Eels’ NRL cap saga no distraction: Arthur

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur claims his players are unaffected by the latest allegations of salary cap breaches in the lead-up to Saturday’s NRL match against defending premiers North Queensland.

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Just a week after the NRL lifted a threat of a four-point deduction following governance reforms at the club, the governing body has re-opened salary cap investigations following fresh claims of manipulation of third-party deals.

On Friday evening, the Seven Network aired new allegations the Eels discussed $300,000 in third-party deals two years ago during contract negotiations with prop Tim Mannah.

NRL rules prevent clubs being involved in third-party agreements and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Mannah’s part.

But if the headlines – and potential new threat of sanctions – are affecting the playing roster, Arthur isn’t letting on.

“The boys are pretty resilient. They don’t read the papers, honestly,” Arthur said earlier on Friday.

“I know it’s a pretty common statement to be thrown around, but they don’t. They’re only worried about what they can do on the field.”

The former Manly assistant said he too was unaware of exactly what caused chairman Steve Sharp and chief executive John Boulos to be summoned on Thursday night to NRL headquarters.

“I wouldn’t know what’s going on at the moment because I haven’t asked about it, because I’m not concerned about it,” he said.

News Corp Australia claimed on Friday that documents revealed Boulos was allocated up to 50 corporate box seats at each game last year, while he was the club’s chief operating officer, some of which were then used to host third-party sponsors of some players.

Minutes from within a 2014 Parramatta boardroom meeting were also leaked to the media on Wednesday, highlighting “the importance of servicing third-party agreement providers accordingly with hospitality and player appearances”.

Under NRL salary cap rules, clubs cannot compensate companies in any way for third-party payments.

The club has denied any wrongdoing.

Both Boulos and Sharp agreed to open their books on Thursday to interim NRL boss John Grant and the head of the integrity unit, Nick Weeks, in a bid to address the issue.

Asked if he backed Sharp to continue as chairman, Arthur said: “I’m not talking about the salary cap anymore. If you want to talk about the footy, I’m happy to do that.”

Josh Hazlewood vows to behave better

A contrite Josh Hazlewood has opened up about his meltdown during the recent Test in Christchurch, saying it was out of character and won’t happen again.

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Australian paceman Hazlewood and skipper Steve Smith were both charged with dissent and fined during New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum’s farewell Test.

Stump microphones picked up Hazlewood bellowing “who the f*** is third umpire!?” after an unsuccessful review on day four.

Hazlewood says the outburst had more to do with a wicket-less morning session than anything else.

“It wasn’t really towards anyone, it was just venting a bit of frustration,” Hazlewood told AAP.

“It was definitely out of character. I can’t ever recall doing anything like that.

“It was just one of those heat of the moment things. We’d had a tough session with a couple of near-misses.

“In the future I have to be a bit smarter … I have to behave better.”

Hazlewood added the incident, which came as Australia marched towards a 2-0 series win that delivering the No.1 Test rankings, was “definitely a one-off”.

Coach Darren Lehmann will certainly be hoping so, having made his thoughts on the matter clear to Hazlewood.

“I got a little bit from the coach afterwards,” Test spearhead Hazlewood said.

“Boof said ‘you’ve just got to realise the microphones are on all the time, realise where you are and what you’re saying’.

“We’re well behaved for the majority of the time and there is the odd slip-up.

“We’ve got to be better and hopefully they happen less and less in the future.”

Hazlewood also gave NZ allrounder Corey Anderson a spray shortly after the incident.

The two sides will meet in the World Twenty20 on March 18 but the pair have already shared a beer and a laugh about Hazlewood’s blow-up.

“I know Corey quite well from the IPL, I was just trying to get under his skin a little bit,” Hazlewood said.

“What happens on the field stays on the field, we’re great mates off it so it’s all good. The Kiwis are a great bunch of blokes.”

Australia will look to tighten their grip on the No.1 Test ranking when they tour Sri Lanka in July.

“We really enjoyed those few weeks in New Zealand and had good success,” Hazlewood said.

“There’s no Tests for a while now, so we can hold that No.1 ranking for a little bit and let it sink in.”

Avita secures major China deal

Avita Medical has struck a deal with China’s largest healthcare group to distribute its “spray on skin” products for the treatment of burns, other wounds and skin defects.

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State owned Sinopharm, through its subsidiary MedTech, has been granted sole distribution rights for the products across China, Avita said.

China has 3.4 million burns patients and 1.4 million people afflicted by vitiligo, a condition characterised by portions of the skin losing their pigment.

“Sinopharm MedTech have a proven track record of building up strong recurrent sales of medical devices, and we greatly look forward to supporting their efforts in growing the China market,” Avita chief executive Adam Kelliher said.

“Avita has already done a lot of the hard work in China and now is the time to build on this and work with a strong partner to address the clear need for our regenerative medicine products.”

Avita’s “ReCell” medical device enables clinicians to rapidly create a suspension of cells and wound-healing factors derived from a patient’s own skin that are needed to regenerate natural, healthy skin.

The suspension, which is sprayed on to the patient’s wound, can be used to restart healing in unresponsive wounds, to repair burns using less donor skin, and to restore pigmentation.

The company has been in China for five years, with a presence in several leading hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, focusing on plastic surgery and repigmentation.

Sinopharm, the first Chinese pharmaceutical firm to make the Fortune Global 500 list, has wide reach, Avita said, with offices in all of China’s main cities and representatives in 31 provinces and regions.

Achieving strong distribution in China is a key part of Avita’s global sales strategy.

Avita shares gained 0.6 cents to 10.5 cents.

Truckie avoids jail over fatal NSW crash

Shane Day was behind the wheel of a fuel tanker when it rolled and exploded in Sydney, killing two people, but has walked from court with a 12-month suspended sentence and $1000 in fines.

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Friday’s sentencing of the former Cootes driver ends a long-running legal process with a jury last month clearing Day of dangerous driving occasioning death and grievous bodily harm over the 2013 smash at Mona Vale.

He was, however, subsequently found guilty of the lesser charge of negligent driving occasioning death and was on Friday afternoon given the suspended sentence, stripped of his licence for two years and fined $1000.

Sydney District Court Judge Leonie Flannery found Day was going too fast and had ignored a sign warning truck drivers to use a low gear when he hurtled down a steep stretch of Mona Vale Road.

The court heard Day had been speeding through a 70km/h zone at 83km/h while hauling 34,000 litres of diesel and unleaded petrol when his tanker flipped, crashed into several cars and burst into a fireball that could be seen from suburbs away.

Peter Wem, 73, and passenger Graham Holtfreter, 71, died after trying to flee the inferno.

A third man, Neil Donaldson, was badly burnt.

Outside court on Friday, Mr Donaldson thanked the NSW police crash investigation unit for their work, but wouldn’t comment on Day’s sentence.

“I’ll reserve judgment on that,” he told reporters.

While the consequences of Day’s crash were serious, Judge Flannery said Day’s culpability was low as 10 out of 12 of the tanker’s brakes were defective.

“Mr Day should never have been put into (the) truck,” Judge Flannery told the court.

Day stood still as he was told that as part of his suspended sentence he had to enter a good behaviour bond.

Two female supporters hugged following Judge Flannery’s remarks.

Day walked briskly from the court after the brief sentencing, refusing to comment.

Bolton begins Blues slow AFL climb

For former AFL heavyweights Carlton and rookie coach Brendon Bolton, the 2016 season is all about learning.

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Learning how to train again.

Learning how to work together as a club.

And most importantly, learning how to win.

It’s just that those victories might not be reflected in the win-loss tally.

The Blues are starting again after a tumultuous 12 months and Bolton says success won’t be measured by their ladder position.

“Success is developing a whole club, a united club,” Bolton told AAP.

“Giving our first-year draft players an opportunity, and that might be little sprouts, but it’s success.

“Creating a gameplan around collective offence and collective defence, that’s going to take some time but when we see that over a quarter, two quarters, that’s success.”

Bolton’s multi-faceted definition of success won’t please the Blues fans looking for a quick fix.

And it shows how far Carlton have fallen.

Again.

What’s different about the 2016 “reset” is that Bolton has lifted expectations off the shoulders of the much-burdened players.

Nobody outside the club expects them to be any good.

As for their own expectations, they aren’t telling.

Bolton says the playing group will set their own targets but keep them to themselves – in stark contrast to former coach Mick Malthouse’s declaration that he “couldn’t see a game they would lose” on season’s eve last year.

Under Bolton, Carlton are, quietly and modestly, getting down to business.

The 26-year-old coach says he hopes his sides will show their togetherness through a new game style and learning style.

With a wealth of talent in need of development – including 18 players yet to debut for the club – Carlton hope the learning approach bears fruit.

The Blues have traded away a host of established names – Chris Yarran, Lachie Henderson, Tom Bell and Troy Menzel included – to bring in a new generation of talent.

Top of that list is No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering.

The Blues hope they have a ten-year key defender in the Mornington Peninsula product and he’s one of at least three first-year players nominated by Bolton likely to begin their AFL careers on the opening night of the season.

“Weitering’s got a more mature body so he might get an opportunity early,” Bolton said.

“Charlie Curnow has put in a really strong pre-season and David Cunningham has shown glimpses.

“Our timing on when we bring people in will be well-thought through.

“For the others, let’s hope for our members they see some of our future get a little taste this year.”

Bolton is bullish on new recruit Sam Kerridge and reigning club champion Patrick Cripps.

He’s also hopeful of seeing improvement from key forward Levi Casboult and rebounding defender Sam Docherty, who have put in top pre-season efforts.

So while there’s no getting away from the potentially painful season ahead, Bolton said there would be progress worth celebrating at Princes Park.

“Losing is not the way or the accepted way,” he said.

“You build a resilience and a united front over time.

“Win, lose or draw, there’s learnings to take away from it and we’ll do that every week.”

CARLTON

Coach: Brendon Bolton

Captain: Marc Murphy

Last five years: 5-10-6-13-18

Premierships: 16 (1906-08, 1914-15, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981-82, 1987, 1995).

Key five: Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer, Levi Casboult, Kade Simpson.

One to watch: Jacob Weitering. Yes it’s unfair to expect too much of any player, just because they were selected at No.1 in the national draft. But such is Carlton’s pressing need for key-position talent that the 195cm, 94kg Weitering will be pitched into senior action from the get-go.

Ins: David Cunningham (Oakleigh U18), Charlie Curnow (Geelong U18), Andrew Gallucci (Williamstown, VFL), Jesse Glass-McCasker (Swan Districts, WAFL), Daniel Gorringe (Gold Coast), Sam Kerridge (Adelaide), Matt Korcheck (international rookie), Jed Lamb (GWS), Harry McKay (Gippsland U18), Andrew Phillips (GWS), Lachie Plowman (GWS), Jack Silvagni (Oakleigh U18), Liam Sumner (GWS), Jacob Weitering (Dandenong U18), Matthew Wright (Adelaide).

Outs: Tom Bell (Brisbane), Andrew Carrazzo (retired), David Ellard (retired), Tom Fields (delisted), Cameron Giles (delisted), Lachie Henderson (Geelong), Nick Holman (delisted), Blaine Johnson (delisted), Chris Judd (retired), Troy Menzel (Adelaide), Fraser Russell (delisted), Brad Walsh (delisted), Robert Warnock (delisted), Matthew Watson (delisted), Chris Yarran (Richmond).

Best line-up:

B: Zach Tuohy, Michael Jamison, Jacob Weitering

HB: Dylan Buckley, Sam Rowe, Sam Docherty

C: Dale Thomas, Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Walker

HF: Kade Simpson, Levi Casboult, Blaine Boekhorst

F: Jason Tutt, Andrejs Everitt, Nick Graham

R: Matthew Kruezer, Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy

I: Simon White, Ed Curnow, Sam Kerridge, Cameron Wood

Predicted finish: 18th

Betting (William Hill)

To win the flag: $501

To make the top eight: $15