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  • Stephen Larkham and ACT Brumbies confident in fight to retain roster of off-contract stars

    ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham will juggle pre-season preparations with contract talks, declaring player negotiations won't be a distraction in his final year as the club's leader.
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    The Brumbies are in a fight to re-sign more than 20 players off-contract players and rich European clubs have circled some of their stars as recruitment targets.

    The Brumbies play their first pre-season trial on Saturday night and are just five weeks away from their Super Rugby season-opener against the Canterbury Crusaders.

    Larkham is entering his final campaign as Brumbies coach before moving into a full-time Wallabies assistant's role at the end of the year.

    But he will continue to lead contract talks until his successor is appointed, which could be as early as the end of February.

    Wallabies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani has been pursued by overseas clubs while Scott Fardy, Sam Carter and Tomas Cubelli are on a list of more than 20 players looking for new deals.

    Former ARU chairman Peter McGrath voiced his concerns about the long list of off-contract Brumbies in a blog on the Griffin Legal website last week.

    "We're working with a lot of players at the moment to look at 2018, 2019 and 2020," Larkham said.

    "I don't think the number of players off contract is relevant. What is relevant is that we're constantly in negotiations with players, whether it's during the season, pre-season or post season.

    "It's a never-ending cycle and you're constantly looking at your squad for down the track. The position we're in at the moment is no different to any other year.

    "It's not an alarm or anything like that, it's just genuinely the way negotiations occur."

    New Brumbies chief executive Michael Thomson will begin his tenure on Monday and his first task will be finding Larkham's replacement.

    The Brumbies board has set a target of having the club's coaching future finalised as early as the end of February with Larkham set to take a full-time Wallabies assistant coach's role at the end of the year.

    Brumbies forward coach Dan McKellar looms as one of the front-runners to fill Larkham's shoes while it's understood several overseas-based candidates have also applied for the position.

    The Brumbies have been working with several players since the end of last year in the hope they would commit to new deals, despite not knowing who the coach will be.

    "Part of my role at the moment is to make sure the long-term future of the Brumbies is successful," Larkham said.

    "I think that there are some obvious choices and then the new coach will also have a say, too. We'll keep talking to players now and through the season."

    The Brumbies have a handful of key players already locked into new deals from 2018 and beyond, including Scott Sio, Henry Speight, Rory Arnold and Allan Alaalatoa.

    Kuridrani has been targeted by some clubs in France but the powerful Fijian has become a mainstay of the Brumbies' back line in the past five years.

    The 25-year-old forced his way back into the Wallabies team at the end of last year and scored tries in four of 's five Tests on the spring tour of Europe.

    "Tevita has a big decision to make ... he usually goes under the radar but he's the rock in our back line," Speight said.

    "When he's firing, our back line is firing. He's the one who puts us over the gain line every time.

    "I'm sure he'll come to the right decision for him and his family at the end of the day, but we'd love to see him hang around and stay."

    SUPER RUGBY PRE-SEASON

    January 28: ACT Brumbies v n Barbarians at Viking Park, 5.30pm.

    February 4: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Mudgee.

    February 11-12: Brisbane Global 10s at Suncorp Stadium.

  • Fisherman dies after being swept off rocks in NSW south coast

    Emergency crews were called out to Tathra after a group of fishermen were swept off the rocks. Photo: Jacob McMaster A man has died and four others have been rescued after being swept off rocks while fishing at Tathra on the state's far south coast on Saturday.
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    The group were fishing on a rock platform to the south of Tathra Headland when they were washed off the rocks by a rogue wave shortly before 1pm.

    Local police officers, assisted by a Westpac Rescue Helicopter and NSW surf lifesavers, searched the area surrounding the popular fishing spot.

    A NSW Surf Lifesaving statement said two of the men who were dragged out to sea by the waves were able to scramble back onto the rocks, with the remaining three pulled out of the water by inflatable rescue boats.

    As a result of being immersed in the water, two of these men required CPR.

    One of the men responded favourably to the treatment by lifesavers, while the other, believed to be in his 50s, died at the scene.

    Conditions at the time of the incident are understood to be "choppy" with strong winds and wave sets of between 2-3 metes reported by local lifesavers.

    Neither the deceased man or the other man requiring CPR were wearing a lifejacket at the time they were washed into the water, a NSW Surf Lifesaving statement read.

    On Friday, Surf lifesavers and the Bureau of Meteorology warned rock fishers, in particular, to be "aware of deceptive conditions especially when getting onto and off exposed platforms".

    Rock fishing is widely recognised as one of the most dangerous sports in , with an average of eight people losing their lives to the sport every year in NSW alone.

    Saturday's incident adds to the spate of drowning deaths that have plagued the state's waterways over the summer holiday period. About twenty people have drowned since Christmas in NSW.

    Violent swells are expected to lash the NSW coast for the remainder of the weekend.

  • Declassified documents show CIA’s interest in Chinan communism

    The CIA warned that the Chifley government could face "crippled" industries if the Communist Party of intervened. Photo: National Archives of The CIA released about 930,000 documents on Wednesday. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite
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    A secret CIA memo warned of the n Communist Party's ability to "cripple n production" just months before the 1949 coal miner strike.

    The American intelligence agency prepared a recently declassified, 10-page dossier on communist influence on n trade unions and the then Labor government in April, 1949.

    The report is one of several from the CIA to detail communist activity in from the end of the Second World War through to the 1960s, which were published on the agency's Freedom of Information Act website this week.

    It described the government as slow to counteract the growth of communist power in unions and "notoriously lax regarding security measures" in the past.

    One of the report's observations, that "communist power at present is sufficient to cripple the entire n economy temporarily by stopping transport and coal production", proved to be prophetic.

    Just two months after it was published, 23,000 coal miners went on strike and returned to work only after the government used the military to break the production.

    But the report also said there was no evidence the Communist Party had any direct influence on the government, nor was there proof of contact between the n party and the Soviet Union.

    "The US Naval Attache in Melbourne has reported that the Labor government is under communist domination, with two cabinet members probable communists and another cabinet member and Speaker of the House," the report said.

    "There are, however, no known Communists in the federal parliament and only one state legislator (Queensland parliament) is a known party member."

    Other declassified documents showed the CIA expected the failed 1951 referendum to ban the Communist Party would be successful, but described the voters as lacking enthusiasm and then opposition leader HV Evatt as "becoming hysterical if not desperate" in attacks on the government.

    Another detailed interactions between the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China and their counterparts in and New Zealand.

    Little was mentioned of the Chinese agent's interactions with the n Communist Party, but the document noted the New Zealand Communist Party followed China's advice to attempt to create a "clandestine party organisation" parallel to the existing one.

    But the idea fell apart in New Zealand, and the report said the party's leader "was apparently criticised for 'his' mishandling of the plan" on a return visit to China in 1968.

    The documents, part of the 11 million document strong CIA Records Search Tool, were only available to view in person at the National Archives in Maryland until the agency decided to publish the collection online this month.

  • Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall star attractions at Malcolm Turnbull’s business drinks

    Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall leave Kirribilli House as Malcolm Turnbull hosts a reception for big business on Saturday, Photo: Christopher Pearce SBS boss Michael Ebeid arrives at Kirribilli House as Malcolm Turnbull hosts a reception for business leaders. Photo: Christopher Pearce
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    While all eyes were on Washington over the weekend as one billionaire officially entered public office, another touched down in to be entertained by our public officers.

    Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, together with his wife, model and thespian Jerry Hall, were the main attraction at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's sundowner soiree at Kirribilli House on Saturday.

    As foreshadowed in The n Financial Review, Hall, Murdoch and his son Lachlan were joined by a handful of chairmen and chief executives, including local entrepeneur Gerry Harvey, newlyweds Ryan and Clare Stokes, the Commonwealth Bank's Catherine Livingstone and SBS boss Michael Ebeid at the Prime Minister's secondary Sydney residence for a belated Christmas party.

    Some of Turnbull's cabinet stars, such as new Federal Industry minister Arthur Sinodinos, also turned out to help the host pass around the cocktail franks and dish up acceptable small talk.

    Despite only making a cameo appearance, the 85-year-old businessman looked spritely, sophisticated and relaxed in a blue lounge suit, while Hall opted for a ruby midi skirt suit with matching handbag. The couple, who married last March, both accessorised their looks with beaming smiles and some Barack and Michelle Obama-inspired PDA.

    It is understood Murdoch is in town to check in with his News Corp lieutenants, while back home in the United States his beleaguered Fox News network announced its latest talking head – former Ukip leader and Donald Trump cheerleader Nigel Farage.

    The appointment adds weight to the recent New York Magazine report that Murdoch, who also owns Sydney's Daily Telegraph, The Sun and The Times papers in London, is working hard to establish a relationship with the newly installed President by speaking to Trump three times a week.

    While 'Jupert' are down under, Murdoch's ex-wife Wendi Murdoch was on the ground in Washington enjoying the inauguration celebrations with her close friend, Ivanka Trump.

    She accompanied Trump's daughter to a candlelit pre-inauguration dinner on Thursday before taking a front-row seat at the swearing in ceremony on Friday.   A photo posted by Wendi Murdoch (@wendimurdoch) on Jan 20, 2017 at 4:57am PST

  • Adam Hyeronimus emulates dad by wining the Carrington Stakes

    On a mission: Adam Hyeronimus rides Equador to win theCarrington Stakes. Photo: bradleyphotos苏州夜总会招聘.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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    Adam Hyeronimus has wanted to win the Carrington Stakes since he was a kid, and one of his favourite horses, Ecuador, got the job done for him on Saturday.

    Like his first-up win in December, Ecuador sat off the speed and sprinted to victory, holding off Shiraz late,  and could be heading for bigger targets.

    But this win meant more to Hyeronimus because his father Craig won the Carrington on Young Blood in 1984.

    "Dad didn't win many stakes races and I always knew this was a race he had won," Hyeronimus said. "That makes a bit more special because it has been a race I have wanted to win all my life.

    "I came here on a bit of a mission."

    The Gai Waterhouse-Adrian Bott stable have always held a good opinion of Ecuador,  but as a seven-year-old he might be racing in the best form of his career.

    He has been placed at group1 level when runner-up to Winx in the Epsom Handicap a couple of years ago. He chalked up his 10th win and fifth for Hyeronimus, who has built a great association with him.

    "He is a horse that really goes well for me and I have had a lot of success on," Hyeronimus said. "He has really come back in great shape and I would say this is the best he has raced, which you can't say about many seven-year-olds.

    "He is a brilliant miler but at the moment he is loving 1400 metres. He is really sharp."

    Bott was not ruling anything out with Ecuador after the win and Sydney and Melbourne are both in play.

    A similar preparation to this could see him run in the Orr Stakes at Caulfield on February 11, the first group1 of the year.

    "We might have to up our sights over the autumn now," Bott said. "Last campaign he had some good form around listed and group 3 races but hopefully this time around with the right placement, we'll be able to win a nice race with him."

    "He is doing it tough, carrying the weight and running strong through the line. He is a happy horse."

    Meanwhile, apprentice Nick Heywood celebrated his 21st birthday by scoring on Got Unders in a tight finish to the Huawei Handicap.

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