SIMON WALKER: Topping off the guru lists

SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive
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THERE are certain times in every life when one wonders if one has been successful.

That time might arrive with a glance at one’s superannuation balance, and the dazzling lack of zeroes at the end of it.

Or it might be a glance at one’s waistline and how it’s impeding one’s view of one’s less-than-dazzling super statement. This might not be a bad thing.

Or it may come with a glance at one’s kids, who may or may not get out of juvie within the month.

We’re all different and it’s natural to look for ways to measure up, preferably with a sense of humour, because you might need it.

Inevitably, if you wonder long and hard enough, you’ll end up on the internet reading “guru lists”.

Those scientifically compiled tables of signs, omens, psychopathies arranged in no particular order by people who may have sold pyramid schemes in a former life.

Designed to inform if you are successful “in the now”, or likely to be in the soon-to-be-arriving now – that’s guru talk for “the future” – prior to death, which is a sure indicator you need a new guru.

You know the lists I’m talking about.

Guides like: “10 things you need to stop doing if you are going to be successful”.

I’m always surprised No1 on this type of list is not: Stop taking the piss out of these lists.

Or: “11 things you need to start doing if you are going to be successful.”

Getting off your arse and doing something rarely seems to get spelt out.

Then of course there’s the “12 signs you are successful and simply unaware of it.”

Often cited in the “13 hard-core pieces of evidence you’re in denial” list.

And rarely referred to in the “14.5 sociopathic tendencies of millionaires”.

That’s because millionaires are focused, they think big, they make mistakes (often with other people’s money) before making truckloads of their own.

Based on that standard they may be totally unaware that they are successful, but you’re not, courtesy of the guru lists you might want to copy in your darker moments.

Like when you contemplate your super balance.

Yes, you can get can transported out of your comfort zone reading these lists.

And usually, moving out of your comfort zone is No9 on such lists.

It’s all about manipulating misgivings. I mean, moulding mindsets.

That’s why I warmed to one I stumbled across the other day on a business-type “yeah baby, go for it” website.

It was called “20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires”.

This was a list I could get my teeth into because it combined the idea of being probably not that successful in the now with the possibility of being hopefully a bit more successful sometime in the soon-to-be-arriving now, prior to death.

I noticed early on that chewing your fingernails did not rate a mention as one of the habits.

But I read on anyhow because the suspense was killing me.

According to this particular guru it’s all about “Taking one ray of light and combining them all to become the sun”.

In fact, one was urged to put that concept to one’s 20-year-old self and ask him or her what constitutes success.

Knowing my 20-year-old self, I believe he may well have asked what I’d been smoking. And if I had any spare. But I got the gist of where this list was coming from.

Reverse engineering. Envisioning the end product, you, and working backwards through the process that led to its arrival.

If this process seems alarming, I suggest you refer back to the “12 signs you’re successful but unaware of it” before proceeding.

I did because I was struggling for claret at that moment. I mean clarity.

One trait top of the “20 habits of eventual millionaires” list I found easy to understand was: “Avoid death.”

String that one out as long as possible I would have thought. A little obvious but a good indication of the level of nitty gritty detail this guru was prepared to go into.

Gurus should never get too specific.

Another habit that didn’t seem so self-evident was: “Every day be around people who are kind to you and love you.”

Ironic in a Catch 22 type of way, depending on where you work and how things are going at home.

Which is OK because the next habit is: “Solve difficult gratitude problems.”

Apparently it helps to be grateful for things that really give you the gee willikers.

As the guru outlines, it’s the difference between being scared in a movie and saying, “wait, it’s just a movie”.

Except it’s not a movie.

Speaking of movies, the next habit is a shining light: “Write down 10 ideas a day.”

A great idea, unless that idea you’re writing repeatedly is, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Planting seeds is recommended because, according to my guru, 50 per cent of flowers come from 1 per cent of seeds.

I get lost when it comes to such garden variety mathematics, but I can’t help suspecting it could help when buying a Lotto ticket, and may also have applications regarding my super statement.

Hopefully that’s something I can measure up in the long term and tick off my guru list when it comes to signs of success.

Refugees in Indonesia go on hunger strike to protest delays in resettlement

Refugees in Pekanbaru on the Indonesian island of Sumatra go on a hunger strike to protest against delays to their resettlement in a third country. Photo: Supplied The refugees in Pekanbaru come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar. Photo: Supplied
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The n government cut its refugee intake from Indonesia last year. Photo: Supplied

Jakarta: A group of 120 refugees stuck in Pekanbaru, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, have gone on a hunger strike to protest their frustration over delays to their resettlement in a third country.

Ahmad Zaki, a Hazara refugee from Pakistan, said the refugees wanted the UN refugee agency to come to Pekanbaru to discuss their resettlement cases and open an office in the Sumatran city.

“We are waiting for our resettlement process from more than one year,” Mr Zaki said. “I want to go to or any other country.”

The men, who are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar, have been found to be genuine refugees by the UNHCR. Their accommodation, medical care and a living stipend is paid for by the International Organisation of Migration.

“We tried to contact UNHCR many times. They make excuses every time. They reached other cities every two to three months regularly,” Mr Zaki said.

About 13,000 asylum seekers and refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia.

Many found to be genuine refugees remain stranded in the archipelago while the UNHCR tries to find a third country in which to resettle them.

In an interview with Fairfax Media last week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Indonesia was not a destination country for refugees.

“So we hope that countries like could take more. But of course I understand the domestic situation,” she said. “Shared responsibility, shared burden is very important. I leave it to the UNCHR to have a discussion with destination countries that belong to the Convention [relating to the Status of Refugees].”

The UNCHR’s Indonesia representative, Thomas Vargas, strongly advised the men against the hunger strike. “It’s not going to solve their problem or have their resettlement cases expedited,” Mr Vargas said.

“It just causes a lot of problems and the possibility of harm to themselves, which we would consider to be terrible.”

Mr Vargas said resettlement was a long process, which could take up to two years in Indonesia due to the limited resettlement places available globally and the various procedures that needed to be completed to comply with requirements made by resettlement countries.

He said the UNHCR regularly visited all locations where refugees were in lndonesia and was about to post a few staff members permanently in Pekanbaru given the high volume.

However he warned this did not mean the resettlement process would move any quicker.

“The UNHCR can’t force countries to take refugees,” Mr Vargas said. He said the Syrian crisis made it even harder to find resettlement options for refugees coming out of Indonesia.

Former immigration minister Scott Morrison announced on November 18 last year that would cut its annual intake from Indonesia from 600 people to 450. He said anyone who registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia after July 1, 2014, would  not be eligible to come to . The intention, he said at the time, was to “drain the pool” of asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia.

Mr Vargas said while this had had an impact, he was appreciative that continued to accept refugees who had registered with the UNHCR before July 1 last year.

He said resettlement was only one of a range of protection options.

“We recognise that a very small fraction of the refugee population globally will ever be resettled, which is why we also look at other options and appeal to governments for family reunification, temporary protection and providing labour [programs] for refugees to be able to take care of themselves.”

The Walk: One man’s extraordinary risks

Frenchman Philippe Petit walked across a cable that had been illegally strung between Manhattan’s Twin Towers in 1974.THE WALK (PG)
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Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Guillaume Baillargeon, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Screening: General release

Rating: ★★★

THE true story of Philippe Petit – the Frenchman who kept onlookers enthralled for 45 minutes while he walked, sat and lay on a cable strung between the tops of Manhattan’s Twin Towers in 1974 – was told in James Marsh’s documentary Man on Wire (2008). It was a tale of a phenomenally brave and gifted obsessive, charismatic enough to draw others into helping him fulfil his lofty ambition.

But, like all obsessives, Petit found it hard to be grateful. And when it was all over, these loyal disciples fell to earth with a bump while he gave himself over to being adored by a much larger and louder audience.

Robert Zemeckis’ take on the Frenchman’s great adventure gets some of this right. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Petit is an impish charmer deaf and blind to anybody’s state of mind but his own. He crackles with nervous energy tempered, when necessary, by his mighty powers of concentration. But you get little sense of the hard-headedness that took him through six years of preparation.

Full of Gallic shrugs and merry montages, the early scenes have him as a whimsical clown working the streets of a Paris that looks as if it’s been plucked straight out of Amelie. Here, he meets Ben Kingsley as a circus aerialist extraordinaire and begins to learn from him.

Pretty soon he’s rehearsing for the big event with a wire walk between the spires of Notre Dame, and it’s not long before he’s off to New York with his devoted girlfriend, Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon), and a small team of pals willing to risk jail to help him get to the top of the towers.

I was so pleased to leave behind Zemeckis’ cloying vision of Paris that I didn’t mind the speed of all this. But once we’re in New York, we switch genres with a suddenness that’s a little disorienting.

We’re now in a caper movie, with the shift in worlds signalled by a score reminiscent of The Pink Panther. The group of conspirators take on more recruits, including a couple of stoners who look as if they’d be felled by vertigo if they attempted to stand upright, and a hardware-store salesman whose talents as a fast-talker are to prove indispensable when the time comes for the group to bluff their way into the tower building, disguised as workmen.

Such an enthusiastic embrace of the story’s more farcical elements does toss up some easy laughs but putting the group on a par with the Keystone Cops also limits the degree of sophistication that the script is able to bring to the interplay between their personalities.

And there was plenty to talk about. As Marsh’s documentary revealed, the strains, fears and disagreements within the group constituted a drama within the drama. But Zemeckis glosses them over with caricature. He’s making a fable here and the only person he’s really interested in is its hero.

So it’s basically a one-man show, with Levitt keeping the others entranced with his demands, explosions and propensity for taking extraordinary chances. His practical, methodical side is there, too, but more often than not, it’s upstaged by his theatricality. And, like any case of extreme self-absorption, his soon begins to bore.

But all these irritations fall away once the group get inside the Twin Towers and we’re confronted by the enormity of the task they’ve set themselves. As the buildings are closing for the night, they have to smuggle in their equipment, which includes a 200-kilogram cable, and get it on to the roof. And having done that, they have to evade the security guard while they work with their teammates on the roof of the other building to rig the cable.

This is what Zemeckis has been waiting for. His hallmark as a director is his passion for visual effects and his use of CGI and 3D is dazzling. I’m pleased to report there’s no hint of the religious in the sense of sublime you feel in Petit’s kinship with space, air and the slender cable beneath his feet. Even so, it is as if he’s consorting with angels.

The last shot is a homage to the lost towers, standing burnished by sunlight, and there’s a certain poignancy in it. But it’s Petit you’re thinking about.

Nitties copes better than most with high winds

James Nitties (file picture)JAMES Nitties could be on track to record his second victory in the south Pacific this month after he fared relatively well in horrendous conditions at the Fiji International on Thursday.
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The Charlestown touring professional carded a three-over par 75 in the opening round to hold a share of seventh place.

New Zealand’s Josh Geary was the only player not to finish over par as high winds wreaked havoc at the PGA Tour of Australasia’s rich Fiji International.

The $1.125 million tournament must have set some sort of record for high scoring as 54 of the 132-man field racked up double figures over par on the Natadola Bay course.

Geary’s even-par round saw him claim a two-shot lead.

Nitties arrived in Fiji high on confidence after he broke a four-year drought on the Australasian tour two weeks ago when he earned $22,500 for winning the South Pacific Open in Noumea.

That confidence appeared to have eroded swiftly when the US web上海龙凤论坛m Tour cardholder opened with two double bogeys at Natadola.

He recovered with birdies on the fifth and eighth holes, before another bogey left Nitties at three over turning onto the back nine. Two birdies were cancelled out by another two bogeys to finish the roller-coaster round.

Nitties’ performance was highly respectable next to Newcastle’s trio of Nathan Green, Aaron Townsend and Nick Flanagan, who would all require miracles to make the cut.

Green carded 83, 11 over par, in a round that included two double bogeys and a triple on the eighth.

Townsend and Flanagan both managed just one birdie in their rounds of 84.

Fellow Hunter professionals Leigh McKechnie (77), Jamie Hook (77), Corey Hale (77) and Callan O’Reilly (78) are a more realistic hope of playing beyond Friday.

Miller not looking to curb Boogaard’s combative style

JETS coach Scott Miller does not want skipper Nigel Boogaard to change his “combative” mentality, despite increasing his unwanted red-card record in the season-opening win against the Wellington Phoenix.
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Boogaard was sent off in the 77th minute at Westpac Stadium for a second bookable offence, leaving 10-man Newcastle to defend grimly for the final 13 minutes, plus injury time.

It was the seventh send-off his 154-game A-League career, two more than the next worst offender, former Melbourne Victory enforcer Kevin Muscat.

Miller said he let Boogaard “sit on it” for a day or so before discussing his trangressions, which have resulted in a suspension from Saturday’s showdown with Sydney.

“He’s taken it positively in a sense of what he can from it,” Miller said.

“He’s obviously got the record of red cards and he’s not very happy with it.

“Nigel’s mentality will never change, and I don’t want it to change.

“But as I’ve said before, I see Nigel as being a leader of the club from a head coach’s perspective.

“And I think it’s important that he uses this year as a framework to improve his communication style and how he leads on the pitch.”

Miller did not argue that Boogaard’s two bookings were warranted but denied the 29-year-old was overly aggressive.

“I think he’s combative,” Miller said. “It’s intensity and the drive he has.

“The other day, the two yellow cards were innocuous in a sense, but they are yellow cards.

“You have to respect that, but the referees need to be clear that we’re not here to be pushed over.

“The clear definitions need to go both ways, and that’s the way we respect them and we expect the same respect.

“We’ve had two games against Perth [in the Football Federation Cup] and Wellington and we’ve conceded two penalties, so we need to look at that.”

In Boogaard’s absence, former Socceroo David Carney is the obvious candidate to captain Newcastle, although Miller said this would not be confirmed until just before kick-off.

“I’ve got someone in mind, and I think the person demonstrated their leadership qualities last week irrespective of Nigel being on the pitch,” Miller said.

“That person will be nominated pretty much on Saturday during the meeting.

“He already knows, essentially, but the team don’t know.

“He’s in the leadership group and he’ll be given the armband respectfully in front of his peers in the pre-match meeting.

“But he’s clear about his responsibilities already, that player.”

Carney said the captaincy was not a major issue.

“No matter who gets named, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“All the boys are on the same page at the minute, especially the senior players and the young ones knocking on the door.”

Ben Kantarovski will deputise for Boogaard in Newcastle’s defensive line, while Korean import Lee Ki-je is also in doubt with a hamstring problem and a virus.

“We’ll look at him again tomorrow,” Miller said.

“These things can inflame overnight or they can recover quite quickly as well.”

Calvary hospital thinks pink for breast cancer

Rebecca Chenery, Dr Jennette Sakoff, Margaret Bottrill and Debra Cook at the Calvary Mater hospital in support of breast care awareness. Picture: Marina NeilCALVARY Mater Newcastle is thinking pink to raise awareness about breast cancer and pay tribute to all Hunter residents affected by the disease.
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The hospital held its annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Thursday, which included its breast cancer care co-ordinator Debra Cook, McGrath breast care nurse, wig service, medical oncology research group, and representatives from BreastScreen and Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation providing information to patients and visitors.

“Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides us with the opportunity to help further educate the community about breast cancer and to continue to raise awareness about this terrible illness that affects so many people and their families,” Ms Cook said.

During October, the hospital’s Heritage Garden window will be awash with pink female silhouettes, on which the community is invited to write a message for a friend or loved one affected by breast cancer.

The front of the hospital will also be illuminated pink each evening.

Elsewhere on Thursday, more than $35,000 was raised at PKF’s annual Breast Care Fundraiser Breakfast to fund training and professional development for the Hunter Nurse Education Group’s specialist breast care nurses.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among n women, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.

Natasha Beyersdorf and Melissa Histon speak at the breakfast. Picture: Ryan Osland

Survival rates continue to improve, with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now living five or more years beyond diagnosis.

Unfancied Jets happy to fly under the radar

Middle Sydney FC footballer MILOS DIMITRIJEVIC prior to this weekends game against The Newcastle Jets.Photography Brendan Espositosmh,sport,15th october,2015IN-FORM David Carney says the Newcastle Jets will embrace the role of unfancied giant-killers as they chase a club milestone against Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
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After last week’s 2-1 win in Wellington, Carney and his teammates have the chance to become the first Jets team to open an A-League season with consecutive wins.

Newcastle’s best starts to any campaign were in 2011-12, when they won two of their first three games under caretaker coach Craig Deans, and in 2012-13, when they lost their season-opener but then won three straight under Gary van Egmond.

Only twice in 10 attempts before last weekend’s victory had the Jets claimed maximum points in round one.

Despite the encouraging performance and result across the Tasman, Newcastle remain $21 long shots for the premiership and $3.25 joint favourites (with Central Coast) to collect a second consecutive wooden spoon.

They are paying $3.40 against Sydney, who are $2 with TAB Sportbet.

Carney said such odds were fine with him.

“I think we’re the underdogs in every game, especially after last year,” he said. “It’s a great tag to have, but personally, I don’t think we are, because I’ve seen what we can do.

“I think most people are writing us off, which is good, because we know what we can do and we like to prove people wrong.

“I think that’s what this community is about. If we can adopt that sort of style, it will be good for the fans.”

Jets coach Scott Miller said the clash with Sydney would be a chance to validate the round-one success.

“The confidence level is high, but I’ve been very strict on them in terms of don’t get carried away,” Miller said.

“The next fixture is Sydney FC. Challenging fixture.

“One in which we want to prove to the supporters we’re a changed dynamic, and that’s a big mental drive for us.”

Carney, who is expected to captain the Jets in the absence of suspended Nigel Boogaard, said there was a “good vibe” among his teammates but they were under no illusions about the challenge ahead of them.

“It’s only the first game,” he said. “It’s always good to get the monkey off your back early doors, but you definitely need to keep your focus and not get complacent, because in this league anyone can beat anyone.

“You can come down to earth very quick.

“But it’s a great game, against Sydney FC, and hopefully the supporters come out and we get two wins in a row, which will be fantastic for the club … if we can just keep that mentality of: ‘We can’t get beaten’ – we’ll do OK.”

Playing his first A-League game in eight months, Carney produced a man-of-the-match effort against Wellington, scoring Newcastle’s first goal and setting up the second for Serbian striker Milos Trifunovic.

“I created a few goals last year, but it was nice to get the goal and the assist at the end,” he said. “I think it was more just having a win. It was a very good feeling to come home from the first A-League game with a win, especially in Wellington, which is a very difficult place to go.”

Sydney Kings let game slip to go down 80-77 to Townsville Crocodiles

Just short: Marcus Thornton played well for the Kings but it wasn’t enough for the win. Photo: Ryan Pierse Just short: Marcus Thornton played well for the Kings but it wasn’t enough for the win. Photo: Ryan Pierse
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Just short: Marcus Thornton played well for the Kings but it wasn’t enough for the win. Photo: Ryan Pierse

Just short: Marcus Thornton played well for the Kings but it wasn’t enough for the win. Photo: Ryan Pierse

Tight affair: Townsville’s Nicholas Kay on the attack with Kings guard Jason Cadee in pursuit. Photo: NBL

Tight affair: Townsville’s Nicholas Kay on the attack with Kings guard Jason Cadee in pursuit. Photo: NBL

Tight affair: Townsville’s Nicholas Kay on the attack with Kings guard Jason Cadee in pursuit. Photo: NBL

Tight affair: Townsville’s Nicholas Kay on the attack with Kings guard Jason Cadee in pursuit. Photo: NBL

The Sydney Kings have clutched defeat from the jaws of victory, going down by three points to the Townsville Crocodiles at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Thursday night.

The Kings led at every break and were ahead by a point with 22 seconds remaining, but an unfortunate error from Steven Markovic gifted Townsville time and in turn, a game-winning three-pointer from Corey Maynard.

It was a see-sawing final term which saw Jason Cadee step up to nail a three-pointer and equal the scores 69-69 with three minutes remaining.

Dion Prewster was fouled with 34 seconds left on the clock and nailed both free throws to put the Kings ahead by one, but it wasn’t enough as the Crocs notched their first win of the NBL season

The loss means the the Kings continue their unwanted record of failing to win their opening two games of the season since they came back into the competition in 2010.

Kings coach Damian Cotter took a glass half full approach at the post-match press conference. He said the defeat was not a cause for concern.

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Wallabies Adam Ashley-Cooper helps dying friend tick off bucket list item at Rugby World Cup

Bucket list: Adam Ashley Cooper after ‘s win over Wales and with Guy Grinham in the corporate box at Twickenham after the Test.RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Rugby World Cup interactive: your guide to every teamFull coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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You can watch the game from the comfort of the lounge, or even the heaving grandstand at Twickenham, and think you’ve seen it all.

You can witness Adam Ashley-Cooper race out of the line in the 69th minute and shut down Welsh five-eighth Dan Biggar before the ball is spun wide, with a try begging to be scored.

The tackle results in a penalty for the Wallabies, as they cling to the lead with two men in the sin bin, and it is immediately considered the decisive moment of the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign.

You can watch all of this but what you don’t see is the heroics from the veteran outside back before and after the match.

After the full-time whistle, as the crowd filters out of Twickenham, he climbs high into the stands, through the remaining fans dressed in gold, and behind the glass of a corporate suite.

That’s where he finds Guy Grinham, who he played junior rugby with and against on the Central Coast, and later knew as a referee of Shute Shield and match-day official of Super Rugby.

Grinham is on a hospital stretcher and breathing with the assistance with oxygen tubes, but he has an unbreakable smile on his face.

“A year and a half ago he was diagnosed with cancer, and just recently he was given a brief amount of time to live,” Ashley-Cooper explains from London. “Along with the help of his brother and best mate, he put together a bucket list. And on that bucket list was to watch the Wallabies at the World Cup.

“He was on his way over to watch but when he got off the plane he went downhill significantly. The cancer spread into his vertebrae, so he had to get to hospital. The nurses told him to ring his parents about coming over to give them their final goodbyes, because he didn’t have much time left.

“We organised a signed jersey, and I went and saw him in hospital [before the match against Wales]. We talked about playing footy when we were younger, and what the Wallabies were doing, instead of talking about the position he was in.”

Phone calls were made, favours called in, and an ambulance and nurses were arranged so Guy and his family could run a line through the big ticket item on his bucket list.

“He passed away earlier this week,” says Ashley-Cooper. “He was my age – 31. He had a wife and two kids. It’s a sad story. But I’m really happy I got to share a moment with him after the win. It was the least I could do, to go there and represent the group. We were on the bucket list, and that is pretty special.”

As the Wallabies prepared for their quarter-final against Scotland at the same venue on Monday morning, the team gathered around and shared a moments silence in Guy’s honour at a training session.

It was another small but significant moment from the Wallabies that you rarely hear of, let alone see.

Man of many words

Still on the Wallabies, hands up if you thought Michael Cheika could make such a difference less than a year in the job as coach?

Liars.

A snapshot from one of his mornings this week: he did a press conference in English, then another in French, and then another Italian, and then he walked into a team meeting and peeled off an inspirational line to the troops, presumably in English.

In other Wallabies news, while there’s been much respect shown for Matt Giteau as he approaches his 100th Test his teammates have not missed since they were shown footage of a baby-faced, peroxide-headed Giteau meeting the Queen during a tour in 2002.

His teammates have been comparing him to Justin Timberlake’s “noodle hair”. In other words, when the pop singer had hair like two-minute noodles.

Starting out: Matt Giteau before his Test debut in 2002. Photo: Wallabies

Goodbye, amigo

And speaking of players with funky haircuts, he was the cornerstone of “The Three Amigos” but time has finally caught up with James O’Connor.

In 2013, one senior ARU official told this column: “Kurtley [Beale] gets into trouble because of alcohol. Quade [Cooper] doesn’t know any better. O’Connor was the most cunning. He knew what he was doing. It was never an accident. He always escapes before the heat arrives. He’s usually the architect of the problem. The best result is not having the three in the one team at the one time.”

Cooper and Beale are likely to be on the Wallabies bench against Scotland. Earlier this week, O’Connor was granted a release from his Queensland Reds deal and is now expected to return to French rugby powerhouse Toulon.

“Personal matters” were cited as the reasons, but those who are fully aware of the situation tell us the 25-year-old was left jaded and angry after failing to make the World Cup squad.

His deal with the Reds was heavily based on incentive, and after a lacklustre and injury-plagued year the dollars he was hoping for didn’t materialise.

Cassidy still a power

This column doesn’t subscribe to Melbourne’s theory about being the centre of the sporting universe, but it does know how to run a racing carnival.

Late last week, it launched the Spring Carnival at the MCG with a sprinkling of legendary horses, jockeys and trainers stepping out into the middle of the arena.

That included Might and Power, the hulking ironhorse that won the 1997 Melbourne and Caulfield cups, and then the Cox Plate the following year.

One bloke who couldn’t get close enough to him was Jim Cassidy, the evergreen jockey who rode him in all three.

“Be careful, he doesn’t really like blokes,” advised Might and Power’s strapper as “Pumper” came closer.

Yeah good.

“He just put his head down in my hand,” reports Cassidy. “It nearly brought a tear to my eye. Me old mate and I, in the middle of the MCG. It was gold.”

Cassidy, 52, is keeping everyone guessing about his riding future. He has Chris Waller’s Grand Marshal in the Caulfield Cup this Saturday.

Jimmy Cassidy with Might and Power. Photo: Supplied

Twist over Taupau 

A fortnight ago, Wests Tigers forward Marty Taupau swore black and blue – black and gold, if you will – to this column that he had not asked for a release.

“I am really embarrassed by it,” the Kiwi representative said. “I’ve had to phone all my mates and tell them there is nothing in it.”

Then reports mysteriously emerge this week that he is being pursued by Manly.

It won’t surprise if he’s there in 2017, but the whole thing reeks of the modern-day ploy from player managers and clubs to force a player out of his contract with a year left to run.

Help! Fitz needs cover

We told you last month about the terrible circumstances concerning Maitland Blacks hooker Dominic Punch, who suffered life-threatening injuries when a scrum collapsed in the Newcastle second-grade grand final.

He has dislocated his C5 and C6 spinal vertebrae and the road ahead will be a tough one.

The mighty Blacks are holding a luncheon at their home ground Marcellin Park on Sunday, with cricketing legend Michael Hussey and rugby/Herald legend Peter FitzSimons the guest speakers.

The club is hoping to raise $150,000 for the day, but it’s also looking for big business to help cover the $20,000 needed for a marquee, not least so Fitz doesn’t get sunburnt on the noggin.

Contact Dan Gollan on 0402 119 193 if you can help. The week

THE QUOTE

“I can really feel your neurons.” – This quote has nothing to do with sport, but I overheard a man say it to a woman in Bondi café on Sunday morning and I thought I should share.

THUMBS UP

In the 1989 film Back to the Future II, Marty McFly travelled into the future in a DeLorean and discovered the Chicago Cubs had won the 2015 World Series. The perennial battlers took one step closer with a series win over St Louis. The hoverboard must be around the corner.

THUMBS DOWN

The tennis diehards tell you that Thanasi Kokkinakis is the anti-Kyrgios. He’s a gentleman of the court, they say. Then he defends Nick Kyrgios’ abuse of officials and racquets and says it doesn’t hurt the game. Awesome.

It’s a big weekend for … England rugby fans as the World Cup on home soil reaches the exciting quarter-final stage of the … Oh, that’s right. #sadface

It’s an even bigger weekend for … the Newcastle Jets, as they return to Hunter Stadium for the first time this A-League since Hurricane Tinkler finally went away. They play Sydney FC on Saturday. Get around them, Novocastrians. Q and A

We speak to leading jockey Blake Shinn ahead of Saturday’s $3 million Caulfield Cup.

You’re on Who Shot Thebarman for Chris Waller. I see you’re spruiking ​”Who Shot Thebarman” hats on social media. Impressive.

Yes, got the hat. I’m getting in the spirit of it with all the owners and the Waller team. It’s good to get behind it as people live the dream, having a runner in the Caulfield and Melbourne cups.

How’s the horse tracking?

He’s going really well. He had a great run in the Turnbull, and now he’s starting to get out to his preferred distance of 2400m. The barrier’s not ideal but he’ll be powering to the line.

How’s your Caulfield Cup form?

I haven’t had many rides. About three or four rides but never gone any better than sixth.

Good times. Earlier this year, you were named the NSW Racing Writers’ Racing Personality of the Year. What does that entail?

The journos must have liked me because I gave my time to the media throughout the season. I like to give them a bit of myself to show another side to a jockey’s life.

Does this Melbourne spring carnival take on special significance with the passing of Bart Cummings? You rode Viewed to victory in the 2008 Melbourne Cup for him.

Without his presence, it will have a sombre feeling. He was a man who didn’t say too much, a man of few words, but he gave you confidence because he let you know he thought you were the man to do the job. For a young kid like me, when I was 21, that was invaluable. I first rode for him when I was 16. I rode a winner for his grandson James last week. That’s life.

Canberra Vikings go into NRC finals with big win over Queensland Country

Canberra Vikings captain Jarrad Butler says the National Rugby Championship ladder leaders are in a “pretty good place” going into their first finals campaign.
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The Vikings were far too strong for Queensland Country in a 42-8 win on the Sunshine Coast on Thursday.

They were able to rest playmaker Christian Lealiifano and No.8 Ita Vaea and also give invaluable game time to their squad ahead of the finals.

Canberra flyhalf Mitch Third was elusive, fullback Isaac Thompson injected himself into the play all over the park, hooker Robbie Abel continued his brilliant NRC campaign and scrumhalf Brent Hamlin was dangerous around the ruck.

“We were keen to get back into the winning circle, especially going into a final next week. Everyone switched on really well and we’re really excited for next week,” Butler said.

“Coming off the back of last week we were really happy with how we went today and building into next week I think we’re in a pretty good place.”

The Vikings got off to a flyer, scoring three tries in the opening 22 minutes.

Third charged down a kick to open the scoring in the fifth minute, Hamlin darted off the back off a strong Vikings scrum to score and then Thompson made a nice line break down the right before offloading for winger James Dargaville to cross.

Queensland Country managed to work its way back into the game as scrumhalf James Tuttle darted away off the back of their scrum for the home side’s only try.

That 21-8 scoreline was how it remained until the break, but from there it was all Vikings as they took just 15 minutes to run in three tries in the second half.

Prop Les Leuluaialii-Makin scored from short-range and flanker Dan Penca capitalised on the Vikings’ deadly rolling maul on debut, but both were overshadowed by Lausii Taliauli’s effort.

The Vikings winger burst clear from near the middle of the field and arced around the Country defence before diving into the corner to put the ball down with his entire body in the air over the sideline.

Canberra has to wait until Sunday to find out who it will play in next Friday’s semi-final at Viking Park, with four teams a chance to finish third or fourth.

They will likely finish second, with Brisbane City expected to win on Saturday and finish top.

CANBERRA VIKINGS 42 (Mitch Third, Brent Hamlin, James Dargaville, Les Leuluaialii-Makin, Lausii Taliauli, Dan Penca tries; Isaac Thompson 4 cons) bt QUEENSLAND COUNTRY 8 (James Tuttle try; Sam Greene con).

Rumours rife as Rosellas take time with coaching job

DEAN Botham is staying patient as he awaits word on whether he will be retained as Western Suburbs coach for the next Newcastle Rugby League season.
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The Rosellas are the only club yet to confirm their head coach.

In his first season in charge, Botham coached Wests to a third consecutive minor premiership with 11 wins and three losses.

However, the record was tarnished when Wests lost semi-finals to Lakes United (20-14) and Macquarie (18-12) to be the first minor premiers since 2003 to fail to reach the decider.

Initially it appeared a fait accompli that Botham would remain in charge at Harker Oval, but the issue has dragged on for almost four weeks since preliminary final exit.

“I’m not sweating on the job, I have other offers out there,” Botham said on Thursday.

“I can only tell you what I’ve been told, that is to be patient and we’ll get the job done sooner rather than later.”

The delay in Wests making a decision has kicked the rumour mill into overdrive.

The likes of former NRL halfbacks Scott Dureau and Luke Walsh has been touted as possible captain-coach candidates.

The Wests board of directors attended a conference on the Gold Coast last week, which has prolonged the decision-making process.

Wests president Wayne Hore has previously given his support for Botham and said he hoped the issue was resolved next week.

“I’m anticipating a decision will be made early next week,” Hore said.

“We’re going through a process at the moment and then we’ll know exactly which direction we’re going in before presentation night.

“We’re still with Dean Botham at the moment, but we’re going through the process with him.”

Walsh, 28, is a Rosellas junior and played 120 NRL games for the Knights and Penrith before moving to UK Super League club St Helens last year. The 29-year-old Dureau recently returned to Newcastle after a successful Super League career at the Catalans Dragons where he was twice named in the competition’s Dream Team.

On announcing his departure from Catalans last month, Dureau said he wanted to add to the 42 NRL games that he played at the Knights from 2007 to 2010.

Dureau said on Thursday he had not fielded any offers from Wests.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone or had any contact with the club,” Dureau said. “The first I heard of it was when one of my mates said it to me.”

Hore also denied Walsh was being considered as a captain-coach.

“I’ve heard Luke’s name mentioned only because his brother said he was a bit homesick and he wants to come home,” Hore said. “I said, ‘He’s a Wests junior and he’s always welcome to come and play here if he wants to’, but there was no talk of him being a captain-coach.”

Walsh’s younger brother, Ryan, played five-eighth in Wests’ 19-18 reserve grade grand final loss to Lakes.

Mullen’s wait and see approach to captaincy

Jarrod Mullen with his parents Leann and Steve. Picture: Ryan Osland
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JARROD Mullen is content to relinquish his primary playmaker role to new Knights signing Trent Hodkinson next season but still believes he can be a leader, and even captain, if required.

Hodkinson, the former Canterbury and incumbent NSW Origin halfback, has signed a three-year deal with Newcastle and will replace Tyrone Roberts as Mullen’s scrum-base partner.

Since the retirement of Immortal Andrew Johns in 2007, Mullen has been Newcastle’s dominant organiser but believes he will benefit from allowing Hodkinson to run the show.

“The answer is I can’t wait,” Mullen told the Newcastle Herald.

“He’s a very, very good solid player. You know what you’re going to get from him.

“The difference between his best game and his worst is not much.

“He’s a very consistent player. He can help steer the ship and hopefully that can free me up to run the ball a bit more and control the outside backs.

“I know I’m at my best when I’m running the ball, so hopefully he can do all the passing and I can do all the running.”

In terms of tactical kicking, Hodkinson’s right foot will complement the left-sided Mullen.

“We can probably share 50 per cent of that, whereas I probably have been doing 80 per cent of the kicking,” Mullen said.

“Hopefully that puts a bit of doubt in the other teams’ minds and we can strike up a good combination.”

After Kurt Gidley’s departure to join Warrington, appointing a new captain will be one of incoming coach Nathan Brown’s main decisions. Mullen skippered Newcastle during their giant-killing run in the 2013 finals while Gidley was injured, and after 197 career games for his home town, he would appear ready for the job on a full-time basis.

But the 28-year-old did not want to pre-empt anything, saying his main focus was recovering from toe surgery that ended his season in round 19.

“Obviously it would be a privilege to captain the club, especially as I’ve played for the Knights my whole career and love the town,” he said.

“But my first priority is to get my toe in order and get back training hard.

“If I’m doing that and putting all the right things on the tray, maybe it will come my way.

“But there’s a lot of other candidates and we’ll wait and see what happens.

“Whether or not I get the captaincy, I’m probably a leader out on the field anyway.

“In my position, I do most of the talking out there and most of the bossing around. I’m always getting into the boys so I’m sort of like another captain anyway.

“It’s always an honour to have the (c) next to your name but we just have to wait and see on that one.”

Mullen said watching his teammates lose five of their last seven games to collect the wooden spoon was “one of the hardest things I’ve gone through”.

“I tried to come back and play, even though I knew I wasn’t 100 per cent,” he said.

“But it is was it is. It was a bit heart-breaking, but there is only one way now, and that’s up.

“We’ve got a great squad for next year, a new coach and a fresh start. I’m sure the boys are keen to rip in and get a bit of pride back in the jersey.”

Refreshed after a three-week trip to Europe to visit former teammates Cory Paterson (Salford), Scott Dureau (Catalans) and Ben Farrar (London Broncos), Mullen said he had resumed light running and weights this week.

“I’ve had my little holiday, so I want to get back into it,” he said.

“I’ll probably just ease my way into it. It’s a pretty big surgery and it’s one I’ll have to keep monitoring.

“I haven’t kicked or passed a footy for a while, so it will be good to get back into a routine, because I enjoy being around the boys and training.”

Seniors’ village planned for former Morpeth bowling club grounds

Morpeth Land Company wants to build a medium density village for the over 55s beside the former Morpeth Bowling Club.AFTER much speculation and tension, developers have unveiled their plans for seniors’ living in the grounds of the old Morpeth Bowling Club.
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Given a list of six options for the site, the developer, Morpeth Land Company, wants to build a medium density village for the over 55s beside the former club.

The clubhouse is under refurbishment for use as a childcare centre and the land between it and Morpeth Common has been slated for the 22 single-storey villas.

The villas are set back 30 metres off Edward Street with a new road as access.

Proponent Brad Everett broke his silence over the plans on Thursday.

The Morpeth Land Company director said he did not want to prejudice Maitland City Council’s decision to include the land in its settlement strategy.

“There’s a process to be followed,” Mr Everett said.

“If I dump these plans on people too soon, they call me presumptuous.”

The property was bought in August, 2014 and Mr Everett met with the council development control unit soon after.

This pre-application discussion outlined what development would be allowed on the site and included mobile homes.

Mr Everett had plans drawn up for a large gym, but said there had been advice that residential use was a possibility.

A plan had also been drafted to rezone the land for units.

But Morpeth Land Company will retain the recreational zoning now the parcel of land has been included in the Maitland Urban Settlement Strategy.

To gain approval for the seniors’ villas, Mr Everett will instead seek an amendment to the Local Environment Plan.

“Seniors’ housing was a permissible use while the club was licensed,” he said.

“Once the licence was removed, the seniors’ living policy no longer applied, so it’s necessary to seek an amendment to the recreational zone.”

The NSW Department of Planning will assess the validity of plans before Morpeth Land submits a development application.

Mr Everett said detailed plans would be lodged as part of the development application.