Mum's invention -illuminating tongue depressor - finds funding

Full Socceroos coverage
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Reporter's stock market 'confession' a stark warning to Chinese media

Full Socceroos coverage
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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The wingers

Full Socceroos coverage
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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The tight-head props

Full Socceroos coverage
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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The number eights

Full Socceroos coverage
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Socceroos: Milicic has fond memories of WA and backs Perth match

Full Socceroos coverage
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To truly be Australia’s team, a team has to play all over the country.

The Baggy Greens play in all mainland states during a five Test series in their own backyard, but their travel diary is matched by few others.

The Socceroos are arguably the only team aside from the cricketers that really can claim to be representing a sport that is popular throughout the entire nation. But they are acutely aware that they need to appear more often outside of their eastern seaboard strongholds in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Hence their first trip to Western Australia in a decade this week when they take on Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifier at Perth Glory’s neat, trim, 20,000 capacity nib Stadium on Thursday evenng.

Its a good move; the Western Australians, along with fans in Adelaide, missed out during the Asian Cup, and, according to FFA officials, have responded well. Over 17,000 tickets have been sold and the remainder are expected to go in the next few days, ensuring a sell out and a hostile environment for the visiting Bangladeshis.

Socceroo assistant coach Ante Milicic has fond memories of Perth from his time as a player. Although the ex international striker spent the bulk of his career in his native Sydney, along with spells in Brisbane and Newcastle as well as in Europe,  Milicic made quite a splash in WA on his brief visits there.

He scored the only goal of the game _ and won the Marston Medal for best on ground _ when Sydney Olympic defeated Perth Glory in the 2002 NSL Grand Final, and recalls a match seven years before that when the nascent Glory took on Italian side Sampdoria in an exhibition game.

“Myself and Kimon Taliadoros (ex Socceroo frontman and now Football Federation Victoria  president)  got called up as guest players for that match. I was staying in the same hotel as Sampdoria, and got all kitted out with the gear after, ” he reminisced at a training session the national team coaches hosted with several WA youngsters at the match venue on Sunday afternoon.

“Its a great opportunity for the Perth public to come out. We really want to get around the whole country. We didn’t have the chance during the Asian Cup, but the opportutnity now is for  the whole country to see the squad, the way its developing and coming forward with the young players.

“The pitch and the surface is great. This is what you need at international level. The pitch and the facilities, the grandstand here is great and the crowd will be close to the pitch. These are the kind of venues that the Socceroos enjoy playing at.”

Milicic said there had been no overnight reports of injuries, and that while Austalia would go into the game against Bangladesh as hot favourites, they certainly would not underestimate their opponents.

“We respect every opponent and Bangladesh is no different. We have chosen a full strength side from everyone who is available. We have done our homework, we know what to expect. “

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Tony Abbott to sack ministers for backgrounding? Not bloody likely!

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos. Photo: Cole BennettsSinodinos slams ‘political sabotage’
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The call from a respected senior Liberal, Arthur Sinodinos, ostensibly for Tony Abbott to sack cabinet ministers for backgrounding against Joe Hockey and Abbott himself, seems extraordinarily decisive, as far as it goes. But let’s be honest, it is not going anywhere.

Plainly, this a rhetorical rather than a literal call for the Prime Minister to use his most severe rebuke.

The call by press release is in fact a symptom masquerading as a remedy, and is itself, part of the gathering symphony of dysfunction now drowning out the government’s official message of “jobs, growth, and community safety”.

It barely requires stating. The very essence of backgrounding is that it is anonymous. It is both unnamed, and unprovable. A minister suspected of backgrounding would never admit to it, and a journalist/beneficiary of said leaks would never give up their source. The wiley Sinodinos knows this, and thus knows that no ministers could or will be sacked. Even more, the ex-chief of staff for John Howard knows that in the fractious condition the government and its leadership now find themselves, the percussive dismissal of a senior minister or ministers for alleged “disloyalty” would almost certainly prompt a crisis of its own resulting in internal collapse.

Frankly put, Sinodinos knows Abbott is in no position to sack anyone.

Which is not to say there isn’t some frustration evident in Sinodinos’s words, given his Liberal Party is fighting a do-or-die byelection in the WA seat of Canning.

Party loyalists are concerned that talk of losing, or, of the serious ramifications of a violent anti-government swing, increases the danger of self-fulifilling prophesies.

Yet politics being what it is, Canberra watchers are caught somewhere between bemused and befuddled by the Sinodinos snipe.

No blind adherent of the current leadership, nor particularly of Abbott’s uber-powerful chief of staff Peta Credlin, Sinodinos is widely thought to be a supporter of the popular alternative to Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull in turn would be the big winner of a change of leadership – a change that is more likely, not less, if Canning goes bad.

All of which has some conspiracy-minded theorists wondering what Sinodinos is doing. On the face of it, he is strafing leakers. Yet he knows they will not be identified and then ejected.

Which leaves us contemplating the sub-surface meanings. First, that any public attack on “backgrounding” inevitably draws attention to that backgrounding and thus kicks the story along for another day at least. Even assuming this was not his primary purpose, it is an outcome of which the experienced Sinodinos would have been well aware.

Second, that pro-Turnbull forces are worried that in a final desperate play, Credlin might advocate throwing Hockey overboard, to forestall her own removal, and they want to expose that option and thus kill it off.

Or third, that previous assumptions of allegiances within the NSW Liberal caucus, are out of date and that Turnbull may have lost supporters, such as Sinodinos himself, to the up-and-coming Scott Morrison.

Either way, it is a curious contribution.

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China stockmarket: why fears of a collapse are overblown

A total collapse of the Chinese property market is unlikely, says Gavekal’s China research director Andrew Baston.China’s allegedly imminent recession has become a popular topic recently after the plunges of its equity markets and the devaluation of the renminbi currency sent tremors through the international investor community, but a leading economic researcher says most of these fears are overblown.
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While there are many legitimate concerns about China’s inevitable slowdown, Gavekal’s China research director Andrew Baston says, fears China is teetering on the verge economic collapse are misguided.

“Such fears are exaggerated; China’s economy is not collapsing. But it is slowing,” Mr Baston said in a research note.

The note details how investors are rightfully concerned about the rising domestic debt, the government’s recent failures to steer the economy coupled with the slow down in investment as well as in heavy industry and commodity sectors, but ultimately concluded an economic collapse was unlikely.

With construction stagnating and investment at its weakest in 10 years, Mr Baston said Beijing deploying looser monetary policies would have limited impact so the slowdown was inevitable.

But this looser monetary policy will be hard to implement because the level of domestic debt is so high.

“With total debt at 250% of GDP, China today is far more leveraged than in 2009 when Beijing last launched a major monetary expansion. Today, such a debt-fueled stimulus program is out of the question, given the high starting point. As things stand, the combination of very high total debt plus deteriorating economic growth will push up the level of bad debt,” Mr Baston said.

However there were four commonly discussed issues where Mr Baston said fears of economic fragility are excessive. 1. Renminbi devaluation is not part of a currency war

The incident that caused the tides of concern to begin to rise was the devaluation of the renminbi in early August.

The renminbi fell 3 per cent after the People’s Bank of China lowered its trading midpoint and investors are concerned it could have another 5 per cent or so to fall.

This sparked concerns the PBoC was not just preparing for lower domestic growth but potentially positioning for a currency war that would slash billions from global budgets, particularly throughout Asia and commodity driven economies such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

However, Mr Baston said the fear the devaluation would launch a foreign debt crisis were overblown.

“China is well insulated from the sort of foreign currency debt crisis that has struck other emerging markets in recent decades,” Mr Baston said. 2. Market volatility won’t trigger a broader meltdown

The Shanghai stock market experienced significant plunges last week that brought the total value lost since the volatility began in June to almost 45 per cent.

While investors and economics remain riveted by the market’s tumultuous trading, Mr Baston said the sell-offs impact on the broader economy would be limited, as equities make up no more than 5 per cent of household wealth.

“Although a continued slump from current levels would generate plenty of hyperbolic headlines about a crashing China, even a further sell-off would have a limited spillover effect on the real economy,” Mr Baston said, adding the Chinese banking system had little exposure to the stock market volatility.

“So, although wealth management products linked to the stock market may sustain big losses, and while it is possible some brokers could fail, it is highly unlikely that a further slump in equities will trigger a systemic crisis.” 3. Deep collapse of property prices unlikely

While Chinese household equity exposure may be low, property investment is far more common and the local appetite for property has pushed prices to dizzying heights.

Mr Baston said the widely held view that the Chinese property market would collapse under the weight of an enormous speculative bubble fuelling high prices was out of step with the two key drivers of the housing price rise: expanding urban population and rising incomes, both of which are set to continue.

“That does not mean everything in the garden is rosey: these fundamentals indicate that housing demand is close to its peak, and that the sector has gone from being a growth driver to a drag on growth, a shift with huge knock-on effects for the rest of the economy,” Mr Baston said.

“But the maturation and decline of housing demand is a very different thing from the unwinding of a massive speculative bubble.”

In the last six months, the Chinese government have lowered interest rates and relaxing regulations that operated as restrictions to property purchasing to support continued buying and still has plenty of room for further cuts or policy changes. 4. Unemployment surge to be limited

A slowing economy is rarely good news for unemployment numbers and there are widespread concerns unemployment in China could trigger tranches of newly unemployed workers, which would cause a significant blow to already weak consumer demand.

But Mr Baston said the fact the major slowdowns had occurred in state-owned enterprises, such as heavy industrial and commodity management sectors, meant a record waves of redundancies were unlikely as these companies had far less flexibility to cut jobs.

“Even in the private sector, firms have balked at making mass lay-offs, with mining companies choosing instead to reduce working hours and award employees more holiday.”

Mr Baston said while work hours and wages had declined, unemployment would remain relatively stable.

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Mum’s invention -illuminating tongue depressor – finds funding

Jennifer Holland with her illuminating tongue depressor – or Throat Scope – for kids. Picture: Ryan OslandREDHEAD ‘‘mumtrepreneur’’ Jennifer Holland has wooed Brisbane multimillionaire Michael Dempsey to come on board as a major shareholder in her fledgling medical device business and is poised to reap a windfall from distribution deals.
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Ms Holland invented the Throat Scope – a transparent tongue depressant that illuminates inside the mouth and takes the heartache out of oral cavity examinations for kids, parents and doctors – after taking her youngest child to the GP in 2009.

‘‘My son had a sore throat and the doctor was trying to look in his mouth with a wooden tongue depressor and it was quite distressing having to help hold him down while they were looking,’’ she said.

After years of tinkering on a prototype, the mother-of-four pitched the Throat Scope on the Channel 10 entrepreneur program Shark Tank earlier this year.

She convinced tech start-up millionaire Steve Baxter to offer $76,000 for a 30 per cent stake in the company, plus 5 per cent of royalties of sales up to the investment amount.

Ms Holland confirmed she has successfully pitched her business to Mr Dempsey, who sold his electronic payments processing business Ezidebit to a US company for $305 million late last year.

‘‘He loves the device and the story and thinks we have a great team behind it, he was impressed and wanted to move forward and be a major shareholder,’’ said Ms Holland. ‘‘He will give us advice when he can, he’s a lovely guy.”

Until now working from home while nursing her youngest child, Ms Holland will soon move into a new office minutes from her home to give her the space she needs to develop her business, with her corporate team based in Brisbane.

She said an initial capital raising drive has secured $360,000 from private investors and last week she finalised a deal with Ebos Healthcare, one of the largest medical distributors in Australia and New Zealand.

The initial Ebos deal will see 200,000 Throat Scope blades distributed to GPs, hospitals and aged care facilities, as well as 2000 starter packs.

Ms Holland said this month her company will pitch to Walgreens, the largest pharmacy chain in the US, alongside the second biggest operator, CVS Group.

‘‘There are also lots of other discussions going on with distributors overseas but nothing I can confirm yet,’’ she said.

The Throat Scope is being manufactured by a Sydney supplier in China, from where the product will be shipped to Ms Holland’s office for national distribution, as well as Hong Kong for US shipping orders.

Ms Holland said the last few months had been ‘‘unreal’’ though she hadn’t had time to stop and think about the fine details.

“I haven’t had a moment to myself,” she said.

‘‘The deals take forever, you agree on something and then weeks later you confirm because the contracts are going back and forth, it does take a toll on you, you think ‘when will it end’.’’

Jennifer Holland with her illuminating tongue depressor – or Throat Scope – for kids. Picture: Ryan Osland

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Reporter’s stock market ‘confession’ a stark warning to Chinese media

Wang Xiaolu makes his confession on Chinese state TV. Photo: CCTV The state is struggling to contain public anger over the sharemarket collapse and the recent explosions at Tianjin, where these protesters took to the streets. Photo: Sanghee Liu
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Beijing: Televised “confessions” have increasingly become the preferred propaganda tool of Chinese state television, but this admission of guilt was particularly jarring.

In a six-minute news story aired on Monday morning, state broadcaster CCTV showed a visibly nervous and contrite Wang Xiaolu, a journalist with respected financial magazine Caijing, deliver a statement that underlined the yawning chasm between a free press and China’s expectations of its state-controlled media.

“I, through private inquiries, these sorts of abnormal channels, obtained news materials,” Wang said. “And then through adding my own subjective judgement, I wrote this news report. During a sensitive period, I should not have published a report which had such a huge negative impact on the sharemarket.”

It may sound like he was trying to do his job, but Wang’s crime, in the eyes of the Chinese state, was that he strayed from the party line.

At a time when China’s leaders were under huge public pressure to steady a teetering sharemarket, Wang published a cut-through piece on how Chinese regulators were contemplating pulling back on its emergency intervention measures.

Official news agency Xinhua said Wang had written about the Chinese stock market “based on hearsay and his own subjective guesses” that “inflicted huge losses on the country and investors”.

Wang was first taken in for questioning last week, and was officially detained on Sunday.

“I regret my actions, and I am willing to confess my criminal behaviour,” Wang said in the CCTV broadcast. “I hope the judiciary can give me a chance and provide me with lenient treatment.”

Four executives of CITIC Securities, China’s largest brokerage, and one employee of the securities regulator also confessed to crimes including insider trading and fraud.

China’s leaders face an uphill battle to rein in irate public sentiment over its accountability and handling of a $US5 trillion ($7 trillion) stock rout and the deadly Tianjin chemical warehouse blasts.

Both incidents prompted wide and often critical reportage from pockets of China’s more independent-minded commercial media outlets, who frequently navigate the grey area between serving their readers’ interests – and thereby staying relevant and commercially viable – while not straying beyond the government’s red lines.

But Chinese authorities are now sending a message. Law enforcement officials said on Sunday they have disciplined nearly 200 people for spreading “rumours” online in connection with recent “major news events”.

The government crackdown on politically sensitive discourse targeted people spreading false internet rumours regarding the stock-market turmoil and the Tianjin explosions, the Ministry of Public Security said.

The ministry said the accused had expressed remorse for their actions, in which they “misled society and the public, generated and spread fearful sentiment, and even used the opportunity to maliciously concoct rumours to attack [Communist] Party and national leaders.”

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The wingers

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David Campese. Photo: Getty Images

David Campese (Australia) One of the greatest attacking players the game has seen. Campese played at three World Cups, but 1991 was his crowning glory, where he was named player of the tournament after scoring six tries in as many matches. However, it was for a try assist during the semi-final against the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road that he is best remembered. Campese latched on to a grubber kick from Michael Lynagh before jinking, drawing two defenders and throwing a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to an unmarked Tim Horan, who crossed for the try. His involvement in the match-winning try by Lynagh against Ireland in the quarter-final and the only try in the final to Tony Daly have often been overlooked.

Bryan Habana. Photo: Peter Meecham

Bryan Habana (South Africa) The South African flyer with the broad shoulders, speed to burn and a swerve to die for could sniff out a try from anywhere. Every World Cup winner needs an expert finisher, and the Springbok was one of the best in 2007, where he racked up eight tries. Those performances ensured he was the first winger to be named IRB player of the year. He has scored 10 tries in 11 World Cup matches, the most by a South African. He will lace on the boots for another tilt at the William Webb Ellis trophy in 2015, in what could well be his international swansong.

John Kirwan. Photo: Alden Williams 

John Kirwan (New Zealand) Tall, fast and powerful. In the pre-Lomu era John Kirwan was considered by many to be the ultimate winger. He was also responsible for one of the most celebrated moments in World Cup history. In the first game of the first tournament in 1987 the All Blacks were hosting the Italians when Kirwan fetched a kick-off and ran 90 metres, leaving seven defenders sprawled on the turf to score one of the great individual tries in the game’s history.

Brian Lima. Photo: Craig Golding

Brian Lima (Samoa) A giant in a minnow team. Most wingers earn nicknames for their attacking prowess. However, such was Lima’s power in defence he became known as The Chiropractor. A versatile back-line player, Lima played in five World Cups and featured in his team’s two quarter-final appearances. His biggest hit was on Derick Hougaard in 2003, which left the Springboks five-eighth dazed for several minutes. But for all the talk of his hard-hitting defence, he could find the try line too, crossing 10 times in 18 World Cup matches.

Jonah Lomu. Photo: Reuters

Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) A monster of a man and a giant of the game. So awesome was Lomu’s power, he was able to transcend the game and became a well-known figure in non-rugby countries. It is somewhat unfortunate that his seemingly unstoppable runs, which yielded 16 tries at the 1995 and 1999 tournaments, did not translate into World Cup success. The iconic try in the 1995 semi-final against England, where he steamrolled fullback Mike Catt, forged the reputations of both players.

Jason Robinson. Photo: Getty Images

Jason Robinson (England) A rugby league convert who gave England an attacking edge out wide. Robinson was on the wing during England’s successful World Cup campaign in 2003, but was equally adept at fullback during the 2007 tournament. Robinson was a powerful runner whose deceptive footwork made him England’s most dangerous attacker. He is considered the benchmark in England when commentators talk of fullbacks and cross-code converts.

Joe Roff. Photo: Reuters

Joe Roff (Australia) A quiet achiever of three World Cup campaigns. Roff was an integral member of Rod Macqueen’s champion Wallabies team that won trophies for fun. He was an institution on the left wing. Fast, powerful and with a damaging fend, Roff was equally at home at fullback. His goal-kicking ability was often underestimated because it was so rarely called upon.

Rory Underwood. Photo: Reuters

Rory Underwood (England) Small, fast and consistent, Underwood’s try-scoring ability was matched only by his longevity. Underwood first appeared at the World Cup in 1987 in a poor England team, but came into his own in 1991, when he played outside the likes of Will Carling and Jeremy Guscott. He scored 11 times in 15 matches but his two tries in the semi-final of the 1995 tournament were overshadowed by the feats of Jonah Lomu.

Shane Williams. Photo: Craig Simcox

Shane Williams (Wales) The scrum-half who became a winger. A will-o’-the-wisp flyer, Williams’ reputation as a prolific try-scorer was forged under the tutelage of Steve Hansen when the current All Blacks coach held the reigns over Wales at the 2003 tournament. Williams was picked on the wing during a pool game against New Zealand in 2003 and his dazzling performance cemented his reputation. His most successful World Cup was in 2007, where he scored six tries.

Jeff Wilson. Photo: Getty Images

Jeff Wilson (New Zealand) Another winger-cum-fullback. Jeff Wilson was the ultimate professional on the wing. Mistakes were rare and try-scoring opportunities were rarely spurned. He scored nine tries in 11 World Cup games, but he unfortunately belongs to a generation of great New Zealand players who never won the William Webb Ellis Trophy. He also represented the Kiwis in one-day international and Twenty20 cricket.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The tight-head props

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Jean-Pierre Garuet. Photo: Getty Images

Jean-Pierre Garuet (France)

A giant of the scrum. Garuet made his name in an era where the scrum was not a blight on the game and props were not expected to be open-field maestros. Garuet was a pure scrum technician and he dominated his position in the mid-1980s culminating in a World Cup final appearance in 1987. He also had the dubious honour of being the first French player in history to be sent off when he was found guilty of eye-gouging an Irish opponent in 1984.

Richard Loe. Photo: Supplied

Richard Loe (New Zealand)

The All Black enforcer is known for many things; smashing Paul Carozza’s nose, eye-gouging and striking. It’s a (self-inflicted) shame, because he could play. Loe made his Test debut in the inaugural World Cup match in 1987 and played in three World Cups in total. His front-row partnership in the late 1980s with Sean Fitzpatrick and Steve McDowell is considered to be one of the greatest in All Blacks’ history.

Ewen McKenzie (Australia)

The former Wallabies coach was a formidable presence in Bob Dwyer’s successful team of the early 1990s. A rare product from the Melbourne system, McKenzie moved to Sydney and became one of the best No.3s of his time. He started in 50 of his 51 Test appearances for the Wallabies and featured in two World Cup campaigns. The try credited to Tony Daly in the final against England in 1991 from a rolling maul, could easily have been awarded to McKenzie. He went on to have a successful coaching career.

Patricio Noriega. Photo: Getty Images

Patricio Noriega (Argentina)

The Pumas prop played 24 times for Australia, to go with his 25 Tests for Argentina, and could have easily represented the Wallabies in the World Cup in 1999 until a shoulder injury ruled him out. Noriega was one of the best scrummagers of the 1990s and managed to play in the 1995 World Cup tournament for the Pumas. He served several seasons as the Wallabies’ scrum coach before leaving the post in 2012 to take up a job in Europe.

Phil Vickery. Photo: Reuters

Phil Vickery (England)

The Wasps prop was the dominant force in a dominant scrum for a decade. Vickery was promoted to the national side at the age of 21 and had a topsy turvy beginning with England scoring 60 points against Wales on his debut before conceding 76 points to Australia in his second match. He featured in three World Cups including the successful 2003 side before skippering England to the final four years later. His career came to an abrupt end in 2009 after the Springboks destroyed the British & Irish Lions’ scrum.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The number eights

Quick and powerful: Toutai Kefu.
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Zinzan Brooke. Photo: Craig Golding

Zinzan Brooke (New Zealand)

Amazingly agile, mobile and strong, Zinzan Brooke, now 50, played 58 Tests for the All Blacks and also led the Auckland Blues to their Super 12 titles in 1996 and 1997.

Brooke was blessed with remarkable running and skills akin to that of a back. He once kicked a drop goal from 47 metres in the 1995 World Cup, which was one of three drop goals he booted for the tournament. He also had an incredible read of the game.

Brooke retired from international rugby in1997, after which he played for Harlequins in England and later became their coach, while continuing to play amateur rugby.

Lawrence Dallaglio. Photo: Getty Images

Lawrence Dallaglio (England)

Laurence Dallaglio, 43, debuted for England in November, 1995 against the Springboks.

By 1997, Dallaglio was in the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa and became England captain over Martin Johnson who had led the Lions.

Dallaglio lost the captaincy to Johnson in 1999, but in 2001 toured with the Lions to Australia where a knee injury ended his trip.

He played in the 2003 World Cup for England who beat Australia in the final, and in the 2007 World Cup, making the semi-final and retired in 2008 with 88 Test caps, 85 for England and three with the Lions.

Toutai Kefu. Photo: Tim Clayton

Toutai Kefu (Australia)

Toutai Kefu, now 41, is arguably best known for his match-winning try at the end of Wallabies captain John Eales’ final game against the All Blacks in 2001.

But there was much more to Kefu, now 41, than a headlining try. Tongan-born, he was as quick and powerful as he was big.

He debuted for the Wallabies on August 23, 1997 off the bench against South Africa and went on to earn 60 caps.

He made the No.8 jersey his in 1998 when he started against England in the June domestic Test Australia won 76-0. Kefu was also a key member of the Wallabies squad winning the 1999 World Cup.

Sergio Parisse. Photo: Iain McGregor

Sergio Parisse (Italy)

Argentine-born Sergio Parisse, now 31, has great ball-handling skills that proved so valuable in the lineout and in running play.

He stood out in a team that was mediocre, but there was no doubting his pure class.

Parisse’s Test debut at age 18 was in June, 2002 when coach Italy John Kirwan picked him for Italy’s 64-10 loss to the All Blacks in Hamilton.

Parisse played in the 2003 World Cup where he scored his first Test try against Canada. His 50th Test was in 2008 in the Six Nations against England.

Parisse also played in the 2007 and 2011 Worlds Cups, captaining Italy in the latter.

Wayne Shelford. Photo: Russell Cheyne

Wayne Shelford (New Zealand)

After touring with the unauthorised Cavaliers squad to South Africa in 1986, Wayne “Buck” Shelford debuted for the All Blacks later that year against France in Toulouse.

Now aged 57, Shelford was a member of the All Blacks who won the inaugural 1987 World Cup, playing in five of their six games, including the final against France.

After that World Cup, Shelford became the All Blacks captain up until 1990. In that time, the All Blacks never lost a game, but they drew once to Australia in 1988.

He ended his Test career with 48 appearances for the All Blacks, of which 22 were in Tests.

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OPINION: City does not need high-rises

The East End, for which high-rise towers are being proposed. Picture: Peter StoopTHE boom in inner-city residential apartments currently occurring in Newcastle highlights that organic growth is working in our city. It also demonstrates that ‘‘development on steroids’’ based on high-rise tower developments in the city’s heritage Hunter Street Mall precinct is not required.
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How interesting, and potentially encouraging, therefore that the so-called Newcastle East End Project, a massive high-rise development planned by joint developers the GPT Group and the state government agency, UrbanGrowth NSW, is not included in the Revitalising Newcastle community engagement program being conducted by UrbanGrowth. Or is this the quiet before the storm?

The distinctive low-rise form of Newcastle’s old town centre is a critical part of the city’s character. Itis an invaluable historical and heritage asset for the state and Australia. The Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA) supports new development that appropriately respects this legacy, and that is why we oppose high-rise towers in that area. NICRA has not opposed other high-rise developments, such as the 18-storey apartment block being built on the old Jolly Roger site in King Street.

Clearly the inner city is not dead, as some developers and their advocacy bodies would have us believe. The area is home to many residents and more people are moving back into the city centre, where economic expansion is occurring. This aspect is positive, and should be acknowledged and nurtured by governments and planners.

What is appropriate development? NICRA supports development in the heritage Hunter Street Mall area of up to 24 metres (or approximately eight storeys), the height limit recommended in the original Local Environment Plan (LEP 2012) – prior to the 2014 amendments – for which there was broad community and business support.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes recently said he wanted “development outcomes that protect and enhance the heritage character of the city’s historic East End” and he was prepared to look at the matter “with fresh eyes” (Mr Stokes had a meeting with NICRA representatives on July 27, 2015).

That assurance gave NICRA cautious hope that earlier poor planning decisions would be re-examined and might be changed.

The changes to development controls to allow the unnecessary and highly inappropriate developments of the three high-rise towers of the East End Project, proposed by GPT/UrbanGrowth NSW, were approved on July 29, 2014 by former planning minister Pru Goward, who spot rezoned the Hunter Street Mall sites. That decision favoured the above two developers over established practice, community expectations, expert advice and sound planning principles, as well as all other property developers.

In early 2014 the Urban Design Consultative Group (UDCG), Newcastle City Council’s expert planning assessment panel, reported on this development proposal. The expert group unanimously concluded that the high-rise proposal was “highly intrusive and unacceptable”. The expert panel clearly stated their concern about the destruction of Newcastle’s heritage.

NICRA urges the Baird government and UrbanGrowth NSW to retract or ignore Minister Goward’s approval and reinstate the original planning controls signalled in the highly regarded and well-consulted Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2012. It is fundamental that developers, too, have faith in consistent planning regulations and processes.

NICRA was encouraged when Minister Stokes recognised the sound basis of Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy (NURS) 2012, with its emphasis on protecting the historic East End by maintaining lower building height limits (July 27, 2015). It suggested high-rise development in Newcastle’s West End, where a new city business hub is emerging.

The NURS 2012 planning controls would help protect noteworthy buildings from undergoing inappropriate alterations. Newcastle’s former post office, a magnificent sandstone landmark, isa case in point. Recently, the Hunter Property Council’s Andrew Fletcher endorsed construction of a 15-storey tower over the historic building. The post office needs restoration, not further vandalism.

UrbanGrowth must be up front with the public about whether or not it is still committed to the Newcastle East End Project and high-rise towers overshadowing the Mall and East End. NICRA supports good planning and genuine community consultations, but we are concerned that UrbanGrowth is putting up a false choice: trading off more green space and less development on the rail corridor for high-rise towers.

Newcastle doesn’t need high-rise development in the East End, hidden state government and UrbanGrowth agendas, or false choices that kill its unique vibe, which is fundamental to the current low-rise apartment boom.

Brian Ladd is spokesperson for Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA)

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The halfbacks

Great organiser: George Gregan. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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Nick Farr-Jones. Photo: Getty Images

Nick Farr-Jones (Australia). The calm and collected Farr-Jones earned the first of his 63 Wallaby caps on the 1984 tour of Europe but will always be remembered as one of the key men in Australia’s 1991 World Cup breakthrough. Always regarded as a thinking man’s playmaker, Farr-Jones marshalled a back line that included names such as Lynagh, Horan and Campese. An injury in the 1991 semi-final against Ireland looked as if it may have cruelled Wallaby chances but after a miracle escape, Farr-Jones would return to be an instrumental figure and hoist the William Webb Ellis Cup at Twickenham.

George Gregan. Photo: Tim Clayton

George Gregan (Australia). Tough, endlessly competitive and with vocal chords that seemed to be in perpetual motion, Gregan was one of the great halfbacks of his generation and an inspiration to the Wallabies in their 1999 World Cup victory. He played in 20 World Cup matches, starting in 18 of them and finishing with 16 wins and four defeats. Gregan may not have had the silky skills of some of his contemporaries but the Wallabies were rarely out of a contest with Gregan barking orders. He played well above his size in defence and finished his career with an extraordinary 139 caps.

Justin Marshall. Photo: Tim Clayton.

Justin Marshall (New Zealand). Marshall would never taste World Cup success but he would finish his career as the most-capped All Blacks halfback with 81 appearances for his nation. He appeared in 10 World Cup matches across 1999 and 2003. Marshall was a dynamic ball-running No.9, crossing for 24 tries in his career, by the far the most for any All Blacks halfback.

Agustin Pichot. Photo: Getty Images

Agustin Pichot (Argentina). The feisty halfback was one of the faces of Argentinian rugby throughout his 13-year career for Los Pumas, making his first World Cup appearance at just 19 when he was plucked from a club side in Buenos Aires while still an amateur. His 1999 side would reach the quarter-finals before losing to France, although there would be revenge on the horizon. After a disappointing 2003 World Cup, Pichot would lead Argentina to victory over host nation France in a memorable 2007 opener, before beating them again in the third-placed play-off.

Joost van der Westhuizen. Photo: Reuters

Joost van der Westhuizen (South Africa). The record-breaking Springbok strode his lanky frame into history as part of South Africa’s famous 1995 World Cup win. He would captain his side in the global tournament four years later before retiring in 2003 after his third World Cup, finishing with a then-benchmark 89 caps, as well as 38 tries. A fearless attitude in defence added to an elite overall package that is regarded as one of the best the game has seen. In a sad post-script to his career, van der Westhuizen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and has now been confined to a wheelchair.

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MTV Music Awards 2015: Kanye West steals the VMAs limelight from Miley Cyrus

Kanye West admitted to having smoked marijuana prior to the award ceremony, but was he serious about taking a tilt at the Presidency? Photo: MTV Taylor Swift presented Kanye West with the Video Vanguard award.
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MTV Music Awards 2015 as they happened Full list of winners and nomineesKanye West announces 2020 presidential candidacyBest and worst dressed at the MTV Music Awards 2015 

The hardest-twerking woman in showbusiness flirted with nudity, flagged her support for Donald Trump, flaunted her fluid sexuality, and flogged a brand new album in her final moments on stage, but host Miley Cyrus could do nothing to prevent being upstaged by Kanye West, who used MTV’s Video Music Awards show on Monday to announce he intends to run for President in 2020.

Both West, 38, and Cyrus, 22, have been significant players in recent years in an awards show that has somehow morphed from extended station promo to mainstream pop-cultural event.

West – whose messianic alter-ego is Yeezus – inadvertently aided that transformation when he stormed the stage in 2009 to interrupt Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for best female video, claiming the award should have gone to Beyonce instead.

In 2013, Cyrus became the focal point of much hand-wringing when the former Disney child star emerged from a giant teddy bear to dance suggestively with Robin Thicke, whose Blurred Lines was criticised in some quarters as a “rape” song.

Last year, when Cyrus won a VMA award for her Wrecking Ball clip, she sent a young homeless man to the stage to accept the award on her behalf.

This year, though, she was front and centre, wearing outlandish and ever-more-skimpy costumes until she finally appeared, apparently naked, behind a curtain backstage, asking “What’s up, my tits are out?”

She danced with drag queens, she appeared in comic sketches with Andy Samberg and Ike Barinholtz (poking fun at her famously lurid Instagram feed) and Snoop Dogg (playing with her fondness for marijuana).

She made jokes about her bisexuality, and she hosed down a spat with Nikki Minaj that might have turned ugly (though it might equally have been an entirely scripted moment).

And then came the key set-piece, when Taylor Swift presented the Video Vanguard award (a kind of lifetime achievement thing) to West.

The moment had been heavily promoted beforehand, and was seen as an opportunity to heal those old wounds.

For a moment, it looked like West – one of the least humble men in entertainment – was going to seize the chance to make things right. Instead, he stole the limelight once again by announcing he would run for President.

Having thanked Swift for being “so gracious”, West admitted he often thought about the day they first met, on the 2009 awards show.

“I think about it a bit when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me,” he said. “And I think if I had to do it all again what would I have done? … If I’d had a daughter at that time, would I have gone on stage and grabbed the mic off someone else’s?”Imma let you finish, but @taylorswift13 and @kanyewest had the best make up hug ever. #vmaspic.twitter上海夜网m/gXcLtZPm4Y— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) August 31, 2015

West then set off on a ramble, apparently heartfelt, that touched on “poor” decisions at the Grammys, his own inarticulacy, and the flawed nature of awards shows in general.

He painted himself as a martyr for the cause of artistic expression – “Sometimes I feel that … I died for artists to be able to have an opinion” – and admitted to wanting “people to like me more”.

He also admitted to having “rolled up a little something, to knock the edge off” before the show.

But having claimed “I’m not no politician, bro” early in his speech, West brought the house down by seemingly entering the run for the White House – albeit at the election after the next one.

Having addressed the apology issue again by saying “If my grandfather was here right now he would not let me back down”, West said he didn’t know what this speech might cost him.

“It don’t matter though ‘cos it ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas, people with ideas, people who believe in truth.

“And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for President.”

Was he serious, or was he just stoned? It’s impossible to know.

It may seem implausible that a rap star could sit in the Oval Office, or that he might use a music awards show to signal his intention to run. But in a country where Donald Trump can go from junk-bond salesman to TV celebrity to plausible contender for the Presidency, just about anything is possible.

Follow Karl Quinn on twitter: @karlkwin On Facebook: karlquinnjournalist

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Gay couples throw ring into the hat

Gay-themed ad campaign Photo: Beau DonellyA luxury jeweller is the latest company to throw its support behind marriage equality by becoming the first Australian business to use real gay couples in a mainstream advertising campaign.
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The Mondial Jewellery Group has taken out full-page advertisements in glossy magazines that hit shelves from Monday, featuring same-sex couples with the tagline “All Love Is Equal”.

The advertisements, in September’s issue of GQ and next month’s Harper’s Bazaar, promote the jeweller’s new wedding and commitment ring business, Eternal by Mondial.

In one of the ads, Australian Trevor Torrance and his English husband Stuart Baker appear with their three-year-old daughter. Newlyweds Allison Whitlock and Stacey Lee Raddatz, who live in Sydney and married in New York earlier this year, are featured in another.

Mondial joins a long list of Australian companies to publicly back same-sex marriage, with a recent newspaper advertisement listing dozens of corporations that have pledged support for law reform to allow gay unions.

The campaign comes after the Abbott government killed off the prospect of legalising gay marriage in this term and flagged that the question might be put to public vote after the next election.

Nadia Neuman, creative director of the Mondial Jewellery Group, said the timing of the campaign was not politically motivated, but that she hoped it would strike a chord with Australians.

Ms Neuman, who is engaged to her partner Lucy Taylor (the couple’s daughter, Lola, is featured with her biological father in one of the ads), said it would have been hypocritical not to use same-sex couples and to do the “same thing everybody else does by reinforcing the same idea and perception of reality”.

“I have an opportunity to represent something that has meaning to me and can affect the way other people look at the world,” she said.

“It’s my reality. I’m in a same-sex relationship, we have a daughter. It’s the reality of most of my friends, some of my family. I wanted to do something that represents other real, valid, important, necessary, genuine, loving relationships.”

Ms Neuman, who has designed and sold engagement rings and wedding bands for the past 20 years, said it was unjust that gay couples were unable to marry in Australia.

She urged the fashion industry to lead the way in promoting same-sex relationships in the media and said big businesses should embrace gay-themed marketing, as in the US. Recent campaigns by Tiffany & Co, Gap, Hallmark and pharmaceutical giant Tylenol have featured gay couples.

“We don’t see it nearly as often as we should,” Ms Neuman said. “The more we see it and the more we normalise it, that’s what will create a change in people’s attitudes towards same-sex couples.”

Mondial last year launched a unisex “equality ring” and donated all profits from sales in the first 12 months to lobby group Australian Marriage Equality.

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Southern Stars relishing tighter links with their Australian male counterparts

Cardiff: It was a simple gesture, but it was noted by the Southern Stars, the newly crowned women’s Ashes champions.
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Australia’s men’s team had just lost their World Twenty20 final to England in Barbados in 2010. Rather than immediately slink off to commiserate, then captain Michael Clarke led a contingent of players who remained to watch the Stars team play New Zealand in the women’s final. After the women successfully defended their meagre total of 8-106, Clarke and David Warner were among the men’s players to join the celebrations in the dressing rooms afterwards.

Similarly, when Australia’s Ashes squad bunkered in their hotel as rain delayed their tour match in Northampton new captain Steve Smith, Peter Siddle and Pat Cummins were among the players huddled around the TV watching their female counterparts in the concurrent Test in Canterbury.

Since the Stars’ World Twenty20 victory in 2010 the men’s and women’s teams have shared eight Twenty20 double-headers at home and – weather-permitting – are due to so again on Monday.

Alex Blackwell, who was the Stars’ acting captain in the Caribbean and played her record-breaking 200th match in the Test, said the links between their team and the men had strengthened.

“We’ve had some great support from the Australian men’s team. I know Steve and I have had chats over the years and we see each other in the gym at Cricket NSW and we talk a lot of cricket,” the vice-captain said.

“It’s great to know that the guys are following. I know that they’ve watched some of our matches, and for Dave Warner to also say that we’ve set a standard [because] we’ve won three T20 world cups in a row – and I know the guys are desperate to win one of those – that support is amazing for us.”

When Blackwell and Smith shared a media appearance to promote Monday’s Twenty20 double-header Smith made an unprompted tribute to the Stars for beating England away for the first time since 2001 – which, incidentally, is the last time the men triumphed in England.

“We all know how difficult it is to do that, so for them to be able to do that over here it’s an extraordinary achievement – and also to be No.1 in all three forms of the game. That’s what us as a men’s side are striving for and the girls have performed brilliantly over here. It’s really exciting going forward,” he said.

Blackwell said she hoped the Stars’ women’s Ashes victory would be a fillip for the launch of the Women’s Big Bash League this summer.

“We look up to the Australian men’s team . . . they’ve been playing some wonderful cricket. It hasn’t turned out the way they wanted for the Ashes but they’ve played great cricket throughout. [But] we don’t set about comparing ourselves to [the men’s team]. We want to learn how to win games of cricket and we’ve proven that we can win tough games when it counts. To defend 107 in a T20 the other night just shows that,” she said.

“What we’ve seen here in England over this Ashes series [is that] every match has been live on TV and we’ve had sellout crowds for standalone women’s games. I hope to see the women’s Big Bash generate a lot of interest, get the crowds in to watch us, [in] particular with the double-headers that will occur with some televised matches.”

While there was a huge gap in the level of local TV coverage of the women’s Ashes compared to back in Australia for this series – all seven matches were shown in England by Sky Sports, with only the final Twenty20 shown by Channel Nine, on GEM – Cricket Australia executive general manager of operations Mike McKenna said he was optimistic that gap would be narrowed in future.

“We’re encouraged by the fact they [TV broadcasters] are interested in doing it,” McKenna said. “I think the recent women’s [soccer] World Cup has awakened broadcasters that people do watch women’s sport as a spectacle – and I think our women deserve it.

“We’re paying for the women’s Big Bash League to be produced because we want to bring that sport to the audiences and we think over time they’ll grow to like it. If broadcasters at the moment can help us with that, which Channel Ten are doing with the WBBL and Channel Nine [with the Southern Stars], it really helps them, and helps us at the same time.”

Given Blackwell, who turns 32 on Monday, is comfortably the oldest player in the current Stars squad, she said she hoped there could be enough continuity within their squad for them to be able to “dominate world cricket . . . for many years to come”, next of all with a fourth consecutive World Twenty20 title in March next year.

Jesse Hogan is covering the women’s Ashes with the support of Cricket Australia.

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