Ashes 2013: Peter Siddle wants pacemen to be kept fresh

Stalwart spearhead Peter Siddle has defended the resting of fast bowlers before a busy Ashes schedule, saying critics of the decision don’t understand the demands on modern pacemen.
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Former Test greats Geoff Lawson and Glenn McGrath have criticised the resting of promising NSW speedster Josh Hazlewood from the just completed Sheffield Shield match against Victoria, continuing calls from past players for quicks to bowl more to avoid the injuries that have sidelined pacemen Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger and Mitchell Starc.

Siddle and fellow Ashes linchpin Ryan Harris will be rested from this week’s Shield games before next week’s first Test in Brisbane, and the 28-year-old Victorian said that made sense.

”That’s been the plan for a long time and … touch wood, everything goes all right. It is a five-Test series, so to be backing up continuously throughout the summer … [you need] a bit of a break. Have that now and get ready.”

Siddle said it was ”disappointing” that Lawson, the NSW fast-bowling coach, did not understand why such rests were necessary.

”The simple thing is that the games have increased. There’s a lot more games now than Geoff Lawson would have played,” Siddle told SEN on Monday. ”That’s the thing that annoys me a little bit. He’s had a long run of injuries throughout his career. It was said that his career lasted 10 years, and Mitchell Johnson played Geoff Lawson’s career in 3½. That’s a comparison of the games difference and where we’re at.”

In June, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said, ”You won’t see any of that rotation policy,” during this summer’s Ashes series, although selectors would still ”give players opportunities” in international limited-overs cricket to see how they responded.

Criticism of the policy reached fever pitch last summer after Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were left out of a series-deciding Test in Perth against South Africa, days after nearly bowling their team to victory in Adelaide, and Starc was stood down from the Boxing Day line-up the week after bowling Australia to victory against Sri Lanka in Hobart.

The same day Sutherland made his comments, CA’s high performance manager, Pat Howard, seemed to contradict his boss.

”The workload management policy is still in place,” he said. ”The Ashes is obviously an extremely important series for us, and the selectors will select the best players available for every Test.

”However, if players are injured or we are not confident a player will finish the match, the selectors will consider this. Ultimately a player needs to be able to perform for an entire match.”

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Donation to help grieving families

WHEN Shellie O’Connell lost her third child, Lachlan, in 2002, when he was just three weeks old, her motivation to get out of bed was her two young daughters.
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Lachlan was born two months early and eventually succumbed to non-immune hydrops, or a build-up of fluid.

It took months before Mrs O’Connell realised that SIDS and Kids was an organisation that also assisted families who had lost children from non-SIDS causes, including miscarriage, stillbirth, in palliative care, accidents and drownings. When she visited its Hunter chapter’s office in Stewart Avenue, Hamilton, it was life-changing.

‘‘I didn’t feel so alone, I was talking to other families who had been through similar things, because at the time you are in a bubble, floating along, the world is still happening and you just want everything to stop.’’ Mrs O’Connell soon began volunteering at the drop-in centre, and when she learnt she was pregnant, once again found solace there.

Mrs O’Connell, whose fourth child, Cameron, will turn nine next week, works as a peer support representative at the centre. She was on hand yesterday with co-worker and SIDS and Kids Hunter Region general manager Kate Middleton when the centre received a $25,000 cheque from Beyond Bank (formerly Companion Credit Union).

Beyond chief executive Robert Keogh said the customer-owned bank had donated $8million to charities, not-for-profit organisations and community groups since 2007.

Mrs Middleton, a mother-of-three whose first child, Hamish, died of whooping cough, said the funds would enable the centre to employ a fund-raising person, allowing staff to focus on education campaigns.

SUPPORT: Shellie O’Connell found solace at SIDS and Kids in Hamilton. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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No pause on Levee project

MAITLAND mayor Peter Blackmore has dismissed fears the city’s $14.7million Levee project could stall over a political fight.
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The major two-part development, which its hoped would provide a facelift and injection of life to the ailing Heritage Mall precinct, is earmarked to take a step forward tonight.

Councillors will confidentially discuss a shortlist of contractors to oversee the riverside re-invention, inviting those who made the cut to submit a formal tender.

Work on the Levee is scheduled to start in early 2014 but the project had fallen under a cloud after a major portion of funding was caught in political crossfire.

The Newcastle Herald has reported the federal government labelled $7million Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon announced for the project shortly before the election a ‘‘hoax’’.

Mr Fitzgibbon has slammed the Liberal government for failing to honour the commitment.

Cr Blackmore said the 2014 start date for the Levee was unchanged and the council would ‘‘make a determination’’ on funding.

Potentially moving to the next stage on Thursday by selecting a head contractor sent a clear message about the project’s future, he said.

‘‘We are giving a commitment it will be going ahead,’’ Cr Blackmore said.

He said many businesses had prepared for work in that timeframe, a commitment the council was not taking lightly.

‘‘We are certainly very conscious to make sure we can stick to that [early 2014] timeframe,’’ Cr Blackmore said.

Maitland councillors unanimously voted to forge ahead with the two-stage $14.7million project in June.

It would open the mall to traffic as well as creating a ‘‘river link’’ structure to connect the shopping promenade with the riverbank.

FACELIFT: A council concept image of the Levee project.

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Boom times ahead

Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis conducts a coaching clinic at Maitland Federation Centre, Maitland. Pictures: Jonathan CarrollANDREJ Lemanis has been handed the keys to Australian basketball’s new Ferrari.
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A few of the colts still need breaking in but Lemanis feels privileged, rather than pressured, to be sitting in the driver’s seat with all that horsepower under the hood.

One of only a select few to have won National Basketball League titles as a player (South East Melbourne Magic 1992) and coach (New Zealand Breakers 2010-12), 44-year-old Lemanis was appointed Boomers coach in April after guiding the Breakers to a third-straight championship.

He navigated the first road block in August, steering the Boomers to a 2-0 sweep of New Zealand in the Oceania qualifying series to secure a spot in the FIBA World Cup in Spain next September, and his tenure includes that tournament and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Lemanis has at his disposal a core of players strutting their stuff in professional leagues in the United States and Europe, and others from the US college system, meaning Australian-based NBL players will struggle to make the cut when he trims his World Cup squad to 12 in July.

Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers) and San Antonio’s Patrick Mills and Aron Baynes are in the National Basketball Association.

Joe Ingles (Israel), Brad Newley (Spain), David Barlow (Poland) and David Andersen and Ryan Broekhoff (both Turkey) are also “balling” on the world stage, and teenagers Dante Exum and Ben Simmons have been projected as first-round NBA draft picks.

Eighteen-year-old Exum and 17-year-old Simmons, a former Newcastle Hunters junior, are Australian-born sons of former NBL American imports Cecil Exum and Dave Simmons.

Other retired former Americans who stayed to raise families Down Under have inadvertently provided the Boomers with a nursery of second-generation athletes to pick from.

“It’s a really exciting time to be involved with the Boomers. I said when I got the job, and I still believe it, that we’ve got a good core of athletes there that have been together for a while,” Lemanis told the Newcastle Herald.

“If you look at Joe Ingles, Brad Newley, Patrick Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, all those guys are in their mid-20s, so it’s not like they’re at the end of their careers. They’re still in the prime of their careers, and someone like ‘Delly’ is just starting his international career.

“So to have that as a core of the group, and then to have these exciting young guys come through, who add this other special element with their athleticism and ability to just make plays out of nothing because of what they are athletically, that puts us in a really good position.”

Lemanis served his national senior-team apprenticeship as an assistant to Brett Brown at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey and 2012 Olympic Games in London. Brown is now head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA.

After the Tall Blacks series, where Exum and Simmons made their Boomers debuts, Lemanis went to Europe to check in with the likes of Newley, Ingles and Nathan Jawai, who will be sidelined for up to six months after suffering a neck trauma injury last month.

Lemanis does not anticipate the Boomers playing together again until they gather in Europe in August for training camp and trials before the World Cup.

“It’s now about staying in contact with those guys and monitoring how they’re going, and keeping a Boomers element to what they’re doing day-to-day on their own games and their skill development,” Lemanis said.

“We want them to understand that we’re here to support them, and if they need something from us, we’re only a phone call away and we’ll help them however we can.

“We want them to know that we can continue to help them and service them from afar – paying attention to them, and visiting with them to see their environments and see how they’re doing.

“I was lucky enough to do that when I went over to visit with some of our guys in Europe in September, but the reality is everyone’s in their own professional environment until the middle of June, then we will have a camp towards the end of July.

“At the end of that camp we will cut our squad to 12, pick our team, then we’ll head to Europe in early August and base ourselves out of Europe and seek some good quality competition and games leading into the World Cup.”

Whether 29-year-old Bogut, who has not played for Australia since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, suits up at the World Cup or the Rio Olympics remains to be seen, but Lemanis said Australia’s only No.1 NBA draft pick was keen to wear the green and gold again.

“Bogut’s skill level would be a tremendous asset to add to the group,” he said.

“I’ve had good conversations with Andrew, he’s certainly committed to the Boomers’ program, and he wants to be a Boomer. He’s just had an unbelievably unlucky run with injuries.

“He needs to be comfortable within himself that he can get through an NBA schedule – 82 games plus play-offs – have an off-season playing with the Boomers, then get through another 82-game season plus play-offs.

“He needs to be confident that his body can handle that but it would be very exciting for us, obviously, if he was able to make himself available.”

Bogut’s shocking run of bad luck, and the unavailability of other first-choice players for different reasons at different times, has given others an opportunity to represent the Boomers.

Lemanis hopes that leaves him with some tough choices to make in nine months, when he has to name an Australian team to take on the world.

The Boomers were beaten in the quarter-finals by eventual Olympic gold medallists USA in London, having finished 10th at the World Championships in Turkey in 2010.

It is a far cry from the golden era when they were fourth at the Olympics of 1988, 1996 and 2000, but it seems the only way is up for the most athletically gifted squad in Boomers history.

“To have that depth, it’s obviously a good position to be in.

“The more pressure there is on those guys to keep their spot in the roster, the better positioned we are as a nation to do well.

“There’s going to be good players that miss out . . . because at the end of the day, the coach has got to make a call and you’re only allowed to pick 12. That’s a good position to be in, if you’re leaving out good players as opposed to putting players in because you have to have 12.”

● Lemanis held a coaching clinic at Maitland Federation Centre last night and will be guest speaker at Hunter Sports High’s presentation dinner at Wests New Lambton tonight.

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TOPICS: Activities aplenty  in November rain

HERE’S the scenario.
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You have friends staying from overseas, or interstate, or Sydney. You’ve looked forward to showing off the Hunter, your home, with its beaches and vineyards and urban cool, and did you tell them about the coffee? You did? Just checking.

But it’s raining, like it did yesterday and it’s meant to today. That’s speared your plans. As Guns N’ Roses once observed, kind of, it’s hard to see the Hunter in the cold November rain.

So what to do in a wet week, without resorting to laser tag at Charlestown Square?

Learn stuff at Newcastle Museum

The real fun lurks in the science wing. Hoist a car off the ground with a rope, or put your nephew in his place in the speed gun-timed tennis ball throw. Handy hint: limber up.

Lace up at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium

So your guests won’t find the romance of the rink at New York’s Rockefeller Center. Who cares? With fewer people on the ice, promotions like Friday Sk8 Night and the chance to catch a North Stars hockey game, you’ll feel like you’re in a winter wonderland designed by Torvill and Dean.

Dip-netting in the Hunter Wetlands

Just you, the birds and whatever ends up squirming in your net. Bring a raincoat.

A spot of culture at the Lock-Up

The current artists in residence are Paul Howard and David Matthews. One’s curated projects for the Tate Modern, the other’s written for Esquire and The Guardian.

Laser tag at Strike Bowling, Charlestown Square

Oh, all right. To quote Saul in Breaking Bad, drum roll, please… it’s laser tag! Rollicking fun in the Hunter’s retail hub.

There you are – a list guaranteed to speed up a wet week. Got a wet-weather tip? Let us know.

It makes horse sense

IF New York gets rid of the horse-drawn carriages that clip-clop through Central Park, can Newcastle have them?

Hear us out. New York’s new mayor Bill de Blasio, who sounds like a bit of a killjoy, has vowed to end the tradition ‘‘within the first week on the job’’. Meanwhile, our city’s rethinking its transport.

So alongside the blimp network devised by eight-year-old Oscar Wood (Topics, November 6), we propose a horse interchange at Wickham, Broadmeadow or wherever the rail line ends.

Imagine a twilight trot through Civic Park, past Bar Beach, or even down Hunter Street. Kids could arrive at their school formals in them, instead of Hummers. The council would find the streets brimming with free compost.

Hemp conspiracy

WE asked for conspiracy theories (Topics, November 11). Were you followed? Then come in, sit down, have a tin-foil hat.

Brian Casey, of Lemon Tree Passage, opened our eyes to the ‘‘hemp conspiracy’’. It goes like this, according to a website called Higher Perspective.

‘‘Marijuana is not dangerous. Pot is not harmful to the human body or mind … However, marijuana is very much a danger to the oil companies, alcohol, tobacco industries, and a large number of chemical corporations.’’

Lots of goods used to be made from hemp, you see, until big business with an interest in replacing it with their own products bankrolled a smear campaign against poor Mary Jane*.

‘‘It’s fair-dinkum, I think,’’ says Brian.

This all began with Topics’ bafflement at the opposition to fluoridated water in the Byron Shire, on the grounds that it’s mass medication.

Kevin Butters, of Lambton, thinks the good folk of Byron are indulging in mass daftness.

‘‘Isn’t that where the locals won’t immunise their kids?’’ says Kevin.

‘‘To the best of my knowledge most toothpaste contains fluoride, so what do they brush their teeth with?’’

* slang for marijuana

DON’T FRET: There are plenty of things to do in Newcastle when the heavens unleash.

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Get ready for Melbourne’s first Night Noodle Markets

1. Lantern Garden and food trucks 2. Rekordelig Cider Bar 3. Citi VIP area 4. Coopers Beer Garden 5. Yalumba Festival Garden 6. Tanqueray Gin Lounge. Illustration by Joe Benke. 1. Lantern Garden and food trucks 2. Rekordelig Cider Bar 3. Citi VIP area 4. Coopers Beer Garden 5. Yalumba Festival Garden 6. Tanqueray Gin Lounge. Photo: Illustration: Joe Benke
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Smoke and sizzle, steam and spice, cooks wrangling woks and hungry night-time hordes queuing at favourite open-air stalls. It’s a scene repeated all over Asia, from Shanghai to Chiang Mai, and from next Monday we’ll see it in Melbourne.

For two weeks, Alexandra Gardens, on the banks of the Yarra, will morph into street-food central as some of Melbourne’s best-loved Asian restaurants, cafes and food trucks gather nightly to dish out everything from pad Thai to pork buns, yakitori and yellow curry, amid the buzz of bars and DJs playing music under the stars.

Joanna Savill is festival director of Good Food Month, presented by Citi. Savill says the Night Noodle Markets are a celebration of spring and Australia’s Asian food culture. ”Australians love being outside. Asian street food is our go-to comfort fare. Add in music, entertainment, bars and chill-out areas and it’s a pretty infectious combination.”

The arrival of the markets in Melbourne follows their success in Sydney, where they have been a landmark annual event since the late 1990s. ”This year in Sydney we had 43 stalls, four bars and ran across 16 nights, drawing a crowd of 295,000 people – up to 35,000 on any given night,” says Savill.

Julian Lee, an owner of the hit Mamak Malaysian restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, says the event has a ”fantastic vibe”. ”One of the reasons we decided to do it is because that’s where we started off – as a market stall.”

Theatre is a big part of street food and Mamak stalls will be no exception, with trademark freshly flipped roti stretched, folded and sizzled as patrons watch. ”Everything will be cooked on site,” says Lee.

Longrain, with hatted Thai restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne and a reputation for rigorous authenticity, is another Night Noodle Markets veteran. Co-owner Sam Christie says Longrain’s first Melbourne market menu will include dishes from Shortgrain, the group’s casual canteen-style venture in Sydney, which Christie says are good for market-style grazing. ”You might get a main from us, an entree from another stall … you’re there with friends, you compare dishes.”

The first Melbourne Night Noodle Markets will comprise about 30 stalls cooking street-food favourites from countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and the Philippines.

City hotspot Chin Chin will be there, serving noodles (pad see ew), as well as pork-and-peanut curry, a Vietnamese-style slaw with prawns and its chilli-caramel popcorn. As at the restaurant, get there early or expect to queue.

Tiny laneway eatery Wonderbao was nominated late last year by The Age Good Food Under $30 editors as ”a cool new kid on the block” and one of Melbourne’s top 10 best eats under $10. Manager Shan Lin says bao – puffy steamed, filled buns – are a classic Asian street snack, easy to carry and eat, whether they’re the plump Chinese version or the fold-over Taiwanese type ”like an Asian taco”. The Wonderbao market stall will serve several different bao, including a vegetarian bao and roast pork belly; a version that comes with cucumber, pickled carrot, daikon, hoisin, and its own fan club.

Footscray West’s Aangan Indian Restaurant will serve assorted breads, roti with meat and vegetable stuffings, grilled kebabs and fried snacks. Richmond Vietnamese restaurants I Love Pho and Thanh Phong will bring a taste of Victoria Street to the markets, while the city’s Izakaya Den will be dishing out dude-ish Japanese eats, including fried chicken and the Hihou Dog – a variation on the hotdog. Hoy Pinoy will offer Filipino flavours, including the traditional sausage known as longganisa and pork belly glazed with one of the Philippines’ favourite condiments, banana ketchup.

For those infected with food-truck fever, there’s no need to rely on luck or Twitter to locate your next rolling repast. The Night Noodle Markets offer a chance to sample five in one spot, including Bean Rollin’, Let’s Do Yum Cha, the vibrant Vietnamese fare of Lil Nom Noms and (on most nights) the Banh Mi Boys, plus Taiwanese treats – maybe spring onion pancakes and sausage with pepper sauce – from Ghost Kitchen.

There’s more Taiwanese on offer from a stall by the city’s Mr Huang Jin, including steaming, soupy xiao long bao dumplings.

Gelato Messina will have a stall churning out gelati and sorbets in Asian-inspired flavours such as coconut, peanut, mango and pandan. Sexy sundaes will include the pun-tastic En-Thai-Sing with pandan-coconut sorbet, sticky rice, fresh mango and salted coconut cream.

”Australians enjoy eating outdoors,” says Longrain’s Sam Christie. ”I think people in Melbourne have embraced that even more than in Sydney. It’s about the atmosphere and company as well as the food.”

”Getting together with friends, seeing the food cooked in front of you, eating outdoors at night – it’s part of our culture,” says Mamak’s Julian Lee. ”It’s great to see people here embracing it.”



Night Noodle Markets, November 18-30. Alexandra Gardens, 1 Boathouse Drive, Melbourne. Weekdays from 5pm, weekends from 4pm. Admission free.

Why top chefs like to eat on the street

The street and market food of Asia is fast, not fancy, made to be eaten with more gusto than ceremony. Not the kind of thing to impress top restaurateurs? Far from it. Here’s why four of Victoria’s most decorated owner-chefs love heading to a night-time Asian market.

Andrew McConnell has a clutch of acclaimed restaurants and The Age Good Food Guide chef’s hats, including two this year for Fitzroy fine diner Cutler & Co. McConnell’s first food market experience was in south Thailand in 1993; his best was a recent banh mi on a Hanoi street.

“Depending on your timing and location the freshness of the food is usually incredible. To this day, sweet salty sticky rice and coconut cream in Thailand has to be my favourite and I can never go past steamed vegetable dumplings or pan-fried dumplings in Shanghai.”

Teage Ezard, of two-hat Ezard in Flinders Lane, first tried Asian market food in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. “I ate late at night with a local who took care of our ordering. We ate a huge amount for next to nothing!”

Ezard, who also co-owns Gingerboy, loves the diversity hawker markets offer in a small area. Depending on where he’s travelling, his go-to Asian street dishes are chilli mud crab, the well-loved Thai pawpaw salad som tam and “sweet sticky black rice in bamboo”.

Michael Ryan, owner-chef at two-hat Provenance in Beechworth, is known for his love and knowledge of Japanese cooking and warmly recalls cold nights in Fukuoka, which many regard as Japan’s street food capital. But when it comes to hawker food, Ryan may have left his heart in Malaysia – specifically, Penang’s capital city. “Georgetown, you have Malaysian food, Chinese food, Indian food and that wonderful fusion of all of them, Nonya, all within walking distance.”

What he likes most about hawker food is “the sense of discovery – what is around the corner, at the next stall – being out of your comfort zone, the smells, the noise”.

Geoff Lindsay earned several chef’s hats while cooking at some of Melbourne’s most exciting restaurants. As owner-chef at Elwood’s one-hat Dandelion, he regularly visits Vietnam; when he touches down in Hanoi, his arrival treat is bun cha, grilled pork and noodles.

The best thing about the food of the markets and streets? “It is everyone’s food, the food of the people, you can be with a prince or a plumber and everyone eats with gusto.”

Banh mi, dumplings, som tam and bun cha are among the dishes at Melbourne’s Night Noodle Markets.On the menu

Aangan: Assorted Indian breads; roti rolls and wraps; kebabs; fried snacks.  Autorickshaw: Indian butter chicken and saffron rice; masala chai; aloo tiki chat; naan. Banh Mi Boys: Bun noodle salad, bangin’ banh mi baguette, blue cod ceviche.

Burwood Teppanyaki House: Yakitori (chicken/calamari/beef/prawn) skewers; okonomi-yaki; Japanese soft drinks.

Chin Chin: Pad see ew; tom yum poached prawns and Vietnamese coleslaw; pork and peanut curry; chilli-caramel popcorn.

Dumpling and Biriyani Rice Hut: Momo dumplings, free range chicken biriyani.

Dumplings Plus: Pan-fried, steamed and deep-fried dumplings.

Gelato Messina: Gelati, sorbets, and sundaes like Singapore Sling.

Ghost Kitchen: Spring onion pancake with optional egg, pork floss, or the lot; gua bao; Taiwanese sausage; salt-and-pepper chicken.

Grilled Calamari: Malaysian-Indonesian calamari skewers.

Hoy Pinoy: Barbecue chicken in traditional Filipino glaze; longganisa (skewered pork sausage); pork belly and banana ketchup glaze.

I Love Pho: Beef, chicken or vegetable pho; Vietnamese coleslaw, salads; lemongrass beef or pork buns; spring rolls/rice-paper rolls.

Izakaya Den: Den fried chicken; Hihou Dog; nama udon noodles with wagyu beef or tofu and wakame.

Le Bangkok: Pad Thai; pawpaw salad; fish cakes; deep-fried pork with sticky rice; golden crispy morning glory salad.

Let’s Do Yum Cha: Barbecue pork bun; pork or chicken dim sim; vegetarian dumpling; vegetarian spring roll; prawn and chive dumplings; prawn gow gee.

Lil Nom Noms: Steamed bao; banh mi slider; bun cha (rice noodle salad).

Longrain: Grilled chicken, rice noodles, coriander, yellow bean; hot-and-sour salad of pork and glass noodles, peanuts, mint and coriander; yellow curry of cauliflower, pumpkin, mustard greens and chilli

Mamak: Roti chanai; satay chicken; mee goreng.

Mini Pancakes: Mini pancakes; fresh young drinking coconuts; lemon-mint crush.

Mr Huang Jin: Pork and ginger steamed xiao long bao; pan-fried chicken and lemongrass dumplings; Taiwanese fried chicken.

Paperboy Kitchen: Chicken Vietnamese noodle salad; egg and smoked tomato noodle salad; grilled salmon noodle salad.

Pho Saigon Star: Hokkien noodle salad, Vietnamese pancakes, Viet skewers and salad.

Sambal Kampung: Fish fillet with spicy sauce; pan-fried dumplings; calamari with spicy sauce; pan-fried rice pudding.

Shallot Thai: Pad Thai; pad mee; pad see ew.

Serendipity Icecream: Assorted ice-creams.

Spanthai: Seafood saffron rice; chicken panang curry; chicken pad Thai; vegetable pad see ew; prawn fried rice; Hokkien noodles.

Thanh Phong: Vietnamese beef wrapped in betel leaf; rice-paper roll; salt squid; meatball skewers.

Wonderbao: Roast pork belly gua bao; choi bao; pork bao; chicken bao.

Drinks: There will be four bars pouring Coopers beer, Rekorderlig cider, Tanqueray gin and Yalumba wines. The only things to BYO are friends and an appetite.

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Peatsconvinced Arthur has what it takes

Nathan Peats: “We want to go well next year. It’s a big challenge.” Photo: SuppliedTwo of Parramatta’s most important signings acquainted themselves in Bali. New coach Brad Arthur and former South Sydney hooker Nathan Peats twice crossed paths at the popular holiday destination. They hit it off, which is a good thing given Peats had a get-out clause in his contract linked to the coach.
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While Peats never contemplated activating it, the 23-year-old was relieved to find they were on the same page well before the club’s first training session on a rain-soaked Richie Benaud Oval on Monday.

“He’s a good bloke with the same goals as what I have, we want to go well next year and not have another cellar-dweller kind of season,” Peats said.

“It’s a big challenge. Ricky [Stuart] was obviously the one who got me here. Those few weeks before the new coach got picked I was a bit nervous but I was never going to leave, my intentions were to stay.”

Day one of pre-season at the Eels and, everywhere you looked, there was someone with something to prove. For Peats, it’s the chance to become a starting hooker, a position he was never going to nail while playing behind Issac Luke at Redfern. Another former Rabbitoh, Chris Sandow, has one season left on his lucrative contract to prove that he has turned himself around and can do likewise for the wooden spooners.

And popular team member Ben Smith, initially earmarked as being among the “Parramatta punted”, was back for a 10th pre-season with the blue and golds.

But no man faces a bigger challenge than Arthur. A Parramatta junior, Arthur has enjoyed a rounded apprenticeship at powerhouses Melbourne and Manly, as well as a six-week caretaker stint as head coach at the Eels last year. He returns to a club unsettled on and off the field and tipped to earn a third consecutive wooden spoon.

In his favour is the bond he has already established with several senior players. Tim Mannah, for instance, would have been happy had Arthur been permanently installed after the club parted company with another Storm assistant, Stephen Kearney.

However, the captain believes Arthur’s subsequent experiences with grand finalists Manly will prove invaluable. “We know BA from when he was here a couple of years ago and we’re all stoked he’s coming back,” Mannah said.

Not all of Parramatta’s new faces were on hand. Will Hopoate is finishing up his Mormon missionary commitments, while Lee Mossop and Brenden Santi remain on World Cup duty.

Peats’ father, Geordi, a hooker for Souths and Canterbury, had no qualms about his son joining the Bulldogs’ arch rivals. “He’s sweet, as long as I’m happy, he’s happy,” Nathan Peats said.

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Toxic tackles taken down in new push

Last year it was the shoulder charge at the centre of NRL scrutiny; now the administration is set to tighten laws around the crusher and cannonball tackles before next year’s season.
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Following continuing discussions between NRL officials and the clubs over the off-season, the governing body’s head of football, Todd Greenberg, has flagged a crackdown on the two controversial tackling techniques.

While the finer details of any changes to the laws will need to be ratified by the competition committee and the ARL Commission – which will both meet next month – Greenberg revealed the third man in around the legs and the crusher tackle were seen as priorities by the clubs and the central body.

“There’s no doubt the two issues we’re looking at from our discussions with the coaches and the clubs are the cannonball and the crusher,” Greenberg said. “We’re looking at those things and we’re discussing those things. I think the crusher tackle in particular, we need to be really vigilant on that. Player welfare is at the top of our decision-making priorities. We’ve got to make sure that we continue to retain the fabric of the toughness of rugby league, but not at the detriment of the players. The crusher tackle is one of those we’re looking very closely at.”

It is believed the NRL will look at increasing the judiciary penalties for crusher tackles – whereby a defender places pressure on the ball-carrier’s head and neck using their upper body. Those who carry out dangerous cannonball tackles – spearing in at a player’s legs while he is held up by other defenders – can also expect to be punished more severely.

The NRL will not go as far as banning the third-man-in altogether as it would alter the fabric of the contest too significantly. But referees and the match review committee are likely to be especially harsh on players who attack the ball-carrier at the knee joint or below, and those who use excessive force and velocity.

Greenberg has spent much of the off-season travelling to NRL clubs, speaking with officials and coaching staff. So far he has visited 10 clubs and will meet with officials from the other six over the next fortnight.

“It’s been well worthwhile getting around to all the clubs,” he said. “That engagement has been really important, and they’ve been really clear on their views, which is great. That’s exactly how it should be.

“Between us and them . . . we went in with those [as our priorities] and they’ve been very supportive of us taking a stronger stance on crushers – the clubs and the coaches. And the third-man-in, people don’t want to see that in the game either. The NRL and the clubs . . . we’re very aligned on that.”

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Smith says complacency not a concern

Captain Cameron Smith doesn’t fear a tournament ambush despite the Kangaroos’ relatively easy successes so far.
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Having kept Fiji and Ireland tryless in back-to-back games, the Australians are preparing to play the US in what is expected to be another rout for the Kangaroos. But Smith said complacency wasn’t a concern.

“I think the staff have done a really good job with mixing up our weekly schedule with different types of training and last week they let us get to Dublin and have a couple of days there to look around and time to ourself, which was good,” Smith said. “A few of the guys’ partners are over at the moment, that’s a bit of a distraction as well.

“Every time we’ve hit the training paddock or we’ve been in a meeting watching vision on the opposition or in the gym the focus has been great, the intensity’s been great. We just need to keep that up.

“We know we’ve made the quarter-finals now, we’re coming into a quarter-final game against USA, who we haven’t seen too many of those blokes play. We’ll just approach it like we approach the first three games, with a simple game plan – a game plan we believe will help us come semi-final time.”

Australia fought from behind to win their opening pool game against England. That loss meant the English side will probably face New Zealand in the semi-finals, with the winner to face the Kangaroos.

Smith compared this Saturday’s (Sunday, midnight AEDT) game against the US as a similar proposition to their 50-0 romp against Ireland. “Without talking the USA down too much, I think it’ll be a lot similar to [the game against Ireland] but we have seen them play their first couple of games and they were pretty good,” Smith said.

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Animal may be behind road fatality

A NATIVE animal crossing the Batman Highway was behind a motorcyclist taking the evasive action that ultimately led to his death, police believe.
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The 76-year-old Launceston man was pronounced dead at the scene at Hillwood on Sunday morning.

Police believe the man had been riding behind two vehicles when the car furthest in front pulled up because of an animal crossing the highway.

The second vehicle, a four-wheel drive Suzuki, pulled over to the highway’s shoulder to avoid hitting the car in front. The rider is believed to have swerved to avoid hitting the first car but in doing so has come off his bike and slammed into the car’s rear.

The man’s bike has continued on and struck the back of the Suzuki, occupied by an interstate family including a young child.

Passing motorists stopped to provide first aid to the rider, who is yet to be identified by police, until paramedics arrived.

Tasmania Police Inspector Darren Hopkins said there were no plans to charge anyone at this stage, however, the investigation was still in its infancy.

Speed and alcohol were not believed to be factors in the collision which occurred about 11.30am a kilometre from the East Tamar Highway intersection on a clear and dry day.

The death has prompted police to urge motorists to remain aware of their surroundings at all times.

Tasmanian Motorcycle Council spokesman Paul Bullock said the state’s 26th road fatality was very sad.

“He is just an innocent that got caught up in something that turned out to be tragic,” Mr Bullock said.

“It was just something he could not get out of it appears.”

Mr Bullock called on Tasmanian motorcyclists to consider enrolling in the Motorcycle Road Skills Course.

The course is offered over one day and includes a segment on riding techniques, bike control and management.

The Motor Accident Insurance Board pays for $150 of the $200 program.

Police are requesting anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Northern District Crash Investigators on 6336 3936 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police at the scene of the fatality on the Batman Highway.

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