Archive for April 2019

Orchard leading from front with experience

Simon Orchard will take on a greater leadership role within the Kookaburras group for the Champions Trophy in London from Saturday.
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The Hunter product, who is poised to make his 200thappearance for Australia at the tournament next week, is the second most experienced player in the current squad.

FOCUS: Hunter hockey star Simon Orchard will take on extra responsibility for the Kookaburras at the Champions Trophy in London from Saturday as the second most experienced player in the Australian squad. Picture: Getty Images.

With captain Mark Knowles, five-time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer, 225-gamerFergus Kavanagh and Queenslander Matt Gohdes all being rested at home, only 2015 Kookaburras player of the year Eddie Ockenden has more caps than Orchard with 272.

It means Orchard, who has won every major international hockey title outside the Olympic gold medal on the radar for Rio in August, will have extra responsibility in the upcoming five matches starting with Great Britain.

“I’m really excited about the opportunities ahead,” Orchard said. “And with a few of our experienced boys at home I will have more of a leadership role within the group. Apart from Eddie I would probably have the most caps and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Orchard, who has 197 games to his name including an Olympic bronze medal in London four years ago, is set to notch up the double century Test milestone against reigning Olympic champions Germany on Monday (11pm AEST).

First up the Kookaburras takeon the hosts (Saturday, 3am AEST) before backing up 24 hours later against Korea(Sunday, 3am AEST).The final two round games present challenges with Belgium (Wednesday, 5am AEST) and Commonwealth Games runner’s-up India (Friday, 1am AEST).The 2016 Champions Trophy final, which Australia has won 13 times since 1978 including five of the last six deciders,has been scheduled for next Saturday.

The 16-man Olympic squad will be named soon after they return to their Perth training baseand Orchardit makes for a toughteam dynamic.

“It’s quite an interesting time for the group at the moment,” Orchard said. “It’s the difficult part of selection because there’s always people who miss out. You’ve just got to temper your emotions a bit because for every two players that get in, another one doesn’t.”

One of those in the mix is fellow Hunter productMatthew Dawson, who has one final chance to impressand earn a maiden Games spot.

“That’s the beauty of Champions Trophy because good performances can help with further selections,” Orchard said. “There’s a few new facesand it’s good to see Dawso in there.”

On the women’s side of the draw the Hockeyroos will try and put the controversial absence of star Anna Flanagan to one side and focus on their own Olympic preparations.

This includes the Hunter’sMariah Williams, who is racing the clock to be fit in time for Rio after recently having her fourth lot of knee surgery since 2014.

Australia start their Champions Trophy campaign against the USA in London next Saturday (June 18). They then face New Zealand, Argentina, The Netherlands and Great Britain before a potential finals berth on June 26.

CFA crisis continues: Jane Garrett resigns

RELATED: Wimmera volunteer speaks out about CFA disputeWimmera firefighters battle to be heardEMBATTLED emergency services minister Jane Garrett has resigned from cabinet because she was unable to support the cabinets proposal to end the bitter CFA enterprise agreement dispute.
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Premier Daniel Andrews released a statement accepting Ms Garret’s resignation.

“Despite all concerns previously raised by Ms Garrett being addressed, she had indicated she refuses to support Cabinet proposals to end the long-running dispute over the CFA enterprise agreement,” Mr Andrews said.

Ms Garrett has been vehemently opposed to the government’s proposed deal with the firefighters union.

She has shared the CFA and volunteers’ concern that the deal, as it stands, would undermine the role of volunteers and management to do their job.

​What this means for the CFA board, who have opposed the agreement, and their fears the Andrews’ government will capitulate to the demands of the United Firefighters Union is yet to be determined.

Ms Garett’s resignation comes as asenior government minister wasforced to mounta humiliatingretreat after claiming in Parliament key elements of its industrial dealwith the firefightersunion had been cleared by the Fair Work Commission boss.

In the latest debacle capping off a shambolic week for the Andrews government,Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins was forced admit to Parliament thatshe “mispoke” after claiming Fair Work president Iain Ross had said the deal would improve diversity in the fire services.

“In an attempt to summarise complex issues for the benefit of the house I paraphrased in a way that unintentionally overstated the President’s comments,” Ms Hutchins said.

After a crisis meeting in Premier Daniel Andrews’ office on Thursday afternoon,Ms Hutchins has written an apology to Mr Ross, which he has accepted.

And in a sign that the industrial standoff with the CFA continues, the board said it hadlegal advice from a senior counsel that “unlawful terms” remain in the latest version of the deal and it would not sign.

That followed a finding from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission that key elements of the deal breach diversity laws.

Cabinet is set to meet on Friday to discuss the finalised role of Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley’s role overseeing the implementation of the controversial deal.

But others in caucus are angry at the government’s handling of the entire chaotic week.

“What does it look like to volunteers? The IR minister has had to recant. A minister can’t even read a two minute statement and get it right,” a caucus source said.

“It is pretty poor to see ministers taking pot shots at each other,” another said.

Labor is hoping that the dispute will be resolved this week. Otherwise, the government will be forced to resort to a “plan B” option likely to involve sacking the CFA Board.

Following question time where Ms Hutchins said she had been given assurances that the agreement would not damage diversity,Opposition industrial relations spokesman John Pesuttospoke to Mr Ross and was told nosuch assurances had been given.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy accused the government of trying “every tactic in the book” to force the CFA board – including verballingMr Ross. He said under the precedentsof the Westminster system Ms Hutchins should resign.

Ms Garrett was grilled in parliament by the Opposition.

“The board and the CEO agree with me and this government that we want a resolution to this dispute that supports both career and volunteer firefighters,” she said.

Before question time Mr Andrews said he was “very, very positive” the government was making progress.

“We are making real headway, real progress and I am just so determined, so determined, to make sure that we get a good outcome for volunteers, for the career firefighters, because unless we do that, we’ll be compromising the safety of our state,” hesaid.

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

Racing industry unites to support ill Bendigo man

Bendigo’sJohn Wood is a much-loved figure in the racing industry.
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The long-time Thoroughbred Racing Productions employee has been an audio-visual Mr Fix-It for clubs across the state.

Now those clubs are banding together to help him.

Wood is seriously ill, and the resulting medical bills beyond him.

The Wodonga & District Turf Club will hold a charity race day this Tuesday to raise money for Wood, and a GoFundMe page has also attracted donations from across the racing industry.

Racing Victoria race day services manager Carl Hufer said Wood had been a reliable ally for every club in the state for more than two decades.

“Every club could rely on ‘Woody’ if there was ever an issue or a problem,” he said.

“He’s always willing to work overtime or go above and beyond the call of duty. His technical knowledge is A-1.

“A lot of the clubs’ event days were held together by Woody. Without a grizzle. Without complaint. Smile on the face, happy to help.

“That’s why everyone’s got behind this so much.”

This Tuesday at the Wodonga & District Turf Club, each of the eight races on the card will represent a donation to Wood’s cause.

Race clubs from Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo, Hamilton, Kyneton, Sale and Wodonga, are sponsoring individual races, while Dunkeld, Terang and Camperdown combined to sponsor one, as did Coleraine and Casterton.

The race meeting was a late addition to the Wodonga calendar, only added after a Wangaratta meeting was abandoned last week due to persistent rain.

The race sponsorships will deliver thousands of dollars to Wood’s cause.

Wodonga Racing general manager Tom O’Connor said the transfer meeting presented a blank slate to do something positive.

“Obviously it gave us an opportunity to support John. It got the mind thinking,” he said.

“The other clubs were very quick to support the idea. They’ve been fantastic in coming forward and supporting it.

“The guys from TRP travel from far and wide to courses all over country Victoria. When they’re on course, they form part of your team. You get to know them.

“Woody’s always been fantastic to deal with.”

O’Connor said the club was also looking for a corporate partner for the day to match all donations.

To support Woody please click here

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

Off-field bravery

Opportunity: Jake walking through the NSW Blues State of Origin tunnel before the first clash at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, June 1. The opportunity was made possible by Good Sports Junior Club. Off-field bravery wonJake Brennan the opportunityof a life time –the chance to bethe Blues mascot at ANZ stadium, for their first clash in the 2016 State of Origin series.
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Once in a life time: Stephen Brennan and his son Jake Brennan at ANZ Stadium ahead of the first clash of the 2016 State of Origin.

Last July, father StephenBrennan and his son Jake suffered serious injuries in a road accident.

Since then, sport has played an important role intheir recoveries.

Jake’s home club, St Anthony’s Girraween Eagles Junior Rugby League Football Club, has rallied around the Brennan family to offer friendship and support throughout the grueling 11 months.

The opportunity was made possible by Good Sports –an organisation who help sports clubs boost the well being of their players and supporters.

President of the Good Sports Junior Club,Natalie Walka said the generosity of the Eagles has been wonderful.

“I’ve never felt prouder to be in this position, observing the wonderful support, love, care , creativity and determination so many of you have shown towards the Brennan’s,” she said.

Mr Brennan said taking to the field with his heroes has given Jake a real buzz after an incredibly challenging year.

“Jake has always loved rugby league, so for him to rub shoulders with the NSW Blues players at the ultimate event in our sport was amazing,” he said.

“It’s a great reminder of the power of sport to help families like ours get through tough times.”

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

Loyal Hunt brings up big 200 for Demons

MILESTONE: Timboon Demons’ Tom Hunt will play his 200th club game for Timboon Demons when they take on East Warrnambool on Saturday. Picture: Rob Gunstone
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TOM Hunt is enjoying the consistency of playing regular senior football.

The Timboon Demons’ forward will play his 200th club game as his side takes on East Warrnambool at Timboon Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

Having come up through the junior ranks and played in the 2003 under 17 premiership as a bottom-aged player, Hunt made his senior debut in 2006.

Under then-coach Adam Matheson, he played the majority of his football in the senior side for the a few years, before filtering in and out of the top team.

“The next four years I was playing about half-and-half, so nine games in seniors, nine games in ressies,” Hunt said.

“In 2013, I played a full year in ressies because I was sick of going up and down.”

The decision to commit to the playing the whole year in reserves paid off for Hunt, who took his game to the next level, winning the Demons’ best-and-fairest award and finishing runner-up in the league accolade.

But the past three seasons, with the Demons going through a rebuild, the steady head has found himself called on toholddown a spot in the senior side.

“(The year in reserves) definitely helped my footy,” Hunt said.

“The four years going up and down, it was hard to get a gauge on where I was at.

“I think I played some pretty handy footy. I played through the midfield and swapped up forward every now and then.”

Hunt was part of the Demons’ losing 2007 grand final side, and narrowly missed out on a spot in the 2008 premiership side.

Now, the 27-year-old is hoping to see the seventh-placed Demons build back to being a team that can push for a finals spot for the first time since 2009.

“We need to take that steep from being ‘thereabouts’ to pushing for a premiership again,” he said.

“We won the first game (this year) but then we had some pretty tough teams we were playing against.

“But we’ve improved a lot –a lot of those teams beat us by 20 goals last year, but this year the biggest margin has been six goals.”

Matheson –who coach the club from 2005 to 2008 –said Hunt’s tenacity had always been impressive.

“He’s very small in stature, but he’s got the capability to play numerous roles and he never shirked an issue,” Matheson said.

“He was tough and hard in games …never intimidated by players that are taller than him.He’s got a good character and a great work rate.”

Matheson said it was great to see players who are loyal to their club like Hunt reach the big milestones.

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