The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The loosehead props

 
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Os du Randt. Photo: ALLSPORT

Os du Randt (South Africa)

The man known as the Ox is the only non-Australian to win the World Cup twice. He is widely considered to be the greatest loosehead prop of all time with his scrummaging ability, athleticism and effectiveness in open play. Both World Cup victories were at the extremes of his career. Du Randt was 22 when the Springboks stunned the All Blacks in the 1995 final but the 2007 win was an even greater achievement. Forced to retire in 2000 after a serious injury, du Randt eventually recovered and decided to return to rugby three years later. Despite doubts about his durability he was an integral cog in the 2007 victory including a man-of-the-match performance in the semi-final against Argentina, the best scrummaging team at the World Cup.

Jason Leonard. Photo: AP

Jason Leonard (England)

Another early starter. Leonard was 21 when he debuted in 1990, the first of what would become a record 119 caps for both England and the British & Irish Lions. He is still the most capped player in World Cup history with 22 appearances in four tournaments. He was both durable – he once played 40 consecutive Tests in the 1990s – and versatile as proven by his switch from loosehead to tighthead prop later in his career. He was a member of the team that lost the World Cup final to Australia in 1991 but gained revenge against the same opponents 12 years later in the final in Sydney.

Rodrigo Roncero. Photo: Iain McGregor

Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina)

Another member of the Pumas’ fantastic front-row from the 2007 World Cup. Such was his power at the set piece, Roncero was widely considered to be the best prop of the tournament. The doctor from Buenos Aires made his Test debut in 1998 but did not make his first World Cup appearance until 2003. His international rugby ended after the Pumas made their first foray in the Rugby Championship in 2012.

Steve McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

Steve McDowell (New Zealand)

A tough-as-teak prop who also possessed silky ball skills. McDowell was a member of the all-conquering All Blacks team of the late 1980s and formed a formidable front-row partnership with Richard Loe and Sean Fitzpatrick. He made his debut in 1985 and represented New Zealand 46 times before being shown the door in 1992 after a player purge. He was a member of the New Zealand team that won the World Cup final in 1987 against France and lost the semi-final to Australia in 1991.

Tony Woodcock. Photo: Getty Images

Tony Woodcock (New Zealand)

Another member of the great All Blacks side that has denied the Wallabies Bledisloe Cup success since 2002. The 34-year-old has represented New Zealand 115 times and for much of his career he has been considered the best loosehead prop in the world. He was a member of the New Zealand team that suffered a shock loss in the 2007 World Cup quarter-final against France but bounced back to score the All Blacks’ only try in the 2011 final against the same opponents. He played in all five matches for New Zealand this season and is set to play in his third World Cup.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The hookers

All Blacks legend: Sean Fitzpatrick Photo: Craig Golding
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Sean Fitzpatrick. Photo: Getty Images

Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand) One of the craftiest hookers to walk the playing field. Fitzpatrick was thrust into the limelight on the eve of the 1987 World Cup when injury ruled out first-choice All Blacks rake and skipper Andy Dalton. Such was Fitzpatrick’s impact he kept Dalton out of the team even when the skipper was declared fit again. He played in three World Cups, skippering the powerful All Blacks side that dominated all comers at the 1995 World Cup until they ran into South Africa in the final. His duels with Wallabies hooker Phil Kearns were legendary.

Phil Kearns (R). Photo: Reuters

Phil Kearns (Australia) The only hooker to win two World Cups. Phil Kearns was plucked out of Randwick reserve grade – where he was the deputy to Eddie Jones – in 1989 to face the All Blacks, ousting long-serving rake Tom Lawton. The selection was a masterstroke as Kearns quickly grew on the international stage forming a formidable front-row unit with Ewen McKenzie and Tony Daly that anchored Australia’s 1991 World Cup win. Kearns featured in the 1995 tournament and although he was in the twilight of his career in 1999, he still played twice in the Wallabies’ successful campaign.

Mario Ledesma. Photo: Simon Alekna

Mario Ledesma (Argentina) The Pumas have always been renowned for their scrummaging and to be Argentina’s most capped hooker says something for Ledesma’s ability. A renowned, consistent performer at the highest level with a prodigious work ethic, Ledesma was the Pumas’ first-choice rake at the past four World Cups. The highlight was his leadership of the Argentina pack at the 2007 World Cup that drove the team to its only semi-final appearance. Ledesma is the scrum coach for the Wallabies at this year’s tournament.

John Smit. Photo: AP

John Smit (South Africa) A leader of men. Much like Graeme Smith in cricket, Smit was appointed South African captain at a young age and held the job for many years. There is a symmetry to the numbers, he represented the Springboks 111 times over 11 years, including a record run of 46 Tests between 2004 and 2007 that was a testament to his durability. He led the Springboks to success at the 2007 World Cup and held the job in 2011 despite the pressure from renowned rake Bismarck du Plessis whose form at times forced Smit to play tighthead prop.

Keven Mealamu. Photo: Steve Christo

Keven Mealamu (New Zealand) For 13 years and 126 matches, Mealamu has lined up in the front-row for the All Blacks. The 2015 tournament is set to be his fourth World Cup appearance that has encompassed 18 matches and only one loss – against Australia in the semi-final in 2003. Mealamu was the starting hooker for the All Blacks when they broke their World Cup drought in 2011. His first Bledisloe Cup series was in 2003 when the All Blacks reclaimed the trophy from the Wallabies and he has featured in all 12 successful cup defences since. He announced his impending international retirement in August.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The second-rowers

Can you match the experts?
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Paul Ackford. Photo: Getty Images

Paul Ackford (England)

A former Metropolitan Police inspector born in Hanover in West Germany, Paul Ackford, now 57, first left his mark as an international player on November 5, 1988 when at age 30, the Harlequins player made his Test debut against the Wallabies.

Ackford played in all three Tests of the 1989 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia that the Lions won. He played for England in the 1991 Five Nations grand slam winning side and retired after that year’s World Cup with 25 caps for England.

He then became, and still is, a rugby columnist for The Sunday Telegraph newspaper in London.

Mark Andrews. Photo: Reuters

Mark Andrews (South Africa)

Mark Andrews made his debut for South Africa not as a Springbok, but as a water polo player selected to represent his country while still a schoolboy. From Elliot in the Eastern Cape, Andrews still excelled at rugby union early and played in Natal’s Currie Cup-winning side in 1995 and 1996.

After his Springbok debut against England in Cape Town in 1994, Andrews, now 43, played 77 Tests and 13 midweek games and scored 12 tries for the Springboks for a total of 60 points. He also played in the 1995 World Cup-winning Springboks side.

John Eales. Photo: Getty Images

John Eales (Australia)

John Eales was blessed with superb skills; so much so, he was nicknamed “Nobody” due to the Australian’s response when asked about his ability that “Nobody’s perfect”. He not only excelled as a second-rower, but as a leader. Eales also captained the Wallabies to their 1999 World Cup win after playing for Australia in their 1991 World Cup win.

Remarkably, he also scored 173 points for Australia, but mainly through kicks – 99 of his points were through penalties and 69 from conversions. He scored only two tries. Now 45, he retired in 2001 with 86 Test caps, and captained Australia for 56 of them.

Martin Johnson. Photo: Getty Images

Martin Johnson (England)

An icon of English sport, let alone rugby, Martin Johnson led England brilliantly to their 2003 World Cup triumph when they beat Australia in the final in Sydney. A no-nonsense leader, Johnson, now 45, was physically imposing and led England to five Six Nations titles – including two grand slams.

Johnson also helped Leicester Tigers to five premiership titles and two Heineken Cups, and captained the British and Irish and Lions for two of his three tours. He retired from Test rugby after the 2003 World Cup with 92 caps – 84 for England and eight with the Lions.

Ian Jones (R). Photo: Reuters

Ian Jones (New Zealand)

In a career that included 79 Tests for the All Blacks, Ian Jones was half of what many rated as the most impressive of second rows with Robin Brooke from 1992 to 1998. Jones may have lacked the size of his peers, but he made up for that with sheer skill.

From Whangarei, Jones, now 48, debuted for the All Blacks at age 23 in 1990 against Scotland in Dunedin, scoring a try as he did in 1996 in his 50th Test versus Scotland. A lineout expert, Jones was one of the first to play 100 games for the All Blacks – he retired with 105 games, including 79 Tests in which nine of his 14 tries were scored.

Victor Matfield. Photo: Fiona Goodall

Victor Matfield (South Africa)

A rugby icon in South Africa, Victor Matfield, now 38, was known for his aerial skills in the lineout – in winning his side’s own ball and disrupting the opposition’s. It was a crucial element that helped the Springboks to win the 2007 World Cup in France in a player-of-the-tournament performance.

However, Matfield’s athleticism – he competed in javelin at school – was evident in all aspects of his game, from set piece to general play. The ex-Springbok captain retired after the 2011 World Cup. But after two years he returned to play for the Bulls in 2014 and Springboks with whom he has earned 122 caps.

Paul O’Connell. Photo: Lawrence Smith

Paul O’Connell (Ireland)

One of rugby’s most credentialled leaders, Paul O’Connell has captained Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. The Limerick-born second-rower who is now 35 was initially a swimmer and excelled in the sport.

But once he started rugby at 16 he found himself on an upward trajectory through school and under-age categories. With 109 Test caps of which 102 are for Ireland and seven for the Lions, O’Connell will play for the French Top 14 side Toulon after the World Cup in which he will lead Ireland in a possibly fabulous swansong.

Olivier Roumat (L). Photo: Reuters

Olivier Roumat (France)

Versatility was a key to the career of Frenchman Olivier Roumat’s rugby DNA, with him having played at No.8, No.7 and as a second-rower; and not just in France.

Roumat, now 49 and who earned 61 Test caps for France from 1989 to 1996, won two French titles – with Stade Francais in 1997-98 and Biarritz Olympique in 2001-02, and played in South Africa for the Natal Sharks in 1995, winning the Currie Cup. In the World Cup, Roumat played five games in both the 1991 and 1995 tournaments. Roumat also played in six Five Nations tournaments for France, winning in 1993.

Brad Thorn. Photo: Getty Images

Brad Thorn (New Zealand)

The 59-capped All Black was the first player to win a World Cup, Super Rugby and Heineken Cup title. In rugby league, Thorn, now 40, played for the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland in State of Origin.

In union, the Canterbury Crusaders second-rower played in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups – winning the latter, held in New Zealand. Thorn was also known as one of the most physically intimidating and hard-working players.

Gary Whetton. Photo: Getty Images

Gary Whetton (New Zealand)

Capped 58 times for New Zealand from 1981 to 1991, Auckland stalwart Gary Whetton, who also captained the All Blacks on 15 occasions, made his Test debut at Eden Park against South Africa. That debut was in the deciding of three Tests in which flour bombs were dropped from a plane in protest to South Africa’s apartheid policy. Whetton went on the unofficial 1986 New Zealand Cavaliers tour to South Africa for which he was banned for two games. Now 55, he played in the inaugural World Cup in 1987 that the All Blacks won.

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TOPICS: Ice hockey champions flyhigh with silverware

The Goodall Cup in the best seat on the flight back from Melbourne after Newcastle’s North Stars’ ice hockey triumph. AMAZING, the doors that open when you’re Newcastle’s latest sporting champions (did we just type that?), the North Stars.
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The new champs beat Melbourne in the Australian Ice Hockey League final on Sunday and, amid a likely rush on hockey sticks at Rebel, are soaking up the fame.

They even smuggled their silverware – the impressive Goodall Cup – into the cockpit (pictured) of their flight out of Tullamarine. The pilots asked for a photo, we’re told.

The trophy is one of the oldest in Australian sport, first awarded in 1909, but don’t worry about its post-Mad Monday state. The original is on display in a museum in Toronto, Canada (not Tronna), while the players make do with a replica

Our favourite maggie. Picture by Darren Pateman

SOME things define spring (which starts today!) – the hope of the Knights making the eight, hayfever, and magpies. And here we are again. Two out of three.

About the maggies, Mayfield West-based Nick Kachel of the CSIRO asks why do magpies swoop on humans. ‘‘Is it to defend their young, or their territory? Or are they just bird jerks?’’

In other words, are they Liam Neeson in Taken, Mel Gibson in Braveheart, or Gibson in real life? Scientists agree that Neeson comes into it: magpies attack to defend their families. But that doesn’t explain why they target specific humans. That’s more Mel Gibson.

Whatever it is that riles magpies, some brave scientists in Canberra proved how not to ward off an attack. In 2010, an aggro maggie was nesting above a cycle path near the CSIRO Black Mountain site.

‘‘With all types of magpie-repelling adornments being attached to cycle helmets with varied successes, and [figurative] public service and academia corpses littering the notorious path, our enterprising colleagues decided to add some scientific scrutiny to the debate: how do you deter a mad magpie?’’ says Kachel.

The geeks, after riding back and forth through a storm of beak and claw, found that going helmet-less was a better magpie deterrent than cable ties or fake eyeballs. But good luck making the case for no helmets. Bird and human seem locked in a springtime standoff, forever.

STILL on spring, this sign (pictured) by Cherry Road Nursery at Eleebana said what we were all thinking.

IF anyone deserves a few days off her feet, it’s Brodie Williams, of Belmont, who walked 100kilometres non-stop.

Seventy of them with blisters.

Brodie Williams, of Belmont, during the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker.

Brodie, 21, teamed up with gym-mates Chris Pascoe, Ben Micallef and Gemma Walker to complete the Oxfam Trailwalker trek from the Hawkesbury River to Balgowlah on Sydney’s North Shore in a tick over 27 hours. It sounds pretty hard.

The feet of Brodie Williams, of Belmont, during the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker.

‘‘You’re walking through the night, and you support each other. Otherwise I would have stopped with 5km to go. Everyone gets delusional,’’ says Brodie.

‘‘I had blisters at 30 kilometres, so I was hobbling along.’’

The team raised more than $5000 for Oxfam.

The feet of Brodie Williams, of Belmont, during the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker.

​Email Tim [email protected]上海夜网m.au or tweet @TimConnell or phone 4979 5944

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OPINION: Future of coal burns brighter than ever

THEY say never let the facts get in the way of a good story. In the case of anti-mining advocates, never let the facts get in the way of rusted-on ideology. It’s unfortunate, however, when your views are so utterly contradicted with such immediacy.
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On the very day Tim Buckley – a long-time anti-mining advocate – declared that we must all face the ‘‘fact’’ that global demand for coal is in decline, new data emerged showing the exact opposite is true.

In the Newcastle Herald on Thursday, Mr Buckley claimed: ‘‘In the energy sector, such a seismic shift is under way. The seaborne thermal coal market is entering a permanent and structural decline.’’ Unfortunately, these sort of myths are repeated as often as possible by those who oppose coal mining, in the hope it will influence others. However, Mr Buckley’s myths are not supported by the facts.

The latest coal export data shows global demand for NSW coal remains strong, with coal export volumes increasing by 3.6per cent over the past financial year. It’s yet another year of coal export growth, and more NSW coal is now being exported than ever before.

NSW coal exports are up 9per cent to Korea and 10 per cent to Taiwan, and are steady to Japan. Demand from India has grown strongly, with our exports rising by 110per cent.

Japan continues to be NSW’s biggest market, comprising 40per cent of total exports, followed by China at 18per cent, Korea 17per cent, and Taiwan 11per cent.

Ideological opponents argue that coal is in decline because of an economic slowdown in China, and coal exports to that nation have recently fallen. It’s true that China is an important market for NSW coal.

However, China’s share of our export market is less than half that of our biggest customer, Japan. And, despite the recent drop in volumes to China, its share of NSW coal exports has grown from just 1per cent to 18per cent from 2008 to 2015.

Mr Buckley also dismisses the demand-driven performance of our largest coal port. Earlier this month, Port Waratah Coal Services announced it had broken the record for coal loaded for export in a single day – 495,000 tonnes.

This reflects the trend in strong demand for NSW coal, which continues to be by far this state’s most valuable export.

Expert international analysis also contradicts assertions made by anti-coal advocates. The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2040, global electricity demand will rise by 50per cent, and that by 2040 coal-fired power will still provide around a quarter of world energy needs.

In the Hunter, 11,000 workers and their families rely on coal mining for their livelihoods. That’s in addition to more than 4200 local businesses and their employees supplying the mining sector. And the economic activity generated by mining underpins the strength of communities right up and down the valley.

NSW coal will continue to play a prominent role in powering an energy-hungry planet for decades to come.

Stephen Galilee is chief executive officer of the NSW Minerals Council

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JASON GORDON: Don’t hold your breath

JEFF McCLOYWHEN water wants to go somewhere, it’ll find a way, as we found during the April storms.
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It doesn’t matter how many towels you stuff under the timber sliding doors, how many fingers in the dyke, how tiny the hole in your shoe, irresistible force will win.

If Mike Baird doesn’t know that already, there’s a fair chance he’s about to.

The Premier, seemingly kissed on the backside by a rainbow, led the state Liberals out of last year’s ICAC scandals without so much as a bruised hip, but politics can be a bit like whack-a-mole. Knock one on the head with a mallet, and another pops up. And sometimes you can’t keep a bad one down.

Since Jeff McCloy’s infamous run-in with the ICAC, calls to reform political donations laws have been getting louder and more toxic.

Salim Mehajer, the unnaturally-smooth deputy mayor of Auburn who obviously couldn’t afford live unicorns for his wedding, had the drums banging at the Premier’s door again last week.

Fairfax Media revealed that Mehajer had failed to tell election funding authorities about who funded his election campaign, how much was in it, and how much it cost to nail pictures of his head all over town. He got whacked with a couple of $1100 fines, slightly less than one of his Louis Vuitton shoes.

Mehajer is an independent and is not Baird’s problem, but the issue of political donations is.

Travel rorts at a federal level aside, it’s local councils where a deepening distrust of elected officials has become the not-so-silent creeper.

Baird knows the laws have to change, and with his party suffering the most knocks by recent scandals, he has to lead the charge.

Local government elections will be held late next year, with growing expectations of a federal poll as early as next March. Baird has promised to take the issue to a meeting of Australian governments later this year, but there appears little chance of turning reform around before we next go to the polls.

Talk so far has centred around tighter limits on how much can be donated to parties and candidates. Sure, that’ll help, but for cynics like me, that sort of reform won’t touch the sides. Unless we can see a real-time register of who’s donating to who, keeping the bastards honest will remain as difficult as finding unicorns for weddings.

No one should be in the business of predicting High Court judgments, but I’ll take a crack at what the High Court might make of Jeff McCloy’s challenge to what he says is a breach of his constitutional rights. That is, he should be allowed to donate to whoever he likes, regardless of what he does for a crust. He’s also challenged limits on donation amounts.

McCloy, as we know, was unhinged by the ICAC for illegally donating to the campaigns of three Liberals before the 2011 state poll.

Having sat through the High Court hearings, I find it difficult to see McCloy losing the first challenge. You can’t ban one person, in this case a developer, from exercising the same democratic right afforded to everybody else. But the second claim is a tad messier. If we work on the idea that donations buy influence, does the size of that influence change in accordance with how much you can afford to donate? Yes, to hazard a guess.

Regardless, aren’t we better off knowing that he’s donated in the first place? Only then can we determine if he’s simply backing a horse he likes, or if he’s backing a horse that’s returning him something way over the odds.

There is no evidence to support the theory that McCloy got any return at all, despite him breaking the law, but the issue is bigger than McCloy alone. Take a look at the electoral funding returns of the Liberal and Labor candidates and you’ll see, almost like magic, that their entire campaigns were funded by a donation from their party or branch. In other words, how the hell do we know who donated to the union, to the party, to the state office, to the federal office, to the local branch, to fund the candidate?

Real reform needs to start from the ground up and it’s going to be a difficult mole for Baird to whack into oblivion any time soon. Because regardless of what shape that reform takes, and regardless of how political donations are governed, that same cynic in me suggests that ways around them will soon follow. Like water, it will find a way.

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EDITORIAL: Union inquiry goes on

Dyson Heydon TRADE unions, not surprisingly, are unhappy that royal commissioner Dyson Heydon has dismissed their bid to have the former High Court judge step aside from his probe into corruption among their ranks.
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It had been alleged that, because the commissioner had agreed to deliver an address to a Liberal Party fundraising event, the public might perceive him to be biased towards the Abbott government’s anti-union agenda.

The commissioner withdrew from his speaking engagement after the controversy erupted in the press, explaining that he had ‘‘overlooked’’ links between the annual Garfield Barwick address and the Liberal Party. He has, however, stated that he would be willing to deliver the Barwick address at some time in the future, when he was no longer presiding over this royal commission.

Ruling on his own case, Mr Heydon has declared himself unbiased and ready to keep the corruption inquiry rolling ahead. ‘‘It could not rationally be concluded that a person who merely agrees to give a legal address at such an event, albeit organised by the lawyer branches of the Liberal Party, believes in, supports or has any relevant association with the Liberal Party,’’ the commissioner stated in his decision.

Whether many members of the public care much either way is a matter for conjecture. It appears to be a commonly held belief that the Abbott government started the commission for political reasons. Many people appear to agree with the contention that numerous other matters might be examined by a royal commission with greater prospect of real benefit to the nation than can be expected from this trade union inquiry.

But even if that view is accepted, not many Australians seem to have much sympathy for the union movement in this particular situation. Union membership has been dropping for years, and many remaining members often complain that their unions have become bureaucratic behemoths with only sporadic focus on workplace problems.

Indeed, the royal commission has revealed many shocking facts about the way some unions have operated, about their relationships with some employers and their influence on national politics through the Australian Labor Party.

Despite all that, one suspects that, on balance, many people probably regard the controversy as yet another partisan sideshow occurring during a highly charged period in Australian political life. Some might relish the discomfiture of the unions and the ALP, while others may equally have enjoyed the spectacle of some seemingly awkward moments for the commissioner and the government that appointed him.

The unions’ failed attempt to remove the commissioner may ensure, however, that more people pay attention to the commission’s future proceedings.

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Sailor considers appeal after losing compensation case over unwanted pregnancy

Lawyers representing a sailor who sued the Department of Defence over an unwanted pregnancy are considering appealing a judge’s decision to throw the case out.
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Emily Hetherington, now aged 26 from Queanbeyan, NSW, had been seeking damages for pain, suffering and loss of earnings after Navy medical staff failed to detect her pregnancy.

Ms Hetherington claimed that if her pregnancy had been confirmed, she would not have kept her unborn son.

But Supreme Court Justice Bernard Bongiorno dismissed the case, finding Ms Hetherington was not entitled to a damages payout under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

Under the Act, Defence staff members were barred from receiving a compensation payout if they suffered a “service injury” caused by another staff member.

“The health status of a newly enlisted sailor would be a matter of some importance to the Navy,” the judge said.

“If the sailor was female her pregnancy status would be particularly important, having regard to the functions she might be required to carry out, whether ashore or on a ship.

“Accordingly, it is in the interests of the Navy as well as in those of the sailor, that her pregnancy status be ascertained and taken into account in the enlistment process and in the training which would normally follow it.”

The judge said when Ms Hetherington was attending Navy medical examinations, she was “acting in the interests of the Navy as well as in her own interests”.

“She was engaged in ‘rendering defence service’ just as much as if she were driving a truck, cleaning the deck of a ship, or engaging in some other more obviously Naval activity.”

The judge said, as a result, Ms Hetherington had suffered a ‘service injury” caused by another Defence staff member and was not entitled to compensation under the Act.

Slater and Gordon medical law senior associate Nick Mann told Fairfax Media on Monday that an appeal was being considered.

“We are reviewing the judgment and our client is currently considering her options,” Mr Mann said.

In her statement of claim, Ms Hetherington revealed she enlisted with the Navy on January 14, 2008, at Anglesea barracks in Hobart.

She underwent a medical examination on the day which included a urinary pregnancy test. This pregnancy test was reported as being negative.

A pregnancy test was also never carried out on a blood sample taken from Ms Hetherington.

The next day Ms Hetherington transferred to the HMAS Cerberus training facility in Victoria.

During her time at HMAS Cerberus, she attended the health care centre six times between January 15 and April 29, 2008, where she received a number of vaccinations.

During each visit to the health care centre, she told staff she had not had her period since either November or December 2007. Medical staff did not carry out any pregnancy tests during these visits.

Ms Hetherington said when she went to the health care centre on March 13, 2008, she told staff she was experiencing nausea, fatigue, dizziness, had gained weight and not had a period for about six months. No pregnancy test was undertaken.

Ms Hetherington claimed if she had known she had been six to seven weeks’ pregnant at the time, she would have had an abortion.

She underwent an obstetric ultrasound examination on May 2, 2008, which revealed she was 22 weeks pregnant.

She gave birth to a son on August 24, 2008.

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Regular game time gives Socceroos hopefuls the best chance of making international grade

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Photo: Brendan Esposito Perth It’s a dilemma many young players face.
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To earn a big pay packet by sitting on the bench at a big club and rarely featuring.

Or to drop down a level and play regularly, improve your game and prospects and in so doing pave the way for an even bigger deal at a bigger club later in your career.

It’s a major talking point in the English game at the moment as the FA rues the fact that so many talented English youngsters seem content to harvest the riches on offer for merely being in a Premier League squad, even if they only play on the odd occasion.

But it’s equally relevant to the Socceroos and the Australian game, and something Ange Postecoglou and the national team coaching staff consider a major issue.

Postecoglou is a firm believer that, unless there are exceptional circumstances or that a player has already proved himself on countless occasions in green and gold, then anyone looking for selection has to prove himself ready by playing regularly.

Many in the game thought that former Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was an all round more talented keeper than ex-Central Coast custodian Mat Ryan when the two were in the early stages of their careers.

But it is the latter, a couple of years younger, who has firmly established himself as Postecoglou’s number one, in large part due to the fact that after both moved to Europe he played regularly while Langerak didn’t.

The latter spent years on the bench as back up goalkeeper at one of the world’s biggest clubs, Borussia Dortmund. But he only started occasionally.

Ryan went to the less glamorous Belgian League where he instantly became first choice for Club Brugge. They won the title, progressed in the UEFA Cup, Ryan established himself and is now playing for Valencia in La Liga, one of the best league’s in the world.

Langerak has, only now, moved to VFB Stuttgart but his chances of breaking through have been stymied by a knee injury which has prevented him playing for his new side.

There are several players in the current Socceroo squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers who have faced a similar choice.

Left back Jason Davidson secured a dream move from Holland to the EPL after the World Cup when he signed for West Bromwich Albion. But the switch to the Hawthorns turned out to be anything but for the Australian international as he rarely featured for the Baggies all season.

He has now joined Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town. Its a step down in grade, but at least he is playing all the time and is a much better chance of developing his game with regular football.

Massimo Luongo has burst on to the Socceroo scene like a comet in the past 12 months.

When his then third tier club, League One Swindon Town, did not win promotion to the Championship last season it was inevitable that Luongo would leave. After all, he had won the player of the tournament award at the Asian Cup and was in demand from bigger clubs.

While the youngster was linked with teams in the Premier League and overseas, Luongo plumped for a move to the Championship to join Queens Park Rangers, the London team just relegated from the EPL.

Some saw that as a strange move given he might have gone to a higher level, but for Luongo it was the chance to play regularly with an ambitious team looking to bounce back to the top flight that was the clincher.

For Postecoglou it is far more useful to have a player like him appearing regularly in the hurly burly of The Championship, one of the most competitive leagues in the world, than sitting on the bench at a club like Aston Villa (with whom he was linked) and playing sporadically.

Tommy Oar, the Socceroo winger who has just signed a deal with another Championship side in Ipswich Town, is another example. He parted company with Utrecht, of the Dutch Eredivisie, and although he was linked with moves to Spain he has taken the chance to join a club where he might get the chance to play more regularly than he would in La Liga.

Admittedly its not always straightforward. And its sometimes hard to convince young men to turn down lucrative financial offers which could set them up for life in favour of a more measured approach which promises deferred, but potentially even greater, riches.

Its something Socceroo assistant coach Ante Milicic acknowledges. But, as he points out, there are major benefits, at least to a player’s international prospects.

“Every case is individual and there are also a lot of advisers and agents involved in the players personal decisions as to where they are going to play their club football.

“But definitely for us, when we look at the bigger picture, players that are playing consistently and playing at a decent level always gives you a better chance to play for the national team.

“It also means that when you come into camp you are fit and can back up and play two games in five or six days, you can handle the travel and it just gives you a better chance of selection when you have got the minutes in your legs.”

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Trade Union Royal Commission: Dyson Heydon shows why judges really are a breed apart

Dyson Heydon will remain as the head of the royal commission into trade union corruption. Photo: Ben RushtonUnions weigh appeal as Labor shifts attack to ParliamentAddressing Lib fundraiser does not mean supporting Libs: HeydonComment: Heydon saves his own skinAnalysis: Heydon finds ‘fatal’ flaw in unions’ argument
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A welter of evidence clearly establishing a widespread public perception of bias on the part of the royal commissioner into trade union corruption has been brushed off as irrelevant by the highest legal authority charged with assessing it: the royal commissioner himself.

In finding that the evidence tendered by unions amounted to insufficient weight to justify his own recusal, Heydon has confused his own subjective self-assessment with a more objective public understanding of his impartiality, giving more weight to the former than the latter.

In part this is driven by a calculation – shared by the government as it happens – that much of the “outrage” against him is transparently political and self-serving. Further, that the claims of apprehended bias derived from opportunistic outrage by persons primarily concerned with discrediting him, undermining his inquiry, and thereby avoiding further scrutiny of their own questionable actions.

This is undoubtedly correct, inasmuch as some parties are concerned, but the question mark hanging over the royal commissioner’s impartiality remains and, despite his determination to continue, is not limited to unionists, dodgy or otherwise.

Heydon’s verdict was to some extent inevitable. When a judge is asked to rule on his or her self – especially on questions of impartiality – disentangling the personal from the public, the subjective from the objective, is difficult. It is itself a conflict of interest.

But that’s the job.

Heydon may well be completely unbiased and may well have brought to this politically super-charged inquiry a completely impartial and unprejudiced mind.

But self-evidently, many people do not think so.

In any event, Heydon appears to have sloughed off his own admirably economical direction in another case, that being British American Tobacco Australia Services Limited v Laurie of February 2010, where he said: “It is fundamental to the administration of justice that the judge be neutral. It is for this reason that the appearance of departure from neutrality is a ground of disqualification … Because the rule is concerned with the appearance of bias, and not the actuality, it is the perception of the hypothetical observer that provides the yardstick. It is the public’s perception of neutrality with which the rule is concerned. In Livesey it was recognised that the lay observer might reasonably apprehend that a judge who has found a state of affairs to exist, or who has come to a clear view about the credit of a witness, may not be inclined to depart from that view in a subsequent case. It is a recognition of human nature.”

Prima facie, the retention of the royal commissioner is a win for the Abbott government. Heydon’s departure in ignominious circumstances would have de-spurred a process which is central to the political architecture of the Coalition’s re-election.

Yet it has also served to deepen public suspicion that its aims were always partisan – and that the $60 million-plus allocated is a vast sum of public funds directed to a political cause deemed advantageous to the incumbent government.

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