Hubbard ready for another giant effort

Dubbo Rhinos second rower Nick Hubbard could rightly be nicknamed “stork”.
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At six feet six inches tall he is a towering man and, more to the point, his father owns Dubbo Mushrooms, where he now works.

But unlike the yield of his harvest, the 105kg giant won’t be fed any “crap”, as his opposition learned last weekend and CSU will see in round two of the Blowes Menswear Cup at Apex Oval tomorrow.

Hubbard scrummed down in his first grade debut for the Rhinos against Cowra last Saturday and was a standout in driving rain at Recreation Oval despite his team falling to a 10-3 loss.

In his first match in the central west competition, and on his 19th birthday, Hubbard proved damaging with the ball with aggressive running and in defence the sheer size of his frame seemed to frighten his more experienced opponents.

First grade coach Andrew Williams was more than impressed by the debut of his Rhino rookie, who has again been named in first grade this weekend, and holds great hope for Hubbard’s rugby playing future.

“Potentially, Nick is a superstar. He is only young and is still learning the game but if he continues to develop he could be anything,” Williams said.

“He has the right physique and the athleticism to needed and is the sort of player that, once he has developed, Super 12 teams look for.

“He played really well against Cowra on the weekend, he hit the ball up well especially in the second half. He proved that even though he is young, he is very tough.

“But his game hasn’t fully developed so we will nurture him at the club and I think he will only keep getting better.”

Hubbard returned to Dubbo this year after completing Year 12 at Scots College in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, a basketball scholarship luring him to the Bellevue Hill school in 1998.

While concentrating on basketball while boarding, Hubbard still found time to play rugby for Scots in the prestigious Greater Private Schools competition but after coming home to work with the family business now has his sights set firmly on success in the 15-a-side competition.

“I was at school on a basketball scholarship so that was my main sport, but now I’m back in Dubbo rugby has become much more important,” Hubbard said.

“I’ve gotten right into weights, I’m doing them four times each week, and do a lot of fitness work on my own. I’m fitter now than I ever have been and feel stronger too.”

That is outstanding news for the Rhinos and their 2001 Blowes Menswear Cup quest, but something opposition teams mightn’t be as happy to hear.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Iguanagate: Della in the freezer

A DEFIANT John Della Bosca insists "I’ve done nothing wrong" in the Iguanas nightclub affair, even after Morris Iemma stood him aside yesterday because the minister failed to tell the Premier he had written an apology that saved him from being sacked.
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Faced with the revelation in the Herald yesterday, Mr Della Bosca admitted he faxed the wording of an apology he wanted from Iguanas Waterfront after its staff had accused him and his wife, the federal Labor MP Belinda Neal, of abusing and threatening them on Friday night last week. It was this apology that the Premier had used to justify not sacking his education minister from cabinet.

Mr Della Bosca was believed to be furious last night because Mr Iemma had assured him earlier in the day that no action would be taken against him. Mr Iemma appeared to have changed his mind after critical media attention.

Despite his suspension, Mr Della Bosca again dismissed the scandal as a "media beat-up".

"I simply say to you I’ve done nothing wrong. I did not swear, I did not behave inappropriately … this has become such a monumental and ludicrous distraction," Mr Della Bosca said in Bathurst, where he had been on ministerial duties. "I have absolutely never lied to anybody about anything in this affair or anything else … and the fact of the matter is these allegations are simply a monumental distraction from the people of NSW having a government they deserve – a government focused on transport, health, infrastructure, energy policy."

The Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, said the Premier was "gutless". "Morris Iemma asked for a full statement from his minister on this affair. The statement did not refer to the fact that John Della Bosca drafted the apology – on that basis alone this bloke should be sacked. Morris Iemma has been as tough as a teddy bear – the minister he’s purported to have disciplined doesn’t even know he’s been stood down."

Mr Iemma denied his minister lied to him but conceded he omitted a vital piece of information.

"Earlier in the week I reported to you that John Della Bosca had provided me with a report of the circumstances of the incident on the weekend and with that was an apology from the club," Mr Iemma said. "There is also a police investigation and I will allow the investigation to take its course … I am standing John aside on this basis and that the faxing and his drafting of the apology was something that was not in that report."

Mr Della Bosca and Ms Neal have denied claims in six statutory declarations by Iguanas staff that they threatened the nightclub’s licence and were rude and abusive. Four friends who dined with Mr Della Bosca and Ms Neal have written statutory declarations supporting them. The conflicting statutory declarations are now the subject of a police investigation.

The incident led to allegations from Labor sources about Ms Neal’s explosive temper, and that she has kept photos and written names of enemies in her freezer.

Mr Iemma said he had been friends with Mr Della Bosca for more than 20 years and he was a "loyal colleague and friend".

"I have observed him at conferences, we have debated at conferences. In all of the forums of the party and community meetings as a minister, as a member of Parliament, I can’t remember him, John Della Bosca, acting in the way that was alleged."

Asked if he trusted Mr Della Bosca, Mr Iemma replied: "Yes, I do … It does not mean he has lied. I stood by him on Tuesday. He is a friend and a valued colleague.

"The [Iguanas] apology still stands. I still have no evidence, no information that brings into question the apology. What I’ve done from the beginning, and whether it has been with John Della Bosca or anybody else, I’ve always been guided by what is right."

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Ipswich Cup ‘ruined’ by rail closure

Saturday’s Ipswich Cup race meeting could be "ruined" by a Queensland Rail decision to close the Ipswich line this weekend for routine track maintenance.
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An irate Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching today slammed Queensland Rail, which has refused to back down on plans to carry out maintenance work on the biggest day in Ipswich’s social calendar.

The Ipswich Cup meeting regularly attracts crowds of 20,000 people. However, it’s feared more than 3000 could be sliced from that number on Saturday because of the Ipswich line closure between Corinda and Ipswich.

Train passengers will have to instead catch a bus from Corinda to attend the meeting.

"We don’t need this at this late stage … we’re two days out from race (day) and there is mass confusion about what public transport will and won’t be available," Mr Kitching told brisbanetimes杭州夜网.au.

"The club has worked hard in previous years to get as many people as possible using public transport.

"We have already had people call and say they won’t be coming because of the hassles with public transport."

Robert Dow, from commuter group Rail: Back on Track, said the line closure could ruin the entire event.

"Folks plan for these events for long periods of time and it’s heartbreaking to have it ruined by lack of consideration of transport authorities," Mr Dow said.

A Queensland Rail spokeswoman said it was not possible to delay the maintenance work.

"These projects are planned 12 months in advance, at this stage it is too late to change (those plans)," she said.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the debacle highlighted long-standing communication problems between the community and transport authorities.

However, he did compliment Queensland Rail for adding an extra 25 express buses to services that will shuttle patrons from Corinda train station to Bundamba.

In contrast, Mr Dow said the extra express buses had come too late.

"There have been previous line closures on the Ipswich line for maintenance (on) weekends which have impacted severely on a number of community events in the last couple of years. People are becoming very sensitive to these impacts," Mr Dow said.

Railway lines were also closed from Corinda to Rosewood during the Ipswich Show. Line closures also caused major disruptions to the Oxley Village Street Fair last year.

"In May 2007, Rail Back on Track suggested to the minister for transport that a community database could be set up where various groups could register their events," Mr Dow said.

"This would help plan track closures that would have less of a negative impact on community events.

"We all appreciate the need for closures to allow track maintenance and upgrades, but surely it can be done in a more empathetic manner with regard to the community."

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Hazelton is here to stay

Hazelton staff in Dubbo received assurances late last week their jobs were safe in the wake of the Ansett takeover.
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Morale among the 23-strong crew slumped in recent months prompting a fly-in from Hazelton’s chief commercial officer Douglas Hendry.

Regional manager Wally Flynn said staff were visibly relieved after meeting with Mr Hendry at Dubbo Airport on Wednesday.

While staff cuts remain off limits the takeover is expected to streamline bookings, introduce new ticketing procedures and lead to “phenomenal cost savings” in fuel, insurance and uniforms.

Hazeltons also plans to announce expansion to a new port in the near future, adding to its 19-strong line-up. Dubbo remains the airline’s second major centre, after Orange, handling 90 flights a week.

“The bottom line is their jobs are safe,” Mr Hendry said immediately after the meeting. “A whole bunch of rumours came out of Dubbo, it seems to be a melting pot.

“Wal phoned me up and said ‘Oh God, you hear what such and such has said?’ There were just too many rumours going around.

“So I said I’d come up and quash them, talk to the staff, talk to our travel agent partners and assure them Hazelton is here to stay.

“And we’re here to stay as is. There’s no intention, there’s no plan or hidden agenda to cut staff.”

Mr Hendry said the economics showed again and again that it was cheaper and more cost effective to retain Hazelton employees.

But he admitted the number of closed-door discussions concerning the takeover had fuelled staff anxiety.

“We have given commitment to the staff that as soon as we know anything the first people to hear about it will be them,” he said.

“If they hear something and it doesn’t come from Wally and it doesn’t come from me – it’s rubbish.

“And if they want at any time to phone me and clarify anything I’ll always be willing to talk with them.”

Mr Flynn said rumours that were rife in the lead-up to the headline-grabbing takeover only intensified in recent weeks.

“The meeting has been great,” he said. “It’s straightened things out – the rumour – that’s all it was. To have Douglas come up and talk to our staff first hand will squash any of that.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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