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Comments Off on WorleyParsons shares surge as Dubai-based Dar Group snags stake

WorleyParsons shares surge as Dubai-based Dar Group snags stake

WorleyParsons shares surge as Dubai-based Dar Group snags stake

Worleyparsons said it had received a “confidential, highly conditional” proposal for all its shares in November. Photo: James AlcockShares in WorleyParsons surged to a two-year high after a Dubai-based consulting group emerged with a 13.35 per cent holding and confirmed it had made an indicative bid for the engineering contractor last year but was knocked back.
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WorleyParsons confirmed on Tuesday it had received a “confidential, highly conditional indicative proposal” on November 14 from Dar Al-Handasah Consultants Shair and Partners (Dar Group) to buy all its shares for $11.80 each.

But after reviewing the proposed scheme of arrangement with its advisors, the board came to the view that it materially undervalued the company and wasn’t in the best interests of shareholders.

“The proposal was highly conditional in relation to financing, due diligence, process, regulatory and other conditions, which created significant execution risk and uncertainty for the company,” WorleyParsons said in a statement.

“The board’s view on value took into account the quality and global platform of the WorleyParsons business, the current low point in oil industry activity, the historical trajectory of previous cyclical recoveries, the cost reduction program that had not yet been fully reflected in earnings and the low operating risk profile of thr WorleyParsons business.”

Dar Group, a privately owned global network of architecture and engineering firms, said its exposure to WorleyParsons comprised of physical shares of 8.61 per cent and a cash-settled equity swap exposure of 4.74 per cent.

WorleyParsons’ shares closed 31.97 per cent higher at $10.65 on Tuesday.

It had bought the stake with a “long-term strategic perspective” and looked forward to being a “supportive shareholder”.

There had been no further discussions between Dar Group and WorleyParsons since the latter rebuffed its proposal in November and Dar Group had “no present intention of initiating discussions with WorleyParsons [over] a change of control transaction”. ​

The company last week posted a $2.4 million interim net loss – its first ever – due to declining sales, restructuring charges and late-paying government clients, sending its shares on their biggest decline in nine months.

Revenue fell to $2.7 billion from $4.2 billion, a result chief executive Andrew Wood said was “in line with market conditions and comparable with our peers in our market sectors”. It said the full impact of cost reductions and improving market conditions were not reflected in current earnings.

‘s mining contractors have been hit by a downturn in the prices of iron ore and other major commodities which has seen major resources firms curb spending.

with Reuters

Comments Off on State starts consultation on Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

State starts consultation on Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

State starts consultation on Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

A VISITING British planning expert and the state’s chief planner have both described Newcastle as a place on the verge of great things at a planning workshop at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday.
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London-based Professor Greg Clark and NSW chief planner Gary White spoke at length about the opportunities and challenges facing Newcastle and the broader Hunter Region at the workshop, hosted by Department of Planning and Environment deputy secretary Brendan Nelson and attended by about 80 people.

On his first visitto Newcastle, Professor Clark said he was surprised by what he’d seen, compared withwhat he’d heard beforehand.

“I thought I was coming to see a city in decline, full of challenges, but when you look at all of the things that are happening right now, it’s already full of opportunities,” Professor Clark said.

Brendan Nelson, NSW Planning and Environment

Mr White, who took the top planning job in NSW after a long career in local government in Queensland, said Newcastle was in effect the opposite of Canberra. Whereas Canberra had been “planned to death, Newcastle had no metropolitan plan”.

Both men talked about a need to develop long-term plans that could be broken down into phases, and which took notice of change as it happened.

Mr White said planners had done quite well until about 10 years ago in managing cycles of change, but the big “structural disruptions” caused by digital technology were creating “change on a scale we have never seen before”.

IMPRESSED: British planning expert Greg Clark and NSW chief planner Gary White extolling Newcastle’s virtues at a workshop on the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan at Fort Scratchley on Tuesday.

Both men said the old method of planning, where industry, residential, health, education and retail were each concentrated in their own zones was no longer working.

There were limits to what planning could achieve but a Greater Newcastle Metropolitan plan –together with a single regional voice to backit – was a necessary first step in promoting the region to governments and employers, as well as potential residents and visitors.

The workshop heardProfessor Clark would return to Newcastle later in the year as work on the metropolitan plan continued.

Asked about better rail links to Sydney, he said there was a risk they might initially suck jobs out of Newcastlebut the benefits would eventually work in both directions.

Light rail and theCBD university campus meantNewcastle was already on the path to renewal.

Comments Off on Commonwealth bout big chance for Rocky

Commonwealth bout big chance for Rocky

Commonwealth bout big chance for Rocky

WAIT OVER: Rocky Jerkic at Steel City Boxing in Hamilton North. Picture: Michael Parris n champion Rocky Jerkic will end a long and frustrating wait when he fights for the vacant Commonwealth super-welterweight title in Melbourne on Friday night.
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The Newcastle-trained boxer from Brisbane will have the chance to “open doors” to bigger fights if he overcomes unbeaten Victorian Anthony Buttigieg at The Melbourne Pavilion.

The 28-year-old mandatory challenger won a purse bid last year to host a Commonwealth title bout againstLiam Williams, but the Welshman relinquished his belt instead of travelling to .

Jerkic has a 15-0 record, including 12 knockouts, and scored a celebrated comeback win over Shannon King to win the national title in late 2015.

He has struggled to find willing opponents in since then, but trainer Rob Fogarty said a win on Friday would help establish him in the international arena.

“I don’t think Williams wanted to take the risk on an undefeated kid,” the Steel City Boxing trainer said on Tuesday before flying to Melbourne with his charge.

“No one else in wants to fight him.

“We’ve put the challenge out to Mundine, everyone, and they’ve all knocked it back.

“At least Buttigieg, you’ve got to give him props for stepping up.

“I know for a fact he’s primed, ready to go.

“This is the first guy in well over 12 months who has even put his hand up to fight Rocky.”

Fogarty said he had watched Jarrett Hurd score a ninth-round technical knockout of fellow American Tony Harrison to win the IBF super-welterweight world title last weekend at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, and said Jerkic was “definitely on a par” with both fighters.

He said Jerkic would challenge Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation champion Yutaka Oishi if he beat Buttigieg.

“Without a doubt this is the biggest fight of Rocky’s career. This will open some doors for him,” he said.

“Within 30 days we’ll know if we fight the guy in Japan or we can bring it back here.

“After that, that should put him in the top 15 in the world in the WBC.”

Buttigieg, at 171cm, is giving away 12cm in height to Jerkicbut has won all 12 of his fights, three by knockout.

He has won four of those fights by split decision, but Fogarty said Buttigieg had taken two months off work to prepare for the 12-round fight.

“He’s short, nuggety, got a walk-up style. Good defensively,” Fogarty said. “I’ve watched plenty of tape on this kid. He is strong.”

Comments Off on Extent of Sydney’s Bankstown Line closure revealed in government report

Extent of Sydney’s Bankstown Line closure revealed in government report

Extent of Sydney’s Bankstown Line closure revealed in government report

The Bankstown Line will be converted to carry single-deck, driverless metro trains. Photo: Simon AleknaCommuters face the closure of Sydney’s Bankstown Line for up to two months each year for five years from 2019 and more than the usual number of shut downs at weekends to allow for construction of a new multibillion-dollar metro train line.
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Those closures are in addition to the shut down of the rail line for three to six months towards the end of the construction phase of the project in late 2023.

The extent of the disruptions to tens of thousands of commuters who travel on the 13.5-kilometre stretch of track is detailed in an infrastructure report on the Sydenham-to-Bankstown component of the $20 billion Sydney metro rail line.

The report said track possessions – when trains would not be running – would occur during each of the December-January school holidays between 2019 and 2024, as well as the two-week holidays in July of each year during the period.

As well as more weekend possessions than the typical four a year, multiple tracks through Sydenham Station – a major junction on the rail network – would be impacted during night times and “in some instances continuously for some days at a time”.

The report said the track possessions at Sydenham Station would affect trains on the East Hills, Bankstown and Illawarra lines.

Buses are the most likely option for transporting commuters when the line is closed for construction.

The report said track possessions would need to extend beyond Sydenham and Bankstown stations to “facilitate alternative train and bus operational requirements”.

The Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor Alliance, which is opposed to the conversion of the line, said the lives of commuters would be severely disrupted.

“We have a perfectly good rail line already,” spokesman Peter Olive said.

“All the potential benefits of the metro can be delivered by retaining and improving the existing service and Sydney Trains’ network.”

But Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the government had chosen track possessions during the school holidays to limit disruption to commuters.

“At the end of the day there is going to be pain associated with putting that metro train in. We have been honest and upfront with that,” he said on Monday.

He urged people concerned about the line’s conversion to “look at the bigger picture in terms of the delivery of a metro train”.

“They’re in a corridor of Sydney where there’s going to be 30,000 new apartment dwellings. People won’t be able to get onto trains unless we invest like we are with a new metro service,” he said.

Mr Constance said he had a “clear-cut expectation” that the management team overseeing the project reduce the final possession period from six months to three.

More information on the timing and duration of rail track possessions will be outlined in an environmental impact statement to be released in the middle of this year.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said major works on stations and bridges, as well as earthworks, would be undertaken during the track possession periods.

“We are looking to use quieter travel times, such as nights, weekends and school holidays to impact the least amount of customers,” he said.

The first single-deck trains are due to begin running on the converted Bankstown line in 2024, which will form part of stage two of the metro railway that continues on from Sydenham to the central business district and Chatswood.

An existing 13km line between Epping and Chatswood in Sydney’s north will also be closed for seven months from late next year to allow for completion of the first stage of the metro rail project.

The first section of the new line from Rouse Hill in the northwest to Chatswood is scheduled to be opened in 2019, the same year as the next state election.

Comments Off on Former Brothers for Life figures found guilty of Joe Antoun’s murder

Former Brothers for Life figures found guilty of Joe Antoun’s murder

Former Brothers for Life figures found guilty of Joe Antoun’s murder

A CCTV camera captured Joe Antoun’s shooter outside his home. Photo: NSW Police CCTV footage shows Brothers For Life leader Farhad Qaumi (left) and Pasquale Barbaro at Star City casino in 2014. Photo: Supplied
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Widow of murdered man Joseph Antoun, Tegan Mullins, leaves the Downing Centre on Tuesday. Photo: Ben Rushton

Nemer Antoun outside court after his brother’s killers were found guilty on Tuesday. Photo: Ben Rushton

Two former Brothers for Life figures have been found guilty of murdering standover man Joe Antoun at his Sydney home.

Mr Antoun was shot four times through the screen door of his Strathfield home on December 16, 2013, in front of his wife, Tegan, and with his children inside.

A CCTV camera outside his home captured a man in a hooded jumper running up his driveway, waiting at the door and fleeing after firing a succession of shots.

It was alleged former Brothers for Life gang Blacktown chapter leader Farhad Qaumi and his brother Mumtaz Qaumi had accepted a contract to kill Mr Antoun in exchange for money related to the purchase of a kebab shop.

Construction boss Elias “Les” Elias was behind the purchase of that business for $190,000, which was well-above an advertised asking price of $25,000 on Gumtree.

There had been long-standing animosity between Elias, who is now in the Philippines, and Mr Antoun over a soured business deal.

The Crown’s star witness was a person referred to as “witness L”, who fired the fatal shots at Mr Antoun.

He claimed in his evidence he was engaged by BFL chapter boss Farhad, a man who put “fear in the members’ hearts”, to carry out the shooting.

Under instructions to say he was “Adam from TNT”, witness L knocked on Mr Antoun’s door, claimed to have had a “package for Joe” before shooting him four times.

Witness L has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for murder.

After pleading not guilty, Mumtaz and Farhad faced a judge-alone trial in the NSW Supreme Court last year.

In delivering a lengthy judgment on Tuesday morning, Justice Peter Hamill found both men guilty of murder.

In a bizarre move, both men refused to come up from the cells to sit in court for the judgment, claiming through their legal teams they would “physically resist” attempts to bring them into court.

Justice Hamill said he did not intend to put the physical safety of the accused or corrective services in jeopardy but conceded it was an “unusual situation”.

Justice Hamill carefully detailed the numerous conflicts Mr Antoun had with some notorious figures in Sydney’s underworld and construction industry, including Jim Byrnes and Pasquale Barbaro.

The court heard that Mr Barbaro, who was shot dead last November, hated Mr Antoun and the pair had been in a dispute.

Justice Hamill accepted that Mr Barbaro, who grew close to the Qaumis towards the end of 2013, had a motive to kill Mr Antoun.

“The evidence does not allow a clear finding as to whether Pasquale Barbaro or others may have stood behind Elias in this enterprise but I suspect that he did,” Mr Hamill said.

It was not necessary for the Crown to say who stood behind the killing, he added.

However he rejected the submission that Mr Barbaro, through a rollover associate of the Brothers for Life gang – identified as witness M – organised the killing.

Witness M had a friendship with Mr Barbaro that pre-dated a relationship with the Qaumis. Witness M had also been linked to the Hamzy family, of whom Mohammed – also known as “LC” – was the leader of the BFL’s Bankstown chapter.

Witness M gave evidence over seven days during the trial, claiming that Farhad said that Elias offered money to kill Mr Antoun.

Colourful business figure “Big Jim” Byrnes also had a toxic relationship with Mr Antoun, the court heard, but called up Burwood police after learning of his murder to deny any involvement.

Mr Antoun was also a close friend and business associate of construction industry figure George Alex.

The Qaumis will face a sentence hearing in April.

Comments Off on ‘You can’t use corn syrup and call it honey’: The war over ‘fake milk’

‘You can’t use corn syrup and call it honey’: The war over ‘fake milk’

‘You can’t use corn syrup and call it honey’: The war over ‘fake milk’

Dairy Connect says the use of the word ‘milk’ on non-dairy products could confuse consumers. Photo: Nicolas Walker Which milk? A nuts question. Photo: Roxiller
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‘s dairy farmers are calling for a “truth in labelling crackdown” on the way the word “milk” is used by makers of plant-based milk products.

Dairy Connect, a lobby group for NSW dairy farmers, says “milk” is defined by Food Standards as the mammary secretion of milking animals, and the use of the term on products such as soy and almond milks was confusing consumers.

“We’re not trying to constrict a product, it’s about appropriate labelling so that whether it’s milked from a mammal or a product from a plant, people can make an informed decision,” says its chief executive Shaughn Morgan.

“There are other titles they can use, and in some instances, they can call it water, juice, or another name.”

In the US, a bipartisan group of 32 congressmen has sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration, urging it to investigate and take action against makers of “fake milk” that doesn’t come from cows.

They believe the use of the word “milk” on soy, almond, and other types of plant-based products is misleading, deceptive and harmful to the dairy industry.

In , dairy farmers recently raised the issue at a Senate inquiry hearing into the dairy industry.

Dairy milk sales have grown by 13 per cent in volume over the past five years. To compare, plant-based milk sales have increased by about 30 per cent in the same time.

Non-dairy milks now occupy 9.4 per cent of the market by value and 6.1 per cent by volume – reflecting the high price points.

Dairy says plant-based milks had some impact on dairy milk sales, but these alternatives also competed with each other.

“In recent years almond and coconut products have made gains at the expense of soy and rice-based beverages,” says its senior analyst John Droppert.

“Furthermore, it’s probably fair to say many consumers of plant-based beverages are unlikely to consume dairy products for philosophical or other reasons.”

Pureharvest, which makes non-dairy milks, says the dictionary definition of “milk” referred to the juice of nuts and coconuts.

“[Using ‘water’ and ‘juice’] would be misleading. The term milk with the appropriate descriptor is the correct and proper way to inform consumers what the product is,” it says.

“Why this fear from the dairy industry about words and terms that have been in use and understood by consumers for a long time?” it says.

Mitch Humphries, president of the n Buffalo Industry Council, says it was considering how it will support Dairy Connect because it was also frustrated by the misuse of the word.

“You can’t use corn syrup and call it honey and you don’t expect margarine to be branded as butter – there would be an uproar if that started happening,” he says.

“Concerns about milk substitutes hijacking milk’s respected name seem to be gaining increasing discussion.”

Lauren Brisbane, a camel breeder and milk supplier, says the use of the term on non-dairy products was “pretty offensive and very misleading” and she supported Dairy Connect’s move.

Mr Morgan says another issue was that non-dairy milks lacked the nutritional and health benefits provided by fresh dairy milk.

Nutritionist Susie Burrell says the biggest issues with drinks such as almond and rice milks was they were naturally low in protein and calcium, so shoppers should choose ones with added calcium and steer clear of added sugars.

“Oat milk also contains the added benefit of dietary fibre, which may help to lower blood cholesterol levels,” she says.

“Soy has one of the highest sources of plant protein … is also lower in saturated fat than dairy milk, and in general there is regular, reduced fat and low fat soy milk available to suit your preference.”

The Food Standards Code says: “The context within which foods such as soy milk or soy ice cream are sold is indicated by use of the name soy; indicating that the product is not a dairy product to which a dairy standard applies.”

John McQueen, n Dairy Farmers’ interim chief executive, says the status quo was appropriate, and calling for a specific ban was a “waste of breath”.

Industry group Soy did not respond to Fairfax Media’s request for comment before deadline. Latest consumer affairs newsSavvy Consumer – Interact with us on Facebook

Comments Off on ‘You could do Year 12 English without reading a book’

‘You could do Year 12 English without reading a book’

‘You could do Year 12 English without reading a book’

Students will now study fewer texts for HSC English Photo: Marina NeilA former chief HSC English examiner has described the overhaul of the HSC as an “unprecedented watering down” of the English syllabuses and warned students could finish Year 12 “without reading a book”.
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Jackie Manuel, a Sydney University academic who has also been involved in reforms to the state’s English syllabuses for kindergarten to Year 10, said she was dismayed that it would no longer be mandatory for year 12 students to read a novel or study a poem.

Dr Manuel, who was chief HSC English examiner from 2007 to 2011, described the sweeping changes to the syllabus as “vandalism of the subject”.

“This is sending a strong message to students and the community that fiction and poetry, two of the most sophisticated forms of human expression in language, do not matter,” Dr Manuel said.

“We will have a situation where if a student is not reading a book at home, then they could go through their final year without reading a book.”

Students doing advanced English will still have Shakespeare as a mandatory text, but the number of texts they will be required to study has been reduced from five to four, while in standard English, students will now only have to do three texts.

“Did the architects of the new syllabus stop to consider the implications of deciding that reading novels and poetry in Year 12 was of so little educational value that it should now, after more than 100 years in NSW English, be an optional extra in the final year of schooling,” Dr Manuel said.

The NSW Education Standards Authority, formerly the Board of Studies, has overhauled 22 HSC courses, releasing new syllabuses for English, maths, science and history. The authority says the changes are designed to bring more depth and rigour to the HSC.

A spokesman for the authority said studying fewer texts allowed “more time for deeper examination of quality literature and for refining writing skills”.

Dr Manuel said a new module for standard and advanced English courses, the Craft of Writing, was a “fantastic” addition to the syllabus. The module will focus on honing students’ writing skills with an emphasis on improving their grammar, spelling and punctuation.

But she warned that capable students would be drawn to studying the lowest level English Studies course, which will for the first time count towards a student’s ATAR.

“I am sure we will see a flight from the more rigorous course to the easier course to maximise their ATAR and if are a year 12 kid, you would be mad not to consider this,” Dr Manuel said.

The spokesman for the standards authority said: “The English Studies course is highly valued for its flexibility and capacity to address the diverse needs of a specific cohort of students.”

He said the the authority was consulting on “exam specifications” for the English courses and how it would apply to English Studies.

“NESA is aware of the diverse views on this matter and is working on implementation measures to ensure there is no incentive for high achieving students to enrol in this course to fulfil the requirements of 2 units of English for their HSC,” the spokesman said.

Comments Off on Lily Allen quits Twitter after hateful trolling about her stillborn son

Lily Allen quits Twitter after hateful trolling about her stillborn son

Lily Allen quits Twitter after hateful trolling about her stillborn son

Lily Allen is taking a break from Twitter. Photo: InstagramSinger Lily Allen has announced that she is taking a break from Twitter after she was subjected to hateful trolling over the weekend about her stillborn son.
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The 31-year-old became the target of abuse after attempting to highlight prejudice shown towards immigrants and Muslims, by replacing the words “immigrants” and “muslims” with “pensioners” in a series of tweets.

Allen’s tweets were met with vitriol from other twitter users, who read her messages literally. Trolls turned on the singer, unleashing a cruel personal attack – including taunts about her mental health.

The hateful abuse prompted Allen to disclose that she experiences PTSD after she lost her son when six months pregnant, as well as postnatal depression and bipolar disorder.  [email protected] I don’t hate all pensioners just the extremists.Can’t you see this country is being taken over by hate extremist pensioners.— Lily (@lilyallen) February 25, [email protected]_2345 I DO have mental health issues.Bi-polar,post natal depression, and PTSD, does that make my opinion void.— Lily (@lilyallen) February 25, 2017

As Allen, who is mum to Marnie, 4, and Ethel, 5, disclosed more details about the loss of her son William, in 2010, the abuse escalated. @[email protected]_2345 when I lay in a hospital bed with my deceased son stuck between my legs halfway out of my body for 10 hours.— Lily (@lilyallen) February 25, 2017My timeline is full of the most disgusting, sexist, misogynistic, racist shit. Really, new levels. I’m no masochist so I’ll be back x— Lily (@lilyallen) February 25, 2017

Her account has since been taken over by a friend “Dennis” who advised Lily’s followers that he would only be communicating via gifs. Hi , I’m Dennis,I’ll be looking after lily’s twitter for a while.I can only communicate in gif form,and I’m going on a hate blocking spree.— Lily (@lilyallen) February 25, [email protected]@TrumpDraws (by Dennis) pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/OG1HLXL2DS— Lily (@lilyallen) February 25, 20[email protected] re-read sweetie, where you read pensioner, replace word with migrant/Muslim.Lily trolled you all (Dennis) pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/MKIxRUhYQ8— Lily (@lilyallen) February 26, 2017

Lily briefly popped back online to share that despite reporting the abuse to Twitter, no action had been taken. “Please sort this out, please,” she wrote. [email protected]@twitter every time,please sort this out,please. (Lily) pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/6O5FL18utz— Lily (@lilyallen) February 26, 2017

Along with the torrent of abuse, however, Allen has also received an outpouring of support from her followers.

“Please, PLEASE ignore the vile trolls and haters spreading heartache with their toxic words,” reads one comment posted to Allen’s Instragram account. “You know your intentions and what’s in your heart. Whether people are a “Lily Allen” fan or not, it’s clear to us that you are passionate about something and want to give a voice to others who cannot be heard. So please ignore the BS and remember why you’re doing what you do.”

“I have also been thru the horror of a still birth at 6 months,” another mum shared. ” People are always gonna hate babe, I know you ignore them but it also hurts, I may be a stranger but I know how you feel, always here for you.”

Comments Off on Rugby League: Remodelled Newcastle Knights out to prove critics wrongpoll

Rugby League: Remodelled Newcastle Knights out to prove critics wrongpoll

Rugby League: Remodelled Newcastle Knights out to prove critics wrongpoll

Nathan BrownARMED with a remodelled squad and a modified, more explosive game plan, Newcastle coach Nathan Brown is confident the Knights can prove thecritics wrong.
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One day out from the NRL season kick-off, the Knights have been all but written off with most of the game’s experts having condemned Brown’s men to the easybeats basket.

Betting companies have the Knights listed at $151 outsiders to win the premiership.They are$1.60 favourites to collect a third straight wooden spoon and a $5.50 chance to topple the Warriors in Sunday’s season opener in Auckland –the longest-priced team in round one.

Brown said the scepticism was based on what people “have seen in the past two years”.

“I can understand why they are saying what they are saying,” he said. “We would like to think we can do better than what people are saying.We feel our younger players definitely have a lot of growth. And we feel the players whowe have brought to the club have added something extra as well.”

Confirmation of the group’s improvement came in a 44-0 rout over a strong Canberra Raiders outfit in a trial at Seiffert Oval.

“We felt we had a reasonable trial performance against Canberra,” Brown said.

“We do know it was a trial and Canberra were without some good players but we did get some confidence out of it. We are certainly in better shape than where we were this time last year.”

New arrivals Jamie Buhrer (back row), Josh Starling (prop) and Ken Sio (wing) have been named in the starting side for the Warriors clash. Anthony Tupou is on an extended bench, while Rory Kostjasyn is recovering from throat surgery.

Apart from the young tyros and fresh faces,Brown said skipper Trent Hodkinson was“like a new player”and strike weapons Dane Gagai, Sione Mata’utia and Nathan Ross were playing in positions to“do their best work”.

Hodkinson hasbenefited from a“tailored” pre-season and Brown said the early signs were“very good”.

“Hodko has his own expectations,” Brown said.“We saw in the Canberra game when the forwards do a good job what a great job he can do.As long as Hodko is running freely, I’m sure he will provide a lot of good stuff for the club.”

Brown said the 11 rookies whomade their NRL debuts in 2016 were “bigger, stronger and faster”after what was, in many cases, their first, full pre-season.

“The biggest thing for us was improving physically in the pre-season,” he said.“The reality for younger players is from pre-season-one-to-two-to-three, if they are making the right sacrifices and working hard enough, they naturally improve.We have worked on things in the pre-season that we needed to improve and put a lot of time into one or two key areas.”

Brown is an unabashed fan of the Raiders and Penrith and the “footy” they play and indicated a similar shift at the Knights.

“We are not reinventing the game but we have made some slight adjustments to get the best out of our talent,” he said.

“Our back-row this year is probably not the biggest back-row, but we would like to think there is plenty of football in there in Mitch Barnett, Jamie Buhrer, Sione Mata’utia and young Sam Stoneand Luke Yates.They have all got a bit of footy in them and a bit of leg speed.

“Us trying to bash and barge our way to victory all the time with a smaller side in some areas is not going to be the smartest thing. Those guys have plenty of footy in them and plenty of leg speed. I’d like to think they will use it to the best of their advantage.”

The Knights face a tough task first up in Auckland where they have one win in the past 11 seasons.

“I can’t comment on the other 10 years, I can only comment on last year,” Brown said.“I think we are better equipped than we were last year but it is going to take a 17-man team effort.”

Comments Off on Dry autumn to follow Newcastle and the Hunter’s record summer

Dry autumn to follow Newcastle and the Hunter’s record summer

Dry autumn to follow Newcastle and the Hunter’s record summer

REFUGE: Beachgoers seek relief at Bar Beach in January, during a record summer for hot days of 35 degrees or hotter in Newcastle and the Hunter. Picture: Marina NeilA WARM, dry autumn is predictedtofollowa relentless, record Huntersummer, which broughtmore extremely hot daysthan ever before.
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Newcastleexperienceda record nine days of 35 degrees or hotter from December through February, andmoreextreme summer heat was felt further inland.

Cessnock had thirty-two days of35 degrees or above duringsummer,andthirteen days of40 degrees or hotter.

In Singleton,thirty-four days were35 degrees or hotter, and seventeen days were at least 40 degrees.

From February 10 to 12, the town experienced three days in a row of more than45 degrees.

That heatwave included Saturday, February 11, the hottest day ever recorded in Singleton, Maitland, Cessnock and Williamtown. The temperature reached 47.2 degrees in Singleton.

That markbroke the February record by almost three degrees.

“For southeast , summer 2016/17 was exceptional for the large number of days above high temperature thresholds,” the Bureau of Meteorology said in a special climate report for February.

“The heat often extended to the east coast, and populated centres such as Sydney and Newcastle had record numbers of days of 35 degreesor above.”

The bureau said the hot days,anda stark lack of cool changes, wereinfluenced by warm sea-surface temperatures that kept overnight conditionsmuch warmer than normal.

A high-pressure ridgeover NSWalsobrought warm, stagnantair.

Those conditions are likely to persist, the bureau said in its seasonal outlook, increasing the chance ofa warm and drier-than-average autumn.

The bureau noted the state’s trend of rising temperatures overseveral years.

“The 2017 warm event is the latest in a sequence of prolonged or intense warm spells that have affected roughly every six weeks since the end of 2012 and, overall, the time between heat events is shortening,” theclimate report said.

After the record heat, Newcastle’s last three daysof summer were wet with temperatures in the low to mid-20s.

A high of 23 degrees and a possible storm are forecast in Newcastle on Wednesday, the first day of autumn. More rain and highs of 24 degrees are expected on Thursday and Friday.