Emmys preview: Will it be Breaking Bad or House of Cards?

Kevin Spacey, Breaking BadNext Monday will be the 65th annual prime time Emmy Awards. Catch our live blog from 10am of all the action during American television’s night of nights.
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Comedies, miniseries, reality TV shows. They all come to the Emmy Awards looking for glory, but ultimately there is only one category which matters. One category where the industry’s best compete for top honours on the night: drama.


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom (HBO)

Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC)

Damian Lewis, Homeland (Showtime)

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)

One of the tightest competitions on Emmy night, this is the award which in recent years has landed mostly in the hands of Damian Lewis from Homeland. And rightly so, Lewis is an outstanding actor and his work has been par excellence.

But this is a game-changing year. It is the final year of Breaking Bad, so naturally, all eyes fall to that show and its star, Bryan Cranston.In a scant few years, Cranston has transformed himself from a TV sitcom dad into Hollywood’s greatest TV actor with a luminous performance.

So just when you think it’s a done and dusted deal for Breaking Bad to take out line honours in the best actor category, along comes Netflix’s House of Cards and a stunning performance from Kevin Spacey.

Ultimately, Bryan Cranston deserves to win this. His performance has been slowly constructed over five years, culminating in one of the most extraordinary performances in television drama. But this looks certain to be the year of the big Netflix upset, so most people in the room will be expecting Spacey to win.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Connie Britton, Nashville (ABC)

Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime)

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel (A&E)

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (AMC)

Kerry Washington, Scandal (ABC)

Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)

This is a slightly more open field. There is no doubt Robin Wright’s turn in House of Cards was extraordinary, but House of Cards was ultimately Spacey’s platform and the competition here is much stronger.

Elisabeth Moss in Mad Men, Kerry Washington in Scandal and Claire Danes in Homeland have all delivered towering work. Connie Britton in Nashville could be a contender here too. She’s not long out of the Emmy darling American Horror Story, which adds a little sparkle to her name on the list.

Vera Farmiga is the dark horse. While Bates Motel, a sort of Psycho prequel, has been left sitting on the sidelines to some extent as the US media lavishes its affection on bigger, noisier shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards, it does deserve some notice. It’s a great show and Farmiga delivers a brilliant performance.

This looks to be a three horse race: Wright, Danes or, possibly, Farmiga.

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Homeland (Showtime)

House of Cards (Netflix)

Mad Men (AMC)

The big award of the night. The one everyone will be waiting for. And what a terrible dilemma for Emmy voters. Do you reward Breaking Bad, in its final year, for five years of outstanding achievement? Or do you give it to House of Cards, in its first, for re-writing the rulebook on drama commissioning?

This is supposed to be the year of the big Netflix upset and truth be told, if they can’t deliver on this category, then we may have to re-think that. With an outstanding drama statue to its name, Netflix has well and truly changed the game. Without one, it will be left for the pundits to debate for years to come.

If we look for the most deserving, the answer is Breaking Bad. Its final season has been stupendously brilliant, with episode after episode stretching the nervous tension further and further towards the snap we all know is coming in its thrilling conclusion.

If we look for the most likely, we must consider House of Cards, the made-for-Netflix drama which seems to have ruffled feathers at every level of the TV business and has become a favourite topic of discussion for journalists and commentators around the world.

But Netflix’s footprint is, in relative terms, not as big as the noise is makes in media coverage. And the conclusion to Breaking Bad is, in no uncertain terms, the biggest TV event of the year. If you were a betting man you’d probably have a bob each way.

Miniseries and telemovies:

Once the bastard child of the drama category, flush with turgid mini-soaps, these miniseries and telemovie categories have become a new battleground for extraordinary dramatic work. American Horror Story is the clear standout on that front.

They also boast some of the most amazing talent in contention on Emmy night, including Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren, Al Pacina and Michael Douglas.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade’s End (HBO)

Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra (HBO)

Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra (HBO)

Toby Jones, The Girl (HBO)

Al Pacino, Phil Spector (HBO)

At first glance, the nominees for outstanding lead actor could read like it’s Oscar night: Matt Damon, Michael Douglas and Al Pacino chief among them.

No disrespect to television, or indeed to Benedict Cumberbatch and Toby Jones, who both did extraordinary work, but the winner is going to be one of those first three.

Most likely? Michael Douglas.

While there’s a lot of true-life work in the category – Pacino played Phil Spector, Jones played Alfred Hitchcock – the real jewel here is Douglas’s turn as Liberace in the HBO telemovie Behind The Candelabra. No question that’s going to make a clean sweep of the Emmys.

Damon could be a surprise here. Like Douglas, he brought great humanity and dignity to Behind The Candelabra. Prior to its broadcast there was some uncertainty about its tone. Afterwards, there was no doubt it was genuinely brilliant.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter (Showtime)

Helen Mirren, Phil Spector (HBO)

Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)

Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals (USA Network)

This is Jessica Lange’s category. Her work on American Horror Story is luminous. Alchemy of that kind is difficult to create, particularly with the production pace and budgetary pressures of television.

But Ryan Murphy is somehow greater when he’s writing for Lange, and Lange is somehow more brilliant when she’s speaking Murphy’s words. Individually each is excellent. Together they are breathtaking.

Helen Mirren is an outside chance here, as an old favourite of the miniseries and telemovie category. And Sigourney Weaver, whose work in Political Animals is excellent. The problem here is a lack of oxygen during the critical voting window for Emmy voters.

And like the actor category, the actress category is loaded with prime film talent: Lange, Mirren, Weaver. Add Meryl Streep and you’d have four women all worthy of an Oscar.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)

Behind the Candelabra (HBO)

The Bible (History)

Phil Spector (HBO)

Political Animals (USA Network)

Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)

For obvious reason, Australia will be backing Top of the Lake. It screened in the US on Sundance, but its genesis is very much Australian, and no doubt its commissioning executives at UKTV will be cheering from the sidelines.

In the end, of course, it’s down to American Horror Story or Behind The Candelabra. American Horror Story comes into the fight as the incumbent, and perhaps as the most genuinely startling of all of the projects.

But Behind The Candelabra is a safe bet for a clean sweep of the awards. It was screened smack bang in the middle of the Emmy voting window and there is still enormous affection for it in the media.

* The 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast on Monday, September 23, on FOX8 from 9am.

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Trunk calls

Treasure hunt: face-to-face with an elephant near Sigiriya. Photo: Veronique MandrayJane Reddy and family return to Sri Lanka in search of elephants and adventure.
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It’s a cool jungle dawn, silent save for the old girl next to me, 5000-odd kilograms and a heavy breather. Wrinkled, grey and one of an estimated 600 elephants counted in the recent census in Sri Lanka’s Ude Walawe National Park and soaked from an overnight dumping of rain, her sound, like air passing through a hose, is noisy and rhythmic.

It’s in time with the thwacking of her leathery ears flapping back and forth, so close I could reach over and touch one from our open jeep, wheels jacked high.

For the first time in an age our two offspring, seven and four, are speechless, goggle-eyed behind their binoculars staring at the pachyderm.

It’s a long way to travel – about 8000 kilometres – to see children more au fait with Disney’s Dumbo enthralled by nature. Theme parks are yet to make the “I want” list, while poolside cabanas and kids’ clubs have a certain appeal but we’re keen for more than glimpses of local life through a bus window from airport to resort.

It’s also a long-awaited return to the tear-drop island. Our visit with World Expeditions in 2005 with a 15-month-old was a blissful introduction to the country Lonely Planet nominated as the No. 1 destination for 2013.

With the toddler in a backpack, we climbed the 200-metre rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its ancient frescoes of bare-breasted damsels, and on bumpy roads as we drove from coconut palm-fringed beaches to the tea plantations he was lulled easily.

But it was a country in recovery, hit by the Boxing Day tsunami the previous year that killed about 35,000 people damaging more than three-quarters of the island’s coastline in the east and extreme south-west, on top of an ongoing civil war with sporadic ceasefire.

An official end to the war in 2009 and we are back, two parents and now two children, with air-conditioned van and a kind and slow driver.

We’re searching for elephants and pint-sized discovery on a holiday in a country the size of Tasmania with manageable driving distances and adventure aplenty for our young charges.

We set the pace with impromptu pit-stops at turtle sanctuaries, beaches to watch fishermen in lungis pull their catch from the sea and to talk to kids in smart white school uniforms (“Mama, they have to go to school six days a week!”). One big day of fire-breathing cultural dancers in Kandy and a chance to chew local gum is clocked as the best day ever.

Back in the jungle the quiet does not last, of course, as our male guide with talons to envy taps the metal safety bar surrounding the cruiser in a signal to the driver.

A shrill “ting ting” of a nail and we are off, bouncing in our seats through the park flanked by craggy mountains, passing water buffalo submerged in shallow lakes. We brake for an elephant calf crossing the track, pause for a riotous peacock courtship dance designed for another and stop, bogged in a creek and sinking fast.

Minutes later our rescuers – cheery Irishmen with a jeep and a frayed rope – arrive. Wheels squeal, mud splatters and we are back on track spotting painted stork, mongoose, a green bee-eater and the changeable hawk-eagle in prime twitcher territory.

As we roar up the dirt driveway to Kalu’s Hideaway my boy declares the morning an adventure that’s been “true life”. There’s no sign of the cricketer turned hotelier Romesh Kaluwitharana, aka Little Kalu, but his 1996 Player of the Match award for the Australia versus Sri Lanka Benson and Hedges World Series shines in the glass cabinet alongside other cricketing memorabilia in the modern and rustic hotel.

Elephants have long been venerated in the country, with an estimated 6000 in the wild as well as those used for ceremonies at Buddhist temples, according to veterinarian and wildlife conservationist Dr Deepani Jayantha. While the most recognisable, the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha, is ancient, the pachyderm today still represents strength, pride and prosperity.

But reverence and fear keep uneasy company with banana and coconut plantations, an attraction for the species whose habitat is threatened as pressure on developing land increases. While an official census has not been conducted Jayantha estimates there are a further 500 in the north where the civil conflict has been.

At the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where the siren has rung, the elephant crossing lights are flashing and 47 are lumbering to the river, their mahouts whistling and clicking their tongues. One trainer cups water over his charge, then scrubs her hard with steel wool. She responds with a trumpet of satisfaction and our girl squeezes her arms tight around my leg.

How toilet paper can be made from elephant dung dominates conversation on the drive to Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth. Any excuse to say “poo”.

Here at the temple where a sacred fang of the Buddha is said to be housed, we sidestep devotees presenting pujas or offerings and the truth behind confected Western stories that we’ve filled our offsprings’ heads with.

Under golden plaster elephant heads, trunks bending upwards as if to support the roof, tusks smooth and sharp, the girl eyes me suspiciously.

“Mama, why didn’t the tooth fairy take the special tooth? Have you been tricking me?”

Untethered from the usual Western routines, we drive in the mornings to escape the heat of the day and stop roadside for coconut juice and bananas, sometimes passing soldiers officiously waving us along.

“The war is over, they need something to do,” says our driver.

It’s about 80 kilometres from Kandy into misty tea hill country and Nuwara Eliya but an ascent of nearly 1400 metres with endless switchbacks towards the end.

On the descent a few days later we swap wheels for rails, jumping into a wooden carriage for a scream-worthy ride through pitch-black tunnels to the town of Ella.

Here, our waiting driver lifts the little ones from the carriage and we continue on to the plains, passing rubber plantations and jungle.

Our third pachyderm sighting is from behind a high fence at the Elephant Transit Home, where elephants are rehabilitated before being released back into the wild. Under a stern sign that declares “the jungle is silent, you be silent too”, a chaotic baby elephant walk plays out as the group comes on cue at midday from the outlying fields for lunch.

As keepers pour jugs of milk into funnels attached to tubes, calves butt heads and grunt in their quest to be first in line.

Garishly painted wooden elephants are the closest we get to the pachyderm in the coastal town Galle where, post-tsunami, streets in the fortified town were subdued and the bus station near the cricket ground a picture of decimation. Now the streets on the UNESCO world heritage site are paved, hotels have opened and once-musty antique stores now sell lattes and lemon tart.

Unchanged are the hawkers. This time, a pretty lace dress is pushed through a restaurant’s shutters for the girl. “A matching one for mummy perhaps?”

Like last time, I call at Safa Ibrahima’s tiny jewellery store on Church Street to admire his works of silver and gold inlaid with citrine, amethyst and other semi-precious stones. He is upbeat about the end of the war and the return of the tourist.

But as trays of jewellery are pulled from the display cabinet it’s down to matters more pressing: the price of the Ceylon sapphire ring on my finger and Australia’s performance in the cricket last night.

The writer stayed with the assistance of Mr and Mrs Smith.



About 15 minutes from the international airport, this restored colonial manor, flanked by manicured gardens laced with pink cannon-ball flowers and frangipani, is the place to recover from a long flight. We watch lightning from the sprawling verandah restaurant and the young ones declare the spaghetti bolognese the best they’ve tasted. The Mountbatten suite has a private plunge pool. Double rooms cost from $US234 ($251) a night and include breakfast. Family suites have two interconnecting rooms (a king and twin). Window seats in the garden suites can sleep children up to 12 for $US30 a night.


Designer Shanth Fernando’s chic hotel of 10 suites, a library of 500 leather-bound books and a lap pool within an internal courtyard has political pedigree. It was once home to Prime Minister W. R. D. Bandaranaike, who was assassinated on the verandah in 1959. His widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, became the world’s first female prime minister. The hotel is in the smart embassy district and five minutes from Fernando’s store, Paradise Road Boutique, which stocks fine cotton, leather and silverware. Staff will happily take you there in a tuk-tuk. Double rooms cost from $US218 a night, including breakfast. No charge for cots; over fives stay for $US31 a child a night.


On the south coast’s Seenimodera beach, foreign weddings have been held here, with Ananda Ranasinghe overseeing a relaxed efficiency at the final private residence designed by Geoffrey Bawa before his death in 2003. We have the run of the Cinnamon Hill suite on the first floor with an antique jackwood bed, claw-foot bath, wraparound balcony and brass-bolt concertina doors. Walk with staff to choose dinner straight from fishermen’s nets and watch the same boats, masts illuminated, out at sea in the inky night. While fresh lobster and prawns are always on the menu, the kitchen also caters to younger tastes, perfect fries included. Double rooms cost from $US175 a night and include full English or Sri Lankan breakfast. Full board costs $US45 a person a day; half board $US30. Baby cots are free and extra beds for older children cost $US65 a child, including breakfast.


The stunning Aman property of 30 suites on a 15-hectare coconut grove, each with plunge pool, king bed and terrace with double sun lounger, overlooks a crescent-shaped beach. Wide terrazzo paths lead to a substantial reference library, sunken bar and restaurant and infinity pool. At the secluded beach club, lifeguards shadow guests in the dumpers, while others will happily join in a game of beach cricket. Double rooms cost from $US575 a night; extra beds no charge for children under 12. Complimentary babysitting.

See mrandmrssmith南京夜网.au.



With light traffic and a slow pace, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang is an ideal base for families. Children can roam free on the lawns at the front of the palace museum, see tigers and black bears at the open-air zoo near the Kuang Xi waterfalls, or take a ride in a longboat along the Mekong to Pak Ou Caves.


A low-altitude trek in the Annapurna foothills especially for families includes time in the traditional Hindu villages where children travellers can visit local schools and markets. It’s followed by a trip to Chitwan National Park to ride atop elephants. See worldexpeditions南京夜网.au


See water puppets and ride a cyclo through Hanoi and sail Halong Bay. For the adults there’s a chance to get something tailor-made in Hoi An. See intrepidtravel南京夜网.


Young wildlife lovers can spot proboscis monkeys, macaques and the orangutan in Sarawak and Sabah. Includes a night in an indigenous Iban longhouse and a trip to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. See worldexpeditions南京夜网.au.


For a cultural experience, no passports required, head to Ayers Rock Resort. Family activities include a sunrise camel ride, 9.4 kilometre trek around Uluru, and spear throwing lessons. See ayersrockresort南京夜网.au.

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Everyone asks: Why is Changi the world’s best?

The latest Skytrax poll, sourced from more than 12 million travellers, restores Changi to the number one position, a spot it last occupied in 2010. In 2012, for the 16th year, Changi won the Golden Pillow award for top airport from the Sleeping in Airports website.
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No other airport has been named world’s best airport so consistently and by so many different sources, and it’s worth considering the reasons.

Changi handled more than 51 million air travellers in 2012 yet it feels spacious, unhurried and calm.

Its green spaces include an outside cactus garden with seating, a sunflower garden and an enclosed butterfly garden. All the terminals offer free wifi and computers with internet access. Charging stations, also free, allow you to lock up your phone while it charges.

There’s also a free movie theatre and a huge indoor slide where restless kids can burn some energy. Each of its three terminals has free rest areas, with leather chairs with head and leg rests that allow you to stretch out full length.

Each terminal also has its own transit hotel, with low-cost rooms available in six-hour blocks. Cleanliness is top notch. Travellers are asked to rank the toilets on an electronic scoreboard as they exit.

If a particular facility drops below par, a flying cleaner team is dispatched. Terminal 1 also has a rooftop pool with a Jacuzzi and bar. Although Changi is a big airport, the speedy Skytrain offers quick transfers.

The factors that put Changi on top stem from a recognition that passengers deserve to be treated like human beings, not an infernal nuisance to be fed and bled of cash as quickly as possible. When airport preference becomes a factor that influences passengers’ choice of airlines, the airlines as well as airports need to take notice.

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Still time to take stocks

South Island snowfields are a winter wonderland. Photo: Bronwen GoraNew Zealand’s ski season winds up as late as mid-October, so a last-minute trip for some mountain magic is definitely not out of the question, writes Bronwen Gora in this special guide.
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To squeeze the best out of a week in this winter wonderland where you get to ski and see as much of the South Island snowfields as possible, a guided tour is a sensible, time-efficient way to go. The Whiteroom Tours’ week-long ski odyssey covers all four major ski resorts around Queenstown and Wanaka by four-wheel-drive and even a helicopter ride or two.


The day: Our introduction to New Zealand’s infamous ski resort access roads is the 40-minute journey on the gravel path leading to The Remarkables. But we only have to concentrate on the beautiful valley views. Our ski guides, Adam Streete and Stevie Bickerstaff, expertly pilot our group of 10 up the road in two hired four-wheel-drives before guiding us to the resort’s best runs as the snow buckets down. A blizzard has hit just in time to top up the slopes for our week-long trip. Hurrah!

Skiing The Burton Stash terrain park plus two other terrain parks are the big drawcards. World-famous snowboard company Burton built the specialised Stash park complete with man-made cliff drops, a stone hut to jump over, rockwall rides, and log “jibs” (jumps).

Food Simple but satisfying. Two hot meal choices – hefty serves of either Madras chicken curry or chickpea vege curry with rice – plus delicious spiced carrot soup, sandwiches, burgers and sushi.

Best for Families after gentle terrain in a spectacular setting as well as terrain park lovers.

Overnight We stay at the friendly Hotel Novotel Queenstown Lakeside on the shores of the glorious Lake Wakatipu and within walking distance of every distraction this holiday mecca offers.

More informationnzski南京夜网


The day: We have officially struck The Best Day of the Season: sunny blue skies and fresh powder everywhere, thanks to a storm. At 8am we leave for the one-hour drive from Queenstown over the snow-kissed Crown Range to Wanaka where Harris Mountains Heli-Ski – New Zealand’s largest heli-skiing operator – has a fleet of helicopters and mountain guides waiting to fly us into the mountains. It’s a dream come true.

Skiing We lay down fresh tracks all day – and not everyone in our group is a strong skier or boarder. The biggest misconception about heli-skiing is that it’s only for experts. Many clients are intermediates and in our group most are heli-skiing for the first time. One, who hasn’t skied for 10 years, finds it easy and has a ball.

Food A mountain picnic of sandwiches, vege soup, wraps and super sweet treats.

Best for Anyone who can ski and board down a regular slope.

Overnight We check into Wanaka’s Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort, which has hot tubs and pools to soak in.

More informationheliski.co.nz


The day: We ski with HMH’s rival Southern Lakes Heli Ski. We fly from Wanaka’s airstrip almost 15 minutes across Lake Wanaka into the jaw-dropping peaks of The Minarets.

Skiing We have the experience of a lifetime, landing on knife-edge ridges, skiing the most perfect runs and feeling like we’re in heaven – and, in fact, we are. Heli skiing is the pinnacle of the sport and it rarely gets better than this.

Food This mountain picnic lunch beats HMH – just. As well as gourmet sandwiches and soup, today’s high alpine feast, which was delivered by helicopter, includes hot quiche, sliced tropical fruit, percolated coffee and a delicious chocolate walnut cake.

Overnight Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort, Lake Wanaka.

More informationheliskinz南京夜网


The day: Some of us feel like a rest but we simply can’t resist Treble Cone, the South Island’s biggest ski resort. A 35-minute drive from Wanaka up a steep, winding road, TC’s highlights are beautiful views across Lake Wanaka and the alps, as well as the resort’s natural half pipes and exciting terrain. We strike it on a sunny Saturday and at lunch bask on the cafe deck listening to the live guitarist. Bliss.

Skiing Want a challenge? Head for the Motatapu Chutes, arguably the steepest inbounds terrain in Australasia.

Food A cut above the rest, with treats including fresh New Zealand salmon and roast pork.

Best for Intermediate to advanced. Timid skiers and boarders are better off elsewhere.

Overnight Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort, Lake Wanaka.

More information treblecone南京夜网


The day: It only takes 30 minutes to reach Cardrona up the wide access road. We love zooming all over Cardrona’s excellent intermediate terrain. Adam and Stevie lead us down the best lines in the steeper Arcadia Chutes. Cardrona’s views stretch to Wanaka in the north, as well as Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Skiing Best terrain park system in the southern hemisphere, including an Olympic-sized half pipe. A highlight is watching the experts spin and jump in the parks below McDougall’s Quad chairlift.

Food Five eateries from fine dining to an Asian noodle bar. We chow down on pizza, excellent soup and homemade pies on the sunny deck of Captain’s Restaurant.

Overnight Cardrona is the South Island’s only ski resort to offer on-mountain accommodation in the form of apartments. Most visitors stay in lakeside of Wanaka.

Best for Families, due to excellent kids’ ski school; intermediates and terrain park junkies.

More informationcardrona南京夜网


The day: We returned to Queenstown’s Novotel after our day at Cardrona, an easy 45-minute drive, so the next day it takes only about 30 minutes to breeze up Coronet Peak along the bitumen access road. The team loves the rolling slopes, especially the roller coaster-like runs off the Greengates Express six-seater chairlift. However, as Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital, some of the group skip skiing on the last day to go sky-diving, paragliding or zooming around in hired Lamborghinis and Porsches. Activity choices abound, from whitewater rafting to winery tours to mountain biking.

Skiing Hit the on-slope ice bars carved from snow near Heidi’s Hut on one side of the resort and at the top of the Greengates Express on the other.

Food Coronet Peak serves up hearty nosh (roast chicken, pork belly) in a huge modern base lodge overlooking the slopes and valley. Excellent coffee too thanks to CP’s own Altitude 1649 roasted beans. That night we celebrate with a farewell dinner at Queenstown’s fine diner Botswana Butchery.

Staying Hotel Novotel Queenstown Lakeside.

Best for Blue run (intermediate) fanatics. It’s also a family favourite, thanks to its benign road access, large comfy day lodge and free Wi-Fi. CP is Queenstown’s closest resort, too, so it’s possible to schedule a half-day ski and afterwards go shopping.

More informationnzski南京夜网.

The writer was a guest of Whiteroom Tours and travelled courtesy of Air New Zealand.


Bronwen Gora is a travel writer and fanatical skier who has dedicated almost every trip in the past 20 years to exploring the world’s ski resorts, visiting well over 100 in the process.



There are daily direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Queenstown, and five a week from Melbourne. See airnewzealand南京夜网.au


Hotel Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, see novotel南京夜网; Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort, Lake Wanaka, oakridge.co.nz.


Whiteroom Tours guided New Zealand eight-night trip costs $3890 twin share including all lift passes, accommodation with breakfast, two days heli-skiing (four run days) and four-wheel-drive transfers. To find out how to join Whiteroom Tours and Adam Streete from Shinsetsu Mountain Guides next season, go to their website whiteroomtours南京夜网 or phone 03 90056763


nzski南京夜网; heliski.co.nz; heliskinz南京夜网; cardrona南京夜网; treblecone南京夜网.

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Come hell or high water: the teenager who has never missed school

Teenager Nicholas Short considered himself “lucky” when the doctor told him he had shingles on a Friday afternoon.
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At least the worst of his illness would be cleared up, he figured, in time for him to be back in the classroom first thing on Monday morning.

Yes, you read that right, and no, Nicholas is not your average high school student.

Incredibly, he has never missed a day of school since he toddled off to kindergarten at Ulmarra Public School, just north of Grafton, 13 years ago.

That’s about 2600 days of school, without faking a cough or taking a genuine day off for illness.

The now 17-year-old graduated from South Grafton High School on Friday morning with a blemish-free attendance record, earning a pat on the back from principal Robert Perl at the graduation assembly.

Nicholas is one of a rare breed who listens to what his mother says, it seems.

In kindergarten, she told him: “If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to do anything.”

“I’ve been tempted plenty of times [to have a sick day],” Nicholas said. “But I always remembered what mum said.

“In kindergarten, we noticed that I happened to have 100 per cent attendance and we thought ‘we’ll try it again next year’, and then it happened, and it happened again.”

There have been challenges, of course, including this year’s floods, which inundated the Grafton area.

Nicholas got together with family and friends and brainstormed a way to get him to school, come hell or high water.

“We had to try to get through two sets of floodwaters, so we were going to go across in the tractor, and then go across in a cattle truck for the other part of the water,” Nicholas said.

“But that didn’t need to happen because they closed the school, thank god.”

Last year, when he wasn’t feeling well, the doctor told him he had shingles.

“I copped that on a Friday, and then I got better over the weekend, so that was a bit of a challenge,” he said.

He’d already had chicken pox and measles before he went to kindergarten and puts his generally good health down to “plenty of green apples”.

“I’ve never broken a bone. I am 100 per cent break free, another part of the luck,” he said.

Despite graduating on Friday, it’s not the last Nicholas hopes to see of the inside of a classroom.

After completing his HSC, Nicholas plans to head to university, where he will study to become a high school history teacher.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Farewell felt-green card table, adieu spiral notepad: Apple revamps the furniture for iOS7

The old and the new: Older versions of iOS featured faux textures (left), while the new version – iOS7 – features applications with much flatter, cleaner designs.iPhone 5s hands-oniOS 7 security flaws
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It’s the software equivalent of ripping the wood panelling, fireplace, leather couches and card tables from an olde worlde pub and replacing them with concrete, glass and acres of wipe-down tiling.

Welcome to the world of iOS 7. If you get past the slight download hiccups, prepare to say farewell to skeuomorphism.

Skeuo-what? Pronounced “skuomorphism”, the Greek word takes its meaning from the ancient practice of making clay pots look like they were made out of silver, and similar ornamental tricks.

But the world of software has given the word a whole new lease of life.

Steve Jobs and sidekick Scott Forstall were great proponents of visual design cues that mimic the real world. Take the ornamental flourishes of iOS6’s lined, spiral-edged yellow notepad, felt-green game centre, faux leather-bound calendar and wooden bookshelves for news stand: cute, but, to some, outdated.

At their best, such visual clues trigger mental shortcuts and “should help users quickly grasp an interface”, says Lauren Watson, graphic designer and long-term iOS user. “But it sometimes looks cheesy and relies on outdated metaphors – who really has a leather-bound diary on their desks any more?”

Skeuopmorphism lingered on Apple products thanks to Jobs’ fondness for what has been termed “visual masturbation”.

Jony Ive may well agree. Apple’s senior vice-president of design has moved from hardware design – the Londoner was responsible for the iPod, iPhone and MacBook – into software. And with him comes an operating system without sentiment.

Flat design, without texture and gradient and with an instantly modern veneer, characterises the well-timed iOS 7.

Gone are the shadows on buttons, shelves that can be “stacked” with books and pages that flip on a notepad. In their place are tile-like icons, clutter-free space, bright colours on clean, white squares.

For experts and users alike, the jury is still out. While the move is seen as bringing Apple more into line with its hardware pedigree and the bells-and-whistles of other operating systems, flat design has its limitations, not least knowing when an element is clickable (or functional), as opposed to static.

The new Safari app works better in flat design than the calendar, Watson says, while buttons without frames have won few admirers.

Watson highlights the inconsistencies of iOS 7 – the new camera app, if anything, goes towards skeuomorphism, she says. “They’ve borrowed ideas and fonts that are reminiscent of real cameras, that’s something they didn’t do before.”

Being software, nothing is undoable – and, in the spirit of Jobs, the company is not afraid to be bold and make mistakes along the way.

Marc Edwards, founder of Bjango, an iOS software-maker, says helpful cues can always be reintegrated into iOS. “It’s quite possible that Apple may have overshot the mark, but they can step back and add additional details where they need to.”

And, in a case of constant improvement, as with other operating systems, the more use it has, the more developers will pinpoint what works best.

One thing we can be sure of is that we haven’t said goodbye to skeuomorphism altogether. “Right now it’s seen as being old-fashioned, but give it a couple of years and it’ll come back in,” Edwards says. “It’s exactly like fashion.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Hands-on review: iPhone 5s

iOS 7 security flawsiPhone plans releasediOS 7 revamps furniture
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There are few noticeable differences when you place the existing iPhone 5 and new iPhone 5s next to each other.

But when you start comparing their technical specifications, that’s when things start to become a little clearer.

The iPhone 5s, released alongside the cheaper iPhone 5c on Friday, has a fingerprint scanner, a faster A7 processor and a dual-flash for truer-to-life colours.

The fingerprint scanner lets you unlock your phone or pay for apps and music with just a tap of your thumb. The faster processor means the phone can process information twice as fast as the 5 and 5c.

Inside the 5s, it also has a motion co-processor. This will allow fitness apps to determine whether you’re running, cycling, driving, walking or going up stairs – all without you having to manually tell your device what you’re doing.

But are such features really worth the upgrade, especially if you’re an iPhone 5 user 13 months into a 24-month contract like me? In my opinion, no.

In my case, I’d have to pay my telco $229.50 – remaining handset repayments plus an early termination fee – to upgrade. For others on the iPhone 4s, who are likely outside a 24-month contract, upgrading makes a lot more sense.

After a few hours of using the 5s, I found some of its features incredibly useful, but not useful enough to convince me to upgrade my 5 until the iPhone 6 comes out, which is likely to occur around the time my contract finishes.

For the time being, I think most will be pleasantly surprised with what their iPhone can now do with the latest iOS 7 software update, which adds a bunch of new features and makes your iPhone feel like new again.

Besides the fingerprint scanner – which I was impressed with when it still worked with my greasy banana bread fingers – I found a number of the camera features in the 5s that would help me take better photos and videos.

But they weren’t enough to make me want to upgrade.

The Slo-Mo video feature, which shoots 120 frames-per-second in 720p HD, was particularly impressive. If you’re the competitive type, backyard cricket will never be the same again when it comes to umpiring.

Another welcome camera feature is burst mode, which allows you to take 10 photos a second, ensuring you never miss a Kodak moment.

The cheaper 5c doesn’t have these advanced photo and video features, and is much like the existing iPhone 5, but with a polycarbonate casing that comes in five bright colours.

Overall, the two new iPhones – like their predecessors – are simple to use and will appeal to the masses. But there’s no amazing feature I can point to that wows me.

Yes the fingerprint scanner is cool and will save me time entering my complex password, but I can live without it. I can also live without the processor speed increase, motion co-processor and flash.

What I can’t live without is a phone that receives calls, makes use of the internet and can access apps. And because my phone is still able to do this, I see no need to upgrade to make use of the features in the 5s or 5c.

The smartphone market appears to have reached its peak in terms of innovating, and is now all about the fashion and which one you want to be seen with.

Apple has made this clear by offering their 5s in gold, “space grey” and silver; and the 5c in white, pink, yellow, blue and green.

Being a person who is not big on fashion and is more into huge technological advances, I say “meh” to the new iPhones. I’m happy with the 5 and can wait until the 6.

The 5c starts at $739 outright and the 5s $869. Both are also available on subsidised mobile phone contracts with all major telcos.

Correction:This article initially stated it would cost the author $916.65 to upgrade to the iPhone 5s from the iPhone 5. The telco store employee who gave the author this information was asked to give the upgrade fee but instead gave the cancellation fee. The story has been amended to reflect the upgrade fee, which is $229.50.

 This reporter is on Facebook: /bengrubb

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Who will be Mr Crowley’s next victim?

Ryan Crowley has unfinished business with Dan Hannebery (above). Photo: Sebastian CostanzoThere are many admirable reasons why Fremantle is playing off for a place in the AFL grand final. The appointment of Ross Lyon as senior coach at the end of the 2010 season would be foremost among them. The man is a coach who just knows how to win.
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It may not be in the manner that the football purists would prefer, but he gets results.

There were St Kilda supporters who were happy to see him go. For them, the chore of watching a side play dour football overshadowed the fact that he took them to three grand finals. I wonder if they share the same sentiment now?

Among the other key factors that can be pointed to for the ascension of the Dockers, Ryan Crowley stands out as my favourite. For Lyon, having Crowley in his 22 each week must provide the most intense feeling of comfort.

The simple fact is, that at a time when the competition is overrun with elite, superstar midfielders who have the capacity to run all day and amass outrageous numbers of possessions, Crowley stands out as the ultimate “extinguisher”.

And there has not been a better illustration as to Crowley’s importance and influence on the fortunes of the Dockers than his last game against Geelong, two weeks ago.

If there is a bigger confidence player in the competition than Stevie Johnson of the Cats, I would like to meet him. Johnson is a subliminal act in full flight. He sees the game unfold seconds before most players on the ground and he is calculating in his mind what he will do with the football before it even enters his hands.

And if there was a choice to be made between the conservative route and the one that no one thinks is possible, Stevie’s preference is always going to be the latter.

And if he gets away to a flying start in a game, then look out – the party tricks will come out, and when one comes off early, the trick bag spills over. As was the case in the opening 20 minutes of the first final against the Dockers at Simonds Stadium. In front of his adoring fans, Johnson was in full flight. Urban legend, or not, it doesn’t matter, but Stevie J is said to have asked opposition players how they would like to pay. When asked what he was talking about, he would reply something along the lines of, ‘‘to the front-row tickets you’ve got to the Stevie J Show’’.

On this day, tickets would have sold for a premium. He had nine possessions in the first 20 minutes to set the crowd alight. It appeared to allay fears that this was going to be anything other than another glorious home-town victory for the Cats, and ensure them a week’s rest before the preliminary final.

Then Lyon played his trump card. He had deployed his No.1 shutdown man to Mathew Stokes at the start of the game, when most had expected him to go to Geelong’s inspirational skipper Joel Selwood, who Crowley had kept to an unthinkable 14 possessions in their last outing.

I watched Crowley closely as he responded to the demand of the Dockers’ runner. You could almost see the gears in his brain switch focus from Stokes, and then call up the ‘‘Johnson file’’ from some recess in his mind, and zero in on the Geelong champion. Attempting to stop a rampaging Steve Johnson in a big final, in front of a sell-out home crowd, with a massive TV audience tuning in, is like being asked to put out a bushfire with a hessian bag.

Stevie J has a unique self-awareness when it comes to the big occasion. This is a man who, at three-quarter-time of the 2007 grand final, tongue in cheek, refused to answer assistant coach Ken Hinkley, until Hinkley referred to him as “Norm”. Five minutes after the final siren he, indeed, had the Norm Smith Medal hanging around his neck.

Johnson had nine possessions and a goal when Crowley jogged to his side. He ended up with 20 for the game and didn’t add to his goal tally. For me, Crowley was the most influential player on the ground, and the main reason the Dockers produced one of the biggest upsets of the year. He extinguished the scorching fire.

And I say that out of total respect for the type of player that Johnson is, and the impact on the game he was threatening to have. Until Crowley arrived. Yes, the fact that he was able to deny him the football and dry up his scoring was vitally important.

But it was more than that. In a game where the stakes are so high, someone with Johnson’s huge, irrepressible personality has an intangible impact on the playing groups that can determine the outcome of a game. He was sending a clear message to members of both teams that he would take the Cats to the promised land, and that nothing was going to deny him, or his team.

When you have someone like that wearing the same jumper as you, the ‘‘superman’’ mindset can become contagious among the group. Which is why Crowley’s ability to produce the kryptonite turned the fortunes of the game.

As uplifting as it is to see one of your champions producing his best, it can be equally as deflating when one of the opposition is able to stop him in his tracks. All of a sudden, those invisible players, ‘‘belief’’ and ‘‘momentum’’, switch sides. As it was on this day. It was a previously quiet Michael Barlow, David Mundy and Nat Fyfe who took their lead from Crowley and began to dominate from the middle of the ground.

Ultimately, Johnson was moved from the heat of the battle, trying to exploit Crowley out of the goal square. It didn’t work, and when he returned to the centre square,Geelong fans were in unfamiliar  territory – contemplating a home-ground loss, and a   difficult road to the grand final.

You would have to be out in the middle to truly appreciate how Crowley has so effectively been able to quell the influence of our game’s very best. The post-game ‘‘handshake’’ with Johnson was seen as evidence that he pushes beyond what is acceptable. Certainly North Melbourne’s Brent Harvey continues to maintain that.

It is an argument that midfield stars have been bleating about since I followed the game. Some of them, long retired, still do, despite the fact that there are three umpires officiating, and countless cameras providing opportunity for review.

Crowley is a star, playing a role that remains under-appreciated and undervalued. How he was not in the top 40 players considered for All-Australian is a question that should be asked of half of the players that made the All-Australian team. Players whose scalps hang from Crowley’s belt.

Today he is desperate to confront one of those that did get the better of him. The fact that Dan Hannebery kicked four first-half goals on him in their round-eight draw would sit very uncomfortably with him. They say that Crowley’s homework on potential opponents is as fastidious and thorough as has been seen in the game.

I would suggest that he would know more about Hannebery and the way he likes to play than most of Hannebery’s Sydney teammates. Whether he gets another crack at him remains to be seen.

Jarrad McVeigh amassed 20 possessions in a quarter last week. Had Mick Malthouse had Crowley in a Carlton jumper, one doubts that would have taken place. He may find Crowley for company, or he may  go to Kieren Jack, another of the Swan’s barometers.

I would send him to Hannebery. Isaac Smith eventually ran him into the ground two weeks earlier, with the Swan No.4 having little influence. The Hawks ended up belting the Swans by nine goals.

Regardless of who he runs to at the start of the game, you know that player will take a very deep breath as he steels himself for one of the great challenges of the game: trying to get a kick on Ryan Crowley. To do so just might ensure your team makes it through to a grand final.

Now that’s some sort of compliment. One Ryan Crowley thoroughly deserves.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

NSW Waratahs announce squad for 2014 and target top two finish

Tolu Latu barges over for a try in Sydney University’s victory over Eastwood in the Sydney club rugby grand final. Photo: www.seiserphotography南京夜网NSW coach Michael Cheika is targeting the top two in Super Rugby for the Waratahs next season and thinks a forklift driver from Flemington Markets can help get them there.
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Sydney University hooker Tolu Latu, who has worked the graveyard shift at Flemington to support his family for the past 18 months, was unveiled as the newest member of the Waratahs squad for next year.

Latu, a 2012 Australian under 20s representative, fills a yawning gap behind Waratahs’ regular starting hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau after John Ulugia and Damien Fitzpatrick left the franchise.

Cheika said he believed Lotu would give his 44-Test teammate a run for his money.

“I’d say [Polota-Nau] will have his hands full to be honest, he’s going to have a competitor right on his tail from day one,” he said.

“He’s shown right from day one in the time he’s spent with us already this season … and also on the tour and in his club rugby, that he can be a very dominant player when he puts his mind to it.”

Latu joins back rower Tala Gray, former Australia A back Matt Carraro and South African second rower Jacques Potgieter as new faces in the squad announced on Friday.

Centre Jono Lance will also join the Waratahs from the Reds, along with Wallabies Nick Phipps and Kurtley Beale from the Rebels.

Cheika said he was pleased with the foundations the team laid last year but would require a huge step up next season.

“I think that like all the teams we need to be targeting the top two, because it’s pretty clear that you need to finish top two if you want to envisage winning the thing,” he said.

“Realistically, [in 2012] the Sharks did it from outside that [top two] and the Brumbies were able to do it this year, they travelled over there [to South Africa and New Zealand]. All of them came up short in the end. Obviously that more ambitious approach from us has to be there.”

Defence and finishing scoring opportunities are the main areas Cheika wants the squad to improve on, he said.

“We were okay, we were competent, but I think we can put a bit more sting in to our tail,” Cheika said.

“I’ve always loved the more rugged part of the game and [we want] to become a bit of a benchmark in the contact part of the game, get more into the physical nature of the game, because that will allow us to play running footy.”

The Waratahs finished ninth on the ladder this year in their first season under Cheika, who replaced Michael Foley last year.

They finished with eight wins and eight losses with mental steeliness and belief proving stumbling blocks for a team crammed with big names and bright young things.

The pressure will be on next year, from their supporters at the very least. Cheika said he believed his players were up to the challenge.

This isn’t saying ‘this is where we’re going to finish’, it’s saying ‘this is where we want to finish’,” he said.

“I’m still not convinced about this whole pressure thing. If you’re not playing the game to win it, why else are you playing? That’s my attitude around things.

“The reality is we’ve never won [a Super Rugby title] and for our supporters and for our organisation and province, we have to target going out there to become the top two teams because if we can finish top two then we’re a chance of winning it.

“We’re going to have a few bad moments or low moments and some hard times, but that’s what we’ve got to do.”NSW Waratahs 2014 squad

Forwards (senior club, age)Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs, 30)Dave Dennis (Sydney University, 27)Kane Douglas (Southern Districts, 24)Tala Gray (Eastern Suburbs, 23)*Jed Holloway (Southern Districts, 20)Michael Hooper (Manly, 21)Sekope Kepu (Randwick, 27)Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University, 26)Tolu Latu (Sydney University, 20)*Wycliff Palu (Manly, 31)Tatafu Polota Nau (Parramatta, 28)Jacques Potgieter (27)*Benn Robinson (Eastwood, 29)Paddy Ryan (Sydney University, 25)Will Skelton (Sydney University, 21)Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University, 27) BacksAdam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs, 29)Matt Carraro (29)*Kurtley Beale (24)*Peter Betham (Sydney University, 24)Cam Crawford (Northern Suburbs, 24)Bernard Foley (Sydney University, 24)Israel Folau (Sydney University, 24)Michael Hodge (Sydney University, 24)Rob Horne (Southern Districts, 24)Jono Lance (23)*Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs, 28)Nick Phipps (Sydney University, 24)Ben Volavola (Southern Districts, 22) *New Arrivals (former club)Kurtley Beale (Rebels)Matt Carraro (Montpellier, France)Tala Gray (Biarritz, France)Nick Phipps (Rebels)Jacques Potgieter (Bulls)Jono Lance (Reds)Tolu Latu (Sydney University)

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Dugan takes to Twitter

David Shillington. Photo: Melissa Adams David Shillington and Josh Dugan.
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Josh Dugan takes to Twitter to vent his frustration… and then quickly deletes them. Photo: John Veage


David Shillington urges Ricky Stuart to fix culture

Sacked Raiders star Josh Dugan has launched a Twitter tirade on his former teammate David Shillington after Canberra fined their vice-captain for media comments criticising the NRL club’s previous management of Dugan and Blake Ferguson.

The Raiders fined Shillington an undisclosed amount on Friday for breaching the club’s media policy, also concerned by his comments that Raiders players had been pushing for the appointment of sacked assistant Andrew Dunemann ahead of the newly appointed coach, Ricky Stuart.

Shillington quit the Raiders senior leadership group earlier this year in frustration at the leniency that had been shown over the years to Dugan and Ferguson, who have both been sacked from the NRL club this season.

On Thursday, Shillington told Fairfax Media: “Depending on how the coach handles you or how the club handles you, sometimes you create the devil in players.

”If a player mucks up and you don’t drop him from the team or you don’t have some sort of serious consequences … I think that’s when you create the devil in players.

“It makes them bigger than the club, and I think we saw that at our club this year with a few players.”

Dugan, who infamously cost himself a multi-million contract at the Brisbane Broncos earlier this year for controversial comments on Twitter, could not refrain again on Friday.

The St George Illawarra Dragons fullback posted on Twitter:  ”I think Shillington forgets he went DUI twice lol he’s done some favours to get that Australian jersey. Well done mate.”

”Not saying I’m not lucky but he needs to move on and stop sledging me every chance he gets.”

Dugan’s outburst was retweeted by both Ferguson and another former sacked Raiders player Todd Carney, before Dugan deleted them from his Twitter account.

Shillington was banned from driving for 12 months in 2010 after being convicted of his second drink-driving offence, when he registered a blood-alcohol reading of 0.115 – more than twice the legal limit. It was his second disqualified for drink driving.

Shillington would not comment when contacted by Fairfax Media about Dugan’s tweets or the fine from the Raiders.

Shillington’s comments on the Canberra coaching appointment could also have a flow-on effect to his relationship with Stuart.

Shillington had stated in Friday media that Stuart’s hardline stance to discipline could be ”just what the doctor ordered”.

But it’s understood Raiders officials were disturbed by Shillington’s ongoing comments backing Dunemann, given it could be viewed as undermining the incoming coach.

There is already speculation Stuart and Shillington don’t see eye-to-eye, dating back to when they were at the Sydney Roosters.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said Shillington had breached the club’s media policy.

”They should not comment on issues outside of their immediate responsibilities as a player without prior approval from senior management,” Furner said in a statement.

“David is an experienced senior player at this club and should have known better.

”He has been spoken to previously about errant comments he has made to the media and the negative impact they can have.

“I have spoken to David today and he acknowledged that some of his comments were not appropriate and he was sorry.”

Former Test halfback and now media commentator Greg Alexander said Shillington’s comments would only cause ”he possibility of another fracture in the club”.

Alexander said Shillington was within his rights to talk about the appointment of Stuart and changing the culture within the Raiders.

However, he believed statements about senior players wanting Dunemann served no purpose other than to force a wedge between the players and Stuart.

”I don’t mind his comments in regard to the culture, it’s obvious the senior players weren’t happy with some of the things,” Alexander said.

”If I was the Canberra club I’d be asking him what he was trying to get across when he mentioned the Dunemann thing, he needs a wake-up for that.

”By him commenting on it, it’s opened up a couple of wounds and gives the possibility of another fracture in the club.”

The 30-year-old Kangaroos and Queensland representative has had a mixed season.

He lost his place in the Maroons team after the opening game of the State of Origin series.

He made the media comments while in camp with the Prime Minister’s XIII, where he hopes to regain a place in the Australian team for the World Cup.

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