Monthly archives: August 2018

Bulldog James Graham urges team to ‘get on with it’

The Bulldogs may have seven NRL players sidelined and are staring down the barrel of four consecutive losses, but prop James Graham has urged his team to “get on with it”.

The Bulldogs have lost their stranglehold on top of the NRL ladder with a string of losses which have been compounded by injuries and Origin representatives missing from their recent games.

Canterbury already had co-captain Frank Pritchard sidelined for the rest of the season with a pectoral injury, but their casualty ward has continued to grow with Josh Morris, Sam Perrett, Chase Stanley, Aiden Tolman, David Klemmer and Moses Mbye all injured recently.

Graham said the side remained confident of climbing back up the competition ladder.

“I don’t think worried is the right term,” Graham said. “We are disappointed but it’s a long season. Just like when we were coming first we weren’t talking about how good we were or celebrating. We are no different now losing three games. It’s not the end of the world. There’s a lot of rugby to be played and it’s still a long season.

“We try not to look for excuses. In all the three losses we looked at it, we review it and we gave ourselves opportunities to do better than we did. We came up against some good teams.”

With Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds on Origin duty, the Bulldogs were forced to use a makeshift halves pairing of Michael Ennis and Josh Jackson in their last-start loss to Parramatta. Injuries forced Jackson to shift out of the halves mid-game, with Tony Williams feeding the scrum at times.

“Mick and Jacko did a good job and the other boys that played some unfamiliar roles,” Graham said.  “As much as you don’t practice for it you have to get on with it.

“You’re not used to seeing certain players in certain positions in defence and attack so it is a little bit foreign to us. We are professional players. Most of us have been in similar situations before. You just have to get on it with it.”

The Bulldogs have lost to the Roosters and Parramatta without their Origin halves, while they were defeated by Manly with their representative players available. Points conceded by the Bulldogs have come in bursts in recent weeks. Graham said his side needs to stop back-to-back tries when Canterbury face the Raiders in Canberra on Friday night.

“We need to put in an 80 minute performance,” Graham said. “When we get our opportunities we have to take them. We have been guilty of not taking our opportunities when the game is in the balance.

“Instead of going a try up we concede a try. [Then there are] 12-point turnarounds in a couple of sets worth of play. We’re making it difficult for ourselves. That’s the key area we need to improve on.”

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Err on the side of caution, junior footy urged

Former NSW team doctor John Orchard has called for junior contact sports to exercise extreme caution when managing suspected concussions after a 13-year-old footballer was left in a serious condition after playing on after suffering a head knock.

Macarthur Saints rugby league player Jarrod Fletcher was placed in an induced coma on life support after collapsing during the game. Two days earlier, Tyler Horton, 16, was placed in an induced coma after copping a knee to the head in a game in Bathurst. He underwent emergency brain surgery.

Dr Orchard, a former Roosters medico who is now the spokesman for Sports Medicine Australia, said it was crucial for all junior sporting codes to have personnel trained in the recognition and management of concussion.

”Recently updated rugby league guidelines state that any player displaying signs of concussion should receive an urgent medical assessment and should in no circumstances return to play until formal medical clearance has been provided,” Orchard said.

”Children have significant physical, physiological and development differences that place them at long-term risk if sports-related concussion is not managed appropriately.

”Currently fewer than 20 per cent of concussed children are actually diagnosed with concussion.

”This needs to change – if there is any doubt at all, sit them out.”

Orchard said that if any player is displaying symptoms – including loss of consciousness, confusion, memory disturbance, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and/or unsteadiness – coaches and trainers should immediately remove the player from the field and not allow them to return to play.

”Once removed from play, any child suspected of concussion should then be medically assessed as soon as possible,” Orchard said.

”With research suggesting that full recovery of brain function may take longer than previously thought, it is extremely important that children suspected of concussion are not allowed to return to the field and risk further head injury.

”Concussion not only affects a child’s sporting activities, it may impact a child’s learning at school.

”SMA (Sports Medicine Australia) is aware that many local and community sports clubs simply don’t have the resources to provide a doctor for every game, however in the absence of a qualified medical practitioner, we would urge those coaches and trainers responsible for player welfare to exercise extreme caution where head injuries are concerned.

”It is also vital that local GPs ensure their concussion management and guideline knowledge is up to date, particularly for those regional and remote communities home to local contact sports competitions.”

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Players unaware of banned substances

Essendon players remain “of the strong belief” they were not administered banned substances, and are “baffled” at suggestions by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority chief Ben McDevitt to accept a reduced ban.

Acting AFL Players Association chief Ian Prendergast confirmed on Wednesday lawyers representing the 34 current and former players issued with show-cause notices had sought an extension to the 10-day period they had initially been given to respond.

ASADA responded with a statement, declaring it was willing to consider the application.

“ASADA is always willing to consider any reasonable request by an athlete for an extension of time to lodge their submission to a show cause notice,” the statement said.

Regardless of whether ASADA grants this, the players believe the supplements program administered in 2011-12 did not involve anything illegal.

“We’re now looking for co-operation from ASADA in terms of providing the evidence that they’ve gathered since the interim report was released and players were told no cases would be prosecuted based on the evidence that existed at that time,” Prendergast said. “At this stage I’m not aware of any players who believe they’ve taken a banned substance.

“Without the evidence, I struggle to understand how a player could get his head around taking any proposed penalty as was floated by Mr McDevitt over the weekend.

“These players took all reasonable steps, they sought further information from the club in relation to the substances they were to be provided as part of the program which led to a series of meetings, and also the consent forms which were provided which clearly stated that these substances were compliant with the WADA Code and had been approved by the club doctor.

“They were also bound by their contracts to follow any legal direction by their employer being the Essendon Football Club. And their education through ASADA and the AFL says if in doubt make sure your doctor approves anything that enters your body. They followed that to the letter of the law, and I think those circumstances should absolutely be taken into consideration in this matter.”

Whether those circumstances ultimately will be taken into consideration could depend on the result of Federal Court action brought by Essendon and suspended coach James Hird.

If Essendon and Hird are successful in proving the joint investigation by the AFL and ASADA was unlawful, and the case is quashed, then the show cause notices may be voided. However, McDevitt says the case includes more evidence gathered after the joint investigation concluded in August.

He says players can come forward and, provided they admit they were duped and assist the case, could be given up to 75 per cent off a maximum two-year penalty.

Prendergast said it was impossible for players to respond to the show cause notices and prove why they should not be put on a Register of Findings until the Federal Court case was complete. Essendon’s lawyers hope the case begins within three months.

“The stay we’re requesting is for the Federal Court matter to be finally resolved, and for the players’ process to proceed in the event the process isn’t knocked out through the challenge the club has issued,” Prendergast said. “We’ve simply requested the evidence be provided for the purpose of responding to the show-cause notices.

“Largely, we’re in the dark at the moment in terms of being able to properly advise these players, who have fully cooperated through the process.

“I would think in terms of ASADA’s duty as a model litigant, they’d provide that evidence so we can give them advice based on what, if anything, has been gathered since the interim report.

“The threshold for the show-cause stage of the process is very low. It’s based on a possibility, but we would still like to see the evidence that allegation is based on.”

Prendergast said he was unsure whether the players wanted Hird to return as coach later this year but said the saga was “taking its toll” on them.

Meanwhile, Prendergast’s future with the AFLPA could be decided at a board meeting on Wednesday night. He was overlooked for the top job, with Paul Marsh, from the Australian Cricketers Association, winning out. Prendergast, who will remain at least until September, had been the general manager of player relations, before stepping up when Matt Finnis quit.

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Homelessness set to surge post budget

The break up of Lisa’s marriage led to her facing homelessness. Photo: Michael Clayton-JonesCharities are gearing up for a surge in homelessness, particularly among youth, as a result of changes to unemployment benefits in the federal budget.

The head of St Vincent de Paul’s homeless services says they will be forced to stretch their limited resources to meet demand if the budget is passed with alterations to Newstart that mean under 30s have to wait six months before receiving financial support.

“Even students who have gone through study have to wait that period of time before they qualify for Newstart, so really what are their housing options post the study allowance?” VincentCare Victoria CEO John Blewonski said. “It’s very difficult to search for work when you don’t have a home address.”

In an effort to show how much the face of homelessness has changed from the mythical old man in a trench coat with a brown paper bag, the charity is hosting its fifth annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout on Thursday, where it will introduce some of the city’s more influential characters to a group of Victorians who have experienced homelessness.

One of the speakers, Lisa, 37, had the “white picket fence”, four children, pets and a partner, but a serious codeine addiction saw her relationship fall apart.

She moved out, but had financial problems and ultimately became homeless, living in shelters for seven months.

“The state of mind I was in, it was horrible,” she said. But she believes her situation is more common than people might think.

“Pretty much everybody I’ve met who has left a relationship, has by definition been homeless,” she said. “I don’t think people see it that way. I think people only see homelessness as a person living on the street.”

As well as raising money for their services, St Vincent’s uses the sleepout to get in executives’ ears about the issue of homelessness.

In his speech on Thursday, Mr Blewonski plans on highlighting the challenges that the state and federal budgets will pose to thousands of Australians who are currently facing tough times.

“There’d be no question how many in our community would be one or two pay cheques away from being homeless and that’s the sort of thing the CEOs hear on the night,” he said.

“You’ve got people who ran their own businesses, who were in comfortable stable relationships, the relationships break down and suddenly a young mum finds herself on her own with the main breadwinner gone, or somebody’s business goes broke and the next thing is they lose their house, they lose all their assets and they can find themselves homeless. We see that day after day.”

A person doesn’t have to be living on the street to be homeless; rather it is defined as someone without consistent, safe or appropriate tenure.

On the most recent census night in 2011, 22,000 Victorians were counted as homeless.

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Sentence cut for man who raped and threatened partner

A man previously jailed for bashing a shearer to death in 2001 has had his 12-year jail term for raping and threatening to kill his de facto wife – after she had taken out an intervention order against him – reduced by two-and-a-half years.

The man, 50, was arrested after he held two knives to the woman’s throat, abdomen and chest, and threatened to kill her and her dog.

Court of Appeal Justices Robert Redlich and Pamela Tate said that at one stage during the attack, the man stood behind his de facto wife of two years with a knife to her throat and told her he would kill her if she called the police.

He told her, ‘‘This will only take five years off my life [in jail], this will take yours forever’’.

He then asked the woman to choose which knife he would use to kill her, before letting her go.

The man was jailed for 12 years with a non-parole period of 10 years after pleading guilty in the County Court to charges of rape, making a threat to kill, and recklessly causing serious injury.

The two appeal judges, in their judgment handed down on Wednesday, said the Crown had accepted the man’s jail sentence had been too excessive given the extent of the woman’s injuries.

But the judges said the gravity of the offending ‘‘was aggravated by the fact that the [man] was at the time the subject of an intervention order, which he flagrantly disregarded’’.

‘‘Offending of this nature is too often perpetrated by men whose response to difficulties in a relationship is one of possessive, violent rage.

‘‘It goes without saying that such a response, to what is a common human situation, is utterly unacceptable.

‘‘The sentences must convey the unmistakable message that male partners have no right to subject their female partners to threats or violence.

‘‘The sentences must be of such an order as to strongly denounce violence within a domestic relationship.’’

The man’s appeal was upheld and he was re-sentenced to nine-and-a-half years’ jail with a non-parole period of six years and six months.

The appeal judges said the man attacked his de facto wife on June 18, 2012, after they had been arguing about his belief that she had been having sex with other men.

He punched her, picked her up by the hair and threw her to the floor, kicked her several times, including to the head, and banged her head on the floor.

‘‘He also grabbed her around the neck as she was lying on the floor so that she could not breathe,’’ the judges said.

The woman suffered bruising, a fractured cheekbone, abrasions and scratches.

The man then raped her before threatening to kill her with two knives he had taken from a kitchen drawer.

The sentencing judge said the man’s threat to kill had been made in particularly cruel and chilling terms.

‘‘You have previously been convicted of manslaughter [committed in 2001] and served five years in prison before being released on parole. There could be no doubting your meaning or the seriousness of your threat,’’ the judge said.

The appeal judges said the Crown’s concession that the sentence was manifestly excessive rested primarily on the nature of the injuries inflicted.

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