Archives - October, 2018

28 Oct 18

Former premiership player and coach Robert Walls had some idea what might have been going through North Melbourne coach Brad Scott’s mind moments after his Roos had lost the seemingly unlosable match to Adelaide on Sunday evening.
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For a coach, a missed goal here, a failure to prevent one there, and a consequent narrow loss is the stuff of nightmare. Not that it’s much fun for the players, either, left slumped on the ground in disbelief at yet another episode of ”missed it by that much”.

No wonder Scott was prepared to concede ”a resounding no” to the question of whether his players were mentally tough enough. And that North skipper Andrew Swallow on Monday said the playing group had been left the ”flattest” he had ever seen it.

And Walls has seen it from both a coaching and playing perspective. As coach of Carlton, he led the Blues to the 1987 flag. They were third the following year. But in 1989, luck certainly wasn’t falling the Blues’ way.

They lost to St Kilda by two points at Moorabbin. Then to Melbourne by a goal at the MCG. And when Brisbane scored the unlikeliest of three-point victories in round 10, Walls not only lost some more life expectancy, but his job.

Not that the Blues started winning the close ones under his replacement, Alex Jesaulenko. In fact, Carlton would finish that year having lost five games by less than a goal and drawn another.

As a player a decade earlier with Fitzroy, Walls had seen it from another angle. Indeed, only one team has lost more close games than did the Lions in 1978. That was Footscray in 1950, which managed to lose seven games by single figure margins.

Fitzroy in 1978 wasn’t a bad side at all, managing to twice beat eventual premier Hawthorn. But as early as the halfway point of the season, the Lions had well and truly shot themselves in the foot.

Walls had left Carlton early that season for a second playing home at the Junction Oval. When he debuted in round 10, his new team had already lost games by eight, four, three and two points.

For a team that knew it had talent, the frustration was overwhelming. And it showed. ”I remember Bob Beecroft nearly strangling someone in that first game I played with them,” Walls chuckles.

”I didn’t really know the guys, and he’s got someone in a choker hold on the ground and the guy was turning white. I thought, ‘Bloody hell, he’s going to kill him’!”

Walls’ second game for the Lions was a six-point loss to Richmond. The following week, Fitzroy lost by three points to Geelong. After 11 rounds, Fitzroy was bottom of the ladder with a 2-9 record, yet only 32 points shy of a win-loss status of 8-3, enough to have it third.

Indeed, the Roys share an unwanted place on the list of most frequent losers of close games, having in four different seasons lost half-a-dozen games by single-figure margins.

But the latter-day North Melbourne is beginning to challenge for that status. Since the beginning of 2011, the Roos have been involved in no fewer than 13 games decided by single figures. They have won a paltry two, both last year, against Gold Coast and Richmond.

”Surely they have to do a lot of game simulation at training,” says Walls. ”It’s chip the ball around, take as much time as you can, kick it to the boundary, knock it out, get numbers around the stoppage and force another throw-up.

”I mean, these guys are full-time professionals. We used to do it in the days when you only trained on Tuesday and Thursday nights.”

Walls has one ray of hope to offer the shattered North Melbourne. That Fitzroy, after its series of nail-biting losses of 1978, managed to make the finals the following year.

”You just hope they learn from these near-misses. But gee, after what happened against West Coast and now this, it makes you think they haven’t learnt much!”

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

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28 Oct 18

Blake Ferguson has had to overcome more than his fair share of hurdles on the way to State of Origin selection, but ask the Blues winger to nominate a turning point in his career and he does so without hesitation.
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”Yes, I really remember it,” Ferguson said on his first day in the NSW team camp. ”I would have been 14 years old and I quit footy, and I started skateboarding for two years. Then I came back and I moved to the country. I just thought to myself I will give this a crack. I was going to try it one more time and two years later I was playing first grade. It’s something I always say to the young kids when we go and do promotions for MensLink and stuff like that.”

Ferguson was living in Sydney’s inner west at the time and he began skateboarding competitively in tournaments with such success that he was on the verge of gaining sponsors.

”I was close,” he said. ”I used to skate in Dulwich Hill, they made a brand new skate park in 2004. I wasn’t too bad but then I had to give it up because I got too many scratches on my legs.”

Ask what bought him back to league and again the 23-year-old also does not hesitate to reply. ”Just the love for the game, I guess,” he said.

Yet Ferguson hasn’t always shown that and he admits he owes a debt of gratitude to Maroons coach Mal Meninga – as well as his family – for helping to get his career back on track after being stood down by the Raiders over the incident that led to Josh Dugan being sacked.

It wasn’t the first time that Ferguson had been in trouble this season and NSW coach Laurie Daley also spoke to him after he went missing from an emerging Blues camp in January.

Daley would also be unimpressed if he knew that Meninga had asked him about playing for the Queensland. ”He said it once,” Ferguson said. ”It was a while ago.”

Meninga, a former Raiders premiership-winning captain, has been mentoring Ferguson since he was disciplined by the club in March for drinking with Dugan on the roof of his Canberra home.

”Big Mal is a legend of the game, he has helped me when I have been in trouble,” he said. ”He has coached me two times in the Prime Minister team and we have just had a little yarn. He told me what he used to do in his days and telling me his life experience.”

Daley has also shown faith in Ferguson by selecting him for the Indigenous All Stars team in February and now giving him his Origin debut. ”He just said how happy he is for me and that this is the start of something big,” Ferguson said. ”Obviously it is everyone’s aim to be play for the Blues but words can’t explain how happy I am going to be to run out on the field and see all the blue jumpers in the stands.

”I have had to work hard, just like everyone else. I have had nothing really come easy but I am just rapped that I have finally got a run in the team and I am going to give it my all next Wednesday night.”

After being chosen for Origin, Ferguson now has another story he hopes will inspire troubled youth to follow their dreams. ”I have always been one person to try and make the impossible possible,” he said.


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

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28 Oct 18

Cool Blue: Rookie Origin five-eighth James Maloney gets down to business with the NSW team during a training session at Coogee Oval on Monday. Photo: Dean SewellJames Maloney would love to take the credit for providing the calm in Mitchell Pearce’s game. Yet the Roosters five-eighth, now the NSW five-eighth, is not sure he can.
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”I’ve got no idea, but I know ‘Junior’ has been doing a bit of Bikram Yoga,” Maloney said on Monday, after entering his first NSW camp. ”Maybe I’m just copping the rap for that, and that’s settling him down.”

Blues coach Laurie Daley has made it clear that Maloney’s ”calming influence” on halfback Pearce’s game was a key to why he opted for the Roosters player over the incumbent No.6, Cronulla’s Todd Carney. What Maloney was more keen to add his insight to was the influence Pearce has had on him since he joined the Roosters. Maloney revealed that Pearce was one of the main reasons he switched to the club from the Warriors.

”Mitchell plays a little bit more direct style of football,” Maloney said. ”I thought that would suit me. That was one of the reasons I made the move. It’s working out really well. Our personalities, we get on pretty well. He’s a pretty easy bloke to play with and get along with.

”I had a few options, where I could play. The main thing was, I wanted to come to a place where I thought I could play my best. That was the Roosters for me. Looking back on it now, I made the right choice. Their style of football, the players they have, their roster, that’s what drew me to them.”

Maloney is the ninth NSW five-eighth to be used since 2006, when the Maroons’ era of dominance began. Halfback has been considered a problem position, yet only six different No.7s have been used in the same period. Maloney knows that, should the Blues falter, much of the blame will rest on his shoulders.

”It’s just part and parcel of playing in the halves,” the 26-year-old said. ”It’s your job to steer the side around, to finish sets well … it’s a pretty big role. When you lose, everyone’s looking for someone to blame, and if it’s the halves … I suppose it’s the nature of the beast.”

And was he ready for that sort of pressure? ”I think I’m ready,” he said. ”I think now’s as good a time as any. I’m confident in my own game, I know what works for me, and what doesn’t. They’ve picked me on the football I’m playing. That’s the football they want me to play. I don’t have to change anything to come into this game – execute everything and do the basics. That’s the biggest thing, just do the basics well, and everything will come off the back of that.”

Maloney was at least given an early indication of what he would be up against. He and Pearce played against three of Queensland’s spine, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, on Saturday night. That pre-Origin match-up with Melbourne, which resulted in a 26-18 defeat, gave them some key insights.

”To have that just before, and learn from it – hopefully we’ll benefit from that,” Maloney said.

A few hours after that loss, while at Easts Leagues Club, Maloney was informed by his Roosters coach Trent Robinson that he was in the side for game one. That gave him a few days to prepare mentally before the frenzy of a NSW camp kicked off in Coogee.

”It was a bit of a relief to be named,” Maloney said. ”Obviously Todd Carney’s been playing great footy. To get the nod over a player like that is a pretty big wrap.

”I’m pretty stoked to be here. It’s about enjoying the week. I don’t want to play the game over in my head too many times … just enjoy the week for what it is, make sure I do everything I can to prepare for next Wednesday night, so I know when I hit that paddock, that I’ve done all I can do.”

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

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28 Oct 18

A man convicted of serious offences in Australia has mysteriously escaped from two Australian security guards inside the secure international transit area of Bangkok’s main airport.
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The botched escort of the 25 year-old German-born man by the security guards contracted by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has angered Thai authorities who said they were not informed of his arrival in Thailand.

The man who served three years jail in Queensland was being escorted from Australia to Germany on commercial flights that transited through Bangkok.

He disappeared in the early hours of May 16 but Thai authorities did not tell the department in Canberra until eight days later he could not be found in the airport’s secure area.

A spokesman for the department said the man was taken to a transit hotel after his arrival from Australia because a commercial flight to Germany was delayed eight hours.

He was last seen taking a shower.

The department cannot explain how the man was able to by-pass Thai immigration and customs barriers.

He was not carrying travel documents and Thai immigration records show no evidence of the man entering Thailand.

However security footage on May 17 shows a man passing through a security door with airline staff.

The guards who travelled with the man were from Serco, the company that provides security services for the department.

Thai police have been unable to locate the man while Thai airport authorities have launched an investigation into what happened.

Thai Immigration bureau major-general Suwichpol Imjairach said the man arrived on a Thai Airways flight without the knowledge of immigration police.

“Usually the immigration police must be informed if any foreign suspect is brought into the country but I have no idea why this case is different,” he said.

“All the bureau can say now is that the suspect is not in the airport.”

Airport director Rawewan Netrakavesna said the Airport Authority of Thailand (AoT) would question all staff who were at the airport at the time of the escape.

“The AoT was not notified by the police who were escorting the suspect,” she said.

The Bangkok Post newspaper quoted an AoT source was saying the escape had damaged the authority’s reputation and prompted increased security measures at the airport.

Serco is preparing a report for the department in Canberra on why the man was left unguarded.

The company could face a fine over the incident.

“The department views any escape very seriously and is grateful for the professionalism and support provided by the Thai authorities,” the spokesman said.

The department has not released the name or description of the man who had been convicted of drugs, theft and other charges in Queensland despite that he may commit offences in Thailand.

Foreign-born criminals are routinely removed from Australia after serving jail sentences.

The man had told immigration officials he would leave Australia without causing problems.

He is wanted on charges in Germany.

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

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