Bolt decision soon: A-League boss

Central Coast Mariners are waiting for a decision from Usain Bolt after they offered him a contract.The head of the A-League Greg O’Rourke says Usain Bolt could decide within days whether to accept a contract offer from Central Coast Mariners.

“I think it will be played out in a matter of days or weeks,” O’Rourke told AAP on Wednesday.

The Mariners concede it’s unlikely Bolt will accept the contract, reportedly worth $100,000, unless a third-party agreement can be found to deliver more money to the Olympic sprinting great.

“They have put an offer on the table to Usain and that effectively places the ball in Usain’s court, they’re not sure how he and his management are going to respond to that,” O’Rourke said.

While Bolt’s trial at the Mariners had created worldwide interest and helped promote the A-League, it hadn’t translated to tangible impact on the domestic competition.

“There’s no doubt that he has brought a lot of attention to the A-League and the Mariners,” O’Rourke said.

“And if you think about the digital views of uploading his trial and his goals compared to normal A-League reach numbers, they’re significantly higher.

“But the other point to make is that a lot of those views are international, which is nice, it brings recognition to the league.

“But it doesn’t actually bring people to the gate or subscriptions to n broadcasters.

“So how do you take a perceived media value versus an actual sustainable improvement in league metrics?

“I don’t really want to get into the debate except to say that everyone else I speak to has a different view.”

Taking away the promotional aspect, O’Rourke said a key question lingered about 32-year-old Bolt.

“The question has been, and will remain, is he ready to be a footballer? And if so, is he ready to be an A-League footballer?,” he said.

“And the answer to that, at this point in time, from himself and the club is that he’s not ready.”

Miller eyes podium finish at Aust MotoGP

n MotoGP rider Jack Miller is hoping for a better Grand Prix at Phillip Island this year.n MotoGP ace Jack Miller is confident he can challenge for a podium finish and perhaps even break through for a maiden home grand prix win at Phillip Island this weekend.

The Queenslander has fond memories of last year’s race at the famed island circuit where he stormed to an early lead on his Marc VDS Honda before settling for seventh.

Miller has enjoyed mixed fortunes this season after switching to Ducati with Pramac Racing.

He qualified on the front row in third at last week’s Japanese MotoGP, but crashed out with 13 laps remaining in the race.

Star Spaniard Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) took the chequered flag first to claim his seventh world title, with Miller currently 13th in the championship standings with three races to go.

“Coming into Phillip Island I’m on a better machine than I was last year and we led for seven laps,” Miller told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

“Hopefully this year we can turn it into 27 (laps).

“I’m excited and nervous … I know what I did wrong last year in terms of tyre consumption, so I can take what I learnt and use that knowledge here, especially in my tyre choice and race strategy.

“… If we didn’t go out there thinking we had a chance of winning we wouldn’t go out there.”

Miller claimed a surprise maiden MotoGP win in the rain at Assen in 2016, but hasn’t managed a podium finish this year.

The 23-year-old will remain with Pramac Racing next season, but will be on a better bike when he takes over the No.1 spot to be vacated by Italian teammate Danilo Petrucci.

Despite some teething issues as he learns the ins and outs of his new machine, Miller is happy with his first season on a Ducati.

“We’ve been really close to the podium on a lot of occasions,” he said.

“(I) got a pole position at the second grand prix … it’s the first time I’ve (qualified) on the front row this year and to be there three times already on a year-old bike, I feel it’s been a good season.

“There have been some dramas, we’ve crashed out of three races which is not ideal but I’ve had worse seasons that’s for sure.

“… The goal is to try to crack 100 (championship) points before the end of the year.”

Cancer claim breakthrough for NSW firies

NSW firefighters will be able to claim compensation for cancer more easily under proposed new laws.Firefighters diagnosed with certain cancers in NSW will soon be able to claim compensation without having to prove themselves it was because of their work.

The state government on Wednesday introduced draft laws that will make it easier to access entitlements by automatically presuming firefighters acquired one of 12 cancers while on the job.

It will instead be up to insurers to prove the cancer was not a result of firefighter duties under the proposed changes.

“The onus has historically been on firefighters and it is a difficult task when all the science, all the studies and all the understanding is that all firefighters go into unknown hazardous situations,” NSW Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant told reporters in Sydney.

Firefighters are often exposed to a mixture of chemicals, carcinogens and other elements that are identified as being contributors to cancer, Mr Grant said.

Fire & Rescue NSW deputy commissioner Mal Connellan said a small number of firefighters are diagnosed with cancer every year and have faced a battle to prove the cancer is linked to their work.

“It is an extremely distressing time and this legislation removes that burden from them and their families,” he told reporters.

If passed, the legislation will apply from September 27. Firefighters who have made a previously rejected claim will be allowed to reapply under the new laws.

Both voluntary and paid firefighters will be eligible, as will firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer after they have left the industry.

The cancers include brain, leukaemia, breast, testicular and bladder cancer.

Izzy re-signs, backs his God-given rights

Israel Folau stunningly confessed to enjoying the backlash from his controversial anti-gay posts after agreeing to a new four-year deal to remain in n rugby.

The superstar code-hopper is off limits to NRL clubs after ending months of speculation over his future on Wednesday with a recommitment to the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs until at least the end of 2022.

“It’s a relief and I have made known to my agent that I am obviously very interested at staying on in the game,” Folau said in Tokyo ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks on Saturday.

“It’s something that I have enjoyed being a part of.”

The former State of Origin and n rugby league Test player had been in the sights of several NRL clubs, as well as the Queensland Reds and cashed-up rugby franchises in Europe and Japan.

The 29-year-old admitted he wrestled with the decision at times during protracted contract negotiations with Rugby , who he clashed with in April following a series of provocative social media posts from the devout Christian.

“It’s a bit of a rollercoaster year for me, more so off the field with what’s been happening,” Folau said.

“But, to be quite honest, it might sound a bit crazy, but I kind of really enjoyed what was happening off the field, not that it happened on purpose.

“But my identity is based around my faith in God and I truly believe that from deep down inside what was happening off the field, even though it was challenging and it was hard, it was actually moulding me into the person in becoming stronger and it actually taught me a lot of things that I needed to learn, and I’m still learning now.

“Obviously a lot of people will say negative things about what was happening, but it taught me to actually love and forgive them for obviously not agreeing and that’s something that I’ve learnt to take on.”

It’s unknown if RA boss Raelene Castle will stipulate in the formal contract that Folau must tone down his posts, but the three-times John Eales Medallist insisted the pair could continue working together.

“I respect who she is and she’s doing a really great job running the game so far,” he said.

Despite the controversy and drama swirling around him, Folau has managed to produce some of the most electrifying rugby of his career in 2018.

“Going onto the footy field, probably a lot of people would probably say that it would affect my rugby, but I’ve never felt so much peace going onto the field,” Folau said.

The retention of the 69-Test superstar comes hot on the heels of RA’s re-signing of several other key players in 2018.

Test captain Michael Hooper and young tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa have both signed on for another five years, while playmaker Bernard Foley last week announced he was sticking around in until at least next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Newcastle District Cricket Association: Wallsend’s Nathan Price, Jake Montgomery still can’t believe 41-run over

Cricket: Price, Montgomery still can’t believe 41-run over ROAR: Tigers batsmen Nathan Price and Jake Montgomery together at Wallsend Oval for club training this week after combining to score 41 runs off one over in a Tom Locker Cup match on Saturday. Picture: Josh Callinan

Wallsend pair Nathan Price and Jake Montgomery together after scoring 41 runs

UNBELIEVABLE: Tigers batsmen Nathan Price and Jake Montgomery together at Wallsend Oval this week after combining to score 41 runs off one over on Saturday. Picture: Josh Callinan

TweetFacebook Wallsend cricketers Nathan Price and Jake Montgomery hit 41 from one over Pictures by Josh CallinanCricket can throw up all kinds of unexpected scenarios, but neither Nathan Price nor Jake Montgomery were everanticipating anything remotely like this.

The Wallsend batsmen have received countless messages this week from people simply trying to figure out how it was even possible.

And they reckon Saturday afternoon’s effortsat Lynn Oval might even end up as a trivia question somewhere down the track.

Price and Montgomery combined forces to score 41 runs from a single over.

It is believed to be a Newcastle District Cricket Association record and first grade teammatesdescribed the featas “ridiculous” after the Tigers duo surpassed the magical 36-run figure, or the equivalent of six sixes from as many deliveries.

“I’ve never heard of that before,” Price, 31, said.

“I thought it was literallyimpossible to get more than 36.Everybody has just been asking how did that happen? Talk me through it.”

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Batting at the southern end of Stockton’s home ground and 10 overs down chasing the one-day Tom Locker Cup target of 7-138, Price and Montgomerystruck four sixes andthree fours off the bowling of Seagulls leg-spinner Kye Zanardi.

There was also five extras, resulting in two additionalballs being bowled.

Price opened proceedings with three sixes in-a-row towards “cow corner”, including the first from a head-high no-ball meaning Wallsendwere already 19 runs from two legal deliveries.

Next was a leg-side wide,which made it past the wicketkeeper and allowed the Tigers pair to cross for a furtherthree runs. The scenario was now 23 off only two.

Montgomery then took guard and hit three straight fours, two sweep shots and a drive to the now vacant cover fence.That’s 35 from five.

And to cap it all off Montgomery cleared the leg-side boundary with the last ball to make it 41 off six, splitting the honours with Price at 18 runs apiece.

“I think I got 30 [off one over] in an under 21s game once, but three fours and three sixes,” Montgomery, 23, said.“Nothinglike that.”

Price agrees: “I reckon I barely got to 30 [in an over] once, but not all sixes and a couple of fours in there. Definitely nowhere near 36, let alone 41.”

However, the damage continued with the next over from Stockton’s Sam Jenkinson going for 17and Wallsend now amassing58runs across12 balls.

Despite the scorers frantically playing catch up on the books,Wallsend nabbed a bonus point victoryin the following 13th over.Price (86 not out) and Montgomery (37 not out) also beat the storm home, featuringin a103-run partnership for the second wicket.

“It just escalated pretty quickly,” Price said.

Legislation tabled in parliament to make compensation easier to access for firefighters with cancer

The state government has introduced legislation to NSW Parliament to make it easier for firefighters to claim compensation for certain types of cancer.

But the opposition hascalled on the government to support its version of the new law, which shadow emergency services minister Guy Zangari introduced to parliament late last month.

Finance Minister Victor Dominello and Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant released a statement on Wednesday saying the government had tabled legislation that would remove the burden of proof for firefighters with cancer.

They said servingand former firefighters, who met designated employment periods,diagnosed with one of 12 types of cancer would not have to prove their illness was a result of their work.

“Firefighters risk their lives every day to keep the people of NSW safe, and they deserve our complete support,” Mr Dominello said.

“The new legislation, which covers both career and volunteer firefighters, will be effective immediatelyandmake the process of claiming compensation much easier.”

Mal Connellan, FRNSW deputy commissioner.

But Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said the government should have instead worked with Labor’s legislation and put up amendments in order to add to it.

“Labor currently has legislation before the house that the government could support and vote on today,” he said.

“We have done extensive consultation over the last year on this and the government has not done its homework.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and Charlestown MP Jody McKay with firefighters at Hamilton fire station discussing Labor’s version of the law in early October.

“We have worked closely with key stakeholders including unions. The government has been dragged kicking and screaming to these reforms by Labor.”

Leukaemia, brain cancer, non-hodgkinlymphoma, uretercancer and prostate cancer are among the 12 types included in both the government’s and Labor’s version of the legislation.

Similar laws exist in most other states and therewill be no changes to existing workers compensation entitlements for firefighters.

Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service have welcomed the proposed new law.

Read more: Push to make compensation easier for firefighters with cancer

“The amendments reverse the onus of proof for firefighters and do not impose a limit on accessing the provision post-employment, which will ensure our firefighters, who risk their own life and health to protect the people of NSW, promptly receive their entitlements when they need it most,” FRNSW deputy commissioner Mal Connellan said.

RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers said it meant volunteer firefighters would be entitled to the same access to compensation as their counterparts in other states and territories.

“Our firefighters have always taken care of our communities so it’s important we take care of them, and this bill will allow those diagnosed with cancer to concentrate on their treatment and recovery,” deputy commissioner Rogerssaid.

Cricket: Newcastle representative coach Shane Burley named NSW Country assistant

APPOINTMENT: NSW Country assistant coach Shane Burley batting for Stockton in 2007. Picture: Brock Perks Newcastle representative coach Shane Burley will be busier than normal at next month’s NSW Country Championships after being appointed Bush Blues assistant coach for 2018-19.

Burley will continue to guide reigning premiersNewcastle when they cross over to the southern pool in Shoalhaven from November 9 to 11, but there’ll also be an eye towards NSW Country selections for national titles.

The mentor hopes to catch some of the northern poolat Inverell from November 2 to 4 as well, before joining forces with Bush Blues head coach Jeff Cook to help select the final NSW Country side travelling to Victoria in the new year.

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“I’ve always been keen to do something at national titles, whether that be at junior or senior level,” Burley told the Newcastle Herald.

“I put in an expression of interest when the position became vacant and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The former Newcastle representative wicketkeeper, past first grade captain and current Belmont coach has been involved with the city’s senior group for six seasons, including five in charge.

This has featured three Newcastle wins from four NSW Country finals and three NSW Premier T20 Cup play-off appearances.

“Shane [Burley] is a terrific coach and has excellent player management skills,” Newcastle district chairman Paul Marjoribanks said.

“He creates an environment that players want to be part of and enjoy playing in.”

Newcastle open theirlatest NSW Premier T20 Cup campaign next weekend.

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NNSW NPL structure for 2020 to be revealed after next year’s grand final

2018 NPL grand final winners BroadmeadowNORTHERN NSW Football will not confirm the NPL competition structure for beyond2020 until after next year’s grand finals following a review of second-tier clubs’ ambitions for the coming licencing period.

The 11-team NNSW NPL could expand into two levels incorporating Northern League One clubs anda promotion-relegation system or stay a single tier without annual changes after athree-year licence termends following the 2019 season.

NNSWF reviewedclubs this season to gauge the status of second tier, Northern League One teams and their interest in applying for an NPL licence.Many applied for the 2017-19 period but failed to meet criteria. Lake Macquarie were added, taking theNPL to 11 clubs.

NNSWF chief David Eland said “all but a couple” of the 11-team Northern League One clubsmade it clear in the review that they intended to apply for an NPL licence.

Eland said the review includedfrank conversations with clubs about their status to potentially avoid an applicationprocess that would prove taxing on volunteers.

“This preliminary review was about giving clubs an insight into what it was going to look like in 2020 ahead of 2019, but that’s not going to be possible now,” Eland said.

“We are of the view now that we must go through the application process and review the clubs’ submissions.”

Based on the previousprocess, Eland said applications for 2020 NPL licences would open at the start of nextseason and close in July.NNSWF management would consider applications beforethe board met inSeptember to decide the structure. An announcementwould be madeafter the grand final.

“The majority of clubs in Northern League One have confirmed their intention to apply for an NPL licence, which is very encouraging,” he said.“It demonstrates clubs are committed to continuous improvement and trying to get that NPL licence.But the real test will come when we open up the application process because that’s when the club are going to have to prove to us they’ve met the criteria orprovide us with a bona fide guarantee that by the start of 2020 they’ve addressed their shortcomings.”

NNSWF had hoped to create two levels of complaint NPL clubs to revive promotion and relegation in 2017 but not enough met the standards. Promotion-relegationhad been abandoned when only two second-tier clubs met the criteria.Eland said thereturn of the system withtwo levels of NPL remained the goal.He believed the maximum number of teams for one tier was 14 and the minimum in each league across two was eight.

“What’s come through loud and clear from reviews is that all clubs recognise the merits of promotion-relegation, so that’s what the board remain focused on, but it won’t be at any cost,” he said.“They are not about to start diluting criteria and handing out licences for fun. Standards must be maintained.”

He said clubs had already been asked to providefeedback on the criteria.

“Because the criteria is largely driven by the FFA and there’s a lot of continuity around the country, Ican’t see wholesale changes but we certainly give the clubs in every licencing period the opportunity to provide feedback and propose changes,” he said.“If we think there’s merit, we go to the FFA and advocate for that change.”

As for the position of the Jets Youth in a two-tier system, he said:“The FFA’s position is that for Northern NSW to comply with our licence with the FFA, theJets Youth need to play in our top-flight competition. That’s based on the FFA’s view of the standard or our league.”

He said NNSWF would behappy to discuss with FFA theJets Youth’s statusinpromotion-relegation.

Eland also warned clubs against over-reaching in 2019 because of uncertainty about the following season.

“It is absolute folly for any club in the NPL or Northern League One to be operating outside of their means and signing players on the basis that their team’s performance in 2019 is going to have a significant impact on 2020,” he said.

“It’s just not. The criteria is crystal clear and there’s 10 elements to the criteria. It’s all weighted.If a club doesn’t meet the criteria, it doesn’t matter if they win the competition by 20 points.”