Dylan Walker’s school work gets a gold star from Souths

Master and pupil: Dylan Walker watched Adam Reynolds a lot at Matraville High. Photo: Anthony Johnson Master and pupil: Dylan Walker watched Adam Reynolds a lot at Matraville High. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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Master and pupil: Dylan Walker watched Adam Reynolds a lot at Matraville High. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Master and pupil: Dylan Walker watched Adam Reynolds a lot at Matraville High. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Souths supporters ought to take some comfort before Sunday’s match against Canberra, knowing their star halfback Adam Reynolds may as well have been an elective subject for fill-in five-eighth Dylan Walker during his time at Matraville High.

An injured ankle ruled him out of last Friday’s loss to the Wests Tigers, but the 19-year-old, who is expected to partner Reynolds in the Rabbitohs’ halves, said he could never have realised how crucial those afternoons he had spent studying Reynolds’ game would prove to be.

“We went to school together so I grew up watching him play and he’s been such a good player over the years,” Walker said. “He was a lot older than I was so I was just watching him go through the years.

“He was a little bit smaller when he was younger, he was only a little pup, about 68 kilos I think he was telling me. He’s probably beefed up in size since then.

“We [never played together at school but we] used to talk. The head coach there, he used to bring me up to train with the older boys to get among them. We’ve had a relationship since school but now we play together and train together, so, yeah, I believe [the onfield understanding] is getting stronger.”

Walker, who usually played in the centres, was pitchforked into the No.6 after another young gun – and good mate – Luke Keary suffered a pectoral injury during the Auckland Nines. He said his days in the old school yard made what should have been a daunting task – partnering one of the NRL’s best halfbacks – easier.

“Seeing him make it in that team when he was at school, a lot of the boys played grade, it inspired me to go along and play first grade as well,” he said. “[My time with Reynolds on the school footy oval] was a bit more of mucking around, I like to look at things and how they go and I just pick up on things I see.”

Walker believed that principle could be applied in first grade.

“It’s new for me, new for him as well, we just need to get a better understanding around each other,” he said of playing alongside Reynolds.

“The more I play, the more confidence I’m going to get out of it, playing alongside ‘Reno’ and all the other boys, the longer I train and play there the better it will be.”

Meanwhile, Souths fullback Greg Inglis said the Rabbitohs team that was ranked premiership contenders before the season started had been “woken” after last week’s shock loss to the Wests Tigers.

“Our boys here have really woken up,” Inglis said of the impact of their last defeat. “A wake-up call to be honest. Everyone has been back at training and hard work this week

“We just got shaken up by a well-drilled Tigers. They just played footy when we didn’t.”

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Colby Faingaa has no regrets leaving Brumbies and is keen to take on old mates

Colby Faingaa, right, pictured last year with former Brumbies teammate Robbie Coleman. Photo: Melissa Adams Colby Faingaa, right, pictured last year with former Brumbies teammate Robbie Coleman. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Colby Faingaa, right, pictured last year with former Brumbies teammate Robbie Coleman. Photo: Melissa Adams

Colby Faingaa, right, pictured last year with former Brumbies teammate Robbie Coleman. Photo: Melissa Adams

Melbourne Rebels recruit Colby Faingaa says he has nothing to prove to the Brumbies, despite knowing he would have been the man to replace David Pocock if he stayed in Canberra this season.

Queanbeyan junior Faingaa quit the Brumbies last year to chase more game time in Melbourne instead of being Pocock’s back-up and will get a chance to take bragging rights when the teams clash at AAMI Park on Friday night.

The former Australian under-20s captain and breakaway would have been thrust into the No.7 duties for the Brumbies this year after Pocock suffered a season-ending knee injury after three games.

But Faingaa says he’s settled at his new home and is banking on a fresh start to help him land the first blow against childhood friend Robbie Coleman.

“It is a bit different playing against the Brumbies for the first time ever, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Faingaa said.

“I’m very happy with my decision to move down here even with ‘Poey’ going down, it was a fresh start for me and something I had to do.

“I feel for Poey, no one could have picked him going down for the second year in a row. But I haven’t really thought about it.”

Faingaa has been recalled to the Rebels starting XV and will start at blindside against his old teammates.

The Rebels have made a handful of changes to try to stop the rampant Brumbies, who have won four in a row.

Faingaa is in the No.6 jersey, Nic Stirzaker replaces Luke Burgess, who is on the bench, while Max Lahiff and Laurie Weeks team up in the front row.

Faingaa, 22, grew up playing union and league with Coleman and is keen to take on the Brumbies winger.

Coleman is enjoying an outstanding start to the season and scored two tries against the Stormers last weekend.

“The last time I played against Rob was when he went to the South Tuggeranong Knights in our rugby league days, when we were 13 or 14, because we wanted to win a premiership,” Faingaa quipped.

“He won’t be happy about that. The stakes are a bit higher now … it’s going to be different. We went to St Edmund’s together, we played all school rugby together, Australian Schoolboys, a year of Australian under-20s, Brumbies academy and then Super Rugby as well.

“But hopefully he doesn’t get too much space and I have to get him one on one, that would be nightmare.”

Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher warned the team not to expect an easy hit-out against the Rebels, despite Melbourne winning just one of four games so far.

If the Brumbies beat the Rebels, they will equal their best regular-season winning streak of five games.

“The Rebels will be right up for this, their ears will be stinging after a couple of losses,” Fisher said.

“I think they’ll really be looking to reclaim their season at home. We need to be prepared and desperate. If we’re desperate enough, we’ll go close to getting the job done.”

Fisher said Pat McCabe’s superb form at inside-centre was the main reason for keeping Christian Lealiifano on the bench in his comeback from ankle surgery.

“His [McCabe’s] form has warranted selection,” Fisher said. “He’s done exceptionally well for us, and he’s starting.

“You’ve got a guy who is playing well and is in form, you stick with that.”

Brumbies breakaway Jordan Smiler wants to stake his claim for a regular starting spot. Smiler will earn just his third starting cap against the Rebels.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve got to have a crack,” the Kiwi said. “It’s the story of my career that I’ve always been looking for an opportunity.

“When you get a chance you have to put your hand up … I’m not looking to do anything special, just my job that I’m given.”

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Greens push laws to ban superior GP services for private health patients

Private health insurers would be banned from obtaining preferential GP treatment for their members under a bill introduced by the Greens on Thursday.
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Currently, health insurers are prohibited from paying for GP services but Health Minister Peter Dutton has signalled he is open to change.

In November, the nation’s largest insurer, Medibank Private began a trial with medical centre manager Independent Practitioner Network in which six of its Brisbane centres provide Medibank members with a range of enhanced GP services – including a guaranteed appointment within 24 hours and after-hours home visits – for no out-of-pocket costs.

Medibank is not paying IPN for the services directly but contributing to the “administrative and management costs” of the trial.

Medibank has said the arrangement complied with the Health Insurance Act and Mr Dutton has said he saw “no evidence that they are acting contrary to the legislation.”

But Greens health spokesman Richard di Natale said while the arrangement appeared “to be within the letter of the law,” it ran “clearly against the spirit of the Private Health Insurance Act”.

Senator di Natale said the “loophole” in the law should be closed because allowing private insurers to cover GP services would cause doctors’ fees and insurance premiums to skyrocket.

“This might be a good tactic for increasing market share and driving up the Medibank sale price but it will leave ordinary people worse off,” Senator di Natale said.

“Medicare has kept the cost of seeing a doctor down for 30 years because a single universal insurer has the power to set the price of services. If competing private health insurers start covering primary care it will take the lid off the price of a doctor’s visit and everyone will end up paying more,” Senator Di Natale said.

“While health insurers providing GP cover has superficial appeal, this change will mark the end of Medicare as we know it. Private health insurance would become a necessity to see a GP yet insurance premiums will go through the roof.”

His bill would specifically prohibit insurers from entering into arrangements for preferential access to GP services.

In a speech to a private health conference on Monday, Mr Dutton said a greater role for private insurers in primary care would strengthen rather than undermine Medicare. But he said the government would not support changes that would lead to higher premiums.

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TRAVEL: Blue Mountains, Siberia and Moroccan Trail

Blue Mountains Travel Darleys Restuarant
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Blue Mountains Travel Scenic World

Blue Mountains Travel Lilianfels

We ventured to the Blue Mountains for romance, and found it in abundance.

Our introduction began with an intimate courtyard lunch at the Everglades Historic House and Gardens in leafy Leura, just down from Katoomba off the Great Western Highway.

Built by textile baron Sir Henri Van de Velde in the 1930s as a holiday house, Everglades features five hectares of European-style gardens carved into the Australian bush. The moment you walk on to the conifer terrace and witness the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains national park framed before you, it is apparent why people book years in advance to have their weddings there.

And the residence, operated these days by the National Trust, stands as testament to a man who looked out the windows of his art deco residence and liked what he saw. It is the perfect picnic destination for romantic day-trippers.

Next stop Lilianfels Spa and Resort: a five-star piece of Gatsby-esque opulence perched 1000 metres above sea level on the rim of the Jamison Valley at Echo Point, a two-minute stroll from the iconic Three Sisters.

The original residence was built in 1889 as a summer house by Sir Frederick Darley, the sixth chief justice of NSW.

These days, it houses Lilianfels’s signature hatted restaurant, Darleys, a culinary destination drawing foodies from far and wide, where the accent is on innovative modern Australian cuisine made from seasonal ingredients and fresh local produce, served in warm surrounds against a backdrop of mountain grandeur.

The resort itself sports 85 wonderfully appointed guest rooms and suites, all with views over the mountains and/or gardens.

The design is reminiscent of a bygone era, balancing traditional early American stylings with sumptuous soft furnishing, elegant decor, classic wallpaper and occasional hunt scenes.

Resort features include two heated pools: one indoor, the other outside overlooking the valley and located conveniently next to the restaurant, from which refreshments can be ordered poolside.

For those looking to break a sweat, there is a tennis court and gymnasium. Or you can sink into plush Victorian armchairs in the lounge, and take high tea.

With room service available 24 hours a day, romantics can “survive” in regal comfort without leaving the building. Or indeed their room. But there is much to explore on your doorstep.

The iconic Three Sisters are just across the road and link up with a plethora of well-marked bushwalking trails, which wind around the valley edge providing unsurpassed views. Scenic World, home of the famous Scenic Railway, is a leisurely 20-minute walk away and a must see.

Alternatively, take the Scenic Skyway and swing across the Katoomba Falls and rainforest floor 270 metres below. Four major attractions greet you at Scenic World (five, if you count the view): the Scenic Skyway, the Scenic Railway, the Scenic Walkway and the Scenic Cablecar.

The Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest passenger rail ride, which was unveiled last year after a $30 million upgrade, is without doubt a modern marvel of engineering. It comes complete with adjustable seats for those who struggle with sharp angles, glass roofs to admire the scenery and non-stop theme music from Indiana Jones. The 310-metre journey down a 52-degree cliff through a tunnel to the rainforest floor remains as thrilling as ever. Once on the valley, below you can stroll along the Scenic Walkway, 2.4 kilometres of raised wheelchair-friendly boardwalks, punctuated with strategically placed resting areas, where you can take a break, hang with the lyrebirds, or enjoy a concert recital.

The choice is then yours to return to the clifftop via the Scenic Cableway (the steepest cable car ride in the Southern Hemisphere); ride the railway, which runs up and down every 10 minutes; or foot it to the base of the waterfall along one of the many bush tracks that lead off into the vast national park.

We took lunch in the modern eatery, which has been incorporated into a revolving-floor function centre designed to make the most of the spectacular valley views.

The Blue Mountains have long been a haven for arts-and-craft types and Leura village has great boutique shopping for those looking for something unique on the way back to the hotel.

It was a pleasure to hit the pool back at the resort before adjourning for dinner that night.

Darleys is one of two award-winning eating options at Lilianfels. The other is restaurant Echoes at nearby Echoes Boutique Hotel, similarly perched on the edge of the valley.

The only thing surpassing the menu that night was the open-air view from the terrace. Combined with a cloudless sky and a stunning sunset, it was absolutely incredible.

A massage next morning at the luxury day spa, which offers a full range of treatments, was the perfect way to conclude our stay.

The great divide that Wentworth, Lawson and Blaxland conquered all those years ago no longer exists for those seeking romance in the Blue Mountains.

In fact, I am sure those hardy pioneers would have appreciated some of the five-star experiences now available up there.

The writer was a guest of Destinations NSW.


Travel a quarter the circumference of the Earth and across seven time zones on Bentours’ Trans-Siberian Rail Journey. The 13-day package is priced from $4332 per person twin-share (including train tickets between Moscow, Irkutsk and Vladivostok), English-speaking guides for all excursions, hotel accommodation with private facilities, and plenty of time to visit the many incredible sites on the way. Phone 1800221712 or visit bentours南京夜网.au


UTracks is offering a free boat upgrade worth $430 on April departures for its eight-day Veneto Bike & Boat excursion, which enables guests to cycle and cruise their way from Venice through the wildlife-rich Po Delta region of Italy to the Renaissance town of Mantova. The upgrade provides travel on the Ave Maria, a premium boat which features cabins with large windows, private ensuites, airconditioning and free wifi. Prices are from $1790 per person twin-share. Phone 1300303368 or visit utracks南京夜网


Explore Worldwide’s small-group 14-day ‘‘Inside Vietnam’’ itinerary takes visitors from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, discovering spectacular coastal scenery, historic towns and evocative war sites and memorials. It begins with a walking tour through the bustling streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter and a traditional junk boat cruise through the breathtaking limestone landscapes of Halong Bay. Prices are from $1894 per person twin-share. Phone 1300439756 or visit exploreworldwide南京夜网.au


Barnbougle Spa, set among the fairways of the Barnbougle golf resort at Bridport in north-eastern Tasmania, is offering a two-day ‘‘Autumn Pause’’ retreat. The price is from $895 per person twin-share, including overnight accommodation in the resort’s Lost Farm Lodge, naturopath consultation, private Pilates class, signature facial, hot-stone massage, soul-to-sole body treatment, vanilla-bliss body scrub and a personalised take-home wellness plan. Phone (03) 63560094 or visit barnbougle南京夜网.au


Byroads Travel has added a 17-day Moroccan Trails itinerary to its portfolio, with the focus very much on the country’s scenic diversity. It includes seven days exploring the Atlas Mountains, with the trip described as designed for “weekend walkers” and the accommodation as “charming boutique hotels”. Prices are from $3395 per person twin-share ex Rabat, with a departure date of September 5. Phone (02) 9418 7803 or visit byroads南京夜网.au

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Hunter Health Kick Workout VIDEO: Week 12

HERE it is – the final week of the inaugural Hunter Health Kick – and at the end of the week hopefully everyone who has adopted new health habits since the start of the year will be feeling a sense of achievement.
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If you are psyching up for the Herald Hill2Harbour 10-kilometre challenge in eight days then take it a bit easier this week so you are fresh for the race.

It is important to keep ticking over, which means still doing some training, but you don’t want to exhaust yourself or be sore on race day. And you should put extra emphasis on what you are putting in your body this week to prepare it for your run or walk. That means good food and plenty of water.

For those who are not planning to do the Hill2Harbour, hopefully this week is not the end of your health campaign but just the beginning. You should be able to adapt most of the sessions from the Hunter Health Kick to keep your fitness on track.

Back to week 12 – do these sessions every other day and try to go for a light 20 to 30-minute walk or run on two other days. You might like to go for a light swim or walk the day before race day and schedule a good stretch as well.

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter the Hill2Harbour (hevents.net.au or newrun南京夜网.au).

Works: Arms (biceps) and shoulder muscles.

How: Stand with feet hip width apart, good posture and dumbbells in each hand resting in front of your thighs with palms facing out.

Bending at the elbows, bring your hands towards your shoulders.

Turn your hands 180 degrees so your palms face out and push the dumbbells above your head in an arc to complete the movement.

Return to start position in reverse order.

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoBicep Curl.

Strength & cardio

The session should take 30-45minutes including your warm-up and cool-down.

5-minute warm-up and stretch

Workout 20-30minutes:

10 squats + 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2times

10 push-ups + 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2 times

10-20 lunges + 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2 times

10 pull-ups + 1min rest/walk/run. Repeat 1-2 times

10 opposing arm and leg or 30-45sec hover (on knees or toes) with a 30-60sec rest. Repeat 1-2 times.

5-10minutes cool-down and stretch


5-minute warm-up and stretch

Workout: Aim for 20-25 minutes of flat intervals at a 1:1 work:recovery ratio. This might be walk fast:walk slow; jog:walk; harder run:easy run. Try working 90 seconds harder:90 seconds easy. As always, if it feels too easy, try working harder for longer and having less rest. If it feels too hard, have more rest/recovery time.

5-10minutes cool-down and stretch

Strength & cardio

The session should take 30-45minutes, including your warm-up and cool-down. Take rests when you need.

5-minute warm-up and stretch

Workout 20-30minutes:

10 squats

30sec skipping

10 push-ups

30sec step-ups

10 pull-ups/rows with triceps kickback

30 sec x 10-metre easy-hard walk/run shuttles

10 bicep-shoulder press

10 opposing arm and leg/30-45sec hover

Repeat 2-4 more times from the top

5-10minutes cool-down and stretch

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Trifiro brothers’ dream could have a twist

Brothers Jason and Glen Trifiro were almost inseparable throughout the course of their long and arduous road to professional football but on Saturday night the two will be forced to square off against another.
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From playing junior football in Winston Hills to moving interstate in hope of turning pro, the pair were side by side as they strived to achieve their joint goal of reaching the A-League. But less than two months after the younger Glen followed his brother into the top flight competition, the brothers will become rivals if they are selected to go head-to-head when Central Coast Mariners host Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Trifiro brothers were late arrivals on the A-League stage as neither made their professional debuts until the age of 24 when Jason joined the Wanderers in 2012, while Glen was a deadline-day arrival at the Mariners in February. For seven seasons, they toiled in the state leagues but now have a chance of sharing the field in the A-League, something that was once a dream.

“it will be a pretty special moment because it’s taken us a while for us both to get to this professional stage. It’s my brother’s first season and my second season. It took longer than others that we grew up playing with but it will be a very proud moment, and I’m sure my brother feels the same way too,” Jason said.

Since their junior years, the two always tried to play in the same team and alongside each other despite the age gap. Glen, a year younger than Jason, would often play up a grade until separated in their more formative years. The two reunited once eligible for all age competition and even selected clubs on the basis of their willingness to let the two play together in the midfield.

“We grew up playing all our junior football and then went our separate ways in a senior environment because everyone said we’re too similar,” Jason said. “It helps when you have your brother alongside you, the times we played each other were enjoyable but now we might be coming up against each other.”

Given their years of developing alongside one another, it’s no surprise that the two midfielders are almost identical in their style of play. They are industrious while technically strong and possess a good passing range but their determination to play together conflicted with their similar on-field persona in many coaches’ eyes.

“We both moved to Melbourne because we thought that here in NSW we weren’t given the opportunity because nobody wanted to play us together because we were too similar. We went to Victoria and found a coach that wanted to play us together, and we both went really well. Jase won the gold medal in the VPL and I got the gold medal in the Mirabella Cup,” Glen said.

The two run a football academy together in Sydney despite Glen moving up the coast. However, come Saturday, their partnership will be put aside. Both Wanderers coach Tony Popovic and his counterpart at the Mariners, Phil Moss, are yet to name their squads so the Trifiro family will wait in hope until Saturday, but Jason already has an idea of how he can gain an advantage over his younger brother.

“If he misses a pass or something I can get in his ear a little bit, it might tick him off but he’s pretty calm so he might just laugh it off,” Jason said. “We’ll try a few little things but we know each other inside-out.”

If the two are selected to play each other for the first time in the A-League, it will be a just reward for years of labour.

“If we’re both selected and we’re both part of the match, I look forward to it. I haven’t played against my brother in professional football before, and to do it in the A-League in front of my family will be very special, not just for us but everyone involved in us when we were growing up.”

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India wants looting scandal statues including Dancing Shiva returned in 30 days

The Dancing Shiva statue in the National Gallery of Australia earlier this month. Photo: Jay CronanTwo statues allegedly looted from temples in India and later bought by Australian galleries are likely to be repatriated within 30 days.
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The Indian government formally requested the return of a 900-year-old Dancing Shiva statue from the National Gallery of Australia and a stone sculpture of the god Ardhanarishvara from the Art Gallery of NSW last week.

The Attorney-General’s Department issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the Art Gallery of NSW had “voluntarily removed” its sculpture from public display – one day after it was announced the National Gallery would remove its allegedly looted statue from exhibition.

Both artefacts were bought from antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor, who is on trial in India for looting and wanted in the United States for allegedly masterminding a large-scale antiquities smuggling operation.

A first secretary of India’s High Commission, Tarun Kumar, said it was “our expectation” both statues would be returned to India. “We expect a decision in that regard will be taken within the next month,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s Department said on Wednesday that there was no time limit in the legislation for responding to the Indian government’s request.

The Canberra-based National Gallery paid $US5 million for the Dancing Shiva statue in February 2008. The statue was one of 22 items it bought from Mr Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery for a total of $11 million between 2002 and 2011.

The Art Gallery of NSW bought six items from Mr Kapoor, including the Ardhanarishvara sculpture for $300,000 in 2004, as well as others that lack an ownership history.

A spokeswoman said the gallery would co-operate fully with the government to resolve issues concerning the provenance of its collection.

The Indian government is not obliged to compensate the two galleries for the return of the two statues.

Mr Kumar said further requests for the return of antiquities would depend on the investigating agency, the Tamil Nadu police.

Duncan Chappell, a Sydney University criminologist who specialises in art crime, suggested the galleries should voluntarily return any objects in their collections that are found to be stolen.

“I think the more rapidly this occurs the better,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to wait for formal requests to be made if there is evidence these are objects of very dubious if not false provenance.”

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History on Manly’s side in grand final rematch

Roosters players celebrate during last year’s grand final win over Manly. Photo: Brendan Esposito Roosters players celebrate during last year’s grand final win over Manly. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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Roosters players celebrate during last year’s grand final win over Manly. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Roosters players celebrate during last year’s grand final win over Manly. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Year            Reigning Premiers                 GF rematch result

2013              Melbourne                         Won 22-18 v Bulldogs

2012                 Manly                              Won 26-20 v Warriors

2011               Dragons                            Won 28-6 v Roosters

2010              Melbourne                        Lost 24-10 v Parramatta

2009                Manly                              Lost 22-8 v Melbourne

2008              Melbourne                              Won 26-4 v Manly

2007               Brisbane                           Lost 28-18 v Melbourne

2006               Tigers                               Lost 32-12 v Cowboys

2005              Bulldogs                             Lost 29-16 v Roosters

2004              Penrith                               Won 22-6 v Roosters

2003              Roosters                            Lost 26-24 v Warriors

2002              Newcastle                          Won 28-14 v Parramatta

2001              Brisbane                             Lost 20-18 v Roosters

2000             Melbourne                           Won 70-10 v Dragons

1999              Broncos                              Lost 20-16 v Bulldogs

If the history of grand final rematches is anything to go by, Manly should produce another backs-to-the wall type performance and knock over the reigning champions on Friday.

Since the introduction of the NRL in 1998, most of the reigning premiers have lost against the runners-up in the grand final rematch the following year.

Eight of the past 15 teams that have fallen at the final hurdle have managed to exact revenge on the champions in their first meeting the following year.

However, that trend is beginning to turn –Melbourne, Manly and St George Illawarra, the last three premiers, have all won their grand final replays the following year.

The Roosters can make it four on the trot, but as an understrength Manly showed against South Sydney in Gosford a fortnight ago, they won’t be rolling over.

Coach Geoff Toovey wouldn’t delve into last year’s grand final heartache, adamant this was a different football team at his disposal.

“A third of our side wasn’t there last year so there’s no use bringing up stuff from the past,” Toovey said on the eve of the clash at Allianz Stadium.

“As I said, we’re pretty confident. We seem to rise against the challenges this year … Souths a couple of weeks ago. We’re hoping we can get that same performance this week.”

The two teams met on four occasions last year, with the Roosters walking away victorious in all the physical and gruelling confrontations.

During the regular season, Trent Robinson’s men claimed hard-fought 16-4 and 18-12 wins, before an epic 4-0 struggle in the first week of the semi-finals.

The Roosters then made it a perfect four from four with a 26-18 win in the decider at ANZ Stadium.Skipper Anthony Minichiello saidhe expected another closely contested game as Manly looked to atone for their grand final disappointment.

“We’ve had some great games against them and it’s always a tough, physical battle,” Minichiello said.

“It’s going to be wet and that brings the physicality out in the game and that is a separate challenge in itself.

“We had some close tussles against them last season, some real low-scoring games. If our defence is on, then we believe we can hold them out again.”

There is a question mark over the fitness of Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran, who missed the previousweek’s last-ditch victory against Parramatta with a calf injury.

While Foran is unlikely to return against the Roosters despite being named, Toovey believes the Sea Eagles can cover his absence.

“It’s not ideal,” Toovey said.

“You’d like to have the team as stable as possible. but Jamie Lyon can play anywhere. He’s a great player and he did a good job last week.

“The Roosters have quality players right across the board and have a very balanced side. One of the best games of last year was the 4-0 victory to them [in the semi-finals] which could have gone either way. I think a close game is what we can expect this Friday as well, and hopefully we’ll get up this time.”

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Artie Beetson juggernaut rolls on

Beetson in action for Eastern Suburbs in 1976. Photo: Fairfax Archive
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Beetson in action for Eastern Suburbs in 1976. Photo: Fairfax Archive

Beetson in action for Eastern Suburbs in 1976. Photo: Fairfax Archive

Ultimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 

In life, Artie Beetson was a giant of the game. In death, he has become, in the words of brother Barry, a ”juggernaut”.

The Queensland league great, who died in 2011 aged 66, will have his No.11 jersey ”retired” at the first State of Origin on May 28, a match that will mark 100 interstate contests since the first clash at Lang Park in 1980.

Beetson captained the Maroons to victory that night, spawning the modern Origin concept. He could never have known that 34 years later, the rivalry would engulf the game and cast its shadow over the entire rugby league season.

As a mark of respect, no Queenslander will wear No.11 as the Maroons begin their quest for a staggering ninth consecutive series victory.

There was much fuss made as NRL boss Dave Smith and a host or Origin greats from both sides of the border launched the official countdown at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.

The funny thing was, Barry said, that he doubted his brother would have even shown up if was still alive.

“A lot of people have asked me what he’d think, but I don’t actually know whether he would have come today. He was very low key. He didn’t have an ounce of vanity about him. But he had that great aura,” Beetson said.

The Beetson family has been humbled by the tributes to the ”Godfather of Origin” since his death. Beetson was a friend and mentor to Maroons coach Mal Meninga, while players such as Justin Hodges looked upon him as a father figure on and off the field.

Barry said his brother’s legacy had grown momentum in the past two years, and the gesture of ”retiring” his No.11 jersey was another touching moment for the family and Beetson Foundation.

“It’s a juggernaut, you could say. It’s been unstoppable since his death. He’s done more for league, I think, since his death. He did a lot when he was alive but it’s just the way things have gone,” he said.

“On behalf of the Beetson family, we’d like to thank the QRL and NRL for this honour. It’s just another accolade for him. It shows respect and recognition of the great man that he was.”

NRL chief executive Dave Smith said it was a fitting tribute for Beetson, whose legacy should live on through younger fans of the game.

“Arthur is the father of Origin and deserves to be recognised for his contribution to the concept,” he said. “When children ask why there is no No.11 for Queensland this year, their mums and dads will explain that the jersey belongs to Arthur Beetson.”

Meninga featured in several memorable Origin moments but rates playing in that first game, a 20-10 Maroons victory, as the standout.

“I can’t remember too much about the game, to be honest,” Meninga said. “But I just wanted to play well for Arthur.”

It all adds more fuel to the Queensland fire. For the Blues, who must win at least one game in Brisbane to break their drought, the hill only seems to get steeper.

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

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Dragons enjoying new-found belief

Digging in: Dragons forward Jack De Belin against Wests Tigers in round one. Photo: Christopher Chan
Nanjing Night Net

Digging in: Dragons forward Jack De Belin against Wests Tigers in round one. Photo: Christopher Chan

Digging in: Dragons forward Jack De Belin against Wests Tigers in round one. Photo: Christopher Chan

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Belief is the buzz word within the St George Illawarra camp. The Dragons, flying high with three consecutive wins, have shocked most league pundits following their Charity Shield disaster.

Just moments after their heavy pre-season loss to the Rabbitohs, coach Steve Price ripped in with a few home truths to his playing group.

“Pricey told us to go and have a good hard think about our performance and to come to training ready to face the music,” prop Jack De Belin said. “He wasn’t beating around the bush. If you didn’t do your job he’d let you know.”

From the outside looking in, the penny seemed to have dropped for the Dragons sometime after that final siren at the Charity Shield and the kick-off to round one against the Tigers. But insiders within the Dragons camp knew they were building strongly well before that.

Gone were the old heads in Nathan Fien, Matt Cooper and Michael Weyman who had served the club with distinction, highlighted by the 2010 premiership. They were replaced with youthfulness and a pre-season where combinations were able to gel and places for spots were competitive with the bulk of the squad featuring in every training session.

“There weren’t people who were injured and everyone was ripping in,” De Belin said. “We were training hard and everyone was on the paddock. It wasn’t easy.”

The coach is now angling for a fourth consecutive win for the first time in his career against Brisbane on Friday night.

Price was under pressure heading into this season. The attention grew following the Charity Shield.

“Everyone talks about that game,” Price said. “It’s a trial and you don’t get two points for a trial. I wasn’t concerned one bit. We were in a high phase of training. People were tired leading into the game. I had the upmost confidence in the boys being able to rebound.

“It’s been great to have virtually our full squad in the pre-season who were nearly able to do every session. We structured our pre-season a lot different to what we have done in previous years. We changed how we go about our offence and different skill sets used on different days. We did a hell of a lot more collision-based training.”

The Wayne Bennett era is well and truly behind the Dragons now with only four players; Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale, Ben Creagh and Trent Merrin having played in the 2010 premiership win. While De Belin made his NRL debut under Bennett, he didn’t find his feet in the top grade until Price took over.

Having missed the round-two clash with injury, De Belin is yet to win three consecutive NRL games in a season despite nudging the 50-match mark. He said his NRL initiation had been “tough”.

“It’s a great feel in the place at the moment,” De Belin said. “There is a real calmness in the joint that hasn’t been there in previous years. It’s refreshing.

“When you’re so young you don’t see the bigger picture and you’re just focused on the individual performances. As you get older it’s more than just yourself and the team. It was really hard there for a while.”

While they sit at the top of the ladder, Price’s future is far from secured. He is off-contract at the end of this year, with the club having an option in their favour to extend his time at the helm.

“It’s all about the team,” Price said. “I was focused on nailing the pre-season and creating an environment where everyone wanted to have a crack and enjoy themselves. That’s the standard as a coach that I set myself.

“I want players to believe in themselves and back themselves.  There is a good feel around the place. There is a good confidence and good belief amongst the playing group. The boys have been playing some good footy.”

De Belin said Price had maintained calmness despite the constant pressure.

“He knows how to coach,” De Belin said. “At times it was definitely tough with the media scrutiny. He was one of the top candidates to lose his job, but it’s a credit to him because he has stuck solid and never backed down.

“Pricey would never show or let us know that he was under the hammer. He is very good like that. He keeps it together very well.”

The Dragons will face the Broncos without Josh Dugan at WIN Stadium after Price confirmed the fullback was close to returning from a knee injury but is at least another week away.

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

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