Monthly Archives:May 2019

Labouring: Prime Minister Julia Gillard is seen leaving The Lodge yesterday. Photo: Andrew Meares The Prime Minister’s partner Tim Mathieson arrived as Canberra enjoyed a public holiday to celebrate its centenary. Photo: Andrew Meares

Kevin Rudd supporters believe the government’s crippling leadership stalemate can only be broken if one or more senior ministers loyal to Prime Minister Julia Gillard tap her on the shoulder.

Appealing to a ”greater loyalty” as Labor eyes a crushing defeat that some fear could decimate it for a generation, key Rudd backers say their man will not challenge but insist that something must give.

They say the ball is now in the court of a clutch of ministers with the Prime Minister’s ear, arguing it is time for a delegation to reprise the role played by Gareth Evans in 1991 when he told a politically wounded Bob Hawke: ”Pull out digger, the dogs are pissing on your swag.”

However party insiders say any such move by ”friendlies” would not be telegraphed and would require ”absolute secrecy” to have any chance of being persuasive.

Ms Gillard spent most of Canberra’s 100th birthday celebrations on the public holiday Monday ensconced in The Lodge meeting her leadership group, factional conveners, and parliamentary tacticians, ahead of what promises to be a difficult sitting fortnight.

Federal caucus meets on Tuesday before the resumption of sittings, with MPs reeling from the electoral drubbing in the Western Australia state election where Labor suffered a 2.2 per cent swing against it.

The Liberals gained nearly 9 per cent, returning Premier Colin Barnett in a landslide.

Momentum appears to be gathering within caucus for a late and extremely risky leadership change before the September election, reversing the removal of Mr Rudd in favour of his then deputy, Ms Gillard, in June 2010.

Estimates of support for the ousted leader differ, but it is widely acknowledged, even in the Gillard camp, that Mr Rudd has gained supporters as increasingly desperate Labor MPs face a likely humiliating loss in September. Gillard backers, however, scoff at claims that support for Mr Rudd now exceeds that for Ms Gillard.

The Rudd camp is determined not to repeat tactical errors committed in the first leadership ballot of February 2012 where Mr Rudd was goaded into challenging effectively while still overseas.

He lost that ballot decisively, 31 votes to 71, after a series of brutal character assessments by former cabinet colleagues.

Ms Gillard’s supporters say she is getting on with the job, insisting her meetings on Monday were simply routine tactical meetings and not connected to the internal leadership chatter.

WA’s most senior Labor figure, Defence Minister Stephen Smith, conceded on Saturday night Labor’s campaign was damaged by the low standing of federal Labor.

”We were a drag,” he said during the ABC’s election night coverage.

”I don’t think really, given the difficulties we are going through, that is a surprise.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Too good: The Tigers werenever in the game. Photo: Peter Stoop Hat-trick hero: Akuila Uate. Photo: Max Mason Hubers

Follow breaking sports news here … all day MATCH STATS/AS IT HAPPENED

Mick Potter’s debut could have been worse, but he might wake in the morning wondering how. A tough prospect it might have been, to recover from the tumultuous events of last week – when the club farewelled a teammate – but that said, he would have been expecting more than that. What his team offered this mismatch was a mishmash.

What their opponents offered was a slick performance, a contrast to many of last season’s efforts by Newcastle, who saw fullback Darius Boyd turn in the sort of game which helped his coach Wayne Bennett to a premiership at St George Illawarra. Five-eighth Jarrod Mullen, who left the field with an arm injury late in the contest, was even more busy, winger Akuila Uate happily accepted gifts while the Knights will clearly benefit from having halfback Kurt Gidley buzzing and weaving.

It was a torrid night for the Tigers. They began well but faded well before even the half-time break. Hooker Robbie Farah had put lock Adam Blair over after just six minutes, giving the forward a confidence-kick after his disappointing 2012, yet by the 10th minute, when Boyd’s long ball sent winger James McManus over, the Tigers were showing some worrying signs.

Players were being run around in circles and falling off tackles. That was particularly evident when Uate brushed off Tigers backrower Braith Anasta and skipped downfield, handing the ball off to a teammate before racing back to his right wing and accepting centre Dane Gagai’s ball for the try.

Gagai was something else, looking every bit a player worth a gamble on. He had some fortune for his two tries in the first half, but still showed superb footwork and speed as well; first he batted five-eighth Jarrod Mullen’s bounced pass to find a gap and then picked up Matt Bell’s ill-advised ball to race 40 metres to score.

It was business as usual in the second half. The only difference from the first half was that the Knights scored first, Uate bulldozing through Bell and fullback Tim Moltzen to score – it came a minute after Boyd intervened in a Tigers attack superbly. After Farah found space, Boyd guessed correctly that the hooker would pass rather than dummy, and promptly smashed Moltzen. Uate scored his third from dummy half just a few minutes later, and the Knights were well on their way to a rout.

After 55 minutes, they achieved it; McManus leapt high above the vertically-inferior winger Matt Utai to score from a Mullen kick. It was a complete mismatch. It followed the theme of the contest.

Emotion can only get you so far. The Tigers had worn special jumpers which read “Mosese Fotuaika, 1992-2013, 155”, and stood in a circle with arms wrapped around each other as both teams observed a minute’s silence prior to kick-off. Thankfully, officials saw fit to observe the full minute’s silence, rather than the shortened moment’s silence, which is the trend of late.

Yet it was always going to be difficult for the Tigers to farewell their friend on a Thursday, and play in their opening-round clash on the following Monday. And so Potter’s first outing with his new club, his first in the NRL, would be a disappointment. Not quite a disaster but not far away. He joins his fellow NRL debutant Trent Robinson as a first-up loser.

It was a hard ask for Potter, given the disrupted preparation, and of course that the man in the other box was Wayne Bennett. Bennett took St George Illawarra to a title in his second season with that club. It will take some effort to knock off the likes of Melbourne, North Queensland and South Sydney, but the Knights’ first effort shows they might be big improvers.

NEWCASTLE 42 (A Uate 3 D Gagai 2 J McManus 2 tries K Gidley 7 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 10 (A Blair T Moltzen tries B Marshall goal) at Hunter Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 21,935

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Bob Abbott, a founding administrator of Cronulla, said other officials would be “weeping tears of blood” over the club’s handling of the drug allegations being aimed against the Sharks.

Abbott, a long-term official at the Sharks who was at the club in its first season in the NSWRL premiership in 1967, maintained that, in the wake of the standing down of coach Shane Flanagan and the sacking of four other staff, the club’s current board had been “bulldozed by the authorities into making decisions that were not warranted at this stage”.

“Until someone has been proven to have been taking illicit drugs . . .

they should have allowed everything to go through until such time as some decisions are made by the authorities as to whether anyone is proven guilty or innocent,” Abbott said.

“I’m totally disappointed with the decisions made by the board. I think that they made them without really studying or understanding the situation. I haven’t heard anybody say that any player or any coach involved at Cronulla has been involved in any drug-taking whatsoever.

It’s all assumed that that may have happened.

“But from what I’ve seen, they’ve got nothing definite on anybody at the moment. There’s no decision been made by anybody that anyone has been taking drugs. If they have, I’d have no hesitation in fully supporting their demise from the game. But as it stands, I think the club has been railroaded a little bit by ASADA people.” Abbott said that current club officials had made “irresponsible statements and taken irrensponsible actions and they’ve denigrated and demonised people . . . the integrity of some of those people has been shattered”.

“What concerns me is there seem to have been some decisions made ad-hoc, without a really common sense approach to the whole situation,” Abbott said. “When I listen to the players, it seems that they are adamant, and the coaches are adamant, that they bear no responsibility whatsoever to what’s being laid against them.

“All the stress that’s been placed on these players, without anybody saying exactly what has happened to them or what they are supposed to have done . . . they should be innocent in the eyes of everybody until such time as someone proves something. If they do, and it’s proven, well and good, goodbye, you’re out. But we’re not that stage.” Abbott, who faxed Flanagan every Monday with praise or occasionally advice before the coach was stood down by Sharks pending a club investigation into the use of performance enhancing substances in the 2011 season, described the sidelined official as a “good coach and a man of integrity”.

“I feel terribly sorry for Shane Flanagan,” Abbott said. “He can hold his head high.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

The Cronulla players suspected of drug violations are likely to be still playing all season, while guilty members of the Sharks football department could be banned for life.

NRL rules allow a player who has not tested positive to a drug test to continue playing until his case is heard, but any premiership points earned from wins while he is a member of the team are eventually stripped, should he eventually be found guilty.

The AFL has the same rule, meaning that the drugs saga affecting both codes has the potential to see a team on the eve of the grand final lose its points and be forced to forfeit.

Given the massive task faced by ASADA of six investigators interviewing over 150 players at a minimum of six NRL and AFL clubs, it will take more than a year to complete the probe into players, support staff and club officials and lay charges ahead of penalties given.

Fourteen Sharks players have indicated they will contest the charge of using drugs, but if eventually found guilty are likely to be suspended for two years.

However, ”support staff” under ASADA rules, meaning coaches, trainers, masseurs and club doctors, face bans of eight years to life, even if the use of the drug was deemed inadvertent. Given that support staff are mature people in a position of responsibility, they are treated more harshly under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

The action by the Cronulla board in sacking or standing down five members of the Sharks’ football department reflects the seriousness with which it interprets the WADA/ASADA view of the duty of care of support staff.

No doubt the Sharks board took this action to exculpate themselves but they have a responsibility to the members who elected them.

It could take five years but eventually, if Cronulla as a club is deemed guilty, it may lose its NRL licence.

Perhaps one reason why the board recommended its 14 players take early guilty pleas and accept six-month bans was the disruption to the club and the league over premiership points lost through fielding guilty players.

The drugs saga threatens to be a protracted one because ASADA is under-resourced.

ASADA usually has six investigations running simultaneously, sometimes simply the import of a steroid assigned to a sub-district rugby union player. Now it has an inquiry embroiling Australia’s two dominant football codes.

Protocol is very important to ASADA but I suspect the scale of the potential doping breaches meant it created a short-circuit step in the Sharks probe. ASADA’s standard procedure is to prepare evidence, record the interviews and make a recommendation to an independent Anti-Doping Rule Violation Board which then hears the case and determines penalty or, in the case of Cronulla, the relevant body issuing sanctions is the NRL doping panel.

In other words, the investigators can’t determine penalty.

The suspect player’s club does not become involved in the process, right up to charges being laid, unless he gives ASADA permission. Yet ASADA has already met with the NRL and Sharks and nominated 14 players potentially guilty.

This is a breach of standard procedure, unless ASADA was tabling evidence to Cronulla of a general issue, not specific to any individual player nature.

The Sharks are first up because ASADA clearly has a whistleblower. Read the Australian Crime Commission report and the responses of Sharks officials and it’s apparent someone has already tipped off the authorities, possibly to discount his sanction.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Steve Dank, pictured watching Manly train. Photo: Tim ClaytonThe Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority wrote to former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank posing questions about his relationship with three AFL clubs: the Bombers, Geelong and Gold Coast.

Geelong has emphatically denied the club employed Dank in any way, after being mentioned in an initial letter from ASADA to Dank’s lawyer.

The letter, an invitation for Dank to be interviewed by ASADA, said the anti-doping body planned to ask questions about his ”role and engagement” with Essendon, the Cats and Suns.

Two NRL clubs – Cronulla and Manly – were also named, despite six being listed in the Australian Crime Commission’s report into the role of drugs and organised crime in sport.

Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said Dank had never filled any role at the club and Gold Coast chief executive Travis Auld said Dank was employed briefly in a part-time role and had minimal contact with players.

It is understood the Cats have had two brief visits from auditors from Deloitte since being told their high-performance departments would be analysed, with no recent contact.

Auld said he expected his club to be contacted by ASADA and the AFL ”for a chat” at some point, given it had employed Dank, while Cook said the club had never worked with him.

”Stephen Dank was never employed by us and we never used his services,” he said.

All three AFL clubs employed Essendon’s suspended conditioning coach, Dean Robinson, with Geelong the only club not to also bring Dank on board. Robinson and Dank worked together at Manly.

The Brisbane Lions were not mentioned in the ASADA letter despite volunteering that the club had hired Dank in a ”brief and limited” consultancy role while establishing an altitude training program at the start of 2009.

The letter explained that the body was investigating allegations that ”athletes and support persons may have used prohibited substances including, but not limited to, growth hormone releasing peptides and human growth hormones. It is also alleged that some athletes and support persons may have engaged in prohibited methods,” the letter said.

It said Dank’s co-operation was voluntary, that it would be recorded and that he could have legal representation present but noted that ”any information or assistance provided by Mr Dank may be used as evidence in proceedings for an Anti-Doping Rule violation”.

Essendon requested ASADA and the AFL investigate its supplement program in February, before the ACC’s report was released.

The Bombers, who employed Robinson and Dank at the end of 2011, have since commissioned an external review of what chairman David Evans termed ”irregular practices”.

With Danny Weidler

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.