Archive for 2018

WBBL: Scorchers hand Sixers first loss of season

The Sydney Sixers slumped to their first loss of the WBBL season in a nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of title-rivals Perth Scorchers on Tuesday afternoon.
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After a record-breaking opening weekend, Sydney’s big guns Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardiner and Alyssa Healy all failed to fire as they were restricted to 8-122 at North Dalton Park in Wollongong.

Perth – which lost to the Sixers in last season’s grand final – were always in control during the run chase and reached the modest target with 10 balls to spare.

Scorchers openers Elyse Villani (74 not out off 61 balls) and Nicole Bolton (42 off 46 balls) did all the damage in a 106-run stand.

Villani scored the winning runs when she hammered Perry over the boundary rope in the 19th over.

“Scoring 120 on this ground and pitch was always going to be tough to defend,” Sydney’s Erin Burns said. “I think our bowlers did pretty well, particularly towards the back end when they were trying to restrict those boundaries.

“It was always pretty hard to try to get twos on this field but we did pretty well to try to hold them back to the last two overs.”

Sydney were in trouble early, with Perry (15), Healy (15) and Gardiner (7) failing to make a significant impact at the crease.

To make matters worse, Gardiner was struck on the helmet by a sharp bouncer from Scorchers quick Katherine Brunt. She stayed out in the middle, but was later ruled out of the match with a minor concussion.

Burns top scored with 33 for the hosts. But when she was caught behind square off the bowling of Heather Graham (2-20), the likelihood of the Sixers setting a significant target departed with her.

Perth’s bowlers set the platform for their second win, with Brunt, Graham and Emma King all bagging two wickets.

Sydney are now 2-1 for the season.They next face off against Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena on Sunday while the Scorchers next play the Brisbane Heat on Friday afternoon.



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China’s pollution crackdown to be a major driver for commodities

China’s attempts to reduce pollution will be a major driver of commodity demand in the near and long-term, and deliver a boost in demand for “green” commodities used to make electric vehicles and renewables, according to a new report from investment bank UBS.
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UBS, which is monitoring air quality records from more than 2100 locations in China, says air pollution in cities affected by the winter industrial closures is ”clearly better” than in winter last year.

But UBS flags further action from Chinese authorities to curb pollution, if air quality deteriorates over winter.

”We expect China’s action to steepen cost curves, to result in further closures, and to boost demand for “green” commodities used in renewables, EVs (electric vehicles) etc,” the UBS report said.

The Chinese pollution crackdown is both a positive and a negative for n miners. It is a negative for Fortescue Metals Group, because it has been exacerbating “discounts” being applied to its iron ore as Chinese steel producers increasingly select iron ore with a higher iron grade than Fortescue’s.

But other major iron ore producers such as BHP and Rio Tinto, whose iron ore has a higher iron grade, are “relatively well positioned”, UBS said in a separate recent note.

The investment bank also highlighted a recent regulatory change in China that could lead to increased pollution, and in turn lead to more cuts to industrial production. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection recently allowed cities and districts not equipped with natural gas or grid heating facilities to use coal-fired furnaces for heating instead, it said.

“This move is likely to result in more pollution near-term and could lead to more cuts to industry that is not involved in providing public heat,” the report said.

In a report last month providing a detailed analysis of China’s pollution controls and their impact on commodities, UBS said China was converting more coal power plants to gas, increasing its nuclear power capacity, and supporting growth in wind, solar and bio power sectors.

Meanwhile, the Chinese push to increase the use of electric vehicles has ramifications for n miners mining commodities such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel and copper.

“China has the world’s most aggressive government plans to promote electric vehicles…it aims to increase New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) to two million by 2020 and to greater than seven million (or >20%) by 2025,” it said.

“It is also imposing tough new sales targets of electric plug-ins and hybrids by 2019 under the so-called cap-and-trade policy (with NEVs to make up at least 10% of output),” it said.

UBS global commodity analyst Lachlan Shaw said China’s pollution crackdown was “certainly having an impact” on n miners.

“It is driving demand for higher quality feedstocks in a number of industries in China. So the major iron ore producers tend to sell medium to good grade iron ore, they’re getting better pricing.

“n met coal and thermal coal tends to be above average in quality. Met coal particularly is the best in the world, and the pricing for those types of products is building in more of a premium because of the pollution crackdown,” he said.

“So in other words, pricing for low quality feedstocks in almost every industry in China is being penalised right now because of the pollution crackdown, producers don’t want to be taking low grade material and polluting a lot because the government is worried about pollution,” Mr Shaw said.

Mr Shaw said that overall, the China pollution crackdown had more of a positive impact on n miners than a negative one.

On commodities used in electric vehicles Mr Shaw said lithium prices “have probably lifted by three or four times in the last two years”, graphite prices had risen 30-40 per cent in recent months, and cobalt prices had lifted “by four times” in the last two years and supply/demand was tight.



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‘Drug version of Uber Eats’: Cab drivers sentenced over delivering cocaine

Four men will spend at least three years behind bars after they used taxis to operate a “sophisticated” cocaine delivery service across Sydney.
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Omer Arab, Khaled Dib, Mohamed Dib and Ihsan Salma ran the drug syndicate over “an extended period of time” before they were finally caught in a police sting in late 2015, according to agreed facts tendered to the District Court in Sydney.

The men delivered cocaine over a wide geographical area, from the northern beaches to Cronulla and as far west as Penrith, using the fake names Sam, Mick, Simon and Ray.

In a phone call intercepted by police, Khaled Dib told an unknown female customer: “We go everywhere babe”.

“No matter where you are in the Sydney Metropolitan Area babe, we even go to Wollongong and Gosford for ya,” he said.

In another phone call – one of 65,000 calls and texts police intercepted – he told a male customer: “We make over a hundred grand a night brother.”

On Tuesday, District Court Judge Peter Berman said the “efficient and reliable service” operated by the men “could be described as the drug version of Uber Eats”, a food delivery service.

“This was a sophisticated criminal operation which ran a drug dealing network along the lines of that legitimate business, using mobile phones for customers to place orders and, in most cases, taxis driven by an offender to satisfy those orders,” Judge Berman said.

The court heard the men had a customer base of 800 to 900 people who would contact the syndicate with a phone call or a text message. The customers would ask “Are you around?” or request beer, bags, a taxi or tickets. They would then be sent a time the drugs would arrive, and be given a call when the car was close.

When the taxi arrived, the customer would sit in the passenger seat as the deal took place. However, if they requested to be driven somewhere, they were told “the syndicate does not provide a taxi service”.

Omer Arab, a relatively new member of the syndicate, was the only one of the four who did not drive a cab.

On a typical Friday or Saturday night, police estimate each driver would meet up to 100 customers, selling at least one 0.7-gram bag for $300 in each transaction.

They operated in rostered shifts, from 2pm to midnight on Sunday to Thursday, and until 3am or 4am on Friday and Saturday nights.

The sophisticated empire came crashing down when the men unknowingly sold 19 bags of cocaine to undercover police, including one transaction at Macquarie Street in Sydney’s CBD.

When police raided the homes of the men in November 2015, they found cocaine and almost $400,000 in cash.

Judge Berman said although the men supplied at a street level, they did so “with such enthusiasm and regularity” that their criminality “far exceeds that of the usual street level supplier”, putting them in the mid-range of seriousness.

The court heard the men sold drugs in part to fund their own drug habits, stemming from problems including traumatic childhoods and failed businesses.

Omer Arab underwent gastric sleeve surgery in an effort to lose weight, and “may have replaced one obsession, food, with another, cocaine”.

He pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine, possessing an unregistered firearm, and possessing a Taser, and was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and four months.

The remaining three men pleaded guilty to supplying a commercial quantity of cocaine. Khaled Dib was sentenced to four years behind bars, with a maximum sentence of seven years; Mohamed Dib faces seven years and three months in prison, to be eligible for parole after four years and two months; and Ihsan Salma will spend at least four years and three months in prison, with a maximum of seven years and six months.

In sentencing the men, Judge Berman said drug supply “is far from a victimless crime”.

“Each time a drug user commits an offence to fund his or her drug habit then the community and its members are harmed,” he said.



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Catholic school teachers vote 95.91 per cent ‘no’ to proposed enterprise agreement

Catholic school teachers in the Maitland-NewcastleDiocese have sent an emphatic response to their employers, voting 95.91 per cent against a proposed three-year enterprise agreement.
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The vote concluded at 5pm onMonday after a week-long process and the Hunter vote came in even higher than the 87.9 per cent state average.

The enterprise agreementwas put forward to teachers and support staff without endorsement from the Independent Education Union (IEU),who are wanting the inclusion of a clausethat allowsstaff to seek arbitration in the Fair Work Commission over disputes.

STOP WORK: Catholic school teachers from around the Hunter have been on strike in recent weeks.

IEU Newcastle officer Therese Fitzgibbon believes the vote showstheCatholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) how staff are prepared to dig in.

“It sendsa very strong message that members will not accept an agreement that doesn’t contain a fair and reasonable dispute’s resolution clause,” she said.

“Members understand the importance of us being able to enforce our agreements and clearly they understand that this agreement does not allow them access to the Fair Work Comission.

“And I would hope it sends a clear message to employers that they can not,as suggested previously, put the same agreement to the vote again next year.”

Read more: Catholic school teachers continue industrial action

Prior to the vote, the CCER said that there was no need to include arbitration in the agreement as the existing process has been successful in handling disputes.

Given the results of the vote, theHeraldunderstands a meeting will take place between the CCER and IEU in coming weeks which could pave a way forward.

However, Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Catholic Schools Office (CSO) directorMichael Slattery reiterated the CCER’s stanceregarding the inclusion of the clause.

“I am on record as expressing my disappointment that the IEU feels that the current process for resolving disputes – which is in the existing enterprise agreement – needs to be changed,” Mr Slattery said.

“I believe there is no need to change the existing dispute resolution process for three reasons – over the last seven years it has successfully resolved every dispute that’s been notified; it is the same clause the IEU recently endorsed for 450 private schools; and it is consistent with the Fair Work Act.

“Also, there is no reason whatsoever to think that this process for resolving disputes won’t continue to be just as effective in the future as it has been in the past.”



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State’s anti-bikie squad on notice as tensions rise between Hunter’s feuding gangs

TURF WAR: A drive-by shooting on a Wallsend unit in March. It comes as bikie tensions again appear to be rising in the Hunter following two assaults. THE Hunter’s bikie turf war has reignited as police investigate two brawls between rival gangs in the past week.
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TheNewcastle Heraldhas learnt that Strike Force Raptor is watching closely after two violent assaults between members of the Finks, Nomads and Rebels outlaw motorcycle gangs since Friday.

The most recent occurred on Monday night when a 27-year-old man suffered multiple injuries after he was attacked by unknown men in his Singleton home about 8.30pm.

The attempted firebombing of the Nomads clubhouse in Muswellbrook earlier this year.

Police believe the man, who was not cooperating with detectives, may have been involved in a two-car crash on the New England Highway two hours before the assault.

It is believed three vehicles pulled up at a location before two of the cars suddenly collided. The men inside the vehicles were believed to be members of the Finks and Nomads. The 27-year-old remains in a stable condition in John Hunter Hospital.

Detectives are also investigating a brawl between the Finks and Rebels in the car park of the Hunter River Hotel in Maitland on Friday. Up to a dozen Finks were understood to have been involved.

A State Crime Command spokeswoman said Strike Force Raptor and Hunter-based detectives were investigating the Singleton assault and other disputes between outlaw motorcycle gangs across the region.

Police are keen to avoid a re-escalationof tensions.

Earlier this yeardrive-by shootings and wild street brawls in suburban Hunter streets prompted police to form Strike Force Batterson, a team made up of local investigators who trained their sights specifically on the simmering feud.The dispute emerged after the Finks moved into the Hunter and attempted to gain a foothold in areas traditionally held by other patches. Members of one bikie gang began to “patch over” asFinks membership continued to grow.Tensions reached boiling point on March 28 when the clubhouse of the Hunter Valley chapter of the Nomads at Muswellbrook was the target of a poorly executed firebombing.

Earlier that month, there were a series of reprisal drive-by shootings.

More than 30 shots were fired into the home of a local Nomads enforcer at Wallsend, while the Metford home of an ex-Nomad who defected to the Finks was also sprayed with bullets.

Heavily armed police raided the Nomads clubhouse in April and shut it down.

The Sydney Morning Heraldreported last month that Finks bikie Jesse Johnston,the 22-year-oldsergeant-at-arms of the gang’s Newcastle chapter, was deported to his native New Zealand.

n Border Force officials allegedly found clothing sporting the gang’s distinct “rat Fink” emblem after he got off a plane at Sydney Airport.



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Glencore says enterprise agreements reached at all Hunter mine sites

Mount Owen mineAFTER six months of industrial action and negotiations, coal company Glencore and the mine workers’ union have settled their differences and signed off on a string of Hunter mine enterprise agreements.
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A spokesperson for Glencore said each of the company’scoal sites in the Hunter Valley has now reached agreement with its workforce in relation to a new enterprise agreement.

The workplaces to reach agreement wereMangoola open cut, Ravensworth open cut, Ravensworth coal handling and preparation plant, Mount Owen coal handling plant, Glendell open cut, Liddell open cut, Liddell coal plant, Bulga open cut and Bulga underground mine.

Each of the agreements was being registered with the Fair Work Commission.

“Overall, the workforce at 13 different Glencore coal sites in NSW and Queensland have now voted in favour of new enterprise agreementsthis year,” the spokesperson said.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union began an industrial campaign in June that included a series of rolling 48-hour strikes involving more than 1400 of its Hunter region members.

Glencore strikes begin

At a Singleton mass meeting, Mr Jordan said: “It’s about us as coalminers, standing up collectively, and fighting a principled stand.”

One Glencore site not to have signed an agreement is theunderground mineOaky North in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. The union says negotiations have been under way since 2015. It took strike action in May and Glencore responded in early June by “locking out” about 190 of the union’s members.

Union president Tony Maher said Glencore was behaving “like an out of control dictator”.

“It makes mega profits from n coal operations and use offshore tax havens to avoid paying tax in ,” Mr Maher said. “Glencore clearly aims to bypass the industrial relations system in the same way it does with paying tax.”

Glencore said the union’s Oaky North claims were “misleading”.



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Newcastle City Council approves rail corridor rezoning

GREEN BELT: A section of the former rail corridor being transformed into the Market Street Lawn. Picture: Marina NeilNewcastle council approved the rezoning of the city’s former heavy rail corridor on Tuesday night despite strong objections from Greens councillor John Mackenzie, who said there wasno evidence the land would not be needed for future transport needs.
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The decision paves the way for a mix of open space, university buildings and residential and commercial development on the strip of land between Worth Place and Newcastle station after a bitter debate stretching back at least 27 years.

Cr Mackenzie was the only councillor to vote against the plan –independent John Church was not at the meeting –andthe only councillor to speak on the issue other than lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who moved the motion to support the rezoning.

He said after the meeting that he accepted the decision of the council, the issue had been “divisive in the community for far too long” and it was time for a “truce”.

“It is critical from this point that we move forward collaboratively to make this decision deliver genuine revitalisation outcomes, in terms of university expansion, social housing and open space.”

Newcastle council approves rail corridor rezoning The rail corridor leading into Newcastle station before the lines were removed.

A section of the disused rail corridor near Merewether Street which would be open for development under the rezoning plan.

Worth Place, the western extremity of the subject corridor land.

The site of the proposed Newcastle University development on a section of the old rail corridor and adjoining Honeysuckle land.

TweetFacebook Rail corridor rezoningBut during the meeting he came out swinging against a report from council staff on the rezoning, saying it was open to accusations of bias and left the council’s decision open to legal challenge.

The report said 394 public submissions and 137 form letters had objected to the rezoning, while226 submissions and46 form lettershad been in favour ofit.

But Cr Mackenzie said the report had “miscategorised” the 137 submissions as form letters, and he took exception to a section of the report which said those in favour “expressed excitement about the development of the university precinct”.

“We need objective, formal information, not speculation on people’s emotional state,” he said, noting there was “no corresponding speculation” on the emotions of those against the proposal.

Cr Nelmes cited the results of a council-commissioned survey of 955 residentsby ReachTEL, which she said showed almost 60 per cent of people supported the rezoning while 34.7 per cent wanted the land retained as a transport corridor.

Cr Mackenzie rejected the survey’s methodology and results, describing it as “push polling”, a marketing technique designed to sway opinion under the guise of a survey.

A group of 38 community and transport activists wrote an open letter to councillors before the meeting also dismissing a survey they said contained questions “framed to elicit a predetermined response”.

Cr Nelmes praised the council for securing concessions from the state during the rezoning process, including an extra $150 million for public domain, a more sophisticated light-rail design, affordable housingand an integrated transport plan.

She said the council had lobbied forcefullyon urban transformation, and that work was producing significant economic development.

ButCr Mackenzie said the council had received no guarantees that the proposed affordable housing development or university campus would be built on the rail line and the state’s transport plan was “little more than a brochure”.

He said there was “zero evidence” before the council that the light rail would have the capacity to meet the transport needs of the CBD once a projected 4000 additional dwellings were built in the city and no traffic plan existed to address congestion once Hunter Street lost two driving lanes to trams.

Read more

Council poised for final vote on corridorNewcastle council votes to back rezoning of heavy rail corridorNewcastle city councillors vote to retain corridor’s public transport zoningRezoning of rail corridor shelved by Newcastle councilRezone plan for rail corridor open for public comment The telephone survey results, supplied by Newcastle City Council.

The telephone survey results, supplied by Newcastle City Council.



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NRL| Knights halfback Jack Cooger in Bulldogs’ sights for next year

Knights back-up halfback Jack Cogger’s management will seek a formal meeting with the club in a bid to have him released from the final year of his contractwith speculation mounting Canterbury want him to partner Kieran Foran in the halves next season.
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Despite being off contract at the end of next season and behind Mitchell Pearce and Brock Lamb in the halfback pecking order at the Knights, the club has publicly stated Cogger will be going nowhere in 2018.

But his manager Michael Newton is hopeful the Knights may relax their stance for the good of the player.

“There are three or four clubs interested in Jack and one of those clubs has indicated they want to sign him straight away,” Newton said.

“I’ve asked permission to negotiate with clubs for 2018 but they [the Knights] have said no. I’m hoping that might change.

“My next move is to request a formalmeeting with Phil Gardner [Knights CEO] and Darren Mooney [head of football].

“If we don’t have any joy, he’ll obviously stay and play outof the year. He loves the club and gets on really well with Browny [coach Nathan Brown] but at the same time, everyone knows his opportunities there are going to be limited.”

Newton said there was no way he would take Cogger out of the club unless there was an opportunity to be a starting halfback at a rival.

“Jack wouldn’t want to go anywhere else just to be a back-up,” he said.

Canberra is one of the clubs who have expressed an interest in Cogger for 2019 but the Bulldogs head the list of potential suitors.

Cogger and new Canterburycoach Dean Pay have worked closely together in the NSW Under 20 representative team and the Bulldogs are light on for halves with Moses Mbye expected to be switched to fullback next season.

Newcastle’shard-line stance in refusing to grant releases to eitherCogger orLamb is insurance against injury next season.

“Both players have been in our system for a fair while and we have developed themand we’d like to try and keep both long-term,” coach Brown said.

Target: Knights halfback Jack Cogger in the sights of the Canterbury Bulldogs. Picture: Jonathan Carroll



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Newcastle ALP councillors vote themselves 16% pay rise

Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes will receive a $22,000 pay rise from January 1.NEWCASTLE’S seven Labor councillors voted in a bloc on Tuesday night to grant themselves a16 per cent pay rise.
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The decision will increase lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes’ mayoral allowance from $76,397 to $95,000, a rise of 24 per cent. She also receives a councillor’s pay, up from $26,213 to $30,500, taking her overall remuneration from $102,610 to $125,500.

The previous council voted in June against a pay rise, even though theLocal Government Remuneration Tribunal had granted councillors a substantial increase if they chose to take it up.

The council’s interim chief executive officer, Jeremy Bath, who was appointed in April, told Tuesday’s meeting he had decided to bring thematter back to the newly elected council for a fresh vote.

Andrea Rufo (Ind) argued on Tuesday against the rise, saying the money could be better spent on public domain works, and Kath Elliott (Ind) said councillors were “not doing it tough” and had all their expenses covered by ratepayers.

But Cr Emma White (ALP) said it was important that councillor pay levels made it possible for less affluent people to seek office, and Cr Declan Clausen said the new councillor and mayoral pay reflected their workloads, which he compared with that of a state parliament backbencher.

Cr Clausen said the lord mayor’s current wage was substantially less than mayors in other regional cities received.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate receives more than $240,000 a year, and the mayor of Townsville, where the 180,000 population is similar to that of the Newcastle local government area, receives close to $200,000.

Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser’s pay rose from$87,590 to$113,280 this year.

Opinion:There will rarely if ever be a popular time for elected officials to grant themselves pay rises

From 2010 to mid-2017, pay for Newcastlecouncillors rose from $23,360 to $26,213, whilethe lord mayor’s allowanceclimbed from$68,083 to $76,397.

Over the seven-year period, that represented an average annual pay increase of 1.9 per cent.

The councillors also approved a recommendation that they automatically take the maximum rise allowable by the tribunal until 2021.

Cr Nelmes reiterated her belief that councillors should not vote on their own pay rises and the remuneration should be set by an independent body.



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A-League: Newcastle Jets to move quickly on replacement for Roy O’Donovan

BODY BLOW: Newcastle Jets striker faces three months on the sideline with a groin injury. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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NEWCASTLE are deep in negotiations with two foreign players and coach Ernie Merrick says that anyone about to put a line though the Jets’ title hopes better think again.

Merrick says don’t write Jets off despite O’Donovan injury blow TweetFacebook Roy O’DonovanPictures: Sproule Sports Focus, AAP ImagesThe Jets suffered another major injury blow on Tuesday when scans confirmed that star striker Roy O’Donovan hasa grade-three tear in his groin and will be sidelined for three months.

The irrepressible Irishman, who is the league’s equal leading goal-scorer with seven, joins marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas on the long-term injury list.

The Venezuelan is “progressing well” in his rehabilitation from a broken and dislocated ankle but is not due back on deck until late March.

Jets management are well down the track in signing an injury replacement for the attacking midfielder and will now extend their recruitment to two players.

“We are getting close,” Jets football operations manager Joel Griffiths said. “Talks are advanced but until they sign and actually arrive here, it’s not done.”

Merrick confirmed that the Jets were working from a short-list of players that they had previously identified as potential replacements for Vargas.

“We have had a great run with signings this year and I expect that to continue,” Merrick said. “I am pretty positive that we will get a couple of high-quality players.”

Vargas has been out since round three. O’Donovan missed three games with a separate groin injury before returning and breaking down in the 2-1 win overPerth last round.Fellow senior players Wayne Brown (calf) and Daniel Georgievski (knee) have also been sidelined for extended periods.

The Jets, despite missing key men, sit in second place on 20 points after 10 rounds.

“There is no doubt that Roy will be a big loss,” Merrick said. “But even without Roy and Ronny, we have been collecting points and scoring goals. The boys are upbeat and positive. If anyone outside of this club wants to puta line through us,that is good for us. If I was them, I would think again.”

Socceroos striker Tim Cahill is yet to find a new home after departing Melbourne City last week but Merrick said the veteran was not on theirradar.

“Tim will probably go overseas,” Merrick said. “He is a very good player,not the type of player we want,but he is an excellent player and he won’t have any trouble finding a club. The players we are talking to are from overseas.”

Andrew Nabbout scored three goals in four games when switched to the point to cover for O’Donovan earlier in the campaign.He will again lead the line against Adelaide at homeon Saturday and Merrick said they may not sign a like-for-like replacement for O’Donovan.

“I will take any high-quality striker rather than identify specifically a No.9,” the coach said. “I think Andrew can play that role really well. If a No.9 becomes available, yes, we will have a look at him. If it is another type of attacking player that would be fine. Whether it is on the left or right side, high or as a No.10 they have to be goal-scorers. It is the quality that we are looking forrather than worrying about a position. What’s good about this team is that all four players up front know they have a responsibility to score goals. Because of that we are the top goal-scoring team in the league and we are always a threat of scoring goals even if we play badly.”

The Jets cannot sign players until the transfer window opens on January 3. They meet Adelaide and Wanderers at homeand are away to Sydney before then.

​“It would be ideal if the players arrived a week or so before the window opensso we can do some work with them,” Merrick said. “Then they will hit the ground running. In March we will have a fantastic set-up. We will have everyone back and if we get into the finals, which I’m pretty sure we will, we will have a really strong squad.”



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