Uphill battle

Top model … the 1969 Monaro GTS. Photo: National Archives of Australia A1200, L81537 Holden Royale … Queen Elizabeth II at the Holden plant in 1963. Photo: GM Holden Ltd
Shanghai night field

It’s moving. You know it’s meant to, but the line in the general assembly area at General Motors Holden in Elizabeth, South Australia, still looks faintly disorienting. Today’s “takt time” – the period it takes a car body length to pass a set point – is 57 seconds. You wonder how anyone could keep up, but they do.

The machinery provides the initial spectacle, such as the IP robot that slips bulky dashboard assemblies through windscreen spaces with the sleight of a sinuous arm. But it’s the people who are transfixing – their concentration, dexterity and agility, physical and mental. General assembly puts together no fewer than 45 different models, and no two consecutive vehicles on the production line are alike. As each gleaming shell looms the operator must identify it – yellow Cruze notchback, red Commodore VF sedan, black Calais, white wagon, blue ute, long wheelbase, short wheelbase, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive – and have the requisite bits of metal, plastic, wiring or harness ready for installation inside a minute.

Watch a while and it becomes exciting. Will they get it done? They never fail. It’s even beautiful, in the physical precision and kinaesthetic awareness on display. “On production you learn skills you never thought you had,” says Lucinda Gregory, a petite 33-year-old mother of two with 15 years at Holden, of her intricate choreography. “Using two hands at once; doing this while you’re doing something else over here … Each job has a flow. You start one job, and you flow to the next. There’s no point zig-zagging all over the car, so you have to get a nice flow going.”

“You can go into a blind spot underneath the dash and put a nut on a stud just by feel,” says quality checker Tony Poole. “Your arm automatically goes there. It’s just … incredible.” He still gets a thrill from observing skilled colleagues. “I was watching an operator putting in side-rail airbags and he wasn’t even looking!” he says. “Y’know, in – click-click-click.” He laughs gustily: “Lad’s been doing that job for a while!” Poole, a father of three, has been at Holden 26 years; he would like, he says, to stay another 26.

Until 2039? For the automotive industry’s detractors, Poole, Gregory and more than 2000 others at Holden’s remaining vehicle assembly plant in Australia cannot be gone quickly enough. To them, the industry, despite still employing almost 50,000 people and turning over almost $50 billion, embodies an old Australia and has become a luxury that a country with a small population can no longer afford.

Locally produced passenger motor vehicles now represent a fraction of a market they dominated before the phased reduction of tariffs began in the 1980s. To continue, American-owned Holden and Ford, and Japan’s Toyota, have needed billions of dollars of state support, through a $5.4 billion Automotive Transformation Scheme from 2008 to 2020, plus a range of project-specific grants – what critics call “handouts” and defenders call “co-investment”.

The car makers argue that for that outlay, they create many times as much economic activity: sales, wages, taxes, expenditure on materials, research and development. Nonetheless, when Ford in May foreshadowed closure three years hence, it reopened a debate about an industry through which money can appear to flow like water through a bucket with a big hole. Pressured to respond, Julia Gillard, the prime minister at that time, was hesitant. “I think supporting the car industry is important for our nation’s future,” said Gillard, the “I think” diluting it from confident assertion to bland opinion. It was hardly a resounding riposte to shadow treasurer Joe Hockey’s lambasting of the “waste of taxpayers’ money” involved in industry assistance.

Strangely, nobody seems bothered by the stupendous subsidies our giant mining companies, domestic banking oligopoly and private healthcare industry enjoy; nor by the fact that high levels of state support for local car industries are often uncontroversial overseas.

Not long ago, ironically, the industry was regarded as a shining light. While imports’ share of the market grew from 15 per cent in 1985 to 60 per cent in 2000 as tariffs were wound back, vehicle and component exports grew tenfold in the same period. Optimism abounded. Greg Combet, then secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, gushed in the Canberra Times that the car industry “should rightly be regarded as Australia’s biggest manufacturing success story”. Quite. Forced to compete, Australian cars have never been of higher quality. The problem has been quantity.

In the first half of the noughties, local vehicle production surged. In 2005, when Holden was employing 5600 people in Elizabeth and making 900 cars a day across three shifts, it exported more than 60,000 sedans, utes and coupes in right- or left-hand-drive configurations to five continents. But despite growing local car sales, Australian production began trending in the opposite direction. Last year, Holden, Toyota and Ford sold just 224,000 vehicles, and only 139,000 domestically – 12.6 per cent of the total number of vehicles sold in Australia. They have survived this downturn with the help of government support and by self-administered austerities. Holden at Elizabeth, down to a single shift in general assembly and now making only 400 cars a day, is in the process of finalising 400 voluntary redundancies, and next month will ask workers to vote to cut their own wages.

What happened? Traditionally, the Australian vehicle market has been dominated by powerful, rear-wheel-drive “family cars”, particularly the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, the type of vehicle that offers slightly better profit margins and longer production runs.

Over the last decade, however, the market has not so much shifted as fissured, moving in several directions simultaneously, with the growth markets being smaller cars with lower fuel consumption, luxury European marques, and sports utility vehicles. Australian consumers are demanding cars that are bigger, smaller, fancier, simpler, thirstier and more abstemious than local manufacturers provide. Why? Because they can. The lowering of tariffs has, as prophesised, been a boon for buyers, especially since the managed plunges of the greenback and yen slashed prices.

As a result, Australians now buy as many cars imported from South Korea as they do cars made here; they buy twice as many from Thailand, four times as many from Japan. More than 60 car brands and 360 models are on sale here – more than in Japan and China; more, even, than in the US, a market nearly 15 times the size of Australia’s.

What this means is that nobody sells much of anything: no SUV sold more than 20,000 last year, while 2012’s highest-selling car enjoyed half the sales of 2002’s highest-selling car. Those numbers are fine for importers, but local manufacturers have been stretched every which way, producing ever more varieties in ever diminishing volumes at ever falling prices. Worse, the strength of the Australian dollar has largely excluded them from the export markets they cultivated: Holden sold just 14,100 cars abroad last year, and Elizabeth has felt the pinch.

It might now be fraying at the edges, but Elizabeth was Australia’s first “new town”, built in the 1950s with implicit support from the state government to perpetuate South Australia’s lower living costs and provide the state with an industrial bedrock. Finding that the residents of Adelaide were reluctant to travel 30 kilometres north to work in Elizabeth, premier Thomas Playford laid out a welcome mat for Holden, offering cheap land and infrastructure support in the town’s south.

New British arrivals came in the tens of thousands (Elizabeth’s most famous son, Glasgow-born singer Jimmy Barnes, claims that he did not hear an Australian accent until he was 11 years old). Perhaps the biggest day in the town’s history was the 1963 visit of the Queen, who came to the Holden plant and waved to employees from a specially built verandah.

The area’s vestigial Britishness has faded; so has the industry. Today, unemployment in the City of Playford, of which Elizabeth is part, is 14 per cent, youth unemployment 44 per cent, and localities such as Davoren Park bear the blights associated with joblessness: derelict shopping marts, shuttered community facilities, drive-through bottle-ohs with security guards, and graffiti tags, of which the council removed a record 180,000 last financial year.

Yet range farther afield, for Playford spreads its 80,000 inhabitants over 346 square kilometres, and the picture changes. An affordable housing project, Playford Alive, has attractively regenerated Smithfield Plains. A Lend Lease development, Blakes Crossing, offers “stylish village living”. Far from shrinking, Playford is officially “the fastest-growing council in South Australia”, its population forecast to grow 70 per cent by 2026. Which causes you to wonder: where will these new arrivals work?

Probably not at Holden. Because it has recently been contracting rather than expanding, it has taken only eight of the 500 apprentices placed by the impressive local technical college, St Patrick’s, in the last five years. “We certainly get the sense that there’s no point engaging with Holden,” says principal Rod Thomas, “because there’s no guarantee that a young person will be able to finish an apprenticeship there.” Nonetheless, Thomas feels, the company’s leaving would devastate the city: “Holden is the glue of this community.”

That feeling envelopes new arrivals as they circle the “Holden Bulldogs roundabout” on entering town. Holden has sponsored the dearly loved Central District Bulldogs Australian rules club since 1989, and the club’s veteran chief executive Kris Grant supports them right back: “I’ve never driven anything else my whole life. I don’t think there is a better car for Australia.” He’d rather not contemplate their closure: “We have a membership of 2500, and I’d venture to say that 50 per cent work at Holden, with another high percentage in associated industries. So it all filters down, because people’s spend here is relative to how things are going there. If Holden disappeared, it would be pretty difficult for us to carry on.” Among the jokey fines the players levy among themselves is a $5 penalty for being seen in proximity to a Ford.

Above all, perhaps, Holden has traditionally defined “work” in Elizabeth. Economists like talking about Australia’s “inevitable transition to a services-based economy”. Tourism. Hospitality. Education. Health. Aged care. At his triumphalist best, Paul Keating once dismissed the employment cost of restructuring secondary industries: “People have found better jobs. I mean, did we ever hurt anybody liberating them from the car assembly line?”

But nobody here craves such “liberation”. When Holden offered redundancy packages in April, senior technical officer Steve Brecht did consider ending his 25-year career: “I went through moments of sheer clarity. ‘Yes, I’m going to go, and take control of my future.’ But five minutes later it would be, ‘Why would I want to leave this place?’ Because despite everything that’s going on, I love it. Outside of the people here, none of my friends have worked in the same place for more than 25 years. Most of them have been through multiple jobs, some of them dozens.”

Brecht wonders aloud what could ever replace his existing job satisfaction: “I read a local report about an aged-care facility saying: ‘Oh, we’d be looking to take on Holden workers.’ Really? Because I can’t see myself wiping some 90-year-old dude’s butt in the middle of the night for a job. No disrespect to him, or the person who might do that job, but I don’t want to be that person; I don’t look on that as a great way to earn a living.”

Brecht says this advisedly: his own grandfather is 96. But the thing is, his grandfather also worked at Holden, as did his father and his brother. Between them, they have invested almost 100 years in the company. And they’re not unusual. Critics who deem automotive manufacturing an “industry of the past” are in one respect correct: institutional loyalty and identification run deep.

The average Holden career lasts 16.8 years; the average Toyota career lasts 12.8. Employees commonly wear Holden shirts and jumpers casually, even after retirement, and Lucinda Gregory describes “the nod” that workers exchange at the sight of one another, which in her case is especially meaningful, as she married another general assembly worker, a so-called line chaser, who supplies operators with the components they need.

It can be tough work – confronting, wearying. “Toyota are putting people on at the moment, and they’re lasting half a day, maybe a few hours,” says Dave Smith, national secretary of the vehicles division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. “Most people think you just sit there and bolt things on. You have to understand the production systems, the quality regime. People come and either leave very quickly, or stay a long, long time. Because it’s difficult.”

But difficult is also challenging and energising, and critics, most of whom will seldom do other with their hands than scuffle keyboards, also reveal something of their metropolitan alienation from the sheer joy of planning, making and fixing stuff. Because in conversation with Holden workers, this theme recurs. “A lot of people probably look at us and think, ‘There they are walking into that same plant, every day, same thing again’, ” notes dimensional engineer Dan Hayward. “I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve never had a dull day.”

The joy is real; nor does it fade. Bubbly human resources manager Jody Williams recalls the general assembly job she began 31 years ago as a first glimpse of accomplishment. “We were making the Gemini at the time. There were two lines, a slower line and a faster line, making door trims, and once you got proficient at it, you went over to ‘the rocket line’. And I got there. So I was pretty proud of myself … I thought I’d be here two years while I figured out what to do with my life. Then I realised I could make it my life. I cry at ‘Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’. Holden grabs you like that.”

So it would seem. “This industry attracts problem solvers,” says Joel Buchanese, a serious young electrician who joined Holden in 2002 by obtaining one of 10 apprenticeships from 1000 applications. “Some people prefer a cruisier job, mowing lawns or whatever. I’m in my element when I’ve got a puzzle in front of me, and this place sometimes fires them at you like a machine gun. In metals stamping, we’ve got huge machines worth hundreds of millions of dollars with complex control systems. When they stop throwing panels out the back end and you have guys standing around doing nothing, you’ve really got to switch on your A-game.”

Because what’s worst understood about Australia’s automotive industry is how exacting it has needed to become in order to meet a low-volume, high-competition market. Holden is a prime specimen of technology honed by a century of improvements: 300,000 square metres of floor space turning half a million parts a day from 650 different suppliers, worth $3 billion annually, into tens of thousands of cars in six body styles, nine variants and 45 different models. General assembly is only the culmination of a 22-hour, seven-kilometre process beginning in the stamping plant with the pressing of body sides, floor pans and roofs from steel, and ending with a complete car.

Automotive is the industry that trailblazed techniques of “lean production”, in which inventory is anathema, supply lines are taut and mutual dependence acute. In adjacent Edinburgh Park, connected to Elizabeth by a private bridge, are 10 key components suppliers, such as Futuris, which manufactures seats and door trims, and Tenneco, provider of exhausts. A few others are located elsewhere in Elizabeth, like Exide, maker of batteries, and Hirotec, stamper of doors, bonnets and boot lids. “Trucks leave here every 21 minutes,” says Hirotec’s assistant manager, Brett Heaven – note, not “every 20 minutes or so”.

Some components are sourced from as far away as Mexico and South Korea; the bulk from Victoria. For example, three semi-trailer loads of 50 different parts arrive daily from a former sauce-bottling factory in Reservoir, Melbourne, owned by Diver Consolidated Industries, a third-generation, family-owned metal fabricator with 100 employees. Founded in 1937, DCI still has on display its original hand-operated metal stamp. Having provided components for the first Holden in 1948, it now exports to Holden’s parent company, General Motors, in China, Thailand and Brazil.

Jim Griffin, the Holden alumnus who runs DCI, is a manufacturing man through and through. “We can’t all be baristas on the Gold Coast,” he says sardonically. Examining one of his beams, his expression grows almost beatific, like that of a new father overlooking a cradle.

It’s marching in step with Holden that entrepreneur Andrew Downs says has helped him build a $70 million business in Adelaide’s Melrose Park. Downs founded SAGE Automation in his mother’s backyard 20 years ago. His breakthrough was obtaining a contract to supply Holden, he says, because their demands were so relentless: SAGE control boxes with touch screens now festoon Holden’s general assembly and body shop areas.

“If a water plant stops, usually they’ve got some backup, and it’s pretty slow to move,” says Downs. “When automotive lines stop, every man and his dog is affected: that’s irrecoverable costs of many thousands of dollars a minute. I’ve witnessed it, unfortunately. As the minutes go by, the number of suits pouring out of the offices grows exponentially. I’m telling you, it is the worst feeling.”

While economists conduct angels-on-a-pinhead debates about the degree of innovation “spillover” that the automotive industry offers the wider economy, DCI and SAGE are the phenomenon’s living embodiments. DCI has applied its fabrication expertise to heat shields for fire engines, foldaway steps for trucks, and the popular Triton Work Bench. SAGE cites a host of intellectual properties originated at Holden: a fault-alert system for a Beringer Vineyards bottling line; a smart control network connecting pump stations and tank sites for SA Water; a railcar-dumping system adopted for ore in Perth.

Interestingly, each shows the slipperiness of industrial definitions. Data collectors might deem them, respectively, investments in food and beverages, utilities and mining. But, observes SAGE’s CEO Adrian Fahey, they’re all manufacturing processes. “If you’ve got a 12-kilometre train of trucks and want to dump from them in a hurry, you must have processes that are best-in-class, high-speed, super-reliable – which we can achieve because of the knowledge we’ve gained from automotive about stripping out cycle time.”

Manufacturing is usually presented in Australia as a discrete sector – one which, in fact, we can comfortably dispense with, on grounds that labour will almost invariably be cheaper elsewhere. Yet the manufacturing that has endured here with little encouragement, in often adverse market conditions and with few natural advantages, is often extremely good. And business knows it. The bosses of Australia’s top two resources giants, BHP Billiton’s Jac Nasser and Rio Tinto’s Sam Walsh, are veterans of which industry? Automotive. Why? Because after a decade of effortless growth, mining is suddenly about cost.

Rio Tinto’s revolutionary iron-ore operations centre at Perth Airport is inspired, Walsh says, by the model of a “vehicle assembly plant”, as he saw first at Holden, later at Nissan. “In the car industry, you measure things in cents,” he explains. “That cost focus, that cash focus, is awfully important. That’s what I brought over to mining, a focus on every part of the business – productivity improvement, efficiency – the things the car industry has had to focus on to survive …

“The mining industry obviously focuses on its exploration and finding world-class deposits, on mine planning, mine design and plant design. Once you’ve got those in place, you’re probably 80 per cent of the journey. But the last 20 per cent is where the car industry excels.”

At mention of Elizabeth, Walsh lights up with his own memories. “You would have seen an enormous amount of effort going into ensuring that the right component is there at the right time, in the right cycle, in the right quality and with the right skills. There are jobs there I swear you could never do in the time cycle those people have. People putting a roof lining in a car inside a minute? There’s no way you could do it! But streamline, streamline, streamline, train the operators, and they do.”

Though Ford was their company’s perennial rival, nobody at Holden took pleasure at the demise of its Australian manufacturing operation. It hurt in the aftermath, moreover, to see the whole industry dismissed as a kind of corporate dole bludger. “Those things are extremely difficult to swallow,” says engineer Nick Baloglou, another 25-year veteran. “We’ve got a very nice factory, very nice, with a well-trained, engaged workforce which you’re probably getting a sense of. We are not ‘unproductive’. We are not ‘inefficient’. ” He sighs. “How do we demonstrate to people what we do here, without bringing every single Australian through one by one, so that they can go, ‘Holy moly, look at these guys!’?”

Solace has been drawn since from the release of the VF Commodore, probably the best car Holden has ever produced. “Every time you see one on the grass here, you just want to smile,” says engineer Paul Sakowits. “We’ve done it: what a great car.”

Morale, as a result, fluctuates. “To be honest, we’re on a fine edge, and it could go either way,” says Anthony Roder, who runs general assembly. “We’re obviously going through a restructure. That brings uncertainty. It’s a topic of conversation, as you can imagine. But now people can see the VF, there’s excitement around it.” Andrew Shaw, Roder’s maintenance chief, still buzzes with the memory of the seamless changeover. “That was my job – to make sure it dropped on the line,” he recalls. “The last VE, then the first VF after a 10-car gap. It was a big day. Our maintenance crew pulled it off. It was an unbelievable experience. I will sell this car until I’m blue in the face.”

So, thanks to an additional $40 million assigned to the marketing budget, will Holden. In February, the VF was unveiled in its American alias as the Chevrolet SS when it won its debut NASCAR race, the Daytona 500. Next year it will become the first passenger car Holden has exported to the US since its parent unexpectedly terminated the Pontiac G8, based on Holden’s Monaro, after the global financial crisis hit. To Elizabeth personnel, that will feel good. “There is a lot of pride at seeing things you’ve been involved with in the manufacturing process,” says Nick Baloglou. “I’ve been able to travel extensively with Holden, and when I see our cars on the road in America and Korea and China, I think: ‘Yes! We made that!’ ”

The VF affords quiet satisfaction to Elizabethans generally. Not withstanding negatives about the entwinement of the City of Playford and an industry in regular turmoil, mayor Glenn Docherty wouldn’t change it. “Elizabeth has gained a lot from having a focal point,” he says. “There’s nothing better, I think, than looking at cars in the port of Adelaide waiting to be shipped abroad, knowing that families somewhere will be taking their kids to school or driving to a sporting event in a car we made here.”

Does that mean he disagrees with Joe Hockey that industry grants are a “waste of taxpayers’ money”? This is a potentially awkward question for Docherty, who will be Liberal candidate for Newland in next March’s South Australian state election, but he replies without hesitation: “I do disagree with him. Yes, I do. That money has helped continue the next version of the Commodore and investment around that … That is a good thing to do. Because we have no other plan from either side of politics.”

Quite. The federal Labor government abruptly scrapped a key element of its New Car plan, the Green Car Innovation Fund, in June 2011, although it had already enabled production of the Camry Hybrid at Toyota’s Altona works as well as many of the VF’s weight-reduction and aerodynamic improvements. The Coalition, meanwhile, feigns rigour by promising a token cut to funds allocated under the existing Automotive Transformation Scheme and to refer the industry to the desiccated calculating machines of the Productivity Commission.

And yet … and yet … there remains strong support for the automotive industry, and even for its special assistance, among that curiously neglected group, the Australian public, who when polled never fail to value the proposition that their country should “make things”. It could be argued that in their buying preferences they express different views, but perhaps they also subtly sense – as their increasingly detached political, economic and media betters do not – what would be lost in the way of skilful, dignified and fulfilling work if Elizabeth’s assembly line ever stopped permanently.

Lead-in photograph: An FJ Holden outside General Motor-Holden’s Fishermans Bend plant in Melbourne in 1953. GM Holden Ltd.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Signing Williams is United’s No.1 priority

Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams. Photo: Gary SchaferCanberra United chief executive Heather Reid says the retention of Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams is the club’s No.1 priority while the search for a new coach intensifies.
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Williams missed all of last season because of a knee reconstruction, but has returned to full fitness with Swedish club Pitea IF and the national team, where she played in the second half of Australia’s 2-0 upset of France last weekend.

Reid returned this week from a working trip in Europe where she met with Williams and Canberra United defender Nicole Sykes, who is also in Sweden with Kristiantads DFF.

While Sykes has committed to hold down the left-side of United’s defence for the upcoming W-League campaign, Williams is weighing up her options as rival clubs attempt to pry the 25-year-old Tuggeranong junior away from her home town.

”Along with maintaining the bulk of last season’s squad, our recruitment will always start with the No.1 position, and as far as I’m concerned that’s Lydia Williams as our goalkeeper,” Reid said. ”She’s vitally important.

”As a foundation player, as the national goalkeeper, as a local person and as someone in that game against France, she’s extremely capable. The fact she’s been our co-captain for a couple seasons and a strong leader in our team, she’s someone we’d like to try and retain.” Both Sykes and Williams would most likely miss the opening couple of games for United as it clashes with the end of the Swedish season.

Another pressing issue is the appointment of a coach to replace championship winner Jitka Klimkova, who has taken over the New Zealand under-17 women’s national team.

Reid has four candidates – three from Australia and one from overseas – in contention for the role, with an announcement expected within the next fortnight once it is ratified by the Capital Football board.

With the start of the new season fast approaching at the end of October, Reid said it was important a decision was made soon.

”It’s important to confirm to the players who the coach is going to be so we can retain as much of last year’s squad as possible,” Reid said.

”We also want to continue discussions with players from overseas, so we can pick up our recruitment for two or three overseas players in the next month.”

Meanwhile in the men’s Canberra National Premier League, Belconnen United will look to stay in touch with the top two when it takes on surprise packet Woden Valley on Sunday.

Ladder leader Canberra FC and Canberra Olympic will be favourites in their respective away games with Monaro Panthers and Cooma Tigers, while cellar dweller Tuggeranong United and Canberra City square off in Saturday’s only fixture.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Drugs scandal ‘not to blame’ for poor result

VFL
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Essendon’s VFL team was a flag favourite at the start of the season, but coach Hayden Skipworth says the Bombers drugs scandal has played little part in the VFL team’s poor on-field results this season.

The Bombers were one of the big players in off-season, recruiting in their first season as a stand-alone club in the VFL.

They recruited former AFL players such as Matthew Bate (ex-Melbourne) and Josh Toy (ex-Gold Coast) along with some renowned state league talent, including Ben Duscher, Matt Firman and Michael Sikora, during the pre-season to top up their promising AFL depth.

”Not necessarily. I think, if anything, it [the drugs scandal] has galvanised the whole squad,” Skipworth said. ”We certainly haven’t seen anything game day that reflects on what’s happening externally.”

Joe Daniher, who has been a developing youngster in his first season at the Bombers, described footy as a release from the external pressure. ”As a playing group, we’ve just been focusing on footy and footy’s been our outlet,” Daniher said. ”All the guys have really enjoyed playing together and coming together. I suppose it’s been a bit of a release from what’s going on outside.”

AFL Victoria confirmed last week it would liaise with the AFL once the ASADA investigation is complete to determine any potential sanctions for the Bombers in the VFL.

Skipworth hopes the Bombers’ win over the Northern Blues last weekend is a season-changer. It was just their fourth win of the season and they are still virtually two games out of the top eight.

”It was the first one [four-quarter performance] we had for a while. We were 42 points up against Werribee and dropped that one and we’ve lost three or four others by under two goals, so to be able to put a four-quarter performance and get a good win, is what the players need – and certainly the coach needed as well,” Skipworth said.

”The goal is still to make the finals, so hopefully we can finish off the season and get a bit of a run on and sneak into the finals.”

Skipworth said ruckman David Hille, who is likely to be in his final season at the Bombers, has played a strong part in the club’s revival since returning from overseas.

”We’ve certainly been a better team [with Hille],” Skipworth said. ”Not only his performances, but his leadership and voice out there with the young guys has been first rate. Gumby’s [Scott Gumbleton] been giving him a chop out, and Joey [Daniher] at times as well. To have those guys as mobile forwards that can pinch hit in the ruck gives us flexibility,” he said.

The Bombers join the Northern Blues, North Ballarat, Frankston and even Sandringham, who play on Saturday against Williamstown, as teams in the race for eighth spot.

Frankston has been a revelation after notching its fifth win last week. Forward Khan Haretuku said the players were motivated to play finals again. ”From the inside, we still get around each other, we love each other’s company, there’s no finger-pointing in the reviews, it’s just what we can do next,” Haretuku said.

Meanwhile, Werribee faces a tough test against Casey on Sunday, just five days after being knocked out of the Foxtel Cup by East Fremantle at Patersons Stadium.

VFL Round 13 split round (with tips in capitals)

Saturday:

Sandringham v WILLIAMSTOWN,

Trevor Barker Beach Oval, 1.10pm

Sunday:

Werribee Tigers v CASEY SCORPIONS,

Avalon Airport Oval, 2pm

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Tigers to honour Vietnam veterans

James Kavanagh will play his 200th senior game. Photo: Katheirne GriffithsHis father fought a losing battle with the demons from fighting in Vietnam and now Queanbeyan conditioning coach Robbie Thompson wants to help other veterans facing similar problems.
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The Tigers will wear a special one-off guernsey for Sunday’s clash against second-placed Belconnen at Queanbeyan, with money raised going to the Vietnam Veterans and Veterans Federation ACT Branch as well as Soldier On.

Following his father’s footsteps into the armed forces, Thompson was a naval petty officer and was part of the peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands.

He approached Queanbeyan general manager Ron Fowlie at the start of the season and put forward the idea of a day supporting our returned servicemen.

The extreme pressures and horrors of combat can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. And the mental health of our soldiers was a neglected area for so long.

”He was a Vietnam veteran who sadly lost his battle with post-traumatic stress-affiliated conditions – alcoholism, I guess,” Thompson said of his father Max.

”It was just a thing back then: ‘You’ll be right mate, have another beer.’ That’s the way you dealt with your demons.

”I think we’re lucky today we have organisations like the Veterans Association and Soldier On that know it is good to talk about these things, and be open and get the help required.”

Now Thompson works for ACT Fire and Rescue, as does Tigers full-forward James Kavanagh.

Kavanagh will play his 200th senior game – he has played 89 for Ainslie and 110 for the Tigers – after recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out for 10 weeks.

The Tigers also have forward Ben Klemke and onballer Toby Conroy returning from injury.

Kavanagh kicked 76 goals in the Tigers’ NEAFL eastern conference premiership side and Thompson said his milestone added to the day.

The big full-forward started at Mulgrave in Melbourne before joining Ainslie in 2002.

He then headed across the border to the Tigers in 2007 and has kicked more than 500 goals since leaving Victoria.

Thompson said firies faced similar stresses to servicemen.

”If Kav can get up for his 200th, we get a win on the board, we put our finals back on track and we engage the community in the event, it’ll be a fantastic day,” he said.

It will also be defender Andrew Swan and midfielder Steve Joliffe’s 50th senior game with the Tigers.

The Tigers are the reigning eastern conference premiers, while Belconnen is separated from the ladder-leading Sydney Swans reserves only by percentage.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

The sub plot

When Carlton coach Mick Malthouse handed Chris Yarran the green substitutes vest in round 11, it prompted astute judges into a debate they had not previously thought of.
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Should Yarran have taken the surprise selection as a slight on his form and attitude? Or was Malthouse using the sub as an offensive weapon?

The fall-back position was to conclude that Malthouse was sending the player a message, and as it turned out, that was the case.

But those who theorised that perhaps the wily veteran was purposefully holding back one of his most explosive players to let him loose on a Bombers midfield that was tiring weren’t far off the mark, either.

Indeed, that same theory could have been applied to a clutch of other scenarios this year in which key players have waited on the sidelines and then been injected into the fray to help turn the momentum of the game in just 1½ quarters.

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has noted the shift in the way clubs are approaching the use of their substitute players.

“I suppose initially, and I think most coaches are cut from a similar cloth in that they think about mitigating loss, they thought defensively. How can we cover if we lose a player to an injury?” Scott told Fairfax Media earlier this month.

“So, you were looking at a versatile player as your sub, a guy who could cover you in a variety of different positions. But this year it seems to be, ‘OK, how can we use the sub as an attacking weapon?’ ”

Scott is talking from first-hand experience. He was in the opposition coach’s box in round two when his twin brother, Geelong coach Chris, activated dangerous small forward Mathew Stokes late in the third quarter.

The Roos coach then watched his team’s match-winning 35-point lead dissolve, in no small part due to the 16 disposals, seven inside 50s and two goal assists that Stokes contributed in just 38 minutes.

The premiership forward burst into the match and looked a step quicker than everyone around him, speeding up a game that had been purposefully slowed down by the Roos.

It was the first of many examples in the first half of 2013 that has led clubs to conclude the substitute is having a much greater impact on matches this season.

Collingwood assistant coach Robert Harvey is another who has noticed players coming on later in games – usually in the second half unless the sub is forced through injury – and either swinging the momentum for one side, or driving home the advantage for the other.

“It’s happened a couple of times against us, and when we’ve been able to hold our sub back a bit, our guys have had really good impact when they’ve come on,” the dual Brownlow medallist said. “You definitely notice it a lot more, and there have been a couple of times this year where the comment in the box has been that the sub has really caused us trouble. You can see that guy, he stands out because of how fresh he is. He almost looks quicker than everyone else, so it’s certainly having a big impact this year, no doubt.”

The substitutional variables are many, and it’s only when a player makes a significant splash on a game late that he is truly credited for his work.

But across a season, the raw numbers on the guys in green confirm what the coaches are talking about in match committee.

Champion Data measures the impact of a sub based on the average disposals players gather per every 100 minutes of playing time. In 2012, the figure jumped only slightly on the first-year numbers, from 16.5 disposals per 100 minutes to 16.8.

But there has been a noticeable spike this year, with the number jumping to 19.3 disposals. And that is despite clubs generally waiting longer to pull the trigger on the sub – the average time on ground for a sub this season has actually dropped a full minute since 2011.

So what has changed? The effect appears to be two-fold. We hear every year – from the players, the coaches and the former players who closely observe – how physically demanding the game has become and how that compounds every season.

The AFL has made a concerted effort to slow the game down and fatigue players, however the players themselves (encouraged by their coaches) continue to push their bodies to the limit.

So while 42 of the 44 players are going flat out for close to 100 minutes, two players injected into games for the final 40 minutes will be at a distinct advantage.

“It’s so demanding now, guys are working so hard, that the introduction of a fresh player onto a fatigued player is pretty telling, and more telling every year,” Scott said.

“That’s why heavy rotations were introduced in the first place, to try to get an advantage over fatigued opposition. And it’s probably why an [interchange] cap is being talked about now, to mitigate that.”

The second factor, and perhaps the more pointed in relation to the change this year, is the diversification of players that coaches are choosing to be their impact players.

Rather than the conservative “Mr Fix It” player of 2011-12, clubs are becoming increasingly bolder with their selections.

And in the case of players such as Stokes, Geelong teammate Allen Christensen or Brisbane Lions champion Simon Black, teams are even keeping high-quality contributors in reserve to come on as “super subs” – surmising that the effect that player can have in 1½ quarters against fatigued opposition could be more valuable in the overall picture.

As a rule, the types of players wearing the green vest are far more varied now.

Perhaps the most effective this season has been mature-age recruits such as Hawthorn midfielder Jonathan Simpkin and Port Adelaide’s long-haired running machine Kane Mitchell.

Simpkin, now 25 but only in his second season of playing, proved to be a cut above at VFL level but was not able to find a role at Geelong last year.

But the Colac-raised ball-hunter has shown he can perform at the top level when coming on in the second half this season, with some of the “sting” taken out of the game.

In fact, he has looked more than comfortable, averaging 28.3 disposals per 100 minutes he has spent on the ground in the four matches as the substitute.

That stat line makes him the most effective sub of any who have played four or more games in the green vest this year, however Mitchell – another dominant player at state level – is not far behind.

At 23 and in his first season, the two-time WAFL premiership player and reigning Sandover medallist has made an art form out of coming off the bench and immediately finding his groove, using his elite running power to work over fatigued opposition.

He has started as the sub in six of his eight games – the equal most of any player in 2013, and has averaged 21.7 disposals per 100 minutes, ranking him in the top echelon for subs.

Using the substitute as a mechanism to help emerging youngsters progress has been prevalent since its introduction in 2011, but the impact first-year players have made in games this year has gone to another level.

A lot of that can be put down to the quality of this year’s crop, such as Port Adelaide’s Oliver Wines, Sydney’s Tom Mitchell and Brandon Jack, and Collingwood’s Ben Kennedy, who have all come up big as the substitute.

“It’s an ideal way to bring in young players. They can get a taste of it without you being too exposed,” Scott said.

The next group of players could almost be considered the “prototype” sub.

The explosive outside midfielder that can create opportunities and have impact on the scoreboard, or the specialist small forward who comes on and kicks goals.

Players such as Richmond’s Matt White, West Coast’s Bradd Dalziell, Adelaide’s Jason Porplyzia and a raft of other players fit this mould as a high-energy ace-up-the sleeve.

Harvey notes that part of the challenge can be “keeping them in the game mentally” while they are waiting to go on, but as a general rule statistics say these types of players have been more hit than miss this year.

“That small forward, high half-forward or winger role are pretty hard positions to play anyway, but it’s even harder when you’ve got to sit there all day knowing you are only going to play a quarter and a half,” he said. “So keeping them mentally ready to go is pretty crucial.”

Then there is the management component, using the substitute as a vehicle to reintroduce A-grade talent on return from injury or “off-loading” certain players without taking them out of a game completely.

High-profile players such as Collingwood’s Dale Thomas, North Melbourne’s Daniel Wells and Essendon’s David Zaharakis have all seen green this season.

The last phase is the veterans. And looking into the future, it could be that players such as Western Bulldogs leader Daniel Giansiracusa are showing the way forward for the next major evolution of the sub rule.

In a bid to enhance his longevity, Giansiracusa has embraced an almost semi-permanent role as Brendan McCartney’s go-to substitute in his 13th season.

The 31-year-old has started as the non-activated bench player in four of his 11 games, yet has been able to find a niche, usually bringing life to a sometimes lifeless Dogs forward line, as well as high skill and composure to support the club’s tiring youngsters.

Scott said the concept could be adopted by other clubs looking to prolong the careers of star veterans.

Roos champion Brent Harvey, the master of durability who will play his 355th game on Saturday night, is one such player that could look to make a similar transition.

It is known that Harvey told Scott when the rule was first introduced that he could be the perfect super sub in the latter part of his career – a clever small forward who can kick goals and burn off fatigued opposition.

“I can’t think of a better impact player than ‘Boomer’ coming on late in games,” Scott said. “I think that is the type of player, a guy who can carry the ball, can go up into the midfield, but also come back and kick or set up goals.

“He’s pretty difficult to play on anyway because of his explosiveness. So, if he’s coming on late in games fresh and other opposition players are fatigued, then he’s going to be very hard to stop.

“He’s certainly the type, but right at the moment, we hope that’s down the track a bit. He’s still having such a big impact across the whole game.”

MEMORABLE LATE ENTRIES

Players who turned the game for their teams after shedding the green vest.

MATTHEW STOKES (Geelong)

v North Melbourne, round 2, Cats by 4 points.

16 disp, 7 I50s, 2 goal assists.

In just 38 minutes, Stokes helped the Cats turn around a 35-point half-time deficit by creating seven forward 50 entries and injecting speed and polish into a game that had been slowed to a crawl by the Roos.

DANIEL GIANSIRACUSA (Western Bulldogs)

v Port Adelaide, round 10, Dogs by 9 points.

22 disp, 4 tkls, 3 I50s, 2 goal assists and 2.2

Came on with the Dogs down and immediately provided the spark, setting up a goal for Bob Murphy to put his team in front and then snapped another major himself shortly after to break the game open.

OLLIE WINES (Port Adelaide)

v Collingwood, round 14, Power by 35 points.

26 disp, 5 tkls, 5 clrs and one goal.

Kane Mitchell is Port’s “super sub”, but not even he has put in a performance to match Wines, who came on against the Pies and had an immediate influence at the stoppages before kicking the sealer with an on-the-run shot under pressure early in the last quarter.

TOM MITCHELL (Sydney)

v Essendon, round 10, Swans by 44 points.

18 disp, 6 tlks, 3 goal assists and 1.2

The son of former champion Barry Mitchell announced himself with a stunning debut coming on as the sub, finishing the match with the most score involvements (9) of any player on a night when the momentum changed with his activation.

JONATHAN SIMPKIN (Hawthorn)

v Carlton, round 12, Hawks by 15 points.

9 disp, 3 I50s, 2 goal assists

He is the best in the business when it comes to the green vest, and this was an example of his efficiency. Came on late in the third quarter when the Hawks were down and helped ignite the resurgence with telling plays forward of centre.

THE MOST EFFECTIVE SUBS

M     TOG     Disp     Disp/100 mins

Jonathan Simpkin (Haw)     4     40.30     11.2     28.3

Jason Porplyzia (Ade)     5     38.34     11     27.6

Ben Kennedy (Coll)     5     31.36     7.2     22.3

Luke Russell (GC)     4     50.28     11.0     21.7

Kane Mitchell (Port)     6     43.05     9.3     21.7

Daniel Giansiracusa (WB)     4     53.00     12.2     21.6

Matthew White (Rich)     7     47.07     9.1     19.8

*Statistical analysis of the players Champion Data ranks as the most effective substitutes this season. Minimum four games as sub for qualification.

MOST GAMES STARTING AS SUB SINCE 2011

Shane Savage (Haw)     12

Nathan Lovett-Murray (Ess)     11

Luke Russell (GC)     10

Matt White (Rich)     10

Luke Parker (Syd)     9

Jamie Cripps (WC)     9

Andrejs Everitt (Syd)     9

Allen Christensen (Gee)     9

BY THE NUMBERS

Substitutes are averaging more disposals per 100 minutes than they have since the rule was introduced in 2011.

Season     Ave. TOG     Ave. Disp     Disp/100 mins

2011     43:31     7.2     16.5

2012     41:17     6.9     16.8

2013     42:13     8.1     19.3

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Greens unleash NHRU giant 

IT worked for the British and Irish Lions. Now Merewether are about to launch their own version of power rugby.
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Mark Wade, a 194cm, 107-kilogram wrecking ball, will start at inside centre against Southern Beaches at Cahill Oval today.

Don’t miss James Gardiner’s live blog, Maul and All, each Friday at theherald上海夜生活m.au

The 2011 Anderson Medal winner and one-time Newcastle Knight has spent the majority of his career in the second row or at No. 8, where he has terrorised defences with his size and speed.

The 23-year-old shares the same dimensions as Lions centre James Roberts and today he will play with the same number on his back.

“It will be different, but I’m used to running wider lines,” Wade said.

“I do not think that much will change. I just won’t be in the scrums and lineouts.”

Many things contributed to Wade’s move to the backline.

The Greens’ inside backs stocks have been stretched through injury and departures.

Coach Stacey Sykes is also keen to play front-foot rugby and unleash his quicksilver back three.

Throw in the form of the Greens’ mobile men in the pack, in particular Ireland brothers Pat and Matt, and it has given Sykes the luxury of experimenting with Wade.

“It came about partly because the Ireland boys are killing it on the side of the scrum,” Wade said. “You can’t really take anyone out who is in that good a form.

“Also, I have always wanted to play in the centres and give it a crack. We are in a position where we can try things.

“It is not a case of that’s where I am going to be forever, but I’d like to learn the skills around that. Any skills I can pick up will improve my overall game.”

Michael Delore has the unenviable task of trying to stop Wade in his tracks.

“Our back row will be floating around, but from set pieces it is man on man,” Delore said.

“I’d say they will be going straight to him, and he will be aiming to go straight over me.

“We will try and get up in their face and cut down the time he has, but I will just have to go low and see how I go.”

Delore himself is adjusting to a new position, having moved out one place from fly-half in Beaches’ 23-20 triumph over The Waratahs.

“I have not played there for a couple of years,” he said.

“I have a bit of work to do in attack and defence, mainly the lines to run, but I’m sure that will come over the next few weeks.”

Wade fractured his cheekbone playing second row for Newcastle at the Country Championships in March.

He returned for the Greens against Nelson Bay last round. Playing at outside centre he scored two tries in second grade and added another off the bench in first grade, slotting in at No.8.

It was little more than a training run as the Greens won twos 104-0 and the top grade 91-0.

“In seconds I don’t think I got tackled and maybe made one. First grade, they were pretty physical. The scoreline did not reflect that,” he said.

MARK WADE

“With match fitness, it is just a case of building on it each week.”

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Newcastle lad in Australian water polo team

NATIONAL HONOUR: Hunter Hurricane Nathan Power has been selected for the world championships in Barcelona. Picture: Simone de PeakNEW Lambton rookie Nathan Power has joined an established Novocastrian, Richie Campbell, in the Australian water polo team for the world championships in Barcelona.
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But there was no place for Lake Macquarie product Daniel Lawrence, who was one of the odd men out when head coach Elvis Fatovic reduced his preliminary squad of 15 to the final 13-man list yesterday.

The Australians have spent the past month in Europe preparing for the world titles, winning the five-nation Danube Cup two weeks ago and following that with a one-off victory against Germany.

In that time, Power made his international debut and showed enough potential in five games to clinch selection for the world titles.

Campbell, a two-time Olympian and the most experienced Australian player with 161 games to his name, was chosen as vice-captain to Queensland’s Rhys Howden.

Fatovic said competition for places rather than poor form counted against Lawrence, who grew up in Lake Macquarie before his family moved to Perth eight years ago.

“After assessing all the players over the past three weeks the unlucky one to miss out on final selection is Daniel Lawrence,” Fatovic said.

“Daniel has performed well over this period but so have all the other players, which is encouraging for the World Championships.”

Australia’s squad includes eight survivors from the London Olympics, at which the Sharks finished seventh.

Australia open their world championships campaign against heavyweights Serbia on Monday, July 22.

They will prepare for the tournament in Spain with warm-up games against Italy and Spain this weekend.

Fatovic, who replaced John Fox after last year’s Olympics, was looking forward to his first major assignment.

“This tour has been very good to date, with solid training and games against Germany and Montenegro following our time in Slovakia and Croatia,” Fatovic said.

“We now look forward to our final lead-up tournament in Portugalete and testing the improvement of the team against Italy and Spain.”

Power, 20, caught the attention of Fatovic playing for the Hunter Hurricanes during the recent national league season, after which he and teammate Gordon Marshall were selected in an 18-man national training squad.

Fatovic told the Newcastle Herald in May that Marshall and Power were “part of the future” but could force their way into world titles reckoning if they performed in the training camp.

“It’s up to them, and they need to train hard, but they have a future,” he said. “I really believe in them.”

Power’s selection will be slightly bittersweet for his Hurricanes teammates and the club’s supporters as he is expected to join a Sydney outfit next season, so that he can train regularly at the NSW Institute of Sport.

Marshall, an engineering student, will also be leaving the Hurricanes after accepting a four-year scholarship with University of California, in Los Angeles.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Myki online top-up failure

People still much prefer to line up at a vending machine to pay to put money on their myki, despite concerted efforts by public transport authorities to convince people it is easier to top up online.
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New data from Public Transport Victoria reveals just 20 per cent of myki users top up their myki online. Within that figure, just 6 per cent have set their myki account to top up automatically.

Most, 55 per cent, still use a vending machine at a railway station, tram or bus stop, while 28 per cent of top-ups are done at retailers such as 7-11s and newsagents. Virtually no one uses the myki call centre.

The figures on how public transport users in Melbourne top up their mykis are included in Public Transport Victoria’s latest performance bulletin, Track Record. It covers the first three months of 2013.

Public Transport Victoria promotes online top-up as the easiest way to pay to travel. ”You won’t need to queue at the ticket machine, which will save you travel time,” it says on its website.

Tony Morton, Public Transport Users Association president, said that if functioning well, online top-up was convenient and worth promoting. But he said technical problems had eroded some commuters’ trust of online top-up, even though those problems had mostly been rectified.

”That’s really scared a lot of people away from the online top-up facility and I guess if you present your card to a physical machine then you have that additional confidence that the money is on the card,” he said.

Public Transport Victoria would continue to educate passengers about online and auto top-up, a spokesman said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Rally a family affair for Bates boys

Neal Bates with his 1980 Toyota Celica rally car. Photo: Jay CronanIt’s usually parents telling their children what to do in the driver’s seat, but 18-year-old Harry Bates gets to reverse roles this weekend.
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Bates will be giving orders from the navigator’s seat to his father and four-time Australian Rally champion Neal Bates, during the International Rally of Queensland.

Neal Bates’ long-time navigator Coral Taylor is away in Europe, but he had no hesitation putting his faith in his son.

The father and son duo have driven together in rallies in Canberra, but nothing at the level of the Queensland Rally.

”Harry said he was very keen to do it, it will be a good experience for him,” Bates snr said.

”The stages in Queensland are very technical, it will be a very difficult rally for a new co-driver, probably a difficult one for him to start.”

Bates snr will be defending his title but is not putting any extra pressure on Harry.

”So far in testing he has been doing a very good job. This will be his first full rally, it’s a lot of concentration, for long periods of time.

”I don’t have any preconceived conceptions, other than that we go and enjoy it. If Harry is struggling to keep up, so be it.”

Harry has spent the last week preparing for the rally by learning as much as he could from Taylor. The two studied in-car footage and pace notes from last year’s event.

”I’m pretty excited, it will be a pretty big challenge, I’ve never done anything like this before,” Harry said.

However, a future in navigating is not on Harry’s mind.

”I’ve actually spoken to dad about this during the week, he doesn’t really want me to become a navigator. I think he will be too nervous with me sitting next to someone else.”

Instead Harry is looking to follow his father into driving.

”Driving is definitely something I’m interested in. So perhaps next year I will head in that direction.”

The International Rally of Queensland begins on Friday night and will run through to Sunday.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 04/12/2018

Merewether freestyler focuses on world championships

AFTER the hollow feeling of missing selection for the London Olympics, Jarrod Killey left no stone unturned to ensure he would be on the plane tomorrow to the swimming world championships in Barcelona.
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And the Merewether freestyler will not be satisfied unless he forces his way into the team for the 4x200m final and returns with a medal.

Killey, 22, was sixth in the 200m at the nationals to grab the final place for the relay.

Fellow Novocastrian Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Cameron McEvoy finished one-two at the trials and will be rested from the heat for the final, leaving the other four vying for two spots.

Killey’s time of one minute 47.25 seconds at the nationals was 0.29 seconds behind bronze medallist David McKeon (1:46.96).

“Denis Cotterell is the 4x200m relay coach,” Killey said.

“When the team got together for the first time back in April he told us that the two fastest swimmers from the morning will be part of the final team.

“The goal is to absolutely get in that final team. I think I will have to go faster than I did at nationals.

“The last time Australia medalled in 200m relay was 2009.

“We were the No.1 team in the world for a long time but since Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett retired we have not been as strong.

“We have been rebuilding since then and have a strong group of guys now.

“You can never count out the Americans. The French are a strong team as well but we plan to make it as hard as possible for those guys.”

Killey, who along with Fraser-Holmes came through under Shane Arnold at Hunter Swim Club, heads to Barcelona in form after winning gold in the 200m freestyle at the NSW Country Champions at the Olympic Aquatic Centre last weekend.

McKeon was runner-up.

“I thought it might be a good idea to have a bit of a hit-out and test where I was at,” he said. “I came up on top and in front of Dave. It is always nice to get one up on a teammate.

“I was really happy with my performance. Hopefully I am in a good spot for Barcelona in a couple of weeks’ time.”

Killey was a member of the relay team that finished fifth at the last world championships in Shanghai in 2011 but missed the cut for the Olympic team.

“Missing the team for London was an excellent source of motivation, knowing you don’t want to be back in that situation ever again,” he said.

At 22, Killey, who is studying accounting part-time at Canberra University, is the elder statesman of the relay team.

“We are quite a young team,” he said. “I don’t see myself near my peak yet. I was a late developer in swimming. I did not win a national age group medal until I was 18, which in swimming is quite late.”

Fellow Novocastrian Angie Bainbridge, a member of the women’s 4x200m teams that won gold at the Beijing Olympics and silver in London, has taken an indefinite break from swimming.