Thousands protest at Manly Beach over WA shark cull

Protesters gather at Manly beach to denounce Western Australia’s new policy to catch and kill sharks. Photo: Damian ShawThousands of people brandishing hand-painted posters, inflatable shark toys, shark hats and other shark-related paraphernalia braved the heat of Manly Beach  on Saturday to protest  at the  West Australian government’s shark cull.
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‘‘Crooks use hooks’’ declared one sign, ‘‘Barnett can bite me’’ declared another, while in the distance a woman in a head-to-toe shark costume wandered on Manly’s packed promenade.

The colourful crowd assembled on the sand was one of a series of gatherings held across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to protest against Western Australia’s decision to capture and shoot large sharks caught in drum lines one kilometre from the state’s  shores. The decision follows a string of fatal shark attacks in recent years.

The first shark was caught and killed on Australia Day.

Events were held in at least 10 locations across the nation, from the NSW central coast to Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Cottesloe, Broome and Perth in WA. Protests were also held in New Zealand and South Africa.

The protests came hours after an under-size two-metre shark, believed to be a tiger shark, was pulled from a baited drum line off Perth’s Leighton Beach by fisheries officers.

The animal – the second to be killed under the program – was dumped further offshore.

Protest co-organiser Alice Forrest, an aquarist at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, said the cull was not based on science. ‘‘He’s killing endangered species,’’ she said, referring to West Australian Premier Colin Barnett. ‘‘He’s making a lot of people very angry. He thinks it’s going to help with tourism. If anything, it’s giving WA a bit of a redneck reputation and making people not want to go out there.’’

Among the crowd was artist and designer Angela Van Boxtel, who said the WA government would be better off promoting greater public understanding of sharks and the low risk they actually pose to swimmers. Over the past 50 years, an average of one person per year has been killed by a shark, according to data from the Australian Shark Attack File.

‘‘I grew up in the Netherlands and was raised with this whole fear of what sharks are about. When I came here and learnt more and more I started thinking, well, this is silly,’’ she said.

‘‘If you’re not educated then you are fearful. The government should … show the real facts and educate tourists about the amazing wildlife we have.’’

Sitting on the bright blue beach towel was Edward Hunter and his family, who drove an hour and a half from western Sydney with his wife and two children to join the protest.

‘‘The oceans are a necessary thing for the human race to survive on the planet. You try and take out the apex predators in an environment and bad things happen to the rest of the environment,’’ he said.

Standing behind speakers on the promenade, Mosman High school teacher Pru Wawn said the shark cull was just one of a many examples of the government disregarding popular opinion and destroying the environment.

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Brown warns Chooks about head-hunters

Outspoken Nathan Brown has issued a World Club Challenge warning to Sydney Roosters: Wigan’s props are cheap shot merchants.
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The St Helens boss and former St George Illawarra coach made the comment after his new signing, former Penrith half Luke Walsh, finished his first night as a Super League player in hospital undergoing X-rays for a possible facial fracture after a late challenge from Wigan’s Welsh giant Ben Flower.

The 28-16 Wigan win also marked the English debuts of North Queensland icon Matt Bowen and former South Sydney and Wests Tigers forward Eddy Pettybourne.

”He got hit in the head – without the ball. You know that’s going to happen when you play Wigan,” a fuming Brown said. ”That’s standard with their front-rowers. It happened to Gaz O’Brien last year.”

Brown was otherwise complimentary to the side that will meet the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on February 22, calling it ”effective”, ”fluid” and ”terrific”. The starting props in Sydney are likely to be Flower and Scott Taylor with Pettybourne off the bench.

New signing Jordan James, a former Royal Marine, will push Gil Dudson for the final bench spot.

That’s if Flower, 26, escapes the wrath of the judiciary. Walsh played on after the 70th-minute hit and was taken straight to hospital afterwards for scans.

Pettybourne, who played for the United States in the World Cup, had fans chanting his name after a couple of big hits off the interchange bench. ”He’s got good footwork and a hit on him,” coach Shaun Wane said.

”There’s a few technical things EP can work on. He’ll get better.”

Bowen had few opportunities, St Helens scoring one try after he lost the ball in a tackle. He was replaced at half-time. ”That was always the plan,” Wane said, joking: ”He’s the same age as me.”

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Wests Tigers rookie Luke Brooks has eyes of the Tigers

Talented Tiger: Luke Brooks. Photo: Anthony JohnsonThere’s a lot of talk about passing the baton when it comes to Luke Brooks.
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But history shows that it literally hasn’t always worked out. Like the time he ran the anchor leg for Holy Cross College’s state 4×100 metre relay team in year 10.

”I got disqualified,” Brooks chuckled.

”I didn’t know the rules, you start at one point and are meant to get the baton there and I started before it. We won by a mile. A few of the boys weren’t taking it too serious and then we were disqualified.

”One of the guys who took it serious was blowing up – he threw his spikes right out of the ground. I was just laughing.”

There was almost another false start, albeit on a grander stage. It was the Tuesday before THAT debut. Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter told him he was playing. A lifelong ambition was about to be fulfilled. Or was it? In his previous game in reggies, Brooks was placed on report for a high tackle.

Unable to help himself, Under-20s coach Todd Payten came up to Brooks and said, po-faced: ”You’re suspended, you can’t play.” ”I had a feeling he was stitching me up,” Brooks said. ”So it was pretty funny.” History will show that Brooks played. And how. His first game was on the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground. It was the grand old venue his late grandfather, Clive Johnson, had captained the NSW cricket team alongside the likes of greats Richie Benaud and Bob Simpson.

To say he was nervous was an understatement.

”I was thinking about the game all week,” he said.

”Going to the ground, about halfway there, I remember really needing to go to the toilet. I had to run to the change rooms. The time I most got nervous was during the anthems, just standing there.” It didn’t show. The teenage halfback scored a try against the Dragons, had a hand or a foot in just about everything and was crowned man of the match. Due to second-tier salary cap restrictions, it remains his only NRL appearance.

”It was a dream come true, I always wanted to play for the Tigers,” he said.

”I really have to pinch myself because it’s weird playing with people you’ve looked up to. I never thought I’d get a chance to play with Benji [Marshall], it was good.

”It would have been good to play a few more games with him but at least I got one.” That he is playing at all is reward for perseverance. The former Australian Schoolboy badly broke and dislocated his ankle three years ago.

Complications, including a golden staph infection, meant he was sidelined for 15 months. In the second game of his comeback, he broke the other leg. And a broken thumb prevented him from participating in the SG Ball final series.

”I did [think about quitting] a bit but I always knew I wanted to keep playing,” he said.

He isn’t the only member of his family training on Concord Oval. His older brother Joel plays for the Wests Harbour rugby side which trains at the same field. The 21-year-old is currently trialling for a spot with the Waratahs. Another sibling, 15-year-old Scott, is a fullback in the Tigers feeder system.

Luke and Joel crossed paths when their teams set up a training camp at Kiama during the week.

”My older brother was in the ranks of the Tigers with the 20s and stopped playing footy,” Brooks said. ”He stopped for two years and got back into union with his mates.”

One of his own good mates is fellow playmaker Mitchell Moses. The pair were the gun athletes at Holy Cross, often sharing the school’s player of the year awards. Injuries have prevented them from combining often – Moses broke his leg and has been hampered by hamstring and calf problems – but the pair are earmarked as the long-term Wests Tigers halves.

They have come through the grades together, although they have also played against each other. Moses spent part of his junior career at Parramatta and Brooks recalls a particular time they clashed.

”He actually threw me an intercept,” Brooks recalled.

”It actually looked like he threw it straight to me. He was pretty filthy.” Moses has been named for the Tigers’ first trial, while Brooks will be missing from the Nines tournament. The latter suffered stress fractures last year and the club are mindful of protecting him. His debut appearance was headline news and already there have been comparisons to Andrew Johns.

For a teen who has played just one game, they are unhelpful. It is not yet time for Benji to pass the baton.

”Sometimes you get noticed,” Brooks said of the newfound attention he has received.

”It feels a bit weird.”

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Stephen Cartwright offers aid to Wests Tigers

”My understanding of how the business world works and how it can interface with sport, I think that’s where the NRL clubs need to do more work”: Stephen Cartwright. Photo: Anita JonesStephen Cartwright, one of the state’s best connected business leaders, revealed he had already discussed with NRL boss David Smith about how he could serve Wests Tigers as the league prepares to appoint three independent directors to the club’s board.
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Cartwright is the chief executive of the NSW Business Chamber, and in his position he has access to 15,000 businesses throughout the state.

On Friday, he attended the launch of the chamber’s sports business consultancy service – which will be run in conjunction with the Horton Ella Group and Australian Business Solutions Group.

As he sat on a table flanked by the likes of 1960 Olympic Games gold medallist Herb Elliott, NSW Rugby League boss David Trodden and Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Lyall Gorman, rumours were flying that he would be one of the NRL’s three appointments.

Cartwright, whose grandfather Patrick Tyler, a Balmain wharfie who played some first grade matches for the Tigers in the 1920s, admitted he had spoken to Smith but insisted it was to simply offer his support in any capacity to Wests Tigers.

”I’ve said to Dave Smith from the NRL, and to some of the people from the Tigers, that whatever I can do to help them be successful I will do and if that included being a part of their governance structure, I would love to do it,” Cartwright said. ”But, equally, if I could do anything else for the club I would do it. I’m just a passionate fan, so, whatever they need, I am there.”

Cartwright said he could provide unique business acumen to the board and also offer suggestions as to how the club could replicate his efforts to significantly boost the chamber’s membership numbers to help the Tigers.

”My understanding of how the business world works and how it can interface with sport, I think that’s where the NRL clubs need to do more work,” he said.

”You look at the Wests Tigers, they have this fantastic catchment area in western Sydney and how do we get that increased relationship with the corporate world but, also, how do we do what I’ve done at the chamber – and that is triple the membership numbers? You look at the AFL clubs, their member numbers are way bigger than the NRL clubs. How do we do that?”

Cartwright said it was essential Wests Tigers be put ahead of anything else at a club that was formed when NSW Rugby League foundation teams Balmain and Western Suburbs merged to form the franchise in 1999 but were often seen to be at loggerheads over issues.

”I said to someone the other day that I have a 16-year-old son who had never heard of the Wests Magpies or the Balmain Tigers, he has only heard of the Wests Tigers,” Cartwright said.

”I think after a given period of time, you have to accept that is the club now. It is something that has to be done and I think the change in governance structure will do that.”

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‘The Gazelle’ Darren Hibbert considers penning supplement guide

Unemployed after being stood down by long-term employer Advance Sports Nutrition, Darren Hibbert is contemplating new career paths. The man dubbed ”the Gazelle” is considering opening up his own supplements store and becoming an author. With the bills mounting – he has received further fines for allegedly failing to co-operate with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority – Hibbert reckons there is a book in him. Or two. ”I’m going to write a book on performance-enhancing proteins to provide a supplement guide – how to use them, which ones are banned and which aren’t,” Hibbert said. ”I’ll go through the health benefits that the public may not know about.” He also believes there is plenty of fodder in the fallout from ”the darkest day in sport”. ”That will be another book,” he said. ”I’ll be talking about my dealings with ASADA in the past, how I was friendly with them and worked with them and also WADA as well to ensure all the things we used were above board. And then what’s happening now, how they’re trying to make a scapegoat out of us because of the previous government’s press conference.”
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Bulldogs to Qatar?

Canterbury could be heading to Qatar to undertake high-altitude training at the site of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Respected businessman Anter Isaac, a candidate for the coming Bulldogs board elections, organised a study trip for several key staffers to tour the facilities in Doha. Isaac, the man who drafted the Western Sydney Wanderers’ strategic plan, is attempting to get the whole squad across through his international connections.

”He gave me an opportunity to go to Qatar six months ago to see the FIFA facilities for the 2022 World Cup,” Dogs chairman Ray Dib said. ”From that visit we sent our high-performance scientist recently and hopefully some time this year this is some talk about [coach] Des [Hasler] taking the whole squad for three weeks to do some high-altitude training.” In other league news, there were concerns that a bad Achilles injury would force popular Shark Bryce Gibbs into retirement. However, the rugged Cronulla prop is back in training and certain to be a part of the squad for this season.

Claire goes for Broke

One of Hollywood’s rising stars, Australian actress Claire van der Boom, has signed up to star in a new film that deals with the issue of gambling in rugby league.

The Logie winner will star in Broke, the first feature film by Heath Davis. Steve Le Marquand and Steve Bisley have also signed on to a project that will donate all profits to the Men of League Foundation.

Van der Boom – who stars alongside Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in the coming drama Life Itself, will reunite with Davis after starring in some of his short films.

”I’m thrilled to be coming back to Australia to work with Heath and am very much looking forward to collaborating with Steve Le Marquand, who I’ve long admired,” van der Boom said. ”I’m grateful to have such a wonderful role to sink my teeth into.”

Davis, a lifelong league fan who grew up in western Sydney, based the lead character on an amalgam of people he has seen affected by problem gambling.

”Not every player who makes a fortune lives happily ever after,” Davis said.

”There are plenty of people I know who fell into the wrong crowds and gambling was one of their vices,” he said. ”I’ve seen a lot of guys that I idolised now being chewed up and spat out.”

He aims to raise $55,000 for the film through public pledges, with larger donations earning producer of actor credits.

Those wishing to contribute should go here.

City owners eye Stars

A Big Bash League team is likely to be next on the list for the Manchester City-led consortium which has already bought into Melbourne Storm and Melbourne Heart FC. The Melbourne Stars cricket franchise could be the next acquisition for the cashed-up owners, as well as Australian cycling team GreenEDGE. We’ve been reliably informed that there was also an approach to Collingwood but AFL rules precluded the powerhouse club from partnering with clubs from rival codes. Don’t be surprised to see the World Club Challenge played at Manchester City’s home ground if the Storm win the NRL premiership.

Kelly causes concern

One of the NRL’s most talented players has been slipping back into bad habits. Gold Coast officials are concerned about the behaviour of gun halfback Albert Kelly, who has been a little too festive during the festive season. The 22-year-old has had a chequered career due to alcohol issues and it seems he has yet to fully conquer those demons. If Kelly plays to his potential he could be a future Origin player but another public incident could spell the end of a promising career.

Underwood steps up

There will be some new and familiar voices on ABC Grandstand’s coverage of the footy codes. AFL sportscaster Kelli Underwood has moved to Sydney and will be calling games involving Sydney and GWS. ”I believe she will be the first game-to-game female AFL caller in Sydney, we’ll have a fresh voice on the airwaves,” ABC Grandstand manager Craig Norenbergs said. There will also be some new blood injected into Auntie’s NRL coverage to complement old favourites Warren Ryan and David Morrow. Ben Ross, Bradley Clyde, Michael Buettner, Greg McCallum and Gary Freemanwill also join the team.

Happy ending

Daniel Holdsworth has been reunited with his memorabilia after it was stolen from his Caringbah home on Australia Day. Returning to the NRL with Cronulla after a stint in the Super League, the playmaker lost his NRL debut jersey and several others during the robbery. However, he took to Instagram to thank those who assisted in their return. ”The scumbags dumped them at a lovely old couple’s house a few houses up from me,” he said.

Palmer joins big boys

Meet the youngest grommet competing in next week’s Hurley’s Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach. At the tender age of 10, Keegan Palmer has been invited to contest the skating part of the event. Already the under-18 Bowl Riding champion, he gets the opportunity to mix it with the world’s best – most of whom are at least twice his age. ”The event had an awesome vibe last time and as I’ll be competing against the big guns this time I’m sure I’ll feel that even more,” he said. ”It’s going to be wild to skate against some of the best skaters in the world, and my first time competing in the open adult division. It’s a really big deal and I’m stoked to be given the opportunity.”

Bliss for Badgers

Gavin and Kasey Badger have already refereed together. So who took the lead when the whistleblowing couple officiated last year’s encounter between Thailand and the Philippines? ”That would be him!” Kasey chuckled. ”He’s much more experienced, I would be silly to take the lead.” Gavin added: ”She’s saying that but if I disagree with her I’m in trouble.” Kasey is aiming to be the first female – and part of the first couple – to referee an NRL game. She isn’t putting any timeframe on the ambition – ”I just want to solidify my spot in the 20s or NSW Cup and go from there” – but is doing everything possible to achieve the dream. To that end, the Badgers worked out under sprint guru Roger Fabri at Coogee during the week. ”If you want to be the best you’ve got to seek out the best and Rog is probably the best in the country at what he does,” Gavin said.

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