Brumby Joe Powell’s double-edged sword in Wallabies camp

ACT Brumbies scrumhalf Joe Powell admits it’s a double-edged sword travelling the world in the Wallabies but without seeing any game time.
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Powell been with the Wallabies since the first squad of the year was named in May squad but nine Tests later and he has played just 17 minutes in two appearances off the bench.

The 23-year-old has played only two games – both for the Canberra Vikings – since the Brumbies’ Super Rugby quarterfinal loss against the Hurricanes on July 21.

Powell travelled with the Wallabies to South Africa and Argentina, before returning in the Vikings’ 71-14 win against the Sydney Rays last Saturday, marking his first game in a month.

“The first five minutes was the quickest rugby I’ve ever been involved in and I was thinking it’s going to be a long 80 minutes, but it was great to be back out there,” Powell said.

The Vikings sit top of the National Rugby Championship ladder with one game left in the regular season but if Powell is picked on the Wallabies’ spring tour he will miss the NRC finals.

“If I was home playing footy I’d be kicking myself that I wasn’t in the [Wallabies] camp and then I’m in the camp and kicking myself that I’m not playing footy, so it’s a bit of a lose-lose,” Powell said.

“But I’m definitely happy with where I’m at and loving being in the Wallabies squad and learning from the best, no complaints there.”

Will Genia is the Wallabies first choice No.9, while Powell is competing with Nick Phipps for Test minutes and said the message from coach Michael Cheika has been consistency.

“Just consistency in my pass and little things that come with being a halfback but it’s hard when both the other halfbacks are playing really good footy,” Powell said.

“I’m just trying to play as much footy as I can and bide my time and see what happens.”

Henry Speight also featured in the Vikings’ win and is back the Wallabies ahead of the third Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday.

Speight started the first four games of the Rugby Championship until he was dropped against the Springboks, but returned off the bench against Argentina in the Wallabies last hit-out.

“This is a big week ahead of us and some are saying it’s a dead rubber but it’s a really important game to us,” Speight said.

“We want to have a lot impact off the bench and I want to come on and make a difference and lift the energy levels and pace of the game.

“I’m not lacking any confidence at all and whoever is named this week we’re going to back each other 100 per cent and make sure we keep each other accountable through our training.”

Socceroos reward on offer for Sydney derby midfielders

The four central midfielders clashing in Saturday night’s Sydney A-League derby could be rewarded with more than just bragging rights with a potential international call-up in the offing for one of the defensive midfielders.
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While far from the forefront of their minds, Western Sydney Wanderers’ defensive midfielder duo Kearyn Baccus and Chris Herd and Sydney FC workhorses Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brillante could find themselves in the frame for a shock selection to the Socceroos squad with coach Ange Postecoglou facing a potential dearth in his defensive midfield stocks.

The Socceroos will be without Mark Milligan for their first-leg play-off match against Honduras, while captain Mile Jedinak remains in doubt having been restricted to just 45 minutes of football for his club, Aston Villa, due to injury.

Of concern for Postecoglou is the lack of young defensive midfielders in the national team set-up which means Postecoglou could be forced to look for local options to bolster his stocks for the crucial qualifier.

Brillante and Baccus have had the brightest starts to the season having impressed significantly in possession. The two are the leading n centre-midfielders with completed passes from the opening two games of the season.

Alongside Melbourne City’s Luke Brattan and Austria-based James Jeggo, the four in the engine room in the Sydney derby are the best domestic candidates. O’Neill says the only chance he and his partner Brillante have of staking a claim for Socceroos selection lies in continuing their form at club level, beginning with the derby.

“Me and Joshy are concentrating on our roles at Sydney FC but it would be lovely if that happens. Me and Joshy would be the first ones to put our hands up,” O’Neill said. “What an honour it is to play for your country. We’d obviously jump at that situation, but first and foremost our job is at Sydney FC to make sure we do our jobs and make sure we win football matches.”

Postecoglou has shown his willingness to throw debutants into high-pressure games, putting his faith in Matt Jurman to start in both of the Socceroos’ recent play-off games against Syria. While none of the quartet have been selected during this World Cup qualifying campaign, two of those that are set to run the middle of the park at Allianz Stadium featured significantly in the early days of Postecoglou’s tenure as Socceroos coach.

Four of Brillante’s five appearances for the national team came in 2014 where he played as a defensive midfielder and right fullback under Postecoglou. All of Herd’s three games for were under Postecoglou. The Wanderers midfielder was part of the 2015 Asian Cup squad but withdrew early from the tournament after sustaining an ankle injury during a warm-up at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Neither O’Neill nor Baccus have been capped at senior international level, though the Sydney central midfielder represented at youth level, making two appearances for the Olyroos. Baccus has pledged his allegiance to over his country of birth, South Africa, who have been hot on the heels of the 26-year-old.

The Durban-born Baccus rejected a call-up from South Africa in March when he was given an opportunity to be part of their World Cup qualifying campaign. In April, Baccus told Fairfax Media that was largely due to his long-term goal being to represent the Socceroos.

Jones fined, reprimanded for comments about Vics win

Cricket NSW chief Andrew Jones was reprimanded and handed a $3000 suspended fine for publicly arguing against a decision by Cricket to award victory to Victoria in a domestic one-day clash at the weekend.
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In farcical scenes at North Sydney Oval on Sunday, the match was called off after 26 overs of Victoria’s run chase and with the Bushrangers at 4-108 and needing only 37 more runs to win.

It took more than 30 minutes before CA confirmed that Victoria had won under the Duckworth-Lewis system and it was another hour until it was made official that the Bushrangers would be awarded a bonus point.

The decision angered Jones, who declared on Twitter: “It should be a No Result. Conditions didn’t change all game so if it was dangerous for one side it was dangerous for the other.”

He added: “This is right up there with declaring BISP (Blacktown International Sports Park) pitch dangerous right after highest batting partnership in history of FC cricket.”

The Blacktown match between New Zealand and a CA XI two years ago was abandoned after a record opening stand between Ryan Carters and Aaron Finch.

CA took umbrage with Jones’ comments, ruling he had breached the code of conduct, relating to “public or media comment that is detrimental to the interests of cricket, irrespective of when or where such comment is made”.

In a statement on Wednesday, CA said: “The proposed sanction was a reprimand and fine of $3000, fully suspended, subject to Jones not being found guilty of any further breach of the Cricket Code of Conduct for a period of 24 months from 18 October 2017. Jones admitted the offence and accepted the proposed sanction and no hearing was required.”

The Bushrangers’ win took them into third spot, while ending the Blues’ bid for a third-straight competition win.

This latest farce came two years after a Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Victoria at the SCG was called off early because of concerns about the state of the outfield.

China to get more open, more powerful, says president

Beijing: Chinese president Xi Jinping has sought to downplay China’s image as an emerging superpower, setting out a 30-year timeframe for the country to become a “global leader” with international influence.
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He said it would do so without “mechanically copying” western political systems.

In a three-hour long opening report to the twice-a-decade meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr Xi said China’s markets would nonetheless continue to open up to foreign investors, an apparent response to criticism from Donald Trump and the European Union about trade barriers.

China would become “more and more open” and “significantly ease market access, further open the service sector, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors”.

The report flagged the possibility of China also opening free trade ports.

Setting out the direction for the Communist Party for the next five years, on a stage draped in red banners and the golden hammer and sickle, Mr Xi cast China as a developing nation, but said Chinese socialism had entered a “new era”.

China had met the basic needs of its people, he said, and would next work to become a “great modern socialist country” using a road map that schedules its arrival as a global leader in innovation by 2035. Economic strength and rule of law would be in place by this deadline, he said.

A second phase, of becoming a global leader in “national strength and international influence” would take until 2050.

Mr Xi said China’s economy was transitioning from rapid growth to a focus on high quality development.

Advanced manufacturing, internet, big data and artificial intelligence would be integrated into the “real economy”.

State-owned enterprises, which had traditionally dominated Chinese production, would see further reform, and China would pursue “innovative, coordinated, green and open development”.

In resource allocation, the market would play the decisive role, and the government must play its role better, the president and Communist Party general secretary said.

He insisted that China had been in the driving seat of the global fight against climate change, and promised a “revolution in energy production” by building an energy sector that was “clean, low carbon, safe and efficient” with new regulatory agencies.

Mr Xi described the role of a modernising Chinese military as defensive in nature: “No one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests … China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”

Among the major achievements of China over the past five years under his leadership, the report listed the “steady progress” of construction of islands in the South China Sea.

China’s island building and naval presence there have been ruled illegal by The Hague tribunal.

On another key point of what the Chinese see as national sovereignty, Mr Xi issued a warning against Taiwan’s independence “in any form”.

A new theory would be added to the Communist Party constitution: “The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.

Mr Xi said there was a contradiction between unbalanced development and people’s growing need for a better life, and the policy emphasised the need to deepen reform, major country diplomacy, and law based governance.

The anti corruption campaign had cut like a blade and achieved the goal of becoming a deterrent to corruption, but would continue.

The new leadership team of seven members of the Politburo standing committee will be revealed at the end of the Communist Party’s national congress meeting in seven days.

n Foreign Minister Julie Bishop responded after the speech yesterday, saying that “power is being consolidated around President Xi Jinping in perhaps unprecedented ways”.

As China’s global power grows, Ms Bishop also urged Mr Xi’s government to be a “promoter and supporter of the international rules-based system that has enabled China’s economic rise”.

“I note the President is speaking about socialism with Chinese characteristics, a form of state capitalism, and I think we’ll see a greater intensity and focus on state-owned enterprises,” she said.

In comments that seemed at odds to the thrust of the Chinese president’s speech, Ms Bishop told Sky News she thought “there will be a greater concentration of power within the state-owned enterprises,” giving rise to concern about moves away from “open, free, transparent, accountable” markets.

The Foreign Minister labelled Chinese GDP growth “remarkable but we are concerned to ensure that China remains a free trading nation”.

– with Fergus Hunter

Williamtown elected representatives and community reference groups to be disbanded by state government: Labor

FURIOUS Labor politicians say have beenlocked out of future discussions on the Williamtown contamination crisis, followingan announcement that aconsultative group for MPswill bedisbanded by the state government.
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The future of the separate Williamtown Community Reference Group (CRG) –the main vehicle for talksbetween residents of the red zone, Defence, the NSW Environment Protection Authority, council and government agencies –is also under a cloud.

Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp attended an elected representatives’ meeting at state parliament on Wednesday morning, and were told at its conclusion that the forum was being wound up.

They were also informed thatthe CRGwouldbe dissolvedand the EPA wouldcall for tenders for a private consultant to run a new “consultative committee” to replace it.MPs would not be eligible to sit on the new committee.

Ms Swanson slammed the state government’s actions.

“It’s unconscionable to think the EPA is now outsourcing its responsibilities to a private consultant, and then excluding local elected representatives from being part of that process,” shesaid.​

“Without elected representatives in their corner, our constituents will have no clout in their plight to hold government agencies to account.”

Both the elected representatives group and the CRG were established in 2015 to keep channels of communication open between parties involved in addressing the firefighting contamination crisis.

It is unclear what the makeup of the new consultative committee will be, how its members will be chosen or by whom.

Ms Washington said that from the beginning, Labor MPs were unhappy at being excluded from CRG meetings, and they were dumbfounded they were now being blocked from discussions entirely.

“As local MPs, we’ve been sidelined from the consultation process from the very beginning,” she said.

“Two years on and the NSW Government continues to prioritise politics over the community by excluding us from this process.”

Comment was being sought from the state government on Wednesday night.