Nines debacle maybe not be so bad: Broncos

by admin on August 30th, 2019

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Crashing out at the Auckland Nines may not be such a bad thing after all, stand-in Broncos skipper Andrew McCullough says.

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Brisbane were one of the tournament flops in coach Wayne Bennett’s official return to the club, winning just one of three games.

It was in contrast to their stellar 2014 run in which they just fell short in the inaugural Nines final against North Queensland.

But McCullough did not believe it would affect their confidence in 2015 as they switched their focus on their hectic pre-season trial schedule.

“We were runners-up at the Nines last year and just scraped into the eight (in NRL season proper) – it can go both ways,” he said of their post-Nines fortunes.

“We put some kilometres in the legs in Auckland but the 13-man trials start now.

“Wayne didn’t speak about winning or losing – it was about effort (in Auckland).

“Those good habits can come through now.

“We have some quality trials coming up. That’s going to be the crunch games for us.”

New Zealand Test forward Adam Blair is set to make his Broncos debut in Saturday night’s trial against the Cowboys in Mackay, part of an unprecedented pre-season schedule.

Bennett will juggle his squad with Brisbane set to fly out to the UK for an expanded World Club Challenge clash with Wigan on February 21 – the same weekend the club contests a trial against Queensland Cup side Redcliffe.

Bennett will also coach the NRL All Stars team on February 13.

“There’s a bit of travel. I think we are only home six days in February,” McCullough said.

“It’s pretty full on but that is the way it is.

“You just have to roll with it.”

NRL All Stars representative Corey Parker, Indigenous All Stars Sam Thaiday and Justin Hodges aren’t expected to feature in the Mackay trial.

Neither will the recovering Jack Reed, Matt Gillett, David Stagg, Corey Oates, Jarrod Wallace and Dale Copley, who all have shoulder injuries.

Emotions to run high for Indo-Pak tie in Adelaide

by admin on August 30th, 2019

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The Pool B contest was sold out in 20 minutes and no other team in world sport will be under as much pressure as the two that day with 1.

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3 billion unforgiving cricket-crazy fans following the contest ball by ball.

Emotions run high every time the south Asian neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence and share frosty relations over the Kashmir region they both claim, clash on a cricket ground.

Pakistan, champions in 1992, have never beaten twice winners India at a World Cup.

Many of their fans would not mind their team crashing out from the World Cup early, providing they beat their neighbours. The rivalry assuming the Orwellian concept of serious sport – war minus shooting.

“For many, it’s bigger than World Cup,” former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar told a cricket conclave in Delhi on Monday.

“It completely locks out 1.3 billion people. The tension is unbearable and the players’ effort level doubles. We could never beat India in World Cup but, God willing, that would soon happen,” said the quick known as the ‘Rawalpindi Express’.

A veteran of many such contests, Harbhajan Singh was part of the eventual champion Indian team who beat Pakistan in the 2011 semi-final at Mohali, a contest that gave him sleepless nights.

“The dressing room atmosphere is always tense,” said the feisty off-spinner who could not make the cut for this year’s World Cup.

“Much before the dressing room, you think about it in your hotel room. Before last World Cup’s match in Mohali, I could not sleep the night before, thinking what if we lose.

“Fortunately we won the next day and again I could not sleep, this time because I was so overjoyed.

“A defeat against Pakistan means media would roast us and fans would pelt stones at our house,” said the 34-year-old.

His team mate from the 2011 squad, Piyush Chawla, said the pressure does not come from the team management.

“It comes from elsewhere. Even family members and friends remind us it’s a match against Pakistan,” said the 26-year-old leg-spinner.

“Fielding in the deep, you often hear the crowd behind warning you ‘better win this match or it won’t be easy to get out of the stadium’.”

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Indonesia’s drugs strategy under fire

by admin on August 30th, 2019

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Indonesia’s strategy in its war against drugs is under attack, with lawmakers airing concerns over the prison drug culture and experts challenging the deterrent effect of the death penalty.

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President Joko Widodo has already sent six death row drug offenders to the firing squad this year, and Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be among the next.

Mr Joko says the death penalty is needed because Indonesia’s future is under threat from a “drugs emergency”.

His position is based on a study by the National Narcotics Board (BNN) which finds up to 50 Indonesians die from drug-related causes each day.

Under pressure at a parliamentary hearing in Jakarta on Monday, BNN chief Anang Iskandar reportedly admitted prison guards were involved in distributing drugs behind bars.

He told reporters the BNN was aiming to dismantle up to 50 prison drug networks, as well as rehabilitate 100,000 drug addicts this year.

Mr Anang backed the death penalty as a strong deterrent, as long as executions were carried out regularly.

“If we do it in 2015, the next one should not be in 2016 or once a year, this will not create a deterrent effect,” he said.

“A deterrent effect is only caused by continuous executions and the time interval between should not be too long either.”

Indonesia’s Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an independent research institute, says the evidence does not support the idea that capital punishment is a deterrent.

“It’s a myth,” institute director Supriyadi W. Eddyono said.

“Many studies have shown it.

“I find the BNN is not consistent either.

“There’s the death penalty for some and on the other hand, there are domestic drug dealers who receive remission.

“If they want to make tighter laws for drugs offenders, they should also limit the remission given to drug offenders.”

The institute is also preparing a legal challenge to Supreme Court advice to limit the number of judicial reviews, known as PKs, to one per convict.

The courts are now considering an application from Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, for a second judicial review.

Their lawyers argue past errors were made in their case and that the Bali Nine ringleaders are reformed after 10 years’ jail.

Indonesia’s Attorney-General HM Prasetyo says the application does not alter his plans to include the Australians in the next round of executions, on a date to be determined.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reportedly been advised there is nothing that can be done to save the two Australians from execution.

The message was conveyed to Mr Abbott on Australia Day by Indonesia’s ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, News Corp Australia reports.

Two celebrated Melbourne artists, Ben Quilty and Matthew Sleeth, visited Kerobokan prison on Tuesday for a prison art workshop that had been planned some time ago.

Quilty said both Sukumaran and Chan are doing well.

“They are carrying an enormous weight on their shoulders, but they are still hopeful,” he told reporters.

Sleeth said it would be a shame to end their lives when they had done so much to rehabilitate prisoners.

“I would like to see the Indonesian authorities celebrate their success in this rehabilitation and in the art room, and keep it going.”

Interest rates cut to record low

by admin on August 30th, 2019

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(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

As the Reserve Bank of Australia prepared to announce whether it would move to cut interest rates today, economists were suggesting it was a 50-50 proposition.

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Plenty of reason to do it, plenty of reason not to.

But when it, indeed, happened, it still packed a surprise for some.

Ron Sutton takes a look why.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

On the one hand, there was an argument for cutting the interest rate, essentially that, for the sake of economic growth and jobs, it was time to make a move.

On the other hand, there was an argument for doing nothing, that the weaker Australian dollar and the collapse in the world oil price were enough to spur the economy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has decided on the former, dropping the cash rate for the first time in a year and a half, from 2.5 per cent to a record low 2.25.

It was, says University of Sydney economist Dr Mike Rafferty, a surprising act of activism by a Reserve Bank not known for such things.

“We’re seeing this across the world, and this is really interesting. A lot of central banks across the world are now being quite activist about rates of economic growth. So it’s a very interesting time in central banking.”

Canada’s central bank surprised economists there by reducing interest rates last month.

And the European Central Bank announced a money printing program of more than a trillion euro.

In Australia, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens says the available information suggests the country’s economic growth is continuing at what he calls a “below trend” pace.

And he says, in a statement released by the Bank, domestic demand growth, overall, is quite weak.

“The board judged that, on balance, a further reduction in the cash rate was appropriate. This action is expected to add some further support to demand, so as to foster sustainable growth and inflation outcomes consistent with the target.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey has welcomed that thinking.

“I have no doubt that this cut in interest rates will help to lift business confidence and consumer confidence, and that means more jobs for Australians. We obviously live in a low interest world. The majority of our trading partners, apart from China, have virtually zero interest rates. So the Reserve Bank does have more room to move.”

Mike Rafferty, from the University of Sydney, brings up that same point and says, indeed, he expects a second rate cut this year.

And Dr Rafferty’s guess is, since this first move came earlier than many economists expected, the second move may not be far behind.

“The trouble with the interest rates is they have a time lag. They take time to sort of impact. So it really means that this rate cut really won’t have a significant impact for several months. And it’s likely, in that situation, that the Reserve Bank’s probably not going to wait that several months to see whether this one works. They may even be tempted to go again. So, it’s interesting times, again, as I said. This is, in some ways, uncharted waters for central banking, not just in Australia but internationally.”

Some economists had voiced concern a rate cut could inflate already high house prices, and Dr Rafferty says Australia saw a couple of years ago how fast that can happen.

But Joe Hockey says an International Monetary Fund report due out within days will show, globally, economic obstacles remain a concern.

And, back home, he says he expects the banks to pass on the rate cut immediately — and not just for housing loans.ho

“I also expect this to be passed through, particularly, for small business owners and to be passed through for everyone that has a credit card. We expect this to cut through right across the spectrum of credit.”

 

 

 

 

Gallen eyes 2016 NRL swansong

by admin on August 30th, 2019

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Paul Gallen has revealed he has pencilled in 2016 as his NRL swansong.

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The NSW State of Origin captain has opened up on his future, revealing his desire for a one-year contract extension with Cronulla for next year before likely finishing his career in the English Super League.

The 33-year-old warhorse said he was feeling as fit as ever after his first full pre-season in seven years, and had no thought of ending his career after 2015 or stepping down from representative football earlier.

Gallen began talks on a contract extension last season before then CEO Steve Noyce was squeezed out of the embattled club.

He said he was was keen to pick up negotiations with current club CEO Lyall Gorman and begin planning for the end of his career.

“Another year (would be ideal),” he said.

“I know I’m getting on in age but this is the first time I’ve done a pre-season before Christmas since 2007 – it’s been a really long time because of the tours I’ve been on.

“Physically I’m still right up there in terms of strength and fitness, so I’m not falling behind in areas there and still training really good and I still really love the sport.

“I think one more year and then I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind going overseas.”

One of the few 80-minute forwards in the competition, Gallen said he would probably scale back his playing minutes this year because of the young talent coming through the club.

He was excited about the likes of Valentine Holmes and Jack Bird and touted the possibility of Wade Graham taking over the club captaincy or co-captaincy next year.

“I’ve had a lot of influence on Wade’s career and he’s said to me and publicly that I’m the only reason that he’s at the club,” Gallen said.

“I got on really well with him and I think the world of him and that’s one thing I said to Noycey (Noyce) – if I did stay on, I’d like to give Wade the captaincy, if not the co-captaincy.”