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January, 2019

Latrell thinking: Mitchell on verge of shock Origin call-up

Sydney Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell is on the verge of a stunning call-up to the Origin arena, with NSW coach Laurie Daley contemplating picking the teenager on the wing for game one.
Nanjing Night Net

A week after making his return from the NRL wilderness, the 19-year-old has burst into Origin calculations following the unfortunate injury that will see Tom Trbojevic miss up to eight weeks with knee and ankle injuries.

Fairfax Media has been told Daley, who has a huge opinion of the talented Mitchell, is now considering picking him on the left wing – likely to play outside Jarryd Hayne at left centre – and has the backing of Blues legend Brad Fittler.

If selected on the wing for NSW, it will be a remarkable turnaround considering Mitchell was last month dumped to NSW Cup by Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who in round four also declared his young prodigy wasn’t ready for representative football despite boasting enormous talent.

Daley was coy on Mitchell’s selection chances when pressed on Monday afternoon, however he said it was a possibility despite the teenager only returning from a month-long layoff against the Eels on Sunday.

“I am a fan,” said Daley, who has spent time with Mitchell during the All Star week.

“It’s not madness to think he could be in the mix. He’s a very good kid. He’ll play Origin at some point.”

It’s likely the right edge will comprise of Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson, but if Daley opts to play Jack Bird in a centres partnership with Hayne, Dugan could move to the wing and deny Mitchell of his Origin debut at Suncorp Stadium on May 31.

Mitchell has some powerful figures in his corner, with City coach and Roosters legend Brad Fittler adamant he needed to be in the team for game one.

“If I was coach and Tommy hurt himself, I would most probably pick Latrell,” Fittler said.

“I think he is fantastic, always have. The good thing is he has a really good coach who recognises how to get the best out of him. Doing what he did and putting him back to [NSW Cup], obviously Robbo has invested a lot of emotional energy into him and is willing to wear backlash.

“The reason he will most probably be able to go through and play at that level is because of what Robbo has done in the past month. He can be one of the best – he is a beauty.”

Mitchell, who said he admires Daley from their time together in the Indigenous All Stars, says representative football has been the last thing on his mind during his hiatus.

But he said he’ll be ready if he was to receive a call-up for the opening game of the series.

“I’d have to be ready if they pick me, you know what I mean?” Mitchell said. “It’s a big game. You wouldn’t want to let anyone down. But I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. I have had a few things to work on. If that rep stuff comes, it comes. I’m just trying to get back have fun and play consistent footy.

“It’s always good to hear these sorts of things. I played under Laurie at All Stars and he’s a great bloke. Fittler is a legend so it’s great to hear that stuff. But if it comes around it comes around.”

The injury to Trbojevic is a cruel blow for the Manly fullback, who was tipped to get the nod on the left wing before his sickening injury against Brisbane on Saturday night.

Daley hasn’t ruled him out of calculations for the entire series given Manly hope to have him back on the paddock between six to eight weeks.

“Hopefully it can be six rather than eight,” Daley said. “In an Origin series, very rarely do you go through a whole campaign and use the same 17. If he can get back and come back and play well there could be a role there for him somewhere.”

NSW SELECTION MIX FOR GAME ONE

1. James Tedesco ???2. Blake Ferguson/Josh Dugan 3. Josh Dugan/Jack Bird 4. Jarryd Hayne 5. Latrell Mitchell/Josh Dugan 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce/Matt Moylan 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah/Nathan Peats/Peter Wallace 10. David Klemmer 11. Boyd Cordner (c) 12. Josh Jackson 13. Tyson Frizell 14. Jack Bird/Matt Moylan 15. Andrew Fifita 16. Wade Graham 17. Jordan McLean/Paul Vaughan/Jack de Belin/Jake Trbojevic

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

Gregory John Thompson found guilty of murdering ex-wife’s new boyfriend Michael Moad at Cessnock in 2015

Michael Moad. Picture: Louise Scott
Nanjing Night Net

OBSESSION OF A KILLER

BAIL DECISION REVEALED

KILLER’S MAJOR DEPRESSION BEFORE ATTACK

IT wasn’t a split-second flash of rage thatledGregory John Thompson to brutally stabhis ex-wife’s new boyfriend to death at Cessnock in 2015.

It was calculated, cold-blooded murder.

And it wasn’t a“loss of control”, or an overreaction to being goaded by a love rival, but a planned attack and the execution of years of threats and abusive text messages.

Thompson, 52, of Nulkaba, was on Tuesday found guilty of murder over the horrific death of Michael Moad, who was stabbed 10 times in the laundry of his Edgeworth Street home on March 1, 2015.

Thompsonhad pleaded guilty to manslaughter, butnot guilty to murder on the first day of his trial, raising a partial defence of substantial impairmentby way of “abnormality of the mind” due to an underlying condition, which he saidaffected his capacity to either understand events, judge right from wrong or control himself at the time of the killing.

After a nine-day trial in Newcastle Supreme Court, it took a jury a little over four hours to reject thedefence claims thatThompson was substantially impaired by a major depressive illness when he stabbed Mr Moad.

A large contingent of Mr Moad’sfamily and friends let out a sigh of relief and a cry of “yes” as the verdict was read out.

Thompson showed no emotion from the court dock before glancing at Mr Moad’s family and then his own.

The jury had previously heardthe stabbing followed years of psychological abuse, a messy divorce and escalating tensions between Thompson and his ex-wife, Karen Thompson.

Thompson had been arrested twice in two days in the lead-up to the murder –once for harassing his ex-wife and then for followingher andMr Moadand breaching an apprehended violence order.

When he was released on bail on February 28 he put a plan in place to kill Mr Moad and then himself.

“Justice was done for Michael,” Mr Moad’s brother-in-law, Stephen Scott, toldFairfax Mediaafter the verdict.

“It’s a relief for the family.

“It’s been two-and-a-bit years of hell.“Hopefully we can move on from this.

“We’re never going to forget Michael or the horrific circumstances in which he died.

“But we believe justice and common sense has prevailed.”

Thompson will be sentenced later this week.

EARLIER STORY:

CAUGHT: Police surround Gregory John Thompson’s car outside Michael Moad’s house in Cessnock on March 1, 2015.

GREGORY John Thompson has been found guilty of the brutal stabbing murder of his ex-wife’s new boyfriendat Cessnock in 2015.

After a nine-day trial it took a jury a little over four hours to reach a verdict in Newcastle Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Thompson, 52, of Nulkaba,had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the first day of his trial, admitting he was responsible for stabbing Cessnock man Michael Moad 10 times in the laundry of Mr Moad’s Edgeworth Street homein the early hours of March 1, 2015.

But he had pleaded not guilty to murder, raising a partial defence of substantial impairmentby way of “abnormality of the mind” due to an underlying condition, which he saidaffected his capacity to either understand events, judge right from wrong or control himself at the time of the killing.

The key issue in the trial was Thompson’s mental state around the time of MrMoad’s horrific death, with the jury ultimately rejecting defence claims thathe was substantially impaired by a major depressive illness.

The jury had previously heard that the stabbing followed years of psychological abuse, a messy divorce and escalating tensions between Thompson and his ex-wife, Karen Thompson.

Thompson had been arrested twice in two days in the lead-up to the murder –once for harassing his ex-wife and then for followingher andMr Moadand breaching an apprehended violence order.

Both times he was granted police bail.

A large contingent of Mr Moad’sfamily and friends let out a sigh of relief and a cry of “yes” as the verdict was read out.

Thompson showed no emotion before glancing at Mr Moad’s family and then his own.

Thompson will be sentenced later this week.

More to come.

Brumbies rookie goes from kegs and club rugby to African tour

Andrew Muirhead was supposed to be delivering kegs to pubs and clubs around Canberra this week, but looms as the spark the ACT Brumbies desperately need to save their Super Rugby season.
Nanjing Night Net

Little-known Muirhead was the shock inclusion in the Brumbies squad for their two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina as they attempt to end a four-game losing streak.

It comes just days after Muirhead played in front of a few hundred club rugby diehards at Phillip Oval and six months after he moved from Brisbane to Canberra just for a chance to train with the Brumbies.

He’s been juggling a job as a delivery man to earn a living while chasing his rugby goals it paid off when Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham tapped him on the shoulder on Sunday.

Larkham told Muirhead to pack his bag and offered him a temporary Super Rugby deal if he could convince his boss to give him two weeks away from lifting kegs and delivering tyres.

“This is the last thing I thought would happen this week. I had to give the boss a call and tell him I wouldn’t be in for two weeks. But he’s been great about it and they were stoked as well,” Muirhead said.

“Larkham asked me what my work commitments were for this week … then he said ‘can you get two weeks off’ so I called the boss and he’s really good about it.

“I came to Canberra hoping to get a crack and this is the closest I’ve got to a Super Rugby debut. So it’s paying off. “

Muirhead and uncapped prop Faalelei Sione were added to the Brumbies squad for games against the Southern Kings and the Argentina Jaguares.

The Canberra Royals teammates face a baptism of fire as the Brumbies battle to resurrect their season and cling to their fading finals hopes.

They still are still at the top of the Australian conference ladder but their lead has been cut to just three points and slipping up against the Kings or Jaguares could see them tumble down the rankings.

Winger James Dargaville was left out of the extended squad to rest his shoulder after off-season surgery, opening the door for Muirhead to step up.

“I was pretty excited when I first found out but the nerves hit me not long after,” Muirhead said.

“Hopefully I get an opportunity to play and if I do get that, I’m keen to take it with both hands and really have a crack.

“If you had spoken to me on Sunday morning, I would have told you I didn’t have a chance to go on the tour. I was looking more to next year I guess.”

The Brumbies need an injection of confidence after failing to score a try in their past 210 minutes of Super Rugby action.

They have lost six games by seven points or less this season and are struggling to find a clinical edge to turn around their fortunes.

The Brumbies have won just three games this year but find themselves locked in a finals race after a disastrous Australian conference campaign.

“We need to capitalise on opportunities better, we’ve spoken about that,” Larkham said.

“It’s all starting to heat up now. We know the situation we’re in and the fact there’s not a lot between third, fourth or fifth. It really is going to depend on who performs in these last stages of the competition.”

The Brumbies play games on the road against the Kings and Jaguares before returning to Canberra to play the Melbourne Rebels on June 3.

They will finish their season with games against the Queensland Reds and Waikato Chiefs after the month-long Super Rugby bye for the international window.

“There probably is a lot of pressure from outside, but we’ve come together and we know there’s a job that needs to be done,” Muirhead said.

“Even if you’re not playing, everyone in the squad or at training feels a loss. Hopefully we can turn the corner.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND 13

Sunday: Southern Kings v ACT Brumbies at Port Elizabeth, 3.30am (AEST). TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

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

Vikings Group set to take Canberra’s NRC licence

The Vikings Group is set to take over Canberra’s National Rugby Championship licence after striking a deal with the ACT Brumbies and the ARU.
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The new NRC structure will be announced on Tuesday after negotiations started at the end of last year.

The Vikings will take all responsibility for the NRC side, taking the financial responsibilities away from the Brumbies and starting fresh for the 2017 season.

The ARU has been keen to push a private ownership model and the Vikings are the only rugby club in Canberra in a position to fund the game.

The Brumbies formed a three-way partnership with the Vikings Group and the University of Canberra to be a part of the inaugural NRC.

The Vikings Group has pumped in $1 million in funding in the past four years.

But the Canberra Vikings team named caused some angst in the capital’s rugby ranks, but the Vikings Group is keen to break down barriers in the revamped set up.

Former Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones flagged plans last year to scrap the Canberra Vikings and revive the ACT Kookaburras as an NRC team to ease tension in the capital.

But the licence will be transferred to the Vikings Group for financial stability and the Vikings name and colours are set to remain.

Officials are working on ways to create links to the Kookaburras and are keen to honour the ACT’s rugby history at some point during the season.

Meanwhile, Tuggeranong Vikings playmaker Isaac Thompson has signed a deal to play for Mazda in the second-tier Japanese competition.

Thompson started the year as a part-time member of the Brumbies squad and made his Super Rugby debut against the Durban Sharks in March.

But the 30-year-old former New Zealand schoolboy representative has taken an opportunity to test himself in Japan on a full-time professional contract.

The Vikings missed their chief playmaker last weekend as they defending premiers fell to a fired-up Royals side in the John I Dent Cup.

Brumbies and Royals back-rower Tom Cusack was given a blue card in that game after the ACT Rugby Union introduced a new concussion protocol this season.

Referees have the power to issue a blue card to any player they suspect to be concussed, ruling them out of the rest of the game and not allowing them to play again for a minimum of 12 days.

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

Valetini ready to prove he’s buried injury curse

ACT Brumbies junior Rob Valetini hopes the under-20s world championship can help launch his Super Rugby career as he fights to prove he has beaten an injury curse.
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Australian under-20s coach Simon Cron has put faith in the hard-hitting back-rower to make an impact on the world stage despite being limited to just handful of minutes on the field this year.

Valetini is set to play against a Brumbies Griffins side at Viking Park on Wednesday night in the Australian team’s final practice match before the world championships in Georgia.

Valetini broke his thumb in the first game of the Brumbies’ under-20s campaign and then injured his ankle at training on Saturday ahead of his comeback.

But the 18-year-old says he’s ready to make his mark as he chases national honours and a Brumbies debut.

“It’s been tough but I’m just glad the Australian coaches had faith in me to get the job done despite missing most of the under-20s tournament,” Valetini said.

“I was really disappointed to get injured because I had my eyes on [the Brumbies game] against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne to make my debut.

“I’ve still got my eyes on that debut this year but I know I’ve got to keep training and hopefully it comes.

“If I can play well in the under-20s then that will help as well so I’m just focused on that right now.”

Valetini admits he faces a tough challenge just to break into the under-20s starting XV, with talented back-rowers Liam Wright, Reece Hewat and Angus Scott-Young staking their claim for selection.

But Cron will be using the final hit out against a team of Canberra’s best club rugby players to test new combinations and Valetini wants to bang down the selection door.

The Melbourne-raised teenager is rated as one of the hardest-hitting players at the Brumbies despite his limited experience.

He signed a full-time contract with the Brumbies as a schoolboy and it is set to extend his stay in Canberra.

“Being with the Brumbies has helped me read the game better,” Valetini said.

“In an amateur environment it used to be just about catching the ball and running. Now there’s a lot more detail to the game and where you have to be.

“I’m still trying to prove myself because of injuries. I’m still trying to show people what I can do so hopefully the injuries are behind me.

“We’ve got a lot of experience in the under-20s so there’s a good buzz and hopefully we can win some big games at the world championships.”

UNDER-20s PRACTICE MATCH

Wednesday: Australian under-20s v Brumbies Griffins at Viking Park, 7pm.

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