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04 Dec

Fox Sports considers plan to simulcast Channel Nine’s international cricket coverage

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Fox Sports is shaping as a major player in the next round of cricket broadcast rights.Fox Sports is shaping up as a major player in the next round of cricket broadcast rights, indicating it would be prepared to simulcast matches in conjunction with Channel Nine or even have its own commentary team.
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Fox realises it needs a major summer sport to retain subscribers, and cricket remains the key sport, despite the pay television network investing heavily in the A-League.

It is set to aggressively bid for domestic international rights and also for a slice of the Big Bash League, which it broadcast fully before Channel Ten won the rights in 2013.

Nine is also set to bid for the BBL, which has been a ratings success for Ten despite the network’s financial troubles. Ten will be desperate to retain the BBL rights, which some analysts say could treble in value from $20 million annually, for the competition also allows it to promote its new season shows.

Unlike international cricket played at home, the BBL is not on the anti-siphoning list, meaning Fox could exclusively broadcast matches.

Broadcasters are tipping Cricket Australia will seek about $200 million annually for the overall rights, which will include streaming rights that Telstra and Optus would bid for.

The current deal does not expire until 2018, but discussions are set to intensify later this year or early next year. Should a deal be reached early next year, the final year of the current deal could be renegotiated.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association will also keep a close eye on negotiations as it prepares to enter into discussions with CA over a new memorandum of understanding.

Fox has also been sounded out about a dedicated 24-7 cricket channel. But the network has maintained it needs domestic content, and not just the rights to overseas tours it currently enjoys, to launch such a channel.

Should Fox win a slice of the action, it could ultimately help Nine, whose chief executive Hugh Marks last week warned CA another leap in the value of the rights would be “uneconomical”.

“We have to make the right decisions for us financially, but the costs of sports rights, as we adjust our business to whatever the new landscape is between mobile devices and viewing etc, the sports rights costs will start to adjust to what consumption behaviour is around that as well,” he said.

“If we just focus on free-to-air, I don’t think there can be a lot of cost inflation in free-to-air, but if you focus on how do you grow sports revenue then there are ways to do that and I think we as a partner look at making sure that we’re a good player and make sure that those sports continue to advance and progress.”

Nine paid $450 million in cash and contra for the rights over five years from 2013, having handed over $45 million annually under the previous deal. If a simulcast deal with Fox was to be achieved, it would require a major philosophical shift by Nine, for it has closely guarded the rights since Kerry Packer won them during the World Series split.

Cricketing broadcast rights have exploded around the world in the past decade but dedicated sports networks, even in India, have struggled to recoup their outlay.

Despite this, CA continues to enjoy lucrative overseas deals. It is set to finalise a new contract in New Zealand, with India also on the agenda, possibly with incumbent broadcaster Ten Sports. India remains the most lucrative source of income for the organisation.

CA has this year signed new deals in the United States and Canada, including a one-year contract with the NBC Sports Network to show 10 BBL matches. The governing body also continues to expand its own in-house content and is in negotiations with Qantas over live streaming on flights.

With Jon Stensholt

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04 Dec

Olympian Simon Orchard’s return not enough to get Maitland Rams over the line

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Once a Ram, always a Ram SUBLIME: Simon Orchard in action for the Maitland Rams against Norths on Sunday. Picture: Perry Duffin
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SUBLIME: Simon Orchard in action for the Maitland Rams against Norths on Sunday. Picture: Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

HOCKEY: Maitland Rams v Norths. Picture Perry Duffin

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04 Dec

Newcastle overpowered by South Sydney in 17th successive loss

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FAREWELL: Jeremy Smith played his last home game for Newcastle.JEREMY Smith walked off Hunter Stadium for the final time with two points alongside his name.
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Just not the two points he was hoping for.

The veteran lock landed a close-range conversion in the dying minutes of Newcastle’s 34-12 loss to South Sydney –just the second goal of his 212-game NRL career.

But that was as close as he came to a fairytale farewell as the Knights’ club-record losing streak grew to 17 games.

For a player who has enjoyed so much success in his career –winning grand finals with Melbourne and St George Illawarra and a World Cup with New Zealand –to finish in such fashion must be beyond frustrating.

But he will walk away with the respect of his teammates and opponents.

As his co-captain, Trent Hodkinson, said afterwards: “Jez is a guy that you hated playing against, and now that I’ve experienced having him on my side, he’s just a great footy player …he’s probably the only old-school player left in the game.’’

Those sentiments were endorsed by Souths skipper Greg Inglis and coach Michael Maguire, both familiar with Smith after their time together at Melbourne.

“He’s one of those blokes that you know what you’ll get from him, every week,’’ Inglis said.“He won’t let you down and he’s one of those old-school type players that’s still running around in the modern game.’’

Maguire added: “I was fortunate to work with Jez down at Melbourne, quite a few years ago, and it’s a real credit to see how he’s gone throughout his career.He’s a real character. A great player and one thing Jez did, he put his body on the line every single time he played.’’

Smith joked afterward that “I rate myself as a goalkicker”, and perhaps so he should –having kicked eight goals for New Zealand in Test matches.

“We do a lot of practice at training, for coffees, and I got an easy one today,’’ he said.

“It just shaved the post actually.’’

The 36-year-old took to the field with his four children before kick-off and afterwards paid tribute to Newcastle’s supporters, 15,212 of whom turned out on Sunday.

“The fans have been great,’’ he said. “They just keep turning up for us.’’

Souths, who were playing in Newcastle for the first time since 2012, had won the previoussix games between the two clubs by a combined scoreline of 227-60.

Inglis opened the scoring withhis 12thtry in 13 games against the Knights.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Jeremy Smith and his children before kick-off.

WingerAlex Johnston scored a double, giving him a remarkable nine tries in four games against Newcastle.

A spectacular chip-and-chase try from Knights fullback Jake Mamo in the 75thminute allowed Smith to convert from almost in front.

Smith kicked one goal for Melbourne in 2008 and also landed eight goals at international level for New Zealand.

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04 Dec

Village paying the price of our thirst for power

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THE village of Wollar is a far way from anywhere.
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You drive to Denman and then you keep on driving until you hit Wollemi and Goulburn National Parks. And then you hit the coalmines –kilometres and kilometresof Wilpinjong, Moolarben and Ulan coalmines as viewed from a heritage train on Sunday.

Wollar is, literally, the community that’s out of sight and out of mind –and because of this it’s been slowly destroyed.

The giant Wilpinjong mine, owned by troubled US company Peabody, and supplying coal by contract to AGL’s Bayswater power plant, is the source ofmuch of the state’s electricity.

Every time we turn on a light, or watch television, or cook dinner, we rely on that energy chain. And Wollar pays the price.

Wilpinjong was approved in 2006, despite concerns about environmental and social impacts which were dealt with by conditions. And like virtually all Hunter mines it expanded –six times –and is currently subject to another expansion proposal.

On the train on Sunday energy analyst Tim Buckley said Australia’s leaders were wilfully blind to the global structural decline of thermal coal, because of political donations by mining companies, the movement of politicians and political staff to mining companies and back again, and because coal royalties are “money for jam”.

He provided evidence to argue that China, America and India are moving from coal –and won’t be moving back again.

He argued it’s misguided to believe Japan, Korea and Taiwan will fill the void because global prices will drop with a shrinking global market for coal.

So where does it all end?

On the heritage train tour of Hunter and Western coal fields on Sunday –with the train stopped frequently to make way for coal trains –consensus was that Australia needs a price on coal in line with our commitment to keep the global climate change temperature increase to two degrees.

And while federal action remains mired in climate change politics, with the Coalition caught between its climate change progressives and a noisy minority of climate change sceptics, community and environment groups are acting, with plans to campaign against energy providers like AGL.

The Hunter Region is beautiful,richand significant, both to the communities within it, and in world terms.

Issue: 48,324

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04 Dec

Deadly Thurston stuns Rabbitohs

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JOHNATHAN Thurston put injury-hit South Sydney to the sword to pilot North Queensland to a rare hat-trick of wins on the road.
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Thurston bagged a try-scoring double, had a hand or boot in two others and slotted four conversions as the Cowboys crushed the premiers 30-12 at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.

The champion halfback’s five-star, 16-point performance lifted North Queensland into a six-way share of sixth spot, out of the top eight only on differential, after the Cowboys opened their campaign with three straight defeats.

Thurston also outpointed Souths skipper Greg Inglis as debate swirls around which of the two Queensland State of Origin superstars are most deserving of Immortal status.

While Thurston and Inglis didn’t go head-to-head in the halves after Souths coach Michael Maguire pulled a minor surprise pre-game and thrust ball-playing back-rower Glenn Stewart into the five-eighth role, the two giants of the game were in everything for their respective sides.

The premiers struck first blood in just the second minute when Dave Tyrrell crashed through Jason Taumalolo for a soft try next to the posts.

Assuming goalkicking duties in Adam Reynolds’ absence, Issac Luke added the conversion to give Souths a 6-0 head start.

But it didn’t take long for Thurston to get the Cowboys back in it.

After setting up the Cowboys’ last six tries in wins over Melbourne and Penrith, the champion No.7 laid on his side’s first of the night in the eighth minute with a pinpoint crossfield kick for leaping winger Justin O’Neill.

Thurston missed the conversion and his errant pass 12 minutes later landed in the arms of Luke, who raced 40 metres clear to put Souths deep on the attack.

Inglis sized up the situation superbly to put winger Alex Johnston over from the very next play and Luke’s conversion made it 12-4.

Inglis looked to have put the Rabbitohs further ahead when he swivelled through four attempted tacklers only for the video referees to rule he knocked on while trying to ground the ball for a try.

Steve Folkes and Steve Clark also denied Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan a try on the stroke of half-time for an obstruction in the lead-up.

Down by eight points at half-time, Thurston needed just eight minutes after the break to tie the game up, scoring 34 seconds after the interval and then slotting a penalty goal to make it 12-12.

Thurston’s quick hands helped winger Antonio Winterstein to squeeze over in the corner as North Queensland hit the front for the first time after 55 minutes.

Thurston fittingly clinched victory when Morgan put him over seven minutes from time before hooker Jake Granville’s 70-metre dash from dummy half earned the Cowboys their fifth try. AAP

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04 Dec

Fifita in trouble over Clydsdale tackle

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Andrew FifitaANDREW Fifita’s excellent start to the season is set to be put on hold for at least a month after he was slapped with a grade-three dangerous throw charge by the NRL’s match review committee on Monday.
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Fifita was placed on report by referee Ashley Klein after Newcastle hooker Adam Clydsdale was lifted above the horizontal and flung onto his back in Friday’s win over the Knights at Remondis Stadium.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admitted after the game the incident didn’t look good and he expected action to be taken against his player.

‘‘He’s such a big powerful thing, Wade Graham was in the tackle as well and fell off and he [Clydsdale] landed on his back,’’ Flanagan said on Friday.

‘‘If it was my player I would be concerned as well. It’s one of those things in our game we don’t want to see, but it happens.

‘‘A big man tackles a smaller man and technique-wise it goes wrong. It’s bad luck.’’

Fifita will miss four games with an early plea and six if he decides to fight the charge on Wednesday night and loses.

A suspension will be a big blow to both the Sharks and the 25-year-old whose performances this season have been close to those he displayed in 2013 when he was selected for both NSW and the Kangaroos.

Injury and a dip in form saw him dropped by both Blues coach Laurie Daley and Test supremo Tim Sheens last year and a suspension would rule him out of the Kangaroos side to face New Zealand in Brisbane on May 1 and the City-Country clash in Wagga Wagga on May 3.

Fifita was one of 10 players charged on Monday.

St George Illawarra back-rower Tyson Frizell is set for a two-week spell on the sidelines for the ugly swinging arm that knocked out Canterbury’s Tim Browne in the Dragons’ win on Sunday.

The Welsh international will miss two games with a guilty plea for an incident that has been deemed a grade-five offence.

Gold Coast forward Eddy Pettybourne will serve a week-long ban for a careless high tackle on Parramatta’s Darcy Lussick if he accepts a grade-one charge.

Lussick’s teammates Manu Ma’u and Nathan Peats, Warriors pair Ryan Hoffman and Sam Lisone and Manly’s Jamie Buhrer were all issued with grade-one dangerous throw charges.

However, they will be free to play this weekend if they enter guilty pleas.

Roosters prop Sam Moa will be available for selection for Saturday’s clash with Melbourne if he accepts a grade one careless high tackle charge.

Brisbane’s Jarrod Wallace was also sanctioned for dangerous contact on Roosters forward Kane Evans but won’t miss any action with an early plea. AAP

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04 Dec

Facebook pulls clip for ABC show ‘8MMM’, claiming images of Aboriginal women breached nudity policy

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A still from the ABC clip which Facebook removed. Photo: YouTubeFacebook has pulled a video promoting an ABC TV show because images of Aboriginal women painted in ochre offended the website’s nudity guidelines.
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The clip for new ABC show 8MMM included two scenes of elderly, bare-breasted Aboriginal women taking part in a traditional ceremony.

The video “potentially contained offensive nudity”, according to an automatic notification sent to the show’s Facebook group administrators.

The trailer was uploaded to Facebook last Wednesday to promote the black comedy based in the Northern Territory and had 30,000 hits when it was removed three days later.

8MMM’s co-creator Rachel Clements said she was stunned when she received the notification early on Sunday.

“I’ve moved from anger to disappointment to just bewilderment, really,” Clements said.

“It just think it’s silly and disrespectful to the women who were dancing for us.

“Out of all the reasons we could have been pulled, nudity is not high on the list. It’s ridiculous.”.

8MMM attempts to confront the controversial issues of race, Aboriginality and discrimination with irreverence and humour, Ms Clements said.

“We felt that if we dealt with the serious stuff with laughter we could open up the conversation. We didn’t do it to offend anyone,” she said.

In spite of Facebook’s decision to remove the clip, Ms Clements reposted the video to the platform this morning.

“We’ll just wait and see what happens,” she said.

Facebook has come under fire for its censorship policy, raising the ire of feminist groups and celebrity activists who have decried the site’s hardline stance on deleting pictures of breastfeeding mothers.

The platform was forced to update its “community standards” policies last month, tightening its restrictions on hate speech and cyber bullying.

But the update also gave credence to global campaigns in support of depictions of female nudity and breastfeeding.

“We always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring,” Facebook said.

“We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background or age.”

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04 Dec

University of Newcastle 50th anniversary: Serving up the best medicine

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Professor David Maddison, Sue James and John Birch outside the original faculty of medicine.● Celebrating 50years: Read more
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THE CAMPAIGN to establish a medical schoolin Newcastle began more than a quarter of a century beforeits first intake of students arrived in 1978.

Proceedings were expedited with the release in 1973of the Whitlam government’s Karmel committee reportExpansion of Medical Education in Australia.

The newly established University of Newcastle and JamesCook University were recommended as locations for newmedical schools.

Dean ofmedicineat the University of Sydney, DavidMaddison, jumped at the chance to create a medical schoolfree from the entrenched hierarchy of traditional models.

This was a dream come true for University of Newcastlefounder James Auchmuty and vice-chancellor Don George,who had been searching for a leader for their medical school.

Professor Maddison, who tookuphis tenure in 1975,began with a study tour of the world’sbestmedical programsin the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada.

He also recruited eight professors from Australia andabroad to help realise his vision for a different approach tomedical education in Australia.

Among them was Saxon White, who was working as asenior lecturer in human physiology at Flinders University inSouth Australia.

“The only way it was going to succeed was if we worked asa team,” says Emeritus Professor White, who retired from themedical school in 2000.

“None of us had ever created a medical school; we hadall worked in medical schools and done our higher degreesin medical schools but the challenge of what our medicalschool would be like was a function of a whole series ofbriefing papers [that Professor Maddison had prepared].”

The core of their new approach to medical education wasan emphasis on selecting students based on their suitabilityto become doctors, rather than just academic success.

The university attracted interest from 2000 students forthe 63 places that were offered in 1978.

Prospective students were interviewed by a member of themedical school and a community representative.

Emeritus Professor Saxon White. Picture: Ryan OSland

“Once again, this confronted the older profession,”Professor White says. “If there was any detection that astudent didn’t relate to another human being well thenmaybe that student was not the type of person who wouldturn out to be a doctor with the ability to form empathicrelationships with children, with mothers and sick people.”

Within 10 years the problem-based learning techniquesused at the University of Newcastle’s medical school werebeing adopted by other universities around Australia.

The course remained relatively unchanged until the 1990swhen the university amalgamated with the Hunter Instituteof Higher Education. In addition, the newly established JohnHunter Hospital had just opened.

“With amalgamation we got more staff coming in and themedical school staff began to teach into other professionalbodies,” Professor White says. “The camaraderie of the earlydays wasn’t quite the same.”

The medical school’s first group of students had notgraduated when Professor Maddison died of a heart attackin 1981. Despite that, the foundations he laid were solid andthe school was well on track to realise the vision that hadattracted him to Newcastle.

“I would think David Maddison, if he was here today, hewould be very happy,” Professor White says. “I know frommy own experience of visiting medical schools overseas, theyall know about Newcastle and some of the things they haveadopted came from here.

“I think the university has come a long way and I think themedical school should be very proud that it has been part ofthat increase in prestige in the nation.”

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04 Dec

Oil to move back to $US75 a barrel

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Oil’s spectacular fall seems to have lost momentum in recent months and now questions are being asked about where the price is heading and what is sustainable.
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Over the last 12 months, Brent crude has slumped 44.3 per cent to $US57.87 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate has dropped 44.5 per cent to $US51.64 a barrel.

However, during 2015, Brent has slipped just 3.9 per cent and WTI has fallen 6 per cent.

Some of the biggest factors behind the fall in the price of oil has been increased production in the United States, as well as a refusal from OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to curb their own production.

But a collapse in the US oil-rig count, which is seen as a reliable guide to the intensity of exploration efforts and future supply, has market pundits thinking in the medium term oil will recover to about $US75 a barrel to $SU80 a barrel.

The US Baker Oil Rig Count has slumped about 50 per cent since its peak in October, but this is not been matched by any improvement in oil price.

“How long does it take until that supply response happens, in terms of declining production? We see that as about a six-month lag from a drop in rig count,” Wingate chief investment officer Chad Padowitz said.

“We see with demand starting to increase in the next two to three months and some supply coming off the table, towards the end of the year is where we see the oil market closer to balance.”

Barring geopolitical events which can impact the oil price, Mr Padowitz said he oil should start normalising on the road to about the $US75 a barrel level in six months.

“Oil is very capital intensive to maintain, let alone increase production. At current prices, it’s not a sustainable plan that generates enough cash flow to maintain production,” Mr Padowitz said.

ANZ head of commodity research Mark Pervan said the drop in oil-rig count has not been matched with a fall in output.

“In fact, US tight oil, or shale oil, production continues to rise, swelling domestic crude oil inventories to the highest levels since 1982, when data collection first began,” Mr Pervan said.

A surge in wells drilled and a backlog of wells to be completed since 2012 will keep supply up in the near term, Mr Pervan said.

“We don’t expect US shale oil output to tighten until the second half of 2015 from lower rig counts in the past six months.”

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04 Dec

Will Skelton: NSW Waratahs may have taken Stormers ‘for granted a bit’

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Trying to make a break: Waratahs foward Will Skelton is tackled by Stormers pair Nizaam Carr and Steven Kitshoff. Photo: Mark MetcalfeFollow SMH Sport on Twitter
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Waratahs forward Will Skelton admits his lack of go-forward in their loss to the Stormers last Saturday night was an “attitude thing” and conceded the Super Rugby champions may have underestimated the South African side.

Skelton lauded the Stormers for their 32-18 win over the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium, especially their defence which the Waratahs were unable to break.

But asked if the visitors got it over the Waratahs physically, Skelton said on Monday: “A few periods in the game they did. First-up we showed some big hits and some good runs from the forwards and backs. But … [when] you come off a bye … we needed to switch on mentally. We might have taken that game for granted a bit.”

With the Waratahs to play the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday, Skelton spent Sunday reflecting on how he feels he let the Waratahs down last Saturday. “I wasn’t deep enough in attack,” Skelton explained. “I took a few carries, but I had no go-forward. That is one thing I looked at and will work to rectify this week.”

Asked if the issue was a physical or mental one to address, Skelton said: “It’s both,” but added: “If you are not in the game there, it’s an attitude thing. We would get tackled backwards and I would work my way over for a run and I would be too flat.”

Pressed on whether he felt the Stormers sensed that and capitalised on it in defence, he said: “Credit to the Stormers. They have good defensive coaches and their line they brought out was very swarming … they swarmed us [when we were] in attack.”

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