Rabbitohs’ realm built on big five

Quality quintet: From left, Greg Inglis, Adam Reynolds, John Sutton, Issac Luke, and Sam Burgess. Photo: Getty Images, Quentin Jones Adam Reynolds Photo: Anthony Johnson

Melbourne built an empire around the Big Three. Now South Sydney are on the verge of creating a dynasty of their own with the Big Five.

In Greg Inglis, John Sutton, Issac Luke, Sam Burgess and Adam Reynolds, the Rabbitohs have invested in their future. They have all been tied up on long-term deals and will be the cornerstone of the club for the next five years.

Between them they have created more linebreak assists than the 21 players Parramatta have used this season. Inglis has broken out of more tackles than Melbourne’s big three combined, and Issac Luke has accumulated the most runs of any hooker in the competition.

While the “Big Five” tag doesn’t sit well with South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson, he admitted they have the core of a team that can be successful for years to come.

“It’s our plan and strategy to build a team around them,” Richardson said. “We’ve locked them up long term and we started work on that last year. We’re in a good space so far. All major players are locked up for the long term.”

Inglis and Sutton have committed to the end of 2017, Burgess until the end of 2016, and Reynolds and Luke until the end of 2015. It was a ploy from the club to lock up their most valuable assets before they achieved success and become unaffordable as a package under the salary cap.

“We did it when I was at Penrith as well,” Richardson said. “When we were on the bottom of the ladder we secured players on long-term deals that we thought we could build a club around and we ended up winning a premiership. Same at Cronulla, we recruited and signed young blokes like Matty Rogers and David Peachey and those type of players. We signed them early before we had success and took a punt on them that they would be successful – and it worked pretty well for us.”

While Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are the heart and soul of the Storm, they haven’t done it all on their own.

Craig Bellamy has an incredible ability to turn average footballers into vital cogs in a well-oiled machine, a trait Souths coach Michael Maguire has picked up.

While it’s the big five who come up with the big plays for the Rabbitohs, Maguire hasn’t neglected the rest of the team, who are thriving under his tutelage.

Former Bulldogs winger Bryson Goodwin has gone to a new level this season playing in the centres under Maguire, while players like Chris McQueen, Dave Tyrrell, Andrew Everingham and Jason Clark continue to go from strength to strength under Maguire’s watch.

“The old theory that you need a good nine, six, seven and one – we’re at a really good space there with those positions,” Richardson said. “But we also have so many other good players around them. Luke came through with us as a 17-year-old and Reynolds and Sutton came through with us as juniors.

“With Sam and the Burgess brothers in general, we see them here for the long term. It was always in my sights, that once we had Sam locked up, we’d get the family together because they are a quality group of people. That’s what you need when you are building a culture at a club, you make sure you get quality people together.”

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Dank treating Bandidos enforcer Mitchell

Bandidos sergeant-at-arms Toby Mitchell is being treated by the man at the centre of Essendon’s supplement scandal, sports scientist Steven Dank, for injuries sustained in a shooting in 2011.

Mr Dank and South Yarra doctor Robin Willcourt have been providing rehabilitation advice to the bikie figure since he was shot in November 2011.

The links between some AFL staff and crime figures is of concern to the league because of perceived risks that such relationships bring.

Mitchell and another man were arrested in dramatic scenes near the South Melbourne Market on Thursday, after an alleged assault in nearby Clarendon Street. He was taken to St Kilda Police Station where he was later released pending further inquiries.

But sources aware of Dr Willcourt and Mr Dank’s treatment of Mitchell have said it is professional and involved prescriptions.

“Those guys treat a lot of people, including lawyers, teachers and others. Mitchell is treated like any other patient,” the source said.

It is understood Mitchell was prescribed steroids by Dr Willcourt to aid his recovery.

Mitchell nearly died after he was shot five times outside Doherty’s Gym in Brunswick in November 2011. He was on life support for weeks and lost a kidney and part of his liver.

It was one of two attempts on Mitchell’s life in the past two years, including one in March when he and other Bandidos were ambushed outside the affiliated Diablos gang’s Melton clubhouse. Mitchell was shot in the right bicep, while a second Bandido suffered minor wounds.

Soon after the most recent assassination attempt, Victoria Police circulated an email around the force saying that the Bandidos had “declared war” on the powerful Hells Angels.

Last year, Mitchell was separately been linked by police to an illegal steroid trafficking ring involving a doctor in Melbourne’s north.

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Sam’s off to Darwin thanks to astounding generosity

Sam the wonder dog is about to fulfil his purpose.

Thanks to the Maitland ­community – including one extremely generous benefactor – Sam will board a Qantas flight to Darwin on Sunday to be united with Alex Butler, a little boy living with broad spectrum autism.

On Wednesday, the Mercury reported how the Maitland-based Assistance Dogs NSW could not afford the $1500 to fly Sam to be with Alex.

Since then, however, the organisation has experienced an inundation of donations.

“As soon as the story came out we started getting donations and $4500 came in almost straight away,” Sam’s trainer Carmel Kaczmar said.

Then, late Wednesday afternoon, someone came forward offering to pay for two trainers and Sam to fly to Darwin.

“A benefactor contacted us and has paid for the flights which would cost about $2500 and we are just so amazed,” Ms Kaczmar, of East Maitland, said.

“This is just wonderful news. We are shocked and thrilled all at once. This response has really brought us to our knees and the tears have flowed.

“The generosity of this community has astounded us beyond belief.”

Alex’s mother, Jo Butler, has echoed these heartfelt sentiments.

“This is absolutely amazing and we have been blown away at the generosity of these people,” Ms Butler said. “We can’t believe how fast this has all happened and we can’t wait for Sam to bless our son, but we are also really excited to see what Sam can help Alex achieve.”

Sam – the three-and-a-half-year-old groodle – was trained as a full service dog until he was attacked by two other dogs six months ago.

As a result, it was unsure whether Sam would be able to fulfil his duties. But Sam surpassed all expectations.

The surplus $4500 will now be used for Sam’s veterinary bills, food and grooming needs.

“This will take a tremendous burden off the family. I can’t wait to get there and see the family’s faces. It’s almost like Sam knows, he’s so calm,” Ms Kaczmar said.

EXCITING TIMES: Sam and his trainer Carmel Kaczmar.

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It’s time for students to face the FACTS

THE gymnasium at Charles Sturt University was a “one-stop shop” for future career and employment opportunities yesterday, as students in their final year of high school took part in the annual Facts About Careers and Tertiary Study (FACTS) Day.

Close to 900 Year 12 students from schools in Bathurst, Lithgow, Kandos, Oberon, Blayney, Cowra, Canowindra, Orange, Molong and Wellington converged on the Bathurst campus for the event.

Students attended a careers expo, then listened to a motivational presentation by keynote speaker Bruce Buchanan from the Orange Business Enterprise Centre.

Organised by the Central West Careers Advisers Association, FACTS Day encourages students to think about the next stage of their lives after high school.

Event co-ordinator Denis Behan – who is the careers adviser at Denison College’s Kelso High campus – said students could access information on courses, early entry opportunities, financial assistance and accommodation options.

“We’ve more than 60 career and employment organisations here today, from universities to employers, TAFE, Centrelink, the Australian Defence Force, and a big presence from private providers as well,” Mr Behan said yesterday. “Really, it’s a one-stop shop for Year 12 students.

“They come here today, talk to these people, ask questions and get follow-up information. This puts a lot of information in one place, and gets them thinking about their options before the pressure really comes on later in the year.”

Mr Behan acknowledged the generous support of Charles Sturt University who provided the venue for the event, but had a large information stand for students to access.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE: Caitlin Byrne and Shaun Van Uum from All Saints’ College weigh up their options at the Newcrest Mining stand, manned by apprentice electrician Heather McKaie and heavy machinery apprentice Justin Julius. Photo: PHILL MURRAY 050913pcareers11

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Maternity leave plan will encourage more mums: Cobb

Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave plan will be a big incentive for women in the workforce to have children, according to Member for Calare John Cobb.

The opposition leader’s scheme offers 26 weeks of paid leave at the new mother’s current rate of pay, up to a salary of $150,000.

To be funded by a levy on the nation’s biggest businesses, the scheme is significantly more generous than the Gillard Government’s 18 weeks of maternity leave paid at the minimum wage level.

Mr Cobb said the opposition’s scheme would provide an incentive to women who might not consider having a family at all.

“So many women feel they have to establish a career because of financial pressure, then they find they can’t afford to stop working to have children,” he said.

“It will provide them with the opportunity to have children once they are settled into their careers.

“It will also provide an opportunity to have children early on, work for a while, then maybe have one or two more.

“Modern life is about two parents going out to work, maybe that’s because our expectations are too high, I don’t know.”

There has been a lot of criticism about the inequity of the plan which sees highly paid women receiving considerably more money than women who earn very little.

But Mr Cobb said he thinks women on lower wages will still welcome it.

“I think you would be surprised how many women in this community are all for it,” he said.

“Those women who are not working at all still get the baby bonus, and those who work part-time will still get minimum wage for six weeks.

“I’m not ever sure what is fair in life, but the point is if you are earning $100,000 you will set your debt and life to $100,000.

“If you earn $60,000 then you will set your debt and life at that.

“The same decisions to have kids will be made whether you earn $60,000 or $100,000.”

Mr Abbott’s scheme, which is already being opposed by big business, is set to be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on about 3200 of the biggest companies – those with a taxable income of more than $5 million.

This levy was to have been fully offset by a 1.5 per cent cut in company tax for all, which has since been replaced with the promise of a “modest” company tax cut.

The government’s scheme is funded by the taxpayer.

Mr Cobb said in essence one in every 200 companies will pay for the scheme.

He said the Coalition is not a party that believes in more taxes and greater regulation, but there is no alternative.

“This is also about productivity,” he said.

“The higher echelons of wage earners are probably from the bigger corporations, so while they will pay a levy, they will also benefit from it.”

Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave plan will be a big incentive for women in the workforce to have children, according to Member for Calare John Cobb.

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