Monthly archives: June, 2019

McKenzie to encourage ‘Australian way’ at Wallabies

The 48-year-old, whose first Wallabies squad assembled in Sydney on Monday, said he would not be throwing out everything from the Robbie Deans era, some of which was “world class”, nor simply replicating what he had done at the Queensland Reds.

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But, as at the Reds where the likes of flyhalf Quade Cooper were given freedom to try different things on the park, McKenzie said he wanted to foster an environment where players felt they could use skills they had practised.

Cooper’s fallout with Deans, who quit after the series defeat to the British and Irish Lions last month, was not just about the comments he made about the Wallabies being a “toxic” environment but also because he felt restricted by the New Zealander’s gameplan.

“If players see an opportunity, you want them to take it. You don’t want to shut that down and just kick the corners and it’s 0-0,” McKenzie told reporters on Monday.

“I think that’s the Australian way, you’ve got to have a bit of a go. I’m not the sort of guy who wants to walk around and just say ‘no’ all the time.

“You’ve got to coach around the circumstance, was that the best time to do it? maybe look at the scoreboard, the timeline there. You’ve got to manage the thinking around it rather than just saying no.

“You’d like to be a team that can win games through skill. That doesn’t happen every day at the office. I think skill and expressing yourself is part of the way the Wallabies play, or at least the way I remember them, so you want to be edging that way.”

ATTACKING STYLE

McKenzie announced his finalised coaching team on Monday, furthering the idea of continuity with a twist by bringing in one new assistant and keeping two who had worked under Deans.

Jim McKay has agreed to rejoin McKenzie as attack coach after their four years of success at the Queensland Reds, while defence coach Nick Scrivener and set piece coach Andrew Blades will continue in the roles they were appointed to last year.

Wallabies captain James Horwill, who also skippers the Reds, said he had not spoken to McKenzie about the way the team would play but suspected, with McKay also on board, a more attacking style.

“Knowing the two guys and the way they operate, that’s certainly going to be the main goal,” he said.

“We want to play a style of rugby that fits the guys in the team but also the Australian way and I think the attacking mindset is what the Australian public want to see.

“Obviously, there are times you have to kick and play field position but certainly we’re going to go out there and have a dig, that’s something that’s going to be quite evident come the first test, I’d imagine.”

That first test will be in Sydney against world champions New Zealand on August 17 in the Rugby Championship with a second test against the same opposition to follow in Wellington a week later.

If that was not a big enough challenge, McKenzie inherits a squad where the nocturnal activities of some members have become a concern over the last year.

When asked about disciplinary problems, the former test prop laid out his thoughts with a look that brooked no argument.

“It won’t be a problem, I’ll be making that very clear,” he said. “There’s not a big problem here, 95 percent of the players are doing the right thing every moment of every day.

“We’ll make it clear and then we’ll just manage it.”

(Editing by John O’Brien)


Cafferkey murderer to die in jail

The parents of murder victim Sarah Cafferkey led a round of loud and tearful applause as a judge sentenced their daughter’s killer to die in jail.

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And minutes later they vowed to continue the fight to change the system that set Stephen James Hunter free to commit what was his second murder.

Ms Cafferkey’s mother Noelle Dickson declared that justice had been served by the life sentence without the possibility of parole passed on Hunter, 47, by Victorian Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bell.

“Today we stand before you in the knowledge justice has been served for our beautiful daughter, niece, cousin and friend,” she said.

“We thank Justice Bell for a quick and courageous judgment.”

Justice Bell had earlier told Hunter he was guilty of a crime of exceptional horror and brutality.

“The nature of the offence you have committed is … in the worst category of the worst offence on the criminal calendar,” Justice Bell said.

Ms Cafferkey was Hunter’s second murder victim and her death bore chilling similarities to that of his first.

In 1986 Hunter murdered Melbourne schoolgirl Jacqueline Mathews, stabbing her repeatedly then dousing her body in petrol and burning it beyond recognition.

In November last year, 11 days after his parole for another crime expired, Hunter murdered Ms Cafferkey, stabbing her 19 times after beating her with a hammer.

He then drove around for several days with her body in the boot of his car, complaining to a friend that it was starting to smell, before putting it into a wheelie bin and pouring concrete on top of it.

A day after the release of a report that revealed chronic deficiencies in the system that allows dangerous criminals to be released on parole, Justice Bell went to great lengths to explain his decision to condemn Hunter to die behind bars.

He said Hunter deserved “very great credit” for his early guilty plea and that he had exhibited remorse.

“While your crime was monstrous, you are not a monster,” he told Hunter on Wednesday.

“You are not a remorseless psychopath.”

The judge also referred in his sentencing address to international conventions on human rights.

But he said none of those considerations outweighed Ms Cafferkey’s human right to life or the need to protect the community from someone such as Hunter.

“After anxious consideration I have concluded that I should not impose a minimum term,” he said.

As they grasped the meaning of the words, Ms Dickson and Sarah’s father Adrian Cafferkey led heartfelt applause from the public gallery of the Supreme Court and were joined by friends and relatives.

Outside the court Ms Dickson promised to continue her campaign to overhaul Victoria’s adult parole system.

“Community safety is of the utmost importance,” she said.

“Parole is a privilege and not a right.”

Ms Cafferkey’s murder is just one of several committed in Victoria in recent years by killers who were paroled for earlier violent crimes and which led to the judicial inquiry into the state’s Adult Parole Board.


Serena makes successful return to hard courts

Williams was joined in the third round by three other high seeded players who were making their first appearances on the North American hardcourts after the season shifted from Europe.

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Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli beat American Lauren Davis 6-0 6-3, fourth seed Li Na of China joined her following a 6-1 6-4 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia while fifth seeded Italian Sara Errani accounted for Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-2 7-6(2).

Williams played an aggressive and consistent match to beat Schiavone, whose attempts to serve and volley and mix up her attack had little effect on the 16-times grand slam champion.

“Usually I have a lot of nerves going out there, but in the beginning, I was so relaxed,” Williams, who won a claycourt tournament in Sweden after Wimbledon, told reporters.

“I always feel that way when I’m playing a grand slam champion. I just feel a little bit more relaxed and ready to play.”

Williams will face Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in the third round after the 13th seed beat Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 7-5 3-6 6-2.

Bartoli played as well as she did in winning Wimbledon with power hitting and never allowing Davis to grind her down.

“I never played against Lauren before,” Bartoli said.

“I think overall I did pretty well considering the amount of pressure I was under, being the Wimbledon champion and have to step on the court in a tournament where I lost first round the last two times I played.”

The Frenchwoman will face the unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.

Li, who spent five days after Wimbledon in Munich undergoing medical checks to ensure she was not carrying any significant injuries, did not always employ the high-risk attack her coach Carlos Rodriguez is encouraging her to try out, still managed to out-hit Pavlyuchenkova.

“I was fighting a lot on the court,” said Li, who will face 16th seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, a 6-4 6-4 winner over Flavia Pennetta.

“I tried to use more serve/volley but the serve didn’t go in. I was feeling pretty good, because today I tried so many things like not only stay on baseline.”

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic ended the hopes of Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard 6-3 6-2, while ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki was upset 5-7 7-6(0) 6-4 in nearly three hours by Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

France’s Alize Cornet also ended 11th seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko’s tournament with a 7-5 7-5 victory.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)


Romney’s last-ditch effort to be your Facebook friend

Mitt Romney wants to be your Facebook friend.

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As the US election nears the home stretch, the Republican candidate is making a last-ditch effort to get more fans on the social media site.

Perhaps the Republican candidate is feeling envious of the size of the president’s Facebook page, which is pushing 30 million fans.

Much scrutiny has been made over the social media leg of this year’s presidential campaign, with many analysts placing Obama’s online strategy in the same position he’s enjoying in the polls: the top.

It’s true the president has stronger numbers in terms of fans and followers compared to Romney, but let’s be honest: he has the stronger numbers on social media because more people in America know who he is, know what he does and understand what he believes in.

The president wins on numbers online because he wins on numbers in real life. That’s less a product of politics and more a product of being in the nation’s top job for four years.

Romney, as the challenger, was always going to have to educate people on a personal level, about his background and his beliefs. The chasm between his and Obama’s Facebook fans serves to highlight the jump-start an incumbent has on an untested competitor. (Whether or not Romney should have amassed more fans in the lead-up to the election is difficult, at this stage, to judge).

Mitt Romney’s campaign digital director Zac Moffatt isn’t sweating over the numbers. He said recently he believes the Republican candidate is ahead where it counts — engagement.

User interaction, or engagement, is important to social media analysts because it provides a way to measure how many people are listening each time a message is posted to a social media site. The metrics vary depending on the tool, but on Facebook, for example, comments, shares and ‘Likes’ are the virtual equivalent to a campaign rally’s cheers and boos.

Moffatt believes — and there’s data to back him up — that Romney’s crowd is cheering louder than Obama’s on Facebook and Twitter.

Take a recent ‘free bumper sticker’ post by Mitt Romney, posted September 24. Some 82,465 fans ‘Liked’ the post, and 5,974 shared it. A ‘free car magnet’ post by Barack Obama on the same day generated 95,565 ‘Likes’ and 5,096 shares.

Considering the different audience sizes, and the fact that shares are generally believed to be more valuable than likes due to their ability to reach the message out to non-fans, Romney clearly got more bang for his buck out of the post.

So team Romney may have a point about engagement, but team Obama has a much stronger online presence by way of volume. Using that same rally metaphor, you could say the President’s fans are cheering more often, and at a larger number of events.

And there’s another way Obama’s digital strategy appears to have more muscle: targeting. A close look at the president’s official campaign Facebook page reveals clear links (via page Likes) to no less than 23 sub-pages targeting special interest groups, most of them also official.

Among them: Women for Obama, Latinos for Obama, African Americans for Obama and Obama Pride. The page also links to nine state-specific ‘Obama for America’ accounts — namely, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado. Recognize them? They’re almost all swing states, and critically important to Obama’s re-election campaign.

(It’s not that ‘Obama for America — California’ doesn’t exist — it does — but it has not been linked from Obama’s primary campaign Facebook page, because someone in the president’s digital strategy team has decided it shouldn’t be. Less clutter, more focus? Probably).

Obama has re-created on a smaller scale what he is very good at doing on a large one: breaking the message down and making individuals feel like he is speaking directly to them.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has just one official page ‘Like.’ Just one other page on the whole of Facebook that he wants to share with you. That of his running mate, Paul Ryan. And that highlights a major flaw with the Romney digital campaign: Engagement doesn’t really matter much, when you’re speaking to the converted.


Italy, Argentina renew rivalry after 12-year gap

World Cup hosts Brazil will attempt to keep the momentum going after their Confederations Cup win in June as they visit Switzerland in another of the nearly 50 friendlies being played on the first international date of the season.

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There are several neighbourly clashes with England meeting Scotland at Wembley, Belgium hosting France in Brussels and Sweden entertaining Norway in Stockholm.

Other teams will be travelling much further, including world and European champions Spain, who face an exhausting round trip to steamy Guayaquil to play Ecuador, and Uruguay, who travel half way around the world to visit Japan.

Uruguay’s trip will at least give striker Luis Suarez a break from his troubles at Liverpool, where he has been told he must apologise to his team mates before he will be welcomed back into the squad following a failed bid to move away.

Victor Genes will make his debut as Paraguay’s fourth coach in only two years as the South Americans visit Germany in Kaiserslautern.

The former under-20 coach replaced Gerardo Pelusso who quit in June after a 2-1 home defeat to Chile kept the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists bottom of the South American qualifying group for the 2014 finals in Brazil.

Beleaguered Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre badly needs a win against Ivory Coast in New York following his side’s disappointing CONCACAF Gold Cup exit against Panama while the United States, who won the tournament, visit Bosnia in Sarajevo.

European clubs frequently complain about the August date, which is played before many domestic leagues have kicked off, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, president of the European Clubs’ Association, once described the games as “nonsense matches.”

Rummenigge is Bayern Munich’s CEO and is hardly likely to be pleased that two of his club’s players, Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez, have been included in an experimental Spanish squad for the trip to South America.

WORLD CUP

Italy’s meeting with Argentina in Rome is the pick of the crop.

The two teams met in four successive World Cups between 1978 and 1990, the last of those games ending in a heart-breaking semi-final defeat for hosts Italy with a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Their only meeting since then was Argentina’s 2-1 win in Rome in 2001 when Osvaldo was still a teenager living in Buenos Aires.

Osvaldo, who has scored three goals in eight appearances, has been recalled by Italy for the match, having previously fallen foul of coach Cesare Prandelli’s code of ethics.

The 27-year-old was dropped from the Confederations Cup squad after getting into a public row with AS Roma interim coach Aurelio Andreazzoli during the Italian Cup final against Lazio in May.

Born in Buenos Aires, Osvaldo was raised at Huracan where he made his professional debut and moved to Italy as a 20-year-old to join Atalanta.

He qualified to play for Italy through his great grandfather and became the latest in the long line of oriundi, as foreign-born national team players are known, when he made his debut in 2011.

(Editing by Rex Gowar)