Trent Merrin closes the door on St George Illawarra Dragons as manager confirms he will leave club

Bye bye Dragons: Trent Merrin won’t sign a new contract with St George Illawarra Photo: Adam McLean Bye bye Dragons: Trent Merrin won’t sign a new contract with St George Illawarra Photo: Adam McLean
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Bye bye Dragons: Trent Merrin won’t sign a new contract with St George Illawarra Photo: Adam McLean

Bye bye Dragons: Trent Merrin won’t sign a new contract with St George Illawarra Photo: Adam McLean

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St George Illawarra have been dealt a huge blow before the start of the season with forward Trent Merrin deciding to depart the club at the end of the year.

Merrin’s manager Wayne Beavis confirmed the NSW Origin forward will not be at the Dragons next year and is set to make a decision on his new club when he returns from the World Club Series next week.

“100 per cent, it’s over,” Beavis told Fairfax Media on Tuesday. “He won’t be at the Dragons next year.”

The decision caught the Dragons by surprise when contacted by Fairfax Media, unaware Merrin had decided to part ways with the club after this season.

Beavis said the 25-year-old was still weighing up three options for next year and beyond, with all offers now on the table for Merrin to make a decision on where he wants to play.

It is believed the Penrith Panthers are the frontrunners to lure Merrin to the foot of the mountains, while Cronulla and the New Zealand Warriors also believed to be in the hunt.

While Beavis would not speculate on the club’s chasing Merrin’s signature, he closed the door on any chance of his client remaining at the Dragons beyond his contract expiration at the end of this year.

Merrin is the second Dragons junior to announce he is leaving the club in the past six months after fellow 2010-premiership winner and representative winger Brett Morris was released to join his brother Josh at Canterbury this season.

Merrin, who is in Britain with his Dragons teammates preparing for Saturday morning’s World Club Series match against the Warrington Wolves, is yet to inform St George Illawarra officials of his decision to leave.

However it is understood Merrin is frustrated the club has not budged on its original offer made before Christmas, and is ready to make a decision on his new club when he returns home next week.

“It means he’s in England now, so when he gets back he will look at his options,” Beavis said.

“We’re probably down to two, or maybe three clubs. All offers are on the table so we’ll know when he gets back what he wants to do.”

The Dragons were loath to see the departure of Merrin, who made his debut for the club under Wayne Bennett in 2009, going on to represent NSW on 10 occasions.

The Dragons were comfortable with the offer they made to Merrin, describing it as the most lucrative deal the club has offered a forward.

It is understood Merrin is frustrated the club wasn’t in a position to offer him a better deal given the money they threw at enticing Josh Dugan, Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall to the club.

Merrin was encouraged to test the market to find out his value and has been offered more money from rival clubs than the Dragons could afford given their tight salary cap restraints.

Merrin’s departure means Jason Nightingale and Ben Creagh, who are both off contract at the end of this year, will be the last two remaining survivors from the 2010 grand final winning team.

Nightingale is expected to remain at the club, but Creagh’s future remains unclear.  

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National titles up for grabs

FOLLOWING in the footsteps of some illustrious company, four members of the Mersey Valley Devonport Cycling Club will head to Melbourne next week for the Australian Junior National Track Championships.
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READY TO RIDE: Mersey Valley Devonport Cycling Club junior members Lotta O’Rourke, Cameron McPherson, Morgan Gillon and Ronin Munro will represent Tasmania at the 2015 Cycling Australia Junior Track National Championships

Lotta O’Rourke, Cameron McPherson (under 15), Morgan Gillon and Ronin Munro (under 17) have been selected in the 13-member team for the titles, which run from February 25-28.

Club president Wayne Bounday said the recent success of fellow club members Amy Cure and Macey Stewart on the world stage had given the quartet something to aspire to and he expected them to all apply themselves well.

“We have four quality cyclists going over — Lotta and Cameron are first-time representatives, so it will be a new experience for them, but an opportunity to test themselves,” Bounday said.

“I think they’ll all do quite well, and if they continue to improve on their state performances I think they’ll be happy with that.

“They’ve all had good seasons in Tasmania, with both Cameron and Lotta outstanding during our club season in the under 15s and in the top five in the state in their age group.”

Bounday added that further motivation to continue to excel lay in the fact that the 2016 championships would be held in Tasmania.

That event will be staged at the Silverdome in Launceston.

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LEAGUE: Weakened Scorpions sting Wolves in trial

ATTACKING: Andy Sumner. Picture: David StewartTHE Macquarie Scorpions took down NSW Cup premiers Windsor 32-20 in their rugby league trial on Saturday, despite missing five regular first graders.
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The Scorpions looked to be in cruise control as they ran in three of their eight tries in the first quarter of the game.

No kicks at goals were taken in the game.

Coach Barrie Moore said he was extremely satisfied and the club’s new signings played well.

“All the Scorpion players who took the field performed well and the junior players from last year’s reserve grade side highlighted that they will be able to make the transition to first grade without any problems,” Moore said.

He was particularly pleased with the way experienced players Mick Moran and Danny Vaughan performed as well as the attacking skill of Andy Sumner.

“All our forwards were very strong and tough, and the backs were able to feed off that go-forward,” he said.

Although it was a good win, Moore said the game was only a trial and he wasn’t getting carried away.

He suspects some of the Windsor players missed the trial due to training commitments with the Penrith NRL side.

■ The Scorpions will host Kincumber in another trial match at Lyall Peacock Field this Saturday, February 21, with first grade kicking off at 3pm.

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Murphy looking for club co-owner to start sharing the load

Jets chief executive Mitchell Murphy speaks to media on Tuesday.SIX months ago he declared he ‘‘can’t wait’’ to sell the Newcastle Jets, then insisted he was keeping them.
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Now Nathan Tinkler appears to be searching for a partner to help pay the bills.

New Jets chief executive Mitchell Murphy said on Tuesday that Tinkler was ‘‘fully committed’’ to the club but had already kicked off the search for a co-owner.

Please enable Javascript to watch this video‘‘Publicly I’m not saying anything that is behind closed doors,’’ Murphy said.

‘‘Nathan has publicly said that he has an open mind to entertain a joint venture with a partner or owner.

‘‘I have a mandate with him that we explore those avenues, and we have already started that process. That takes time.

‘‘Again it is complex negotiations. I can tell you transparently that we have begun that process. There are talks – they are preliminary – but there are talks about getting a supporting investor into the club with Nathan.’’

Asked if the preferred alternative was an overseas club or a private investor, Murphy replied: ‘‘It could be either.

‘‘There are a variety of options. You could form a partnership with an EPL, you could get a private investor, a consortium … again it could be domestically or abroad.

‘‘Logic says to me that it is probably going to come from abroad.’’

Murphy said most owners of A-League franchises were ‘‘constantly putting their hand in the pocket’’ but was confident the Jets could ultimately become a self-funding operation.

‘‘Melbourne Victory are constantly in profit. We need to understand they have a base of more than 20,000 members.

‘‘My message to the people of the Hunter is simple: the more members we get the easier it will be to make the numbers stack up because it gives us that financial base to work from.

‘‘Is there a business model that can work? If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t be here.’’

As a business, the Jets needed to ‘‘cut the cloth it can afford’’ and provide their corporate partners with value for money.

‘‘Do I believe we can get this club into the black in the next few years? Yes, I do,’’ he said.

He estimated it would cost Tinkler at least $1million to settle the club’s liabilities.

‘‘My initial reaction is $1million minimum,’’ he said. ‘‘We will probably need more than that, but I need to do due diligence to get an exact figure.’’

His goal was to help transform Newcastle into a club capable of attracting quality players.

‘‘Any potential player, it is human nature and logic that they would want to come to a club that can be perceived as stable,’’ he said. ‘‘That is what we are working towards.

‘‘I can’t do much more than say we have a plan, we have a vision and we are putting processes in place.

‘‘When you look at the calibre of human being that Nigel Boogaard is, he obviously believes we are moving forward or he wouldn’t have signed. That is a real springboard to send a message that we are now moving forwards, not backwards.

‘‘My intention here is not to keep dwelling on what has happened. We have to say this is where we are heading and we have to get on with that job.’’

Ballarat Secondary College students exposed to hepatitis A berries

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A number of Year 7 students at Ballarat Secondary College’s Wendouree campus have been exposed to the frozen berries linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A.

The Nanna’s brand mixed berries were used to make smoothies in a cooking class last week.

BSC Principal Rick Gervasoni said a small group ate the berries in the class.

“It was only a few because some decided to use them, some didn’t,” he said.

Notes were sent out to parents of the affected students on Monday.

“We’ve responded as quickly as we can. As it is with people everywhere, (we used) the berries not knowing at the time,” Mr Gervasoni said.

The school and parents will now monitor the students as they approach the 15-day point at which the disease can become apparent.

The note to parents listed the contaminated berry products and passed on advice from Victorian chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester.

“We are writing to you because your child may have consumed the product in producing a Berry Smoothy in food technology class last week, before the recall was issued,” it said.

“Dr Lester’s office has confirmed that the risk of exposure is very low but cannot be excluded.

“As for all people who have consumed the affected products, Dr Lester has advised parents and carers to look for symptoms 15 to 50 days after consumption.”

The health scare reached Ballarat on Monday when local woman Trudie Sims recognised Hep A symptoms after eating the Chinese-sourced fruit.

Nine people have been diagnosed since eating the berries, with Ms Tims possibly the 10th.

The recall for berries was extended to Nanna’s 1kg bag of raspberries on Tuesday.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include abdominal pain, nausea, fever and chills and yellow skin or eyes. Contact your GP if you believed you may have been affected.

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Brad Hill Billy wins Burnie trainer prestigious Cup

CHAMPION: Burnie greyhound trainer Allan Clark is happy to mark the Launceston Cup off his “to-win” list after Brad Hill Billy won the race on Monday night. Picture: Stuart Wilson.
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MONDAY night’s Launceston Cup victory with Brad Hill Billy marked a fairytale return to the sport for Burnie greyhound trainer Allan Clark.

Clark only returned to the industry late last year after a six-year hiatus, and said he was “thrilled to pieces” after the triumph in the group 2 race.

The trainer had previously won many other feature events around the state, but was yet to tick the Launceston Cup off his “to-win” list.

Brad Hill Billy chased down early leader Breaker’s Tip to win by almost a length in the 515-metre race, which carried total prizemoney of $40,000.

Clark trains the greyhound for close friends Simon Millgate and Helen Pringle, from Zeehan.

Such was his excitement after the win, a weary Clark said yesterday he found it difficult to sleep.

“It was brilliant,” he said.

“He is still only a young dog and we only put him in the heats to see how he would stand up and he did a really good job.

“We were lucky enough to draw box one in the final and that helped.

“It’s always pleasing if you can win a decent-sized race. The main thing for me was getting the dog there safely without getting injured, so to win was a bonus.”

Clark admitted some of the gloss of the victory had been taken away after revelations some mainland greyhound trainers had been caught using live animals on mechanical lures for training purposes.

The expose, aired on ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night, has rocked the industry.

“The bad publicity takes away from it a little bit, but hopefully some better things will come out of it,” Clark said.

“The industry needs to be spotless, and made so there is none of this crap going on.”

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Volunteers needed for homework centre

HIGH DEMAND: Hall spokesperson Val Badham said the program needs more volunteers. Picture: David StewartTHE success of an after-school homework centre at Morisset means children are now on a waiting list to get in, and more volunteer tutors are needed.
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Southlake Homework Centre was set up at Morisset Memorial Hall in 2011.

It helps primary school-aged children who have fallen behind at school.

“The homework club helps these children to catch up and regain their self-esteem,” hall spokesperson Val Badham said.

The centre is staffed entirely by volunteers.

“Volunteers do not need to be teachers. We will show you the ropes and support you if you need help on the job,” Ms Badham said.

The centre is open from 3pm to 5pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, during school terms.

Each student has his or her own tutor, as children come from different schools and have different requirements.

Children start arriving at 3pm.

They are given afternoon tea and start their homework at 3.45pm, finishing at 4.45pm.

■ To become a volunteer helper, phone Ms Badham on 4973 9553.

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Rowers prepare to go head to head

friendly foes: Ballarat Grammar’s Nic Williams and Ballarat High’s Lachlan Simpson. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCEBALLARAT school rowers are preparing for their biggest race to date.
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Schools will go head to head in the Ballarat Associated Schools Head of the Lake competition on Sunday, March 1.

The event is returning to a Sunday format after being held on a Friday last year.

BAS executive officer Sharyn Canny said students and captains were all friendly when they met last week for the lane drawing.

She said Damascus would compete for the second year, with a female crew to race in the open division two. “They’ve been performing very well so far, so it will be interesting to see how they go,” she said.

She said schools would be finalising crews in the lead-up to the race.

Ms Canny said it was one of the biggest sporting events on the school calendar, with athletics and swimming carnival events attracting similar entrants.

The first race will begin at 9am on Lake Wendouree, with the final race scheduled for 12.10pm. Weather permitting, presentations will follow the races on the Loreto College oval.

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Sprinting ‘couch potatoes’ make gentle pets

GOOD DOG: James Taylor and Maileen Purdy with greyhound Uso which they say, like most of the dogs, is a lovely pet. Picture: Jonathan CarrollFor information on adopting or rescuing greyhounds visit greyhoundrescue南京夜网.au
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GREYHOUND lovers Maileen Purdy and James Taylor say they were worried shocking revelations about the state of the racing industry would paint the gentle breed of dog in a bad light.

Described as ‘‘45mile-per-hour couch potatoes’’, because of their mostly sedentary lifestyle, the greyhounds have been bred and trained for hunting and coursing since the 1870s. But Ms Purdy and Mr Taylor, of New Lambton Heights, say they make even better pets.

Mr Taylor rescued Uso two years ago through Greyhound Rescue and the couple fostered four-year-old Lani two weeks ago.

‘‘We were both shocked when we saw the Four Corners report, we didn’t think greyhounds could be like that,’’ Ms Purdy said. ‘‘Our dogs are pretty calm, they sleep most of the day and want to be around people all the time.

‘‘My first concern was that the footage would reflect badly on the dogs, but we hope that people realise that is just the trainers and owners who make them behave like that.’’

Mr Taylor said after spending an hour with his friend’s rescued greyhounds he decided to get one for himself. ‘‘They are quiet and loving, so different to what you see when they race,’’ he said.

He said there was an influx of dogs needing homes because they were surplus to the racing industry.

Parking costs hit users of Centrelink and Medicare

BURNIE City Council will consider working with Centrelink and Medicare to provide free parking for service users at their Burnie offices.
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Burnie Centrelink and Medicare.

Speaking at last night’s council meeting, concerned Cooee resident Michele Hawkins said parking costs and fines associated with using the services meant people were opting not to participate.

Ms Hawkins laid a bag of groceries, including bread, milk, toilet paper and pasta, on a table to illustrate the cost of parking fees and fines near the services.

Parking near the offices costs about $1.70 per hour, while a parking fine for users who exceed their time limit is $15.

“These parking costs may not appear to be expensive but are in fact a considerable proportion of many [Centrelink] recipients’ weekly payments,” she said.

“If a parking fine is issued then accessing these important services is not possible for many and potentially can create further financial hardship.

“The current system can lead to people needing to make a decision between paying for parking or for groceries.”

Ms Hawkins said Burnie’s free parking options being on the outskirts of the city posed a problem for elderly or mobility-challenged users of the services.

Ms Hawkins suggested the council and the services work together to provide free parking vouchers during visits to Centrelink and Medicare.

Mayor Anita Dow acknowledged Burnie’s high percentage of unemployed and disadvantaged people, and said the council would consider the proposal.

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