State of Origin: Gallen saviour of NSW

State of Origin: Gallen saviour of NSW

Paul Gallen fronts the media in Wollongong yesterday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELINSW lock Paul Gallen could be the man to lead the Blues into a new era of success as part of a plan discussed by newly installed State of Origin captain Trent Barrett.The former St George Illawarra star and Cronulla skipper will lead NSW onto the field for the first time in what is almost certainly to be his last Origin appearance.But Barrett has spoken to Gallen about developing the Sharks enforcer's leadership skills in order to help solve the Blues' ongoing captaincy woes.The captaincy was stripped from Kurt Gidley and handed to Barrett after the versatile Newcastle fullback was named on the bench for Wednesday's third Origin clash with Queensland in Sydney.Barrett took over the captaincy at Cronulla last year when Gallen quit after being embroiled in a racism controversy with former Dragons and now Bulldogs forward Mickey Paea.However, Gallen has revealed that Barrett told him he could be the man to bring the Origin shield back to NSW next year."Trent has actually spoken to me about being a captain and that he can help me in the future," Gallen said."With his help I can probably be a better captain, yeah."He hasn't spoken in depth about it, (but said) he'd love to help out if he's finished."I'd love to see him keep playing and keep the NSW captaincy," he added.NSW yesterday held a team meeting at their Wollongong base, putting behind them the racism saga that rocked the camp before game two.Assistant coach Andrew Johns was sacked for calling Greg Inglis a "black c..." before that game and Timana Tahu left in protest.Desperate to put some pride back in the sky blue jersey after losing a fifth successive series with the 34-6 loss at Suncorp Stadium, Gallen said he would try to lead by example at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday."I just lead by playing footy, I'm pretty simple like that," he said."I just go out there and do my best on the field and people see that as having leadership qualities, by going out there and working hard."Gallen welcomed suggestions that Sharks coach Ricky Stuart would take over NSW next year if Craig Bellamy steps down.Stuart will leave the Cronulla post at the end of the year, with Sharks assistant Shane Flanagan - also on the NSW coaching staff - already declaring he will reinstate Gallen as club captain next year."He's very passionate," Gallen said of Stuart."If you brought Stick (Stuart) in, he'd be a perfect change."They'd bring different tactics because they are different coaches, but a change might be what NSW need."Gallen said he was comfortable with the reasons Bellamy stated for overlooking him for this year's series opener.Bellamy told him he was making too many errors and "trying too hard" in NRL games.However, Gallen said he doesn't feel the need to overplay his hand for NSW, having attempted to lead the Sharks - who have struggled for the past two seasons - back towards the top eight."If you have a look at the Origin games and Test games I don't try as hard, I just do my job and I think I perform pretty well at Test and Origin level," he said."It's a different game for me and I'm probably more comfortable coming in at Origin level, because I know I only have to do my job."Whereas at Cronulla I probably try to do everything," he admitted."And that's what it's been like because we've been struggling until the last month or five weeks, where I've just been able to do my job."
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Briefs

Briefs

Manslaughter for Dad[BB] AIKEN, South Carolina - A man was convicted of manslaughter for giving beer to his 15-year-old son and letting him drive a truck which crashed, killing the boy and his two brothers. Attorneys said Michael Batchelor, 37, would probably spend more than 30 years in prison for the 2002 wreck.
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Batchelor bought the beer for his three sons and three of their friends and then let the oldest son, who did not have a licence, drive the truck while he rode beside him in the cab.

The truck hit a car head-on, killing driver Ashton Groomes and his brothers, 13-year-old Brandon Batchelor and 11-year-old Drew Batchelor. The other boys were also hurt.

Call to fight drugs BANGKOK - The United Nations wants Australia to do more in the fight against drugs and corruption in Asia.

"A mature economy, a democratic society like Australia has indeed a responsibility to assist the countries in the region," UN's Office of Drugs and Crime executive director Antonio Maria Costa said.

Berlusconi to return ROME - Silvio Berlusconi seems set to form a new Government amid a crisis that forced his resignation as Italy's Prime Minister and raised the spectre of snap elections.

Mr Berlusconi quit on Wednesday after losing some coalition members.

He has apparently reached a deal with two key coalition partners; the centrist UDC and the right-wing National Alliance.

Gutierrez exile plans QUITO - Deposed President Lucio Gutierrez was holed up in the Brazilian embassy on Thursday awaiting a flight into exile. Ecuadoreans tried to return to normalcy after a week of street violence and political chaos.

Ecuadorean television showed video of police searching for another ex-president, Abdala Bucaram, whose return from eight years of exile helped spark the current crisis.

Government buildings were left in shambles after rioters set fires and threw rocks and bottles at anything connected to the Government, killing at least two people.

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Top referee’s verdict on Harry Kewell red card

Top referee’s verdict on Harry Kewell red card

Damien, 4, gives his referee dad, Strebre Delovski of West Wollongong, a red card.Australia's best whistleblower believes his Italian counterpart erred by sending off Harry Kewell against Ghana.Wollongong resident and Mercury columnist Strebre Delovski - the 2009-10 PFA and A-League referee of the year - disagreed with Roberto Rosetti's decision to show the Socceroos star a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.With Australia leading 1-0 on Sunday morning, Jonathan Mensah's shot struck Kewell - who was standing at the goal line - on the arm.Rosetti awarded a penalty - converted by Asamoah Gyan - and Australia played for more than an hour with 10 men for a gallant 1-1 draw that left their hopes of advancing hanging by a thread.Delovski, who controlled last season's A-League grand final, would have allowed play to continue as he didn't believe Kewell was guilty of handling the ball."He shouldn't have been sent off because the handball rule states you have got to make a deliberate movement towards the ball," Delovski said."Handball is either deliberate or not, had there been movement towards the ball fine, but that didn't happen. It wasn't a penalty, I would have blown play on."In my opinion it's not a send-off offence."Delovski - who watched the match with friends because he feared a controversial decision and an ensuing inquisition - cleared Kewell of two handball "red flags"."Harry was in his natural body posture, he didn't have his arm out and the ball hit him," he said. "A giveaway with handball is when the player is watching the ball, but Harry had his eyes closed."He didn't have time to move because the shot was struck so hard."Although he disagreed with the decision, Delovski said Rosetti had no choice but to become the second official to banish a Socceroo in as many World Cup finals matches."The red card was for denying a goal-scoring opportunity because he was on the goal line," Delovski said."There's no in between - it can't be just a yellow (card) or just a penalty."It comes down to the opinion of the referee, unfortunately that's the way it goes."However with Kewell automatically banned for the must-win Group D tie against Serbia on Thursday morning, Rosetti's decision could have effectively ruined Australia's hopes of progressing to the knockout phase."I'd hate to be in his shoes, he had to make a decision in a millisecond and he's gone for it," Delovski said. "He is human, after all. He doesn't have time to evaluate or review it from a million camera angles."Delovski also disagreed with Rosetti not adding to the three minutes of time added on after Black Stars defender John Pantsil was injured.He estimated that error cost Australia a precious 90 seconds as they pushed for a winner."If there is an injury during stoppage time, more time should have been added on," Delovski said. "He should have played an extra minute or 90 seconds."See Monday's Mercury for Delovski's take on Tim Cahill's red card against Germany.
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Bitter-sweet result for Mt Warrigal mum

Bitter-sweet result for Mt Warrigal mum

Laurelle Rankmore, with son Keiran, hopes a lesson is learned after a company was fined for safety breaches relating to her son's death.A Mt Warrigal mother, distraught over the 2006 death of her son on a building site, hopes a court ruling against his former employer will raise awareness about workplace safety.Laurelle Rankmore says the $100,000 fine handed down to an Illawarra building company will not bring her son back, but will send a strong message to all employers, supervisors and their staff."I am pleased the NSW WorkCover Authority investigated this incident so thoroughly and then prosecuted," Mrs Rankmore said."If others can learn from this tragedy about the need for safe work practices, something has been achieved."Mrs Rankmore was responding to an Industrial Court of NSW ruling which penalised CKR Pty Limited for safety breaches relating to a workplace incident in which its employee, Aaron Rankmore, was fatally injured after he fell 5.3m from the first floor of a two-storey residential unit.Judge Anna Backman also handed down a $10,000 fine to Zoran Cvetkovski, the owner of the site where the unit was under construction.The incident happened on December 11, 2006, and Mr Rankmore, a 21-year-old carpenter, died in Wollongong Hospital four days later.Mrs Rankmore said the impact of Aaron's death on her and younger son Kieran, 20, had been devastating and they were still struggling with overwhelming grief."To have to sit here every day, hoping and waiting ..." she said, her voice trailing off. "It's been a long 3? years. It used to be Aaron, Kieran and me and now it's a triangle with one side missing, and it will never be the same."Mrs Rankmore said she was angry that Aaron's death was preventable."There were real breaches of safety (at the worksite). He was a polite, good young man who was down-to-earth and who cared about his family and friends. He had a lot to live for."A written judgment handed down by the court earlier this month found CKR supervisor Cord Tolson had instructed Mr Rankmore and another employee, Owen Smith, to stack timber wall frames, and while pulling on a frame Mr Rankmore fell 5.3m from the first floor through a makeshift work platform and landed on the floor below.In the judgment, Justice Blackman said the first-year carpenter was inadequately supervised on the day of the incident.She also said Mr Cvetkovski's failure to have safe procedures in place was a serious omission.
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Dragons’ winning culture ‘is safe’

Dragons’ winning culture ‘is safe’

St George Illawarra's five fallen NSW stars have vowed not to let the devastation of another losing State of Origin series corrupt the developing winning culture at the Dragons.Winger Brett Morris, second-rower Ben Creagh and centre Beau Scott are all expected to take the field against the Sharks at Toyota Stadium tomorrow after being part of the failed Blues campaign on Wednesday.Matt Cooper will miss the game with a hamstring injury, while prop Michael Weyman is also in doubt with groin soreness. Full coverage of the Dragons But with the harsh spotlight turned upon them as irate NSW fans call for heads to roll following a fifth straight series loss, they must now focus on continuing the Dragons' magical run at the top of the NRL ladder.Creagh said the NSW players needed to pick up the pieces without letting their latest dose of the Origin blues rub off on their club team-mates."It will be hard because I'm so disappointed about the game and the loss, but you can't carry it with you too long," Creagh said."I've got to go back to Saints and find the positives because it can spread very easily."I'll go back and be as upbeat as I can and prepare for the game."You really want to make amends (for the Origin loss) and come back fit for your club and I'll be doing everything I can for the Dragons. We'll be all right."But Cronulla duo Trent Barrett and Paul Gallen will also have their chance to bounce back tomorrow after the Sharks enforcer took an early plea for a high hit on Queensland's Nate Myles.There will be no such questions of motivation for triumphant Queensland pair Darius Boyd and Neville Costigan.Dragons fullback Boyd has been cleared of serious injury after being spear-tackled by NSW firebrand Luke O'Donnell on Wednesday night.There has been a long-standing questionmark over the Dragons' culture, having failed in previous finals series, including last year after winning the minor premiership.But there is little doubt about becoming a tougher outfit under coach Wayne Bennett, in his second season in charge.With the Red V flying high with a 10-3 record to be outright first, Scott was adamant he would put the loss in his Origin debut behind him.He admitted he was desperate to be part of a winning team again."You can use (Origin) as a motivator to get back out there and be in a winning team again," he said.
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