Monthly Archives: September 2018
AN ability to connect with players helped Terang teacher Paul Henriksen land Vic Country’s under 18 coaching role.
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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TO steal a line from Matthew Johns, it was a bludger of a year.
Finishing one game short of the 2013 grand final, the Knights and their supporters were entitled to approach their 2014 campaign with optimism and enthusiasm.
But for all intents and purposes, the season was over before it began.
But if they thought that was the worst thing that could happen to them this year, they were mistaken. Far from hitting rock bottom, it was merely the start of their free fall.
Hamstring injuries to five-eighth Jarrod Mullen in the Auckland Nines and fullback Darius Boyd in a round-one loss to Penrith seemed serious at the time but did not compare to the calamitous night at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on March 24.
That was the game Alex McKinnon suffered a career-ending spinal injury.
Playing, let alone winning, mattered little after that.
The Knights regrouped to beat Cronulla 30-0 six days later – their first victory of the season and one of only two from their first 13 games – but, understandably, coach Wayne Bennett said the team’s focus had shifted to the welfare of their stricken teammate.
‘‘Maybe it’s the hardest week I’ve ever had in coaching,’’ Bennett said.
There were more tough times to come.
On May 14, Zane Tetevano became the second prop the Knights sacked this year after he was convicted in Belmont Local Court of punching and breaking a taxi windscreen.
Tetevano, who played out the season with NSW Cup club Wyong and has signed with Manly for 2015, will face court again on November 28 to plead not guilty to 11 charges relating to an alleged series of attacks on his former girlfriend and her property.
On the field, the Knights were out of the finals race before the Origin series had been decided.
After a 29-12 loss to defending premiers Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on June 14, their 11th from 13 games, Bennett was asked which players were due back from injury, suspension or Origin duty for their next game against the Cowboys.
‘‘We’ve got one in jail [Packer], one in hospital [McKinnon] and one sacked by the club [Tetevano], so they won’t be back,’’ Bennett said with a straight face.
Earlier that day, NRL chief executive Dave Smith fronted a media conference in Newcastle to announce the game’s governing body had taken over from Nathan Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group management company as the Knights’ owners.
In the final months of Tinkler’s turbulent three-year reign, staff and player payments were late and deadlines to secure bank guarantees were missed, despite assurances to the contrary from HSG and Knights management.
This was an unacceptable distraction that created an atmosphere of uncertainty when the players and coach needed a show of strength, solidarity and support from the front office.
The Knights climbed out of wooden-spoon contention with three straight wins over the Cowboys, Eels and Sharks.
But a day of celebration, the culmination of the ‘‘Rise For Alex’’ round to raise funds for their much-loved teammate, ended in disappointment when they lost 22-8 at home to the Titans.
It was McKinnon’s first game at Hunter Stadium since he suffered his neck injury, and he wiped tears from his eyes as his teammates and the crowd stood and applauded him before kick-off, but the Knights could not harness the emotion of the occasion and were well beaten by a team that finished below them.
In another body blow, Boyd admitted himself into a Sydney mental-health clinic three days later seeking treatment for depression. He would not play again this year.
On the same day, a Sydney newspaper had reported the Queensland and Australian star was being investigated for an incident in which $1500 worth of damage was done to a room in a Hunter Valley resort he had stayed at one week earlier.
Bennett announced a fortnight earlier that he would not be back in 2015 for the final year of his four-year contract, ultimately deciding that he would return to Brisbane instead.
‘‘In the history of the club, we have had some tumultuous years, we have had years where we have been close to administration and folding and carried large debts and all sorts of obstacles, but certainly this year takes the cake,’’ departing Knights executive chairman and premiership-winning former captain Paul Harragon said on July 25.
In a rare case of a coach replacing the man who replaced him, the Knights appointed Rick Stone as head coach for the next two years.
Bennett had succeeded Stone at the end of 2011.
Trying to live by the creed ‘‘that which does not kill us makes us stronger’’, the Knights finished with five wins from their last seven games, including victories over the finals-bound Roosters and Storm, unearthing talented brothers Sione and Chanel Mata’utia in the process.
But there was another bitter pill to swallow before the final siren sounded on Newcastle’s season from hell, only on this occasion it was a drama not of their making.
On August 22, forwards Kade Snowden and Jeremy Smith accepted 12-month suspensions from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for unknowingly and unwittingly using banned performance-enhancing substances while playing for Cronulla in 2011.
Their bans, effective immediately, were backdated to November last year and meant they missed the last three games of the season, a 48-6 loss to the Broncos in Brisbane and comprehensive home wins against the Eels (42-12) and Dragons (40-10).
‘‘Maybe in my coaching career, it may have been my finest hour this year here,’’ Bennett said after the victory over the Dragons, when asked about the legacy he had left in Newcastle.
‘‘You laugh … and I know I’m in the results-driven business, but no one knows what we’ve been through here this year except those that have been part of that action.
‘‘These guys have kept turning up every week under a lot of different situations.
‘‘Lots of times this year I wasn’t coaching here, I was just managing situations and making sure it was holding together so we could finish the season with a bit of credibility, which we’ve managed to do.
‘‘And we finished as a team, which was more important to me than anything else.’’
The eight teams that miss the finals usually reflect on a handful of losses they regret more than others.
For the Knights, who finished two wins outside the top eight in 12th spot, they were the home games they dropped against the Raiders, Tigers and Titans.
All three teams finished below them on the ladder.
The Knights remain under the control of the NRL, which after four months in charge is still in the process of setting up a new board to usher in a new ownership and management model.
Even the emergence of Sione and Chanel Mata’utia, who played the last seven games, was tempered by news that they and brother Pat had signed a heads-of-agreement document to join the Bulldogs on four-year deals starting in 2016.
The Knights have until June 30 to convince them to stay put and must fancy their chances based on Sione’s comments at the club’s presentation night earlier this month
‘‘I’m Newcastle through and through. Newcastle is my first option. This is God’s country. I want to stay here with my mum and my family,’’ Sione said.
Bright spots were few and far between, but back-row enforcer Beau Scott was a worthy winner of the club’s Player of the Year award, and he and Sione Mata’utia were named in Australia’s Four Nations squad and Prime Minister’s XIII.
Scott also captained Country Origin, helped NSW take possession of the Origin Shield for the first time since 2005, and was named Dally M second-rower of the year.
Sione Mata’utia will become Australia’s youngest Test representative when he makes his international debut, aged 18 years and 130 days, against England at AAMI Park on Sunday.
At the October 9 presentation night, captain Kurt Gidley was judged Players’ Player and Sione Mata’utia was named Rookie of the Year.
Scott and McKinnon shared the coach’s award, but Bennett, in his last official duties before taking back the reins at the Broncos, praised the entire squad for showing character amid adversity.
‘‘I just thought there were times I couldn’t be more proud of you. There were times I was extremely disappointed in you, but at the end of the day we all came through together, and I think that’s our greatest legacy that we left in 2014,’’ Bennett said.
‘‘We left the club in pretty good shape, so that when you start 2015 there is a lot of hope, a lot of belief that you can go on and be that team that you want to be, but you can’t do it with all those distractions that happened this year and happened in the last couple of years.
‘‘Great clubs don’t have those issues.
‘‘Great clubs have problems, but they keep it in house.
‘‘But, to your credit, as I said, I thought you were remarkable at times and I was really proud to be your coach in the end because you were doing your absolute best and that’s all I’ve ever asked of you, as you know.’’
The Incitec site at Kooragang Island.TERRORISM and the risk of an unlikely but catastrophic ammonium nitrate explosion on Kooragang Island dominated a three-hour Planning Assessment Commission meeting in Newcastle on Wednesday.
Two commission members, Brian Gilligan and Alan Coutts, heard from 18 speakers, all of whom were opposed to a proposal from Incitec Pivot to build an ammonium nitrate factory next to the existing Orica plant.
Incitec already uses the site to store ammonium nitrate and plans to build a manufacturing plant were unveiled in 2011.
In October 2012, Incitec deferred a decision on whether to proceed with the $600 million project, although the company went ahead with its application anyway.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment recommended approval last month.
Given this history, various speakers asked why the project should be approved if the company did not intend to build it.
But the most heart-felt concern was the threat of an ammonium nitrate explosion, whether from an accident or from terrorism.
Stockton resident Keith Craig said that during the 2011 Orica controversy – when poisonous hexavelent chromium leaked from the plant over surrounding suburbs – the government had said such a plant would not be built today.
‘‘But here it is recommending another one be built next door,’’ he said.
Ian Shorland, who moved to Stockton from Sydney three years ago, said Incitec, Orica and a nearby bio-diesel facility were ‘‘soft targets’’ for terrorists.
Explosives expert Tony Richards said that if Incitec was approved there would be enough ammonium nitrate on Kooragang for an explosion to rival Hiroshima.
Mr Richards said 40,000 Novocastrians were living within what he described as a four-kilometre radius ‘‘kill zone’’ surrounding Orica and Incitec.
Mr Richards and others went through historical lists of ammonium nitrate accidents, including a truck explosion near Charleville in Queensland last month and the West Fertiliser Company disaster in Texas in April last year that killed 15 people and injured 160.
Various speakers criticised the Planning Department for saying the ‘‘societal risk’’ of a ‘‘major accident’’ at Kooragang was ‘‘considered to be negligible’’.
The department said it took independent advice on the risks but ‘‘detailed information’’ about ‘‘security sensitive ammonium nitrate’’ was contained in four confidential appendices to its report.
THE south-west should be open to recent interest from overseas investors because it had benefited from previous successive waves of foreign investment such as Dutch immigration, Corangamite councillor Neil Trotter says.
Cr Trotter made the comments while endorsing a report by Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor in which he said foreign ownership of farm land, under controlled circumstances, “would not necessarily be a bad thing”.
Cr O’Connor has previously backed a proposal by the Linear Capital investment firm, which has support from Chinese investors, to buy up to 50 dairy farms in the south-west.
Overseas interest in local dairy farms has also come from the newly-listed Australian Dairy Farms company that plans to buy 14 dairy farms in the south-west.
Australian Dairy Farms launched its shares on the stock exchange this week and attracted strong interest from Asian investment firms.
Cr Trotter said he was surprised at the furore over the proposal to buy 50 dairy farms because investment was “sorely needed” in the agriculture sector.
“It will strengthen our economy,” Cr Trotter said.
Fears about the overseas interest was likely to come from those “not used to the new state of play”, he said.
The interest from corporate investors in local dairy farms would allow farmers who wanted to leave the industry to get out, he said.
However, Scotts Creek farmer and real estate agent David Falk said the key to increasing investment and production in the dairy industry was to lift the milk price rather than foreign investment.
Mr Falk said a buy-up of local dairy farms by foreign investors was likely to only take milk away from existing processors and not increase production.
He understood many of the dairy farmers in the Heytesbury area who had been approached by Linear Capital were “some of our best farmers” and were already “producing to the max”.
Mr Falk said he knew of no farms yet being sold to Linear Capital — only that they had been approached.
“These guys (the investors) are picking off some of the best farms in the district,” Mr Falk said.
“They are getting the 500-cows-plus farms.
“Our current factories will suffer.
I do not see the benefit to our community.”
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ATM THEFTS: Police are appealing for information about the theft of money from two ATMs at Thornton.Police are hunting a group of thieves who targeted two ATMs at Thornton Shopping Centre in the early hours of Tuesday.
Thieves gained entry to the centre on the corner of Thomas CookDrive and Taylor Avenue sometime after midnight on Monday and stole a substantial amount of money from the Greater and Redi ATMs.
Police said the offenders were well organised and had cut the communication lines of the machines,which meantit was some time before anyone realised a robbery had taken place.
Central Hunter police are liaising with Strike Force Chiver from the Property Crime Squad, to consider the possibility the Thornton robberiesare linked to a number of similar thefts across NSW.
Central Hunter crime manager Detective Inspector John Zdrilic said police had appealedto the public for information.
“They were certainly well organised, it doesn’t have the hallmarks of any local criminals,” he said.
“This had a high level of knowledge and expertise.”
Inspector Zdrilic said it was possible shoppers had seen the offenders in and around the complex in the weeks leading up to the thefts.
“Obviously, with the amount of planning involved, which was significant, we want to extend our appeal to anyone who would have seen anything at the time of the offence, from midnight to 4.30am,” he said.
“Also, anyone who noticed anything suspicious or people hanging around the area in the days or weeks leading up [to the thefts].
“You would think it was not the first time they were there.”
Anyone with information should contact Central Hunter detectives on 4934 0200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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