Unanderra: train and car collide at level crossing

Full Socceroos coverage
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Sport in focus: August 31photos

Full Socceroos coverage
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Michelle Carter researched 'best way' for Conrad Roy to die: court

Full Socceroos coverage
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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The outside centres

Full Socceroos coverage
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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The five-eighths

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

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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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Unanderra: train and car collide at level crossing

Emergency services at the scene in Unanderra where a car and train have collided. Picture: ADAM McLEANTrain and car accident at Unanderra: photosA man and woman had a ‘‘miraculous’’ escape after their car collided with a train at a Unanderra level crossing on Monday morning.
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The car was travelling south when it collided with the northbound commuter train at the level crossing on the Princes Highway, 400 metres south of the Nolan Street intersection.

The accident happened shortly before 8am.

After the impact, the train dragged the car for at least 20 metres after the collision.

Duty commander Fire and Rescue Illawarra Inspector John Hawes described the pair’s escape as ‘‘miraculous’’ given the damage to the car.

‘‘The car was impacted with the front of the train to the windscreen,’’ Insp Hawes said.

‘‘The steering column was squashed into the drivers seat.’’

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But he said neither the male driver or female passenger were injured, aside from suffering some shock.

At this stage it is unclear whether the driver and passenger were inside the car at the time of the collision.

Insp Hawes said there were about 40 people on the commuter train, and they also escaped injury.

Sydney Trains organised buses so the passengers could continue their journey.

Insp Hawes said it took about an hour to remove the cars, which was a write-off, from under the train.

‘‘We were under the guidance of Sydney Trains because we didn’t want to incur further damage to the train if it could be avoided,’’ Insp Hawes said.

After some ‘‘cutting and pushing’’ they were able to use a tow-truck to pull the car free.

The train was moved to a rail siding at Unanderra where Sydney Trains staff could further assess the damage.

The accident caused chaos for road and rail commuters.

The train had stopped across the road, blocking all four lanes of the Princes Highway for almost two hours.

Police had set up diversions to move motorists around the accident site.

The South Coast line was partially closed in both directions between Unanderra and Dapto.

Southbound passengers travelling beyond Unanderra had to change at Wollongong for a bus service.

Four bus services operating in the area were also affected, with five bus stops being missed as the buses were diverted along Nolan Street and Orange Grove Avenue.

Illawarra Mercury

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Sport in focus: August 31photos

Sport in focus | photos BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Mohamed Farah of Great Britain celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold in the Men’s 5000 metres final during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Adam Sebastian Helcelet of the Czech Republic competes in the Men’s Decathlon Pole Vault during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 30: Tom Hickey of the Saints (c) compete for the ball against Sam Reid (L) and Adam Goodes of the Swans during the round 22 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium on August 30, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica (C) beats Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands (L) and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica to win gold in the Women’s 100 metres final during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 30: Agnatius Paasi of the Titans takes on the defence during the round 25 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium on August 30, 2015 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 30: Katharina Gallhuber of Austria competes in the Alpine Giant Slalom – FIS Australia New Zealand Cup during the Winter Games NZ at Coronet Peak on August 30, 2015 in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 27: Bobby Brown of the United States competes in the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Slopestyle Qualification during the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona Alpine Resort on August 27, 2015 in Wanaka, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Athletes compete in the Women’s 3000 metres steeplechase heats during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Yordani Garcia of Cuba falls next to Felipe Dos Santos of Brazil in the Men’s Decathlon 110 metres hurdles during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 30: A general view of play during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval on August 30, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 29: Michael Firrito of the Kangaroos is tackled by Jake Stringer of the Bulldogs during the 2015 AFL round 22 match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia on August 29, 2015. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 28: Cindy Roleder of Germany celebrates after winning silver in the Women’s 100 metres hurdles final during day seven of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images for IAAF)

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 29: Jack Martin of the Suns is tackled during the round 22 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Port Adelaide Power at Metricon Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 27: Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the finish line to win gold ahead of second place Justin Gatlin of the United States (R) and Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa (L) in the Men’s 200 metres final during day six of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 27, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Matej Toth of Slovakia celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold in the Men’s 50km Race Walk during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Raphael Marcel Holzdeppe of Germany celebrates after winning silver in the Men’s Pole Vault final during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 28: Joel Baden of Australia competes in the Men’s High Jump qualification during day seven of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 29: Valentine Holmes of the Sharks is tackled during the round 25 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks at Pirtek Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Ivan Gertlein of Russia competes in the Men’s Pole Vault final during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Michelle Carter researched ‘best way’ for Conrad Roy to die: court

Tragedy: Michelle Carter and her now deceased boyfriend Conrad Roy. Photo: FacebookRead the text messages between Carter and Roy
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A teenager on trial in the US for allegedly coaxing her boyfriend in a series of text messages to kill himself has been accused of helping him to research the “best way” to do so, according to court documents.

Michelle Carter, 18, is defending a charge of involuntary manslaughter following the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, also 18, who was found dead in his car in a parking lot in Massachusetts in July last year.

Prosecutors in the New Bedford Juvenile Court claim that Ms Carter, who was 17 at the time, discussed with Mr Roy the best method to make his death “painless and quick”.

Among the hundreds of text messages the pair allegedly shared, Ms Carter is accused of going so far as to provide “back-up plans” should his initial choice not work.

An indictment issued by a Bristol County grand jury alleges that, between July 6 and July 12, Ms Carter assisted Mr Roy to take his life via dozens of messages.

She allegedly counselled him to overcome his doubts about suicide, and allegedly texted him comments such as “tonight is the night” and “you just have to do it”, according to court documents.

In one text she allegedly said to Mr Roy: “You said you were gonna do it. I don’t get like why you aren’t.”

Mr Roy responded: “I don’t get it either. I don’t know.”

In court last week, Ms Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, attempted to get the charge against his client dropped, claiming the Mr Roy had “brainwashed” Ms Carter, the Boston Herald reported.

Mr Cataldo argued that Ms Carter at first tried to discourage Mr Roy from killing himself and even suggested he join her at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital where she had been receiving treatment.

Mr Roy had tried to get Ms Carter to take part in a Romeo and Juliet-style suicide the month before his death, Mr Cataldo said.

The lawyer said that Mr Roy told Ms Carter: “Let’s do a Romeo and Juliet. The two of us, together, kill ourselves.”

Mr Cataldo said that Ms Carter replied: “[Expletive] no. We are not dying.”

Eleven days before his death, Mr Roy again asked Ms Carter to kill herself with him, Mr Cataldo said, and she said no.

Eventually, Mr Cataldo said, “There’s a turn.

“He has, in fact, brainwashed her to the point where she’s now accepting his idea of, ‘This is my only option,’ ” Mr Cataldo said.

Ms Carter, who was on the phone to Mr Roy when he died, later told a friend she was talking to him while he killed himself and heard him cry in pain.

Prosecutors allege Ms Carter text messaged Mr Roy’s sister on the night of his death and acted as though she did not know what had happened.

“Do you know where your brother is?” she allegedly asked Mr Roy’s sister in a text.

A few days after Mr Roy’s death, Ms Carter told a friend via text message that she blamed herself.

“It’s my fault, I was talking to him while he killed himself. I heard him cry in pain. I should have known. I should have done something.”

The case continues.

Fairfax Media

❏ Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The outside centres

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Frank Bunce. Photo: Jack Atley

Frank Bunce (New Zealand). Bunce was the Cal Ripken jnr of rugby, a midfield ironman who missed just a single match for the All Blacks during his 59-Test career from 1991-1997. He started in every match he was selected for and was part of the All Blacks side that fell to South Africa in the 1995 World Cup decider. Bunce was a tough customer with the ball and added plenty of starch in defence.

Jeremy Guscott. Photo: Reuters

Jeremy Guscott (England). Guscott oozed class in the English No.13 jersey, featuring in three World Cups as part of his 73-Test career. He was a free-striding outside back who could slip through a gap with his deceptive pace. It resulted in 31 tries, the last of which was an intercept against Tonga in his final World Cup appearance in 1999.

Brian O’Driscoll. Photo: Lawrence Smith

Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland). The Irishman has left records in his wake during a brilliant international career that has only been surpassed – in caps at least – by the great Richie McCaw. O’Driscoll appeared 141 times in the emerald green and considered trying to reach a fifth World Cup before eventually retiring. A gifted all-round athlete, there was little O’Driscoll couldn’t do on a rugby field and although he would never savour World Cup success, ended his playing days regarded as one of the great outside centres.

Philippe Sella (left). Photo: Reuters

Philippe Sella (France). Australian rugby fans might best remember French great Sella from his crunching king-hit on Wallaby lock Peter FitzSimons in 1990. But that moment of brutality was a far cry from his dangerous stylings in the back line, where he combined pace and beautiful hands throughout his 111-match career. His presence would help the French to five Five Nations crowns but he missed out in all three World Cups, with the closest shave coming in the final in 1987.

Conrad Smith. Photo: John Selkirk

Conrad Smith (New Zealand). Smith has been a picture of consistency in a settled All Blacks back line, combining brilliantly with Ma’a Nonu and being one of his country’s strongest contributors in the 2011 World Cup victory. He’s never been blessed with the greatest speed or silken skills, but has a natural grasp of the game and times his involvement to perfection. The 33-year-old won’t win games by being flashy but we doubt any of the current All Blacks would consider trading in one of their most dependable campaigners.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The five-eighths

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Dan Carter. Photo: Getty Images

Dan Carter (New Zealand). Carter is a true golden boy of New Zealand rugby, with his boyish good looks well and truly matched by a game that many regard as peerless in terms of No.10s. He is the leading point-scorer in international rugby, with his radar boot the perfect complement for an all-rround game that has stood the test of time. A groin injury before the final pool game against Canada meant Carter missed the long-awaited 2011 World Cup victory. Few would be more deserved in the 2015 edition.

Grant Fox. Photo: Getty Images

Grant Fox (New Zealand). One try in 46 Tests for the All Blacks suggests that Fox wasn’t much of a threat with ball-in-hand. Put it on a mound of sand and it was a different story. Fox remains one of the greatest goal kickers the game has seen, with his deadly boot integral as New Zealand won the first World Cup in 1987. He finished his career with 645 points and was also regarded as an adept tactician and playmaker.

Stephen Larkham. Photo: Steve Christo

Stephen Larkham (Australia). The lanky five-eighth was a mainstay of the Wallabies throughout the late 90s and 2000s, an era that reaped plenty of rewards including the 1999 World Cup. His drop-goal in the semi-final that year against the Springboks has now become legend. It was his first in international rugby and he only booted two in a superb 102-Test career. Larkham’s former life as a fullback meant he could slice through gaps, while his ability to hit his outside men was pivotal to unleashing the Wallaby backline.

Michael Lynagh. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Lynagh (Australia). The former Wallaby captain combined his ability to conduct a backline with pin-point accuracy from the boot. Lynagh was capped 72 times for Australia in an 11-year career that would end in 1995 with 911 points on the board. The man known as ‘Noddy’ would reach the pinnacle in 1991 when he was vice-captain of the Wallaby side that won the World Cup.

Jonny Wilkinson. Photo: AP

Jonny Wilkinson (England). Very few players occupy the same World Cup rare air as England’s heroic match-winner. In 2003, he would fire the ultimate shot at arch-enemy Australia when he slotted a drop goal to win the final, elating one country while deflating another. He was a voracious point-scorer (1179) across his 91 caps for England although his latter career was curtailed through injury. He played on until the end of 2011, starting four of the five World Cup games before retiring at the end of the year. His kicking stance, hands clasped together, knees bent, became an iconic image for English rugby.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The fullbacks

Safe pair of hands: Matthew Burke. Photo: Allsport Can you match the experts?
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Matthew Burke. Photo: Tim Clayton

Matthew Burke (Australia) A versatile back and an accomplished outside centre in his youth, Burke made the fullback position his own at the 1999 World Cup where he scored 101 points. Safe under the high ball, a good defender and powerful runner, Burke was also an accomplished goalkicker and this ability was crucial in the Wallabies’ second World Cup triumph. While Stephen Larkham’s drop goal in extra time in the semi-final against the Springboks is oft remembered, Burke’s eight penalty goals from as many attempts proved far more valuable.

Gavin Hastings. Photo: Getty Images

Gavin Hastings (Scotland) Arguably Scotland’s greatest ever player. It is no coincidence the men in dark blue’s greatest moments at the World Cup occurred when Hastings was at the back. Hastings was in the thick of it when the Scots tied with France in the first World Cup in Christchurch in 1987; his prodigious boot and prolific scoring led Scotland to a semi-final appearance in 1991, while his 44 points against Cote d’Ivoire in 1995 was a World Cup record. He could read the game in attack and defence and could time his run into a hole perfectly. He was among the top three scorers in each of the three World Cups he featured in.

John Gallagher (right). Photo: AP

John Gallagher (New Zealand) At the inaugural World Cup in 1987, the All Blacks were barely challenged as they steamrolled their way to their first title. Gallagher made his debut in the opening game against Italy and became a key player in one of New Zealand’s greatest teams. A running fullback, Gallagher could chime into the backline and wreak havoc at will such as when he scored four tries in a pool game against Fiji. His speed and sense of timing made him a dangerous player and the All Blacks were undefeated in all 18 Tests he played. Gallagher switched to rugby league club Leeds shortly after being named IRB player of the year in 1990.

Serge Blanco. Photo: Quentin Jones

Serge Blanco (France) France’s greatest fullback. In an age of attacking mavericks, Blanco was the magician. He was not a renowned defender or kicker but his unpredictability in attack brought fear to the opposition. One of the iconic images of the 1987 World Cup was during the semi-final against Australia, when a tired Blanco was slumped in the corner of Concord Oval, overcome by emotion, after he beat a horde of Wallabies defenders to the left corner to score the winning try in the dying seconds. He went on to captain France at the 1991 World Cup where he played the last of his 93 internationals against England in the quarter-finals.

Percy Montgomery. Photo: Getty Images

Percy Montgomery (South Africa) An oft-maligned player early in his career, Montgomery’s performances at the 2007 World Cup, where he was the tournament’s leading scorer, added class to longevity on his resume. He was the first Springbok to reach 100 caps and although he was a handy goalkicker, it was his flamboyant running that provided flair to a team that was more renowned for its toughness and pragmatism. Montgomery played in the 1999 World Cup, but missed the 2003 tournament because he did not meet the Springboks’ eligibility criteria.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The inside centres

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Felipe Contepomi. Photo: Richard Cosgrove

Felipe Contepomi (Argentina). After representing his country at under-19 and under-21 level, as well as sevens, it was obvious Contepomi was always destined for the top tier of the international game. A classy playmaker as well as goalkicker, he began his career at No.10 before finding a home at inside centre. He would feature for Los Pumas in four World Cups, captaining them in his final tournament in 2011. By the end, he would amass 651 points through 87 caps and was one of the men that put modern Argentine rugby on the map.

Jean De Villiers. Photo: Reuters

Jean de Villiers (South Africa). The imposing centre, now 34, will captain the Springboks in what will be the last of his three World Cups. Injury has slowed him in recent years but he has been a dominant force in the South African back line since he first appeared in 2002. Some 107 Tests later, de Villiers has a World Cup victory (2007) to his credit, while his direct and confrontational running has seen him rumble over for 27 tries. If he stays healthy, expect him to be a handful once again.

Tim Horan. Photo: Colorsport

Tim Horan (Australia). Horan regularly gave away size to his opposite number but could find space on a football field like few others. His wins in the 1991 and 1999 World Cup put him in elite company and he became known as one of the true greats of centre play throughout his 80 Tests for the Wallabies, in which he started on each and every occasion. His centre pairing with Jason Little was brilliant and Horan would be named the player of the tournament in the 1999 World Cup.

Ma’a Nonu. Photo: John Selkirk

Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand). Think Nonu, think brute power. The huge All Blacks battering ram with the fearsome dreadlocks only knows one way to the tryline. Stopping him is another issue entirely. His crash-ball running off the hip of Dan Carter can ring the bell of any defensive line. He’d crossed 29 times in 97 Tests by the start of the World Cup and has hit form just at the right time. His World Cup record? Nine matches for nine victories.

Jamie Roberts. Photo: Andrew Gorrie

Jamie Roberts (Wales). At 193cm and 110kg, Roberts might just be the most imposing centre in world rugby on his day. Since making his debut in 2008, he’s had a virtual mortgage on the Welsh No.12 jersey, capping it with a storming performance in the 2011 World Cup as Wales finished fourth. He scored a try in the series-winning game of the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia and is a clear match winner on his day.

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Border Farce: eight ways the government and bureaucratic spin is riddled with holes

Protest against the Australian Border Force in Melbourne last week. Photo: Joe ArmaoThe Immigration and Border Protection portfolio hinges on secrecy and a tightly curbed flow of information, which makes the statements of public officials critically important.
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Australian Border Force’s blighted involvement in a Melbourne police operation last Friday was triggered by what Prime Minister Tony Abbott called a “badly worded” press release.

But the confusion, abstraction and contradiction proffered by official sources did not stop there, leaving many unanswered questions and creating doubt about who, and what, the public should believe. Below are some examples.

Amid the bungling, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton did not make a single public appearance. On Monday morning he explained his absence to 2GB host Ray Hadley, saying he was sick and “didn’t get out of bed yesterday”.

1) What was the Australian Border Force even planning to do in Melbourne?

The controversy began with a now-infamous press release issued at 9.16am on Friday, in which Don Smith, ABF Regional Commander for Victoria and Tasmania, warned “ABF officers will be speaking with any individual we cross paths with” during a crackdown on visa fraud.

At 1.46pm, following public outrage and protests, the ABF clarified it “does not and will not stop people at random in the streets”.

2) Was media misreporting to blame for the controversy?

Scrambling to hose down the story on Friday, the Australian Border Force issued a statement saying it “will not be ‘stopping people at random’ in Melbourne to ‘check people’s papers’ as reported in media”.

This statement implied the media had misreported the stated intent of the operation.

ABF Commissioner Roman Quaedvleig later conceded the press release “incorrectly construed what our role was … it should have been better explained, it was clumsy.”

3) Was the press release cleared by those in the Border Force’s upper ranks?

Mr Quaedvleig said the press release was “released at the lower levels of the organisation”, indicating that he and other senior officials were not to blame for the farce.

But he confirmed Mr Smith signed off on the quotes attributed to him. Mr Smith is the head of the Border Force in Victoria and Tasmania – surely not someone considered to be at the “lower levels of the organisation”.

The Guardian Australia has reported that the border force assistant secretary for communications and media, Mark Jeffries, also cleared the statement.

4) Was Mr Dutton involved in issuing the press release and did he have prior knowledge of the Melbourne operation?

Mr Quaedvleig said Mr Dutton’s office was “not involved” in issuing the press release, which was “circulated at a regional level in the state of Victoria”.

On Friday Fairfax Media asked Mr Dutton’s office if he knew in advance of the operation. The reply? “Ministers don’t direct operational matters”.

On Saturday Mr Abbott sought to distance the government from the press release, saying it went out “at arm’s length from the executive government”.

“All sorts of press releases go out all the time – but they go out under the authority of the relevant officials, they go out under the authority of the relevant agencies and that all happens at arm’s length from ministers,” he said.

But later that day it emerged the press release was sent to Mr Dutton’s office on Wednesday as an attachment to a briefing note about the operation. It was not opened because it appeared “routine”

The Guardian Australia has reported that a shorter briefing note, with the press release attached, was also sent to Mr Dutton’s office on Thursday morning.

5) How extensive was the operation meant to be?

In its original press release, the ABF said the operation would focus on “people travelling to, from and around the CBD” and officers would be “positioned at various locations”.

In its clarification, the ABF played down the extent of its involvement, saying while the operation would occur at numerous locations, its officers would be stationed “at only two” of them

6) Was the operation a genuine “first”?

The ABF initially trumpeted the operation as a grand premiere in which “officers will for the first time join forces with a diverse team of transport and enforcement agencies”.

On Saturday, Mr Abbott conceded “there was no additional involvement of Australian Border Force in this than is customary in any number of other routine operations” – which begs the question as to why a press release was even issued.

The department also conceded “joint operations of this type are common and were previously conducted by departmental immigration officers”.

However the department is yet to answer questions from Fairfax Media about where operations of this type were previously conducted, and if they are planned in future.

7) Has this type of Border Force operation happened in Sydney?

Asked about the Melbourne operation on Friday, NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said “the Border Force already engages in NSW”.

“Not just on that issue [visa fraud]. They also go into work places, they also target prostitution et cetera. So they do a range of stuff. So it’s just Victoria catching up.”

After the operation was cancelled, Mr Grant’s office clarified that he was referring only to joint raids of premises such as brothels that have been carried out by NSW Police and immigration officials for many years.

8) Did Labor support the Border Force’s powers being used in the way planned for Melbourne?

Asked about the operation on Friday morning, Labor leader Bill Shorten did not immediately condemn it.

“Labor obviously believes in targeting crime,” he said.

“I do hope that any of these actions are done to try and protect Australian laws, to make sure that people are not overstaying their visas, to make sure that temporary guest workers are not being exploited.”

On Saturday, following the dramatic fallout, Mr Shorten described the operation as “one of the most catastrophically silly ideas I’ve seen this government do”.

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‘Little boy ran out in front, and bang’, inquest into Ryan Leo’s death told

There were photos of Ryan Leo as a baby in a Santa Claus suit, as a toddler at the beach, and as a young boy laughing on his father’s shoulders.
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But the picture that marked Ryan’s seventh birthday was a photograph of a small grave, covered in cards and flowers.

Ryan died in St George Hospital on July 28, 2014, after he was hit by a car on Durham Street, Hurstville, on his way to a taekwondo class.

An inquest to examine the circumstances of the Oatley Public School first grade student’s death opened on Monday morning with a slide show of photographs chronicling Ryan’s short life.

His family, court staff, members of the public and Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott quietly wiped away tears as the video, prepared by Ryan’s father Ben Leo, was played in Glebe Coroner’s Court.

“He was obviously a very loving son, but also extremely loved,” Ms Truscott said.

In his opening address, advocate assisting the coroner Durand Welsh said Ryan arrived for his taekwondo class with his nanny, Saiyun Shan, about 4.40pm that day.

Ms Shan parked and Ryan got out of the car, ran around the front, and on to the street, where he was hit by an oncoming car.

The cause of his death was a massive head injury.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Senior Constable Robert Street, said there was no evidence the driver, Xue Ying Lin was distracted at the time of the crash nor that she was driving dangerously.

Constable Street said he saw Ms Lin on the kerb soon after he arrived at Durham Street that afternoon, and he sat down with her.

“I observed her to be shaking uncontrollably and she was crying hysterically,” Constable Street said, reading from his statement.

“I said, ‘Are you able to tell me what happened?’ She said, ‘Little boy ran out in front, and bang.’

“[She said], ‘Is the boy OK? If the boy is not OK my life is over.’ “

A witness to the crash, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court that, as he saw the boy get out of a black car, he got the impression a woman in one of the front seats said something like “don’t run”.

He said he saw the boy run past the front bumper bar and out on to the road, where he was hit.

The young man told police he “thought [the car that struck Ryan] could have been driving a little fast, but I really don’t know”.

The inquest will examine road safety issues, how Ryan got out of the car and went to the street, and whether his nanny was experienced and supervising him appropriately.

The inquest, which is set down for three days, continues.

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Wes Craven, director of Nightmare on Elm Street, dead at 76

Director Wes Craven accepts the Visionary Award at the Scream Awards on Saturday Oct. 18, 2008 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzell0) Photo: Chris PizzelloHorror movie icon Wes Craven has lost his battle with brain cancer, aged 76.
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The writer, director and producer is best known for the Nightmare On Elm Street films which were credited with re-invigorating the teen horror market in the 1980s, passed away on Sunday.

After the phenomenal success of the first Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, which introduced the iconic character of Freddie Krueger (played by Robert Englund,)  Craven went on to create four sequels, a video game, two spin-off Nightmare television series – 1988’s Freddy’s Nightmares and Nightmare Cafe in 1992) and even a horror crossover with Freddy V Jason, pitting Kruger against another horror film icon, Jason Vorhees, from the Friday The 13th franchise.

Craven also created the Scream franchise in the 1990s, mashing up black humour and horror, and referencing and satirising horror film tropes, including his own.

Craven’s earlier films though, were more straight-up horror, often combining deformed or monster-like (but human) bad guys and social and political issues. He was also been credited with featuring strong female characters in his films.

Born in Ohio, Craven was a teacher before turning his hand to low-budget filmmaking.

His first film was 1972’s Last House On The Left, a controversial ‘rape-revenge’ story, which, while outraging many, was a success – unlike some of his other slashers like The Evolution of Snuff and Swamp Thing.

His 1979 exploitation slasher The Hills Have Eyes (remade in 2006), about a suburban family whose road trip goes horribly wrong when they find themselves stranded in the desert, was an instant cult classic.

Among his other titles are the decidedly weird zombie flick Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), The People Under The Stairs (1991) and a raft of made-for-television films.

Although Craven enjoyed mainstream fame with much of his output, his awards have always come from festivals dedicated to his genre – most recently, in 2008 when he was awarded the Visionary Award at the Scream Awards.

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