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For Ben Matulino, there is a
simple recipe in 2014 --- a focus
on quality as well as quantity.
Matulino has been the most
durable prop at the Warriors for
the past three seasons. Playing in
the most demanding position, he
has kept fronting up, week after
He appeared in every match
last season and has missed only
two NRL games since the end
of the 2010 season. But that
has not been enough. Too many
times since, he s been present
but not punishing; solid but not
Since the highs of 2011 and
that memorable run to the grand
final, on the back of the fabulous
four in the engine room,
Matulino has rarely recaptured
the form that labelled him one
of league s best props.
"From my point of view, my
form was rubbish pretty much
last season," Matulino said.
"I needed to step up from the
start of the year and I didn t. I d
played more than 100 games but
I wasn t stringing together good
Matulino was not Robinson
Crusoe in that respect and
he put together some good
performances in the second half
of the season, although without
ever reaching the vintage of
"My form picked up, like
everyone else s when we went on
that streak," Matulino said. "But
this year, it is all about being
At his best, Matulino is a
fearsome proposition, which is
why he made such a strong start
to his career. After making his
debut in late 2008, he was the
first Holden Cup graduate to hit
100 NRL games.
Still only 25, this season will be
his seventh in the top grade. e
banning of the shoulder charge
at the start of 2013 deprived
him of one of his best weapons
but he is still rated one of the
biggest hitters at the club, and
when on song is a handful for
any defensive line with the ball
"He is tall (1.93m) for a prop
but doesn t get pushed back,"
explains former Warriors captain
Awen Guttenbeil. "He s got
great body position going into
tackles and his late footwork
helps to get slightly between
tacklers. (On defence), he is the
man others tend to run away
from because he can hurt you."
A late start to pre-season
(he returned to club duties,
along with the rest of the Kiwi
contingent, in the second week
of January) has him refreshed
after the long World Cup
campaign and a new approach in
the gym is paying dividends.
"I m doing more functional
training in the gym now --- a bit
like crossfit," Matulino said.
"Ruben (Wiki) has a special
programme for me and Albert
(Vete) and it s going well."
For Matulino, half the battle
might be belief. While others ---
particularly commentator Phil
Gould --- have been espousing
his virtues and potential for
years, Matulino is much more
circumspect and modest.
"Ben has to get his head around
being international class and one
of the best props in the world,"
Warriors coach Matt Elliott
said. "Maybe he is too humble.
at quality doesn t need to
change but he should recognise
privately --- and I don t think I
am peeing in his pocket --- that
he could be one of the world s
Says Matulino: "I have to play
hard and not worry about my
form. When I was playing well,
I didn t really care, to be honest.
I just stuck to the structure and
that automatically put me in
good form. Hopefully it will take
care of itself."
It is a good year for a personal
revival. e forward stocks at
the Warriors look strong in
2014, with the signing of Jayson
Bukuya and the return of Lousi
brothers Sione and Sam. Sione
Lousi, Charlie Gubb and Suaia
Matagi will compete with the
established props, leaving little
room for flat performances.
" is season, it s all about
getting some wins going and
getting on a roll," Matulino said.
"I m sick of losing after the last
two years." --- APNZ
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Pulse s Irene van Dyk , left, takes a pass in front of Adelaide s Kate Shimmin last night
at Te Rauparaha Arena, Wellington.
of the New Zealand Herald
Leading New Zealand
horseman Jock Paget will press
for complete exoneration over
the positive test returned by
his horse at last September s
Burghley horse trial.
Officials close to the case
believe there is evidence
mounting to suggest he has a
Paget has been suspended
since Clifton Promise returned
a positive test for Reserpine, a
tranquiliser used for sedating
horses, after winning Burghley,
which is in England.
He sought an extension from
the International Equestrian
Federation s tribunal to gather
more evidence to present in his
His dossier was submitted
to the FEI on January 17. He
waits still for his day before the
tribunal, but it is expected to be
around the end of April or early
Rulings are then usually
handed down about six weeks
Paget has already all but given
up any hope of riding in the
four-star Badminton trial, which
is on May 8-11. He simply has
not time to prepare his best
e quadrennial world games
in Normandy in August shape
as his big challenge for the
Equestrian Sport New
Zealand boss Jim Ellis is
optimistic Paget will get a good
outcome from the tribunal.
Only once before has an FEI
hearing exonerated a rider
on a doping charge, British
endurance rider Christine
Yeoman in 2009, and she was
represented by Paget s legal
team, Bristol-based Burges
"It is a very high tariff that
leads to a zero ban," Ellis said
"In order to do that, we have to
prove Jock has done absolutely
everything he could have, even
to some extent beyond what s
reasonable, and to have had no
knowledge or control over this
" at is the case we believe
we can make and that is what s
gone to the FEI --- no fault, no
If the FEI finds Paget had no
significant fault or negligence,
he could get a one-year ban; the
far line of prescriptive ruling
options is the two-year ban.
Ellis said that during the
checking process on the
contamination of foodstuffs,
"we ve had good news rather
than bad in terms of what we ve
found --- good in Jock s case in
terms of his ability to prove he
was clearly morally innocent".
He has spoken to Paget
recently and confirmed this
was a trying time for the
30-year-old. Having sat out the
European winter, or off-season,
the British season is under
way and he would ordinarily
be riding and preparing
horses for events. e first
three-star competition of the
year, the Belton horse trial in
Lincolnshire, starts on April 4.
"However traumatic it s been,
only from mid-January has it
started to really be real," Ellis
Paget was ineligible to attend
EQNZ s squad trainings which
began recently. Horses are kept
in work but not to four-star
Paget will also have confirmed
the loss of his Burghley title, no
matter the FEI tribunal hearing.
at will pass to fellow New
Zealander Andrew Nicholson,
who will therefore have a
chance to win the grand slam
of Burghley, Kentucky and
Badminton over the next couple
of months. at carries a prize
of $US500,000 ($NZ598,457).
PICTURE: Getty Images
Warriors Ben Matulino tries to get out of a Brisbane Broncos
tackle in their clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium, in Dunedin.
Central Pulse coach Robyn Broughton was
left slightly bemused by her side s 45-44 loss
to the Adelaide underbirds.
Partly because she probably wondered how
her team could blow the game at the Te
Rauparaha Arena last night when they had
a one-goal lead and possession of the ball
heading in to the final minute.
She was definitely left wondering about the
umpiring, which allowed for plenty of niggle
during the season-opener for two sides who
have realistic play-off ambitions for the 2014
instalment of the ANZ Championship.
"It was a game for the umpires really and
it was really their decisions that were going
to make or break the result in the long run,"
Broughton said after the game.
e Pulse s veteran shooting circle of
Irene van Dyk and Donna Wilkins were
thoroughly worked over during the contest
by the abrasive defence of underbirds pair
Rebecca Bulley and Kate Shimmin.
"I just thought it was a very physical game
of netball," Broughton said. "So it s not
flowing, that sort of game, to look at, so I m
just wondering if we are seeing the skills we
should be seeing."
ere is always grumblings about the
marking of the Australian teams in the trans-
Tasman netball competition as our friends
from across the ditch notoriously mark tight
given their man-on-man style of defence.
ere were no physical lines crossed last
night but the underbirds did not give an
inch and Broughton said her side would have
to adjust this year if they wanted to compete.
"If people want that sort of game that s
what we ve got to do. To me, as a purist,
you re not seeing good flowing movements
through the court. You re not seeing probably
the skills that some of these girls have but
if that s what s going to win you the game
that s maybe the way you re going to have to
Umpiring queries aside, this was a game the
Pulse should never have lost.
It is fair to call it a choke given they had a
one-goal leading going in to the final minute
but when goal shoot Irene van Dyk had a
shot to give them a two-goal buffer she was
called for a hold and the underbirds took
Given the age of their playing roster, the
Pulse are a win-now team. ey re not
building and they have a cast of players who
aren t likely to be together again next year.
With van Dyk now 41 and goal attack
Donna Wilkins in her mid-30s, this is a side
who have been assembled for a title run this
Newcomer Elias Shadrock was given an
opportunity at centre for the Pulse and
she slotted in fairly seamlessly as the Pulse
steadily built their lead during the opening
One of the fascinating aspects of the Pulse s
campaign in 2014 will be their ability to
provide good ser vice to their shooters, who
are not blessed with the mobility they once
Wing attack Camilla Lees was another
player who linked with Shadrock nicely as
they delivered decent enough ball to Wilkins
and van Dyk.
Wilkins was more comfortable shooting
from distance, while van Dyk, as she has
done for so many years, was able to find
herself under the hoop with the easy shot.
Defence dominated the opening stages of
the game as there were only two goals in the
first three minutes.
e Pulse were in front by as many as seven
goals during the second quarter but those
underbirds would not go away as shooters
Borrego and Erin Bell kept them in touch.
Twice the underbirds drew level in the
third as the Pulse threatened to give the
game but they looked like they would hold
their nerve. But the jitters crept in during
the final quarter and when the scores were
locked at 39-39, Borrego could have put the
visitors ahead but she missed a shot from
under the hoop.
at should have been the Pulse s cue to
close the game out but they couldn t establish
enough of an advantage and when Borrego
was given another chance with the game on
the line, she did not miss again.
On the plus side, the Pulse can look at the
fact they ran last year s champions within one
goal but this game could come back to haunt
Broughton s side later in the season given it
was there for the taking.
ey will not have too much time to dwell
on it though, given the Southern Steel come
to Wellington on Saturday afternoon.
"It s a professional game, they re
professional athletes, you ve got to move on.
It just happens in all sport," Broughton said.
Sadly for the Pulse, it seems to happen with
too much regularity.
A New Zealander was the first musher
en route to the town of Nome when
the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race began
Curt Perano and 68 other mushers began
the world s most famous sled-dog race by
crossing frozen Willow Lake about 80km
north of Anchorage.
It was a staggered start, meaning one
musher left every two minutes.
e finish line is on Front St in Nome,
which runs parallel to the Bering Sea
coast. Standing between the mushers and
the finish line are about 1000 miles of
unforgiving Alaska terrain, including two
mountain ranges, untamed wilderness, the
mighty Yukon River and the wind-whipped
Bering Sea coast.
Among those in the field are Mitch
Seavey, last year s champion, and his son,
Dallas Seavey, the 2012 winner.
" e last two winners might create more
media interest," Dallas Seavey said before
the race started.
"But it doesn t mean we re necessarily the
two most competitive racers this year."
Adding to the uncertainty of this year s
race is an influx of Scandinavian mushers,
including double champion Robert Sorlie.
"I don t think we re trying to take it over,"
He said the Scandinavians had come
because the Iditarod is the world standard
for long-distance dog races.
Yvonne Dabakk of Oslo said the
"invasion" of five Norwegians was likely just
She is a rookie this year, and she wants
the prize given to all first-year mushers to
finish: a belt buckle.
Aaron Burmeister wants to be the first
musher from Nome to win the Iditarod.
"We haven t had a winner from Nome yet.
I m working as hard as I can to be able to
do that," he said.
Burmeister welcomes the return of
the Nor wegian mushers because they
bring more competition. "When I win
the Iditarod, I want to have the best
competition in the world there."
e trail conditions could prove to be an
advantage for one musher s wife.
Allen Moore of Two Rivers, Alaska, last
month won the Yukon Quest International
Sled Dog Race for the second year running.
e conditions now are the same as they
were for the start of the Quest, he said.
His wife, musher Aliy Zirkle, will be
using that team on the race while Moore
races other dogs.
Zirkle has finished second in the Iditarod
the past two years, and her team might give
her the needed boost this year because of
Newton Marshall of St Anne, Jamaica, is
another international musher at the race.
He is competing in his fourth Iditarod
and his strategy is simple: He just wants to
finish the race. When asked how his team
looks, Marshall said: "I ll find out on the
It was a beautiful day yesterday for fans
at the restart of the race, but "too warm
for dogs," Eric Noble of Eagle River,
Alaska, said. He and his wife and son
have attended for years because they help
musher Jessie Royer.
Another fan, volunteering to work
security, was Adam Redmon of
Waynesville, North Carolina.
e colder temperatures didn t bother
Redmon, who came after he and his wife
put bucket-list holiday ideas into a teapot.
"It s been colder back home," he said.
"Golly, I m not even wearing gloves." --- AP
PICTURE: NZ Herald
Reigning Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey drives his team down the Cordova Street
hill at the race s start.
New Zealander joins global field
in Alaskan sled-dog race
Clifton Promise and Jock Paget in England
Paget pushing for exoneration
Matulino searching for
the most consistent mix
e Sydney Roosters made the finals every
one of the nine seasons Brad Fittler was at
Bondi Junction but, in the end, had just one
premiership to show for it.
Ten years on and Roosters coach Trent
Robinson has warned his defending
premiers of the perils of squandering a rare
chance to create a NRL dynasty.
Not since Brisbane in 1992-93 has a
side gone back-to-back in a unified rugby
league competition, but critics are already
crowing about the Roosters star-studded
squad being primed to achieve, where even
Melbourne and Manly have fallen short,
and break that mould.
Sonny Bill Williams is the Roosters
best signing since Fittler, and his presence
for one more season along with Michael
Jennings, James Maloney, Mitchell
Pearce, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jared
Waerea-Hargreaves makes this another
It would seem only an injury disaster could
stop the Roosters from challenging again,
however recent history suggests the tri-
colours will need to address a tendency to
drop off the radar after big seasons.
Captain Anthony Minichiello was part of
the Roosters teams that made four grand
finals in five seasons in the early 2000s for
just one ring.
eir 2002 premiership was a big moment
but, on reflection, there is regret for the years
before and after when the Roosters fell short
of the mark.
Minichiello and Robinson have implored
their troops to turn a grand final win into a
culture of consistent dominance.
Utility Daniel Mortimer learned at
Parramatta after 2009 how easy it was for
grand finalists to fade.
" at s something Robbo made a note of
when he first came here," Mortimer said.
" at won t change and we ll look to create
a bit of a legacy here. Maybe not by winning
it (every year) for the next five or 10 years,
but definitely being up there challenging the
"You can t stand still. We have to go to
another level otherwise we won t reach the
heights of last year.
"It was obviously a great year and we can
reflect on good times, but this is a new
year and we have to go back to what wins
footy games --- hard work and dedication
at training. at s something the coach has
made us aware of.
"At Parra, we made it and it was all magical
and we did the same thing, thinking success
would come again and it didn t."
e idea of becoming the team every other
side wants to beat is new for the Roosters.
However, the club has avoided one
challenge other premiers have encountered,
and that is overcoming the lag caused by
travelling to England for the World Club
Wigan came to Sydney this year and
Mortimer says the Roosters feel primed for
ursday s round-one blockbuster against
"I think it was beneficial," he said.
"When I first heard, I wasn t too happy
because I would have loved the free trip to
England. But looking at the schedule we
had already (with the Auckland Nines as
well), it was pretty flat out. I don t think we
could have managed.
"It does take it out of teams."
Roosters keen to strike while iron hot
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