Monthly Archives: July 2018

Andrew Gaze says Josh Childress NBL ban ‘light’, but Jesse Wagstaff content

Andrew Gaze fears the “light” one-match NBL ban handed to American star Josh Childress could have negative repercussions throughout Australian basketball, but the player who was hit – Canberra’s Jesse Wagstaff – has brushed it off as part of the game.
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Childress will miss just one match for the Sydney Kings despite pleading guilty to bringing the game into disrepute for what Gaze has described as “one of the biggest hits ever seen in the NBL”.

Former NBA forward Childress charged at and clobbered Wagstaff, now playing with the Perth Wildcats, with his forearm in a heated reaction to a physical screen. The incident has attracted nearly 1 million YouTube views.

An NBL tribunal cleared Childress of striking with his elbow but banned him for one game and fined him $3750 for another charge of unduly rough play. He was fined an additional $3750 for bringing the game into disrepute.

“Based on the evidence I have seen, I think that [the punishment] is a little light-on,” said Gaze.

“If the same incident had happened in an AFL game I think it’s highly unlikely that… he would have got off any lighter than three or four games suspension and possibly a fine as well.

“I think when you have these type of instances and it’s seen to be punished in a way that most people consider relatively minor then you run the risk of that having a rippling effect [to lower grades of the sport].”

Wagstaff said the incident was part of what was a very physical game and didn’t hold a grudge with Childress.

“Both teams were playing pretty hard that night,” Wagstaff said. “That’s nothing new in the NBL.

“It’s a pretty physical league and guys go at it pretty hard.”

“It was probably one of the hardest [hits]. I’ve had a few good ones against me, but that’s up there.

“I clipped him [on the screen], I got him blind and he kind of spun into it. From all accounts, his mouth was bleeding because his mouth went into my shoulder. I knew he was probably pretty dirty.”

Childress has deactivated his Twitter account after copping vicious racial abuse on social media over the incident.

But he said on Wednesday he did not think the abusers should face punishment if tracked down, saying people were entitled to free speech.

He has expressed remorse over the incident, and said he would like to contact Wagstaff, presumably to apologise.

“Obviously, it was a feeling of embarrassment, having to walk that long walk back to the locker room, and getting booed and all that stuff. It’s not my proudest moment,” he said.

“I think the process in itself was fair. But it’s not my call to say what type of suspension I get. That’s the tribunal’s call.”

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Honey Badger Nick Cummins still dreams of Wallabies World Cup berth

Badger boy … Nick Cummins playing for the Western Force. Badger boy … Nick Cummins playing for the Western Force.
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Badger boy … Nick Cummins playing for the Western Force.

Badger boy … Nick Cummins playing for the Western Force.

Former Wallaby Nick Cummins still dreams of a World Cup call-up, revealing he will make a last-ditch attempt to revive his dream by asking for a temporary release from Japan to be eligible to play for Australia.

But the Australian rugby cult hero known as the Honey Badger believes his chances of a Super Rugby comeback are slim, and says he will honour his two-year deal with the Coca Cola Red Sparks regardless of his World Cup fate.

Cummings will play for the Barbarians against the Wallabies at Twickenham on Sunday morning Australian time after his shock decision to quit Australian rugby this year to start a lucrative deal in Japan.

The winger said he would only consider a return to Super Rugby with the Western Force to repay the club for allowing him to make the move to Asia, and has held initial talks about a move back to Perth.

“Things pan out for a certain reason … I’ve had a great time in Japan with some new experiences. If there is a small chance to go back to Super Rugby next year and be eligible for the World Cup, I’d take it,” Cummins said in London.

“At the moment, the contract is in Japan for two years, but depending if the Japanese clubs can bend a little bit. It’s probably not likely … things have been spoken about but it’s not that simple.

“They’re pretty down-the-line over there and that’s fine, the contract is what it is and I’m happy to go through with it, I wouldn’t have signed it.”

There are continual calls for the ARU to relax its eligibility rules to allow overseas-based players to represent the Wallabies.

The ARU will introduce a sabbatical clause to contracts of three years or more from 2016 to give players a chance to earn more money in France or Japan without sacrificing a chance to play for Australia.

“Australia has since changed the rules on sabbaticals and maybe [my move] contributed to that, I don’t know,” Cummins said.

“It was going to change at some point and I thought maybe I could help the change speed up a bit. I’m content with my decision and happy to go through with it.”

There are fears of a player exodus after the World Cup with cashed-up European and Japanese clubs ready to swoop on Australia’s talent, including Will Genia, James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Cummins said his future was “an open book” but was unsure if Australia would suffer from a mass departure.

“A couple will bail, probably more than last [World Cup] but I don’t think it will be too different,” Cummins said.

“Not often do you get to do a World Cup, that’s why I’ll get back to Japan and ask again [if I can go back to Australia].”

Cummins described his move to Japan as “adding a string to my bow”, embracing the culture despite some of his “Badgerisms” getting lost in the language translation.

Cummins was referred to as a the “Honey Budger” by a local magazine and his “up the guts and swing it wide” playing philosophy draws blank looks.

But that hasn’t stopped Cummins from soaking up a new experience, recently returning from a trip to Mongolia where he “lived with nomads” and went hunting in the mountains with partner Martina.

“[Martina] knows if you want to roll with the Badge, you’ve got to be quick on your feet,” Cummins said.

“They stare at you pretty funny [in Japan], I don’t think they’ve seen hair like this. They give you the bloody eyeballs.

“They’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever come in contact with … Last week we flew to Mongolia for a bit of hunting and exploring Altai Mountains. That was an experience.

“Just living with a nomad family and watching how they survive … hunt foxes and rabbits. [Not Honey Badgers], you wouldn’t catch one of them.”

Cummins played 15 Tests for Australia and 74 Super Rugby games for the Force before being released on compassionate grounds.

The Wallabies have been through a tumultuous time with Ewen McKenzie quitting as coach last week and the ongoing Kurtley Beale-Di Patston drama.

“There’s a bit of carry-on at the moment … the intent is there. It will take a flushout before they can start to get some traction, but I’m sure with [Michael] Cheika in there and they’ll come out hard against the Barbarians … we’ll be waiting for them,” Cummins said.

“Even though the competition will be fierce, the beer after will be sweeter.”

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Smith slammed over double standards

Resignation: Former NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon. Photo: Andy Zakeli Resignation: Former NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon. Photo: Andy Zakeli
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Resignation: Former NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon. Photo: Andy Zakeli

Resignation: Former NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon. Photo: Andy Zakeli

NRL CEO Dave Smith. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Judiciary chairman Paul Conlon has accused NRL chief executive Dave Smith of gross double standards, claiming he turned a blind eye to a News Corp attack on panel members earlier this year while prepared to exact “swift retribution” on Paul Gallen for an errant drunken tweet.

On an embarrassing day for the Smith administration, Conlon sensationally resigned on Wednesday morning because he had “never witnessed a penalty more disproportionate to the offending conduct than that dealt out to Paul Gallen”.

And the fallout from Gallen’s sanctions is set to continue on Thursday, with NSWRL’s George Peponis issued with a “please explain” over his relatively sedate remarks at the weekend in support of the Blues captain.

It’s no secret that Conlon has been frustrated with the NRL for some time, but the tipping point has been the $50,000 fine handed out to Gallen, who last week posted on social media a message that made reference to “no other c— from the NRL” while he was holidaying in Hawaii.

In early April, Conlon had asked Smith to take strong action over a News Corp report after Storm forward Jordan McLean was suspended for seven matches for his tackle that has left Knights back-rower Alex McKinnon in a wheelchair.

The report claimed NRL bosses had ordered the judiciary panel of Mal Cochrane, Bob Lindner and Chris McKenna to make a “grim determination” of a suspension of more than “five to 12 weeks”.

Conlon was furious at the alleged attack on the judiciary’s integrity. Yet his barrage of emails to Smith and chief operating officer Jim Doyle fell on “deaf ears”, he claims.

“For whatever reason, the NRL was simply unconcerned in respect of this attack,” Conlon wrote in his resignation letter, which Fairfax Media has obtained, to Smith on Wednesday.

“Contrast that inaction with the swift retribution by the NRL when a player tweets an expletive aimed in its direction. My role as a judge involves ensuring that punishment fits the crime. My role as judiciary chairman involves ensuring that charged players’ rights are protected and that they receive a fair and just hearing. I have never witnessed a penalty more disproportionate to the offending conduct than that dealt out to Paul Gallen.”

Smith and the NRL have been under enormous pressure since deciding to heavily fine Gallen for his Twitter rant following the sacking of Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce.

“Noice [sic] actually cared about players from Cronulla’s feelings. Couldn’t say that about any other c— from Nrl,” Gallen posted before removing it five minutes later.

Gallen has seven days to respond to the breach notice, but said earlier this week he intended to fight the $50,000 fine and the ban on him playing for Australia next year unless he sits a leadership course.

Conlon said the NRL had failed to take into the account the depression Gallen is suffering because of the ASADA investigation over the past two years and subsequent drug ban that expires at the end of this month.

“I feel I am unable to continue my role in an organisation that is so self-absorbed that [it] is devoid of empathy for those that might be struggling,” he wrote to Smith.

Indeed, the saga is quickly turning on the NRL.

The NSWRL is under pressure from head office to sack Gallen as NSW captain. Peponis, who is considered one of the most respected figures in the code, has been asked to explain his support of Gallen late last week.

“At this stage it’s a matter between Paul Gallen, the NRL and the Sharks,” Peponis said. “Poor old Gal has been to hell and back in the last 12 months. It’s inappropriate what he said [but] he feels like he didn’t get a lot of support. I actually feel sorry for the bloke.”

ARL Commission chairman John Grant has asked Peponis to explain those remarks at Thursday’s chairman’s meeting in Sydney, although it’s now unerstood Peponis won’t attend with the commission having already handed Gallen his reprimand.

Peponis sent a missive back over the weekend. In a letter to Grant, which has been obtained by Fairfax Media, the Bulldogs and Kangaroos legend says he will “not be drawn into an argument that has nothing to do with us at present”.

“The issue of the captaincy of NSW is not something which we would or should be discussing until next year and certainly not now in the context of this matter. If this matter remains unresolved at that time, the Board would take it into consideration.”

An NRL spokesman on Thursday said: “It is normal to expect that both John Grant and Dr Peponis would have regular discussions about the game and key issues as they arise – that should be unsurprising. Both Mr Grant and Dr Peponis will no doubt continue to have discussions. We thank Mr Conlon for his service to the game but will not comment on the matters raised in his letter. Paul Gallen has seven days in which to respond to the breach notice and it is appropriate that this process runs its course.”

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New police powers proposed by Napthine

State election full coverage
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Victorian police will be given new powers to secretly search homes – for crimes that could include theft and minor assaults – if the Napthine government is re-elected.

Lawyers have criticised an exposure draft for a new state government bill to overhaul criminal investigation powers, saying they will lead to more children as young as 10 being fingerprinted.

Under the proposal, quietly released by the state government this week, the threshold for obtaining fingerprints and DNA samples would be reduced.

Fingerprints and DNA samples would be able to be obtained from people “suspected” on reasonable grounds to have committed a relevant offence, rather than the current threshold of “believed” to have committed an offence.

And covert search warrants – allowing police to secretly search premises – could be issued for indictable offences carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or more. They are currently reserved for only terrorism-related offences.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman and barrister Greg Barns said the Coalition’s proposal would lead to an increase in arrests and profiling, and more 10 to 14-year-olds would have their fingerprints stored on a national database.

“A 10-year-old’s involvement in the criminal justice system should be kept to a minimum. If police can round up a kid on the basis that they have a suspicion they might be able to commit an offence, it becomes very problematic.”

He said the exposure draft released by the Napthine government had no policy justification.

Covert warrants were often abused in Australia, he said, because there is not a strongly enforceable right to privacy.

“They are very hard to monitor and there is very little form of redress. They are under the radar.”

Co-chair of the Law Institute of Victoria’s criminal law section, Sam Norton, said the proposed expansion of covert search powers trampled on the privacy of Victorians.

“They have previously only been reserved for terrorist-related offences. Now it would apply to offences with a maximum penalty of 10 years. Bear in mind that theft has a maximum penalty of 10 years. This is a massive broadening of those powers.”

He said there needed to be rigorous oversight of covert search warrants.

The exposure draft released by the government said covert search warrants may only be issued where a police officer of Inspector rank or abobe authorises the application. Courts must also consider whether it is necessary for the premises to be searched without the occupiers knowledge.

It is understood the government anticipates that lowering the threshold for taking DNA and fingerprints will not disproportionately affect any age group.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the proposed bill would ensure Victoria Police had the powers they needed to protect Victorians.

“Simplifying and updating these laws will also provide greater clarity and certainty about the law both for police and for those being investigated.”

He said the threshold of reasonable suspicion was consistent with other jurisdictions.

In a separate proposal released by the Coalition on Wednesday, serious under-age offenders would have their criminal record made public if they were later jailed as an adult.

In a law and order election pitch by the Victorian government, serious crimes committed by youths including murder, sexual offences and armed robbery would be made public if the youth reoffends as an adult.

The law change would apply to offences committed on or after January 1, 2005, and would lift the prohibition restricting the publication of under-age offences.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the current restrictions were designed to allow a young offender the opportunity to turn away from crime without having it on the public record for the rest of their lives.

But he said those who reoffend as adults “forfeited the opportunity they were given and the community is entitled to know the full picture about their serious criminal record”.

“Adults who commit serious crimes should no longer be entitled to have their past crimes hidden from the public,” he said.

-with Tom Cowie

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New CEO takes up South Coast health reins

Margot Mains is the new CEO of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
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Dayeight on the job and Margot Mains has settled into her new role as chief executive officer of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

Ms Mains has moved to Wollongong from South Australia where she worked as the chief executive officer of the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, an area she said had a similar demographic to the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.

On her first meeting with the region’s journalists, Ms Mains pressed she was big on community consultation and strengthening clinical leadership.

The former nurse, who has a bachelor of laws, has held several senior leadership roles in the New Zealand health system.

This is her fifth role as a CEO.

She replaces Sue Browbank, who retired this month after 40 years in the region’s health services.

Ms Mains said she had a strong commitment to the delivery of safe, high-quality, integrated health services that added value and avoided wasted.

“I think there are some exciting opportunities and challenges which will be of great benefit,” she said. “I’ve seen some fantastic initiatives here and they are doing a good job but I think you can always improve on it.”

For now she said she would take a step back and follow the plan put in place by the previous administration.

She also took an interim hands-off approach to criticism that mental health services at Shellharbour Hospital had been recently downgraded.

“I’m not commenting because it’s only day eight,” she said. “I want to step back and see how we are providing mental health services throughout the district and whether it’s relevant to needs. Normally with mental health services there are significant challenges and it needs a systems-wide approach, it’s not just beds.”

Ms Mains will visit the region’s nine hospital sites to meet staff over the next few weeks.

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Hundreds of Illawarra workers face axe

“There’s definitely concern that there could be a large number of people who won’t retain their positions.”Hundreds of Illawarra public servants are facing the axe next year, according to the public sector union, under new rules for temporary workers.
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Public Service Association south east regional organiser Tony Heathwood said its Illawarra members were extremely concerned about the new laws, which could result in job loss for temporary employees unless they are offered permanent work.

The new Government Sector Employment Act, which came into force on February 24, prevents temporary staff from working for more than four years with the same government agency.

It includes allowing agencies to manage long-term temporary employment arrangements “in line with business needs and fair recruitment processes”.

A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission said agencies would be given extra time to “consider whether to recruit appropriately where there is a continuing need for temporary employment, convert existing temporary staff to ongoing employment, or review the business need for the roles”.

But Mr Heathwood claimed many workers were at risk.

“This is definitely going to have an impact in the Illawarra,” he said.

“We’re wondering how many of these people will be re-employed, especially with the cut-off date looming.

“There’s definitely concern that there could be a large number of people who won’t retain their positions.”

The Illawarra’s 5000 public servants mainly work in family and community service (FACS) roles or in the education and age care and disability industries.

But Mr Heathwood believes smaller agencies, which cannot absorb job losses within their staffing numbers, would be hit the hardest.

“Those smaller agencies will suffer the most dramatic change,” he said.

“It’s the departments that have a lot of temporary employees and just can’t absorb the loss of people that will definitely feel it the worst.”

Mr Heathwood noted many employees had already expressed concerns about increased workloads, particularly the demand of having to constantly train new staff.

“We already know that temporary employment increases the workload of permanent staff just by its nature,” Mr Heathwood said.

“When you bring in temporary employees, you have to train them up so you give them the knowledge, the skills and the experience, only for them to leave after a year if they are offered a permanent job somewhere else or their contract isn’t renewed.

“Permanent staff then have to go through the whole process again — it’s not effective and it’s not the most efficient use of time or resources.”

The association has written to each department and agency, seeking a copy of its finalised transitional plan for temporary employees, and met with the Public Service Commissioner about members’ concerns.

A government spokesman said the union’s claims were a part of a Labor and union scare campaign.

He said public sector agencies were negotiating with unions and employees over every employee to make more of them permanent.

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Harry Hofman’s family and friends attend funeralPHOTOS

Harry Hofman.Harry Hofman will remain ­forever young.
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As the famous song played at Beresfield Crematorium yesterday young adults embraced as they struggled to come to terms with the shock loss of their much loved friend.

Bereaved family, sporting teammates and former teachers were also among the hundreds who gathered at the funeral service to remember the 18-year-old’s life, which was tragically cut short last week.

Mourners spilled from inside the chapel to the lawns outside that basked in sunshine.

Harry Hofman’s family and friends attend funeral | PHOTOS GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

GOODBYE HARRY: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to a young man who was taken too early. RIP Harry Hofman.

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Bacchus reborn as Central

Hugh Halpin and Sean Blakemore in the new Central restaurant and bar. Picture: Marina NeilTHE doors of the former Bacchus restaurant reopen this week to a new dawn in the life of the old Mission Theatre building on King Street.
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The new restaurant and bar, Central, claims the name the building was given when it was built in 1903 – Central Hall.

The velvet curtains and linen-clad dining tables that lined the chef-hatted Bacchus restaurant have been replaced by recycled wood, industrial steel and delineated dining-drinking spaces.

Central is a Matilda Bay Brewery themed bar with a restaurant promising a simpler palette then its fine-dining predecessor.

Bacchus almost consistently earned a chef’s hat in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide Awards until it abruptly closed last year.

New owner, pub and restaurateur Hugh Halpin, said he bought Bacchus because he wanted to take on a challenge.

‘‘There’s no other building like this in Newcastle,’’ Mr Halpin said. ‘‘If we didn’t reinvent it, it was going to sit empty.’’

Mr Halpin, an Irishman recently returned to Newcastle, his home of 22 years, hopes the new venture will bring more people inside the ‘‘iconic Australian building’’.

Newcastle chef Jimmi Hill will serve ‘‘simple things, done well’’, Mr Halpin said.

The menu at the 120-seat restaurant will range from steak to schnitzel to pork belly to barramundi sliders, he said – ‘‘Our version of pub food.’’

The bar which features transparent beer fonts showcasing the range of Matilda craft beers and ciders pays homage to the building’s origins as a Methodist mission with a church pew divider and Samoan altar.

The Central Hall was built in 1903. Picture: Newcastle Regional Library

Mr Halpin and his business partner Sean Blackmore also plan to open a cafe in the building foyer in coming weeks.

Central is one of a string of venues that promise to breathe life into the inner-city King Street strip.

A development application has been approved at 218 King Street for a restaurant-come-micro brewery.

Former Murray’s head brewer Shawn Sherlock has confirmed he will be a director of FogHorn BrewHouse. But Mr Sherlock, who will also be head brewer at FogHorn, said the venture was still at stage one.

‘‘It’s a very exciting opportunity,’’ he said.

Mr Halpin said the new venues, including Napoli Centrale pizzeriaand the refurbished Lucky hotel were reinvigorating the area.

‘‘There are a lot of people living in town who want to socialise and then you have people coming in to go out … it’s becoming a hub which is a positive thing for Newcastle,’’ he said.

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One-on-one skills earn Henriksen Victoria Country under 18 coaching role

AN ability to connect with players helped Terang teacher Paul Henriksen land Vic Country’s under 18 coaching role.
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New Victoria Country under 18 coach Paul Henriksen. 141029AS22 Piucture: AARON SAWALL

Henriksen will lead the side at the AFL under 18 national championships — the elite pathway program for draft hopefuls — next year.

His appointment, announced in Camperdown yesterday, followed more than a decade gathering experience at local, TAC Cup and state levels.

Henriksen, 38, is a former Hampden league junior mentor and assistant coach at the Geelong Falcons.

He was Vic Country under 18 assistant coach from 2009 to 2011 before taking on its head coaching role at under 16 level for the past three seasons.

The Terang College teacher, who is father to 18-month-old Jonty, said the opportunity to coach some of the state’s most talented up-and-comers was one he couldn’t refuse.

“I say to kids and even to players ‘come on, get out of your comfort zone’ so for me this is practice what you preach,” Henriksen said.

He thanked his wife Leesa for her support, said his coaching methods incorporated technology and had a strong focus on building rapport with players.

“At this level it is pretty important for me to challenge the comfortable and comfort the challenged,” he said.

“The days of ranting and raving (are gone). Yeah there is a time and a place when you’ve got to be strong, but you have also got to be able to give them a cuddle at the same time and look after them because some of those players even though they’re elite, do have many frailties.

“You have to make sure they know you care.

“If you care about your players and can actually empathise with them and talk to them when they’re down, they actually can take a little bit if you’re strong towards them because they know deep down it’s not personal.” AFL Victoria high performance manager Leon Harris said Henriksen was the perfect replacement for outgoing coach Mark Ellis.

“We’re up against it all the time because of time constraints, training constraints but the beauty of it is he knows the program and will give our guys the best opportunities so it’s fantastic,” he said.

“Coaching is about one-on-ones and the strength of Henry is his one-on-one teaching and personal skills.”

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Controlled fire burn for Helensburgh

Rural Fire Service crews will undertake hazard reduction burns at Helensburgh at the weekend.
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Around 30 RFS members will burn back scrub and other fuel between Parkeshead Street and Princes Highway at Helensburgh on Saturday, with the burn expected to continue for most of the day.

“Hazard reduction is a vital element in helping to reduce the intensity of bush,” said Superintendent Richard Cotterill, RFS Illawarra Zone Manager.

“These controlled burns will help protect assets in the area and help firefighters control any future bushfires.”

Residents in the area are advised to keep doors and windows closed, remove washing from clothes lines, and keep pets in protected areas.

Motorists are advised to slow down, wind windows up and turn headlights on if driving through smoke.

File picture.

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