Class of 2005 rule Wests Tigers’ legends team

Thirteen players from Wests Tigers’ historic premiership-winning side of 2005 have been named in the joint-venture club’s greatest ever team.

The Tigers celebrated their 15th anniversary at a gala dinner on Tuesday night at Doltone House in Pyrmont, which was attended by more than 350 guests. The highlight was the naming of the club’s Team of 15 Years, which was dominated by their grand final-winning outfit.

Inductees included Brett Hodgson, Pat Richards, Paul Whatuira, Benji Marshall, Scott Prince, Anthony Laffranchi, Robbie Farah, John Skandalis, Ben Galea, Mark O’Neill, Liam Fulton, Todd Payten and Chris Heighington, who were all involved in the club’s first and only premiership, a 30-16 win over North Queensland. Other members selected were Chris Lawrence, Taniela Tuiaki, Aaron Woods and Gareth Ellis.

More than 10,000 votes were cast in recent months on the Tigers website to pick the team, which consisted of the best player in each position since the merger between Balmain and Western Suburbs.

Most of the selected players were in attendance. Marshall, the former New Zealand international now at St George Illawarra following an ill-fated stint in rugby, was unable to attend but sent a video message.

The side features an outstanding spine of Hodgson, Marshall, Prince and Farah, while the forwards are comprised mainly of the underrated pack that shocked the NRL en route to an unlikely grand final triumph. A one-of-a-kind artwork of the side was auctioned off on Wednesday night.

Australian mentor Tim Sheens has overseen the Tigers for much of their existence, coaching more matches than the club’s other three coaches – Terry Lamb, Wayne Pearce and Mick Potter – combined. Robbie Farah remains the most capped Tigers player with 213 appearances, a record he will add to when they take on Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Liam Fulton was named at lock just a week after he announced he was retiring due to a series of concussions.

“The guys we won it with are the best blokes,” Fulton said last week.

“Growing up and watching Toddy Payten, Mark O’Neill, Ben Galea – these were blokes I used to look up to when I was 16 or 17. Then getting thrust in there by Sheensy was such a great experience.

“I thought to myself, ‘How easy is this?’ It was my first proper year in the NRL and I won a premiership. You think it’s going to happen every year. I still remember Mark O’Neill telling me how lucky I was, how he had played for 12 years and not even been involved in a semi.

“The longer I played the more I realised how hard the game is.

“Those guys took me out for lunch [recently] and talked to me about concussions, as good blokes would. They are things I’ll remember about this club, the great people I’ve met.”

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Hoppers romp to win over Tigers

ULVERSTONE has continued its reign as the most successful NWBU men’s basketball, scoring an emphatic 14th title with a 93-63 win over Burnie in last night’s grand final.

The victorious Ulverstone men’s team celebrate their win over Burnie. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

Before a capacity crowd at the Schweppes Arena, the Hoppers experience told out as they proved far too polished for the young Tigers outfit after quarter-time, outscoring them 68-39.

While a high-calibre defensive effort helped restrict Burnie’s offensive flow, it was the scoring power of import BJ Jenkins that provided the fuel for the win, with the guard pouring in an impressive 32 points.

After an even first quarter, Ulverstone got on top in the latter stages of the second term, going on a 10-2 run and going into half-time with a 47-34 lead, with Jenkins already on 23 points.

A 17-4 run in the third quarter all but sealed the win, with Jenkins blotting his copybook after an altercation with Burnie’s Sam Johnstone, which led to him being restrained by his teammates.

The final quarter did little more than delay the inevitable, leaving coach Ben Keeley celebrating a premiership in his rookie year.

“I must admit, it feels pretty good,” Keeley said after the match.

“Our defence was incredible on the night, and when we play like that we are unstoppable.

Jenkins received good support from veteran Matthew Parker and young gun Lachlan Barker with 20 points each, while for the Tigers Gabe Hadley top-scored with 14 points, while Joe Chilcott added 12.

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Rollback of defamation laws on track: Goodwin

THE state government says it’s on track to roll back uniform defamation laws introduced in Tasmania and across Australia in 2006.

Under the proposed changes, corporations with more than 10 employees will be able to sue for defamation in what the Law Society of Tasmania has said will have a “chilling effect on freedom of speech”.

However, the government argues the changes are about standing up for the forestry industry which has been the subject of damaging environmental campaigns.

It said disinformation regarding veneer producer Ta Ann had cost Tasmania 40 jobs.

Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin, who will oversee the roll-back, said the government remained committed to providing legal remedies against green groups who used the tactics.

“Giving businesses the right to protect themselves from such attacks is absolutely in line with our clear commitment to support the forest industry in Tasmania,” she said.

Dr Goodwin wouldn’t say whether the increase in regulation for publishers went against the government’s pledge to reduce red tape.

The uniform defamation laws were ushered in by the states after the Howard government threatened to introduce Commonwealth defamation legislation.

Under the uniform laws, a corporation’s right to sue for defamation was removed due to concerns that companies were using it to silence criticism.

Society president Anthony Mihal said corporations could already sue for “injurious falsehood” if a false and malicious publication had caused financial loss.

“The chilling effect on freedom of speech is a matter of great concern to the law society,” he said.

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Peris pushes for overhaul of domestic violence laws

People who fail to report suspected domestic violence by their neighbours, friends or family could be prosecuted under changes advocated by Labor senator Nova Peris.

On Tuesday, Senator Peris, the first indigenous woman to be elected to Federal Parliament, called for all states and territories to emulate Northern Territory laws that make it a crime for any adult to fail to report domestic violence to police.

The NT laws, introduced by the former Labor government in 2009, require all adults to notify police if another person has caused or is likely to cause harm to a person with whom they have a domestic relationship. They require all adults to report to police if the life or safety of a person is under threat because domestic violence has been, is being or is about to be committed.

”We need every Australian to speak up whenever they suspect domestic violence may be occurring,” Senator Peris said in a speech to family violence prevention workers in Canberra. ”Even if it potentially involves dobbing in a mate. And even if it could potentially lead to retribution.”

In NSW, some professionals such as doctors and teachers are obliged to report domestic violence when such violence places a child or young person at risk of serious physical or psychological harm.

A 2010 Australian Law Reform Commission report on family violence laws expressed concern that the NT laws could isolate victims of domestic violence by deterring them from seeking assistance and might disempower victims by taking from them some of the tools with which they might escape from violence. The report says it may be unreasonable to criminalise a person’s failure to report violence committed by his or her father, mother, sibling or adult child.

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PNG yet to interview suspects in asylum seeker murder, five months on

Papua New Guinea police are yet to interview any suspects over the murder of Reza Barati in the offshore processing centre on Manus Island, more than five months after his death.

A PNG police spokesman, Dominic Kakas, told Fairfax Media that the investigation was underway and that it was an ”ongoing case”.

Mr Kakas said no one had been charged, or interviewed, over the murder of the 23-year-old asylum seeker. ”It’s got to be soon,” he said.

His comment came as tensions rose between security staff and detainees in the Manus Island detention centre on Monday night, resulting in two asylum seekers being confined by Wilson security staff. It is believed the men were taken away from their compound by security after they became aggressive, complaining about their treatment on the island.

Fairfax Media understands the two asylum seekers have not since returned to their compound.

Wilson security would not answer questions about the incident, referring inquiries to Transfield. A spokesman for Transfield said: ”Suggest you check again with the Minister’s office – all replies r/e [sic] this will have to come from them.”

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s office confirmed the men had been removed and had been relocated within the centre.

”The minister has been advised two men became abusive and aggressive and were moved in accordance with operational policy within the centre,” a spokeswoman said. ”The mood in the centre is reported as being calm. This is another exaggerated claim.”

On Monday, Mr Morrison refused to comment on the progress of the Barati murder investigation, telling reporters in Canberra: ”I have no further information to provide you on that than what is currently publicly available and as I have provided previously.”

Yet despite the PNG police’s inaction on interviewing suspects, the Robert Cornall report into the incident found a Salvation Army worker led the attack that ultimately resulted in the Iranian asylum seeker’s death*.

In May, progress was being made with the investigation when PNG police asked security firm G4S for a full list of employees on Manus Island in mid-February, as well as photos of them.

At the same time Mr Kakas said one of the four chief suspects in the killing of Mr Barati had fled Manus Island and his whereabouts were unknown.

Since the brutal violence in February, not one asylum seeker has been taken to Manus Island, it was revealed during the Senate-run Manus inquiry last week.

Mr Morrison has also remained quiet on the location of the boat carrying 153 asylum seekers that have been intercepted by Australian Customs.

”These matters are currently before the High Court,” he said during question time on Tuesday. ”The government has made some statements to the High Court about these matters.”

The High Court case will resume on Friday.

Correction: An earlier version wrongly said the government report found a Salvation Army worker was responsible for the final blow to Reza Barati’s skull with a rock.

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