Hawkins can play through the pain, says Cats coach

Geelong’s Shane Kersten has been floated by Cats coach Chris Scott as a potential replacement for Tom Hawkins. Photo: Angela Milne Geelong rookie Shane Kersten
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As Geelong weighs up the pros and cons of playing Tom Hawkins, coach Chris Scott says the power forward has shown he can play through the pain of his ailing back injury and still be a match winner.

And one of the more recent times Hawkins performed under significant duress this season, back in round nine, came against Geelong’s opponent in Friday night’s knockout semi-final at the MCG.

Scott revealed that the 25-year-old woke up the morning of the game against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium with his back ”feeling terrible”, and yet still produced a dominant, six-goal display to front the Cats’ 48-point victory.

”He was touch and go and had a bit of a fitness test before the game before he was actually confirmed in the side an hour or two before the game,” Scott recalled. ”So that’s probably a positive, he has played good footy when he’s felt average at times this year.” The signs are positive, suggesting Hawkins will return to the Cats’ line-up for Friday, but should he fail to get up, Scott declared on Tuesday he would have no hesitation bringing in little-known forward Shane Kersten to make a shock debut.

Scott threw up Kersten’s name as a surprise left-field selection in the event Hawkins’ back problem flared again on game day and forced his withdrawal, as it did last Saturday before Geelong’s qualifying final loss to Fremantle.

The Cats called in Josh Walker last week, but Scott indicated that Kersten, a powerfully built 20-year-old, could be next in line should the same scenario present itself on Friday.

Kersten, the club’s second pick in the 2011 draft, leads the goal-kicking for Geelong’s VFL team and has kicked 24 goals from his past six matches, including four and six in his past two. He would become the first Geelong player in 75 years to make his VFL/AFL debut in a final, with the last being Ted Tuohill in 1938.

The most recent player to make his debut in an AFL final was Andrew Hooper, who played his first senior game for the Western Bulldogs in a 2010 semi-final.

”We’ve got a few options, personally, I wouldn’t have too many issues bringing in a debutant for a big game,” Scott said when asked about back-up plans for Hawkins. ”It would be bold, but I kind of like that. Shane Kersten’s been very solid in the VFL this year, he’s been unfortunate at times to miss with injury when he was on the precipice of senior selection. I’m bringing it up as an option.”

Another choice available to the Cats is playing Harry Taylor as a permanent forward, and then trusting Tom Lonergan and Jared Rivers to hold Jay Schulz and wildcard Justin Westhoff, who might play forward or back.

Hawkins, though, remains the preferred option and both the player and medical staff are hopeful he will be back, with Scott saying the club’s reigning best and fairest had trained strongly the past few days, and ”looks good”.

In any event, it’s likely the Cats will name Hawkins on Thursday and then make the final call on Friday.

”It was a good day [Monday], so we’re hoping it’ll be a good week and most importantly he feels good on Friday. And if that’s the case, he’ll play,” Scott said.

”He can be quite ordinary and not good enough to play, and at other times he feels almost normal.”

On his chances of playing, Hawkins said this week: ”I’m thinking I will be right. It’s just hard to tell how I’m going to be feeling from day to day.”

Two of the games greatest forwards, Wayne Carey and Matthew Lloyd, both agree Geelong should take the risk on Hawkins, even if only at ”50 or 60 per cent”.

Star defender Corey Enright has been ruled out for Friday night with his medial ligament strain, but is hopeful of playing next week if the Cats advance, while Scott said he is ”extremely confident” Josh Caddy and Andrew Mackie will both overcome slight ankle injuries to play against the Power.

Premiership defender Josh Hunt, George Horlin-Smith and Taylor Hunt, who was a late withdrawal against the Dockers with an ankle problem, are among a number of other players in the mix.

Scott confirmed that ruckman Trent West will also come into strong consideration, with the Cats acutely aware of in-form Port big man Matthew Lobbe, who had 59 hitouts against Geelong in round 20.

DEBUTS IN FINALSTHE MOST RECENT2010 Andrew Hooper (WB) 1985 Paul Spargo (NM) 1984 Graham Osborne (Fitzroy) 1982 Dermott Brereton (Haw) 1981 Noel Lovell (Coll) 1980 Scott Howell (Carl) 1975 Michael Cooke (Haw) 1972 Graeme Dunstan (Coll) 1966 Travis Payze (StK) 1965 Len Thompson (Coll)

THE MOST RECENT GEELONG DEBUT IN FINAL1938 Ted Tuohill

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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NRL teams for week one of finals

FRIDAY
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South Sydney Rabbitohs v Melbourne Storm, ANZ Stadium, 7.45pmRabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Bryson Goodwin, Dylan Walker, Dylan Farrell, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Thomas Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Sam Burgess, Interchange: Luke Keary, Jeff Lima, Jason Clark, George Burgess.

Talking point: Despite losing the round 26 clash to the Roosters, coach Michael Maguire has named an unchanged team.

Storm: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Maurice Blair, Justin O’Neill, Brett Finch, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange (from): Jason Ryles, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, Kenneath Bromwich, Gareth Widdop

Talking point: The reigning premiers’ chances of going back-to-back have received a huge boost, with five-eighth Gareth Widdop named to return on the bench after three months out with a dislocated hip.

The St George Illawarra bound playmaker appeared to have played his last game for the Storm when he was taken from Skilled Park in agony the Titans in round 15.

However the 24-year-old made an incredible return in the Queensland Cup last weekend, playing 65 minutes for feeder side Easts Tigers.

Referees: Shayne Hayne, Jared MaxwellSATURDAY

Cronulla Sharks v North Queensland Cowboys, Allianz Stadium, 4pm

Sharks: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Ben Pomeroy, Jonathan Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Sam Tagataese, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange (from): Isaac De Gois, Chris Heighington, Jayson Bukuya, Anthony Tupou, Bryce Gibbs, Ben Ross

Talking point: Cronulla welcome back Todd Carney, Wade Graham Jayson Bukuya and Anthony Tupou from injury, while skipper Paul Gallen returns from a one-game suspension.

Cowboys: Matthew Bowen, Wayne Ulugia, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (c), Robert Lui, Matthew Scott (c), Rory Kostjasyn, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Joel Riethmuller. Interchange (from): Jayden Hodges, Tariq Sims, Scott Bolton, Jason Taumalolo, Ashton Sims

Talking point: Prop Matt Scott has been named to return from a broken finger that was originally expected to see him sidelined until at least the second week of the finals.Referees: Matt Cecchin, Henry Perenara

Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles, Allianz Stadium, 7pmRoosters: Anthony Minichiello, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Mitchell Aubusson, Sonny Bill Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange (from): Daniel Mortimer, Aidan Guerra, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Luke O’Donnell, Martin Kennedy

Talking point: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been named pending Tuesday night’s judiciary hearing. The Roosters welcome back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from injury and Luke O’Donnell from a three-game ban.

Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Glenn Stewart Interchange (from): Richie Fa’aoso, Tom Symonds, David Gower, George Rose, James Hasson.

Talking point: Manly fullback Brett Stewart and forward Anthony Watmough returns from injury while Jorge Taufua also makes his comeback after a two-game ban.Referees: Ben Cummins, Gerard SuttonSUNDAY

Canterbury Bulldogs v Newcastle Knights, ANZ Stadium, 4pmBulldogs: Josh Morris, Mitch Brown, Tim Lafai, Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis, James Graham, Tony Williams, Josh Jackson, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Sam Kasiano, Tim Browne, Ben Barba

Talking point: Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has chosen to play mind games with veteran Knights coach Wayne Bennett, naming Ben Barba on the bench for their elimination final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Barba was a late inclusion in the Bulldogs team against the Broncos in the final round of the season and was threatening in his return after a five week lay-off with an ankle injury.

Frank Pritchard (suspension) and Greg Eastwood (hand injury) were due back but have not been named.

Knights: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joey Leilua, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, David Fa’alogo, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason, Robbie Rochow, Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Matt Hilder, Chris Houston, Neville Costigan, Alex McKinnon

Talking point: After their 54-6 win against Parramatta last Sunday, Knights coach Wayne Bennett has named the same 17 for the semi final against the Bulldogs this weekend.Referees: Ashley Klein, Gavin Badger

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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TRY THIS: Le Passe Temps

A LITTLE piece of France has landed in the heart of Newcastle.
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The phrase ‘‘le passe temps’’ has two meanings – ‘‘to pass the time’’ and ‘‘times gone by’’, and that pretty much sums up what this place is all about.

With its selection of French and Hunter Valley wines, and a light menu offering cheese and charcuterie platters, as well as some French classics such as ‘‘boeuf bourguignon’’, Le Passe Temps is an utterly charming place to while away the time with friends. With its 1920s-era setting and decor, it also makes a nod to the past. The French staff add to the venue’s authenticity.

If you want to secure a spot at Le Passe Temps on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, you’d best book ahead, as the increasingly popular space fills up quickly.

Cold plates: Charcuterie platter for two with French style salami, terrine, ‘‘viande de grison’’ – an air-dried meat, Serrano ham, cornichons, bread and tapenade, $26; tomato and mozzarella salad with pesto, $9; Gravalax salmon with dill, toast and salted whipped cream; cheese platter for two with three different cheeses, quince paste, dried fruit and bread, $26.

Hot plates: Boeuf bourguignon – beef cooked in red wine sauce, carrots, onions and potatoes, $14; filet mignon – pork fillet with cider, mushrooms and mashed potatoes, $13; fish fillet with leeks and lemon cream, $12; poached barramundi with citrus sauce and capsicums, $16.

Dessert: Chocolate tart, $6; caramelised banana crumble, $6; strawberry mille-feuilles with thick custard, $6; Toblerone creme brulee, $5; fruit salad with mint, $6.

Drinks: Le Passe Temps offers a lovely selection of French and Hunter Valley wines, along with aperitifs, digestifs, beers, liquors, spirits and cocktails. Wines by the glass start at $6.50. Soft drinks, mocktails and coffee are also available.

LE PASSE TEMPS

Address: 73-75 Bolton Street, Newcastle

Open: 11am to 10pm, Monday to Thursday; 11am to 11pm, Friday and Saturday; and 11am to 8pm Sunday.

Phone: 4910 4060

Website: le-passe-temps杭州夜生活m.au

Owned by: Serge Laugier

Head chef: Quentin Lorentz

Le Passe Temps in Bolton Street, Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

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Nick Xenophon backs Senate reform, opposes repeal of carbon tax

Senator Nick Xenophon. Photo: Erin JonassonFederal Election 2013 coverageFederal Election 2013 resultsSingle-issue groups set to take balance of powerGreens push to fix Senate vote process
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Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says he will respect his new Senate colleagues despite their lack of experience, but suggests the “bizarre” preference system that led to the election of a number of micro-parties needs changing.

Mr Xenophon, who will play a critical role in the next Senate, also suggested that Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott might have a difficult time fulfilling his signature promises of repealing the carbon tax and introducing a multibillion dollar paid parental leave scheme.

Yet despite being unhappy about the “bizarre and some would say spiteful” preference deals that led to minor party candidates with little primary support populating the next Senate, Mr Xenophon said he would treat his new colleagues with “absolute respect”.

“I remember very well what it was like [when elected to the South Australian upper house] back in 1997, where a number of my colleagues from the major parties treated me with a fair bit of contempt.

“I remember one senior Labor figure used to make poker machine noises, ‘ching ching’ noises, every time I walked past in the corridor, thinking he was hilarious,” said Mr Xenophon who is an outspoken advocate for poker machine reform.

Mr Xenophon suggested it was unfair that candidates who won only a minuscule percentage of votes could win Senate seats ahead of more popular candidates because of exchanges of preferences between minor parties.

If predictions are correct, the new Senate will comprise the NSW Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, former rugby league legend Glenn “The Brick With Eyes” Lazarus from the Palmer United Party, Ricky Muir from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, engineer and former West Australian gridiron representative Wayne Dropulich from the Australian Sports Party, and South Australian Family First stalwart Bob Day.

“I will work with them,” Mr Xenophon said. “They have been elected according to the current system. Now there’s going to be a debate as to whether the system can be improved.

“I think the benchmark for any reform has to be ‘what do voters want?’ What is the fairest thing in a democracy to do? If somebody gets 80 per cent of a quota or 90 per cent of a quota and gets pipped at the post by someone who gets 0.2 per cent of a quota…”

Mr Xenophon was first voted into the South Australian upper house in 1997 after preferences took him over the line, however in the vote at the weekend he fell narrowly short of winning a second spot in the federal Senate for his running mate after Labor and the Greens directed preferences elsewhere.

In an early indication that Mr Abbott will have a tough time negotiating with the new Senate, Mr Xenophon suggested the Prime Minister-elect could not count on his vote to repeal the carbon tax.

Describing Mr Abbott’s alternative climate change policy, Direct Action, as “clunky and inefficient”, Mr Xenophon said he wanted to sit down with the likely Environment Minister Greg Hunt to work out a “more sensible approach”.

Regarding Mr Abbott’s other signature promises, Mr Xenophon indicated he would support scrapping the mining tax (“a dud”), but said in “good conscience” he could not support Mr Abbott’s expensive paid parental leave scheme.

Asked what demands he might make of Mr Abbott in exchange for his support, Mr Xenophon said: “Pokie reform is at the core of what I do.”

“The Abbott opposition was pretty miserable on that … Poker machine reform has to be very much on the agenda.”

Mr Abbott has expressed in-principle support for reform of the Senate electoral process, which looks likely to deliver a Senate spot in Victoria that the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party – which attracted just 0.51 per cent of the primary vote – and another spot in Western Australia to the Australian Sports Party – which received just 0.22 per cent of the primary vote.

“I think this is an issue and I think it will have to be addressed,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax Radio on Monday, adding he wanted to wait until Parliament’s committee on electoral matters completed its usual post-election inquiry.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said her party would draft legislation to abolish group voting tickets and allow voters to control the flow of their preferences by numbering multiple boxes above the line.

Currently, a person must either vote for one party above the line and accept the preference flow decided by that party, or number every candidate below the line.The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Julie Bishop opts for payback politics with Steve Bracks sacking

Incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop has sacked former Victorian premier Steve Bracks as the consul-general to New York just as he was about to take up the appointment. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks has been sacked from his appointment as New York consul-general by the incoming Abbott Government.
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Federal election 2013 coverageBracks’ sacking ‘vindictive’

So much for governing for all. The Coalition hasn’t even been sworn in but has opted for what appears vendetta politics.

Steve Bracks was not the first ex-politician to land a prized diplomatic post, and truth be told he won’t be the last.

Incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop’s objection to his appointment to New York in May was not about competency but timing. She claimed the Coalition should have been consulted about the appointment, given Julia Gillard had flagged a September 14 election.

Except, as we know, no writs had been issued and the caretaker conventions did not apply. The prime minister changed, the election date too.

Nor was the timing of Bracks’ appointment so unusually close to an election, given the Howard government had also appointed former Liberal speaker Bob Halverson ambassador to Ireland less than six weeks before the 1998 poll.

It is doubly strange Bishop has not been hitting the airwaves with the name of a replacement, such as a senior trade diplomat to neutralise the view that this is just a decision taken in spite. Should a Liberal insider get the job that view will only be reinforced.

Bracks was the last of a number of ex-Labor premiers to join the diplomatic club, after Bob Carr became Foreign Minister in 2012 and then sent Mike Rann to London.

But the decision to sack Bracks sets a disturbing precedent. Politics can be a tribal business, but in Australia, a change of government has not previously meant diplomatic appointments from the other side have been abandoned.

Labor inherited Amanda Vanstone in Italy and did not recall her even after a bitter staffing clash with her deputy. Richard Alston was in London, Robert Hill at the United Nations in New York.

All kept their jobs. Conservatives Tim Fischer and Brendon Nelson even scored diplomatic posts out of Labor.

But Kim Beazley, Australia’s man in Washington, and Carr’s NSW Labor friend John McCarthy, posted to the Vatican, must be wondering about their futures now.

Australia could now wind up with an US-style system where many diplomats are withdrawn from their post after a change of president.

Australia’s post in New York has traditionally been the stalking ground for former business leaders or political brains. It has long been recognised that politicians – even retired ones – can speak to peers in a manner career officials cannot.

Bracks had already taken up the role in August, and notes on the Foreign Affairs website show him doing the usual pre-departure routine for senior diplomats representing Australia, meeting premiers, business leaders and getting detailed briefings in Australia.

He was due to move to the US this week and given the stringent rules in the public service around job security, it would not be at all surprising if he had a legal case for wrongful dismissal.

Bishop will have to do some explaining.

Perhaps the Coalition’s judgment was that sacking Bracks will make Labor look bad for appointing him in the first place, and keep their opponents talking about the past, not the future.

But the Coalition now can’t sensibly argue Bracks only got the gig as a Labor sop for the boys with a rich salary and plush apartment, and yet still keep paying for the position to exist at all.

If it is such a sinecure role, why have a consul-general in New York at all?

Who Bishop appoints in Bracks’ stead will be a test of whether this is settling a score or a genuine belief that the job is important to Australia’s interests.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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