August, 2019

Brumbies attack set for Mauritius test as Joseph Tomane finds jet shoes for Super Rugby

The Brumbies celebrate Joseph Tomane’s try against the NSW Waratahs. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe ACT Brumbies will get a chance to test their new attacking game plan at a world club 10s tournament in Mauritius as they take on some of the biggest teams in international rugby.
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The Brumbies will play against French powerhouses Toulon and Stade Francais at the tournament in June, setting the stage for potential match-ups against former Brumby Matt Giteau and Quade Cooper.

But winger Joseph Tomane’s focus is on Super Rugby success, vowing to make the most of any opportunity that comes his way as the Brumbies adapt their refreshed free-flowing attack.

The Brumbies are unbeaten after the first two games of the Super Rugby season, running in 11 tries to stake their claim to be a title contender.

The 32-15 win against the NSW Waratahs on Friday night blew out at the end, but the match was a dog fight with minimal attacking opportunities.

Tomane scored a crucial second-half try to give the Brumbies the edge and the Wallabies winger has been menacing in what looms as his last season in Australia.

The NRL convert is poised to move to Europe at the end of the year, but he has shown he’ll leave nothing in the tank in the pursuit of tries and a championship.

Tomane has made five line breaks, beaten seven defenders and is back to his power running best.

“That part of my game has always been there, now I’ve just got the opportunity to I guess do that,” Tomane said.

“We’re playing a pretty expansive sort of game. What I’ve struggled with in the past is making the most of all the opportunities I got to carry the ball so right now that’s all I’m focused on.

“I want to do everything I can to make something happen when I get my hands on the ball.”

The Brumbies had to grind their way to a win against the Waratahs rather than trying to play their razzle-dazzle style.

However, their willingness to take risks was evident right until the end when they forced a loose-ball turnover and threw some offloads for Nigel Ah Wong to score the final try of the night.

The Brumbies will join the Durban Sharks, Toulon and Stade Francais for the invitational 10s tournament on June 18-19.

The Brumbies lost the final at the Singapore 10s two years ago when the Auckland Blues scored a try after the buzzer.

The eight-team tournament will be split into two pools but it is unknown whether Toulon will roll out their superstar roster which boasts Giteau, Cooper, James O’Connor, Drew Mitchell and former All Black Ma’a Nonu.

The Brumbies will be missing the bulk of their roster, with the club’s star players to be a part of the Wallabies’ Test series against England at the same time.

“We’ve been lucky enough to be invited to the 10s again,” said coach Stephen Larkham on ABC Grandstand.

“That’s the beauty of rugby, you get to travel around the world and Mauritius is a nice place to go.”

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


Malcolm Turnbull to become the first sitting PM to attend Sydney Mardi Gras

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he will attend Mardi Gras in Sydney. Photo: Andrew Meares Performers rehearse their routines ahead of Mardi Gras. Photo: Cole Bennetts
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull arrive at Kinselas for the 2016 Gay Mardi Gras.

Malcolm Turnbull will risk a backbench backlash by becoming the first sitting Australian prime minister to attend Mardi Gras.

Mr Turnbull will attend the gay and lesbian march in Sydney on Saturday night, although he is not expected to march like his Labor counterpart. Bill Shorten will be the first federal leader of a major party to participate in the march.

A spokesperson for Mr Turnbull confirmed the prime minister would attend the event, which he typically attends every year because it is in his electorate.

The move may rile some Coalition conservatives, who have previously warned it would be “dangerous” for the PM to attend.

However conservative MPs contacted on Saturday declined to comment.

Mr Turnbull has also written a message for the festival guide, calling Mardi Gras “a celebration of Australia’s diversity”.

“The hard work and commitment of Sydney’s LGBTQI community has seen this event grow to a festival drawing visitors to Sydney from around the world. However, we cannot forget the history of Mardi Gras and the ongoing need to promote inclusion and deliver equality for all Australians,” he said in the message.

Same-sex marriage remains a fractious issue for the Coalition.

Mr Turnbull has continued with Tony Abbott’s policy of holding a public plebiscite even though he has previously advocated for a free vote in Parliament. However the party’s right-wing has sought to undermine the plebiscite process.

Mr Shorten said he was delighted to be attending Mardi Gras with his wife, kids and Labor Party colleagues in support of marriage equality.

“We’re on the cusp of achieving marriage equality and for me there’s never been a more exciting time to attend Mardi Gras for the first time,” he said.

“Mardi Gras is a fantastic celebration of LGBTI culture, and a powerful demonstration of the ongoing fight against discrimination.

“Marriage equality is a simple, overdue change to Australian law that could be made a reality today if Malcolm Turnbull would just grant his MPs a free vote.”

Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer said Mr Shorten’s participation was significant.

“It means a great deal,” Ms Bauer told Sky News on Saturday. “The fact that our issues are being taken seriously, the fact that we are being accepted fully into the community, that our voices are being listed to.”

Mr Shorten says Labor will introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days if it wins the election.

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Retiring federal politicians will get six-figure pensions for life

Former ministers Warren Truss and Ian Macfarlane are among 16 retiring MPs who will benefit from a generous six-figure parliamentary pension. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The majority of federal politicians who have announced their retirement this year will be paid annual pensions of at least $118,000 – and in some cases much more – adding more than $2 million to the annual bill.

Of the 22 MPs and senators who have already announced they will not re-contest the upcoming election, 16 are believed to be eligible for the controversial Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme.

Only available to politicians elected before 2004, the defined benefits scheme already costs taxpayers more than $40 million a year.

Eight Coalition and eight Labor MPs are set to qualify this time and most will be paid a minimum of $118,125 – or 75 per cent of a current MPs base salary for superannuation purposes of $157,500.

That will add close to $1.9 million to the bill, with more retirements potentially to come.

But that doesn’t include extra allowances for time served as a minister, parliamentary secretary or other office holder. Of the 16 eligible, 14 will get loadings that could add tens of thousands to their retirement income.

Former deputy prime minister Warren Truss and long-serving Coalition ministers Ian Macfarlane and Philip Ruddock will benefit the most from the scheme, grossing between $150,000 and $200,000 a year.

Other Coalition MPs who will benefit from the system – scrapped for new MPs in 2004 because it was deemed too generous – include Mal Brough, Bruce Billson, Bruce Scott, Bill Heffernan and Andrew Southcott. Mr Brough is covered by the scheme because his first stint in Parliament began in 1996.

On the Labor side former speaker Anna Burke and former ministers Joe Ludwig, Laurie Ferguson, Alan Griffin, Bernie Ripoll and Jan McLucas will do handsomely. Jill Hall and Kelvin Thomson will also benefit.

And they will get the money – fully indexed and called a “retirement allowance” – annually. Or they can choose to convert half of it into a lump sum as soon as they leave.

Several of the longest-serving MPs, including Mr Ruddock and Mr Truss, will also be eligible for the Life Gold Pass, which entitles them to 10 taxpayer-funded business-class return flights a year.

But six retiring MPs will miss out on such arrangements.

Former trade minister Andrew Robb, Nationals MP John Cobb and Labor MPs Melissa Parke, Gary Gray, Alannah MacTiernan and Joe Bullock do not qualify for the scheme because they were elected after October 2004. They will be paid superannuation under a standard accumulation scheme instead.

The Parliament is losing close to 400 years of lawmaking experience with this year’s mass exodus.

And that’s not including seven MPs and senators who have called it quits since the 2013 election, sparking by-elections or Senate vacancies.

Of those, former prime minister Kevin Rudd, former treasurer Joe Hockey and senators Brett Mason and Kate Lundy also qualify for pensions.

However, Greens senators Penny Wright and Christine Milne and Coalition senator Michael Ronaldson miss out.

It’s understood the pension of Coalition MP Don Randall, who died last year, is being paid to his family.John Howard scrapped the pension scheme in 2004 after coming under pressure from then-opposition leader Mark Latham.

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


Dress code: Women are still a soft target

Illustration: Jim PavlidisWhen one of the pioneers of women in footy media first approached a leading club of the time to ask if she would be allowed into the changerooms, where post-match press briefings were conducted then, she was told by the players she would be welcome – as long as she was wearing what they were wearing. That was only half a working lifetime ago, and you can just about hear the sniggering still.  
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In fact, it never died. In 1990, Lisa Olsson, a Boston Herald reporter, was sexually harassed by New England Patriot players in their locker-room, and ridiculed by management when she complained. Eventually, they were punished, but the fans gave her such a hard time that News Corp arranged for her to move to Sydney, where she worked for the next eight years. I’m sure — I know — many women reporters who could relate.

And still. Late last year, there was cricketer Chris Gayle’s power play against Channel 10 reporter Mel McLaughlin. This week, a Tennessee court heard again the story of Erin Andrews, a sidelines reporter and sportscaster with ESPN. In 2008, a pervert rigged a peephole in a hotel room to film her undressing, then when he couldn’t find a buyer for the footage posted it on the internet anyway. He picked his mark because she was attracting a lot of attention in her job. He went to jail for a while, but she lives with the humiliation every day still, because every day someone reminds her. She is in court seeking damages from the hotel for its complicity.

It is a horrible story per se. But the incidentals are just as disturbing. The footage was viewed 17 million times on the internet and despite the efforts of authorities apparently can still be accessed. What does that say about our prurience? Other instances of harassment by players, officials and fans were detailed. Reportedly, ESPN told Andrews the only way to put the drama behind her was to appear in an interview explaining that it was not a promotional stunt. Implicit in this is the network cared at least as much about its own image as hers. ESPN also was accused of using camera angles to present Andrews salaciously. The network denies this.

Sexism remains an issue in sports media because the presence of women in the ranks still has not been normalised after all these years. It varies from sport to sport. Sometimes, it is sheer weight of unequal numbers, sometimes it is a lingering attitude. Cricket, where I spend much of my working life, is especially bloke-ish. That is hard enough as a working environment.

But it also means that women periodically are forced onto a front line where they would rather not be. McLaughlin only wanted to be a sports reporter. So did Andrews. Instead, they found themselves at the centre of campaigns. McLaughlin’s discomfort was plain to see. She wanted it all just to go away, which was fair enough, since it should never have happened into the first place. Andrews wanted it all to go away, too, but in the US, no one would let it. I know many male reporters have been pummeled in interviews, but none who have been made to squirm as McLaughlin was, or put upon like Olsson and Andrews were. I know none who were advised to take their clothes off in the dressing room, titter, titter.

Of course, television is a visual medium. You cannot but help notice how the people on it look as well as what they say. It is all part of the gig. I don’t doubt that looks are considered by even the most enlightened television bosses when employing women. I know, for instance, that the late John Sorell, who ran the highly successful Channel 9 newsroom in the 80s and 90s, liked his male sports presenters to look a bit rough around the edges, because he thought that was what people expected of sports journalists.

But that’s beside the point. All, men and women, have jobs to do and should be allowed to do them without being made to feel marginal, apprehensive, belittled or threatened. In none of the above instances had the reporter done any more than to go about her job. She was a soft target, the sort you might think any self-respecting professional sportsman would be embarrassed to take aim at, and yet they could not help themselves.

You could widen the argument to include all who work in sport. It is why latter-day efforts to foster the involvement of women at all levels – board, staff and auxiliary – are so important. Quotas and minimums might seem artificial and tokenistic, but at least they set the ball rolling. It is one thing to talk about respect and responsibility, another to live it. I don’t know for certain that a gentler polity would prevail if women were in charge of the world — we might be about to find out! — but I do know that there should never be another Erin Andrews case, and that men should be as adamant about that as women.

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


Within a Lyon’s roar of World T20 glory: Australia need unexpected brilliance

On March 18 Australia start their final push to the top of the mountain when they take on New Zealand in the first round of the World T20.
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Steve Smith’s men are ranked sixth in the shortest format in contrast to the Test and one-day arenas where they are standing like Hillary at the summit.

They were near perfect 12 months ago in the World Cup when the now-retired Mitchell Johnson, the surgically recuperating Mitchell Stark, fast bowling Sherpa Josh Hazlewood and the 20-over superannuant Shane Watson did the business comprehensively with the ball.

The ascent to Test cricket supremacy has me marginally baffled and I have pored over the ICC methodology several times … ours is not to reason why. Steve Smith quite rightly says there is much room for improvement from his morphing squad and they will only get better at the longer forms once the squad settles.

This will not be a World Cup dominated by the fast bowling Australia used so devastatingly in the 50-over format. Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar, the selection afterthought, should play every game. We will see spinners opening the bowling for a number of teams; India with Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and slow left-armer Pawan Negi have come well prepared.

Taking the speed off the ball and making batsmen swing and trust the surface – a judgment much harder to make on slow, spinning pitches – will be the key to restricting scores. Scoring runs then will require as much touch as it does swish. Expect the reverse sweep to be the most prolific scoring shot.

Australia will conduct their campaign with their best spinner turning out in NSW blue trying to win the Sheffield Shield instead of wattle and green. It is difficult to reconcile Nathan Lyon’s omission in a tournament that has “SPIN” tattooed to its forehead.

Smith may well become a frontline bowler and even Aaron Finch’s rarely seen left-arm slows could get a gig. Creativity and flexibility are Smith’s captaincy hallmarks and he will need to be at his best to organise the resources the selectors have given him.

Top of the order: Usman Khawaja should open the batting in India. Photo: Getty Images

Usman Khawaja must open the batting with the right-handed Finch and either David Warner or Smith comes in when a like-handed batsman is dismissed. Keeping a right/left combination at the crease might make a significant difference if the opposition keep wheeling up spin.

That sort of order leaves Watson, a veteran of the IPL, to float through the order unless Smith wants him to open and relegates Finch – testy questions which selectors do appear to have countenanced when putting together this squad.

With so many Australians playing professional T20 around the planet it is a small mystery why the team ranks well down the ladder. Perhaps it is because 20-over results can be swung by the performance of individuals, and to an extent by fortune good and bad.

Wielding the willow fiercely at every delivery on pitches of common blandness on outfields with shrinking dimensions relegates cricket to a baseball facsimile. The blades are evolving in weight and form into flat-fronted baseball bats. This brings strength rather than finesse into a game where skill was once king.

When the cricket ball deviates little through the air and if the pitches don’t spin then bowlers are relegated to medium-paced pitchers. The key to winning T20 matches is for players to stick to the roles that best suit their own skill set and complement the team.

Chris Gayle is the biggest hitter in the game but has precious few team pennants to show for that brutishness.

Australia begin the campaign against New Zealand in northern India, so far north in fact that the Himalayas dominate the horizon at the Himachal Pradesh Stadium. If you stand on your tip toes in the eastern stand you can see the Dalai Lama’s house.

Usually this pitch doesn’t take much spin but it is late in the Indian season and the slow men will find some assistance before they return to the Punjab for games against Pakistan and India in Mohali. The Mohali pitch is known for bounce and pace after the pitch was relaid so that it would mirror Australian conditions. I’m not sure if India will be playing a “home” game on a bouncy pitch – chalk this one down to another spin-dominated match.

They should win the March 21 game in Bangalore against a qualifier even if it’s played on the footpath. Two of the five teams in the group go through to the semi-final in either Delhi (a notoriously dusty track) or Wankhede in Mumbai (another red-soiled dust bowl ), which means that the early information available to the selectors about spin bowling being essential to success in this tournament is certainly true. The slow bowlers should be sending down at least 12 of the 20 overs and the seam bowlers will be using plenty of cutters, spinners and back of the handers.

On current form Australia are appropriately ranked and it will need some outstanding and unexpected performances if they are to even make the semi-finals. Twenty-over cricket is the most fickle of formats and all things are possible, but it would have been nice for the selectors to get a grip on their “horses for courses” philosophy and put their best slow bowler on the plane.

It would make the climb to world domination so much easier.

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