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Roar extend Glory’s winless streak to six

Written By malwan milad on Sabtu, 28 Februari 2015 | 23.52

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PERTH Glory is facing a season-defining showdown with chief title rival Melbourne Victory on Saturday after its winless streak reached six matches following a 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar at nib Stadium last night.

Glory's 14-week reign on top of the A-League table could end as soon as today if second-placed Victory beats Wellington Phoenix.

Perth led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Danny De Silva's strike, but it was left to defender Dino Djulbic to fire in a late equaliser after the home side was stunned by two Brisbane goals in the space of two minutes early in the second half.

Substitute Jean Carlos Solorzano equalised for the visitors on the hour mark, before Socceroo Matt McKay put Roar in front in the 62nd minute.

Glory extended its lead over second-placed Victory to three points, however Victory has two games in hand including today's home fixture against Phoenix.

FEATURE: The Daniel De Silva story

MATCH CENTRE: stats, line-ups, play-by-play commentary and video.

Daniel De Silva of the Glory celebrates. Source: Getty Images

A-League fans could witness the best title race in the competition's decade-long history after Sydney FC surged into fourth place last night, just four points behind Glory, following a thrilling 4-3 win over Western Sydney in the derby.

Backing up just three days after Wednesday night's 1-0 loss to Beijing Guoan in the Asian Champions League, the away point for Roar was not enough to jump back into the top six.

Brisbane was reduced to 10 men in the 76th minute when defender Corey Brown was controversially shown a straight red card for pulling down Jamie Maclaren as the Glory attacker raced towards goal.

De Silva, who has been laid low by illness in recent weeks, was handed his first start since December and repaid coach Kenny Lowe with his third A-League goal of the season.

The 17-year-old was on hand to tap in from close range in the 26th minute after Scott Jamieson's accurate long ball was headed down by Chris Harold.

De Silva's goal was cancelled out when Solorzano slammed home a terrific cross from Brandon Borrello, before McKay finished his strong run into the box with a goal after holding off Glory defender Josh Risdon.

Djulbic rescued a point for Glory in the 84th minute when he put in the rebound after Dragan Paljic's stunning long-range attempt had struck the woodwork.

Dino Djulbic of the Glory scored the equaliser. Source: Getty Images

Glory was probably good value for its 1-0 lead at half-time, with a revamped starting line-up producing more fluency than in last week's scoreless draw with Melbourne City.

Inclusions De Silva and Dragan Paljic were both energetic after replacing Denis Kramar and Sidnei in the line-up.

But Perth also lapsed at the back several times, with Henrique firing narrowly over the crossbar when left alone at the top of the penalty area in the 16th minute in Roar's best chance of the first half.

Glory keeper Danny Vukovic produced an outstanding save in the 55th minute to deny a stinging drive from McKay.

Joshua Risdon of the Glory and Henrique De Silva of the Roar. Source: Getty Images


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Fans cry: ‘Russell Leeds us to the top’

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RUSSELL Crowe has played Noah and heard the voice of God. Now Leeds United fans want him to be their Moses and lead them to the Promised Land.

Or at least to the English Premier League.

The sports pages over here in the UK are full of Russell's plans to take over the struggling Championship club which, so far, consist of the Oscar winner asking his Twitter followers, "does anyone think this is a good idea?"

Well, it is if you are trying to promote a movie in England, which Russell is right now, but not so much if you want to hold onto your money.

Russell Crowe is not short of a buck – or a quid as they call readies over here – but he's not in the league of club owners in the EPL.

According to celebritynetworth.com Russell has a fortune of around $75 million, or a tad under £50 million. That sort of cash can buy you a very nice lifestyle in Australia, but it won't get you a seat at the owners' table in the top tier of European football. There are players who earn that kind of money.

Actor and co-owner of South Sydney Rabbitohs Russell Crowe looks on at the World Club Challenge. Source: Getty Images

Sure, there are millionaire owners of clubs in the lower divisions. Usually they are local businessmen who have followed the clubs all their lives and don't mind dipping their hands in their pockets to give the stadium a new lick of paint every year or pay for the players and wives to have a night out at the end of the season.

But the big hitters talk in billions, not millions.

Shahid Khan, who owns Championship side Fulham FC, is said to be worth $4 billion, as is the Glazer family who own Manchester United – and they are at the bottom end of the scale. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly has over $9 billion and Arsenal's major shareholders Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov could scrape together $25 billion between them.

Of course Russell wouldn't be putting up all his own money. In his association with the Rabbitohs he has always had partners with deep pockets – Peter Holmes a Court and James Packer. Whether Packer would want to become involved in a rescue operation of a club and code in which he has never shown any interest in the past is debatable. He might be a gambler, but he likes the odds to be very much in his favour.

One thing for certain though is that Russell Crowe would be great for Leeds United, just as he has been great for South Sydney. The clubs have a lot in common. Once were both the biggest in their games, and both fell on hard times.

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One only had to be in St Helens last Sunday night to see how Crowe has helped turn the Rabbitohs around. They were nothing short of magnificent in annihilating the Super League champions 39-0. As shell-shocked St Helens coach Shaun Wane said, "We were schooled by the best team in the world".

And you only had to be in the UK in the week leading up to the match to see the impact that Russell can have on promoting a club. Not one mention of the World Club Challenge failed to note that Russell Crowe was missing the Oscars to attend. I even saw it discussed on one of the major EPL TV panel shows. Rugby league being talked about on a national British football program? Unbelievable.

And you only had to be at any of the three NRL versus Super League games to see the trailer for Russell's movie The Water Diviner shown on the big screen at the grounds.

So, much as I think the supporters of Leeds are right in wanting Russell to be their leader, and much as I think he would do a wonderful job, I can't help thinking his interest in keeping this story alive will wane somewhat after April 3. The day The Water Diviner opens in the UK.


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How police sniffed out sport’s coke bust

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WHEN John "Leather" Touma was shot in the stomach in Sydney over a bad debt, the alleged cocaine king pin and ex-rugby league lower grade player moved to the Gold Coast.

Often referred to as a sunny place for shady people, Touma began networking around the edges of the Surfers Paradise glitter strip.

Some 15 years later, the multi-million dollar cocaine ring Touma has been charged with establishing, would register a 9.9 on the Richter scale of Australian sport.

Football stars Karmichael Hunt, Greg Bird, Dave Taylor, Ashley Harrison, Steve Michaels and Beau Fallon — along with fringe NRL players Jamie Dowling, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Joe Vickery — would all be dragged into the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission net.

ORIGIN STAR HARRISON CAUGHT IN DRUG NET

NO COCAINE CULTURE AT TITANS

How the sports stars are all linked. Source: DailyTelegraph

In the bigger picture, Super 15 star Hunt and the six current and two ex-Gold Coast Titans players are simply small fish allegedly caught in a police sting targeting organised crime.

The sports stars are not drug dealers, but police will allege they were caught sourcing the white powder known as Columbia's finest on a number of occasions between June and December last year.

Touma's low-rent, ground-floor apartment tucked two streets back from the canal-side mansions of Mermaid Waters is the antithesis of the five-star opulence you would expect to find a drug star living in.

But around the corner in the neighbouring suburb of Broadbeach Waters, the residence of Touma's ex-Eastern Suburbs Roosters teammate John Tobin was more akin to the high-life, palatial mansion.

COCAINE SCANDAL A CRUSHING BLOW

ANNESLEY SEES BRIGHT FUTURE

Jason Smith leaves Toowoomba Magistrates court on charges relating to drug trafficking. Source: News Corp Australia

Little did the alleged major players know, their phones were tapped and their homes were under video and photographic surveillance from the CCC.

From Bird's ill-fated Buck's party to a Gold Coast Titans booze cruise on Mad Monday, police will allege the drug dealer known as "Leather" was being contacted by a host of sports stars looking to source cocaine.

Police will not only allege "Leather" delivered, but it's believed they have text message trails and video and photographic evidence capturing the transactions.

The fine print of the supply allegations will begin to come out this Thursday, when Hunt and Gold Coast Titans duo Falloon and Dowling face the music in Southport Magistrates Court.

But the tentacles of Australian sport's latest drugs scandal stretch much further, with all of the significant players linked to a rugby league pedigree.

Early photo from 1990s playing days of ex-Roosters drug dealer John Thomas, who is one of the central figures in the Gold Coast Titans cocaine investigation. (In the middle next to the left of the red head is John Thomas, one of the king pins involved in the Gold Coast Titans drug investigation) Source: Supplied

Police will allege Touma, or John Thomas as he was known in the lower grades at Eastern Suburbs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and his ex-teammate Tobin were significant players in the cocaine trade.

On the next level below them on the organisational chart, retired Queensland and Australian star Jason Smith, was allegedly also a significant player.

Through covert surveillance, police claim they began to unravel a chain of command where the duo was distributing cocaine to Smith, who owns the Mill Street Tavern hotel in Toowoomba.

Smith and Toowoomba restaurateur Jason Wood have both been charged with trafficking 280 grams of cocaine between June and December last year.

Former Tigers player Matt Seers. Source: News Corp Australia

Police believe another significant member of the network was ex-North Sydney Bears and Wests Tigers fullback Matt Seers, who was allegedly used as a "driver" couriering cocaine between the Gold Coast and Toowoomba.

Seers famously stood down from playing for the North Sydney Bears in 1998 to try and tackle a cocaine addiction during his playing days.

Smith and Seers are currently banned from contacting each other until their cases are heard in the Queensland court system.

Touma and Tobin are currently out on bail and believed to have returned to Sydney.

Irrespective of what happens in court, all of the Gold Coast Titans players still contracted to the club will most likely face the sack over bringing the club into disrepute.


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Buzz: Harvey’s $1m loan saves Tinkler again

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IT can now be revealed how Nathan Tinklersaved his shaky ownership of the Newcastle Jets — he borrowed another $1 million from businessmanGerry Harvey to pay debts.

And in another blow that threatens the club's A-League survival, the Australian Taxation Office has stepped in and put a garnishee on the $250,000 monthly grant the Jets receive from FFA because of Tinkler's unpaid tax bills.

The grant — that goes to all clubs — is vital for cashflow in the day-to-day running of the football operations and staff wages.

Nathan Tinkler had to borrow more money from Gerry Harvey to keep hold of the Jets. Source: News Corp Australia

FFA boss David Gallop recently issued an ultimatum and deadline to Tinkler to pay long-overdue bills or hand back his licence.

At the last minute, he came up with the money. It turns out that Harvey came to his rescue.

"Yeah, he got a mil off me recently and a mil off me before that," Harvey told me.

"He's been a constant borrower over two years.

"What he does with the money … I never ask him what it's for because I have no interest.

"There's no point me knowing. He could be paying the Jets, wages, interest, solicitors, I've got no idea. "The one thing I know is, it doesn't matter how many lectures I give him, he does things his own way."

Nathan Tinkler has retained control of the Jets for now. Source: Getty Images

Harvey revealed he has lent the fallen mining magnate more than $50m.

Most of it has been paid back from the sale of his racing empire Patinack Farm.

"When I lend him money — and that's over $50 million in the past two years — he's paid back a big percentage," Harvey said.

"He's just sold another couple of properties; so soon it will nearly be paid back in full."

Meanwhile, FFA supremo Frank Lowy and Gallop are monitoring the Jets' situation fearing they may have to step in at any time.

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SAINT

FOUR sleeps to the NRL kick-off. No more cocaine, cover-ups or controversy.

SINNER

THE NRL rules that allow players to openly shop themselves to rival clubs a week before the start of a season. Surely one of the highly paid geniuses at NRL headquarters can come up with a system that can stop it from happening.

SHOOSH

WHICH NRL club is stepping up its bid to sign bigIsrael Folau, who is off contract at the end of the season with the Australian Rugby Union and the NSW Waratahs?

SHOOSH II

WHICH club is trying to offload a current State of Origin player to free up salary cap space? And it's not Trent Merrin at the Dragons.

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MUNDINE'S US SWITCH

ANTHONY Mundine's next fight will be in the US and not in Melbourne, as was previously thought. His people are talking to three potential big-name opponents: Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, and Cornelius Bundrage. After a long break, Mundine has resumed training and is hoping that the fight will take place late next month.

WOULD-BE PLUGGER

GOOD morning to the senior government bureaucrat who often reads the online version of this column in the wee small hours of Sunday and then makes abusive 2am phone calls to anyone suspected of leaking confidential information.

CODES SOLIDARITY

WHO says the NRL is at war with the AFL on the Gold Coast? Titans CEO Graham Annesley received an avalanche of sympathetic and supportive text messages at the height of the cocaine scandal last week, two of them were from high-profile AFL administrators and another from a senior official at the Gold Coast Suns.

BENJI'S BIRTHDAY BASH

BENJI Marshall celebrated his 30th birthday over dinner at the Chinese restaurant Lees Fortuna Court in Crows Nest on Wednesday with his stunning wife Zoe, who posted this photo (below) on her Instagram account.

NRL NUMBER CRUNCHERS

WE keep hearing the NRL carrying on about having the top three rating shows on television last year, which is true. It's also spin-doctoring at its best.

What they don't tell us is that the overall ratings for the entire season on Fox Sports and Channel Nine fell alarmingly and fewer people watched rugby league in 2014 than the previous two years.

Meanwhile the great Ray 'Rabbits' Warren faces a late fitness test before calling Thursday night's Broncos-Rabbitohs season opener in Brisbane.

He returned to Triple M on Saturday but is still undergoing treatment after off-season prostate surgery. He has told director of sport Steve Crawleyhe wants to be at Suncorp to call the game.

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HOPOATE SAYS 'I DO'

MOST rugby league players get married during the off-season … not one week before the premiership kick-off. Will Hopoate has always done things differently.

Like taking two years away from rugby league to undertake a Mormon mission, in which the church followers dedicate all their time to the church without pay.

And on Saturday, the Parramatta fullback got married just six days before the blockbuster season-opener against his old club Manly.

It was a private affair held at a temple in Brisbane where he studied. Only family and a few of Hopoate's closest friends attended the wedding.

He will be back at Parramatta training on Monday and has no plans for a honeymoon.

Will's father John hung up on me when I asked him on Friday for details of the wedding and the bride's name.

She is a Maori girl. The couple met while Hopoate studied in Brisbane but started a relationship only last November.

Will Hopoate and with his new wife Jimicina Green. Source: FACEBOOK Source: Facebook

SAINTS GREAT ON THE MEND

NO one in rugby league has a bigger heart than former St George front-rower Craig Young, who played 20 Tests for Australia and skippered the Dragons to win the 1979 premiership. Last week, the 58-year-old underwent major heart surgery at St George Private Hospital.

It went well and he hopes to be home in the next few days. The operation would have floored most patients for months. Young still works for the Dragons and the NSW Blues and has vowed to return to his duties ASAP.

DRAGONS NOT DOWN AND OUT

THE NRL needs to be careful how it hands out rescue funds among the 16 clubs.

It's no secret Dave Smith gave St George Illawarra a multimillion-dollar loan because they were supposedly down, out and desperate.

What hasn't been revealed is that St George Leagues Club actually made a $4.1 million profit last year and has more money in the bank than a lot of other clubs who haven't received a penny from Moore Park headquarters.

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VIDEO KILLS A-LEAGUE ACTION

ALLIANZ Stadium has been trumpeting its new giant video screens at each end of the ground to give match-day fans a better experience. But not all stakeholders are happy about it. Broadcaster Fox Sports has lost vital camera positions to cover A-League matches.

The behind-the-goals cameras are essential for all the goalmouth action in soccer, but I'm told that pleas by TV producers fell on deaf ears. Construction of the screens has also affected The Cove, Sydney FC's supporter group, who've lost access to more than 100 prime seats for much of the season.

It was a muddy affair at the National Touch League in Port Macquarie last weekend. www.nashyspix.com Source: Supplied

A TOUCH TOO MUCH ... FUN

IT was meant to be the world's largest representative touch football event involving 1145 games, but for the 5000 participants and 400 referees (including the NRL's recently retired Shayne Hayne) who travelled to Port Macquarie last weekend, it turned out to be a wet and wild adventure of slush, mud, fun and water polo.

Some 331 teams contested the first two days of the NSW Junior Touch state titles but the organisers — as you can see — were forced to abandon the last day after "excessive rainfall and tidal rises" shortly after 6am on finals day.

In its 20th year of Junior State Cup and since the seniors' inception in 1977, the decision was unprecedented.

General manager Dean Russell was extremely disappointed but praised the calibre of talent on show and was looking forward to returning to a sunny Port Macquarie next year.

Mayweather v Pacquiao — strictly for the high-rollers. Source: News Corp Australia

LAZY $65K FOR RINGSIDE SEAT

NOT even $65,000 will guarantee you a ringside seat at the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight-of-the-century in Las Vegas.

The MGM Grand want only high-rollers, Hollywood celebrities and sporting superstars in the most expensive seats.

Casino customers need a minimum $250,000 line of credit to get first choice of the seats.

Incredibly, ticket prices range from $A7,452.99 to ^65,123.19 for the fight.

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BLEATING BRONCOS

WE'RE hearing there is serious friction at the Broncos between supercoach Wayne Bennett and chief executive Paul White. Since returning to the club, Bennett has made it clear he is in charge. As he was at Newcastle and St George Illawarra. White has gone from enjoying a close relationship and friendship with Anthony Griffin to being shoved into the background.

MARDI GRAS STAND

WHICH former rugby league international will be on float at next weekend's Mardi Gras parade on Oxford Street?

The player is not gay but will be proudly wearing his old club's footy jersey to support the gay community and the NRL's stance against homophobia.

I'm hearing other sports will be involved too, including the AFL and rugby union.


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Parker’s lessons learned 300 games in

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THREE hundred games. It's a remarkable milestone in any sport but in the brutal world of NRL, it is a feat of extraordinary physical and mental toughness.

Broncos star Corey Parker, who play his 300th first grade match in Thursday night's season opener against South Sydney, looks back through his journey from starstruck youngster to senior player, and the dramas and delights along the way.

Parker (C) with Shane Webcke, Gorden Tallis, Allan Langer, Shane Walker & Andrew Gee in 2002. Source: News Corp Australia

Everyone has that one image from their first game that never leaves them. What was yours?

It's just flashed through my mind. It was (110kg Warriors backrower) Ali Lauitiiti bringing the ball out from a dropout. He was a monster of a man. I had just come on and it seemed to me as if he looked at everyone, then decided I was the one he could run straight over the top of. And he did.

How do look back at the generational changes in your journey with the Broncos?

I remember watching the '92 grand final in my full Broncos outfit, cheering for the side I loved, and mum and dad said 'let's go see the Broncos come in to the airport'. I was an eight-year-old standing next to the bus when my idols came through and I got a glimpse of them. I touched them as they walked past.

ORIGIN STAR HARRISON CAUGHT IN DRUG NET

BENNETT WILL MAKE FINAL CALL ON INGLIS

HODGES COMPLETES TRANSITION TO LEADER

ANGRY PARKER FED UP WITH DRUG RUMOURS

Then life moved on?

Yes I got to play with those players from the airport like Steve Renouf, Allan Langer and Kevin Walters. When I started playing with the Broncos in 2001, guys like Anthony Milford and Joe Ofahengaue were four years old, so it's gone full cycle.

I once heard that when you arrived at the club, the older players were very hard on you and you really resented it. Was that true?

Yes. It was the fact that I never used to back down. If I felt someone was having a go at me, I would not take a backward step. I got into many scuffles and wrestles with senior players, all of which ended with that mutual respect and understanding that I was not going to take that shit.

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Sounds like a tough school?

That's how footy was. There was a really good core of older guys. It was sink or swim. It worked for me. It may not work for others.

So you resented it and you physically fought them, yet you respected them?

Well I was 18, I might have thought I was the bees knees and they might have been trying to bring me down a peg or two, and that might have been needed.

When you talk of dressingroom scuffles, were there any Shane Webcke moments?

Plenty of them. I have a huge amount of respect for Webby and Andrew Gee. Webby is Webby. I think everyone knows what sort of guy he is and he tried to enforce that on me at times. I didn't cop it. We would wrestle and carry on.

Parker and Shane Webcke go at it during Broncos training. Source: News Limited

Was there ever serious punches thrown — and I can tell by the look on your face the answer is yes?

I had too much respect to throw a punch but we had plenty of wrestles. There would be times at training when the rest of the team would be up one end, and me and Webby would be rolling around at the other end. We would get up, suck in some seagulls and go and join the team.

That's priceless.

There was one punch actually. He won't mind me saying, because it was quite funny. We were at Webby's pub at Leyburn at the time with Gee Gee, (former CEO) Bruno Cullen and (media manager) Trad McLean, and the Origin team was being announced. There was talk it was going to be me or Gee Gee, and they knew it wasn't me and started to put a bit of shit on me. I pushed Gee Gee off his chair and he got a little cut on his head. Neither of us cared about it but geez it bled.

Hasn't the world changed. There's no way you would be able to have you wrestling bouts with Webcke or anyone today, would you?

No. That's 100 per cent right. It's changed. Josh McGuire is a good young kid with a huge amount of talent. I try to give to him what those guys gave to me. He has challenged me and we have butted heads along the way. But if you went the old way, it would not work.

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Andrew Gee was one of your great mates but he left the Broncos suddenly and mysteriously last year. As captain, were your loyalties torn between the club and Gee?

It was difficult. The difficult thing for me was that all Andrew ever worried about was the team and the club. He has never done anything in regards to putting himself ahead of the club. To see him abruptly leave was hard for me to deal with. I am still very close with him. We talk regularly.

Do you think your wrestles with senior players cost you in terms of getting a reputation because if often looked as if there was no great push for you to play Origin?

Origin was different. One of my greatest or worst traits is I just tell it how it is. People can get offended by that. I played in 2004 and 2005 then they made a change, and went on that great run. I sat on the sidelines for six years burning every time I watched because I really wanted to play.

How hard was it to switch on the box on Origin night during your time in exile?

It did burn me to the point where — and this might sound really stupid — while I never went for the other team, I was hoping some guys in and around my position ... I didn't death ride them but wanted them to fail so they would look elsewhere. Obviously that didn't happen.

Parker has seen State of Origin from inside and outside the Maroons. Source: News Corp Australia

Early on, Israel Folau was on a million-dollar deal while you were working for a gas company then a turf company earning small bickies. What was that like?

There was no minimum wage when I first started, so for me to get by I needed a job. I would leave for work at 5am then go to training at 3pm after doing a full day's work. But I never took anything for granted. It taught me discipline. My first Broncos contract was $15,000 and game-based incentives after that.

What about times when other clubs wanted you?

My first deal I did that was worth substance, in terms of buying a house, was in 2001. Canterbury offered me $170,000-$180,000 and Melbourne were $180,000-$190,000. But all I wanted to do was play for Brisbane and I thought if I could succeed here, I could make it anywhere. I signed for Brisbane for $80,000 and went on to win a comp and play for Australia.

I tell that story to youngsters not for any other reason but I think sometimes money can cloud your view. If money is what you are after, fine but I wanted to play for the Broncos.

A young Parker at his day job in a gas distribution centre in 2001. Source: News Corp Australia

You grew up down Logan way and Brent Tate said some of your teammates had tatts and beards in the under-13s. Any truth is that?

He reckons our guys were actually driving to games at 15 with full blown moustaches and beards. We did have some big Islander boys at the time. They were very intimidating.

You have always managed yourself. Why?

There are a few reasons. When I was much younger I used to talk face-to-face with Wayne Bennett about contracts and it was pretty black and white. I was paying someone six or seven per cent of my wage to just have that conversation.

You seem to enjoy the cut and thrust of the contract stuff. Are there any tense moments?

Yes. You never go in trying to negotiate for less, so you push your case. The last deal I did was very challenging. I was in and out of talks. I enjoy the business side of rugby league. It has been challenging. I would like to do more of this after footy.

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Are you disappointed to have your milestone match build-up marred by drug rumours about the club?

It is disappointing in general. It's just another hurdle the game does not need to go through. The last week has been covered in negative press. There were three great games of footy overseas and the All Stars game. And all anyone is talking about is the negative stuff.

You seem in good physical shape after 299 games. What will hurt most in 10 years time?

My knee. I manage it every game and at training. That is one thing that has come ahead in leaps and bounds in rugby league, management of players. Everyone used to have to same blanket thrown over them but now training us much more specific.

Parker says Cameron Smith is the best player he has ever faced. Source: News Corp Australia

What about brilliant players you played against. Who left a mark on you?

So many of them. Joey Johns in his prime was unstoppable.

Why?

He was just always at you … He was everywhere. But the best player I have ever played against was Cameron Smith. I used to play with him at my grandma's house. We came through the same club. He is one of those guys who I play against that I want to beat him so bad.

Why is he so good?

Mentally, he is just one or two steps ahead of the game. You just know he will come up with something like a kick from dummy half off the third tackle ... He looks like a banker. He hasn't got a body. He is absolutely nothing going on in that department. He is nothing to look at but he is the smartest guy I have played football with.

A rather scary looking Corey Parker in the Junior Kangaroos. Source: Supplied

What about your friendship with Michael Ennis, the mad sledger?

Before he came too Brisbane I hated him. Never met him but despised him just because of the way he carried himself. But then I was drawn to him, we just clicked and we have been best mates since. When you know him, he is a nice kind person but such a competitor. His sledges are never personal but very clever. He sledged me once when they were beating us and we came to blows on the field.

Who's the best sledger?

Cam Smith does a good job. He is not a sledger, he is a manipulator. He gets them in with his poise and calmness, whether it is a referee or someone.

Is he is king of manipulating referees?

Absolutely, 100 per cent. Hats off to him but I blow up regularly when we play them, because he just has that calmness that make people think they can side with him when he talks to them.

The game has changed a lot during Parker's career. Source: News Corp Australia

Some people like to chill out with exotic holidays but you love to go to Gold Coast in a caravan, don't you?

Yes. We have been doing it for 12 years. We have our own caravan. I love having my family and my sister and same friends every year. Its so relaxing. You have the beach, the boat ramp. You cook a barbie and have a beer. It's just relaxing.

You once traced your work ethic back to your father who was a truckie. How did he influence you?

I really have my parents to thank because they instilled a work ethic in me. If I wanted for something in my teenage years, it was not just given to me. I have had to work for it. I am trying to teach that to my kids now. We didn't have the flashest cars or house but we never went without anything. Mum still drives an hour each way to work and she is 60 this year.

Anthony Griffin once said you were so professional you could get your nominated weight to within one gram of the limit. How do you do that?

My life is very routine. I know what works and what doesn't, and I don't tend to steer too much either side of that. There are certain things I must do mentally and physically to make sure I can perform on game day.


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Ross Lyon’s age-old argument

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ROSS Lyon has the most successful home-and-away record ahead of any of the game's great coaches.

He has a 67 per cent winning ratio in the qualifying rounds, ahead of the great Jock McHale at Collingwood with 65 per cent and Hawthorn and St Kilda legend Allan Jeans at 63 per cent.

But so far premierships have eluded him.

Lyon has taken the Dockers into three consecutive finals series including an historic first grand final and he also steered the Saints into three title play-offs, with a traumatic tie with Collingwood and replay in 2010.

Will this be his year?

He speaks with PerthNow's chief AFL writer KIM HAGDORN.

KH: How close do you think you will be to a preferred best 22 against Port Adelaide in Round 1?

RL: That's the aim. We're still figuring out what our best 22 is. I don't know what our best 22 is and there's been some really good summers by a lot of people and if they can take their opportunities over the next three to four weeks I always say players pick the team, we don't. It's going to be whether (Matt) Taberner and (Michael) Apeness and (Jonathon) Griffin and (Zac) Clarke and (Tommy) Sherridan and (Hayden) Crozier are in, who all had great summers. The only one we've got a little bit of doubt with is (Zac) Dawson, but other than that we're pretty fit and healthy. He's just got some groins that overheated that we're trying to get back on top of and he's started to go quite well also.

KH: How do you propose to improve your scoring this season?

RL: It's an intention for everyone. Scoring has become a lot more difficult. I think at the back of the (last) year we improved some stuff anyway. So we just continue on in the same vein. We've certainly structured up our goalkicking program. We're more accountable with the bio mechanist involved. We're not going to re-invent the wheel, but with our system and development coaches we've wobbled around a little bit so we've got dedicated resources and the assistant coaches aren't the primary source of that any more. It's a natural progression of winning more contested ball, winning more clearances, having more entries and so hopefully that will take care of it.

Ross Lyon after his side's finals exit in 2014. Picture: Simon Cross Source: News Corp Australia

KH: Is it about improved scoring or better accuracy in your goalkicking?

RL: It's all aspects of the game. You can't ignore the contest and you can't ignore defence. But you got to try to strike a balance. Last year we were two (defence) and seven (scoring) and in goals scored we were number five, which means there was 13 behind us. But clearly Hawthorn put a defensive gap to every team. Hawthorn put three goals (difference) on everyone and we're all trying to catch them.

KH: How much will you change your style of play to stay in touch with some of the influential trends in the game, set by premiers Hawthorn?

RL: Yeah, you'd be crazy not to look at them and see if you can learn some things off what they do. But it's pretty difficult just to mimic people. We're trying to build to our strengths. We saw Aaron (Sandilands) forward a little bit more, (Nat) Fyfe played forward a little bit more. Sometimes it's just taking opportunities.

KH: Ball movement in games appears to be getting faster, what have you done over summer to stay in touch with that trend?

RL: I dispute that a little bit. I'm not sure if that's actual fact. D-50 rebound is not an indicator of success. It's about getting the ball in midfield and scoring off the midfield possessions. But certainly D-50 rebound is only 10 per cent of scoring. It's retention. I think Hawthorn are very good at going slow. There's time to go slow and there's times to go quick. It's harder than you think for teams to go quickly all the time. I think what's been promoted from some analysts, is that its run-and-gun. But the reality is you need to go fast at certain times and you go slow, depending on what the opposition is doing. I certainly think it's about decision making and that's where experience comes in. Players understand where we go quick and where we go slow. We've got to get better at decisions.

KH: How do you replicate goalkicking in finals pressure to improve efficiency in scoring on the biggest stages?

RL: Well you just try to practise under match conditions as much as you can.

KH: What is the likelihood for quick movers such as Stephen Hill and Danyle Pearce playing bigger roles as you break away from congestion or plus-one players to move the ball quicker into scoring range?

RL: What do you mean plus-one?

KH: Just that extra player behind the ball and around defence.

RL: We don't tend to play seven-man defences.

KH: Aren't they the roles that Garrick Ibbotson or Michael Johnson play behind the ball?

RL: They're not seven-man defences. They're half-backs and teams try and open you and at times they've let their man go. So I haven't really thought about Pearce and Hill playing to be truthful. But it's something to think about.

KH: Marking and playing on last season you ranked 12th. Could we see some change there and that Fremantle could mark and play on quicker to get the ball moving into your forward zone quickly?

RL: We don't really understand sometimes what that stat is at times. Look, it's something we will look at. I think we improved our (forward) entries a bit last year didn't we. We had (average) 50 entries and some games we were quite dominant. It all depends on how well you play … and the opposition.

Ross Lyon doesn't see his team sliding down the AFL table. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: News Corp Australia

KH: You've declared a review in recruiting and talent scouting. What effect has that had so far?

RL: Well (chief executive) Steve Rosich actually clarified those comments. We continuously review, it's nothing new. I think it's quite simple, we can dance around the edges but at the minute Col Sylvia is not working out. So we're not going to shy away from that and clearly we would like that to be working out better. Why isn't it? Why hasn't the fit worked? So I just said we'll go back and have a good look at it to try and prevent that happening in future. That's self evident. All clubs do that. It's not a new review, it's letting our members and fans know that we do review and we will try and avoid situations that don't work out for us. It worked out with Danyle Pearce who's been super and we had expectations for Col the same and it hasn't worked out that way.

KH: Why didn't Colin Sylvia play in your intra-club practice match last Saturday?

RL: For the same reason that he's at Peel.

KH: Who is responsible for recruiting Colin Sylvia?

RL: We don't work in individual decision-making. We've got a list management committee, so at the end of the day everyone that sits within that made a collective decision. Based on all of our due diligent information, we thought we were making the right decision. Hopefully it turns out. So there's no witch hunt there. To say that, does anyone take individual accountability for Danyle Pearce? No. Does anyone take individual responsibility for Lachie Neale? Cam Sutcliffe? It doesn't work like that. We don't go on witch hunts for individuals.

KH: What do you expect from Anthony Morabito this year?

RL: Just what I expect from every player. To give effort and train. Clearly he's had some unique challenges. It's not a good story is it? But what is a good story, is the quality of a person he is with his resilience. He's had a cartilage repair at the end of the year to look after his long term health, because cartilage are really important as you get on in life to cushion you and protect your joints. We went the conservative approach and it didn't quite work out. It's manageable, he's a bit behind but I love seeing him at the club and we get along really well and he's training really well. But it's not about setting expectations. I just want to see him really healthy and happy. He's going to be behind in the first half of the year, but for our fans and members hopefully he can get going in the second half. I certainly don't want to place any burden on him.

KH: Is Aaron Sandilands your most important player with such a high priority on winning the ball from stoppages and congestion?

RL: I don't get into that. I heard that in 2013. No Sandilands, no Pavlich, no Dockers. This is what I have learnt. Everyone wants to write your story in the AFL. Set expectations and who's going to win it. I see teams written off all the time and teams pumped up. All I know is write your own story through working hard and then it tends to take care of everything else. There's people been trying to write the story for the Dockers for years and they can be positive and negative. But you shouldn't take any of the external opinions. I think it's an important part of the game, but at the end of the day all you can be is crystal balling based on past performance. I live in a world of working hard every day and trying to improve. If that's not good enough, we all get judged. That's the way it works.

Zac Clarke is another ruck option for the Dockers. Source: News Corp Australia

KH: How do you handle and manage the oldest list in the competition?

RL: Look, I think Nathan Fyfe has won our last two Doig medals and Stephen Hill came third this year, so we think our 25 and unders sit in the top four (ranking) in the competition for games played and the amount of quality. If anything it's exciting. So the question of how do we handle 29-year-olds, I think people are writing the story that at 29 you're decrepit and old and I find that you're actually in the peak of your powers at 29. And the oldest list in the competition is by degrees. I went on the AFL website and Sydney the last two years has been the oldest or second oldest and I think they've lost three players and they're now the fifth eldest. So it changes pretty quick. I don't get caught up with age and people writing stories about how old we are. The reality is there's been a strategic move. In 2008 we were the oldest list, paid maximum salary cap and we finished on the (14th) bottom. So there was a strategic move to keep our quality and go to the draft table and stay within the confinements of Gold Coast in (competition) and GWS, so it was a really difficult time to rebuild a list. A lot of people probably thought it couldn't be done as effectively as it has. The reality is that you need to get 80 to 100 games into about 14-plus players to be really competitive at the really pointy end of the year. We're not uncomfortable. I think a lot of clubs want to be in this position.

KH: Will this be a season where there is a lot of development for the apparent replacements for Pavlich, McPharlin and Sandilands?

RL: Well I think you've seen that in the last couple of years. At the end of the day Taberner played two finals last year. He's 196cm off the rookie list. Lee Spurr came off the rookie list and our fourth-year players all played in my first year as their first year. They've all played finals, Sheridan, Crozier, Sutcliffe and Lachie Neale and they're very talented young players. Our 23 or 24-year-olds are Zac Clarke, Clancee Pearce, Nat Fyfe, Stephen Hill and the list goes on. Are we the perfect list, I don't know. But it changes very quickly. I remember three years ago when I first got here, West Coast were premiership favourites and that's the story everyone was writing for them.

KH: How long can Sandilands, Pavlich and McPharlin keep playing?

RL: That's something I haven't given any thought to. That will take care of itself at the right time.

Luke McPharlin is playing on again in 2015. Source: News Corp Australia

KH: Will they all have managed and reduced playing schedules this season?

RL: It's been flagged from a lot of people. Aaron is good when he works and plays and Matthew is good when he works and plays. I'm on public record that Luke will be assessed at the halfway mark, because he's obviously the one that has struggled at the (seasons) back end. But it depends on circumstances. If it's medium, decondition for four weeks and then it puts him under pressure. So, Luke's the obvious one at the halfway mark if we're going really well, we will try and identify some opportunities and if we're not going really well, maybe Alex Pearce plays.

KH: Do you expect any bolters from outside last year's final top eight to contend for this year's top four?

RL: I think anything is possible, anyone could. Other clubs don't interest me that much.

KH: Who do you model your coaching on? You played under David Parkin and coached with him and you coached alongside Paul Roos.

RL: Just myself. Be yourself. That's the best advice I could give to anyone. But you learn everywhere you go. You learn what to do and what not to do in your eyes doesn't mean you're right or wrong. Anyone can coach AFL football. It's how well you do it.

KH: You appear a career coach. What sort of incentive is there for you to still be coaching Fremantle on the opening occasions of Perth's new Stadium in 2018?

RL: As boring as I am, it's not something I think about. I stay in the moment. I practise what we preach. Did I ever think I'd coach St Kilda? No. Did I ever think I'd be coaching Fremantle? No. I never feel comfortable, I always feel under pressure to perform and I think it keeps me hungry. I don't day dream too much. Everyone has got their own model, some people do, some people don't and is it a strength or a weakness, I don't know. I just think of what I've got to do next. My planning is about how do we improve, how do our young players improve. My focus is on becoming a better manager. I've delegated a lot better over the summer to all of the assistants (coaches) but that comes with trust and competencies and character. We don't have a senior assistant (coach). That doesn't exist at our footy club. I think that's really important that everyone understands that and my coaches are equal and then there's the development coaches. We're a pretty flat structure, there's me and a flat structure of eight that have great equality. I think it's about becoming a better coach and I think I'm a better coach and manager than I've ever been and if I do that 2018 will take care of itself.


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NBA Wrap: Blazers spoil Westbrook’s party

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THE Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-112, spoiling Russell Westbrook's third straight triple-double. It's all in our NBA Wrap.

AUSSIES IN ACTION

CLEVELAND'S Matthew Dellavedova had an unhappy night from the field but still produced a double-double as the Cavs went down 93-86 to the Pacers in Indiana.

With his 38 minutes of game time, Dellavedova registered 14 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, but shot only five from 18, while Andrew Bogut contributed five points, three rebounds and eight assists in Toronto, helping the Golden State to a big 24-point win over the Raptors.

Utah's Aussie duo of Joe Ingles and Dante Exum both started for the Jazz as the beat struggling Denver by 22. Ingles had seven points, four rebounds and five assists in a slod 21-minute outing, while Exum finished with a basket, two rebounds and an assist.

TRAIL BLAZERS 115 - THUNDER 112

LAMARCUS Aldridge had 29 points and 16 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-112 Friday night, spoiling Russell Westbrook's third straight triple-double.

Westbrook, who fell and hit his face on teammate Andre Roberson's knee in the final seconds, had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He became the first player to string together three triple-doubles since LeBron James in 2009.

The Blazers overcame a 15-point, third-quarter deficit and tied it on a tip shot by Aldridge with 4:33 to go.

Rookie Mitch McGary came off the bench for a season-high 20 points - 12 in the third quarter - for the Thunder.

KNICKS 121 - PISTONS 115

SHANE Larkin's three-point play in the final minute of the second overtime helped the New York Knicks snap their eight-game losing streak with a 121-115 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Larkin put the Knicks ahead by four with 28 seconds remaining, and they held on to win a game that Detroit appeared to have control of after two quarters. The Pistons led by 18 in the second and by 12 at the half but blew what looked to be an easy game against the team with the NBA's worst record.

Detroit squandered a five-point lead in the final minute of regulation, allowing the Knicks to tie it at 95 it on a pull-up 3-pointer by Langston Galloway with 6.3 seconds remaining.

With the Pistons down 105-103 late in the first overtime, Detroit's Greg Monroe scored while drawing a foul with 12 seconds left, but he missed the ensuing free throw.

Monroe and the Pistons would go on to miss several more crucial free throws in the second overtime.

Andrea Bargnani scored 25 points for the Knicks. Lou Amundson added 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Andre Drummond had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, but recently acquired point guard Reggie Jackson shot 5 of 24 from the field. The Pistons went 8 of 31 from 3-point range.

PACERS 93 - CAVALIERS 86

Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey shoots a breakaway layup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Source: AP

WITH LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sidelined, Rodney Stuckey scored 19 points and George Hill had his first career triple-double Friday night in the Indiana Pacers' 93-86 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Hill finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists as Indiana won for the seventh time in nine games -- including twice over the Cavaliers in the past three weeks.

James sat out with soreness in his lower back, while Irving stayed home after hurting his left shoulder. So the Cavs relied on J.R. Smith, who had 21 points, and Kevin Love, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Cavs responded by jumping to a 21-8 lead midway through the first quarter. But without their two All-Stars, the Cavs couldn't maintain that pace.

Indiana led 51-45 at halftime, extended it to 74-59 in the third quarter and twice fended off fourth-quarter charges to hold on.

ROCKETS 102 - NETS 98

TERRENCE Jones scored a season-high 26 points, James Harden made the tiebreaking free throw with 43 seconds left and followed that with a jumper, and theHouston Rockets beat the Brooklyn Nets 102-98 on Friday night.

Harden, who played after spraining his right ankle on Wednesday night, shot just 4 for 15 for 15 points, but had 12 assists in a game where five Rockets scored in double figures.

The Rockets won their fourth straight overall and have defeated the Nets eight straight times in Houston.

Mason Plumlee and Deron Williams had 15 points apiece for the Nets. The game was tied with 43.6 seconds left when rookie Markel Brown fouled Harden away from the ball before Houston got the ball in after a timeout, and he made the free throw.

JAZZ 104 - NUGGETS 82

Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum gets hit over the head by Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried Source: AP

DERRICK Favors had 21 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Trey Burke came off the bench to score 19 points and the Utah Jazz beat the struggling Denver Nuggets 104-82 on Friday night.

Gordon Hayward added 15 points and Rudy Gobert had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Jazz. Utah has won five of its last seven.

Will Barton had 22 points for the Nuggets. They have lost nine straight at home and 18 of 20 overall. Denver was in the playoff conversation after a five-game winning streak in mid-January, but has fallen into 13th place in the Western Conference.

The home losing streak is Denver's longest since dropping 11 straight during the 1997-98 season. The Nuggets finished 11-71 that season, the worst record in the NBA.

The Jazz took advantage of Denver's struggles and led throughout. Utah led by 18 in the first half and used a big surge in the third quarter to put it away.

76ERS 89 - WIZARDS 81

NERLENS Noel had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers' 89-81 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

Robert Covington added 13 points and Jason Richardson had 12 to help Philadelphia snap a five-game winning streak and win for the first time since trading Michael Carter-Williams.

John Wall scored 21 points on 7-of-26 shooting for Washington. Otto Porter added 19 and Ramon Sessions had 14. The Wizards have lost six in a row and 11 of 13.

The Wizards set a season low for points Wednesday night in a 97-77 loss to Minnesota and weren't much better against Philadelphia, the second-worst team in the NBA.

BULLS 96 - TIMBERWOLVES 89

THE Chicago Bulls got a positive update on Derrick Rose, and then used another big night by Jimmy Butler to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-89 on Friday.

Butler had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Chicago won for the seventh time in its last nine games. Mike Dunleavy made five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points, and Joakim Noah finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

The Bulls trailed 85-84 before Kirk Hinrich drove inside for a layup with 4:29 remaining, and then Tony Snellmade a smart pass to Dunleavy for an open 3 that made it 89-85. Butler added a clutch bank shot to help Chicago improve to 10-1 in its last 11 games against Minnesota.

Kevin Martin scored 18 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost four of six. Ricky Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists, and Andrew Wiggins finished with 14 points. Minnesota was hurt by a whopping 48-16 deficit in points in the paint.

CELTICS 106 - HORNETS 98

Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shoots against the Celtics in Boston. Source: AP

Isaiah Thomas scored 28 points and the Boston Celtics recovered from a 16-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the Charlotte Hornets 106-98 on Friday night.

It was the third straight win for the Celtics, who were outscored 25-1 over stretch of nine-plus minutes that spanned the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third.Marvin Williams' layup at the 3:27 mark in the third gave the Hornets the biggest lead either team had, at 16 points.

Led by Thomas, who scored 21 points in the second half, the Celtics battled back to tie it at 80 on his 3-pointer and reclaimed the lead for good, at 89-88, on Jonas Jerebko's layup at the 5:28 mark.

In his third game since joining the Celtics in a deadline deal with Detroit, Jerebko had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Avery Bradley scored 19 points, Jae Crowder added 14 andMarcus Smart had 10 points.

Losers of six of their last seven, the Hornets were again led by Mo Williams, who scored 31 points. In four games since joining the Hornets after a trade with Minnesota on Feb. 10,

Williams is averaging 23.5 points per game.

All of the Hornets' starters scored in double figures, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

WARRIORS 113 - 89 RAPTORS

The Golden State Warriors bounced back from a loss in Cleveland to pound the Toronto Raptors.

Klay Thompson scored 25 points, Stephen Curry had 22 and the Warriors never trailed in an emphatic 113-89 victory Friday night.

Draymond Green had 17 points and nine rebounds to help the Warriors wipe away the bad taste left by the 110-99 loss in Cleveland on Thursday night. They improved to 10-2 in the second game of back-to-backs, the best mark in the NBA.

Tempers flared after Golden State's Festus Ezeli pushed Toronto's Tyler Hansbroughin the throat after they tangled under the basket with seconds remaining in the third. Hansbrough responded by chasing after Ezeli, shoving him and throwing a punch that failed to connect. Both players received double technical fouls and were ejected.

Forward Patrick Patterson replaced Amir Johnson in the starting lineup, but the change did nothing to boost Toronto's offense. The Raptors shot 1 for 19 in the first, missing their final 16 attempts and setting a record for the worst single-quarter mark in team history at 5.3 percent.

Clippers guard J.J. Redick shoots between Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) and guard Courtney Lee (5) in Memphis. Source: AP

CLIPPERS 97 - GRIZZLIES 79

Chris Paul had 19 points and 13 assists, and DeAndre Jordan added 15 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers past the Memphis Grizzlies 97-79 on Friday night.

Jamal Crawford also had 19 points, and J.J. Redick finished with 18. Matt Barnes scored 13 for the Clippers.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while connecting on 10 of 18 shots. Courtney Lee added 12 points, while Marc Gasol scored 11 as the Grizzlies lost their second straight.

Jordan helped the Clippers hold a 47-41 advantage in rebounds. Los Angeles finished by shooting 46 percent, including Redick, Paul and Crawford connecting on half of their shots. The Clippers were 9 of 26 from outside the arc, including 7 of 12 in the second half, when they built a double-digit advantage.

HAWKS 95 - MAGIC 88

PAUL Millsap scored 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter and Atlanta recovered after losing an early 16-point lead to beat Orlando.

Led by Millsap's 3-point shooting, the Hawks sprinted to a 19-3 lead. The Hawks hit their first eight shots before Orlando rallied to finish the half up 45-42. Atlanta regained the lead with a strong third quarter and stretched the advantage to 10 points in the final.

Nikola Vucevic had 21 points for Orlando.

PELICANS 104 - HEAT 102

New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca (42) goes to the basket between Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen (right) and guard Goran Dragic (left). Source: AP

ALEXIS Ajinca made the go-ahead layup with 26 seconds left and scored a career-high 24 points to help New Orleans win its fourth straight.

Hassan Whiteside appeared to be going up for a tying dunk when he was blocked by fellow 7-footer Omer Asik, who secured the rebound, but his hasty outlet pass went off Eric Gordon's hands and out of bounds.

That gave Miami one more shot, but Dwyane Wade's 3-point attempt bounced out as time expired, dropping the Heat to its first loss in three games.

Gordon scored 20 points and Tyreke Evans had 19 points and 11 assists for New Orleans. Luol Deng had 22 points for the Heat, and Goran Dragic added 20.

CLIPPERS 97 - GRIZZLIES 79

CHRIS Paul had 19 points and 13 assists, and DeAndre Jordan added 15 points and 22 rebounds to lead Los Angeles past Memphis.

Jamal Crawford also had 19 points, and J.J. Redick finished with 18. Matt Barnes added 13 for the Clippers. Zach Randolph led Memphis with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Jordan helped the Clippers to a 47-41 advantage in rebounds.

SPURS 107 - KINGS 96

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, center, drives to the basket past Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson. Source: AP

TONY Parker scored 19 points, Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and seven rebounds, and San Antonio snapped a four-game losing streak with a victory over short-handed Sacramento.

The Spurs avoided their first five-game skid since late in the 2010-11 season with an efficient and aggressive performance. They had just six turnovers and made 29 of 32 free throws, offsetting a night they shot below 40 percent from the floor.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins sat out with a sprained left ankle and bruised left hip, and point guard Darren Collison missed his eighth consecutive game as he prepares to have surgery on a core muscle injury that will sideline him at least another month. Sacramento is 2-11 without Cousins.

ROCKETS 102 - NETS 98

TERRENCE Jones scored a season-high 26 points, James Harden made the tiebreaking free throw with 43 seconds left and followed that with a jumper in Houston's victory over Brooklyn.

Harden, who played after spraining his right ankle on Wednesday night, shot just 4 for 15 for 15 points, but had 12 assists. The Rockets have won four straight.

Mason Plumlee and Deron Williams had 15 points apiece for the Nets.

LAKERS 101 - BUCKS 93

WAYNE Ellington scored 11 straight points in the final 6 minutes, helping Los Angeles beat Milwaukee for its season high-tying third straight victory.

Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 16 points. Ellington finished with 14 - all in the final period - and Jordan Hill and Jeremy Lin added 14 points apiece.

Ersan Ilyasova had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks.

Michael Carter-Williams scored eight points in his second game for Milwaukee as the starting point guard.


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Mr Nice Guy may not stick around

Written By malwan milad on Sabtu, 21 Februari 2015 | 23.51

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WAYNE Bennett walked into the press launch of the World Club Series in Manchester, England on Monday night and did 10 media interviews in an hour. At which point the Broncos' tour captain Andrew McCullough sidled over and asked, "You feeling okay, coach?"

Truth is, Bennett is feeling better than okay. After five years coaching in New South Wales he is back in his heartland of Queensland, guiding once more the club whose growth he oversaw from birth to maturity and, for now at least, all is good with Wayne's world.

Bennett's new-found ease with the press is one of the unexpected byproducts of his time away from the Broncos.

He was relaxed to the point of being downright jovial on Monday night, a far cry from the days in Brisbane where his public persona saw him once described as showing all the emotion of an Easter Island statue.

Wayne Bennett, pictured with former player Michael Hancock, has been in a jovial mood since arriving at the Broncos. Source: News Corp Australia

His players always spoke of his warmth and humour, but that was a side he kept locked away except from the chosen few. He admits his time south of the border saw him lift the shutters somewhat but says, now that he is back at the Broncos, there is no guarantee they won't come slamming back down again.

"I remember the first press conference I had at the Dragons and I quickly realised that if I wasn't successful in Sydney they were really going to tear me apart," he said.

"Up until that time it hadn't entered my head. There was a lot of talk that I'd gone down there to prove something but I didn't go to Sydney to prove anything. I didn't have to.

HUNT WAS CLEAN AT BRONCOS: CULLEN

BRONCOS FOUNDER HELPING TO SAVE TITANS

"But I walked out of that conference and the tone of that meeting that day was, they're going to put it right up me if we don't play some good football and get some results.

"So that was the start and I remember going to the players and being frank to them about it and we got on with life and we got results, so they were off my back for three years, then Newcastle came along.

"If I felt more comfortable with the media there, it was because I knew that I was doing the best job I could under difficult circumstances. I wasn't trying to mask anything there because everybody could see what was happening so I was better off having that more relaxed approach.

"But neither of those clubs are the Broncos. The Broncos are under more scrutiny, more expectation than anywhere I've ever been.

"Coming back to that I know what I've got myself into and you are more on your guard at the Broncos than I was at the other clubs."

So, no more Mr Nice Guy?

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"Well that, just depends. If we struggle a little bit, which is always on the cards, then I'll be what I've always been, defending, making sure the flak is coming on my shoulders, not the players' or the club and I'm happy to do that until we get it right.

"We'll get it right; it's just a case of when.

"One thing I've felt coming back is that a lot of people are happy that I'm back and that's nice because it means they trust me and they've always trusted me and they know we'll get it right.

"It may not come early, but it will come and that's reassuring. You feel a great debt to them and a great obligation not to let them down because they trust you.

"A lot people in public life these days we don't trust as much as we should. I've been the public face of the Broncos for 21 years, I'm in my 22nd year now and I've been an NRL coach for 29 so I'm pleased they trust me."

BUZZ ROTHFIELD'S TOP 50 NRL PLAYERS

And in what should be equally reassuring to those people who put so much faith into Bennett, he says the experience he gained over the past five years has made him a better coach than the one who left the club after 532 games and six premierships.

"I went through some top experiences and some experiences that were extremely challenging," he said.

"At the Dragons we had great success and everything was rosy, and at the Knights, particularly last year, with what happened to Alex McKinnon, and Nathan Tinkler's position, and Russell Packer going to jail and the team being on the fringe a couple of times and then not finishing the season like we wanted, it was a complete contrast.

"Because of all that I know myself better now than I ever did. I know what works. I always knew what works, but I'm more committed to it now that I ever was because of my experiences away.

Wayne Bennett th Broncos fans. Source: News Corp Australia

"Those things, those basics, those fundamentals, still work, but you've got to get a bunch of guys to believe in them to make them work.

"I've got more confidence in myself now. Not that I wasn't confident, but you have more confidence that you're on the right track and you've just got to get a group of men to buy into that."

Given all that, and the almost messiah-like status Bennett enjoys in Queensland, it would seem a relatively easy task to slot straight back into the groove and have the Broncos purring along like a well-tuned Ferrari in no time at all.

Not exactly, he says. In fact, Bennett claims coaching the Broncos, for all their resources and talent, is the hardest job in the game.

"I know what's coming. I'm prepared. I'll wear the flak," he said.

"Newcastle and St George were great experiences for me and I had some wonderful times there but being at those clubs you aren't under the pressure that goes with being the Broncos coach, I can tell you now.

"I've been back with the Broncos for three months now and I've hardly been home because the Broncos is a lot more than a football club. We do so much for the community and we do it statewide. We've just spent three days in Murwillumbah for example.

"There's much more responsibility and you feel that but I'm happy to do that. I did it for 21 years.

A more stern version of Bennett could reappear if things go wrong at the Broncos. Source: News Corp Australia

"I didn't realise until I left the Broncos how much pressure I'd been under for 21 years because the other places were just a breeze. All I had to be at those clubs was be a coach. At the Broncos you are much, much more."

Which raises the question: There have been three previous coaches at the Broncos. The two that followed the first Bennett era, Ivan Henjak and Anthony Griffin, could not fill the huge boots that he left first time around.

Does he worry that he too, might fall short of living up to his own legacy?

"No I don't," he said. "That's the last thing on my mind. I'm starting fresh, but knowing the club, it's history, the culture and what I want.

"The one thing I'm very clear and definite about is what I want for the club. It's still same thing. It's what I've always wanted for the Broncos and I'll drive that until the very end."


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Campo to stay at Hull after positive start

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ENGLISH Super League club Hull KR are looking to extend former Canberra Raiders skipper Terry Campese's contract by another 12 months.

Campese, who joined Hull KR on a one-year deal in December, has impressed club officials with his leadership both on and off the field.

Hull KR has a young playing roster and Campese's experience is seen as vital to the club going forward.

"Terry is a natural leader and it shows by the way he leads by example," coach Chris Chester said.

"The decision to name him captain was an easy one and he has quickly gained the respect of his teammates.

"He's an experienced player who has settled in well and will prove an important acquisition to our club."

Campese, who captained the Raiders from 2010-14 and played 139 games, said he was honoured to captain his new club.

"I'm proud to be leading a club with so much history," Campese said.

"I've only been here a short time but I'm enjoying the responsibility.

"My main focus is on playing good football and contributing to the club achieving success."

Campese, who scored a try on debut against Leeds Rhinos, has no shortage of former Raiders teammates in the Super League with Joel Monaghan captaining Warrington and Todd Carney at Catalan Dragons.


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End of the road for Wayne’s right-hand man

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WAYNE Bennett calls him his "right-hand man", a no-nonsense servant who has rushed to the aid of Brisbane's greatest players such as Allan Langer, Kevin Walters and Darren Lockyer.

But Tony Spencer's 27-year reign as a Broncos trainer is over, with a recent amendment to the NRL's rules effectively sidelining one of the code's longest-serving staffers.

Bennett officially honoured Spencer on Sunday morning in England, where the veteran trainer played an on-field role for the final time in Brisbane's World Club Series clash against Wigan.

As cranky as he is committed, Spencer has been at the coalface of Brisbane's greatest triumphs. He is one of Bennett's pioneers, joining the club in 1988. If a Langer, Walters or Lockyer went down injured, Spencer was invariably there to help in the heat of battle.

Last year, when Brent Tate ruptured his ACL during the State of Origin series, it was Spencer who helped carry him off in what proved to be the Maroons winger's footballing swan song.

Spencer was slated to return to the paddock this year, but beefed-up NRL rules now require trainers to be qualified physiotherapists to further safeguard the welfare of NRL players.

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Trainer Tony Spencer has been part of the furniture at the Broncos since their inception. Source: News Limited

Without an official degree, Spencer will shift to a different role at the club, but his days rushing into the fray are over.

"It's a shame because Tony has been with us since day one," Bennett said.

"The rules in the NRL won't allow him to be on the field this year, but in England he is still allowed to operate under the rules, so this is our chance to farewell him properly.

"I just wanted to give him the right send-off and this (last night's clash against Wigan) is a good occasion for him.

"He's been a great servant, he's our Mr Fixit. If we have a problem at Red Hill, Tony Spencer solves it for us."

If he isn't attending to injured players, Spencer can be seen operating the BBQ at training, carrying gear or yelling at Broncos players to stay off the lush lawn he cultivates at Red Hill.

When former Broncos hooker PJ Marsh once asked him for a newspaper while munching on a burger, Spencer shot back: "What am I? A bloody newsagent?"

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"He gets a bit grumpy, but only when people don't do the right thing," Bennett said with a laugh.

"He's a perfectionist. He even orders us off our own ground at training. He's a guy you want to employ in life because he takes ownership. It's all personal with him and I like that quality in him.

"He maintains the whole Broncos facility. He's been a sports trainer since we first commenced at the Broncos. He's one of the originals and he's one of those guys who is invaluable for a football club.

"They give their life to a club and that's how it's been for Tony."


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