Local cinema in Batemans Bay closes after social media backlash

James and Kristen Wilson-Mitchell with children Ethan, Bailey and Addison. Photo: Josh Gidney Bailey, Ethan, and Addison, taken when Addison was able to return home from hospital recently. Photo: Supplied
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A local cinema has been forced to shut its doors following a barrage of social media threats prompted by an incident involving a young cancer sufferer.

The Bay City Cinemas did not permit Addison Wilson-Mitchell, her brother and father to enter the movie theatre carrying a bag containing supplies including medications, one which she needed to take during the movie.

The business has a strict no backpack policy, citing the health and safety of other patrons.

Addison’s mother Kristen Wilson-Mitchell said the venue was not willing to bend the rules.

“It is very strange that they would not make an exception for Addison,” Ms Wilson-Mitchell said.

After trying to negotiate with staff, her husband James Wilson-Mitchell decided it was best for their family to get a refund and miss the movie.

“It just was not worth it for Addison to see the movie,” she said. “Addison was very upset.”

A family member posted angrily about the incident on their personal Facebook page and it was widely shared. Ms Wilson-Mitchell says the original post had been deleted due to the unprecedented online response.

Normally open everyday except Christmas, Bay City Cinemas has closed “until further notice”.

A handwritten sign on the cinema gate says the decision is “due to threats against our business and staff members”, adding they “can no longer guarantee the safety” of patrons or staff.

Ms Wilson-Mitchell says any threats made toward the business is “absolutely unacceptable” and it had “gotten out of hand” on social media.

“It was not our intention for the business and their staff to receive this type of response,” she said.

Cinema manager Glenda Churchill told the Bay Post staff were only made aware of Addison’s condition when the tickets were refunded.

“This could have been avoided if they had contacted us beforehand and let us know about the situation,” she told Fairfax Media.

“Our staff only found out about her condition when the tickets were refunded. I do feel bad for the sick little girl.”

She said backpacks were strictly banned for the safety and comfort of all customers.

Addison has seven more months of treatment after being diagnosed in January with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer.

Addison is being treated at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick and has already received chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, radiation therapy and special immunotherapy treatment.

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Pokemon Go may help, not hinder in rural schools

Pokemon enthusiasts – brothers Khodi, 7, Kheegan, 10, and Kaylen, 11 – capture Pokemons at Prince Alfred Park in Redfern with other enthusiasts. Photo: James AlcockIn Holbrook, a town of less than 2000 people 50 kilometres north of the NSW-Victorian border, it can be difficult to communicate the true scale of the global community to the 55 students at St Patrick’s Primary School.
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But Pokémon Go could be the key to doing just that.

Acting Principal Kelly Humphrey said the hype around the game and the extraordinary events surrounding it, could be the beginning of a wider conversation in the classroom.

“The congregations of people, people playing it while they’re driving their cars – it gives us a real life contextual platform for these kids so that they have an understanding, because they’re seeing it, they’re experiencing it right now,” she said. “It’s their real world.”

“We encourage our students to be involved and connected as much as possible. [It allows us] to have that conversation about, well, how do we stay safe? What information do we impart on an app, on an email, on a social media platform?”

Ms Humphrey said the fact that Pokémon Go has announced itself as a worldwide phenomenon could also provide an unexpected insight specifically for children in rural and remote areas.

“What I think it will bring for a small country school is that connectedness to the global world,” she said. “This isn’t just something that is happening in Holbrook, this isn’t just something happening in the Riverina – it’s happening globally.”

The students at St Patrick’s will not be playing catching pokémon during school hours, however, with the school instead planning to hide their own pokémon around the school – with teacher-led GPS tracking helping locate the hidden treasures by their co-ordinates, not dissimilar to Geocaching.

It’s one example of the surprisingly positive attitude of educators on the impact the recently launched app might have, as students return to school with it for the first time.

President of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, Chris Presland, said he’s not surprised that teachers are positive about the impact the app might have in schools, despite that not always being the case with new technologies.

“Good teachers have always looked for opportunities in the world of the kids and indeed our own world – but also look for opportunities to draw kids into the learning experience,” he said.

“I go back through even the modern era – what to do about mobile phones – and probably my school and most schools have been through the ‘lets just ban them and not bring them to school’,” he said. “That just proved to be a) impractical, but also b) a waste of a learning opportunity.”

It’s an example of a focus in the educational sector on “digital citizenship”, which is nothing new, with Mr Presland highlighting the importance of being proactive.

“We spend a lot of time with all of our students on appropriate online behaviour and dangers of online behaviour and all those sorts of things,” he said.

“Crazes come and go, they’re all learning opportunities, it’s just a question of how cleverly teachers can catch them.”

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Greyhound racing ban: Give the dogs a chance with a strong regulator

Greyhound racing in NSW needs to be given a chance to survive but this time under the strong leadership it has so far lacked.
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The sport, which has been put on its death bed by Premier Mike Baird, has been let down by its government-appointed regulators for too long. Right back to the privatisation of the TAB and 1998 inter-code agreement, which runs for 99 years, the dogs have suffered from poor management by regulators under several different models. The sport now needs one to fight for it.

There are 80 recommendations from Michael McHugh’s special commission into the Greyhound Racing Industry. The first recommendation resulted in Baird’s decision to shut down the industry from July 1 next year.

There are another 79 recommendations that set out the minimum standards needed to let the sport continue. Many would be considered common sense. Why they were not already a part of the industry from a stronger regulator has to be asked.

The care of the animal has to be at the forefront of any sport in which they compete. The idea that greyhounds were not given the best care is shocking. It was the lack of accountability on so many fronts, from breeding to the veterinary care of dogs, that is distressing.

The appalling culture of live-baiting needed to be addressed long before Four Corners put it on TV screens.

The sanitised language of wastage was used but the death rates beyond 50 per cent are not acceptable by modern-day standards. That number might be under dispute in some quarters but the reports of deaths and knowledge of where dogs were ending up was simply not good enough.

Change has come at Greyhound Racing NSW under interim chief executive Paul Newson, and that is acknowledged in the report. However, McHugh wrote: “The Commission regards many of the reforms since February 2015 as falling short of what is needed to improve the industry.”

The report continued: “But, that said, what GRNSW has achieved since February 2015, what it is doing, and plans to do deserves praise.” Newson acted under the limitation of being an interim head of the regulator. Anyone who takes the job to lead the industry would be fighting for the future and would surely have the full support of the industry.

McHugh has offered a guide as to how the sport could continue. It should be given a chance for at least a year to show it is strong enough to take the right actions and accelerate reforms, with the benefits of extra funding.

The recommendations include a Greyhound Racing Integrity Commission, which means the commercial and regulatory functions be split. The sustainability of the greyhound industry has been in question for a number of years and this would give it a chance.

The funding structure of the sport is reliant on the TAB inter-code. The inter-code provides 13 per cent of TAB distribution to the dogs, which now provides 20 per cent of its revenue, leading to claims that the greyhounds are the biggest supporters of thoroughbred and harness racing.

However, the growth in market share is a result of more meetings rather than bigger holds. Under the agreement, the dogs have to run 593 TAB meetings, but the number being put on now extends to more than 1000, which surely stretches the sport’s resources.

Former GRNSW chief executive Brent Hogan told a 2014 select committee into the greyhound industry: “The NSW greyhound racing industry is not viable in the short to medium term and certainly not sustainable in the longer term.” The reasons he gave were “increasing costs and regulatory pressures, as well as increasing risks of compliance with OH&S, Workcover and public liability”.

Recommendation 64 states: “If the racing codes cannot agree on a more equitable distribution of TAB revenue, the Parliament of New South Wales should legislate to amend the current arrangements by providing for a distribution that reflects each code’s contribution to TAB revenue.”

The lack of support from the other codes might be self interest because more money would flow to the dogs from this recommendation. But they also remember that during race fields, Greyhound Racing NSW broke ranks with the other codes and signed a deal with corporate bookmakers, which it believed was better for the sport. These are old wounds

Even if the greyhounds were restricted to 593 meetings McHugh found “it seems inevitable that wastage in the industry must remain at high levels”.

But the greyhound community deserves a chance to prove this wrong. It will be under heavy public focus. With strong leadership fighting for the sport they can reform.

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Racing: Stewards put jockeys on notice over online race guide

Some of the best jockeys in Melbourne and Sydney could face hefty fines, lengthy suspensions, or both, if they have broken race rules with contributions to new tipping concept Ride Guide, funded by international bookmaker Ladbrokes.
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Victorian chief steward Terry Bailey told Fairfax Media on Sunday that “jockeys have broken the rules of racing if they have accepted money for appearing on Ride Guide without permission from stipendiary stewards”.

Senior officials in Melbourne and Sydney have announced they will  examine the contents of video tapes recorded by jockeys prior to Saturday’s meetings at Caulfield and Rosehill to identify possible breaches.

Bailey said he had been aware of the Ride Guide concept, devised by Victorian-based jockey Chris Symons, but not when it would launch.

He said he and Sydney chief steward Marc Van Gestel were informed on the eve of Saturday’s meetings that international corporate bookmaking firm Ladbrokes was funding Ride Guide.

Ride Guide was launched on Saturday by horse trainer Peter Moody, currently under suspension over the use of cobalt, who is an ambassador for the bookmaking firm.

Interviews with jockeys were recorded on race eve and available to punters who logged on to the bookmaker’s website on Saturday.

It is understood that Ride Guide had its first airing without the approval either of the Victorian or NSW the integrity departments.

Another sticking point – especially in Victoria – could be if the jockeys refuse to contribute to other forms of media outside of Ride Guide.

Racing Victoria executives made it clear to the jockey’s association when the last contracts were being drafted that jockeys “had a clear obligation to all facets of the media.”

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys confirmed that he’d asked Van Gestel to work with Bailey in Melbourne on examining the entire Ride Guide matter.

“Chris Symons came to me a long time ago with a concept. And I’m never one not to support new ideas or new innovations that can help racing so I was supportive.”

“But I made it very clear that our stewards must give total approval to it and all integrity matters surrounding Ride Guide must be thoroughly researched before approval is given.”

“We must at all times be vigilant on matters of integrity and I am the No.1 supporter of the 50c each-way punter. They must be looked after and supported and that’s why I’ve told our stewards that we must be vigilant and rigorous in our examination of Ride Guide.”

Racing Victoria chairman David Moodie said that “the industry should never finish second to self interest”.

One of the state’s leading professional punters told Fairfax Media yesterday, “It’s a little bit rich of Ladbrokes to make us log on to their site and if the information is that good and they start tipping winners do we get barred once again for being too successful?”

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Northern NSW NPL: Hamilton Olympic overtake Edgeworth Eagles at top of the table I photos

Kane Goodchild leads Olympic back to top of NPL TweetFacebook Hamilton Olympic beat Edgeworth 3-1Pictures by Max Mason-HubersKANE Goodchild won the battle of Northern NSW’s premier target men when he led Hamilton back to the top of the NPL table with a 3-1 win over Edgeworth on Sunday at Darling Street Oval.
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Goodchild set up the first goal for right back Matthew Swan then scored twice in the second half to snuff out an Edgeworth comeback and edge ahead of the visitors on goal difference at the top.

The Olympic striker lined up against impressive Edgeworth centre back Josh Evans at one end of the pitch, while former A-League veteran Daniel McBreen went toe-to-toe with Hamilton skipper Kyle Hodges at the other.

The two defenders kept their opponents relatively quiet until the 44th minute, whenGoodchild cushioned a pass inside the box for Swan, who scored with a lucky rebound that looped over keeper Jim Fogarty.

Olympic missed a chance to double their lead midway through the second half when Evans tripped a flying Daniel Bird just inside the box but Leo Bertos fired the penalty over the bar.

Clear chances were limited in a match played at a high intensity throughout, but Goodchild created a goal out of nothing when he outmuscled two defenders and toed the ball past Fogarty to double the home side’s lead in the 83rdminute.

The goal appeared to have killed off the contest, but Edgeworth lifted again after substitute Aden Gardner headed home a flick-on from a Keigo Moriyasu corner with five minutes to go.

Goodchild had the big home crowd on their feet inthe 93rd minute when he collected the ball on the halfway line, beat a defender then rounded Fogarty before tapping into an empty net.

It was fitting reward for a typically whole-hearted performance from Goodchild, who now has 15 goals for the season, one behind Magic’s James Virgili in the race for the golden boot.

“I’m exhausted. That’s probably the most physical game we’ve played all year,” he said.“It’s ours to lose now. We just have to work that hard for the rest of the year.We want to finish top.”

Edgeworth had won eight straight since losing 3-2to Olympic in early May.

“They never finish. Two-nil and they still keep going and score off that corner,”Hamiltoncoach MichaelBolch said.“We matched them across the park fitness-wise. I thought we were going strong at the end.”

In other games, Maitland beat Adamstown 4-2 at home in their first game since parting ways with coach Steve Piggott last week and Charlestown fought out a goalless draw with Lambton.

Rosebud scored twice at the end of the first half to lead 2-1 at the breakbut had Owen Littlewood sent off in conceding a penalty and never recovered.

The fourth-placed Magpies now lead fifth-placed Charlestown by four points with a game in hand.

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Dog owners vent outrage at Foley’s support for greyhound racing

Newtown resident Laurina Chilcott and Atlas at a rally in support of the greyhound racing ban. Photo: Steven Siewert Bridget Dominic and her greyhound Rivers join the rally in Newtown on Sunday. Photo: Steven Siewert
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Supporters of a ban on greyhound racing at a park in Newtown on Sunday. Photo: Steven Siewert

Laurina and Michael Chilcott had hoped a rally in Sydney’s inner west on Sunday would be a chance to celebrate Premier Mike Baird’s decision to ban greyhound racing.

Instead, the Newtown couple joined about 150 people – and a large number of their pooches – to express their outrage at Labor leader Luke Foley’s move to oppose the ban in NSW, threatening their dreams that the greyhound racing industry would finally be shut down.

“He is backing the wrong side,” Michael Chilcott said.

The couple has fostered 15 greyhounds in less than three years, Atlas being their latest.

“We want to save as many dogs as we can because we feel like we can have more impact from doing that,” Laurina Chilcott said. “The day the decision [to ban greyhound racing] was made was one of the happiest days of our lives.”

Speaking at the rally in a park in Newtown, state Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi accused Mr Foley of pitching the issue as a battle between the working class and other sections of the community.

“As if working people don’t care about dogs dying,” she told the crowd. “I think this is disgraceful political opportunism.

“Labor is using the [industry’s] workers as political pawns.”

Ms Faruqi said the industry was already facing “massive financial issues”, and 24 race tracks had been earmarked for closure before the government’s decision early this month.

“We have to accept … that this is a sport that is already in chronic decline. Mike Baird and I don’t really agree on much, but on this one he has it absolutely spot on.”

Mr Foley said if the Greens “stepped foot outside of Newtown they’d realise thousands of people will be robbed of their livelihoods and thousands of much-loved dogs will be killed under Mr Baird’s plan”.

Legislation to ban the greyhound racing industry in NSW from July next year is due to be tabled in state Parliament on August 2.

The ACT government has also moved to ban the sport.

Naremburn resident Kylie Field, a greyhound owner and a long-time Labor voter, accused Mr Foley of opposing the ban to gain marginal votes.

“These dogs need our support,” she said at the rally. “Using this as a political opportunity to secure marginal votes is appalling.

“People are really annoyed about this. We were so offended after supporting this [Labor] party all our lives. This industry cannot reform. They have been given every opportunity to reform and they have turned a blind eye to systemic cruelty.”

Mel O’Sullivan, a greyhound owner and supporter of the ban, said the Premier had made a brave decision, one he was surprised a politician could make.

“The people who support the ban are a bit more aware of the efforts that have been made to get the industry to get its house in order,” he said. “There have been many shots across the bow.”

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NSW Greens at war over ballot to replace John Kaye

Greens members are at war over who will replace John Kaye in the NSW Legislative Council. Photo: James Alcock Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham deplores “the damaging impact of factionalism and factional voting tickets”.
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The selection of a replacement for the late Greens MP John Kaye in the NSW upper house is descending into a nasty internal fight, exposing the deep ideological split in the party’s state division.

From Monday about 4000 NSW Greens members will vote on a replacement for Dr Kaye, who died of cancer in May. There are 14 candidates contesting the ballot, to be determined in August.

A group ideologically-aligned with Dr Kaye and his ally, Senator Lee Rhiannon – sometimes referred to as the hard left faction, or “eastern bloc” – is being accused of running a “damaging” ticket in a bid to have preferences directed to its eight candidates in the optional preferential voting system.

Included in the group are leading preselection contenders James Ryan, Bruce Knobloch and former Kaye aide Kelly Marks.

On Monday the candidates are expected to issue campaign material containing a statement about their support of grassroots democracy, collective decision-making and accountability to members and naming each other as supportive of these values.

Last week the party’s returning officer ruled that the statement amounts to a “serious breach” of party rules, which prohibit the making of negative comments about other candidates.

But this ruling was overturned after a complaint was referred to the party’s preselection disputes committee.

Some party members claim the ticket was only necessary because Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has been improperly using his profile to influence the preselection for his favoured candidate, Nature Conservation Council campaigner Justin Field.

Mr Buckingham has included Mr Field – a founder of anti-coal seam gas group Lock the Gate described as a “centrist” candidate – in two recent Facebook videos, enraging his factional opponents.

Mr Buckingham’s supporters counter that Mr Ryan and Ms Marks were included in videos about TAFE alongside Greens MP David Shoebridge in June.

On Saturday night Mr Buckingham released another video warning members “to be very mindful of factional preference harvesting and group voting tickets.”

While not mentioning the preselection, which would be against party rules, Mr Buckingham deplores “the damaging impact of factionalism and factional voting tickets”.

“Factional voting tickets are the antithesis of participatory democracy, as they hand power to vested interests and entrench the power of established elites at the expense of diversity.”

Opponents of the ticket note that it does not include candidates such as Dominic Wy Kanak, an Aboriginal Waverley councillor, and Christine Donayre, who is of Latina heritage.

But one party member posted in response to Mr Buckingham’s video that it was “a disgraceful abuse of your profile to attempt to pull rank in an internal Greens preselection.”

The NSW Greens have the right to choose a replacement for Dr Kaye under the casual-vacancy rule.

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US Secret Service and Vice-President Joe Biden puzzle over AFL

US Vice President Joe Biden attends an AFL match between West Coast and Carlton at the MCG. Also pictured: AFL footballer Mason Cox and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.The Secret Service codename for Vice-President Joe Biden is “Celtic”, but the Gaelic links to Australian rules football must have puzzled the small troop of burly blokes with earpieces hovering at the MCG boundary line as their charge strode onto the green.
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Only a few minutes earlier a man dressed head to toe in a navy blue onesie had perched on top of a hovercraft, spinning donuts wildly across the ground to entertain the crowd.

It’s an oval shaped ball, and you kick it, AFL chief Gil McLachlan appeared to instruct his slightly bemused-looking US visitor before Carlton took on West Coast on Sunday.

But the MCG has long been familiar with Americans, well before the arrival of US recruit Mason Cox, the Collingwood ruck man from Texas, who later sat beside Biden in the stands.

US Marines used the hallowed sporting turf as a campsite in the Second World War during a brief rest in Melbourne after the pivotal battle for Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, which cost more than 7000 American lives.

Mr Biden praised the depth of military ties between the US and Australia when speaking in the members stand during the presentation of a restored ceremonial US flag dating from the war.

“We’re together, it’s stamped on our DNA,” Biden said.

But it was modern science that dominated Biden’s morning to commence his trip to Australia, touring the labs at Melbourne’s new billion-dollar cancer centre, flanked by Premier Daniel Andrews and federal Health Minister Sussan Ley.

Biden lost a son, Beau, 46, to brain cancer last year, and reflected on the precious moments for patients and their family after diagnosis.

“You try and learn as much as you can as rapidly as you can,” he said.

Biden has been granted what he called “dictator” powers by US President Barack Obama to drive a new urgency in the search for better cancer treatments.

Biden announced the US and Australia will sign a deal to share about 60,000 patient records to study the genetic make-up of the more than 200 types of cancer.

The aim, Biden said, was to join in sharing data from across the world, where study will be assisted by supercomputers and hopefully lead to a future where cancer treatment was a simple as tackling diseases such as mumps or measles.

“Most of all it is about not giving up hope, not giving up the fight,” he declared.

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SEABL: Canberra Gunners finals hopes suffer blow after Tim Coenraad injury

Tim Coenraad, pictured playing in the NBL for Illawarra, suffered a foot injury playing for Canberra Gunners on Saturday. Photo: Christopher ChanThe Canberra Gunners may be forced to end their nine-year finals drought without key man Tim Coenraad after he suffered a foot injury in the club’s Victorian road double on the weekend.
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Canberra’s 77-74 win at Frankston on Saturday was soured by the loss of Coenraad, who recently re-signed with Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, and Dylan Simpson (knee).

They suited up just eight players against Nunawading on Sunday and despite a 20-7 rally midway through the third quarter, succumbed 89-76.

Despite the loss the Gunners remain fourth in the eastern conference, but are just a game ahead of the Spectres and Ballarat.

Three wins from the last five games should be enough to secure a first playoff campaign since 2007, but Coenraad’s plantar fasciitis injury is a huge blow.

With Indiana Faithfull (broken finger) already sidelined, the Gunners are fast running out of troops.

“We have lots of injuries, I’m not sure Tim will play again with a foot injury and we’re running out of bodies,” Gunners coach Brad Davidson said.

“He’s a professional and he’s got a livelihood [in the NBL] he has to look after, we’ll see what happens when he gets checked out.”

Simpson’s injury isn’t considered serious and his return would be crucial as the Gunners embark on three straight home games.

Davidson was pleased with his undermanned sides resolve at Nunawading but the hosts’ offensive efficiency was the difference.

“It seemed every time we got back into it they’d hit a three pointer toward the end of the shot clock, it was frustrating,” Davidson said.

“They shot really well and it came down to that in the end.”

In the women’s competition, Canberra Capitals Academy lost to Frankston 69-57 and Nunawading 92-68 over the weekend.

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Men: Canberra Gunners 77 (T Coenraad 21pts, 10reb; B Allen 15pts, 13reb) beat Frankston 74 (R Jones 20pts, nine rebs; B Lewis 21pts); Nunawading 89 (S McDonald 18pts, eight assts; S Conn 18pts, 11reb;) beat Canberra Gunners 76 (B Allen 24pts, 11reb; B Kuol 15pts)

Women: Frankston 69 (K Standish 22pts, 10reb, 5asst; T Phillips 16pts) beat Canberra Capitals Academy 57 (C Smith 15pts, M Penn 11pts); Nunawading 92 (A Kame 25pts; H Zavecz 17pts, 11reb) beat Canberra Capitals Academy 68 (M Penn 19pts, nine reb; A Davis 17pts)

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Daryl Gibson laments poor start to season as Waratahs’ post-mortem begins

Daryl Gibson says there is a “sense of unfulfillment” about the NSW Waratahs’ season as they begin a post-mortem on why they failed to make the Super Rugby finals for the first time since 2013.
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As optimistic as the Waratahs tried to be when they arrived back in Sydney from New Zealand on Saturday, they would have hardly been surprised to see the Brumbies easily account for the Force and ultimately put an end to their inconsistent season.

NSW finished with eight wins from 15 games but it could have been far worse after a 2-4 start to the year with early slip-ups to the Brumbies (twice) and the Rebels at home.

“Those moments we’ll dwell on and say we weren’t good enough,” Gibson said. “Our start probably hurt us the most… they were games we needed to get results out of. What I am proud about is how the boys came back from that difficult start and got us back in contention. Finishing off and not making the finals is disappointing and leaves a sense of unfulfilment.”

A total of 10 players made their Waratahs debut, with eight – Bryce Hegarty, Angus Ta’avao, David Horwitz, Reece Robinson, Tom Robertson, Andrew Kellaway, Ned Hanigan and Jim Stewart – sticking around in 2017.

Gibson labelled the newcomers’ transition into Super Rugby “a success” but conceded there would be problems surrounding the departures of senior players Dave Dennis, Wycliff Palu, Kurtley Beale and Benn Robinson.

“If we look at next year’s team, it’s going to be youthful and those players are going to benefit from their introduction this year,” Gibson said. “We’ve got a lot of experience we’re going to lose for a second year in a row, so that has to happen in every team.”

Gibson would not comment on the likely departure of hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, but restated his hope that Dean Mumm would go around for one more year and opt against retiring.

Israel Folau had another exceptional year for NSW, scoring two more tries than any other Super Rugby player (11), as well as finishing second for metres gained (1250) – behind the Force’s Dane Haylett-Petty – fourth on carries (173) and fifth in the competition for offloads (24).

Looking beyond the 34-28 final-game scoreline in Auckland, the Waratahs’ scrum showed just how far it has come since the set-piece was exposed as the team’s Achilles earlier in the year.

The Reds game in Brisbane springs to mind to when the Waratahs were asked to continue to pack scrums because the Queenslanders were so sure they were going to dominate in that area.

That a NSW pack, lead by the ever-improving Paddy Ryan, Polota-Nau and Gibson’s find of the year in Tom Robertson, could orchestrate two penalty tries against a quality a New Zealand unit shows their development.

“We started the season with a scrum under pressure and we got rewarded with two penalty tries which shows our scrum’s really improving,” said captain Michael Hooper. “It’s certainly a bright future for us.”

Said Polota-Nau: “You want to get those young guys really involved and to understand what it takes to be at the top level and I could only do that from the sideline but once I came back there was a kinaesthetic understanding. Paddy Ryan’s transition from tighthead to loosehead, who does that? Credit goes to him and Tom Robertson for preparing and understanding that it’s little minute detail that gets results like that.”

Forwards coach Cam Blades was just as pleased, saying he could see improvements kicking in around the halfway mark of the year.

“The back half of the season, the scrum has been strong and in the last few games we’ve been able to use it as a bit of a weapon,” Blades said. “I’m really happy with the way the guys have developed.”

Regardless of whether Mumm pulls up stumps at the Waratahs, Gibson is in the market for a second-rower, while his back line is largely untouched aside from the departure of Beale.

Asked whether Beale had indicated if he would come back to NSW after his stint with English club Wasps, Gibson said: “There’s been no discussions. He’d be very welcome at the Waratahs. We’re just really keen to see him succeed at Wasps.”

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