Waisake Naholo recovers from broken fibula in six weeks with traditional medical treatment

Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder look on during the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby World Cup team announcement on August 30. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesThe Waisake Naholo storyline seems too crazy to be true.
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When Naholo suffered a small fracture in his fibula bone during his test debut against Argentina six weeks ago, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen shook his head and said the try-scoring machine’s chances of making the 31-man World Cup squad to travel to Britain appeared shot.

Then Naholo, just as he did for the Highlanders when he used his guile and speed to bamboozle opponents to score 13 tries, did something unexpected.

He made a beeline for his homeland of Fiji, where he sought traditional medical treatment, put his faith in the power of positive thinking and proved to the All Blacks he should be fit to play their third pool match against Georgia in Cardiff on October 3.

“I am not sure if that made a difference or not,” Hansen said in reference to the Fiji treatment. “But we just stayed with our plan. He is still on track – in fact he is probably 10 days ahead of what we initially thought.”

Asked about the treatment in Fiji, Naholo, having said he had also placed his trust in the All Blacks’ medical staff, said: “They are all the same, they all helped.

“It was just massage and some traditional leaves that they used (in Fiji).”

The fact selectors Ian Foster, Grant Fox and Hansen are prepared to name Naholo, whose form with the Highlanders impressed so much they got NZ Rugby to help dig him out of a contract with French club Clermont Auvergne, among their four outside backs says it all.

There is risk in carrying an injured player, but Hansen said the 24-year-old would effectively miss just one match because he wouldn’t have been expected to play in the second pool match against Namibia as it is just four days before the Georgia game.

“What are the rewards of taking Waisake? Well, he is a try-scoring machine, he has X-factor and he brings something to the team that others in the group don’t bring,” Hansen said.

“We can’t win this World Cup by just having the ordinary, we have got to have something different and he provides that.

“We just feel Waisake has played better throughout the year.”

Shoehorning the Sigatoka-born Naholo, who will join other Fijian pace merchants such as Josevata Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu in representing the All Blacks at a World Cup, has resulted in some high-profile casualties, notably wings Charles Piutau and Cory Jane and fullback Israel Dagg.

“Israel and Cory have been really hampered this year by injuries have probably missed out because we think Waisake is a better footballer,” Hansen explained.

The decision to list Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea and Ben Smith as back-three options was termed a “no brainer”.

They were not the only ones forced to suck the bitter pill of disappointment; first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga and lock Jeremy Thrush will feel the hurt more than most.

Sopoaga, like Piutau, played a blinder in the win against the Springboks in Johannesburg a month ago. Playmaker Sopoaga, who displayed steely nerves in his debut at Ellis Park, was overlooked for the more experienced Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade.

Hansen noted Sopoaga had placed immense pressure on Carter to hold his spot and the veteran playmaker had responded with a complete performance against the Wallabies to retain the Bledisloe Cup in Auckland.

“The guy that was probably under the most pressure at the point (after the Jo’burg test) was probably Dan. And he has come out and said ‘okay I can do the job, too’.”


Hookers: Dane Coles (Hurricanes/Wellington), Keven Mealamu (Blues/Auckland), Codie Taylor (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Props: Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders/Canterbury), Charlie Faumuina (Blues/Auckland), Ben Franks (Hurricanes/Hawke’s Bay), Owen Franks (Crusaders/Canterbury), Tony Woodcock (Blues/North Harbour).

Locks: Brodie Retallick (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Luke Romano (Crusaders/Canterbury), Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Loose forwards: Sam Cane (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Jerome Kaino (Blues/Auckland), Richie McCaw – captain (Crusaders/Canterbury), Liam Messam (Chiefs/Waikato), Kieran Read (Crusaders/Canterbury), Victor Vito (Hurricanes/Wellington).

Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs/Waikato), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes/Wellington), Aaron Smith (Highlanders/Manawatu).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes/Taranaki), Daniel Carter (Crusaders/Canterbury), Colin Slade (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Midfielders: Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders/Auckland), Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes/Wellington), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes/Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs/Counties Manukau).

Outside backs: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes/Manawatu), Julian Savea (Hurricanes/Wellington), Ben Smith (Highlanders/Otago), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders/Taranaki).


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‘Cups King’ Cummings was something to everyone

Winning team: Bart Cummings (right) with jockey Roy Higgins, winning horse Red Handed and stable foreman Maurice Yeomans at the 1967 Melbourne Cup. Photo: SuppliedIn early 1960 Mick Robins, a horseman from Broken Hill, heard that a young trainer by the name of Bart Cummings was looking for staff.
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Robins arrived at the office of Cummings’ Adelaide stable only to be told there was no longer a job available for him.

Eight years later, Robins was standing in the Flemington mounting yard just minutes after his courageous stayer Rain Lover won the first of two Melbourne Cups. From the surrounding well-wishers and media a familiar figure emerged with his arm outstretched; it was Cummings.

“He’s won the previous two Melbourne Cups and he said: ‘Well done, son. I knew I should have taken you on in 1960. That was a bad mistake on my behalf’.

“But we were lifelong friends from then on. You would watch him mould a horse into a great stayer. He might bring 20 or 30 yearlings back from New Zealand but if they didn’t show what he wanted they were out the gate before they ever raced,” Robins said.

Robins, now 85, says Cummings’ father, Jim, was keen for his son to be more than a horse trainer.

He explained that Cummings senior sent Bart to a sheep ranch in Broken Hill as part of his training. “Jim became sick very quickly and he [Bart] was called back from Broken Hill to be at the bedside of his dying father.

“Actually we all thought [brother] Pat would make the horse trainer of the new generation as he and his father were inseparable while Bart liked a social life. But you could see in a very short time how he quickly became the master trainer of Australian racing. He’d target a race and win it. In fact, I think he’s won everything that a horse trainer could,” Robins said.

Bart’s son Anthony recently commented that much of his father’s success came from his extraordinary ability to keep his horses happy.

Former Moonee Valley racing manager Fred Fox, who marvelled at Cummings from his position in charge of the South Australian Jockey Club, recalled how finicky and meticulous he was.

“My office window looked out over the mounting yard at Morphettville and it seemed in those times the lawn mowers couldn’t cut the grass beneath the surrounding rails. And Bart knew this and all of his team would arrive in the mid-afternoon and would be picking at the succulent new grass that had come through along the rails.

“He was always doing something to get that extra inch,” Fox said.

Former jockey and now leading trainer Gerald Ryan said Cummings’ career was something that all in the trade wanted to emulate.

“I was a little bit lucky as my seat in the jockeys’ room was right next to Roy Higgins so I’d hear Bart and Roy talk endlessly during the day over the performance of their horses,” Ryan said.

“You see in those times we had no TV and you’d only get the one look at it and it was fascinating how they both spoke with such conviction about the horses’ runs. I’d follow him around the room asking him this and that.

“I just knew all the advice I could get from Cummings would be invaluable. But shortly after I got my licence Bart said: `I think we’ll have to ease up on that advice. You’re the opposition now’.”

Cummings enjoyed the fruits of punting but it was his brother Pat who would engineer betting plunges that would send tremors through betting rings.

While Bart rarely discussed winning plunges, his favourite story was the day he won the Golden Slipper at Rosehill in Sydney.

Cummings had dispatched a smart two-year-old called Storm Queen to Sydney but had to send Pat to not only watch over the youngster but to put on the massive commission.

The SAJC had begged Cummings to remain in Adelaide to be present for the Queen’s Cup as Her Majesty was coming to Australia to present the trophy and the master trainer looked certain to win the event with Galilee.

Cummings recalled: “Galilee got the job done. He bolted in but I was more concerned about Storm Queen in Sydney. We had a thumping bet on her but I was trying to hear the race on the public address system while we were all lined up for the presentation and the governor was embarking on a long speech that made it hard to hear the final stages. In fact, the Queen said to me: ‘You seem agitated’ .To that I said: ‘I’ll tell you in the next 20 seconds as I’ve got a filly in the Golden Slipper in Sydney’.

“Just then I heard ‘little-known Storm Queen wins the Slipper and I turned and smiled to Her Majesty, who said: ‘Good result,Bart?’ ‘The best ma’am. In fact, if you’d like to come back to the stables after the races for a snort you’re more than welcome. It’s my shout’.”

While some believe Cummings was shy rather than aloof, he always managed to get the fiercest press conference on his terms. Senior VRC executive Julian Sullivan remembers driving Cummings to a Melbourne Cup press conference in Cup week.

“He said to me the rules are, Julian, that once the press conference looks like its half-way through, interrupt holding a phone saying I’ve urgently got to ring the stables. Then head straight out the door and we’ll meet for a couple of beers,” Sullivan recalled.

Former chief racing writer for the Sun, Keith Hillier had a 30-year relationship with the trainer. “He used to send me Christmas cards once I became the racing editor and then when I went to Sydney he took me to dinner at this beautiful restaurant where there was Bart, myself, three breeders and three owners. The only two who didn’t put their hands in their pockets were Bart and me.”

“For a few years I ghosted his column and I took the cheque to Caulfield one day and he said: ‘Go to the bookmakers and cash it and we’ll go halves’. And the next season we did the same again. In fact, I think I put in for a rise for both of us,” Hillier said.

His relationships with jockeys were hot and cold, but his long and successful friendship with Higgins brought together two of the greatest racing identities in this country.

While Higgins laughed that Cummings would have won only 10 Melbourne Cups had he not won two of them for him, Cummings replied: “You would have won none if you hadn’t ridden for me.”

It was a special relationship as Higgins and his family remembered Cummings chartering a plane to Deniliquin, the home of Higgins’ father who had suddenly died. As the champion jockey reflected: “That’s the measure of a man, isn’t it.”

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Two Blues show character to turn game but must lift for semis

Two Blues show character to turn game but must lift for semis Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill
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Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

Action from Semi Final between Wanderers and Waratahs. Picture: Marina Neill

TweetFacebookCOACH Viv Paasi was happy with the character Wanderers showed but stressed the Two Blues must improve to have any hope of upsetting Hamilton and gaining direct entry to the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final.

A sloppy and ill disciplined Two Blues side came from behind to pip The Waratahs 22-19 in the qualifying semi-final at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

The Two Blues trailed 16-5 at half-time and did not hit the front until the 70th minute, when prop Andrew Tuala bullocked over from close range.

From there they hung on, despite playing the final six minutes with 14 men after breakaway Daniel Martine received a second yellow card for a lifting tackle.

The teenager had earlier spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for pulling down a maul.

His hopes of lining up against the Hawks in the major semi-final on Saturday hinge on a judiciary appearance on Wednesday night.

‘‘We were our own worst enemy at times,’’ Paasi said.

‘‘We didn’t get the little things right and weren’t patient.

‘‘In saying that, they showed a lot of character to get the lead back and hold on to it.

‘‘It was a good learning experience for a lot of the guys.

‘‘We weren’t good, but we still won.’’

Defending premiers the Two Blues are yet to beat the Hawks this season, going down 41-25 in round seven and 18-17 three weeks ago.

‘‘Hamilton are No.1 for a reason and are a very good defensive side,’’ Paasi said.

‘‘We need to improve, but I have faith that the boys will go out and do a good job.’’

Wanderers scored four tries to one against the Tahs, but it took big plays from wingers Bill Coffey and Zac Atallah to spark them into action.

Powered by the radar boot of Dane Sherratt, the Tahs controlled the first half and went to the break up 16-5.

The turning point came three minutes into the second half when Tahs fullback Tim Riley was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul which saved a certain try.

Four minutes later, Coffey ran over four defenders in a 60-metre solo effort to crash over in the left corner.

Cal McDonald delivered a neat inside ball for Atallah to cross two minutes later and the Two Blues were in the groove.

‘‘It is not often that your two wingers are your best players,’’ Paasi said. ‘‘Billy and Zac really helped take the edge off the forwards and got us a lot of front-foot ball.

‘‘The try Billy scored was the turning point for us. You could see the boys lift.

‘‘He is a special player in that sense. He can turn something from nothing.’’

The Tahs defence, in close in particular, was strong, and they won a close contest at the scrum.

‘‘Our first 40 minutes was very good,’’ Tahs coach Matt Chidgey said.

‘‘But, at the end of the day, they were too good for us. That is what the scoreboard says.

‘‘We had some opportunities and didn’t take them. That was the short of it.’’

Waratahs captain Carl Manu limped off with 15 minutes to go and is under a cloud for the minor semi-final.

‘‘It’s his hammy, but we will give him every opportunity to be right,’’ Chidgey said.

‘‘The past two weeks we have had a number of players out and you probably wouldn’t know it. The guys who have come in have stepped up and played really well.’’

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Bales ends Goodall Cup drought for North Stars

The North Stars celebrate after winning the Goodall Cup for the first time since 2008. Picture: Mark BradfordSEVEN years of heartache ended for the Newcastle North Stars on Sunday night when they were crowned Australian Ice Hockey League champions for a record fifth time.
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It took a Brian Bales penalty shot three minutes into overtime for the North Stars to defeat Melbourne Ice 3-2 in front of the latter’s home crowd at the Icehouse.

The North Stars certainly tested the nerves of their supporters.

The minor premiers almost failed to reach the decider when they were down 3-0 in the second period of the semi-final against Canberra Brave on Saturday.

A goal to Robert Malloy and a hat-trick from import Geordie Wudrick got them home 4-3.

There was more drama on Sunday when Wudrick and fellow import Jan Safar put Newcastle ahead of Melbourne twice only to concede equalisers shortly after through Thomas Powell and Mitchell Humphries.

Safar’s goal in the third period, assisted by Beau Taylor and Scott Swiston,had the North Stars with one hand on their first Goodall Cup since 2008 with one minute and 43 seconds remaining. Melbourne pulled their goal tender, Alex Leclerc, and with 31 seconds left Humphries knocked in a Jason Baclig pass to send the Victorian crowd into raptures. Bales had played in three of the North Stars’ four final defeats since 2008 and admitted he was sensing more heartbreak.

‘‘To be completely honest I was like ‘Crap, I thought we had it in the bag and here we go again and we’re going to lose another close one’,’’ Bales said.

‘‘I didn’t have a lot of confidence, but you pick yourself up, have a squirt of water and see what happens.’’

What happened was Bales had the chance to become the hero. The former import made a break three minutes into golden goal overtime and was one on one with Leclerc.

Melbourne defender Todd Graham brought Bales down from behind and the North Stars were awarded a penalty shot for hooking.

‘‘All year the coach has been trying to get me to take penalty shots,’’ Bales said.

‘‘Every time I’ve been saying, ‘I don’t want to do it’, and we’ve actually had a few arguments on the bench.’’

Bales again refused to take the penalty shot but was over-ruled by North Stars coach Andrew Petrie.

‘‘I went to the centre of the ice and had a little chuckle and wasn’t really nervous and thought this was like the end of a movie script, and the rest was history,’’ he said.

Bales sent Leclerc the wrong way to bury the championship-winning goal.

North Stars captain Rob Starke was the sole survivor from the 2008 triumph and experienced the final defeats of 2009 and 2011-13.

All season the North Stars were the dominant team and expectations were high the Goodall Cup drought would end.

Before the game, Starke spoke of embracing the favouritism.

‘‘We’ve developed a really good team culture, a great leadership group and great depth and we’ve really become one,’’ Starke said.

‘‘That’s what it’s all about, great teammates getting together to get the job done.’’

Wudrick was awarded the most valuable player in the AIHL and the play-offs after a record 48 goals and 48 assists in the season.

Safar was named most valuable defenceman.

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Terrigal must find lost form quickly

Terrigal must find lost form quickly AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Newcastle City’s Joshua Wheeler tackles Terrigal-Avoca’s Christopher Bishop. Picture: Peter Stoop
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AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

AFL Black Diamond semi final at No1 Sportsground Newcastle between Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookTERRIGAL-Avoca player-coach Chris Bishop said his side needed to rediscover its structure after Newcastle City inflicted a major blow to its Black Diamond AFL premiership defence.

The Blues defeated Terrigal 9.15 (69) to 6.8 (44) in their major semi-final on Saturday at No.1 Sportsground to secure the first berth in the grand final on September 12.

It marked Terrigal’s second straight loss to City in two weeks, after the club went an amazing 19 games undefeated dating back to August last year.

Terrigal will face fellow Central Coast rivals Killarney Vale on Saturday at No.1 Sportsground for the right to challenge City in the decider.

Bishop is not panicking, but admits mass improvement is needed.

‘‘We need to regroup and get back to our structures and find our pressure game again,’’ Bishop said. ‘‘We’ll have to do it this weekend if we want to continue.

‘‘Our pressure has been down and our energy has been flat, so we’ve got to find that.

‘‘Late in the season a couple of injuries have caught up, but that’s all right as everyone is in the same boat. You can’t take anything away from Newcastle City; they have been superb the last two weeks.’’

Terrigal suffered further pain on Saturday when forward Ayden Warren suffered a shattered and dislocated left elbow in the third quarter.

Warren was knocked to the ground in an innocuous hip and shoulder collision off the ball by City’s Conor Haswell.

The 17-year-old received treatment from ambulance officers at the ground and had surgery on Saturday night.

City were completely dominant and scored 30 unanswered points before the Panthers kicked their first behind in the second quarter.

Courtney Knight was again a colossus for City. The senior full-forward kicked four majors, including two in the final quarter. Jake Hartikainen was also impressive in winning possession for the Blues.

Defence proved key to City’s victory, given they restricted a Terrigal side that has averaged 124 points per game to just six goals in fine conditions.

‘‘I believe we have the game plan to beat Terrigal and we’ve done it two weeks in a row and we’re full of confidence,’’ Blues player-coach Mitchell Knight said. ‘‘We’re really excited about the grand final and we’ve got the week off to rest a few niggles and get some soreness out of bodies.’’

Warners Bay’s late resurgence came to an abrupt end when they were beaten 16.7 (103) to 5.9 (39) by Killarney Vale in the minor semi-final at No.1 Sportsground.

Despite being without leading ruckman Rick White, due to whiplash, the Bombers led the Bulldogs at every break.

The match was sealed in the second quarter when the Bombers kicked four unanswered goals through Daniel Lloyd (three) and Jackson Ireland for a 31-point buffer at the main break.

Lloyd finished with nine majors for the match in easily his best game of the season.

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Women’s Ashes 2015: Southern Stars want to solve batting stumbles as series ends

Cardiff: With the women’s Ashes won, Southern Stars coach Matthew Mott has turned his attention to fixing the team’s stuttering scoring in Monday’s series-ending match in Cardiff.
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Across both Twenty20 matches no Stars batter has passed 30, which has been a big factor in their meagre scores of 8-122 and 7-107. Their batters have also allowed England’s new-ball bowlers, Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, to lock them down and not even rotate the strike, let alone find the boundary.

Coach Mott had held NSW’s ability to post only 8-121 in 2007-08 and then keep Queensland to 115 as the best Twenty20 stifling bowling performance he had been a part of, but said it was trumped by the Stars limiting England to 87 on a pitch he thought should have produced scores of about 140.

The coach lamented their batters had not realised more quickly they should have amended their tactics once Brunt and Shrubsole tied them down.

“It’s certainly something we’ve spoken about, trying to be a bit more aggressive at the top. We’ve picked out fielders regularly with our strong shots. We’ve probably lacked a bit of that subtlety, just dropping the hand, finding the gaps and maybe not going as hard,” he said. “That’s the challenge we’ve got ahead of us. We need to be a lot better than that. We really need to go out and play with freedom, but also rotate the strike a lot better.”

Off all the batters Jess Cameron is arguably the only one likely to be satisfied with her performances so far in the Twenty20 component of the series, having finished unbeaten at better than a run a ball in both matches.

The Stars are expected to field an unchanged team for the final match. That would result in leg-spinner Kristen Beams remaining on the sidelines, along with off-spinner Erin Osborne, fast-bowler Holly Ferling and reserve wicketkeeper Beth Mooney.

“I had a really good chat to ‘Beamsy’ and tried to put her in the picture as to where she’s at. She unfortunately got injured at the wrong time, and Grace Harris has come in and done well,” Mott said.

“With the balance of the team, we realised after game one we might’ve got that wrong, with too many spin options – and Rene Farrell really vindicated the decision to bring her back in. I can’t see any change in that line-up at this stage. We’d love to be able to play Beamsy and give her an opportunity, but we’ll pick what we think is the best XI for Cardiff.”

Even though the final match will have no bearing on the series result, beyond Australia’s winning margin, Mott said having the World Twenty20 early next year would ensure the match is greeted with customary intensity from the Stars players.

“We certainly celebrated that win and enjoyed it . . . but we’ll be trying to win it as much as the other games,” he said. “From individuals’ point of view, there’s plenty to play for with the World Cup coming up.”

ENGLAND (from): Charlotte Edwards (c), Heather Knight (vc), Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Dani Hazell, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt.

SOUTHERN STARS (from): Meg Lanning (c), Alex Blackwell (vc), Kristen Beams, Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.

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

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Novocastrian faithful mob Gidley like rock star in last home-town appearance

Kurt Gidley: a career in photos
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The 10 games that made Kurt Gidley: photos

Another stirring effort required from Knights

EVEN a man of Kurt Gidley’s famed fitness levels was entitled to be exhausted.

For more than an hour after Newcastle’s nail-biting 20-18 loss to Canterbury, his final match at Hunter Stadium, the inspirational Knights skipper was public property.

Making speeches. Signing autographs. Posing for selfies. Accepting kisses and cuddles from Knights nannas.

High-fiving all and sundry, while a live band belted out tunes and the masses queued for a minute of his time.

At one point, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler emerged from the bowels of the stadium to pay his respects personally to both Gidley and retiring veteran Clint Newton, then wandered back to the dressing room without a word to anyone else.

And finally, just when Gidley was wondering when he would get a chance to draw breath, came a barrage of media interviews.

Never once did a beaming smile leave his face.

All of which was a reminder that while there have been bigger, faster, stronger and more skilful players to have worn the blue and red, there have been no better clubmen.

Knights coach Danny Buderus hit the nail on the head at the post-match press conference when he said: ‘‘You’d be happy if your kids grew up like Kurt, that’s for sure.’’

Given the enormity of the occasion, it would have been easy for a lesser character to lose focus.

Not only was it Gidley’s last appearance at Turton Road before he leaves to play for Warrington next year, it was also his 250th game in the NRL. Before the game kicked off, he ran through the traditional Old Boys guard of honour, embraced his wife and parents and carried his two young daughters through a giant banner to salute the parochial crowd of 23,604.

Then somehow, as if flicking a switch, the former Test and Origin handyman was back in game mode and focused on the task at hand. The ultimate professional, as always.

Twelve minutes into proceedings, the 33-year-old conjured up the game’s opening try with a deft chip kick that eluded Bulldogs fullback Brett Morris and bounced opportunely for Tariq Sims to score. His sideline conversion reaffirmed home-town hopes that perhaps this would be Gidley’s night.

But by half-time, the visitors led 14-6 and this eternal perfectionist was not satisfied with his contribution.

‘‘I thought I was a little bit quiet in the first half and I had a bit of a think at half-time,’’ he said.

‘‘I realised this was my last chance to put everything on the line and bust my arse for my teammates and the fans.’’

Gidley has produced countless match-winning performances for the Knights since his 2001 debut.

The crowd farewell to Kurt Gidley. Picture Newcastle Knights via Twitter

The golden point field goal in Brisbane. The semi-final win at home against Manly. The hooker-fullback experiment at Penrith. The conversion after full-time against Melbourne last year.

But surely Saturday’s display rates alongside any of them.

Eight runs for 86 attacking metres, 31 tackles, a try assist, a goal … and in the 70th minute, a trademark try with a dummy and a jink, the 80th of his top-grade career.

Suddenly the home side were within two points. The game hung in the balance until the final play, but the Bulldogs rudely refused to relinquish their lead.

It was a result that the Western Suburbs Rosellas junior accepted with mixed emotions. For the first time in his career, defeat did not seem such a catastrophic event.

‘‘A win would have been great,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not dirty on losing. It was a wonderful occasion. We didn’t give up, and we showed plenty of character. I think that’s important for me to remember.’’

When the siren sounded, and he was hoisted on the shoulders of teammates Newton and Kade Snowden to salute the fans, a few tears were inevitable.

‘‘I’m an emotional guy when it comes to something you care about, and I couldn’t be prouder to represent and captain my home town,’’ he said.

‘‘To play my 250th game, at home, in front of the fans, my wife and two kids, my parents, grandparents, and all the ex-players, it couldn’t have worked out any better.’’

And so just 80 minutes remain until an era ends.

For the first time since Kurt’s brother Matthew debuted 19 years ago, the Gidley name will not feature on Newcastle’s playing roster.

To put that in context, the Gidleys have appeared in a combined 471 games for the Knights. Andrew and Matthew Johns managed 425.

The Novocastrian faithful acknowledged this historic juncture by mobbing Kurt like a rock star after his home-ground farewell.

‘‘These people have supported me since before I debuted in first grade,’’ he said afterwards.

‘‘I came through up Jersey Flegg, back when all three grades played on the one day.

‘‘So people have a real connection with the team in Newcastle, I think because it’s such a close community.

‘‘People see you around the streets, at the shopping centres and obviously at the footy, and there’s a real connection with the fans.

‘‘It was the least I can do to thank them.’’

The feeling, clearly, was mutual.

What an amazing turnout to farewell captain Kurt Gidley! #goKnights#ThanksGidspic.twitter上海夜网m/J7jPnB5kNi

— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) August 29, 2015

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RENEE VALENTINE: Time to set new goals for spring

“Now spring is upon us it is time to set new goals. These will be different for everyone”.AS I bid good riddance to winter today and prepare to embrace spring tomorrow, I thought it would be a good chance to report my findings from my own personal research into ways to implement and maintain daily physical activity in a time-poor environment.
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OK, it was not a real study but at the start of winter I set myself the task of performing 10 minutes of physical activity daily in June, 15 minutes in July and 20minutes in August.

The reasoning was that I wanted to regain my pre-baby fitness by summer but had previously found it too easy to excuse myself from exercise if time did not allow. My objective was to establish a daily exercise habit by the start of spring.

Last week I jinxed myself by saying our household had been lucky to avoid any sickness this winter, so my final week of the campaign hit a hurdle in the form of a 48-hour bug my son brought home from school.

But what I did find was that because I had been making myself exercise daily for those couple of days, where I could not exercise I was really conscious of it and was itching to do something by the time I had regained my usual energy levels.

So what I found was that I was more conscious of doing something every day and once I got in the habit of doing it, then I felt guilty if I did not do something and would find time to exercise, even if just in five-minute or 10-minute blocks.

Anyway, if you are struggling to find ways to implement physical activity in your day, then I can highly recommend doing it this way and slowly building up to 30 minutes each day.

According to the federal Department of Health, regular daily exercise can help reduce the risk of some cancers and help with rehabilitation, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, among other things.

Now spring is upon us it is time to set new goals. These will be different for everyone, but there are 13 weeks of spring and plenty of time to establish some good exercise habits of your own. And there are plenty of events coming up to help get you moving. Here are a few things you could consider doing in spring.

It is not too late to sign up for Steptember (steptember上海夜网.au/) or Go for Gynae month (goforgynae上海夜网.au/), where you commit to doing 10,000 steps each day in September to raise awareness and support for much-needed causes while also getting yourself active.

Next week Lifeline Newcastle & Hunter will celebrate suicide prevention with a dawn walk at Fort Scratchley on September 10 (lifelinehunter上海夜网.au).

Run Newcastle is Sunday week and the Maitland River Run (September 27), iStadium Run Newcastle (October 11) and the Fernleigh 15 (October 18) are all coming up.

The change in seasons usually signals various summer sports competitions starting, so get a team together or find a team to join. Summer competitions are a great way to socialise as well as get fitter. Try a parkrun, the weekly free, timed five-kilometre event held in a supportive and encouraging environment all over the Hunter region.

Or join a running club. There are a few free ones like PureRun, held every Wednesdays at 6pm from Darby Street or The Esplanade at Warners Bay.

Ring a few gyms and see what offers they are currently running. You will generally find gyms offering free classes this time of year. Or you could try something totally different like a salsa class, polercise or stand-up paddleboarding.

Renee Valentine is a qualifiedpersonal trainer and mother of [email protected]上海夜网m.

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Bart Cummings: The simple secret to his success

Bart Cummings at his Leilani Lodge stables at Randwick. Photo: Steve ChristoCummings could win posthumous 13th Melbourne CupChris Roots: The legend I knewWhy he was so much better than the restWaterhouse, Abbott lead tributesA legend in every sense of the wordKing of the one-linersObituary
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What was his secret? Beyond all the horse-whispering mysteries, the unerring gut feeling, the gnomish one-liners, behind the sheer sense for the animal, what did Bart Cummings think he had that none of his rivals had?

In 2010, after several months working together on his autobiography, Bart finally trusted me enough to bring it out. From a desk drawer in his woody, carpeted, not-changed-since-the-1970s office at Leilani Lodge in Randwick, he pulled out a packet of cards.

“This,” he said.

They were ordinary file cards covered with his handwriting. Each card had information on a horse: how long it had spelled, the date it returned to the stables, what it ate each day, its training regime, what medical treatment it had received.

“This?” I said.

Conversations with Bart were long but also short, if you know what I mean. And what I wanted to say about the secret cards, but couldn’t, was that they were so mind-bogglingly simple. In fact, if you knew nothing about horses but were given a bunch to look after, you’d probably note precisely this information in much the same way.

“Can I make a copy of one?” I said.


“For the book. It would interest people to see how you go about it.”

Bart reached across and snatched the card away.

“So – that’s a no?”

“They’re secret,” he said. “I don’t want any other trainers knowing about them.”

“But,” I thought how to put this gently, “they’re just common sense, aren’t they?”

He nodded, as if I’d finally got the point. “That’s why we can’t show anyone. Common sense. Nobody else has it.”

As frustrating as it was, the exchange was the nearest I felt I got to capturing the true Bart: the competitiveness, the paranoia, the old-fashioned simplicity, and the mischief, the glee that he’d got away with it under their noses. He was doing what he’d always been doing, what his father had been doing, and the world had over-complicated things, moved on to ideas that were seldom as good as those of the past.

Yet while he preserved the past, Bart did not live in it. He was too competitive, too focused on the next thing coming up, the next horse and the next race, to be great at reminiscing over his life. He was 82 at the time, always gentlemanly, always friendly and available, but conversations were constantly interrupted by chats with his then manager Bill Charles, other staff, owners, vets, or his grandson and protege James, about what he had running in the fourth at Warwick Farm the next day. A new two-year-old held more interest for him than Think Big’s two Melbourne Cups.

But through his horses of the present, you could see his relationships with horses of the past. Towards them he was kindly, glimpsing their quirks and hints of personality, but he wasn’t false or soppy; above all they were riddles to be solved. He was constantly thinking and plotting. So when we talked about some of his greats, such as Saintly or Light Fingers or Galilee or Let’s Elope, he didn’t recall the races so much as the problems leading up to them, the health setbacks, the unforeseen form lapses, the arguments with jockeys. (Actually, not arguments so much as jockeys making mistakes and excuses, and Bart telling them …)

He wasn’t great on some details. Of his father Jim, undoubtedly the biggest influence on Bart’s life, I asked, “What did he look like?”

After a long pause to consider, Bart said: “Normal.”


“Just a normal … man.”

I considered the son of this man: the liquid dark eyes, the whipped-cream eyebrows, the storm front of white hair. Anything but normal.

“Did he look anything like you, Bart, any features you had in common, anything about the way he spoke?”

Bart considered, and nodded. “That’s right,” he eventually said. “Just normal.”

Although he knew clearly where he stood in the racing and sporting world, Bart did see himself as just a normal man, a practitioner of common sense methods that he suspected the rest of the world might have forgotten. He didn’t deal in cliches or fake kind words for his rivals, who he saw as foes, and he could be harsh on those who fell short of his standards, but he had many people working close to him who were loyal for decades, and who loved him dearly.

He and his wife Val were a couple of their generation, unsentimental, bantering cheekily with each other, genuine, opinionated, extremely patriotic, forward-looking and unrelentingly competitive.

Nothing beats winning, he said. But when you tried to draw him on how this drive had made him such an exceptional trainer and unique person, a giant of Australian life – he was beyond flattery, but it was hard to see how the hugeness of his achievement really hit home with him – those dark eyes would blink at you in puzzlement and he would say, “Why would anyone be any different?”

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TIM ROBERTS: Fighting the Farrell fight

The fight for Blackbutt Reserve: Tom Farrell’s passion for the nature site takes centre stage in hi biography, A Powerhouse of a Man.TODAY, Blackbutt Reserve sits in the heart of Newcastle, a wonderful bushland and parkland for all communities to enjoy. Its tranquillity and natural habitat are a joy to experience. Yet few people realise what a battle it was to keep this choice land as a natural reserve.
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In his biography of Tom Farrell, author Christopher Mooney takes the reader through Blackbutt’s history, starting from Farrell’s original ambition to pass on his love of this area for his fellow community members to enjoy, to the more than 40 years of battles he and like-minded supporters sustained and finally overcame to make it happen.

From a young age, Farrell felt that Blackbutt had to be preserved for all future generations. He realised that to fulfil his wish, it was necessary for the public to own the Blackbutt land. The first opportunity occurred in 1932 when the Scottish Australian mining company that originally owned much of Lambton, New Lambton and Kotara released blocks of land for sale in what is now Blackbutt Reserve. Due to the Great Depression, only four blocks of land were sold. Farrell purchased an acre block in Grinsell Street, Kotara, for £45.

He also recognised that local council support was essential to provide sufficient funds to buy up the much larger Blackbutt total land area and gain community support for the land. He enlisted support to call a municipal conference of Hamilton, Newcastle, New Lambton, Wallsend, Carrington and Merewether councils to discuss the issue. The municipal conference passed a unanimous motion that the various owners of the Blackbutt area be approached with a view to donating land for a national reserve.

Although the mining company (the major land-holder) responded favourably, agreeing to make a free dedication of 75acres of land in the Blackbutt area, the councils could not meet the conditions set down by the company due to the difficult economic conditions. Thus, progress towards establishing Blackbutt as a national park was not possible for a number of years.

You will have to wait until next week to learn more, or you could buy Tom Farrell – A Powerhouse of a Man by C.Mooney.

with Peter Kofler

Professor Tim Roberts is director of the University of Newcastle’s Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment.

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