Sydney Roosters swap lagers for lattes

The Sydney Roosters have slapped an alcohol ban on themselves to ensure their premiership defence gets back on track.
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It has been revealed the players made a pact to stay off the booze at an honesty session following their 42-10 loss to North Queensland last month. The playing and coaching staff held a meeting the day after the defeat in Townsville to address the performance, arguably the worst since Trent Robinson took over as coach last year.

With the team sitting outside the top eight and still reeling from the fallout of Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner’s big night out, the coaches were looking for answers. A number of issues were addressed, with captain Anthony Minichiello understood to be one of the more vocal players as the club dissected a disappointing start to the season.

The result was an indefinite booze ban, which is likely to remain until the end of the season.

“It was just a conventional debrief meeting the next day after a heavy loss against North Queensland,” Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan said.

“It was a heavy loss, we were poor. Not only does the consumption of alcohol and other issues drain energy from individuals but from the club – and the team performance drops.

“If you drop 1 per cent it can convert into 10 points. If you’re talking about a 2 or 3 per cent drop, you get 30 or 40 points put on you.

“The players realised we needed to do something a bit different to get a performance.

“The conversation went along those lines, looking at the one-percenters. And [banning alcohol] was one of them and probably the first one.”

It’s not the first time the Roosters have swapped lagers for lattes. The tricolours swore off the grog during the final eight rounds of the regular season of last year. After noticing the improvements in performance, they continued to abstain until their campaign ended, resulting in an epic grand final triumph against Manly.

Pearce had already vowed not to imbibe again in-season after he was involved in an incident with a female patron at the Beach Haus nightclub in Kings Cross, which led to his arrest and an infringement notice for failing to leave a licensed premises.

The halfback, who had already been marched from the Clovelly Hotel that evening, was fined $20,000 and handed a one-match ban, which was served during that fateful loss to the Cowboys. The punishment could end up being even heftier, with Pearce set to miss out on the $90,000 Origin match payments he would have been entitled to had he played all three games of the series. Cordner was fined $5000 for his role in the evening.

The boozy incident, and the response to it, may now be a positive for the tricolours. The club is likely to retain halves pairing Pearce and James Maloney throughout the Origin period after being resigned to coping without them. And the turnaround following the Cowboys post-mortem has been emphatic, if convincing wins against Canterbury and Canberra are any guide.

“That poor performance that evening made us click into another mindset,” Canavan said.

“There was an inquiry as to why we served up a 40-point loss to the Cowboys. They were good, but we were very poor. The conversation went from there, continued on into next week, and away we went.”

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AFL clubs unhappy with equalisation plans

The AFL’s historic bid to create an even football competition is facing a mutinous response from at least five middle-level clubs disenchanted in the belief they will be harshly taxed by Gillon McLachlan’s complex equalisation formula.
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Fairfax Media understands Carlton, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong and Richmond have been stunned at learning they will be taxed between $200,000 and $400,000 annually over the next two years compared with the capped $500,000 to be carried by  Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast.

McLachlan will roll out his new competitive balance formula to the 18 clubs on Wednesday in what looms as a lengthy session at head office, which will also mark Andrew Demetriou’s final day as AFL chief executive.

”The devil will be in the detail,’’ Fremantle chief Steve Rosich said. ‘‘Hopefully the detail won’t be the devil. Hopefully the middle clubs won’t be disproportionate contributors.

“You’d hate to see a disproportionate burden to be carried by a mid-tier club as opposed to a top-tier club.”

Several disillusioned chief executives have pointed out to the AFL that middle-ranked clubs will be the hardest hit, with some being taxed close to 50 per cent of their profits compared with closer to 10 per cent  by Collingwood.

Intense lobbying from the wealthy clubs, led by the Magpies, led to the AFL backing down from its original revenue tax equation. Now the 2015 equalisation pool will include club contributions of no more than $4 million and as low as $3 million, although the AFL will top up that amount with money from its club future fund.

The key recipients of the equalisation pool in 2015 will be the Brisbane Lions, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs, with Melbourne and potentially Port Adelaide and North Melbourne also having money put back into their football spending.

All the clubs facing six-figure taxes have been told the formula has been based on last year’s profits to dissuade – they suspect – any attempts to rewrite revenues.

It is understood the AFL has chosen to tax the clubs on all revenue, including gaming profits. But McLachlan is understood to have been more sympathetic towards fund-raising foundations, such as those being run by Richmond and Sydney and more recently established by St Kilda, which will not be included in club taxable revenues.

Several clubs remain hopeful the AFL will not include player welfare costs in the football department revenue equation, arguing  such a move would result in that area of football spending decreased significantly to beat the tax.

The ambition is to allow every club to pay its players 100 per cent of the salary cap. The two expansion clubs, which are still being fully funded by the AFL, are not expected to be included until at least 2017 when the new broadcast rights agreement is struck.

The tax on football department spending will also be capped and only clubs spending more than $9.5million on football outside of its total player payments will be hit.  The prevailing view is only Collingwood and West Coast will be taxed, although that money will reach poorer clubs until 2016.

The disillusionment shared by those middle-ranked clubs has been compounded by the belief they were under-represented by the working party that travelled to the US last July to examine the equalisation strategies in  American football. Only Richmond’s Brendon Gale was on that trip  and subsequent working sessions, compared with stronger representation from the wealthy and poorer clubs.

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AFL player salary cap to rise

The AFL salary cap for players will have a larger increase next year, and in 2016, but clubs will not have to pay 100 per cent of their player payments, under the AFL’s new deal and equalisation measures.
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And while there will be a limit on what clubs can spend on football – and tax on clubs that exceed that amount – there will be no minimum spend outside of player payments.

Under the new arrangements, which the AFL’s new boss Gillon McLachlan will outline to the 18 clubs on Wednesday, the salary cap will be increased by about 4.5 per cent in 2015 and 2016 – higher than the 3 per cent rises that were guaranteed.

But clubs will not have to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap, with the minimum for total player payments and additional services agreements (capped marketing-related payments) remaining at 95 per cent. This is despite the near universal view that all clubs should have the capacity to pay 100 per cent of the player salary cap – a key goal of equalisation.

While there has been a strong push for salary cap equality – with Sydney’s contentious cost of living allowance (COLA) to be phased out and replaced by a rental allowance – the AFL will retain the veterans’ allowance for the next two years. This rule allows players with 10 years’ service at a club to be paid an extra $118,000 a year outside of the salary cap in 2014.

The veteran’s allowance enabled Geelong to play players an extra $1 million in 2012, when it had nine veterans, and $710,000 outside the cap in 2014, with six veterans.

The veteran payments, which have assisted older players in being retained at their club, were under threat as part of the equalisation, but there has been a strong pushback from the players’ association and player managers, with the upshot being that the allowance for 10-year players will be kept for the next two years. Some smaller clubs do not take advantage of the veterans’ allowance, for financial reasons.

The increased salary cap means that some clubs – such as St Kilda and the Bulldogs – will have to spend more heavily on players. In effect, this means that some of the equalisation funds those clubs receive will be allocated already.

The smaller clubs with poor stadium deals will not receive funds from the luxury tax until 2016, because it will be based on football spending in 2015.

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Dees embrace games against top guns

Demons players train on Tuesday. Photo: Penny StephensMelbourne forward Chris Dawes sees his team’s clash with Collingwood on Monday as a “winnable game”, and is looking forward to introducing himself to some of the newer members of his former team.
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“There’s a lot of new faces in their team . . . [Jack] Frost will probably be playing on me,” said Dawes, who returns after a one-match ban. “I haven’t even met that bloke.”

Dawes is irked by suggestions the game is “like a final”, but admits the Demons need big-game experience. “As a team that has aspirations – possibly not this year but in coming years – to be playing in the finals, we need experience in front of big crowds,” he said.

“It’s a winnable game,” he added about a clash in which 80,000 are expected at the MCG.

Coach Paul Roos is also refusing to play the underdog card.

“There’s no point turning up to games to be competitive, at some point you’ve got to turn up to games to win,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to continue to test ourselves and continue to get better.”

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is also refusing to take the match for granted, saying he’s impressed with how Roos is rebuilding a club that has become accustomed to finishing near the bottom of the ladder.

“They have our respect,” he said. “We’ll be going [into] Monday’s game with our eyes wide open, understanding fully what the football they’ve been able to play [and] the discipline they’ve displayed.”

While Melbourne has only managed three wins from 11 rounds, Roos said he was happy with how player attitudes were changing and becoming more competitive. While those changes haven’t resulted in many wins, he has kept his promise to increase the club’s percentage. At the end of the 2013 season, the Demons ended on a miserable 54.1 per cent. Halfway through the 2014 season, they’re on 78.7.

The team’s gutsy effort against top of the ladder Port Adelaide last Saturday – the Demons led by 10 points midway through the third quarter – was something to be proud of, Roos said, although it proved they still had a long way to go to be competitive against the best sides.

“We thought we played really well for about 100 minutes against a top side, but we have to play well for 120 minutes every time.”

The Collingwood clash was a good opportunity for his team to prove it can play “consistent football on a weekly basis”.

Collingwood will be without midfielder Steele Sidebottom after he accepted a three-match ban for rough conduct, but Luke Ball, Dane Swan and Brodie Grundy all trained on Tuesday and could be up for selection.

Jesse White could also be a contender despite suffering a dislocation to a finger last weekend.

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Newcastle Poetry Prize showcases city’s artistic leanings

RECOGNITION: Perennial Newcastle Poetry Prize entrant Magdalena Ball, of Martinsville. Picture: Dean OslandTHE Newcastle Poetry Prize is a driving inspiration for Martinsville writer Magdalena Ball.
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With a full-time job and three kids, she finds a deadline is a useful driving force for creating good poetry.

Ms Ball has been entering the competition since 2004, when she made the shortlist with her collaborative multimedia piece.

She has written two novels, one full-length book of poetry and many chapbooks of poetry.

“I’ve been writing as long as I can remember,” she said.

“The Newcastle Poetry Prize is my go-to. I enter it every year.”

Ms Ball said she thought poetry competitions were a great way to get some recognition and make a name in the industry.

She said it was not just about winning.

“I love the competition because it has Newcastle in the name,” she said.

“It’s close to home and I love the fact that it bolsters the local neighbourhood and gives this area a bit more of an artistic reputation beyond being an industrial city.”

Established and emerging writers alike from all over Australia are preparing for this year’s Newcastle Poetry Prize.

The competition, in its 33rd year, is co-ordinated by the Hunter Writers’ Centre and has been funded by the University of Newcastle since 2005.

The cash prize pool totals $20,000, including $12,000 for first place. There is also a category winner for local Hunter poets and the Harri Jones Memorial Prize for young poets under the age of 36.

“The Newcastle Poetry Prize harnesses the diverse talents from across the country and each year a high calibre of poems from both published and emerging poets are submitted,” university deputy vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Parfitt said.

The competition is judged blind, giving both experienced and novice poets an even playing field.

Twenty-five entries will be compiled in an anthology linked to the competition.

Entries close at 5pm on Friday, June 20.

To read Ms Ball’s work, visit magdalenaball上海后花园m.

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