Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has refuted a report the 2022 tournament could be moved overseas due to player issues with quarantine declaring it will be in Melbourne.
A report on Monday said that with border closures set to continue in to 2022 player disquiet with having to quarantine in Australia could force the tournament to be moved to Doha or Dubai.
It was reported players would not be willing to go into hard quarantine in Australia in order to compete, as they did this year.
This year players have been able to operate in a bubble at tournaments around the world, where quarantine has not been required.
But Tiley, while aware of the challenges organisers face in navigating quarantine issues, was adamant the Australian Open would be staged in Melb
“We’re going to be here in Melbourne, we are going to make it work, it’s going to be in January” Tiley said at a SportNXT launch on Monday morning.
“We’re going to find a way to get the players here who are currently travelling the world in a bubble.
“We are the only country where quarantine is required. We’ve got a find a way to manage that and he will.”
Tiley said all the experiences gained in putting on the Open in 2021, which was forced back two weeks and played without spectators early, would only help them stage the event this year.
“I learned a lot every single day, about managing uncertainty,” he said.
“The two enemies, mass gatherings and international travel, COVID doesn’t allow those two things to happen, and those are the pillars of our success.
“Being able to get around that was a challenge.
“There‘s lots of speculation about 2022, and it’s same journey we are going to go on. It’s going to be a ride.
“We felt like we climbed Mount Everest and unfortunately now we’ve found ourselves back at base camp.
“But the one positive thing is that we at least have a path because have done it once.”
Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott was just as positive about the race going ahead in Melbourne later this year despite facing similar challenges with quarantine for drivers and teams.
“I’m always confident,” he said.
“That’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to find solutions.”
The Grand Prix was the first sporting event cancelled in Australia last year when the pandemic broke out.
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A selfless Craig Bellamy has revealed he could walk away from coaching this season if he feels he is losing his passion for the role.
While Bellamy is yet to make a decision on whether he will continue coaching, Bellamy told The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie that he would hate to keep going if he was “half-interested”.
Bellamy said he would not want to be letting anyone else in the club down.
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While not saying it will definitely happen, he added his fear would be waking up one morning having lost the passion for coaching.
“I rang Bellyache yesterday,” Ritchie told Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.
“I moved on to his future and he didn’t give much away. I simply said to him at the end of the interview: ‘You look like you’re still invested in the game, the passion you’ve only got to look at the vision each week up in the coaching box to see he still loves coaching’.
“Then he just came out with it, saying: ‘I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’d rather pull up one year too early than go one year too long’ and it just went from there. One quote says here ‘I’d hate to keep going and be only half-interested and not do my job properly’.
“I then said: ‘Craig is there a fear within you one day you may wake up and the passion may be gone?’ He said: ‘I don’t feel that now but yeah it is in there’.
“When I hung up I certainly got the impression he was leaning towards retiring. He hasn’t made a definitive decision yet but based on the quotes in the newspaper and online, he may want to retire.”
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While unclear at this point what Bellamy’s future will hold, he has four options if he continues in the NRL.
He could either stay on as head coach at the Storm or take up a coaching director role at Melbourne, Cronulla or Brisbane.
The other alternative is retirement.
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Coach Wayne Bennett’s successor Jason Demetriou looks set to take the reins at a club with rookie halfbacks Blake Taaffe and Lachlan Ilias to partner Cody Walker.
Reynolds played another big role against the Raiders as Souths marched to a seventh straight victory in the nation’s capital. His radar-like right boot kicked all seven conversions.
The 30-year-old said he was not sure when his future would be sorted and “I have no idea how long it will take – we’re no closer than we were last week”.
“While I’m in the red and green jersey it’s my job to perform and play well,” he said.
Johns and Thurston said during Channel Nine’s coverage of the Raiders game they could not understand how Reynolds, who grew up across the road from Redfern Oval, could not be accommodated at the club long-term while still such a dominant force.
“I can’t believe he’s not signed, a local junior, he’s played all his footy there and a premiership-winning halfback and he’s on the open market,” Thurston said.
Johns took aim at the NRL’s “flawed system”, saying it should reward long-serving players like Reynolds by having his entire salary excluded from Souths’ cap. As it stands, clubs have less than $200,000 to spend outside the cap on long-serving players.
“You’ve got a local junior who’s played 10 years in first grade and the last year or two should not even be on the cap,” Johns said.
Reynolds said Souths needed to improve their starts if they hoped to turn the tables on fellow heavyweights Melbourne on Thursday night.
The Storm raced to a 22-0 lead before clinging on for a 26-18 victory against Souths in the season opener.
“They’ve had the wood over us for some time now,” Reynolds said.
Lock forward Cameron Murray had scans on the left ankle he injured while making a tackle on Hudson Young in the first half against Canberra, which also forced him to undergo a head injury assessment.
“I didn’t feel anything, I got up and it was sore to walk on. I’m hoping for the best,” he said.
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Craig Bellamy has reportedly accepted a contract extension with the Storm after knocking back offers from Cronulla and Brisbane.
It was revealed Wednesday night Bellamy has told Storm officials he will remain as coach through to the end of the 2022 NRL season before contemplating a potential move into an off-field role with the team.
The news was first reported on SEN’s Jimmy Smith Show where it was revealed Bellamy’s announcement will soon be followed by an announcement that gun fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen has agreed to a two-year contract extension, taking him through to the end of the 2024 NRL season.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Adrian Proszenko told the show the 61-year-old made the decision to end the speculation surrounding his future for the sake of his players.
It was revealed this weekend that the Broncos had “given up” any hope of luring Bellamy to the club as a coaching director — and that a decision was imminent.
Bellamy reportedly had interest in moving to Brisbane to be closer to his grandchildren on the Gold Coast, but he has made the decision to stay in Melbourne.
Papenhuyzen’s decision is another reason Bellamy has decided to stay at the club with the Storm again appearing genuine premiership threats in 2021.
With Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster already signed on long-term deals, Papenhuyzen’s extension now means the club will turn its attention to extending the deal of star No. 9 Harry Grant.
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The third encounter between the Illawarra Hawks and the Sydney Kings this NBL season was a nailbiter from the opening tip-off.
A Craig Moller three-pointer late in overtime broke the Illawarra Hawks’ hearts on Saturday night as the Sydney Kings edged out their NSW rivals for the first time this season.
The Hawks’ biggest home crowd of the season were on the edge of their seats as momentum swung liberally between the two sides throughout the clash.
Coming off a six-day break, the well-rested Hawks hosted the Kings at WIN Entertainment Centre for the first time since the home side’s nailbiting win on New Year’s Eve last season.
It took just 10 seconds for the Kings to score their first basket but the first quarter proved an arm-wrestle from there.
From the get-go, there was little love lost between the rival sides, with in-form Kings point guard Casper Ware taking only two minutes to record two fouls.
Perhaps spurred on by the presence of several members from the club’s sole 2001 title win, including Glen Saville and Damon Lowery, the Hawks set an energetic pace in the second.
But a12-point haul from Ware helped the visitors to a handy half-time lead, 40-34.
Hawks guard Tyler Harvey was similarly influential, netting 13 points of his own across the first two quarters.
The Kings carried their momentum into the third quarter, and when they took a game-high lead, the home crowd had reason to be nervous.
But three third-quarter baskets to young forward Sam Froling allowed the Hawks back into the contest. They trailed by only four points at the final break.
“Illawarra have showed tremendous fight in this quarter,” said commentator Corey Williams late in the third.
The fourth quarter had fans of both sides nervous. The Kings couldn’t extend their lead beyond five in the final quarter, but a late three-pointer to former NBA star Jarell Martin looked like it could’ve been divisive for the visitors.
But a steal from Justin Simon allowed the Hawks to tie up the game at 69 with 36 seconds remaining.
Tyler Harvey floated the ball with the home side’s last possession, taking the game into overtime for the 8th time this NBL season.
Ware limped off with a suspected leg injury early in overtime but quickly returned after being strapped up by the bench.
A late basket to Froling put the Hawks within one point, but a Craig Moller three-pointer was the final nail in the coffin as the Kings defeated the Hawks for the first time this season.
The Kings’ victory is their fourth on the trot, having most recently run out 20-point winners against Mitch Creek’s Phoenix outfit on Thursday night.
Conversely, the Hawks have now slumped to their third straight loss, having also gone down to the high-flying Wildcats and Melbourne United in the past week.
They’ll look to re-enter the winner’s circle and keep in touch with the top four when they face the Breakers on Monday.
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Craig Fitzgibbon was once the ball boy at Cronulla. His dad, Allan, coached the Sharks between 1988 and 1991, and his son was a regular at training and on game day.
An old-school coach, Allan Fitzgibbon was a man of his word. He prided himself on honesty and integrity. It’s no wonder Craig knocked back lucrative offers from both the New Zealand Warriors and St George Illawarra Dragons to remain loyal to the Sydney Roosters.
“Loyalty certainly is a big thing,” Allan Fitzgibbon told the Herald just hours after his son had been appointed coach of the Sharks on a three-year deal worth $1.6 million.
“From our end, that’s how he was brought up. He has a contract, he will adhere to the contract. That’s what happened last year. It’s always been part of him. He’s always been very loyal to the places he’s been to. He’s had prior opportunities but he wouldn’t break his contract.”
Fitzgibbon, who coached seven seasons in the ARL at both Cronulla and the Illawarra Steelers, wouldn’t delve into the strengths of his son as a coach, but had no hesitation in paying tribute to the Roosters and the apprenticeship he has undertaken courtesy of Nick Politis and Trent Robinson.
“Nick has probably been the main influence on his career,” Allan said. “To be at one place for 20 years is probably unheard of, especially to do it in a playing capacity and then as an official capacity as well. It probably speaks for itself.
“Without a doubt, Trent Robinson has played a big part as well. They are a very strong organisation. They are very well-organised. What he has learnt over the years will hold him in good stead. He owes a lot to the Roosters.”
Fitzgibbon informed Roosters supremo Nick Politis of his intention to link with the Sharks over the weekend, receiving his blessing to depart at season’s end.
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He is waiting on a commitment from the club in regards to his coaching staff next season, after assurances from the Sharks that he will be given autonomy, before putting pen to paper. He also wants to meet face-to-face with Sharks officials before signing the deal.
Fitzgibbon, a Roosters life member, last year turned down approaches from the New Zealand Warriors and St George Illawarra after promising coach Trent Robinson and chairman Nick Politis that he would not leave his role before the end of the 2022 season.
Brad Fittler, one of Fitzgibbon’s closest friends, said he had no doubt his mate was in line for the job.
“He works very hard, knows the game back to front and he loves the game,” Fittler told NRL.com.
“He’s got an affiliation with the Cronulla area. He lived there for a long time while he was playing with the Roosters. He knows a lot about the fans and the supporters there. He’s done his apprenticeship under Robbo, one of the best in the business. He knows what coaching is all about … I have to say there are not many other people I’d trust more taking on a first-grade role more than Craig Fitzgibbon.
“He’s got to the stage where the right job has come up. There were some other options last year and he decided against them, I think wisely. It shows a lot of maturity and a lot of confidence in yourself to wait for the right job because they just don’t come up that often.”
As for Morris, his players have leapt to his defence. Injured and off-contract playmaker Shaun Johnson told Fox League he was disappointed with the club’s treatment of the coach.
“I look at the facts, bro. I don’t know how you can [get rid of] a coach who has been throw in at the deep end right at the start,” Johnson said on The Matty Johns Show.
“He had to take over a difficult situation at the start with [Shane] Flanagan leaving. He’s gone after it, taken the side to the finals the last two years and finds himself in the position he is now. It’s disappointing, certainly disappointing.”
Fitzgibbon’s coronation as an NRL head coach came with the support of a couple of the Rabbitohs’ biggest stars despite their rivalry with the Roosters.
Cameron Murray and Damien Cook have both worked with the 43-year-old during his time on Fittler’s NSW staff during the last two State of Origin series, where Fitzgibbon was charged with leading the side’s defence.
“I guess it’s up to him, but I have no doubt [he’s ready],” Murray said. “I can’t praise him enough as a coach or as a person. I love Fitzy and I think he’s up there as one of the best coaches I’ve played under.”
Said Cook: “He’s a very smart coach and knows what he’s talking about. If he does get a job there would be no one that deserves it more. He’s a great coach and I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with him.”
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Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald
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Sharks coach John Morris looks all-but-set to be ousted from Cronulla with immediate effect, with the club hierarchy pursuing a radical double-play to unite a pair of up-and-coming coaches as his replacement.
As revealed by The Daily Telegraph, Sydney Roosters assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon is set to be unveiled as head coach with Panthers assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo as his assistant.
Veteran News Corp journalist Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield tweeted that they wanted Morris to leave immediately.
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He wrote: “There is strong mail [Dino] Mezzatesta & [Steve] Mace want John Morris to leave NOW and bring in a caretaker. Talk about destroying a season. This is disgraceful.”
@Cronulla_Sharks There is strong mail Mezzatesta & Mace want John Morris to leave NOW and bring in a caretaker. Talk about destroying a season. This is disgraceful.
Earlier on Monday, Rothfield told Fox League’s NRL 360 “The Craig Fitzgibbon deal is actually a package deal and it involves Penrith Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo who we all know is highly regarded.
“These two are close, they coached NSW Country together. They’ve remained in touch, they’ve always wanted to coach together.
“I can confirm powerbrokers at the Sharks have spoken to both of them. They will get the job, providing they can sort out the money – dot the I’s, cross the T’s.
“John Morris met with the club today … It was the first time he actually had the opportunity to push his case for reappointment. But I think he was wasting his time, it’s all over red rover.”
“They’ve been talking to Ciraldo and Fitzgibbon for several months” Rothfield added.
Fitzgibbon’s contract with the Roosters expires at the end of the season, while Ciraldo has another year remaining with the Panthers, where he is widely credited with significantly improving their defence and guiding their young squad into premiership contenders.
But the pair will have their hands full at cronulla, with a full 14 players off-contract after the current season.
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Morris still maintains the support of the dressing room, and reached the finals in both previous seasons of what is his maiden head coaching gig.
That is despite significant salary cap constraints that led Cronulla halfback Shaun Johnson to yesterday declare Morris ‘hasn’t had any control over the roster’.
Johnson stood by the current coach, telling Fox League: “He hasn’t had any control over the roster, he’s been in a situation where our cap has been shot the last couple of years and he’s made do with what he’s got.
“He’s got us all on board, so I genuinely can’t speak highly enough of him.”
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Adam Reynolds could learn as early as next Tuesday if he will remain a Rabbitoh or have to begin looking for a new club.
Reynolds is after a three-year deal but would stay put at South Sydney if a two-season extension is tabled.
South Sydney though have stuck solid with their one-year offer and The Australian’s Brent Read reported on Saturday that the next few days will be “crucial” in deciding Reynolds’ future.
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“I think the next couple of days will be crucial,” he said on Triple M.
“The internal talks they do then they will meet Adam and his management on Tuesday and if it’s only one year it will give the Cowboys a green light to give him a big deal, a three-year deal.”
Read revealed that salary cap issues are the main factor limiting South Sydney from offering Reynolds a longer deal, with the club forced to choose between the halfback and five-eighth Cody Walker.
“The issue is the salary cap,” he added.
“He [Blake Solly] said it is purely a salary cap decision because they’ve got Cody Walker off-contract at the end of next year. They’re going to want to keep him. They’re probably going to have to upgrade him a little bit.
“They’ve re-signed a lot of blokes. Campbell Graham, Cam Murray, Damien Cook, Liam Knight, Tevita Tatola, Latrell Mitchell – all on big money – so the issue is a salary cap one.”
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Read said that while the Rabbitohs can afford to keep Reynolds on a one-year deal, they would be hesitant to do so on the risk of appearing “disrespectful.”
“Souths can give him one year on good money,” he said.
“It wouldn’t be the one he’s on now but the issue is they don’t want to be disrespectful and offer him $300,000 for the year after because you’ve got to pay him what he is worth.
“They’ve got real issues with their cap because they’ve got a lot of good players there and you can’t keep them all and at some point you’ve got to make a call. Maybe it comes down to whether they keep Cody Walker or Adam Reynolds.”
In that case, Read added that the Rabbitohs already have a plan in place in the form of young gun Lachlan Ilias.
“Well they’ve got blokes coming through who can play the Reynolds role,” he said.
“Lachlan Ilias played SG Ball in the curtain-raiser. He kicked the goal to square the score then kicked the field goal to win the game for them.
“He’s a game-managing halfback, I imagine he is a bit like an Adam Reynolds type footballer then you have Cody Walker in the running five-eighth role. It is all about succession planning and they can’t afford to lose the next Adam Reynolds.”
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Paps scores FOUR in 11 minutes
BELLAMY CALL STILL ON PAPENHUYZEN’S MIND
In other news, while Storm speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen raced in four tries against the Broncos on Friday night, he maintains he is in no rush to sort out his future.
Papenhuyzen is off-contract at the end of 2022 and while it is understood that negotiations have started, the 22-year old is not stressing over it.
“I think my manager is talking through it at the moment. I’m not too rushed,” he told Triple M on Saturday.
Reports emerged last month that Papenhuyzen would wait to see what Craig Bellamy does before making a final decision, with the Storm coach yet to make a call on his future.
Papenhuyzen said that is still the case and will play a role.
“I’m pretty happy with how it is all going and obviously it would be good to see what Craig is going to do as well,” he added.
“That will all be a factor. I’m not rushing through a decision. I think I come off-contract at the end of next year so just keep playing well and let that do the talking.”
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Senior Liberal Party member Kent Johns has labelled embattled MP Craig Kelly a “liar”, as the former Liberal MP continues to stand by his political staffer Frank Zumbo amid allegations that Mr Zumbo sexually harassed young women.
At least seven women have provided statements to NSW Police detailing allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Craig Kelly’s trusted advisor, Frank Zumbo
Mr Kelly has denied knowledge of allegations involving Mr Zumbo
Senior Liberal Party member Kent Johns has revealed he personally informed Mr Kelly of the allegations at least three times
Mr Kelly consistently denied any knowledge of allegations involving Mr Zumbo until reports emerged in the media last year, and again more recently.
But Mr Johns, a former New South Wales Liberal Party vice-president, told 7.30 he personally informed Mr Kelly about some of the allegations and staff concerns at least three times between 2016 and 2018.
“He’s a liar,” Mr Johns told 7.30.
“He knew what was going on. He knew the behaviour was unacceptable, and he kept ignoring it. Craig Kelly had a duty of care, which he’s failed to fulfill.”
Concerns raised reached a ‘dead end’
Mr Johns said he raised these issues with a number of senior NSW Liberal Party members, but did not receive any meaningful response.
He said he decided to speak out publicly because he had gotten nowhere trying to solve the issue through other means over many years.
“I want people to know that a lot of people tried to address the issue with Craig Kelly directly,” he told 7.30.
In 2018, Mr Johns wrote an email to moderate Liberal Party members, saying they were all aware of the alleged “treatment of young women” in Craig Kelly’s office.
“The behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept,” he wrote.
He told 7.30: “I’d got to the point where I’d raised it with senior members of the Liberal Party operationally, senior members of the Liberal Party politically, and gotten to a dead end. I just was frustrated.”
The NSW Liberal Party told 7.30 it had no record of allegations about Frank Zumbo ever being raised with the party’s executive.
Mr Johns long held ambitions for the federal seat of Hughes, having once lost to Craig Kelly in a preselection contest.
He questioned whether knowledge of his political ambitions was used by the Liberal Party and Craig Kelly to undermine his concerns.
“It was seen through the prism of a political competitor,” Mr Johns said.
“Maybe that impacted my effectiveness, that people were not taking it as seriously as I did.”
He insisted the latest revelations had nothing to do with politics.
“I don’t want the seat of Hughes,” he told 7.30.
“What I want is these girls to be safe. That’s all this ever came down to.”
‘A smile on his face and an erection in his pants’
7.30 has obtained signed statutory declarations from three former staffers who worked at Craig Kelly’s electorate office. The staffers describe how they raised specific allegations with the MP as early as 2013.
During a meeting in June 2014, one staffer wrote, Mr Kelly was informed about an incident where Frank Zumbo emerged from a meeting with a young woman behind closed doors with a visible erection.
“Frank Zumbo walked out of the boardroom with a smile on his face and an erection in his pants,” the former staffer wrote.
Another allegation details an instance where others in the office overheard a young woman screaming.
7.30 has also obtained a police statement from a young female staffer who alleges Mr Zumbo sexually harassed her for three years from 2015.
Mr Zumbo vehemently denied all the allegations and said he was appalled that anyone would be making them.
However, the Department of Finance and NSW Police are currently looking into some of the claims.
While still employed in Mr Kelly’s electorate office, Mr Zumbo is also the subject of an apprehended violence order.
‘Craig would turn around and walk out’
7.30 is aware of at least seven women who provided statements to NSW Police, detailing allegations that Mr Zumbo’s behaviour around them was uncomfortable and sexually inappropriate.
One of the women, who was a political adviser in Craig Kelly’s office between 2015 and 2018, alleges that Frank Zumbo sexually harassed her.
The woman did not want to be identified, as she is running for office in the UK. However, she shared her seven-page police statement with 7.30.
The 27-year-old alleges that Frank Zumbo would greet her with hugs and kisses in Craig Kelly’s office, but then progress to trying to kiss her on the lips while putting his arms around her and pulling her close to him, and rubbing her body against his.
A year after she started working in the electorate office, she says that Mr Zumbo would begin the day by grabbing her breasts as she went in to hug him.
She alleges that in 2016, when she was 21, Mr Zumbo tried to kiss her in front of two witnesses.
“I pushed him away by putting both hands on his chest and saying, ‘Stop. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to kiss you,'” she wrote in her police statement.
Then, in June 2018, she alleges Mr Zumbo exposed himself to her.
Her police statement reads: “I looked over at Frank and noticed he had taken his penis out of his zipper on his pants. I began crying while saying, ‘Frank, I don’t want to do anything like that. Please just take me home.’ Frank tried to encourage me by saying, ‘Come on.’ But as I continued crying, he put his penis away.”
7.30 can reveal that Mr Zumbo was the subject of two concurrent bullying and intimidation investigations which started in 2014.
Two senior female staffers in Craig Kelly’s office lodged compensation claims, alleging persistent bullying and intimidation by Mr Zumbo, who was still a volunteer at the time.
In one of the compensation claims, a staffer described regular shouting matches in the office and constantly feeling threatened that her job was on the line because of Frank Zumbo. She described how she became concerned about the large number of young women who were brought to the office by Mr Zumbo.
The woman was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, which according to her medical certificate was caused by “her interactions with Prof Zumbo (volunteer) at her workplace.”
Frank Zumbo has consistently denied the bullying allegations.
Mr Zumbo was also investigated by the South Australian government over allegations of bullying and intimidation that spanned between 2014 and 2015, when he was employed part-time in the office of the Small Business Commissioner.
One former employee told investigators his dealings with Mr Zumbo left him feeling “exhausted, stressed and bullied”, and that his time in the office with Mr Zumbo “wraps up into one long nightmare”.
An investigation found bullying and harassment had taken place. Mr Zumbo denies the allegations.
Meanwhile, at the University of New South Wales, where Frank Zumbo was an associate professor, concerns about his conduct were flagged before his sudden departure in 2015.
Former student Kate Nichols said that as a lecturer, Mr Zumbo would persistently contact her over Facebook asking to catch up outside of class.
She said the alleged behaviour felt sleazy, unwanted and intimidating at the time, but now, in the context of multiple other allegations, she views what allegedly happened under a different light.
“It almost feels like grooming-type behaviour,” she said.
Mr Zumbo told 7.30 through his lawyer that he denied any recollection of a “Kate Nichols” and had no record of any Facebook messages with a person of that name.
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