Whistleblower’s tales of whaling skulduggery

TOKYO: He once wielded a knife on the deck of a Japanese whaling ship, slicing apart the behemoths of the ocean in the name of ”scientific research”, while much of the rest of the world looked on in horror.Now, as Japan pushes to overturn the 24-year ban on commercial whaling, the former whaler is alleging widespread criminality among the men with whom he spent months in the freezing waters of the Antarctic.The crewmen, sent every year to slaughter the mammals for research that Japan says is vital to our understanding of whale populations, are instead seizing and selling prized cuts of meat to earn extra cash and, in at least one case, earn many more times their annual salary, says the whaler-turned-whistleblower who refers to himself as ”Kujira-san” (Mr Whale), a precaution necessitated by a fear for his safety.”Even before we arrived in the Antarctic Ocean,” he says of a recent expedition, ”the more experienced whalers would talk about taking whale meat home to sell. It was an open secret. Even officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research [a quasi-governmental body that organises Japan’s whaling program] on the ship knew what was happening, but they turned a blind eye to it.”Kujira-san, who worked aboard the mother ship Nisshin Maru, saw crew members helping themselves to prime cuts of whale meat and packing them into boxes they would mark with doodles or pseudonyms to identify them when the vessel reached port.”They never wrote their real names on the boxes.”Some whalers would take home between five and 10 boxes, he said, and one secured as many as 40 boxes of prime meat that fetches ¥20,000 ($250) a kilogram when sold legally. One crew member built a house with the profits from illicitly sold whale meat, he said. ”They were careful to select only the best cuts.”Kujira-san painted an unpleasant picture of life at sea, and said newcomers were badly treated by more experienced whalers, fuelled by a machismo culture that is disappearing from other parts of the fishing industry.He contradicted Japan’s claims that the industry, which reportedly requires heavy government subsidy, is highly efficient. The fleet would sometimes catch more whales than necessary, he said, strip them of their most expensive parts and throw what was left overboard.”A lot of meat was being thrown away because we kept catching whales even after we had reached our daily quota. I decided I had to tell someone what was happening.”He sought help from Greenpeace. In 2008 the organisation opened an investigation into embezzlement by the crew of the Nisshin Maru, during which two activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, intercepted a box containing 23 kilograms of whale meat worth about ¥350,000 at a warehouse in Japan that they later presented as evidence.After initially agreeing to act on their claims, prosecutors dropped the case, and instead, Mr Sato and Mr Suzuki were arrested and charged with theft and trespassing.Last week prosecutors called for an 18-month jail term for the pair, who were held without charge for 23 days and interrogated while strapped to chairs without their lawyers present. A ruling is expected in the next few months.Kujira-san’s allegations come as the International Whaling Commission prepares to meet in Morocco next week to discuss a proposal that could end the moratorium on commercial whaling in return for whaling nations agreeing to smaller quotas. Before the meeting, Japan has reverted to its tactic of using aid to sway small islands and landlocked nations to vote with it in the 88-member body.Under the moratorium, Japan is permitted to catch fewer than 1000 whales, mainly minke, in the name of scientific research. Meat from the cull is sold on the open market and the profits used to fund whaling expeditions.Kujira-san said he would continue to campaign behind the scenes until the Japanese public knew the truth. ”I dread to think what the other whalers would do to me if they knew who I was.”Guardian News & Media
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East beats West when it comes to road manners and safety

PEOPLE born in Asian countries are safer drivers than those born in Australia, according to traffic safety researchers.Young drivers born in Asia had half the risk of being involved in a traffic crash compared with their Australian-born counterparts, a study of 20,000 P-plate drivers in NSW found.They were also less likely to speed, tailgate and drive while distracted by things such as mobile phones and loud music, compared with drivers born here and in other countries.Soufiane Boufous, the study leader and a senior research fellow in injury and epidemiology at the George Institute for International Health at the University of Sydney, said his team wanted to identify and help particular ethnic groups that were more at risk of accidents.”But then we found it was the Australian-born people who had the higher risk [and] Asian drivers were the least likely to take risks,” he said.More than 31 per cent of drivers born in Australia, and 30 per cent of those born in regions outside Australia and Asia, admitted to risky behaviours. But only about 25 per cent of those born in Asia admitted to the same behaviours, he wrote in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.Dr Boufous said Asian-born drivers might have been safer than others born overseas in part because the Asian people in the study tended to have lived in Australia for a shorter time.”We found that the longer people stay here the more likely they are to change and become similar to the Australian-born people,” he said.A clinical psychologist, Jeroen Decates, said young people who had grown up in Australia tended to be more likely to break rules and take risks than those from many Asian countries.Yet the stereotype that Asian drivers were not good drivers persisted.Much of the reason for the stereotype might be that people are more likely to notice when someone from an Asian background drove badly than when someone from a different background did because it confirmed their beliefs.”When everyone else says something we are more likely to think it must be true,” he said. ”We always look for confirmations of our own beliefs.”
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Northern hemisphere nations need to catch up quickly, says Johnson

The standard of Test rugby in the southern hemisphere exceeds that of the Six Nations tournament, according to English coach Martin Johnson.His verdict comes in the aftermath of last weekend’s Tests in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.On Saturday, the All Blacks beat Ireland 66-28 at New Plymouth. The Wallabies accounted for England 27-17 in Perth. Then, in Cape Town, the world champion Springboks beat the reigning Six Nation title-holders France 42-17.”There is a step up in intensity and quality from what we played in the Six Nations, frankly,” he said. ”You saw what the other two teams did in the southern hemisphere [at the weekend]. The way the game is being played here is a little bit different. And we have to get with it pretty quick.”Johnson’s anger after his side lost to the Wallabies in every facet of the game bar the scrum had subsided yesterday when he named his England A team for tonight’s game against the Australian Barbarians at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.Two reserves from the English side beaten by Australia were named – James Haskell at No.8 and centre Mathew Tait on the bench. Earning first tour starts were winger David Strettle, centre Dominic Waldouck, props Jon Golding and Paul Doran-Jones and No.7 Steffon Armitage.Johnson was not searching for excuses for Saturday’s loss and continued praising the Wallabies ahead of Saturday night’s Test at ANZ Stadium. But as he set out to rectify his side’s failings in kick-chase, running lines, defence and positional play, he conceded last weekend’s Tests in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were a wake-up call for northern hemisphere teams preparing for the World Cup in New Zealand .”The fatigue of a game like that, the pressure … is from doing it at that level,” he said. ”You have to go through it. For some it was their first big start in the southern hemisphere.”Johnson, under huge pressure to bag a win here, also dismissed suggestions that end-of-season fatigue may have played a role in England, Ireland and France being well beaten.”We have to stop making excuses there. The guys have been pretty fresh,” he said. ”[With] the tempo of the game, at times … we struggled to stop that ball coming out either offloaded or [through] quick re-cycling. That makes it tough. We have to get better there.”The weight of the tackling is probably that little more intense and you have to adapt to it.”However, as much as Johnson admires the Wallabies backs, the team’s defence and loose play, he does not believe they can turn around their front-row failings in a week.”It’s probably limited in what any team could do this week after a pretty tough Test,” he said.Meanwhile, England winger Mark Cueto was yesterday cleared of a dangerous tackle charge at a judicial hearing. Cueto was cited over a first-half incident involving Australian centre Berrick Barnes early in Saturday’s Test, but was cleared by New Zealand judicial officer Peter Hobbs.
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UK flags Afghanistan retreat and troop cuts

LONDON: The terrorist threat to Britain from Afghanistan has declined, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, as he promised to withdraw British troops from the country as soon as possible.Mr Cameron made the statement about the al-Qaeda threat as Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, warned that the armed forces face cuts that will be ”ruthless and without sentiment”.Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said the government remained committed to the Afghan mission, but insisted British troops would not stay ”a day longer than is necessary”.Ministers are keen to highlight what they say is the progress being made by the Afghan mission, to present any withdrawal of British troops as a sign of success, not failure.In 2008, former prime minister Gordon Brown told MPs that three-quarters of all terrorist plots being monitored in the UK had a connection to the Afghan-Pakistan border area.On Monday, Mr Cameron said: ”Today, I am advised that the threat from al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and Pakistan has reduced.” Downing Street gave no more detail about the reduced threat, but Mr Cameron’s spokesman said the reduction was ”significant”.The Prime Minister also confirmed that he was following a timetable set down by United States President, Barack Obama, which could see NATO troop numbers in Afghanistan reduced as soon as July 2011.Britain has 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.”I want to bring them home the moment it is safe to do so,” Mr Cameron said.A total of 295 British service personnel have died in Afghanistan since 2001.”We must be ready for further casualties over the summer months,” Mr Cameron said.In his first major speech as Defence Secretary, Dr Fox said the Ministry of Defence needed ”a step change not minor tinkering” after a decade of overspending on equipment.It is expected that the army and Royal Air Force will bear the brunt of personnel cuts.Addressing the Royal United Services Institute, Dr Fox said: ”We must act ruthlessly and without sentiment. It is inevitable that there will be the perception of winners and losers as we go through this process.”Telegraph, London
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Folau part of Johns’ black list in racism row

The racism storm surrounding the NSW Origin camp has taken a new twist with the revelation Timana Tahu walked out on the team because of remarks Andrew Johns made about Israel Folau as well as Greg Inglis.Tahu, who left the NSW camp at Kingscliff on Friday, released a video statement late yesterday addressing his reasons for pulling out of Origin II at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.It had been thought that assistant coach Johns’s description of Queensland centre Inglis as a ”black c—” at a team gathering last Wednesday night was the sole catalyst for his departure. However, Tahu said disparaging comments of a racist nature had not only been directed at Inglis, who is Aboriginal.”This has been a very traumatic and hurtful time for me and my family and I want to thank everybody for the support I have received,” Tahu said from Newcastle, where he has been staying with his family since leaving the camp.”Leaving Origin was a really big decision for me and I’d like to clarify that it was not just one racial comment directed at one individual that offended me. The remarks were directed at various races and the situation I encountered was totally unacceptable.”It is understood Johns also referred to AFL-bound Maroons winger Folau, who is Polynesian, in a negative racial tone although it was last night unclear exactly what words he used. Johns left the NSW camp on Saturday night after issuing a joint statement with Tahu.”I believe I am a role model for children and I did this to show my kids this type of behaviour is wrong,” Tahu said yesterday. ”This isn’t about me or Andrew Johns.”It’s about arresting racism and standing up for my beliefs. I want to move on now and I know something positive will come from this.” Johns’s role as a coaching consultant at Parramatta, Tahu’s club, is set to be reviewed next week because of his remarks while News Ltd, which pays him to write columns, has said it will discuss its association with the former Blues halfback.Another employer, Channel Nine, has said it has accepted his apology.Johns’s manager, John Fordham, issued a statement last night.”In view of Andrew Johns having previously apologised sincerely and unreservedly for his inappropriate and offending remarks we see no need to comment further,” Fordham said.Tahu, who was replaced in the Blues line-up by Canberra’s Joel Monaghan, will re-join his Parramatta teammates at Eels training tomorrow.Once back in Sydney, the dual international may have an opportunity to speak with NSWRL and ARL supremo Geoff Carr, who has been unsuccessful in his attempts to contact Tahu since the furore erupted at the weekend.”My view is if he’s got issues with the game he simply needs to speak to me,” Carr said.”I’ve made that invitation clear…I’ve been trying to get a hold of him.”Meanwhile, Queensland hooker Cameron Smith yesterday played down suggestions of widespread racism in the game.A teammate of Inglis at club, interstate and international level, Smith said he supported Tahu’s stance but said calls by former NRL star and boxing world champion Anthony Mundine for other indigenous players to withdraw were ”a bit extreme”.”It comes down to the individual and how they feel. Timana obviously felt very strongly which is why he left,” Smith said.”I think it would hurt the game if all the indigenous boys left and it would hurt the fans.”I don’t think Greg’s ever thought he had to leave because Timana did.”Timana felt very strongly about it and obviously we support him, not because he’s left the NSW camp or disrupted their Origin. I think Greg would like to go out on Wednesday night and have a strong game and show he can get past these issues and that he’s got a strong character.”
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Bloody Sunday findings

LONDON: The families of 14 civilians gunned down by British soldiers in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday learnt yesterday the findings of the Saville inquiry into their murder. The report was expected finally to exonerate their loved ones of involvement in violence, 38 years after the horror of that day.As thousands met in the city’s town square to finish the civil rights march that exploded into an inexplicable massacre on January 30, 1972, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was to speak in the House of Commons in London and pave the way for rewriting British military history on whether the soldiers had killed unlawfully.Before his speech, 56 relatives and injured survivors were given access to the report in a secure area in Londonderry’s Guildhall. Lawyers for family members were given access earlier.Lord Saville’s 13-year inquiry was expected to stop short of recommending prosecution of the soldiers but to clearly rebut the findings of the initial Widgery inquiry, which found that paratroopers involved in the shootings were acting in self-defence and that many of the dead – of whom seven were teenagers – had been handling firearms.Historians regard Bloody Sunday as a seminal moment that gave the IRA new impetus and public sympathy, sparking the two decades of violence in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.The inquiry, the most expensive in British history at £190 million ($325 million) and producing a report of more than 5000 pages, was ordered by the then prime minister, Tony Blair, in 1998 in an attempt to find the truth and help heal the wounds of the trauma.He insisted it would not attempt to ”invite fresh recriminations”. It was also a symbolic moment as it was announced during highly charged dealings between unionists and nationalists that ended in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.Lord Saville was always widely expected to stop short of recommending prosecution of the British soldiers who opened fire on the protesters and to refer the final decision to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland – a symbolic move.The suggestion that soldiers acting under orders could face criminal charges nearly four decades on has infuriated unionists and the military, who warn it is an injustice, particularly when scores of IRA and loyalist paramilitary prisoners were released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.The families of the victims – most of the parents have since died – want their loved ones declared innocent of inciting violence and do not want soldiers jailed. But they would be content to see them explain themselves in court or in public.with agencies
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I have a dream, architect Gehry tells UTS

THE acclaimed architect Frank Gehry introduced his version of a reverse striptease at an announcement he will create a $150 million building for Sydney.The University of Technology, Sydney revealed yesterday it had formally committed to a Gehry-designed building as part of its City Campus Master Plan.A Chinese business leader, Dr Chau Chak Wing, will also donate $20 million to support the new faculty of business building, the university announced. It is the the largest philanthropic gift in history by an individual for a university building in Australia.At a hastily convened media conference, the 81-year-old architect, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and garnered the British Royal Gold Medal and the US Pritzker Prize, impishly sat before the expectant throng.No design drawings of the faculty building, sandwiched into a battle-axe block near the ABC centre and the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, were to be seen. In fact, no detailed external sketches, the full clothing, if you like, will be unveiled for at least 12 months. ”Just bear me with me,” he said with a smile. ”It’s a sound process, which leads to happiness instead of disappointment.”I don’t want people to fall in love with a premature sketch that ignores how much it may cost.”An ebullient university Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ross Milbourne, said Marge Simpson from the cartoon series The Simpsons hailed Mr Gehry as the world’s greatest architect.”And who am I to disagree with Marge Simpson?” he wondered. Dressed in black, Mr Gehry smiled too. ”I’ve done a few things you may have heard of,” he said modestly.The university’s chancellor, Vicki Sara, said the bold formal commitment made yesterday arose from ”extremely detailed internal” concept designs.Mr Gehry said he had spent six months refining the proposed concept design using a trademark iterative process which combines sketches, models and drawings along with 3D computer modelling. “Architectural expression evolves very slowly. It comes from a deep understanding of the most important functional and social aspects of any project,” he said.The faculty’s goals informed many iterations of the design, while urban issues such as the site, access, massing and height shape its context.”A concept design is not a fully developed architecture. It is a sketch, and we’ve only just begun to explore the possibilities.”The building is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
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Time to take Harry out of the holster

Australia have to go for broke and score goals in their two remaining matches if they are to stay alive in the World Cup, and coach Pim Verbeek will surely now remove Harry Kewell from the glass case in which he has been sheltered for the past month.It has often seemed the Kewell container is there to be opened only in the case of emergency, and Australia have rarely been in more dire straits than now after their devastating loss to Germany.Assuming the team’s morale and confidence is not shattered, then Verbeek will look to regroup and reload against a Ghanaian team which will itself be on a high after its 1-0 win over Serbia.Verbeek has been a cheerleader for conservative consistency during his 2½/-year reign, sticking through thick and thin with a 4-2-3-1 formation designed to contain and stifle opponents.Surprisingly, he abandoned it at the last moment in the opening World Cup match to go with a two-pronged strike force of Tim Cahill and Richard Garcia up front.The Dutchman would not admit that the decision to pick the personnel or adopt the tactics he did – he dropped Mark Bresciano and left out Josh Kennedy – had backfired, merely saying that neither man had played well enough in warm-up matches or impressed at training sufficiently to be included.”I think it wasn’t a mistake to change to 4-4-2 … the only way to get a result over here was to use our pace in front. The target was to play more compact than we did in the first 20 minutes and that’s where we lost control,” he said after the match.Having shown an unexpected inclination for experimentation against Germany, where he pushed Jason Culina to left midfield to try to contain – unsuccessfully – the rampaging runs of the German full-back and captain Philipp Lahm, he might as well continue against Ghana as there is nothing to lose.A draw with Ghana and a win over Serbia is unlikely to be sufficient to progress given Australia’s terrible goal difference, so Kewell starting in a two-pronged strike force may be the way to force the issue against the Africans.Questions remain over Kewell’s fitness. Verbeek said he had planned to introduce him late in the game against Germany had the situation been propitious, but didn’t when the game was a lost cause.”With 10 players against a team that was already better than us, you have to make different decisions. I try to save him for maybe the next game,” was his verdict.Verbeek was man enough to take responsibility for the tactics and choices he had made and said it was now up to him to galvanise his squad. ”As the coach you are always responsible. I am the one who picks up the final 11, I am the one who prepares the strategy and the way we play. I never blame the players. I always look in the mirror and say, ‘Did you do a good decision or not?’ I have no problems to admit that it’s my responsibility.”Compared with the top teams, Australia’s squad depth is not great. Kewell aside, he could bring back Bresciano, use the pacy Nikita Rukavytsya or Dario Vidosic or start with Brett Holman, who at least made some sort of attacking impression, albeit briefly, when he came into the second-half against Germany.”Germany was better, we knew that in advance, we tried to make it very difficult for them and use our speed in front but we never had the ball, especially in the first 25 minutes. They were better, and the reality is the next two games we have to win. There is no discussion about that, it’s very simple. A draw is not enough. The next game is a final. We have to learn from this game. We have six days to recover physically and mentally,” said the coach, who is now drawing very close to the end of his time with Australia.
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Warm weather ends trouble for Hubble Bubble

A SOUTH KOREAN artist who flew back to Australia to rebuild his popular art installation in the Biennale of Sydney after it imploded in the recent wild weather will complete his mission today.Choi Jeong Hwa’s rebuilding came as Cockatoo Island, one of the exhibition’s two main venues, drew 4844 visitors on Sunday – its biggest one-day result in a biennale – and 12,283 across the long weekend, confirming attendance is bouncing back after the wet stretch.Hubble Bubble drew much attention in its spot between two sails of the Sydney Opera House before it was damaged in heavy winds. He flew in from Seoul on Friday and worked with volunteers over the weekend to rebuild the piece, in which hundreds of neon-green colanders formed tall walls that created a twisting path to walk through.The artist and designer, who had been in Sydney for the Biennale opening just over a month ago, said he was not at all worried about Hubble Bubble being wrecked. ”I am OK … nature is more important. Art is not important,” he said. The work’s meaning was to ”think green”. Attendance across the Biennale’s seven venues over the long weekend was strong, a spokeswoman said. It reflects a return to the buoyancy of the record opening week before visits dipped when the rains took hold. This led to overall attendance for the first three weeks – the latest figures – of 122,932, a 4 per cent drop on 2008.The exhibition’s artistic director, David Elliott, said it was a strong result given the bad weather. He expected visitors to top 500,000 by the show’s end on August 1 – passing the 436,000 in 2008. ”It’s flowing the right way,” he said.Mr Elliott said Hubble Bubble had fallen victim to a ”freak” wind in a location that created a wind-tunnel effect. ”We had it checked out by a structural engineer [beforehand], of course, so we thought it was OK … but it got hit.”Choi scouted Cockatoo Island with Mr Elliott on Friday to find a less vulnerable spot to rebuild. Nine crates of the various-sized green colanders were moved in.The 49-year-old artist is expected to finish remaking the piece today with the same materials but a different design – hanging from the roof like jellyfish tentacles. ”For me it’s good opportunity,” he said. ”New location, new installation.”
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More substance, less style please Harry

TWO minutes on the park in the past six months. That’s all we’ve seen of Harry Kewell, the footballer. Harry Kewell the fashionista, however, we’ve seen everywhere. Cover stories in magazines such as Good Weekend, Sport & Style, Emporium, and InStyle. Thousands of words written elsewhere. Front page of both dailies when the Socceroos kicked off their World Cup against Germany. Talk, talk, talk. A compliant, obsequious media lapping it all up.
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One television reporter went one step further. At the end of Kewell’s first round of media interviews last week, he signed off with: ”Don’t worry Harry, we love you.” True story.

And where was our Harry when Germany were systematically, surgically, dissecting the Socceroos? On the bench. Where he was always likely to start the World Cup. No sign of him on the field with the rest of the subs in the warm-up and in the end he didn’t take the field.

In between he was seen warmly embracing a member of the German coaching staff at half-time, and then smiling, chatting to family and friends at the fence after the final whistle. If the catastrophe that unfolded before his eyes upset him, there were no outward signs of distress.

Pim Verbeek gambled on selecting Kewell for this tournament. Right now, the gamble hasn’t paid off. Don’t worry, came the message from the coach throughout the build-up, he’ll be right to play the opening game. He wasn’t. If he can’t even complete a proper warm-up with the other players, how could he have been?

There was always going to be a point where the talk became cheap. More than that, irrelevant. Well that point has arrived. No doubt there will be plenty of headlines over the next few days about King Kewell coming to the rescue. By accident, or design, he seems to embrace the role of saviour. Well this time it’s not about Harry saving Australia. It’s about Harry saving what’s left of his international career.

Guus Hiddink never indulged Kewell, and given his chronic injury list you can’t imagine he would be playing in his second World Cup if the Dutch Master was still in charge. However, the Dutch Apprentice has obliged him at every turn. In return, Verbeek has got one influential performance out of his star man since he took over. Against Iraq, in Brisbane, where he led the line with enthusiasm, energy, and – most of all – courage. Since then, Kewell has basically been a myth.

On Saturday (midnight, AEST), in Rustenburg, he gets the chance to prove he’s got something left to give. At times in his career, Kewell has been a genuine star. And his long, arduous battle to keep his body together remains a tribute to his bravery, and resilience. But he’s never been able to accept his diminished circumstances. Instead, he’s chosen to deflect the scrutiny with hype. Kewell Inc is on the way up. Kewell, football player, is on the way down. And has been for years.

Now there is nowhere left to hide. If he’s got any petrol left in the tank, he’s got to show it, against Ghana. Preferably by starting the game, and finishing it. Preferably by providing a point of difference. Preferably by giving glimpses of the Harry of old. Anything less, and there’s no more excuses. None.

If the Socceroos lose to the Black Stars, they’re out of contention. With a new coach coming on board, there’ll be a broom swept through a squad creaking at the joints. Believe it or not, Kewell is likely to be part of the clean out. A few years ago that was unthinkable. But a few years is a long time in football. ‘Our Harry’ knows that better than anyone.