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29 Sep 19

It was a spontaneous street fight between two acquaintances that left one man dead and the other convicted of murder.
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But if not for an undiagnosed brain defect, Scott Miller would not have died in the brawl with Adam James Matthews after they left the Courthouse Hotel in Darlinghurst one evening in 2011, a judge has found.

Matthews, 38, was jailed for at least 11 years in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday for the murder of Mr Miller.

The jury heard the pair were fighting during an evening of drinking, when Mr Miller suddenly fell backwards from a punch to the jaw and hit his head on a pedestrian railing.

Witnesses said they then saw Matthews, who was wearing thongs, stomp on the man’s head or upper body before going into a nearby alley. Mr Miller appeared to have been unconscious before his head hit the ground, and a pathologist found this was probably because the punch had caused a hidden ”berry aneurysm” in the back of his brain to burst.

The court heard that neither man knew about Mr Miller’s condition at the time of the fight.

During the trial Matthews’ barrister, Nathan Steel, said Mr Miller’s death was the result of an ”unexpected and unfortunate event”.

”This is far different to any murder case that you might read about or hear about,” Mr Steel said. ”Mr Matthews didn’t know that a punch to the jaw would cause this aneurysm to burst and he didn’t know that this would result in Scott Miller dying.”

But the Crown prosecutor, Trevor Bailey, said that it did not matter that the aneurysm was there.

In handing down the sentence, Acting Justice Jane Mathews did not take general deterrence into account. She said the fact that something that started as a street fight could end with such ”horrific consequences” was warning enough.

She said the fight broke out in the early evening of February 19, when the men both traded blows, but at some point Matthews landed the fatal punch.

The ”completely spontaneous” nature of Matthews’ outburst was fuelled by alcohol, she said.

Matthews was handed a maximum term of 16 years.

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29 Sep 19

He believes a four-prop rotation works best, but Raiders front rower David Shillington says he couldn’t blame the Blues selectors for picking mobility over size with just two specialist bookends in this year’s Origin opener.
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The Maroons have selected Shillington to fill the starting role of retired Queensland champion Petero Civoniceva, and the Australian Test prop predicted Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii was destined to make his Origin debut soon after being invited into camp with an extended Queensland squad.

Shillington said he hoped to form a long-term front row partnership Matt Scott, carrying on the Queensland legacy of Civoniceva and Steve Price.

But quizzed on the selection of the Blues pack – which has opted for backrower Paul Gallen up front – Shillington said the Maroons still faced a massive task.

James Tamou and Cronulla’s Andrew Fifita are the only specialist props in the NSW squad.

“I think it’s important to have specialist props, on the bench as well,” Shillington said. “I know even at the Raiders when we’re playing our best footy it’s when we’ve got our four-prop rotation going well.

“But with NSW, the other props (in contention) weren’t really standing out from the pack, as far as their form. They’re all playing good footy, but they weren’t making it a no brainer to pick them.

“I think they picked the right team, in terms of players in form. They’re blessed with great back-rowers and that gives them the option to put Paul Gallen in the front row.”

Despite making his Origin debut in the starting team for an injured Civoniceva in 2009, Shillington has played the bulk of his Origin career from the bench.

He said he would welcome the opportunity to take on rugby league’s most ‘brutal’ test from the start.

Civoniceva, who played 33 Origin matches, has endorsed Shillington to take over the starting role.

“He been a cornerstone of this team for over a decade,” Shillington said.

“They’re big shoes to fill, stepping into his role, but because I played with him so long it’s not a huge transition for me. But we’re losing a lot by not having him there and I’ll have to play as well as I can to make up for it.

“Even when I was young watching footy, you’d never want miss those first couple of minutes in an Origin match, just the sheer brutality of it. Now I get to play in it, it doesn’t get any tougher than that.”

Having elected to represent Queensland instead if his country of birth, New Zealand, Papalii is on the cusp of playing Origin too.

The 21-year-old flew to Brisbane to go into camp with the Maroons as an 18th man and Shillington said an Origin debut was close.

Papalii’s huge hit on Manly’s Jamie Buhrer on the weekend was one example of how he is suited to Origin, Shillington said.

“It’s good for him because he’s a pretty quiet fella, he can become comfortable around all the boys and learn all the plays and what it’s all about, then if he’s picked for game two he won’t be daunted.

“He’s such a natural athlete, with raw power. That shot he put on Jamie Buhrer on the weekend, if he brings that kind of power and aggression to Origin, I don’t know who’s gong to stop him.”

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29 Sep 19

Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg at training on Monday night. Photo: Melissa AdamsBrumbies fullback Jesse Mogg wants to play his way into Robbie Deans’ squad in his next two Super Rugby games, but not if it means he’s a ”one-Test Wallaby”.
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Mogg wasn’t in the initial 25-man Wallabies squad announced last Sunday, but there are still six spots available for next month’s British and Irish Lions tour.

Two years ago Mogg wasn’t even on the Brumbies’ radar and now a stunning start to the 2013 Super Rugby season has rocketed him into international contention.

Last week Brumbies coach Jake White was relieved Deans didn’t pick Mogg, saying his development would be better served playing for his province.

It’s something Mogg was also mindful of – he doesn’t want to get picked too soon.

Whether he’s selected to play the Lions or for the Rugby Championship or European spring tour later in the year, the 23-year-old wasn’t fazed.

He wants to play international rugby when he’s ready.

”I’m still learning the game, I’m still learning what we want to do here at the Brumbies,” Mogg said.

”Although one of my goals is to one day play for the Wallabies I’d rather not rush it and get out there and be a one-Test Wallaby.

”I really want to play for the Wallabies for a lot of Tests.”

Mogg’s chances may have been hurt by a shoulder injury suffered in South Africa.

Before that he was clearly the best Australian fullback.

He missed three games and struggled to find his rhythm and confidence on his return, culminating in a poor game against the Crusaders.

But he has returned towards his best over the last fortnight.

Mogg’s cause wasn’t helped by code-hopper Israel Folau’s recent form.

”In that Highlanders game, my first week back, I didn’t do as much as I’d previously been doing, but I thought I turned that around against the Reds and had a few runs there and I haven’t really injured it again since,” he said.

”It’s just about finding that form that I previously had and I think it’s coming along.”

Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua was also omitted from Deans’ squad but he was less ambitious.

His sole focus was on the Brumbies’ push to end an eight-season play-off drought stretching back to the 2004 championship win.

Toomua felt the Rugby Championship or spring tour were more realistic goals to make his international debut.

”If I am going to have the chance of being in the Wallabies squad it would be later in the year when they try a few other things, but even that’s not certain,” he said.

His focus was on beating the Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

Toomua, wearing a compression bandage on his calf, said he would be fit to play and didn’t think there were any injury concerns to come out of Saturday’s win over the Blues.

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29 Sep 19

 Canterbury could become the first NRL club to appoint a woman as their chief executive.
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Fairfax Media can reveal that Netball New Zealand CEO Raelene Castle has emerged as a leading contender to replace outgoing boss Todd Greenberg.

The Bulldogs are down to a handful of candidates for the role with Castle, Brumbies boss Andrew Fagan and Rugby Union Players’ Association CEO Greg Harris also believed to be in contention.

It’s understood the club has also shortlisted a candidate from the banking industry who, like ARL Commission boss David Smith, was prepared to take a pay cut for one of league’s plum jobs.

However, no candidate will garner more attention than Castle, who will create history if she takes the reins of the blue and whites. While another Kiwi, Liz Dawson, was the CEO of the Adelaide Rams during Super League, no woman has been at the helm at club level since the NRL was formed.

The Bulldogs are close to making a call on Greenberg’s successor and, if Castle is successful, her appointment will be a timely one. The NRL recently celebrated its Women in League round, at which Smith spoke of his desire to see more women reach the top levels of administration. Attempts to contact Castle, Greenberg and Bulldogs chairman Ray Dib were unsuccessful.

While he won’t have any say in the selection, coach Des Hasler is likely to meet the remaining applicants.

If her CV is anything to go by, Castle is a strong chance. She has vast experience in the corporate and sporting worlds and even has a family link to rugby league. Her father, Bruce, won the Rothville Trophy as the Auckland competition’s player of the year in 1966 and went on to play two Tests for the Kiwis, one as captain. Her mother, Marlene, is a former world champion lawn bowler with three Commonwealth Games medals.

As the boss of netball in the country since 2007, Castle is considered the most influential woman in New Zealand sport. The profile of netball, and the Silver Ferns in particular, has risen during her tenure and the Kiwis hold bragging rights over their trans-Tasman rivals after winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

It’s not the only sporting role Castle has undertaken, with experience in sponsorship and event management in the Rugby World Cup and the America’s Cup. She also has a strong corporate background following stints at Telecom, Fuji Xerox, Southern Cross Healthcare and BNZ.

A former representative-level netball, tennis and lawn bowls player, Castle is also unafraid to speak her mind. Earlier this year, she labelled the Australian market ”chauvinistic” as she battled to seal a broadcast partner for netball’s ANZ Championship.

Should Castle get the Canterbury gig, it would be a timely fillip for the code. Players’ attitudes towards women have again come into question after Queenslander Katie Lewis claimed she was assaulted by South Sydney and Maroons star Ben Te’o. The Rabbitohs forward has denied any wrongdoing and charges have not been laid.

There are 19 women in senior management or board positions at NRL clubs. While the number of female administrators stands at 2500 across the code – the ARLC appointed Harris Farm supremo Catherine Harris as an inaugural directors – those in senior management are still the exception rather than the norm.

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29 Aug 19

Nick Kyrgios of Australia plays a forehand in his Men’s Singles match against Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic during day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 27, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) Photo: Julian FinneyCanberra junior Nick Kyrgios has proven he’s the “real deal”, celebrating his grand slam debut with a sensational straight-sets victory at the French Open.
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Kyrgios’ junior coach and former professional, Todd Larkham, predicted the 18- year-old could crack the world’s top-100 by the end of the year after his 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (13-11) win over tour veteran Radek Stepanek at Roland Garros.

Three Australian men – including former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt – failed to progress past the opening day of the French Open.

But Kyrgios, the only Australian playing on day two, gave the country a boost with the breakthrough victory of his burgeoning professional career.

Kyrgios only turned 18 last month and is still eligible to play on the world junior tour, becoming the world’s No.1 ranked youngster when he won the Australian Junior Open singles title in January.

But handed a golden ticket to his grand slam debut with a wildcard, Kyrgios was able to defeat one of the tour’s most seasoned

players. Stepanek turned professional in 1996, the year after Kyrgios was born, and the former world No.8 has amassed almost $9 million in prize money.

Kyrgios’ senior ranking has already soared more than 600 places this year, currently at 262.

”It makes a statement that he’s really arrived,” Larkham said. ”I kind of expected he’d get there, but I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

”To win against such an experienced player in your first grand slam, and to win all the close points in that match, shows that he’s the real deal.

”This eclipses winning the Australian Open juniors … this is a completely different level.”

Clay is Kyrgios’ least favourite surface, his power game and father’s Greek heritage earning him comparisons to former Australian professional Mark Philippoussis.

Kyrgios won the first set in a tie-break and took an early break in the second set, before seemingly giving up the advantage when he trailed 1-6 in the second-set tie-break.

But showing incredible poise under pressure, Kyrgios fought back to take the tie-break 10-8.

”That’s absolutely extraordinary in men’s tennis, it’s so rare,” Larkham said. ”I’ve seen him do similar things in the juniors, he’s got this unbelievable competitive ability that no one can teach.”

Kyrgios’ next round opponent was not determined at the time of print, but it is expected to be tenth seed and big-hitting Croatian Marin Cilic.

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29 Aug 19

Frame grab from Seven News showing nurse ‘Roger’ from Quakers Hill Nursing Home talking on camera after fire which killed at least four residence from the home, 18 November 2011. Credit Seven News. SHD News.Roger Dean Victims: These residents died as a result of the fire and a further eight suffered from serious injuries. Firefighters said they could hear residents calling out for help.
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For the first time prosecutors have revealed why Roger Kingsley Dean set fire to the Quakers Hill nursing home: to destroy evidence that he had stolen about 230 tablets prescribed to the residents.

Dean, 37, an aged-care nurse at the home, pleaded guilty to all charges of murdering 11 residents in the fire in November 2011, bringing tears of relief from his victims’ relatives.

His admission in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Crown case to be released. It alleged that the night before the fire, Dean repeatedly went into the room where the home kept its addictive medications and stole 237 tablets of the narcotic painkiller Endone and one capsule of the morphine drug Kapanol. These can be bought, with a prescription, for about $85.

According to the Crown statement, to which Dean is yet to formally agree, he became extremely fearful when nursing home managers discovered the stolen drugs and called police.

The next night, after trying unsuccessfully to get into the locked room where the drug registry books were kept, Dean told two junior nurses to take an unscheduled break and walked into the A2 wing. Using a stolen cigarette lighter he set fire to the sheets of an empty bed.

A few minutes later Dean walked into room three of the A1 wing and set another bed alight. That bed was also unoccupied but the other two beds in the room held Dorothy Sterling and Dorothy Wu, who Dean knew were immobile, according to the Crown case.

After lighting the fire Dean helped one resident, Helen Perry, out of the A1 wing. ”We’ve got to get them out, we’ve got to get them out,” Ms Perry reportedly said, as

Dean guided her away. Dean reportedly replied: ”Don’t worry Helen, just leave them. We’ve got to get out. People are on their way to get them out.”

Firefighters arrived soon after and extinguished the flames in A2 wing but were not told of the fire in the other part of the building.

At 5.02am Dean burst out of A1 wing with thick clouds of smoke billowing behind him.

According to the Crown statement, he then helped evacuate some residents, ”being careful to keep up the appearance of having nothing to do with the lighting of the two fires”.

By the time firefighters entered A1 wing the fire ” … had already gone up into the roof and was burning fiercely. [Firefighters] could hear residents calling out for help.”

Eleven residents died as a result of the fire, including Ms Wu and Ms Sterling. Another eight suffered serious injuries.

Dean then tried four times to get into the home to retrieve the drug books, which contained all records of prescription drug use.

On the fifth occasion he pleaded with firefighter Gavin White, telling him: ”I need to go inside to get the drug book. I need to get in there.”

Finally, Dean convinced station officer Brett Johnson to let him in. He was taken into the burning building by two firefighters, handing them the keys to the locked cabinet where the books were kept and saying, ”We need them. We need to get these out.”

After taking the books, Dean told officers: ”I need to get home. I need to get a Ventolin … I really need my Ventolin.”

As he left the scene, Dean did a quick interview with a Channel Seven camera crew, telling them ”… we got a lot of people out so that’s the main thing.”

When he arrived home, Dean tore up the two drug register books and placed the remains in a plastic shopping bag, which he threw in the dumpster of a cake shop.

The Crown statement reveals that Dean became a suspect almost immediately, and was interviewed by police the next day.

After speaking to two Bible study friends, Dean admitted lighting the fires. But he said he had done so, not by a desire to destroy the evidence of his stealing, but because Satan had told him to do it.

When police searched the flat Dean shared they found almost all of the stolen drugs in canisters labelled ”Roger’s doctor prescribed medication”.

Dean will return to court on Thursday to begin the sentencing process.

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29 Aug 19

Paris-born chef Guillaume Brahimi is living the dream, albeit a frantically busy one as he runs three acclaimed restaurants – the fine diner Guillaume at Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House and more casual bistros in Melbourne and Perth. Brahimi lives by Sydney Harbour with his wife, Sanchia, three daughters and an 18-month-old son who is Guillaume in miniature. His kitchen is dream-like as well, with a benchtop-to-ceiling cupboard dedicated to Riedel glassware, a walk-in pantry and coolroom; there is so much storage he cannot fill it all.The staples
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My pantry I always have extra virgin olive oil; I love a French brand from Chateau d’Estoublon to dress salads. It goes well with La Vecchia Dispensa 10-year-old balsamic or Forum Chardonnay vinegar for a simple vinaigrette. I also like to drizzle Colonna lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil over risotto or fish. Murray River pink salt, Simon Johnson carnaroli rice and Cav. Giuseppe Cocco spaghetti.

My fridge The girls love roast chicken, so I quite often have a Saskia Beer chicken from the Barossa in the fridge. I have a nice piece of Comte to make jamon and cheese toasties for the occasional naughty late-night snack after work. We also have packs of Vaalia yoghurt, which is great for the kids.Inspiration

Two books that I really love: Alain Ducasse’s Grand Livre de Cuisine and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.I’m drinking

There’s a little cafe near my home that has the best barista for miles around. I go there every day on my way to work and order a double-shot macchiato and it’s perfect. I drink peppermint tea after 4pm. I have a cellar, so I like to have a glass of wine when I cook, anything from a William Downie Pinot from Victoria to any wine from Burgundy or Bordeaux – I’m a big Francophile.

Saturday night tipple Gin and tonic made with Tanqueray No. 10 and fresh lime.I’m cooking

Last dinner at home Chicken risotto with peas and speck, with Joseph extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon zest grated over the top. It was bloody delicious. I’d poached the chicken gently for about four hours, so when I took the flesh off the bones, it was buttery.Secret vice

Kit Kats, which I keep stashed in the pantry, out of the kids’ sight.My tool kit

I love my Tefal French Heritage pans. Cooking with them is a pleasure, the non-stick surface makes cooking a piece of salmon or snapper so easy, and the no washing up is an added bonus. I also love my little grater, which smells permanently of lemon zest.

Favourite My Del Ben knife block; it looks like a rugby ball and the knives are beautiful. It is my two favourite things combined – rugby and cooking.Food discovery

I have recently discovered an amazing Australian butter from the Myrtleford Butter Factory. It tastes just like French butter, but is much fresher because it hasn’t travelled all that way.Most memorable meal

I went to the French Laundry in California twice, about five years apart, with my wife, Sanchia. We had a 20-course degustation but it was like 40 courses because each course had the main ingredient served two ways. It was so perfect the first time we thought we couldn’t go back or we’d be disappointed. But we went back last year for Sanchia’s birthday and it was as good if not better. Everything right down to the service and the way the night flowed was perfect. It’s the definition of fine dining for me.

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29 Aug 19

Something different: Harris’ new Mitchell Harris Wines bar in Ballarat.Just 20 months ago, winemaker John Harris was nursing grapes.
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What followed next saw the Victorian winemaker down on all fours, pincher pliers in hand, removing nails embedded in ancient linoleum. It’s a long story but the short version is he had returned home to Ballarat, settled down and was giving something back: a wine bar, to be precise.

A wine bar hardly seems to fit the bill of anything worthy of cultural ”giving something back” significance but those who have walked the streets of Ballarat in search of a bar that a) isn’t attached to a hotel, b) doesn’t serve VB, c) pours local wines from the surrounding areas and d) not only manages a degree of sophistication but opens lateish will rejoice.

There are precious few to be found (hats off to them).

The promise that’s always been there – Ballarat is at the epicentre of the western Victorian wine industry – has hopefully, finally been realised.

”This is to be the hub for western Victorian wines,” says Harris, who opened the doors to his Mitchell Harris Wines bar in the town’s north in February.

But first there was 120 years of dirt and grime – as well as metal, wood, car parts and canvas that had been thrown into the underground cellar and strewn across another two floors – to remove from the space that Harris and his partners – his wife, brother and sister-in-law – were planning to revive.

Ever so slowly, an intrinsic beauty was revealed.

With a clean face, the building – a two-storey, red-brick former motor mechanic and canvas merchant outlet – glows warm and spacious. A long bar to one side, a small kitchen, a cellar full of local wines and even some groovy urban-style art – by Melbourne street artist Vexta – help fit the bill of a smart drinking establishment. And there’s definitely no VB or Carlton Draught served. For that you’ll have to go next door to the Peter Lalor Hotel.

Wine-education classes are held on Monday and Tuesday nights and Harris is even toying with presenting a hands-on winemaking course out back in the old stables. The former Domaine Chandon sparkling winemaker, a practised performer of the art of sabrage – the not-so-delicate opening of a champagne bottle with the slash of a sabre – might even throw in a few how-to lessons.

Upstairs is a function area, with views over Ballarat, just the spot for a future rooftop cinema perhaps?

The idea of a hub for western Victorian wines is hugely appealing, especially to local winemakers looking for a greater foothold in this part of the world so dominated by beer taps. There’s the Grampians and Henty to the west, Pyrenees to the north, Macedon Ranges to the east and Geelong to the south. And closer to home there are the wines of Ballarat, producers such as Tomboy Hill, Eastern Peake and emerging newcomer Alex Byrne of Byrne Wines.

Supporting them is Harris with his own Mitchell Harris label, sourcing fruit from Macedon and the Pyrenees. Conveniently, his new bar doubles as his cellar door.

With two separate winemaking stints at Mount Avoca in the Pyrenees and eight years at the Yarra Valley’s Domaine Chandon, he’s more than familiar with the surrounding regions’ grapes and wine styles.

His first releases cover a lot of territory.

The flagship – or at least a wine worthy of the name – is an aged sparkling, the 2008 Sabre with Macedon Ranges- and Pyrenees-sourced pinot noir and chardonnay.

With just 300 cases produced, it’s destined not to receive the kind of sales coverage it deserves as an exciting addition to the genre. Ballarat’s gain, I guess. It’s in the more generous aperitif style – ”I always wanted to make one,” says the maker – with impressive flavour complexity going on in the glass, from savoury quince through to citrus rind with driving, restless acidity.

”I can’t believe no one hasn’t come up before with the name Sabre,” says Harris, who has trademarked the term. His own handmade French sabre, a Laguiole, presented to him when he left Chandon, is often called into action. Harris has a quick hand action, a few slides of the large knife up and down the neck of the bottle and then instant decapitation accompanied by just the smallest surge of bubble. The 2010 Sabre, an unreleased youngster yet to undergo its final sweet dosage addition, newly opened with a slash of the Laguiole, was amazingly fresh and maybe just a little Chandon-like in elegance. Having learnt at one of the country’s leading sparkling makers, Harris is a supremely confident sparkling maker. His next project looks like being a multi-vintage sparkling rose´.

The Mitchell Harris table wines share a food-friendly ethic: nothing too brash, acidic, oaky or overpowering. Still, among a core line-up that includes an easygoing savoury 2012 sangiovese-pinot noir rose´, a well-structured 2010 Pyrenees cabernet and a tight ball of 2011 Pyrenees shiraz, there is the odd, well, oddity.

For his sauvignon blanc, Harris opted for an alternative to what he calls the ”fruit tingle and battery acid” wines out there. It’s a way-out-there winemaking expression for the Mitchell Harris 2012 Fume sauvignon blanc, the kind you might find increasingly being exercised in New Zealand – natural ferment; full contact between the wine and its dead yeast cells, pulps and seeds; and a little new, a little old oak – producing a wine waving a wildly herbal, savvy flag.

Destined to source grapes rather than grow his own, Harris works out of the Pyrenees Ridge winery down the road at Lamplough.

This year’s vintage coincided with the grand opening of the Mitchell Harris bar, an exhausting time all round for the family man.

But he has no complaints.

”I’ve never worked harder, never been poorer and never been happier.”

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29 Aug 19

State of Origin is about to go state of the art.
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For the first time, viewers will be able to get into the director’s chair and tailor their own Origin experience. Not content with record ratings from last year’s series, the Nine Network is looking at ways to provide more innovative coverage for the series opener on June 5. To that end, it will unveil its new Jump-In app, which allows viewers to access the multiple camera angles used by the host broadcaster.

“We’ve got an app this year that’s being launched called Jump-In, which allows people to cut their own pictures of the game, to choose what camera angles they want,” said Nine’s head of sport, Steve Crawley.

“That will allow them to use state-of-the-art technology which we trialled in the Australia-New Zealand Test this year. Everyone can be a director. They can cut their own pictures, they can go through Twitter or Facebook, get live stats.

“There will be a great number of angles you can pick from, so you can put it together how you want to. I imagine people will have a lot of fun with that.”

The 2012 series broke Origin television ratings records. The decider drew in 2.62 million viewers for the five capital cities and peaked at a national audience of 4.82 million.

Crawley was reluctant to predict another record this year but admitted it could be achievable for an event he described as the rival of America’s Super Bowl for television sporting theatre.

“It is, for sure. The emotion is akin to Super Bowl. For 80 minutes there is nothing else,” Crawley said.

“There is no better television sport than State of Origin. People that don’t normally watch rugby league watch Origin. Rugby union people or people who don’t normally watch football watch Origin.

“It rises above sport, like the way the Melbourne Cup and Super Bowl does.”

Asked if this year’s ratings were likely to be up again, Crawley said: “It definitely feels that way, but you hate predicting. The trouble with getting record numbers is that if the next year isn’t a record, people will say it wasn’t as good as last year.

“The interest seems to be there, and NSW seems to be getting closer, which is a big thing.”

The Jump-In app is not the only cutting-edge technology that will be used. Spidercam, the camera used during last summer’s coverage of the cricket, will hover above the marquee series. Using a series of pulleys and cables, Spidercam will bring a new perspective, but will be saved predominantly for replays in breaks of play.

“At the end of the day, you talk about the coverage and how many cameras and innovations there are, but the coverage is only as good as the game,” Crawley said.

“The game is the star, not the television camera.

“It’s Ray Warren’s 70th Origin calling and he’s turning 70 in two weeks’ time. He’s the greatest sports broadcaster in the world, Ray Warren, and he’s a big part of the success of this.

“Rugby league is such a great television sport because the action is so tight, brutal and magical.”

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29 Jul 19

Bush rats carry a parasite long overlooked by scientists.When Bill and Melinda Gates put out the call for a suitable animal to test drugs for the debilitating river blindness disease, geneticist Warwick Grant knew he had just the thing.
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Enter the Australian bush rat. Common in heathland areas of Victoria and NSW, the bush rat carries a parasite long overlooked by scientists.

First described 30 years ago by CSIRO scientist David Spratt, the parasite is found only in Australia, but produces the same symptoms in the bush rat that the chronic river blindness disease triggers in humans.

So Dr Grant wrote to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and secured a $100,000 research grant – one of only two Australians and 58 scientists worldwide to do so this year.

It will pay for Dr Grant and colleagues from his La Trobe University to collect parasite-carrying ticks from NSW bush rats trapped near Batemans Bay and place the ticks on laboratory rats.

The lab rat, which hails from the same family as the bush rat, then becomes an animal model on which to screen candidate drugs to replace the human treatment used by the World Health Organisation to prevent infection.

If successful, it will be the first time researchers have had an animal model on which to test the new drugs for the debilitating disease, which affects more than 37 million people in Africa.

”For most human diseases there are experiments in animals prior to clinical trials in humans,” Dr Grant said. ”That’s not possible for river blindness because there is no animal model available.”

The search for a suitable animal to study is growing increasingly urgent. While the drug Ivermectin has been successfully used for the past 25 years, it is not ideal. It does not kill the parasite and needs to be taken annually for up to 25 years.

The preventative drug, essentially the same drug given to dogs to prevent heart worm, has been around for more than two decades and there is growing concern the parasite will develop resistance.

”Eventually this drug will fail, so new drugs are desperately needed,” Dr Grant said.

River blindness affects mainly poor, rural African communities. Symptoms include permanent blindness, rashes, lesions and intense itching. It is caused by a parasitic worm that enters the body via the bite of a blood-sucking fly. Adult worms live under the skin for more than 15 years and produce millions of larvae that crawl around in people’s skin end eyes.

Dr Grant said while Australia was well known for its unique animals, the rare parasites those animals host were less appreciated.

”Our wildlife has evolved in isolation for a long time, so it follows that there is a lot of novelty in Australian parasites,” he said.

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

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