Monthly Archives:July 2018

How old is too old to sob like a little girl at E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial? Not 40, apparently.
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The Steven Spielberg film that would become a 1980s pop-culture phenomenon is coming out on Blu-Ray for the first time on Tuesday – 30 years, four Academy Awards and nearly $US800 million ($A785 million) after its theatrical release. To commemorate this, theatres across the country recently showed a digitally re-mastered version of the film for one night only.

Being a total geek for E.T., I jumped at the chance to see it again in a theatre. And yes, I dug up my old red hoodie and bought some Reese’s Pieces for the occasion.

Having worked as a film critic for a while now – and with a child of my own – I wanted to find out whether the movie would still have the same emotional impact on me as it did when I was a kid. I wondered whether I looked back fondly at it as a piece of nostalgia, or if the film itself truly was as original, well-made and heart-tugging as I remembered.

Thinking about the movies I watched repeatedly growing up – The Wizard of Oz, The Karate Kid, The Breakfast Club – it’s always E.T. that stirs something deeply within me. I recall experiencing an aching sense of longing when 10-year-old Elliott (Henry Thomas) says goodbye to the best friend he’d ever had – this impish, inquisitive alien from far away – knowing he’d never see him again. I wanted to see whether I’d feel that again – and I was far from alone. My theatre was packed with viewers of every type. Some came in groups while others sneaked in alone in the dark; still others brought their own children to share this movie they loved.

Once the film began, I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t a question of whether I’d cry, but rather how many times. The answer is four:

■ When the spaceship takes off and E.T.’s heart light goes out at the sad realisation that he’s been left behind on this strange planet. Alone. In the San Fernando Valley.

■ The first time E.T. makes Elliott’s bicycle fly across the sky, with John Williams’ iconic score soaring in the background; people in my audience erupted into spontaneous applause.

■ When E.T. is dying. We all know E.T. doesn’t die, but it reduces me to a puddle every time.

■ Finally, when E.T. says goodbye to everyone, waddles aboard his spaceship and flies away. Tears just streaming down my face. No shame.

Seeing E.T. again also made me notice things about it from a professional standpoint that I hadn’t before; like the fact that most of the film is shot from either Elliott’s or E.T.’s perspective, or from their eye level. The only adult’s face we see for about 80 minutes is that of Elliott’s mum (Dee Wallace); other grown-ups are faceless or shrouded in darkness. Elliott’s science teacher is just a torso and a voice, while Peter Coyote’s character, who eventually reveals himself to be a sympathetic, kindred spirit, for a long time is little more than jangling keys on the waistband of a pair of jeans.

Fundamentally, though, there’s a great authenticity to the kids in E.T. that makes it so universal, and that comes from the honesty and purity of Melissa Mathison’s script. There is zero irony here; they wholeheartedly goof on each other. They don’t have mobile phones. They’re not overscheduled.

Elliott, his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore, displaying impeccable comic timing at age 6) truly believe in this creature. It makes absolute sense to them that he’d show up and be their friend. Why shouldn’t he be able to cobble together a phone using a Speak and Spell, a coat hanger, a record player and a fork? This was the childlike wonder of early Spielberg. This was the optimism of the decade. Anything seemed possible.

E.T. similarly looks very of-its-time technically – and that includes some forgivably cheesy green screen during the flying scenes. As in Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the effects have a quaint tangibility. Today, E.T. would be rendered with CGI or performance capture. It would probably be in 3D.

Thomas himself told me recently that only now, at 41 with three kids of his own, can he finally appreciate the film’s enduring nature.

“It’s my great hope that the message of compassion and friendship, and that kind of being a universal thing that crosses all boundaries – that, to me, is the great thing about the film and the reason it’s stuck with audiences for so long.”

AP

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Sisters moved from father’s house

July 27th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Family members in Italy involved in the international custody dispute.FOUR sisters at the centre of an international custody dispute are together in Italy but away from their father’s property after two of them tried to escape from his home.
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Just a day after being taken to their father’s villa on the outskirts of Florence, the two older girls ran to the front gates when they saw media camped outside and pleaded for reporters to help them return to Australia.

The eldest girl was taken back inside by her father, while her sister clung to the gate as her grandmother urged her to return inside. She held onto the gate for an hour, during which local police and social workers arrived.

The Australian Family Court ordered the four sisters, aged between nine and 15, be deported after their mother brought them to Australia for a holiday in 2010 and they never returned.

As the girl clung to the gate during the standoff, which played out late on Saturday night Australian time, her father became involved in a scuffle with the media.

The Age has been sent photographs from a supporter of the father, one showing a man’s thumb bandaged and another showing a graze on his shin.

A post on a Facebook page claimed the father was ”attacked” by the media and that their presence had been ”particularly invasive”.

”The father and the family understand that it will require patience to re-establish the harmony the girls once experienced in Italy, and reverse the painful stresses they have endured in the last two years,” the post said.

The girl eventually agreed to return to the house but it is understood she and her older sister were moved to their uncle’s home.

Channel Nine reporter Sophie Walsh, who was outside the father’s home, said the four girls were reunited at their uncle’s home as a compromise. ”The two eldest girls are now with the two younger girls. They’re at a property about 15 minutes away,” Ms Walsh told The Age last night.

”I think it’s come out as a result of the mediation talks. One thing the girls were really upset about was the fact they had been separated. One of the sisters said to me that they were separated because their dad thought the older girls would influence the younger girls.”

The girls’ maternal grandmother said yesterday she had contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade while her grand-daughter was at the gates, but was told consular officials could not intervene in court proceedings or private legal matters.

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Toothless Tigers crumble

July 27th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

WHEN the going got tough, the Melbourne Tigers fell away in their opening match against the Adelaide 36ers in Adelaide yesterday.
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The Tigers went in as underdogs and were just three points down at half-time, but their good form disappeared in the second half as the home side pulled away to notch an 84-61 win.

The Tigers’ offence went up in smoke in the third term and soon after their defence went with it as the 36ers doubled the Tigers’ points, 40-20, in the second half.

Tigers coach Chris Anstey said his side had some soul-searching to do.

”We reverted back to old habits when it got hard,” he said after the game.

”We didn’t compete, we dropped our heads and let the game get away from us.”

Tigers recruit Chris Goulding and former Gold Coast Blaze teammate Anthony Petrie, now with Adelaide, were ejected from the game after the pair scuffled with 37 seconds left in the third term.

While some could call that clash the turning point in the match, the 36ers had already bounced out to a 10-point lead and looked well on their way to victory.

Anstey said Goulding had to show more restraint while his teammates needed to put together a more cohesive performance.

”I think they were just discussing who was owed more money by the Gold Coast and I don’t think they agreed,” he joked.

”I couldn’t see it all, so I will be interested to see it on tape. But you need to be more controlled and level-headed.

”Even if someone punches you in the face, you need to walk away. Once again, it’s us being too reactive and not proactive.”

The referees had not reported either Goulding or Petrie as of yesterday, but have 24 hours to lodge any further action, a move that looks unlikely.

For Adelaide, former Tigers centre Daniel Johnson and teammate and 36ers guard Stephen Weigh were the high scorers with 21 points each, while Petrie notched 13 points and Adam Gibson 12.

The Tigers’ 208-centimetre import forward, Seth Scott, had 17 points and six rebounds to lead his side, while Kevin Braswell and Lucas Walker both scored 11 points.

Walker suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the final term and did not return. Anstey said X-rays would be taken in Melbourne today.

”They got his shoulder back in and we hope there is no bone damage because we need him,” he said.

The Tigers will next visit the Sydney Kings in Sydney on Friday.

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

With overseas raiders dominating the order of entry and betting for the Melbourne Cup, Australia could certainly do with a home grown standard-bearer – even if he is a recovered crock who has battled against debilitating ailments to find his way back to the track.
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The Team Hawkes trained Maluckyday might not have won the listed Bart Cummings over 2500 metres at headquarters on Saturday – the glory and the $72,000 first prize went to the $3.60 favourite Tanby, himself a handy and progressive stayer from the Lloyd Williams camp who could, depending on what happens, be one of the leading local contenders for a big race himself over the next few weeks.

But, if Maluckyday can stay sound and continue to improve, the six-year-old son of Zabeel might just end up becoming  the prime hope of the home side come the first Tuesday in November.

Maluckyday looked to have the world at his feet two years ago when he rapidly moved through the grades to win the Lexus on the Saturday before the Cup to force his way into the field for the centenary edition of the great race, eventually running second to French star Americain, with legendary galloper So You Think in third.

But a series of illness and injuries, including pneumonia, kept the Nick Moraitis owned galloper off the track for over a year, making many doubt that he would ever be able to return and fulfil the promise he had shown as a four year old.

But Wayne Hawkes, who oversees the Flemington operation of the stable he runs with his father John and brother Michael, never lost the faith and belief that the horse could come back.

Two promising runs at his first two starts after that 12 month absence suggested his confidence was not misplaced. The horse was able to finish within 6.5 lengths of Sincero in the Group 2 Memsie Stakes over an unsuitable 1400 metre trip at Caulfield on his reappearance, and then finished a similar distance behind well fancied Cox Plate candidate Ocean Park over 1800 metres at the same venue in the Group One Underwood Stakes a fortnight ago.

Back to a much more suitable distance in the Bart Cummings, Maluckyday showed that he was on the way back.

In rear  for most of the race, the $5 chance worked home strongly under Dwayne Dunn from seventh position at the 400 to finish a length down on the Damien Oliver ridden winner with the game and improving staying mare from the Pat Carey yard, Dame Claire, a head back in third spot at $8. Maluckyday was trying to concede 3.5 kilograms to the winner, and five to the third.

Hawkes was enthusiastic and not a little emotional after the run by the horse he declared the best he had thrown a saddle over in the relatively short five years that he has been a trainer in his own right.

“I am really happy with him, it was a great effort. Here in about four and a half weeks time (Cup Day) is when I want him at his top.

I am not sure where he goes next. We have not made any concrete plans with him. He was probably a bit unlucky not to have won from where he was. He had pneumonia which kept him off the tracks so long.  He looks super in the coat so that’s telling you that he feels good inside, but you never really know until they win. He all but should have won; it was as close as you get to winning without winning.

“It’s all right to be out the back and running nice sectionals, because plenty of horses do that week in and week out, but to get your head past the post first is another effort. I have been training only about five years, but he’s the best horse I have ever put a saddle over by a hundred yards.

Nick Williams was, not surprisingly, upbeat about his galloper’s prospects over the next six weeks as Tanby is just another in a flotilla of cup chances ready to do duty for the Williams stable.

“We have always had a big opinion of this horse.  He’s come through the grades well. We knew he wasn’t ready at Moonee Valley, he was a little above his race weight. He’s done a bit more work, that race brought him on and I think it was a pretty soft win in the end. He didn’t have the best run in transit, but he put paid to them very easily. It’s either the Caulfield Cup or the Moonee Valley Cup, we will have to wait and see how he pulls up.

“The Melbourne Cup is still a month away, anything can go wrong. We were going pretty well at this point last year. With these stayers its not like sprinters, you have got to put so many miles into their legs, it’s so easy for something to go wrong.”

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Bathurst 1000 podium celebrations

July 27th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka. WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.
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WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

WINNERS: A podium finish for Whincup, Dumbrell, Reynolds, Canto, Lowndes and Luff. Photo: Zenio Lapka.

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It had the makings of a red-letter day for the Newcastle Jets – a new A-League season and the start of a new era.
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Ryan Griffiths. Picture: Darren Pateman

Marquee man Emile Heskey was on deck to lead the line, surrounded by a squad hand-picked to play an exciting brand of football.

Adelaide United had travelled 33 hours to get to Newcastle after their dramatic 3-2 loss in extra time to Bunyodkor in Tashkent on Wednesday to crash out of the Asian Champions League.

If that wasn’t enough, Adelaide had two key men out on suspension and another two missing with injury.

The sun was shining and there was a buzz about the 14,868 Jets faithful who had filed into Hunter Stadium hoping – expecting – a winning start to the campaign.

The buoyant mood lasted 59 seconds.

Mitchell takes a stab at goal. Picture: Darren Pateman

Emile Heskey takes out Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic. Picture: Darren Pateman

Jets Craig Goodwin chases down Adelaide United’s Antony Golec. Picture: Peter Stoop

Emile Heskey. Picture: Darren Pateman

Emile Heskey and Nigel Boogaard. Picture: Darren Pateman

Emile Heskey and Nigel Boogaard. Picture: Darren Pateman

That is how long it took for fringe Socceroo Dario Vidosic to cash in on a beautiful piece of lead-up work from Argentine Jeronimo Neumann and give the visitors the lead.

The Jets never recovered. By full-time it was 2-0.

Completing a day of frustration, former Adelaide keeper Mark Birighitti marked his debut for the Jets with a red card in the 57th minute.

On a good note, Heskey got through 70 minutes unscathed.

There were other positives, but overall it was a deflating rather than uplifting afternoon.

‘‘First minute we have copped a goal from a lack of focus,’’ Jets coach Gary van Egmond said. ‘‘Then you are chasing the game. Straight away you are on the back foot.’’

Despite the early setback, the Jets controlled possession for much of the first half.

Craig Goodwin, who played in midfield, was dangerous down the left and Ruben Zadkovich went on a couple of slalom runs on the right.

But the slick passing and movement off the ball, a feature in the pre-season, was rarely seen.

The Jets were playing into a howling southerly in the first half against an Adelaide side content to suffocate rather than force the issue.

Emile Heskey. Picture: Darren Pateman

Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is handed a red card during the Jets Jets loss to Adelaide United. Picture: Darren Pateman

Newcastle Jets coach coach Gary Van Egmond. Picture: Darren Pateman

Adelaide’s Dario Vidosic takes a free kick. Picture: Darren Pateman

Ruben Zadkovich takes on Nigel Boogaard. Picture: Darren Pateman

Craig Goodwin is fouled by Daniel Bowles. Picture: Darren Pateman

Adelaide teammated congratulate Iain Ramsay after scoring a goal against the Jets. Picture: Darren Pateman

James Virgili reacts after a missed chance late in the second half against Adelaide. Picture: Peter Stoop

Emile Heskey with his kids. Picture: Darren Pateman

John Kosmina and Gary Van Egmond. Picture: Darren Pateman

The Jets had a couple of half chances from corners, which Adelaide scrambled to cover, and Dominik Ritter was unable to get enough on a chance at the far post a minute before the break.

‘‘To the boys’ credit, we controlled the game in the first half,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘We probably needed to create more clear-cut opportunities, but the control of the game was by us.

‘‘Second half, being with the wind and looking forward to doing the same, we were confident we would get something out of the game.

‘‘Unfortunately we did not count on the fact we were going to get a player sent off, which changed the complexion of the game completely.’’

With 57 minutes gone and the Jets down 1-0, Birighitti raced out of his area to challenge a runaway Vidosic.

The keeper had his arms spread when he leapt into the air to block a shot from Vidosic. The ball struck him on the midriff then deflected onto the underside of his left arm, giving debutant referee Shaun Evans little choice but to produce a red card.

Heskey put in a solid if not memorable shift.

His replacement, James Virgili, forced a hurried save by Eugene Galekovic at the near post with his first touch.

But any hope the Jets had of snatching a point evaporated 15 minutes from time when Vidosic burst down the right and delivered an inch-perfect cross in behind for Iain Ramsay to tap in.

Reds coach John Kosmina, who was without Sergio van Dijk, Jon McKain (both injured) and the suspended Iain Fyfe and Fabian Barbiero, was naturally thrilled with the performance.

‘‘It’s been a long week,’’ said Kosmina, referring to the 22,000-kilometre journey from Adelaide to Tashkent and then on to Newcastle.

The Jets will be without Birighitti for the clash against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, the first home game for the Sky Blues’ star import Alessandro Del Piero.

Van Egmond said he was likely to stick with the 3-2-2-3 formation he used yesterday.

‘‘We are looking to play an attacking brand of football,’’ he said. ‘‘When you do that it is obviously quite risky from a counterattack point of view.

‘‘I had a lot of faith in the back three today and overall I thought they were excellent. We will continue to look at that.

‘‘I think you have an onus of making the football you play exciting football. I hope people enjoyed the way we played today.’’

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Abbott is at home with the Abbey

July 27th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

MAYBE it wasn’t just a publicity stunt to seem a bit cuddlier to the women of Australia.
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Tony Abbott appears to be genuine in his love for the British TV drama Downton Abbey.

The Sun-Herald gave the Opposition Leader an impromptu grilling on Downton yesterday after his wife, Margie, outed him as a fan earlier in the week.

Asked to nominate his favourite character, Mr Abbott said: ”I think they’re all pretty good but the dowager duchess is pretty impressive.” Downton aficionados would understand that as a passable reference to matriarch and snob Lady ”What is a weekend?” Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

And a villain?

”There’s no one I dislike other than perhaps that rather nasty butler” – a reference to the scheming footman Thomas Barrow.

The Sun-Herald pointed out that Robert, Earl of Grantham, was the head of a family with three daughters – just like Mr Abbott – and asked him to name them, but it proved a question too far.

”Enough TV commentary,” he said.

He did concede he was sweating on the release of series three.

A Newspoll is due out on Tuesday. It will cover a period in which Margie Abbott shone as an assured and impressive campaigner.

This week will be another interrupted sitting week.

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Canberra so Parliament will not resume until Tuesday.

Later in the week the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Mr Abbott will travel to Bali for the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombing, an occasion neither side of politics will seek to exploit.

”I think it’s fair to say the mood will be muted,” said one Labor MP of the lead up to the anniversary.

It is not so much that everything is rosy inside Labor but that, as another MP said, ”everyone has become impervious to sensation”.

But politics as usual will continue with the government keen to exploit divisions within the Coalition ranks over legislation to deregulate the wheat market.

A momentary distraction might also be had in the return of Senator Cory Bernardi, last seen hightailing it out of Canberra a fortnight ago after linking gay marriage to bestiality.

There are only five more parliamentary sitting weeks before the end of the year and MPs on all sides are limping towards the break knowing next year will be even busier and more bruising as speculation turns to possible election dates. Some within the Liberal Party believe it might be as early as March but just as many senior players believe the government will run full term.

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

TWO of the four Queensland sisters in the middle of an international custody dispute have pleaded with the Australian media to “please save them” from their father.
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A Channel Nine news crew filmed dramatic scenes outside the father’s villa in Florence, when the girls were involved in a heated standoff with their father.

One of the girls can be seen clinging to reporter Sophie Walsh’s arm while their father and grandmother attempt to take them inside the villa’s gates.

“All of a sudden they came sprinting across the front yard. They were in hysterics followed closely by their father,” Walsh said.

“They said that they were scared and that they were going to be hurt. They said they wanted to speak to their mum and weren’t being allowed to and said they wanted to return to Australia.”

Police and social services were called and Walsh said one of the sisters was dragged inside, while the other clung on to the gate for about an hour before agreeing to go inside the property.

The two younger sisters at the centre of the custody dispute are believed to be staying at a another property about two hours from their older sisters.

The four sisters were deported from Australia after the Family Court ruled they were to live with their father in Italy after their mother illegally kept them in the country after a holiday in 2010

The latest incident in Florence follows dramatic scenes at the Brisbane airport on Wednesday when the four sisters were due to fly out of the country.

The elder two were taken off the plane by federal police after reportedly screaming and kicking before the flight left. They later travelled to Europe on a flight the following day.

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About 200 people filled Thornthwaite,a property near Scone,on Saturday to witness the re-enactment of one of the mosthistorical moments in world cricket.
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A photograph of a family cricket game taken by Scone resident Jospeh Docker, between 1850 and 1860, was recently discovered and is believed to be the oldest shot of the sport.

The moment was recreated by two Scone cricket teams in a Twenty20 match and a collection of Mr Docker’s work was opened to the public yesterday.

Organiser and president of the Horse Festival Anne Davies said the day was a ‘‘great success’’.

‘‘Around 200 spectators came up for the match,’’ she said.

‘‘Which for our little country town is quite a big mob.’’

About 50 images of Mr Docker’s work is housed at Scone Historical Museum for October.

It is open between 10am and 2pm every Wednesday this month.

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Peter Docker and his son Geoffry with the original photograph by Peter’s great-grandfather Joseph Docker, which is thought to be the first photograph of a game of cricket. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes from the re-enactment of Joseph Docker’s photograph A Game of Cricket at Thornthwaite. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A copy of what is thought to be the first photograph of a game of cricket, taken by Joseph Docker.

Canny administrator … ARU boss John O’Neill.The Wallabies’ woes lie in their own back yard and run much deeper than the simple excuse of a long list of injuries.
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The year after a World Cup is always a fresh start, a bit of a clean-out, and the Rugby Championship has been an ideal tournament to judge new approaches and progress.

Steve Hansen has moved the All Blacks on in terms of tactics and performance.

There have been some promising signs for the Springboks under new coach Heyneke Meyer.

It’s fair to say the Pumas have proven themselves a worthy addition.

But there’s no denying that Australia have gone seriously backwards.

It’s not acceptable to shrug that off as just a bad season complicated by injuries and coming against the best teams in the world. Their drop in standards has been unprecedented in recent times.

One of the great strengths of the Wallabies, as with many Australian sports, has been their “Digger” approach of courage, confidence and loyalty.

But these are qualities that have diminished in Australian game and I’m talking more than just the Wallabies.

ARU CEO John O’Neill is a fantastic administrator but he has taken an expand-at-all-costs approach that I think has weakened rather than strengthened their game.

Desperate to break into new markets and fight against the threats of Aussie rules, league and soccer, O’Neill has been guilty of diluting their product. Sometimes it’s better to simply look after your core customers.

Looking back to the old days of the Super 10, Australia had two very good sides in their traditional rugby states of New South Wales and Queensland.

The addition of the Brumbies to the Super 12 was justified and worked well. They became a champion side and provided the backbone for the Wallabies’ 1999 World Cup triumph with the likes of George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Stirling Mortlock, George Smith and more.

The move to invade Perth and build the Western Force stretched their playing resources to the limit.

But still they wanted more and O’Neill’s ability to ride over New Zealand and South African administrators and get the Melbourne Rebels established in the AFL hot-bed of Victoria took rugby beyond breaking point.

They simply don’t have enough good players and this isn’t a development competition – it’s meant to be the global pinnacle of provincial rugby.

Their concession to allow more imported players is an admission of their own weaknesses and the flow-on certainly hasn’t helped the Wallabies this year in their hour of need.

But this hasn’t been just an Australian problem, it’s also adversely affected Super Rugby.

International rugby is a success because of parochialism. When you blatantly commercialise the game, you lose that key element.

We’ve already seen that across the Tasman where their top players are constantly on the move. Look at the likes of David Pocock, Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Julian Huxley, Mortlock, Rocky Elsom and Drew Mitchell shifting franchises.

We need a strong Australian team for the sake of international rugby and if they’re blatantly honest they would be better to downscale and go back to four Super Rugby teams.

Who could come into Super Rugby to replace that Aussie franchise? I’d go for a Pacific Islands nation.

It would be a great way to get some top island players back from the northern hemisphere clubs and encourage them to play in their own back yard. They would also strengthen the competition and add real interest.

Would they be competitive? I’d back an island team to get more wins than the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels combined.

They might struggle on the road a bit initially, but at home, they’d be more than competitive.

– Taine Randell is a former All Blacks captain

Fairfax NZ News

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