Rebels name representative squads

REWARDED: Macquarie winger Matt Hay (left) with NSW Challenge Cup trophy at Mudgee on Sunday. Picture: Facebook
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Fresh from a NSW Challenge Cup triumph Macquarie’s Matt Hay has been named in Newcastle’s under-23 representative team for Saturday’sopening round of the NSW Country Championships.

Hay, who scored a try in the weekend’s 30-18 state knockout final at Mudgee,was picked on the wing by Rebels coach Todd Edwards.

The 18-man squad was announced on Tuesday ahead of Newcastle’s first-up clash with Northern Rivers at Wauchope.

The side will be steered around by Lakes halves Jack Kelly and Nick Newman while fullback Jamie Ghoulmieh, centre Jacob Gagai and lock Chris Randall also fly the flag for the Seagulls. Kyle Kennedy is the 18th man.

Wests backs Willis Alatini and Mao Uta have been rewarded as part of an unbeaten start to the Newcastle Rugby League season while fellow ladder leaders Central won’t have any players missing when they host Cessnock in round four on Sunday.

Souths premiership-winning trio Roman Fepuleau, Jake Lawrence and Luke Higgins strengthen the forward pack with Maitland pair Jarrod Smith and Lincoln Smith at hooker and prop respectively.

Cessnock trio Reed Hugo, Sam Apthorpe andRobert Tuliatu dominate the bench, which is rounded out by Souths utility Ryan Glanville.

Glanville’s sister Jordan has been named in the ladies league tag squad to represent Newcastle against Northern Rivers at Wauchope on Saturday.

The NSW Country Championships’ round one encounter will feature five of her Souths’ teammates –Brooke Carter, Jacqui Moriarty, Sam Redman, Olivia Higgins and Chantelle Graham.

REBELS UNDER-23: 1 Jamie Ghoulmieh (Lakes), 2 Willis Alatini (Wests) 3 Mao Uta (Wests) 4 Jacob Gagai (Lakes) 21 Matt Hay (Macquarie) 6 Jack Kelly (Lakes) 7 Nick Newman (Lakes) 8 Roman Fepuleau (Souths) 9 Jarrod Smith (Maitland) 10 Lincoln Smith (Maitland) 11 Jake Lawrence (Souths) 12 Luke Higgins (Souths) 13 Chris Randall (Lakes) 15 Ryan Glanville (Souths) 16 Reed Hugo (Cessnock) 17 Sam Apthorpe (Cessnock) 19 Robert Tuliatu (Cessnock) 5 Kyle Kennedy (Lakes)

REBELS LLT: 1 Brooke Carter (Souths) 3 Jacqui Moriarty (Souths) 4 Rhianni Cipta (Wests) 5 Sophie Higgins (Lakes) 7 Sam Redman (Souths) 8 Olivia Higgins (Souths) 9 Grace Gallagher (Wests) 10 Angela Jones (Lakes) 11 Chantelle Graham (Souths) 12Jordan Glanville (Souths) 13 Emma Martin (Maitland) 14 Sarah Dodds (Lakes) 15 Emily Coppins (Wests) 18 Logan Flanagan (Lakes) 19 Caitlin Johnstone (Lakes)

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ReviewAnyone for Breakfast?

Anyone for Breakfast?
Nanjing Night Net

Club 71, at St Stephen’s Hall, Hamilton. Ends May 20.

There is a degree of irony watching Anyone for Breakfast? unfold after having a delicious pre-show dinner in Club 71’s venue. While the English play’s writer, Derek Benfield, is renowned for his farces, and Anyone for Breakfast? is among his most popular, there is too much repetition in the situations. All the comedy’s characters are involved in illicit relationships and spend a night and a morning trying to avoid being caught by partners and others in a London house. There are many hasty entrances and exits through adjoining doors, with unwanted encounters avoided by seconds, and it soon became a case of “Not again!” for this audience member.

It is to the credit of director Brian Wark and his six actors that I found myself frequently smiling, if not laughing. The performers move well around the large living room set, and the sounds of their voices and the wordless facial expressions show growing desperation, as they hastily make up lies relating to their presence in the house, including the married couple who live there.

The story begins with Shirley (Amanda Woolford), who owns the house with her husband, getting ready to head off for the night while friend Jane (Katie Wright) has an assignation there with Mark (Lee Mayne), a handsome young man she met at her squash club. Jane is unaware that Shirley is having a tryst with her husband, Roger (Carl Gregory). And Shirley is confident that her arrangements will work well because husband Gilbert (Lindsay Carr) has gone to an airport to fly on business to Dusseldorf in Germany.

The confusion begins when Mark and Jane reveal different programs for their get-together. Then Gilbert returns home because the flight has been cancelled and he won’t be leaving until the middle of the next day. Aware that his wife won’t be there for the night, he brings with him attractive German flight hostess Helga (Sandy Aldridge), with whom he resides when in Dusseldorf. Roger and Shirley unexpectedly come to the house individually late at night and the confusion worsens.

It was hard for me to believe that the ever-increasing untruths would be believed by the characters, but the dialogue included amusing moments provided by the actors. Carl Gregory’s sternly voiced assessment that “It’s a bit like hide and seek” summed up what was happening. And Aldridge’s German-accented hostess made amusing the woman’s references to such things as being unable to start her hired car because of “a fault in the sparkling plugs”.

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Little Eagles on centre stage for big day

RD 10 (all 2.30pm): Saturday: Newcastle Jets Youth v Broadmeadow. Sunday: Maitland v Jaffas, Hamilton v Lakes, Edgeworth v Valentine, Weston v Charlestown.A new group of “Little Eagles” will help Edgeworth celebrate amilestone moment at Jack McLaughlan Ovalon Sunday.
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Arnett’s Program training.

The Eagles will host Valentine on the125th anniversary of the first recorded home game played by Young Wallsend, which became the Edgeworth club. The region’s first club, Minmi Rangers, won thatgame 3-0.

Edgeworth will wear a heritage strip, a replica of the oneworn by Young Wallsend juniors, to mark the event.

The club is also putting one of their newest initiatives on display.Edgeworth have this year started the Arnett’s Program, which gives special needs children the chance to train for and play football.

Arnettmeans “Little Eagle” and the concept is the brainchild ofMark Midson, who has two sons in the program. Edgeworth administrator WarrenMillssaid Midson was looking for a winter outlet for the group, who had a program at Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club.Twenty-one children are in Arnett’s, which has a two-year sponsorship from the House With No Steps.

The Arnett’s children will playbetween the under-20 and first-grade games on Sunday.Edgeworth will donate a portion of canteen and gate takings to the program. They will also ask for agold coin donation at the gate for families wanting to enjoy face painting and jumping castles at the ground.

** Nathan McAllister scored twice to lead Thornton to a 2-0 win over Singleton in Northern League One round nine action.

Leaders Cooks Hill downed South Cardiff 3-0, West Wallsend beat Wallsend 2-1, Cessnock and Toronto Awaba drew 2-2 and Kahibah defeated Belswans 2-0.

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When Isaiah met Anja: Australia doubles its Eurovision odds

Australia looks to have doubled its odds in the assault on Europe’s six-decade-old singing crown with not one, but two entrants in the 62nd annual Eurovision Song Contest.
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But in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Monday the two Australian contestants – Isaiah Firebrace, who is representing Australia, and Anja Nissen, who is representing Denmark – were all smiles.

“Everyone is here to win,” Firebrace said. “I am here to win, you’re here to win, Sweden is here to win but it’s not like a cocky kind of thing it’s more like a fun competition. We all get along well.”

It seems that not since Crown Prince Frederik found Denmark’s future queen in a Sydney pub has there been such an affection between our country and the world’s oldest monarchy.

Both artists successfully used television talent programs to launch their careers: Firebrace was the winner of the eighth season of The X Factor Australia in 2016 while Nissen won the third series of Nine’s The Voice in 2014.

Firebrace was selected by broadcaster SBS and Australia’s Eurovision delegation to perform; Nissen competed for her entry by winning the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, a national music competition held every year in Denmark and used to select their Eurovision entrant.

Firebrace and Nissen said the contest, created initially as a means of healing the wounds of divided Europe and capitalising on newly-laid coaxial technology which connected the continent’s broadcasters, represented a unique opportunity for them as artists.

“You have to make the most of every opportunity no matter how big the stage is,” Firebrace said. “It’s such an amazing opportunity and I know we both feel very honoured to be representing Denmark and Australia.”

Nissen said exposure at the competition, alongside competitors from Sweden, Italy, Greece, Germany and the United Kingdom, was crucial to building an international pop career.

“You don’t get this opportunity every day,” Nissen said. “This is one of the biggest international stages you can perform on. I feel so fortunate and lucky to be part of the whole thing.”

Although they are friendly rivals, the pair will not meet in competition until the final, assuming they both make it through their individual semi-finals.

Firebrace is competing in the first semi-final, which airs in Australia live on Wednesday morning on SBS, against Finland, Poland, Portugal, Latvia and others; Nissen is in Friday morning’s second semi-final, against Serbia, Norway, Ireland and Romania.

Firebrace is singing the pop ballad Don’t Come Easy; Nissen is singing the power ballad Where I Am; at Monday night’s first semi-final jury show in Kiev there was a strong response backstage to Firebrace’s performance.

Under Eurovision rules the so-called “big five” – France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom – do not compete in the semi-finals and automatically book a place in the final; the host country, in this case Ukraine, also get a slot in the final.

Although the event is considered apolitical, this year’s competition has been bruised by a political clash between Ukraine and neighbouring Russia.

The Russian entrant, Yulia Samoylova, was banned by Ukrainian officials because she had performed in Crimea, a region annexed by Russia, in 2014; as a result Russia withdrew from this year’s competition.

Australia’s inclusion in the competition is via a wild card which is offered on a year-by-year basis, beginning with Guy Sebastian in 2015.

Although some still debate whether we are geographically eligible to compete in a European song competition, what is certain is our strong form: in two years in official competition we have come fifth and second in a field of more than 40 countries.

Firebrace said he had asked two of Australia’s former Eurovision stars – Jess Mauboy and Dami Im – and both told him to focus on the experience, not the competition.

“They both said don’t worry where you’re going to place or any of that stuff,” he said. “They said just go and enjoy yourself, go out on stage, do your best and sing your heart out.”

Firebrace and Nissen were born in small communities and both said they were conscious of how far they had come to be competing in the Ukrainian capital against a field of such diverse artists.

Firebrace was raised in the small Riverina community of Moama, New South Wales; Nissen grew up on the outskirts of Sydney and attended school in the Blue Mountains.

“It’s always on my mind how far I have come from a small country town,” Firebrace said. “It proves you should really believe in yourself and do your best wherever you can.

“I always dreamed and wanted to be on the world stage and when I started watching Eurovision I was like, this is a thing I want to do. It’s just awesome.”

Michael Idato travelled to Eurovision courtesy of SBS.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Pointless system not worth all the trouble

HIGH-FLYER: Western Sydney Wanderers forward Ryan Griffiths will bring even more star power to the Lambton Jaffas and the Northern NSW NPL in June. Picture: Getty Images
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The burning question since Sunday’s news that Ryan Griffiths will step from the Asian Champions League with Western Sydney Wanderers to the NPL with Lambton Jaffas at the end of this month is, how?

With a player points system (PPS) in place, how can the leaders, already boasting the likes of Joel Griffiths andJobe Wheelhouseand with seven new players to their roster already this year, bring in the 35-year-old former Socceroo for the second half of the season?

The answer is that the PPS, a Football Federation Australia requirement,has become basically pointless and serves as little more than a burden to Northern NSW Football and club administrators.

Ryan Griffiths, to the surprise of some, is worth 15 points in the watered-down system, in which each club are allocated 180 points to fit in their20 to 23 players. Despite coming directly from an A-League club, Griffiths is worth the same as an NPL player switching clubs. His brother, Joel, already holds thesole marquee position, for players coming directly from a nation’s top competition,on the Jaffas’ roster. That means Joel is worth only the standard 10 points. Not much difference anyway.

Under the original PPS guidelines from 2014, Ryan would have been worth 38 points, albeit under a cap of 250. That’s the starting point of 10, plus 10 for his ageabove 25, another 10 for his A-League status and eight as a switching player.

The PPS was designed to force clubs to develop andpromote youth, encourageloyalty, rein in playerpayments and level the playing field across state leagues.However, since its introduction, and under pressure from the players’ association, FFA has changed the guidelines and, most significantly, abandonedage and marquee penalties. A 10-point penalty remains for visa players, meaning the likes of Magic’s Canadian keeper Niko Giantsopoulos are worth 20. But Ryan Griffiths is worth 15. It’s ridiculous.

The Jaffas started the season on 178 and in last week’s first window for changes, moved in Griffiths (15) and a club junior worth just two points. Michael Williams (seven) and Tom Waller (eight), who is travelling to Europe, came out, leaving the Jaffas on the limit – 180.

Now, this is not a shot at the Jaffas.They should be applauded for having the financial strength and network to recruit a player like Griffiths, who will be great for the league.The Jaffas are just playing by the rules, which is where the problem lies.

Between diluted penalties, injury waivers, two windows for changes and the allowance of under 20s outside the PPS list to play 40 per cent of first-grade games, there’s not much you can’t do.Itbegs the question, what’s the point of having it at all?

And is it achieving what it set out to do?

The PPS has promoted youth but it seems some youngsters who are put ontop lists are there largely to bring the club under the cap. Many are long odds to see significant game time.

Has it reined in player payments? I’d say, no. If anything, the number of high-profile players earning $1000 a game, or close to it, appears to have risen since the NPL started in 2014 as clubs struggle to keep up with the big spenders.

As for loyalty, the PPS has made it harder for clubs to make wholesale changes each year.However, Lambton still brought in seven new players –a third of their roster –this year after a forgettable 2016.

It can be argued that the systemhas also made long-term players, who are worth less pointsto their club, more valuable, boostingtheir bargaining power.

As for creating a more evenplaying field, the NPL is approaching round 10 this weekend and three teams are yet to post a win. That said, teams like Weston andAdamstown have been more than competitive and Lake Macquarie and Valentine are exceeding expectations.

However, most years the heavyweight clubs – Edgeworth, Hamilton, Broadmeadow and the Jaffas –are fighting for silverware and that doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon.

Many mistakenly blame NNSWF for the situation. The NPL PPS is an FFA guideline. In fact, NNSWF have gone a step further to tighten the PPS than most federations, making their benchmark 180 instead of 200.

Any real change has to come from the top.

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