Monthly Archives: September 2019

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Raiders bench Blake Austin for NRL opener

Blake Austin has been benched for Canberra’s NRL opener this weekend against Gold CoastCanberra have thrown up a round-one NRL selection shock, benching former Dally M five-eighth of the year Blake Austin.

Returning Raider Sam Williams will start, relegating Austin – who is out of contract at the end of this season – to the sidelines for Sunday’s clash on the Gold Coast with the Titans.

Williams started in the Raiders’ only trial game against Canterbury, but it was expected the 27-year-old Austin would get first crack at continuing his partnership in the halves with Aidan Sezer.

After a year away from Canberra playing in the Super League with Wakefield, Williams said he was not expecting the early call-up.

“Probably even up until a couple of weeks ago at training, I wasn’t exactly thinking I was a certainty to start in round one; I just wanted to give myself an opportunity to be in the 17,” Williams told reporters on Tuesday.

Williams said being without star hooker Josh Hodgson due to a knee injury had forced coach Ricky Stuart to switch the team around.

“Obviously losing Hodgso, the dynamics of the team has changed a bit and Ricky’s looked at that and felt I could play a role within the team,” Williams said.

“That role is starting the footy game and I just want to go out there and take the opportunity now.”

Hodgson’s replacement at No.9 will be Siliva Havili, with the former St George-Illawarra player getting an opportunity to make the spot his own until the England international returns.

Havili has not played a NRL match since round 14 in 2016 in a Dragons loss to Canterbury.

Stuart has consistently said there will not be just one replacement for Hodgson.

Havili, Sezer and Bulldogs recruit Craig Garvey all spent time there during the trial game.

“The way we’ve been attacking Hodgo’s injury and the empty position is in numbers,” Stuart said in February.

“We’ve got three halves and two hookers and I’m really happy with how they’ve been handling it and committing in the off-season.”

Western Force to play invitational series

Billionaire Andrew Forrest has announced seven international rugby games for the axed Western Force.Billionaire Andrew Forrest has announced a series of seven invitational matches for axed Super Rugby club Western Force this year, grandly titled World Series Rugby (WSR).

The matches, to be played at Perth’s nib Stadium, will pit a new-look Western Force team against Pacific nations Fiji, Tonga and Samoa plus Hong Kong and Super Rugby outfits the Melbourne Rebels and Crusaders between May and August.

A Japanese team is likely to round out the competition.

The clash with the Rebels will pit the Force against their former coach Dave Wessels and many former teammates, who signed thereafter the Force were axed from Super Rugby by n rugby’s national body.

Forrest promised WSR would evolve into an international competition for the Asia Pacific region in 2019, something he had been trying to get up for 2018.

“The focus for 2018 is to reintroduce and reinforce professional rugby in Western for the benefits of our grassroots community, our players and our fans,” Forrest said.

“In 2019, the WSR will evolve into a high-calibre, international competition with the goal of making rugby the community-building sport of Asia.”

New initiatives and changes in the rules will be trialled during the WSR, including a try being worth 10 points and a time frame for scrums and lineouts.

Former Wallabies great Michael Lynagh, who is serving as an advisor, believed an innovative revamp would make the game “faster and more exciting”.

“We want to keep the ball in play and really reward the skills,” he said.

“There is a real support and groundswell to bring rugby to the forefront, where it was a little time ago.

“If we have to change the game then let’s do that because it is a competitive environment here in with all the other sports.”

Western Force chief executive Nick Marvin confirmed negotiations were ongoing for the WSR to be televised on free-to-air television.

Tuggeranong Vikings coach Tim Sampson will lead the squad, which contains 11 former Force players and some familiar names in former Springboks centre Jacque Fourie, Peter Grant, Chris Alcock and Rod Davies.

Western Force squad: Aj Alatimu, Chris Alcock, Marcel Brache, Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Rod Davies, Andrew Deegan, Tevin Ferris, Jaque Fourie, Josh Furno, Peter Grant, Chris Heiberg, Rodney Iona, Feleti Kaitu’u, Brad Lacey, Kieran Longbottom, Ryan Louwrens, Cameron Orr, Harrison Orr, Leon Power, Ian Prior, Harry Scoble, Tom Sheminant, Brynard Stander, Elliot Turner, Clay Uyen, Fergus Lee Warner.

WSR invitational matches in 2018: May 4 v Fiji, May 13 v Tonga, June 9 v Rebels, June 22 v Crusaders, July 13 v Samoa, Aug 10 v Hong Kong, Aug 17 TBA.

Darby Street Live announces massive line-up bursting at the seams with Newcastle’s ‘fantastic talent’photos

LOCAL TALENTS: The Darby Street mini-music festival is set to host a number of local bands and acts, including Tip Jar Song Competition winner Paris Grace. There’s a massive line-up descending on Darby Street this March for a debut ‘micro music festival’, and it’s bursting at the seams with plenty of local talents.

That’s one of the main aims of Darby Street Live and its “intimate settings”, and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes is excited to see the “fantastic talent of the city’s live musicians” showcased.

“Newcastle has always been known for its vibrant live music scene and we are determined for this to continue,” she said.

Read:Captain Retro returns on the long road to Aruba

“This festival is all about creating great sounds in small spaces, and the range of artists in the line-up means there is something for everyone.”

Darby Street to host live music mini-festival Amos and Emily.

Banjo Beats.

Ben Allsop.

Bravo Victor.

Cherry Stain.

Cygan Groove.

Dawn Laird.

DJ Lowblow.

DJ Pureblonde.


Eastside Grammar.


Georgie Jones.

Gillian Redmond.


Jacquie Lomas.

Jye Sharp.

Looseleaf IV.

Mac Da Villian.

Milkmans Daughter.

Paris Grace.



Skivvy Season.


TweetFacebookDarby Street Live, full line-upParis Grace, Gillian Redmond, Jye Sharp,FRITZ,Benn Allsop,E4444E,Skivvy Season,Dawn Laird,Talakai,Bravo Victor,Jacquie Lomas,Eastside Grammar,Jackets,Pep-C,Cygan Groove,Banjo Beats,Amos & Emily,Cherry Stain,Shrimp Garbage,Looseleaf IV,Wavevom Surf,Milkmans Daughter,Georgie Rose,Mac Da Villain,DJ Lowblow,DJ Pureblonde.

The Holocaust survivor who led a humble life as a BHP rigger in Newcastle

A Newcastle life: Michael Matz, left, when he worked at BHP in Newcastle as a rigger.Michael Matz obscured his past so well and for so long that for many years it seemed his life had begun in Newcastle, , in 1952. In fact he had been born 30 years earlier on the other side of the world to a large Jewish family and an old culture whose legacy would linger through his long life.

But the war years so devastated his past that the best way to counter their aftermath, he figured, was with silence. He spent 30 years working at BHP’s steelworks in Newcastle, with few opportunities to exchange stories with survivors, had he so desired. By the time he retired he had belatedly anglicised his birth name, Moishe, the distinctly Yiddish name that was one of the last outward pointers to his past, and he was looking forward to an easier future.

But time and age wore down the defences he had spent his post-war life constructing, and history began to see into his dreams and his consciousness.

When he speaks of his former life now, which he does willingly but not happily, it is in a long and continuous flow. His gaze is slightly askew, and his expression mostly sad as he sits in his favourite chair. Then he rises slowly, rustles through a dresser drawer of CDs, selects one, and the sound of old Yiddish songs fills his small lounge room.

In a language no one around him can understand, he sings of love that can burn and never end, of a heart that can yearn and cry without tears. He sings loudly and with gusto, oblivious to the noise spilling out onto the inner-city street, and only then, as his eyes well and an enormous smile spreads across his face, does he exhibit joy.

Early Days: Michael Matz, left, and his brother Eliezer, in the 1930s.

He is a child of Wilno (now Vilnius,the capital of Lithuania), but when he was born there in 1923 it was a Polish city whose tens of thousands of Jewish inhabitants ensured that Yiddish was widely spoken. His father was a printer, his mother fairly observant, and he had two brothers and two sisters.

He was still in his teens when Germany occupied his town, and he saw the first of many roundups of Jewish families, dragged from their homes and sent to nearby Ponary, where 100,000 people would be massacred between 1941 and 1944.

Somehow his house missed that first roundup, but before long he and his family were forced into the city’s ghetto where they moved into his grandmother’s empty house; she had already been taken to Ponary and was presumed dead.

As life for Jews steadily worsened, a neighbour arranged for him to travel by truck to another town, Lida; in their last conversation, his mother told him she though he would be safer there.

A massacre in 1942quickly changed that notion. Of the 7000 Jews thought to have been in Lida, he was among 1500 to have survived. He was rounded up again and sent to Estonia to work in coalmines, and then taken to the concentration camp Buchenwald (laterliberated by US troops).

After the war, he planned to return to Wilno. But when he heard that there were no Jews there, he headed for a displaced persons’ camp near Munich, with plans to move to Israel. Instead he met a local woman. They married in 1951, and arrived in in 1952 with their young daughter, Eva.

Theother surviving member of his family, his brother Eliezer, died in Israel in 2015.

IN MICHAEL’S OWN WORDS“I had a hard time after the war, very lonely. I had no family; I feel guilty even now about being the last one alive.

“I can remember a little bit about what my family looked like; I don’t have any photographs.

“My mother was a thin woman. My father was not fat.

“The older sister was like a mother. She married a teacher from school. Sometimes I see people who look like my younger sister.

“Afterwards, I didn’t think much about the things that happened. I wanted to make a new life, to make up for what I had missed when I was young. I had to catch up on girls, on food, dancing.

I” moved to Bad Tölz, in Germany, and stayed for five years. A friend of mine, a Holocaust survivor, was doing some business there, and I rented a room; it was more like back-to-normal life than being in the DP camp. We had a little Jewish community of survivors, a synagogue, I worked in a Jewish socks factory. We had a group, Jewish boys playing up a bit, having a drink and going to the dances. We had everything we wanted.

“I never thought about getting married. I just thought about having some company, having some sex. The Jewish girls were looking for a rich Jewish man — some were more successful than others on the black market. But I didn’t have much luck. And Otti didn’t worry if I was rich or not.

New home: Michael Matz, his wife Otti, and their daughter Eva in 1952, the year they arrived in . Photo courtesy of Eva Richardson.

“I had seen her walking on the street. She lived in the same town and one night we met near my place, it was nearly midnight. I was thinking about going to Israel when she asked me to marry her.

“I said, ‘I can’t marry you. You’re German.’ Then we both started to cry. She said, ‘Why not?’ I thought how could I marry a German girl after they’d done all the things to us? But she had nothing to do with it -and I liked her, she was the real thing.

“Did her family accept me? Yes and no. Her brother didn’t trust me at first. But later it was ok. Both her parents had died and her sisters were pretty good. They never mentioned the Holocaust. We didn’t want to upset the relationship by talking about it.

“It was not an easy time for us after the war because some people were against our relationship. ‘How can you marry a German girl?’ They didn’t actually say it but I could see it in their reaction.

“It was harder for her than me after. I was tougher. We both had bad things said to us but we got over it. It was hurting but later on we said we won’t react. As long as we’re together, that’s the main thing.

“We started to build our lives here in Newcastle. They put us in a camp in Nelson Bay, gave us a job. I had to get up at 4 am to get all the way to work. We didn’t have enough money to buy a chocolate at first; we couldn’t afford to buy fruit. But I had a job, what a beauty, and wages and money. Then we started to live.

Long life: Michael Matz in 2016.

“The steel works had about 12,000 people. They all knew I was Jewish. I secretly wondered about some of the people I worked with, what they’d been up to during the war. There was a Russian; we used to knock around together. I said to him one day, ‘Another bloke told me you were really a German, and that’s why you came to .’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘I wasn’t working for the Germans. I was only wearing their uniform coat. It was winter time, cold.”

“I didn’t believe him. If you eat onions you smell. But what could I do? We worked together day by day. I couldn’t find out the truth. It would’ve been nice if there were more people to talk to, more survivors.

“I never regretted coming here. It’s the best country ever. My life out of 10? Now you talk like a doctor. I am quite happy. I would give it 10. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy my food. I enjoy my little jobs. I potter around in the garden, water the lawn, that’s about all.

“I think about the fact that now I can have whatever my heart wants, good things like herrings. But I still can’t eat more than my stomach will take. When we go shopping and people buy and buy I say to my daughter, ‘Look at this country you can get whatever you want.’ I had nothing and now I can have anything. I can’t get over it.

“I’ve got no hatred of anybody. All the things the bastards did to us, I don’t dwell on it, otherwise you would go crazy. But I remember the war every night. The dreams are terrible. I dream I go in the forest and I try to hide under a bush and I can’t, there’s somebody else there. I wake up, walk around and go back to sleep.

“Talking has a reaction on me. Last night, after we spoke, I couldn’t fall asleep, I had to take some medicine at 10o’clock. I will think for a little while after I finish this interview but then I’ll try to forget. I will have to. You can’t think about it all the time. It’s no good for you. What can you do? The people are dead. They don’t feel anything.

“Nobody can understand what I have gone through. Nobody will ever understand. But I try not to think about it. You’ve got to get on with life. You can’t change it. You’ve lost everybody, and that’s it.

(Editor’s note:Michael Matz died in October, 2017, He was 94 years old.)

We Are Here: Talking with ’s oldest Holocaust Survivorsby Fiona Harari (Scribe $29.99). Available at MacLean’s Booksellers and all good bookshops.

Cowboys seek NRL clearance for Todd Carney

North Queensland are set to offer Todd Carney a one-year deal, subject to NRL clearance.Months ago, North Queensland coach Paul Green says he flatly refused an initial approach from controversial playmaker Todd Carney.

But the Cowboys’ mentor says he wants to offer Carney another NRL lifeline, after the half had knuckled down and “realised what he had lost” since training with feeder club Northern Pride.

Green on Tuesday confirmed they were investigating registering Carney for an apparent one-year deal.

It represents a fourth chance for Carney who has already been sacked by Canberra, the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla.

Carney’s fate rests with the NRL integrity unit.

The Cowboys made the Carney request despite Brisbane copping criticism for signing Matt Lodge after he escaped conviction over a 2015 New York drunken rampage.

“We got asked about the opportunity when he first signed with the Pride (last year) and we flatly refused that because we believe he had to prove that he was fair dinkum about some of the stuff he was saying,” Green said.

“Without having that NRL carrot dangled in front of him, he went back, knuckled down and trained well with the Pride and, off field, he has been good.”

The 2010 Dally M Medallist hasn’t played in NRL since 2014 after being sacked for the infamous ‘bubbler’ incident.

He told the Nine Network on Monday night he was a “different Todd” and had matured in recent years after a litany of off-field controversies blighted his career.

Carney spent two seasons with Super League’s Catalans Dragons before shifting last year to Salford.

“We’d like to think most people deserve a second chance,” Green said.

“Some people may say it is not his second chance but I think he has realised what he has lost in the last few years being over in Super League (UK) and he’s pretty passionate about having another crack at the NRL.

“There is a fair bit of water to go under the bridge before we can confirm anything but all I can say is that at this stage the club is investigating it.”

Asked if he thought Carney had learned, Green said: “Time will tell.

“But to be fair, Todd has done everything asked of him since he has been back.”

Former Roosters teammate Jake Friend believed Carney could be a great fit at North Queensland.

“He’s a quality player and, if you know Toddy, he’s a good guy. He’s done his time overseas and I’d love to see him get a crack at the NRL again,” he said.

“If he can regain the form he had before he went away, he can be a big thing for the Cowboys.”

A NRL spokesman said no contract had yet been lodged to register Carney.

“If a contract is lodged, we will consider it on its merits.

“Any club seeking to register him would need to demonstrate what changes he has made to his life since he was previously in the NRL.

“We would need to be convinced that he is fit and proper to be part of the NRL.”