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Hodgson urges fans to be force for good during Perth Test

Israel Folau of runs in the opening try against New Zealand in the Investic Rugby Championship test match between the New Zealand and at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, August 26, 2017. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLYWestern Force fans will not achieve anything by boycotting the Wallabies Test in Perth next weekend.
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That is the overwhelming feeling from those in the rugby community as it emerged the Western Force’s future will become clearer while the Wallabies are in Western .

The Supreme Court of NSW is expected to hand down its verdict next week on the Force’s appeal against the n Rugby Union’s decision to cut them from Super Rugby.

Force fans are angry and there is talk they will vote with their feet by not turning up to watch Michael Cheika’s men take on the Springboks at nib Stadium.

It is understood RugbyWA is telling fans to go to the match, but advising people to wear their Force jerseys as well as Wallabies scarves in a show of solidarity.

Former Force captain Matt Hodgson, who has been a vocal critic of the ARU and its treatment of the club that means so much to him, has urged fans to front up, regardless of their frustrations.

“I’m telling everyone definitely go to the game,” Hodgson said. “My message is it’s not the Western Force that’s only suffering, it’s rugby in general. I’m hopeful everyone will come. Some of those players are Western Force guys and we should go and support them.”

There is some talk Force supporter groups will try and stage events at nearby venues rather than make their way to the match itself.

Former Wallaby and Western Force player Cameron Shepherd agreed with Hodgson and encouraged rugby fans in the west to think about what a boycott would actually achieve in the grand scheme of things.

“One hundred per cent, I don’t think people should boycott the game,” Shepherd said. “I understand why people would want to, but that’s showing the wrong message. That’s lowering ourselves to the same level that the ARU have handled the situation. I don’t think boycotting and punishing the players would be the right thing to do at all.

“I would love to see them pack the place and fill it with blue jerseys. If you want to protest, go and support the team, but wear your blue jersey to show how proud you are of the Western Force.

“They have the right to be angry, but they’ve got to understand it’s well past the point of where being angry is going to solve anything.

“The ARU has got more pressure on it then it ever has before. The board is under pressure, [chairman] Cameron Clyne is under pressure, [chief executive] Bill Pulver has already resigned, so I don’t see how boycotting a game is going to send any stronger message than has already been sent.”

Given what the Wallabies achieved in Dunedin, a small crowd in Perth would be a shame.

After the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney, n rugby was well and truly in the doldrums, with lifelong rugby lovers feeling disillusioned after a poor Wallabies performance.

The marked turnaround in Dunedin, where the Wallabies came within a whisker of beating a red-hot All Blacks team on their own turf, has reignited hope in the national team.

Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps has thrown his support behind people wearing Force clothing.

He also reminded people that every n player that takes the field in Perth wanted the ARU to stick with five teams.

“It’s an interesting situation,” Phipps said. “As a playing group, we were very staunch in the fact that we thought we were stronger as five teams. They’re fighting back now and that’s fantastic, good on them. They’re having a crack and standing up for what they believe in.

“If they’re going to wear their blue jerseys, that’s great and a show of solidarity. I don’t think there’s any threat of getting booed though.”

Shepherd said he could not understand criticism directed at players.

“These people who come out and say, ‘Oh, the players aren’t trying hard enough, they’re coming in with the wrong attitude’, it’s bullshit,” Shepherd said. “They’re representing their country and playing their hearts out every day. I get frustrated when people say they’re not trying hard enough.

“Let’s be honest, it’s not the players’ fault what’s happening in n rugby at the moment.

“People use energy talking about how bad the state of the game is rather than talking positive and promoting the game and supporting it.”

How Arthur has made the Parramatta Eels finals ready

Brad Arthur has left no stone unturned in the quest to snap rugby league’s longest premiership drought, demanding the Eels replicate finals-like conditions by warming up inside rather than on the field and scheduling night training sessions in recent weeks.
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The meticulous Arthur has already had an eye on Parramatta’s first finals appearance in eight years – perhaps mirrored in an ugly win over a depleted Rabbitohs – scrapping some of their traditional regular season methods to prepare for September.

The Eels, which booked a top four showdown with minor premiers Melbourne at AAMI Park next weekend, retreated to their sheds for the pre-game limber at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

Grand finalists and State of Origin sides ordinarily prepare for games inside their own sheds given the on-field pre game entertainment and pomp.

“We don’t want to get to the second or third weekend of the finals and get spooked and not know what’s coming,” Eels enforcer Kenny Edwards said. “The coaching staff decided to have it inside, which was alright. A bit different – not as much space – but it was alright.”

Added speedster Michael Jennings: “Come finals time I think we’ve got to warm up in the sheds – in the grand final we have to – if it does happen we’re prepped and ready and we’ve already done it.”

It is just one of a number of tactics employed by Arthur to help his squad lacking finals experience prepare for the big stage which awaits, best demonstrated by their clash with perennial title contenders Melbourne.

Regardless of how deep the Eels go into the finals, they will be forced to play the rest of their games at night and their training schedule has been altered to reflect that.

“We’ve been doing a bit of training at nights for when we have night games,” Edwards said. “We do opposed [sessions] against the 20s at night so we can acclimatise.

“This week our warm-up was a bit different and that’s just Brad preparing us for what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks.”

Premiership winner Jennings, who described the feeling as “weird” playing against his brother Robert as the pair traded the first two tries of the Eels-Rabbitohs clash, boasts the most finals experience in Parramatta’s squad bar Beau Scott.

And he said Arthur has constantly reminded the jet-heeled 29-year-old he was brought to the club for situations like this as the Eels bid to win their first title since 1986.

“Brad reminds me almost every week [and says], ‘[this is] why we brought you here’ and what my responsibilities are,” Jennings said. “I understand and I’ve been in these situations before and he’s confident in my ability.

“That’s the reason why he brought me over in the first place and we’re in this position now so I need to step up as a leader as I’ve got that experience.

“It’s finals footy, but I think the good thing about going [to Melbourne] is they’re favourites and they’ll have the pressure. There’s still pressure on us because we want to play the best footy we can. We still haven’t played our best footy. It will be a good test for us against all odds.”

with Adrian Proszenko

Gabrielle Keaton named Miss Multiverse China

Newcastle girl wins Miss Multiverse The winner: Gabrielle Keaton, middle, with her new crown.
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Winner: Gabrielle Keaton in the swimsuit competition at Miss Multiverse .

Natural girl: Gabrielle Keaton at Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebook Gabrielle Keaton wins Miss Multiverse Young Newcastle woman Gabrielle Keaton, of New Lambton has won the Miss Multiverse contest.

She was announced as the winner on Thursdaynight in Sydney.

Contest director Yolandi Franken said, “Gabrielle displayed qualities of great business skills, fitness and beauty. She stood out from other contestants throughout the competition and was a hands down winner.”

Keaton will compete in the Miss Multiverse World contest in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic,in November.

As a country girl from a property near Bulahdelah, Gabrielle Keaton has a good sense of direction. In her first year after graduating from theUniversityof New England with a degree in zoology, she’s realised the possible rewards from exploring an opportunity to enter a new model contest based on an array of skills and talents beyond the catwalk.

Keaton was one of 10 finalists in the Miss Multiverse contest, whichis being filmed for broadcast as a reality TV show.It’s considereda blend of’sNext Top Model,SurvivorandThe Apprentice.

After graduating from Bulahdelah Central, Keaton enrolled at the University of New England. She has plans forpost-graduate study in zoology.

“I took this year off,” she says. “I went straight into study from school. I decided to take this year off and see what direction I want to go.”

She was encouraged to enter the Miss Multiverse state final, which included an IQ test and a team 10-pin bowling event with other competitors, and was surprised to reach the national finals.

The n winner gains entry to international finals, held over two weeks in Punta Cana.There isno cashprize, but for Keaton, the experience at this level is already worth it.

Keaton surmises the on-the-job learning could providean opportunity in media.

“I actually never really thought about it until recently,” she says. “I wanted to research. I began thinking it would be cool to get into documentaries. This would be nice for a foundation. Hopefully, once I do post grad, Iwould enjoy getting into media.”

Keaton has had a life-long appreciation of animals, particularly reptiles, with fond memories of picking up snakes along the country roads near her home with her brother Bradley and letting them loose safely in the bush.

She’s considering research on reptile embryos and climate change. “Itinterests me because somereptiles are temperature dependent,” she says. “When they are developing, temperature can affect egg development, the sex or how the fetus develops.”

If she could combine research with documentary-making skills, it would expand the reach of environmentalmessages, she says.

“I would love to get the word out about conservation,” she says. “I would love to get this experience, to build a profile for me. So that what Isay gets heard. So people can say, ‘we know her, we can relate to her’. It’s more than just a name at thebottom of a paper.”

She recently ventured into modelling for the first time, including swimwear, and also works at CarlaSwimwear’s Sea Folly store.

She has always been involved in sport, playing soccer since the age of five and competing incross country for several years.

Keaton’s sponsors are University of New England, CarlaSwimwear, Vida Cruz, Planet Fitness Lambton, Lairne’s Hair &Beauty, Diamond Smile International, AustinCollegeandGenesis Skin Health.

Mass killings, beheadings as Myanmar ‘cleansing operation’ underway

Bangkok: Survivors have described mass killings, including beheadings of children, and arson attacks in a dramatic escalation of the Rohingya crisis that the United Nations warns could be a humanitarian catastrophe.
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A 41-year-old witness told the rights monitoring group Fortify Rights he found his brother and other family members in a field after attacks by Myanmar security forces on the Rakhine state village of Chut Pyin in Ratheduang township.

“They had marks on their bodies from the bullets and some had cuts,” he said.

“My two nephews, their heads were cut off. One was six years old and the other was nine years old. My sister-in-law was also shot with a gun.”

A27-year-old survivor from the village told Fortify Rights “some people were beheaded and many were cut???when we saw that, we just ran out of the house”.

“The situation is dire,” said Matthew Smith, Fortify Rights’ chief executive officer.

The Myanmar government says almost 400 people have been killed in clashes since Islamic militants from a group called the Arakan Salvation Army attacked 30 police posts on August 25, killing 12 officials.

But rights monitors put the death toll in the thousands.

Myanmar security forces responded to the August attacks with a brutal counter-offensive they called “cleansing operations” that forced almost 40,000 Rohingya to flee to the border with Bangladesh in the past week.

Thousands more arriving at the border each day.

Human Rights Watch said on Saturday that new satellite imagery shows hundreds of buildings have been destroyed during the past week, including the “total destruction” of villages.

The New York-based group said numerous refugees who have fled villages in Rakhine, home to 1.1 million stateless and long persecuted Rohingya Muslims, have told how Myanmar soldiers and police had burnt down their homes and attacked villagers.

Many of those arriving at the border were suffering bullet and other wounds.

Bangladesh has refused to open its border posts, leaving about 20,000 Rohingya stranded.

The crisis has widened to the Rakhine capital, south of the conflict areas, where 120,000 already displaced Rohingya are not receiving food supplies or healthcare. UN and aid groups have suspended operations after the government accused them of supporting insurgents.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged restraint and calm in the state, cautioning that the situation may otherwise lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Other countries, including , have told Myanmar’s government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure the protection of all its citizens.

Chris Lewa from the Rohingya monitoring group The Arakan Project, says it appears Myanmar security forces are trying to drive out a large proportion of the Rohingya population.

The latest bloodshed comes just days after an international commission led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned of more radicalisation if ethnic tensions in Rakine were not addressed.

Late last year, UN investigators detailed mass rapes, killings, brutal beatings, the torching of homes and forced disappearances by Myanmar security forces.

The UN said the “devastating cruelty” could amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Ms Suu Kyi’s government has repeatedly denied its security forces have been responsible for any serious rights violations and blocked three UN investigators travelling to the country to further investigate.

Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong on Saturday said Labor is “deeply concerned” at the reports of abuses in Myanmar urged the Turnbull government to continue to speak out on human rights in the country.

with agencies

‘Hazardous’ air quality in parts of Sydney

News SHD Sydney Harbour covered in a smoke haze from hazard reduction burns on Saturday the 2nd of September, 2017 News SHD Picture by FIONA MORRIS Hazard Reduction along Wakehurst Parkway in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Baseball practice at Aquatic Reserve Baseball Park. Saturday 2nd September 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170902
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As a haze hung over Sydney on Saturday, residents in parts of the city were warned to avoid outdoor activities as the air quality reached “hazardous” levels.

High pollution levels were recorded across the Sydney basin on Saturday, as hazard-reduction burning efforts are stepped up ahead of an expected active fire season.

Sunday will see a spike in temperatures and a pickup in winds, with little sign of rain for at least a week.

Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said he hadn’t seen conditions this dry so early in the season for 10-15 years.

NSW had its driest winter since 2002, with maximum temperatures the third-warmest on record, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Friday.

Among the areas with controlled burns this weekend are bushland near Fishermans Point on the Hawkesbury River, and an area near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

Gusty conditions were expected to strengthen overnight, which would clear the air pollution but exacerbate fire risks.

“Tomorrow we are looking at very gusty, north-northwesterly winds,” Weatherzone meteorologist Jessica Miskelly said.

“We are looking at quite a few ‘very high’ [fire danger warnings] across the state tomorrow and the possibility it could push to ‘extreme’ around the north coast and the western Blue Mountains,” she said.

“It depends on how hot it gets and the wind speed at the time, and how dry it is.”

Temperatures were expected to deliver an unusually hot first weekend of spring, with the mercury peaking at 28 degrees for Sydney on Sunday. That’s about 8 degrees above the average for this time of year.

Ms Miskelly said the gusty conditions would “slowly pick up” overnight, and then intensify throughout Sunday ahead of a cold front moving through. ‘Hazardous’

As the air quality deteriorated across the city on Saturday, NSW Health warned people with respiratory conditions to take extra caution.

As shown below in the government’s air quality index, the worst of the pollution came during Saturday morning in Chullora and Earlwood.

“If you have asthma you should follow your Asthma Action Plan and take your relieving medication where necessary and if symptoms get worse, seek medical advice,” NSW Health Director of Environmental Health Branch, Dr Ben Scalley said.

At-risk groups, such as people with lung disease, older residents and young children were advised to avoid all outdoor physical activities.

Hazard-reduction burning was expected to continue throughout Saturday.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.