Michael Cheika as Wallabies coach: pros and cons

Rupert Guinness takes a look at the prospects of Michael Cheika coaching the Wallabies – from what’s good to what may be a worry.
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The positives

Boasts a winning record in the northern and southern hemispheres with wins in the 2009 Heineken Cup at Leinster and the 2014 Super Rugby competition with the Waratahs. He knows success and how teams in both hemispheres train and play.

Will attract player buy-in, and not just from his Waratahs roster, but from players in the Wallabies squad who come from Australia’s other Super Rugby sides and are excited to experience playing for a coach who turned underachievers into champions.

A straight-talking no-nonsense coach who provides clarity and direction on issues ranging from selection and game strategy to team culture. He doesn’t have to coach the Wallabies because he needs the money or fame. Importantly, he wants to.

Is taking over a team that despite its 29-28 loss on Saturday to the All Blacks has self-belief. They just need more of it to go to play out games. He is a master at bringing the best out of players when even they may doubt they have more.

Will encourage a high-tempo but physical game, such as the Wallabies played on Saturday. Interestingly, the run-on team had six Waratahs – Sekope Kepu, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau.

Not afraid to provide opportunity to lower-profile names if they are performing and he feels they have earned it. Similarly, unafraid to drop a player, no matter how big the name. He won’t kowtow to outside pressures to pick players either.

Empowers players with a sense of self-responsibility, on and off the field – to the point that they take it upon themselves to live up to what is expected of them in training, games and after – rather than browbeat them over and over with rules.

He may only have nine games (eight Tests and one Barbarians game) before the World Cup; but there is plenty of time to work on his Wallabies World Cup squad in and around those periods. He won’t waste time on unimportant issues.

Enjoys a laugh. Everyone knows or learns quickly that he is top dog, but when the work is done, treats all staff and players as equals. Can surprise, as he did with his motivational ploys before big games.

Wallabies appointment means Australian rugby is spared his taking the job at Argentina – which courted him – or any other country. Making sure he remains in Australia for three years eliminates fear of a sudden exit after World Cup.

The questions

How will he deal with ARU chief executive Bill Pulver, whose handling of recent affairs has already been questioned? He admits he is not a corporate type and showed that at the Waratahs, where he didn’t take to interference from the top office.

He will want it his way when dealing with the expectation that he will steer the Wallabies to success in a job now likened to a poisoned chalice; and dealing with ARU interference when he feels it should not be there. But after Ewen McKenzie, will the ARU allow that?

His explosive nature. Memories are fresh of him accidentally breaking the coach’s box window after a loss to the Brumbies in Canberra, and his $6000 fine and six-month suspended ban for abusing a cameraman in the Tahs loss to the Sharks in Durban.

Pressure for the Tahs to defend the Super Rugby title will heighten. Robbie Deans coached the Crusaders to the 2008 Super Rugby title before the Wallabies – who won their first five Tests under him – but his tenure was not rated a success.

The potential of a provincial divide created by those who fear a pro-Waratahs push from within the Wallabies – or even from the Sydney-based ARU – come team selections, despite Cheika’s reputation for being his own man.

Improving Wallabies set piece to take on the best scrums and line-outs in the World Cup. Some feel the Waratahs’ scrum was better than the Wallabies’. Too bad Kane Douglas is playing in Ireland and Jacques Potgieter is South African.

Who to select at No. 10? Bernard Foley, a direct runner, whom he helped develop at the Tahs to where he is? Or try for Reds star Quade Cooper, also an attacking pivot but who offers more on-field extravagance and is a better general play kicker.

Embracing Kurtley Beale’s return (if there is one) pending the outcome of his ARU code of conduct tribunal on Friday. Will the progress Beale made off field under Cheika’s watch prove to have been undone? Can he keep him in union? Is it too late?

Michael Hooper led the Waratahs after Dave Dennis was felled by injury, then the Wallabies when Stephen Moore went down in the first Test against France. Will he be better for the experience? Should Moore have it back? Or someone else?

He says he’s not a corporate type. So, how will he fit in to the Wallabies’ suit on game day? Pity the poor tailors who will have to fit him out in a hurry in Sydney before Friday’s departure for the Wallabies’ sprint tour. He doesn’t like to be told what to do.

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


Disability advocates blast post

AUSTRALIA POST take note: your refusal to install a drive-through street postal box for the elderly and disabled has drawn the ire of Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan.
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It has also drawn a huge response from ratepayers and readers, many of whom have signed a petition calling for a reversal of the service’s ban on such an installation in Armidale.

The matter was first raised about a year ago, when Armidale Dumaresq councillor Andrew Murat, for the sheer love of it, designed a prototype box allowing the elderly and disabled to post letters and parcels from their vehicles.

But instead of applauding such an idea, Australia Post has ruled out taking up the offer to install the special post box in Armidale.

It claims such an installation could be dangerous to posties clearing mailboxes and also to passing motorists.

It would be difficult to think of sillier reasons for such a refusal.

There is apparently a precedent in Queanbeyan where no such danger is posed to the public or posties.

The fact Australia Post, in its own accessibility action plan of two years ago, espouses a service providing accessible products and services makes its decision over the special postal box even more mysterious.

Maybe Australia Post is hoping the issue will simply fade over time; that people will forget Cr Murat’s prototype and it will be left to gather dust.

No way.

We will be watching and reporting as Ms Ryan takes up the cause of Australia Post’s disabled customers in Armidale.

At the very least we call for a trial of this drive-through street postal box.

What is there to lose?

No more procrastination. Every town in Australia must provide parking for the disabled; why not a postal box, too?

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


Central Wagga home broken into while family of five asleep

A family of five has been left shaken after their Central Wagga home was broken into while they slept at the weekend. File photoA FAMILY of five has been left shaken after their Central Wagga home was broken into while they slept at the weekend.
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The Brookong Avenue address was targeted in the early hours of Sunday morning, with two wallets and a handbag taken from the kitchen table when entry was gained via a laundry window.

Although physically unharmed, one of the occupants, Jacinta – whose surname has been withheld – says she was frightened by the ordeal.

Jacinta said her partner, two sons and daughterslept through the break-in, but believe it happened between 12.30am and 1.30am.

“We didn’t hear a thing,” Jacinta said.

“They were sort of in and out.

“We had a light on inside and everything, I’m sure they would have realised someone was home.”

Another bag – which contained cash – was left untouched in the lounge room, as was an expensive watch.

“It sort of looked like they were looking for money,” she said.

The family’s dog was also let out.

Jacinta fears those responsible returned on Monday night, with a mobile phone heard ringing near the house.

Investigations revealed neither Jacinta or her partner’s phone had rung that night.

Wagga police yesterday confirmed another house in the street was also broken into on Saturday night.

Crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Cloake said the incidents followed a number of offences in the Forest Hill area earlier this year, where brazen thieves snuck into the bedrooms and stole keys to vehicles and homes.

Inspector Cloake said four groups of offenders were “running around at the moment”, including one of three 13-year-olds in the Tolland area who were “breaking in day and night”.

Others are active on Pinaroo Drive and Naretha Street in Glenfield Park.

“All break and enters are of concern to us, especially when there’s the potential for offenders to be startled and for victims to be confronted,” Inspector Cloake said.

“If there’s any indication a person, or persons, are acting suspiciously … call us, we will respond.”

Inspector Cloake urged people seeking reprieve from the summer heat by opening a window to use extra caution.

“That presents as an opportunity for these people to do that (break in),” he said.

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


Great score secures win for Thomson and Magill

Troy Thomson (left), and Peter Magill (right) were congratulated by Life Members Paul Thomas and Wally Norman at the presentation of the Life Members trophy day. subA great field of 86 members contested Saturday’s Life Members sponsored two person Ambrose that saw some red hot scoring.
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Troy Thomson and Peter Magill took home the spoils of victory after recording a great 61.5 nett.

In accepting their trophies from Life Member Wally Norman, both Thomson and Magill congratulated all the club’s dedicated Life Members for their commitment and for helping make the club what it is today.

Runners-up and leading home the ladies section were Anita Medcalf and Leone Stevenson who recorded a solid 65.5 nett.

Wally Norman, in representing the surviving Life Members of Lionel Grady, Cliff Cowell, Trish Wyatt and Paul Thomas, stated it was a pleasure to sponsor the event.

He stated it was the first time in three years since he contested an 18 hole event and he enjoyed the day immensely.

Wally especially enjoyed playing in the same group as Blake Parker and said to watch him hit the ball was inspiring.

Ball winners were 62 Mitch McGlashan and Wayne Powter, 62.5 Blake and George Parker, 62.75 Greg Powter and Mal Westcott, 63 Paul Massurit and Paul Morgan, 63.5 John Davies and Jim Buckley, and Robert Hey and John Pearce, 63.75 Jack Cole and Wayne Tucker, and Ron Klein and Garry Phillips.

In nearest the pin awards, Vince Kelly started in great fashion when he claimed the Idlerite Tyrepower 1st hole at 210cm, narrowly missing out on a percentage of the jackpot.

Steve Edmonds fired a superb 7-iron to just 77cm to win the Griffins Leading Edge 4th hole. Ron Klein added to his ball collection when he fired a well hit 3-wood to within 309cm of the flag on the Dirt Doctor Landscaping 6th hole.

On the back nine, Steve Simpson fired a lovely 7-iron to within birdie range at 178cm on the Harvey Norman 11th hole.

On the final par three, the tough Westlime sponsored 15th hole, Ian Phipps at 351cm gained the accolades.

The day’s final two awards on the best-in-two-shots final holes of each nine saw Robert Hey birdie the Parkes Ready Mixed Concrete 9th hole after his second shot finished 73cm from the pin.

On the Parkes Heavy Mechanical Repairs 18th hole, Brian L Hogan hit the shot of his life to come within 12cm of an eagle as he collected the two golf balls on offer.

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BMX: Bike gift gives Alsop new edge

IN A SPIN: Kimberley Alsop with the new BMX bike this week. Picture: Jamieson MurphyBMX young gun Kimberley Alsop has a new set of wheels thanks to the generosity of local businesses and community groups.
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Southlakes Old Boys, Prestige Smash Repairs, South Lake Macquarie RSL sub-branch, Cheeky Bikes and Advance Traders all pulled together to get Kimberley a top-of-the-line bike.

The Silverwater resident was previously racing on a bike bought second-hand for her older sister five years ago.

Kimberley thanked everyone involved in the collaborative effort and said the support means a great deal.

“Hopefully the new bike will help me get closer to achieving my goals,” she said.

Among those goals is a strong performance in the Lake Macquarie team to contest the Lake Macquarie International Children’s Games in December.

Once Kimberley received the bike, she had a week to get used to it before racing in the NSW BMX State Titles in Elderslie.

Her mum Melissa said adapting to the new bike in under a week was a big effort and compared it to a V8 Supercar driver jumping in a new car for the first time.

The first time Kimberley took the new bike for a spin around the Argenton BMX track she was going so fast she came off over the handle bars.

Despite the tumble she pulled herself together and resumed practising.

At the state titles, Kimberley finished third in the cruisers and fifth in the 20-inch division.

“She’s always had the skill level to be competitive, now she’s got the competitive edge on the bike as well,” Ms Alsop said.

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