Dream comes true for Catt with early wake-up call

LEWIE Catt was fast asleep yesterday morning when his phone started buzzing at 4am.
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It was a text message from former Newcastle representative teammate Corey Te Koeti telling him the news he had been dreaming of through 18 months of hard work.

Te Koeti had read on the Newcastle Herald website that Catt was the only Hunter player in the preliminary Combined Country squad to play the British and Irish Lions at Hunter Stadium on June 11.

“I found out at 4am when the article went up online,” Catt said. “I got a lovely message from a mate who was on dogwatch at 4am. I was really excited, jumped up and sent a few messages around. It was great.”

The Wanderers centre was one of 43 NSW and Queensland country origin players named in the initial squad yesterday. The list, which includes 18 Super Rugby players and five former Wallabies, will be cut to 23 on Friday. The team go into camp on June 6.

With many Super Rugby players expected to be ruled unavailable in the lead-up to the game by their franchises or through injury, Catt appears an excellent chance of making the final team.

And the 25-year-old is daring to dream.

“It is the biggest thing every 12 years in country rugby and I’m just thankful it’s at the right time for me,” he said.

“I’ve hit my straps and am producing good footy. I’m fit, I’ve had a good pre-season and rep season with [Newcastle coach] Dan Beckett as well.

“Everything has just fallen into place. There’s been no shortage of hard work put into it, though.”

The Lions game had been a source of motivation through 18 months of toil and focus.

“It has been in the back of my mind since I made Country last year and thought to myself, ‘Hey, I might actually get a shot at this,”‘ he said.

“I have been working towards it and I’ve made a few sacrifices with work, putting hours on hold and my whole social life as well. It’s a bit monotonous just getting up, working, training, sleeping.

“That’s what it’s been like for the past 18 months, but this is what I’ve been training for.”

Catt was one of seven NSW Country players to make the first line-up, which included seven from Queensland Country, seven from Sydney and four from Brisbane club rugby.

He was surprised more Hunter players did not make the cut given Newcastle won their sixth straight NSW Country championship this year.

Among the 18 Super Rugby players are former Wallabies Greg Holmes (13 Tests), Ben Daley (3), Nic Henderson (3), Dan Palmer (1) and Beau Robinson (1), although doubt hangs over their participation.

“We are aware that some of the [Super Rugby] guys may ultimately not be available,” Combined Country coach Cam Blades said.

Tickets to the match are on sale at proticket南京夜网.au.

Full squad in Details, Page 57

Lewie Catt

Blues try to stop Waratah’s Falealii   

WARATAHS halfback Auvasa Falealii has terrorised his Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union opponents since arriving on the scene this season.
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The Kiwi import’s strength, running game and rugby nous helped crush University 68-24 to maintain the Tahs’ flawless start to the season last week.

Today the Tahs face their biggest test to date against the second-placed Wanderers in the top-of-the-table match at No.2 Sportsground.

Wanderers coach Todd Louden said the key to silencing the Tahs No. 9 would be through his forwards.

“If our forwards are good and defending well and controlling possession, then that’s going to limit his opportunity somewhat,” Louden said.

“At the end of the day, if we focus on just one player, we’re going to struggle, because from what I’m led to believe they have threats elsewhere, too.

“Their No. 8 [Pala Palupe] is a good player and Hayden Pedersen is a good player, and they have a fair back three, so it’s the forwards where it’ll be won or lost.

“Wanderers forwards have never been rated, but we’re very workmanlike, and if we’re at our best tomorrow, we’re in with a really good chance.”

Pedersen, in particular, has been unstoppable. In seven games the Waratahs player-coach has scored 16 tries.

An intriguing battle today will be Pedersen lining up against Two Blues outside centre Lewie Catt.

Catt’s confidence will be high after a successful Cockatoos campaign, which led him to being the only Newcastle player named in the Combined Country preliminary squad to face the British and Irish Lions.

“Hayden has a wealth of experience as well,” Louden said. “Lewie is still learning the game in a lot of ways.

“He’s a deep thinker of the game, so I think that match-up will be key.”

Pedersen is also expecting a torrid time against Catt.

“It’ll be a good battle,” Pedersen said. “We’re different players as he’s a big guy, a crash man, and I’m more little and nippy.”

The Tahs have scored on average 50 points per match this season, many coming through their domination in the backline from broken play.

However, Pedersen has not been entirely satisfied with the Waratahs’ forward pack and has sensed weakness.

“We need some improvement in the key areas of our clean-out, and obviously getting stronger around the fringes,” he said.

“They have a quality front row and [are] strong throughout the pack. So I think we’ve been playing well, but we can still improve in that area.”

Auvasa Falealii

GREG RAY: New name for crazy

THE War on Terror has a new dimension: “lone wolf terrorists” on the streets of London. In days gone by a couple of nasties who chopped people up with meat cleavers would have been called criminals or crazy. Criminals were charged, tried and jailed. Crazies were charged, tried, found to be mad and put away somewhere. The judge would recommend more money be spent on mental health facilities and nothing would happen. Again. But when the nasties rave something about Islam, then it’s time for another squillion dollars to be channelled into the War on Terror. Does anybody feel safer?
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League’s tough-guy image took a hammering this week, when a couple of first-grade players accused a girl of assaulting them, forcing them out of a house and locking the door on them. Details of the allegations are unclear and conflicting, but by some accounts the girl bashed a footy player with her eye socket and a shoe, sending him scurrying. It’s a man’s game.

Meanwhile, debate raged among politicians over whether gambling has intruded too far into television broadcasts of league. Speculation is raging over whether the government might move to outlaw some of the more allegedly over-the-top practices of sports bookies. Top sports betting firms have offered short odds on the prospect of legislative action. Care to bet on the outcome?

The Ford Falcon, that icon of middle-of-the-road Aussie motoring, will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a decision by Ford to stop building cars in Australia. The company said it would shut its manufacturing plants in 2016, putting at least 1200 people out of work.

Holden’s Commodore, meanwhile, is set to soldier on for at least a little longer, even though the only cars most people buy these days are SUVs and 4WDs. You’re not taking the Commodore. Not just yet, anyway.

The Australian government this week announced that the resources boom had officially passed its peak. The timing couldn’t be lousier, with tax receipts down and the manufacturing sector shedding jobs almost as quickly as the mining support sector.

Looks like Australia may be a late arrival at the global economic slumber party.

The Hunter coal industry declared this week that most of the black stuff being shipped out of Newcastle was being sold at a loss.

This was all the fault of: (A) unions and workers getting too much pay, (B) unreasonable environmental rules delaying mine approvals and (C) people taking mining for granted. Expect to see at least two of those problems fixed in the near future.

The leader of the NSW opposition, some bloke called Robbo, showed his credentials by fronting an enviro meeting in the Hunter. Somebody asked him about the future of coal and he said his party was working on a policy to phase it out. Of course he was “set up” by one of those sly geniuses in the green movement. Cough. He really meant that he totally loves all mining, everywhere, all the time. Maybe next time he could say coal is extremely important at present, but because it can’t last forever we need to start thinking beyond it. Would it be legal to say that?

The blazing meteor that was the career of mining dealmaker Nathan Tinkler may, like the boom itself, have passed its zenith, if the BRW rich list is any guide. Tinks, who now lives in Singapore, tumbled out of the top 200, shedding a comet-trail of dollars and leaving many fond memories in his wake.

Wanna buy a house?

The Aussie dollar took a bit of a tumble, again, following some murmurings by that lost soul Ben Bernanke, who runs the United States Federal Reserve. Every time poor Ben suggests that, sooner or later, the money-printing might have to slow down or stop, the markets instantly panic. He’s like Casey Jones, shovelling IOUs into the boiler of the American Express. Except the train isn’t moving. It’s just blowing smoke, steam and sparks into the air to baffle everybody.

I’m definitely baffled.

EDITORIAL: Council’s kitchen rules

SOME people will be eager to paint Newcastle City Council’s push for a bigger role in inspecting home kitchens used to make food for sale as a money-grab.
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That conclusion will come naturally to many, since it is no secret that the council is desperately pressed for funds and keen to increase its income. The sometimes controversial policies of the council in the sphere of parking compliance have helped maintain awareness of that situation.

But it makes little sense to rush to judgment on the home kitchen inspection proposal until all the detail is available.

The council can certainly argue, correctly, that food safety is a vital public health concern. If its inspectors do their work carefully and tactfully, the community may be glad of the extra scrutiny.

There is nothing new about authorities expecting high standards from home kitchens that are used to make food for sale. Many local councils publish detailed information to help people comply with national food safety standards and a quick look at typical council information sheets demonstrates that most of the requirements are simple common sense.

Requirements vary a great deal too, depending on the kinds of foods being prepared. Some products obviously carry a much higher risk than others, and no sensible council inspectors would insist on applying the same standards to a granny who makes toffees for a school fete as they would to a more commercially oriented operation handling meat and other potentially risky perishables.

Indeed, the hypothetical toffee-making granny should not even reach the inspectors’ radars. An annual inspection fee of more than $400 would put an end to her endeavours, to the detriment of her fund-raising beneficiaries.

No doubt some senior council officers would have cast an eye over the financial implications of the new kitchen inspection scheme, presumably concluding that the extra fees – on top of those already levied on home salons and similar businesses – couldn’t hurt the city’s bottom line.

The scrutiny being applied to council finances is apparent in the close interest being paid by lord mayor Jeff McCloy, who yesterday declared himself at least mildly pleased with a modest improvement in performance.

An operating deficit of $30 million is still looming this year, but despite a variety of problems the council is ahead of its estimates for the latest quarter, a rare event not seen since September 2011.

In that context, any new source of cash must be welcome.

Casciaroli returns to Broadmeadow Magic

NCH SPORT. Soccer – Broadmeadow Magic V Jets Youth at Wanderers Oval, Broadmeadow. Pic shows Magic’s Daniel Casciaroli and Jets’ Koh Satake. Sunday 19th May 2013. NCH. Newcastle. PIC by MAX MASON-HUBERS MMHDANIEL Casciaroli knows not to expect a friendly reception when he returns to Darling Street Oval tomorrow in Broadmeadow colours.
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But the 24-year-old, who spent five seasons at Hamilton, wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to receive but I’ve got a lot of good friends there as well, so it shouldn’t be too bad,” Casciaroli said.

“There will probably be a few people who won’t be saying hello.

“But these are the games you want to play. It’s just always a good game, Magic against Olympic. They are the best games of the season.”

Top-of-the-table Magic take on traditional rivals Olympic in the Northern NSW State League match of round eight, and Casciaroli’s clash with his former club will be a highlight.

The defensive midfielder missed two months of Hamilton’s minor premiership-winning campaign last season because of a trip to Italy, then struggled to break back into the starting line-up.

The electrician moved to Magic, where he had one season as a teenager, to play under Robert Virgili and Bobby Naumov and try to fill the sizeable void left by injured club champion John Bennis.

“I’ve had Bobby Naumov and Chilla before as coaches and I just like the way they go about things and the project they had and I wanted to get on board,” he said.

“And the club is obviously second to none in the region with everything they’ve got.

“I’m really enjoying this year. We’ve got a really good team and everyone gets along well.

“And if we keep going like we are going, we will be on top of the table at the end of the year, I’m sure.”

Virgili said Casciaroli had “had stepped up to another level” in filling the big shoes of Bennis over the first four rounds of the season.

A calf injury sidelined Casciaroli for two games but Virgili said the key man was slowly returning to his best.

“In a week or two I think he will back to where he was and that’s important for us,” Virgili said.

“Everything revolves around him, and it’s a role that suits him.

“We need him to run things in midfield, and when he gets over his injury he’ll be stamping his authority there again.”

Magic’s injury problems have shifted to their defence recently and they will be without Luke Virgili, Jon Griffiths and Ben Higgins tomorrow.

While Broadmeadow are fresh from a 2-0 win over the Jets Youth, Hamilton are backing up from a 3-2 loss to Edgeworth in which Matt Swan left the field with a hamstring injury after 20 minutes.

Olympic coach Michael Bolch said Swan was out and Ben Koina would take his place tomorrow.

Bolch said his side needed to improve in all areas and adjust quickly to changes he was trying to make in their playing style.

“We were second to the ball too much last week,” Bolch said. “We did well with the ball when we had it, but we lacked a bit of penetration in the front third.

“We’ve changed things around a little bit and are trying not to play as direct as we have been.

“But we turned over a little bit of ball and we really didn’t have a great deal in that top third. It will take us a couple of weeks to get it right.”