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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.
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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

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

Michael Moad. Picture: Louise Scott
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Girl, 12, sexually assaulted by man with knife on way to school

A 12-year-old girl sexually assaulted on her way to school on Monday morning was able to give a “very clear” description of her attacker despite the ordeal, police say.
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The girl was walking to school along a path at Narara, on the Central Coast, about 7.45am when she was grabbed from behind and dragged into nearby bushland.

A man wearing camouflage clothing and wielding a hunting knife tied her up before she was sexually and indecently assaulted.

Police say the girl was eventually able to escape, running to school where she raised the alarm at 9am.

She was taken to Gosford Hospital, where she remained on Monday evening.

Police immediately began to investigate the incident, using police tape to cordon off a crime scene between Carrington Street and Reeve Street in Narara.

Specialist detectives from the Child Abuse Squad are involved in the investigation and detectives and uniformed police are expected to take to the streets in Narara on Tuesday to seek out potential witnesses.

Superintendent Danny Sullivan, from Brisbane Water Local Area Command, said the girl was on a common thoroughfare regularly used by students and dog-walkers when she was grabbed.

He said the girl was understandably distressed, but was working closely with police and hospital staff.

“She was able to give us a very clear description of the alleged offender,” Superintendent Sullivan said.

The man is described as being in his mid-20s, 175cm to 180cm tall, with a chubby build, grey/blond hair and blue eyes.

At the time of the attack he was wearing a knitted camouflage shirt, camouflage pants over navy blue pants and a camouflage hat, with a loose covering over his face that exposed his eyes and nose.

Police said he was also carrying a camouflage bag and is in possession of a hunting knife. Anyone who sees a man matching this description is urged to contact triple-0 immediately.

Superintendent Sullivan said police were working closely with the Department of Education to warn other students in the area.

He said the path where the girl was grabbed was used by many residents, including those travelling between their homes and public transport stops, so people may have information who have not spoken to police.

Police have asked anyone who may have seen something – even if they think it trivial – to come forward.

Detectives will man a command post at Narara on Tuesday so members of the community can speak to officers face-to-face.

Superintendent Sullivan said there was “rightly” community outrage about the attack.

“My daughter is the same age, and I know that feeling a parent feels when they hear a story like this,” he said.

“That’s why we’re working methodically and closely with our State Crime Command and doing all avenues of investigation.”

Those with information are asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. /*\n”,color:”green”, title:”Girl attacked”, maxWidth:200, open:0}] );}if (!window.gmapsLoaders) window.gmapsLoaders = [];window.gmapsLoaders.push(CreateGMapgmap2017415194958);window.gmapsAutoload=true;/*]]>*/

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Manus Island refugee compound to begin closure in weeks

Australia’s refugee processing centre on Manus Island will commence closure in two weeks, with asylum seekers told on Monday to “consider their options”.
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The long-awaited closure will be complete by October 31, asylum seekers were told, as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has previously indicated.

Those who have been found to be refugees will have access to temporary accommodation, while those who have not are being encouraged to go home voluntarily.

A PNG immigration official, believed to be centre co-ordinator Jeffrey Kiangali, told asylum seekers on Monday: “PNG, with Australian support, will close the Manus RPC [regional processing centre] by October 31, 2017.”

In a recording sent to Fairfax Media, asylum seekers were told: “You need to consider your options and make a decision about your future. Closure of [the] RPC is an opportunity to get on with your life.”

M Block within the Foxtrot compound will be the first to close, starting on May 28, with Foxtrot to shut entirely by June 30.

Those in the Foxtrot compound were told that once it was closed the power would be turned off and their belongings relocated. “The area will be locked and no one will be permitted to enter.”

The immigration officer said: “In coming months, other compounds will be closed and demolished.

“Everyone will need to move out of [the] RPC before it is closed down. Do not leave it too late to make a decision.”

Refugees could reside in the PNG community or live temporarily at a transit centre in East Lorengau, the men were told, but “no one will be resettled in Australia”.

Refugees are awaiting acceptance for resettlement by the United States under an agreement struck between Malcolm Turnbull and former US president Barack Obama.

The Manus Island facility has previously been slated for closure by October or the end of 2017 after the PNG Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

While the detainees were told the move would not affect their refugee status or the eligibility for resettlement in the US, they were warned that “disruptive or difficult behaviour could exclude you from resettlement”.

Those with negative status were told they could voluntarily return to their country of origin with an Australian “integration support package” or be forcibly returned without assistance.

The deadline for applying for voluntary return with assistance was August 30, after which returns would be managed by PNG alone.

Many detainees who have been given negative refugee status say they refused to submit their claims because they feared resettlement in PNG after the violent riots at the centre in February 2014.

Others who did submit claims said they were unable to present their case effectively and should be reassessed.

Detainees say they fear being relocated temporarily to the transit centre and fear for their safety if they are resettled elsewhere in PNG.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee and journalist at the centre, told Fairfax Media: “I’m sure they will threaten people to accept this decision. The refugees don’t want to live in PNG.”

News of the impending closure came on the day Manus Island police commander David Yapu admitted PNG soldiers had fired bullets directly into the refugee compound during a rampage on Good Friday.

PNG authorities had previously maintained the soldiers, described as drunken, had only fired their weapons “into the air”.

An Amnesty International report on the incident, released on Monday, verified two dozen images and videos from the rampage and concluded “with a high degree of certainty” that soldiers had opened fire on the facility.

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Cricket strike? Most likely it will end in a draw

Much as both Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association would like you to fear it, the first ball next summer’s series will not be from Stuart Broad to the winner of a Kanga Cricket raffle. Nor for that matter will it be his pot-bellied round-arm dad to Alastair Cook. That was as good as confirmed on Monday when that noted analyst of Australian cricket affairs, Kevin Pietersen, tweeted: “Fairly big player strike soon in Aus ….”
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The Australian players won’t strike, nor will be they be laid off. It’s just that there is a certain amount of posturing each side has to work through in negotiations on a pay deal. Sometimes it is more shrill than others. This time, it is particularly strident, because the disagreement is about not just a quantum of money, but the principle under which is it is distributed, and because the cricket landscape is changing rapidly anyway, leading each side to believe that the time to act is now.

That is not to say neither board or players believe their own rhetoric. Each has a case. But they will not pursue it to the point either of walk-off or lock-out. That is because of two certainties. One is that sportspeople, in contrast to wage slaves, altogether would rather be working. The other is that industrial action by athletes garners little popular sympathy for either side. Fans distrust administrators anyway, and love players for what they do, not as an industrial cause.

An American journalist once characterised a stand-off between basketballers and owners as a fight between “millionaires and billionaires”. Something of that sentiment applies now. Nuance does not come into it; the only stake that matters is the unransomable Ashes, not who is paying whom however many noughts for what. That is for them and their managers to fret over.

That said, sportsmen (and increasingly, women) are in the rare position of being both the workers and the product. In 1975, as industrial rumblings began in the still pretty much amateur Australian Test team, mild-mannered Ian Redpath was seen to hold then board secretary Allan Barnes up against a wall, yelling: “Of course there are 50,000 out there who would play for nothing. But how good would the Australian team be?”

Two years later came the World Series Cricket revolution. Twenty years later, players and administrators were at loggerheads again over money. The players played harder ball than the board expected, leading to a place at the table for the newly-formed ACA and enshrinement of revenue sharing. But despite many threats to strike in the process, not even one ball was foregone.

Then, of course, the players had no alternative employment. Now they do, the endless – and lucrative _ round of T20 competitions. But when push came to glance, how many would bypass an Ashes series and risk public contempt to make a point beyond the decimal points they are already making? That question would test the playing cohort’s hitherto rock-like solidarity. Meantime, a familiar game goes on: claim and counter-claim, bluff and counter-bluff, oaths not to negotiate through media, negotiations through media, stalemate.

The best pointer this time might not be the past, but the neighbours. The AFL appears to have concluded its own protracted EBA negotiations, complete with much finger-wagging and vague intimations about a strike. The central issue also was revenue sharing. The cricketers want to preserve it, the footballers to introduce it. Eventually, the AFLPA settled for a hybrid arrangement by which some of their income was tied to revenue, the rest fixed.

Of course, the footballers could depend on the steadily rising value of broadcast rights and a lot of money upfront. It meant the AFL could have their plenty of their cake and eat it, too. Cricket’s worth to television is less certain, which is why CA is looking to restructure its deal with players in the first instance. But no cricketer is going to have to worry about a wolf at the door any time soon.

Whoever blinks first, expect it to be presented as a mutually knowing wink, and for David Warner to be taking strike rather than on it on day one at the Gabba in November.

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The five pain points that wrote the budget

There’s zero surprise in the federal budget giving the Turnbull government either no or only a little lift in the opinion polls. Repairing the damage of the Abbott Total Opposition years, rebuilding trust, will take time. But it’s a big and quite calculated start.
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The 2017-18 budget’s backbone is made up of five key policy areas that just happen to be the five areas that nearly cost Malcolm Turnbull the last election. You could be forgiven for thinking the budget was framed more by focus groups than Treasury’s econocrats.

Aside from the general disappointment that Turnbull changed nothing before the last election, the five polling pain points for the government were “Mediscare”, education, housing affordability, the banking royal commission proposal and One Nation and its fellow populists.

Guess what the budget did?

1. Mediscare: Throw more money at GPs and drug companies and select specialists and hospitals, plus a “Medicare Guarantee Fund”, whatever that’s supposed to be. It’s all 180 degrees from any suggestion of co-contributions to deal with what our demographics will eventually do to the health budget.

2. Education: Cue Gonski 2.0. (As an aside, David Gonski also is chairman of the ANZ Bank. It’s a fair bet Prime Minister Turnbull didn’t mention anything about a Big New Bank Tax when talking him into saddling up for another education ride.)

3. Housing affordability: Both in the lead-up to and in the speech, Scott Morrison went long and hard about housing affordability. It’s not clear whether the many bits and pieces, perhaps good by themselves, will actually add up to much, but it fulfilled the need for the government to be seen to being doing something after wedging itself on negative gearing.

4. One Nation and fellow populist ratbags: There’s a whole body of work going into changing the government’s tone from hanging out with start-up hipsters in an abstract free-trade, Big Australia “innovation nation” to identifying with Southern Cross tats, sniffing at foreigners and liking local manufacturing. Renaming 457 temporary work visas, the other big new tax on hiring foreign workers, the general rhetoric about immigration tightening, whacking foreigners buying real estate with extra charges, taxes and conditions and loading up the National Party pork barrel – it’s all part of the dog whistle pitched at turning One Nation voters’ heads. And there’s competition for those heads in regional seats from Bill “White Australia First” Shorten.

5. Banking royal commission: If voters like the idea of a royal commission, they should be loving Morrison’s open season on banks. The bank tax has been the main news story since the budget, the watch puppies are all being told to growl more and then there’s the mysterious and yet-to-be-defined bank executives register that threatens to rub out the careers of executives with trouble on their watch. An interesting concept, minister – and if you can do it for bank managers, why not for???

Aside from those five budget-framers receiving money and rhetoric, there was the quiet abandonment of Abbott-era policies that didn’t resonate. When your net debt is forecast to peak at double the Labor level, maybe there’s no point screaming about a budget “crisis”. And extending the corporate tax cut to the big end of town? I’m guessing the backburner for that one is beyond the kitchen.

There are other shoes to drop. Industry continues to cry out for energy policy certainty, something that will only be achieved by rational carbon pricing. And the very hard work of real tax reform will have to be confronted one of these decades, but that’s only possible with either a genuine crisis or a government secure in its leadership and political capital. We don’t have either, yet.

Nonetheless, there also was zero surprise that there was a constant snarl in Shorten’s budget reply speech – ScoMo’s half hour upon the stage on Tuesday night had made the Opposition Leader’s life much harder. Instead of a pleasant stroll to the next federal election, Shorten will have to fight very hard indeed.

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Jets playing for keeps in recruitment drive

FLYING HIGH: New Zealand keeper Glen Moss has signed a one-year deal with the Newcastle Jets and will challenge Jack Duncan for the leading role. Picture: Getty Images
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THE recruitment of New Zealand international goalkeeper Glen Moss is just the start as the Jets go “full throttle” to build a squad capable of challenging for the A-League.

Mosswill join the Jets in July at the end of the All Whites’ commitments atthe Confederations Cup in Russia.

The 34-year-old, who has an Australian passport, has played 204 A-League games and will push incumbent Jack Duncan.

His signature is the first since the appointment of Ernie Merrick as coach and leaves the Jets with five places to to fill, including two visa spots.

Ben Kantarovski, whose salary earns a 50% concession in the cap, has been offered a one-year deal.

Mark Milligan, Nathan Burns, Mitch Nichols, Alan Baro and Marcelo Carrusca head a list of potential targets.

“We are not looking for players who aren’t wanted by other clubs,” Jets operations manager Joel Griffiths said.

“We are going for players who are soughtafter and aregoing full throttle and aggressive with recruiting.

“It is about timing and where that player wants to go. You have to be at the right place at the right time.”

Griffiths, who played alongside Moss in Wellington, said the recruitment of the Kiwi was a no-brainer.

Jets playing for keeps in recruitment drive TweetFacebook GLEN MOSSPictures: Getty Images“He will go to confedcup, which I think is great,” Griffiths said.

“It shows that he is still in good form and we get a really experienced keeper who can help Jack.He has a great work ethic. He is a winner, he helps players and thinks about others first. There is no ego.”

After five years in the Kiwi capital, Moss is looking forwardto a change of scenery.

“I am rapt to be coming to the Jets,” Moss said. “It’s a club that I have always thought quite highly of and always had good battles with in the past.I have been at Wellington for five years so changing environments and moving to a club that will not accept anything less than top results and playing finals football next year is something that has got me naturally excited.”

Moss, who made his international debut in a 1-0 win over Malaysia in 2006,will go into camp with the All Whites in Auckland next week.

“After the Confederations Cup in Russia I will come back and get straight into it with the Jets,” Moss said. “I find that it’s really good to have these tournaments in the off-season because it keeps me ticking over. I will be able to hit the ground running with the Jets from day one.”

It will be the third time that Moss has played under Merrick.

“I have coached Glen at two Clubs – Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix – and have found him to be the consummate professional,” Merrick said.

“Glen is extremely capable both technically and physically, and he is a first class character.

“He brings a wealth of Hyundai A-League and international experience to the Jets and we are very fortunate to have his signature.”

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