It doesn’t matter if it’s Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Phil Gould, John Cartwright, Des Hasler, Dean Pay, Pottsy, Ralph Malph or even The Fonz himself.

Whoever takes over from Laurie Daley as NSW coach will find themselves in charge of a team and culture requiring a complete rebuild. Again. Just as Queensland’s legends were finally starting to yield, as the Blues finally looked like turning this thing around, the NSWRL finds itself in complete disarray at the wrong moment in Origin history.

Happy Days? I don’t think so.

When Daley fronted the NSWRL board in late July, he had the tentative support of enough directors who were prepared to give him one final year to defeat the Maroons.

While some wanted change, they were prepared to defer to the judgment of chairman George Peponis, who had publicly declared after the game-three loss that he wanted Daley to continue.

Then Daley fronted the board. He was battle-weary and presented so poorly that they quickly changed their mind and thought it best to undertake a searching review.

What concerned them the most was that the coach didn’t know about Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson’s schooner-a-thon at a Lennox Head pub five days before the Origin decider.

While Daley and team management were unaware of the movements of their two backline stars, news of their drinking session was bouncing around several club coaches within a day. If they knew, how could Daley not? And so close to such a big game?

When Daley wasn’t given a contract extension at that first board meeting, even his closest allies conceded his time was up.

Results were chiefly the reason. NSW have lost the last three series on his watch. Few would’ve been afforded that much latitude.

So much has been made of the so-called “boozy culture” within the Blues set-up and the longer time goes on, the more stories this column hears about the disastrous consequences of staying at The Star for game two.

When Fairfax Media revealed in February that the casino ??? which is a major sponsor of the Blues ??? would be the team base, some within the NSWRL and around the team became quite nervous about what could potentially happen. Daley assured them there would be no issue. That now appears to have been a fatal decision; a blind show of faith in the players he selected to represent the state.

During their time at the casino, the playing group became disconnected and fractured. Some retreated in their downtime to the blackjack tables, others to the poker machine area, others to its bars. Keeping tabs on them was like herding cats.

The Star is a sponsor for next season, but we’re assured the board will allow Daley’s replacement to base the side wherever he sees fit. There is no contractual obligation to stay at the venue.

Without again trawling through all the wreckage of the NSW series defeat, it’s become clear certain cliques had formed within the team. “It was a weird camp, man,” is how one player described it to me.

Some reports have overblown the significance of expensive bar bills. Once again, the rugby league media misses the real story. A bar tab of $4000 for 40 people is hardly surprising. Let’s not blame team management but perhaps question the ridiculous price of drinks in this city.

Indeed, those within the Maroons set-up have been having a little chuckle about it all. “Four grand? Lightweights,” said one, pointing out that the Queenslanders could sometimes nudge five-figure tabs during their bonding sessions.

Coaches can allow players to drink as much alcohol as they want. They can run a camp however they want, as long as nobody is breaking the law, harassing the public, posting body parts on social media or trashing hotel rooms like they’re Keith Richards.

The result is all that matters.

The Maroons keep winning series after series, including this year’s when they started games two and three as distinct outsiders with the bookmakers.

Meanwhile, NSW players often return to their respective clubs after Origin unfit and disillusioned. This year, some Blues players were more concerned about talking about the contracts they just signed, or were about to sign. Queenslanders talk about eating small NSW children.

This is what clubs are talking about when they say they do not want their players being exposed to the Blues culture because in some respects the Blues culture poisons them for the rest of the season. “I’m getting underpaid,” declared one star recently to his chief executive, having listened to weeks of contract talk.

With this in mind, here comes Brad Fittler, rugby league’s answer to The Fonz. Aaaaayyyyy!

He has been the standout choice to take over as coach for the past two years. Origin needs his intensity, his intellect, his madness, his nous, his voice, his passion ??? all of it! ??? as much as NSW.

Johns and Gould and whoever he needs will soon follow if Fittler is reappointed. At some stage, Danny Buderus needs to be involved, too. But if the NSWRL think Fittler is about to walk into the job with the seat now vacant, it needs to think again. He will only come in on his terms and in the right circumstances.

Reports at the weekend suggested the NSWRL was about to make Fittler, Johns and Gould an “offer they couldn’t refuse”. We’re assuming that doesn’t mean money, because all three of them would do it for a can of Coke and a pie if necessary.

What Fittler needs is the ability to run the team however he wants, without having to hit KPIs, without having to show his face in the office every day, without having to base his side at a casino to appease management and sponsors.

NSW needs a coach, nothing more. Time to get out of the casino, cut back on the support staff and rediscover the essence of what Origin is all about and then, finally, these happy days will be yours and mine and all of NSW’s happy days once again.

Almost exactly two years ago – in round 23, 2015 – Jacob Townsend kicked a goal midway through the second quarter to give the Giants a five-point lead over Melbourne.

Two of the 8974 in the crowd at Etihad Stadium were Richmond’s head of footy, Dan Richardson, and list manager Blair Hartley. They were there specifically to watch Townsend, who they believed could be the answer to their needs for another inside midfielder.

Hartley wasn’t happy. He was worried the career-high 22 disposals Townsend amassed that day would cost them more in a trade.

In the end, they gave up a fourth-round pick that GWS didn’t use. They got him for free.

“It’s a credit to our recruiting team,” Richardson said. “Our scouting suggested he did have the capacity to go forward and find the goals; that game showed us he could play at the level.”

It was the fourth goal of his career and he didn’t kick another one at AFL level for nearly two years. He’s now kicked 11 in two weeks after defensive forward roles on Michael Johnson and Jake Carlisle.

Townsend is now in the box seat to walk out onto the MCG in front of a potential crowd of 90,000 in a qualifying final against Geelong.

He originally came into the team because of Josh Caddy’s injury, but it would seem unthinkable to drop Townsend now.

The man who helped find him at Greater Western Sydney, Kevin Sheedy, says he’s one of the toughest players he’s seen.

Sheedy said he couldn’t be happier that Townsend has managed to silence the doubters.

“Everybody has doubts early,” Sheedy said. “Unless you have super talent … they’re always ready to doubt you.

“He never had the speed to do it early, but I’ll tell you what, there won’t be any kid tougher at Richmond. He’s the toughest kid I coached at the Giants.

“He was a very good, tough young rugby kid who crossed over to the AFL. I have no doubt Mark Williams would have convinced Richmond to get him.”

For all of his Giants career, he was essentially used as a second-string inside ball winner, filling in for the likes of Callan Ward when required.

Townsend grew up in Leeton, a town in NSW’s Riverina region, a little more than 500 kilometres west of Sydney.

He would travel huge distances for games, before the Giants eventually relocated him to Blacktown in his final year of high school.

He played in the Giants’ TAC Cup team before being selected on their inaugural list for the 2012 season, where he played in the club’s first five games.

“He’s a beautiful young kid,” Sheedy said. “He’s honest, dedicated and he’s a listener; he takes it all in.”

At 187 centimetres and 89 kilograms, Townsend wasn’t the player Richmond expected to line up next to Jack Riewoldt as a second marking option.

Richardson admits even they have been a little surprised by the past two weeks, but also said his form in the VFL had been consistently excellent.

“He’s actually deceptively tall and deceptively strong,” Richardson said.

The n wine industry will target popular Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo as part of a $50 million marketing push plan to lift wine exports and wine tourism.

International tourists will be urged to “take the great n wine tour,” and visit popular wine regions under the ambitious $50 million taxpayer-funded plan.

Winemakers’ Federation of president Sandy Clark said the package was a “once in a generational opportunity to grow demand for n wine”.

“It will benefit all winemakers and provide a lasting platform for profitability throughout the supply chain, and I would like to thank all those who have got behind this initiative. It is now up to us to maximise the opportunity,” he said.

The federal government and industry plan was unveiled on Thursday and aims to lift wine exports to $3.5 billion a year by 2021-22 an increase of 8 per cent.

The industry also hopes to lure an extra 40,000 international tourists to leading wine regions such as the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Yarra Valley in Victoria, and South ‘s Barossa Valley.

“‘s wine industry has enjoyed significant growth in recent years on the back of the Coalition’s market access gains, with our wine exports forecast to exceed 800 million litres and $2.5 billion in 2017-18,” Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said at the launch of the plan, at the Penfolds Magill Estate in South .

The program is part of the reforms to the Wine Equalisation Tax.

Highlights include: an eight-fold increase in marketing campaign spending to boost wine sales in China and the United States; a wine exports grants scheme for new and existing exporters to China and the US; grants to help develop wine tourism experiences that will attract international tourists; and a focus on cider businesses to help them boost exports.

The chief executive of n Vignerons, Andrew Weeks, said the plan was expected to deliver returns far above its $50 million cost.

“It offers a unique opportunity at a perfect time when there’s been some really positive results in our markets from a combination of things, including free trade agreements coming into bite, more favourable currency, but also some really promising work done by our generic marketing body as well,” he said.

“Some of those targets may seem ambitious, but why not aim high, why not back ourselves, why not build on the great reputation of n wines.”

Dhaka: are staring down the barrel of another Asian misadventure after they ran into trouble with Bangladesh’s spinners and the decision review system on day two of the first Test in Dhaka.

recovered after trailing by 158 runs after the first innings in the first Test of their most recent series against Bangladesh 11 years ago, and while they didn’t face quite as steep a deficit this time, the tourists will need a similar performance to avoid their first ever Test loss to the Tigers.

Given the task of facing 22 overs in their second innings before the close of play, the Bangladeshi opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar survived probing early spells from quicks Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins before Soumya fell late in the day for 15, with Usman Khawaja taking four bites of the cherry before completing a catch in the deep to give Ashton Agar his fourth wicket of the match.

Tamim (30) and nightwatchman Taijul Islam (0) made it to stumps, with Bangladesh 1-45 and holding a lead of 88 with three days to play and nine wickets in hand.

Rain, which has barely had an impact to this point, could still play a part in the outcome, with thunderstorms forecast for all three remaining days.

After a dramatic top-order collapse late on Sunday, made a better fist of batting on Monday, but lost wickets at regular enough intervals to plunge further into the mire, before the damage was mitigated by a wagging tail.

Disappointingly for the tourists, pronounced spin was less of a factor than poor batting to straight balls pitching in line with the stumps.

After resuming in the morning at 3-18, suffered a major early blow when captain Steve Smith was bowled through the gate for eight as he danced down the wicket to Mehedi Hasan, leaving in disarray at 4-33.

Things picked up after Smith departed, as new batsman Peter Handscomb, and Matt Renshaw, who had watched on from the non-striker’s end as wickets fell around him late on the previous day, went about trying to rectify the situation.

Despite a promising partnership, neither Handscomb nor Renshaw reached 50. Handscomb’s stance deep in his crease had loomed as a possible weakness, so when he was struck on the pad by Taijul well back in his crease he made a hasty exit for 33, not appearing to even contemplate a review.

Having challenged Renshaw earlier in the morning, spinner Shakib Al Hasan got his man eventually, with the Queenslander sent on his way for 45 after Soumya juggled catch at slip shortly before lunch.

headed to lunch at 6-123, and Matthew Wade had barely returned to the middle after the break when he was again walking back towards the boundary, out leg-before to a straight ball from off-spinner Mehedi Hasan for five. He seemed to confer at length with non-striker Glenn Maxwell before opting not to review the decision despite having two challenges up their sleeve. The folly of that call was apparent moments later when the broadcaster showed that the ball was missing leg stump, continuing an error-riddled match for umpires Aleem Dar and Nigel Llong.

Things became more dire when Maxwell was stumped for 23 after striding to a ball pitching outside off stump from Shakib. At that point were 116 runs behind, with just two wickets in hand.

got some much-needed luck in the form of a howler of a dropped catch from Bangladesh’s Shafiul Islam after Cummins skied one from Shakib on 11. That allowed Cummins and Agar to extend their eighth-wicket partnership to 49 at tea, before Cummins (25) and Hazlewood (five) were added to the list of Shakib’s victims, with the game’s top-ranked all-rounder finishing with 5-68 to complement his exhilarating 84 with the bat on day one.

Shakib’s haul made him just the fourth man after Dale Steyn, Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan to take five wickets in a Test innings against every other Test playing nation.

While not quite reprising his heroics from Trent Bridge in 2013, Agar again provided useful runs in the lower order, taming the spinners on his way to 41 not out, with most of his runs scored through the leg side.

Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t watched season seven’s episode seven: The Wolf and the Dragon.

Game of Thrones finale … Daenerys Targaryen’s steamy sex scene with Jon Snow. Photo: HBO

The great mystery of Game of Thrones was finally resolved in the season seven finale on Monday: the true identity of Jon Snow, and whether he is in fact the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Sam Tarly (John Bradley) and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), we discovered Jon’s real name is Aegon Targaryen. We also learnt (though in truth we had known this for a while) that he is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, who were wed in secret after Rhaegar’s first marriage was annulled.

That means the entire history of enmity, sparked by the belief that Lyanna had been abducted and raped by Rhaegar, was based on a misunderstanding.

“He’s never been a bastard,” said Bran, as he disappeared into one of his time-travelling visions. “He’s the heir to the Iron Throne. He needs to know. We need to tell him.”

Though it had been long foreshadowed, that revelation was still one of many fist-in-the-air moments delivered by this movie-length (81 minutes) episode.

Others included: The Stark sisters Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) overcoming their differences to finally deal with the real viper in the Winterfell nest, Peter “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen). Many have died in Game of Thrones, but a more deserved brutal ending has never been met by anyone;Cersei (Lena Headey) refusing the offer of a truce, only to change her mind and accept it, only to later reveal that she has no intention of honouring it at all. She may not be consistent, but her untrustworthiness is;Cersei’s brother-lover Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) finally defying his sister, and daring her to order her oversized protector The Mountain to kill him. She did, sort of, but Jaime rode away regardless. He may have a death sentence hanging over his head, but at least his twisted relationship with his sister is seemingly at an end. Yes;Siblings Sandor “The Hound” (Rory McCann) and Gregor “The Mountain” (Hafpor Julius Bjornsson) Clegane finally coming scarred face to scarred face, one of many seething encounters in the Dragon Pit. The bloody showdown long dreamt of by fans didn’t happen, but the seeds were sown for a suitably brutal resolution in the final season;Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) finally growing a pair and standing up to the latest in the long line of bullies he has faced over the years. In so doing he proved that despite what Bronn (Jerome Flynn) thinks, you don’t have to have a cock to be ballsy;The Night King riding in on the back of his resurrected Ice Dragon to demolish the Wall. Viserion doesn’t breathe ice, as we might have expected, but a blue flame, which presumably burns even hotter than the living dragons’ orange blasts. As if it weren’t scary enough already, the army of the dead is now officially cooking with gas!

The most anticipated moment of all, however, was the coming together of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harington). In their own minds, they are queen and loyal subject, and now lovers. In truth, they are actually king and ??? well, king’s aunty.

If last week’s offering seemed more riddled than usual with troubling plot illogicalities, this week’s was a return to what Game of Thrones does best: political intrigue, inter- and intra-family rivalries, a little sex and death, and a lot of peril for our most-loved characters.

As set-up for the final season due late next year, fans could hardly have wished for more.

Facebook: karlquinnjournalist Twitter: @karlkwin Podcast: The Clappers

NEWCASTLE are hoping to harness the emotion surrounding departing players and use it to their advantage in Sunday’s season finale against Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium.

MOVING ON: Queensland Origin flyer Dane Gagai has one more game for the Newcastle Knights before he links with South Sydney next year. Picture: Darren Pateman, AAP

At least three members of Newcastle’s likely 17-man squad –Dane Gagai, Joe Wardle and Mickey Paea – will definitely be playing their last games for the club, having signed elsewhere for next season and beyond.

HOMEWARD BOUND: English import Joe Wardle has played in 17 NRL games.

Gagai, Newcastle’s only current Origin player, has signed a four-year deal with South Sydney after six seasons and 127 games in the red-and-blue.

A strong showing could well secure him a berth in the Kangaroos’ squad for the end-of-season World Cup.

VETERAN: Mickey Paea has been a popular clubman for two years.

Wardle (Castleford) and Paea (Hull FC) are both returning to the English Super League after playing 16 and 19 games for Newcastle respectively.

In addition, centre Peter Mata’utia and back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon are out of contract and have reportedly attracted interest from rival clubs.

Knights lock Mitch Barnett said the desire to send teammates on a high note –as well as upholding the tradition of performing well on Old Boys day –would provide Newcastle with a wealth of motivationagainst the defending premiers.

“Last game of the year, Old Boys day, and a lot of us won’t play together again,’’ Barnett said.

“We owe it to our fans, and our club, and ourselves just to finish on a really good note …

“Some blokes are already moving on, and a couple have had to retire.

“It’s come up a little bit, but not too much.

“But this week it will probably be a little motivational, along with Old Boys day.’’

Barnett said Newcastle’s players had not discussed theirchances of avoiding the wooden spoon this week.

To do that, the cellar dwellerswill need to upset the Sharks and hope the Warriors beat second-last Wests Tigers.

In the process, a 42-point turnaround in for-and-against statistics will be required.

It would appear highly unlikely, but Barnett said he preferred to reflect on the improvements Newcastle have made this season.

He was adamant that next year they will hand the spoon, which they look certain to collect for a third consecutive season, to some other poor unfortunates.

“We can’t just rely on good players coming in,’’ he said.

“We’ve got to work really hard, continue to develop …I’d like to think we won’t be in this position next year.’’

Barnett believesa top-eight finish is not beyond Newcastle next season.

“I’d like to think so,’’ he said. “I’m very confident and I thought that at the start of this year, that we’d be somewhat around the top eight.

“But compared to last year and we have improved, and if we work hard in pre-season and all next year, I believe we will be around the finals.”

Meanwhile, Knights prop Josh King has avoided suspension by pleading guilty to a dangerous-contact tackle on Clay Priest in last week’s loss to Canberra.

Sydney ruckman Sam Naismith is playing for his finals future this weekend as the Swans look to lock in the remaining piece of their September puzzle.

Kurt Tippett and Callum Sinclair have received favourable reports on their ankle injuries, setting up a three-way battle for the ruck.

Naismith had been the the club’s preferred choice until hurting his hip a month ago but is now the third seed with queries about his form and match fitness.

The beanpole ruckman makes his return to competitive football in the NEAFL preliminary final but will need a strong showing to displace either of the incumbents.

“He trained really well on the weekend, he’ll play,” Swans coach John Longmire said.

“How much of the game I’m not quite sure, but the plan is for him to play this weekend.

“He’s missed some footy so he needs to play. It’s a very simple decision. He wasn’t quite right on the weekend [round 23] if we were to pick him. He didn’t train until later on in the week but he trained really well on Saturday.

“So that gives us an opportunity for him to train fully this week and play this weekend and prepare himself the best he can.”

Tippett and Sinclair will not train on Thursday but are expected to hit the track by the end of the week. Tippett has hurt the same ankle that dogged him earlier in the year.

The Swans played two rucks the last time they faced Essendon and are likely to do so again given the concerns about their big men.

“As we’ve done all year we’ve played who we think gives us the best possible chance to win a game of footy, that will be no different in the first final,” Longmire said.

“We’re hoping to have the three of them available, that’s the main thing. We’ll make a decision based upon the information we get at training and the game on the weekend which way we go.”

The Swans have two players in All-n contention with captain Josh Kennedy and Coleman Medal winner Lance Franklin named in the 40-man squad.

Defender Heath Grundy and midfield duo Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker as well as Dane Rampe, who all started the season slowly due to form or injury, missed out despite strong finishes to the home and away campaign.

“That’s not the major focus at the moment, as you can imagine,” Longmire said.

“The couple of boys in there certainly deserve it, but we’ve also had a few blokes miss a bit of footy this year which might have come into the equation.”

The Swans enter the finals the form team of the competition with 14 wins from their last 16 games but missed out on the double chance after losing their first six games of the year.

“The players are very confident in the way we play and what matters to us in regards to how we win or lose games of football,” Longmire said.

“Everyone really believes in the way we play. You need to be mindful we need to go out and execute, that’s always the hardest part.

“The Bombers, as we know, really pushed us to the last second at the SCG and are a very good football team with players to come in to make them stronger.”

The Swans breathed a sigh of relief after Grundy was given the all clear by the match review panel for an off-the-ball incident with Carlton’s Levi Casboult.

Casboult was floored and appeared dazed by the impact but the MRP deemed Grundy’s actions were not unreasonable in the circumstances.

NDIS recipient Gretta Serov with her mother Fay. Picture: Geoff Jones .HAWKESBURY residentGretta Serov passionately campaigned for the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s inception, but now that it has arrived, she feels betrayed as she feels it has taken away her independence.

Serov, 26, has Severe Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Shecannot speak, and communicates via an iPad.

Despite her challenges, Serov is reasonably independent. She attends University, and wants to do a postgraduate course in journalism and become a human rights advocate.

However, because of her condition, she needs help getting to and from places. Her mother lives in Leura, and her father lives in Bowen Mountain. She attends university and has an active social life.

To get to all these places, Serov needs a taxi capable of fitting her wheelchair, and therein lies her issues with the NDIS.

Under previous schemes, Serov was granted money, which she was able to use in whatever way she thought would make her life better. She chose to use it on taxis to have a social life and try to get a degree.

Under the NDIS, there are strict limits on what money can and cannot be spent on, and it has frustrated Serov to no end.

“Without access to my core funding for independent transport I have been left in the debilitating situation of being totally stripped of my independence,” she said.

A spokesperson from the National Disability Insurance Agency, the government body that runs the NDIS, refused to speak about Serov’s situation, citing privacy concerns.

The spokesperson said anyone unhappy with their NDIS plan could request a review.

“The NDIA encourages anyone unhappy with their NDIS experience to contact us,” the spokesperson said.

“Participants are also encouraged to contact the NDIA to look at the options for flexibility in using their plan.”

Serov said in 2011, she passionately campaigned for the NDIS, and was featured in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The fact the NDIS has in many ways made life tougher for Serov, the exact opposite of its stated aim, has been a slap in the face to the former program champion.

Serov said she had raised her concerns with representatives from the NDIA.

She said recently she had found a case worker at Penrith who took her complaints seriously, however, in the past, she felt as if staff did not understand her disability or condition.

“[When I]have tried to dispute the funding allowances with the NDIA, I have been either dismissed, ignored, expected to jump through hoops by providing layers of documentation that go nowhereand even worse belittled,” she said.

Serov said she had been told by NDIA staff she could simply get a lift with her parents to university and other locations, but said her powerchair did not fit in their cars.

“The only way I am able to get to and from university and retain some form of independence while on campus, is to either have a carer meet and swap cars with my mum at her work or my dad has to miss out on a day of work so he can drive me to and from university,” she said.

The NDIA spokesperson said the agency was reviewing some parts of the NDIS, in an attempt to improve services and outcomes for its clients.

“The NDIA will continue working with people with disability, their families and carers to resolve any issues during this unique period of transition and remains committed to getting the balance right between participant intake, plan quality and the sustainability of the Scheme,” the spokesperson said.

Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman said it was a shame Serov’s situation had ended up like it had.

“Gretta has always been encouraged to be independent and I was disgusted that the NDIS, which is meant to leave people no worse off than they were before, had failed to match her travel needs,” she said.

NDIS recipient Gretta Serov outside Hobartville Public School. Picture: Geoff Jones

Ms Templeman criticised the rollout of the NDIS, which has largely occured under the Coalition.

“There have been a range of problems with the rollout of the NDIS, in particular a clunky IT system and poor quality plans,” she said.

“I think some of this is about the level of training people are given and also that some of the rules are just not clear, and therefore decisions aren’t consistent.

“The IT system has been plagued by difficulties that have resulted in significant problems for people with disability and disability service providers.

“It’s vital that the Turnbull Government gets on with the job of fixing the NDIS IT system and ensuring that there are enough staff and they have access to proper training.

“The NDIS is the biggest social policy reform since the introduction of Medicare – it’s vital that we get it right.”

As for Serov, she told The Gazette she was happy an NDIA staff whom she had recently met was taking her complaints seriously.

However, she said she was ultimately dismayed that a program she passionately campaigned for, had morphed into something which had not improved her life and had robbed her of some of her independence.

Hawkesbury Gazette

There were mansions on big blocks and impressive inner-city houses at auction on Saturday, but the top sale recorded over the weekend was – wait for it – a three-bedroom apartment.

Despite buyers across Sydney having their pick of 675 properties, they erred on the side of caution, with fewer than 70 per cent of properties selling at auction.

But while plenty of homes were passed in, there was strong demand for a rare apartment in the Quay Grand building in Circular Quay, which sold for a whopping $7.11 million.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 242-square-metre property has views over Circular Quay to the Harbour Bridge on one side, and across the Botanic Gardens on the other sale.

Records show the property was advertised for rent in July, for $3500 a week, and July last year for the same amount. It last sold for $3.7 million in October 2012.

Selling agent Etienne West, from Morton Circular Quay, said it was the second-highest sale the building had seen.

He said the undersupply of three-bedroom apartments was a significant factor when it came to the apartment’s popularity, noting there had been just three or four sales in the Quay Grand and Bennelong this year.

There were five registered bidders at the auction, with the winning bidder, a “private lady”, who is expected to move in. Related: Sydney auction clearance rates slumpsRelated: Worst fortnight in 16 months Related: Circular Quay’s new laneway precinct

“It’s a very good size – and freehold building, not a high-rise building. It’s very tightly held.”

The CBD harbourside has seen some impressive sales of late, with the Salteri family revealed as the buyers of the $27 million Opera Quays penthouse, and the penthouse at the Loftus Lane development being snapped up for $17 million in June.

Selling agent Monique Lavers, who is marketing another multimillion-dollar apartment nearby, said the weekend’s result was not unexpected, considering the numbers of owner-occupiers, and particularly downsizers, looking to move into the inner-city harbour area.

“We’re finding that there’s more demand for the higher end apartments – demand for the one-bedroom, investment-sized property has dropped off a bit”, she explained.

“Investors feel like the returns aren’t there for them. But at the higher end, the $3 million-plus mark, they’re owner-occupiers and it’s more of an emotional purchase.”

“It’s becoming the norm – it’s the way our style of living is headed.”

Another apartment with water views making a splash was 6/51-53 The Crescent, Manly, which sold for $2.11 million – $610,000 more than it last sold for, in August 2016, records show.

The cheapest property to sell this weekend was also an apartment – a studio in the popular inner-west suburb of Newtown. It sold prior to auction for $420,000, having last traded for $270,000 in 2011.

NSW prosecutors have dropped the case against a Queanbeyan boy accused of causing the death of his brother during a fight.

The boy, 16, who legally cannot be named, was supposed to face trial on Monday for assault causing death of the 10-year-old.

But instead prosecutors said they had withdrawn the charge.

Why remains unclear; no reasons were given in court.

The offence the boy was charged with was added to the NSW books three years ago to “make our streets safer by introducing new measures to tackle drug-and alcohol-related violence.”

It attracts a 20 year maximum penalty for those convicted.

In the Queanbeyan boy’s case, the charge stemmed from a fight with his little brother at home, at about 2pm on May 23, 2016.

It was alleged in court documents that the boy, then 15, woke to his siblings fighting and his mother having words with them.

It was said the boy grabbed the 10-year-old and punched him.

In the younger boy’s attempts to get away, he hit his head on the corner of a door frame. Prosecutors alleged he was shoved, while the boy’s defence said their client had effectively let go.

The younger boy’s life support was turned off two days later.

What had happened was a “long way” from a “one-punch” assault in Kings Cross, the boy’s solicitor Michael Bartlett said outside court in an interview with The Canberra Times.

Mr Bartlett, who spoke with permission of the boy’s family, said the arrest and charging of the boy was “over the top” from the start.

He described the way his client was questioned by police after his brother’s death as unfair and said it bordered on improper.

Mr Bartlett said his client had gone of his own accord to police to tell them what had happened. He was given telephone advice not to speak to police until a legal representative had arrived.

But, he said, the boy was interviewed shortly after.

Mr Bartlett said the boy was questioned, in the presence of an independent person, for more than four hours, in which he was asked multiple times for his version of events.

There were also questions over whether the fight in fact caused the death, when an autopsy found the younger boy may have had a medical condition relevant to his death, he said.

Mr Bartlett said a public defender had been appointed to the case, and had written submissions to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions asking the charge be withdrawn.

He had, Mr Bartlett said, detailed concerns about the police interview with the boy and concerns about the cause of death.

It was also the defence view that in this case there was no strike causing the death that the law required, he said.

“He was innocent of this charge,” Mr Bartlett said.

“This is an incident between two brothers, a bit of boyish push and shove.

“That’s what happened and that’s what it led to, tragically.”

Mr Bartlett said the charge had caused the boy and his family a “great deal” of emotional distress, pain and worry.

“He’s got to live with what happened to his brother,” he said.

Mr Bartlett said his client had no criminal record.

The 16-year-old had pleaded not guilty, and was due to face trial on Monday in the NSW District Court in Queanbeyan. But the Crown prosecutor told the court the charge had been withdrawn.

The court heard the boy, who was not present but was legally represented, had been on bail with a curfew since last year.

Judge Chris Hoy confirmed the boy was no longer subject to bail.