Furious netball superstars threaten rebel league, strike, Diamonds boycott

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Read the players’ letter here

‘s best netballers are threatening strike action this weekend, a Super Netball breakaway to form a rebel competition and a boycott of Diamonds games for the rest of the year unless the state associations re-elect threatened board member Kathryn Harby-Williams at Friday’s Netball annual general meeting.

As the political divisions within the sport became public following the dumping of highly credentialed former board chair Anne-Marie Corboy at a special general meeting called by the member organisations last week, the n Netball Players’ Association strongly condemned the treatment of Corboy as “an inexcusable lack of judgment that only serves to satisfy self-interest”.

Following a 90-minute telephone hook-up on Tuesday involving multiple representatives from all eight Super Netball Clubs, the ANPA then forwarded a scathing letter to Netball chair Paolina Hunt to be distributed to all member associations and delegates before the AGM in Canberra. Part of the letter signed today by the biggest names in the sport

Harby-Williams, a former n captain, is – with Cheryl McCormack – one of two current directors seeking re-election, and among five candidates for three vacancies, including Corboy’s. It is believed that Netball Queensland and Netball NSW are two of the state bodies refusing to vote for the respected and experienced Harby-Williams as part of a power play aimed at returning more clout to the disgruntled member organisations.

The ANPA letter said “… it is a non-negotiable position that Kathryn Harby-Williams be re-elected to the board with the overwhelming support of all MOs and delegates,” describing the 47-year-old as clearly the best qualified of a group completed by former indigenous star Marcia Ella-Duncan, Susan Comerford and Jan Magaccis.

“Failure to re-elect Harby-Williams will see the players lose complete confidence in the people entrusted to select the board of NA,” the ANPA letter continues. “It would demonstrate that those with the responsibility of electing the board are more interested in selecting well-meaning individuals who contribute little, over people who have the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to take the sport forward.”

The letter said that failure to endorse Harby-Williams would result in players meeting to discuss the future of Super Netball, including round nine this weekend, a protest that “may involve industrial action”. It is also believed that some netballers are pushing to boycott all matches against the Netball Queensland-operated club, the Firebirds.

“Additionally, no player will be available to represent the n Diamonds for the remainder of the year, until the n Sports Commission expresses their confidence and satisfaction that the board is truly independent and capable of acting in the best interests of the sport and not representative groups that have both a real and perceived conflict of interest.

“The players have instructed their representative body, ANPA, that if Harby-Williams is not reappointed to explore all options to create a rebel league that has no involvement of MOs. If MOs and the delegates do not vote to support the re-election of Harby-Williams then ANPA will actively support and promote election campaigns of current and past members to immediately challenge the boards of MOs.

“MOs that have been actively running a campaign against Harby-Williams will find that ANPA will actively encourage athletes not to re-sign with that team; and if asked will engage legal advice so as they can terminate multi-year contracts.

“Finally, the players are dismayed that the attack on the independence of the NA board is again being led by MOs that during recent collective agreement negotiations aggressively and purposely sought to suggest that if pregnancy rights and provisions were provided into the agreement then the athletes would see it as an opportunity to have a ‘holiday/break’ at the expense of those MOs.”

The letter is signed by two players from each club, including Magpies Madi Robinson and Sharni Layton and Vixens Kate Moloney and Tegan Philip, as well as ANPA directors Bianca Chatfield and Jean-Paul Blandthorn. The n Sports Commission, which provides annual funding of $3 million, has advised Netball in writing of its governance obligations and expectations of directorial independence.

Chatfield emphasised that these were not idle threats, and that the players were appalled that the eastern seaboard expansion to include teams owned by Collingwood (Magpies Netball) and the Melbourne Storm (Sunshine Coast Lightning) and one owned by Netball NSW but aligned to GWS Giants in the revamped national league had not been embraced by the state associations attempting to control the NA board.

“It does come down to the change in the netball landscape, especially for all the teams on the eastern side of . I think the girls can fight it all out on court, but off the court I don’t know why the teams can’t work together,” said Chatfield, a former Diamonds vice-captain.

“There just seems to be this real bitterness around the member organisations not having a say on the teams coming into their homeland, now that they have to share sponsorship and they have to fight for members, fight for players.

“In a positive mindset you go ‘great, let’s move this momentum forward together and work together to create something even bigger for our sport’. Instead we’re getting caught up on all the little things, and the threats, rather than seeing what the opportunities are.

“I think we can learn so much from other professional sports, and that’s why it’s great that you’ve got now a Collingwood Football Club involved, a Melbourne Storm involved. They’re clubs that have been successful and we need to learn from them which we potentially won’t have that opportunity if it goes back to the member organisations having control.”

The Diamonds, the reigning World Cup and Commonwealth Games champions, are due to play a series of Test matches later this year as well as the annual Fast5 World Series in Melbourne in November.

Cummins the big winner in CA contract list

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Pace ace Pat Cummins is set to complete a major comeback and be one of the big winners when Cricket releases its latest round of player contracts.

CA selectors and management will release what industry insiders expect to be a 20-man list by April 30, this coming at a time when CA’s general manager of team performance, Pat Howard, is close to announcing his own future.

Fairfax Media can reveal Cummins has vaulted into the top six of rankings, and is possibly behind only Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Cummins, 24 in May, has finally been able to take to the field consistently after a series of back stress fractures and he shapes as an enforcer and genuine match-winner in this summer’s Ashes series.

Six years after his first Test, he returned to the Test team on the recent tour of India, claiming eight wickets at 30.25 and bowling with considerable pace upon being drafted in for the third and fourth Tests.

He had a CA contract last summer but is now a fixture in the sport’s three formats. He has risen in the rankings to become one of ‘s prime movers, ensuring a payday of more than $1 million a year.

Cummins is also likely to be play a key role in the battle for the Champions Trophy in England in June, with the n squad to be named on Thursday.

Former n batsman David Hussey, who was promoting the tournament in Melbourne on Wednesday, said Cummins was a strike weapon.

“It’s amazing how he has come back – he has bowled fast, he fields very well and he bats quite well, too,” he said.

Skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner – having made about $2 million in the past year from international cricket – and fast bowlers Starc and Hazlewood will almost certainly be the top four ranked players.

Starc is on the mend from a foot fracture which forced him home midway through the Indian tour and is expected to be named in the Champions Trophy squad, but will need to pass a fitness test next month.

Batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, playing in the three formats having returned to the Test side in India, is also set to pocket a healthy raise.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade was not one of the 20 players awarded a CA contract this time last year, with Peter Nevill the only gloveman. But Wade enjoyed an upgrade when Nevill was axed and is likely to be the only gloveman on a list that can hold between 17 and 20 players.

Opening batsman Matthew Renshaw and middle-order dasher Peter Handscomb – both having impressed as part of a rebooted Test side – will be two of the fresh faces, and are likely to replace George Bailey and Joe Burns.

Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who has again found himself in trouble after a night of heavy drinking, was also upgraded over summer but may again have to work for a contract under a “horses-for-courses” policy, despite a tour of Bangladesh slated for August.

Bangladesh officials continue to insist the tour must go ahead, despite CA’s preference for it to become only a one-day series and be delayed until October to work in with a one-day series in India.

Fast bowler James Pattinson, continuing his comeback in English county cricket, will retain his contract but fellow quicks Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird, the latter having won an upgrade over summer, are jostling for probably three spots. There is speculation Queensland quick Billy Stanlake, having won selection in the one-day team last summer, could be the bolter.

Despite being on the long-term injury list because of a shoulder problem, Mitch Marsh is set to retain his contract. But industry insiders have questioned whether brother Shaun Marsh should remain part of selectors’ plans.

It’s understood the South n Cricket Association is hopeful leg-spinner Adam Zampa and all-rounder Travis Head are rewarded, with Head a chance to replace the retired Adam Voges.

The minimum value of a CA contract last summer was $270,000, with any player upgraded through the summer, having earned 12 upgrade points, given a base salary of $230,000.

This will rise when the stoush over a new memorandum of understanding between CA and the n Cricketers Association is resolved, although that appears some way off with CA yet to provide the players with more in-depth details about its recent submission.

Brisbane-based Howard, in Melbourne on Wednesday, is contracted until mid-year but it’s understood he used a recent week off to deliberate whether he wants to retain the high-pressure role. He took the job in 2011 after the sweeping Argus report and is weighing up whether to remain until after the 2019 Ashes campaign.

The role involves much travel and time away from his family of four children, while the former Wallaby also has a successful pharmacy business.

How things shape up for the 2017/18 CA rankings list:

Gone from 2016/17: Adam Voges (retired)

On the way out: George Bailey, Joe Burns, Peter Nevill (if only one wicketkeeper selected)

Under pressure: Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Peter Siddle, Shaun Marsh

Fighting for a spot: Steve O’Keefe, Jackson Bird, Travis Head, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake

New faces: Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade

Rubber-stamped: Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, James Faulkner, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, James Pattinson, Glenn Maxwell

Lion director Garth Davis looking at Somalian film with Rooney Mara

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His first film, Lion, has been a hit that landed six Oscar nominations, including best picture.

His second, the religious drama Mary Magdalene, which stars Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, is being lined up for a Hollywood awards season run even as it is still being finished in Melbourne.

Now n director Garth Davis is looking at a third collaboration with Mara for a film set in Somalia.

Davis told a cinema Q&A session for the extended version of Lion that he is considering a film adaptation of the 2013 memoir A House in the Sky, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout’s account of being held hostage by teenage militants for 15 months.

She and n photojournalist Nigel Brennan were kidnapped, along with their translator and two drivers, in Mogadishu in 2008.

Mara, the two-time Oscar nominee for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Carol, would star. She played Lucy, Saroo Brierley’s girlfiend, in Lion before taking the title role in Mary Magdalene for a shoot in Italy.

“I’m not religious but this was the first time I’ve read something from that era that made sense to me,” Davis said of Mary Magdalene. “It was deeply moving and incredible, and I just had to make it. Often religion is used to control but this was a film that went back to what the message is really about.”

Like Lion last year, Mary Magdalene is due to be released in North America in November.

Women filmmakers start fight club

A small group of n filmmakers has raised the bar for future festivals by putting more than their reputations on the line.

Three women directors are training for boxing bouts as part of the first For Film’s Sake Festival in Sydney, which is aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in the film industry.

Festival director Sophie Mathisen is joined by Mohini Herse and Grace Tan for 12 intensive weeks of boxing lessons.

Grace Tan, Mohini Herse and Sophie Mathisen will take to the ring as part of a festival aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in the film industry. Photo: Louise Kennerley.

“It’s something new that potentially audiences haven’t seen before and it’s very much about providing models for other women to attempt something that they haven’t before,” Mathisen says. “It’s really important that there are more women entering different rings and doing things that might seem a … little bit against the grain.”

Mathisen, Herse and other women filmmakers stormed the red carpet dressed as sausages at the AACTA Awards in December, shouting “End the sausage party”, to protest at the lack of female representation in the industry.

Mathisen believes that fighting in the ring will be no tougher than battling for recognition as a female filmmaker.

“I’m still a very feminine woman but I’m also very fierce,” she says. “It’s the same thing as when we talk about strong female characters [in films] – this idea of complexity. We can be caring and nurturing and still be deft boxers.”

Twitter @gmaddox

Tedious rom-com based on flimsy wedding party premise

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If you feel the world doesn’t need any more romantic comedies based around weddings, Jeffrey Blitz’s listless Table 19 is unlikely to change your mind.

The title refers to the table at a wedding dinner occupied by the least desirable guests – a weak premise built on an especially American obsession with ad hoc markers of status.

In Britain, the situation would be straightforwardly about social class; in it’s hard to see the whole issue being given so much weight.

Perhaps that’s why Blitz cast an Aussie, Thomas Cocquerel, as the mystery guest who helps distract the lovelorn heroine (Anna Kendrick) from her obsession with her ex (Wyatt Russell), who’s also the brother of the bride.

Meanwhile, the jokes keep thudding into land. Many of the punchlines are scatological, although Blitz lacks the nerve to gross us out directly – so it’s a matter of how amused you are at hearing about how someone took a dump on a table or used the wrong washcloth to wipe his balls.

Kendrick’s fast, nervy delivery still has its appeal, but she risks becoming a self-parody if she keeps settling for these flimsy roles.

On the other hand, Stephen Merchant looks as amusingly stranded in this context as he does in any other, burbling about being a “successful businessman” while beaming in apology for taking up so much space.

Some day somebody will get the hint and cast him as one of the classic Shakespearean fools: Sir Andrew Aguecheek???, perhaps.

The other cast members might as well have been pulled out of a hat, from Lisa Kudrow??? to Tony Revolori???, who was Ralph Fiennes’ sidekick in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

All are talented, but none are able to stop Table 19 from feeling like a long evening where the company isn’t enough to dispel the tedium.

No respect for the west: Gould slams scheduling ‘stuff up’

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Penrith supremo Phil Gould has unloaded on the NRL over its scheduling of the traditional clash with local rivals Parramatta, declaring: “They’ve got no respect for the west whatsoever.”

The Panthers-Eels clash is one of the biggest events for both clubs, although the fixture will be staged just once in 2017. The blue and golds will host the mountain men at ANZ Stadium at 3pm on Saturday, but Penrith will have to wait until next year to stage the local derby at Pepper Stadium.

Speaking on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast on Nine’s wwos.nine成都夜总会招聘.au website, Gould fired a broadside at the NRL’s scheduling of the marquee clash.

“They’re only playing each other once this year and it’s at ANZ Stadium, Homebush, at 3pm on a Saturday when junior league is being played all over western Sydney,” Gould said.

“Could you pick a worse time to pick a game between the western Sydney derby? And why haven’t Penrith got Parramatta at Penrith this year? Why don’t those two teams they play each other twice?

“They talk about western Sydney strategy but they’ve got no respect for the west whatsoever; you couldn’t stuff it up more if you tried.”

Gould has been a long-term critic of the governing body, believing not enough respect is paid to the heartland area of western Sydney.

“I keep telling people Homebush is not western Sydney; it’s nowhere near western Sydney,” Gould said.

“Some people think anything west of ANZAC Parade is western Sydney.”

The outcome of the Eels-Panthers clash will have huge ramifications for both clubs. The Panthers are sitting on 13th spot on the ladder after opening their season with just two wins from seven matches. Another loss, to Parramatta, could effectively end their season just two months after they began their campaign as bookmaker favourites.

Parramatta forward Daniel Alvaro said his side would be equally desperate to stay within touching distance of the frontrunners after notching just one additional win.

“They are a good quality forward pack, it will be a good challenge for us this weekend,” Alvaro said.

“We’re not happy with our start, we know how much better we can be, so the boys are keen to get out there and show that.”

Gould held court on a number of topics during the podcast. Melbourne and the Warriors are among the suitors for playmaker Kieran Foran but “Gus” predicted he would end up in Sydney.

“My mail is that he wants to live in Sydney, end of story,” Gould said.

“Wherever he goes I hope he stays there for the rest of his career. If you want my personal opinion I’d say he would want to be with his former coach Des Hasler [at Canterbury].”

The Storm will attempt to bring Gareth Widdop back to the club if they miss out on Foran, but Gould believes the Dragons must keep him.

“St George can’t let him [Widdop] go, surely!” he said.

“He’d be the perfect replacement for the Melbourne Storm.

“I can’t believe the Dragons would be thinking of replacing him.”