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Month: July 2018

Yield downturn confirms Qantas pain

Yield downturn confirms Qantas pain

QANTAS has laid bare the impact of its battle with Virgin Australia after recording its first monthly decline in yields from both its domestic and international operations in more than two years.
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The group’s latest traffic statistics showed total yields for its domestic operations – including Jetstar and QantasLink – were up 4 per cent for the 11 months to May, compared with the same period last year. Yields for the international operations rose 1.5 per cent over the same period.

But excluding Jetstar – which analysts described as the ”only shining light” – the group’s traffic figures for May revealed the toll the battle with Virgin was having on the core driver of Qantas’s earnings.

The group suffered monthly declines in yields from both its international and domestic operations – of 0.8 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively – for the first time since November 2009, in another sign of why the airline warned last month its profit would fall as much as 91 per cent for 2011-12.

The latest figures come before Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin begin to significantly increase flight frequencies and use bigger planes on domestic routes, in a worrying sign for them that their earnings will also be dented significantly in 2012-13.

The CBA Equities transport analyst Matt Crowe said he was surprised at the level of weakness in yields from Qantas’s domestic operations in May.

”We have seen three or four months of weakening domestic airfare trends [from Qantas]. But we would have expected more of the weakness to be in the international side of the business,” he said.

While international fares have remained relatively flat in recent months, those for Qantas’s domestic flights have been declining, reflecting a large increase in capacity by airlines.

The Macquarie Equities aviation analyst Russell Shaw said in a note to clients there was likely to be ”limited upside” to Qantas’s share price because of risks to earnings in 2012-13 from a substantial increase in capacity from airlines in the domestic market.

”As capacity is ramped up more aggressively by Qantas over the next six months on both the mainline and domestic front, it is hard to see the yield growth trend heading anywhere else but further south,” he said.

Despite the release of the weak traffic figures, shares in Qantas rose 2.5¢ to $1.10 yesterday, helped by a 1 per cent rally on the sharemarket. Virgin fell 0.5¢ to 38.5¢.

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

No comfort for investors in watchdog’s ancient history

No comfort for investors in watchdog’s ancient history

INVESTORS banking on the accuracy of the corporate watchdog’s register of financial services licence holders to work out whom they should trust with their money, might want to reconsider.
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Insider tried yesterday to get an answer to whether (a) the Australian Securities and Investments Commission does regular checks of its licence holders, and (b) if the licence is ”attached” to the company to which it is issued, or the person controlling the company.

The official response was a link to an ASIC website, and a copy of its regulatory guide to financial service licences, both of which raised more questions than answers.

Audits and checks of holders seem to be random, and so long as the appropriate forms are filed and no flags are raised, there appears to be no restraint on how you use the licence once it is granted.

That probably explains the emails and phone messages Insider received over the weekend after last Friday’s column on the mysteries of Republica Capital, and its attempt to inject itself into the hollowed-out ASX listing of MediVac.

According to ASIC’s professional registers, Republica is an authorised representative of a derivatives trading company called Alt-FX. That same company has also authorised Beauchamp Securities to trade under its licence.

ASIC’s register of licensees, available so investors can check the bona fides of people offering to invest their money, says that Alt-FX operates from the offices of E.Vo Global Asset Management in Sydney, and is audited by Peter White. According to E.Vo director Jacob Pope, who rang Insider from Canada, that company has not had anything to do with Alt-FX, and its then controller Andrew Howard, for the past four years.

At any rate, ASIC company records, as distinct from the licence register, show that Howard passed control of Alt-FX to fellow director, Kieran Honour, last November, who then shifted its official digs to his home in suburban Prahran before giving it a shingle in Collins Street.

Honour is named on Republica Capital’s website as its chairman, so it was presumably a pretty simple matter, as the owner of Alt-FX, to authorise Republica to be its representative. Beauchamp shares the same Collins Street address as Alt-FX, and its director Trent McKendrick also sits on the board of Alt-FX.

The last time Alt-FX lodged a set of accounts with ASIC was in July 2010 – and they were already more than 12 months old. Honour signed them, with banker Albert Verdicchio, and they showed the company had a grand turnover of less than $60,000 and net assets of less than $75,000.

They also claimed that the company’s principal activity was acting as investment adviser to Alt-FX SPC, based in the Cayman Islands – which is interesting because Insider has seen records that say the Cayman company was struck off in October 2009. Presumably Alt-FX must have found something else to do so its directors could make the statement that nothing had happened since the end of the financial year that would significantly affect operations.

Last week, Honour, as shareholder/director, filed a copy of a letter sent to himself as company secretary to convene a meeting to have Alt-FX’s auditor, Peter White, removed. The letter was dated April 20, which brings a new meaning to snail mail.

Insider wonders just what use ASIC’s register of licence holders is if Alt-FX is an example of how outdated the information can be.

How many people are giving their hard-earned money over to licence holders on the naive assumption that those operating under a licence have been vetted by ASIC within living memory?

Symex comes up short

SYMEX Holdings appears to have been unable to meet an $11 million debt repayment obligation due by June 30, judging by its call for a halt to share trading yesterday.

The troubled consumer goods and tallow trader has been trying to offload non-core assets to generate cash to cut its borrowings. It recently sold its DCS International offshoot, having written off more than $4 million of associated goodwill in the half-year result, and had been aiming to sell non-core properties by the end of financial year to help meet the bank loan repayment.

Symex has had plenty of time before yesterday to alert the market to its attempts to get its repayment terms extended before the deadline, and the ASX should be asking if those buying and selling its shares in recent times were trading in a fully informed market.

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Finance sector growth will stay sluggish – Westpac

Finance sector growth will stay sluggish – Westpac

WESTPAC’S senior leaders have cautioned that growth across the financial services sector will remain modest over the medium term as consumers and businesses pay down debt and curb spending.
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The slower growth pace is part of a broader structural shift in the financial landscape, prompting banks to overhaul their businesses, they said.

”The uncertainty and volatility created by the European sovereign crisis are contributing to more cautious customer behaviour and lower growth,” the bank said in an update to shareholders released yesterday.

The comments came as closely-watched credit growth figures released by the Reserve Bank showed lending across Australia remained subdued during May, with mortgage lending mostly flat.

”Businesses and consumers are more conservative in their approach with a preference for lower levels of gearing and increased saving activity,” the joint update by the chief executive, Gail Kelly, and the chairman, Lindsay Maxsted, said.

”As a result, growth remains uneven and activity remains soft in those sectors that rely on consumer demand, non-commodity exports and tourism.” But activity in mining and other related sectors remained solid.

In a separate update to shareholders – also issued yesterday – rival ANZ said Australia and New Zealand remained well-placed even in the face of softening global economic growth.

Early signs of a recovery in business lending have appeared, with the Reserve Bank data showing loans to business growing for the third month in a row. Business lending is now more than 8 per cent on an annualised basis.

Despite the broader caution, Westpac said Australia’s economic fundamentals remained sound, with low unemployment, controlled inflation and low levels of government debt.

The ANZ chairman, John Morschel, said his bank’s Asian focus was providing it with a competitive advantage. But he noted there was ”significant pressure” on profit margins as a result of competition for deposits and higher long-term funding costs.

Westpac said it was directing efforts into investment sectors that were expected to generate higher growth and returns. That included pushing ahead with its retail strategy of multi-branding while building its wealth management business.

Analysts say banks can survive a period of slow credit growth as long as broader economic growth remains in place. But investors should prepare for a period of subdued returns.

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ASIC considers penalty appeal

ASIC considers penalty appeal

THE corporate regulator is considering whether to appeal against a suspended jail sentence imposed on the Bill Express executive Peter Couper over his role in the collapse of the payments processor.
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Judge Liz Gaynor of the Victorian County Court sentenced Couper, 58, on Friday to 21 months’ jail, wholly suspended, and fined him $10,000 for falsifying the accounts of Bill Express and lying to the company’s auditor and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Bill Express, which ran kiosks at newsagent outlets through which consumers could pay bills, promoted itself heavily by sponsoring the NRL’s Bulldogs and the AFL’s St Kilda.

But it and its parent company, OnQ, of which Couper was the chief financial officer, collapsed owing $250 million during the 2008 global financial crisis.

An ASIC spokesman said the watchdog’s lawyers were considering the sentence.

”A final decision on whether or not to appeal has not been made at this point in time,” he said.

Couper, who Judge Gaynor described as ”a weak man, out of your depth”, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of inflating Bill Express’s profit by $7.5 million in 2007 by recording a lucrative but non-existent sale of SIM cards and one count of lying to the group’s auditor by giving it the same information.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of giving misleading evidence to ASIC by denying contact with the Macquarie trader Newton Chan and the Bill Express marketing head Enzo Di Donato, who allegedly used the company’s money to prop up its share price.

Judge Gaynor said Couper acted at the behest of the company’s founders, Hal and Ian Christiansen, and praised his co-operation with Bill Express’s liquidators, PPB, in helping claw back for creditors a $1.2 million tax bill.

”Ultimately, I have decided not to jail you,” she told Couper in her sentencing remarks.

”But you have come very close indeed, Mr Couper, and you should leave this court with an acute sense of the disgraceful behaviour you have engaged in, and the fact that you will carry with you for the rest of your life a conviction in these terms against your name.”

She said Couper should be ”utterly ashamed” of himself.

”Your actions were weak and dishonest. You may have been overwhelmed by the high-powered situation you found yourself in, but you still had your own moral and ethical code, and as I have said, this you utterly abandoned. You simply collapsed under pressure.”

She said the risk of Couper re-offending was ”negligible” but the seriousness of the charges meant she needed to impose a jail term.

”Nevertheless, the considerable mitigatory factors and the particular position that you were in at the time have led me to the conclusion that a wholly suspended sentence will ultimately serve the purpose.”

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Harvey Norman floors koalas, says green group

Harvey Norman floors koalas, says green group

Endangered … an environmental group says wood used to make Harvey Norman’s ”Natural Australian” flooring range is putting koalas at risk of extinction.THE retail giant Harvey Norman has been accused of selling flooring made from native forests in NSW where koalas face extinction following an investigation by environmental activists who tracked timber harvested in prime koala habitat.
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The environment group Markets For Change said its investigation found Harvey Norman buys timber flooring from forests recognised as critical habitat for koalas in NSW and sells it as part of its “Naturally Australian” flooring range.

Markets for Change tracked timber harvested by Forests NSW from Boambee State Forest, considered prime koala habitat, to a sawmill in Koolkhan owned by Boral Limited, Australia’s largest building and construction materials company.

The sawn timber from Boral’s sawmill in Koolkhan was then transported to a flooring manufacturing mill where Boral produces Harvey Norman’s Naturally Australian flooring range, the group said.

”Harvey Norman claims its Naturally Australian flooring products are sourced from ‘sustainable and renewable natural resources’ when instead they are contributing to the destruction of Australia’s native forests and destroying vital koala habitat,” the group’s report, to be released today, says.

”Markets for Change calls on Harvey Norman to phase out selling products made from native forests … [and] to give their customers clear and accurate information about the source of their wood products.”

The report says figures from the Australian Koala Foundation reveal there may be as few as 43,000 koalas remaining in the wild and warns logging forests is a leading threat to koalas.

”This report establishes clear links between this endangered koala habitat, the forest companies that are logging and processing it, and Australia’s largest furniture and electronics retailer, Harvey Norman,” the report says.

The group’s campaign manager, Louise Morris, said Harvey Norman had a unique opportunity to show leadership.

“Customers are increasingly demanding to know where their products come from and will vote with their wallets if a product is being sold at the expense of the natural environment,” Ms Morris said.

“It makes environmental and economic sense for Harvey Norman to shift to become a truly sustainable and responsible retailer by implementing publicly available procurement policies that ensure customers are no longer misled about the true story behind the products they buy.”

Harvey Norman was contacted for a comment but did not wish to respond.

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Statistics prove why NSW’s confidence should be sky high

Statistics prove why NSW’s confidence should be sky high

”80 minutes to the prize, boys!”
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Those words from Phil Gould to the NSW players as they took the field for the match that ended Queensland’s last period of State of Origin dominance are suddenly fresh in this reporter’s mind ahead of tomorrow night’s series decider.

Gould, a Fairfax columnist at the time, was seated on the sideline for the second match of the 2003 series and the Blues coach unwittingly kept phoning the Herald every time he sat back in his chair after jumping up to yell instructions or encouragement to his players.

Undoubtedly, NSW coach Ricky Stuart will be telling the Blues players something similar just before they run onto Suncorp Stadium for the series decider.

Like 2003, there is a feeling the tide has turned and NSW’s six-year Origin drought is finally going to end. Back then Queensland had won four of the previous five series and Gould had been brought back for his second stint as NSW coach in 2002 to rectify the situation.

Stuart, who coached the last successful Blues team in 2005, was appointed last year for the same reason and in his second year he has the NSW players and much of the state believing a new era of Origin domination is about to begin.

The 21 Blues players to feature in this season’s three matches is the lowest since 2003 when Gould used just 20 and, as in that series, Stuart has stuck with the same halves combination throughout – something NSW teams rarely do.

Sticking with the same squad has enabled the Blues to build with each match and develop combinations rather than the players having to start over again when they come into camp.

However, it is the players’ form – and not some misguided loyalty – that has allowed Stuart to do that, with a statistical analysis of NSW’s 16-12 win in Origin II showing that NSW players dominated the match.

According to Sportsdata’s contributor value rating system, which uses statistics to measure a player’s effectiveness, the Blues had seven of the top 10 performing players in Origin II.

Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk, second-rower Nate Myles and hooker Cameron Smith were the only Maroons players to feature in the list and Smith was ranked 10th.

Not surprisingly, NSW hooker Robbie Farah, who made a record 63 tackles, was considered the best performing player over the full 80 minutes, but the contribution of prop James Tamou in the 41 minutes he was on the field was staggering.

Blues fullback Brett Stewart and five-eighth Todd Carney also featured in the top 10, which is as follows:

1. R Farah (NSW) 567.25* 7.09**

2. C Cronk (Qld) 565.65 7.07

3. N Myles (Qld) 545.20 7.57

4. G Bird (NSW) 521.90 7.46

5. B Stewart (NSW) 507.10 6.34

6. J Morris (NSW) 492.40 6.15

7. P Gallen (NSW) 470.80 6.63

8. J Tamou (NSW) 463.40 11.30

9. T Carney (NSW) 437.20 5.47

10. C Smith (Qld) 417.15 5.21

In recent years, you could almost see the pressure to win suffocating the players in the lead-up to matches but after holding out Queensland in the last 10 minutes of Origin II to level the series, the confidence in the NSW camp is now sky high. The loss of Billy Slater is also a massive blow for Queensland and while Greg Inglis is a fine replacement, his switch from centre will cost the Maroons some attacking potency on the left.

To win, the Blues are going to have to play even better than they did in Origin II but there is a sense that NSW are now just 80 minutes away from holding aloft the State of Origin shield for the first time in seven years.

* Contributor Value Rating (game)

** CVR per minute

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Cummins blow expected, says coach

Cummins blow expected, says coach

Bell chimes in … Ian Bell scored 75 in England’s six-wicket win against Australia.LONDON: Australia’s coach Mickey Arthur is adamant that broken teenage quick Patrick Cummins will continue to be used in all three international formats, warning that it was anticipated he could battle with regular injury for the next two years.
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In a worrying sign ahead of the Ashes series here next year, Arthur indicated that he expected the electric Cummins to be vulnerable to breaking down for the forseeable future.

It was announced that the 19-year-old NSW fast bowler was being sent home about an hour before Australia’s second one-day international against England at the Oval.

Cummins was replaced by Mitchell Johnson, whose own return to international cricket after more than eight months was blighted by an early spate of over-stepping the mark in the hosts’ six-wicket win.

England took a 2-0 series lead ahead of Wednesday’s third game at Edgbaston and with Michael Clarke’s side lacking real firepower in attack, Test sensation James Pattinson is expected to come into serious contention for inclusion in Birmingham.

Losing Cummins for the rest of the campaign was a significant blow not only in terms of the series, which England are thoroughly on top of, but in the context of what he could have learnt in these conditions in the lead-up to the Ashes.

The young express bowler was making his comeback from a heel injury having not played at international level since his match-winning performance on Test debut in Johannesburg last November but picked up a medium-grade side strain in the series-opening game at Lord’s last Friday. While Cummins insisted via Twitter that the latest problem was only minor – it is hoped he can return for Australia’s limited-overs contest against Pakistan in Dubai next month – there remain questions about how best to manage him.

Arthur is insistent, however, that Cummins will continue to be considered in all three formats – Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 – for Australia and he is a priority for the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September.

”We forget he is only 19. He is still growing, his body is still growing,” Arthur said. ”It’s disappointing him coming back and then picking up another injury but we’re going to have to live with that for another couple of years until he gets stronger, until his body is used to the workloads. We’ve just got to keep giving him the quality opportunities because he is going to be very, very good. I definitely see him playing all three forms.

”We’ve just got to find out what works for him. We’ve got to expose him to conditions around the world. It’s really important that he gets exposed to English conditions. We’ve got a pretty important tour here next year so it’s really important that he has a look at these conditions.

”Hopefully he’ll be ready for the Twenty20 World Cup which will expose him to bowling in the subcontinent a little bit. We know he’s proficient in our own conditions. It’s just about giving him experience all around the world … but we’ve got to live with the fact that he is going to break down. He is only 19.”

Aside from the Test in South Africa in which he starred, Cummins has played only three first-class games and also broke down with a back injury following a marathon bowling stint in the 2010-11 Sheffield Shield final.

Of Johnson, who finished with 0-43 from seven overs at the Oval after letting in 20 runs in a disastrous first two marred by no-balls, Arthur said patience was required.

”We just have to realise that it is his first time back,” Arthur said. ”Hopefully Mitch will just get better and better. He’s still a world-class performer.”

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Sharapova crashes out in fourth round

Sharapova crashes out in fourth round

The 10 years since a woman last completed the major clay-grass double at the French Open and Wimbledon has been extended to 11, at least, after world No.1 Maria Sharapova was yesterday eliminated 6-4, 6-3 by German 15th seed Sabine Lisicki in a dramatic fourth round at the All England Club.
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Sharapova, who completed her career grand slam three weeks ago at Roland Garros, had been one of three former champions left in the women’s draw as the tournament awoke from its Sunday rest to embark on week two.

Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova both wobbled, but not fatally. Sharapova was jumped at the start by Lisicki and, despite a recovery of sorts from 2-5 in the first set, failed in her 84-minute game of catch-up.

The match was the third between the pair in the past five grand slams, and fourth overall – the single set won by Lisicki coming at the same stage of the Australian Open in January.

But each, time German had crept a little closer, and yesterday she surged right past, reversing the result from last year’s Wimbledon semi-final claimed 6-4, 6-3 by Sharapova, the eventual runner-up.

An emotional Lisicki fell to her knees after hitting a second serve ace on her third match point, having missed short forehands on the first two. It is her third Wimbledon quarter-final in four years, a serious ankle injury sidelining the 22-year-old in 2010.

“It’s just unbelievable; for the third time I have beaten the French Open champion here,” said Lisicki, 22. “I’m just so happy. I have lost in three previous matches against her, but I played well and beat her for the first time.

“I just went for my shots. From the first point, I felt great out there. I’m getting better with each match.”

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Gallop off to France for much-needed R&R

Gallop off to France for much-needed R&R

The last plane out of Sydney … NRL boss David Gallop.He watched NSW tie the series from home after leaving the chief executive’s role and now former NRL boss David Gallop is set to watch the series decider from the French riviera. Having had three weeks to contemplate his future, Gallop has decided a holiday was what he needed most and yesterday with his wife Kathy, took the last plane out of Sydney for a much-deserved six-week sabbatical in Europe. It’s understood his trip won’t be purely pleasure though, with the International Cricket Council, English Super League and international rugby bodies expressing interest in luring the successful administrator overseas. Gallop has a strong supporter in Frank Lowy at Football Federation Australia, so don’t be surprised to see him in a new role before the end of the NRL season. The 46-year-old has been overwhelmed by public and industry support since his shock departure from the ARL Commission post last month, proving his decade-long tenure in Australian sport’s toughest job hasn’t been underestimated.
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Pearce’s true love

Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce says he’s more worried about tomorrow night’s State of Origin decider than gossip-page banter about his love life. Pearce’s face has been a constant feature in gossip pages this year and the speculation surrounding his private life has become a running joke in the NSW camp. ”I didn’t realise I was a socialite,” the 23-year-old told The Inside Back. ”I’d rather see my head in the sports pages than gossip columns. All I’m worried about is having the game of my life for NSW on Wednesday. I can’t wait.” It’s just another thing Pearce and halves partner Todd Carney have in common, the pair’s off-field relationships a constant source of gossip fodder. But that’s the last thing on the pair’s mind, with the duo to undertake their final practice session this afternoon before attempting to end Queensland’s six-year dominance of State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

Billy who?

Blues legends and fans desperate for their first series win in seven years might be cheering the omission of Billy Slater but punters haven’t been fooled, with replacement fullback Greg Inglis being backed as favourite to get the man of the match honours. Sportsbet also has Inglis at favourite to score first try and score a try at any stage of the match. Slater might be out of a job altogether if all the above come true.

Cops change colour

As if walking through Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall wasn’t intimidating enough for Ricky Stuart’s Blues, Paul Gallen and his teammates found themselves at the mercy of the police, with a CBD patrol car featuring a Maroons livery and the signatures of every Queensland player. ”That’s the last thing we need, the police hounding us,” our Blues spy said. ”I mean, Queen Street is filled with parochial Queenslanders at the best of times but a police car? That’s unbelievable. People were everywhere taking photos as we walked past it.”

Rufus gets home

The highly trained hawk used to scare pigeons away from the pristine grass courts of Wimbledon was returned to its owners on Sunday after being stolen during the first week of the tennis tournament. Rufus, a Harris hawk, was off-duty in his cage when he was snatched by thieves late Thursday but is now home after being handed in at the offices of the RSPCA, police said. Rufus’s Twitter account, written by his owners, said: ”We can confirm the news is true RUFUS HAS BEEN FOUND safe and well….#FindRufus”. Visitors to the world’s most famous tennis tournament often stop to have their picture taken with the four-year-old, which was reared by the family-run business Avian Environmental Consultants.

V8s for Nine?

Having lost its battle to win AFL rights from Channel Seven, Channel Nine remains intent on striking a blow against its sporting coverage rival and is on the verge of luring the big-money V8 Supercars across to Willoughby for next year. Nine types, including head of sport Steve Crawley, see a lot of similarities between the V8 Supercars and NRL audiences. And aside from it being a huge blow to Seven, there’s a massive opportunity for cross-promotion between the NRL and motor sports category. Nine boss Jeff Browne met the V8 Supercars administration in Sydney last Thursday and a deal could be a reached as soon as next month. Next year is already shaping up as a massive season for V8 Supercars with the introduction of the Car of the Future and Nissan as a third manufacturer. And if Nine retains the NRL rights, as expected, the lure of a V8 Supercars round before a live NRL match would be a ratings bonanza. The five-year V8 deal is expected to cost Nine about $300 million but given the amount of corporate spending in V8s, they could make that back in advertising in the first year alone. The existing deal at Seven expires in December.

with AFP

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Blues of ’05 sense this team can stop the rot

Blues of ’05 sense this team can stop the rot

The Blues savour their series success. Andrew Johns of the Blues celebrates.
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It wasn’t so long ago, was it? Certainly, NSW’s last series victory was long enough ago to ensure there are no survivors from the Blues squad – at least in the playing sense. But still close enough to ensure it is recalled with more certainty than a veteran recounting old war stories.

On this day in 2005, Schapelle Corby was just weeks into her custodial sentence, London didn’t yet know it was hosting the 2012 Olympics, and NSW were days away from being the Origin victors again. The Blues, coached by Ricky Stuart, won the shield by beating Queensland at Suncorp Stadium in a decider. Yet despite Queensland’s remarkable run since, the players who achieved the rare feat remain convinced that the Blues can do it again.

”You can never write off Queensland,” said Danny Buderus, who captained the Blues in the 2005 series. ”It’s a great team they’ve got up there. But this is as good a [NSW] team as the last six. I hope it’s their time.”

Others were even more certain. ”I just think it’s their time,” back-rower Craig Fitzgibbon said. ”I think they believe they can. Every player lives for these opportunities. The script’s written; this is the best opportunity they’re going to get as players. I’m sure they’ll get it done.”

The Herald set about finding the last players to taste a series victory in a NSW jumper ahead of tomorrow night’s decider. Some are retired, while many are still playing in the NRL.

In that series, the Blues lost the first match, before levelling it in the second. And they travelled to Brisbane and prevailed 32-10 on Queensland’s sacred soil. The question was asked of the players who have done it all before; how does the next batch do it again?

”It comes down to preparation,” Buderus said. ”I’ve been talking to a few of them and their preparation is as good as it can be. Both sets of teams are going to improve. Everyone knows how long Queensland have been together but NSW are building. It will come down to those small plays, those Origin plays.”

The link between the two sides, of course, is Stuart, who will attempt to make history repeat. The coach missed an opportunity to win at the same ground in a decider last year, but has been at pains to stress that his squad had progressed from where they were then. ”He’ll leave no stone unturned,” Buderus said. ”He’ll give them every opportunity. ”I’m sure they’ll improve, and Ricky will have them treating it like warfare.”

Winger Matt King, who scored a hat-trick in the game-three victory of 2005, added: ”If he [Stuart] approaches this game like he approached that one, the boys will love this opportunity.

”To beat Queensland in a decider is one thing, but to do it against the greatest team that’s ever been put together is another. They’ve got a massive opportunity to create history … and knock the dirty buggers off.”

Centre Mark Gasnier was one of just a few players to have served under Stuart during his two incarnations as an Origin coach, in 2005 and then over the past two years.

He said: ”They can win this one because they had the same opportunity last year. We really mucked it up [in game three]. There are a fair few in there that experienced that. They can learn from it. I’m not just saying this because I’m a New South Welshman. Over the last two years, I think our forwards have been a bit more dominant. If we get an even amount of possession I think we’ll win.”

Anthony Minichiello is another to have played in ’05 and again last year. The Roosters star could sense in 2011 what Stuart was assembling. ”It’ll be fitting if the Blues win, because he’s created that culture and passion for the jersey,” he said.

The Blues fell last year during the opening period of the decider, when the Maroons scored four tries in the opening 33 minutes. Having experienced the highs and lows of Origin deciders in Brisbane, the Roosters player is well-versed on how best to handle the situation.

”If we come out much faster, with much more intensity, and get some points on the board, we could put the game away,” Minichiello said. ”We just came out well from the start [in 2005]. Belief’s a big thing in a team sport … this year, they have that belief.”

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