POLL: Help pick new Jets away colours

FOR the first time Newcastle Jets members will choose which kit the team take on the road in the next A-League season.
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Jets members will receive an email from the club today at 9am with three designs to choose from for the team’s away kit. The club gave the Herald an early peek at the three shirts yesterday.

Voting is open to members only and closes at noon on May17.

The choice is between taking the Jets back to Newcastle’s football roots in the city’s traditional colours of emerald green and cinnamon brown; a white design with panels of red and blue; or a bold charcoal kit inspired by the mining industry.

The new design will replace the black and white striped away shirt, which was inspired by the traditional colours of Northern NSW Football representative teams. The red and blue striped home kit will stay for next season.

‘‘It’s fair to have the three there and not have us make the decision, but to let the fans make the decision,’’ Jets CEO Robbie Middleby told the Herald.

Hunter Sports Group copped criticism from some quarters when it announced in February 2011 that it was abandoning the Jets’ gold colours of the Con Constantine era in favour of the red and blue of the Knights, who are also owned by Nathan Tinkler.

Middleby said lessons had been from that experience.

‘‘We always want input from the fans, and we’re happy to have it,’’ he said. ‘‘This sort of thing is great for the fans and the members to have an input.’’

Asked if the gold worn by the Jets in their 2007-08 championship season was considered, Middleby said: ‘‘We mentioned it, but we thought of some colours we haven’t had.

‘‘Potentially we might look at that in the future, but at the moment we thought to have three options and they were the three options we thought of.’’

WHITE, GREY, GREEN: Which one should the Jets wear for their away strip next season?

Farina backs Vidosic as right-hand man

Rado Vidosic is poised to land a plum job as Frank Farina’s assistant at Sydney FC despite having been dumped as Brisbane Roar coach just two months into the last A-League season.
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Officially, Vidosic wasn’t sacked but moved into a role as technical director. However, his influence on club operations was minimal. His interim replacement, Mike Mulvey, was soon made full-time coach and outlined a broader strategy to rebuild the club’s squad, effectively leaving Vidosic on the outer.

Fairfax Media understands Vidosic has agreed to move to the Sky Blues as Farina’s No.2. But Sydney chief executive Tony Pignata said on Wednesday the deal wasn’t done. ”We’ve just been in discussions so far and no decision has been made yet by Rado or ourselves. We’ve just had informal chats – both myself and Frank – with Rado,” Pignata said. ”Frank is on holiday until the end of May, so we’re not going to make any decisions until the players and coaches are back at training. However, at the moment, Rado is the only candidate we’ve spoken to.”

Vidosic was a long-time assistant at the Roar, dating from the first season of the A-League, when he stood alongside Miron Bleiberg and then Farina. ”Rado and Frank have had a good working relationship in the past, and ultimately it’s up to him to bring in who he feels comfortable working with,” Pignata said.

Despite struggling to adapt to the top job at the Roar, Vidosic was widely hailed for his tactical work under Ange Postecoglou when Brisbane won back-to-back championships. ”Rado is very analytical. You could call him the brain behind our success,” midfielder Thomas Broich said after Postecoglou’s departure.

Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi was also keen to land Vidosic and, until last week, the club was confident it could get its man.

On field, the Sky Blues aren’t in any rush to add new players.

”We’re just going to take our time and, at least while Frank’s away, we won’t be making more signings after getting Matt Jurman on board last week,” Pignata said. ”We’d like to announce the next batch of signings in early June. We’ve got to fill some under-20 spots, and we probably need to look at those first.”

Pignata said an offer from Parma had been accepted by the Sky Blues for Terry Antonis but the Italian club had fallen silent in recent weeks. ”I’m not sure what’s going on with Terry Antonis … whether he’s going or staying. I haven’t signed anything,” he said. ”Parma have made an offer but I haven’t spoken to them since.”

While Tiago Calvano and Yairo Yau have returned to Brazil and Panama respectively, Pignata said the pair could be offered new contracts. ”We’ve had discussions but we’re keen to see what else is out there,” he said. ”We want to keep our options open.”

Pignata said he ”hadn’t spoken to Lucas Neill since he left the club” and admitted it was unlikely Neill would rejoin.

More likely to return is Nicky Carle, who has spent the past year on loan with UAE club Baniyas. ”Hopefully that will be finalised in the next few weeks,” Pignata said.

Meanwhile, Western Sydney have announced the resigning of attacking midfielder Tahj Minniecon on a one-year contract.

Kings v Highlanders

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, Sunday 1.05am (AEST)Last meeting:  First clashReferee: Jason Jaftha (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Kings $3.75 Highlanders $1.25
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Steve Samuelson writes: Contrasting fortunes for both teams in round 12 with the Highlanders notching their first win while the Kings conceded 11 tries to the Tahs. The Kings have recalled skipper Luke Watson but are missing gun winger Sergeal Petersen (hamstring).

AAP writes: This match could very well decide the wooden spoon, with the last-placed Highlanders now just a point adrift of the Kings. It was a contrast of emotions for these two teams last week. The Highlanders were full of joy after breaking through for their first win of the season, a 25-22 victory over the Sharks. It was pure misery for the Kings who conceded 11 tries to the Waratahs on the way to a 72-10 defeat.

The Kings will be without injured loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht and winger Sergeal Petersen, but skipper Luke Watson returns to bolster the back row. The Highlanders will be banking on another strong performance from star trio Aaron Smith, Colin Slade and Ben Smith.

KINGS: George Whitehead, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss, Siyanda Grey, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Cornell du Preez, Luke Watson (capt), Wimpie van der Walt, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Reserves: Virgile Lacombe, Grant Kemp, Daniel Adongo, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, Shane Gates, SP Marais

HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith, Tino Nemani, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, TJ Ioane, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Andrew Hore (capt), Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Maafu Fia, Mose Tuialii, Joe Wheeler, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Jason Emery.

Waratahs v Stormers

Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 7.40pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 13 2012 – Stormers 19 bt Waratahs 13 at Newlands Rugby StadiumHead-to-head: Played 16 Waratahs 6 Stormers 9 drawn 1In Sydney: Played 6 Waratahs 3 Stormers 3Referee: Chris Pollock (NZL)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Waratahs $1.75 Stormers $2
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Steve Samuelson writes: The Waratahs last beat the Stormers in 2009 which was also the last time they met in Sydney. This match could well be decided at the lineout with the Stormers boasting one of the best in the business, Andries Becker.

AAP writes: It’s do-or-die time for both perennial finals contenders as the attack-minded Waratahs back up from their 11-try romp over the Kings against a Stormers outfit which has conceded just 11 five-pointers all season.

Israel Folau was the chief destroyer for the Tahs last outing and the Stormers will need to keep the classy fullback in check to have any hope of keeping their playoff hopes alive. Despite having Wallabies stars Berrick Barnes and Drew Mitchell back at his disposal, coach Michael Cheika has named an unchanged starting line-up to take on last year’s runners-up.

WARATAHS: Israel Folau, Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Peter Betham, Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Mitchell Chapman, Pat McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell

STORMERS: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana, Gary Van Aswegen, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Siyabonga Ntubeni, Pat Cilliers, Don Armand, Nizaam Carr, Louis Schreuder, Elton Jantjies, Gerhard van den Heever

Blues v Rebels

Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 5.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 7 2012 – Rebels 34 bt Blues 23 at AAMI ParkHead-to-head: Played 2 Blues 1 Rebels 1In Auckland: First meetingReferee: Garratt Williamson (NZL)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Blues $1.11 Rebels $6
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Steve Samuelson writes: The Rebels have been no easybeats since their disastrous tour of South Africa but have scored just the one win in the past month. Blues coach John Kirwan has made no secret of his delight that Rebels fullback Kurtley Beale will be absent.

AAP writes: The Rebels’ chance of a breakthrough win after three consecutive last-ditch losses suffered a major blow with Wallaby Kurtley Beale being stood down again. After a star cameo off the bench when they almost toppled the Chiefs, Beale breached the guidelines of his return to rugby from a month-long ban by drinking over the weekend. Japanese Test hooker Shota Horie has won his first start for the Rebels.

The Blues were flat in their one-point win over the Stormers and coach John Kirwan has made five personnel changes and a midfield tweak. Speedster George Moala has been named on the wing among the changes while there is no Keven Mealamu, with a calf injury still causing problems.

BLUES: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Brendon O’Connor, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (capt), Anthony Boric, Angus Ta’avao, Quentin MacDonald, Tim Perry. Reserves: Gafatasi Su’a, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ronald Raaymakers, Luke Braid, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Lolan Visinia.

REBELS: Jason Woodward, Tom English, Mitch Inman, Lachie Mitchell, Cooper Vuna, James O’Connor, Nick Phipps, Scott Higginbotham (capt), Scott Fuglistaller, Jarrod Saffy,  Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Shota Horie, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Ged Robinson, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Jones, Gareth Delve, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Bryce Hegarty

Cheetahs v Hurricanes

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Saturday 3.10am (AEST)Last meeting: Round 6 2012 – Cheetahs 47 bt Hurricanes 38 at Westpac StadiumHead-to-head: Played 8 Cheetahs 3 Hurricanes 5In Bloemfontein:  Played 4 Cheetahs 2 Hurricanes 2Referee: Stuart Berry (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Cheetahs $1.33 Hurricanes $3.15
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Steve Samuelson writes: These matches are always high scoring affairs with the Cheetahs winning 47-38 last year while the Canes edged a 50-47 win in 2011. Victor Vito will lead the Hurricanes in the absence of star centre Conrad Smith (head knock).

AAP writes: The Cheetahs’ finals destiny is well and truly in their own hands, especially with their remaining six games all to be played in South Africa. But with tough games against the Reds, Bulls and Blues included in those fixtures a win against the hit-and-miss Hurricanes is a must.

The past two matches between these sides have produced a whopping 21 tries, so another entertaining affair could be on the cards. Inspirational Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith will miss this match after suffering a nasty concussion in last week’s 48-14 loss to the Bulls. The Cheetahs should be fresh and raring to go after a week off.

CHEETAHS: Hennie Daniller, Willie Le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Burton Francis, Piet van Zyl, Philip Van der Walt, Frans Viljoen, Heinrich Brussow, Francois Uys, Lodewyk de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Coenie Oosthuizen. Reserves: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Rynard Landman, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Rayno Benjamin

HURRICANES: Andre Taylor/James Marshall, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito (capt), Jack Lam/Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Ash Dixon, Ben Franks. Reserves: Reggie Goodes, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, James Marshall/Karl Lowe

Reds v Sharks

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Friday 7.40pm (AEST)Last meeting: Qualifying Finals 2012 – Sharks 30 bt Reds 17 at Suncorp StadiumHead-to-head: Played 18 Reds 10 Sharks 8In Brisbane: Played 9 Reds 6 Sharks 3Referee: Glen Jackson (NZL)TV: Live, FoxSports 1TAB Sportsbet: Reds $1.36 Sharks $3
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Steve Samuelson writes: The Reds will be without skipper James Horwill (head knock) and are vulnerable after four tough matches in succession. The Sharks have beaten the Reds in six of their past seven games, including last year’s semi-final in Brisbane.

AAP writes: This is the last box to be ticked for the Reds under Ewen McKenzie and many would say they’ll never have a better chance to beat their hoodoo team. The Sharks are riddled by injuries with a dozen players sidelined after centre Frans Steyn and No.8 Lubabalo Mtembu became the latest to join the casualty list. Added to that, they come off four straight losses but Queensland certainly aren’t taking them for granted with three Boks on their bench. The Reds will also be without captain James Horwill (head knock) in a big loss.

Ewen McKenzie has reshuffled his backline, with Chris Feauai-Sautia playing in the centres, seeking extra punch after they scored just one try in the past two games. The Sharks have made their own interesting call at No.13 with JP Pietersen to start there.

REDS: Jonathan Lance, Rod Davies, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Anthony Faingaa, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (capt), Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, Ed O’Donoghue, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Reserves: James Hanson, Albert Anae, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jarrad Butler, Beau Robinson, Ben Lucas, Ben Tapuai.

SHARKS: Riaan Viljoen, Piet Lindeque, JP Pietersen, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (capt), Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper, JC Janse van Rensburg. Reserves: Monde Hadebe, Jannie du Plessis, Anton Bresler, Derick Minnie, Willem Alberts, Tian Meyer, Odwa Ndungane.

Chiefs v Force

ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, Friday 5.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 7, 2012: Chiefs bt Force 20-12 at nib Stadium, Perth  Head-to-head: Played 6 Chiefs 5 Force 1In Pukekohe: First clashReferee: Mike Fraser (NZL) TV: Live, FoxSports 1TAB Sportsbet: Chiefs $1.10 Force $6.25
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Steve Samuelson writes: Force halfback Brett Sheehan will play his first match of the year after injuring his ankle during the Wallabies’ spring tour with Alby Mathewson joining Sam Norton-Knight on the bench. The Force last beat the Chiefs in 2008.

AAP writes: The Force were magnificent in defence against the Reds last week. But was it legal? Queensland scrumhalf Will Genia questioned some of the Force’s defensive tactics, claiming he was held off the ball, tackled late, and unfairly pulled away from rucks. The Force’s line speed proved too much for the Reds to handle, and they’ll need a similar effort against the Chiefs, who are yet to hit top gear despite sitting second on the table. A six-day break and a long trek to New Zealand could leave the Force vulnerable.

The Chiefs have opted to give flyhalf Aaron Cruden a rest by naming him on the bench, while halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow returns from a broken jaw.

CHIEFS: Robbie Robinson, Lelia Masaga, Savenaca Tokula, Bundee Aki, Patrick Osborne, Gareth Anscombe, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Matt Vant-Leven, Sam Cane, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (capt), Ben Afeaki, Hikawera Elliott, Toby Smith. Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Ben Tameifuna, Michael Fitzgerald, Tanerau Latimer, Augustine Pulu, Aaron Cruden, Asaeli Tikoirotuma

FORCE: Jayden Hayward, Patrick Dellit, Ben Jacobs, Kyle Godwin, Nick Cummins, Sias Ebersohn, Brett Sheehan, Ben McCalman, Chris Alcock, Matt Hodgson (capt), Sam Wykes, Toby Lynn, Kieran Longbottom, Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan. Reserves: James Hilterbrand, Tetera Faulkner, Rory Walton, Richard Brown, Alby Mathewson, Junior Rasolea, Sam Norton-Knight

Japanese to rekindle Cup memories

After seven years of being deprived of some of the world’s finest stayers, Racing Victoria officials are confident that this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne cups will again have Japanese representation.
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Following key talks with Japanese officials and RVL’s international scout Leigh Jordon, the chances of possibly two starters from the world’s most progressive racing nation appear strong.

And five-year-old stayer Admire Rakti, who finished fourth in the group 1 Tenno Sho recently, could be the horse to revive memories of Japan’s Delta Blues and Pop Rock’s breathtaking tussle in the 2006 Melbourne Cup.

Admire Rakti, owned by businessman Richii Kondo, told Jordon recently that his five year-old was ”having the perfect Australian” lead-up to this year’s spring carnival.

”He was very upbeat about coming to Australia,” Jordon said. ”He wanted to know what a trip to Australia involved, and was very pleased at what we had to offer and what our racing had to offer.

”He has been a long-time owner in Japan and seemed genuinely excited by the challenge of coming to Australia.”

Admire Rakti will start in the group 2 Meguro Kinen over 2500 metres on Sunday week, the same race Pop Rock won before coming to Australia and finishing such a valiant second behind Delta Blues.

A forward showing in the Meguro Kinen could see Admire Rakti go into quarantine.

”We had some very encouraging talks in Japan about their horses coming out for our two main cups in the spring,” Jordon said. ”I think we have had just one runner from Japan in nearly eight years but we know the vast resources and depth of distance racehorses they have over there.

”We still want to build our major races in the spring with horses from across the world. They seem interested again in making the trip. We seem to have got over any quarantine problems.”

■ Two Victorian trainers charged over positive swabs will front Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board hearings in the coming weeks.

Darren Weir was charged by stewards after Doing Our Best tested positive to a banned substance after winning at Ballarat in February.

Doing Our Best’s sample contained traces of a diuretic.

Peter Gelagotis was charged after three-year-old Hvasstan returned a positive swab to Ibuprofen after his Alister Clark Stakes win in March.

Barnes and Mitchell return

Back to work: Utility back Berrick Barnes, who has played just 20 minutes this season. Photo: Anthony Johnson Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has taken out kicking insurance for his side’s must-win clash against the Stormers this weekend, backing Test back Berrick Barnes to start from the bench after just 20 minutes game time this season.
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Barnes joins winger Drew Mitchell on the bench as the only two changes to the side involved in the Waratahs’ historic 72-10 rout of the Kings in Port Elizabeth.

After missing the first three games with a knee injury, Barnes played 19 minutes against the Cheetahs in round five before hurting his right hand. The injury to his thumb required surgery and kept him out of the game for the next seven weeks, leading team insiders to speculate Barnes would find it difficult to make it back into the squad with such limited time in the back line.

Despite their growing flair in attack, the Waratahs have struggled without a consistently competent kicker, and Barnes’ return to the match 22 for a game against a side with as strong a defensive line as the Stormers’ could be read as an extra option for Cheika. Earlier in the week, Barnes believed he was as likely to return to playing with Sydney University via the Shute Shield as he was for the Waratahs.

”I’m fully confident about the hand and feeling reasonably fit but you can’t get game fitness training,” Barnes said. ”You need to get that back playing, and either way I’m going to get that this weekend.”

Rookie Cam Crawford has been backed to continue his solid form on the wing with Peter Betham on Saturday, while Tom Kingston lost out to Mitchell for the final bench spot, after the Test wing recovered from a hamstring strain.

They will take on a Stormers’ back line stacked with Springboks, including departing great Bryan Habana, Gio Aplon, Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh.

But it is the forwards the Waratahs have spent most time preparing for this week, after their lineout and work in the collision was shown up against the Bulls in Pretoria two weeks ago.

”They are renowned for dominating teams physically, with their forwards carrying over you,” breakaway Michael Hooper said. ”We haven’t got a small pack by any means, but they’re good at what they do; they hold players and teams up. We’ve got to work on ways to combat that.”

Hooper said the Tahs could not afford to be too high in their ball carries, while captain Dave Dennis continued to press his teammates in their lineout work. ”[Tatafu Polota-Nau] and John [Ulugia] are good throwers when they’re on, and we’ve got good jumpers, so it’s a pretty simple area of the game that you can probably overcomplicate sometimes,” Dennis said. ”We’ll do some good work on it [so I’m] confident on how we go.”