Schutt tunes up verbal barbs ahead of Ashes

n wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy will “bring the bitch back” for Sunday’s Ashes opener in Brisbane, and key quick Megan Schutt has vowed to play her part in an aggressive approach against England this summer.
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The visitors enter the Ashes with a swagger in their step after leapfrogging into the world’s No.1 ranking following their World Cup triumph in July where Schutt’s team was bundled out by India in the semi-finals.

That loss was particularly painful for the tournament favourites who have been stewing on their failed World Cup campaign ever since, and the Aussies are set to unleash three months of pent-up disappointment on England this weekend.

Healy declared last week there would be plenty of chatter from behind the stumps while England was batting throughout the series, and Schutt was keen to chime in not only with the ball, but with her razor-sharp wit.

“I didn’t think you could use the word bitch in media so that was great, I had a good laugh and I was like ‘Why haven’t I done that before?’,” Schutt said. “I love it, I love when Midge [Healy] comes out with that attitude because when she’s chirping I’m glad to be on the same side of it.

“We’ve talked about, until recently, we’ve been the No.1 team in the world for a long time and I think personally we should have a good presence out there.

“I’m not necessarily a sledger in a sense, but I just like to say things that are probably going to get in their head, and get them thinking about the game. Every now and again make a sly comment with a bit of a devil eye, that’s kind of what I do best.

“I’ve got piercings all over my face and ears so it’s intimidating.

“It’s not an arrogance thing, it’s a confidence thing and saying ‘Hey we’ve turned up to play a game of cricket’. I know I’m going to try and be chirpy out there, it’s something that I do well so I might as well do it.”

and England play three one-day internationals starting on Sunday before a day-night Test at North Sydney Oval starting on November 9.

That’s where Schutt will come into her own brandishing her deadly in-swing bowling, using a pink ball which is expected to move around under lights.

“I’ve had a few bowling sessions with the pink ball down back in Adelaide and the ball was moving,” Schutt said. “It was awesome, it was great to have a ball that from the get-go has got a bit of a seam and it was a bit more of a pronounced seam, I felt like I could hold it really well.

“I was getting movement which was lovely, and that just creates a good contest between the bat and the ball and at the end of the day that’s what you want to see in a Test match.

“That’s going to be really important especially on a deck that’s not going to be able to give too much to the bowlers, so hopefully under lights that ball’s moving a bit for me.”

Master of dragons’ genetic code scoops nation’s top science prize

Professor Jenny Graves with bearded dragons she named Malcolm and Bill for the announcement she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science at Parliament House Canberra on Wednesday 18 October 2017. Fedpol. Under embargo until 1700hrs Wednesday 18 October 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares SPECIALX KANGA SMH , NEWS , Kangaroo , Prof Jenny Graves with on of her subjects a pouched young Tammer Wallaby. Prof Graves is studing the kangaroo genome. Photograph taken on the 22nd of August 2002 by Andrew Taylor / jat
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Professor Jenny Graves may not be a mother of dragons, but she is the master of their genetic code.

She analyses bearded dragons’ genetic blueprint, or genome, and studies how, at higher temperatures, male eggs, with male genes, develop into females.

Having fewer males could decimate the species under climate change, but there is also a human dimension.

If environment can affect how dragon sex genes work, how does a pregnant human mother’s diet, for example, affect the way her unborn baby’s genes work?

Professor Graves’ curious expertise was rewarded on Wednesday with the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

She is the first solo woman to receive the nation’s top science prize.

Her accomplishments include mapping the genome of kangaroos and the platypus, and studying chromosomes of emus and Tasmanian devils.

Previous recipients include Wi-Fi inventor Dr John O’Sullivan, bionic ear creator Professor Graeme Clark and cervical cancer vaccine developer Professor Ian Frazer.

The University of Melbourne’s Professor Eric Reynolds won the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for his discovery of a protein in dairy milk that repairs and strengthens teeth.

He commercialised the finding into Recaldent products, such as sugar free chewing gum and toothpaste, that are used in 50 countries.

Professor John Dewar, vice-chancellor of La Trobe University in Melbourne, where Professor Graves is based, said: “Her global contribution to the understanding of evolutionary genetics and sex determination in humans is extraordinary.”

Professor Graves, who has been a geneticist for 46 years, is “thrilled to bits” with the prize. “It’s an endorsement of a lifetime working with n animals, and with a lot of very talented young people.”

She says her comparisons with the human genome “enable us to figure out how genes work and how they evolved”, and can translate to medical breakthroughs.

The genetics of kangaroo milk, for example, “could give us information about how to nurture premature babies”.

Professor Graves’ research teams at La Trobe and at n National University in Canberra also identified 14 new human genes.

She famously predicted that the human Y chromosome, which makes men male, is degrading and will disappear in a few million years.

Professor Graves wasn’t interested in science at Adelaide’s Presbyterian Girls’ College until a class on breeding budgerigars in 1959 showed how mating a blue with a yellow budgie resulted in a green one. Green budgies’ offspring were either blue, green or yellow.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is fabulous’, and that led me into doing science at uni.”

After she returned to La Trobe in 1971, after studying for her PhD in cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, a colleague persuaded her to study the genes of kangaroos.

He had said n animals were so unlike those overseas “that it’s like an independent experiment in evolution”.

Professor Graves said that to succeed in science “you have to have a few brains, but, really, perseverance pays”.

She hopes her prize inspires girls to pursue science. “It’s a really exciting career. Every day is different. Everything you do is ‘a world first’. It might be important or not important, but it’s always new and I love that.”

Former Kambala principal sues over emails that painted her as ‘tyrannical’

Former Kambala principal Debra Kelliher is suing the school and two of its teachers for up to $2 million in damages, claiming that emails circulated about her after her departure made her out to be a “tyrant”.
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Ms Kelliher, 60, resigned from the Rose Bay school in April after staff issued a vote of no confidence in her leadership, following claims that a significant number of staff had left as a result of changes she had brought to the school.

She is suing for defamation in the NSW Supreme Court over an email sent by head music teacher Mark Grandison to various parents, staff and former staff shortly after her resignation. Social sciences department head June Peake then forwarded it with the rest of the email chain to 200 staff.

Ms Kelliher says the email carried the defamatory imputations that she had waged a “vicious and tyrannical” campaign against the school, had acted unethically as principal and displayed a complete lack of interpersonal skills.

According to Ms Kelliher’s statement of claim lodged with the NSW Supreme Court, the email was also defamatory in making her out to be so incompetent that there had been a chronic loss of staff, which would likely lead to worsening academic results for the school.

Kambala has denied the emails were capable of being defamatory, and argue they were incapable of further harming her reputation in any case because she had already lost the confidence of parents and staff.

But Ms Kelliher says the school should have warned staff not to make adverse comments on her performance in accordance with her deed of release, and should have issued an apology or retraction after the email was sent.

She is claiming aggravated damages because she claims the imputations are untrue. The claims published in the email had made her unemployable as a principal, and she had already failed to obtain even an interview for comparable position, she says.

According to her statement of claim, the school was $12 million in debt when she became principal in 2014.

But she uncovered the fraudulent misappropriation of school funds by its former business manager Ian MacCulloch, who later pleaded guilty to defrauding the school of $400,000, the statement of claim says.

School records also showed that the former principal Margaret White had charged the school $650,000 in expenses over four years, including for personal items such as clothes, jewellery and hair and beauty appointments, Ms Kelliher alleges in her statement of claim.

Meanwhile staff leave practices were “irregular at best”, heads of department had “extremely light” teaching loads and staff enjoyed privileges such as travel with their spouses to international conferences that held little value for the school, there were gifts from the former principal and “extravagant” morning teas.

Department budgets were overspent, the physical assets of the school were run down and there was significant bullying and dysfunction among staff.

“Despite the school’s Anglican tradition, not only was there little real Christian practice, but there was open mocking of religion by staff members.”

But Ms Kelliher claims to have turned around the school’s financial position, retained its academic position, improved anxiety and suicidal ideation among the girls, rebuilt a relationship with the Old Girls’ Union and had overseen increased enrolments.

She alleges Mr Grandison was motivated by his personal dislike for her and his opposition to decisions she had made, such as refusing to buy a $300,000 Steinway piano when he sent the email.

This was even though she had requested the school council to continue a full scholarship for his daughter when the finance committee had questioned it, her statement of claim says.

It also says Ms Peake was motivated by “malice and spite” in circulating the email chain to 200 staff members, because she had been officially warned not to speak disrespectfully about senior staff, use an inappropriate nickname for a staff member or belittle and upset her colleagues.

Kambala and the two teachers deny in their defence filed with the Supreme Court that Ms Kelliher had suffered injury to her reputation as a result of the emails being circulated, but to the extent that the defamatory meanings were carried they were substantially true.

According to the defence, a large number of parents had complained about Ms Kelliher in the month before her resignation and more than 80 staff recorded a vote of no confidence in her in March.

They were concerned about the systems she had implemented, the loss of staff and the effect on Kambala as an educational institution, the defence says.

The day after a meeting of 100 staff and council members on April 7, Ms Kelliher was forced to resign.

Mr Grandison and Ms Peake published the emails in the belief that they were true and they were responding to an “attack” in a Sydney Morning Herald article that said she had resigned in response to a “nasty campaign”, according to the defence.

They claim that the damage was mitigated because Ms Kelliher had a reputation for unethical and bullying conduct, causing a large number of staff to leave and mismanaging the school to such an extent its future academic performance was at stake.

Ms Kelliher said in a statement that she felt it necessary to sue over the email, which had been widely distributed.

“We will argue the statements are completely at odds with the evidence that exists regarding the school’s academic record and my performance as Principal of Kambala,” she said.

“To that end, I have been touched by the phone calls and emails I have received since I left the school and would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff, students and parents who continue to support me.”

The school’s legal representative did not return calls on Wednesday.

Newcastle’s WNBL bid put on hold for at least 12 months

NEWCASTLE’S hopes ofentering a team in the Women’s National Basketball League have been deferred for at least 12 months.
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Newcastle Basketball had been aiming for inclusion in the 2018-19 season, after receiving $5 million in state government funding last October to build a 2000-seat stadium capable of hosting national-league games.

But construction of the stadium, which is expected to take nine months, is still yet to start, after it was delayed by a land claim on the site made by the Awabakal Aboriginal Land Council.

Next WNBL season would be likely to start in early October, 2018.

OLYMPIAN: Suzy Batkovic

Meanwhile, Newcastle Basketball’s initial expression of interest with regards to next seasonhas not progressed into acompliant business plan.

In the circumstances, Basketball recently told Newcastle officials there was “no possibility” of entry in 2018-19 and to instead focus on making a successful bid for season 2019-20.

Basketball ’s priority for next season is to establish a team inBrisbane, increasing the league from eight teams to nine.

WNBL general manager Paul Maley told the Herald on Wednesday it was decided the best course of action was for Newcastle “to take the foot off the pedal” and accept that 2018-19 entry would be unattainable.

OLYMPIAN: Katie Ebzery

“In terms of the growth strategy, the Brisbane market is the No.1 priority,” Maley said.

“What that meant for Newcastle is that we wanted to let them know immediately that there is no possibility of entering next season. The earliest consideration would be for season 2019-20.

“We thought it was better to advise them that there was definitely no possibility for next year so that they don’t rush in and put a whole lot of time, effort and resources into producing a bid.”

Maley said that even if construction of the new stadium was under way, it was unlikely that Newcastle would have been considered for next season.

“It’s really more a matter of prioritising Brisbane,” he said.

“That as a strategic priority sits above everything else …that’s not to say we will have a team in Brisbane next year, because we will need to receive a successful bid.”

Maley said factors like population and location meant itwould “make sense” to eventually have a WNBL team based in Newcastle.

“We haven’t established a time line with Newcastle,” he said.

“We need to. But right now, all we have said is take your foot off the pedal for the time being.What we have to do is give them a time line so that they know what they have to work to.”

Newcastle Basketball general manager Neil Goffet said the governing body’sdecision“might be a blessing”, given that it was unclear whenconstruction would start on the stadium.

HOPEFUL: Neil Goffet

“We are working on our bid and we just have to make sure it’s so good that BA can’t refuse us entry into the 2019-20 season,” Goffet said.

“There needs to be a lot of community support, but it’s a great time to be involved with women’s sport in with so much of it now fully professional and televised, like the new Fox Sports deal for the WNBL.”

He was hopeful to have some clarity on the stadium time frame soon. It was reported in August that Awabakal was withdrawing its land-rights claim.

“We have been working closely with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Minister Barilaro’s office to get the best outcome for Newcastle and the Hunter Region with regard to the stadium development,” he said.

“There are a few things in the pipeline that will hopefully come to fruition in the near future.”

Newcastle officials are hopeful home-grown Olympians Suzy Batkovic and Katie Ebzerywill be involved if and when the city secures entry into the WNBL.

Pulver hits back at latest senate inquiry claims

Outgoing ARU chief Bill Pulver has hit back at allegations raised in Monday night’s final senate inquiry hearing, which suggested former Melbourne Rebels owner Andrew Cox siphoned millions of dollars of grant money into non-rugby interests.
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It was ARU chairman Cameron Clyne’s turn to defend the culling of the Western Force when he faced questions in Canberra from senator Linda Reynolds, who alleged up to $6 million of Rebels funding provided by the national body was funnelled into Cox’s various companies.

The Force’s drawn-out axing from the Super Rugby competition in August led to two failed court appeals and a senate inquiry, which is expected to deliver a report in mid-November.

Pulver fell on his sword following the announcement the Force would be removed from the competition and will leave his post as chief executive as soon as a replacement is found.

Speaking to Fairfax Media on Wednesday after announcing a home three-Test series against Ireland to be played in June next year, Pulver rubbished the suggestions about the former Rebels owner.

“My understanding is that’s complete nonsense,” Pulver said.

“The funding relationship between the n Rugby Union and the Rebels was a confidential document.

“We review all their financials. He also had a business partner, he owned a majority of the entity and there was a minority shareholder.

“I am not aware of him siphoning money off into other businesses. Where that’s coming from I have no idea.”

West n mining magnate Andrew Forrest offered a reported $50 million to the ARU to keep the Western Force in the competition, but that was rejected.

Forrest announced in the aftermath of the Force’s demise that he planned on starting a rebel rugby competition involving teams from the Indo-Pacific region.

The ARU has developed a working party headed by deputy chairman Dr Brett Robinson that has been working with World Rugby to help facilitate the implementation of the new competition, but Pulver said there was still much to be done if the rebel league was to get off the ground by 2018.

“It’s a pretty rigorous process, n Rugby and World Rugby ultimately have to approve any international competition like that,” Pulver said.

“It’s a lot of work to set up an international competition like that so we’re working very closely with them. They’re also reaching out to other countries that might be involved and they’re also having meetings with World Rugby, so there’s a lot of engagement going on.

“It’s their time frame not ours. Our understanding is [Forrest] is keen to get the first version of this competition up and running next year, in which case there’s an awful lot to do.”

The ARU has appointed a recruitment firm to seek a replacement for Pulver, who hopes to leave his post by Christmas, and an interview process will begin in the coming weeks.

Pulver plans to take the year off once a new chief executive is appointed.

Ireland president Michael Higgins was in Sydney on Wednesday to announce the first three-Test series to be played between and their northern hemisphere rivals.

Brisbane will host the series opener on June 9, before games in Melbourne (June 16) and Sydney (June 23) as the Wallabies look to extend their unbeaten run against the Irish on n soil, which stretches back to 1979.

“There’s been a wonderful rivalry between our two teams in recent years and, in particular, the Irish team has performed superbly in the last couple of years,” Pulver said.

“We are neck and neck vying for that No.3 and No.4 position in the world. We’re sincerely looking forward to having a sea of green up and down the eastern seaboard June next year.”

Ireland have put together a submission to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, up against France and South Africa. is one of 39 voting bodies that will decide which bid is successful.