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Guitar legend Phil Emmanuel dies suddenly in Parkes, aged 65

Guitar legend Phil Emmanuel dies suddenly in Parkes, aged 65 Guitar legend Phil Emmanuel has died in Parkes. He gave a star-studded performance at the Wall of Famers Show during the Parkes Elvis Festival in 2018. Photo: Christine Little

Darcy and Phil Emmanuel with Darcy’s pooch Chelsea visiting the Parkes Champion Post office in September.

Robbie Porter (Rob EG) and Phil at the Parkes Wall of Fame at the start of 2018.

Phil and Tommy used to captivate audiences by showing off their skills – one particular show stopper involved the pair playing the one guitar, like this Maton MS500 at the same time. Pictured is Phil about 14 years old and Tommy was 11.

A 15-year-old Phil Emmanuel, who attended Parkes High School at the time.

When the family moved to Parkes they became the Trailblazers – from left in 1968-69 is Phil, Tommy and Chris Emmanuel and Frank Jones, the family’s school teacher who travelled on the road with them.

The Emmanuel brothers, Tommy and Phil’s names were placed on the Parkes Wall of Fame at the start of 2018. Phil (right) is pictured with Robie Porter (Rob EG).

Robie Porter (Rob EG) and Phil when the Emmanuel Brothers names were placed on the Parkes Wall of Fame at the start of 2018.

Guitar legend Phil Emmanuel performing in Parkes during the Elvis Festival earlier this year.

The Emmanuel brothers Tommy and Phil played two songs together at the 2018 Parkes Elvis Festival launch.

Bob Steel and Phil Emmanuel.

Josh Needs and Phil Emmanuel during the Parkes Elvis Festival.

Phil Emmanuel unveils the Emmanuel Brothers plaque on the Wall of Fame earlier this year.

Parkes woman Kim Oliver was thrilled to meet Phil Emmanuel.

Brothers Tommy and Phil Emmanuel pictured with a photo of their younger selves that hangs in the Parkes Champion Post office.

Josh Needs and Phil Emmanuel during the Parkes Elvis Festival.

Josh Needs and Phil Emmanuel during the Parkes Elvis Festival.

TweetFacebookHe didn’t chase the limelight, it chased him – but he got away,

Darcy Emmanuel

During his visit, Phil had shows planned for the Cootamundra Hotel on Friday night, a private function for friend Maureen Farr’s 60th birthday at the Railway Bowling Club, and a two hour concert at the Star Hotel on Sunday afternoon.

“Phil wanted to do a show at my favourite watering hole,” Darcy said.

“He wanted do it for those who were unable to make it to the Guitars of the Era concert he did at the Little Theatre during the afternoon on the Friday of this year’s Elvis Festival.

“He had heard that a few people couldn’t make it because they were working.”

Darcy said he has been in contact with his brothers Chris and Tommy, who is in London touring at the moment, and sister Veronica better known as Skeeta.

“We are all devastated,” Darcy said.

“This comes on top of the loss of our sister Virginia Grace on April 14, aged 69.

“Philip and Virginia were virtually joined at the hip and I don’t think either one would have been able to live without the other.”


Emmanuel brothers Tommy and Phil to be inducted on Parkes Elvis Wall of FameEmmanuel family celebrates 50 years of being in ParkesEmmanuel family donate guitar to Henry Parkes MuseumPhil and his brother Tommy playing together the Emmanuel Brothers graced stages all over the world with names such as Chet Atkins, Duanne Eddy, America, Hank B Marvin, John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, INXS, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.

Darcy said Phil wasn’t one for a lot of attention.

“He didn’t chase the limelight, it chased him – but he got away,” Darcy said.

“I had a plaque made for him once, it read ‘the greatest lead guitarist the world has never seen’.

“I think he is probably most famous for playing the last post on guitar.

“People would just shake their heads when they heard it, I’ve seen veterans cry their eyes out.

“Phil would only play it at RSLs, not for anyone else, he did do it once for me though because I loved it so much.”

Darcy wishes to thank his good friends John Mason and Maureen Farr who were with him when Phil collapsed.

“I am so glad that I was not alone at the time,” Darcy said.

“John helped perform CPR while Maureen waited at the gate for the ambulance.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the paramedics who went over and above and did such an amazing job.”

Phil is survived by his wife Amanda and his children Jesse Maree, Jamie-lee, Georgia Dee, Jackson and Marshall Travis.

The Emmanuel family ask for privacy at this difficult time.

– Parkes Champion Post

Environmental Protection Authority confirms high level of PFAS found in Maitland waterway

A hazardous material crew investigates the Truegain site at Rutherford in 2017. Picture: Perry DuffinThe levelofnotorious contaminantPFAS found in aMaitland creekis as high as 22 times the recommendeddrinking water guideline,the state’s environmental watchdog has confirmed.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authoritytold Fairfax Media the combined levelof PFOS/PFHxS found in Stony Creek reached 1.59 micrograms per litre, while a maximum reading of0.4 micrograms per litre was recorded atnearby Fishery Creek.

According to Commonwealth guidelines, the recommended safe drinking water level is 0.07 micrograms per litre while the recreational thresholdis 0.7 micrograms per litre.

Read more:Clean-up planned for PFAS contaminated Truegain site

Confirmation of the high readings of PFAS–the substance at the centre of the Williamtown contamination scandal–came after NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and the EPA released a mediastatement on Wednesday warning people not to usewater from Stony Creek, Fishery Creek and Wallis Creek for domestic or livestock purposes.

PFAS has been found in all three creeks.Wallis Creek runs into the Hunter River at East Maitland.

An EPA spokesperson said on Friday that a containment system housing PFAS at the Truegain oil refinery site atRutherford overflowed during heavy rain in March.

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison.

He said nearby residents were warned against using creek waterat the time but the agency would contact peopleliving downstream“in the next week”.

Truegain was forced to shut-down almost two years ago amid environmental concerns.

The EPA said on Friday the origin of the PFASwas unknown.

Read more:EPA moves on Rutherford refinery

Wednesday’s mediastatement prompted outrage from Maitland’s Labor state MP Jenny Aitchison, who questioned the government’s efforts to warn residents of the contamination.

Ms Aitchisonsaid shefirst heard about advice against usingcreek waterthrough media reports.

She said she had spoken with nearby landowners who were unaware that PFAS had been found in the creeks.

“I have no faith that the EPA has contacted the people it says it has contacted,” Ms Aitchison toldParliament on Thursday evening.

“I am aware that livestock is grazing near both Stony and Swamp [Fishery]creeks near Telarah.”

Ms Upton’s office referred the Fairfax Media’s questions to the EPA.

Premier back-tracks on compensation promise, saying city is ‘buzzing’

WE shapeourbuildings. Thereafterthey shape us.”

The line comes from Churchill, but it was delivered on Friday by NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes, who was in Newcastle with Premier Gladys Berejiklian for the official opening of the University of Newcastle’s NeW Space building –a $95-million landmark that vice-chancellor Caroline McMillen described at the opening as “one small part of the emergence of Newcastle as a magnet city”.

NeW Space certainly is a striking piece of architecture, and as the Newcastle Herald mingled with guests sipping orange juice and champagne high over the city, looking down onHunter Street and the light rail tracks taking steady but obvious shape, it was hard not to be caught up in the enthusiasm, in the belief that the rejuvenation of the CBD is an unalloyed force for good, if only people knewwhat was good for them.

That, at least, appeared to be the attitude Ms Berejiklian was taking on Friday when she was reminded by Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp and others about her December promises to investigate compensation for businesses struggling because of light rail construction.

Ms Berejiklian said that when she was in Newcastle two years ago, Hunter Street was a collection of closed down businesses and “vacant spots”. Now, she says, it’s “buzzing”, and that nobody needs compensating because everything is on schedule.

As we said in this space on Thursday, the Newcastle Herald rejects this argument. In relative terms the disruption is far greater in Newcastle than it has been in Sydney, where compensation is being paid. Even if the light rail turns out to be a runaway success, a relatively small number of individuals will have been trampled to make way for the greater good, and the state should recognise this, and do something about it.

As for the future of the CBD, there is no doubt that NeW Space is a pivotal piece of architecture. If the Honeysuckle campus goes ahead as the university envisages, then a substantial percentage of the student body will be doing some, or even all, of their degreein the bustle of the city, rather than the peaceful calm of the Callaghan campus.

Will this make a difference? What will it mean for the bushcampus? Only time will tell. But if Mr Stokes and Churchill are right, NeW Space itself will have a big, big influence on those outcomes.

ISSUE: 38,909.

Thursday’s editorial on the premier’s visit

Dockers hopeful Fyfe won’t need surgery

Nat Fyfe is still hopeful of avoiding some knee surgery at the end of the year.Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is hopeful Nat Fyfe won’t require knee surgery at the end of the year, and is backing the star midfielder to keep playing through his minor niggle.

Fyfe is battling a tendon issue that has left his knee feeling sore on several occasions in recent weeks.

Scans have cleared Fyfe of any serious damage, with a surgeon also giving the knee a green light.

But whether Fyfe will require surgery at the end of the season remains to be seen.

“It’s just a really minor ligament … it just rolls and catches,” Lyon said.

“At this point it (surgery) is not necessary. But down the track they would assess that.

“Connor Blakely’s had it for 18 months, and it hasn’t prevented him at all, and he hasn’t needed a procedure at the end either. So hopefully it just settles.”

Lyon played down talk that Fyfe may as well go in for a minor “clean out” at the end of the year.

“I don’t like the term clean out,” Lyon said.

“They don’t just clean out. A surgeon told me once that if you have a knee op, they’re all serious.

“There’s always a chance of infection. We don’t just clean it out, we trim cartilage, we adjust ligaments. Any operation is serious.”

Fyfe is the Brownlow Medal favourite following his hot start to the year, and he looms as a key figure in Sunday’s clash with North Melbourne at Optus Stadium.

The Fremantle skipper is set to get a tight tag from Ben Jacobs, who restricted Richmond’s Dustin Martin to just 16 disposals a fortnight ago.

Fyfe is five centimetres taller and seven kilograms heavier than Jacobs, and Lyon is urging his star midfielder to drift forward to expose the Kangaroos tagger.

Forward Cam McCarthy has copped some heavy criticism following his goalless display against Sydney last week, with former Bulldogs and Richmond coach Terry Wallace labelling the performance as awful.

But Lyon took blame for McCarthy’s quiet form of late, saying the former GWS forward doesn’t have enough tall support in attack.

McCarthy has struggled since Matt Taberner went down with a footy injury in round five.

“I feel a bit guilty with Cam because (of) the team we’ve picked,” Lyon said.

“I take responsibility for Cam not having a lot of support, so that just flags (David) Mundy will play a lot more forward.

“We think with the support, when he’s more freer and he’s not feeling the pressure of being that spearhead and tall all the time, he then plays very good footy.”

Gresford cowboy Cliff Richardson has the guts to take the glory at the PBR Global Cup in Sydney

PRIDE: Gresford bull rider Cliff Richardson. Picture: Simone De PeakCliff Richardson made headlines in 2014 when a bull he was riding almost ended his life. A horn to the stomach ruptured his spleen and pancreas. It took him two years to recover.

Cowboy’s life is one wild ride Cliff Richardson

Cliff Richardson, his wife Jess and son Wylee.

Cliff Richardson. Picture: Simone De Peak

Cliff Richardson. Picture: Simone De Peak

Brothers Lachlan and Cliff Richardson

Cody Heffernan

Cliff Richardson. Picture: Simone De Peak

Mitch Russell

TweetFacebookWeekender while fencing a property. He whistles softlyto his dog from time to time if it strays too far.

PBR Global Cup – The battle for the ultimate global bragging rights is on. “Mitch has been doing this as long as I’ve been riding bulls. I’vegot the utmost trust in them guys and I don’t know what they get paid but it’s not enough. They’re in the arena for every single bull ride, every single round. Their job is to take a hit from the bull before us and that’s gotta be worth a lot of money.”

Richardson, 28, began riding bulls at the age of 12 and is ranked third on thePBR Standings. He works for thefamily business as a cattle buyer and property manager during the week and devotes his weekends to bull riding.

“Fencing and jobs like this get me ready for the weekend. It’s a workout. Sometimes you classify the bull riding on the weekend and travelling across the country as a holiday because you’re flat out during the week,” he says.

He captained the n team at the PBR Global Cup series opener in Canada last year.It is the largest team event and battle for national pride thatthe sport has ever seen, pitting the world’s premier bull-riding nations, Brazil, Canada, Mexicoand theUS against each other.

Host status brings with it a significant competitive edge. The host nation receives a home-turf advantage and fields a 14-rider team – double the size of the visiting nations’ teams.

National pride is at stake and being part of a team is a major motivating factor for Richardson.

“I never played football or any team sports like that, so to go over to a foreign country and ride as a team, yeah, a fair bit of pride goes into that,” he says.

“There’s a lot of pride involved in riding for your country, too, especially whenit’s the biggest ever bull ride in . It feelsgood to be a part of that. And it won’t be my last either.”

Bull riding is a family affair for Richardson. Brother Lachlanis a six-time PBR World Finals qualifier and spends most of his year in the US competing on the 25thPBR:Unleash the Beast,Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.

Younger brother Eric is also a bull rider and sister Olivia works in sponsorship for the PBR Tour.Richardson also hascousins on the PBR tour.Then there’s his wife Jess, whose father was a bull rider and his uncle before him, and her brother Bradie Gray. Family rivalry, he says, pushes him to be the best he can be.

“I am never gonna stop trying to get better, because you can always get better, I believe. I’m going to keep trying and striving further forward,” he says.

“My brother is in America and I don’t see him for nine or 10 months of the year but we yarn every day about work and bull riding and it keeps me going, for sure.

“If he rags me out a bit it fires me up for the weekend.”

As for Singleton’s Heffernan, herode his first calf at the age of four and is now based in the US.One of ’s top riders, he nabbed the national title in 2016 and is currently fourthon the n Standings.

The protection athletes, on the other hand, don’t compete for fame and fortune. They attract the attention of the bulls when riders come off anddo whatever it takes to keep the rider and the bull safe, while at the same protecting themselves and their partner in the arena. This may involve laying across a fallen rider to protect them or distracting the bull and making themselves a target, which sometimes means getting in the way of a bull’s horns or hooves.

They tag-team with the other protection athleteand position themselves far enough from the bull during the ride so as not to impact its performance, but always close enough to strike in a split second.

A protection athlete can come between bull and cowboy up to 60 times per night.

A farrier by trade, Hall started as a protection athletein 2007 on a break from bareback riding. Heregularly partners with Russell and the two have learnt to read one another’s moves.

When asked how hecan square up to a 900-kilogram bull, Russell is matter of fact.

“Idon’t really think about it. Itell people I’m not the greatest specimen to look at and I don’t think I could run a marathon – but I can fight bulls for half a day,” he says.

Mitch Russell

“Iagree with Cliff that weshould be paid more but I’d still do it for nothing if they let me. It’s a job that’s not for everyone but Ilike doing it.”

After so many years as a protectionathlete, is he able to read the bulls in any way?

“To a certain degree, yes, but they are animals so you can’t really plan anything. Just like us they have bad days,” Russell replies.

“We’ve got to react to every situation how we see it, and try to deal with it the best we know how to. The bottom line is we put the rider first. As I see it, we’re third on the food chain. You’ve got the riders, then you’ve got the bulls, then we’ve got each other.

“Our job is not to be funny for the crowdor anything like that. Ifsomeone asks me how the crowd was, I couldn’t even tell you how many people were there. I just focus on what I have to do.”

Russell, who also breeds bulls to be ridden at rodeos, is just as proudas his mate Richardson to be part of the Global Cup.

“It’s a pretty big honour for them guys to ride for their country because it is such an individual sport. But we’ve got the job to support the best riders in the world, not just the ns,” he says.

“We’re proud of that too, it’s a pretty big honour for us. And to do it with mates, I can’t wait. It’s a privilege and should be fun.”

Predictably, Russell has had his fair share of injuries on the job. The list includes more than 10 broken bones, missing teeth, three knee reconstructions and a horn to the neck that made his windpipe swell up and affected his breathing. One knee reconstruction was “serious enough”, he says, but “nothing life-threateningthat I couldn’t recover from”.

Richardson also downplays the injury factor associated with the sport.

“Four years ago when I got hornedthere wasn’t even a mark on me, honestly. The damage was underneath the skin,” he explains.

“If you were to look at my body when I got injured, and you ignored the pain on my face, you wouldn’t have known there was a single thing wrong with me.

“You can’t let it bother you, mate, to be honest.Some people, it messes with their head but if you want to be competitive you can’t let it.It’s in the past and you move on.”

Fear keeps Russell on his toes in the arena but he doesn’t let it take over.

“I’m not going to say there’s no fear involved, I’d be lying to you. But when there starts to be too much fear and I feel I can’t do thejob as well as I do, I’ll go.I’d be stealing money then.”

Their respective wives remain supportive, even though both men are now fathers of young children. Russell’s son Max has just turned three and Richardson’s little boy Wyleeis 18 months old.

“I wanna get 10 years in a row in the finals. I don’t think anyone has done that before. Then I might think about giving it up,” Russell says.

“I feel as though I’m getting better at it, the older I get. My wife Alese has never told me it was time to quit or slow down or anything like that. She’s pretty supportive.”

Richardson says, laughing: “My wife don’t have much of a choice. I thought I’d slip that in there but nah, I’ve been with Jess for nearly 11 years now and she knows how it is. We met at a rodeo. She’s a country girl and her father was an n champion bull rider so she was around bull riding long before I was.

“She’s seen her dad take glory and plenty of injuries as well in his later years of riding so sheunderstands.”

As for his son, Richardson is not going to push him into bull riding but will not be surprised if it comes naturally to him.

“You’d think he’d have the genes, yeah, but he may not want to do it. If he wants to do it I’ll support him, the same as my parents did to me,” he says.

“But if he wants to do something completely different, nothing to do with the sport, I’ll still be there to support him. If I was a betting man, though, I’d probably put the ranch on him riding bulls or doing something in rodeosbecause he’s been around it all since the day he was born.

“He was probably at a rodeo when he was not even a month old. One thing’s for sure though –he gets his looks from his mum.”

Single-day tickets and two-day packages to the Sydney leg of the PBR Global Cup on June 9 and 10 at Qudos Bank Arena are on sale now through Ticketek.

Tiah’s murderer ‘should never be released’

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston says confessed killer Rick Thorburn should never be released.The prospect of Rick Thorburn ever leaving jail after murdering his foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer is incomprehensible and upsetting, prominent child safety advocate Hetty Johnston says.

Thorburn was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to the 12-year-old Logan schoolgirl’s 2015 murder in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday.

But the 57-year-old, who killed Tiahleigh after his son Trent confessed to having sex with her and he became concerned she was pregnant, could be released in 20 years after a mandatory non-parole period expires.

Ms Johnston, the founder of Bravehearts, has criticised the period as too lenient when it comes to the murder of children, calling on the state government to legislate a minimum life sentence.

“I’m really quite upset that parole could ever be a possibility for this man,” she told the ABC.

“There is no way a man who could knowingly, cold-blooded, calculatingly kill a little girl and leave a body to rot on the river bank should ever, ever be able to re-enter society.

“It’s incomprehensible. Anyone who kills an innocent child should never have any expectation they should see the outside of a jail ever again.

“We need to fix it so it’s really clear.”

Tiahleigh’s decomposing body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River on the Gold Coast in October 2015, six days after she went missing while in the care of the Thorburn family.

Trent, who admitted to having sex with his foster sister, was jailed in September 2017 for four years for incest, while his mother Julene spent six months behind bars for perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Ms Johnston said Tiahleigh had been repeatedly let down.

“This is a child who was failed through her parents, failed through her foster parents … there’s been a lot of failures in that little girl’s life and I feel incredibly sad for her,” she said.

Court told of McLachlan police complaint

Craig McLachlan is suing the ABC and Fairfax Media over claims of indecent assault.A person has gone to police with a complaint of being indecently assaulted by Craig McLachlan, the actor’s civil defamation lawsuit has been told.

The 52-year-old Gold Logie winner is suing Fairfax Media, the ABC and actress Christie Whelan Browne over articles and reports alleging he bullied and indecently assaulted her and two other female cast members during a 2014 production of the Rocky Horror Show.

Since the publications, McLachlan has become reclusive and his acting career has been effectively destroyed, according to his legal team.

The media companies and Ms Browne, represented by lawyer Lyndelle Barnett, were required to file their defence with the NSW Supreme Court by Thursday.

But on Friday, Ms Barnett applied for suppression orders in relation to three people, who were not referred to in the publications, and who all claim they were indecently assaulted by McLachlan.

Acknowledging the three were being “dragged” into the case, Ms Barnett said if Justice Lucy McCallum refused the applications, parts of the defence would be withdrawn.

One of the people would only give evidence in the defamation case if their name and evidence was kept confidential.

That person had lodged a complaint with police about being indecently assaulted by the actor, she said.

If police chose to proceed with that, the person would have the benefit of legally not being able to be identified in the criminal matter.

The person should not lose that protection now in a civil case, Ms Browne submitted.

The second person was not prepared to be a witness, but if the name was suppressed, other witnesses could potentially be able to testify about that alleged indecent assault.

Person three preferred not to be named, but would still give evidence either way.

McLachlan’s barrister, Stuart Littlemore QC, argued against the orders, saying they were premature and did not relate to “a party” in the proceedings.

“We have no interest in naming any person or even knowing the name except we must be able to conduct the ordinary investigative process,” he said.

Referring to person one, Mr Littlemore said there was no information when and in what jurisdiction the complaint to police was made.

He also noted that making a complaint does not mean a person will be charged with anything.

Justice McCallum will hand down her decision on Monday.

NPL: Scott Smith calls the tune for Charlestown City Blues

Scott Smith and Kane Goodchild were expected to spearhead Charlestown’s revival this season after the club’s three-year absence from the Northern NSW NPLfinals.

HIGH FLYERS: Striker Scott Smith, left, celebrates a goal against Lambton Jaffas with Charlestown teammate Rene Ferguson at Lisle Carr Oval this season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Smith, the Blues’greatest scorer, and Goodchild have finished top of the Northern NSW NPL/State League goals list in four of the past five seasons and were back at Charlestownafter one and three yearsrespectively at Hamilton.

But withGoodchild sidelined since round three, and at least a month away from a return,with a hamstring tear, many would have expected the revival to be short-lived approaching the halfway point of the season.

However, awin on Sunday over the Newcastle Jets Youth at Lisle Carr Oval will have the Blues as equal leaders, or better, after 11 rounds.

Blues coach David Tanchevski said the influence of Smith, whohas seven goals in nine games, has been vital.

“To be equal top of the table after the first round would be a long way above where we thought we’d be, especially when you consider we lost Kane after two games,” Tanchevski said.“It’s a big achievement.”

“We needed Scott to step up with Kane out obviously.Those two are so good working together, but Scott’s taken on a big brunt of the attack and Cal Lewis has stepped up as well and scored.

“It’s been a good start for us and Scott has really led by example up there and he really motivates the boys.

“He’s always a threat aroundgoals and he’s just an old school natural No.9.

“He’s got some pace, he’s good in the air, he finishes well. He’s not a flashy player by any means, but he’s a consistent performer and puts the ball in the back of the net.”

Smith said thedifference this season has been the club’s depth to cover the lossof Goodchild, Riley McNaughton (knee) and Daniel Minors (calf) in recent weeks. Minors is expected to return against the Jets but Zac Lloyd (knee) is out.

“We don’t have any real standout world-beaters,but everyone is solid and does their job,” Smith said.

“Tommy Smart, [Cameron] Sullini, Kev [Davison] and Ljubo [Milicevic] are doing a fantastic job at the back. [Matt] Tullis tidy, winning the pill and playing, andDaniel Minors as well.

“I’m happy to be scoring some goals. It’s what I play for, scoring goals and winning games, so it’s good that the group’s come together the way it has. It’s fantastic. I couldn’t be happier to be where we are and be wearing this shirt at the same time.

“It’s been a long time coming.I’ve been in a couple of squads that were in grand finals way back when.

“It’s good to be in contention, to be playing good football and getting results at Azzurri.It’s something we’ve been working a long time for.”

Elsewhere on Sunday, Broadmeadow welcome Maitland to Magic Park and Hamilton travel to Weston to take on the Bears.

On Saturday, Lambton Jaffas host Lake Macquarie at Edden Oval from 2.30pm and Valentine take on Edgeworth at Jack McLaughlan Oval from 5pm.

We’ve just got a group of blokes that aren’t world-beaters but everyone knows their job and does it really well.

Ljubo is a massive bonus, but we’ve been missing the squad depth

We’ve lost Goody, Riley, Daniel and Cas, but we’ve had that depth. We’ve had good young boys come in and fill the void and we’ve not missed much, which is good.

I’m happy to be scoring some goals. It’s what I play for, scoring goals and winning games, so it’s good that the group’s come together the way it has.

We had setbacks with Kane andRiley and then Daniel Minors at , then to lose Casca because he wasn’t starting, then to lose Daniel Minor the next week, was hard but the boys have been good.

It’s a good squad. The boys like playing together and hanging out, so it’s a good environment.

I hope they continue to underestimate us.

It would be great to fly under the radar all year, but I read Labi’s comments today about us, that he’s watched us and we’re experienced. So I guess people are taking a little bit of notice.


The more I’ve matured. I;m getting along a lot better with Tully now. We’ve matured and everyone’s getting along really well. Everyone knows their roles well

To lose Goody is massive. Playing alongside him is fantastic.

With Cal Lewis, he’s so bull at a gate,

don’t know where he’s going, don’t know what to expect. good and bad for us

doing well in replacing Kane, so that’s fantastic.

Laiman back, depth in centre of park.

The pre-season, the less said the better, worked straight away.

played every game,


We want to finish on a win against the Jets and be equal top of the table after the first round which would be a long way above where we thought we’d be, especially when you take into consideration we lost Kane after two games,

It’s a big achievement.

We needed Scott to step up with Kane out obviously

Those two are so good working together, but Scott’s taken on a big brunt of the attack and Cal Lewis has stepped up as well and scored.

It’s been a good start for us and Scott has really led by example up up there and he really motivates the boys.

He’s always a threat aroundgoals and he’s just an old school natural No.9.

He’s got some pace, he’s good in the air, he finishes well. He’s not a flashy player by any means, but he’s a consistent performer and puts the ball in the back of the net.

key goals against Hamilton and Jaffas.

Goodchild back in light training, aim for four to six weeks.

hopefully in finals frame from there

Minors back, Lloyd still out.

Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

OH BROTHER: Twins Jacob, left, and Daniel Saifiti have been mainstays for Newcastle for the past three seasons, but neither would be happy with how 2018 has panned out. Picture: Marina NeilPERHAPS it is too early to be jumping to conclusions.

But at the halfway point in the 2018NRL season, Sporting Declaration has been pondering a question that raises other questions.

Who have been the Newcastle Knights’ best players this year?

I’d imagine most fans would agree Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce, until he was injured, rate as the standouts, followed by quite a stretch of daylight.

For mine, Slade Griffin would claim the remaining spot on the podium, narrowly ahead of Herman Ese’ese.

What does this tell us about the state of play?

Well, first of all, the recruitment at the end of last season should be considered a success.

Ponga was an 18-year-old novice with two NRL games to his name when Knights coach Nathan Brown and football manager Darren Mooney made himan offer too good to refuse.

At the time, some felt it was a gamble born of desperation, but with the benefit of hindsight, maybe Ponga will prove to be the smartest purchase the Knights have ever made.

Pearce, of course, became available because the Roosters felt Melbourne champion Cooper Cronk was more likely to deliver the premiership they crave.

But on what the two playmakers have shown this season, I reckon Pearce was clearly in better form than his long-time Origin opposite number.

On a dollar-for-dollar basis, Griffin has been worth his weight in gold. When he arrived in Newcastle, he was little known other than for his cameo stint off the bench in Melbourne’s grand final win last season.

But what a revelation hehas been, relishing thechance to establish himself as a starting hooker.

Ese’ese, meanwhile, has been Newcastle’s leading forward in yardage, clocking up on average almost 120 metres a game.

Of the rest of Newcastle’s imports, Aidan Guerra has made more tackles than any Newcastle player, which, combined with his big-game experience and leadership, makes him a valuable all-round commodity.

Veteran props Jacob Lillyman and Chris Heighington have produced about what would have been expected, at this point in their careers, while Tautau Moga’s contribution was sadly cut short by the fourth season-ending knee injury of his luckless career.

All of which brings us to Newcastle’s incumbent players, most of whom had endured the toughest of apprenticeships during the bleakest period in the club’s history.

The consensusof opinionwas that this would be their time to flourish. The harsh lessons ofthe previoustwo or three seasons, combined with the influx of quality recruits, was expected to bring out their best.

Unfortunately for a number of them, this is yet to prove the case.

Front-rower Daniel Saifiti probably summed it up best recently when he told my Herald colleague Barry Toohey he felt his game had “gone backwards” this season.

Big Daniel is certainly not Robinson Crusoe.

His twin brother, Jacob, New Zealand Test hooker Danny Levi, five-eighth Brock Lamb and prop Josh King have all made appearances in reserve grade, and it would seem fair to assume none would be happy with how 2018 has panned out.

Of the other survivors from last season, how many have shown signs of progress and improvement?

Lachlan Fitzgibbon started the season with a flurry of tries, although coach Brown was disappointed with his performance in last week’s loss to Gold Coast.

Ken Sio has scored more tries –six in seven games –than he did in the whole of 2017, enhancing his reputation as a quiet achiever.

Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been generally strong, other than for his occasional errors. Experienced Jamie Buhrer has had little game time and been dropped for the past two games.

Nathan Ross, Newcastle’s leading tryscorer in 2016 and 2017, has crossed the stripe only twice in 11 games, while last season’s player of the year, Mitch Barnett, started slowly but has gradually hit his straps since switching from lock to second row. Sione Mata’utia, who in 2014 became the youngest-ever Kangaroo, has shown glimpses of his potential but been exposed in defence more often than he would like.

The bottom line is that, as a frustrated Brown admitted this week, there are a number of players who have not kicked on and taken their game to another level.

Why that is, I honestly couldn’t say.

But certainly this yearthere are greater expectations ofall Newcastle’s players than hasbeen the case in recent times.

In the previous two seasons, Brown blooded 15 players who were NRL debutants. This yearthere have been none.

Newcastle’s players have more experience, across the board, and hence receive less sympathy when they under-perform.

There is, of course, slightly more than half a season to go, and of Newcastle next seven games, six are at home and one is away, against last-placed Parramatta.

The Knights’campaignhas reached a crucial juncture.There is still time to get it back on track, but collective effort, rather than individual brilliance, will surely be the key.

Court orders freezing of Palmer’s assets

More than $500 million of Clive Palmer’s personal and business assets have been frozen as part of a long-running dispute with Queensland Nickel liquidators.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Bond handed down his judgment on Friday.

It featured orders to freeze more than $200 million of the mining magnate’s own assets, including his Cessna plane, vintage cars and several properties.

More than $343 million worth of assets relating to his many business ventures were also frozen.

Palmer’s lawyers immediately requested the directions not be enforced for 21 days, when it would appeal the decision.

Dominic O’Sullivan QC offered to deposit $200 million of Mineralogy funds into the liquidators’ bank account until the appeal could be heard.

But he was quickly forced to withdraw it after one of his colleagues spoke to Palmer, who was not in court, who said he wanted accounting advice first.

Justice Bond said one of the reasons he made the orders was because of a real risk Palmer would “attempt to frustrate or inhibit the prospects of enforcement or execution of any significant judgment against him or any of his companies”.

He said if he were to stay the freezing of the assets directions for 21 days, the risk increased that Palmer or his companies would dispose of, deal with or diminish their value.

As such he rejected the application on the grounds it would be unfair to deprive the liquidators “of the protection” he thought was warranted, particularly when Palmer had withdrawn the $200 million security.

Justice Bond said in his judgment if the mining magnate had the wealth he claimed he did, the making of the orders was not likely to be “significant”.

He also said the general and special purpose liquidators had a “good arguable case” against Palmer and his companies.

The freezing of the assets is part of a wider court case to claw back some of the money owed to creditors following the collapse of Queensland Nickel in 2016.

It will not stop him or his companies from using their assets as part of the ordinary course of business.

Palmer spokesman Andrew Crook said the Justice Bond’s decision was “further evidence of the political witch-hunt against him”.

His lawyers are expected to appeal the decision.