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Twins and triplets multiply the fun

PHOTOS: Multiple Births Awareness Week
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FAMILIES were seeing double and in some cases triple at Rose’s Vineyard on Sundayto kick off Multiple Birth Awareness Week.

Midcoast Multiples is only in its third year, but it’s already attracted more than 70 families from the Hastings and Macleay valleys.

The junior members range in age from just a few weeks of age to 16 years, while one member has two sets of twins under 10.

The animal enclosures were the places to be yesterday as twins and triplets of different species rubbed hands and hooves.

Organiser Madeline Rex said amid the hubbub that such social occasions were just one aspect of what the young group does.

“Understanding is the unique thing [here],” she said.

“It’s such an overwhelming experience to have multiple newborns at home.

“And just to have someone who has been there before, who gets it, who can be a shoulder to cry on is great.”

Organiser Grace Walker said the growing community looks after one another, especially during tough times.

“We’re the kind of people who turn up at each other’s houses with food, with nappies, we’re always sharing,” she said.

The Australian Multiple Birth Association wants mental health and parents’ coping skills to be leading conversations this week.

Spokeswoman Ali Mountifield pointed to research showing mothers of multiples’ risk of developing depression is nearly double that of other mums.

“Many people don’t know about the mental health benefits of joining a support group – it can be a great place to access your community, find services and practical tips or resources and social events.”

Midcoast Multiples fulfilled all these roles and more yesterday, with organiser Justine Trembath extolling the virtues of mentors in the group.

“It’s good to have older twins around because they’ve been through it, and it’s always good to get advice,” Mrs Trembath said.

Despite the bar being raised yesterday – it’s difficult to conceive anything cuter than triplet toddlers offering handfuls of feed to hungry twin lambs – the group will continue to attract big numbers into the future.

And that’s because they are supportive and keep it simple.

“We can meet anywhere with wine and coffee,” Ms Walker laughed as her twin daughters hurried past twin calves.

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Candidate question time: TAFE NSW

Dubbo Tafe. File. Today candidates for the Dubbo electorate talk about what they would like to see happen with TAFE NSW.
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TAFE has been a fixture in NSW education for more than 100 years and is seen as the leading provider of vocational education but some are concerned for its future.

As a result of rising costs, the government has opened vocational education to private providers and cut funding to TAFEs, while student fees have also increased There have been fears about the impacts on the Dubbo campus, students and local businesses.

We asked candidates if TAFE is still a relevant and affordable form of education and what they would do to ensure it remains viable into the future.

This is what they had to say.

Matt Parmeter – The Greens.

I eat bread. Love cakes. Get my hair cut. My car fixed. Have had power points installed at my home. Plumbing been done. This is TAFE in action.

We support TAFE being the primary, first-choice provider of vocational education and training (VET) in NSW, and remaining entirely in public hands, with the resources it needs to provide world-class training.

In Victoria, TAFE has been decimated. Funding that previously supported TAFE now goes to a numerous private organisations – the private provider model. Victorian TAFE only receives about one-quarter of vocational education funding.

Some private trainers may be reasonable. But we fear that many will not have the resources to give the depth and quality of training to students that TAFE can provide.

I want my power points to work properly; welds to be solid.

The Greens are campaigning hard to save TAFE. We will limit non TAFE providers to 20 per cent of the public funding pie. See www.johnkaye.org.au/ campaigns/save-tafe.

We reject the government’s Smart and Skilled reforms, which will see VET become less comprehensive, less useful and more expensive as dodgy third-party providers underbid TAFE for service provision by cutting teaching hours, increasing class sizes and decreasing the length of degrees.

If you want skilled, well trained people to provide services to you and your family, then support TAFE.

Troy Grant – National Party MP.

TAFE remains the NSW government’s, and our community’s, preferred public provider of vocational education and training. But we know TAFE needs to be more competitive and change will be part of that.

We are supportive of a system in which the best outcomes can be delivered for our students and the government’s Smart and Skilled reforms will help us achieve that.

This includes opening courses to other providers, to ensure students receive the best training at an affordable cost.

Colin Hamilton – Independent.

I would restore the funding cuts from the previous government.

I believe that TAFE is vital to rural areas for our school leavers and mature students to gain trade certificates and become employment ready.

TAFE is also crucial for those up-skilling to meet the needs of alternative employment.

Stephen Lawrence – Labor Party.

TAFE fees increased massively from 1 January 2015.

Fees are now up to $4000 for basic certificates, with 40 per cent of students now paying between $500 and $1500.

Apprentices will pay up to $2000 per course a year, up from $500.

I believe TAFE should be the mainstay of Vocational Education & Training in NSW.

This is the only way to ensure quality and maintain access, particularly in rural areas where TAFE is so important.

Labor will halt the government’s steady moves towards the privatisation of TAFE through capping the amount of public money that can go to private sector providers at 30 per cent.

This will stop NSW going down the Victorian path where the Liberal government gutted TAFE and allowed 70 per cent of money to be contestable by the private sector.

Labor will scrap the ironically titled Smart & Skilled policy and cap fees at 2014 levels indexed to inflation.

TAFE can provide amazing educational and training opportunities for school leavers but sadly it is becoming out of reach for so many young people.

The new fee schedule that started earlier this year has been devastating and no amount of government rhetoric can disguise that reality.

Every day until the NSW election on March 28, the Daily Liberal is quizzing the candidates for the seat of Dubbo on the big issues that will affect the region’s voters.

Community members can pinpoint the issues they believe all candidates should address in an email to [email protected]南京夜网.au.

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2015 Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival: Feast for the senses

FINE weather and a raft of entertainment drew a strong turnout to Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival events over the weekend and among the acts to delight those in attendance were “The Three Amigos (Plus Skippy)” troupe of Nathaniel Forward, Jose Rosales, Carlos Paredes and Elio Pagliarulo. Picture: Louise DongesTHE Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival officially launched with a rip-roaring river party on Friday night.
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2015 Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival: Feast for the senses ALL SMILES: Alina Lumena and Nelly Zahinda, both from Mildura, enjoy a night out at the arts festival launch on Friday. Picture: Louise Donges

JOINING FORCES: Wentworth artists Dorothy Adair, Clair Bates and Marg Whyte launched their collaborative exhibition in Wentworth at the weekend.

YOUNG ARTISTS: Rahmatullah Akbary, 11, Amir Houssain Jafari, 10, Roghayeh Jafari, 8, and Haniyeh Jafari, 13, took part in the Intertnational Women’s Day celebration at Jaycee Park yesterday. The event was run by Mildura’s Amnesty International branch and Art Mildura as part of the Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival. Picture: Josephine Gibney

Isabel, 11, Felicity, 14, and Julie Kinnersly relax at the twilight farmers market on Friday evening.

Mildura’s Ryan Hammerton with his sons Elliott and Max on Friday night. Pictures: Louise Donges

Elaine Green, Damian Green and Ruth Hunter, from Fruits of Temptation at Curious Grace Cafe, were among stallholders to showcase their products at the twilight farmers market on Friday night, which officially launched this year’s Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival.

Melbourne’s Lidia and Daniel Zmole, with Naomi, 8, were among the large crowd at the official launch of the Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival.

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Speeding driver argues for licence

A diesel mechanic who drove at a speed of 169km/h has successfully appealed the immediate suspension of his licence, with a magistrate at Dubbo finding there were exceptional circumstances.
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Alexander Smith was detected driving 69km/h over the speed limit on the Newell Highway between Coonabarabran and Gilgandra in the early hours of a morning.

Smith’s licence was suspended for six months on the spot because his speed was more than 45km/h over the limit.

On Friday in Dubbo Local Court magistrate John Favretto allowed the appeal, saying together the circumstances were enough to constitute exceptional circumstances.

Smith represented himself in the court, and tendered references to the magistrate.

He told the court he was a field service diesel mechanic and on the night in question had been called out to a job at Coonabarabran.

He had diagnosed the problem and had set out for Dubbo for parts before intending to return to Coonabarabran, he said.

He was detected 30 kilometres south of Coonabarabran in a 100km/h zone, he said.

Smith told the court he had undergone training to work on certain makes of trucks.

In handing down his decision Mr Favretto said there were a number of circumstances that he took into consideration.

Smith had a prior good record, with it being his first offence in the time he had been driving starting in 2010 and he drove 80,000km to 100,000km per year, he said.

The offence had happened when carrying out work duties and if Smith lost his licence there would be hardship for his employer as well because it was a specialised trade, Mr Favretto said.

When all of the factors were put together it was enough to constitute exceptional circumstances, Mr Favretto said and he allowed the appeal.

Smith said “thank you” to the magistrate.

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Birds in the hand: society’s biggest sale a smash hit with visitors

RARE AND EXPENSIVE: Bird seller Robert Roser at Orange Bird Society’s bird sale with a male Cuban Amazon, which, when sold with a female, can cost more than $20,000. Photo: ALEXANDRA KING 0307akbird2TOUTED as one of the largest bird sales in Australia, Orange Bird Society’s bird sale did not disappoint bird lovers who came from across the state to buy and sell thousands of birds on Saturday.
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Early estimates indicate this year’s bird sale is the biggest the society has held, with 6000 birds and 300 sellers crowding into Orange PCYC’s Sir Neville Howse Stadium.

“We had 5500 birds last year, with quite a few empty tables, but this year we’ve no empty tables so we’re well up at the 6000-bird mark,” Orange Bird Society treasurer Ray Smith said.

The bird sale attracted sellers from all over NSW and interstate, selling species from across the globe, with prices ranging from $20 to thousands of dollars per bird.

Robert Roser of Hillview Aviaries travelled from Braxton in the Hunter Valley to sell birds at the sale for the first time.

Among his birds was the talk of the sale, the rare Cuban Amazon, a bright green parrot with a white head and pink throat, that can cost more than $20,000 when sold in a breeding pair.

“Not many people have Cuban parrots in Australia, so they can be quite expensive,” Mr Roser said.

“People like them because they’re so rare and uncommon.”

With nine years’ experience of breeding and selling birds, Mr Roser said first-time buyers should look to purchase less expensive birds like finches and small parrots.

“Buy what you like, but don’t go straight to the top. Slowly work your way up to the dearer birds,” he said.

Mr Smith, who breeds lorikeets, said the hundreds of different species at the sale was proof everyone had a slightly different taste in birds.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said.

“People buy birds because they like the look of them, for example, I like black cockatoos, but they’re quite common.”

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Mental health funding crisis: doctors planning to quit over lack of resources

Mental Health Minister Jai Rowell says the government is committed to meeting community needs.Survey of psychiatrists reveals emerging crisisLack of transparency around budgets, lack of services in some areasAuthorities aware of the problem, and trying to fix it
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Mental health care is heading towards a crisis in NSW with one quarter of the state’s psychiatrists considering leaving the public system this year because of “grossly inadequate” resources and low morale.

The exodus comes amid allegations that some local health authorities are systematically siphoning off mental health resources and refusing to fill key clinical positions so money can be diverted to other areas.

Sources have told Fairfax Media that immense pressure being exerted on resources, particularly in some rural areas and parts of western Sydney where needs are greatest, with people suffering acute psychiatric crises often left without help until the problem escalates and police are called.

However, the government said it takes the problem extremely seriously and has introduced ongoing auditing to prevent the diversion of funds.

Paul Fanning, who worked as a director of mental health services in NSW for 23 years, said local health districts had been forced to find efficiency savings at the same time as improving treatment times.

“To me there is a straight-line relationship between the financial state of the districts … and the degree to which mental health is impacted,” he said. “Where we mostly see that is in community mental health services … where an enormous amount of work is needed in following up on people when they are discharged from hospital and doing early intervention work so things don’t escalate into a crisis.”

In its inaugural report last December, the Mental Health Commission said if the siphoning of funds away from mental health services was not addressed within two years it would consider asking the government for independent auditing powers. The commission, which started in 2012, was set up by the NSW government to advise on how it should improve mental health care across the state. No-one knows exactly how much money is being lost, although one 2009 report seen by Fairfax Media estimated so called budget “leakage” could be as high as $20 million annually.

Survey of psychiatrists paints ‘grim picture’

Doctors’ groups were so concerned they surveyed the state’s psychiatrists, with the interim results showing more than half believe resources have decreased over the past year and a third say they are “grossly inadequate”. One quarter are likely to leave the public sector this year if nothing changes.

AMA councillor and psychiatrist Choong-Siew Yong said it painted a grim picture, and more needed to be done to ensure psychiatrists were included in the health district decision-making so they could protect resources.

“Psychiatrists look after some of the most vulnerable groups in the state … but historically mental health has had less funding in relation to need and there is still a huge catch-up to do”.

The exclusive survey of more than half the psychiatrists in the public system – 250 doctors – undertaken by the NSW branches of the AMA, the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation, also found 44 per cent of doctors believe positions are deliberately left unfilled and one third believe the number of doctors employed in their area has declined.

Dr Yong said the scale of the problems varied from district to district, but more resources were needed everywhere to improve morale.

Lack of transparency around budgets, lack of services in some areas

Alan Rosen, a professorial fellow at the University of Wollongong and a clinical associate professor at the University of Sydney’s Brain & Mind Research Institute, said he believed tens of millions of dollars that could be spent on community workers and other treatments was being siphoned out each year, often through excessive corporate fees and charges, with the problem increasing in some areas after greater control was given to local areas over budgets.

“If we don’t do something we are going to end up with an inquiry into the disasters,” he said. “It’s time for the government to act”.

The differences in approaches between local health districts also meant a person’s ability to access services could depend simply on where they lived and what time of day they became sick.

“In NSW we do very little consistently and on an equitable basis around the state, and based on the building blocks of evidence,” he said. “We don’t even have out-of-hours crisis teams in every catchment … Crises occur maybe a third of the time in weekday periods, a third at night and a third on the weekend, so you need your crisis teams to work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.”

Last month Fairfax Media revealed the number of people with mental illness dealt with by police had grown massively over the past decade, with a lack of mental health services in the community partly to blame.

However, the director of mental health and drug and alcohol for NSW Health, Peter Carter, said major costing reviews were undertaken twice yearly to examine corporate charges.

He said that over the past three years corporate and other related costs have ranged from around five to six per cent, although he acknowledged there was “volatility” between districts the ministry was trying to abolish.

However, Professor Rosen disputes the figures, saying it does not accord with what he has heard from clinicians working in the area.

Ministry aware of the problem, and trying to fix it

The Ministry of Health says it is working hard to fix the problems, including recruiting more staff in areas where it has been hard to attract qualified people.

The chief psychiatrist of NSW, Murray Wright, said the ministry took the staff survey very seriously, and he intended to discuss the issue further with the staff professional bodies and follow up with individual districts about any concerns.

“Local health districts have assured me that they are implementing recruitment strategies to deal with what are, in many instances, long-term challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled psychiatrists.”

Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell said since its election the government had ensured mental health budgets were listed separately in service agreements with the local health districts.

“The NSW Government is committed to meeting community need for mental health care services,” he said.

“This financial year alone the NSW Government invested $1.62 billion in mental health – a record spend on our state’s mental health system.”

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Roosters ready to rip into nines

SPEED: Roosters captain-coach Ryan McGoldrick will be taking his side to the Cootamundra Nines this weekend. Picture: Anthony Stipo.
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Ryan McGoldrick will takehis Darlington Point-Coleambally Roosters to Cootamundra to compete in this weekend’s nines competition.

The former NRL and Super League player played hisshare of nines footballin England and said his side wouldhave to adapt to a totally different style of rugby league.

“It’s been a long pre-season for us. We started a couple of weeks before Christmas andthe nines is a chance to play a bit of footy,” McGoldrick said.

“Withthe nines, it’s different to a regulation gameof football.It’s a bit of fun.

“We’ve got a few ideas to help us adjust.

“Four players cover a lot of ground.Alot of teams start to throw the ball around a bit more.

“Alot of teams go one marker, so around the ruckit changes a lot.”

The Roosters will be one of six Group 20 sides participating inthe annual competition.McGoldricksounded out several players who look likely to excel in the format.

“JoshVeivers,he’s experienced and likes the open space,” McGoldrick said.

“Dillon Barttershould go allright.There’s Tongia Fox and Chris Latu in the front row.It will be good to see how these guys go.”

The tournament will be the first football for the Roosters this year and will offer the first glimpse of new French recruitThomas Villoni.

Villoni is the only signing McGoldrick has made from outside the Darlington Point regionas he looksto bolster the side with locals to help promote the game in the area and give youngplayersa chance to prove themselves.

Little is known about Villoni, but McGoldricksaid the French prop had been excelling at training.

“He (Villoni)looks really good.It will be good to see how he goes in the competition,” he said.

“We’ve had massive numbers at training.We are getting around 55 to60 to training.

“We probably havetwo or three blokes who we can get here withtwo weeks’ notice,but I’m not going to bring them in if we have locals to play.

“I don’t want to stunt the progression of younger guys and the league.”

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Glory keep on keeping on, and the title is very much on the agenda

Most coaches, when asked about a controversial decision regarding their team, affect ignorance, incomprehension or innocence, usually with the added rider that they didn’t actually see the incident in question.
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Perth Glory boss Kenny Lowe, however, is not most coaches.

Lowe has built a largely positive reputation for his sharp one-liners, pithy wisecracks and his gallows humour about games, incidents and the performance of his team. A tall, slim former defender in England’s lower leagues, he employs the blunt honesty anyone familiar with people from the north-east of England – Lowe’s original home – knows all too well.

So it was hardly surprising on Saturday night that when asked about the legality of his forward Andy Keogh’s goal, the strike who earned his side another point on the road against the free-scoring Victory, he didn’t resort to subterfuge.

“It was probably offside,” he said with disarming frankness, readily agreeing with claims made earlier in the evening by his Victory counterpart Kevin Muscat.

“I think it’s swings and roundabouts though. We could have had a penalty for Keogh’s strike [which Perth claimed hit a defender].”

Even though Glory have been at the top of the table since the start of the season there has been a reluctance to regard them as serious title challengers.

That suits Lowe’s style – he loves it when his team is under-rated and he can throw the siege-mentality switch – but it does the West Australians, and their coach, a disservice.

Perth’s starting eleven is made up of a lot of hard-nosed, tough professionals who know how to get results. At the back Michael Thwaite and Dino Djulbic form an impressive central barrier, with the tall Rostyn Griffiths protecting them in the defensive midfield slot.

Scott Jamieson and Josh Risdon are tough-tackling, aggressive full backs, and in Danny Vukovic they have one of the competition’s best and most in-form goalkeepers. Up front Irishman Keogh represents a constant threat with his workrate, mobility and ability to finish, even if his goal on Saturday night broke something of a mini drought for him.

Glory have not won in their last seven matches, but they have earned five draws, showing that while they might not be putting teams away at present they remain very difficult to beat.

“We have got to get wins to win the league. If you want to win you have to score goals. We have done very well, we have lost three games all year. We are competitive, we have just got to find that little knack of scoring goals again.

“Wherever the cards fall they fall, we are in as good a spot as anybody. Everybody is beating anybody.”

He was typically unrepentant about his side’s physicality against Victory, when six players were cautioned and a seventh, Mitch Nichols, was sent off.

“We are coming to a cauldron with 20,000 people against the best team in the league. We are not going to wear pink tutus and let them walk around us. It was  a top-of-the-table clash, we wanted to win desperately, they wanted to win, everyone cares.”

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VIDEO: Gilligan wins Sally Conroy Memorial sprint duel

VIDEO: Gilligan wins Sally Conroy Memorial sprint duel Brett Gilligan wins the Hilson Builders-sponsored Sally Conroy Memorial 200m. Picture: PETER WEAVING
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Tom Savage, Anthony Dempster, Billy McNally, Andrew Bruce (obscured), Dave Chisholm, Brett Gilligan, Carlie Whitford and Luke Padgham (obscured) charge on to the finishing straight in the Sally Conroy Memorial 200m final.

Billy McNally, Andrew Bruce (obscured), Brett Gilligan, Tom Savage, Anthony Dempster, Dave Chisholm, Luke Padgham and Carlie Whitford sprint for glory in the Sally Conroy Memorial 200m.

Andrew Bruce, Billy McNally, Brett Gilligan, Tom Savage, Anthony Dempster, Dave Chisholm, Luke Padgham (obscured) and Carlie Whitford near the finish line in the Sally Conroy Memorial 200m.

Brett Gillign celebrates his victory in the Hilson Builders-backed Sally Conroy Memorial 200m classic at the Bendigo International Madison carnival. Picture: PETER WEAVING

Eaglehawk’s Tom Savage and Bendigo Harriers’ athletes Brett Gilligan and Anthony Dempster were third, first and second in the Sally Conroy Memorial 200m. Picture: PETER WEAVING

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Anthony Watmough says Manly should consider letting Daly Cherry-Evans join Titans this season

Follow LeagueHQ on TwitterPlay Ultimate LeagueNRL 2015 Team by team guideQuiz masterclass: How many 70s footy stars can you name?Expert predictions on where each team will finish
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Former Manly forward Anthony Watmough believes the Sea Eagles should consider releasing Gold Coast-bound halfback Daly Cherry-Evans to the Titans immediately if he was prepared to leave.

Watmough, who left Manly with a year remaining on his contract after initially signing with Parramatta from 2016, said he would want to make the move as soon as possible if he was in Cherry-Evans’ shoes after the Test halfback confirmed to teammates in the dressing rooms at Pirtek Stadium last Friday night that he had signed a four-year deal with the Titans.

“If that was me and I had made my decision to leave, and that opportunity came up … I would take it,” Watmough said.

“It is a horrible loss for Manly but for rugby league up on the Gold Coast [to sign] the face of the game it is probably the best move they could have done. DCE the brand is probably a great thing for them up there. For me, I think the Gold Coast needed it after what they have been through.”

Titans coach Neil Henry said the club hadn’t discussed trying to secure the services of Cherry-Evans this season but would be open to the idea of him moving to the Gold Coast a year earlier.

“Putting my coach’s hat on I would like to have him in my team for this year,” Henry told Triple M. “There is a possibility but you would have to have players if we were going to trade some players who would be willing to go so a lot of things would have to happen plus we would have to look at the salary cap implications.

Cherry-Evans’ decision has caused a lot of angst at Manly as the previous club management had allowed Glenn Stewart to depart without tabling a new offer and released Watmough to focus on retaining their star halves pairing of Cherry-Evans and Keiran Foran.

“I spoke to Glenn Stewart when this happened [last year] and before he got injured and done his ankle, [and] he wanted one last year with the boys,” Watmough said. “He didn’t want to leave Manly, he had to leave Manly, whereas I think Cherry has made a decision to leave on his own and if they can work something out he may want to go or he may not but if it is there, put the offer to him.”

With Foran widely tipped to fnalise a deal with Parramatta within days, Watmough said recruitment and retention had been badly managed at the Sea Eagles.

Speaking at length about the issue on Triple M, he also took aim at Cherry-Evans’ management for the public hawking of their client before the announcement, after Friday night’s 42-12 thumping by the Eels.

“I think ‘Ches’ was mismanaged a bit there, he was shopped around, he was thrown to the wolves, he got hung out there,” Watmough said. “I know he has copped a bit of a hiding and I know if my manager had done that I would have called him straight in for a meeting.”

Asked about Manly’s decision not to make Stewart an offer, Watmough said: “I think that came down to the old board. I think if it had just been the Penn family, which it is now, it would have been handled totally different.”

That decision led to Watmough leaving and now Foran is set to follow but the Test secondrower insisted he did not know if he had signed with the Eels.

“Foz is a good mate of mine, we have played a lot of footy together but we don’t talk shop and we won’t talk shop away from footy,” he said. “I have said to him the whole time, like his team-mates have said to him, do the right thing that is best for you and your footy and your family. If it is at Manly or if it is at the Roosters, or wherever it is, we will still be your mates so do the right thing for you.”  

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