and in a blind tasting of six full-cream milks (served cold, warm and with coffee), Jonesy’s Dairy and Procal came out on top. The tasters found Coles milk insipid, while the unhomogenised Elgaars was too dominating.

Ducale roaster Rob Stewart encourages people to think about their choice.

A consequence of the “milk wars” between big supermarkets is that milk producers can reduce costs by diluting fresh milk with up to 16 per cent permeate, a watery byproduct of milk processing.

“Milks with added permeate tend to have less body, less sweetness and their micro foam collapses very quickly, affecting presentation,” Stewart says.

Milks with no added permeate enhance coffee’s natural characteristics without suffocating flavour. But unhomogenised milk is difficult to work with in a busy cafe because the milk bottle needs to be shaken every time it is used to distribute the fat through the milk.

Boutique or organic milk can cost twice as much as standard milk.

At Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, Andrew Kelly has switched to Schulz milk because it’s from a single herd and comes directly from the farmer to the cafe.

“Baristas used to talk about milk cutting through the coffee as if it was the enemy, but now we talk about milk complementing the coffee.”

While Kelly champions filter coffee, up to 85 per cent of his customers choose espresso-based drinks and of these, about 75 per cent are milk-based. While full cream is a better product, he feels he can’t take skinny milk off the menu.

Fleur Studd, of Market Lane Coffee, was initially nervous about not offering customers skinny milk but says it hasn’t been a problem. “We have found that lower-fat milk is just not as delicious and the flavour, body and sweetness of the drink are compromised.”

She also uses Schulz organic, unhomogenised milk from Timboon, which is pasteurised at low temperatures so it retains enzymes that help with digestion.

Sourcing a local quality product was a priority for Marinus Jansen of Padre Coffee when he chose St David Dairy milk for his cafes. It’s produced by regular customer Ben Evans, who has opened his own micro dairy in Fitzroy.

Jansen’s pet hate is a scalding hot latte. He says the ideal temperature for milk in coffee is 60 to 65 degrees but if a customer wants an extra hot coffee he will serve it.

Simon Michelangeli from Fugazza says his customers are attracted to the taste and health benefits of A2 milk. He’s developing a new blend to match the different taste profile of light milk.

Family-run Jonesy’s Dairy is a favourite with many roasters. Fed up with low prices for their milk, Wayne and Rhonda Somerville set up their own dairy in Kerang, in northern Victoria, in late 2009. Today, they sell 95 per cent of their milk to cafes, and to a few independent food stores (including Happy Apple, Ascot Vale; Village Grocer, Yarraville; Renaissance IGA, Hawthorn).

Business is booming and they expect it to double in the next year.

Rhonda Somerville says if cafes are spending a lot on coffee beans, they want quality fresh milk to go with it.

“Baristas are looking for consistency in flavour, frothing ability and minimal processing. Our milk has a good, clean, unadulterated taste that does not interfere with coffee blends.”Milky business – who uses what

■ Auction Rooms, Monk Bodhi Dharma, Market Lane Coffee – Schulz Organic Dairy

■ The League of Honest Coffee, Seven Seeds – St David Dairy

■ The Duchess of Spotswood, Two Birds One Stone – Jonesy’s

■ Fugazza – A2

■ The Maling Room – KyValley Farms

■ Axil – Pura

■ St Ali – Demeter biodynamic

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Dec 10

Kim Williams and Louise Herron deny reports of Sydney Opera House Trust spat

Guillaume Brahimi. Photo: Nic WalkerThe Opera House chief executive Louise Herron and the chair of its trustees Kim Williams have denied he stormed out of his final board meeting ”in disgust” over her handling of a tender for the Bennelong restaurant.
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They released a joint statement on Monday also denying Mr Williams told Ms Herron at the September 17 meeting: “I’m over you.”

A source, however, insisted the pair had fallen out and that others among the 10 trustees had concerns about Ms Herron.

The Herald reported on Monday on the controversy over the departure of French chef Guillaume Brahimi and his restaurant Guillaume at Bennelong from the coveted site.

It said Ms Herron had received two tenders, one from Bill Granger in association with John and Leon Fink’s hospitality empire, the other from the operators of the Stokehouse in Melbourne.

Fairfax Media understands some trustees were unhappy they were not consulted about the management push for a more accessible, bistro-style restaurant at ”the people’s House”.

Mr Brahimi opted not to compete in the tender because he did not want to move away from fine dining. A few months later, on September 2, he was awarded the ”legend” prize and his restaurant recovered its three hats in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide Awards.

Following the joint response from Ms Herron and Mr Williams to the story, neither responded further when asked if there had been any conflict between them or if other trustees had concerns. Nor did they say if Mr Brahimi might be asked back to Bennelong, as the report suggested.

”The restaurant tender did not ‘force’ Guillaume Brahimi ‘from the building’,” they said. ”Mr Brahimi decided not to participate in a tender for Bennelong which did not specify fine dining.”

The trustees did not “implore” Ms Herron to “re-engage with” Mr Brahimi, they said. And Mr Brahimi and Ms Herron had not met “secretly” on Friday. Rather, a meeting had been held to discuss other matters and to ensure Mr Brahimi understood that the tender process was still in train.

They said it was ”inaccurate to say that only two tenders were received”, but they would not say how many.

”At no point prior to publication of the article were any of the facts or allegations raised … checked with the Opera House,” the statement said. Mr Williams referred the ”defamatory allegations” to his lawyers.

He had not resigned to Arts Minister George Souris after the September 17 meeting but to the Governor on September 6. He was going ”slightly early” – before the Opera House’s 40th anniversary celebration – so his successor John Symond would ”be better placed” for its renewal program that will run until the 50th anniversary.

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Dec 10

Mystery of grand final blood nose

The Tasmanian Government has been forced to defend a senior minister over an AFL Grand Final spectator fracas, instead of revelling in its sponsorship of victor Hawthorn.
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Deputy premier Bryan Green called a media conference to flatly deny punching a Launceston businessman, Ian Goninon, who said he came away from the MCG with a blood nose.

The dispute overshadowed the struggling Labor Government’s day in the sun with the Hawthorn team, which plays matches in Tasmania under a $3 million annual sponsorship deal, and toured the state on Monday to celebrate.

Premier Lara Giddings was forced to issued a statement of support for Mr Green.

“It is regrettable that a fantastic game of football has been marred by this matter,” Ms Giddings said.

Mr Goninon, president of South Launceston Football Club, said he went to the match as a corporate guest, and Mr Green was sitting in the row in front.

He said he spoke to Mr Green.

“Look I thought the deputy premier may have been somewhere else, spruiking Tasmania and doing that type of thing,” he told ABC radio.

“But look I don’t know. I’ve got witnesses to the incident and that will come out.”

Mr Goninon said the incident happened on the final siren. “I’ve just had a bloody nose the last two days,” he said.

He denied ever saying anything derogratory to Mr Green, who rejected Mr Goninon’s version of events.

Mr Green said he was subjected to constant heckling by Mr Goninon both before and during the game, and towards the end of the day he turned and “forcefully remonstrated” with the businessman.

“I certainly absolutely did not punch Mr Goninon,” Mr Green said. “I didn’t push him. I argued with him. I did not in any way from my perspective physically assault him.”

The two men each said they were taking legal advice.

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Dec 10

Obese boy’s death examined by coroner

FILE IMAGE ONLYAT the age of seven he weighed almost 50 kilograms and had a body mass index roughly double what it should have been.
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Despite hospital staff providing his parents with a weight management plan, the boy put on another six kilograms in the six weeks after he left John Hunter Children’s Hospital and two years later he was dead due to complications from obesity.

Newcastle Coroners Court is examining the death, including the role his parents, the Department of Family and Community Services and the NSW Department of Education and Training may have played.

The Newcastle boy was rushed to John Hunter Hospital on September 17, 2010, where he died 12 days later at the age of 10.

He suffered a massive brain injury due to lack of oxygen, which was related to his morbid obesity, Ian Bourke, Counsel Assisting the Inquest, said.

The child, who cannot be identified, had a lengthy history of health problems that were detected by a number of doctors and health professionals in the years leading up to his death, the inquest heard.

He was the subject of four ‘‘risk of harm’’ reviews conducted by the Department of Family and Community Services between 2008 and 2010, but on each occasion the department decided to close those reviews and pursue the needs of other children who were deemed to be at greater risk of harm, Mr Bourke said.

The reviews were conducted because of concerns over the boy’s morbid obesity, other health issues and his parents’ drug use, the inquest heard.

The boy suffered from sleep apnoea related to his obesity, and by mid-2009 he weighed close to 70 kilograms.

Numerous appointments were made for him with specialists and other health professionals, including a surgeon to decide whether the boy should have his tonsils and adenoids removed. However, the court heard that many appointments were missed and the surgery never took place.

In kindergarten the boy missed 44 days of school and in year 1 he missed 68.

In year 2 he missed 98 days, in year 3 he missed 101 and at the time of his death he had already missed 103 days of the 2010 school year.

On at least one occasion when the school inquired about his absences the boy’s sleep apnoea was offered as an explanation, Mr Bourke said.

On other occasions when the school said criminal action could be taken, the parents promised the child’s attendance would improve.

The state homicide squad investigated the death, but the circumstances leading up to the boy’s admission to John Hunter Hospital in September 2010 remained unclear, Mr Bourke said.

It appeared that the boy was found slumped on a lounge before he stopped breathing during the journey to the hospital.

Doctors were able to revive him and put him on life support, but after 12 minutes or more without oxygen he had suffered a massive brain injury, Mr Bourke said.

The inquest before Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott continues.

Dec 10

TOPICS: Ricky Martin likes our town

LATINO SUPERSTAR: Ricky Martin rehearses at Newcastle Entertainment Centre. Picture: Peter Stoop SOMEONE NEEDS A CUDDLE: Glen Fredericks, the founder of Hug a Drummer Day.
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Glen’s logo for Hug a Drummer

RICKY Martin and his kids are in town, which means Novocastrians could be exposed to dangerous levels of swooning.

The Puerto Rican star and The Voice Australia judge is here in the lead-up to his show at the Entertainment Centre on Thursday, and he’s been out and about.

‘‘Just beautiful,’’ Martin told reporters, when asked the stock question about what he thinks of Newcastle.

‘‘I took a walk yesterday and it was very special – with the water, it’s very special, very beautiful.’’

Martin has twin sons Matteo and Valentino, 5, in tow. Through painstaking research (watching an interview on Ellen), Topics can report that the boys speak Spanish, English and French.

Have you seen Ricky on the town, dear reader? Swimming at Merewether, or shopping on Darby Street? Hoeing into a Harry’s Schnitzel?

Report your sighting to Topics. We’ll file it under Rickyleaks.

Cymbolic gesture

THERE’s a fair chance that, at least once, you’ve been swept up in a song and whipped out your air guitar. It’s a moment best enjoyed in private.

The invisible instrument is, going by your wide-legged stance, a noisemaker of epic proportions. It loves Queen and Def Leppard, and plays better when you close your eyes.

All of which is fine, says Glen Fredericks, of East Maitland. But where are all the air drummers? Why isn’t there Drum Hero on PlayStation?

It’s this howling injustice that drove Glen to declare October10 ‘‘Hug a Drummer Day’’.

‘‘I’m a drummer, and I want hugs,’’ says Glen, who has pounded the skins for 26 years.

‘‘But seriously, I figured that the guy or girl furthest back from the front of the audience, who is putting in the biggest effort (lugging all that gear, and then the physically demanding role of performing an instrument that requires every limb to be in motion) needs some appreciation.’’

The seeds of the movement were planted when Glen designed a graphic that read ‘‘Give a Drummer a Hug Today’’.

It was shared thousands of times on Facebook, and Glen knew he was onto something. He picked the date 10/10 for its international clout – ‘‘the Americans won’t stuff it up’’.

There’s also the fact that the ‘‘1’’ looks like a drumstick and the ‘‘0’’ can be anything from a snare to a bass to a cymbal.

Nearly 2000 people on Facebook have declared they are ‘‘going’’ to Hug a Drummer Day. If you want to mark the occasion, Glen says it’s simple.

‘‘Just remember drummers, show them some love and appreciation and give them a hug.’’

Popping hard question

A KAHIBAH reader has a grandson, who is five years old.

Recently the boy visited his great grandfather (Pop), with his mother (the daughter of our Kahibah reader).

‘‘Five-year-old boy goes out to the garage with his Pop to get some tools to play with, which is his usual practice, when he says to Pop, ‘When are you going to die Pop?’’’ reports our Kahibah correspondent.

‘‘Pop, a bit taken aback by the question, replies, ‘Not sure – not soon I hope’.

‘‘Caring five-year-old replies, ‘Well don’t worry Pop, there is still plenty of spaces left in the graveyard next to where [the boy’s sister] plays netball’.’’

Nothing like a caring youngster to ask the difficult questions.

Nov 10

Sex re-education vital for baby boomers

Looking for love online has become extremely popular these days, it used to be a secret once, but now nobody minds admitting to it. Online dating is not only for the young, and many baby boomers are also turning to the internet to find romance as they find themselves single again.
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With more Australians living longer and healthier lives at the same time as divorce rates are on the rise, many will find new sexual partners later in life. Some of those who have been in long, monogamous relationships are now looking for more casual sexual encounters before they commit themselves again.

The availability of drugs such as Viagra has given many men who had given up hope to be sexual again, new opportunities.

Women who are now at a different stage in their life are quite happy being single for a while. The children may have left home and it is now time for them to have some fun. However, a long period of sexual monogamy has left them ill-equipped about safe-sex practice. Most women were on the pill and never, ever used a condom. And they missed out on the “safe sex messages” that were promoted in the 1980s.

Education campaigns about safe sex are generally aimed at young people and there is still an element of ageist stereotyping in our community that makes it difficult for some to believe older people still have sex. But the latest figures from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System show that STIs continue to rise, particularly among older age groups.

New cases of chlamydia among Australians aged 40 to 85 have jumped 17 per cent in the past three years, while the incidence of gonorrhoea has risen 44 per cent in the same period, an analysis by Family Planning NSW has revealed. The safe-sex message seems to have missed the baby-boomer generation.

About a year ago Family Planning NSW, together with the support of RSVP, Fairfax Media’s dating site launched a safe-sex awareness campaign for older Australians called the “Little Black Dress”. The message was all about communication and the importance of being upfront when talking about safe sex with a new partner.

A short video with the theme: “Safe sex is an easier conversation to have with your clothes on” was produced, aimed at educating older Australians about the risk of having sex without a condom in a new relationship and the importance of being tested for STIs if unprotected sex happens.

People should have an honest discussion with a new partner about using a condom, before being swept away in the heat of the moment. They may not have been very sexually active themselves but their new partners may have been.

RSVP helped to promote the campaign, hosting a series of videos and articles on its Over 50 and Fabulous site group, to communicate the safe sex message to its members.

An attractive and discreet wallet was designed, with a picture on the front of a “Little Black Dress” which contained a condom, lube and instructions. About 3000 free packs were distributed at RSVP single events and were available from Family Planning NSW.

The project was delivered at the Australasian Menopause Society Conference in 2012 and the Australian Women’s Health Conference in 2013, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Over recent years I have spoken to an increasing number of men and women, who needed advice on how to start a new relationship after the break-up of their marriages or long relationships. I was shocked by how many of them had never considered safe sex as they still believed that a condom was only needed to prevent pregnancies.

Nothing is more embarrassing for a baby boomer after having had sex with several new partners, to be told by a GP that he or she has an STI. The best rule to follow is “no condom, no sex” until both partners are tested.

It can be difficult to negotiate the use of a condom with a new partner, but remember they may be concerned about the same thing. The “Little Black Dress” condoms are not available any more, but choosing some of the rather interesting types available now, could definitely be a great “ice-breaker” when you still have your clothes on!

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Nov 10

Bob Oatley and Hamilton Island Yacht Club set to challenge for America’s Cup

Hamilton Island owner Bob Oatley. Photo: Quentin Jones The Bob Oatley owned Wild Oats XI has enjoyed success in the Sydney to Hobart race. Photo: Rolex / Daniel Forster
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The Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Photo: Supplied

An Australian winemaker and his son, who own Hamilton Island, have officially challenged software mogul Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA for the next America’s Cup, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

Bob Oatley and oldest son Sandy signed the challenge on behalf of their Hamilton Island Yacht Club in Queensland, Australia, the source said.

An employee of the Robert Oatley Vineyards delivered a signed document to a representative of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, Oracle’s sponsor, on San Francisco Bay seconds after the winning American team crossed the finish line on Wednesday.

As the challenger of record, the Oatleys could help shape the rules for the 35th America’s Cup along with the defender, Ellison. Additional challengers are expected to emerge as the next competition takes shape in the coming years.

Ellison said that he received the challenge on the water as soon as Oracle clinched the Cup, but he declined to name the challenger. Asked to confirm that it was Oatley, Tom Ehman of the Golden Gate Yacht Club refused to comment. “I’ll announce early next week, possibly Monday,” he said in a text message.

Two sources who requested anonymity confirmed to Reuters that the Hamilton Island Yacht Club is the challenger of record. Oatley could not be reached for comment.

Oatley made a fortune first as a coffee trader and then as a vintner, and bought Hamilton Island in 2003. A long-time competitive sailing enthusiast, he is described on a website for Robert Oatley Vineyards in northern California as being “as famous for his wine as he is for sailing.”

A series of his super-maxi yachts, all dubbed Wild Oats, have won the Sydney-to-Hobart race.

A website for Oatley family wines boasts about the latest version of the yacht, Wild Oats XI. Iain Murray, an Australian who served as the regatta director for the just-completed America’s Cup races in San Francisco, crews on the boat, the website says.

Forbes ranked Oatley as Australia’s 25th richest with just under $1 billion. Ellison is the world’s fifth richest man with $US43 billion ($46.2 billion).

An Australian boat sporting an innovative winged keel broke a 132-year U.S. chokehold on the famous sailing trophy in 1983. But the U.S. won it back in 1987 and Australia has not been a player in Cup competitions in recent years despite a strong sailing tradition. The skipper this year’s winning Oracle team, Jimmy Spithill, is Australian.


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Nov 10

Orange-free state of concentration gives Link something to build on

Not going anywhere: much as Stephen Moore’s Wallabies found it hard to make ground at the weekend, Ewen McKenzie also had his troops staying put at half-time. Photo: Gallo ImagesThere were no orange pieces but it was definitely old school.
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The Wallabies stayed on the field at half-time at Newlands on Sunday, soaking up the fortress atmosphere while the neon scoreboards blinked “23-3” at them from both ends of the stadium.

Coach Ewen McKenzie had been worried about the team’s tendency to fade away in games and wanted to keep his players charged and alert.

He wound the clock back a couple of decades and asked to keep his team on the pitch during the break.

“There are some functional aspects to it but fundamentally our weakness has traditionally been in the second half and I felt we were going into the dressing room and coming out maybe relaxing too much,” McKenzie said.

“I don’t know if it will work forever but I thought it was good given where we were at as a group. It’s not going to win or lose you the game, it’s just about keeping players in the atmosphere of the crowd and the game rather than going inside, going silent, when everyone relaxes and you have to start again.”

It didn’t arrest the slide but it worked to an extent, combining with player substitutions and a new game plan to produce the first occasion in the match that the Wallabies looked competitive with the Springboks.

McKenzie said they will use the same approach this weekend against Los Pumas in Rosario, when Australia faces a team famed for emotion-driven performances at home.

“It’s a soccer stadium, so inevitably the dressing room is four levels up and a three minute walk into a tunnel. You take the three minutes to go in and the three minutes to get back and most of your half-time is gone,” McKenzie said.

“We were doing it [in rugby] for maybe 100 years and it’s only in the last 10 or 20 we’ve gone inside. AFL does it at three-quarter time. I enjoyed being out there, we stayed in the atmosphere, guys could hit pads and do different things.”

McKenzie is digging deep for things that will help a struggling squad gel and build belief.

“Rugby’s a chaotic game … as it happened the Springboks came out and did things they hadn’t done before and we want to have the flexibility to be able to play with surprise too,” he said.

“The kick-run balance is really important because you can be shifting it one way and the other and then you’ve got some little tricks that you can keep up your sleeve. We’ve got some good guys at that, some of the best exponents of it, but at the moment we’re oscillating a bit too much, we need to centre our thinking a bit.”

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Nov 10

No silver lining for straight shooting McKenzie

There are no “silver bullets” for the Wallabies’ woes and Ewen McKenzie knows it.
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He cannot cull half his starting side and reach for shiny new players after the their demoralising 28-8 loss in Cape Town at the weekend.

He has to get more out of the squad he has assembled and, most importantly, coax them back to confidence after a horror Rugby Championship campaign.

“What I did say in the dressing room [after Sunday’s game] is that the solutions to our problems are in the dressing room, right there,” McKenzie said. “Getting the right mix of players and getting the right game mix is still our challenge and the answers are in the room.

“Tell me who the other people are who are going to break the game open and give us the silver bullets. I think we’ve got the best group of players here, in the squad. There are a few others around the edges who could be here if we had a bigger squad, but fundamentally we have the best guys available.

“There’s a good chance we’ll spend the week sorting out a way to get it done.”

McKenzie would not be drawn on the selection of his starting halfback against Argentina in Rosario this weekend.

Nic White had a difficult night at Newlands, failing to tweak the team’s original kick-first strategy when it appeared more running was needed.

His half-time replacement, Will Genia, made an immediate difference, leading the Wallabies’ improved second-half effort with his trademark running game.

But McKenzie defended White and appeared to signal he would continue to select his starting halfback based on tactics along with form.

“Clearly if we’re playing running footy Will’s our best exponent, [and if it is a] kicking game, Whitey is our best exponent, it depends on how you want to pitch the game,” he said.

“We probably didn’t get the result we wanted but in terms of just being an out and out kicker I haven’t seen anyone better [than White] in terms of power and distance.”

He did not rule out starting Genia but stood by his decision to drop a player who has long been considered one of the best No.9s in the world.

“Everyone knows the capability of Will, I know him better than anyone, I coached him since he was 21, so I know exactly where he is,” McKenzie said.

“You’ve got to make decisions based on what’s going at that point in time. We made changes because we weren’t happy with where we are. We’re still not happy with where we are, we’re still going to keep looking at what the best mix is. No one’s in or out.”

McKenzie praised the contributions of replacement blindside flanker Ben McCalman and starting outside centre Tevita Kuridrani, as well as the impact made by returning forwards Benn Robinson and Sitaleki Timani. Expect more selections designed to use experienced Test players at the back halves of games.

But it appears confidence is emerging as the Wallabies soft underbelly, six losses into a difficult season. The road becomes tougher each week; Argentina at home is an entirely different proposition to the team Australia held out in Perth.

A third Bledisloe Test looms on the horizon before the squad heads north for five weeks in Europe.

Tests against England, Ireland and Wales were always going to be tough. But if the past few weeks’ results become the norm this year, Scotland and Italy become potential death traps too.

“You try to get it right but you don’t get any easy games,” McKenzie said.

“You’re not out there blowing the cobwebs away, you’re actually playing the best players and teams that are in top form. But from all that, from adversity, you’ll find a way out.”

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Nov 10

Rooster or Chief? SBW guessing game

In demand: Sonny Bill Williams has been courted by NRL boss Dave Smith to keep the Roosters star in the game. Photo: Anthony JohnsonExpect plenty of speculation in the lead up to the grand final about where Sonny Bill Williams will play next season, but unless Channel Nine really can broadcast his inner thoughts as they made out in his NRL return, it will be pure guesswork.
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Sydney Roosters supremo Nick Politis does not know, New Zealand Rugby Union bosses do not know, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie does not know and possibly even members of Williams own family do not know what he plans to do.

Politis and the Roosters are desperate for the 28-year-old superstar credited with lifting home crowds by 54 per cent to stay but the NZRU want him ahead of their Rugby World Cup defence in 2015 and are using the 2016 Olympic Games as a lure.

While it is unlikely he could resist the opportunity to win a second world cup and an Olympic gold medal, Williams plans beyond the grand final are a mystery and after making a seamless return from his five year NRL exile he would have no fears about switching codes again in 2015 rather than next season .

So uncertain is Williams immediate future that his agent, promoter and close friend Khoder Nasser hasn’t yet organised an off-season fight for the dual international, who is expected to defend the WBA International heavyweight belt he won against Francois Botha just weeks before the round one clash with South Sydney.

Since quitting the Bulldogs in 2008, Williams has only signed for one season at a time but his stints in French and New Zealand rugby union lasted two years each.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith regularly texts or phones Williams to let him know how much he is valued by the game’s hierarchy and has been working with Politis in a bid to ensure he stays beyond this season.

But Roosters supporters looking for a clue as to whether the grand final is Williams’ farewell appearance before returning to New Zealand rugby union or he will stay should know that his decision won’t be dictated by money.

Public adulation and private backslapping are unlikely to sway him either as he walked out on not only the Bulldogs but also the All Blacks at the peak of his popularity to take up a new challenge in a new code and a new country.

While some Canterbury fans may never get over Williams departure in 2008 while still under contract, much as Ricky Stuart has recently done at Parramatta, it was a brave decision to turn his back on all that he knew and switch to rugby union in France.

Not only did the then 22-year-old risk his reputation but his financial security as he paid the Bulldogs $750,000 to release him from his $400,000 per year contract and effectively played his first season with Toulon for nothing.

At the time, the move was a huge gamble as he battled injury, homesickness and negative headlines from those willing him to fail but after his second season Williams was being offered $2 million per year and the France No.12 jersey at the 2011 Rugby World Cup if he stayed.

Again, Williams chose to move outside his comfort zone and put financial security and a guaranteed World Cup spot at risk by returning to his native New Zealand to pursue an All Blacks jersey amid enormous scrutiny in a country where rugby union is a religion and he was an outsider.

Williams never really fitted in at the Crusaders but he helped qualify for the Super Rugby final against Queensland in a debut season in which he finished No.1 for offloads and No.2 for line-breaks before leaving to spearhead the Chiefs’ charge from 13th place in 2011 to last year’s title.

Along the way, he cemented his place in the All Blacks side and was described by former England forward Paul Ackford as “the greatest rugby union talent operating at the moment”, and boasting the skills of a Lionel Messi and marketability of David Beckham.

Yet Williams turned his back on it all to honour a handshake deal with Politis and is now one win away from an NRL premiership.

Then he will announce his plans for next season.

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