Lessons learned by integrity unit: NRL COO

Aug 07 2019

The NRL conceded its integrity unit has to lift its game, after a botched investigation into the Arizona arrest of John Sutton and Luke Burgess was concluded on Monday.


Souths were hit with a $20,000 fine over the incident and former chief executive Shane Richardson cleared of any wrongdoing, but neither Sutton nor Burgess were suspended over their roles in the pre-season off field drama.

The integrity unit re-opened its investigation into the November incident last month, after crucial details were uncovered by the press.

New NRL chief operating officer Suzanne Young conceded the integrity unit needed to improve.

“It would be fair to say that the integrity unit has learnt lessons out of this incident as well and will be improving its processes,” she said.

“I have full confidence in the unit and will continue to support them in their investigations.

“We will be working with the clubs over the coming week to see how we can improve the rules and guidelines for the clubs.

“When we share the updated rules and guidelines we can address which specifics are required to address and close any gaps.”

“We will look at the systems and processes into the investigation and look to improve those.”

“In this situation we can all take lessons as to how it was investigated and take steps to improve.”

Richardson began his job as head of game strategy and development on Monday.

Sutton is free to play in Souths’ season opener against Brisbane on Thursday, while Burgess, who is now with Manly, will play for the Sea Eagles against Parramatta on Friday.

“Our investigation concluded that while the Souths club met its obligations to advise the investigative unit of the incident, it did not follow the matter to its conclusion and should have been more diligent,” Young said.

“The investigative unit was not informed about the payment made to the security officer which led to the matter being dropped.”

Young said the NRL would announce its new guidelines into reporting player misbehaviour within the next fortnight as the game’s governing body again left itself open for criticism over its inconsistency in handing out sanctions.

Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce was banned for a game and hit with a $20,000 fine over his Kings Cross arrest last year.

Samoa internationals Reni Maitua, Tautau Moga and Sauaso Sue missed a Test match and were each fined $10,000 over their involvement in a nightclub brawl during the Four Nations tournament last year.

Paul Gallen was fined $35,000 for an abusive tweet aimed at the NRL late last year.

Souths released a statement late on Monday afternoon saying the club will “consider its position on this matter over the next five business days”.

The Gold Coast cocaine dramas are set to provide the integrity unit’s next test.

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Merrin widens Panthers’ premiership window

Aug 07 2019

Penrith believe they have put in place the final piece of their premiership puzzle after signing NSW back-rower Trent Merrin on a big-money deal for the 2016 NRL season.


Merrin on Monday announced he would leave St George Illawarra at the end of 2015 to take up a three-year $2 million deal at Penrith.

He resisted an offer to join Brisbane and reunite with coach Wayne Bennett, who handed him his first-grade debut at the Dragons.

Penrith general manager Phil Gould described Merrin’s signature as one of the most important in the club’s history.

The Panthers’ playing group is considered one of the best young squads in the NRL and Merrin’s Origin and premiership-winning experience is seen as a vital cog in their title ambitions.

“We are absolutely delighted to confirm Trent Merrin will be joining the Panthers for the next three seasons,” Gould said.

“This is one of the most significant player signings this club has made in its 49-year history.

“Trent has been part of a premiership-winning team and already achieved 10 State of Origin appearances for NSW.

“At 25 years of age we believe Trent is about to enter the prime time of his playing career with his best football still in front of him.

“Apart from his obvious playing talents, Trent brings valuable experience and leadership qualities to Panthers. We are very excited about this signing.”

Merrin will become the second NSW representative to leave the Dragons in as many years following Brett Morris’ move to the Bulldogs this season.

Gould was instrumental in luring Merrin to the foot of the mountains and the Shellharbour junior is convinced Penrith is the club which can springboard him to even higher honours.

Panthers CEO Justin Pascoe said Merrin’s decision showed Penrith is an attractive proposition for big-name players.

“Trent is an outstanding footballer and person and will add enormous experience and value to our existing squad and also our young forwards coming through our pathway program,” Pascoe said.

“We are extremely honoured that Trent has chosen to join our organisation and it gives us a great amount of satisfaction that all the work we’re doing on and off the field is proving to be attractive to those outside the organisation.”

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Dortmund’s Subotic turns down Serbia return

Aug 07 2019

The 26-year old centre-back last played for Serbia in October 2013, when he walked out on the national team at the end of their futile World Cup 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.


He tore his knee ligaments a month later but after returning last August, he turned down a call-up by Serbia’s former Dutch coach Dick Advocaat, who stepped down in November after only one point from the opening three Euro 2016 qualifiers.

“We had a sincere talk and it’s clear that Subotic is not ready to return to the national team at this point in time,” Curcic told the FSS official website (南宁夜网.fss.rs).

“The game against Portugal is coming up soon and I needed to know which players I can count on because we have several options in each position.”

Subotic said his priority was to make full recovery from a serious knee injury which sidelined him for nine months last season.

“It’s true that I am playing again but I am engaged in daily therapy to further strengthen my knee and it’s been assessed that making an international return would not be the best decision for my health at this time,” he said.

Serbia are fourth in Group I with one point from three matches ahead of visits to Portugal on March 29 and Denmark on June 13.

Dortmund, who spent much of the current Bundesliga season in the bottom half of Germany’s top flight, have moved up to mid-table after a recent run of victories.

They will also try to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit against Juventus in their Champions League last-16 tie when they host the Italian title holders on March 18.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Waiting game for Titans NRL players

Aug 07 2019

The immediate playing future of the Gold Coast Titans embroiled in the NRL cocaine scandal is still up in the air with club CEO Graham Annesley saying they are still waiting on key information about the charges.


Annesley told AAP the club was yet to see a summary of the police brief on the case.

“Until we get the information that we are after we are no closer to a decision,” Annesley said.

“There are police documents that we need to see before we are in a position to make a decision.

“You can’t make decisions without information.”

Asked if he hoped players would be reinstated before their NRL round one clash against Wests Tigers on Saturday night, Annesley said: “I am hopeful of getting the matter resolved as quickly as possible.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be in this position.

“We have had to react to something that is beyond our control.”

Lawyer Campbell MacCallum – who represents six past and present Titans facing drug charges – had been hopeful of speaking to the Gold Coast board as early as Monday night regarding their reinstatement.

However, he told AAP that he now expected it to be in the “next couple of days” as the players’ day in court loomed.

Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling will face Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday, with Greg Bird, Dave Taylor, Kalifa Faifai Loa and former Titans Joe Vickery and Ashley Harrison set to appear four days later on charges of supplying cocaine.

Falloon’s lawyer Chris Nyst claimed on Monday that the case against his client was non-existent.

Nyst has also written to the Department of Prosecutions and Annesley, calling the case weak.

Nyst said the charge of supplying cocaine came down to a series of vague text messages and phone calls.

He also called for the charges to be thrown out before they reach court.

The Crime and Corruption Commission will reportedly allege Falloon sent alleged cocaine cartel kingpin John Touma a text message hours after the Titans final game of 2014 saying: “The season starts now.”

Nyst is of the belief there is no serious proof against his client.

“It is patently obvious to me that the (case) summary disclosed absolutely nothing to prove Mr Falloon supplied or received anything at all,” he told The Courier-Mail newspaper.

“In my view any competent lawyer would conclude from the disclosed material there is no case against Mr Falloon on any of the charges against him.”

On the back of his statement and letter to the Department of Prosecutions, Nyst wrote to Annesley calling for Falloon’s immediate return to the playing squad.

Meanwhile, MacCallum – who is representing the other six past and present Titans players charged – claimed he was also confident his clients would beat the charges.

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No evidence Knox told to destroy records

Aug 07 2019

There is no evidence to support an allegation linking a former Uniting Church leader with the destruction of documents at Knox Grammar School, an inquiry has heard.


Counsel assisting the child abuse royal commission David Lloyd said on Monday it was not his intention to recommend finding related to the records against James Mein, the former moderator of the Uniting Church and former council member at the Sydney boys day and boarding school.

Mr Lloyd said Dwane Feehley, whose email contained an allegation that a solicitor assisted by Jim Mein was advising Knox to destroy records, was overseas and could not be compelled to appear.

There was no other evidence to suggest Mr Mein or former chairman of the Knox Council, solicitor Rob Wannan, made any such advice.

The commission has found a “paucity” of records at the school about student complaints and the school’s response to allegations of historical sexual abuse of students.

On Monday Mr Mein said the conversations he remembered related to concerns someone had “sanitised” the school records.

He also said he and others on the council suspected documents were removed by Adrian Nisbett, a teacher who was later convicted of indecent dealing with boys.

The commission has heard Nisbett, who was allow to resign in 2004, is now in Africa and cannot be summoned to appear.

Nisbett was assistant to headmaster Ian Paterson and was given the job of compiling an 80th anniversary publication for the school and had access to archives.

“I certainly have never, nor am I aware of any solicitor in our groups, that actually said we should be destroying records,” Mr Mein told the hearing on Monday.

Mr Mein he thought it “abhorrent” to destroy documents.

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Commercial fishing declines amid rising costs and cheap imports

Jul 07 2019

The numbers of Australian fishing vessels and tonnage of fish landing in Australian ports has dropped, as the cost of doing business for Australian commercial fishers increases.


Australian commercial fishing vessel numbers dropped by a third between 2006 and 2013, according to data released by the OECD.

In other selected OECD countries, the numbers of fishing vessels dropped roughly 11 per cent.

The capacity of Australian vessels has dropped more than a third between 2006 and 2013.

During the same period imports of fish into Australia almost doubled, while exports of fish were relatively flat.

One of the reasons for the decline in fish catches was the general cost of doing business, Commercial Fisheries Association executive officer Renee Vajtauer said.

Expensive licence fees, fuel, regulation and marine sanctuaries were contributing to the decline, she said.

“The cost of them going out [to fish] is really quite high.”

While there were many factors, the bottom line was commercial fishers faced increased hardship to run profitable businesses, Ms Vajtauer said.

She said they were working with the government to reduce “red tape”.

South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) chief executive Simon Boag said one factor affecting the cost of doing business was the relatively cheap fish imports from New Zealand.

SETFIA represents commercial fishers and other business interests in the South East Trawl Fishery.


That fishery is part of the larger Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF).

The Australian Fisheries and Management Authrity (AFMA) last month increased the sustainable catch limit for the SESSF, and the fish stocks currently targeted in the fishery were sustainable, AFMA said.

AFMA sets sustainable seafood harvest catch limits based on productivity of wild fish stocks.

Simon Boag said it was hard for Australian commercial fishers to be profitable in the face of cheaper imports.

“There is an enormous amount of fish coming in from New Zealand,” Mr Boag said.

The imported fish from New Zealand had a shorter shelf life, but was still cheaper, he said.

The most recent Status of Key Australian Fish Socks Reports 2014 from ABARES says out of 238 fisheries it reviewed, 129 fisheries were sustainable, and 11 were overfished. Others were declining or improving, or unknown.

If Australians import their fish from other countries, aside from New Zealand, they were ultimately supporting fisheries that were not as sustainable as this country’s fisheries, he said.

Australian Marine Conservation Society marine biologist Tooni Mahto agreed cheaper imports from overseas would affect Australian commercial fishers.

She said the commonwealth management of fisheries was on the “right track”, while some states needed to improve.

The effects of marine parks on fishers were overstated, she said.

Ms Mahto said Australian oceans were not particularly productive.

“We’re operating on an unlevel playing field.”

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Final-quarter surge earns Mystics win

Jul 07 2019

A new-look midcourt helped lift the Mystics to a 59-53 win over Canterbury Tactix in their trans-Tasman netball league first round match in Christchurch.


Wing attack Camilla Lees provided the drive in the front third, while English international Serena Guthrie added grit at wing defence as a strong final quarter saw the Mystics home.

Goal shoot Cathrine Latu missed only three shots from 35, while goal attack Maria Tutaia impressed inside and outside the circle with 23 from 28.

The Tactix ended the first quarter on an eight-goal run to take a 17-10 lead into the first break, rookie Mystics shooter Elsa Brown struggling to sink four from seven for the spell.

The Mystics were looking to ease Latu back after emergency appendix surgery last month, but the Silver Ferns shooter looked fit and sharp when she took the court after 15 minutes.

The Mystics’ struggles with timing in the front third disappeared with Latu’s return, her combination with Tutaia in the circle freeing up more space and simplifying the feed from midcourters Laura Langman and Camilla Lees.

Increased shooting volume and improved accuracy allowed the Mystics to peg back the Tactix lead to 29-26 at halftime, and they lifted further to win the third quarter 17-11 and take a 43-40 lead in the final 15 minutes.

Tactix coach Sue Hawkins made good on her promise to use her bench, making regular switches in position and introducing new players in a bid to keep the Mystics off-balance.

Tactix shooter Mwai Kumwenda, either out at goal attack or under the post at goal shoot, was outstanding in her athleticism and accuracy. She sunk 36 from 40 for a 90 per cent success rate, Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes adding an encouraging 12 from 16 in the last three quarters.

The Tactix’s inconsistency in the final 10 minutes proved costly.

After scoring five on end to steal a 46-45 lead, they allowed the Mystics back into the game with a series of turnovers and the Mystics proved clinical in converting the chances into goals to wrap up the win.

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Faulkner ready to unleash WC heroics

Jul 07 2019

James Faulkner couldn’t help but fear his World Cup dream was up in smoke a month ago.


Wincing with pain after straining his side while bowling against England on February 1, Faulkner was a worried man as he trudged off the WACA Ground.

But Australia’s X-factor is now ready for action again, and he’s keen to unleash his magic against Afghanistan in Perth on Wednesday.

Faulkner resumed batting duties several weeks ago, and he put in a strong bowling display at training on Monday to prove he’s ready for a recall.

But finding a spot for him won’t be an easy task for Australia’s selectors.

One possible scenario is to replace injured paceman Pat Cummins (side strain) with Faulkner.

Although scans have cleared Cummins of any serious damage, he’s almost certain to miss the clash with Afghanistan.

But if selectors opt to recall Josh Hazlewood following Australia’s one-wicket loss to New Zealand last Saturday, then either Shane Watson or Mitch Marsh could be forced to make way for Faulkner.

Faulkner, whose exploits with both bat and ball have made him one of Australia’s most important players, suffered a knee injury in the lead-up to last year’s T20 World Cup.

The Tasmanian only ended up playing one match during that tournament, but he’s hoping to make a bigger impact at the 50-over showpiece event.

“I’d be lying to say I wasn’t frustrated at the start,” Faulkner said of his recent side strain.

“Any time you get injured it’s a shocking feeling.

“And to do it at the time it happened, it was obviously quite hard to take at the start.

“But it has given me some time to freshen up and get my body feeling good again.

“Hopefully it holds me in good shape come the end of this tournament.”

Faulkner doesn’t think his month on the sidelines will leave him rusty.

“I was batting five or six days after the injury. And although they told me to ease back on it in the first two weeks, I was pretty much going 100 per cent,” he said.

“I think I was lucky being a left-arm bowler and a right-arm batsman – it wasn’t the same side when I was batting.”

Faulkner is unsure how many overs he’ll be required to bowl against Afghanistan.

But it won’t be many if Afghanistan’s batting line-up collapses against the might of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and co.

Faulkner said Australia had already put their tight loss to NZ – and Glenn Maxwell’s choking backfire – behind them.

Maxwell was caught on camera displaying a choking gesture to the Eden Park crowd last Saturday after NZ had slumped to 9-146.

But the Kiwi fans had the last laugh soon after when Kane Williamson smashed the match-winning six.

“I saw it from the sidelines,” Faulkner said.

“After the game everyone put that aside and we knocked that on the head.”

Australia sit fourth in Pool A, but they’ll finish second if they can notch wins over Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Scotland.

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Pilecki’s fury still motivates Reds

Jul 07 2019

Emails from ex-players have already inundated Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham.


Not that he has to be reminded of the importance of Saturday night’s home Super Rugby clash with defending champions NSW Waratahs.

Graham said former players had not wasted time telling him how vital it was to take down their old enemy at Suncorp Stadium, but the words of Reds great Stan Pilecki a year ago were still ringing in his ears.

Pilecki’s leaked scathing assessment of his former team after a disappointing loss to the Western Force – which he said made him “embarrassed and disgusted” – still resonated.

“I think Stan, that one he sent me last year, carries over for 12 months,” Graham said.

“(But) I have already received a dozen emails from former players who understand the intensity in the rivalry which dates back 100 years.

“It may be one game but it means an enormous amount.”

Reds skipper James Slipper said it was crucial that they bounced back from their last round 20-13 loss to the Highlanders, rather than focus on knocking over NSW which delivered Queensland two hidings last season.

“That’s three games done and dusted and we’ve only got the one win to show for it,” he said of their season start.

“It’s crucial.”

Slipper was encouraged by James O’Connor’s Reds debut at flyhalf after the ex-Wallaby chanced his arm with the ball in hand but was guilty of some questionable kick options.

However, Slipper lamented Queensland’s lack of enterprise in attack without the injured Quade Cooper (shoulder) and sidelined recruit Karmichael Hunt (cocaine charges).

“It’s unfortunate we didn’t back ourselves to push the pass,” he said.

“In some cases, we didn’t push the pass which led to a missed opportunity.

“I said we wanted to have a good start to the season and it hasn’t panned out that way.

“But we’re confident going into a Suncorp Stadium full of Reds supporters that we can come out with a win.”

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Man sentenced to death in Malaysia facing indefinite detention in Australia

Jul 07 2019

It’s a murder case that’s caused a political storm in Malaysia.


Now, it’s reached Australia.

Sirul Azhar Umar fled Malaysia last year arriving in Queenland on a tourist visa before his conviction.

He’s since been detained at Villawood detention centre in Sydney.

Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad from the Islamic Party of Malaysia says Umar’s mother wants the Australian government to intervene.

“She’s begging the Australian authority to give him full protection in Australia. It’s more safe in Australia than going to Malaysia.”

In 2006, Mongolian interpreter and model, Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot twice in jungle clearing near Kuala Lumpur, wrapped in military grade explosives — and blown up.

Former bodyguard to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Umar was convicted of her murder — alongside a former police official.

Last month, both were sentenced to hang.

Umar has always maintained his innocence… his lawyer, Dato Mahfuz says Ms Shaariibuu was murdered to keep her quiet over alleged government corruption.

“The murder took place without motive. And in court, he maintained he was acting on orders. But the issue is who was giving the order?”

Sirul Umar can’t be extradited to Malaysia because Australian law prevents the return of anyone facing the death penalty to their home country.

But he can’t be released in Australia, because he’s been convicted of murder.

His lawyer says Malaysia has not yet made a formal extradition request.

International Law Expert, Professor Ben Saul says legal avenues for Umar are limited.

“The sensible thing for the Malaysian government to do would be to simply give Australia a guarantee that Malaysia will not apply the death penalty.”

The Australian government doesn’t disclose if an extradition request has been received unless a person is arrested or brought before a court.

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