Sam Ibrahim sentenced to nine years’ jail

Hassan “Sam” Ibrahim has been jailed for conspiracy to supply prohibited firearms in Sydney (file).Former bikie boss Hassan “Sam” Ibrahim will stay behind bars until at least 2021 for conspiring to supply prohibited firearms in Sydney in 2014.
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Ibrahim, 52, had pleaded guilty to the charge after being caught in a police sting, and sat quietly in the dock at the NSW District Court on Friday as he learned his fate.

Judge Anthony Blackmore sentenced Ibrahim to nine years’ jail, backdated to December 2014, with a non-parole period of six and a half years.

Ibrahim, the brother of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim, was arrested in April 2014 with his sister Jazz Dior, her partner Elvis Mileski and former Rose Tattoo drummer Paul DeMarco.

Ibrahim is the last of the four to be sentenced, with Dior, 47 and Mileski, 46, both avoiding 18 months’ jail time in favour of intensive correction orders in the community while DeMarco, 59, was sentenced to at least six years in jail last year.

The four were arrested after raids in Sydney and the Illawarra uncovered 18 weapons, including an M1 military-grade assault rifle, a standard rifle, three pistols, two shotguns and 11 handguns.

In the months prior, Ibrahim planned for Mileski and Dior to obtain five Glocks so they could give them to DeMarco, who would, in turn, pass them on to a “buyer”, an undercover police officer.

In intercepted phone calls, Ibrahim told Mileski to make sure the guns were new and not “s*** ones”.

Judge Blackmore said that although the guns did not end up being supplied, it did not lessen the seriousness of the charges as they “could have caused immeasurable damage in the community”.

He cited the late Judge Robert Toner’s sentencing judgment for DeMarco, particularly the notion that Ibrahim was the “controlling mind” of the plot.

Judge Blackmore rejected claims the gun plot was linked to Ibrahim’s admitted drug use but said he should be given the opportunity to overcome his addiction.

“I recognise the offender needs drug rehabilitation,” he said.

Ibrahim will be eligible for parole in June 2021.

Australian Associated Press


Roosters unsure of goal kicking duties

Sio Siua Taukeiaho could be the Roosters’ first choice goal kicker despite limited game time.Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Latrell Mitchell could share the Sydney Roosters’ kicking duties this NRL season as the Tricolours grapple with the loss of superboot Michael Gordon.
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Trent Robinson’s Roosters are widely considered one of the teams to beat in 2018 however one of the big question marks hanging over them is how they will fare following Gordon’s exit to the Gold Coast.

The Roosters were the masters of the clutch last year, winning an incredible 12 games by six points or less – an all-time competition record.

And many of those wins came off the boot of Gordon, who nailed 72 of 92 attempts.

“There were a few games there leading into the back end of the year where we were behind and a couple of Flash’s kicks were really important,” Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner told AAP.

“If he didn’t kick some of them, we would have went to golden point or we might have lost by two.

“It was a massive part of our game last year and it’s a massive part of rugby league. It’s huge.”

Without a recognised boot, kicking shapes as the Roosters’ Achilles heel.

Taukeiaho and Mitchell have both kicked irregularly throughout their careers but look set to take on the duties this year.

Taukeiaho boasts a strong career success rate of 77 per cent, though he is relatively inexperienced – 30 from 39 attempts.

He booted an impressive 16 from 18 for Tonga during their successful World Cup campaign last year and seems to be the frontrunner.

Mitchell has a career strike rate of 62 per cent (21 from 34) and has only kicked intermittently over his first two seasons of first-grade.

One obstacle for Taukeiaho to assume kicking duties is the fact he averaged 43.1 minutes last year and like all middle forwards he could spend fair chunks of game time on the bench.

Cordner said they could utilise a kick-sharing arrangement where Taukeiaho takes first priority and Mitchell takes over when he’s on the bench.

“Siua Taukeiaho and Latrell Mitchell are fighting it out right now for the goal-kicking duties,” Cordner said.

“Siua kicked for his country during the World Cup and he kicked really well, he’s kicked really well for the Roosters too.

“And Latrell’s been kicking awesome.”

“(A kick-sharing arrangement) could be a possibilty, for Siua to have first priority and then when he goes off for Latrell to take over.”

Australian Associated Press


Vic man to stand trial over surgeon death

Melbourne surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann died after allegedly being punched outside a hospital.A man will stand trial for the death of a respected cardiothoracic surgeon, after a Melbourne magistrate heard the pair had a confrontation over a smoking ban.
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Joseph Esmaili, 23, denies killing Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, who died on June 28, a month after being punched at Box Hill Hospital, where he worked.

Esmaili pleaded not guilty to five charges on day five of a committal hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday, including unlawful killing and causing reckless and intentional injury.

During the hearing, defence lawyer John Desmond challenged whether Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann’s head injury was caused by the punch, by the impact of his head hitting the floor, or later while he was in hospital.

He also proposed Esmaili acted in self-defence in response to a “perceived threat”, claiming the surgeon “chest-bumped” his client.

Prosecutors allege the surgeon noticed a group, including Esmaili, smoking in a non-smoking area outside the hospital.

Esmaili then entered the hospital and had a confrontation with Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann, who told him smoking was banned, it is also claimed.

Next came the alleged punch.

Footage was played in the court on Friday capturing the fateful moment when Esmaili allegedly struck the surgeon in the hospital lift lobby.

Detective Leading Senior Constable David Price told the court Esmaili could be seen spitting at Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann before the punch.

However, Mr Desmond claimed that was “complete guesswork” and argued the surgeon did not subsequently wipe his face.

Const Price agreed the footage showed Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann pushing Esmaili away.

Magistrate Ross Maxted was satisfied a punch was made to Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann’s head, which caused his death, regardless of whether it was the injury from which he died.

Esmaili, who did not apply for bail, will next appear in the Supreme Court of Victoria on February 22.

Australian Associated Press


Knights import Griffin plans a one-two combo with Levi

FRESH START: Slade Griffin won a premiership last season with Melbourne Storm but is excited about the new challenge awaiting him in Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-HubersSLADE Griffin is confidentDanny Levi and himself can offer the Knights –and potentially the Kiwis –the best of both worlds.
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“Look, me and Danny are going to be a good one-two punch this year,” Griffin said.

“It’s not about who’s the better player and who starts. We both can play different ways in the team.

TRIED AND TESTED: Danny Levi made his debut for New Zealand at the World Cup. Picture: AAP

“If I start, maybe I can take a bit of the sting out of the game with my defensive style and he can come off the bench and provide a good running game.

“So I think we’re going to complement each other. We’re working well together in pre-season and I think we’re both going to make each other better.”

Griffin’s arrival at the Knights, after helping Melbourne win last season’s grand final, has created an intriguing situation that could well catch the attention of New Zealand selectors.

Levi is the incumbent Kiwi Test hooker, having worn the black-and-white four times at last year’s World Cup.

Yet in last week’s trial match against Melbourne, which the Knights won 26-22, Newcastle coach Nathan Brown preferred Griffin as his starting dummy-half, and Levi as his tag-team substitute.

If it works for Newcastle, perhaps it could work at international level.

“I’d love to play for the Kiwis,” said Griffin, who hails from Greymouth on the South Island.

“But I know there’s a lot to do before that happens. I’ve got to work really hard and play some good footyfor the Knights.”

The 94-kilogram utility forward they call “Nugget” is more experienced than his career tally of 25 NRL games would suggest.

He spent nine years with Melbourne and made his top-grade debut in 2013, only to endure the heartache of three knee reconstructions.

“I’m getting to the age where I need to test myself now,” he said.

“I loved my time down in Melbourne. I learned a lot and I got to play with some great players.

“But when the opportunity came to join Newcastle, I couldn’t have gone to a better club. It suits me on and off the field.

“The way we’re going to play our footy this year, it’s going to be eyes-up and not too structured, so I’m really excited about that.”

Last season he established himself as a regular on Melbourne’s bench, playing in 14 games culminating in the grand final, which he described as “a special moment”.

Playing against his former teammates in his first game for Newcastle was“a bit weird”, he admitted.

“I was really excited on the bus, driving to the stadium,” he said.

“Me and the boys were giving each other a few words, and a few facials, which was pretty funny.

“But now I’m wearing the blue and red, so I had a job to do and I tried to focus on that.”



Vic ANZ manager jailed for $300k theft

An ANZ manager has been jailed for stealing more than $300,000 from the bank.Even though she was already a highly-paid senior manager at ANZ, Tracey Lee Cook embezzled more than $300,000 from the bank for “personal lifestyle reasons”, including buying a car and jet ski.
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The Melbourne mother-of-two will spend at least 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to making 14 fraudulent deposits to accounts in her husband’s name between December 2014 and July 2016.

The County Court of Victoria was told on Friday that Cook, 44, was in charge of a department dealing with dishonoured and missing cheques, overseeing a team of 162 staff nationally and that her stealing was “entirely for personal lifestyle reasons”.

Over 17 months, the mum of two teenage girls used her staff, who trustingly followed her requests without question, to make the fraudulent deposits.

When quizzed about a suspicious transfer of some $4000, Cook was able to bluff her way out. But when pulled up on a subsequent deposit of $29,000, she came clean.

Cook used the stolen $311,529 to buy a jet ski, a car for her husband, to make payments on her investment property, to pay for general household bills and to pay her husband’s tax obligations.

This was despite the couple already earning a combined income of more than $450,000 a year.

“You said your family was living a lie they did not have to live,” Judge Trevor Wraight said.

“You were in a trusted position as an employee and manager.”

Cook earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

She made full admissions during investigations by both police and the bank, becoming “distraught and crying” when questioned.

Two days after she was sacked, Cook repaid the money to ANZ – more than $262,000 once her long-service leave payment was deducted from the overall total.

Judge Wraight said her moral culpability was high, but the fact she repaid the money was of “considerable weight” in determining her sentence.

Cook attempted to avoid jail, arguing her family unit should not be broken up, particularly as her 17-year-old daughter was in her final year of school.

She was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, and must serve at least 15 months before being eligible for parole.

Australian Associated Press


St John of God’s Bernard McGrath to be sentenced

St John of God’s Bernard McGrath to be sentenced Sentencing: St John of God’s Brother Bernard McGrath being sentenced in a New Zealand court in 2006. He will be sentenced again today.
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Jailed: Bernard McGrath after his jailing in New Zealand.

Fight: Brother McGrath fighting extradition to Australia from New Zealand in 2014.

Allegations: A young Brother Bernard McGrath.

Struggle: Bernard McGrath in New Zealand.

Against: Bernard McGrath was finally convicted for the fourth time in 2017.

TweetFacebookI didn’t do anything because I’d played up myself, you know, who what do you do? How do you go and challenge someone when you’ve committed these sins?

St John of God Brother Bernard McGrath

In 1974 he was sent to the notorious St John of God boarding school for boys, Marylands, outside Christchurch, where he alleged he witnessed the sexual assault of boys by at least one other Brother.

In a taped interview with New Zealand police McGrath said: “I didn’t do anything because I’d played up myself, you know, who what do you do? How do you go and challenge someone when you’ve committed these sins?”

He was sent to Kendall Grange in 1978 and sent back to New Zealand in 1986 to work with street kids. He was first convicted and jailed for child sex offences in New Zealand in 1993.

While in jail some of his Australian victims reported his offending to police. He was released from jail in New Zealand and extradited to Australia in 1995 where he was convicted and jailed for nine months.

In 2002 victims from Marylands reported his offending to New Zealand police and McGrath was convicted again in 2006 and jailed for a maximum five years. He was released after serving nearly two years’ jail.

McGrath fought extradition to Australia after he was charged by Lake Macquarie Strike Force Lozano police in 2012. McGrath lost a High Court appeal in New Zealand and was extradited to Australia where he was found guilty of 60 offences in November, 2017.

His sentencing in the Sydney District Court on Friday is expected to take all day.

Newcastle Herald


Sally Pearson set to fire on home soil

Sally Pearson of Australia will be the star turn at Carrara Stadium several times.Sally Pearson will take centre stage at Carrara Stadium for the first time on Saturday night.
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It promises to be the first of many times over the next couple of months.

Pearson will be the unbackable favourite at the Australian Commonwealth Games trials in the 100m hurdles, with the heats and final both scheduled for Saturday evening.

The 31-year-old has already bettered the qualifying standard a dozen times – most notably when she clocked 12.48 seconds last August in London to win a second world title to sit alongside her 2012 Olympic crown.

Pearson is also the two-time defending Commonwealth champion, but the 2018 Games shape as an extra-special occasion as they are hosted by her hometown.

“There’s obviously more pressure because people are coming to watch you race and everyone is really, really excited and can’t wait to get there,” Pearson said.

“You have that, but at the same time, as the athlete, you’re just going in there, you’re not really focusing on the fact that you’re in your home country or in your hometown.

“You’re trying to focus on the job at hand.”

Brianna Beahan and Michelle Jenneke are best placed to claim the maximum two other spots on offer in the Australian squad in the 100m hurdles – but in reality they are racing for second spot at best.

Pearson is set to to compete in two events at the April 4-15 Games, having also made herself available for the 4x100m relay for the first time in several years.

She has always been an accomplished flat sprinter, as proved by a flying time of 11.17 last December, much quicker than any of the Australian 100m specialists have gone during the qualifying period.

The relay squad would likely also include national record holder Melissa Breen and rising star Riley Day.

“It would be fantastic,” said Pearson.

“I haven’t done relays for a long time now.

“I think the last time we had a team was in 2011 at the world championships.

“There’s a lot of new girls. This time will be great, to get another chance to step out into the stadium in front of your home crowd is always a thrill.”

Pearson has already been told that she will be running one of the final legs of the Queen’s Baton Relay on April 4 and would also jump at the chance to play a role in the opening ceremony if asked.

I’d definitely love to be a part of what they have going on but it depends on what they think is right,” she said.

“I’m definitely going to the opening ceremony, so if they want me to do an extra job, then I’ll be there.”

Australian Associated Press


Increased national interest in East End assets

Increased national interest in East End assets UNIQUE OFFERING: 48 Watt Street is set to hit the market and joins a growing list of East End assets being sold.
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BIG ASSET: Side-by-side buildings at 51-55 and 61 Bolton Street were bought last year by a Sydney-based property management company for $20.6 million.

INVESTMENT: There was strong enquiry for this building on the corner of Watt and King Street, which has an R4 high density residential zoning.

LANDMARK: This building on the corner of Watt and Church streets was bought by local purchasers who intend to make it a residential home.

PRIME LOCATION: This building on the corner of Church and Watt streets has been vacant for the past 10 years and was previously used as office space.

TweetFacebook East End assets gain national interestAS 12 proposals for Newcastle’s dilapidated post officeare being considered, another historic site in the city’s East End isset to hit the market.

Colliers International national director Adam Leacy, who is working with the Awabakal Land Council on the sale of the post office, will market 48 Watt Street.

The former church was built in 1905 and is being used as a function centre, bar and live entertainment venue.

Mr Leacysaid there was no question that interest would be strong and would come from across the country, continuing a trend ofcity sitesproving increasinglysought-after real estate.

“This building isleased through until October 2022 and it’s got endless opportunity,” Mr Leacy said.

“That’s because it’s future use could be residentialdevelopment. It is zoned R4 high density residential.

“It will be national interest;interest is always coming from nationally now. That’s probably been thelast 18 months to two years and it’s increasing.”

He said events like Supercars as well as infrastructure investment was bringing renewed interest tothe city, and its real estate.

“The new driver for the EastEnd of Newcastle is outside interest in the city and it’s about affordability in the centre of town and closeto the beach, whether it be commercial or residential,in my opinion,” Mr Leacy said.

“Big business has come to town and people are following on the back of the infrastructure investment into Newcastle and the region.

“When you look at the assets, each has a different attribute, and the properties we’ve sold each offer different opportunities and that is why campaigns have been so successful.

“There are different buyer profiles andthere’s confidence in people investing capital into older assets in the East End.”

Buildings in Church Street and Watt Street attracted around 145 enquiries collectively before both sold at auction in December.

The building at 35-37 Watt Street, which hasan approved 17-room boarding house, sold for $2.685 million to a local investor.

The other building on the corner of Church and Watt streets, at 6-8 Church Street, soldfor $2.01 million.

It had previously been used as commercial office space but has been vacant for the past decade. The local purchasers are believed to intend to restore the building for use as a residential home.

Twelve months ago, Double Bay-based property management company Eagle Property Group purchased side-by-side sites at 51-55 Bolton Street and 61 Bolton Street for $20.6 million.

One has a long-term tenant in the Federal Court of Australia while the other has been repositionedand is now being marketed for commercial use.

The managing director of Eagle Property Group, Lawrence Kopping, said when investing they choose a location“that will perform well in the future”.

“We felt Newcastle had more to offer than was being recognised,” Mr Kopping said.

“We felt that particular area of Newcastle would benefit from state infrastructure spend and the generational shift taking place and people into the future will tend to like to live in lifestyle precincts which allow them to work, play and eat, et cetera.”

Two other key sites in Newcastle were brought to market in the past week.

Expressions of interest have opened for the site of NBN television building, which was rezoned by Newcastle City Council in October to allow a seven-storey residential toweron the site at 11-17 Mosbri Crescent.

Council opened expressions of interest for Shepherds Hill Cottage at the top of King Edward Park on Wednesday.


Turnbull’s Tas visit overshadowed by Joyce

PM Malcolm Turnbull, Tasmanian MP Guy Barnett and Premier Will Hodgman inspected a paper mill.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined his state Liberal colleagues on the campaign trail in Tasmania for the first time but his brief visit was hijacked by the Barnaby Joyce saga.
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Mr Turnbull was alongside Premier Will Hodgman at a paper mill north of Hobart on Wednesday morning, a little over two weeks out from a March 3 poll.

He announced $1.5 million in federal funding to help Norske Skog develop an environmentally friendly solvent.

But the day was overshadowed by the ongoing saga between the prime minister and deputy Mr Joyce over his affair with a staffer.

Mr Turnbull was also grilled on his stance on poker machines – a key Apple Isle election issue.

The state’s Labor opposition has vowed to remove the electronic gaming machines from pubs and clubs by 2023 if it wins power, in contrast to the Liberals.

The PM and Mr Hodgman were snapped on Thursday night with a pro-pokies lobbyist at Lauderdale’s Foreshore Tavern.

The pub is part of the ‘Love Your Local’ campaign to keep electronic gaming machines at suburban venues.

Mr Turnbull believes the state Liberal policy would save jobs but legislation was a matter for states.

“Will is standing up for Tasmanian jobs, thousands of jobs, in the hospitality sector,” he said.

“(But) the regulation of pokies is obviously a matter for the state’s premier.”

State opposition leader Rebecca White hit out at the prime minister, saying he made it his issue by appearing on the campaign trail.

“He has previously advocated for poker machine reform and now he’s saying that it’s not his issue,” she told reporters in Hobart.

“Every politician has a responsibility to care for the people they represent and to make decisions that are in the best interests of the entire community.”

Labor is hosting an anti-pokies gig at a North Hobart pub on Friday night, with The Whitlam’s singer Tim Freedman to perform the band’s 1999 hit Blow up the Pokies.

Mr Turnbull’s second stop was in Launceston, where he pledged $94.6 million in state and federal funding to improve the health of the Tamar River.

Australian Associated Press


Robert Dillon: Sporting Declaration

YOU’D have thought the NRL had more pressing issues.
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Here we are,pre-season trials already under way and only a few weeks until round one of the competitionkicks off, and suddenly it dawns on those occupying the corridors of power that perhaps it might be time to produce something tojustifytheir lucrativesalaries.

So a new policy is introduced, albeit not quite as momentous as theno-bonking ban Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has imposed onthe contituents of Parliament House.

In a puzzlingdevelopment, the NRL has instructed its referees to crack down on sloppy play-the-balls.

As the Knights and Storm discovered during last week’s trial at AAMI Park, the men with the whistles will no longer tolerate the trend of recent seasons, whereby tackled players simply roll the ball between their legs to the dummy-half, rather than propelling it backwards with their foot, as the laws of the game stipulate.

Newcastleconceded nine penalties, Melbournefive.

After a quick gaze into the crystal ball, Sporting Declaration is going to make the following bold forecast.

During the opening rounds of the season, there will be a rash of penalties as the refs strive to enforce the new directive.

The penalties will occur at the most infuriating of times –when your team is in possession and setting up for a tryscoring opportunity.

Moreover, there will be a procession of fumbles and knock-ons from clumsy front-rowersunaccustomed to the subtle skill of playing the ball with their feet.

Meanwhile,attacking teams, already struggling to make inroads against defenders with ingrained wrestling techniques, will find it even harder to generate any ruck speed.

Inevitably, pressure will mount until a coach erupts at a press conference after a narrow loss, pointing out that for all the penalties awarded for dodgy play-the-balls, the refs missed another dozen infringements that were equally glaring.

The controversywill be fodder for various media outlets duringthe following week before the powers-that-be, licking their wounds, accept discretion is the better part of valour and secretly instructthe referees to back down.

PLEASE EXPLAIN: NRL players, coaches and fans are likely to grow frustrated quickly if the referees proceed with a proposed crackdown on play-the-balls. Picture: AAP

All of which will leave us with a sense of deja vu and serve as a reminder that, while the rules do state that tackled players should use their feet to play the ball, it’s not exactly one of the code’s greatest dilemmas.

When, for example, did you last watch a game and find yourself enthralled and uplifted by the sheer quality of the play-the-balls?

It all strikes me as a waste of time and effort that could easily create more problems thanit solves.

Meanwhile, there are myriad other burning issues that seem perenniallyconsigned to the NRL’s too-hard basket.

Take the game’s finances, for instance.

It was only last week that NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg revealedthe code had posted a $3.7 million loss for 2017. That’s the ruling body, mind you, not the 16 clubs, who lost tens of millions between them.

Greenberg was confident that the new $2 billion, five-yearTV deal would “see the game return to a strong surplus position” within 12 months. But wasn’t that the expectationfive years ago, when they signed a $1 billion broadcasting contract?

Once Greenberg has transformed the NRL from a commercial black hole into a licence to print money, he can perhaps turn his attention to the fiasco known as third-party sponsorships.

At what point will the NRL stop treating fans with contempt by pretending that, because there is a salary cap, all clubs are competing on a level playing field?

The least they can do is to publicise the amount each club reapsin third-party income. That way everyoneknows which clubs are advantaged or disdvantaged, and hopefully there will be less need for brown-paper bags, delivered under the table.

Next on the list of quick fixes would surely be the much-maligned video-refereeing “bunker”.

The bunker will never be perfect, but the secret is surely to minimise its involvement by introducing the captain’s call.

The NRL did, admittedly, trial the captain’s call in the last-round game between St George Illawarra and Newcastle in 2016.

Ten tries were scored, and not one was referred to the bunker. The game flowed, everyone went home happy, yet for whatever reason the experiment was not repeated. Go figure.

Capping off the quandaries the NRL would prefer did not exist is the ticking time bombknown as concussion, which has already had a landmark impact in American football.

When will the NRL show enoughsense to err on the side of caution and introduce mandatory stand-down policies, avoiding instances like last season, when Broncos winger Cory Oates was stretcheredfrom the field unconsciousin the play-off against Penrith, then backed up to play a week later against Melbourne?

If he was a boxer, there is noway he would have been allowed back in the ring so soon.

Addressing any of the aforementioned matterswould have assured this columnist that NRL officials havea strategic plan and the game’s future is in safe hands.

But a clampdown on play-the-balls …is that the best they can come up with?

Clearly they haven’t been paying much attention to the scrums.


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