Former Waratahs assistant is a wanted man, but he’s open to a return to Sydney

Cron said he does not hold any grudges about how he exited NSW. He hoped for a guarantee of a head coaching role, but was not provided with that by then chief executive Andrew Hore.

In the end, Gibson did not stick around for 2020. Hore then unveiled Penney as NSW coach just days before resigning, prompting Waratahs chairman Roger Davis to launch a blistering attack on the Kiwi administrator.

“At the Waratahs there was an offer … but timelines probably didn’t match up,” Cron said. “I wasn’t negative at all, that’s what happens in sport. Sometimes the timelines don’t match up for the organisation. I can’t hold any grudges, that’s not what it’s about. There was a lot of debate. It took me five months to decide. Even Steve [Hansen] had had enough at the end of it.

“The reason for me coming to Japan was working with Steve and a family decision. Steve made it really clear to me when he was talking about Japan he didn’t want to coach another team, he wanted to mentor a coach and he’d like me to be that person. That was very humbling.”

Hooper and Read, respective captains of the Wallabies and All Blacks in many Bledisloe Cup outings, have now joined forces in the Top League and love what Cron brings to the table as a head coach.

“He’s really cutting his teeth over here,” Hooper said. “I’ve certainly seen a growth in him since I last was coached by him. Being around Steve and Kieran and bouncing ideas off some of the other coaches up here … he is only going to improve more and more.”

Read said Cron’s ability to remain calm, while navigating translation and COVID-19 complications, was admirable.

Hansen is keen to extend Cron’s Japanese contract and deep down hopes one day he can move into the Kiwi system.

“If Steve has anything to do with it, he’s only going one way when he comes back, which I believe is to New Zealand,” Read said. “As a coach you can go anywhere. I’ve been really impressed with what he’s done up here and I think he’s got a big future. It’s going to be up to him and his family.”

Not so fast, says Hooper, who played under Cron at the Waratahs in 2018 and 2019.

“You know my answer – [I am] the opposite to Kieran,” Hooper said. “He loves Sydney.”


Toyota Verblitz have won their first two games of the Top League season, yet Hooper and Read haven’t started in the same team because of rules that state only two international players can take the field at once.

However, there was a moment of friendly fire when the pair eventually made it onto the park together.

“We got to be on the field in the first game and Hoops still follows around a black jersey because he came into a ruck and split my eye,” Read said. “I think he’s on auto-pilot.”

Hooper laughed it off as an “accident” and later said he was enjoying his six-month Japanese sabbatical.

“It’s been refreshing,” said Hooper, who is expecting to return to Australia in late May before two weeks of quarantine before the international season, starting with a likely series against France.

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The rise and rise of the virtual assistant

The impacts of the global pandemic which first loomed into our field of vision here in Australia in early 2020 has wrought disaster, mayhem and destruction across the board. As we braced for impact, many businesses buckled up for what was undoubtedly a very rough ride through the ups and downs of 2020, and unfortunately, the aftermath is the certainty of uncertainty…the fact that we just don’t know what’s around the corner even as we settle into 2021. For many businesses, the effects and ramifications have been far-reaching with some simply curling up their collective toes and disappearing into the void, simply unable to ride out the storm.

Enter the Virtual Assistant Industry. Perhaps you have never heard of Virtual Assistants (or VAs as they’re more often referred to), and if that’s the case, you possibly need to know about them because, for small businesses especially, these home-based admin professionals are the cost-effective, highly scalable and incredibly flexible alternative that many have been searching for, and are now turning to in droves to help them navigate a path to success.

The Virtual Assistant Industry has been around since the internet became a “thing”. Whilst it is a global industry, in Australia, it has been growing steadily since the early 2000s with most Virtual Assistants coming from highly skilled corporate EA, PA or administrative backgrounds (marketing, bookkeeping, online business managers) and gradually gaining more momentum in the past 10 years as a flexible and low-risk career option for those who want some work-life balance – most often women with families who need flexibility, and are sick and tired of the work-day commute, or those who just want a change and to be their own boss.

At the beginning of 2020, those who were already established VAs were able to ride out the COVID storm safely. Some found their work cut back initially as their clients tightened their belts, but when businesses realised that “life has to go on” and lifted their heads for air, VAs were right there to help them rebuild and grow in a flexible and scalable way…something that is incredibly difficult to achieve in a traditional employer-employee business model. Because VAs are business owners themselves, they have their own equipment and generally only charge for the time spent on the tasks they are engaged to carry out. They can provide ad-hoc or ongoing support, and unlike employees, VAs clients don’t need to shell out super, sick leave, payroll tax.

The truth is that the way we work has changed, and it is doubtful that we will return to the way it was pre-COVID. In fact, most businesses who have survived have done so because they grew new business muscles that included the ability to respond swiftly and incorporate solutions for their businesses, and lives, which embraced the online world, and the use of cloud-based applications and innovations. For many, the fact that remote work was an effective option also had a flow-on effect which was the realisation of the now obvious cost-saving benefits that came with adopting a remote or “virtual” operating model.

Ingrid Bayer, Founder & CEO, the VA Institute and author of “Future Proof Your Career: everything you need to know to build a successful and profitable VA business

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Mahout, assistant booked for brutally attacking elephant at rejuvenation camp

The Coimbatore Forest Department Sunday arrested a mahout and his assistant on charges of attacking an elephant at the government’s annual rejuvenation camp at Thekkampatti near Mettupalayam.

In a video that surfaced on social media, Vinilkumar (46) and his assistant Sivaprasad (32) were seen brutally thrashing Jayamalyatha, an 18-year-old female elephant of Andal Temple in Sri Villiputhur, with sticks.

Within a few hours of the clip going viral, several wildlife conservationists and activists demanded strict action against the caretakers. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, which is holding the camp for the elephants, said they will conduct an inquiry and initiate necessary action. Kumar, a third-generation mahout who was taking care of the elephant since 2011, was later suspended.

The district forest department also picked the duo from the camp and booked them under sections of the Wildlife Prevention Act. They have also been charged with violating provisions of Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Rules), 2011.

As per the reports, the mahout was irked after the elephant refused to obey his command. “He was taking the elephant to the shower area. It (the elephant) suddenly ran out of control after seeing another elephant; the caretakers found very had to bring the elephant under control,” another mahout at the camp said.

The caretakers had tied the elephant with the chains near to a tree and thrashed it on Saturday evening. Volunteers of Vanam Trust of India, an animal welfare organisation, shot the incident when they were passing the camp.

The 48-day annual retreat for captive elephants began on February 9. The officials said 1.67 crore rupees were allocated for the camp to set up shelters, bathing platforms, walking tracks, food courts, mobile toilets, etc.

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NSW Waratahs assistant Matt Cockbain backs Carlo Tizzano to muscle up in Suncorp Stadium opener

A traditional No.7, Tizzano is battling with Charlie Gamble for Michael Hooper’s vacant jersey and is a talented youngster with a big future. He played just eight minutes of Super Rugby last year.

Even if Tizzano does comes off the bench, Cockbain said it would not take much to fire up the 21-year-old.


Asked who could be the Waratahs’ enforcer this year, Cockbain said: “Carlo Tizzano has got that in him. He’s only had a handful of games at that level. He probably just needs to make sure he fulfils his regular role and he brings that aggression to his game naturally. He’s a strong carrier and he loves tackling and hitting guys. He’s probably the one I would say that would stand out in the forward pack.

“Physically he is ready to go. He bench presses 160kg and squats plenty. He has an excellent attitude. He’s just got to work at his game around linking and being smart around the field.”

A high turnover of players and lack of cohesion among the group will make things difficult for the Waratahs when they try to spring an upset on enemy territory.

The Waratahs square off against the Brumbies in Canberra the following week and have spoken at length about the need to be on from minute one as they try to improve on a fourth placing last year.

“Hopefully they get a really good crowd up there and it’ll be a hostile place for us and if we can knock them off it’ll be all the more sweet,” Cockbain said.

Harry Wilson celebrates scoring a try at Suncorp Stadium during Queensland’s win in 2020.

Harry Wilson celebrates scoring a try at Suncorp Stadium during Queensland’s win in 2020. Credit:Getty

“We’ve got to put the pedal to the metal and let it rip straight up. The comp is eight games and then finals, so you’ve really got to hit the ground running. This ‘close enough is good enough’ [discussion], I don’t like that attitude. We want to be winning and we believe in what we’re doing.

“I know from experience the mentality the Queensland guys will go into this game with and it’s going to be really intense. Reds versus Waratahs is the one with all the history. You use that to pump yourself up, go out there, and not let your state down.”

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Eddie Jones in isolation after England assistant coach Matt Proudfoot COVID-19 positive

“Following further negative tests, Jones and Amor will join up with the group on Thursday 28 January,” the England statement said.

Meanwhile, Wales have named uncapped back-rower Josh Macleod in their 36-man squad for the Six Nations, while there is also a recall for lock Dan Lydiate, who last featured three years ago.

Monaco-born Macleod is a former Wales under-20 international who plays as an openside and is widely regarded for his defensive work.

There are few surprises in the selection from coach Wayne Pivac, who has endured a difficult first year in charge of the side after replacing Warren Gatland.

Halfback Kieran Hardy, five-eighth Callum Sheedy, centre Johnny Williams and wing Louis Rees-Zammit have all been retained after impressing in the autumn internationals at the end of last year, while influential playmaker Tomos Williams returns from injury.

Scotland have included centre Cameron Redpath in their 35-man squad after winning a potential tug-of-war with England for the player.

Redpath’s father Bryan won 60 caps at halfback for Scotland and captained the team. An approach late last year failed, though he has now committed to coach Gregor Townsend’s rebuild of the squad.

“We have spoken to him for a while,” Townsend said on Wednesday. “We wanted him in the autumn, but he did not feel it was the right time to commit to either team.

“But he has made that decision now and saying yes to us, we see him as a big part of the Six Nations campaign. He has played really well for Bath.”

Five-eighth Finn Russell returns from injury in a major boost, while back-rower Gary Graham, winger Byron McGuigan, hooker Grant Stewart and prop Alan Dell are also back in the squad.


Aside from Redpath, there are three other uncapped players in hookers David Cherry and Ewan Ashman, and lock Alex Craig.

“The depth we have across the squad enables us to bring in some new players who have excelled in recent weeks and others who we believe can perform at Test level,” Townsend said.

“Our tournament gets off to a fantastic start with a fixture we look forward to every year against England (on February 6) and the opportunity to win back the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham.

“As coaches we have selected a group which we believe can build on the work our players put in throughout the recent Autumn Nations Cup campaign and kick on again in terms of performance levels.”


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Joe Biden picks transgender doctor Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary in historic move

President-elect Joe Biden has picked Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the US Senate.

A paediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Dr Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide.

She won past confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Dr Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Mr Biden said in a statement.

A graduate of Harvard and of Tulane Medical School, Dr Levine is president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

She’s written in the past on the opioid crisis, medical marijuana, adolescent medicine, eating disorders and LGBTQ medicine.

Mr Biden and his transition team have already begun negotiating with members of Congress, promoting speedy passage of the president-elect’s $1.9 trillion plan to bring coronavirus, which has killed nearly 400,000 people in the United States, under control.

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Former US president Barack Obama says he’s excited about Joe Biden’s administration picks.

It seeks to enlist federal emergency personnel to run mass vaccination centres and provide 100 immunisation shots in his administration’s first 100 days while using government spending to stimulate the pandemic-hammered economy.

Mr Biden also says that, in one of his first acts as president, he’ll ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days to slow the virus’s spread.

Dr Levine joins Mr Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, a Latino politician who rose from humble beginnings to serve in Congress and as California’s attorney general.

You view Joe Biden in a navy suit with a black face mask walking on an airport runway on an overcast day.
US president-elect Joe Biden has made a number of historic choices among his cabinet and advisers.(Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)

Businessman Jeff Zients is Mr Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, while Mr Biden also picked infectious disease specialist Rochelle Walensky to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vivek Murthy as surgeon general and Yale epidemiologist Marcella Nunez-Smith to head a working group to ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments.

The Government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, will also work closely with Mr Biden’s administration.


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The “really nice text” Stephenson sent new Kangaroos assistant Rocca

Jaidyn Stephenson will reunite with Anthony Rocca at North Melbourne this year.

The former Collingwood star forward has been appointed as an assistant coach at Arden Street where he will link up with Kangaroos recruit Stephenson.

Rocca, who will be working closely with the rucks and taller players, said Stephenson has already reached out and is excited to again be at the same club following their time together at the Magpies.

“He gave me a really nice text the other day, ‘Stepho’,” Rocca said on Sportsday.

“He was happy I was there. I’ve got that Collingwood connection with him and he’s really looking forward to working closely together.

“I rate Jaidyn really highly. He has an X-factor. We know he had some issues last year and he tried to overcome them.

“When he’s up and going, he can be a dominating forward. He can turn games in the space of five minutes.”

Stephenson, who won the 2018 Rising Star award, kicked 76 goals in 54 games for the Pies before joining North last trade period.

Rocca is also optimistic about what is ahead for the Roos, particularly from a key forward viewpoint with Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar set to take the mantle following Ben Brown’s move to Melbourne.

He also feels the ruck position is in very good hands with Todd Goldstein leading the way with support from Tom Campbell and Tristan Xerri.

“The likes of Nick Larkey and Cameron Zurhaar. Those two could be a really good combination for the future,” he added.

“I love the way Zurhaar goes about it. He’s tough, strong, loves the contested mark and just loves crashing packs.

“I’m excited working with Todd Goldstein. He’s a really good ruckman who has achieved a lot and I believe he could still achieve a whole lot more.

“The likes of Tom Campbell, who has been a back-up ruckman for a long time. He keeps putting the pressure on underneath at VFL level. The games I’ve seen him play at AFL level, he’s a crash and bash ruckman who’s done a great job. I hope he can keep putting pressure on to help Goldstein out in that regard.

“Tristan Xerri is another young kid going through the VFL ranks as well. If they both can put the pressure on Todd, that will make him a better ruckman.”

Rocca has bolstered David Noble’s Kanagroos’ coaching staff after working in development roles at Collingwood over the last decade.

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San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon become first woman to control an NBA team in LA Lakers match

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon has made history by becoming the first woman to take charge of an NBA team when she took over after head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected.

Popovich received two technical fouls with 3:56 left in the second quarter of the Spurs’ eventual 121-107 defeat to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

“I did not walk into the arena thinking I would be coaching tonight, but that’s the way things go and you roll with it, and I would have liked a different outcome,” Hammon said.

“Overall, I would have loved to get a win tonight more than anything.”

Hammon did not know she would be put in charge if Popovich were to be ejected from a game.

“He officially pointed at me,” Hammon said. “That was it. He said, ‘You got ’em.’ That was it. Very Pop-like.”

Becky Hammon says she was happy to make history, but would have liked a different outcome.(Reuters: Scott Wachter/USA Today Sports)

San Antonio trailed by 11 points at the time Popovich was tossed.

“We all group together, [assistant coaches] Will Hardy, Mitch Johnson, ‘What can we do to help?’,” Hammon said.

“It was all about what can we do to help win. … It was a great team effort, and they are in my ear giving me suggestions and helping with substitutions and whatnot. When Pop gets tossed, we all come together and become kind of another team.”

Hammon, 43, has been an assistant coach for the Spurs since August 2014, the first woman to be paid for that job in an official, full-time capacity.

She had a 16-year playing career in the WNBA, 1999-2006 with the New York Liberty and 2007-14 with the San Antonio Stars, the latter team owned by the Spurs.

“Obviously, it’s a big deal, a substantial moment,” Hammon said of leading the Spurs.

“I’ve been a part of this organisation. I got traded here in 2007, so I’ve been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs … organisation with the Stars and everything for 13 years. So, I have a lot of time invested, and they have a lot of time invested in me in building me and getting me better.”


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‘It Didn’t Even Sting’: Physician Assistant Recounts Getting Coronavirus Vaccine in Video Diary

A lead physician assistant at a hospital in Georgetown County, South Carolina, described receiving the coronavirus vaccine as a “civic duty”, adding: “I’m so blessed today to have gotten my COVID vaccine.” In the video posted to Facebook on December 17, Catherine Gillespie said it “didn’t even sting.” Credit: Tidelands Health via Storyful

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Sacked Suns assistant details what’s next in coaching career

Former Gold Coast Suns assistant coach Dean Solomon has confirmed he intends to seek another football job in 2022, following a 12-month sabbatical out of the game.

After nine years at the Suns, Solomon was let go as clubs looked to cut costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Solomon said he was looking forward to taking a year off from the game to refresh, opting to start a gym in Kingscliff with fellow former Gold Coast assistant Matt Kennedy.

“It’s hard to say right now but the plan is for 12 months (out of football) and then get back in,” he said on SEN Breakfast.

“I love footy, we love what it provides for people and particularly on the back of what everyone has gone through – I love footy and coaching but I needed 12 months to develop myself.

“I’ll be looking to get back in and try and support a club and move forward to achieve success.”

Solomon’s axing at the Suns came as an immense shock to those in the football industry, with the highly-respected assistant coach let go despite having two years left on his contract.

After receiving plenty of messages after the decision was publicly announced, Solomon said he was overwhelmed with the feedback, saying his connection with staff and players at Gold Coast was the reason why he coaches.

“I haven’t searched out the social media comments, but more so the direct messaging (after I left Gold Coast),” he said.

“That’s why we coach, you just want to see young men and women within the football department blossom and provide a platform for them to be the best they can be.

“I’m really comfortable with 10 years at the Suns, I loved every moment and put my head on the pillow every night knowing I gave everything to that football club and in particular the players to help achieve their dreams.

“While we didn’t achieve any success while I was there – and that’s something that sits within me and burns – but you don’t coach to be liked, you coach to be respected.

“That’s certainly come through in the connection I’ve had after leaving the Suns.”

Solomon confirmed eight clubs had contacted him after being let go by Gold Coast, before he ultimately decided to not coach in 2021.

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