Woods relishes extra minutes for Sharks

Aaron Woods is one of the high-profile props chasing game time for the Sharks.Aaron Woods has welcomed his increase in playing time as Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan tweaks an all-Origin rotation of big boppers ahead of the NRL finals.

Mid-season arrival Woods’ spike in minutes in recent weeks coincided with a decrease for fellow prop Andrew Fifita, which is believed to have been the catalyst for Fifita’s outburst at the coaches’ box last week.

While that created controversy, it’s the sort of selection headache most coaches would welcome.

Flanagan has to balance his use of starting props Fifita and Matt Prior plus skipper Paul Gallen and Woods, all of whom have played State of Origin and are capable of big minutes.

In the past three weeks, Woods has played a total of 163 minutes compared to 118 for Fifita.

Fifita’s long bench stint following an error last weekend fired him up as he returned to score a crucial try and the Sharks hope it was a sign of more to come from him.

Preparing for his first finals football in seven years, Woods said he was grateful to get more action but there were other contributing factors.

“It’s been a shock to get those extra minutes the last two weeks but we’ve had a few injuries in the game,” Woods said.

“We’ve lost two centres on the weekend so we’ve had to push our backrowers out and get a bit more minutes from our tights.

“The same thing happened in Melbourne, we lost Wade (Graham) early and had to get a few minutes from other players.

I’m enjoying any time I get on the footy field. I can’t thank Shane enough for giving me a role.”

Halfback Chad Townsend enjoys the momentum benefits of playing behind such a strong quartet.

“Earlier in the season when we had our whole starting forward pack out and Andrew (Fifita) was named captain, he was playing 80 minutes in back-to-back weeks,” Townsend said.

“So he’s shown he can play 80 minutes and still produce good numbers.

“Now we do have the luxury of having Aaron here who, since he’s been here, has been exceptional for us. I think he’s carried over 100 metres every single week he’s been here.

“He’s got extremely good go-forward and together with him and Matt Prior and also Gal, I do think we have one of the best, most experienced, forward packs in the competition.”

Meanwhile, Woods keenly anticipates ending his long finals drought.

“It’s been quite a while. I’m quite excited. I’ve been lucky enough to play Origins and Test matches but I suppose I’m really looking forward to playing semi-final footy again,” he said.

Timu keen to break back into Wallabies mix

It’s sunny skies for Queensland back rower Caleb Timu who has signed for another year with the Reds.Caleb Timu admits he’s disappointed not to be part of Australia’s Bledisloe Cup campaign, but he knows what he has to do to get back in coach Michael Cheika’s good books.

The Queensland Reds back-rower made two Test appearances for the Wallabies during June’s series against Ireland, but was cut from Michael Cheika’s squad ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener last week.

The 24-year-old was part of one of Super Rugby’s mightiest scrums this year but has been told by Cheika to improve his set-piece proficiency, and will look to do so in the National Rugby Championship with reigning champions Queensland Country.

“Set piece is something that Cheika wants me to work on as well as just a bit of game knowledge,” Timu told reporters on Thursday after inking a new one-season contract extension with the Reds.

“I think that just comes down to playing more rugby and that’s what I want to do during the NRC, get some more footy under my belt and hopefully work my way back into the team.

“Obviously, I’m definitely disappointed. Any player would want to be a part of that team and verse the All Blacks.

“But to be honest with myself, I definitely need to work on my game and hopefully I can do that and get a Test or two this year.”

Timu’s Reds teammate Lukhan Tui was unconvincing in the Australian No.6 jersey in Saturday’s 38-13 defeat to New Zealand.

Timu rates himself as a natural No.8 but believes he has something to offer the Wallabies at blindside flanker as a foil to the unmovable Michael Hooper-David Pocock combination.

“I’ve just got to apply myself, get better at my trade and work my way in there,” he said.

Meanwhile, Timu is hoping more key Queensland players commit themselves to the club for the 2019 campaign – especially Samu Kerevi, who was reportedly pondering a switch to the Brumbies.

“I’ve read a few of those things, I’m not too sure where he’s at with his negotiations,” Timu said.

“But a player of his calibre, you’d love to have him in your team and play with him.”

Hardwick puts heat on AFL Tigers

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick wants Tigers in the firing line to show their finals credentials when the AFL premiers take on Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

The round 23 hitout is otherwise a consequence-free afternoon for the ladder leaders.

Richmond have secured their first minor premiership in 36 years, allowing fans one last stress-free visit to the MCG this year before their September campaign begins.

The celebratory tone won’t extend to the coaching box, where Hardwick wants to see underperforming Tigers step up.

“We’ve got some guys playing really good footy at the lower level and guys that are hanging in there at the moment at AFL level,” he said.

“Once again we’re trying to find out who’s going to be the best 22.”

The Tigers were underwhelming winners on their last two visits to the MCG.

An eight-point victory over Essendon and a three-point win over Geelong a fortnight prior support Hardwick’s suggestion the Tigers are playing within themselves.

Hardwick forewarned of tough decisions for himself without a lift over the Dogs.

“I want us to play our best footy. I don’t think we’ve seen that over the last two weeks,” he said.

“We’ve been playing okay footy and getting over the line.

“A guy like Anthony Miles would probably be playing in 10 other sides.

“Sam Lloyd comes in and plays his role every week.

“We’re really blessed to have a great deal of talent that could quite easily come in and play AFL footy at any given stage.

“There are going to be some players that are stiff (come finals), no doubt about it, but that’s the nature of the game.”

Returning players will put the heat on fringe Tigers.

First-choice players Kane Lambert and Dan Butler are stuck on the injury list but should be fit for their qualifying final.

Trent Cotchin, David Astbury and Dion Prestia have all been named to face the Bulldogs, squeezing out Lloyd, Liam Baker and Ryan Garthwaite.

Prestia’s “hamstring awareness” means he will be closely monitored.

The other small matter that could be settled on Saturday is the Coleman medal.

Tigers vice-captain Jack Riewoldt (60 goals) leads the race ahead of North Melbourne’s Ben Brown (58), Sydney superstar Lance Franklin (57) and Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins (56).

Hardwick said he wasn’t bothered whether Riewoldt would claim a third award, but that attitude might not extend to his forward.

“If he wins it that’s nice. If he doesn’t win it, I won’t lose too much sleep over it,” he said.

“But he does like medals.”

Waterfront redevelopment site hits the market at Honeysuckle

Waterfront redevelopment site hits the market at Honeysuckle The latest Honeysuckle land release, far left, the site of Doma’s Huntington development, centre, and Doma’s Lume apartments under construction, far right.

The development site for sale at 45 Honeysuckle Drive.

Doma’s Huntington apartment development will be next door to the latest site for sale.

The Honeysuckle land for sale, foreground, with the 20,000 square metres expected to hit the market soon in the background.

Doma’s Huntington development at 35 Honeysuckle Drive beside a waterfront promenade.

Lume at 21 Honeysuckle Drive.

Lume at 21 Honeysuckle Drive.

Doma’s Halcyon hotel and apartment building at 42 Honeysuckle Drive beside Cottage Creek and what could become a harbourfront park.

Seawall works at Lee Wharf 4 and 5.

TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald reported in May that Hunter Development Corporation, a state government entity, was poised to sell off its last two harboursideblocks.

Colliers International will market the first of these, 5600 square metresat 45 Honeysuckle Drive, as “Lee 5” with a height limit of eight storeys. The land is beside Doma’s planned eight-storey Huntington apartment development at No.35.

A new Cottage Creek park will sit immediately to the west of the block on a site now occupied by the Hansen Yuncken building.

The final waterfront Honeysuckle land sale will covera huge 20,000-square metre sitewest of Cottage Creek to the Wickham marina. Part of that site now houses a 270-space car park.

HDC has just completed work to reclaima strip of harbour in front of 21 and 35Honeysuckle Drive, both owned by Doma, to accommodate a promenade.

The Canberra developer has started work on the Lume apartments at No.21 and will build a hotel and apartments across the road at No.42.

It is also building an apartment block in Merewether Street and a 30-storey development on the Store site in Hunter Street.

HDC said potential buyers of Lee 5 would need to consider public spaces such as the waterfront promenade, view corridors and connections through to the harbour from the city.

“We are in a growing city, and we want to make sure the buildings we plan and build today are attractive, well designed, well positioned and well integrated into the surrounding public areas,” chief operating officer Valentina Misevska said.

“Lee 5 is in immediate access to the future Honeysuckle light rail stop, as well as the Newcastle interchange.

“As we move further away from being a car-led city, this proximity to public transport is integral to future homes, jobs and public spaces,all of which could form part of this site opportunity.”

Buddy, Roughead in for Swans-Hawks in AFL

Sydney have named Lance Franklin for Saturday’s blockbuster AFL clash with Hawthorn, who will welcome back skipper Jarryd Roughead.

Roughead returns after missing the past two games with an ankle issue but the Hawks will be without key defender James Frawley (back).

Ricky Henderson and David Mirra are the other inclusions with Marc Pittonet and Conor Glass omitted.

Franklin remains in some doubt, having been on restricted duties at Sydney’s final training session of the week.

The Swans have indicated they will give Franklin until game day to show he has overcome a groin injury.

Franklin warmed up away from the Swans’ main group at the SCG on Thursday, although that has been a regular occurrence throughout a season in which the superstar has nursed a heel injury.

The gun forward, who has been inspirational in the Swans’ late-season resurgence, suffered the minor setback during the final quarter of his team’s derby victory.

Heath Grundy is the only inclusion for the Swans, replacing Robbie Fox (omitted).

The veteran backman has been sidelined for the past month while battling mental health issues but returned at reserves level last week.

A top-four finish is on the line for the winner at the SCG.

GWS will welcome back star midfielder Josh Kelly for the other game of the round contender against Melbourne on Sunday.

Zac Williams has also been named in the Giants’ extended squad and could play his first game since rupturing his achilles in January, while Ryan Griffen (hamstring) is out.

The Dees look set to field an unchanged side with a home elimination final up for grabs.

Richmond confirmed the return of Dion Prestia alongside fellow big guns Trent Cotchin and David Astbury for Saturday’s clash with the Western Bulldogs.

The Dogs will line up without Lin Jong (sternum) and Tory Dickson (hamstring).

Port Adelaide welcome back midfield bull Sam Powell-Pepper among three changes for Friday night’s game against Essendon, while a shoulder issue has sidelined Tom Rockliff.

Matthew Leuenberger and Jayden Laverde are in for the Bombers, replacing injured big man Tom Bellchambers and Matt Dea.

Geelong’s Jed Bews returns for their clash with unchanged Gold Coast while Carlton lost star draftee Paddy Dow for Saturday night’s game against Adelaide.

Collingwood will also line up unchanged against Fremantle, who welcome back Stephen Hill but have lost Michael Walters to injury.

West Coast expect forward Jack Darling to pass a concussion test and line up against Brisbane on Sunday.

Defender Lewis Jetta goes out with a calf injury but Will Schofield was named in the extended squad.

Rising star Alex Witherden is a big out for the Lions.