Canberra quick Nick Winter’s time as a poor student helped him cope with being a poor cricketer.
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The 24-year-old signed his first full state contract for South Australia on Tuesday and had to spend a couple of months training full-time unpaid while the Aussie cricket pay dispute raged.

But Winter spent last season without a contract, going to university and playing district cricket on the injury comeback trail, which meant nothing had changed.

While his form playing for Adelaide University warranted a contract with SA – he was the club champion – he had to wait until Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association argued over the new pay deal before he could sign one.

Winter spent three years on a rookie contract with the Redbacks, but the left-arm quick tore a muscle in his side about 18 months ago.

He rushed to get back to play for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League only to tear it again on his return.

It meant he missed out on a contract with SA, but after a season playing district cricket he’s back.

“I found out in April that I was looking likely, but the MOU negotiations meant that they couldn’t put anything in writing,” Winter said.

“That was a little bit disappointing, just because you like to secure your future, but when that was all sorted out and I was given the contract last week that was really good … I was pretty excited.

“It was a pretty unique situation … for me the good thing was because I wasn’t getting paid from cricket from the last year being delisted it was no real different situation for me.”

Winter has played two 50-over domestic games, along with four Twenty20s in the BBL, but was yet to make his Sheffield Shield debut.

That’s his goal for this summer, when he wants to use the upcoming one-day domestic competition to launch his career in the four-day game.

His cause will be helped by the absence of Kane Richardson, who was named in the Aussie T20 squad alongside fellow Canberran Jason Behrendorff.

With Richardson off to India in September, it opened the door for Winter to stake a claim for a spot when the ODDs start in Brisbane next month.

“I’ve played two one-day games since I’ve been across here. I was in the 12 for a Sheffield Shield game last year and didn’t get to play,” he said.

“That’s a bit of a step that I want to do this year is make my Sheffield Shield debut.

“Obviously before that we’ve got the [ODDs] so hopefully I get an opportunity there.”

While missing out on a contract due to injury and spending a season playing at a lower level might seem like a setback, Winter felt it helped with his life balance.

It allowed him to concentrate on his uni – he’s studying a Bachelor of International Studies and Politics – which he expected to complete this year.

He felt it gave him something to “fall back on” if the cricket career didn’t go according to plan.

Winter joked it could also see him perfectly placed for a return to his native Canberra for the start of a diplomatic career.

“It’s been good because it helps that life-away-from-cricket balance and my family were pretty keen on me always having that back-up plan,” he said.

“So however long I have left in my cricket career, I’ve got something to fall back on as soon as that’s done.”

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FOCUSED: Lakes United centre Jacob Gagai scored two tries in his return match from a hamstring injury against Kurri Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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JACOB Gagai is accustomed to being known as “Dane’s little brother”.

The tag has followed him from their home town Mackay to the Newcastle Knights and Brisbane Broncos.

Five years the junior, Jacob is immensely proud of whatKnights and Queensland star, Dane, has achieved.

“I still pinch myself when he plays for Queensland,” the 21-year-old said. “To see a sibling of mine doing something like that. For him to receive player of the series, I was way proud.”

Jacob, while admiring Dane,is hisown man, with his own goals.

“I will always be looked at as Dane’s little brother,” Jacob said.“You hear it from the sidelines …I’m not the type of person who lets that stuff get to them. We are two completely different people.He has his life and his football career.If I worry about that, it can take distract me from what I want to achieve.”

Jacob, who came through the juniors at the Knights and Broncos, is in his second season at Lakes United.

The centre scored a double in his return from a seven-week hamstring injury in a 18-16 win over Kurri Kurri on Saturday.

Although Lakes and a successful final series is the focus, Gagai has a long-termgoal of playing in the NRL.

YEAH BABY: Jacob Gagai slides in for a try in the win over Monaro in the final of the NSW Country championships. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“It has been a dream of mine since I was a boy,” he said.“Seeing my brother and cousin, Josh Hoffman, playing in the NRL, it gives you that bit more motivation.I feel like through the juniors, SGball and under-20s, I wasn’t mature and just thought it would happen.Now, I realise how badly I want to play in the NRL and make it my career. It is all I will be working towards until I get it.”

Lakes coach Dean Noonan has noticed a change in Gagaion and off the field.

“His approach to the game – his preparation and how he looks after himself – has gone up in spades,” said Noonan, who also works for the Knights and has known Jacob for five years.“When he was there last time he was a young kid and didn’t really put the pieces together. He has finally recognised, if you are going to have a crack at anything you have to work at it. Credit to himbecause that is what he has done. He still has a way to go but he recognises that.If anotheropportunity comes, I’m confident he will grab it.”

Gagai has taken confidence from his return match.

“As the game rolled out I started to get more comfortable with it,” he said. “I had zero pain and was just glad I got through 80 minutes.”

Gagai is one of eight players from the Newcastle Rebels selected in the NSW Country under-23s side for games against Samoa in Wagga (October 13) and Scotland in Balina (October 20).

“With the World Cup coming up they need a couple of trials,” he said.“Being under-23s it gives young blokes like myself and opportunity against players who play in the NRL.”

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“I’m sick and tired of hearing people say ‘that’s my money'”: Cheryl, who preferred not to give her last name, at Bankstown Central. Photo: Ben RushtonShe’s a Bankstown resident going through a tough time – relying partly on welfare while being treated for cancer.
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But Cheryl, who preferred not to give her last name, was part of a surprising number of local supporters for the federal government’s planned trial of random drug testing for welfare recipients in Canterbury-Bankstown.

“I one hundred per cent support it,” she said, taking a breather on a bench at Bankstown Central shopping centre. “Two hundred per cent.

“If you’re employed, employers have the right to do random drug-testing in certain areas. Why not where people rock up to ask for something for nothing?”

It’s not that Cheryl is a heartless hardliner. Having had to retire early from a human resources job for medical reasons, she said she knew how valuable welfare could be but was frustrated that people she knew had stayed on it for years.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing people say ‘that’s my money. How dare the government tell me how to spend it’,” she said.

“It’s not. It’s taxpayers’ money and they’re helping you get through a rough patch until you can get on your feet.”

Others held very different views in Bankstown on the day the government announced the area had been chosen for the trial next year because of an increase in welfare recipients and ice-related hospitalisations.

“Isn’t it taking your rights away?” said Samuel, who also preferred not to give his surname, on the steps of the Centrelink office. Having lost his labouring job, he has just started receiving benefits.

“They’re just making it more difficult,” he said. “It’s an excuse. Maybe they need to give people work.”

Another resident, who did not want to be named at all, questioned why Canterbury-Bankstown had been chosen.

“I don’t know why they’re targeting this area,” he said. “I grew up here and we’re always in the media.

“I shop here and I shop in Punchbowl and Lakemba. To me, it’s a lot safer than a lot of other areas.”

Cheryl, who has lived in Bankstown for 27 years, was not at all worried about being one of the trial locations.

“It’s probably because of the level of welfare here,” she said. “You’d expect that if it’s a high level, you’d target that.

“But given that it’s starting in a handful of areas – this being one of them – I’d expect it would eventually branch out to all areas. Somebody’s got to be a test case.”

Syrian refugee Marwan Almithyab, from Yagoona, believes other suburbs have a worse ice problem than Bankstown.

“There’s a bigger problem in other areas of Sydney, like Redfern and northern Sydney,” he said. But if it was a requirement to receive welfare, he would be fine with random drug-testing.

“It’s not about being intrusive,” he said. “It’s a right for the government if you have support from the government.”

Rod, who was applying for benefits after being laid off recently, was also happy to be drug-tested.

“No problem,” he said cheerfully. “All good.”

Bangladeshi immigrant Mohammad Moinulromn, from Lakemba, was just delighted that Australia had a strong welfare system to help people with health problems, including drug addiction.

“We appreciate the initiatives,” he said. “It’s a very nice system. In the USA, they don’t have a very humanitarian service.”

While without a job and unable to get welfare on his current visa, Mr Moinulromn would also be happy to be drug-tested.

“Of course,” he said. “I’m ready to do that.”

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Neil Cummins with the Kings Cross nightclub tsar John Ibrahim. A former bodyguard of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim, who this week appeared on a list of Australia’s most-wanted, has handed himself in to NSW police.
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Neil Cummins, 42, walked in to Burwood Police Station on Tuesday after Operation Roam was launched the previous day to track down 20 alleged criminals on the run across Australia.

Cummins, the ex-husband of former Bardot singer Tiffani Wood, was charged over his alleged involvement in an extortion case at Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast in 2014.

He appeared at Burwood Local Court on Tuesday and was granted bail ahead of his next court date on August 29 at Coffs Harbour.

Crime Stoppers NSW boss Peter Price blamed “incorrect” contact details provided to police for the inability of officers to locate him.

Also on Tuesday, Jayson Aworth, 41, attended Dareton Police Station after he was named on the most-wanted list.

He was charged in relation to alleged aggravated indecent assault offences that occurred in the far southwest of the state in January.

Aworth was refused bail and scheduled to appear at Broken Hill Local Court on Tuesday.

Operation Roam is a national initiative seeking public help to track down 20 people sought by police across Australia.

So far eight people have been arrested as part of the operation – including two before it officially kicked off – while 12 others remain outstanding.

Also on Operation Roam’s radar is accused double-murderer John Victor Bobak, 67, who has been on the run for 25 years.

Bobak is wanted for his alleged involvement in the 1991 execution-style killings of bookmaker Peter George Wade and Maureen Ambrose at a Surfers Paradise unit.

Jonathan Dick, from Victoria, is wanted over the murder of his brother, David Dick, at a Melbourne shopping centre in February.

AAP

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As the Opera House shimmered in the background overlooking the sunshine-soaked harbour, Stanford and Rice universities were welcomed Down Under by a joey and a koala to begin preparations for Sunday’s second Sydney Bowl.
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The American college football season will kick off in Australia for a second-straight year, following the success of the California Golden Bears and Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors 12 months ago.

Version 2017 will be played at Allianz Stadium at noon on Sunday, and beamed to the US for the prime-time Saturday night slot showcasing two of the country’s most historic universities.

In one corner is the sporting and academic behemoth of Stanford, the Cardinal, based in California and laying claim to a whopping 33 alumni playing in the NFL this season.

Then there’s the Rice Owls from Houston, Texas, smaller in stature than Stanford but a division one college team nonetheless, coached by the larger-than-life David Bailiff embarking on his 11th season in charge of the football program.

Both universities have brought travelling parties exceeding 200 people, including players, staff, sponsors, fans and cheerleaders.

They’ll spend the week practicing for their season opener, but also taking in the sights and sounds a late winter in Sydney has to offer.

That includes Bondi and Manly beaches, harbour cruises and everything in between.

“Just look at this, I think I’m changing where I’m going to retire, I’ve been here five hours and already I’m thinking I’ve got to consider Sydney,” Bailiff said overlooking the harbour after his side touched down in Australia on Tuesday morning.

“You look at the backdrop of this place, driving over here just the architecture downtown, how it’s so much old and so much new and it’s all blended.

“It looks like a good-natured culture that likes to have fun. Respect them and they’re going to respect you back.

“We’ve got some fun mixed in for these guys, hopefully we’ll get to the zoo we’re going to try to pull that off. But we’ve got to practice every morning, we’re here to play football.”

The Cardinal have an early jump on their Sydney Bowl opponents – they landed a day earlier and have already visited Taronga Park zoo.

That’s allowed coach David Shaw, considered one of the finest in American college football, to tick off the two items that were top of his bucket list.

“Number two on my list after the Opera House was to get close to a kangaroo,” Shaw said.

Shaw is paid a reported $US3.9 million ($4.91m) a season, and leads one of the US’ most successful football programs.

Just two years ago the Cardinal won the Pac 12 conference title, and last year Shaw oversaw a 10-3 record that included a thumping win over Rice to close out the season.

The coach confirmed quarterback Keller Chryst had overcome a knee injury and would start against the Owls, who Shaw expected would be a much tougher opponent this time around.

“Late in the year they had some health issues, we also had a couple of guys banged up,” Shaw said.

“They’ve changed defensive co-ordinators, I know they’re going to be much better than they were last year.

“Keller is completely healthy, he’s ready to go, he’ll start the game, he’ll play the game and it [his knee] feels great. He’ll run the show.”

Rice will be led by freshman quarterback Sam Glaesmann who won the role in pre-season ahead of John Tyler Granato and Jackson Tyner.

Running back Nahshon Ellerbe will be making his first start for the Owls, having spent his first two years at the university predominantly wearing the red shirt on the bench.

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