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All Blacks hooker Dane Coles will make his captaincy debut for the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby game against the Western Force in Perth on Friday.


The Hurricanes have made five changes and a positional switch from the side who beat the Bulls 17-13 in Pretoria, completing a successful two-game trip to South Africa to begin their season.

Regular captain and centre Conrad Smith is being rested, making way for Rey Lee-Lo to return in the midfield alongside Ma’a Nonu after missing the Pretoria win with a hip injury.

Coles inherits the skipper’s armband for the first time in a forward pack which features two starting changes.

Ardie Savea returns at openside flank in place of Callum Gibbins while No.8 Victor Vito will make his first start of the year.

Vito’s selection has triggered a shuffle, with Blade Thomson shifting to lock and Mark Abbott to the reserves bench.

Lee-Lo’s return after starring in the season-opening 22-8 win over the Lions is one of three backline switches.

Halfback Chris Smylie and fullback James Marshall will both make their first starts of the season, replacing TJ Perenara and Jason Woodward respectively.

Manawatu fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder returns from a knee injury and has been named on the bench.

HURRICANES: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Chris Smiley, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Blade Thomson, Ben Franks, Dane Coles (capt), Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Chris Eves, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor, Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says global economic instability should not be an excuse to put off introducing a carbon tax.


As an opinion poll showed Labor’s popularity falling to a record low, Ms Gillard was addressing environmental groups in Sydney on Monday to sell the contentious climate change policy.

“In the midst of uncertain global economic conditions we should not lose sight of this country’s strong economic backbone, a backbone that has been constructed by reforming governments over decades,” she said in her speech.

“And we shouldn’t lose sight of the need to ensure that backbone stays strong in the years to come.

“The costs of inaction are greater than the cost of action both immediately and in the longer term.”

Speaking to ABC Adelaide this morning, she dismissed suggestions her unpopularity with voters is damaging the government’s case.

“Democracy is not one long opinion poll,” she said. “It’s actually about showing the leadership that is necessary for the country’s future and that’s what I’m doing.”

Ms Gillard said she was determined to deliver the carbon pricing scheme despite the poll showing 56 per cent of voters opposed to its introduction in July 2012.

“I’ve well and truly got the courage of my convictions and I will be out there providing the leadership necessary as we tackle this big reform,” she said.

Appearing at the Green Capital Business Breakfast at the Sheraton on the Park hotel, Ms Gillard acknowledged that consumers were still more cautious than they were before the global financial crisis.

But she said the heightened economic risks in the US and Europe were very different to the fundamentals in Australia and the surrounding region.

“We are located in the right part of the world at the right time,” she said.

“The prospects for our region remain much stronger as the weight of global activity continues to shift in our favour.”

Ms Gillard predicted that in years to come, “carbon productivity” would be as important in luring investment from multinationals as labour costs and tax rates.

New Zealand v Australia, the clash between in-form co-hosts and traditional fierce sporting rivals, is being billed as the biggest match to date in the Cricket World Cup.


But Black Caps coach Mike Hesson is taking a business as usual approach before the trans-Tasman encounter in Auckland on Saturday.

He doesn’t feel his own players’ excellent form in the tournament so far brings added pressure of expectation because “we don’t get caught up in the hype, really”.

“Our guys can read and they will read the paper sometimes, some of them more than others, but we’re a pretty grounded group,” he said.

“We just get on with doing the best we can every day. If we have a bad day, hopefully we can scrub up and come back the next day.”

Some of what the Black Caps will have read are comments coming out of the Australian camp.

Coach Darren Lehmann, having seen New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum plunder 77 off 25 balls against England, noted the extra pace that the Australian attack would bring.

Opener David Warner followed up with the view that if Australia bowled well to McCullum, it would create pressure and induce “a brain explosion”.

Hesson wasn’t too perturbed by the threat posed by the likes of Australian speedsters Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.

He said the Blacks Caps were used to facing express pace from one of their own, Adam Milne, in the nets.

“He bowls 150 [km/h] and we cope with that OK,” he said.

“Every side we play have got some different challenge and Australia have obviously got some guys who bowl some good gas, as do we, so it should a good game.”

New Zealand go into the match with a 3-0 record in the tournament, including big wins over Sri Lanka and England.

Because of the weather, Australia have been in action in only one of their two scheduled fixtures, producing a 111-run thumping of England on the opening day.

Hesson is reluctant to enter the debate over which team will head to Eden Park as favourites.

“For us, it doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

“We’re preparing against a side that are playing some pretty good cricket. We don’t really buy into favouritism or not. We just get on with it.”

New Zealand have fielded the same 11 in all three matches and Hesson indicated that there would be few if any changes against Australia.

“We’ve got another couple of trainings but the group that has been performing the last week has been doing a good job for us,” he said.

“Unlikely to be many [changes], but we just have to see how we scrub up closer to the end of the week.”

Bird warned over "concerning" tackle

Gold Coast enforcer Greg Bird’s late hit on Newcastle playmaker Jarrod Mullen was deemed a “concerning act” and drew a warning from the match review committee.


Mullen had to be taken from the field after being struck in the back by Bird’s tackle and coach Rick Stone admitted he was still groggy after Sunday’s game, won 20-18 by the Knights.

The incident came after a week of intense scrutiny over late hits and other targeting of playmakers after North Queensland maestro Johnathan Thurston copped a battering from Newcastle’s Beau Scott.

Match review committee co-ordinator Michael Buettner admitted Bird’s hit was a “concerning act” but the panel did not consider it warranted a judiciary charge.

“We’re concerned it was somewhat late and forceful and in this case we’ve decided that’s a concerning act,” Buettner told NRL广西桑拿, on Tuesday.

“When it comes to a concerning act we provide footage to the club, that gets sent to the coaching staff, also with the particulars of the judicial code.

“We outline exactly what the charge could have been and then it’s a follow up phone call from myself to make sure that message is passed on to the player just so we’re made aware of the points that we’re trying to raise with them.”

Buettner said he doesn’t believe there’s been an escalation in playmakers being targeted, although he added players need to do their best to avoid forceful late contact if possible.

“The defensive player, if given the opportunity and has the chance to pull out, then he’s probably best to do so and not make that forceful contact on a player who is in a vulnerable position,” he said.

Buettner also explained Bird wasn’t charged for a lifting tackle on Newcastle’s Joey Leilua earlier in the game as the incident was deemed accidental and not careless.

“If you look at the footage here you’ll note that we have Greg Bird’s head or body across the front of Joseph Leilua, who then fell over in a hurdle-like action,” he said.

“You can see that the actions of Greg Bird, there was certainly no lifting on his part and (Leilua) almost stumbled over Greg Bird.”

Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean talks like he plays rugby league – direct with little fuss.


The 23-year-old doesn’t like to deviate from the script set by Storm coach Craig Bellamy on the field or off.

It will be 12 months this week since McLean’s involvement in a three-man spear tackle at AAMI Park that left Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon with a fractured neck and in a wheelchair, with his NRL career over and his life changed forever.

McLean was suspended for seven weeks for his role.

While McKinnon has opened up on the anniversary, McLean has preferred to keep his head down, with the Storm warning that any questions about it were off limits.

Understandably, McLean wants to be known for his football rather than his involvement in a tragic accident and he’s doing his best to make that happen.

McLean has been one of Melbourne’s star performers in the opening three rounds since taking over the starting role from the retired Bryan Norrie.

Standing 196cm and weighing 118kg, th 23-year-old’s combination with fellow front-row enforcer Jesse Bromwich has given the Storm a notable physical presence.

“It helps having a bigger pack there but we’re all going along good at the moment,” McLean said.

“I’m enjoying starting – there’s a little bit more weight on my shoulders which I like.”

While New Zealand Test representative Bromwich has the full package, McLean said his job was simple – run hard and make tackles.

“I’m pretty basic and Jesse takes care of the footwork and the skill,” McLean said.

“At the moment, I’m just trying to play a simple game.”

McLean signed a new deal before the start of the season to remain with the club until the end of 2017.

He said he never thought about going anywhere else.

“This is my seventh year now after coming through the under 20s system.

“I’ve got some good mates and I’m really enjoying my time here.

“Melbourne’s been really good to me, especially through some tough times so I’m repaying the favour back to them.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has helpfully provided Australians with a list of ways to hide their metadata.


His tips show how to navigate around the federal government’s latest suite of national security laws which the Greens reckon are an invasion of privacy.

He says if you don’t want the government to spy on you online, don’t sign on to Australian providers and download software that makes you invisible.

The Senate on Tuesday began debating data retention legislation to force telecommunications companies to hold customer metadata for two years to allow access by police and security agencies.

The government believes the changes are crucial to thwart terrorism attacks and prevent serious crime.

Senator Ludlam acknowledged his party’s fierce opposition to the scheme was futile due to political bipartisanship and used his speech to help Australians hide their metadata.

Using overseas email providers, encryption and software to block online behaviour were some examples.

“They leave no trace,” he said of encryption phone apps, accusing Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull of using them to orchestrate a takeover of the prime minister’s office.

“They will be completely beyond the reach of this data retention scheme.”

Senator Ludlam assured the Senate none of his tips were illegal under the government’s draft laws.

He implored Australians to take back their power, but conceded his solution would spell bad news for domestic online providers.

He also accused federal Labor of rolling over as soon as Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrapped himself in an Australian flag and uttered the words “national security”.

Labor will support the bill after the government agreed to a number of amendments, including better protection for journalists.


* Use Facebook messenger, Twitter private messages, Gmail or another overseas email provider.

* Download programs like Tor that promise anonymity.

* Use private-key cryptography, available as phone apps.

* Sign on to a virtual private network.

The largest impact zone from a meteorite ever discovered on Earth has been found in central Australia.


But the exact ecological impact of the meteorite – which broke in two before slamming into the planet over 300 million years ago – remains a mystery.

A team of geophysicists found the “twin scars” during drilling for geothermal research in the Warburton Basin, near the borders of Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

While the crater from the impact has long since disappeared, evidence of the 400 kilometre-wide impact zone was hidden deep within the earth’s crust.

The two asteroids would have been more than 10km wide, said Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University’s School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

“Large impacts like these may have had a far more significant role in the Earth’s evolution than previously thought,” he said.

While the exact date of the strike is unclear, Dr Glikson said it was likely to have signalled the end for many species of the time.

The surrounding rocks are between 300 and 600 million years old.

Researchers have previously been able to estimate the time of meteor strikes based on other evidence such as sediment in rock – the result of a huge plume of ash.

One such plume in Mexico, estimated to have been made 66 million years ago, is believed to have wiped out many species, including dinosaurs.

But Dr Glikson said there was no such evidence associated with the Warburton Basin site.

“It’s a mystery – we can’t find an extinction event that matches these collisions,” he said.

“I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years.”

The discovery could fuel new theories about the Earth’s history, academics say.

A new pay deal for retail workers shows the existing workplace system is flexible, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.


The deal struck by Business SA and the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association means up to 40,000 employees can accept lower penalty rates on Sundays and public holidays in return for higher base pay, guaranteed annual pay rises, and other benefits.

Penalty rates paid by small retailers will also be abolished on Saturdays and weekday evenings.

The system is voluntary for workers and employers, who will use the template developed by the two groups to negotiate a mutually acceptable deal.

The Fair Work Commission is examining penalty rates as part of its review of the workplace relations system.

Mr Shorten said the move showed the Fair Work system worked.

“They say that the Fair Work system is a brake on productivity,” he told reporters in Canberra, shortly after setting up a new caucus task force on industrial relations.

“(This decision) demonstrates the strength of the current system of unions and employer groups working together.”

Labor’s approach to workplace laws was about seeking the right balance, but upholding the “better-off overall” test for workers.

Junior government minister Jamie Briggs said the deal vindicated the coalition’s position that penalty rates were a matter for the Fair Work Commission.

“If employers and employees work together for their best interests then we’ll get a better result,” he aid.

Independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon, who has campaigned for lower penalty rates, said too many young people had been losing their jobs, and he was hoping for a jobs bounce on the back of the deal.

“It’s always been my position that there needs to be greater flexibility for small employers,” he said.

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm said Australians who wanted to work weekends had been priced out of the market by penalty rates.

He also described South Australia as an economic basket case.

“Maybe somebody there has finally woken up to the fact that they do need to change if they’re going to turn it around.”

Miner New Hope’s CEO has rejected suggestions that the coal industry’s decline is permanent and says he wants to make acquisitions this year.


Armed with a $1.1 billion war chest, New Hope boss Shane Stephan said he was well placed to ramp up purchases of coal assets that highly indebted miners could not afford to keep.

His comments came as the Queensland thermal coal producer overcame depressed prices to increase underlying first half net profit by 51 per cent from a year ago to $34.2 million.

However New Hope posted a statutory net loss of $23.1 million due to $58.5 million in writedowns of its oil, gas and other assets.

The slump in coal prices since 2011’s record highs have led to thousands of Australian job losses, mine closures and hits to the Federal budget, with coal a major export.

While historically the industry is cyclical, the move by China’s biggest coal giant Shenhua this week to forecast a 10 per cent fall in annual sales as China changes its energy mix has increased speculation that the downturn is a new normal.

Mr Stephan disagreed, saying China’s efforts to clean up the environment were increasing demand for higher quality Australian thermal coal rather than from dirtier Chinese mines.

“People were saying in the late 1990s-early 2000s that coal was part of the old economy and didn’t have a future … the subsequent increase in energy demand during the 2000s proved that wrong,” he told AAP.

“Around the peak of the cycle in 2010-11 they said that was going to be the new normal … they have subsequently been proved wrong.”

The company spent about $50 million on coal tenements in Queensland’s Surat Basin last December, and Mr Stephan said coal companies with high debt from high-priced acquisitions made in 2010-11 would sell assets.

New Hope is financially backed by major shareholder the wealthy Millner family.

Mr Stephan said the miner’s profit boost came from a six per cent rise in coal sales to a record 3.1 million tonnes, falls in the Australian dollar and a 35 per cent fall in diesel costs offsetting weak prices.

New Hope shares gained five cents to $2.53 by 1500 AEDT.


* First half net loss of $23.1m, down from a $22.7m net profit

* Underlying net profit – excluding non-regular items – of $34.2 million, up 51 pct from $22.7 million

* However it said net profit excluding those items was up 51 per cent

* Revenue of $269.1m, down 5.6 pct, from $284.9m

* Fully-franked interim dividend of four cents a share, down from six cents a share.

Outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu is putting the brakes on its store expansion in Australia after racking up a first half loss.


Disappointing sales at Christmas and in January as well as heavy discounting on excess winter stock were blamed by the retailer for pushing it into the red with a $NZ1.8 million ($A1.75 million) loss.

The gloom looks likely to continue, with sales during the seven weeks to mid March down two per cent on a year ago.

Acting chief executive Mark Todd said the full year result will depend on Easter and winter sales, Kathmandu’s traditionally strongest trading periods.

In the meantime, the retailer will slow the pace of new store openings in Australia amid weak consumer spending.

“The long term target remains 180 stores but we need to pause for the next few months to see how trading goes in Australia,” he said.

“That will give us clarity as to when to start to look for new store sites again.”

The number of store openings in Australia this financial year has been reduced from 15 to 11, eight of which have already opened, with future store openings dependent on trading conditions.

Kathmandu has 159 stores across Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Mr Todd said the variety of colours, styles and sizes of certain clothing ranges would also be reduced.

“We didn’t have very good results in Australia in particular on some of our high margin summer apparel groups like travel t-shirts, lightweight fleece and active wear,” he said.

Despite Kathmandu having flagged the loss in February, shareholders were disappointed with the result on Tuesday.

The stock was 20 cents, or 12.7 per cent, lower at $1.37 at 1504 AEDT.

Kathmandu now has a market capitalisation of about $316 million, nearly the same amount of cash Solomon Lew’s retail group Premier Investments has on hand for acquisitions.

However, Mr Todd knocked back suggestions that the company was a prime takeover target.

“A takeover is always possible at any point in time … that’s not a focus for management,” he told reporters.

OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said nothing was off the table for Premier in regards to potential acquisitions.

“It’s pure speculation however Premier does go for those niche retailers,” he said.

“However, Kathmandu’s result is a big let down for the market with fairly big misses on most of the metrics, and that’s coming off fairly low expectations.”

Mr Todd will return to his dual role of financial director and operations chief when the company’s new chief executive Xavier Simonet starts on July 1.


* First half net loss of $NZ1.84m, from $NZ11.4m net profit

* Revenue of $NZ179.4m, up seven pct, from $NZ167.6m

* Unchanged fully-franked interim dividend of three NZ cents a share

Skipper Justin Hodges has launched a passionate plea for Brisbane to re-sign Sam Thaiday amid speculation the benched back-rower is playing for his future at the NRL club.


NSW forward Beau Scott has been linked to the Broncos after a report claiming ex-skipper Thaiday has until the end of April to show he is worthy of a contract extension.

Thaiday, 29, has been relegated to the bench by coach Wayne Bennett after showing up to pre-season training overweight and an underwhelming round-one display.

Contract talks have reportedly been put on hold until the end of next month so the Broncos can gauge Thaiday’s form.

Brisbane great Gorden Tallis added to the intrigue surrounding 12-year Broncos veteran Thaiday, saying he wouldn’t be surprised to see Bennett favourite Scott arrive at the club next year.

But Tallis also slammed the Broncos on Triple M radio on Monday, saying it was embarrassing that they had aired Thaiday’s “dirty laundry” by leaking the news that the 200-plus game stalwart was on a six-week trial.

Hodges stood up for his besieged teammate on Tuesday, saying he would pick Thaiday over Scott “every day of the week”.

“The club has got to do everything they can to keep him,” he said.

“Over 10 years, he has been one of our best players every week.

“I am sure a deal will get done. You need a Sam Thaiday in your team.”

Hodges did not know what to make of the Scott speculation.

“He’s a great player; he gets under everyone’s skin; he does that quite well,” he said.

“He’s a quality player you’d love to have in your side.

“But if I had a choice over him or Sam, I would pick Sam every day of the week.”

Asked how much longer he could play, Thaiday said: “Another four years, easy.

“None of this talk is coming from us. I think it is a bit of a beat up.

“I don’t read the paper; I stay away from watching the news – I just continue doing my job.”

When told of Tallis’ passionate defence of him, Thaiday said: “That’s what mates do – they stick up for mates.”

Thaiday claimed he had not wondered how his Broncos bench role would affect his Queensland State of Origin and Test prospects.

“It (bench) is the role I have to play for the team,” he said.

“In the end, footy is what is going to get me a deal so I am not too worried about it at all.”

Matt Allwood will make his Warriors NRL debut at centre against Brisbane in a backline shuffle to cater for the absence of Sam Tomkins.


Fullback Tomkins will miss four-six weeks with a knee injury, prompting coach Andrew McFadden to introduce Canberra signing Allwood.

Tuimoala Lolohea shifts from centre to fullback for the club’s 20th anniversary match, against the opponents they faced in their inaugural game in March, 1995.

Lolohea, 20, will have his second start in the position in four games this season.

He filled the role when Tomkins was out with a hamstring injury in the loss to Newcastle – excelling with 213m and 10 tackle breaks – and he also played the last 29 minutes in the win over Parramatta at fullback after Tomkins left the field.

Allwood will become the seventh player to make his Warriors debut this season, joining backs Solomone Kata and Jonathan Wright and forwards Ryan Hoffman, Bodene Thompson, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete.

The 22-year-old has played twice for the club’s NSW Cup side, at centre and fullback, as well as being the NRL team’s 18th man twice.

Assistant coach Tony Iro was comfortable with Lolohea’s ability at fullback despite his lack of experience.

“He was outstanding there when we played Newcastle and had more experience when Sam went off last week,” he said.

“We all know the ability he has and have real confidence in him being able to handle himself.”

Warriors: Tuimoala Lolohea, Jonathan Wright, Matthew Allwood, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering (capt). Res: Nathan Friend, Ben Henry, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Dominique Peyroux (one to be omitted).

Labor and the coalition have laid out their battlegrounds before the pre-budget parliamentary break.


The planning comes as an average of the three latest Morgan, Essential and Newspoll surveys puts Labor ahead of the coalition 53.7-46.3 in two-party terms.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Tuesday’s coalition party room, the last before the May 12 budget, that the government had made “pretty good progress”, especially over the past six weeks.

Six weeks ago the prime minister survived a Liberal Party room spill motion 61-39, leading to a number of unpopular policies being ditched.

Mr Abbott said Labor leader Bill Shorten had put off voters with his “litany of screeching complaints”, while the government had responded directly to voter concerns.

Mr Shorten on Tuesday launched a new campaign in the lead-up to the budget using the theme: “Mr Abbott – Don’t Pocket our Pension”.

Labor MPs will spend the next six weeks pushing the message that the Abbott government wants to make budget savings by cutting pensions and raising the pension age to 70.

Mr Shorten said the failure of the first coalition budget was not because Labor had been negative, but because it had “won the argument in the community”.

He challenged Mr Abbott in parliament to rule out cuts to pensions, just as the government had on Monday ruled out adding to its $11 billion in cuts to foreign aid.

Mr Abbott told parliament pensions rose last week, by $78 a fortnight in the case of a married couple.

“This is a government which is putting pensions up and this government will put pensions up twice a year, every year,” he said.

Labor families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said the opposition stood by the policy of pensions rising by the higher rate of CPI, the pension index or male total average weekly earnings.

She insisted independent research had shown over the next decade $23 billion would be taken out of the pockets of pensioners.

Such messages have made coalition MPs jittery about the potential for the May budget to be as badly received as Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget.

To answer their concerns, Mr Hockey gave a 15-minute presentation to the party room on Tuesday in which he said this year’s budget would focus on small business, child care, infrastructure, free trade agreements and integrity in the tax and welfare systems.

Any savings in the budget to offset spending would be “responsible and fair”.

The government has been blaming the “feral” Senate for blocking much of its agenda, but crossbench senator Ricky Muir said it was merely reflecting the public’s view.

“Generally what I hear … is thank God you’re there, thank God there is actually scrutiny over the current budget proposals,” he told ABC radio.