Brumbies back Christian Lealiifano’s Suntory stint after signing trio of future stars

The Brumbies have signed Ben Hyne on an extended player squad deal. Photo: Jay CronanACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has backed playmaker Christian Lealiifano to juggle Super Rugby, Wallabies and Japanese duties over the next six months after signing a deal to play for Suntory at the end of the year.

Lealiifano has taken up a flexible option in his contract to link with Japan giants Suntory in the Super Rugby off-season, but the Brumbies co-captain is set for extra Wallabies responsibilities after Kurtley Beale suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.

Larkham believes Lealiifano can use his stint in Japan to become a better player even if it means the 28-year-old plays almost two years of consecutive rugby without a break.

Lealiifano is the front-runner to fill the Wallabies’ inside centre spot for the three-Test series against England in June while Beale and Matt Toomua are out of action.

Larkham dismissed concerns of player burnout despite Lealiifano set for at least 20 months of non-stop rugby until the end of the 2017 Super Rugby campaign.

“Christian’s got a great opportunity with the Wallabies and that’s always been his goal,” Larkham said.

“He had this opportunity to sign a flexible deal to play in Japan in the off-season … the way things are panning out now is that he’s got a big role for the Wallabies.

“If he does get to Suntory, it’s a great opportunity for him over there to learn a few things and from everyone I’ve seen go overseas and come back, they come back as a better player.

“It is a lot of rugby, but sometimes for a player who’s been around a long time like Christian continually playing can be better than doing a pre-season.”

The Brumbies continued to build their roster for the future on Friday, unveiling trio Ben Hyne, Ryan Lonergan and Robert Valetini as new recruits on extended player squad deals.

Hyne has been training with the Brumbies all season after moving from Brisbane to Canberra to take a chance to impress Larkham.


Scrumhalf Lonergan is a Canberra junior, while the Brumbies have poached versatile back-rower Valetini from the Melbourne Rebels ranks.

Rookie flyhalf Jordan Jackson-Hope is also believed to be close to a new deal and Canberra Grammar graduate Tom Staniforth signed a two-year contract on Thursday.

“[Valetini] showed a lot of promise through the under-20s competition. He’s got a lot of potential as a blindside flanker or a No.8 but he’s pretty versatile,” Larkham said.

“You’re always trying to have that balance in your squad between young guys and senior players to keep generating a squad.

“Benny Hyne played a trial match for us in Wagga this year and from that everyone had a new respect and appreciation for what he can bring to the team.”

Larkham used the Brumbies’ bye week to finalise some contracts, but he will continue to delay his personal negotiations until closer to the end of the year.

Larkham’s contract expires at the end of the Super Rugby campaign, but he has already told Brumbies management he wants to stay in Canberra on a long-term deal.


May 28: ACT Brumbies v Japan Sunwolves at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

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A lesson in being a good (sports)person

Jim Pavlidis illustration for Greg Baum column, Saturday May 21, 2016 Photo: Jim PavlidisReplying to an applicant for a place in the women’s rugby program at Quinnipiac university in Connecticut, the coach begins by noting that her letter was short, poorly written, scant for detail and inappropriately casual, giving only her Christian name. In as many words, the girl wanted to know if the team was “giving out scholarships”.

The coach, Becky Carlson, says that a polished and thorough resume arrived a week later – from the email address of the applicant’s parents. They apologised for their daughter’s failure to return calls and emails from the university, saying she was “too busy to answer”.

When the girl and her parents did at last visit the university, the parents did all the talking, Carlson notes. “However, when you did speak, you were openly correcting and verbally scolding them when you deemed their information sharing inaccurate,” she says. As they toured the campus, Carlson observes that this girl who was too busy to return a call or email was never off her email-enabled smart phone.

Gradually, Carlson builds a picture of a brat, talented, but privileged, indulged and insolent. Against her better instincts, she says, she went to watch the applicant in a high school game. She saw immediately that the girl was the most gifted player on the team, but also lazy, aloof and self-possessed. At half-time, she sat apart from the her teammates. When they huddled before returning to the fray, she chatted to a teammate, paying no attention to the coach.

When she scored, she expected the adulation of teammates. When a teammate scored, she ignored her. When teammates made mistakes, she loudly upbraided them. “You had moments of greatness but they were followed by sporadic lulls of half-hearted effort.” Carlson says.

Though captain, the applicant took no part in the post-match debriefing, says Carlson. Nor did she help her mother lug out snacks for the team. “Last, as the rest of the team broke the field down and put equipment away, you found a quiet spot on the empty bench to text on your phone,” she says.

Carlson forgives the girl to the extent that she has probably spent a lifetime being told how good she is, by coaches versed in the mechanics of sport and not the principles, coaches consumed by the winning imperative. “However, players like you, with similar demeanour are a dime a dozen,” she says. “Please bear in mind, none of this makes you a bad person, only potentially a bad teammate.”

Carlson writes all this in a blog entitled “An open letter to the athlete we must stop recruiting” that has gained widespread attention in cyberspace. By now, it is apparent that this precious young lady is not one person, but a composite of many whom Carlson has come across as a player, administrator, talent scout and coach. She extrapolates lessons that  she also addresses to the fictional teenager. University women’s rugby in the US is, you imagine, a niche, but sport is a universal language, and some of Carlson’s morals doubtlessly will resonate among coaches of young athletes here.

The charmless one, says Carlson, will be a drain on coaches, a divisive influence in the team, prone to sulk and perhaps become insecure among the many more fish in this much bigger pond. She will dwell on her successes and brood over failures. But she will blame everyone else. This disposition will ill serve not only the team now, but the girl in her later working life.

One of Carlson’s points is only obliquely applicable in Australia. It is that the student/athlete’s goal should be to “get a degree while playing a sport you love”, not “to get a starting position while earning a degree you tolerate”. Carlson’s degree was in journalism, the sports she loved along the way were rugby and tennis. She is not just a coach, but a pioneer of and apostle for women’s rugby in the US, an advocate for women coaches in general and a believer in the idea of sport as an agent for social change. In 2014, she was named women’s rugby college coach of the year.

Carlson concedes that young athletes, properly guided, can change. “However, the investment on my end presents high risk to the health of team morale, my livelihood and sanity,” she says. “In my younger coaching years, I believed far too often that many like you were capable of transformation. Over time, without consistent support from the powers that be, I have lost my fair share of those battles and have watched colleagues lose their jobs when athletes like you are unsatisfied.

“I have learned from my mistakes. As a result, although the athlete playing right next to you has half the stats and three-quarters of your speed, they are supportive, determined and selfless. This kind of athlete, will be our next signee.

“By choosing not to recruit you, I am saving my team culture.”

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Learning from the source

Dietitian Kerri GordonDIETITIAN Kerri Gordon says proud producers can teach us to eat better.

The Ballarat Community Health expert encourages everyone to consider farmers’ markets as a key food source before turning to the supermarket.

Ms Gordon said producers could educate consumers on food preparation and how to enrich foods because they were so passionate about what they have grown or made.

While the booming popularity of reality television shows was inspiring people to cook their meals from scratch more, Ms Gordon said it was about choosing the right ingredients or finding the right in-season alternatives for recipes.

“People might go looking specifically for Swiss brown mushrooms when portobello mushrooms are in season,” Ms Gordon said.

“The benefit of having those farmers’ markets is seasonal produce, which offers a natural backdrop for eating and natural variety in eating…our ecological system has a way in varying our diet during the year.”

Ms Gordon said farmers’ markets were a good guide for avoiding imported foods and supporting great produce from your region.

Ballarat producers and market organisers are concerned this region is not embracing the farmers’ markets. Producers are prepared to travel for better sales.

While Ballarat markets get a good crowd, producers have told market operators, like Jiggety Jig’s Suzi Fitzpatrick, that not many are buying –people tend to visit Ballarat farmers’ markets for an outing just to look.

Cost and time were two elements about farmers’ markets that Ms Gordon said must be put in perspective.

Making the most of a farmers’ market required an element of thought and preparation, planning meals for the week ahead. Ms Gordon said farmers’ markets could be a source of inspiration and, with planning, could decrease the average food bill because fresh produce straight from the source would often last longer.

“The question of is healthy eating more expensive versus ready-made processed food is like the chicken versus the egg scenario,” Ms Gordon said. “Processed food is perhaps not always nutritional but, putting it in perspective, a complex and mixed diet is generally more fulfilling, so you tend to eat less.”

Ms Gordon said food should be enjoyed and savoured. Making time to visit the farmers’ market and considering meals to cook was part ofthe experience. It was about getting to know the local butcher or cheese maker or grower and their produce.

“What you’re doing in farmers’ markets is supporting a local model,” Ms Gordon said. “You’re buying what is available and sustainable and keeping money in the region.”

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The Internet of Things: it’s arrived and it’s eyeing your job

Self-driving cars like the Tesla could send the economy on a wild ride.We have been hearing about the Internet of Things for years, but get ready. It has finally arrived, and it has the potential to unleash economic disruption that makes what the internet has delivered so far look like child’s play.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn is better placed than most to watch it happen. Telstra is in the middle of it, through initiatives of its own such as e-health and through its wireless network, which supports a growing universe of apps. A Telstra SIM connection allows Tesla cars to connect to the internet in this country, for example. A new one helps graziers manage stock by alerting them when gates have been left open.

Penn also drives a Tesla, Elon Musk’s sculptural electric rocket.

Earlier this year, he and his family decided to drive out from Melbourne and spend a weekend in the country. He left the Tesla in the garage for that trip – and when he went into the garage on Monday morning to drive to work, he realised he had left his keys out where he had stayed.

He reached into his pocket to call work and say he was going to have to Uber it in … and there, glowing silently on his phone, was the Tesla app.

He opened it up, and tapped through until it asked him whether he wanted to unlock the car. Tap yes. Then it asked him if he wanted to start the car. Tap yes again. The Tesla woke, was good good to go – but then Penn saw the closed garage roller door. The clicker for the door was also on his key ring, far away.

The Internet of Things didn’t extend far enough to get Andy Penn’s Tesla out of the garage that day. Soon however, it will: and when driverless cars make their debut in about five years, there will be cars that start up, raise the garage door if there is one, and drive to the front door, ready.

Andy Penn’s experience is a reminder that the Tesla isn’t a car as we are used to thinking of it. It’s actually an app, wrapped in a beautiful case. It rides the roads like other cars, but it also rides the internet. All cars will, and in that part of the economy alone there are profound implications.

The Internet of Things is “billions of connected devices from vending machines to mining equipment, aircraft engines and their componentry, agricultural sensors and cars,” Penn said in his first keynote speech as Telstra CEO in July last year.

It both offers opportunities and poses threats. Penn mentioned in his first speech for example that a Committee for Economic Development of Australia report on Australia’s future workforce had estimated that almost 40 per cent of the jobs that exist in Australia had a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years.

“Machine learning is the biggest driver of this because of its implications for the service industry,” he said. “In future, many traditional services type activities will be done by computers more quickly, more cheaply and more accurately.”

New jobs will be created by the Internet of Things, too of course. We just don’t know yet exactly where they will be. A look at what might happen in the transport industry gives us a taste.

Driverless vehicles means job losses for professional drivers, and there are a lot of them. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that there were 18 million vehicles on the road last year. About 3.5 million or 19 per cent were commercial vehicles of one kind of another. Job losses in that market alone could dwarf those suffered by the manufacturing sector in recent years.

There will be job gains as companies exploit the technology, too. Driverless cars will also free up corporate cash for investment as wages are saved, and self-driving, self-monitoring vehicles will boost vehicle efficiency and drive down transportation costs. The productivity gains will flow more slowly than the job losses, however.

The shape of the retail vehicle industry is also going to be transformed.

It will make little sense for many to own a car, even a driverless one, because it will be more cost-effective to use an app to rent door to door car trips, supplied by privately-run pools of driverless cars (Uber expects to be running a driverless fleet by 2030). The pool cars will make many trips a day, raising capacity utilisation, and the investment yield. The number of cars on the road may well fall as this occurs, with implications for everyone who earns a living by making, selling and servicing vehicles.

You would have to think that reports of the imminent death of road networks as the world lowers carbon emissions might also be trumped by the arrival of the driverless vehicle. Rather than disappearing, road networks could be the backbone of driverless privately owned, public transport networks that include cars and buses.

Trains will also be driverless, everywhere. They already are in some networks including Hong Kong’s. Driverless car pooling is going to challenge them, however, probably on cost as well as service levels. Hold on: it is going to be wild ride.

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Murray Grey win at Wingham

The steer that produced the champion unled carcase at Wingham Beef Week exhibited by Wallawong Murray Greys and David Schouten ‘Calala’ Gravesend.WALLOWONGMurray Greys have confirmed their reputation for producing elite carcasestaking out both champion and reserve champion unled carcase and being awarded overall grand champion carcase at 2016 Wingham BeefWeek.

The grand champion carcase exhibited by Wallawong Murray Greys and DavidSchouten, ‘Calala’, Gravesend, was sired by Wallawong Uncovered, a bull purchased byMr Schouten in 2012.

A steer by Wallawong Target and bred by Heath Birchall, Duri, also placed second inthe Export Carcase Class 8 with 88.210 points.

Theseawards backs up their 2015 achievement where another steer by WallawongUncovered exhibited by Wallawong Murray Greys and MrSchouten produced the champion unled carcase of 2015 Wingham Beef Week.

The pureMurray Grey middle domestic carcase scored full points for fat with 9 millimetreson the rump and 7mm on the rib along with full points for eye muscle area and 4.5 out of 5 points for fat distribution.

The carcase scored 90.9pts to be awarded the champion unled carcase and grand champion carcase overall.

The reserve champion unled carcase with a score of 89.657 was exhibited byWallawong Murray Greys and Groveleigh partnership, Loomberah.

Sired by WallawongRipsnorter, the carcase scored full points for fat specifications with 9mm on the rumpand 6mm on the rib with full points for eye muscle areaand four out of five for fat distribution. Wallowong genetics were well represented at Sydney Royal.

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