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Fightback lifts Kookas to gold

The Kookaburras’ ability to conjure big-match wins against the odds sealed a record 10th Champions Trophy men’s hockey title on Sunday with an extraordinary fightback to sink world and Olympic champions Germany.Trailing 3-1 at halftime in the final, Australia launched a relentless second half effort to win 5-3, lifting every aspect of their game after crucial first half lapses.Three goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half – two of them penalty corner flicks from Luke Doerner – stunned the Germans and ensured the Kookaburras back-to-back gold medals in the tournament for the world’s top six nations in Melbourne.Experienced defender Mark Knowles paid tribute to his side’s self-belief for getting them out of trouble.It was a trait which came to the fore with different personnel at the 2004 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games, but appears to beat just as strongly in the heart of the new Kookaburras.”We know we’re young, we’ve been training hard for this, done plenty of fitness work, so we thought if we could get an early (second half) goal we’d be right back in it,” Knowles said.”We stuck in there, and that little bit of pressure really helped.”It takes a long time to break very good teams down and it’s a credit to the playing group and the coaching staff.”But there’s a belief in the team we can win from any situation.”Australia started superbly and had the lead inside two minutes when striker Des Abbott found the net.Then the Germans hit back midway through the half with three goals in 11 minutes.First Florian Fuchs found the net, before a Martin Haner drag flick and another to Matthias Witthaus from open play gave them what appeared a stranglehold on the match.But with newly-crowned world player of the year Jamie Dwyer outstanding, the Kookaburras powered back in the second half and started to convert the penalty corners which were wasted in the first.First Liam de Young tapped in, before Doerner found his range with a drag flick on 41 minutes to bring his side level.Nine minutes later, Australia had snatched back the lead when Doerner was on target again.The Kookaburras finished off Germany with three minutes remaining, when Fergus Kavanagh latched on to a long Doerner pass and flipped the bouncing ball up over keeper Max Weinhold’s head to delight the 5,000-plus crowd at the State Hockey Centre.To cap their tournament, striker Grant Schubert was named the Champions Trophy’s best player and he and Luke Doerner shared leading scorer’s honours with six goals each.South Korea took the bronze medal, beating The Netherlands 4-2 in the third place playoff.Spain beat England 5-2 to secure fifth place.
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TV explosion that threatens the networks

Yesterday, Australia got its newest free-to-air television station when Kevin Rudd flicked the switch on ABC3. The just-for-kids station will broadcast 15 hours a day,and brings to 12 the number of free-to-air channels Australians with a digital television or a digital set-top box can receive – a tripling of free viewing options since 1980, and a doubling since 2005. But it’s just the beginning.The TV broadcasting landscape is changing so quickly that predictions about what shape it will take are no longer flagged as coming soon but happening now.This year alone, new station launches have included Ten’s digital sports channel OneHD (March), SBS2 (June), Nine’s digital spin-off Go! (August), Seven’s 7Two (October), and now ABC3. Each network also carries a digital simulcast of its analogue transmission, meaning that there are, in effect, 17 free-to-air channels being broadcast (including the community TV channel, 31).It also comes as Foxtel expands its pay TV service. In mid-November, it launched its ”next generation” offering, with more high-definition channels, an increased number and range of pay-per-view movies, and the option to download programs to computers or mobile devices, legally.But perhaps the biggest drivers of change are two sides of the one coin: improvements in technology and the illegal downloading it has allowed.Massively increased computing power, large, high-resolution monitors, and relatively cheap and fast download rates have turned the computer into a threat to traditional TV broadcasting, both pay and free to air. To save itself, TV is having to become a lot more like the web.”It’s becoming a semantic question whether television is a URL on the internet or the internet is a channel on the television set,” says Jeff Cole, a futurist and the director of the Centre for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California. ”The key word is convergence.”Dr Cole says the old model of television broadcasting is almost irrelevant already: ”Teenagers barely understand the concept of watching television on a broadcast network’s schedule,” he says. ”If you talk to them about the days when you used to have a favourite show and you had to be home before it started and you couldn’t leave the house until after it aired …”He lets the absurdity of that proposition hang in the air, even though most Australians grew up with it. But the ability to record now and watch later – which began with the introduction of the VCR to living rooms in the late 1970s – has fundamentally changed the game. The industry calls it ”time-shifting”, and it poses a major threat to the business model of free-to-air broadcasting.The free-to-air model relies on a network being able to deliver an audience of a certain size and demographic at a set time. That guarantee allows commercial networks to sell advertising spaces at a set rate – hence the importance of TV ratings. Advertisers are, effectively, buying eyeballs.But when those eyeballs have the opportunity to record and watch later – at a time when they are less inclined to make grocery-buying decisions, for instance – or to fast-forward through the ads entirely, the business model falters.The problem has become so serious that from December 27, OzTAM – which collects ratings for the networks – will for the first time begin tracking time-shift audiences. Anyone in the ratings sample group who records a program to a personal video recorder and watches it within seven days will, for the first time, be counted as a viewer. In the US, where Nielsen has been tracking time-shift audiences within three days of broadcast, ratings have been boosted by as much as 25 per cent for some programs.That’s great news for traditional broadcasters. But time-shifting is just one of the fronts on which they are vulnerable.Video on demand is another. Whether legally or illegally, the tech-savvy have been able to search for programming online for years, and download to watch on their computers. Now the same service is downloaded or streamed over the internet and watched on the television screen.In the last three weeks alone, Australian viewers have been promised the following: Telstra’s T-Box, which will allow paid content to be streamed or recorded, with unmetered downloads from BigPond’s libraries; the ABC iView player, which can now play content on the TV via Sony’s PlayStation 3; and a hook-up between iiNet and TiVo to stream free, unmetered content to the television.In the US, the shift is even more advanced. Hulu – a joint venture between News Corp and NBC – allows subscribers to stream a vast array of content legally and free (for now at least; Hulu is expected to start charging next year). Originally, that content could only be watched on the computer, but software recently released allows it to be relayed to the TV via the PlayStation, X-Box and Wii gaming consoles. Hulu was launched in 2008 and already has more than 42 million users. In October, it delivered 856 million downloads, almost twice as many as the preceding month.According to the head of digital marketing at IBM Australia, Martin Walsh, ”the Australian TV networks had the opportunity to joint venture to bring Hulu to Australia, but they turned it down”.While they may rue that decision, another US service provider, Netflix, is rumoured to be working with TV manufacturers to develop a set that would eliminate the need for peripheral devices such as game consoles or computer hard drives.In Ericsson’s Asia-Pacific TV Centre in Port Melbourne, a ”techspert” is talking through the company’s vision of the future. He’s demonstrating a set-up that will allow multiple TVs or computers or other devices scattered throughout a household to stream content individually while remaining networked so that each user can send messages to the others – ”dinner’s ready, come to the table”, for instance – or even to keep tabs on the household energy use or grandma’s medical records. As for entertainment, he says, ”everything that’s ever been made could quite feasibly be stored on servers, for you to download instantly, whenever you want”.”It’s bringing the web and internet experience into one,” says Kursten Leins, Ericsson’s strategic marketing manager. ”The vision has been there for a long time. The reality is it’s actually happening now.”That reality is called Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV. It is, many believe, where everything is heading, though Leins argues there are significant hurdles. First, it will not become fully realised until the national broadband network is rolled out – we need fast download rates to make full use of the offerings – and that’s at least five years off. And second, there are issues of governance.”The biggest stumbling block is regulation,” Leins says. ”At the moment you have a separate regime for telecommunications and another for broadcasting. When you’re talking about the blending of all these services, it’s the regulation that will get in the way, not the technology.”But those issues are certain to be resolved because the Federal Government is committed to the digital future. It is the key to giving Australia a ”competitive edge”, in the Government’s view, and will enable cheaper and faster delivery of everything from health care to education.And, of course, it will also facilitate an explosion of choice in entertainment.So, with the viewer liberated from the tyranny of the TV programmer, will the networks and pay TV operators cease to exist? Maybe, says futurist Jeff Cole. ”We’re still going to have scheduling for people over the age of 50 or 60, but that’s gradually going to diminish. It will go mostly to on-demand.”
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Big fish in a small pond

DANNY GREEN has been accused of running scared by the most dangerous man on his radar, Chad Dawson, after blowing off the suggestion he should fight the American because he is not a big enough name.
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Having scored the most remarkable stoppage victory of the year – bar Manny Pacqiuao’s second-round annihilation of Ricky Hatton – Green’s victory over Roy Jones jnr has catapulted him into the global stratosphere.

But there are surprisingly few big names to chase.

Bernard Hopkins is one but the Philadelphia fighter is hardly interested, preferring to spruik a rematch with Jones despite his pale showing at Acer Arena on Wednesday night.

Asked about future opponents yesterday, Green dodged and weaved better than Jones jnr in his heyday. ”Not Chad Dawson, I would like to fry bigger fish than him, definitely,” Green said.

Asked who was a big name if not Dawson, the IBO cruiserweight champion finally gave an indication: ”Hopkins has a pretty good name, he’s already disrespected Australia enough.”

But Dawson’s camp bristled at the comments.

”What that tells me is that Danny Green is afraid of Chad Dawson. He thinks he is bigger than he is – he beat a washed up 40-year-old guy that was over his weight class,” said Dawson’s manager, Gary Shaw.”What bigger name could he think of? Maybe he should fight [super-flyweight] Vic Darchinyan, he is a big name. Chad has defeated Antonio Tarver twice, he has beaten Glen Johnson twice, he has beaten Tomasz Adamek â?¦ I can’t see Danny Green beating Glen Johnson.”

Dawson, undefeated in 29 fights, had campaigned furiously for a fight with Joe Calzaghe, but the Welshman retired after defeating Jones and Hopkins. Jones and Hopkins have also resisted Dawson, who, at 27, is nine years younger than Green.

Dawson holds the IBO light-heavyweight title but, through his management, contacted Green’s camp early yesterday to say he’d be willing to move up to cruiserweight.

Dawson was even willing to travel to Australia but upon hearing Green’s comments, Shaw pulled that offer.

”I won’t come down to Australia now. Let Mr Danny Green wait for that big name, we can’t wait to see who that is,” Shaw said.

”Hopkins is not fighting Danny Green, no way.”

I’m not saying he is not a household name in Australia, but Danny is not an advanced fighter. If his claim to fame is that he beat an old man, and he can go to sleep happy with that, then good on him, let him do that.

The trouble with a lot of these fighters is that when they win, instead of being humble, they talk out of their ass. He should take the fight for what it is, a great financial success for him. If he is good as what he thinks he is, he should fight the premier guy at 175 pounds, not hide behind that old excuse of waiting for a bigger name.”

Hopkins, who defeated Enrique Ornelas on points yesterday – as part of the double-header that was promoting the Hopkins-Jones rematch for March 13 – maintained the bout would still hold appeal. This is for two reasons he did not share: a second fight with Jones, 16 years in the making, would still command high television buys; and now Jones looks shot, Hopkins would command the greater share of the purse- the primary reason they had not been able to agree terms before.

The 44-year-old overlooked the fact Jones had hinted at retirement after Wednesday’s debacle, and instead did his best to pump credibility into Jones – fully aware he needs momentum in a public relations campaign to sell the fight – by questioning the referee’s decision to stop the bout after 122 seconds.”

From what I saw, [Green] was pounding away and got some shots in there, but I don’t think the referee should have stopped the fight,” Hopkins said. ”When you have someone like Roy Jones jnr, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

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Here’s to you, Mr Robinson: Tahs veterans take inspiration from Benn

IF THE statistics that mattered were age and the number of Test caps won, Wallabies prop Benn Robinson would be the one looking to his Waratahs teammates Al Baxter and Phil Waugh for inspiration.But in the aftermath of the Wallabies’ tour of Europe, it is now Baxter and Waugh who regard Robinson as a perfect example from which to draw motivation. The pair still firmly believe in their own Test futures, despite being omitted from the tour; and both have been buoyed by the private talks they have had with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.”I have been pretty clear with my goals and my ambitions. He [Deans] has been very open and very supportive of my ambitions,” Waugh said at yesterday’s unveiling of the 2010 Waratahs strips. ”The call they made [non-selection] was [for] being injured for the first couple of games.”From that moment it was all about me having a good 2010 and rejoining the group in June.”Baxter, a specialist tighthead prop, said he was told by Deans: ”This is not the end of your Test career. You are still very much in the he frame.”Both players agree that Robinson’s transformation from a player omitted from the 2007 World Cup squad and who had to fight his way back into the Waratahs side by playing for the NSW A team in 2008 to becoming the world’s top loosehead prop, is an example to follow.Waugh, 30 and with 79 Wallabies caps to his name, said Robinson, 25 and with 31 caps, has the ability to enjoy a long reign as the world’s premier prop. ”It’s exciting. He works hard. He will be the first to admit that he can work harder, which is exciting. And he is only 25, and for props that is relatively young,” the openside breakaway said.”He just has to keep fit and get fitter, [keep] doing what he is doing and keep being dominant in his position. He is one of the standout rugby union players in the world at the moment.”He had belief in himself and people around him believed in him, which is important. But he kept playing hard, whether it was for Eastwood, NSW A or when he got back to the Waratahs. He has come a long way in 18 months.”Baxter, 32 and with 69 Test caps, believes Robinson’s return from Wallabies wilderness has helped to make the loosehead a better player.”If he had not missed the World Cup and gone as a reserve then not be dropped by ‘Link’ [former Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie] he might have been happy to bubble along like that,” he said.”The challenge [of] getting back in makes everyone a better player. Those things did a lot for his career. He fought hard, worked very hard and came back better than he was before.”❏ Wallabies and NSW No.8 Wycliff Palu leads the 2010 John Eales Medal vote score after the first of two stages of a progressive count to precede next October’s unveiling of the final score.After the spring tour, Palu has 113 votes. Matt Giteau has 102, David Pocock 86, Will Genia 72, and Adam Ashley-Cooper 52.❏ Wallabies tourist and back-rower Dave Dennis has re-signed with the Waratahs for two more years after starting the spring tour with his playing future in doubt.❏ Tony Dempsey will retire as the Rugby Union Players’ Association head at the end of the month after working for the organisation for 15 years – nine of them in the top job.
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Waratahs’ new winger prepared to stick his neck out for teammates

WITHOUT having played a game for the Waratahs, All Blacks recruit Sosene Anesi has already set a daunting benchmark for even the toughest of his new teammates.Some players earn reputations as ”hard eggs” for playing on with broken ribs or noses, with torn cartilage, or even fractured skulls.That the 28-year-old outside back played 75 minutes of a Super 14 game in 2007 for the Chiefs with a broken neck is not something he openly brags about. He even looks uneasy when you jokingly inform him that playing with the injury would challenge even Waratahs breakaway Phil Waugh’s threshold.However, it is a measure of the severity of the fracture and his apparent disbelief that he avoided what could have happened – possible paralysis – that Anesi discusses it when asked.The break occurred five minutes into the round-two game as he tackled Hurricanes winger Ma’a Nonu; but without him or anyone realising until he went to hospital the next day. ”I got my head on the wrong side [in the tackle]. I was sore but played all the game,” Anesi said yesterday. ”I even tried to crack my back into place as the game went on.”The next day Anesi learnt the shocking truth: he had fractured the C6 vertebra in his neck. It brought an end to his season and added another chapter of injury woe to a career that has stopped and started. But Anesi knows he was lucky. ”It could have been a lot worse,” he said.The Kiwi admits that returning to the paddock as he did five months later was as hard mentally as it was physically. Gaining confidence in the tackle contact again took time. But after an exhausting rehabilitation program, he took the field for the Chiefs against Taranaki in the Air New Zealand Cup.Anesi, whose one All Blacks cap was earned against Fiji in 2005 and who has come to the Waratahs to replace Lote Tuqiri, says he is now 100 per cent fit and is confident his injury run is over. ”I’m injury free – a bit of a tight groin from NPC but I’ll be back running next week,” he said.While injuries limited his playing opportunities at the Chiefs, so did the calibre of the Kiwi side’s back three, which includes Mils Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Lelia Masaga.”That was the main thing. I had to look somewhere else. Being at the Chiefs didn’t quite get me that opportunity, with the likes of Mils, Masaga and ‘Siti’,” Anesi said.However, the time spent watching the likes of Sivivatu – at Super 14 and Test level – provided him with a chance to learn, and in particular see how a winger can assert his influence on the game.”I have learned a lot the last few years about getting involved,” Anesi said. ”I have watched how Sitiveni plays his game. He is always trying to be a playmaker, getting involved. That’s what I am trying to do. Being on the wing, it’s a bit hard, but you have to go and look for the ball.”As well as Anesi’s blistering pace, the Waratahs will look to take advantage of the Kiwi’s insider knowledge of the Chiefs players and their game.”I think it will help a lot. But it is not about them, it will be more about us and the game we bring that day,” Anesi said. ”I played the Waratahs once. That was in my first year and we lost. We got a hiding.”
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