Perese ruled out of France series as Swinton prepares to face SANZAAR judiciary


Swinton is facing the possibility of six matches on the sidelines given his poor disciplinary record. He was suspended for four weeks following a red card in his Test debut against the All Blacks in Brisbane last year.

Izaia Perese will need surgery on the shoulder injury he suffered against the Chiefs at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night.Credit:Getty

Swinton will remain with the Wallabies, who have started a three-week preparation for the first Test of the France series at the SCG.

One of the new faces in that squad, Rebels back-rower Michael Wells, said his mindset was simple: to push for a Test debut.

“You’re not here to make the numbers, you’re here to make a difference,” Wells said. “So I’m not just here to enjoy the experience of being a squad member.”

Wells is the a Waratahs back-rower who won the team’s best forward award in 2018 before leaving NSW after receiving a disappointing contract offer.

Wells was influential in the side’s run to the semi-finals that year. Three years on, NSW are in crisis after going winless from 13 games this season.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit of a sting,” Wells said of his NSW exit. “It dents your pride a little bit and takes a bit to come back but, again, it’s easy to blame other people. It’s harder to reflect and look and say could you be better yourself.

“You can complain about it or move on. I probably was too slow to move on particularly in my first year at the Rebels; probably didn’t hit the ground running as much.”

Michael Wells thought his shot at Australian selection might have passed him by.

Michael Wells thought his shot at Australian selection might have passed him by.Credit:Getty

Despite relocating to the Rebels, Wells harbours no animosity towards the Waratahs and wants to see them recover from their almighty slump.

“It’s disappointing they had the season they did,” Wells said. “I’d be lying to say I didn’t want them to do well. You want every team in Australian rugby to go well because of the current climate of the game. It’s always easy to talk negative. It’s harder to buy in as a collective.

“I think they’ve got the right pieces in place with a strong roster and a young roster coming through and I think this will be a great experience for them this year.”

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Wells said there were some moments where he doubted if he’d ever get a look-in for the Wallabies.

“Potentially, I thought it might not happen for me,” he said. “But again it was just worrying about my job at the Rebels and trying to play the best I could and hoping that if I could string games together and do my role then it’d get rewarded via selection.

“For me this is the pinnacle of rugby in Australia and it’s where I always wanted to be.”

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At Once Diminished and Dominating, Trump Prepares for His Next Act


WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump, the former president of the United States, commutes to New York City from his New Jersey golf club to work out of his office in Trump Tower at least once a week, slipping in and out of Manhattan without attracting much attention.

The place isn’t as he left it. Many of his longtime employees are gone. So are most of the family members who once worked there with him and some of the fixtures of the place, like his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who have since turned on him. Mr. Trump works there, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men.

His political operation has also dwindled to a ragtag team of former advisers who are still on his payroll, reminiscent of the bare-bones cast of characters that helped lift a political neophyte to his unlikely victory in 2016. Most of them go days or weeks without interacting with Mr. Trump in person.

But as he heads to the North Carolina Republican convention on Saturday night, in what is billed as the resumption of rallies and speeches, Mr. Trump is both a diminished figure and an oversized presence in American life, with a remarkable — and many say dangerous — hold on his party.

Even without his favored megaphones and the trappings of office, Mr. Trump looms over the political landscape, animated by the lie that he won the 2020 election and his own fury over his defeat. And unlike others with a grievance, he has been able to impose his anger and preferred version of reality on a substantial slice of the American electorate — with the potential to influence the nation’s politics and weaken faith in its elections for years to come.

Still blocked from Twitter and Facebook, he has struggled to find a way to influence news coverage since leaving office and promote the fabrication that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Some party leaders, like the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, are pretending he doesn’t exist anymore, while being deferential when Mr. Trump cannot be ignored.

Others, like Senator Rick Scott of Florida, have tried to curry favor by presenting Mr. Trump with made-up awards to flatter his ego and keep him engaged in helping Senate Republicans recapture a majority in 2022.

Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, said Mr. Trump had defied the model of ex-presidents who lose an election and tend to fade away, and the experience of Richard M. Nixon, who was treated like a pariah in the way Mr. Trump has managed to avoid.

As for being simultaneously big and small, Mr. Beschloss said: “He’s big if the metric is that politicians are afraid of him, which is one metric of power in Washington. Many Republican leaders are terrified of him and abasing themselves in front of him.”

Jason Miller, an adviser to the former president, agreed on Mr. Trump’s control over the party.

“There are two types of Republicans inside the Beltway,” Mr. Miller said. “Those who realize President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party and those who are in denial.”

Even in defeat, Mr. Trump remains the front-runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024 in every public poll so far. Lawmakers who have challenged his dominance of the party, like Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who implored her colleagues to reject him after the Jan. 6 riot by his supporters at the Capitol, have been booted from Republican leadership.

From his strange dual perch of irrelevance and dominance, Mr. Trump has been narrowly focused on three things — his repeated, false claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and his support for efforts to try to overturn the results; the state and local investigations into the practices of the Trump Organization; and the state of his business.

Mr. Trump, who White House officials said watched with pleasure as his supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College vote, has told several people he believes he could be “reinstated” to the White House this August, according to three people familiar with his remarks. He has been echoing a theory promulgated by supporters like Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow, and Sidney Powell, the lawyer being sued for defamation by election machine companies for spreading conspiracy theories about the safety of their ballots.

President Biden’s victory, with more than 80 million votes, was certified by Congress once the Jan. 6 riot was contained. There is no legal mechanism for reinstating a president, and the efforts by Republicans in the Arizona Senate to recount the votes in the state’s largest county have been derided as fake and inept by local Republican officials, who say the result is a partisan circus that is eroding confidence in elections.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has zeroed in on the Arizona effort and a lawsuit in Georgia to insist that not only will he be restored to office, but that Republicans will also retake the majority in the Senate through those same efforts, according to the people familiar with what he has been saying.

He has pressed conservative commentators and writers to echo his claims that the election was rigged. His focus has intensified in recent weeks, coinciding with the empaneling of a special grand jury by Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, into his businesses.

Frustrated by the lack of coverage, he has expressed his anger in news releases that still refer to him as the “45th President of the United States.”

“Next time I’m in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife,” he said in a statement on Friday after Facebook announced it would keep its ban against him in place for at least two years. “It will be all business!”

Last week, he shut down his blog after hearing from friends that the site was getting little traffic and making him look small and irrelevant, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

Some of his aides are not eager to engage with him on his conspiracy theories and would like to see him press a forward-looking agenda that could help Republicans in 2022. People in his circle joke that the most senior adviser to the former leader of the free world is Christina Bobb, a correspondent with the far-right, eternally pro-Trump One America News Network, whom he consults regularly for information about the Arizona election audit.

It remains to be seen what he says about the 2020 election during his appearance in North Carolina.

Mr. Trump was eager to take back the microphone on Saturday night in Greenville, where aides said he planned to attack Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, as well as the Biden administration.

“Joe Biden wants American taxpayers to pay reparations,” Mr. Trump was expected to say, according to an aide involved in drafting the speech. “I want the Chinese to pay American taxpayers reparations.”

Mr. Trump’s first post-presidential rally is scheduled for later in June, followed by more appearances both for himself, paid for by his super PAC, and on behalf of House Republicans who support his agenda, advisers said.

He has been so eager for an audience that he is even billed as a speaker who will appear live, via Jumbotron, at a rally in New Richmond, Wis., where the other headliners are Diamond and Silk, the MAGA movement social media stars, and Dinesh D’Souza, who received a presidential pardon from Mr. Trump for a felony conviction of making illegal campaign contributions.

Despite the modest nature of some of the events he is interested in attaching his name to, even some of his biggest detractors are loath to write him off.

“I wish I was more confident it was ridiculous,” said Bill Kristol, a prominent “Never Trump” conservative. “It’s missing the forest through the trees to fail to see how strong he is.”

Both of his 2020 campaign managers, Bill Stepien and Brad Parscale, are on Mr. Trump’s payroll and still involved in his world. But Mr. Trump is episodically enraged with most members of his team.

This time around, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law who oversaw his 2020 campaign operation, has mostly dropped out, telling the small circle of advisers around the ex-president that he wants to focus on writing his book and establishing a simpler relationship with Mr. Trump, where he is just a son-in-law. Donald Trump Jr. has stepped in as the most politically involved family member in his father’s life.

Susie Wiles, the veteran Florida political consultant whom the former president and everyone in his orbit credit with winning the critical state in 2016 and again in 2020, oversees Mr. Trump’s fund-raising operation from Florida, shepherding the weekly conference call of the skeletal team that still runs the post-presidential operation.

In the evenings, Mr. Trump has attended fund-raisers at his Bedminster, N.J., golf course, both for his own political action committee and for Republican candidates.

But he has been eager to get back to holding rallies, announcing states where he planned to travel to before his team had finalized any venues or dates.

“If you’re a one-term president, you usually go quietly into the night,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian. “He sees himself as leading the revolution, and he’s doing it from the back of a golf cart.”

Annie Karni reported from Washington and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Australia’s wine industry prepares to call in World Trade Organization over China tariffs


Australia is on the cusp of calling in the independent global trade umpire to resolve a major dispute with China.

Winemakers and grape growers argue Beijing needs to be dobbed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) after it imposed crippling tariffs on Australian wine last year.

The tariffs of up to 220 per cent were confirmed in March in response to claims Australia subsidised its winemakers and dumped produce in China.

Australia strongly rejected any suggestion of anti-competitive behaviour, and now industry group Australian Grape and Wine wants the federal government to refer the matter to the WTO.

“The industry as a whole is backing a WTO action,” chief executive Tony Battaglene said.

On Thursday, News Corp reported that Accolade Wines, responsible for major labels Hardys and Grant Burge, did not support a WTO appeal for fear of retaliatory action such as further tariffs.

Accolade Wines, in a statement to the ABC, wouldn’t be drawn on its stance on the appeal.

“We continue to support strong bilateral relations between Australia and key trading partners, and the work of the industry association in advocating for the entire grape and wine sector and its interests at home and overseas,” a spokesperson said.

However, Mr Battaglene said that Accolade Wines had reached consensus with the Australian Grape and Wine board.

“We know that Accolade Wines are not opposing a WTO action if that’s the route the government decides to go,” Mr Battaglene said.

“They’re not putting any pressure on our organisation, or indeed the industry as a whole, or the government not to pursue WTO action if that’s the decided route,” he said.

A WTO appeal could take up to five years to be resolved and exporters, including those that still have access to China, have raised concerns about further disruption to Australia’s trade while a challenge was underway.

Mr Battaglene said the wine tariff dispute could be resolved earlier and that he did not expect retaliation if Australia did launch a WTO appeal.

“We don’t believe it’s likely to lead to a further deterioration in relationships — I think there’s bigger issues at stake than exports of wine,” he said.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan told the ABC that the government was working closely with the wine industry to resolve the current dispute with China.

“I thank the wine industry for the constructive way they have co-operated with the government,” Mr Tehan said in a statement.

In December, former trade minister Simon Birmingham referred China to the WTO over trade-ending tariffs on Australian barley.

“They’ve already gone down the track with barley and I think it’s logical they’ll extend that to wine,” Mr Battaglene said.

It is understood the barley case is the first instance of Australia referring China to the WTO over an agricultural commodity.

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South Pacific paradise prepares for tourists to return


Like most of the Pacific, the Cook Islands has been isolated for more than a year, forcing locals to return to a simpler way of life. But tourists are set to return with the opening of a travel bubble with New Zealand on Monday and hopes Australia won’t be too far behind.

“Rarotonga was like that island (Motunui) in the Disney movie, Moana,” Cook Islands tourism operator Charlotte Piho says.

“The rest of the world was in utter chaos but we were on this tiny island eating coconuts safe from it all. But so many of us have struggled too, some people lost everything.”

Isolated from the outside world since March 2020, a nation reliant on international tourism for 75 per cent of its GDP (30,000 Australians and 115,000 New Zealanders visited annually, pre-COVID-19) was forced to return to traditional Polynesian ways of living.

Old-time locals say the island hasn’t been this quiet since the mid 1970s, when the first jetliners arrived after the international airport was built in Rarotonga.

With few planes arriving from New Zealand, the cost of imported goods has sky-rocketed; and with most jobs in tourism (at least temporarily) lost, many locals returned to their family plantations to grow staple crops, while fishing became a way to feed family, more than the pastime it was previously (though there has been government support for the newly unemployed).

“Our people have reconnected with their land and brought plantation plots back to life,” Pacific Resort Hotel Group chief executive Marcus Niszow says.

“This was a positive to come from these challenging times.”

Even the unused grounds of the Cook Islands’ most awarded luxury resort, Pacific Resort Aitutaki, were used as plantation fields to feed staff during the hotel’s hibernation period.

Tourism businesses all over the Cook Islands used their resources to provide for locals in need.

“It’s been a year of caring and sharing, the organic fruit we grow for our guests to eat has instead been given away to friends and neighbours,” Ikurangi Eco Retreat co-owner Vicki Candish says.

“Our community lives and breathes the communal way of living,” The Mooring Fish Café owner Jill Stanton says (her café went from being Rarotonga’s most popular eatery, to having barely 10 customers a day).

“But more so than ever during COVID we have each others’ backs, delivering meals when we have leftovers, selling fish for no more than the cost of catching it, and supporting each other emotionally.”

Drive 100 metres inland from the busier coast road that encircles Rarotonga and you see hundreds of locals now tending to family plantations beside the Pacific’s oldest road, the 1000-year-old Are Metua.

On Aitutaki, working groups of locals in government programs have helped regenerate motus (tiny islands) in the island’s world-famous lagoon, ready for returning international travellers. Resorts and hotels have used the time to refresh their properties, while some, like Ocean Escape Resort, have used the hiatus to build new luxury villas.

The Cook Islands will open to New Zealanders in a two-way, quarantine-free travel bubble from May 17. Australians who spend 14 days in New Zealand first would also be able to visit (provided they then spend a further 14 days in New Zealand before returning to Australia).

It is the first travel bubble to open in our part of the the Pacific where, according to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, islands are reporting close to zero occupancy in resorts and hotels (the exception has been French Polynesia, which has largely remained open to visitors with some restrictions in place). Islands have also been hit by the closure of the cruise industry, thanks largely to Australia’s ban on cruising.

While some locals have savoured the change of pace brought on by the pandemic, most local business owners are excited at the return of international travellers.

“We’ve been waiting a very long time for this travel bubble,” Niszow says. “Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined such a long period of time without any international visitors at all to the Cook Islands.”

The Cook Islands Government is launching a new contract tracing App, called CookSafe+. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation has produced the Cook Islands Promise, a joint commitment between New Zealand and the Cook Islands to protect all Cook Islands residents and international visitors from COVID-19.

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation general manager Graeme West says he’s confident Australians will soon be part of the travel bubble.

“The Cook Islands are hopeful that they can get open to Australia ASAP, in a full quarantine-free arrangement, where Australians could either fly non-stop from Sydney or through Auckland,” he says.

See cookislands.travel

See also: Take your passport: 20 surprising things about this remote Aussie island

See also: Going overseas now feels like a privilege, not a right



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Howard Springs prepares for travel from India to resume



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AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

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Archegos prepares for insolvency as banks seek compensation: Financial Times


Archegos Capital Management, the family office run by former Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang, is preparing for insolvency as banks involved in financing its trades seek to recoup some of their losses, the Financial Times reported.

Archegos has hired restructuring advisers to assess the potential legal claims from banks and to plan for a possible winding down of its operations, the report said, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Credit Suisse, Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley were some of the banks that were hardest hit by the Archegos implosion.Credit:Bloomberg

The family office’s meltdown was triggered after ViacomCBS , a company Archegos was heavily exposed to, announced a stock offering in March. A slump in the media company’s share price alarmed the banks, which called on the fund for more collateral.

The fund defaulted on the margin call, which set off a scramble among Wall Street banks that had financed its trades to start unwinding them.

Global banks lost nearly $US10 billion ($12.9 billion) from the Archegos fallout. Credit Suisse, Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley were some of the banks that were hit.

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The New York-based fund had assets of around $US10 billion but held positions worth more than $US50 billion. The saga is likely to have regulatory repercussions, as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve both have said the situation is under scrutiny.

A number of the banks who lost money are preparing to issue “letters of demand” to Archegos, which are requests for payment before launching a legal claim, three people close to the process told FT.

Archegos declined to comment on the FT report.

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‘Recycled’ SpaceX capsule prepares to dock at International Space Station


he first European to blast off in a rocket and capsule designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX is due to dock at the International Space Station on Saturday morning.

Frenchman Thomas Pesquet is the first European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to ride in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which launched from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida just before 11am UK time on Friday.

Also on board is Nasa’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and Jaxa’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Akihiko Hoshide on his second mission to the ISS.

It is the third launch for Nasa’s Commercial Crew programme, which relies on private sector companies operating from the US, in less than a year.

Nasa was previously reliant on the Soyuz shuttle programme for more than a decade.

The “recycled” Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon rocket combination sent four astronauts to the ISS last November and the capsule transported and returned two astronauts during the first crewed SpaceX flight last May.

The capsule is due to come into dock at 10.10am UK time – almost 24 hours after launch.

The crew will replace Nasa’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Jaxa’s Soichi Noguchi, who are scheduled to return to Earth next Wednesday in another SpaceX capsule.

For her debut mission, Ms McArthur is flying on the same seat as her husband Bob Behnken did for SpaceX’s debut crew flight in May last year.

After a six-month stay, the Crew-2 astronauts will leave the ISS in October and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration at the ESA, said: “Thomas’ mission is part of a sequence that is taking us on a journey that will, one day, end up with boots on Mars, the red planet.

“But right now, Mars is only a destination for our robots.

“Beyond the space station, one of the things we are doing is preparing for the return to the Moon, or going forward to the Moon, to explore it properly this time.

“So Europe is building the power propulsion for Orion – the new deep spacecraft that will take humans to the Moon. We have three seats aboard that are already planned.”

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Mars One contender Josh Richards finally finds a place to call home, but prepares to leave it all behind


What would you want to do with your last 10 years on Earth?

People often ask the question when facing old age or illness but in Josh Richards’ case, the 35-year-old is preparing for a one-way trip to Mars.

Mars One is the private consortium that short-listed Mr Richards for the space exploration trip in which it aims to establish a permanent settlement on the Red Planet, but it has not said when it will actually happen.

Mr Richards is not even sure that he will be selected for the trip.

Five years after making the final list of 100 from 200,000 applicants, Mr Richards now receives “updates from headquarters” every three months.

Still, there is a chance.

So what do you do with your last years on Earth before leaving forever?

Death or leaving life as he knows it is not foreign ground for Josh Richards.

Before he was four, the boy born in Melbourne had moved to Brisbane, Perth, and Puckapunyal.

“Dad was a military diver for quite a long time and I expected to go down that same sort of path,” Mr Richards said.

After studying physics at university he went into the Army, joining as a combat engineer and specialising in booby traps and “that side of things”.

From the Army, he worked a stint in the mines before joining the Navy as a diver and eventually moving to the United Kingdom to join the Royal Marine Commandos.

It was short-lived. A year in, he got seriously sick with Lyme disease and had to learn to walk again.

“During my recovery, I really started thinking about what we were doing. They were doing continuous operations to Afghanistan, we were told ‘You will go to Afghanistan, everybody does it’,” Mr Richards said.

Once again he left his profession and moved on to something else. “Career ADHD” Mr Richards calls it. 

“At the time, I’d always be thinking, ‘I’m going to make a career out of this'” Mr Richards said.

“I’ve committed to things for longer and longer as I’ve found more purpose in them as I went.”

Wanting to stay in the UK, he “bummed around” with a few odd jobs before settling on his career for the next six years — stand-up comedy.

It was a surprising choice even for Josh Richards.

He was writing jokes for a show when the idea of space travel took hold.

“I’d learnt during my physics degree that we had the technology to get people to Mars but not to bring them back,” Mr Richards said.

“I wanted to use that idea as a metaphor for me actually leaving stand-up, talking about moving on to new things and letting the past go.

Making it to the final tiers of Mars One spiralled him into public life: appearing in the news, talking on panels, writing books.

Leaving comedy for good in 2016, cave diving resurfaced in early 2019.

“I kind of forgot about it for a long time until I wrote this book about what I would want to do with my last 10 years on Earth,” Mr Richards said.

He did his basic cave course in Mount Gambier. When he returned six months later to do the next level course, he was offered a job at the local dive shop. 

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Dawn breaks over Windsor on day of Prince Philip’s funeral: Queen prepares to bid farewell to her husband of 73 years at service that will mark his ‘unwavering loyalty’



A golden glow fell over the grounds of Windsor Castle this morning as dawn broke on the day HRH Prince Philip will be laid to rest. 

The eyes of the world will be on the royal residence today as the Queen says her final goodbye to the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband, ‘strength and stay’ of 73 years.

In pre-pandemic times thousands of mourners would have travelled to the Berkshire town to pay their respects, but the Royal Family, the Government and police are asking the public to stay away.

Early this morning members of the armed forces, police, security and the media were taking up positions around the castle ahead of this afternoon’s ceremony.

While much of the typical pageantry has been pared back, Buckingham Palace says it will still reflect Philip’s life of service and the plans he himself spent years fine-tuning. 

Right down to the bespoke Land Rover hearse to carry his own coffin, the event will be executed with Philip’s characteristic military precision, leading up to the 3pm service at St George’s Chapel. 

The first glimpses inside the chapel shows the Duke’s insignia, Field Marshal’s baton, RAF wings and decorations from Denmark and Greece resting on cushions at the altar.

The Queen, 94, will say a private farewell to her husband before his body is driven to the chapel tailed by a small procession including Philip’s four children and three grandsons. 

Sources say she has been the ‘epitome of dignity’ this week, and the Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to her ‘extraordinary dignity and courage’.

Justin Welby, who will praise Philip’s ‘life of service to the nation and Commonwealth’ at the service, added that he hoped the nation prayed for her and ‘hope for her to find strength in what must be an anguished moment’.

As the Queen prepared to lead the nation in mourning: 

It was a crisp Spring day at Windsor this morning, with sunshine forecast for most of the day.  

Signs have been erected around the town urging members of the public to stay away from the grounds and other royal residences. 

Police patrols have been stepped up to enforce Covid rules, which bans large gatherings. 

Marshals have also been drafted in to help and were seen trooping through the town in high-vis jackets. 

As with all royal events, there was tight security and police divers were pictured searching a drain near the grounds. 

Reporters were struck by how quiet Windsor was this morning, drawing contrast with past major events such as Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding when the streets were filled with royal fans.   

But a visible armed forces presence is on display, reflecting the Duke’s wishes for a military rather than a state funeral.

Philip served with distinction as a Naval officer in the Second World War and had association with all forces while the Queen’s consort.  

The duke’s coffin, draped in his personal standard and bearing his naval cap, sword and a wreath of flowers, will first be seen at 2.41pm today when it emerges from the State Entrance to Windsor Castle carried by a bearer party from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

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How AFL coaches deal with constant losing as North Melbourne’s David Noble prepares to take on Geelong Cats


Shaw said he sometimes tried to surprise opponents with unorthodox positions, for instance. “You can’t do that now because of 6-6-6,” he said. “And you can’t just keep changing things around without everyone losing confidence in the direction you’re taking.

“All you can do is keep testing them out, maybe find something that gels. You’ve got to be honest and upfront with them. And the players have to be honest with themselves. Are they that bad, or are they making excuses in the back of their heads?”

Denis Pagan in his Carlton days.Credit:Vince Caligiuri

Schwab said a proper understanding of your side’s capabilities mattered. “Hard as it is, you’ve got to be realistic,” he said. “Do we expect North to beat Geelong? Well, no. Then it’s a matter of how you monitor losses. Is it a really bad loss, or did we learn a bit?

Schwab noted that Noble was new to coaching, but steeped in the game. That would help. So would his expertise as a list-builder.

“You know there are a lot of holes to fill. That can become overwhelming,” he said. “You start to think you’ve got so many gaps. But you’re never going to fill them all straight away. You’ve got to be careful you don’t let it drown you.”

Schwab said it was only natural for self-doubt to creep in. “You start to think, is the game plan right?” he said. “He won’t worry about the players, because he can’t, because that’s his list for the year. He’ll be thinking about how do we want to play? What’s best in the long term?”

Peter Schwab is surrounded by the media when coaching Hawthorn.

Peter Schwab is surrounded by the media when coaching Hawthorn.
Credit:Vince Caligiuri

Shaw and Pagan both remember how vulnerable they felt. “Have a look at how close a good coach like Damien Hardwick was to getting the flick,” Shaw said. “He could have been one board member, or one ordinary administrator, one hour away from getting the sack. He would never have got the opportunity to do what he’s done.”

Pagan agreed. “You’ve got to have strong leadership, and I hope the people who are leading North understand that,” he said. “Most board members don’t really have an understanding of what goes on.”

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In hard times, especially, everyone becomes an expert. “It’s like real estate [Pagan’s job now]. You give a price to the vendor. You sell,” he said. “Five minutes later, someone says you should have gone to auction, you should have sold before auction, you should have got $500,000 more. The same thing happens in football.”

Pagan said Noble had to trust himself. “You can do all these things and it will still be mission impossible,” he said. “But when you’re an AFL coach, that’s what you’ve got to do. Not many people will understand that. You’ve got to please yourself. That’s what I did at Carlton.”

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