Month: April 2020

Samoan sevens star shines at Two Blues

ON THE CHARGE: Wanderers No.8 Francis Ieremia bumps off a couple of University defenders in the Two Blues 42-7 win at No.2 Sportsground. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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WANDERERS No.8 FrancesIeremia was in London preparingto play for Samoa in the World Rugby Seven series tournament at Twickenham this time last year.

It was the25-year-old’s second tournament back from a dislocated ankle.

He had previously missed eight months after breaking his leg against France in the South African leg of the sevens series in Capetown in December 2015.

At Twickenham, Samoawere drawn alongside Australia, England and Spain. They went down to Australia (34-5) and the hosts (24-19) and beat Spain (40-7) to finish third in the pool. They were pipped29-21 by Wales in the quarter-final of the Challenge Trophy before bouncing back to beat Japan (33-7) and Russia (24-19) to finish 13th.

London was the final leg of the series and Samoancoach Gordon Tietjens suggested that Ieremia played some club rugby.

Ieremia’s partner LauraTyan is from Black Hill and her family hasa connection with Wanderers.

The pair were living in Samoa, where they met when Laura was a volunteer teacher, and decided to join her family in Australia.

“Economically it washard living in Samoa,” Ieremia said.“I decided to take a break from the sevens and come here to Newcastle. Laura’s grandfather used to be Wanderers’ dentist. The club hasbeen great.I have an opportunity to go back to the sevens programnext year, but if things go well here with Wanderers I might stay.”

Ieremia played a handful of games, mainly in second grade, in the final stages oflast season.With the benefit of a pre-season, he has been one of Wanderers stars in the opening five rounds.

He is the competition’s leading try- scorerwith six, highlighted by a hat-trick in the 42-7 win over University last round, and leads Wanderers in securingturnovers.

“He is powerful and has really good footwork,” Wanderers coach Darren Young said.“He hadn’t played much rugby when he arrived last year. He is going to get better and better. He gives us another dimension off the back of the scrum with his speed.”

Before histwo- yearstint in the Samoan sevens program, Ieremia represented Manu Samoa (15-a-side) at the 2015 Pacific NationsCup.

“Sevens wasa great experience,” he said.“We got to travel and meet other players from other countries.I also enjoy the 15-a-side game.The other forwards here have set a good platform and allow me to run the ball. I’m really enjoy Youngy’s game plan.”

Ieremia copped a head knock against University and will miss Saturday’s clash against Lake Macquarie.

“He didn’t receive a blue card but he did get a knock,” Young said.“Youcan’t be too cautious when it comes to player welfare.”

Company ‘vigorously pursuing’ gas exploration off east coast

A satellite image of PEP11, off the coast of Newcastle, where seismic testing will take place as part of gas exploration.NSW Parliament is callingforthe Turnbull government to suspend a petroleumexploration licence for an areaoff the coastofNewcastlewhere seismic testing has recently taken place.
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But the firmsearching for gas hasrejected the motion, saying parliament hasn’t considered the evidence.

Asset Energy spokesman Toby Foster said the company hadproven it couldoperate through “evolving” regulatory framework over several years and believed its projectshad done no harm to the environment.

The NSW upper house passed a motion on Tuesday thatcalled for a halt to Asset Energy’s exploration in the PEP11 licence area until concerns about the regulatory process had been addressed.

Read more:Seismic testing ‘thin edge of the wedge’

It came after the state’s Liberal resourcesminister Don Harwin saidin February he was concerned thatseismic testing had been approved about 30km off the coast of Newcastle.

The testing took place last month, despite public backlashsparked by fears about thepossible effect on the marine environment.

Asset Energy has left the door open to return for more tests anddrillingifgas isfound under the ocean floor.

Greens MP Justin Field said the federal government should suspend Asset Energy’s licence.

Hundreds of people gathered at Nobbys Beach on March 18 to protest against a plan for seismic testing off the coast of Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“Seismic testing off the coast of Newcastle caught the community by surprise but they’re now united in demanding no oil or gas fields off the NSW coast,” he said.

“Imagine sitting on the iconic Nobby’s Beach and looking beyond the waves at oil rigs, or the massive risk of a spill off Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

“The New Zealand government recently announced a ban on new oil and gas exploration in its waters. The federal government should follow its example and do the same here.”

Read more:Protest over seismic testing off Newcastle coast

Mr Foster said Asset Energy was “vigorously pursuing” exploration of PEP11because there was “excellent potential for the discovery of significant commercial quantities of natural gas”, which could support the gas needs of 300,000 manufacturing jobs, one million households and 33,000 businesses across the state.

“Asset Energy has demonstrated in its exploration off the coast of NSW that it can operate safely and within the evolving state and federal regulatory frameworks since it first acquired an interest in PEP11 in 2006,” he said.

“No safety nor environmental incidences have occurred in these operations and therefore the NSW Legislative Council’s motion does not appear to have considered the evidence available.”

Doctor’s trial nearing end

ACCUSED: Dr Jeremy Coleman, left, leaving Newcastle courthouse with his solicitor, Metin Ozmen. He is facing a lengthy sexual and indecent assault trial in Newcastle District Court. Picture: Max Mason-HubersAFTER the best part of eight monthsof complainantsalleging assaults over more than two decades and medical experts dissecting issues around“proper medical purpose”, the evidence in the marathon trial against Dr Jeremy Coleman has concluded.
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After listening to more than 150 days, or about 700 hours, of evidence, the jury will return to Newcastle District Court in two weeks to hear closing arguments from Crown prosecutor Paul Marr, defence barrister Pauline David and Judge Penny Hock.

It is understoodthose detailed closing submissions could take several weeks before the jury retires to begin deliberating on its verdicts.

Dr Coleman, 64, a well-known Newcastlegeneral physician, allergy and immunology specialistwho has seen more than 40,000 patients and conducted more than 150,000 consultations during his career, has pleaded not guilty to more than60 counts of sexual and indecent assault against 46female patientsbetween 1989 and 2013.

Mr Marr delivered his opening address on August 30, 2017, outlining for the jury the prosecution case, which is, essentially, that Dr Coleman did not have a “proper medical purpose” to examine the 46 women in the way he did.

He claimed that during consultations with the 46 women Dr Coleman would shift the conversation to sex.

“His interest was intentionally drawn to their fertility and genitalia or their sexual function as a guise, as a means, as a ruse to examine them internally,” Mr Marr said.

“The Crown says that he didn’t have a proper medical purpose for that.”

The defence case began on March 5 this year with Dr Coleman taking the stand to give evidence, during which he told the juryhe always had a proper medical purpose for conducting an internal examination, always gave an explanation and asked first and always wore gloves.

Dr Coleman would give evidence for the next two months, first in chief, then in cross-examination and, finally, in re-examination.

Malaysia’s Anwar gives full support to PM

Jailed Malaysian reformist Anwar Ibrahim has been granted a full pardon and freed from custody, capping dramatic changes in the Southeast Asian country since the government was ousted in an election upset last week.
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The question for Malaysia now is how Anwar will get along with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, his ally-turned-foe-turned-ally, and what role he will play in the new government.

Anwar, 70, said he would like to take time off with his family and did not intend to join the cabinet any time soon. He said he would support the government led by Mahathir and Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is Anwar’s wife.

“I’ve told Tun Mahathir, I don’t need to serve in the cabinet for now,” Anwar said, using an honorific for the prime minister.

Anwar has been in hospital for months, for surgery on a shoulder.

He was sentenced in 2015 to a five-year term for sodomy, a charge he says was trumped up by the government of ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Mahathir, with whom Anwar joined forces to win last Wednesday’s election, greeted him at the palace where they both met the king.

Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy in the 1990s but fell out with his mentor during the Asian financial crisis.

He was sacked from the ruling party and founded the Reformasi movement, challenging Mahathir’s government. Within weeks, he was arrested and jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption.

Images at the time of a goateed, bespectacled Anwar in court with a black eye and bruises brought condemnation of Mahathir from around the world.

Anwar’s trial became a spectacle, with prosecutors at one stage bringing out what they said was a semen-stained mattress allegedly used when he had sex with two male aides.

After being freed in 2004, Anwar was jailed a second time. Both times, he and his supporters have said the charges were politically motivated.

Anwar later told a news conference at his home he had forgiven the veteran leader, who was a pugnacious, uncompromising prime minister for 22 years from 1981.

“I and Mahathir have buried the hatchet already, it was a long time ago,” Anwar said.

The pardon, which enables Anwar to re-enter politics immediately, was granted on the grounds that there had been a miscarriage of justice.

Under a pre-election pact, Mahathir, 92, had vowed to enable Anwar’s release and eventually step aside for him to become prime minister.

On Tuesday, Mahathir said he expected to be prime minister for one or two more years, setting off talk of fresh differences between the two.

Mahathir is racing ahead with an investigation into graft at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund founded by the ousted premier Najib that is sunk in a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal.

Mahathir has replaced the attorney-general and officials at the anti-graft agency, in what appears to be a purge of people seen as close to the former premier.

Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving the country. Najib denies wrongdoing.

Australian Associated Press

Wests slow out of the blocks

TOUGH TROT: Western Suburbs winger Michael Hendry. Picture: Jonathan CarrollWests find themselves in unfamiliar territory after the opening four rounds following the powerhouse club’s slowest start to a Newcastle Rugby League season in recent memory.
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The Rosellas, minor premiers all-but once since 2013 and grand finalists five times out of the last seven, are equal last on the competition ladder with just asingle win next to their name.

Since 2010 they have been either unbeaten or3-1 at the same stage of their campaign, outside split results in 2015 before going onto claim pole position.

“It has been a tough start, I won’t deny that fact,” Wests second-yearcoach Matt Lantry said.

“It’s uncharacteristic of any Wests side, but I think you’ve got to credit the competition.”

Lantry said it feelslike one of the most even first-grade playing fields in some time, with all teams having registered a victory and no-one still undefeated which leaves just four competition points betweentop and bottom of the table.

He said Wests’issues include key injuries, featuring new halfback Jordan Worboys (ankle),three times in a row meeting previously winlessopposition (Lakes, Cessnock, Souths) “desperate” to make amends and adjusting to new combinations after losing almost half of last year’s grand-final squad.

Lantry said the Rosellas would use thisweekend off as a chance to regroup.“It gives us an opportunity to just takestock a little bit.”

The mentor didn’t rule out signing any new recruits before the June 30 deadline.

FLICK PASSES:First XII players left dancing in the dark

PHOTOS:Butcher Boys start to settle on combinations

Braemore: The story of one of the Hunter’s greatest vineyards

Patch of gold: Ken Bray, the namesake of Braemore vineyard on Hermitage Road in Pokolbin. Picture: Simone De PeakWest, beyond the rugged coastline of Newcastle; bounded to the north by the long slash of the Hunter River, and the distant blue shadows of the Barrington Tops; right below the flank of the ancient Brokenback escarpment; here, beneath a blue sky perpetually menaced and obscured by clouds; row upon row of straight lines run north to south, organising a landscape that was once an ancient sea floor into a neat terrain of toil and promise.
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For almost 50 years, semillon vine trunks have grown out from the finely packed grains of earthen white sand that defines this part of Pokolbin. In the shadow of she oaks, which grow along the creek that divides the vines east to west, grapevine bark peels and splits away, forming rough fissures that twist and knot themselves up, around, and along the dark wood.

Braemore.

A vineyard, located within a strip of fine white sand on Hermitage Road, Pokolbin. Part of a band of outstanding vineyard sites that is collectively and colloquially known as the ‘Dress Circle’; H.V.D., Trevena, Casuarina, and Keith Tulloch’s Field of Mars (formally known as Paradise) vineyards all form an integral part of this flat and narrow arc of moderately fertile, sandy loam. Soil that was deposited during the Permean period, some 250 million years ago.

Braemore is considered to be one of the Hunter Valley’s best sites for semillon. Since the early 1970s it has been the source material for some of the Hunter’s finest and most age-worthy white wines.

“The name ‘Braemore’ has only been around for 26years, but, as a vineyard, it has this historical reputation that makes it feel as though it has been here forever,” says winemakerAndrew Thomas, who knows this plot of dirt well.

SLICE OF PARADISE: The border of the Braemore vineyard off Hermitage Road, Pokolbin, in the Hunter Valley. “In the shadow of she oaks, which grow along the creek that divides the vines east to west, grapevine bark peels and splits away, forming rough fissures that twist and knot themselves up, around, and along the dark wood.”

Braemore was first planted in 1969 by Joch McPherson and his son Andrew. It was initially part of a larger planting that also included the Casuarina and Paradise vineyards. Collectively, the whole vineyard area was called ‘Project One’.

“It was called Project One because we were terribly imaginative people in those days… although, sometimes it was referred to as She Oaks,” Andrew McPherson recalls.

“The vine stock came from a nursery in Mildura. We had two teams planting out the vineyard, running behind a tractor and water trailer with water guns … One person would wet the ground with the gun, another would follow behind, putting the vines in the ground, and then two others would stamp the dirt in and around the vine, so to speak.”

McPherson says the decision to plant semillon vines here was due, simply, to the quality of the sandy loam soils that defines the area.

“It’s a beautiful bit of dirt. I remember, you could dig an awfully deep hole before you reached any heavy clay,” McPherson says.

“The soils were incredibly free draining; perfect for semillon. The fruit used to go to McWilliams and to Tyrrell’s, from memory … I remember they were always quite fine wines. By that I meanwines with really good acid structure.”

ANDREW THOMAS: “‘Sem’ is one of those varieties that we, as winemakers, don’t have a lot of influence on the final quality of the wine. The vineyard does. ” Picture: Dominique Cherry

The Project One vineyards were sub-divided by the Orlando-Wyndham Group in the early 1990s. This gave vineyard manager Ken Bray, and his wife Christine (née Moore), the opportunity to purchase a sizeable portion of this grand cru strip of fine white alluvial sand on Hermitage Road.

“We bought the vineyard because I was already familiar with it. It was renowned for producing good fruit, plus we always had a thing about Hunter semillon,” explains Ken Bray. “The fruit would always end up in the show reserve wines for Orlando, and they always seemed to get the accolades.”

Upon purchasing the 11ha property, Ken and Christine promptly identified the land’s boundaries, and changed the name to Braemore.

“It didn’t really have a name before we bought it,” says Ken. “It was just regarded as an extension of Casuarina. So, we combined Chris and my last names together, and just changed the spelling a bit to get, ‘Braemore’.”

Part of the condition of sale was for Orlando to purchase back most of the Braemore fruit for 15 years. Other remaining grape parcels made it into the hands of only a select few discerning winemakers around the Valley.

“The flat that Braemore is a part of has been responsible for producing some of the best white wines in the Hunter for the last four decades,” says winemaker and McGuigan Wines CEO, Neil McGuigan. “Why? Because of the beautifully deep, sandy loam soils that allow the roots of the vines to penetrate deep down into the subsoil…

“In the 90s, I made semillon for Briar Ridge and Pokolbin Estate from Braemore fruit,” Neil continues. “The wines always drank well early on, but they became outstanding the longer they were allowed to age.”

Towards the end of the decade, Braemore caught the eye of a fledgling winemaker from South Australia, who, at the time, was working as an assistant winemaker at Tyrrell’s.

“I’d never dealt with Braemore prior to speaking with Ken, but from my time at Tyrrell’s, working with the fruit from HVD, I knew that strip of dirt had a bit of significance,” explains Andrew Thomas. “So, I went and spoke to Ken on a whim to see if I could buy some grapes.”

“Thommo showed up out of the blue, the year after Pokolbin Estate had some show success with their semillon (from Braemore), and he asked to buy five tonnes,” recalls Ken. “Our contract with Orlando was coming to an end, so the timing was right.”

After a few years of buying fruit from Ken, Andrew Thomas’ 2002 Braemore Semillon eventually won the trophy for Best Current Vintage Semillon and Best Current Vintage White Wine (for the second year in a row) at the 2002 Hunter Valley Wine Show Awards. That year, the 2001 Braemore Semillon won the trophy for Best One-Year-Old White Wine at the same awards.

“That was a nice little double header,” says Thomas. “That win gave me the confidence of the vineyard.”

“If the fruit looks good then people will want to buy it,” says Ken. “But you also need to gain the confidence of the winemaker, who needs to have confidence in the fruit. Then, together, you work as a team to honour the site by making the best wine you can from it.”

Semillon is synonymous with wine from the Hunter Valley. The grape defines the region and distinguishes it as a place for world-class winegrowing. If you want to make wine in the Hunter Valley and be taken seriously on wine lists and bottle shop shelves in the profuse world of wine, you need to be able to make great wine from semillon.

“‘Sem’ is one of those varieties that we, as winemakers, don’t have a lot of influence on the final quality of the wine,” says Thomas. “The vineyard does. We’re just guiding that inherent potential quality from the vine into the bottle… If you want to rise to the top, particularly with semillon,” Thomas continues, “it all comes down to the quality of the fruit.”

After twenty-odd years, at the end of 2017, Andrew Thomas bought the Braemore vineyard from Ken and Christine. A decision he says he does not take lightly.

Proven: One of Andrew Thomas’s Braemore semillons.

“Taking on ownership of Braemore does give me a warm and fuzzy feeling,” says Thomas, “it’s arguably one of the iconic sites in the Hunter. Plus, it’s good to have skin in the game, it gives me fruit security, and shows that I’m pretty serious about what I’m doing here.”

Just months ago, verdant leaves shaded golden berries for the 49th year in a row; and yet, it was the first official year for the vine’s new custodian. Braemore is one of those rare vineyard sites, which exist throughout the world, that manifests its provenance in every glass. A site that grows the type of wines that oenophiles and dilettantes alike adore. A kingmaker, and a testament to the relationship between humans and the land. Now, the dead wood is ready to be cut away once more, in anticipation for another vintage of toil and promise and, surely … fine wine.

Support for men in need

WORTH REACHING OUT: Mensline Australia is a nationwide counselling service for men offering practical strategies in tough situations. ADVERTISING FEATUREMENSLINE Australia is a national telephone and online support, information and referral service for men with mental health, family and relationship concerns.
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MensLine is staffed by professional counsellors who are experienced in men’s issues and is available to men, partners and families who are interested in learning more about how to support the men in their life.

“Men and women experience and deal with emotional issues in different ways,” MensLine Australia spokesperson Samantha Fredericks said.

“In our counselling we focus on solutions rather than simply discussing feelings. This practical approach tends to be preferred by men. Telephone and online counselling are particularly attractive to men, who often find it tough to ask for help and may find face to-face discussions about difficult issues challenging.”

This advertising feature is sponsored by the following business. Click the link to learn more:

MensLine AustraliaMensLine Australia offers nationwide telephone and online counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also offers a moderated online peer forum; support on social media; information, tip sheets and tools on emotional issues facing men; and an extensive network of referral services.

“Approximately half of all calls to MensLine relate to relationship issues, with another 11% connected to loneliness and around 7% touching on grief and loss, including relationship breakdown,” Samantha said.

“Concerns that are typically discussed include how to be a good partner, communication skills, dealing with conflict, separation and divorce, anger management, family violence, same sex attraction and relationship changes, like moving in together.

“In the parenting area the sorts of issues we typically address are related to topics like men’s role in parenting; how to communicate with children and partners; managing relationship difficulties, separation and divorce; first time dads and young fathers; parenting from a distance and grief. Advice given will change according to the issues presented and the unique personality and preference of the caller.”

Established in 2001, MensLine was the first service of its kind catering specifically to men and men’s issues and is still a unique service in Australia. Its social health business model is anchored in supporting and counselling people in their relationships – their relationships with themselves, their relationships with the people they love, and their relationships with the communities in which they live, to help them feel better.

“We offer tailored services along the mental health continuum from high needs/crisis support, to worried well and integrated wellbeing,” Samantha said. “Our model is flexible,adapting service delivery and access methods according to need.”

MensLine Australia is staffed by professional tertiary qualified counsellors who are highly experienced providing interventions from crisis support to general counselling and social health support.

Counsellors are also trained in understanding and providing support to vulnerable and diverse groups including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALDs), Aboriginal and TorresStrait Islander (ATSI) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) communities.

“Like all counselling, the aim of our practice is to help people feel better – to gain more self-awareness and to learn about tools and strategies that can help men get through life that little bit easier,” Samantha said.

For more information, call 1300 78 99 78 or visit www.mensline.org.au.

Wallaby Phipps on bench for Super Waratahs

Wallaby forward (c) Ned Hanigan will miss at least a month of Super Rugby for the NSW Waratahs.The NSW Waratahs have lost Test forward Ned Hanigan for at least month in an injury blow that all but rules the 23-year-old out of Wallabies selection for next month’s three-match series with Ireland.
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Hanigan had been expected to be sidelined for two weeks after hurting his knee in Saturday’s Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch.

But Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson on Wednesday revealed Hanigan might be out for up to six weeks.

“He’s probably more on the four (weeks out) side, which is really positive, and we just hope to get him back,” Gibson said.

The enforced layoff rules Hanigan out of Saturday night’s hosting of the Highlanders, next week’s trip to Hamilton to face the Chiefs and the round-16 conference derby with the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

Super Rugby then breaks for the June Tests, but that will be of little consolation to Hanigan and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Despite playing mostly in the second row this season for the Waratahs, Hanigan played 12 Tests last year as a blindside flanker for Australia.

His injury has opened the door for Tom Staniforth to partner Rob Simmons in the second row for the Highlanders clash at Allianz Stadium.

Ryan McCauley has won a spot on the bench as reserve lock.

Fortunately for Gibson, Simmons has overcome a shoulder injury, while flanker Will Miller and hooker Damien Fitzgerald have both passed head injury assessments after being concussed against the Crusaders.

Gibson continues to rotate his halfbacks, with Jake Gordon to start on Saturday and Nick Phipps promised to return next week against the Chiefs.

In the only other change, Tolu Latu has been named on the bench as reserve hooker in place of Hugh Roach.

WARATAHS:

Israel Folau, Cam Clark, Curtis Rona, Kurtley Beale, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (capt), Will Miller, Rob Simmons, Tom Staniforth, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson.

Res: Tolu Latu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Shambeckler Vui, Ryan McCauley, Jed Holloway, Nick Phipps, Lalakai Foketi, Bryce Hegarty.

Australian Associated Press

Thurston pays tribute to Qld mate Smith

Johnathan Thurston opened a bottle of wine when the call from Cameron Smith came through to inform him he was retiring from representative rugby league.
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The North Queensland legend has given a glowing tribute to his fellow Queensland great after Smith’s decision to focus solely on club football.

The two might be rivals in the NRL with the Cowboys and Melbourne but they have a long friendship after creating a State of Origin dynasty for the Maroons, who have won 11 of the past 12 series.

Thurston retired from representative duties himself last year to focus on his last season with North Queensland and laughed off suggestions he could make a comeback.

Smith’s surprise decision caught Thurston off-guard, but he didn’t attempt to talk him into one more year.

Instead, they reminisced on an unforgettable era for Queensland.

“I got a bottle of nice red (wine) out of my cupboard, cracked it open and had a couple of drinks on the phone (speaking to Smith),” Thurston said on Wednesday.

“He’s been a big part of my life and our families’ lives as well.

“The memories we’ve shared on and off the field are quite special.

“I totally understand where he is coming from (by retiring).

“The amount of games he has played and the position he has played is a testament to the person he is and the character he is.”

While the absences of Smith, Thurston and Cooper Cronk will leave a gaping hole in Queensland’s squad, the 35-year-old has confidence in coach Kevin Walters.

Thurston has backed Brisbane’s Andrew McCullough to replace Smith at hooker for the Maroons ahead of his Cowboys teammate Jake Granville.

He had to go for another rival player over a club mate when anointing a new Queensland skipper, too.

“Matty Scott has been involved in the side for a number of years, but the obvious choice is Greg Inglis,” Thurston said.

“He’s played 30 games in (Origin) and from all reports his leadership has grown at South Sydney.

“The boys just follow ‘GI’ and having the ‘C’ next to his name will hopefully make him unstoppable.”

Australian Associated Press

First XIII players left dancing in the dark

SPOTLIGHT: Central Newcastle celebrate a try at St John Oval on Sunday, but Butcher Boys coach Craig Miller doesn’t want his team playing in the dark. Picture: Jonathan CarrollUS musician Bruce Springsteen singsabout dancing in the dark, but Centralcoach Craig Miller is more worriedabout Newcastle Rugby League teams playing footy in the dark.
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Miller raised concerns about the rest of thisseason after the Butcher Boys accounted for previously undefeated Kurri Kurri at St John Oval on Saturday.

First-grade kick-off times are now 3:30pm, half-an-hour back from the traditional opening whistle, with an extrafixture, now five in total,to play on game day.

Nearing full-time around 5pm on the weekend it was getting quite difficult for players to see clearly, despite ground lights being flickedon in what were already gloomy conditions.

ROUND 5 FIXTURES: Lakes v Central Newcastle, Cessnock v South Newcastle, Kurri Kurri v Macquarie, Western Suburbs v Maitland (Saturday, May 26).

However, with days only becoming shorter as winter approaches, Miller reckons that current times may need to be reconsidered to give matchesthe best opportunity to finish with enough natural light.

“I really think the league needs to think about these 3:30 starts,” he said.

“I thought that game deteriorated in the last30 minutes. We played in the dark. Lighting at these local grounds isn’t good enough. The spectacle really detracts from two quality football sides playing against each other.”

Newcastle RL chief Matt Harris said clubs, outside Macquarie who retain 3pm starts at Toronto, originally voted in favour of the move.

* TOWNSON Oval will host catch-up games between Souths and Maitland in reserve and open grades on Friday night.

The original encounters were postponed because of wet weather in round two.

All other teams across the grades have this weekend off, as scheduled in the 2018 draw.

CRL Newcastle and Jillaroos representative Isabelle KellyPost by CRL Newcastle and Jillaroos representative Isabelle Kelly.

*THENSW Country women’s squad, featuring eight from the newly formed CRL Newcastle side playing the state-wide competition, will meet for a training camp in Penrith this weekend ahead of national championships on the Gold Coast (June 1-3).

PHOTOS:Butcher Boys start to settle on combinations

RELATED:Kurri Bulldogs back with unbeaten bite