Planning for the future

ELECTROLUX workers are being encouraged to seek financial advice now about their future options and not wait until their jobs are terminated.
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Orange Credit Union corporate services manager Gavin Cook said staff at the financial institution, which was established by Email workers, would do everything they could to provide financial advice for workers, even though Electrolux employees now only make up a small percentage of its customer base.

“We now have 16,000 members so our base is quite diverse and although we don’t have all the employees as our clients, we do have a percentage and we are willing to help,” Mr Cook said.

“It is important that people start to make a plan now, including those people who have worked at the plant for 40 years and may get a significant redundancy.

“For us it is business as usual, but of course our heritage is as the Email Credit Union.”

Mr Cook said it was impossible to comment on how the loss of jobs at the Orange plant in 2015 and 2016 would impact on individual clients.

“That is a complex and individual issue with so many different factors taken into consideration,” he said.

“But overall our aim, goal and objective is to get people to contact us now, so planning can start.”

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START PLANNING NOW: Orange Credit Union corporate services manager Gavin Cook encourages Electrolux workers to seek financial advice. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1028gavincook

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Bushfire fight far from over

BATHURST residents woke once again this morningto find a thick, smoky haze blanketing the city.
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And while the immediate threat from the State Mine Fire near Lithgow has eased, and many firefighters are taking a well-earned rest, some crews still remain on the battlefront, concentrating their efforts on mopping up the fire edge.

“Most of the ground crews have finished up and there are only a few local crews patrolling around Hartley Vale,” Superintendent Tom Shirt from the Chifley/Lithgow Rural Fire Service said.

“But there is still plenty of fire activity in the Wollemi National Park and we have 42 remote area firefighters in the Marrangaroo fire camp. These are specialists who are continuing to work with helicopter crews.

“And the smoke that enveloped Bathurst yesterday morning came from the northern end of the Grose Valley. An overnight easterly whipped it up and pushed it this way.”

Supt Shirt was glowing in his praise of the Chifley strike team personnel who manned five tankers, saying they were invaluable in protecting life and property during the last few weeks.

“The crews from Chifley area are back at home after more than a week of working day and night,” he said. “The effort from those crews was absolutely fantastic.”

The State Mine Fire, which destroyed thousands of hectares in the Lithgow, Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains areas, has been downgraded to a watch and act alert – but that still may change, Supt Shirt said.

“Conditions are not horrendous, like last week,” he said.

“But it is still inhospitable country, that’s why we need the remote area specialists.

“We are now working to ‘lock in’ the fire. Strategic back-burning continues as we try to reinforce containment lines.”

And with precious little rain on the horizon and summer yet to come, Supt Shirt was keen to reinforce the warnings that have been issued in the past few weeks, because fears remain that the worst is yet to come.

He said homeowners need to be prepared for the fire season.

NOT OVER YET: Strategic back-burning continues in the Blue Mountains.

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Work to do on the region’s job losses

NEITHER federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane nor our local parliamentarians have had any success in saving the jobs of some 540 Electrolux employees but there remains a crucial role for them to play in the months ahead.
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As the thinking behind the parent company’s decision is revealed it is becoming clear that Orange has been out of its global game plan for some time and not even management in Orange knew of the production hurdle which had to be cleared to keep the gates open.

It is hardly surprising then that Electrolux at a national and international level had no interest in heeding Mr Macfarlane’s call to delay its decision until a federal assistance proposal had been put together.

Today will be the first of many meetings between local MPs at a federal and state level, council staff and bureaucrats who could help put a support package in place for affected workers and the local economy.

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham may be a little premature in lashing Prime Minister Abbott and Premier O’Farrell for not getting involved but no one should doubt his passion.

The Greens spokesman on regional development is right to focus the community’s attention on the level of support a city like Geelong is getting to help it over the closure of the Ford plant, or the response in the Illawarra to Bluescope Steel ceasing steel production. Tens of millions of dollars are being made available in these cases.

These were big job losses too, but in terms of the impact on the local economies the scale of the impact on Orange and the region is in the same league.

Canberra and Macquarie Street need to remember that it is not just Orange which will feel the blow. Simplot’s downsizing in Bathurst and mine closures in Lithgow point to a regional problem which demands a substantial state and national response.

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Valuable partnership has Tigers well placed

Ben Howarth only made 8 for Colts as his side collapsed to be all out for 123 against Rugby. Photo: Kathryn O’SullivanCRICKET
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A 113-run partnership between Yogi Chawla and Don Skinner has Newtown well placed after day one of their Pinnington Cup clash with South Dubbo at Lady Cutler 4.

Coming together with the score at 4-67 Chawla and Skinner put on the century stand in 33 overs to have Newtown at 8-218 at stumps.

Chawla top-scored with 85 while Skinner made 40 as the Tigers batted all day, with the plan of a first innings victory next week now at the forefront of their minds.

After winning the toss the Tigers started slowly with Mike and Marty Jeffrey both falling before the score was 20 as the Hornets opted to open the bowling with the spin of Nathan Astri.

The game was evenly poised at 4-67 after 24 overs but Chawla and Skinner took the game away from the Tigers.

Elliot Carlin was the next best and remains 16 not out while the wickets were shared for Newtown with Latham Craig the pick with 2-23 from 7.

Jack Busch (2-42), Andrew Cusack (1-19), Josh Smith (1-30) and Astri (1-44) were the other wicket-takers.

o o o

Macquarie will fancy their chances of a comfortable first innings victory next week after outclassing CYMS Cougars on day one of their clash at John McGrath 1.

Batting first, the Cougars struggled to put any meaningful partnerships together and suffered a late innings collapse to be all out for just 98, with Vinay Kapila taking 4-11 from 10 overs.

CYMS started in a solid fashion, with Warren Dodd Jr and Alex Bonham both getting starts before falling for 21 and 19 respectively.

From there Kapila, assisted well by Shane Dupille (2-17) and Ben Page (2-31), ran through the Cougars line-up with the last seven wickets falling for just 27 runs. In reply Luke Patis and Ed Haylock put together a patient and well-made 55 runs in the final 25 overs as the Cougars bowlers failed to make a breakthrough before stumps and now face an uphill battle to avoid their second straight defeat.

Patis (21 not out) and Haylock (26 not out) will return to the crease next week with a further 44 runs needed for first innings points.

o o o

A late innings collapse from the RSL-Colts line-up will give Rugby hope leading into next week but things still hang in the balance after the first day of their match at No 3 Oval.

Colts were set for a big total with the score at 2-87 but a collapse of 8-36 saw them all out for 123 with Rugby at 3-63 at stumps.

After winning the toss and batting, Colts started well with openers Lyndon Whitney (29) and Adam Baraclough (27) setting a solid platform but when Glenn Shepherd removed Whitney and Jakke Gardiner it signalled a stream of wickets with Blake Watmore the chief destroyer of the middle order, finishing with 4-12 from six overs.

Shepherd finished with 2-29 while Bart Goodman, Al Horrocks and Garry Goodman were the other wicket-takers.

Rugby batted for the final 24 overs of the day and find themselves 3-65 at stumps.

Dale Watmore (6) and Ross Horrocks (0) will be mindful of the way the Colts innings ended when they return to the crease next week in search of first innings points.

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Motbey’s five-wicket haul sets up Hornet’s win

CRICKET
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Motbey finished with the impressive figures of 5-10 from six overs for the defending third grade premiers as Newtown were bowled out for just 61.

The Hornets chased down their target with minimal fuss and Motbey was there at the end to finish with 6 not out in a memorable day.

After winning the toss and batting, Newtown made it to 27 without loss before Matt Wakely removed Brian McKinnonn and when Motbey had last week’s century-maker, Craig Pettit, caught for 12 it wasn’t long before the innings was all over.

Motbey was the by far the best with the ball while Wakely, Henry Railz, Scott Dwarte and John Byrne each picked up one scalp.

Henry Railz top-scored in reply, making just 13, but it was enough as the Newtown Gold bowlers toiled hard and took five wickets despite defending such a low total.

Tom Barber took 3-15 while Craig Edenborough was unplayable, bowling a great spell to finish with the figures of 2-0 from 4.2 overs but it was all in vain as Souths cruised to a five-wicket win.

o o o

It was Macquarie who came out on top at John McGrath 2 on Saturday in a thrilling match with Rugby.

Set 119 for victory the Blues overcame the late loss of 4-19 to win by two wickets.

Batting first Rugby had a number of batsmen make starts but no one went on to make a big score with Wayne Munro the best with 32.

Brad Hart (3-12) and James Hughes (3-29) were the best with the ball for the Blues who were in trouble early in reply when they found themselves at 2-20.

But a 44-run partnership between Dave Murray and Bharath Ramakrishnappa got their side back on track and despite the mini-collapse the Blues batsmen did enough to get their side home.

o o o

An unbeaten 66 to opening batsman Zeke Spradbrow guided CYMS to a seven wicket victory over Rugby Youth Development (YD) at Bob Dowling 4.

Lachlan Harper’s 59 helped the young Rugby side to the competitive total of 6-153 from their 40 overs but Spradbrow’s innings, which included 10 boundaries, set the tone for the Cougars as they chased down the total with five overs to spare.

The Cougars bowlers shared the six Rugby wickets as Harper was assisted by Grant Berryman (37) and H Fairall to set the total but Spradbrow, Mark Hawke (32) and Brodie Parkinson (20) all combined to seal the Cougars’ second win of the season.

o o o

In the Colts derby at Lady Cutler South 1, it was the YD side who had a dominant victory, defeating their clubmates by 74 runs.

Garry Ashford blasted six fours and five sixes as he top scored for Colts YD with 88 and his innings set-up the victory and then Michael Parish sealed it with 5-38 from eight overs.

Parish was the second top-scorer behind Ashford, hitting 21 not out late in the innings, but the damage had already been done as the number three’s powerful innings demoralised the Colts’ bowlers.

Ben Bruce top scored for Colts with 29 in their innings but it was no where near enough as Parish took the first four wickets inside 10 overs to give the youngsters bragging rites until they next meet.

o o o

No score given for Newtown Black v South Dubbo Hornets YD

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Milestone total as Phantoms take down Yanco Hotel

LDCA A grade cricket
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PHANTOMS posted the highest score of their short A grade tenure to secure a 39-run win over Yanco Hotel at Yanco Sportsground on Saturday.

Led by a patient half-century by Ryan Thurgood (51), Phantoms were bowled out on the last over of the innings to finish on 151.

However, it was Paul Werner’s eight-over spell in the second innings that ripped the heart out of Hotel’s chase for glory as he took five consecutive middle-order wickets for 27 runs to shut down any fightback.

Thurgood was the constant for Phantoms, featuring in seven partnerships. Greg Halloran (18) proved a valuable partner, as did Richard Keith (10) and Adam Hopkins (12).

Lusty late hitting by David Haksins (18) ensured the competitive total was reached.

All six Hotel bowlers took wickets, with Mark Doyle (2-15) having the best return.

Mark Burns, Brandon Emerson and Luke Pygram also took two each, with singles to Rick Harrison and Jordan Camm.

The run chase was a tense affair, with Hotel always in with a chance even as wickets fell.

Opener Doyle (62) was the danger man, accumulating runs in classic style, dispatching the bad ball to the boundary and pushing for ones and twos.

After losing Emerson early, Doyle put on 41 with Jordan Camm (9) and 24 with Luke Pygram (11), but in the end was running out of partners after Werner’s dipping medium pace cut through the middle like a hot knife.

The return of Adam Hopkins (3-24) with the breeze signalled the end for Doyle, nicking behind while trying to keep pace with the run rate required as he watched partners going back to the sheds.

Steve Weckert chipped in with 2-21 as Hotel lost 5-12 to end its innings on 112.

PHANTOMS opener Ryan Thurgood posted a half-century to help his side to a win over Yanco Hotel.

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Caine Eckstein to start in Goldie Classic 

IRONMAN great Caine Eckstein has given his tick of approval to Newcastle gaining three rounds of the national ironman series over Portsea as he builds his comeback to the circuit with a hit-out at Redhead on Sunday at the Goldie Classic.
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Australia’s premier endurance surf ironman, Eckstein yesterday confirmed that he would race at the third annual running of the 19-kilometre Goldie Classic.

Securing the five-time Coolangatta Gold winner is a major coup for the growing ironman event and comes after confirmation Newcastle beach will host three rounds of the national series on December 14 and 15.

Smiths Beach in Western Australia will host the opening two rounds on November 30 and December 1 before rounds three, four and five are held at Newcastle on December 14-15. The final round will be at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast on February 23.

Newcastle have hosted a round the past two years but were set to miss out this summer in a cost-cutting restructure of the series from six to three stops.

However, Portsea in Victoria was ruled out due to work on access to the beach, putting Newcastle back in the picture.

Eckstein won the series in 2011-12 but then took a year away from the sport to concentrate on triathlon.

He is back this summer as a wildcard entry and is glad he will be heading to Newcastle to compete.

‘‘I was pretty happy hearing that because I think originally they were going to Portsea instead,’’ Eckstein said yesterday.

‘‘But if I had to chose between Newcastle and Portsea, I’d definitely chose Newcastle.

‘‘It’s always tricky there and although you always want big surf, you don’t want it to be crazy big.

‘‘Newcastle always has that solid swell and it’s really tricky. It’s just like what me and my brother Shannon had growing up at a Surfers Paradise beach. You always had wild conditions everyday.

‘‘And the water’s not as cold in Newcastle as it is in Portsea.’’

The series will consist of 16 men and 16 women competing in a variety of formats and distances.

An important part of Eckstein’s preparation will be the Goldie Classic.

The 27-year-old from the Gold Coast was to return to surf ironman at the Coolangatta Gold two weeks ago but he withdrew after blood tests showed his heavy training workload was bringing on a recurrence of the Epstein Barr virus.

He had four weeks off with the illness but has been back in training the past fortnight and keen to test himself at Redhead.

‘‘When I was going to do the Coolangatta I always had this event in mind, but you have to see how you pull up from it before committing,’’ he said.

‘‘But after not doing Coolangatta, it’s definitely good. You need to have a hit-out before the Kelloggs, which is in about five weeks, so it’s perfect.

‘‘After a race like that, hopefully the 40-minute race a few weeks later will feel a bit easier.’’

Goldie race director Boyd Conrick said Eckstein expressed interest six weeks ago but was ecstatic to have the champion as a confirmed starter yesterday.

‘‘He’s the best endurance ironman out there, so we couldn’t be happier,’’ Conrick said. ‘‘If we had to pick anyone, we would have chosen him.’’

Coolangatta Gold runner-up Nathan Smith is another potential starter at Goldie.

CHAMPION SIGNING: Caine Eckstein will race in the Goldie Classic at Redhead beach on Sunday. Picture: Delly Carr

Lewie Catt back to league

COMBINED Country rugby union centre Lewie Catt is returning home to rugby league.
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Newcastle Rugby League wooden-spooners Lakes United have pulled off a major coup by securing the 26-year-old’s signature for next season.

As part of the deal, Catt will have the opportunity to train with and trial for the Knights NSW Cup side over the summer.

Catt has developed into one of the most elusive broken-field runners in Newcastle and Hunter rugby.

His performances with Hamilton and then Wanderers earned him a treasured berth in Combined Country’s match against the British and Irish Lions at Hunter Stadium in June – a match in which he lined up against famed Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll.

Despite his rugby career blossoming, the itch to return to league, a sport he left aged 19 in 2007, remained.

‘‘Leaving when I was 19, I just felt I had some unfinished business,’’ Catt said.

‘‘I would still like to play league, but the opportunity just hadn’t come around.

‘‘I got a call a month ago with an opportunity and I’m just going to see how it goes and what can happen from it.’’

The Western Suburbs junior played Harold Matthews and SG Ball for the Knights, but a broken pelvis in a motorbike accident stalled his career.

There are certainly no guarantees about making the Knights NSW Cup side, but Catt is determined to impress coach Rick Stone.

‘‘I know the exposure from the Lions game got Stoney and the NSW Cup looking and I guess it’s a nothing-to-lose scenario,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ll just get in there and put my best foot forward and see what does happen.’’

If the chance to wear red and blue never eventuates, Catt is likely to play a pivotal role in restoring pride in the Lakes jersey.

After a season when they failed to win a game, new coach Dean Noonan is busy restructuring the Belmont-based club.

Catt is Noonan’s first step in bringing more quality to the Seagulls.

‘‘It’s obviously a challenge for him and that’s what he’s looking to do – challenge himself and see if he has those capabilities in league,’’ Noonan said.

‘‘He’s obviously up for a challenge coming to our club.’’

Meanwhile, South Newcastle have replaced outgoing hooker Joe Cudmore with two-time Manly NSW Cup player of the year Liam Higgins, a former Knights junior who represented NSW in the under-18s.

The Lions are also understood to be in advanced talks about club junior Shane Gray returning to Merewether after he made his NRL debut with the Gold Coast Titans this season.

CODE-HOP: Lewie Catt in action for the Wanderers and, inset, after playing against the British and Irish Lions for Combined Country this year.

Minister disputes NDIS link

RESIDENTS of the Stockton Centre face its closure in five years but the state government insists the changes are not because of the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
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No one would be forced to leave large residential centres ‘‘because of the NDIS’’, Minister for Ageing John Ajaka said yesterday, following union criticisms it was being used as cover to privatise services.

A policy, begun under Labor, of redeveloping large residential centres was instead behind the latest uncertainty, he said.

‘‘The redevelopment of the Stockton Centre site has been an ongoing priority for the NSW government and planning has been under way well before our commitment to the NDIS was made,’’ Mr Ajaka said.

Residents could choose to stay until 2018 when the redevelopment would occur or move to another residential centre from next year.

The government would not commit yesterday to some form of accommodation being available onsite after the redevelopment, saying only that future accommodation at Stockton would be canvassed at an information session today.

The redevelopment of Stockton, Tomaree and Kanangra was mentioned in the Ageing, Disability and Home Care agency 2011-12 annual report.

However, the Coalition recommitted soon after winning the 2011 election to keeping Stockton open – noting it needed upgrading.

Labor’s disability services spokeswoman, Barbara Perry, said Stockton’s redevelopment was part of an agreement that had bipartisan support from Labor.

‘‘However, there is understandably a lot of anxiety for many people with disabilities and their families about how the transition to [the NDIS] will play out,’’ she said. ‘‘Now is the time for very clear communication and dialogue from the NSW government about how choice and quality of services will be improved under the transition.’’

But Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said some residents may be more socially isolated in a ‘‘pure community setting’’.

‘‘If there’s a problem with large centres like Stockton, then that’s because they’ve been run down by successive governments,’’ Mr Piper said.

Legislation enabling the transfer of government assets and staff on existing wages and conditions to the non-government sector for the NDIS is before State Parliament.

The Stockton Centre

———————————

‘Staff morale, trust levels low’ over disability centre changes

By IAN KIRKWOOD

THE Public Service Association held a delegates’ meeting in Newcastle yesterday afternoon to discuss a strategy to respond to the changes proposed for the Stockton Centre and other residential homes.

Union branch organiser Paul James said that regardless of what “spin” the government put on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and its impact on state-run facilities, the legislation tied the government into privatising services.

Mr James said staff morale was bad and trust levels were low because of the way both the state and federal governments had failed to spell out the enormity of the changes when announcing the NDIS late last year.

He said staff with experience in both government-run and not-for-profit disability services were adamant that standards were higher in the government sector. Staff feared for the people they cared for and themselves, because whatever work guarantees the government was talking about would be for five years at the most.

“And because the Hunter is the first roll-out, our people are the guinea pigs,” Mr James said.

Rugby clubs vote to reject NHRU cull

NEWCASTLE and Hunter Rugby Union’s premier division is set to stay at 10 teams after delegates last night rejected a recommendation to relegate two clubs from the competition.
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Under the proposal Easts and Nelson Bay, who finished bottom in the club championship, would have been dropped to First Division for at least the next twoseasons.

The move to streamline the elite tier was put to the 19 clubs (Premier Rugby, First Division and C-Grade) at a meeting at No.2 Sportsground and went against 12-4. Cessnock, Medowie and Muswellbrook were not represented.

Under the NHRU constitution the board has the power to determine the final make-up of its competitions but given the resounding message last night it is unlikely to go against the clubs’ wishes.

NHRU president Phil Payne was disappointment at the failure to endorse the recommendation and said he would reconsider his position.

‘‘I can’t talk for the other board members but it’s a fairly resounding slap in the face as the president of the union,’’ he said.

‘‘Is it a vote of no confidence? I’m not sure.’’

Nominations for the three competitions close on November 19. The board will then meet to finalise the composition of each division. The current 10 teams have indicated they will again nominate.

‘‘We will reconvene after nominations close and decide the next course of action in a considered fashion without the emotion attached to tonight,’’ Payne said.

Defiant Easts president Andrew Hill said the board was compelled to follow the wishes of the clubs.

‘‘If the board fails to act on the vote by the members it goes to show how out of touch the board is,’’ Hill said.

‘‘The vote was 12-4. The bulk of the NHRU don’t want this to go through.’’

Easts, who were readmitted to Premier Rugby this season after a bitter four-year battle that went to the Supreme Court, begin training tonight.

‘‘It is full steam ahead for us,’’ Hill said. ‘‘The move by the clubs shows they have faith in the code.’’

Nelson Bay President John Edmunds also believed the board were obliged to represent the interests of the clubs and retain the status quo.

A subcommittee, which was open to all clubs, was formed to assess the competition structure after a number of forfeits and subsequent withdrawals of teams in third grade and colts; lopsided scorelines; and concerns over the playing standard, particularly in the lower grades.

Over a three-month period, it analysed a number of competition models in rugby union and other sports, including Northern NSW Football and Newcastle Rugby League.

It determined by dropping two teams from Premier Rugby it would improve the quality not only of the elite tier but also First Division and C-grade.

The premier competition would be reassessed every two years, giving relegated clubs an opportunity to rebuild.

‘‘We did not make this recommendation lightly,’’ restructure subcommittee chairman Paul Coles said.

‘‘If there is no change there is a real fear for the future of the second-tier competition. A fear that the one-team clubs will disappear and First Division will continue to decline.’’

In addressing the meeting before the vote, Payne said the subcommittee had been given a basic charter.

‘‘They were entrusted to come up with a proposal that was to the betterment of Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union,’’ he said.

‘‘There has been no sweetheart deals, there has been no secret agenda or under the table deals with any clubs.

‘‘To suggest otherwise is simply wrong and is offensive.’’

Nelson Bay would have faced relegation if the NHRU culled the competition to 8 teams.

THE LOWEDOWN: Jets have hope, not goals

BLOG WITH DAVID LOWE 1PM TODAY
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IT was a bit of a throwaway line towards the end of last week’s column when I said that by Sunday night we might have a new Socceroos coach and a new favourite for the Melbourne Cup, and the Jets could get on the score sheet and be in the top six.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad, as Meatloaf once told us. And to be fair to the Jets, they did everything bar score against Wellington in scenic Napier on Sunday afternoon.

Of course, much will be made of the fact that the Jets haven’t scored in 406 minutes of A-League football – 270 minutes of that this season. And that is a problem, but they were far more proactive and energetic against Wellington than in their two previous matches.

In fact, in isolation, a trip to New Zealand, a clean sheet and an away point is not a bad return. When you consider the way the Jets imposed themselves in the opening stanza, there were definitely some positives to be garnered.

Gary van Egmond changed his team’s shape and personnel a little, particularly in the midfield where Ben Kantarovski and Josh Brillante added some extra bite and an extra body.

With the Jets looking to dominate in that crucial area, and with Wellington coach Ernie Merrick deploying essentially four attacking players, the Phoenix’s Manny Muscat and Vince Lia found themselves outnumbered and chasing shadows.

At half-time, sensing they were being overrun, Merrick withdrew Paul Ifill who, as strikers tend to do when asked to play a kind of half-and-half role, was more effective as an attacker than in defensive duties. They replaced him with anchor midfielder Albert Riera.

This move certainly helped restore some equilibrium to the flow of the contest, as did the departure of the busy and combative Jets skipper Ruben Zadkovich.

From that point on, the game became a bit of an arm wrestle. Neither side really looked like winning, and a draw was probably about the right result.

All of which makes the derby clash with the Mariners at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night ultra-important.

Arch-rivals Central Coast probably couldn’t have asked for a better lead-up game to this encounter than their 1-0 win over Adelaide last Saturday provided.

Against a team that likes to pass the ball and dominate possession, the Mariners created plenty of chances with a meagre 34 per cent of the ball and with nearly 300 fewer completed passes.

Graham Arnold has plenty of players to choose from in the front third, with the power of Mitch Duke and Matt Simon. Add the mobility of Nick Fitzgerald, the guile of Marcos Flores and Mile Sterjovski, and Kiwi international Michael McGlinchey, who has more than his share of both those qualities, and contemplate the possible return of last season’s golden boot Daniel McBreen – and you get the picture.

Despite that attacking arsenal, the Mariners will probably play reasonably conservatively, invite the Jets to make the running and hope to sting on the counterattack.

They are capable of pressing very effectively when necessary. But I’d imagine that will be done at chosen times, and for limited periods.

Van Egmond will be well aware of the outlook of Arnold and his stylistic preference. And his response – both in a tactical sense and in terms of starting personnel – will be of much interest.

There has been an almost public appeal for the return of Emile Heskey – it is hoped his presence will solve the Jets goal-scoring woes.

The almost unwavering modern belief in the merits of sports science would surely rule out a starting role for the big Englishman for fear of any fatigue-related injuries.

You’d imagine a cameo role off the bench might be the start to the marquee man’s season, easing him back to full capacity.

Regardless, it is probably lumping a little too much pressure on one man to turn around the club’s goal-scoring deficiencies.

The derby games with the Mariners are usually fairly spicy affairs. Both sets of players hate to lose this fixture but probably not as much as the respective fans do.

The 7.30pm kick-off on a Saturday will help the spectacle and add to the atmosphere.

I’m working backwards on my triumvirate of off-hand predictions. And yes, we do have a new Melbourne Cup favourite following a couple of scratchings and the effort of Fiorente, which was set a bigger task than the early settlers in Saturday’s Cox Plate. But more on that – and perhaps a sneaky tip – in next week’s column.

Which leaves us with the appointment of Ange Postecoglou as the Australian coach for the next five years. All the hints in the media suggested that this was the road the FFA would take. And so it was. It wasn’t until a good friend, and very respected figure in the game asked me, ‘‘What do you make of the appointment, Lowie,’’ that I stopped to gather my thoughts.

Was it the right time for an Aussie coach? Would we seek a long-term appointment, or an interim coach to see us past the World Cup in Brazil? Hiddink? Rijkaard? Houllier? Ferguson even?

SBS analyst Craig Foster made some very valid points about patriotism running rampant and clouding clear thinking. Ange himself was quoted as saying that the FFA should pick the best candidate for the job, regardless of nationality.

He also later stated that he believed he was that candidate, and I admire that confidence and belief. More importantly, he has the form line and CV to back up his self-assurance.

Championships with South Melbourne in the old NSL, and with Brisbane more recently, attest to his ability to harness stylish football and consistent winning results – not always comfortable bedfellows.

I also like his pragmatism. His credo of hard work and high standards is supplemented by an acknowledgement that coaching alone will take a team so far – quality players are a must to make a difference. See the recruitment of Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha at Brisbane, and their impact.

This season at the Victory he decided that he needed mobility and goals. So in came Mitch Nichols and Kosta Barbarouses, and out went Marcos Flores. Need to improve the defence? Let’s get a marquee centre-back with vast international experience.

The fact that Postecoglou negotiated a five-year deal suggests he is a formidable force behind closed doors, and confirms the long-term option being exercised.

I honestly believe Postecoglou will do an excellent job long term. He is thorough, meticulous, knowledgeable, very firm, but ultimately fair.

A word for Graham Arnold. I’m not sure how he’s feeling at this time, but he too would have ticked all the major boxes.

Can Ange make the Socceroos respectable by Rio? It’s a big ask but I absolutely hope so. He certainly won’t have the individual quality of players circa Hiddink in 2006.

And it begs the question – is it about players or coaches? Perhaps both? Stay tuned.

SUPERSTAR: Emile Heskey during a recent Jets training session at Ray Watt Oval.

Stockton bowlo barman’s inside job

IT was an inside job.
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A planned heist where Stockton Bowling Club barman Scott Lynch not only helped plan the armed robbery of his own club, but says he gave the all clear for masked raiders to storm the place armed with a shotgun and threaten another employee.

Lynch, now serving a sentence for his part in the robbery on August 26 last year, was in the witness box yesterday giving evidence against a man he claims first approached him to hold up the struggling club.

Damien Lee Hudson, 35, has pleaded not guilty in Newcastle District Court to the armed robbery on the club’s biggest day, following the Jellyblubbers Ball, where bandits got away with $34,520.

Lynch admitted to getting a 25 per cent discount on his prison term for giving evidence against Mr Hudson but denied he was pointing the finger at the accused in an effort to protect another person.

Instead, Lynch told the jury he had only known Hudson as “Damo” when he was approached about six months before the robbery about whether he wanted to make some money.

Lynch admitted he had a $100 a day drug habit, was only earning $400 a week with his bar work and was behind in rent.

He told the court he had had several meetings with “Damo” before taking him and another man, known as “PJ”, to the club’s car park to talk them through its layout and show them the back door where no security cameras showed.

He said he met the pair again on the day of the heist and was given $30 to buy a pre-paid phone which he used to call “PJ” when the coast was clear.

Two men wearing balaclavas then smashed through the back door and robbed Lynch and a female employee.

Lynch said he used a friend’s car to drive to Damo’s place later that night but could not find the men.

He claimed he met up with them two days later where they were supposed to split the money evenly.

Lynch said he got $4000 and under cross-examination said he did not complain, despite his dire financial position, because he was afraid of the pair.

The court heard he had identified Mr Hudson and PJ using photographs as the men responsible for the robbery.

Under cross-examination, defence barrister Mark Preece pressed Lynch on why he had told police he heard the “Islander” talking during the heist but not the other man.

Lynch agreed he told detectives he had just assumed Mr Hudson was the second masked man, although he would later claim he had heard and recognised Mr Hudson’s voice.

The trial, before Judge McLoughlin, continues.

Bayley McGill, James Psarakis co-captains country U-17s cricket 

NEWCASTLE skipper Bayley McGill and Central Northern counterpart James Psarakis were named co-captains of the NSW Country under-17 cricket side after standout performances at Raymond Terrace at the weekend.
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Psarakis, from Tamworth, led the unbeaten Central Northern to the NSW Country championship with 242 runs from three games, including 148 not out against Central Coast and 61 against Western.

Cardiff-Boolaroo batsman McGill belted 135 not out against Western and 145 against Southern in his competition-leading 283 total.

The pair will show the way for Country against City under-17s in two 50-overs-a-side matches at Bradman Oval in Bowral on November 10-11.

Central Coast’s Daniel Hueston was the leading bowler with 9-115 for the tournament and was also selected in the Country team.

The side is: James Psarakis (Central Northern-co-captain), Bayley McGill (Newcastle-co-captain), Tobyn Burvill (North Coastal), Luke Corlis (North Coastal), Daniel Heuston (Central Coast), Henry Hunt (Western), Nathaneal Jones (Southern), Charles Litchfield (Western), Connor Matheson (Riverina), Jayden Park (Central Northern), Joshua Pettigrew (Newcastle), Jaymes Thomas (Central Northern).

■ Denman’s Riley Ayre had plenty to talk about when he returned to St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen, yesterday after a memorable week in his burgeoning cricket career.

The 17-year-old spinner debuted for NSW in the second XI Futures League competition, finishing with 0-27 and 0-16 and scoring six not out in a rain-marred draw in a four-day game with Victoria at Junction Oval in St Kilda.

The left-armer then again bowled tidily on Saturday for Sutherland in Sydney first grade, finishing with 0-16 off seven overs in a 10-wicket loss to Manly-Warringah.

On Sunday, he backed up in under-21s and senior Twenty20 wins for Sutherland against Gordon.

He opened the bowling in both games, taking 1-23 and 2-21 in his four-over efforts.

■ Hunter District Cycling Club’s Kai Chapman made it back-to-back wins in a race dedicated to his grandfather, Mick Chapman, on Sunday.

Kai, who won the Australian under-15 track sprint championship at Adelaide in March, defended his under-15 division crown in the Mick Chapman Memorial Criterium on Honeysuckle Drive, edging out Central Coast’s Tom Lynch and Illawarra’s Zach Marshall.

In the girls’ under-15s, North Sydney’s Laura Jones beat Central Coast’s Jess Fields and Hunter’s Lucie Fityus.

Manly’s Ella Falzarano claimed the girls’ under-17s ahead of Hunter’s Nicola Macdonald and Amelia Follett.

North Sydney rider Jacob Jones took out the boys’ under-17s from Port Macquarie’s Liam Magennis and Armidale’s Sam Jenner.

■ Twin Rivers YMCA gymnast Jacobi Patrick has delivered the small Raymond Terrace club a NSW title.

Patrick claimed the overall Level 5 Intermediate crown at Homebush this month after finishing fourth on the vault, fourth on bars and third on beam. It followed her overall win at the NSW Country titles in Orange in September.

■ Knights junior Heath Gibbs has been named alongside Wendell Sailor’s son Tristan in the NSW Indigenous under-16 team to play Queensland.

Gibbs is a member of the Knights’ under-16 squad training for the 2014 Harold Matthews competition.

The NSW-Queensland game will be played during the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League in Newcastle on February 3-8.

Another feature will be a trial between the Knights and an invitational team made up of players from the NSW Koori Knockout and Queensland’s Murri carnival.

■ More than 20 junior basketball teams from Newcastle and Lake Macquarie will head to Port Macquarie this weekend for the annual Seaside Classic.

Under-11, under-13, under-15 and under-17 girls and boys matches will be played on courts at Port Macquarie Sports Stadium, St Joseph’s Regional College, St Columba Anglican School and St Paul’s High School.

The teams will represent Newcastle and Lake Macquarie clubs City Limits, Port Hunter, United, Wests and Lakers against teams from Cessnock, Central Coast, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Byron Bay, Bellingen, Grafton, Lismore, Ryde and Springwood.

Bayley McGill

Sabrina Kliousis smashes javelin record

PET EVENT: Sabrina Kliousis says that the javelin is her favourite sport. Picture: Phil HearneTHE sky is the limit for javelin thrower Sabrina Kliousis after a record-breaking start to her time in the sport.
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The 13-year-old from Newcastle Grammar School is targeting the Australian All Schools championship in December at Townsville after she won the state title in Sydney this month.

The winning throw of 33.87 metres on a hot and windy day followed an outstanding run by Kliousis, who claimed the Association of Independent Co-Educational Schools title with a throw of 34.32m. It broke the previous mark by almost seven metres.

Then came the NSW Combined Independent Schools championships, where the year 8 student bettered the meet mark of 32.82m with an effort of of 34.32m.

Coach Liam Speers, 21, is discus champion who finished eighth at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone in 2009.

Now juggling his own training and competition with coaching, Speers takes Sabrina and her older brother, Rugby, through their paces at least once a week.

Speers said Sabrina had great natural ability and was an exciting prospect.

“She has limitless amount of potential,” Speers said.

“She’s been with me for only two years and in that time she’s added 17 metres or more to her throw.

“In the lower school comps you can get people who can play other sports like baseball who have a good arm already, but when you get to state or nationals you see the girls who have the training and potential – Sabrina’s proven herself that way.”

He believed she had an excellent chance of adding the national schools title to her growing list of achievements.

“She’s an awesome thrower and I can see she is capable of throwing further than what she is at the moment,” he said.

“On the day, anything can happen. If she clicks all that technical training together, I know she’s a chance to win.”

Speers said Sabrina’s older brother, Rugby, 16, could also go a long way in javelin.

“He has just as much potential, if not more,” he said.

“He could become a national representative at javelin, rugby, soccer – he just has so much natural talent. Whoever can grab hold of him will do well with him.”

Sabrina competes for the Adamstown-New Lambton Little Athletics club.

She said she followed her brother into the sport and just “liked it”.

A touch football player and cheerleader, she said she wanted to go as far as she could with javelin, which was her favourite sport.

Zac Walsh on fitness mission

MACQUARIE first grade coach Barrie Moore is taking a hands-on approach when it comes to reshaping new recruit Zac Walsh.
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It has been the worst-kept secret in Newcastle Rugby League that the enigmatic Walsh would join the Scorpions after an unhappy season at premiers Western Suburbs.

Walsh, 19, spent limited time in first grade this season due to injuries and was often overlooked by Rosellas coach Craig Miller as his weight ballooned.

No one can doubt the halfback’s immense potential.

At his best, Walsh is one of the most talented play-makers in the competition, as seen when he led Wests to the 2012 premiership at 18.

Due to weight issues, Walsh was unable to play to his potential consistently at the Rosellas but Moore believes he can succeed.

Moore, who has taken over the first-grade job from Noel Dent after a premiership in reserves, has started weekly one-on-one training sessions with Walsh at Jesmond’s Heaton Park.

Last summer Moore lost 42 kilograms to stand at 68kg and he is passing on his experiences to Walsh.

‘‘I told him when I signed him I would get him fit,’’ Moore said.

‘‘I’ve taken it personally. No one has ever given the kid a go and I just wanted to sit down and help him.

‘‘It means a lot to him that we’re working one-on-one,’’ he said.

Walsh’s weight has been a constant hurdle in his promising career, which included a handful of Western Suburbs Magpies NSW Cup games in 2012.

Mid-way through 2012, the Knights signed Walsh and placed him with Wests, hoping the club’s professional set-up would improve his fitness in time for this year’s National Youth League.

Walsh gained weight over the summer after an injury and it cost him an opportunity in the Knights under-20s.

However, Moore was committed to getting Walsh down from 107kg to about 90kg.

‘‘So many of people have said to me, ‘If you can get him fit, good luck’,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve taken that as a personal challenge and there’s no reason he can’t do it if he sticks to it and at the moment he is.’’

Walsh finished last season in Wests’ beaten reserve grade grand final side.

‘‘I just thought I didn’t want to be in that environment and wanted to start afresh,’’ Walsh said.

Walsh says Moore’s personal experiences with battling the bulge makes his challenge to drop the weight easier.

‘‘It’s good to have someone who understands where I’m coming from, with him being 40kg heavier than he is now and knowing what it’s like to be big,’’ he said.

‘‘He knows we need help and that’s what he’s trying to do at the moment and I respect him for that.’’

Walsh is also hopeful he can resurrect his opportunity at the Knights as he is still eligible for their under-20 squad next season.

‘‘I’ve set myself a goal and I’m starting to get there and get my life back on track and 2014 should be a good year,’’ he said.

‘‘I get on with [recruitment and development manager] Peter Mulholland at the Knights. He said to give him a call when I get to the 100kg mark – I’d like to be there before Christmas, so I’m not too far away if I keep doing the right things,’’ he said.

HELPING OUT: Zac Walsh trains with Scorpions head coach Barrie Moore at Heaton Park. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

O’Connor set to announce deal

In demand: James O’Connor. Photo: Brendan EspositoDisgraced Wallabies winger James O’Connor will announce a short term deal with English Premiership side London Irish on Tuesday.
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Fairfax Media understands the club and O’Connor will announce the marquee signing at their club headquarters at 10am on Tuesday (9pm Tuesday AEDT).

O’Connor was due to arrive in London on Monday. He tweeted on Sunday that he was “London bound for a few months to play some rugby”.

London bound for a few months to play some rugby, can’t wait.. see you soon Aus! Thanks for all the… http://t.co/BQSXAVyutp— James O’Connor (@JamesOConnor832) October 27, 2013

The exact length of the deal is not known, but O’Connor has made it clear he wants to return to Australia in time to make the Wallabies’ 2015 World Cup squad.

His contract with the Australian Rugby Union was terminated last month after a disciplinary investigation found he had failed to ”uphold the behavioural and cultural standards expected within the team”.

The investigation was sparked by an incident at Perth airport, in which a drunk O’Connor was banned from boarding a flight to Bali and escorted from the terminal the morning after he played on the wing in the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship win against Argentina.

The ARU suspended the 44-Test winger, later announcing he would not be offered a Wallabies “top-up” in 2014 but would be eligible to sign with an Australian Super Rugby team.

He had been clubless since the middle of the year, when he and the Rebels decided not to renew his contract with the Melbourne side.

O’Connor was in advanced talks to join the Western Force but the deal did not materialise, O’Connor instead announcing he would head overseas.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.