‘I know how to win’: Mark Renshaw to make most of Mark Cavendish’s absence and go for broke

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LILLE: Mark Renshaw never ceases to be amazed by the vagaries of cycling, especially when he looks at his position in the Tour de France where he is now his team’s lead sprinter.

Now the NSW rider’s opportunity has come, with British teammate and star sprinter Mark Cavendish sidelined by his injuries, including a dislocated collar bone, sustained in a crash at the finish of stage one at Harrogate, Britain.

Renshaw smiles when asked how his career has changed – from being Cavendish’s lead-out rider, to trying his hand at being another team’s main sprinter, to returning to Cavendish’s side in his old role, and now facing the chance to win again.

Since his elevation, Renshaw has placed third in Monday’s third stage from Cambridge to London and seventh in Tuesday’s 163km fourth stage from Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille – both won by German Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

The win by Kittel on Tuesday, in which he beat Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and French champion Arnaud Demare into second and third places respectively, took his career tally of Tour stage wins to seven from two Tours.

“It’s really crazy, a cyclist’s career. Things can turn on their head pretty quick,” said Renshaw (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

“I’ve seen both sides of the coin – the good and the bad of last year [as protected sprinter on the Belkin team], two years ago having a big crash in the Tour of Turkey.

“Now ‘Cav’ is on the other side of the coin and is looking to come back. But that gives me an opportunity. I’ll take it with both hands and see what I come up with.”

Renshaw, whose opportunity to race for himself in bunch sprints should last beyond the Tour and into the second half of the year as Cavendish rehabilitates, said he had been in regular contact with the Briton since he left the Tour.

“We have spoken a lot since he stopped,” Renshaw said. “[The Tour was] the season goal for him, so obviously he is finding it quite hard watching the [race on] TV, but we have all been there.”

Renshaw also realises that beating Kittel, who now has three stage wins, will be a “big ask”, especially as he is not gifted with the German’s speed.

However, the Australian believes a stage win is still possible should the stars align – and there is no shortage of opportunity, with Thursday’s sixth stage followed by stages 7, 15, 19 and 21 into Paris suited for the sprinters on paper.

“The tactics are simple. We need to catch him offguard and we need some luck,” Renshaw said, adding that believes more time in the role as his team’s sprinter can only help.

“I didn’t have the preparation to beat Kittel in the sprint [on stage there], but I have the experience for the positioning,” Renshaw said.

“I know how to win, but this year has been dedicated to Cavendish – and more about me leading him out with a progressive long sprint rather than a short and sharp effort.

“I think I can beat Kittel but luck needs to swing my way and he needs to be unlucky.

“So a lot of things need to happen for me to win a stage, but I’ll keep trying. I know where I am in relation to these guys, but it’s a big ask to win a stage.”

Renshaw is candid about saying that for him or anyone to beat Kittel, they will need the German to make an error – or his teammates in their lead-out for him in the sprint.

“We need Giant-Shimano to make a couple of mistakes to have him out of position,” Renshaw said.

THEATRE: Trench angels saluted

TOUGH TIMES: Kate Skinner as Sister Florence Whiting in Through These Lines.WHEN writer and producer Cheryl Ward toured NSW last year looking for venues to stage her World War I play Through These Lines, her immediate Newcastle choice was Fort Scratchley.
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She walked into a casemate, a vaulted concrete chamber beneath the late 19th century fort’s gun emplacements that was intended for use in sheltering troops and stores.

It was a perfect setting for the play’s story, which shows an Australian nurse moving from one battlefront to another to care for wounded soldiers between 1914 and 1918.

The nurse, Sister Florence Whiting, is stationed at various times in concrete bunkers and on hospital ships, interacting with her nursing colleagues and the military men she meets and treats. Florence and a soldier who was wounded at Gallipoli fall in love while he is hospitalised.

Through These Lines is being staged at Fort Scratchley from July 24 to August 5 as part of the Civic Theatre’s subscription series.

While the Civic’s subscription works are generally staged in its 1500-seat theatre or the adjacent and smaller Playhouse, Cheryl Ward submitted her Through These Lines script to the management and received the go-ahead to use Fort Scratchley.

Many of the NSW seasons will be in RSL clubs, but other historic buildings with a military connection will also house the play.

The Trial Bay Jail at South-West Rocks, near Kempsey, where German nationals were interned during World War I, is a venue. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory, like the jail now a museum, is another. Brought into operation in 1912, the Lithgow facility manufactured rifles and bayonets for Australian forces during World War I.

Cheryl Ward was inspired to write Through These Lines after former concrete munitions tunnels at Sydney Harbour’s Middle Head were opened to the public in 2008.

Ward grew up near the locked tunnels and, with other teenagers, managed to climb into them on occasions.

When they became available for public arts works, she looked for a theatre subject, with photos of nurses in a concrete-walled room in France during World War I leading her to research their lives and work and to develop the first version of Through These Lines.

The play had a sold-out three-week season in one of the munitions rooms in 2010, with audience members often in tears as they heard the nurses talking about their experiences in words taken verbatim from letters World War I nurses had written.

Ward has reworked the script since that initial staging and, in her words, ‘‘it has become a much more personal journey for Sister Florence Whiting’’.

‘‘It is a more human story,’’ she said.

‘‘The nurses behind the battlefronts were almost anonymous people. They treated thousands of patients, but half the time they didn’t know their names.’’

The cast is led by Kate Skinner as Florence Whiting, with the other actors playing three or more roles.

Cheryl Ward is one of the actors, with her characters including the matron in charge of the story’s nursing team. The other players are Rebecca Barbera, Gareth Rickards, Gary Clementson, and Christian Charisiou. Mary-Anne Gifford directs.

The Fort Scratchley casemate will hold 60 audience members.

Ward said the 80-minute work, which is played without an interval, makes extensive use of stretchers and has props including tents, wooden huts and ship features as the story moves between a troop ship taking soldiers and nurses to Europe, Cairo, a hospital ship, Lemnos and the Western Front.

The audience will be greeted at the casemate door by the actors at the starting time and brought into the venue. Latecomers won’t be admitted.

Through These Lines, a co-production by Turnaround Productions and No Rest for the Wicked, has a preview at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 24. There will be performances from Friday, July 25, to Tuesday, August 5, with shows each Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm, Monday at 7.30pm, Tuesday at 3pm and 7.30pm, and Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets: $38, concession $32, subscriber $28, with a preview price of $25. Bookings: Civic Ticketek, 49291977.

The Lorica gladiator suit takes the pain out of armed combat

“Creating an entirely new sport:” The Lorica suit. Photo: Unified Weapons MasterMany would say the allure of Game of Thrones lies in the blood and gore, the swords and staffs and the battles in armour.
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These days weapons-based combat in television, film and gaming leaves fans mouth-watering and blood thirsty for the next hyper-violent battle scene.

So it was only a matter of time before someone developed the technology to physically step inside the armour, brandish a weapon and feel those blows.

Australian start-up, Unified Weapons Master, has created the Lorica; a gladiator-style combat suit built to withstand and record the full force of martial arts weapons.

“Our vision is to reignite interest in weapons-based martial arts that have been practised and developed over thousands of years,” said Unified Weapons Master CEO, David Pysden.

He said the Lorica suit is the first opportunity to see some of the most ancient weapons-based martial arts showcased in the modern era.

“These arts are slowly dying because they can’t be practised for real because of the dangers. We wanted to create a forum for martial artists to be able to showcase their skills,” he said.

The carbon-fibre suit has in-built sensors which track and store data on the impact of martial arts weapons to an unprotected body.

In recent battle testing the most forceful strike recorded was a blow to the head from a tomahawk with almost 600kg of force.

The data is recorded in the 40 sensors placed near the head and torso which measure the force and location of strikes to the armour in real time.

Whilst Pysden said their core application for the suit is in weapons-based martial arts, there are always long term goals, such as in military and law enforcement training.

“It is going to be possible for us to look to training armour, and we’ve already received an overwhelming response online, from people into gaming, average people, and professionals. People just love the idea of putting on a suit of armour and fighting with weapons.

“In the longer term we could see this even going into gyms,” he said.

Research and development of the Lorica suit have been funded by private investors. At what cost, Pysden would not say, though he said the price tag to date was not insignificant.

With a plan to launch the first competition battle events using the suits by next year, Pysden said the most exciting part will be seeing different weapons from different cultural histories in competition.

“There are 96 weapons-based martial arts and we are putting together a forum where they can all compete.

“What we’re excited about seeing is who comes out on top; for example a Japanese Samurai sword champion, versus a Chinese Shaolin staff master,” he said.

‘Piracy on the high seas’: Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser addresses the Lowy Institute on Wednesday. Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has characterised Australia’s interdiction and detention of  more than 150 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers at sea as ‘‘piracy on the high seas.’’
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He said the apprehension of the vessel on which they were travelling in international waters and their transfer to an Australian customs vessel was ‘‘in breach of international law’’, and he was unsure how else to describe it, other than as an act of piracy.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, he cited wire reports that a Sri Lankan police chief had said  another 41 passengers recently picked up by Australia and returned to Sri Lanka would be proscecuted for leaving the country illegally.

‘‘The other thing [the police chief] said was that they would all be subject to enhanced imprisonment,’’ Mr Fraser said. ‘‘What is enhanced imprisonment? Is that a new name for torture? Sounded very like it.’’

On Monday, a Sri Lankan police spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that those found guilty of leaving the country illegally would be subject to ‘‘two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine.’’

The Abbott government has not disclosed the whereabouts of the group of 153 Sri Lankans picked up at sea and is awaiting the results of a High Court challenge as to their fate.

Elsewhere in his address, Mr Fraser criticised the speech made  in Canberra on Tuesday by visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with its implicit warnings to China and subtext of a strengthening Australian-Japanese defence relationship.

Mr Fraser said Mr Abe was the ‘‘ second head of government who’s  made a speech that should only have been made on his own soil. The first was President Obama, when he made a speech  that should only have been made from American soil..’’

Mr Fraser was referring to Mr Obama’s November 2011 speech in Australia emphasising a United States ‘‘pivot’’ towards  greater involvement in the Asia-Pacific region, and the subsequent rotation of US troops through Darwin.

Mr Fraser said ‘‘there is a view in America that Australia is the best of allies because … we do what America  wants when America wants it, we won’t even ask any questions .. And that’s pretty accurate. And Obama’s speech in the parliament about the pivot was misguided and wrong.’’

He said ‘‘China has never, I think, been … through its very ancient history an imperial power in the way those Eruoepan states, Japan and America have been…’’

He also said that he did not think that the recent assertiveness of China posed any risks to Australia, though there might be some ‘‘risk’’ to some of those on China’s periphery.

Mr Fraser was speaking at the Lowy Institute in support of his recent book Dangerous Allies critiquing the US alliance. He queried the ability of Washington to prevail over Beijing in the event of armed conflict, which Australia risked getting sucked into.

Even with  America’s ‘‘massive’’ technical superiority  over the North Vietnamese, it had not been able to win the Vietnam war, he argued. So ‘‘ if America couldn’t beat Vietnam, do you think they can beat China? Not one hope in a thousand’’.

‘‘Australia [would be] left as the defeated ally of a defeated superpower and I think that’s rather an uncomfortable position to be in and will put Australia in greater danger than we have ever been in our history except for [when] Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.’’

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Joko Widodo claims early victory in Indonesia’s knife-edge presidential election

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his wife Iriana after casting their vote in Jakarta on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside Former general Prabowo Subianto shows his ballot paper before voting in the presidential election at a Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor, Indonesia, on Wednesday. Photo: AP/Achmad Ibrahim
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I’ve voted: a woman in Brambang Darussalam, Bondowoso, East Java, after voting on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters/Sigit Pamungkas

Jakarta: Joko Widodo and his political patron Megawati Sukarnoputri have claimed victory in the Indonesian presidential election, based on “quick counts” of ballot papers, less than two hours after polling booths closed.

But Tantowi Yahya, the spokesman for his rival, Prabowo Subianto, said it was far too early to make the call.

Mr Joko thanked his volunteers and urged them to watch the integrity of the official count against possible corruption.

“We are all grateful that based on the counting of quick counts, Jokowi-JK has won,” he said to a packed room of supporters.

“I think now it’s time for us to guard the counting, from the lowest level to the highest, so that it’s clean and honest and there’s no intervention. We ask for the people of Indonesia to guard the purity of the people’s aspiration, and so that nobody can try to stain what people have voted for.”

A number of polling companies are authorised to make quick counts, which include counting actual ballot papers, and which in the past have proved very accurate.

However, the claim of victory comes earlier than expected because many of the votes counted come from sparsely populated eastern Indonesia, where polling booths closed earlier, and not from the population centres of Java and Sumatra.

Earlier in the day on the streets of Jakarta, people lined up to vote for either Prabowo Subianto’s toughness or Joko Widodo as the man of the people.

“Jokowi is for the people, a leader who is born from the people and he’s for the people,” said Hery Wijaya, sitting with friends in inner-city Glodok.

Tanah Abang market stallholder Eti said: “I voted for Prabowo because I know Prabowo follows Suharto. He’s firm, he’s military. I want Indonesia to revive, be spirited, not just lame, so I want a firm leader, not a lame one.”

However, in Chinatown, which was razed during the turmoil of Suharto’s 1998 downfall, with hundreds dead and dozens of women raped, it is Jokowi all the way.

“We experienced it ourselves,” says Wini, with her husband Derry, who are part of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority.

“My parents lost their shops … We are still traumatised, and Mr Prabowo is more identified with [Suharto’s dictatorial] New Order, so we want some change; and we don’t want to go back to the old times.”

Turnout was expected to top 80 per cent of 190 million eligible voters in the world’s third-largest democracy, which some are saying faces a battle between its autocratic past and its democratic future.

Former general Mr Prabowo, accompanied by his son – Suharto’s grandson, Didit Prasetya – voted near his home in Hambalang, Bogor. He showed up to the polling booth at the local police station in a white Lexus, accompanied by two police on horseback.

Jakarta Governor Mr Joko and his wife Iriana voted in Menteng, near the governor’s mansion, which he will return to if he should lose the vote for president.

Neither man spoke to waiting media.

The final result will not be known officially for weeks, but “quick count” and exit polling companies are producing results even before the ballot closes, so unofficial results should be known by mid-evening Australian time on Wednesday.

Jamie Elliott to miss again for Collingwood.

Collingwood will have to find alternative avenues to goal again this week after small forward Jamie Elliott was all but ruled out of Sunday’s critical clash with Essendon by Magpie coach Nathan Buckley.
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But in better news, Buckley confirmed that veteran Nick Maxwell, who hasn’t played since straining a calf in round 11, would return to the senior line-up after only one game back in the VFL, while Luke Ball, who also missed last week with a calf injury, was a good chance to return as well.

Elliott, who with 30 goals from 14 games is behind only key forward Travis Cloke in the Magpies’ goalkicking, missed Collingwood’s narrow loss to Gold Coast last week after straining a hamstring against Carlton. He proved a costly absentee as the Pies managed only 10 goals against the Suns, and only two in two full quarters.

“I don’t think Jamie will get up,” Buckley said on Wednesday at the Westpac Centre. “Bally should be right”. Asked if Maxwell would definitely come back into a defence which has begun to struggle under the weight of opposition pressure, Buckley was unequivocal. “Yep,” he declared.

But Buckley believes the names missing or those returning to the Pies’ best 22 are secondary to his side regaining its defensive pressure and appetite for the contest, which has slipped during its run of three losses from the past four games.

“We were playing better footy before the bye with similar names, so it’s got nothing to do with personnel, it’s got a lot to do with how we execute and the way we play, and we’ve got to do it better starting Sunday,” he said.

Buckley said while Collingwood’s forward set-up has come under much scrutiny, the Pies’ poor skills of late had been pivotal to the lack of scoreboard pressure.

“We provided plenty of opportunities for ourselves [against Gold Coast] as we have throughout the whole year. There’s a focus on our forward line, and we could definitely score heavier, but it’s not about who, it’s about how we go about it and how we move the ball.

“Our disposal inside 50 was really poor last week, and we’ve worked on that and discussed it. We need to have our forwards working hard in front of the ball, but we need to use the ball better by hand and by foot, and that’s how we’re going to score.”

Buckley said the failure of his midfielders to hit the scoreboard as hard in 2014 was also a reflection on poor defensive pressure all over the ground. The core of Collingwood’s midfield has collectively kicked 50 goals in the Magpies’ nine wins, but in six losses, has managed just 16. The Pies are also averaging fewer individual goalkickers per match than all bar a handful of teams.

“Our defence was good between rounds two and seven, but hasn’t been as good consistently since then,” he said.

“And when you’re not defending as well, the ball spends more time in your back half. We haven’t controlled field position as much because our defence hasn’t been as effective, and we’ve turned the ball over when we shouldn’t.”

The Magpie coach said Ben Reid, who hurt a calf again in his comeback in the VFL last week, would need to train to be considered for reserves selection, and that Patrick Karnezis, yet to play a senior game for the Magpies after transferring from Brisbane, faced more time in the VFL to build his match fitness after being restricted pre-season by a groin injury, then injuring a hamstring when he was on the verge of senior selection.

“Ben is still pretty sore in the calf from the cork,” Buckley said of the important Magpie swingman, who has injured his calf three times this year and his thigh twice, and is still to play a senior game. “He can’t take a trick. He planned to get through half a game [last week] and he got through about one-and-three-quarter quarters. He’ll need to train to prove his fitness to play this week at any level.

“Patrick had his second game back. He’s building, and he hit the scoreboard at the weekend, which is good, but he understands he’s got to keep putting those consistent performances in at VFL level and continue working on his fitness to have the ability to run out four quarters at senior level.”

Tenth case of meningococcal disease reported in WA this year

As of March 2014, there are vaccines available which protect against all major strains of meningococcal disease. THE WA health department has reported that an older teenager has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and has now been discharged from hospital.
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Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness due to a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

Therewere 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

The department has identified the person’s close contacts and provided them with information and antibiotics that minimise the chance that the organism might be passed on to others.

To read our story about a Capel mum’smeningococcal scare, click here.

Meningococcal bacteria are carried harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat by about 10-20 per cent of the population at any one time.

Very rarely, the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause serious infections.

Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person-to-person.

The bacterium is present in droplets discharged from the nose and throat when coughing or sneezing, but is not spread by saliva and does not survive more than a few seconds in the environment.

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, older teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains. Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy (blank staring, floppiness, inactivity, hard to wake, or poor feeding) and rash are important signs.

Sometimes – but not always – symptoms may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Although treatable with antibiotics, the infection can progress very rapidly, so it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms seeks medical attention promptly. With appropriate treatment, most people make a good recovery.

The incidence of meningococcal disease has decreased significantly in WA over the past decade, with around 20 to 25 cases reported each year – down from a peak of 86 cases in 2000.

Therewere 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

A vaccine to protect against the C type of meningococcal disease, which in the past was responsible for around 15 per cent of cases in WA, is provided free to children at 12 months of age.

First Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner delivered to Air New Zealand

American country music group The Band Perry plays at the handover ceremony for the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Air New Zealand. Photo: Bret HartmanAir New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon might well have emulated Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne when placing an order for the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and asked “Does it come in black?”
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It does, and Air New Zealand has become the first airline to take delivery of the new 787-9, a stretched version of the revolutionary Dreamliner aircraft.

The plane was handed over in front of more than 1000 Boeing employees and guests at the aircraft manufacturer’s facility in Everett, near Seattle in the US.

“It’s a privilege to be the global launch customer for this aircraft and our team is looking forward to flying it home to New Zealand.  The 787-9 is a real game changer,” Mr Luxon said.

The fuselage for the 787-9 is stretched by 6 metres over the 787-8, and will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 450 nautical miles (830 km).

Boeing’s Dreamliners feature several major differences from other major passenger aircraft.

It is the first airliner to be made of carbon fibre, not aluminium, and promises airlines more fuel efficiency – a saving of 20 per cent. It also offers 20 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than comparable aircraft.

The aircraft promises a better experience for passengers too. The cabin air is, unlike other aircraft, drawn directly from outside, rather than through the engines, meaning it is fresher. The air is also more humid, and pressurised at a lower level – the theory being that passengers will feel better at the end of their flights. There are also larger windows and a more spacious cabin.

This week, Traveller’s Flight Test review of Qatar Airways 787-8 declared that the Dreamliner’s features made a big difference to the travelling experience.

Twenty-six customers from around the world have ordered 409 787-9s, accounting for 40 per cent of all 787 orders, Boeing said.

The Air New Zealand aircraft is scheduled to depart the US on Thursday morning, local time, and arrive in Auckland late afternoon on Friday.

This is the first of ten 787-9 Dreamliners to join Air New Zealand’s fleet.  The aircraft will operate the Auckland-Perth route from 15 October 2014 and to Shanghai and Tokyo later this year.

Another of Air New Zealand’s 787-9s will be displayed by Boeing at the Farnborough International Airshow later this month.

Delayed for several years, the Dreamliner has faced criticism over its reliability from some carriers. All active aircraft were grounded for three months last year after a battery fire on one Dreamliner. The incident forced Boeing to re-design the powerful lithium-ion battery and enclose it in a tough new steel containment box.

Boeing admitted in January it was not satisfied with the aircraft’s performance. The Dreamliner’s reliability rate was at about 98 per cent – this meant that two out of every 100 flights were delayed for mechanical problems. The rate was higher than the 97 per cent recorded in October but was still short of Boeing’s target. The company aims to have the aircraft’s reliability up to the level of its long-range 777 model, which has a reliability rate of 99.4 per cent.

State of Origin 2014: Game 3PHOTOS

State of Origin 2014: Game 3 | PHOTOS A “balletic” Billy Slater. Pic: Getty Images
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NSW fullback Jarryd Hayne grits his teeth. Pic: Getty Images

NSW Blue Greg Bird gets the leg drive into overdrive. Pic: Getty Images

Three, almost, on one at Suncorp Stadium during Origin III. Pic: Getty Images

Billy Slater holds on tight to the ball as NSW Blue Ryan Hoffman is sandwiched. Pic: Getty Images

Queensland skipper Cameron Smith scores. Pic: Getty Images

Cer-unch. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis spots a familiar face in the crowd after Cameron Smith’s try. Pic: Getty Images

Daly Cherry-Evans chips ahead. Pic: Getty Images

The wrestling continues over the line at Suncorp Stadium. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis attracts some attention from the NSW defenders near the stripe. Pic: Getty Images

The Maroons huddle up after skipper Cameron Smith’s try. Pic: Getty Images

Queenslander Justin Hodges does his best to shrug off NSW defenders. Pic: Getty Images

Paul Gallen stops referee Ben Cummins to ask a question in 2014’s third State of Origin match. Pic: Getty Images

Jarryd Hayne on the fly. Pic: Getty Images

Maroon Billy Slater has his sights set on scoring at Suncorp Stadium in the third State of Origin clash of 2014. Pic: Getty Images

Queensland players celebrate one of their five tries in the third State of Origin clash of 2014. Pic: Getty Images

Legs a-go-go. The NSW defence swarms. Pic: Getty Images

Aaron Woods celebrates with his Blues teammates after Josh Dugan’s try. Pic: Getty Images

The Maroons celebrate Aidan Guerra’s four-pointer. Pic: Getty Images

Dave Taylor feels the love as the Blues defence closes in. Pic: Getty Images

Beau Scott takes on the Queensland defence during game three of the 2014 State of Origin series. Pic: Getty Images

NSW Blues skipper Paul Gallen holds the State of Origin Shield aloft at Suncorp Stadium.

The State of Origin-winning NSW Blues camp. Pic: Getty Images

The Queenslanders celebrate a strong win in game three at Brisbane. Pic: Getty Images

Darius Boyd celebrates scoring a try with Queensland team mates Greg Inglis and Billy Slater. Pic: Getty Images

Darius Boyd celebrates his try. Pic: Getty Images

Darius Boyd evades Jarryd Haynes’ clutches to score. Pic: Getty Images

Queenslander? Pic: Getty Images

Nate Myles is put on his back. Pic: Getty Images

NSW skipper Paul Gallen knows one way – forward. Pic: Getty Images

Excuse me, says Billy Slater as he leaves Josh Dugan on his hands and knees. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis motors upfield. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis of the Maroons palms off Josh Reynolds. Pic: Getty Images

Josh Dugan celebrates scoring the Blues try with a quick pogo dance. Pic: Getty Images

TweetFacebookThere would be no “bluewash” or fairytale finish to the 2014 State of Origin series as Queensland gatecrashed the NSW party.

The Maroons left Suncorp Stadium 32-8 victors but, for the first time in eight years, a NSW skipper finished the series with the State of Origin Shield.

Blues players celebrate their series win after game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the NSW Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 9, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Pic: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Is someone drunk tweeting from the CIA Twitter account?

The clandestine world of espionage isn’t normally known for self-deprecating humour and social media gags, but try telling that to the people behind the official Central Intelligence Agency account.
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After joining the network unfashionably late last month, the agency’s Twitter team has rubbished the catchphrase “we can neither confirm or deny” by commenting on issues ranging from Tupac Shakur to US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s efforts during the World Cup.

The CIA had opened up on its Twitter page briefly, announcing it would answer the top five questions in 10 minutes – including if they knew the whereabouts of Tupac, to knowing someone’s password.

And while there’s no suggestion the CIA’s tweeter was actually drunk, they’ve certainly taken it upon themselves to poke fun at the agency, and some of the questions hurled at them via social media.  No, we don’t know where Tupac is. #twitterversary — CIA (@CIA) July 7, 2014

Ogilvy managing director Yiannis Konstantopoulos said “they’ve been pretty tongue-in-cheek and have kinda been taking the piss out of themselves and what they do”.

“Everyone tends to think an agency like the CIA wouldn’t be too good on Twitter but it turns out they’ve got a pretty good sense of humour,” he said.

But Mr Konstantopoulos, who decided to follow the CIA earlier this week, said we shouldn’t expect the account to go anywhere near the contentious issues of privacy, Edward Snowden, or data security.

“It’s surprising to me that they’ve been able to push this account through given the nature of the work that the CIA does,” he said.

Mr Konstantopoulos said there was most likely a number of people behind the account with content being routinely reviewed by someone internally before publication.

The intelligence agency began their charm offensive on June 7 with a promise to share “great #unclassified content” and has since clocked up a touch over 700,000 followers.

Of course, the official WikiLeaks Twitter account hit back immediately saying “we look forward to sharing great classified info about you” – touché. . @CIA We look forward to sharing great classified info about you http://t上海后花园/QcdVxJfU4Xhttps://t上海后花园/kcEwpcitHo More https://t上海后花园/PEeUpPAt7F — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 7, 2014

But it’s not all punditry and puns, the account kindly informed its followers that human blood boils at 63,000 feet and that it would take 33.7 million soccer balls in a row to span the distance between Washington DC and Rio de Janeiro. At altitudes above 63,000 ft human blood boils. Solution: Pressure Suit http://t上海后花园/wfkcmUdCJn#U2Week#4July1956pic.twitter上海后花园m/vAZQEauS45 — CIA (@CIA) July 3, 2014

The social media manager was smart enough not to follow the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phone calls and text messages had been read by the National Security Agency for more than a decade.

In fact the account only follows other government and defence departments like Homeland Security and the US Department of Defence, whose drab engagement accentuated the mysterious social media manger’s wit. It would take 33,707,520 soccer balls to reach from DC to Rio #Brazil2014#WorldCup#worldfactbookhttp://t上海后花园/MOgGJgTuaI — CIA (@CIA) June 17, 2014