Ghani visit: Extra Australian troops to Afghanistan a ‘sovereign decision’

Afghanistan’s president insists Australia’s military commitment to his country is a “sovereign decision”.


Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has been in Canberra for two days of official talks including meetings with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne.

Australia has 270 defence personnel deployed mostly in the capital Kabul where they provide support and security along with some mentoring recruits at the Afghan National Military Academy.

Earlier this year, the US Army General John Nicholson, who leads American and international forces in Afghanistan, called for thousands more troops to advise Afghan forces on the ground to beat the stalemate.

Dr Ghani clarified that General Nicholson had requested about 5200.


Asked if Australia should provide more troops, Dr Ghani said: “These are sovereign decisions.”

“We always defer to national authorities in terms of the decision-making process,” he told ABC radio.

Australia’s main base in Afghanistan had been in Uruzgan province, before the withdrawal in 2013.

The Taliban have now overrun that area.

But Dr Ghani insisted “temporary setbacks” should not be seen as reversals.

“It is not trending in the wrong direction,” he told ABC TV.

He acknowledged the threat of Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan and said authorities were dealing with them relentlessly.

“Given what has happened in Iraq and Syria, the likelihood of them migrating or jumping like cancer cells elsewhere is significant,” Dr Ghani said.

During the president’s visit thousands of Hazara protesters rallied in Canberra against a 2011 deal between Australia and Afghanistan to send failed Afghan asylum seekers back to their homeland.

Dr Ghani said it had not been a subject of conversations during his meetings with Australian government ministers.

He argued thousands of refugees had returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan in recent years and the level of participation in public life by Hazaras was increasing.


Asked if Afghanistan would take back failed asylum seekers detained on Manus Island or Nauru, he said due process was important to follow.

“An Afghan who has gone through the full legal process has a right to return. We never refuse if the host country wants to expel them, then the due process should be observed,” he said, adding that international human rights agreements need to be taken into account.

Dr Ghani earlier on Tuesday marvelled at Australian-designed gadgets that are protecting his country’s soldiers and police from improvised explosive device attacks.

In the past two years, Australia has supplied 150,000 Redwing contraptions to Afghanistan security personnel with a further 34,000 to be delivered later this year.

The devices, which jam radio signals that can set off IEDs, cover both individuals and vehicles and are made in Brisbane.

“It’s truly amazing,” Dr Ghani said.

“You’ve taken the request to save lives extremely seriously.”

WATCH: Thousands of Hazaras protest Afghan president

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Party watchdog examines Hanson books

The electoral watchdog is examining claims Pauline Hanson’s One Nation may have breached disclosure laws.


Former Queensland One Nation treasurer Ian Nelson told the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday he urged Senator Hanson and chief of staff James Ashby to declare the use of an aircraft, but was told not to worry about it.

Mr Nelson also alleged Mr Ashby had pressured him to conceal the fact that Bill McNee, a Victorian property developer, had donated $70,000 to the party.

A spokesman for the Australian Electoral Commission said the information was “being reviewed in the context of the disclosure provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act”.

It is understood One Nation was already being looked at as part of a regular program of compliance reviews by the AEC.

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan, who has spoken with AEC commissioner Tom Rogers, is expected to have further talks with the commissioner in coming days.

Labor senator Murray Watt says the AEC needs to check whether electoral laws have been broken, in terms of One Nation’s financial disclosure obligations.

Senator Hanson’s office declined to comment on Tuesday when contacted by AAP.

Mr Ashby, a registered pilot, told Sky News on Tuesday his company had bought the plane and its use for party purposes had been properly declared.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts insisted Senator Hanson may pay for the fuel on her trips.

“The use of the plane is declared as a gift in kind, everything above board,” he told Sky News.

“The plane was there before Pauline became a candidate.”

Senator Roberts also denied claims Mr Ashby ran a “dictatorship” within the party.

“He is very direct, very honest but he’s also personable and engaging. He doesn’t get rude and nasty unless someone wants to do that to him,” he said.

“He’s not a Peta Credlin (former prime minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff) at all, he listens extremely well… he’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.”

Calls to break down barriers as young migrants face institutionalised prejudice

Advocates on Tuesday made recommendations to the Inquiry into Migrant Settlement Outcomes, to combat what they said were dangerous misconceptions.


Youth Action, one the many groups that made a submission to the inquiry, said migrants continued to face prejudice, despite figures that indicated they may be less likely to commit crime.

“There is this idea they are a criminal or have some connection to criminal behaviour or anti-social behaviour of any way, shape or form,” CEO Kate Acheson said.

“Actually white young males are more likely to be committing crime than that particular community, and we are not seeing the vilification happening across the cultures, just these communities and we need to stop that.”

Youth ambassador for the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW Apajok Biar also believed many South Sudanese migrants were being unfairly linked to issues like gang violence, and that many people in her community were considered guilty until proven innocent.

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“People, [what] they see in the media is just a small percentage of the South Sudanese community,” Ms Biar said.

“There are so many of us achieving such great things and we are really contributing to Australia as a whole and they should really consider that, not just profile us because of what one person has done.”

When Tamara Mirzada was just 13 when she moved to Australia as an Afghani refugee.

“When I was growing up, I wore the hijab in high school and I faced a lot of discrimination and being called a terrorist when I just came here,” she said.

It’s something Tamana said happened daily within the Muslim community formed part of a phenomenon migrant support groups want to stop.


Research from the Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW found that young people in NSW who spoke a language other than English were less likely to be involved in crime than their English speaking counterparts.

Victorian youth born overseas were also less than half as likely to be alleged offenders compared with other young people.

Arash Bordar came to Australia as an Iranian refugee in 2015 and, in the years since, he said he has encountered prejudice and felt excluded from society.

“Sometimes when you are on the train they check your ticket and you’re the only one, they don’t ask everyone,” he said.

“We want to build the country with everyone together. But when we face the problems and all the challenges we have, it makes us a bit depressed.”

One of the recommendations made to the federal government was that migrant youth be able to access support services earlier, from the age of 12, instead of 15.

Advocates including Ms Acheson said earlier intervention is crucial.

“When you don’t have that they feel displaced, they feel devalued … that’s not really good.

“Young people will look for identity wherever they can find it,” Ms Acheson said.

There is currently no national record of crimes connected to ethnicity – something advocates are pushing to change.

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McGuire ready to be Qld Origin enforcer

Not content with looking like his idol Michael Crocker, Queensland lock Josh McGuire is ready to act like him and step up as the Maroons enforcer in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider in Brisbane.


Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace has revealed McGuire adopted his trademark head tape as a tribute to his hero, former Maroons hard man Crocker.

But after witnessing McGuire’s Origin II heroics, Wallace said McGuire was ready to make a name for himself at Suncorp Stadium as Queensland’s next hit man.

“Crock was a massive inspiration for Moose (McGuire),” Wallace said of Crocker, a no nonsense Maroons backrower who played 13 Origins from 2003-09.

“He just loved him. Crock wore head tape and he (McGuire) pretty much said that’s why he wears head tape.

“Crock was aggressive, a Queensland legend. He was always there when they needed a big shot or aggression.

“At the end of the day Moose is probably that player for us when it comes down to it.”

McGuire showed he was ready to do his best Crocker impersonation in the decider with an inspirational hand in Queensland’s game two win over NSW in Sydney.

The 27-year-old ripped into the giant Blues pack that monstered Queensland in game one, running 117m, making a team high 49 tackles and nabbing a line break as the Maroons came back to win from 16-6 down.

Wallace said McGuire was ready to produce more of the same in a bid to inspire one of Queensland’s most inexperienced packs in 20 years.

Wallace and fellow starting prop Dylan Napa have played a total of three Origin games between them.

“Moose will definitely be foaming at the mouth and big Naps doesn’t mind chucking a shot on here and there,” Wallace said.

Maroons bench forward Josh Papalii believed McGuire had stepped up as a pack leader after taking over the Queensland No.13 jersey from retired great Corey Parker this year.

“Out of the big blokes, Moose is definitely the most experienced in there,” he said of McGuire.

“So he’ll do a bit of talking. But you’ve got Naps there who likes that kind of role as well.”

Maroons centre Will Chambers said McGuire’s game two effort had set the yardstick for what was expected from everyone in the Queensland side.

“It’s about doing your job for the team and making sure that you keep giving 100 per cent and that’s what he does really well,” he said.

Slater inspires Holmes’ Qld No.1 hopes

Lessons learned from State of Origin great Billy Slater have stoked Valentine Holmes’ hopes of one day taking over from his idol as Queensland fullback.


But Holmes doesn’t think that will be any time soon despite Slater going down with an ankle injury at Maroons training ahead of Wednesday night’s series decider in Brisbane.

Queensland officials confirmed Slater rolled his ankle during an opposed session at their Gold Coast camp on Sunday and would be monitored in the lead-up to game three — potentially the veteran fullback’s final Origin.

Off contract Slater, 34, is yet to decide whether he will play on in 2018 ahead of his 29th Origin.

As a result, Cronulla No.1 Holmes said he had soaked up as much information as he could from Slater at Queensland training.

“I’ve learned a lot from him this camp. He’s my biggest idol. As a kid I always used to watch him and (North Queensland’s) Matty Bowen play,” he said.

“He was one of my favourite players growing up so to be able to play alongside him is great. Even playing against him is awesome.”

However, Holmes believed Melbourne’s Cameron Munster — the debutant originally named at five-eighth — would be on standby at fullback for Slater.

Munster spent the best part of two years filling in for Slater as Melbourne No.1 while the veteran battled two shoulder reconstructions.

“It would be anyone’s dream to play (Queensland) No.1 if you’re a fullback playing for your club so it’s definitely something that I’d love to play in,” Holmes said.

“(But) I don’t think they’d be calling upon me. (It would be) Cameron Munster at fullback and me and Gagai on the wings.

“If they asked me I wouldn’t turn it down but I am just being realistic here.”

Still Holmes believed he would leave the Queensland camp a better fullback thanks to Slater.

“He’s very vocal out on the field and he’s like that off it,” Holmes said.

“When we are doing video he’ll always pull me aside and let me know what I’m doing right and what I need to work on which is what I want to hear.

“I’m fullback at clubland so that’s something that I’ve got to take back with me.”

Aust captain demands better from bowlers

Australia skipper Meg Lanning has ordered her bowlers to improve their control if they want to secure a seventh Cricket World Cup success.


Lanning’s side lost by three runs to England at Bristol on Sunday, after failing to chase down the home side’s 8-259 — finishing 8-256 in reply.

Australia had England on the ropes at 6-174 before an 85-run stand between Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn for the seventh wicket helped them to a defendable total.

But Lanning was upset at the side gifting England 32 runs in extras as they slipped to their first defeat of the competition.

After an opening partnership of 56 between Beth Mooney (31) and Nicole Bolton (26), the visitors appeared on track when Elysse Perry (70) and Lanning (40) combined to get to 3-129 in the 32nd over.

Perry’s innings was the 19th time she has passed 50 in her last 30 ODI innings, although she is still chasing a maiden international century.

However, with the required run rate climbing, the fall of regular wickets, including those of Alex Blackwell (21 from 17 balls) and Alyssa Healy (14 from six balls) left Australia needing 16 from the final over.

Jenny Gunn held her nerve for the hosts and even took the wicket of Ashleigh Gardner for 11 to end a 24-year wait for an England victory over Australia at the World Cup.

“The period of overs 30 and 40 was what cost us in the end,” Lanning said.

“We did well towards the end to make a game of it but we left ourselves with too much to do.

“Me and Pez had established a good partnership then I got out which wasn’t ideal and we lost a bit of momentum.

“We’ve spoke about it a fair bit as a bowling unit trying to minimise those extras.

“Thirty-two is way too many and something we are going to have to improve on as we would be chasing a much smaller total.”

Despite their result, England spinner Alex Hartley insists Australia are still the team to beat.

“Definitely,” Hartley said.

“We’ve got to play a semi-final before we get to final hopefully.

“Every team in this tournament is capable of beating each other, the results in this tournament over the past couple of weeks have shown, India beating us then South Africa beating India yesterday.

“They’re (Australia) the team to beat but everyone capable of beating each other.”

Tammy Beaumont top scored for England with 49, while part-time medium pacer Elyse Villani was Australia’s chief wicket-taker with 3-42 from five overs.

Lewis joins elite company as Windies beat India in Twenty20

West Indies won with nine balls to spare, making 194 for one off 18.


3 overs in reply to India’s 190-6 at Sabina Park in Kingston, Lewis clinching the victory in style by sweeping spinner Ravindra Jadeja over the boundary rope.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian became the third player to score two T20 international centuries, after Gayle and New Zealander Brendon McCullum.

Only Australians Aaron Finch (156) and Glenn Maxwell (145 not out) have recorded higher scores.

Gayle, in his first appearance for West Indies since they won the World Twenty20 15 months ago, compiled a relatively subdued 18 off 20 balls, while Marlon Samuels chipped in with 36 not out.

West Indies might have become easy-beats in test cricket, but they showed on Sunday they are a different in the shortest version of the sport, especially with the bat.

“Five games in a row, in the ODIs, I didn’t do well but I kept believing in my ability and today I came out trumps,” Lewis said, referring to his slim pickings in the one-day international series that preceded the one-off T20.

West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite revealed he had offered his batsmen a sweetener.

“Yesterday we asked for the batters to go out and express themselves,” Brathwaite said.

“I gave them the captain’s incentive, whoever goes and gets a fifty gets half my match fee. We wanted to put smiles on the faces of the fans.”

India captain Virat Kohli scored 39 off 22 balls as his team wrapped up their short Caribbean tour on a sour note after they won the ODI series 3-1.

“West Indies have a good T20 team,” Kohli said. “They have carried on with the same team for a couple of years, and in experimental stage we’d have up and downs.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond)

Submarines project will need ‘cathedral’

Australia will need to build a massive “cathedral” to kick off the biggest defence project in the country’s history.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly at the opening of the Australian Future Submarines design office in Cherbourg, west of Paris, on Sunday.

The office will be known as Hughes House after late Rear Admiral Owen “Oscar” Hughes, who spearheaded the Collins class subs project.

In December last year, Australia and France formally sealed a $50 billion agreement under which French naval contractor Naval Group will build a new fleet of diesel-electric submarines based on its nuclear Barracuda.

Speaking at the Barracuda facility, Naval Group CEO Herve Guillou told Mr Turnbull and guests: “This is a sort of cathedral … and Australia is now here.”

The massive assembly hall, which will be required in Adelaide when work begins on the Australian submarines in 2022, allows for one submarine on the finishing line and another on the assembly line.

A workforce of 2,800 people will be needed in Adelaide.

The Cherbourg design facility will receive its first personnel later this year, who will work with Naval Group on the design of the next generation submarine.

Mr Turnbull said it was important in the long-term Australia not only construct the submarines but operate them and sustain them, rather than rely on another country.

“Australia must be the master of her own destiny,”

He expected the project to not only deliver a new defence capability but “act as a magnet” for other industry.

Ms Parly linked the project with the need for a stronger military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

“France like Australia considers that the Indo-Pacific zone is of capital importance,” she said.

“There are 1.6 billion people living there so the regularity of our naval presence including in the Sea of China – the objective of that is not just to defend the rights of the sea but also to contribute to regional safety.”

She said oceans were the “stage of political expression of power”.

“A strong marine is an instrument of sovereignty that is paramount to manage, master and protect one’s areas.”

The project has the strong endorsement of French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Mr Turnbull on a flight from the Hamburg G20 summit to Paris on Saturday and discussed the project over dinner.

“It is not simply a contract,” Mr Macron said.

The decision had national, international and strategic outcomes and provided work for Australian industry and as president he would do all he could to ensure the contract was met.

The project has not been without controversy.

In early 2016 DCNS was left reeling after details from more than 22,000 pages of documents relating to submarines it is building for India were published in The Australian newspaper, leading to concerns about the company’s ability to protect sensitive data.

Ms Parly said she would ensure the “sensitivities” around the designing of the submarine would be protected.

Lewis spearheads Windies to T20 win

Opening batsman Evin Lewis smashed 12 sixes in an unbeaten century as the West Indies beat India by nine wickets in a one-off Twenty20 international in Jamaica on Sunday.


Lewis upstaged hometown hero Chris Gayle by smashing 125 not out off 62 deliveries, a run rate of more than two per ball as he scored the third-highest total in a T20 international.

West Indies won with nine balls to spare, making 1-194 off 18.3 overs in reply to India’s 6-190 at Sabina Park in Kingston, Lewis clinching the victory in style by sweeping spinner Ravindra Jadeja over the boundary rope.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian became the third player to score two T20 international centuries, after Gayle and New Zealander Brendon McCullum.

Only Australians Aaron Finch (156) and Glenn Maxwell (145 not out) have recorded higher scores.

Gayle, in his first appearance for the Windies since they won the World Twenty20 15 months ago, compiled a relatively subdued 18 off 20 balls, while Marlon Samuels chipped in with 36 not out.

The West Indies might have become easy-beats in Test cricket, but they showed on Sunday how dangerous they can be in the shortest version of the sport, especially with the bat.

“Five games in a row, in the ODIs, I didn’t do well but I kept believing in my ability and today I came out trumps,” Lewis said, referring to his slim pickings in the one-day international series that preceded the one-off T20.

West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite revealed he had offered his batsmen a sweetener.

“Yesterday we asked for the batters to go out and express themselves,” Brathwaite said.

“I gave them the captain’s incentive, whoever goes and gets a 50 gets half my match fee. We wanted to put smiles on the faces of the fans.”

India captain Virat Kohli scored 39 off 22 balls as his team wrapped up their short Caribbean tour on a sour note after they won the ODI series 3-1.

“West Indies have a good T20 team,” Kohli said. “They have carried on with the same team for a couple of years, and in experimental stage we’ve had ups and downs.”

Lions boss Gatland holds head high

Warren Gatland believes he might be the only coach who could have guided the British and Irish Lions to their Test series draw with New Zealand.


The Lions boss admitted there were times he hated the 2017 tour of his homeland, where the local media turned criticism personal on a number of occasions.

Gatland had always expected a certain level of flak as a Kiwi leading the tourists, but not the invective that came his way as the Lions won the second Test 24-21 and then drew Saturday’s final clash 15-15 to seal a share of the spoils.

However, the Wales boss conceded he knew the risks associated with taking the Lions head coaching job for a second-straight tour, especially after claiming a series win in Australia in 2013.

“I thought it was a hiding to nothing,” said Gatland of opting to lead the Lions for a second tour in succession.

“It is one of those positions that you are offered and it’s very difficult to walk away from.

“Trying to win in New Zealand is the ultimate challenge.

“When I reflected on it I felt if I wasn’t offered the position it would have been fine. Once I was offered the job you can’t walk away from that sort of challenge, particularly someone like myself when you are competitive.

“I think if anyone else had been doing it, we might not have drawn the series.”

The New Zealand Herald mocked up Gatland as a clown in a front-page caricature that upset the Lions boss given its direct personal nature.

Gatland has stated throughout the tour, however, that the Lions received a fine welcome from the New Zealand people – and he even insisted he maintains a good relationship with All Blacks boss Steve Hansen.

Gatland firmly believes he was able to turn his understanding of the New Zealand psyche to the tourists’ advantage, and will now leave the Land of the Long White Cloud feeling vindicated by his performance as Lions boss.

The Lions have still only ever won one Test series in New Zealand, back in 1971. But their 2017 draw now ranks as their second-most successful return against the All Blacks.

Quiet as southern Syria ceasefire begins ahead of Geneva talks

A monitor said clashes and shelling had halted in the three southern provinces covered by the truce, Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida, as it went into effect at noon local time.


The ceasefire deal was announced Friday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and comes as Syrian government and opposition delegations are due to attend a new round of talks in Geneva from Monday.

“The main fronts in the three provinces between regime forces and opposition factions have seen a cessation of hostilities and shelling since this morning, with the exception of a few scattered shells fired on Daraa city before noon,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitor said the ceasefire was holding by early Sunday evening. In Washington, US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday that he was pleased fighting had not resumed.

“Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of meeting. Good!” he tweeted.

The Syrian regime had announced its own unilateral ceasefire on Monday but fighting had continued on front lines in the three provinces.

The ceasefire deal comes after regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey agreed during talks in May in the Kazakh capital Astana to set up four “de-escalation” zones in Syria.

Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of meeting. Good!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

Implementation of that deal has been delayed as the three sides try to agree who will monitor the zones, one of which is located in southern Syria.

Rebels concerned

There has been no official comment from Syria’s government on the announcement, and there was no mention of the ceasefire on state television’s noon news bulletin.

The Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime, quoted the head of Syria’s parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee suggesting the agreement was negotiated in consultation with Damascus.

“No details on the agreement were presented, but the Syrian state has background on it,” Boutros Marjana told the newspaper.

“The final word on adding southern Syria to the ‘de-escalation’ zones belongs to the Syrian state, and there is coordination with Russia on that,” he added.

Smoke rise from Syrian village as a result of fighting near the city of Quneitra, in the Golan HeightsAAP

On Friday, before the ceasefire deal was announced, a delegation of rebel factions that attended talks in Astana expressed opposition to any ceasefire for just one part of the country.

In a statement, the factions said they were concerned about “secret meetings and understandings between Russia, Jordan and America on a deal for the south of Syria, separate from the north.”

Such an agreement “would divide Syria, as well as the delegation and the opposition, in two.”

‘Suitable atmosphere for talks’

The United States has largely stepped back from involvement in the diplomatic process to resolve the Syrian conflict since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Trump said he had discussed the conflict with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a series of tweets on Sunday, two days after they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

“We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

Earlier on Saturday, Trump’s national security adviser HR McMaster had described ceasefire zones as “a priority for the United States”.


Washington’s involvement in the agreement has been interpreted as a sign it may be cautiously re-engaging with efforts to end the war, which has killed more than 320,000 people since it began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Jordan borders the southern area covered by the truce and is a key supporter of the main moderate rebel faction there.

Israel, which has occasionally launched what it describes as retaliatory fire against government positions in Quneitra province, said it would “welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria”.

“But this ceasefire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

A UN official on Saturday said the deal created positive momentum ahead of the Geneva talks resuming.

“It helps create a suitable atmosphere for the talks, and we will see that on Monday,” said Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi, deputy to UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Expectations for the seventh round of UN-sponsored talks remain low however, with little prospect of a major breakthrough.


Respect earned at home, Gatland ponders third Lions tour

The 53-year-old now has a Lions coaching record rivalled only by the great Ian McGeechan after leading the tourists to a triumph in Australia four years ago and the stalemate with the All Blacks in an epic series over the last three weeks.


The Lions lost the first test 30-15, won the second 24-21 and drew the third 15-15 to share the series.

After speaking at length of his pride at what the squad had achieved in rugby’s “ultimate challenge”, and how he thought they had earned respect in his homeland, the New Zealander was asked about his own future.

He reaffirmed that the 2019 World Cup would bring an end to his time in charge of Wales before being asked whether he might want to complete “the set” of Lions tours in 2021.

“There’s a possibility that there’s an opportunity there again, and it’s something that you might consider,” Gatland, looking a little bleary-eyed after a late night out celebrating the end of the tour, told reporters at the team hotel on Sunday.

“Obviously the South Africa thing’s a little bit easier in terms of the timeframes and stuff and travelling. But we’d hope we don’t let the next four years go before we start planning and putting things into place.

“Those discussions need to happen now, about just having some reasonable preparation time,” he added..

“I’m not being stupid, as a coach, I wouldn’t be asking for a month. I think just a week in the UK or Ireland beforehand and a week in South Africa before the first game is reasonable.

“And maybe not have a midweek game in the first week before the test so we can prepare properly. Hopefully the powers in the game will act to preserve something that is special.”

One thing Gatland would be unable to bring to bear in South Africa would be the knowledge of the local psyche he thought had been vital to the squad’s success against the world champions.

“I think if anybody else was doing it then we probably might not have drawn the series,” he said.

“I think you’ve got to reflect on that and say that’s a pretty good achievement in terms of playing the best team in the world in their own backyard and drawing the series, particularly having lost the first test,” he added.

“We all said how important it was to win that first test, so to win the second test and draw the third was a great achievement.”


Gatland said his ears had pricked up last week when he heard opposite number Steve Hansen talking about how “the sun would still come up” if New Zealand lost the third test.

“Those were comments you don’t hear very often coming out of the All Blacks camp,” he said.

“I think we’d earned that respect for them to make those sort of comments. The thing about the All Blacks is they never worried about the opposition, always about themselves, always picked a team for themselves.

“We felt that we’d forced them to play a bit differently, they’d picked a team to combat some of our strengths and they don’t normally do that. And I think that’s a sign of respect for what we’ve achieved as a team.”

It was an immensely tough tour, Gatland said, which he “hated” at times, especially when he was the subject of personal attacks from the local media which he found “hard to take”.

The experience the Lions players had accumulated in the heat of the battle on the 10-match tour, he thought, would hold them in good stead when they faced the All Blacks again in the colours of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

“You get belief and confidence from performances. The mind is pretty powerful in that regard,” he said.

“For a lot of those players that have now beaten the All Blacks, drawn with the All Blacks, they can start communicating how to do that as players.

“What’s great about some of these players is that they have now been on two Lions tours and they haven’t been beaten. That’s something pretty special and something they can hold onto.

“And for some of them, they can start thinking about South Africa in four year’s time.”

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Brazilian port where slaves arrived given UNESCO status

The Valongo wharf in Rio de Janeiro where slaves from Africa first arrived in Brazil has been added to the list of World Heritage sites, UNESCO announced on Sunday.


The committee of the UN cultural body, meeting in Krakow, Poland, said Valongo was a reminder of the estimated 900,000 Africans who were brought there by slave traders starting in 1811.

The old stone wharf “is the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent,” UNESCO said on its website.

For Valongo, the world heritage honour makes it a twin with Ile de Goree, a small island near Dakar harbour that was chosen in 1978 as the emblem of the departure points for slaves from west Africa on their way to the Americas.

Valongo deserved the recognition like Auschwitz and Hiroshima “to make us remember those parts of the history of humanity that must not be forgotten,” historian Katia Bogea, head of Brazil’s national heritage institute (IPHAN) told the UNESCO committee.

Today the Valongo site is not on the water, but well inland, following expansion of the original city. The remains were only discovered by accident in 2011 during massive works to refurbish the port area for the 2016 Olympics.

Historians had known that this was the area where the biggest slave trade in the Americas was centred, but few Brazilians were aware. Nearby, a couple discovered by chance that their house was sitting on a mass grave of what could be tens of thousands of slaves.

Valongo is where the slaves, often emaciated and sick after the voyage, were taken to be quarantined, sorted and sold.

“It’s a unique memorial, containing the last remaining vestiges of the slaves’ arrival,” anthropologist Milton Guran recently told AFP.

Guran also pointed to a far reaching consequence to UNESCO status: “It will oblige Brazil to recognize its African roots” and will also encourage educational tourism.