I want to coach NRL: Stacey Jones

Kiwi great Stacey Jones has his sights set on coaching in the NRL, after leading the Warriors’ under-20s outfit to the Holden Cup premiership in his first year in charge.


The Warriors young guns became the first National Youth Competition side to claim the premiership from outside the top four in a dramatic run through the finals, which culminated in their nail-biting 34-32 win over Brisbane in Sunday’s grand final.

AS a player, Jones led the Warriors to their first grand final appearance in their 2002 loss to the Sydney Roosters in an 11-year career that spanned 261 NRL games.

He has been elevated to coach of the Warriors’ NSW Cup side the Auckland Vulcans for 2015 and said he would one day like to move another step up to the NRL.

“If I didn’t have aspirations to coach in the NRL then I shouldn’t be here,” Jones told AAP.

“You always have aspirations, but at the moment I am happy where I am, I have a lot to learn about coaching.

“I work closely with Cappy (current Warriors NRL coach Andrew McFadden) and everything he does, he has been a great help to me.

“I have learnt a lot from him and just want to keep doing that, it is great having guys like Cappy around to help.”

The Warriors have dominated the Under-20s competition winning three times since its inception in 2008.

After back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, they lost last year’s grand final to Penrith.

Jones said the 2014 premiership could transfer into success for the NRL side, who have not made the finals since their 2011 grand final defeat to Manly.

“Off the back of the 2010 win, when we won it the first time, the following year the NRL side went onto the grand final,” Jones said.

“So hopefully things like this does build the culture and when these boys do go up they are not dragging the chain but putting pressure on the players.”

Jones nominated grand final man of the match, centre Solomone Kata, who has been likened to Konrad Hurrell, and prop Kouma Samson as two of his premiership-winning players who could make an impact in the NRL next year.

Explainer: What is the ‘brain GPS’?

What is the ‘brain GPS’?

The brain GPS is made up of nerve cells that give us a sense of where we are, and enable us to navigate from one place to another.


Who discovered the ‘brain GPS’?

British-American John O’Keefe discovered the first component of the brain GPS in 1971. The professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London found that a certain type of nerve cell was always activated when a lab rat was at a certain place in a room. Other nerve cells were activated when the rat was at other places. It led Professor O’Keefe to conclude that these “place cells” formed a map of the room.

To the right is a diagram of the rat. The location of the “place cells” are highlighted in orange. The grey square depicts the open field the rat is moving over. “Place cells” fire when the animal reaches a particular location in the environment. Different “place cells” fire at different places in the arena.

More than three decades later, in 2005, Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser, identified another piece of the brain GPS. The neuroscientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, found another type of nerve cell in the brains of rats. These so-called “grid cells” are constantly working to create a map of the outside world, and are responsible for animals’ knowing where they are, where they have been, and where they are going. 

How will knowledge of the ‘brain GPS’ help us?

Knowledge of the inner positioning system may help scientists understand why stroke patients and sufferers of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s lose spatial awareness.

Volvo’s ‘in with a shot at Bathurst’

Touring car legend Jim Richards rates Kiwi youngster Scott McLaughlin a big chance to give Volvo victory over the Holdens and Fords in the Bathurst 1000 on Sunday.


Richards knows what it takes to rile the Holden and Ford faithful at Mount Panorama.

He did it in 1992, describing them as a “pack of arseholes” for booing when he won a second straight Bathurst crown with Mark Skaife in a Nissan.

He did it again in 1998, albeit more cordially behind the wheel of a Volvo for the Swedish manufacturer’s first victory in the race.

In fact, Richards has been responsible for half of the six winners not built by Holden or Ford in 53 editions of the Great Race.

And he reckons there could be another this year from tyro McLaughlin and his co-driver, Frenchman Alexandre Premat.

The Kiwi youngster has had a breakout season with Volvo Racing GRM, steering his S60 to two wins and four other podiums in the car’s debut V8 Supercars season.

“I think they’re in with a really good shot,” said Richards, who conquered the Mountain seven times from a record 35 starts.

“Their car has been competitive all year, the Garry Rogers team is fantastic, and they’ve got great guys involved.

“They look great on paper to me.”

While Volvo is down in the record books as having won the 1000km endurance classic, it’s yet to do so with an eight cylinder engine.

Richards and Rick Rydell’s victory in 1998 was part of a breakaway two-litre series, which that year and the year prior ran a separate race at Bathurst to V8 Supercars.

Ironically, it was Richards’ son Steven who won the alternative race with Jason Bright in a Ford Falcon.

The Bathurst 1000 returned to a two-marque battle after that, with Holden and Ford the only contenders until Nissan and Mercedes-Benz joined the field last year.

Neither made a real mark, though, with Lee Holdsworth and Craig Bird the highest-placed in 12th in an E63.

But McLaughlin is confident Volvo can better that result come October 12.

“Like Jim said, I think we’ve got a really good shot,” the 21-year-old added.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully going for that win and being there at the end.

“But at the end of the day, we’ve got to get everything right.”

Fuel management will be key, with the Volvo known to guzzle at a faster rate than most.

But what if the pacey blue beast does go the distance? Does he expect to be booed like Nissan champions Richards and Skaife did in 1992?

“I don’t think so,” said McLaughlin, whose popularity soared after his thrilling duel with defending champion Jamie Whincup on the last lap of the season-opening Clipsal 500 and colourful post-race interview.

“We’ve been surprised by the reaction of all the fans.

“Everyone’s been pretty welcoming of us coming into the sport.

“It’s like an underdog sort of tag, and everyone likes that sort of stuff.”

His no-nonsense team boss Garry Rogers agrees.

“I think the public have warmed to our cars,” Rogers said.

“We’ve had some good results and we’ve had nothing other than positivity from the media and from the public.

“So I don’t think there’s any issue.

“We’ve got a V8 car, the same as everyone else. We’ve got a rule book the same as every one else – we’ve only just read it a bit better than most.”


Holden – 29

Ford – 18

Nissan – 2 (1991, 1992)

Jaguar – 1 (1985)

Morris – 1 (1966)

BMW – 1 (1997)

Volvo – 1 (1998)

‘No way back’ after Pietersen interview

Nasser Hussain says there is “no way back” for Kevin Pietersen after England’s all-time leading run-scorer launched his autobiography with blistering attacks on wicketkeeper Matt Prior and former coach Andy Flower.


The South African-born batsman, axed by England earlier this year after the team’s 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia, claimed there had been a “bullying” culture under Flower, but saved his most stinging criticism for Prior, whom he accused of being a “bad influence”.

Pietersen made the accusations in an explosive interview with British newspaper the Daily Telegraph published on Monday, ahead of the release of his autobiography on Thursday.

He claimed Prior was the ringleader of a group including senior bowlers Graeme Swann, now retired, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, who would lay into their team-mates for dropping catches.

Former England captain Hussain said he had some sympathy for Pietersen’s views, telling Sky Sports: “It really tells you a lot about team spirit … always there when you’re winning but always fades away when you’re losing.

“A lot of the stuff I’ve read (from Kevin) this afternoon, I’ve nodded at and agreed with … about shouting at players in the outfield.

“Team spirit is about respect … what happened in the end was that the respect had gone, between Kevin and his team-mates.

“Once you lose that respect, and then start losing games of cricket, I’m afraid the wheels can only come off,” said Hussain.

Pietersen insisted he had not given up hope of playing for England again but Hussain said he could not see how a return was possible, given Pietersen’s outspoken comments about the England and Wales Cricket Board and lack of recent form.

“Some of the stuff he writes in this book, I can’t see any way back for him,” Hussain said.

“The best way to answer his critics, and pile the pressure on (England captain Alastair) Cook and the ECB was to go out there and smash hundreds for Surrey … he never did that, and is letting his book do the talking instead of his batting.”

Former England off-spinner Swann led the angry response from the targets of Pietersen’s ire.

Swann, who retired midway through the last Ashes series, made it clear that he was unimpressed by Pietersen’s version of events.

“I expected it to be the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne and that seems to have happened. The one thing I will say I immediately realised it was codswallop when I read the character assassination of Matt Prior,” Swann was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.

“Tragically I don’t think Kev realises the one person who fought tooth and nail to keep him in the side is the one person he is now assassinating: Matt Prior.”

Prior, currently sidelined through injury, responded to Pietersen’s comments by tweeting: “Obvs (obviously) sad to see the accusations against me this am (morning) and I WILL have my right of reply! However today is not the day and Twitter is not the place for it … have a great day everyone.”

Chris Tremlett, who was part of the squad that was whitewashed by Australia, was more supportive and tweeted: “Glad Kevin has finally been able to give his side of the story.

“People can now make an informed opinion of what went on in the dressing room.”

But former England national selector Geoff Miller, speaking at an ECB function at Lord’s on Monday, told BBC Sport: “To my knowledge, there was no atmosphere of bullying within the England set up.

“What we as a selection group tried to do was to pick the best squad to create the best atmosphere to win matches.”

Uchimura targets record-extending all-around title

Yet despite his rise to global prominence in the most technical of sports, including winning gold in the all-around event at the 2012 London Olympics, the son of two gymnasts never considered himself a child prodigy.


“When I was little, I would get nervous and blank out sometimes,” the 25-year-old, rated by some as the greatest gymnast of all-time, told the Asahi Shimbun daily.

But the boy who finished last in his first-ever competition soon developed a huge appetite for hard work to achieve his aims.

“When I was in high school I thought I could fly if I tried hard enough,” he told the paper.

Popular back home for his affable and relaxed personality, Uchimura always possessed a genuine love for a sport he began practicing as a three-year-old at a gymnasium founded by his parents in the western Japanese city of Isehaya.   

He first learnt to maintain his poise and composure in the air on a trampoline his parents acquired from the United States.

“For Kohei, gymnastics wasn’t something he practiced, but an extension of his playtime,” his uncle Taiyo Ogawa told the Sankei Shimbun daily in 2012.


The methods Uchimura learnt as a child at play linger on in his visualisation of techniques as drawings in a notebook and a tendency to offer up a satisfied grin upon completing a good routine — what Uchimura himself calls his “‘how’s that?’ face”.

“His expression when he won the gold medal (in London) was the one he used to wear when he managed to pull off a back-flip,” Kotaro Ono, a junior high school classmate, told the Sankei.

Although his skills were described as “extraterrestrial” by some in the media after he won his fourth world title in 2013, Uchimura insisted that everything he had achieved was down to hard work and strict training regimes.

“I don’t think my natural talent is much different to the other gymnasts,” he told the BBC after last year’s world championships. “It is a matter of how I train and how I think about my training.”

But in an interview published by Konami Sports & Life, a subsidiary of his games developer employers, he admitted to putting very little time into areas like weight training.

“If you rely on your raw strength, you can’t call it a beautiful performance.” he said. “So where I might rely on it during training, by the time I get to the competition, I’ll have gotten to the point where I can do it without thinking.”

At the championships being held in the southern Chinese city of Nanning, he will first be aiming for a record-breaking victory while keeping in mind the longer term goals of the Rio Olympics in 2016 and a tilt at the Tokyo Games four years later.

Despite enjoying a hugely successful career to date, Uchimura maintains that striving to be better is all part of the fun.

“The most appealing thing about gymnastics is that no matter how perfect a performance you aim for, you can’t ever be perfect,” he told the Asahi.

Asked to define the essence of gymnastics, he replied: “To do a difficult thing in a beautiful way.”

(Editing by John O’Brien)