TOPICS: No trophy champs

DREAM: Gerry Edser with a picture of his state rep team back in 1964. Picture: Dean OslandIF you want to bottle Novocastrian pride, and paranoia, look no further than the 1964 Rugby League State Cup final.
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Newcastle won, but never got the trophy. This, after they’d beaten Souths, Norths, St George and Parramatta. It was textbook Sydney petulance.

‘‘That was very petty, as far as we were concerned,’’ says Gerry Edser, the team’s then-18-year-old five-eighth.

Furious calls from Newcastle officials led to a secondary trophy heading up from Sydney. It was a laughable anticlimax to a 14-7 final win over the Eels before 20,000 fans at the No.1 Sportsground.

Everyone had expected Newcastle’s cup dream to halt in the semi-final against St George, who’d won eight straight premierships.

But under captain-coach Dave Brown, Newcastle stunned the champions 5-3.

Edser says Brown studied the Dragons’ sweeping plays, or ‘‘moves’’, and adapted them for his own troops.

The victory was a jolt of confidence for the city, and planted seeds for a Newcastle team to join the NSW Rugby League 24 years later.

‘‘That taught us we could survive in the Sydney comp, and we wanted to be in it,’’ says Edser.

‘‘Sydney had found out we weren’t their poor cousins.’’

The giant clubs swooped to sign players from the Newcastle team, including Edser, who went to Parramatta.

Those few weeks in his teens have been hard to top.

‘‘It was a dream. I often think about it. We have reunions of those blokes, and we talk about it. Everyone adds a few tries.’’

Newcastle got some penance for the cup snub, eventually.

The 1997 ARL trophy, won by the Knights, was replaced the next year when the NRL formed.

So Newcastle got to keep that one. It’s displayed in the Knights’ Rugby League office at Tudor Street.

Bennett opens to kids

NOTE to self: if one wishes to grill Wayne Bennett, one should preferably be a school-aged child.

The super coach made a rare and surprisingly candid public appearance yesterday at Wallsend South Public School, where KO-FM’s David and Tanya were broadcasting.

He took questions from kids, and admitted that his public and private selves are very different.

‘‘I like the private one more than I like the public one,’’ he said.

As well as being far more adorable than your average press scrum, the kids and their questions were vetted by the principal.

If only there was such a filter for pesky journalists.

Online myth busted

HERE’s a myth we can bust: that entering your PIN backwards summons the police.

It’s been circulating online.

‘‘If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your PIN in reverse,’’ goes the myth.

‘‘For example, if your PIN number is 1234, then you would put in 4321. The ATM recognises that your PIN is backwards [and]… will still give you the money you requested but unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately dispatched to the location.’’

While undeniably cool, this one’s false. Thanks to the Brisbane Water Police Facebook page for the info.

Personal messages

WE asked what you miss, and for one reader it’s handwritten letters and postcards from friends and family in far-off lands.

‘‘So much more personal, memorable and cherished than a status update or photo posted on Facebook.’’

DREAM: Gerry Edser playing in the 1964 final.

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Martyn slams batsmen

Damien Martyn has accused Australia of lacking fight in its second Test capitulation in India, and queries the methodology behind the selection of a ”bits and pieces” touring party.
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The former Test batsmen was the player of the series in Australia’s historic 2-1 win in India in 2004, scoring two centuries and topping the scoring tally with 444 runs at an average of 55.

Martyn said Australia’s batsmen had failed to heed the lessons about playing in the subcontinent.

”I was more disappointed probably by our second innings – the wicket was hard to bat on, yes, it’s doing a bit more and turning more,” said Martyn, speaking on an online panel, The Cricket Club.

”But to be bowled out in a session – it’s just disappointing in the sense that, where was the fight? I’m not saying we need to make 400 or whatever, but just in our shot selection and running between wickets.

“Batting in India, or batting on any wicket, the harder the wicket is, the longer you bat it becomes easier because you’re used to the conditions, you’re used to the ball coming on.”

Martyn also took aim at the make-up of the squad in India. He said the shortage of depth in Sheffield Shield cricket was a major problem but believes selectors are not picking the best side possible.

“What is Steve Smith there for anyway?” he said. “We have a squad here of players who do bits and pieces. Nothing personal against them. Yes, they might be great one-day players and Twenty20 players, but in that line-up the (Glenn) Maxwells and all these guys, what’s their main thing?

“That’s what I want to know. Is Maxwell going to be our main off-spinner in England? Because if he’s not, then don’t worry about him, get (Nathan) Lyon back in.”

The chances of that happening in Mohali are not high. Australia are likely to revert back to a line-up of three fast bowlers in India’s north on a wicket tipped to favour their seamers more than Chennai and Hyderabad.

Australia head coach Mickey Arthur said Maxwell had been too expensive in the second Test despite taking four wickets. But asked whether Lyon was in contention to be recalled by next week, Arthur was non-committal.

“To answer that truthfully, I’m not sure,” he said. “We will have to have a look and see where he is over the next couple of days. I’m not sure on that, time will tell I guess.

“I think Nathan still has a massive future and he probably he is up there as our best spinner at the moment, but you fluctuate in and out of form and he’s learning the game at international level, which is a really tough gig for him.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Young players hit hardest by injury

The AFL’s youngest footballers are missing almost 50 per cent more games due to injury than their counterparts from the 1990s.
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While agreeing the raw data looks alarming – and that it warrants deeper investigation – the league’s medical experts are defending the findings from the 21st annual injury report, which showed a general drop in overall injury incidence, prevalence and recurrence last season.

Co-authors of the report, Professor John Orchard and boss of the AFL medical officers association Dr Hugh Seward, said that players under the age of 21 were now missing almost as many matches in a season as the game’s veterans (26 year-olds and older) because the younger players’ injuries were being managed better. But both also suspect that the demands of modern football are taking a toll.

The report suggests that the game’s increased intensity is exposing the AFL’s youngest talent to injury – in particular shoulder, hip, groin and thigh complaints.

”I think that there are two factors,” Seward said. ”One is the change in medical management, but also there is a higher exposure to injuries because the intensity of training and playing is so different to what it was.

”But it’s not a 50 per cent increase in injury rate, it’s an increase in the time out – the prevalence.”

The data shows that in the past seven years players under 21 have missed almost the same amount of games as those over 26. Between 1992-98, in contrast, players over the age of 26 spent more than 50 per cent more time out of football with injury than the youngest players in the game.

In the last seven years, the younger players have also missed more time with a raft of complaints – leading in the categories of shoulder, spine, groin, quadriceps, thigh, hip, leg and foot stress fracture injuries – than any other age group.

The 2012 injury report also revealed a record increase in the incidence of calf strains – a result that Orchard said might be a mere ”blip”, or could be something more sinister. ”It is perhaps somehow related to the game trends,” he said.

”It may be related to more movement at low speed and less movement at high speed.”

The incidence of reported concussions in 2012 was down by 0.1 per cent on the 2011 figure, but was still double the average for the past 10 years. As clubs become more conservative in their management of the condition Seward forecast that the number could rise again.

”It’s not because there are more head injuries. In fact, we know from the lower instance of facial fractures that there are less head injuries,” he said.

Seward said clubs were making ”better prognostic decisions” and cited the use of ”imaging”, such as MRI scanning, as a critical development for the game. ”To go from recurrence rates of nearly a quarter down to less than 10 per cent is surely one of the most remarkable things that we can identify,” he said.

Though it has the data on how individual clubs perform with injuries, the AFL does not release it, believing it could compromise transparency. ”Some clubs might even fudge their data if they didn’t want to be the worst,” Orchard said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Melbourne faces 10-day heatwave

Day or night, it’s going to be warm for a while yet.Melbourne is likely to swelter through as many as 10 consecutive days with temperatures of at least 30 degrees as a slow-moving high pressure system directs warm winds over the state.
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If the heatwave persists as forecast, the run of hot days would smash the previous record hot spell for any month by two days.

There will also be little relief for the city at night, with minimum temperatures expected to remain above 20 degrees for every day except Saturday.

“That’s a feature of how warm these air masses have been,” said Karl Braganza, head of climate monitoring at the weather bureau. The average long-term minimum for March is 14.1 degrees.

Temperatures are also likely to climb towards the end of the heatwave, with 36 or 37 degrees predicted for each of the first three days of next week before the arrival of cooler conditions.

The forecast north-easterly winds mean extreme heat will probably be avoided but the added moisture will also have its downside. “The humidity will add to the discomfort,” said Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist at Weatherzone.

Fourth heatwave

It’s the fourth time since November that a so-called blocking high-pressure system has set in over the Tasman Sea, steering hot continental winds over south-eastern Australia.

“The monsoon has been patchy – and certainly we are in rainfall deficiencies over much of the inland region – so (the system has been) dragging down air that is quite warm for this time of year,” Dr Braganza said.

“This extends the record warmth from last September…(with) little in the way of cold outbreaks that break up the patterns,” Dr Braganza said.

Australia’s December-February period was the hottest since records were standardised in 1910, with the average daytime maximum of 35.7 degrees beating the previous high set in 1982/83 by 0.2 degrees, the bureau said last week.

The Climate Commission earlier this week released a report, The Angry Summer, arguing that “all weather, including extreme events, is influenced by climate change.”

Cyclone Sandra

Friday may come closest to breaking the chain of 30-plus degree days, with sea breezes potentially limiting the daily maximum to the high 20s, Weatherzone’s Dr Dutschke said.

Adelaide may endure a longer heatwave than Melbourne, with the city heading towards 12 or 13 days of 30-plus degrees, he said. The South Australian capital, though, is used to March heat,  with 15 consecutive days of 35 degrees or more in 2008.

South-eastern Australia may be spared worse heat by tropical cyclone Sandra, now forming off Queensland.

“It’s keeping the extreme heat away for a large part of the hotspell but it is helping with (extending) its duration,” Dr Dutschke said.

Melbourne’s longest stint of 30-degree days in March stands at seven. The city has had four stretches of eight days of such heat since 1890, with the most recent endured in February 1961.

Extended dry conditions have accompanied the scorching conditions across much of southern Australia. The bureau is expected to update its rainfall deficiencies report on Thursday, showing dry regions are expanding.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Little man has high hopes of making it

There was much mirth at Geelong last week when a consignment of new guernseys was opened to reveal outfits so shrunken that Jimmy Bartel ran out against Adelaide last Saturday having barely squeezed into the No.17 jumper that was meant for Hamish McIntosh.
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For Nathan Deans’ sake, hopefully this was a sign from the footy gods that small is back in vogue.

Deans reports his height as just under 167 centimetres, adding ”unfortunately”. At 18, he fears his growing days are done.

His lack of height in a game that has long been smitten with tall timber has made him an unusual eye-catcher in recent weeks, as he pushes for a berth in the final squad that will defend Geelong’s VFL premiership. He’ll find out next week if he makes the 21, and is well-versed in being told he’s not built for the game.

”People lean towards it without putting it straight out there,” Deans says of assessments that focus more on his physique than his football. ”They just say, ‘You probably haven’t got the build for the game at the moment’.”

Matthew Knights had a famous on-field run-in with the shortest player to make an AFL list in the recent times, 163-centimetre Western Bulldog Tony Liberatore, but Geelong’s VFL coach bears no sizeist scars. Deans has impressed him.

”As a coach you take them on face value – you respect everyone’s talents regardless of size, [height] is a little bit irrelevant from a coaching perspective,” Knights says. ”It hasn’t really fazed me too much, and Nathan doesn’t seem fazed by it himself.”

Knights cites Deans’ appetite for the contest as the standout feature of his game, his work at stoppages, his fierce tackling. Deans describes himself as an in-and-under type with a strong defensive game.

At football’s elite levels, his ilk was once as common as today’s 200centimetre-plus giants. The evolution has been stark; none of the 10 shortest players in VFL/AFL history have played since the shortest of them all, 155-centimetre Jim ”Nipper” Bradford, played the last of his 16 games for Collingwood and North Melbourne in 1949.

None of which concerns Deans, who since grade 2 has been known as ”Speedy”, and recently picked up ”Nugget” as a nod to the effect of some serious gym work on his 75-kilogram frame. ”I haven’t really thought about it too much – when I was younger you got the hint [that size could hold him back], but now I just enjoy my footy.”

He won Grovedale’s best and fairest last season in the strong local league, and admits that the further his football has taken him the more pointed have been the reminders that modern football isn’t supposed to accommodate men who stand five-foot-five.

”Especially in senior footy you cop it, everybody sledging you, calling you short-arse, saying ‘You won’t be able to kick that far with legs that short’ when you’re having a shot at goal.” Deans lets it wash over him, content to show them he can roost a ball further than they think.

He impressed against Essendon’s VFL side in a practice game last weekend, and thinks it’s a bonus that he’s come this far. Knights won’t be looking him up and down in making the decision. ”It’s a hard list to make, but he’s certainly in there slugging.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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LEAGUE: Rabbitohs  to break drought

WHEN South Sydney are going well, rugby league is going well, or so the saying goes. If that is true, the NRL season should be a belter. Herald rugby league reporter BRETT KEEBLE reckons 2013 is the Year of the Bunnies.
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1. RABBITOHS

Souths tick all the boxes. They have a massive, mobile pack; size and speed in their backline; proven performers Adam Reynolds, Issac Luke and Greg Inglis in the key ball-handling positions of halfback, hooker and fullback; and in Michael Maguire a coach capable of making all the right calls. The Rabbitohs would have gained invaluable experience by reaching the top four last year and getting within one game of the grand final. This year they can go all the way.

2. COWBOYS

The Cows were rolling at the right end of last season and were a couple of dusty calls away from playing in a grand final qualifier against the Storm in Melbourne. Playing behind Australian props Matt Scott and James Tamou, and surrounded by a solid supporting cast, Johnathan Thurston will never get a better chance to win a premiership as ‘‘the man’’. They have made only minor changes to their roster and have all the ingredients to be there on the last night.

3. STORM

You can’t kill the Storm with a stick. Every year, you wonder what might happen if Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk or Billy Slater suffered a serious injury, and every year, they don’t. And every year, coach Craig Bellamy gets the best out of his next crop of discards and desperates and they end up winning the comp or going close. History suggests they won’t win again, because it has been 20 years since premiers have repeated, but they will be in the mix.

4. SHARKS

This was going to say the Sharks are title contenders, having added Penrith’s Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon and Tigers Chris Heighington and Beau Ryan to a seasoned squad. That was until late yesterday when news services went into meltdown amid speculation Sharks players could be stood down after being interviewed by ASADA. Betting has been suspended on the Sharks-Titans game, and Cronulla directors met last night to discuss developments. Hold all tickets.

5. BULLDOGS

The old ‘‘gotta lose one before you win one’’ theory has been a myth in recent years. The past three grand final runners-up have finished 14th (Warriors 2012), 11th (Roosters 2011) and 12th (Eels 2010) the following year. Can’t imagine Canterbury will tumble that far, but losing Dally M Medallist Ben Barba indefinitely wasn’t a great start. Coach Des Hasler earned his siege mentality masters degree at Manly and will keep the Dogs snapping at the heels of the top four.

6. KNIGHTS

The air was heavy with expectation among Knights players and fans this time last year, but Wayne Bennett didn’t share their enthusiasm. What’s different now? The coach is confident his players finally understand what he expects of them, and he likes what he has seen at training and trials. The presence of Jeremy Smith, Beau Scott and David Fa’alogo alongside Willie Mason and Kade Snowden should ensure the Knights match muscle and mongrel with most.

7. ROOSTERS

Trent Robinson has a star-studded side at his disposal in his first year as an NRL head coach. He worked wonders at Catalans after learning the trade under Brian Smith at the Roosters and Knights. If he can handle the hype surrounding Sonny Bill Williams, harness the talents of Michael Jennings, and establish a combination between NSW half Mitchell Pearce and Warriors recruit James Maloney, the Roosters could give the premiership an almighty shake.

8. SEA EAGLES

At full strength, Manly are title contenders, but they may not have the depth to plug the holes when their stars are injured or on representative duty. Glenn Stewart will miss the first half of the season and they had to shed some handy back-up players to squeeze Brett Stewart into the cap. Tony ‘‘T-Rex’’ Williams has gone to the Dogs, but they have added Richie Fa’aoso (Storm), Justin Horo (Eels) and Tom Symonds (Roosters). Are they still durable enough to go the distance?

9. BRONCOS

The Broncos have welcomed back prodigal sons Scott Prince and David Stagg from the Titans and Bulldogs respectively, hoping their experience assists the development of some of their exciting young stars. After looking the goods for the first two-thirds of last season, the Broncos lost their way to win just two of their last 10, bowing out in week one of the finals. They now look like a good side but not a great side and can no longer be considered automatic finalists.

10. RAIDERS

The Green Machine are harder to pick than a broken nose. Coach David Furner was apparently headed for the unemployment office midway through last year when they kept losing at home, but they clicked to win their last five games then extended that streak into week two of the finals. The Raiders have made minimal changes and will be desperately hoping playmaker Terry Campese and fullback Josh Dugan enjoy injury-free years. Should be there or thereabouts.

11. DRAGONS

The Dragons appear to be headed for a transition year after losing heart and soul Ben Hornby and Dean Young to retirement at the end of 2012. They will need mercurial playmaker Jamie Soward to be close to his best every week, and new captain Ben Creagh and fellow forwards Michael Weyman, Dan Hunt and Trent Merrin to lead from the front, if they are to challenge for the eight. Coach Steve Price will feel the heat from fans if he can’t keep the Dragons firing.

12. TIGERS

The Tigers were the biggest under-achievers of 2012. Talented enough to challenge for the title, they missed the finals and long-serving coach Tim Sheens lost his job. Mick Potter has been appointed to oversee a redevelopment program around stars Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah. But it will take more than the arrival of Braith Anasta from the Roosters and Eddy Pettybourne (Rabbitohs) to replace pack leaders Gareth Ellis (Hull) and Chris Heighington (Sharks).

13. WARRIORS

Finished last season on an eight-game losing streak, including four straight defeats on home soil. New coach Matt Elliott appears to have his hands full trying to re-establish the 2011 grand finalists as a premiership force. They have lost playmaker James Maloney to the Roosters and forwards Lewis Brown to the Panthers and Micheal Luck to retirement. When the Warriors are on, they are skilful enough to dismantle any side. But on their bad days, they can be awful.

14. EELS

Ricky Stuart chucked in his NSW Origin gig to take on rebuilding the 2012 wooden-spooners. Long-serving Eels Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt retired at the end of last season, and Manly’s Darcy Lussick is the only recruit of any note, so Stuart will need his nucleus of Jarryd Hayne, Chris Sandow, Reni Maitua and Tim Mannah to provide leadership on a weekly basis. The Eels should improve, but not enough to feature in the finals.

15. PANTHERS

Coach Ivan Cleary and GM Phil Gould are building for the future, but it looks like that plan is based around some short-term pain for any potential long-term gain. Well-paid elite players Luke Lewis (Sharks), Michael Gordon (Sharks) and Michael Jennings (Roosters) have moved on and have been replaced by less expensive journeymen and fringe first-graders chasing opportunities. It could take more than a year to establish combinations and chemistry.

16. TITANS

Have lost foundation captain and spiritual leader Scott Prince to arch rivals Brisbane, and will rely on young halves Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly and possibly Beau Henry to lead them around. Sezer (18), Kelly (14) and Henry (10) have played just 42 NRL games between them, compared to Prince’s 278. David Taylor (Rabbitohs) will bulk up the pack, and they have speed to burn out wide, but it is difficult to envisage the Titans being a consistent force for the entire season.

HARD EDGE: Knights recruit Beau Scott will add muscle and mongrel up front.

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Keep offenders’ names secret: players

The AFL players’ union and league medical bosses are opposed to a call for integrity investigators to be told which footballers have drug strikes, because confidentiality under the illicit drugs policy is too important.
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Independent Senator Nick Xenophon on Tuesday suggested the league’s integrity team should be told the identity of players who failed tests, because they were more susceptible to blackmail and to being coerced into spot-fixing scenarios.

AFL integrity services manager Brett Clothier, when questioned by Xenophon at a Senate committee hearing into gambling reform, conceded the issue should be discussed by the working party established at the league’s drug summit in January.

Under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy, the identities of players who fail drug tests are known only to the player, his club doctor and the league’s medical commissioner.

The AFL Players Association’s general manager of player relations, Ian Prendergast, said on Wednesday the proposal was ”unnecessary and inappropriate” and had never been raised by the league.

”It would seem that there are a number of things that can be considered to deal with concerns around corruption and integrity before we look at that information being provided,” he said.

”It’s certainly inconsistent with the reasons why the policy was established. Whilst we are open to discussing measures to ensure the integrity of our game is maintained, these will need to be balanced with protecting the fundamental rights of players, including the right to privacy.”

AFL medical officials also expressed resistance to names being released, as confidentiality was one of the foundations the illicit drugs policy was based on.

Adelaide medical officer Andrew Potter said players had agreed to the policy only after being convinced confidentiality would be respected. ”The more people that are involved, the greater the risk of a breach of confidentiality. ”Our association’s [the AFL Medical Officers Association] policy is that we are very comfortable with the current model.”

With Jon Pierik

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Baillieu quits as Premier

Ted Baillieu has resigned as Premier after a Liberals-only crisis meeting on Wednesday night, saying “I do this in the best of the government”.
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Denis Napthine is the new leader and Mr Baillieu will remain in parliament.

“I love this state, I love the Liberal Party and I love this role that I have had the honour to enjoy over the last two and a bit years,” Mr Baillieu told reporters.

“It is apparent to me that a change of leadership is in the best interests of the government.”

“I want to thank the people of Victoria.

“I wish Denis Napthine the best. He has my full support. He’s an outstanding individual.

Mr Baillieu said he will shortly visit the governor to tender his resignation.

He thanked his family and said the most important thing is the people of Victoria.

Dr Napthine is about to hold his own press conference.

Earlier, Frankston MP Geoff Shaw quit the Liberal Party because he no longer had confidence in Premier Ted Baillieu.

In a scathing statement issued this evening, Mr Shaw said the state government had not made enough progress.”Labor left Victoria in a mess and Victorian’s elected a Coalition Government to fix the problems and build for the future. While the government has made significant progress in that direction, I believe my actions reflect the general loss of confidence Victorians are feeling in the leadership of the government.”Mr Shaw said: “This morning I advised the Premier of Victoria of my resignation from the Parliamentary Liberal Party, effective immediately.As always my focus is on how I can best represent the people of Frankston and at the moment I believe that is from the cross bench.”

As Mr Shaw left state parliament just before 7pm, he told the media to have a good dinner, and then added: “It will all come out soon”.

Ted Baillieu has declared the Coalition will continue to govern decisively despite losing its majority in Parliament following Mr Shaw’s shock resignation from the Parliamentary Liberal Party.

Mr Baillieu this afternoon emerged from a party room meeting claiming to be “very confident” that the Parliament was workable. Mr Baillieu made the claim despite admitting he had not spoken to Mr Shaw, or Victorian Governor Alex Chernov.

“We are committed, we have a very strong forthcoming agenda and we have been able to govern with a narrow margin and I believe we can continue to govern and we will govern with decisiveness and with courage,” Mr Baillieu said.

Asked if Mr Shaw had indicated whether he would support the Government in with his vote in Parliament, Mr Baillieu said: “He has spoken to a number of people and he has indicated … he will be considering his position.

Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader Peter Ryan said he had complete confidence Mr Baillieu would continue to lead with himself as deputy, denying the party was in crisis.

Although Mr Shaw did not make an appearance in the lower house today and has made no formal announcement, he has been seen dining with Coalition MPs in the private parliament cafe.

Mr Shaw’s resignation has potentially huge ramifications for an under-pressure Baillieu government, which holds power with a one-seat majority.

The beleagured MP is expected to remain in the lower house as an independent.

Government MPs were called into Premier Ted Baillieu’s office on Wednesday morning.

Several ministers walking into the Premier’s office appeared worried. Matthew Guy, Michael O’Brien, Kim Wells and Robert Clark were among them.

Police said on Wednesday that they were still investigating allegations of misconduct in public office by the Frankston MP and “as the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further”.

The Liberal-National coalition holds 45 seats in the 88-seat lower house and the ALP, 43.

Mr Shaw’s resignation leaves the Coalition with 44 seats, the ALP with 43. The Frankston MP will hold the remaining seat on the cross-bench.

Mr Davis has told the upper house he is not aware if there had been discussions with Mr Shaw about whether he will guarantee supply – effectively the passage of money-related leglislation.

If Mr Shaw does not guarantee supply, parliament will not be workable for the Coalition.

Mr Shaw won his seat – Frankston North – by 51.7 per cent to 48.3 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis in 2010. He won the seat from the ALP with a 4.4 per cent swing.

The government’s majority will be protected for the next two months, as the next member for the safe Labor seat of Lyndhurst will not be elected until May 18, replacing former minister Tim Holding, who has already left parliament.

A Liberal source said speculation that the move by Mr Shaw was due to changes to electoral boundaries was “just nonsense”.

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews weighed in, saying the government was “in absolute crisis”.

Mr Shaw has weathered controversy many times in his short parliamentary career.

The 45-year-old – a qualified financial planner and accountant – won the lower-house seat of Frankston in 2010 from ALP incumbent Alistair Harkness.

Besides being an MP, Mr Shaw runs two small businesses: an accounting firm and a hardware factory. In May 2012, it was alleged his staff, as well as Mr Shaw himself, had used his parliamentary car for business related to the hardware factory.

In December 2012, Victoria Police announced a criminal investigation the affair, investigating Mr Shaw for misconduct of public office for rorting his taxpayer-funded car and parliamentary fuel card.

A week later, the Gillard government launched a review into Mr Shaw over allegations he illegally or dishonestly accessed federal assistance for his private businesses. Mr Shaw received individual payments of up to $1500 each from the Commonwealth to hire three long-term unemployed workers for his hardware firm under an employment assistance scheme.

There have been many other controversial moments. In April 2011, he offended a young gay man in his constituency by suggesting that his desire to love who he wanted was as illegitimate as a dangerous driver wanting to speed or a child molester wanting to molest. In the days that followed, Mr Baillieu said it was wrong for Mr Shaw to have made the comparisons that he made.

In June 2011, Mr Shaw admitted he had been charged with assault in 1992 while working as a nightclub bouncer. He was fined and placed on a good behaviour bond for the assault but there was no conviction.

In August 2011, Mr Shaw got into a roadside fight in his electorate, involving himself in a conversation between a police officer and a 21-year-old driver. The driver and Mr Shaw – a black belt in karate – got into a fistfight.

His personal life has been unsettled as well. Mr Shaw separated from his wife Sally in 2011. In April of that year, police were called to the former family home when Shaw refused to leave the house.

In April 2012, Shaw erected a banner on Golf Links Road in Frankston South pleading for forgiveness from his ex-wife.

There will be a full Coalition party meeting at 1pm to discuss Geoff Shaw.

The latest development comes amid mounting speculation about Mr Baillieu’s leadership.

Liberal backbencherBill Tilley said while he believed Mr Baillieu was listening, the government’s leadership team needed to revamp the way it dealt with the backbench.

‘‘It’s a management thing,’’ Mr Tilley said.

‘‘There should be some further and significant conversations: how to interact with the executive and the backbenchers to deliver the right, the proper and accurate messages to Victoria.’’

Mr Tilley is annoyed with Mr Baillieu over comments he made about him in parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Baillieu told parliament Mr Tilley quit his role as parliamentary secretary to Police Minister Peter Ryan because his conduct was inconsistent with the role.

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Cap could cut blowouts: Judge

As coaches and players continue to line up against the controversial interchange cap, a former AFL coach says the new restrictions could help even up the competition and generate more close games.
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Former Hawthorn and West Coast coach Ken Judge is one of few commentators to admit he is ”not totally against” the interchange cap, which the AFL says is definitely coming in some form in 2014.

Judge said restricting the interchange could bridge the gap between the league’s best and worst teams and keep scores closer for longer in matches.

”Blowouts” were a major issue last season. Midway through 2012, the average losing margin had spiralled to 42.2 points, making it the most lopsided season in AFL history.

By season’s end, that figure had dipped only minimally to 41.5 points, with 53 of the 207 games – basically a quarter – decided by 60 points or more.

”By having open slather on the interchange, I think that can favour better sides,” said Judge, who coached the Hawks and Eagles over six seasons between 1996 and 2001.

”If you’ve got a better midfield or better running players, you can just keep rotating good players against lesser players in the opposition, over and over, and eventually that wears the lesser sides down,” Judge said.

”On top of the fact that you’ve already got more talent anyhow, you are actually able to – because of the unrestricted interchange – throw fresher players against those lesser sides more often.”

A meeting with the AFL’s rule-makers has reassured Carlton coach Mick Malthouse that he and his colleagues will get their say on next year’s interchange cap.

”I’m sure each club would have an optimum number,” Malthouse said. ”If you took that over 18 clubs and knocked off the bottom one and the top one then you’re going to get somewhere near the number that most clubs think is the right number.”

Malthouse said the committee convinced him it had the game’s interests at heart. He, in turn, had stressed that the coaches also valued the game and its players.

Almost every player and coach interviewed during the NAB Cup has objected to the trial of the 80 rotation interchange cap. Melbourne’s Nathan Jones said it would be ”irresponsible” to keep interchange caps as low as 80 for the home-and-away season, suggesting the players’ workload would ”significantly increase”. However, West Coast coach John Worsfold raised the alternative view. ”Players just have to change their mindsets again – from going absolutely flat-out for six or seven minutes and coming off for a rest, to knowing that maybe they have to pace themselves a bit and stay out there,” he said. ”Just like so many of the champions of the game did for the entirety of their careers. They will adjust and cope.”

Interestingly, the coach of the other West Australian team, Fremantle’s Ross Lyon, has also stayed neutral on the issue.

Now the debate has turned to the magic number of rotations that should be attached to it. There is a growing view among some Victorian clubs that 120 rotations would be fair.

The 2012 AFL injury report, released on Wednesday, looked at the issue of the interchange cap and whether use of rules to purposefully tire out players led to more fatigue-related injuries.

The authors said there was no evidence to say that an interchange cap would result in fewer injuries.

With Samantha Lane

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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Sonny will be all right on the night

Focus for the media: New Rooster Sonny Bill Williams will make his return to rugby league. Photo: Brendan EspositoFirst-night nerves? You bet. He is a premiership winner, a World Cup winner and the man who might just sell out Allianz Stadium, but if you think Sonny Bill Williams isn’t nervous before his NRL return, you’d be wrong.
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”I must admit, [I’m] a little bit nervous,” Williams said on Wednesday, as he prepared for his final training hit-out before the season opener. ”But definitely excited at the same time. I’ve just got to believe in my preparation like I always do and leave it all out there.”

And with that, Williams strode off. The former Bulldog and All Black, whose off-season was shortened by a boxing bout and a pectoral injury, would offer only a teaser. But it was evident even from his short statement that the expectations had filtered through to him.

His new captain, Anthony Minichiello, acknowledged that.

”The media put a lot of expectations on him,” Minichiello said. ”He’s a fantastic player. He’s come on board late with us, so he’s still working out combinations. He’ll definitely offer something to us, there’s no doubt about that, and I think he’ll get better as the season goes on.

”He’s a freak of a player. He could come out and have a blinder straight up. We’re definitely supporting him in the way he’s learning the structure, and he’s doing a lot of study on it.

But Minichiello was adamant: ”He’s ready to go.”

As a result, the match is one of the most-hyped season-openers in memory. The Thursday night clash has the potential to draw a massive television audience as well as a full house sign outside the stadium.

Minichiello has played in grand finals, State of Origins and Test matches, but being able to skipper the Roosters on such a stage, in front of such an audience and with such a talent starting – for now – off the interchange bench, the fullback said Thursday night’s match would count as a career highlight.

”It’s almost a sellout, so it’s pretty exciting for us as a team,” Minichiello said. ”This is definitely right up there, for me personally to captain such a great club, and a round-one clash against our arch-rivals is always a big match.

”To do that, with the ‘captain’ next to your name is pretty special. This has been one of the most talked about games in recent years and why wouldn’t it be? There are superstars all over the paddock, from both teams.”

Lost in the frenzy over Williams’ debut has been the ominous pre-season form of South Sydney fullback Greg Inglis, who shapes as the man most likely to cause the most damage to the Roosters’ early-season optimism. The Rabbitohs have stated this week that they have not spoken about Williams’ return, but it was clear the Roosters had been focusing some significant attention on their opponent’s superstar.

”He’s one of the best players in the game,” Minichiello said. ”He’s definitely their go-to man, but there are a lot of other players in their side that we have to stop as well. He’s supporting through the middle, and running out wide. The way he played in the trial matches, it’s going to be a tough task.

”He looks fit. Everyone knows the way he runs, he’s so athletic, but obviously he’s put a lot of work into the pre-season, so he’ll be coming out and trying to put a good performance in. Our challenge is to try and stop that. It’s a big challenge for us. Hopefully we’re up to it.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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