NSW man denies organising witness murder

Luke John Sparos, 37, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Gemahl Maika.A prisoner accused of organising the execution-style murder of a crown witness in a drug case had no involvement in the Sydney shooting whatsoever, his barrister has told a jury.
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Craig Smith SC also warned the NSW Supreme Court jurors that criminals giving evidence against his client Luke John Sparos did not deserve their trust and, as a group, “are the epitome of unreliability”.

Rather than Sparos being behind the execution, Mr Smith said the actual organiser was another man, known as Witness E, who was “doing 27 years” after being found guilty of importing cocaine.

The barrister was giving the defence opening address on Wednesday at the trial of Sparos who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Gemahl Maika by arranging another man, known as Witness F, to shoot him for payment on April 6, 2011.

The 38-year-old was shot four times in the body and once in the head outside his Glen Alpine home.

Prosecutor Craig Patrick SC has told the jury Sparos, 37, was in custody awaiting trial for cocaine-related offences when he began planning the killing.

Mr Maika had become an “essential witness” against a group of people, including Sparos – who was motivated to kill him by “retribution” and the desire to send a message, Mr Patrick alleged.

But Mr Smith told the jury his client did not organise the killing and had no involvement in it.

“The accused pleaded guilty to charges related to the importation of drugs, he did not go to trial,” he said.

“Indeed, he offered to plead guilty to those charges about 10 months before (Mr Maika) was killed.”

Jurors may not like Sparos because of his involvement in importing drugs, but any such feelings were not relevant to his murder trial, he said.

The prosecution would rely “very heavily” on evidence given by criminals, including the convicted shooter, but Mr Smith said their testimony would be “very unreliable”.

The “ruthless” shooter, Witness F, had pleaded not guilty in 2016 to committing the murder.

“He gave evidence on oath in a trial where he denied, many, many times having been involved in the murder.

“He lied and lied to a jury just like you.

“The prosecution now calls Witness F in this trial – his words are not worthy of your trust.”

The only exception to him lying was when he told an undercover police officer that “he was sent to do the killing by the boys that went down for conspiracy” one of whom “is doing 27 years”.

Mr Smith said the defence contended the conspiracy reference related to the cocaine importation leaders, including Witness E, who received that sentence.

The trial continues before Justice Ian Harrison.

A-League: Jets lodge appeal against severity of O’Donovan banphotos

OVER THE TOP: The Newcastle Jets have appealed against the severity of the 10-match ban issued to Roy O’Donovan for his high-foot challenge on Melbourne Victory goal-keeper Lawrence Thomas in the grand final. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNEWCASTLE Jets have formally appealed against the severity of the 10-game suspension handed to Roy O’Donovan but have asked for the hearing to be delayed until the striker returns from Ireland late next month.
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As it stands, O’Donovan will sit out a third of the 2018-19 campaign after Football Federation ‘s Disciplinary-and-Ethics Committee (DEC) took a hard-line stance over what they labelled a”flying kick” on Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas in the 93rd minute of the Jets’ 1-0 loss in the title decider on May 6.

The sanction is the second-longest in the competition’s history, behind only the nine months Danny Vukovic copped for striking a referee when playing for Central Coast against the Jets in the 2008 grand final.

Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said the club and the Professional Footballers (players’ union) believed the ban was “over the top”.

“It was definitely dangerous play, and no-one is disputing the fact that it was wrong,” said McKinna. “If you compare it tosuspensions that have been handed out in the past, we think it is over the top. Roywas very professional in the way he took news of the suspension, but he certainly feels he same as the club in that it was over the top.”

The PFA,who will again supply a barrister to represent O’Donovan, filed the appeal on Wednesday, which costs the Jets $2000.

“We have asked for the appeal to be heard after Roygets back from holidays on June 26,” McKinna said.

A-League: Jets lodge appeal against severity of O’Donovan ban TweetFacebook Roy O’Donovan challengePictures: Max Mason’Hubers The appeal will be adjudicated by an independent three-person panel including a President, which is usually a Queen’s Counsel, and an ex-player.

The panel has thejurisdiction to reduce or increase the suspension and or come up with its own sanction.

In handing down the DEC’s finding last Friday, chairman John Marshall SC stated:”It is possibly the most dangerous play ever made in the A-League.”

Thomas was not seriously injured in O’Donovan’s challenge and played out the final moments before being awarded the Joe Marston medal for player of the match.

FFA Cup matches count towards the suspensionand O’Donovan could serve as many as four, depending how far the Jets progress, before the A-League starts.

It was the Irishman’s fourth red card in three seasons and second in his first campaign for Newcastle.However, McKinna said the ban would not come at a financial cost for the player.

However, the length of the suspension has altered the Jets’ recruitment strategy.

“It is not just the fact that we are missing Roy, there are other ramifications,” McKinna said. “It changes our recruitment targets and effects the salary cap as well.We have re-signed a lot of boys on upgrades. Now we have to go into the market fora striker who can cover Roy and maybe play wide as well.”

McKinna said he had been contacted by a number of agents but it was still only early days.

“It most likely to be an overseas player but we haven’t drawn up a short list or anything,” he said. “Ernie Merrick is away [on holidays] but myself and Joel have been emailing him and speaking every other day.”

The Jets return for pre-season training on June 28.

Bellamy says Storm decision comes first

Staying with the Melbourne Storm or off to the Brisbane Broncos and a year-long scouting mission – Craig Bellamy is tossing up all options as he contemplates his NRL future.
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The in-demand coach admitted on Wednesday to having talks with the Broncos with a three-year offer from the Storm also on the table.

Bellamy said before he could think about Brisbane, which could involve spending a year out of the game with Wayne Bennett locked in at the Broncos in 2019, he needed to decide on the Melbourne offer.

He said he planned to use next week’s bye to make a call and declined to hint at where his future lay.

“Because our program has been really hectic with a short turnaround and a fair bit of travel, I haven’t had the time to sit down and give it the time I need to make some sort of decision,” Bellamy said.

“There’s a whole heap of things to go through – it’s not just the dollar signs. I need to make sure I’m very clear in what I’m going to do.”

Bellamy is off contract at the end of this season but the Broncos have guaranteed Bennett’s future there next season.

The pair have a long history with Bellamy an assistant to Bennett before joining Melbourne in 2003 and Bellamy said he spoke to his fellow coach before sitting down with Broncos boss Paul White.

“The last thing that I wanted to be was disrespectful to Wayne, especially this week when he coaches his 800th game,” he said.

Melbourne chief executive Dave Donaghy told SEN radio the club wouldn’t consider giving Bellamy a one-year deal to fit in with the Broncos.

“There’s lot of confidence in our football club in terms of what we offer and we’re not in the business of being someone else’s feeder team,” Donaghy said.

Bellamy didn’t rule out sitting out a year and said he’d already contemplated spending extra time with other sporting organisations to further hone his craft.

“I’ve never had a year off,” he said.

“You could look at it in two ways. It could be refreshing and you can go and have a look at other organisations and pick up some things.

“We usually do that for two weeks at the end of the year but having said that, having a year off sometimes the game evolves very quickly and you could lose some touch.”

With a grand final rematch against North Queensland on Friday night Bellamy said he hadn’t spoken to his players but believed they understood his situation.

With no deadline accompanying the Storm deal, he said he wouldn’t be pressured into a decision.

“When I sit down and go through some thought processes it will be what’s best for me and my family and the footy club because I’ve been here a long time and it’s like a family itself.”

If he did decide to leave after 16 years at the helm, he nominated his assistant Adam O’Brien as the man to take his job.

Shocking video of shark stomach filled with plastic bags brings call for ban

Shocking video of shark stomach filled with plastic bags brings call for ban Shocking images of plastic bags being removed from the stomach of a juvenile tiger shark off the Far South Coast in march. Picture: Trapman Bermagui
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Shocking images of plastic bags being removed from the stomach of a juvenile tiger shark off the Far South Coast in march. Picture: Trapman Bermagui

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I recorded it to document this kind of thing. The word needs to get out.

Commercial fisherman Jason ‘Trapman’ Moyce

“Those bags in the shark would make it weaker and weaker because it’s not getting any energy,” he said.

“I’ve seen the same in sea birds. The microplastics are an increasing problem, because before it was only the obvious larger pieces, which we now know become smaller and smaller.”

The video was captured by Bermagui commercial fisherman Jason “Trapman” Moyce, who said he noticed the “very sickly” looking shark, with its stomach bloated, while fishing forbronze whalers in March this year.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before.The plastic bags had been in there a while,” the 45-year-old said.

“I recorded it to document this kind of thing. Theword needs to get out.

“This region is supposed to be pristine and non-polluted. If this is happening, what chance has the ocean got?

Independent marine biologist Dr Murray MacDonald said sharks can often confuse floating plastic bags for squid. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

“There’s not many things that aren’t made out of plastic these days.”

His video has gathered almost 300,000 views, with many people sharing their shock at the confronting images.

“We’re killingour planet.I can remember as a childgetting shopping in brown paper bags,” Jean Stirling posted.

Dr MacDonald said the issue of ingested plastic is quickly needing to be addressed, and is “unfortunately becoming more frequent”.

In April, nearly 30 kilograms of plastic was discovered in the stomach of a beached juvenile sperm whale in Spain, and in 2017Norwegian scientists found over 30 plastic bags inside the stomach of aCuvier’s beaked whale.

“Soon there will be a greater mass of plastic than life in the ocean,” Dr MacDonald said.

“It shows we have to get rid of single-use plastic bags.”

Alternatives to plastic are growing in popularity, as consumers look to lessen their impact on the environment around them.

Driven to change consumer habits, 33-year-old Anneliese Hallam recently quit her job at theMethodist Ladies’ College Marshmead Campus in Mallacoota to sell her MiBoo bamboo alternative to plastic straws.

“The key is getting people to think about as many alternativesto plastic as possible,” she said.

Anneliese Hallam is hoping her MiBoo reusable straws will help reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean each year. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

“All of us well-meaning humans are part of the problem, and we’re all accountable.

“It’s the little actions we take that will soon become normal, and people change behaviours because of what other people do.”

In 2015 a disturbing eight minute video of a plastic straw being painfully removed from the nose of a turtle by American marine biologist Christine Figgener went viral.

Plastic straws can become entangled in marine animals and are also eaten by fish, and Ms Hallam said many consumers and retailers are now looking to make an anti-plastic statement.

“The best alternative is no straw, but people like using them,” she said.

“It’s about creating a culture of reusing, which is my dream.”

Dr MacDonald said the NSW government is behind other states and territories, and should ban single-use plastic bags outright, and not rely on the private sector to regulate their use.

“There are various industries that use plastic who won’t ban it until everyone is required to, as competitive advantages are involved,” he said.

“Beyond that we have to start thinking about plastic products as not being replaceable, they must be durable and used for a long time.

“We’re only just finding out the extent of the problem, and seafood is basic subsistence food all around the world.”

Bega District News

Newcastle Knights take on Cronulla Sharks in Round 12 of the 2018 NRL season

Feeding frenzy: Red-hot Sharks thrash Knights | PHOTOS, VIDEOS The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP
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The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

The Newcastle Knights take on the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. Pictures: Darren Pateman/AAP

TweetFacebook. @cronulla_sharks coach Shane Flanagan with high praise for @NRLKnights’ fullback Kalyn Ponga. #NRLKnightsSharkspic.twitter苏州楼凤/lnOIcuXYp3

— Newcastle Herald (@newcastleherald) May 27, 2018“I suppose the kid at right centre has signed with us for next year.”@NRLKnights coach Nathan Brown was asked if he could find any positives out of today’s 48-10 hammering. pic.twitter苏州楼凤/Lm3bkJkCev

— Newcastle Herald (@newcastleherald) May 27, 2018

A Jayden Brailey try in the 31st minute made it 16-0, but then Knights back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon responded with his sixth try of the season to give the home team a flicker of hope.

Any prospect of a revival was short-lived.

KNIGHTS NEED TO AVOID VALENTINE’S DAYBENNY, BELLY-ACHE AND BRINGING BACK THE BIFFGRIFFIN CASHING IN AT KNIGHTS AFTER HARD YARDSA minute before the break, fullback Josh Dugan scored to reassert Cronulla’s superiority, then an Edrick Lee try four minutes after the resumption left the Knights facing a blowout scoreline.

Two further tries by Holmes – taking him to 12 in six games against Newcastle – Luke Lewis and Ramien inflated the margin.

After a promising start to the season that delivered five wins in the first eight rounds, the Knights have now slipped to four successive losses, including three on home turf.

They are now 11th, two wins behind eighth position.

Newcastle’s cause was not helped by head knocks to fullback Kalyn Ponga and hooker Slade Griffin, who were both assessed before returning to the field.

Centre Nathan Ross was also replaced at half-time after struggling with a groin injury.

It capped an unhappy day for Ross, who was also put on report for an attempted trip.

The Knights play last-placed Parramatta at ANZ Stadium on Saturday and both sides desperately need to stop the rot.

EARLIER LIVE BLOG:

Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

AN EYE FOR AN EYE: Dylan Walker sports a shiner after his disagreement with Melbourne centre Curtis Scott. Picture: AAP
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THURSDAYA TRUSTED spy informs Seven Days of a chance meeting in Sydney with a large, opinionated bloke who introduces himself as Nathan Tinkler.

Tinkler?Tinkler? The name rings a bell.

Anyway, the big fella makes a fearless prediction: “Bellamy to the Broncos. It’s a done deal.”

Hmmm. I’m not sure what to make of all this. I wasn’t buying what Tinks was selling five years ago, so I’m a bit reluctantto do so now.

Meanwhile, Queensland coach Kevin Walters suggests that Cameron Smith’s retirement from rep footyhas boosted Kalyn Ponga’s chances of making his Origin debut.

“He [Ponga] is a goalkicker, so that certainly does put him into the frame if that’s the line we go along,” Walterssays.

Good thinking, Kevvy. Now you just have to teach him how to play hooker.

FRIDAYI NOTE with a raised eyebrow a match preview of the Gold Coast v Newcastle clash on the nrl苏州楼凤 website, which states: “It’s probably not often the Titans go into a game believing they might be better than the other team.”

I find myself feeling slightly depressed, and worried, about a team of young men so devoid of hope and inspirationthey might as well forfeit the rest of the season.

In the Friday night game at Suncorp Stadium, Roosters prop Dylan Napa takes his head-to-head clash with Korbin Sims a tad too literally. Napa cops 10 minutes in the sin-bin but is left with one less competitor for a Queensland jersey, given that Sims will spend the next few weeks eating food through a straw.

SATURDAYTHERE are those who believe rugby league scrums are such a laughing stock we might as well get rid of them.

True, 99.9 per cent of scrums are just a chance for weary players to have a bludge for 60 seconds or so.

But once every two or three seasons, a team will flum a win against the feed and traditionalists will rejoice.

Today it’s Gold Coast who deliver the on-field equivalentof Halley’s comet at the expense of Newcastle.

What’s more, the Titans proceed to beat the Knights 33-26. It’s not a bad effort from a team with an ingrained inferiority complex.

In Melbourne, the Saturday night clash descends into mayhem when Storm centre Curtis Scott is sent off after doing his best to bring back the biff. Manly duo Dylan Walker and Api Koroisau cop eight minutes in the bin for their roles in the brawl.

As my former Herald colleague Brett Keeble observes on Twitter: “This is what happens when Cameron Smith isn’t allowed to ref, er, sorry, play. Absolute. Chaos.”

SUNDAYDYLAN Walker bears an uncanny resemblance to Rocky Balboa, after copping a flogging from Clubber Lang,as Manly reveal he has a fractured cheekbone that will sideline him for up to six weeks. “Talk shit, get hit. Well done sir,” Walker posts on Instagram.

Walker has long accepted that beinga professional niggler/trash talker comes with its occupational hazards.

“It’s a competitive sport,” he said last year. “If they want to put one on me, I’m more than happy to … some things happen. If you’re definitely going to dish it, you’ve definitely got to take it.”

I guess that’s what you call a self-fulfilling prophecy.

At Shark Park, Andrew Fifita declares:“There’s nothing more in the world I want [than]to win a State of Origin series.”Nothing, that is, part from playing forTonga againstSamoa in a Pacific Test in Campbelltown, the night before game two in this year’s Origin series.

MONDAYUNLIKE Dylan Walker, the old fox of the north, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett,does not subscribe to the law of the jungle.

Benny is filthy that Dylan Napa has not been cited for hiswell-documentedLiverpool kiss on Korbin Sims. “Why hasn’t the game madeNapaaccountable?” he asks. “I know there will be a shitfight coming my way but I’m not backing away from it. I am not going to watch my players get broken jawsandremain silent.”

I can’t help reflecting on an incident when Wayne was coaching the Knights in 2013 and prop Kade Snowden was suspendedfor kneeing Penrith lock Adam Dockerin the head.

“The NRL talk pretty tough about coaches not commenting on judiciary …what we all do know is the NRL is influenced by the media,andby coachesandtheir comments,” the master coach said at the time.

Good old Wayne. He’s never been inclined to worry if the pot is blacker than the kettle.

“There is abiasagainst the Broncos,”he adds.

I’m not sure exactly what he’s getting at here. Presumably not the 16 games in a row Brisbanehave won under referee Gerard Sutton at Suncorp Stadium.

Benny’s outburst prompts a response from Napa’s father, Stan: “Bennett –he’s always going to whinge. He’s just a hypocrite …he says he doesn’t like the media but he seems to like to ring them with stories.”

TUESDAYNRL chief executive Todd Greenberg agrees with coach Bennett’s assessment of the Napa incident and fires a broadside at the match-review panel.

“Player safety always comes first,andif you’re going to err on the side of caution, I thought it warranted a charge,”Greenberg declares.

This is unprecedented. Everyone knows you can’t just go criticising the NRL judicial process, willy-nilly.

Greenberg has no option except to fine himself at least $10,000, otherwiseanarchy will prevail.

WEDNESDAYNEWS breaks that the Broncos have offered Storm coach Craig Bellamy a massive four-year deal.

Bellyache and Benny both hold press conferences, the former looking in slightly happier mood than the latter.

All of which brings me back to the hot tip from the aforementioned Nathan Tinkler. Don’t know why I ever doubted him.

Richard Gere returns to TV in BBC drama

Richard Gere is playing his first role in TV in nearly 30 years in new BBC drama MotherFatherSon.Richard Gere will play a media baron in the upcoming BBC drama MotherFatherSon, the Hollywood star’s first TV role in almost three decades.
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His character in the BBC Two series, Max, is a charismatic self-made American businessman who owns media outlets in London and around the world.

“It’s been almost 30 years since I worked in television,” the star of “Pretty Woman” said.

“I’m so pleased to be working now with the BBC on this extraordinary eight-hour project with such talented people and which resonates so much [with] the time we live in.”

Gere joins Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders, Harry Potter films) and Billy Howle (On Chesil Beach) in the series.

McCrory stars as Kathryn, Max’s estranged wife, and Howle as Caden, the couple’s son.

With clear echoes of the James and Rupert Murdoch relationship, Caden runs his father’s British newspaper business and is primed to follow in his footsteps as one of the most powerful men in the world.

Caden’s self-destructive lifestyle spirals out of control, however, with devastating consequences for the family and its business empire. Tom Rob Smith (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) wrote the show.

“The scripts for MotherFatherSon seal Tom Rob Smith’s reputation as one of the most individual and original writers of his age,” said BBC drama chief Piers Wenger.

“We are thrilled that in Richard, Helen and Billy he has found the perfect eponymous lead characters to bring his series to life.”

The BBC’s production and distribution unit BBC Studios will make the series and sell it internationally. Filming gets underway in London this month.

Why Bennett knows Bellamy’s the best heir

Wayne Bennett says the Broncos need a coach with a big profile and plenty of ability.It’s no coincidence that of exactly 100 coaches to have opposed Wayne Bennett in the NRL, Craig Bellamy has had far and away the most success against him.
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Bennett’s coaching record shows those who know him best have inflicted the most pain on one of the sport’s greatest mentors.

Former assistants Ivan Henjak and Steve Price are among the select group of 17 to have a winning record over him, as are his Broncos predecessor Anthony Griffin and his former Canberra players Mal Meninga and Bellamy.

And few know Bennett better than Bellamy.

After he played under him in Bennett’s first year as a top-flight coach in Canberra in 1987, it was the eventual Brisbane mentor who gave him his first chance as a coach in 1998.

Bennett, knowing Bellamy’s work ethic, first offered the former Canberra utility a role as Brisbane’s trainer in the pre-season of 1998.

That quickly developed into an assistant coaching role, where Bellamy drove revolutionary performance analysis and provided video and notes on opposition teams as Brisbane won the premiership.

But it wasn’t until 2002 that Bellamy was truly noticed. With Bennett away in Queensland State of Origin camp, the assistant took six debutants to a famous “Baby Broncos” win over the Wests Tigers.

It was widely thought at that stage Bellamy was being groomed by Bennett to be his eventual successor at Brisbane. But that Campbelltown performance turned heads and it wasn’t long before Melbourne came knocking.

The rest of Bellamy’s story is written in the history books as the coach of the most dominant team of the NRL-era.

A four-time Dally M coach of the year, Bellamy’s 23 wins from 33 games against Bennett – at a strike rate of 69.7 per cent – is unmatched.

Which means it’s little wonder Bennett still sees him as an ideal successor to his throne some 16 years after he left.

“He is one of the top coaches of the game and it is a huge club here,” Bennett said on Wednesday.

“You need a coach with the best profile you can get and have top coaching ability.”

Job demand consolidating after bumper year

Private construction work has dipped in early 2018 while public construction has ticked upwards.Economists remain confident of a solid growth result when the national accounts are released in early June, despite new construction figures falling below expectations.
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An expanding economy should be a further positive for the employment outlook after clocking up over 400,000 new jobs in 2017.

However, other data released on Wednesday suggests demand for workers has come off the boil.

The number of job advertisements posted on the internet declined 0.5 per cent in April, the first drop after 17 consecutive months of rises and ending the longest run of gains in seven years.

Job ads were still nine per cent higher than a year earlier.

Five of the eight occupational groups monitored by the Department of Jobs and Small Business declined in April, led by a 1.3 per cent fall in sales workers.

Commonwealth Securities chief economist Craig James said the past year was a year of job creation while the period ahead looks like being one of consolidation.

“That was to be expected – employment couldn’t sustainably grow by over 400,000 a year,” Mr James said.

At this stage, economists are predicting the economy grew by around 0.8 per cent in the first three months of 2018, over double the pace of the December quarter’s subdued 0.4 per cent rise.

Such growth would lift the annual rate to around 2.7 per cent, a level more in line with the economy’s long-term trend and aided by a recovery in exports after a weak performance in the final three months of 2017.

This outcome would also roughly match the federal government’s growth forecast for this financial year, before accelerating to three per cent in 2018/19.

Construction work grew by just 0.2 per cent in the March quarter following two quarters of sharp swings that were the result of two LNG platforms being built.

Public construction work remained the key driving force, rising 2.7 per cent in the quarter while private construction declined 0.5 per cent.

Commonwealth Bank economist Belinda Allen noted this month’s federal budget included an additional $24.5 billion in infrastructure plans.

“This will continue to support construction work and the economy, both in a growth and productivity sense,” Ms Allen said.

Treasury analysis suggests that for every $1 spent on public investment, a $4 GDP increase is generated over the life of the asset.

Tedesco finds his feet and eyes NSW No.1

Amid uncertainty about coach Brad Fittler’s plans, James Tedesco wants back in the NSW team.James Tedesco has declared he’s finally found his feet at the Sydney Roosters as he prepares for a shootout for the NSW No.1 jumper.
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Ahead of the final NRL round before the Blues team is named for State of Origin I, Tedesco and Manly star Tom Trbojevic are considered neck and neck.

Tedesco believes that after a learning curve the Roosters are now playing to his strengths.

And likewise, he has adjusted to compliment his teammates as well.

“I think our whole attacking structure has changed,” Tedesco told AAP.

“The first few rounds our attack wasn’t clicking as well as we’d like to, we weren’t scoring as many points.”

Central to that change is the way Tedesco is being used.

In the first two months he has been used as part of sweeping plays out the back, which he admits haven’t proven effective.

Coach Trent Robinson is now increasingly using him to sniff around the ruck, something he did with great success during his six years at the Wests Tigers.

“That’s definitely one of my strengths, working with Friendy (hooker Jake Friend) there, just around the ruck, it’s where I’m most dangerous,” Tedsco said.

“Those sweeping plays, defences knew they were coming and could read them pretty well.”

While Tedesco said he was unhappy with his start to the NRL season, he’s still been statistically one of best attacking players in the competition in the first 11 rounds.

He’s made the second most linebreaks in the competition (10) behind Melbourne’s Josh Addo-Carr (12).

He’s third for tackle busts (50) and also for most metres (170m per game).

And over the last four weeks has averaged 194m – the most in the competition over that period.

It’s now difficult to split him and Trbojevic as Tedesco aims to hold onto his sky blue No.1 jumper.

The Manly No.1 had a lacklustre month after suffering a knee injury against Canberra, however has been back to his best in their wins over Brisbane and Melbourne.

Fittler’s decision could come down to Tedesco’s performance against the Gold Coast on the Central Coast on Saturday afternoon.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it and it’s pretty well documented,” Tedesco said.

“Tommy’s been playing good footy and over the last month I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve been playing.

“It’s taken a bit of time. But I’m feeling more comfortable each and every week, I think it’s only going to get better and better.”