Sydney FC coach search narrows

On the rise: Former Sydney FC skipper Mark Rudan has been earning his stripes coaching Sydney United. Photo: Brendan EspositoThe likes of Graham Arnold, Holger Osieck and Mark Rudan are among those shortlisted for the job of Sydney FC coach.
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The club says it is well advanced in its search for Frank Farina’s replacement.

Sydney FC are yet to formally contact any of those on their wishlist but it is understood that Osieck, a former Socceroos coach, has emerged as a candidate alongside former Mariners coach Arnold and Rudan, the inaugural Sydney captain.

Osieck is understood to still be living in Sydney following his dismissal from his position as Australia coach in October and is fondly viewed of by some of those involved in FC’s hiring process.

Arnold remains one of the main candidates and will begin formal negotiations with the Sky Blues once he returns from holiday.

Meanwhile, fan favourite Rudan has been confirmed as one of the coaches on the shortlist.

The club has fast-tracked the services of incoming director Han Berger to advise the board throughout the process of finding a new coach. It is understood the club wants to hire a new coach on a multi-year deal as part of establishing a long-term football philosophy that will help its yet-to-be built youth academy.

Agents have been bombarded with CVs from applicants for the top job at Moore Park, among them coaches from Italy and Portugal.

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata confirmed the club will open talks with some of those on their shortlist in the coming weeks but said the board has not set a deadline for making an appointment.

“We are well under way in the recruitment process of a new head coach and we have shortlisted a number of candidates, both from overseas and here in Australia,” Pignata said.

“We are commencing discussions with some of the shortlisted candidates. No strict timeline has been set for finalising this process but it is well advanced and is the club’s No.1 priority.”

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Staniforth goes from boy to man

Tom Staniforth has been named captain of the Australian under 20s. Photo: Jeffrey ChanBigger, stronger and faster – Canberra teenager Tom Staniforth has stacked on almost 10 kilograms in the past year to chase his Super Rugby dream and he’s about to be rewarded with his first professional contract.
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Staniforth, 19, continued his remarkable rise through the ranks when he captained the Australian under-20s team to a 34-5 win against Samoa on Wednesday.

The towering lock is also on the verge of signing a two-year deal with the ACT Brumbies , less than a month after he made his Super Rugby debut.

The Brumbies and Staniforth are in the final stages of negotiations to add the former Canberra Boys Grammar student to their roster for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Staniforth proved he could handle Super Rugby when he was thrust into a brutal initiation against the Queensland Reds earlier this month, after the Brumbies put him on a supplementary contract as injury cover.

The shy second-rower has been training with the Brumbies part-time for the past two years after graduating from the Australian schoolboy ranks.

In that period he’s added nine kilograms and two centimetres to his frame as he strives to reach his Super Rugby goal.

Now at 113 kilograms and 198 centimetres, Staniforth’s physical transformation is clear in his profile pictures from the past two years and he credits “mum’s cooking” for his ability to bulk up.

“They [the Brumbies] told me I needed to put on weight but mum’s cooking is probably the major factor in my weight gain,” Staniforth said.

“The mixed grill is the favourite – steak, sausages, rissoles, a bit of gravy and mash only.

“I think I’m still growing, I like to think I’ve got a bit left in me and I think 115 kilograms is about the ideal weight but if I put on too much more I’ll be a walker.

“I’m not really sure what’s happening with Super Rugby, if I look too far ahead I get bogged down so I’m not looking at that.”

Staniforth is the leading candidate to lead the Australian under-20s team to the world championships in June.

He has impressed his Brumbies teammates, earning high praise from skipper Ben Mowen and Wallabies star David Pocock.

Staniforth says his only focus is on securing selection in the under-20s team and helping Royals in their Canberra John I Dent Cup campaign.

But Brumbies and Wallabies prop Ben Alexander said Staniforth had unlimited potential.

“It all comes down to his attitude, the kid trains his absolute backside off,” Alexander said.

“He’s willing to learn, we give him some stick but that’s because we love him and he fits right in.

“The Brumbies pride themselves on work ethic and he’s got that in bucket loads. He’s starting to get some pay for all that hard work, hopefully it gives him even more confidence he can mix it with the best. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Former Brumbies coach and World Cup-winning mentor Jake White added Staniforth to the ACT training squad last year.

“He’s [Staniforth] another success story of how the club has moved on and on and on,” White said.

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Breakfast with Tony Abbott and friends – for $11,000

Tony Abbott having morning tea at the ACT Carers ACT Headquarters in Canberra in 2012. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBusiness people have been offered the chance to hear from Prime Minister Tony Abbott over bacon and eggs and sip tea with senior staff – but doing so will cost a cool $11,000 per person.
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The offer comes as the NSW branch of the party has been left reeling by the resignation of Barry O’Farrell as premier after he failed to declare a $3000 bottle of wine given to him by lobbyist Nick di Girolamo.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard a slew of allegations levelled at state-based Liberal MPs including former minister Chris Hartcher, prompting new Premier Mike Baird to promise he would throw the book at wrongdoers and flag a move towards public funding of elections in the state.

The offer to ”business observers” includes a breakfast with the Prime Minister, the chance to mingle with ministers, receive briefings on the state of the Senate and have afternoon tea with chiefs of staff.

A ticket to a policy luncheon – which sells separately for $250 – is also part of the $11,000 package, which falls just short of the $12,000 limit at which donations must be declared to the Australian Electoral Commission.

The offer comes directly from Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane and is billed as an exclusive chance to rub shoulders with some of the party’s most senior people.

The package is offered as part of the 57th annual Liberal federal council meeting, on June 27.

In an email to potential attendees, Mr Loughnane writes: ”Senior Ministers and party officials will take part in the briefing, which will also include a breakfast on Friday morning addressed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.”

Labor attracted criticism while in government for running business observer programs.

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Chris Anstey hopes Andrew Demetriou turns to basketball

On a day Basketball Australia said its chief executive was leaving, and the AFL confirmed the date of Andrew Demetriou’s departure, Melbourne Tigers coach Chris Anstey had this hope for his sport.
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“Hey Andrew Demitriou [sic], any coincidence that AFL announces Gillan [sic] the day BA CEO opens up? We’ll teach you the sport, you teach us to run it,” Anstey tweeted.

That’s unlikely to happen for several reasons, not the least being Demetriou has a no-compete clause for a year.

Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally on Wednesday quit as boss of BA so she can spend more time with her teenage children. She became chairwoman of Basketball Australia in 2011 and was made CEO in August, 2012.

Keneally had been given a leave of absence from January 1 to June 30 for a reason not made public.

”I would have loved to have continued in the role, but the reality is that the demands of the job – particularly the travel demands – are not compatible with my changed family circumstances,” she said. “It is with much sadness that I resign, but at a personal level, this is the right decision.”

As BA begins a search for a new chief, NBL Players Association chief Jacob Holmes has taken aim at the league’s player value points system. Clubs must adhere to a maximum number of 70 points, released this week, and a salary cap.

“We have a system that is not allowing us to retain players in our league. It’s also affecting players’ lives,” Holmes said.

“The players are worried about the impact it’s having on the viability of the league. The NBLPA has expressed alarm over the latest points rankings, which sees four of the eight teams over the points limit, meaning the careers and livelihoods of players have been placed in jeopardy.”

The four teams now having to juggle their roster are defending champion Perth, runner-up Adelaide, New Zealand and the Tigers.

“The NBLPA has hardened its resolve to bring an end to the system which unjustly interferes with players’ careers and undermines the interests of key stakeholders at a time when the NBL is administering bold expansion plans and a marketing restructuring of the league,” Holmes said.

The Tigers, meanwhile, have given playmaker Nate Tomlinson a two-year contract extension and forward Lucas Walker a one-year deal.

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OPINION: Unions rally for crucial bedrock rights

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TODAY, May 1, is recognised as the International Day of the Worker, more commonly known as May Day.

The origins of May Day are found in the brutal assault by Chicago police in 1886 against workers who were demonstrating for the eight-hour day.

On that day, an estimated 54 people died while protesting for better work conditions that we take for granted.

Of course, here in the Hunter, we also have a long history of labour activism, fighting for improved conditions, decent jobs and a safe workplace.

And right now, the Hunter region faces a jobs crisis on a scale which we haven’t seen since the closure of BHP almost a decade ago.

Currently, there are 4000 jobs under threat in the shipbuilding and rail manufacturing sectors in our region.

And unlike the BHP closure, this is a crisis entirely of the NSW and federal governments’ making.

In shipbuilding, 1000 workers face an uncertain future because Tony Abbott stubbornly refuses to bring naval contracts forward to avoid the dreaded ‘‘valley of death’’. In NSW, the government has announced a $6billion commitment to build new trains, buses and ferries, but will not commit to building them at our world-class facilities in the Hunter. This jeopardises 3000 jobs.

Earlier this week, new Minister for the Hunter, Gladys Berejiklian, visited our region. Despite the crisis that the region faces, the minister had no announcements to make about train contracts in the Hunter. I assume that this is what we can continue to expect from a Minister for the Hunter from Sydney.

The real problem for the NSW government is that, electorally, the Hunter matters. And even if the prospect of 4000 job losses is not enough to get them moving, the prospect of losing the four marginal seats in the region at the election in March 2015 might just do the trick.

It’s why AMWU members and supporters have launched a campaign to change the government’s mind in the lead-up to the NSW election.

Because we know that every lost job and every factory closure is a family and community tragedy.

We try to measure the effect of every closure in terms of direct jobs lost, tax revenue foregone, and skills lost.

It’s the things we can’t measure that seem, to me, more powerful. We can’t measure the lost opportunities for young school leavers to get apprenticeships, engineering cadetships or a steady job and the confidence that would give their worried families.

We don’t have figures on the families who are dislocated as they leave their communities hunting for jobs, or the families that break down under the pressure of uncertain income and the indignity of unemployment.

It’s for this reason, 128 years after the Chicago tragedy, AMWU members will walk off the job at midday today and rally in the centre of Newcastle. They won’t face the kind of assault that Chicago workers did on that fateful day in 1886, nor will they be fighting for the same conditions. But the values that underpinned the struggle of 1886, the values of fairness, equality, and prosperity for all, will also form the bedrock of our campaign for an economy everyone can be a part of.

Tim Ayres is NSW secretary ofthe Australian ManufacturingWorkers Union

Concerns over Bindoon School raised with welfare department, Royal Commission hears

WA victims tell commission they were ‘forced’ to sign settlementPerth child abuse inquiry told about the horrors of sexual abuseVictim became Christian Brother only to be ‘treated like outsider’
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Concerns about the living conditions at Bindoon Farm School were raised in documents from the West Australian government department responsible for child welfare at the time, an inquiry into institutional abuse has heard.

WA Department of Child Protection acting director general Emma White presented the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a number of documents on the third day of the public hearing being held in Perth.

An inspection report written in November 1947 about a visit to Bindoon Farm School the month before raised concerns with “the cleanliness and physical environment in which the children were being kept”.

A letter from the secretary of the government department to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Perth in regard to this visit addressed these welfare issues.

“I have no doubt when I next visit in three or four weeks there will be a decided improvement along the lines I wish, and more particularly in the educational facilities.”

In further reference to the visit in another document also raised the issue.

“I think you will agree as Minister for Education that boys of school age being brought out from England under the migrant scheme must at least be given a chance to be decently educated”

There was also mention in a report that no more boys should be admitted to Bindoon until the “general standard of clothing and cleanliness and better facilities for education provided.”

There was no mention of sexual abuse being noted in any available documents.

Few details of the role the department played were found after records from much of that period were destroyed, as per department policy.

Ms White told the commission no one currently working in the department had any working knowledge of the events in question. She said there were not even any living former employees able to be found who had worked for the department at the time.

Ms White said as far as she could tell the department at the time had “obligations” which included site visits and institution inspections but these were listed as “discretionary powers” and were “ad hoc in nature” and “at the discretion of the minister”.

Independence of Christian Brothers service for ex residents questioned

The independence of a body set up by the Christian Brothers to assist ex-students from Christian Brothers institutions has been called into question at the hearing.

Maria Harries, the head of the Christian Brothers Ex Residents Service, which was set up in 1994 to “meet the needs of former students” said the body was meant to be independent from the church.

Professor Harries said the service “was ever growing but different for all of them [clients]”.

Among other services, CBERS assisted men originally from Malta and the United Kingdom to travel there for “reunification,” assisted with family tracing services, literacy programs and offered ex-students 12 sessions of counseling.

During questioning it emerged that Brothers were present at meetings but Professor Harries said matters were only discussed in “general terms” with the Brothers.

She said this was required “in order to tell them [the Brothers] what we wanted to do, because we needed money to do it”.

She said having transparency about the relationship with the Christian Brothers was important as “we owed it to the men”.

Professor Harries said matters being dealt with by CBERS were not always private from the Brothers.

“Sometimes the Christian Brothers knew things that I hadn’t told them,” she said.

“Nothing is ever that neat.”

Professor Harries said she’d never set up an organisation before and she worked in a team alongside Dr Paul Carman and Professor David Plowman, two people who had been recommended to her by the Christian Brothers.

She said the popularity of the service saw it expand from part time to a full time service.

Professor Harries admitted that at the time, 20 years ago “post traumatic stress disorder was only emerging as a concept,” and there was a lot of “learning” as the service was operated.

She said, however, “there was never any closure, you cannot ever get back the life you lost”.

The service operated until a review in 2005 showed there was reduced demand for it.

Professor Harries gave evidence after the last of the victims testify gave evidence on Wednesday.

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Harriet Burbidge-Smith quits school to chase BMX dream

Harriet Burbidge-Smith. Photo: Katherine GriffithsCanberra BMX racer Harriet Burbidge-Smith admits she has made a ”huge gamble” to quit school and chase her world championship and Olympic Games dreams.
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The 17-year-old, who has been labelled a Caroline Buchanan clone, will get a close view of the reigning world titleholder at this weekend’s national titles in Shepparton.

Burbidge-Smith will aim to wrap up the national series title on Thursday before she lines up in the Junior Elite category on Saturday.

Her focus will then turn to competing professionally in the US and Europe and putting up a strong showing in her last event as a junior at the world championships in Amsterdam.

Burbidge-Smith left the final year of school at Dickson College to be a full-time BMX racer and has designed her own range of clothing.

She understands the enormous risk she is taking, but believes it is something she has to do to reach the pinnacle of her sport.

“When I left college it was a huge gamble, that’s everyone’s back- up and what everyone looks at when you go for a job, and I was willing to give up everything and put it on the line,” Burbidge-Smith said.

“That just shows the commitment I’m giving to it.

“I’m a very determined personality, in terms of I don’t see any grey, I either go for it 100 per cent or I don’t go for it at all.

”I didn’t want 90 per cent BMX and 10 per cent school, I wanted to be 100 per cent BMX because that’s what my dream is.”

The dual world champion commissioned a professional photo shoot at the start of the year for her website as a way to promote herself to potential sponsors.

Burbidge-Smith has trademarked the ”Haz” name for her business and splits her days between training and working on her laptop.

“You can be the fastest rider out there, but if you’re not promoting yourself and you can’t talk well, you’re not going to get very far,” she said.

“You’re not going to make a living just off riding your bike.

“That’s what sponsors and investors look for.

“In the last six months I have really made that transfer to being a professional athlete.

”It’s your job 100 per cent, that’s how you’re going to pay the bills and have a house, so you’ve got to take it serious.”

Having already been in the sport for 13 years, it’s easy to see why there are comparisons between Burbidge-Smith and fellow Canberran Buchanan.

Burbidge-Smith is flattered by it, but at the same time she wants to show she is her own competitor and is focused on representing Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“Caroline’s an amazing rider and an amazing person, so people just assume because I’m following the same path as her that I’m copying her,” she said. “We’ve got such similar interests and we work together with our ideas.

“She’s a world champion and has been to the Olympics, so if I can be compared to her as a rider then that’s amazing.”

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McLachlan to mend relationship with Hird

Gillon McLachlan will attempt to repair the AFL’s fractured relationship with James Hird when the suspended Essendon coach returns home.
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The frustration, even anger, the Hird camp had towards the AFL over the supplements scandal was still obvious last month when Tania Hird again took aim at outgoing AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou.

McLachlan, having officially been appointed as the new chief executive, said it was important the relationship with Hird, who is set to return as coach later this year, was mended.

“I think it’s incredibly important that we move forward with Essendon and every individual there, whether that’s James or Mark [Thompson] or everyone,” he said.

“I think most of the relationships have progressed. I am sure at the right time when James returns we will talk and we will move on because that’s what the industry and Essendon needs.”

Hird is in France completing a degree at a business school.

The AFL and Essendon executives have already worked hard this year to begin afresh, although Bombers chairman Paul Little re-opened debate at the weekend when he claimed the club “gave away all our leverage” by self-reporting last year.

McLachlan was involved in brokering the contentious suspensions of Hird and former football department chief Danny Corcoran last year.

He admitted the controversy at the time, not to mention the later disclosure that Hird, although suspended, was still being paid by the club, had stripped some “skin” off him, but was glad it had not affected his hopes of being offered the chief executive role by AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick.

“I don’t propose to go back and look at that. With respect to me specifically in this role, I am sure there was some skin taken off me. There was skin taken off a lot of people,” he said.

“It was an incredibly tough period in the history of our game. We ended up in a position that I don’t think was edifying for a lot of people and it certainly wasn’t great for the game. It probably did take some bark off me, but as I sit here right now, having reached agreement with Mike yesterday, thankfully not too much.”

McLachlan said he expected that if any show-cause notices to players as a result of the investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority were forthcoming they would be issued in the second half of May.

He said the report into the scandal, compiled by retired federal court judge Garry Downes, would be handed down by Thursday.

As a result of the scandal, the AFL has looked to establish an independent panel that would adjudicate on all serious matters, ensuring the AFL executive and commission cannot again be considered to have had a conflict of interest. This would also avoid the potential for legal appeals.

“We have done quite a lot of work, we haven’t reached the formal conclusion yet,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have got a very good sense of the shape of it but it would be a bit premature to announce it today.”

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Chris Hartcher sought illegal donations from Nathan Tinkler: ICAC

Liberal party fundraiser Aaron Henry leaving the ICAC hearing. Photo: Rob Homer Sydney accountant Timothy Trumbull (left) leaves the ICAC hearing. Photo: Rob Homer
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ICAC appearance: former resources minister Chris Hartcher. Photo: Phil Hearne

Former Liberal state energy minister Chris Hartcher was personally involved in seeking illegal donations from embattled coal mogul Nathan Tinkler, text messages tendered at a corruption inquiry reveal.

A former staff member to Mr Hartcher, Aaron Henry, texted the controller of an alleged Liberal Party slush fund on June 8, 2010: “CPH [Christopher Peter Hartcher] wants confirmation the invoice has been sent to Patinack Farm.”

“Confirmed,” a long-time adviser to Mr Hartcher, Tim Koelma, replied at 9.52am.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating allegations that Mr Koelma set up a “sham business” called Eightbyfive to receive donations from illegal sources, including $66,000 from Mr Tinkler’s property development group Buildev via his horse racing business Patinack Farm.

Property developers have been banned from donating to political parties in NSW since December 2009.

Mr Hartcher and fellow central coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber, along with staff members Mr Koelma and Ray Carter, allegedly solicited secret donations in return for political favours.

Mr Henry told the commission on Wednesday he did not know why Mr Hartcher would be “distracting himself” from the March 2011 state election campaign by asking about a horse racing operation.

“This is a pretty important inquiry, I think,” counsel assisting the commission, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said. “Most people in NSW are watching it. It’s pretty important for us to find out why.”

Mr Henry said he was a “junior staffer” and was “at the direction” of his boss.

Later on Wednesday, Sydney accountant Timothy Trumbull was accused of knowingly breaching political donations laws by using Irish backpackers on his payroll as “fronts” to donate $4000 to the NSW Liberal Party.

The inquiry has heard the money eventually made its way into another alleged slush fund, Micky Tech, after Mr Hartcher laundered the money through his old law firm, Hartcher Reid. The firm is not accused of wrongdoing.

Described as ”avidly anti-socialist”, Mr Trumbull, his wife Lynn and his company had all reached their cap on allowable donations, the hearing was told.

Mr Trumbull insisted he was not breaking the law as the backpackers were ”very interested in politics” and were happy to spend their bonuses on donations.

”They were not even entitled to vote, they were backpackers from England and Ireland,” Commissioner Megan Latham said.

”I don’t even have an interest in my own country’s politics,” one of the backpackers said in a statement tendered to the commission.

But Mr Trumbull insisted: ”It was organised so that no laws were broken.”

”I am putting to you that you are lying,” Mr Watson said.

The inquiry was told that Mr Trumbull dropped the three cheques to Dee Why real estate agent John Caputo before the 2011 state election.

Mr Caputo, who is a former mayor of Warringah and a major fund-raiser for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Mike Baird, later gave the cheques to Mr Hartcher. He is expected to give evidence on Thursday.

The inquiry also heard that Mr Hartcher used Liberal MLC Charlie Lynn to do a favour for Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings, which donated more than $180,000 to Eightbyfive.

Mr Lynn, who is not accused of wrongdoing, said he was not a friend of Mr Hartcher although they were “supposedly” from the same conservative right faction of the Liberal Party.

“I think they call it the IKEA faction now,” Mr Lynn said. “You join it together when you want something done.”

Ms Latham quipped: “Does it come with its own Allen key?”

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Netball powers should consider a two-point scoring zone

Tall order: Romelda Aiken of the Firebirds. Photo: Quinn RooneyThe emergence of the towering goal shooter in the ANZ Championship has seen a marked shift in the way the game is played by some teams and should have netball powers considering the introduction of a two-point scoring zone.
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This would not only have the obvious effect of encouraging teams to take a risk with a long-bomb shot for the reward of double points but it would also bring the goal attack back into play as a shooting option in those teams which  rely on a tall goal shooter to do the bulk of their scoring.

Watching the NSW Swifts defeat New Zealand side Southern Steel in their historic ANZAC Day clash proved an interesting contrast in attacking styles, and showed up the limitations of the lofty, holding goal shooter. The Southern Steel – featuring the ANZ Championship’s tallest player, 198 centimetre Jhaniele Fowler-Reid – played an incredibly one-dimensional game and were held to account by a Swifts defensive unit that played a tight marking style, and never allowed Steel to find their rhythm and their gigantic target.

At the other end the Swifts more mobile duo of Susan Pratley and Caitlin Thwaites used ball speed and clever moves to pile on the goals to set up their team’s win. Interestingly the Swifts goal circle of Pratley and Thwaites have the most even returns of any partnership in the league, with just 13 goals separating their respective hauls of 210 and 197 goals for the season.

The most successful teams are those that can score through both their goal shooter and their goal attack. This is because a goal attack who is in the circle putting up goals splits the defensive unit, and in doing so creates more space to play with. To do this she needs a goal shooter who can get out of the circle to make space when necessary, and who can also set up play for her attacking partner.

When a team boasts a towering goal shooter whose game plan is to plant herself in the middle of the circle plucking in skyscraper passes there is little doubt that she will dominate the scoreboard, but the team  also runs a huge risk that it will be shut down by a well-prepared defence. This is the case for the Steel, and, to a lesser extent the Queensland Firebirds with Romelda Aiken and West Coast Fever with Caitlin Bassett. Between them these three teams boast the tallest shooters in the competition, who regularly deliver 40 goal-plus games for them, yet only one of them, the Firebirds, sit in the top four of the ladder.

Added to the risk is the downside for the fans in that it really does make the goal attack the third feeder. This takes away the opportunity to see just how good goal attacks are at creating play, using space and, most importantly, sinking shots. Generally goal attacks are among the best athletes in the team, so the challenge is to find a way to encourage them to use that athleticism and skill when they are paired with a tall shooter who dominates the attacking space.

Coaches can do this in the game plan they devise, but administrators also have a role to play. Any change to the rules of netball as fundamental as altering the scoring system would have to be carefully considered. It would be a worthwhile exercise if it ensured that some of our sport’s best athletes don’t become a sideshow.

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