Robert Dillon: Garth Brennan is driven to succeed

OF all the hours Garth Brennan has spent on the freeway to and from Newcastle over the past six years, thelongest and loneliest driveoccurred midway through 2011.

WAITING GAME: After six seasons in Penrith’s lower grades, Novocastrian Garth Brennan has earned his first chance as an NRL head coach. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

It wasa trip home from Wollongong, after a face-to-face meeting withWayne Bennett.

Bennett had been recently appointed head coach of the Knights and was working through the process of what players and staff he wanted to retain, and who was expendable.

Brennan, who had been Newcastle’s National Youth Competitionmentor for two seasons, was concerned that he had not been approached, so he contacted the veteran tactician and asked for a chance to state his case, man to man.

Bennett agreed to meet but was apparently non-committal. By the time he jumped in his car, Brennan must have had a fair idea he was onborrowed time.

Sure enough, soon afterwards the Knights announced former Canberra and North Queensland assistant coach Mick Crawley would be be replacing Brennan, having signed a four-year contract.

The club’s media release said Brennan “has been encouraged to stay at the Knights next season to work with developing young players”, but theno specific role was ever discussed.

After an eight-season apprenticeship with Newcastle’s junior teams, including becoming the first man ever to coach their under-20s into the play-offs, Brennan had been cast aside with scarcelya second thought.

Only Bennett and the powers-that-be ofthat time would know the rationale behind their decision.

My guess –and it’s only a guess –is that Bennett wanted his own people in key positions.

He was stuck with Rick Stone as assistant coach, at the insistence of new owner Nathan Tinkler, and perhaps he was concerned about the possibility of a clique in the ranks.

Whatever the case, Bennett seriously underestimated Brennan’s desire to forge a career as a rugby league coach.

A lesser man may have walked away from the game, especially as returning to his original vocation as a police prosecutor was an option.

Instead Brennan accepted an offer from Phil Gould to coach Penrith’s under-20s.

Relocating his young family to the foot of the Blue Mountains would have been problematic, largely because Brennan’s wife Rachel was runninga successful law firm in Newcastle.

So instead he opted to commute, staying a few nights each week in Penrith, and the rest at the familyhome in Stockton.Over the course of six years, he rackedup 500,000 kilometres in the trusty Holden Commodore he “borrowed” from his car-dealing brother, Shane Brennan.

After winning an NYC premiership in 2013 with the Panthers, he was described as “an NRL coach in waiting” byGould. The next yearhe collected a NSW Cup title, a feat he repeated this season.

All the while, Brennan kept wondering if he would ever get a chance at the highest level.

Despite Gould’s glowing praise, when the Panthers sacked Ivan Cleary at the end of 2014, they hired Anthony Griffin rather than promoting from within.

Twice Brennan applied for the top job at Newcastle, after Bennett’s departure and then when Rick Stone was speared less than a year later.

Both times he was overlooked. Even when assistant roles came up at the Knights, he was never seriously considered.

Recently he applied for the vacant position at Super League club Warrington, only to be pipped by former St George Illawarra coach Steve Price.

Brennan could have been forgiven for thinking his lack of profile was counting against him. Despite playing more than 200 games in the Newcastle competition, he never made the grade at professional level.

Clubs are alsomore inclined to appoint a recycled coach with NRL experience than someone who is unproven in the top grade.

But all good things to those who wait.

This week the 45-year-old was unveiled as Gold Coast’s new coach for the next three seasons, and nobody could be more deserving.

The timing seems slightly ironic, given that Brennan spent the majority of his career playing forWests Rosellas in the Newcastle premiership, and now the Wests Group are on the verge of assuming full control of the Knights.

It would be fair to say the Wests board ofdirectors –men who, like Brennan, shed blood on Harker Oval in their day –will be monitoring his progress with interest.

Obviously Brennan faces plenty of challenges in his new role.

Learning how to manage highly paid superstars, including prima donnas like Jarryd Hayne, balancing a salary cap and dealing with the media spotlight.

It will be a learning curve, but no doubt it is one he will embrace. He’s dreamed about this for years, and nowit is a reality.

In many ways, Brennan reminds me of Trent Robinson, who also spent several years on Newcastle’s coaching staff. When Robinson was handed the reins of the Sydney Roosters in 2013, many had never heard of him. He won a premiership in his first season and is now established as one of the best coaches in the game.

I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if Brennanis equally successful. Indeed, I’d be stunned if he’s not.

CBA defends disclosure, executive pay

Commonwealth Bank chair Catherine Livingstone has defended the board’s decisions on disclosure and executive pay, under at times heated questioning over the money laundering compliance scandal that has rocked the bank.

Ms Livingstone and chief executive Ian Narev fronted the federal government’s banking inquiry on Friday, the first such appearance since explosive money laundering allegations were levelled against the country’s biggest bank.

The grilling came after National Australia Bank chief Andrew Thorburn faced the same committee, fielding questions over staff falsely witnessing 2000 documents, vowing there would be “consequences” for staff involved.

In August this year, Austrac launched explosive legal action claiming CBA failed to report more than 53,000 large cash transactions, and that crime gangs laundered millions of dollars through the bank’s ATMs.

Inquiry chairman David Coleman repeatedly asked Ms Livingstone why the board didn’t tell investors earlier about the alleged breaches, given it was first made aware of some breaches in August 2015.

Mr Coleman also suggested it had been “extraordinarily incompetent” of the board to have determined that targets relating to risk management had been met, when it set remuneration in 2016.

Ms Livingstone, who became chair at the start of this year, acknowledged the Austrac matter had been “very challenging” and was a “crucial issue” for the board of Australia’s biggest bank.

She defended the bank’s disclosure to investors, saying the board knew about only one component of the Austrac allegations against it in 2015. This related to the bank’s alleged failure to make threshold transaction reports – the requirement to notify Austrac of transactions above $10,000.

She said it remedied this situation within a month, including by boosting its financial crimes surveillance activity.

“We have met our continuous disclosure obligations based on our knowledge of the matters,” Ms Livingstone said.

Ms Livingstone said there was “a great deal” of detail in Austrac’s statement of claim, filed in August this year, of which the board had not been aware before it was lodged.

Mr Coleman also questioned Ms Livingstone over the board’s decision that group executives had satisfied performance criteria that included “risk” in 2016, when it was compiling its remuneration report. This is one metric included when determining executive bonuses.

Mr Coleman asked Ms Livingstone if the board had “manifestly failed in its duty” in making this determination.

“It is very, very hard to see how at bare minimum that is not extraordinarily incompetent, if not more problematic for the individual directors,” Mr Coleman said to Ms Livingstone.

In response, Ms Livingstone stood by the decision, saying it was “appropriate” at the time, as the board did not know Austrac would ultimately launch a civil case against CBA.

“The first we were aware that Austrac intended to launch civil proceedings was the third of August this year, and the period to which you relate and the events of that time are the subject of the Austrac civil proceedings,” Ms Livingstone said. ‘Further accountability’

The fresh round of scrutiny comes after Ms Livingstone scrapped short-term bonuses this year in response to the severe hit to the bank’s reputation caused by the Austrac scandal.

On Friday she vowed there would be “further accountability consequences as necessary” as the bank investigated the allegations further.

“As chairman, my position on accountability can be quite simply put,” she said.

“Where claims of serious misconduct are substantiated, there are consequences, including dismissal. People who underperform are supported to improve, however, if their performance doesn’t improve they are also asked to leave.”

As banks, and especially CBA, look to rebuild public trust in the industry, Ms Livingstone said the bank was conscious of the need for “greater transparency” and “greater accountability for the outcomes it delivers”.

“It is my goal as chair to ensure that we have robust governance, accountability and risk management systems in place,” she said.

Ms Livingstone also signalled that people had left CBA as a result of the flaws in the bank’s anti-money systems before Austrac launched the bombshell action against CBA in August.

Three former high-ranking executives of the bank had missed out on deferred pay as a result of the board’s pay cut this year, she said.

When pressed on specific details of Austrac’s claims, Ms Livingstone and Mr Narev said they were limited in what they could say because of the ongoing legal proceedings.

CBA is due to file its defence in the Austrac matter in December.

Mr Narev made it clear the bank would acknowledge it had made mistakes, and would not fight every aspect of Austrac’s claim against CBA.

“The statement of defence is going to make clear we’ve made mistakes,” he said. “We won’t fight the claim or fight aspects of the claim where we know we’re in the wrong.”

Analysts have estimated the bank could face a fine of up to $2.5 billion as a result of Austrac’s case, and suggested this is likely to weigh on the board’s capital management decisions. Share price slump

Since the Austrac allegations came to light, CBA’s shares have been downgraded compared with rival banks, and Mr Coleman put it to Mr Narev that the billions wiped off its market capitalisation would be “the largest example of shareholder value destruction in Australian history”.

“We understand that nobody wants to see the share price go down,” Mr Narev said in response.

“We would hope that many of those losses, over the short term, can be recuperated over the long term.”

The corporate watchdog has said it is investigating whether the bank’s board complied with its continuous disclosure obligations, while the plaintiff law firm Maurice Blackburn is also running a shareholder class action over the issue.

The Austrac scandal has put the spotlight on potential risks from banks’ intelligent deposit machines – which allow customers to make large cash deposits and were at the heart of CBA’s problems.

On Friday, CBA confirmed its machines continued to accept a maximum deposit of $20,000 in cash, compared with other major banks’ limit of $4000 to $5000.

Mr Narev said this decision on cash deposits was a reflection of small business customer “utility”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Merrick plays down Jets’ amazing record

FOCUSED: Ernie Merric explains a point to the Jets players at training this week. Picture: Marina NeilNEWCASTLE boast the best winning percentage at Suncorp Stadium of any team in the A-League including Brisbane, but coach Ernie Merrickinsists statistics will count for nothing when the Jets tackle the Roar on their home turf on Sunday.

Incredibly, the Jets have won 10 of their 17 matchesagainst the Roar in the Queensland capital for a success rate of 58.8 %. Brisbane, three-time champions, have won 50.9% of gamesat home.

Adelaide are next best at 47.4%.Current champions Sydney have traditionally struggled up north, winning just 15.8 %. Merrick’s previous club Wellington have performed the worst in Queensland, winning two of 16 attempts for 11.1%.

In 159 games at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane have lost just 45, 10 of those to the Jets, including a 3-2 defeat in round 14 last season.

However,Merrick played down the relevance of historical statistics–good and bad–due to the continual turnover in personnel.

“I don’t look at it,” he said. “This season is a completely different team. We have five new starting players.You can’t say you have a successful record up there when you have a completely different team.”

Merrick, who has coached more games than anyone in the A-League, said referring to historycould also have a detrimental effect.

“If you look at history in a positive way, you are obviously going to look at it in a negative way,” he said.“We have always lost up there, does that mean we are going to lose this time.”

The Jets have hit the ground running under Merrick.

Awin in Brisbane would propel them to seven points after the three rounds and the best start in the club’s history.

The Roar, who have suffered consecutive losses to Melbourne City (2-0) and Adelaide (2-1), have been boosted by the arrival of French winger AlecBautheac.

The 30-year-old, who made 13 appearances for Lyon in the French Ligue 1last season, touched down on Wednesdaymorning and is likely to feature on Sunday.

“It’s definitely a boost for everyone,” Roar coach John Aloisi said.”We had our captain Matt McKay, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and [assistant] Ross [Aloisi] went to the airport to pick him up at 2am (on Wednesday) – that’s how excited they were.The group is strong and it gives them a lift getting a new player in.”

Merrick said the arrival of any quality player was“great”for the league.

“I expect he will be a very good player,” Merrick said.“My view on these things is that it is great we are bringing in quality players to the league. The higher quality the league,the better for everyone–bigger crowds, more sponsorship, more television exposure.

“I think it is a good thing that they are bringing in a high quality player.”

The Roar have undergone a transformation of sorts since the departure of Jamie Maclaren, who scored 40 goals in 53 appearances, and the release of club legend Thomas Broich.

Veteran Serie-A striker Massimo Maccaronenow leadsthe line and former Victory winger Fahid Ben Kalfallah has replaced Broich.

“With Jamie they had pace up front who could get in behind,” Merrick said.“Maccarone is a different type of player. He is a quality playerbut more one who likes the ball passed to his feet.A speedy tricky winger likeBautheacwill add to them I’m sure.”

Distance not the barrier for Celia

WIN: Melbourne marathon champion Celia Sullohern on Sunday. Picture: AAP ImageMelbourne marathon winner Celia Sullohern will headline Sunday’s Fernleigh 15 just a week after her career-best long-distanceperformance.

The women’s record holder for the annual Lake Macquarie event took out the Victorian 42-kilometre race in two hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds.

It was a five-minute personal best, top-10 Australian all-time and fourth on the 2017 national rankings behind fellow countrywomen Lisa Weightman Jess Trengove andVirginia Moloney ahead of next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

But that won’t stop the 25-year-old former Novocastrian from slowing down this weekend according to coach, Rio Olympian and Fernleigh 15 organiser Scott Westcott.

“My advice would be to take it easy, but I dare say she’ll pin her ears back,” Westcott said.

“We’ll give her the starting duties, but I reckon she’ll drop the gun and go.”

Sullohern, who also claimed the City2Surf in Sydney in August, will more than likely battle it out with Kahibah’s Bridey Delaney, who was second over 10km in Melbourne on Sunday.

In the men’s race Newcastle’s Vlad Shatrov will shoot for a third straight crown on the Fernleigh Track.

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Newcastle-based Rheed McCracken will lead the Fernleigh 15 wheelchair section minus Hunter ParalympiansKurt Fearnley and Christie Dawes. McCracken moves up in distance after breakingthe men’s 100m T34 world record in Switzerland in May.

Westcott said around 1100 athletes had signed up for the sixth annual edition of the Fernleigh 15, which included more than 200 in a newly-formed five-person team relay section.

Entries are still being taken at Kotara Westfield’s ‘Rooftop’ on Saturday between 9am and 5pm.

Racing on Sunday starts near Adamstown’s St Pius X High Schoolfrom 7:55am. The finish line is located behind Belmont TAFE.

Elderly warned of phone scammers, report anything suspicious

A WARRNAMBOOL man has warned residents to be on guard for scams after he was recently targeted.

Kevin McCarthy, 74, said he got a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Department of Human Services who said he had been underpaid his pension.

WARNING: Kevin McCarthy is warning others about a phone scam telling people they’ve been underpaid their pension.

He said he was told to contact a Canberra phone number which he did and he was told he was owed $2800 from Centrelink.

Mr McCarthy then phoned Centrelink who told him it was a scam.

“They (the scammers) rang back and I told them to nick off,” he said.

Kevin McCarthyThe Standard. “We see people losing large amounts of money and pensioners don’t have a lot to lose.”

She said often the person was told they were owed money and they needed to provide a payment via an iTunes card to access the money.

“No one (legitimate)will ever ask someone to pay money in order to get money,” she said. “Centrelink will never ask for your bank details over the phone.”

Ms Rickard said people should be very weary when they were contacted out of the blue by a government department.“Don’t give anyone your personal information,” she said. “Don’t give out your bank details to anyone.”

So far this year there have been $64 million lost in scams and 120,000 reports of scams in Australia.

For more information check out Scamwatch.

The Standard, Warrnambool