Andrews fit as Lions focus on Tiger streak


The AFL’s man of the moment Lachie Neale is adamant Brisbane can finally end the league’s longest current winning streak, even if he thinks Richmond will be “happy to play them” in next Friday’s qualifying final.

The midfielder was voted into his second-straight All-Australian team on Thursday night, but was also crowned the season’s most outstanding player by his peers and the 18 AFL coaches.

Teammate Harris Andrews won his second-straight Australian blazer and trained well on Friday before declaring himself “ready to go” for an early return to face the Tigers at the Gabba.

Neale remembers the missed opportunities in the identical clash last season, the Lions then losing to Greater Western Sydney in a finals fade that soured their brilliant surge up the ladder.

“It’s been a while and they’re probably pretty happy they’re playing us,” Neale said of the Tigers’ 15-game unbeaten run that stretches back to 2009.

“But we’re excited and know our best footy can beat anyone in the comp.

“There’s no fears there; we’ve missed a lot of opportunities in the last couple of times and the scoreboard probably doesn’t feel like it reflects how we’ve matched up against them.”

Likewise, Andrews says Brisbane are ready to seize the big moments and expects to lead the way despite initial fears he would be out of action until the preliminary final.

“We did a lot of reflecting last year after those finals and came away thinking about moments in games,” he said.

“We had our opportunities, we weren’t able to capitalise.”

Richmond will hope key forward and Andrews’ direct opponent Tom Lynch bounces back from his own hamstring injury, while Brisbane will be looking to Neale to continue his dream season.

“It’s funny when I’m standing here, talking about it and reflecting on it doesn’t feel right,” he said of being regarded as the AFL’s best player.

“But when I’m playing I have full confidence in my ability and feel like I’m in that top echelon.”

A Brownlow Medal would give him the awards cleansweep, but there is no sense of complacency as he eyes a happier outcome this season.

“He’s extremely humble; getting all the awards and credit he deserves, but comes in as humble as ever and ready to work hard,” Andrews said.

“I’m excited to be fit and fresh for hopefully a big couple of weeks (alongside him).”





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Harris Andrews set to return for Lions against Tigers


Brisbane’s All-Australian fullback Harris Andrews is certain to return in the Lions’ AFL qualifying final against Richmond after surviving a tough test of his injured hamstring on Friday.

Andrews, who hasn’t played since tearing his hamstring in Brisbane’s eight-point win over Collingwood on September 4, was expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

But he’s now in line to line-up against the Tigers next Friday at the Gabba.

Pivotal to his early return was emerging unscathed from an intra-club scratch match on Friday morning.

“It went well … I got up to some good speeds,” Andrews said.

“I’m really positive. Obviously I’ll see how I pull up after the weekend but it’s looking good.

“I’m looking forward to getting back into it next week.

“We achieved everything we wanted to in the last couple of weeks. The rehab guys do an awesome job of setting the benchmarks that you have to hit … and thankfully I’ve been able to hit that over the last week or so, so I’m ready to go.

“I’m just really excited to be fit and really fresh for hopefully a big couple of weeks.”

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Andrews was hopeful star Tigers forward Tom Lynch would overcome his own hamstring injury to play next Friday night.

“You want to play on the best players in the big games. Tom’s one of the best of the key forwards … and hopefully he gets up (and plays),” he said.

“It’s not so much an individual battle, it’s more of a team battle but you want to play against best players.”

Andrews said he was proud of being named in All-Australian side for a second successive year on Thursday night.

“I’m extremely proud of the effort that I’ve put in over the last year or so, and I’m really honoured to be named alongside the other great players that are in the team,” he said.

“But was I back to it today. The boys are pretty quick to make sure you’re on your toes, and I went back to work hard.”

The Lions are keen to make amends for last year’s straight-set finals’ exit, which including a qualifying finals loss to Richmond.

“We did a lot of reflecting last year after those finals, and we probably came away from those finals just thinking about moments in games,” Andrews said.

“We had our opportunities, particularly in that first and second quarter against Richmond last year and we just weren’t able to capitalise.

“We’ve had some good learnings along the way. We’re just really excited to be back here in the finals.”





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All-Australian selector defends controversial forwards call


All-Australian selector Glen Jakovich has explained why midfielders Patrick Dangerfield and Marcus Bontempelli were selected in the forward line of this year’s team.

Dangerfield and Bontempelli were both named on the half forward flank, with many critical of the decision not to pick the likes of Sydney’s Tom Papley and St Kilda’s Dan Butler – two natural forwards who had terrific seasons.

Jakovich explained the selectors weighed up whether to select players strictly on positions or reward the best players over the course of the season, even if they didn’t play the role they were designated.

“This year was a different year,” Jakovich said on SEN’s The Captain’s Run.

“Did Tom Papley have a better year than Patrick Dangerfield? That is the question you’ve got to ask. To put Papley in you’ve got to take (Marcus) Bontempelli or a Dangerfield out.

“That’s how you’ve got to look at it, does that look like an All-Australian team that you want to put forward?

“I know 10 or 12 years ago we ended up putting Dane Swan on a half forward flank and we got criticised, but these guys actually play forward and kick goals in crucial games.

“I know the selectors and I put a lot of weight into that.”

Jakovich was part of the All-Australian selection committee which included Gillon McLachlan (chairman), Kevin Bartlett, Luke Darcy, Steve Hocking, Chris Johnson, Cameron Ling, Matthew Richardson and Warren Tredrea.

Dangerfield, who was selected in his eighth All-Australian team, was named captain while star Port Adelaide midfielder Travis Boak was named vice-captain.






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Super League hold off on Toronto decision


Toronto Wolfpack have been granted a stay of execution after Super League teams deferred a decision on the Canadian club’s application for re-entry.

Toronto pulled out of Super League in July after owner David Argyle announced he could no longer fund them but they are keen to return in 2021 under new ownership and recently submitted an 80-page business plan.

Their bid could have been rejected at Friday’s Super League board meeting but instead the PA news agency understands delegates agreed to give Toronto businessman Carlo LiVolsi an opportunity to present more details of his plans to re-launch the club.

The application went before a virtual meeting of the Super League board, which largely comprises owners or chief executives of the other 11 clubs following the breakaway from the Rugby Football League in 2018.

The RFL is known to be supportive of Toronto’s bid but only has one vote, the same as Super League’s executive chairman Robert Elstone, who is thought to have strong reservations over the North American franchise.

RFL chairman Simon Johnson represented the governing body at the meeting, which agreed to a request from LiVolsi for more time to present his argument.

The Super League executive has been given four weeks to weigh up the Wolfpack’s case and that decision was welcomed by Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who is a well-known supporter of the expansion into North America.

“It’s a sensible decision,” said Hetherington.

“It gives both Toronto Wolfpack and the Super League and RFL executives time to work through things properly and it also gives some hope to those Toronto players and staff that they might get paid this year.”

Asked if the delay increases the chances of Toronto’s re-admission, Hetherington said: “You would think so, I’m sure they will be satisfied with the decision.”

Toronto withdrew from their inaugural season in the top flight in July, largely blaming the impact of the coronavirus.

The club were unable to play any home games, depriving them of their major source of income, and Argyle said he no longer had the resources to fund them after his business was caught up in the financial crisis.

There is still some resentment over the way the club pulled out of the league just days before the scheduled August 2 restart and bitterness grew when revelations surfaced that the players have not been paid since June.

LiVolsi insists he will pay the wages in full if the club are reinstated and the GMB trade union which represents rugby league players says it has brokered a deal worth in the region of STG1million ($A1.8 million).

A move to restore Super League to a 12-team competition could count in their favour and St Helens and Warrington are thought to be supportive of Toronto’s case, along with Leeds.

Toronto have operated without central distribution since their entry into League 1 in 2017 but LiVolsi insists that must change if they are to be re-admitted and that could sway some of the less affluent clubs who are loathe to take a cut in funding.





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Wallabies back on full pay but pledge to help Super Rugby mates still on reduced deals


In the latest arrangement, there is greater disparity in terms of pay, based on national representation and whether or not someone is on the radar of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

Given Super Rugby AU has finished for the year and the Wallabies are preparing for eight Test matches – two in New Zealand and six in Australia – over the coming months, RA and RUPA recognised the difference in workload between those in the national set-up and others at Super Rugby franchises.

‘It’s a clear sign of the unity and strength of this group of Wallaby players.’

Justin Harrison

After positive discussions, in a far better spirit than those earlier in the year between RA and RUPA, both parties agreed that all 44 players in the Wallabies squad will be paid 100 per cent of their wages for the rest of the year. Wallabies players departed on Friday afternoon for New Zealand ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test on October 11 in Wellington,

If RA had not paid Wallabies representatives their entire salaries for the rest of 2020, players would have been entitled to walk from their contracts but the governing body, with major financial issues of its own, has dug deep to keep the top bracket as happy as possible.

There was a big sigh of relief when players boarded a charter flight from Sydney airport with a September 30 deadline on the horizon.

As for Super Rugby players whose seasons have finished, they will remain on 70 per cent of their salaries until December 31.

There was some concern among the ranks that the two tiers would lead to player disunity but Wallabies players have voted to pool a portion of Test-match payments – understood to be $10,000 per match – and give them to those still on pay cuts.

It is unclear what percentage Wallabies players have agreed on, or what the dollar figure is overall, but it does not change how much money RA spends overall.

RUPA boss Justin Harrison said he was happy to see a united front.

“It’s a clear sign of the unity and strength of this group of Wallaby players, their empathy for the rugby ecosystem they are operating in and compassion for the whole playing group,” Harrison said. “I think the players have approached it with maturity and unity.

“Super Rugby players recognise the current state of the game and requirement to make these commitments for the benefit of rugby in Australia.

“RUPA would like thank RA for the honest and forthright approach that was founded on the principles of transparency and participation in solving a common problem. RUPA wants to acknowledge the partnership approach that was adopted and in particular Rob Clarke, Adam Foulsham and Hamish McLennan for their co-operation in navigating through this perilous period for Australian professional sport.”

Players in recent years on Wallabies tours have pooled together match payments and split them evenly between every member of the party, regardless of whether they played or not.

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Super Rugby players without Wallabies commitments this year will receive a variation letter request in coming days, just like they did when their salaries were trimmed.

There is, of course, a chance that some Super Rugby players will reject the offer and explore options overseas.

However, the redistribution of bonus payments will go some way to appeasing those not involved with the Wallabies.

For the youngsters who have sneaked into Rennie’s extended squad, it is a big win, while those who just missed out could feel hard done by.

RA chief executive Rob Clarke was contacted for comment.

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AFL trades 2020: Trade Whispers, news, rumours, Jack Graham, Richmond, Carlton, Jake Carlisle, St Kilda, ruckmen


A premiership Tiger has reportedly rejected interest from three rival clubs.

Plus the veteran Saint still without an offer for next year, and the looming “ruck merry-go-round”.

Catch up on the latest AFL trade news in Trade Whispers!

Watch the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series on Kayo with every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Finals Week 1

PREMIERSHIP TIGER REJECTS INTEREST FROM THREE CLUBS



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West Indian great recalls Dean Jones as a “thorn in our flesh”


Dean Jones stared down West Indian great Sir Curtly Ambrose in one of the most memorable moments of his career.

And the fiery fast bowler conceded on Friday that Jones was a “thorn in our flesh”, recalling that famous incident at the SCG on a “sad morning” after the Australian great’s shock death in Dubai

In a pre-planned move during a World Series Cup match 1993, Jones demanded Ambrose remove his white wristbands, complaining it was making it hard to see the white ball.

Jones had discussed the move with then coach Bob Simpson, hoping it could disrupt the giant West Indian bowler.

“That particular incident was a bit of a shock to me because I’ve always worn a wristband, to me it was a very strange request,” Ambrose told SEN on Friday morning.

“I was very reluctant to do it, I wasn’t going to, but my teammates convinced me that it wouldn’t make a difference to the way I bowled. But they were wrong, it made a difference.

“To that point I was bowling within myself. But after the incident with Mr Jones, that really infuriated me, and I started bowling much quicker. I didn’t get him out, but Australia lost.”

Jones only made 13 and former Test captain Mark Taylor, who was batting with him, felt the brunt of a fired-up Ambrose who ripped through the Australian batting line-up to claim 5-32 and bowl the visitors to victory.

“Yes, I wasn‘t too happy with Deano that day, to be honest,” Taylor told Channel 9.

“We were only one wicket down and travelling along OK, and I thought we were a chance to win.

“Then Deano decided he wanted Curtly Ambrose to remove his wristbands, and that fired Curtly right up! He knocked over most of us, and we never looked like winning from there.”

Ambrose recalled the 216 Jones made against the West Indies in a Test match in Adelaide, his first encounter with the brash Aussie batsman, before a series of tussles in one-day cricket.

“I remember very clearly that he scored 200 against us in Adelaide, he really took us apart, and that was a great attack,” he said

“He was a wonderful player. When he was walking to the crease you could see that confidence in his stride.

“You can’t tell if he’s scared, nervous, or anything. He always believed in his ability, and no matter what you throw at him he’d get the better of you.

“He was a bit of a thorn in our flesh.

“It was a very sad morning when I received the news today.”



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Holden not giving up on Supercars title


A resurgent Shane van Gisbergen will do whatever it takes to help Red Bull Holden teammate Jamie Whincup pull off the greatest Supercars heist of all time.

Despite winning three of the past six races, New Zealander van Gisbergen has left his championship run too late.

It is not impossible for Whincup to snatch a record-extending eighth drivers’ title.

Although everything would have to go wrong for Ford ace Scott McLaughlin, who has a 215-point gap over Whincup, not to claim a third-straight title.

But Whincup isn’t backing down before his weekend’s three-race sprint round at Tailem Bend in South Australia, saying he is not willing to roll over and give the championship to McLaughlin.

Van Gisbergen concedes it is going to be extremely difficult for Whincup to topple McLaughlin, and send the Holden brand off on a high, but if anyone can do it his teammate can.

“(I) keep making mistakes and throwing away points so we’re battling for third (in the championship) which isn’t that good,” van Gisbergen said.

“I’m just here to win races and get good results and do a good job for my team.

“The team’s championship is pretty hotly contested.

“We’ll definitely do what we can for Jamie. He’s got to win the drivers’ championship, which is much harder now, but anything I can to help now I will do.”

It sets up another thrilling weekend of racing after McLaughlin and Whincup were involved in a dramatic incident at Tailem Bend last Saturday.

Whincup crashed into McLaughlin on the opening lap of the first race of the round, sending the Shell V-Power flyer into the sand.

The Holden legend was immediately given a 15-second penalty, while McLaughlin copped the same punishment late in the race after trying to make up for lost ground.

If McLaughlin’s points gap widens to at least 300 points he will head to the Bathurst 1000 season finale with an unassailable championship lead.





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Man charged after allegedly stalking AFL umpire


Victoria Police has charged a Frankston man for allegedly making a series of harassing phone calls to an AFL umpire.

Detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit executed a search warrant at the man’s address on Thursday after receiving reports he allegedly repeatedly called the official and left menacing voicemails.

The AFL’s football operations manager Steve Hocking said the umpire was to be commended for calling out the alleged abuse.

“There is absolutely no excuse to threaten or abuse someone. It has no place at any level of our game or our society,” Hocking said.

“This abuse affects our umpires, our players, and our staff. It is never okay and we’re not going to accept it.”

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Victoria Police confirmed that a 39-year-old Frankston man had been charged with one count of stalking and one count of using a carriage service to menace.

He was bailed to face Frankston Magistrates Court in May next year.



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Daughter Phoebe heartbreaking Instagram post, photo


Two weeks ago Phoebe Jones posted a photo of herself as a young girl, waiting patiently by the side of a cricket ground while her father made his way back to the pavilion.

She’s looking adoringly in his direction, clapping her hands and waiting for him to come and pick her up in his arms.

It’s all that young girl will be wanting today.

Jones, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest in India overnight, is being mourned by the cricket world and remembered as a great entertainer and advocate of the game.

But no one is feeling his sudden death more keenly than his family — wife Jane and daughters Isabella and Phoebe.

What makes Phoebe’s final post to her father both haunting and incredibly sad are the loving words she attached to the photo.

She posted it on Father’s Day after Jones had just left to travel to the subcontinent to perform his commentary duties for Star Sports.

“This is me waiting for @profdeano to come home and he’s only just left!! Happy Father’s Day to the most dedicated and generous man I know,” Phoebe wrote “I love you!”

RELATED: Brett Lee fronts TV after performing CPR on Jones

RELATED: Tributes flow in for Deano

Phoebe’s tight relationship with her father is evident in several other posts, including recently when their access to each other was restricted by Victoria’s COVID lockdown.

Isabella, who appears to go by the name Augusta on social media, had also recently expressed her love for her family with a gorgeous picture of the Joneses.

“As this strange year 2020 continues on, it has made me so grateful for the beautiful family that I have,” Isabella wrote. “This year has shown me how important it is to hold on to the things that truly matter — above all else.”



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