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Cameron Smith’s place in NRL history is secure, but grand final week debates are muddying waters


In sport, being a “goat” was once a bad thing.

Back in 2011, former NBA star Reggie Miller summed up taking the last shot in games as “you’re either going to be the hero or the goat”.

Whether an abbreviation of scapegoat, a rejection of Pagan idolatry or just some good old-fashioned cloven-hoofed animal slander, it still wasn’t overly desirable.

But between social media posts designed to poke the part of readers’ brains that hold all the exclamation marks, and opinion-shouting shows in the vein of ESPN’s (in)famous First Take, the all-caps GOAT conversation is never-ending and unavoidable.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both the GOAT depending on which one scored the most recent worldie or fell short in a major competition. Serena Williams and Roger Federer are almost unanimously accepted as GOATs, but the former still hasn’t caught Margaret Court and the latter has just been joined by Rafael Nadal on a record 20 majors with Novak Djokovic only one back.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer smile for a selfie on the tennis court at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Williams and Federer probably are tennis GOATS, but the acronym has just about lost all meaning.(Twitter: Roger Federer)

And then, of course, we have Nathan Lyon, the GOAT of Australian cricket, whose semi-ironic-cum-kind-of-legitimate nickname arrived after overtaking Australia’s relatively meagre ranks of finger-spinners just a few years into his career.

But long before the moniker became less of a joke, by virtue of him becoming comfortably the true GAOSOAT and actually climbing into the top three of Australia’s all-time Test wicket-takers, the capra-esque measuring stick had become an oversized part of the Australian sporting discourse.

The futility of the GOAT debate

Which brings us to grand final week, where Cameron Smith’s status as the “greatest of all time” has been labelled not just wrong, but somehow insulting to the sport.

In the same 24-hour period, his GOAT status was reaffirmed by former rep player Matthew Johns, who placed him above his own brother in that debate.

And while one journalist’s or one player’s claim getting aggregated across the internet a few times isn’t necessarily worth getting into a lather over, it does raise questions about how we talk about athletes while their careers are ongoing.

Considering how prevalent it is, it’s alarming how ridiculous judging athletes on an “all time” scale is.

DeLorean, hot tub or phone booth; pick your time machine. Does anyone really think team of the century players Clive Churchill or Brian Bevan would match it with James Tedesco or Josh Addo-Carr?

That’s not some slanderous hot take; merely a recognition of advances in science and the growth of the sport from something done by steelworkers between packs of Winfield Reds into a massively lucrative professional endeavour.

Sport stars can only ever be realistically judged against something resembling their contemporaries and for Smith, going any further back than the 1990s is an exercise in futility.

Dally Messenger in Australian colours.
Dally Messenger’s footballing exploits in the early 20th century are of course the stuff of legend.(Supplied: Sean Fagan)

Presumably, that’s why Andrew Johns, another goatly presence from recent years, is always so careful to say Smith is the greatest player that he has seen.

It’s the only fair way to judge.

Even if they spend a lifetime rummaging through car-boot sales for old VHS tapes (and a VHS player), someone born in the 90s isn’t really going to know how great Wally Lewis was. A Gen X-er will struggle to encapsulate what made Graeme Langlands a superstar, other than flashy white boots. No-one is alive today who can testify as to Dally Messenger’s impact on the field. But we all agree they were great.

Once you reach a certain distance from their playing days, the majority of players’ legacies is hearsay, reading books (often written by people who also weren’t there) or sitting around in pubs listening to stories about the strength, savvy or speed of players from yesteryear.

So why do we put so much stock in these debates? Well, because they’re fun. But when that fun becomes part of some narrative that a legend of the game like Smith is actually just a bloke who’s hung around for a long time, it tarnishes the reputation of one the sport’s biggest names, who deserves to be celebrated.

Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith at Dally M awards
The fact that Smith (centre) isn’t as exciting as some of his peers has also been used as an argument against his greatness.(AAP: Paul Miller)

Smith’s brilliance and ability to break the record for holding the most records isn’t solely down to his longevity.

Queensland and Australian selectors don’t just hand out representative caps for services rendered, and regardless of how many premierships you’ve won, touch judges don’t raise their flags unless the ball goes through the sticks.

Scoring all the points he’s scored, creating all the tries he’s had a hand in, making all the tackles he has, winning all the games he’s won … it’s all part of a tapestry.

Does winning all the premierships, State of Origin series and Test matches make him the greatest of all time? Does reaching four grand finals in five years? Does playing at an elite level for an unprecedented 18 years or breaking umpteen records?

Queensland captain Cameron Smith at a post-game press conference after Origin III, 2015
When someone wins a lot, and enjoys winning, it’s going to get people offside.(AAP: Glenn Hunt )

Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter and we can never know anyway.

But once Smith’s career is done and his legacy is consigned to books and bar-room conversations, it will be hard to explain why the sport spent the last years of his career pillorying him for contract chicanery, having a grin that’s a bit too cheeky and failing to adhere to our timeline of when he should stop playing the game he still dominates.



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Shane van Gisbergen wins thrilling Bathurst 1000 ahead of Cameron Waters


Holden driver Shane van Gisbergen has won his first Bathurst 1000, holding off Ford’s Cameron Waters in a tight finish at Mount Panorama.

Two late safety cars compressed the field in the closing stages, making the final stages of the 161-lap, 1000km race a dramatic 18km shootout.

However New Zealand’s Van Gisbergen was good enough to keep distance between himself and the chasing pack to claim victory by just 0.8663 of a second, going one better than his second-place finishes in 2016 and 2019.

His co-driver, Garth Tander, secured his fourth win in the 161-lap race, after taking out the 2000, 2009 and 2011 editions.

Chaz Mostert finished in third spot for Holden to round out the podium, ahead of Fabian Coulthard and Scott McLaughlin in the Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustangs.

Jamie Whincup provided the first drama of the race when he went wide with too much pace at turn three and slammed his Holden into the wall, bringing out the day’s first safety car on lap 33, ending his and veteran Craig Lowndes’ race prematurely.

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By that time, Waters had overtaken early leader McLaughlin and set an imposing pace to distance himself from McLaughlin’s co-driver, Tim Slade.

The pack was compressed again after Jordan Boys spun and slammed his Cub Cadet Mowers Holden into the wall on lap 52 for the day’s second safety car, but the race really spiced up when the promised rain began to fall on the mountain on lap 53, just after the safety car was brought in.

Van Gisbergen rose to the occasion in the slippery conditions, scything his way to the front of the pack as the rest of the field struggled for grip during the brief shower.

Van Gisbergen and Tander led from that point onwards, never relinquishing their position during the tense, tactical middle period of the race and its dramatic, high-paced conclusion.

Waters and van Gisbergen were well clear out front and duelling for first place with an exemplary display of faultless, high-pressure driving until two crashes forced the safety car to come out with nine laps to go.

Jack Smith from SCT Motor Sports skidded into a sand trap, and almost simultaneously Bryce Fullwood’s Mobil 1 Middy’s Racing Holden locked up and slammed into a couple of walls at the top of the mountain.

The race resumed with six laps to go, but soon after Zane Goddard barrelled into another wall and was left stranded on the track with three working wheels, prompting another safety car and a dramatic finish.

All through the tension, van Gisbergen kept his cool and masterfully drove away from his rivals to claim his maiden Peter Brock trophy.

Relive the drama in our live blog.

Live updates

By Simon Smale

Shane van Gisbergen wins Bathurst 1000

            

               

We’ll wrap up the live coverage here for now.

                

Thank you so much for joining me over the course of the day, it has been a pleasure to bring you all the action from Mount Panorama.

              

Fantastic performance from all the leading drivers, it’s too easy to forget that this was the ONLY endurance race of the season, at one of the hardest circuits in motorsport.

                    

Shane van Gisbergen has come so close before, no closer than last year, but this time he excelled and drove away from a field that was pushing to the very extreme of their limits, lap after lap of faultless driving.

           

I hope you enjoyed the coverage and we’ll catch you again next time.  

               

               

By Simon Smale

‘So special to win here’: Shane van Gisbergen

                  

               

Shane van Gisbergen was all smiles on the podium, and understandably so.

            

He said he had serious doubts as to whether he would ever get a chance to win the race after coming close the last couple of years.

               

“So special to win here. Got close so may times and then you just begin to doubt, especially in those last few laps, you start to think what is going to go wrong?

            

“But the car ran faultless all day and got better and better.”

Audience comment by bob gibson

congratulation holden team good to see you go out on a blaze of glory

Audience comment by Peter

By Simon Smale

I’ve never driven so hard: Chaz Mostert            

                

Chaz Mostert has been interviewed on the podium, where the Ford driver acknowledged that he had never had to push so hard.

            

“I haven’t [ever driven so hard],” Mostert said on the podium. 

               

“That felt like wildfires at the end. Congratulations to these guys behind me. They did a fantastic job all day and put entertainment on for everyone around the country.

             

“A big thank you to our whole team here and also in Melbourne. It has been a hard year and to all the Holden fans thank you for supporting us this year and we will see what happens next year.

By Simon Smale

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Bathurst 1000 race highlights.

By Simon Smale

The caption says it all.

By Simon Smale

Scott McLaughlin wins the Supercar Championship

               

           

This was confirmed last race, but Scott McLaughlin has been awarded the Supercars Championship trophy after what might be the last time he races in Supercars.

                   

“Congratulations to Shane and 888 racing for their win today. They made it happen today.

               

“It has been an amazing year. I think the comradarie between the teams.

                

“Obviously last year was pretty full on, tit-for-tat, then this year … everyone knows how hard it has been for everyone and there has been a lot of good hard racing, the best racing we have had.

           

“We didn’t have a turnaround to come back and fix the cars. Credit to the Victorian teams for the sacrifices they gave for us, their families, the sport, the volunteers

By Simon Smale

‘I didn’t need that last safety car’ Garth Tander

            

           

Garth Tander, who is now a four-time winner of Bathurst, has also had a chat with the TV team.

                   

“It was OK until two to go and the last restart, didn’t need that one,” Tander said. 

               

“Awesome job Shane, the way he managed the last three stints, amazing, very impressive.

               

“This will take a little while to sink in, it’s been such a strange year and sitting on the couch for six months and then firing up and being on the road for five weeks to do the race, really special one and I’ll sit back and enjoy it.”

Audience comment by Gaia

Great work on the blog today Simon. Nail-biter of a finish! I did try to send some more rain across to the races, but it fizzled out on the way there.

Audience comment by Jk

Brilliant! Great way to end the Holden brand.

Audience comment by Ritchie McC

Audience comment by Han

Been either going to or watching Bathurst since 1963. Fabulous memories and added another one today. Thanks Simon (wan-Kenobi).

By Simon Smale

‘I wish my mum and dad were here’: Shane van Gisbergen

               

             

Here is Shane van Gisbergen, the 62nd winner of Bathurst.

               

“Just awesome, van Gisbergen said.

           

“The last few laps were tough with the safety car, but the team did a faultless job and thanks to the guys, we had a great car and great way to send out Holden and thanks to Garth Tander, he did an awesome job.

           

“I wish my mum and dad were here.

           

“Each time [Cameron Waters] got close through turn two, with good grip and I knew I’d be OK. The last stints were just qualifying, just awesome.

                

“[It was a] real track position race, super hard to pass when the rain came.

         

“I was a bit slow at the start and got going and that got us to the front and we never left there. Awesome day.”

         

He said he was looking forward to getting back to New Zealand on Tuesday to celebrate.

Audience comment by Graeme

Great way to say goodbye holden

By Simon Smale

Celebration time for Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander

By Simon Smale

Thanks Simon, exciting blog, can I just ask, what time is Dan going to be on?

-Sorry, couldn’t resist.

           

No Dan, but we’ll hear from Shane van Gisbergen very shortly I’d expect. 

Audience comment by David (in Japan)

I’ve been kept updated all day thanks to your great commentary – much appreciated

Audience comment by at

By Simon Smale

Bathurst 1000 final results

                

             

                



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Ford’s Cameron Waters takes Bathurst 1000 pole position after record lap in shootout at Mount Panorama



Ford’s Cameron Waters has smashed the Bathurst 1000 qualifying lap record to claim Supercars pole for Sunday’s great race at Mount Panorama.

Touted as a genuine contender to win the 161-lap race for the first time, Waters dominated the top-10 shootout on Saturday in his Mustang.

His time of 2 minutes 3.559 seconds eclipsed former Tickford teammate Chaz Mostert’s lap of 2.03.789 set last year.

It was Waters’ fifth career pole, setting him up for a tilt at winning with star co-driver Will Davison, a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner.

The 26-year-old Waters pipped three-time champion Scott McLaughlin, who has stamped his mark as one of the Supercars’ greatest qualifiers.

Mostert, who switched to Holden this year, was the fastest Commodore driver in third to start alongside Nick Percart on the second row of the grid.

Seven-time champion Jamie Whincup’s testing relationship with Mount Panorama continued as a mistake near the end of his lap saw the Triple Eight legend finish 10th.

Waters completed his first solo race victory at Tailem Bend last month and has carried that hot form into the season finale at Bathurst.

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“That was absolutely awesome. Knew the car had something special in it, but just had to put it all together,” Waters said.

“This is so special for all the boys at Tickford. They’ve earnt their piece in this whole period we have been away so this [pole money] will go towards beer Sunday night.

“I made a few little mistakes, but the car was just hooked up. The boys have done so well to give me something like that.”

Fords on the front of the grid is the last thing Holden supporters want ahead of the red lion’s last Bathurst race in an official capacity before the brand is retired by General Motors at the end of this year.

McLaughlin claimed his maiden Bathurst victory last year but that result ended a run of four-straight Holden wins dating back to 2015.

The start time of Sunday’s race has been brought forward by 30 minutes to 11.00am AEDT with rain and storms predicted to descend on Mt Panorama.

AAP



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Local News - Victoria

bookshops navigate choppy waters during lockdown


The family are among loyal customers of The Little Bookroom, in Carlton North, that since March – like other bookshops – has had to embrace online and phone orders, and find new ways to reach customers.

The Little Bookroom owner Leesa Lambert said initially she was “terrified” of losing the business, however, sales for the year to date are up 15 per cent on the same time last year. The shop’s decision to hand-deliver books to suburbs as far as Moonee Ponds and Reservoir has been a hit.

Ian Lambert from The Little Bookroom delivers books to Samuel and Kiara Louca from Coburg.

Ian Lambert from The Little Bookroom delivers books to Samuel and Kiara Louca from Coburg.Credit:Penny Stephens

Ms Lambert’s father, Ian Lambert, is among three staff who are dropping off, by car, more than 100 books per day to customers.

In the lead-up to national Love Your Bookshop Day, Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan pointed to Nielsen BookScan figures, that show the value of print book sales in the year to August 22 were up by 2.9 per cent on last year, totalling over $681 million.

Nationally, sales of units (books) are up by 7 per cent to 37 million. (Victorian figures were not available.)

Mr Egan said: “Australian communities have been wonderful supporters of their local bookshops during the pandemic, and bookshops have responded in turn with great ingenuity.”

Michelle Delle Vergin, owner of Booktique bookshop in Wangaratta in Victoria’s north-east, said her shop’s monthly sales since March had been up on average more than 30 per cent compared to last year, “with April the only month when we were flat”.

Being in a regional area, Booktique’s doors have stayed open during the pandemic. However, some city bookshops have been doing it tough.

Dino Traverso, co-owner of Dymocks’ Collins Street store in Melbourne’s CBD – which has closed for a total 12 weeks during the pandemic – said his store’s August sales were down 90 per cent compared to August 2019.

Richard Speight, co-owner of Fairfield Books, said in August, turnover was down about 20 per cent compared to the same month last year and cash reserves were low, at a time the store had to start stocking up for Christmas.

Joe Rubbo, manager of Readings bookshop in Carlton, said sales were down significantly, however, the store would survive, helped by a strong financial position pre-pandemic, customer loyalty, and more than 100 staff being on JobKeeper.

Love Your Bookshop Day will have an online focus in Victoria this year, including a live-streamed event at 11am on October 3 on the KidLit Club Facebook page, with storytelling, and chats with authors, booksellers and readers.

Visit loveyourbookshop.com.au to register or for more information.

In need of some good news?

Stories that will brighten your outlook, delivered weekly to your inbox. Sign up now for our Greater Good newsletter that is launching soon. Sign up to The Age here; Sydney Morning Herald here; Brisbane Times here and WAtoday here.

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Humpback whale trapped in Kakadu’s croc-infested waters


A humpback whale has taken a wrong turn on its migration path to Antarctica and ended up trapped in the croc-infested waters of the Kakadu National Park instead.

Parks Australia captured disturbing photos of the black and white whale splashing about in the murky, temperate waters of East Alligator River in the Northern Territory.

Like its name suggests, the river is a hunting ground for enormous salt water crocodiles.

However, experts aren’t too concerned that the whale will be eaten alive by crocs.

RELATED: Mega shark spotted off NSW beach

RELATED: Whale mourns baby by carrying carcass around for 17 days

Carol Palmer, a marine ecosystems scientist at the NT Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told the ABC that even the largest crocodiles in the river system would be no match for the whale.

But what has got experts worried is the why — why are whales getting lost on their way south?

This isn’t the first time a humpback whale has taken a wrong turn and ended up in Kakadu waters. Last week, it was reported that three humpbacks had made the same mistake, although it’s believed they are back en route to Antarctica now.

“As far as we’re aware, this is the first time this has happened,” Parks Australia said in a statement.

“Kakadu National Park staff are monitoring the situation and working with NT government authorities to gather data on this unusual event.

“An expert working group has been set up to monitor the whale and prepare plans for intervention if required.”

The national parks authority also announced an exclusion zone at the mouth of the river, and extending thirty kilometres into the waterway.

“The last thing we want is a collision between a boat and whale in waters where crocodiles are prevalent and visibility underwater is zero,” Parks Australia explained.

“We also don’t want boats to inadvertently force the whale further up the river.”



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Man falls overboard from boat in waters off Bustard Head


A search and rescue operation is underway in Queensland for a man who fell overboard from a sailing vessel.

Authorities received a distress call about 10.20am from the crew of a boat 20 kilometres east of Bustard Head, south of Gladstone.

A man had fallen overboard, police were told.

Resources involved in the search include the Central Queensland Rescue Helicopter, Gladstone Water Police and a number of private vessels.



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Coronavirus-hit Ruby Princess departs Port Kembla for international waters


Updated

April 23, 2020 18:26:06

The Ruby Princess has commenced its departure from Port Kembla, south of Sydney, breaking its moorings on the start of a highly anticipated journey out of Australian waters.

Key points:

  • The cruise ship has been linked to the coronavirus deaths of 21 Australians and two international passengers
  • It first docked in Sydney Harbour on March 19, when almost 2,700 passengers disembarked
  • A special commission of inquiry and a criminal investigation into the cruise are continuing

Since it first docked in Sydney Harbour five weeks ago, 21 Australians who were connected to the coronavirus-afflicted cruise ship have died.

As of this week, about one in every 10 cases of coronavirus in Australia could be linked to the Ruby Princess.

As it left the dock, a huge banner hanging off the stern of the ship read: “Thank you Illawarra”, referring to the location where the cruise ship has been docked since April 6.

Earlier today, more than 350 crew members arrived at Sydney Airport after being allowed to disembark from the cruise ship.

About 25 buses, each with around 15 passengers to maintain social distancing, transported crew members to the airport for their flight to the Philippines.

NSW Police said 11 crew who tested positive for COVID-19 were taken to hotels to enter 14 days of quarantine.

They said over three days, a total of 542 crew members were escorted from the ship to be repatriated to their home countries of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, the UK and US.

During that time, 33 crew were taken to Sydney hotels to be cared for in isolation until being cleared by NSW Health to fly back to their countries of origin.

The coronavirus-afflicted ship was given an order to leave by Australian Border Force officials. It was expected to leave on Sunday, but the departure was delayed to assess the health needs of the crew.

A special commission of inquiry and a criminal investigation into the cruise are continuing after almost 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney on March 19, despite more than a dozen people on board being tested for COVID-19.

The day before the ship docked there were about 300 cases in NSW, but the state had recorded a daily decrease in cases.

By March 20, there was a spike and the state’s Health Minister told media he was “concerned” about the Ruby Princess as several passengers had already returned positive results.

NSW has now recorded eight Ruby Princess passenger deaths. Of the state’s 2,976 coronavirus cases, almost 13 per cent are linked to the ship.

Among approximately 900 international Ruby Princess passengers, the ABC has traced at least 35 coronavirus cases and two deaths.

When asked about who made the decision to let passengers off in Sydney, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “all of us have to take responsibility”.

But Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram said NSW Health had given the green light for passengers to disembark.

Lawsuits are underway in the United States, and Australian firm Shine Lawyers is also investigating possible legal action on behalf of passengers.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Topics:

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health,

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police,

law-crime-and-justice,

travel-health-and-safety,

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First posted

April 23, 2020 16:54:23



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