Aug 07

Inglis ready to roll for Rabbitohs

Not only is Greg Inglis a certain starter for South Sydney in a crucial NRL clash against the Warriors in Perth on Saturday but coach Michael Maguire expects his captain to lead the charge against their in-form and dangerous opponents.

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Inglis returned to some of his best form in last Saturday’s 22-16 win over the Gold Coast Titans before leaving the field due to a head knock in the 56th minute, but he is a certain starter at nib Stadium in Saturday’s vital match.

The Rabbitohs, who are hosting their annual clash in Perth, are in sixth position with a 7-5 record having won their last two games without Adam Reynolds.

The Warriors are on a three-match winning streak and not far behind with a 6-5 return.

While Shaun Johnson, Sam Tomkins, Manu Vatuvei and company will provide plenty for the Rabbitohs to worry about, Maguire expects nothing but the best from an honest Inglis who admitted to being down on form after Origin 1.

“I think a bit of a rest with his tonsillitis has probably been a great thing for him at this time of the year so he’s looking forward to having a big game now here in Perth,” Maguire said.

“He’s a pretty harsh critic of himself and I think there are errors in his game that he even looked at from our last game that he wants to improve on. That’s a good reflection of him as a senior player.”

Things haven’t been completely smooth for the Rabbitohs in their premiership defence in 2015, particularly with the absence of halfback Reynolds with a thumb injury which sees him sidelined for another month.

But Maguire has been impressed with those that have stepped up in particular Luke Keary who is replacing Reynolds, and is now chasing a third straight win come Saturday to improve to an 8-5 record.

This will be a great result given they are yet to hit top gear.

“We are continually going through stages where you have all your players on the field at some stages, and then others have been injured so we’ve been through those times. But what it has done for us is it has given us some great growth with guys coming in,” Maguire said.

“A lot of our young guys Cam McInnes, Nathan Brown, Aaron Gray and Luke Keary have all really stepped up, especially Luke with Adam being out injured with his thumb. For us it’s about the opportunities provided through this period and we just need to keep forging forward.”

Aug 07

Suns aim to play ugly against Swans

Rodney Eade didn’t sign up for this.

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He was supposed to be fine-tuning a young, talented team that appeared poised to throw open their AFL premiership window.

Instead, the Gold Coast coach finds himself with quite literally “no midfield” due to injuries and with his best key forward sidelined due to a failure to comprehend a simple ban on alcohol.

The former is nobody’s fault but the latter issue which resulted in Charlie Dixon and injured rookie Jack Martin handed one-week suspensions for breaking a player-enforced moratorium on drinking, is indicative of how much work lies ahead for the Suns who face Sydney at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

“I was spoken to when I got the job about some areas that needed to improve and build on,” Eade said.

“The alcohol’s part of that, but it’s the standards of being an AFL professional player.

“It’s so difficult.

“Most of the guys are responding and there’s some speed humps on the way.

“It’s certainly thrown some curve balls.”

Second from bottom with just one win in nine weeks, things don’t get any better for the Suns as they prepare to face the third-placed Swans this weekend – and then ladder-leaders Fremantle the week after.

If their on-ball problems weren’t already bad enough with the ongoing absences of Gary Ablett, Dion Prestia, Jaeger O’Meara and David Swallow, livewire Harley Bennell (calf) and Matt Shaw (illness) were ruled out early on Friday.

Eade said he may have no choice but to instruct his men to play “ugly” against the Swans.

“I think the biggest area, apart from our inexperience, is going to be our run,” he said.

“We’ve got no midfield really.

“You’re just really going to struggle.

“We just can’t afford to play ping-pong footy up and back, transition footy, because not having a midfield you’re going to get smashed in that area.

“And the fact Sydney are probably one of the best running sides in the competition, we’ll have to be mindful of that.

“We’ll have to do some things differently and try and make it into an ugly game.”

Aug 07

Port turning AFL corner: Hinkley

After a rocky road, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley reckons his AFL side is turning the corner.

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Hinkley’s Port host the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, seeking consecutive wins to square their win-loss ledger.

“We have to keep taking steps forward … I don’t think we’re too far away,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday.

Port returned to the winner’s list last weekend after three consecutive losses, a streak which had some pundits jumping from pre-season predictions of the Power being a premiership contender.

But Hinkley has kept that vision alive.

“I felt like we were building a little bit in the right direction … we still didn’t play four strong quarters of football last week, we’re still a little way off where we need to be,” he said.

“But we’re working really hard to gain that momentum.”

Port demoted Nathan Krakouer to the rookie list, replacing him in the side for the Bulldogs match with midfielder Aaron Young.

The emerging Dogs enter the Adelaide Oval in ninth spot with five wins and four wins, but Hinkley isn’t surprised at their promising form.

“The competition not so much surprises the people involved in it, it surprises the rest,” he said.

“You have got not just the Bulldogs, you have West Coast, the Giants – there’s a couple of emerging teams and certainly the Bulldogs are one of them.

“”We have seem their best is very, very good.

“They’re an incredibly well-drilled side. They have got some real speed about their team and Bobby Murphy leads them incredibly well.

“They’re an exciting team and we will need to be at our best.”

The fixture is Port onballer Hamish Hartlett’s 100th AFL game, a milestone in an injury-troubled career which began in 2009.

“His first couple of years with the (injury) disruptions, I’m sure there were some doubts in his own mind about whether 100 games were going to come along,” Hinkley said.

“Right now, he’s in really strong physical condition and form and hopefully there’s another 100 to come.”

Aug 07

Alan Bond: hero, entrepreneur, fraudster

When Alan Bond was a boy his father predicted one of two fates for his wayward offspring.

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“Either he will end up in jail, or he’ll be the richest man in Australia,” Frank Bond said.

The father perhaps underestimated an over-achieving son who made wholehearted attempts to fulfil both paternal prophecies.

In a working life that began in a sign-writing business in 1959, Alan Bond rose to stunning prominence as a global entrepreneur and a symbol of Australian can-do enterprise.

He established a company that grew from nothing to one that brewed most of the beer in Australia, that owned nickel mines in Queensland, a national television network and the world’s most expensive painting, among many other things.

Bond also graduated from a spot of teenage burglary to become the greatest fraudster in Australian history and one of the country’s most celebrated corporate criminals.

Bond, who has died on Friday aged 77, also became the first non-American to win the once coveted America’s Cup sailing trophy, in 1983, an exercise that led to the birth of an icon that will well-and-truly outlast him – the boxing kangaroo.

As well as a suite of businesses at home, the Bond companies acquired extensive interests abroad including hotels, among them the plush St Moritz in New York, skyscrapers in Hong Kong, a company that conducted airship flights above London, the Chilean national telephone company and a floundering American brewery.

The Bond business conquests were regular and legendary. At his peak, bankers loved him, investors courted him and he was a national hero who could part the crowds Moses-like whenever he appeared on the streets of his hometown of Perth.

The staff at his corporate headquarters tended to see him differently.

Whenever the boss returned from a business trip a shudder would go through the executive team headed by the late Peter Beckwith as they were called on to patch up one crippled acquisition after another.

“It all made Alan seem as though he was invincible,” Beckwith once said.

“The bankers fell over each other to finance anything he wanted to do, everyone believed he was the greatest thing that had ever happened.”

He was far from it.

One of the worst of Bond’s acquisitions was the ailing American brewer G Heileman, for which he paid $1.26 billion in 1987, around three times what it was worth.

Heileman, Bond figured, would be the perfect vehicle to launch his local brewing assets – Swan, Castlemaine and Tooheys – in the US market.

It turned out to be merely another symptom of an incurable condition which caused Bond to do deals and then juggle his increasingly massive debt to pay for them.

In the same year he bought Heileman, Bond also made the most expensive art purchase the world had ever known.

But the $US54 million he paid for Vincent van Gogh’s Irises was typical of his unusual deals, its purchase having been financed to the tune of around $US27 million by the auctioneer Sotheby’s.

Bond never paid them back, and the painting never graced any of his homes.

His penchant for fooling around with fine art would later lead him to the low point of his life.

Bond meanwhile struck another deal during the same period that typified his doubtful business acumen and became part of Australian business folklore.

The purchase from Kerry Packer of the Nine Network for $1.05 billion, and its later sale back to Packer for $300 million was a dream transaction – but not for Bond.

It prompted the observation from Packer that it was a shame there could only be one Alan Bond in his lifetime.

By 1989, the man who had marched boldly into boardrooms around the world found himself firmly on the back foot with Bond Corporation’s debt at astonishing levels and his once compliant bankers clamouring for repayment.

More persistent than the bankers, however, was the English businessman Roland “Tiny” Rowland, in whose company Lonrho, Bond, using yet more borrowed money, had acquired a substantial holding.

Rowland pulled Bond’s business empire apart in a 93-page document he published showing it to be insolvent and trading illegally.

Rowland’s revelations made an already slippery slope ever more perilous.

The first part of his father’s forecast came to pass in 1991 when Bond faced trial for theft over a deal to rescue the failed Rothwells merchant bank.

It was a case that revealed much about how business was done Bond-style.

Bond allegedly talked a business colleague Brian Coppin into tipping a few million into a rescue of Rothwells while concealing that Bond Corp would receive a $16 million fee for organising the rescue.

Bond served six months, only to be acquitted at a re-trial.

That success proved fleeting as the world continued to crash down around the man who little more than a decade earlier had been named Australian of the Year.

In 1996 Bond was committed to stand trial for defrauding the shareholders of Bell Resources, a company he had acquired from the late Robert Holmes a’Court, of more than $1 billion.

He also stood trial and was jailed over a fraudulent art deal involving the Edouard Manet painting La Promenade which Bond’s public company, Bond Corp, sold to his private company Dallhold for $2.46 million.

Dallhold duly sold the painting a year later for $17 million.

It was during the La Promenade case that Bond suffered a celebrated, and suspiciously convenient, bout of amnesia.

He got four years for stealing the money from Bell resources and three for the art deal. Together the guilty verdicts made him the biggest fraudster in Australian history.

On his release from prison, rejuvenated and with memory restored, Bond got back to work, amassing another fortune through investments in diamond mines and oil companies in Africa.

Bond and his first wife Eileen, whom he married as a 17-year-old in 1955, divorced in 1992.

He married theatre producer Diana Bliss in 1995. She died in 2012.

Aug 07

The life and times of Alan Bond

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALAN BOND

The English-born businessman was a celebrated symbol of Australia’s can-do enterprise, with a stunning rise to prominence beginning in 1959.

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It was all going so well, until it wasn’t. Bankruptcy, fraud convictions and four years in prison were all part of the parcel of one of Perth’s most infamous adopted sons.

HIGHLIGHTS

BOND CORPORATION

A company which began as a simple sign-writing business soon grew to one that brewed most of the beer in Australia. Alongside local assets, the Bond Corporation also acquired interests abroad, including the St Moritz hotel in New York and the Lippo skyrise complex in Hong Kong. The corporation also provided a vehicle for Bond to purchase Van Gogh’s Irises for $54 million and bankroll Australia’s America’s Cup bids.

THE 1983 AMERICA’S CUP VICTORY

John Bertrand may have been the skipper, but it was Bond’s money that played a crucial role in Australia II’s historic bid to break the longest streak in world sport. Bond bankrolled the 1983 challenge as part of a syndicate, as well as three previous bids, to become the first international team to win the America’s Cup in its history.

AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR

Bankrolling Australia’s first two challenges at the America’s Cup proved the catalyst for the businessman to be named Australian of the Year in 1978 (alongside Galarrwuy Yunupingu). The honour would be fleeting. It was stripped from him in 1997 when revelations of his corporate criminality came to light.

LOWLIGHTS

SPIRALLING DEBT AND BANKRUPTCY

Bond’s financial trouble began to emerge in 1989, when English businessman Roland “Tiny” Rowland exposed his business empire in a 93-page document that showed it was insolvent and trading illegally. Bond was declared bankrupt in 1992, with personal debts amounting to $1.8 billion.

FRAUD CONVICTIONS

The first inklings of Bond’s underhanded dealings began in 1991 when he was convicted (later acquitted) for theft. It would be a brief reprieve, with Bond jailed in 1996 for four years for stealing $1 billion from Bell Resources to prop up his failing business empire. That, along with three years for a dodgy art deal and a raft of other convictions, made him the biggest fraudster in Australian history.

PERSONAL TRAGEDIES

Bond’s eldest daughter, Susanne, aged 41, was found dead in her home in the upmarket Perth suburb of Peppermint Grove in 2000 from an accidental prescription drug overdose. Just over a decade later, his second wife Diana Bliss suffered a depressive illness for months before was found dead in the swimming pool of the couple’s Perth home in 2012.

Source: AAP, New York Times, Sydney Morning Herald