Essendon launches bid to move venues for season-opening clash against Hawthorn

Essendon has formally lodged a request to move their season-opening clash from Marvel Stadium to the MCG, Sportsday’s Sam McClure has revealed.

On the back of the AFL announcing last week that both venues will be at 50 per cent capacity for the start of the season due to COVID protocols, the Bombers have launched a bid to shift venues considering Marvel Stadium will only be able to accommodate 28,961 fans to start the 2021 season.

“The AFL is currently considering a request by Essendon to move its round one clash against Hawthorn from Marvel Stadium to the MCG,” McClure said on Sportsday.

“This is going to happen a bit, because clubs want to maximise their members (getting) to games. The last three games between the sides has attracted an average of 66,000 fans, but we know it’s a different world with COVID.

“This is more about the members, you want greater access.

“This isn’t a financial decision.”

Matthew Lloyd endorsed Essendon’s request to have the game shifted to a bigger venue, saying it made even more sense considering the Bombers play three games outside of Victoria in the first five weeks of the season.

“I think they should be flexible to those things,” he said.

“The only thing is Marvel Stadium and how much money they’ve lost in recent times – it’s also owned by the AFL.

“The Bombers have three interstate games in the first five rounds; you can understand why they’d want to move that game to have more fans watch them.”

The request is the first of what is expected to be several fixtures proposals presented to the league as clubs to continue to navigate the COVID environment ahead of the new season.

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Essendon request creates more AFL chaos

The Essendon Bombers have reportedly asked for their blockbuster round one fixture against the Hawthorn Hawks to be moved from Marvel Stadium to the MCG.

Last week, the Victorian government confirmed Melbourne-based venues would be permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

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Marvel Stadium would therefore be allowed to host almost 29,000 spectators, while the MCG could hold around 50,000.

The last five games played between Essendon and Hawthorn at the MCG have attracted crowds of 53,018, 68,857, 78,294, 59,866 and 62,500.

In the hope of having more tickets available to members, the Bombers reportedly lodged a formal request with the AFL to move its season-opener on Saturday, March 20th to the MCG.

Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves told The Age: “If it means more Hawthorn fans and members can get into the game, then we’d love to explore it.”

On Monday evening, footy reporter Sam McClure told SEN’s Sportsdaythat the AFL was considering the request.

“This is going to happen a bit, because clubs want to maximise their members (getting) to games. The last three games between the sides has attracted an average of 66,000 fans, but we know it’s a different world with COVID,” McClure said.

“This is more about the members, you want greater access.

“This isn’t a financial decision.”

An AFL game between the Melbourne Demons and Fremantle Dockers is scheduled at the MCG earlier that same day, but The Herald Sun reported that the MCC was open to the venue change.

However, the AFL has traditionally avoided scheduling multiple games at the same venue on the same day to assist with cleaning and catering demands.

The AFL may also be reluctant to move fixtures away from Marvel Stadium considering the league owns the venue.

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd said on SEN: “The only thing is Marvel Stadium and how much money they’ve lost in recent times – it’s also owned by the AFL.

“The Bombers have three interstate games in the first five rounds — you can understand why they’d want to move that game to have more fans watch them.”

READ MORE: AFL legend’s 41-year marriage breakdown

However, the AFL is currently more worried about the Western Australia’s strict border stance, according to The Age.

Last week, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan suggested his state would open up its border to Victorians if there were no new cases of community transmission COVID-19 between now and March 13th.

If Victoria registers a positive case before that date, the Dockers would be required to complete 14-day quarantine before entering Western Australia.

Essendon is scheduled to take on the Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday evening for an AAMI Community Series clash.

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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs back-rower Adam Elliott not ready to speak about ‘love triangle’ yet, but his teammates know the score

“It’s a private matter and out of all due respect to everyone involved I want to keep it that way,” Elliott said. “I’m really lucky that I’ve got a really supportive club, really supportive teammates and a good supportive system around me that I was able to focus on the job I’m here to do for this club.

“I’m a Bulldogs man through and through – and I love this place – and if I can keep that at the forefront of my mind that’s going to remain my focus moving forward.”

Adam Elliott and Michael Lichaa. Credit:Getty, NRL Imagery

We might never know Elliott’s version of events from that house party gone wrong, or he might feel free to speak about it at a time further down the line. If and when he speaks, it will be completely up to him given the sensitivities involved.

Clearly in his own mind the time was not during a full squad media session before round one (although a previous club statement included a three-line apology from Elliott, which he hasn’t felt yet compelled to repeat on camera).

But what is clear is he quickly set the record straight with his teammates.

According to some, Elliott apologised to the group swiftly for the negative attention it had brought to the club – even if he was guilty of no crime. The apology was accepted and in the eyes of one, “everyone moved on”.

I’m a Bulldogs man through and through – and I love this place

Adam Elliott

The club was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

There was no clear breach of a code of conduct, and instead it insisted Elliott – a tireless charity and community advocate who has previously been nominated for the Ken Stephen Medal – undertake “professional help in regards to issues with alcohol”.

But what are his teammates supposed to think of his actions?


Bulldogs sources insist there will be no issue between the back-rower and teammates, and judging by his first hitout of the year, in which he scored a try against the Sharks, it’s hard to disbelieve them.

Elliott said he had a sleepless night on Saturday, but it was nothing to do with the antics of the week before – and rather a throbbing shoulder which kept him out for most of last season and not used to the rigours of the NRL.

One of the first moves new coach Trent Barrett made after he arrived at Belmore was to switch captain Josh Jackson and Elliott, who will now menacingly roam an edge. Like most of Barrett’s decisions so far, it looks spot on.

“It’s going to be really hard to change this place,” Elliott said. “It’s been around for a long time and it’s a very proud club. We’re community driven and fan driven because of the great support we receive as a club.

“[But] he’s certainly added to the expertise and professionalism. The change that happened was going to bring excitement for us boys who have been here for a while.

“I think every decision he’s made so far … collectively and the senior playing group has [supported it]. He’s been open and honest with us from day one and we’re really buying into that.”

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Collingwood’s Jordan Membrey to miss rest of AFLW season as knee injuries mar round five

Collingwood’s Jordan Membrey is the latest AFLW player to suffer a serious knee injury, with the Magpies confirming the forward will miss the rest of the season.

The 25-year-old went down in the third quarter of the ladder-leading Magpies’ thumping 35-point victory over Melbourne at Victoria Park on Sunday.

Scans on Monday revealed Membrey ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee.

“The whole program is heartbroken for Jordy,” Collingwood women’s sport general manager Jane Woodlands-Thompson said in a statement.

“In true Jordy nature, she remains in good spirits and is determined to contribute to the campaign in another capacity.”

After a relatively quiet season on the injury front throughout the league, the loss of Membrey adds to that of Geelong star Olivia Purcell, who also ruptured her ACL in round five.

The Cats young gun suffered the major setback in the second quarter of her side’s 47-point loss to Richmond on Friday night.

And while the Western Bulldogs are yet to confirm a diagnosis, the club is resigned to losing Deanna Berry for the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old left the field with a knee injury in the final quarter against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday, taking some of the shine off the Bulldogs’ impressive 25-point win.


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Brown: Daniher completes Brisbane’s premiership puzzle

Brisbane legend Jonathan Brown says Joe Daniher is the final piece of a premiership puzzle that is now complete and ready to secure the Lions their first flag since 2003.

Prized off-season recruit Daniher proved an instant hit in his first match against AFL opposition, kicking four goals for the Lions in their 47-point win over the Gold Coast Suns in last Saturday’s trial at Metricon Stadium.

Fellow forward Eric Hipwood also booted four goals as the pair combined with potency in a positive sign for the Lions’ premiership hopes.

Brown, who starred in the forward line when Brisbane won a hat-trick of premierships from 2001 to 2003, wasn’t convinced the Lions were ready to win another flag – until the arrival of Daniher from Essendon.

“I had concerns whether they could win it until they got a bona fide All-Australian experienced key forward there,” Brown said.

“Now they’ve got that, it’s just a matter of him staying healthy and he can contribute.

“It was their most pressing need – a big focal point there to kick goals.

“The Lions need more goals out of their key position forwards if they’re going to win it.

“An All-Australian calibre player is only going to help the other key forwards, especially Hipwood and (Daniel) McStay. With those three guys they could really cause problems.

“I know we’re focusing on Joe Daniher, but his presence alone could actually really help Hipwood start to head towards that elite status that we know he’s capable of.

“If they can get that part of the ground right, they’re as good a premiership chance as anyone.”

Brown said there was no doubt that Lions – who fell a win short of reaching last season’s grand final in a finals campaign that included a victory over eventual premiers Richmond – were in a “premiership window”.

“Let’s not beat around the bush … the window is certainly open,” the Fox Footy expert said.

“If you’ve won a final last year, and you’ve beaten the premiers in a final, I don’t think even the players could say that they’re not in a premiership window.

“They’d be hopeful of winning a premiership. When we’re sitting here talking in September, you’d be hoping they’re contending.”

Brisbane meet the Suns again next Monday night in an AAMI Community Series match at Metricon Stadium.

The Lions open their premiership campaign on March 20 against the Sydney Swans at the Gabba.

The Suns’ first-round encounter takes them to Perth, where they will meet West Coast Eagles on March 21.

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QAFL fixture unveiled ahead of 2021 season

A stand-alone marquee game on the Easter long weekend will launch the 2021 Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition, with Noosa hosting Wilston Grange at Rococo Oval on April 3rd.

The Tigers’ claws will be out from the get-go, the newly promoted club eager to show their might against the other premier men’s clubs in South East Queensland.

Queensland State Leagues Competition Manager, Matt Bialkowski, said 2021 would see 11 teams vie for the Premiership in what was shaping up to be the biggest year yet for the state’s top competition.

“It’s a great achievement for Noosa to be elevated into the QAFL after coming off the back of consecutive Division 1 Hart Sport Cup Grand Finals in 2019 and 2020,” he said.

“With the QAFL now expanding to 11 teams, it’s going to be very exciting to see the depth of our competition with such a significant geographical spread of our clubs from Noosa to Palm Beach Currumbin.”

“I’m thrilled today to unveil the 2021 fixture, as we countdown to the first bounce of the season on April 3.”  

The 2021 season also sees the inclusion of the Redland-Victoria Point Sharks into the QAFL; a merger between the Victoria Point Sharks and Redland Bombers, having competed in the NEAFL since 2011.

The newly formed team will be in action at home in round two hosting Surfers Paradise.

Round 2 will see the 2020 Colts Premiers Palm Beach Currumbin raise their Premiership Flag at their first home game taking on Morningside. While at Hickey Park, Wilston Grange will welcome Maroochydore in five back-to-back State League competition games, including three QAFL and two QAFLW matches.

Morningside seniors and reserves will unveil their 2020 Premiership Flags in round three at home, with the Panthers hosting the Broadbeach Cats in a 2020 grand final rematch.

Traditional rivalry games will be played on ANZAC Round to commemorate ANZAC Day. The blockbuster matches will see Surfers Paradise host Labrador, and Wilson Grange at home to Morningside. While further north, it’ll be a battle of the Sunshine Coast, with Maroochydore taking on Noosa in a twilight game.

Broadbeach will face Surfers Paradise in round five Sunday fixture on the May long weekend.

Round seven will mark Pride Round with all South East Queensland clubs encouraged to join in the celebrations.

Sir Doug Nicholls Round will be celebrated across two weekend; rounds nine and 10. 

Mr Bialkowski said marquee matches and themed rounds would make for some fantastic footy in 2021.

“With the largest makeup of the QAFL competition that we’ve seen in recent years, our 11 teams will compete over an 18 game home and away season,” he said.

“The finals structure will see the top 6 competing over 4 weekends, culminating in a grand final on Sept 18th.”

“The profile of the QAFL continues to rise and we want to encourage people to come along to the games and support their local clubs.”

“But if you can’t get to the match, you can still catch all of the action. All QAFL games are recorded and uploaded to the QAFL Vimeo page for the public to view, and one ‘match of the round’ is live streamed every week in the QAFL.”



Download 2021 fixture here 

*Please note; times and venues are subject to change.

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Ticketmaster delays as fans flock for first taste of footy in a year

St Kilda tweeted: “Apologies to members who are having trouble booking tickets, it appears the influx of people on Ticketmaster’s site is causing issues.

“Members have a priority window until 3pm, so please keep trying while we look into this further.”

Ticketmaster has been contacted for comment.

Ticketmaster responded to fans who were complaining on Twitter.

“Please make sure you are following the link provided by your club to access the pre-sale. As this is a popular event, tickets are sold as long as seats are available, and sometimes they go very quickly. We suggest you keep trying the website during this sale,” it said.

”When a popular event goes on sale there are literally thousands of customers simultaneously attempting to purchase tickets across all distribution channels.”

Collingwood said that as of about 1.15pm on Monday the game with Richmond had not sold out, and advised fans to keep trying for tickets

The AAMI Community Series begins on Thursday, March 4 at Marvel Stadium when Carlton play St Kilda.

Collingwood then play Richmond at Marvel on Friday night. Marvel Stadium will have 50 per cent capacity but limits for GMHBA Stadium and Arden Street Oval are yet to be announced.

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Rob Penney’s card already marked after Waratahs’ thumpings

Feao Fotuaika’s red card against the Rebels was a touch harsh, for mine. Granted, from the touchline camera – and in slo-mo – it looked bad, but if you take a wider-angle view of the incident the prop was using both arms in an aggressive attempt to remove Richard Hardwick from the breakdown. In fact, while Fotuaika’s arm did make contact with the head, I believe it was unsighted in the sense that his target was Hardwick’s upper body.

That’s enough mitigation to make the card “orange” – somewhere between yellow and red. However, if I were a Reds fan, the high tackles by Hunter Paisami at the death, and earlier by Hamish Stewart, would give me more concern. Loose moments like these have been part of the Reds’ game for years, and unless they get rid of it the referee’s whistle will eventually undo all the good things they are doing.

3. Harry Johnson-Holmes has become a casualty of Waratahs’ planning.

HJH could be an excellent loosehead, but he’ll never be an elite tighthead. Watching his conversion to the right-hand of the scrum in recent years has been to witness the good aspects of his play gradually being eroded while his weaknesses are accentuated. You need to be a big man to play No.3 in Super Rugby – a genuine bull – and Johnson-Holmes isn’t quite that.

But he’s a bloody good footballer – tough and resourceful – and we just aren’t seeing enough of that because his responsibilities have changed. He looked like he was going to be an excellent, mobile loosehead prop in the making but because NSW sensed a weakness on the tighthead side, he has been hammered into the round hole, despite being a square peg.

4. The Brumbies are playing like they wanted to last year.

One of the most pertinent observations of the off-season was Dan McKellar’s remark that the Brumbies won Super Rugby AU without playing at their best. He was spot on. I believe they were at about 70 per cent post-lockdown last year. One Wallaby had notably lost conditioning and took about three months to find it again.

They are a different side in 2021, razor-sharp and with a new dimension on attack due to the excellent footwork of centre Len Ikitau. If they keep playing like they did against the Waratahs on Saturday they will be desperate for a trans-Tasman competition to see where they really stand. Reds fans might disagree, but the Brumbies look like they are on a different level so far.

5. Rebels have been beaten before they started.

All the other horses have been weighted at 58kg but the Rebels are carrying 90kg. There was a heaviness about Dave Wessels and Matt To’omua as they sent a video message to Rebels fans on Friday, and it was only partly due to the narrow loss against the Reds.

Matt To’omua missed a penalty that would have won the game against the Reds with the last kick.Credit:Getty

Asking this side to hit the road again due to COVID-19 – the round two start to the season was already a disadvantage – must be taking a real toll on the players’ support networks, which are the difference between an athlete performing or not. We will be critical of the Rebels this year if their play falls below expected standards, but they are already preparing week to week with a burden on their backs.

Paul Cully’s team of the week

  1.  James Slipper (Brumbies)
  2. Alex Mafi (Reds)
  3. Taniela Tupou (Reds)
  4. Cadeyrn Neville (Brumbies)
  5. Seru Uru (Reds)
  6. Rob Valetini (Brumbies)
  7. Richard Hardwick (Rebels)
  8. Pete Samu (Brumbies)
  9. Nic White (Brumbies)
  10. Noah Lolesio (Brumbies)
  11. Mack Hansen (Brumbies)
  12. Irae Simone (Brumbies)
  13. Len Ikitau (Brumbies)
  14. Andy Muirhead (Brumbies)
  15. Tom Banks (Brumbies)

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Tracey ready for No.1 spot at Sharks

Connor Tracey is looming as a shock contender to fill Cronulla’s No.1 NRL jersey after training at fullback in the pre-season.

Tracey has not played at the back since his early teens, but the play-making utility has impressed there alongside Will Kennedy this summer.

The Sharks will have an opening for at least the first eight rounds, with Shaun Johnson injured and Matt Moylan playing in the halves.

But Tracey want to make the role his long-term, with a gap likely to open up depending on Moylan’s future at the club.

“I have wanted to do it the past few years, but you have to get a full pre-season in if you want to switch positions,” Tracey told AAP.

“I came to Bomber (coach John Morris) before pre-season and he said he was already planning on putting me there in the pre-season.

“I really do see myself there in the future.

“It suits my abilities the best, probably better than five-eighth. I am really looking to get a career out of fullback.”

Tracey played 16 games last year, but the majority of those came as a utility off the bench.

He last played fullback 10 years ago as a 14-year-old before shifting to the halves when playing under-16s Harold Matthews Cup for Cronulla in 2012.

His chances to push for the spot are limited, with players who only played more than 12 NRL games last year restricted to just one trial match in 2021.

Tracey has however been regularly tested under the high ball at training, with the Sharks running opposed sessions each Friday during the pre-season.

Kennedy started at the back in 17 games last year, scoring just three tries but setting up 12.

However Tracey believed the faster gameplay in 2021 due to the expanded six-again rule would suit him at the back.

“The faster the game for me, the better,” Tracey said.

“I want them to speed it up as much as they can. Small guys it really suits and I am quite fit, so it works in my favour.”

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Hurricanes vs Blues Tips, Odds and Betting – Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021

Sky Stadium will play host to Saturday”s
Round 1 Super Rugby game between Hurricanes and
Blues. The game kicks off at 5:05 pm with Blues heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Hurricanes vs.
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Saturday February 27, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Where: Sky Stadium

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Hurricanes vs Blues Odds

Hurricanes vs Blues Preview

The Blues were the story of the 2020 Super Rugby competition, shaking off years of mediocrity to finish as runners up to the Crusaders.

The Hurricanes on the other hand finished a close run third and this should be an excellent way to start the Saturday double header.

Last season the Blues won two of the three matches between the teams and I’ll back them to start their season off on a winning note.

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Hurricanes vs Blues Tip

We’re tipping Blues to win at $1.79 odds.

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