The answers to the biggest issues in the game


The verdict: This result reflects the reaction from the players after the Magic Round blitz. The poll was sent out to the players the day before Magic Round and was completed over the following fortnight. Last year 55 per cent of players voted in favour of a five minute sin-bin for minor indiscretions.

The verdict: The implementation and interpretation of the rules is the biggest concern for the players. The consistency of the match review committee and the fairness of the judiciary system remains a bugbear for the players. Surprisingly concussion only rated at No.3.

The verdict: ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has been quite proactive since taking over two years ago. The players want him to cool his heels for a while and stop tinkering with the game. However, as revealed later in this poll, the players aren’t opposed to all of the recent innovations.

The verdict: This is a big victory for the NRL, who have been copping heat for tinkering with the game too much that it has created an unsafe or unsustainable product. The fact 35 per cent suggest the game is too fast shouldn’t be discarded, but the majority have no issue with the pace in which it is being played. Whether that pace has a link to the rise in injuries is a different argument.

The verdict: Last year, just weeks after its introduction, 59 per cent of players backed the introduction of the six-again rule while another 27 per cent said it was too early to tell. Now that the players have had time to adjust, there is still overwhelming support for one of the biggest changes to the game in recent memory.

The verdict: Another tick for the NRL with the two-point field goal receiving the vote of approval from players after being introduced in the offseason. Nathan Cleary and Adam Reynolds have already benefited from it.

The verdict: The majority of players want things to remain the way they are with teams receiving a maximum of one unsuccessful captain’s challenge per game. Interestingly only four per cent want the captain’s challenge abolished.

The verdict: The NRL’s popularity has dropped over the past 12 months. The Peter V’landys-Andrew Abdo regime received a vote of 3.5 last year on the back of reviving the competition after the COVID-19 interruption. The recent crackdown appears to have dented their standing amongst the players but the score of 2.92 remains well above what Todd Greenberg and Peter Beattie tallied in 2019.

The verdict: The referees have dipped below a score of three for the first time since 2018. Last year’s score of 3.35 was the highest since the poll’s inception. Interestingly the last time the referees dropped below three was in 2018 when the Greenberg-led penalty blitz saw 33 stoppages in a match between Cronulla and Melbourne.

The verdict: Let Izzy play. That’s the overwhelming view of the players as Folau looks to return to rugby league via club football in Queensland. It’s the first time the players have been polled on their views about Folau, with the strong support likely to add further fuel to the fire. The NRL is standing by its position that until a contract is lodged with head office, there is no decision to be made.

The verdict: This issue could become one of the most contentious in the sport if future border restrictions prohibit travel without a vaccination. An incredible 82 per cent of players do not believe the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory. The NRL won’t make it mandatory unless the government does, but border restrictions could pose a dilemma for those players who are against taking it.

The verdict: As the International Rugby League continues to weight up whether to play the World Cup in the United Kingdom at the end of the year, it can be buoyed by the support of the players to travel. The major concern will be convincing clubs that they can’t have their players back until as late as February, with a 14-day quarantine period to take place after a six week tour. When you add holidays on top of that, some players won’t be back until February.

The verdict: This still remains a huge concern for the NRL, with the majority of players admitting they are exposed to some form of abuse on social media. Latrell Mitchell’s stance has had a positive impact but there remains work to be done.

The verdict: The NRL was considering flexing the rules to allow the likes of Jason Taumalolo to play State of Origin. That’s a big no-no according to 71 per cent of the players, who don’t want eligibility rules to be adjusted.

The verdict: This is a divisive issue and it’s reflected in the results. However the majority of players want the anthem to be continued to played before Origin games. The ARLC decided to scrap it last year, only to backflip after the interjection of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The verdict: There are plenty of concerns from experts who believe the game can’t afford to dilute its talent pool by adding another team in Brisbane in 2023. That’s not the view of the players, who voted strongly the other way.

The verdict: The NRL posed a potential conference system to some clubs last month that would see the competition split into Sydney and outer-Sydney groups as part of an 18-team competition in the future. The players don’t like the idea.

The verdict: A committee has been formed to look at the introduction of transfer windows from 2023. The most likely outcome would see a transfer window at the middle and end of the season. The players don’t mind that concept but majority would prefer it to remain a free-for-all, as it is now.

The verdict: While most fans would agree this would be a sensible move to discourage players from breaking contracts, no surprise the players themselves are happy with the current system that potentially rewards disloyalty. The RLPA is pushing back against the NRL’s decision to look at a new model.

The verdict: It’s no surprise that players feel the NRL’s fines and suspensions are off the mark. Consistency has been difficult for head office to apply, according to the players.

The verdict: It has been described as a lottery by some, and the players appear to feel the same way. The most common criticism has always been a huge lack of consistency.

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AFL searching for answers over Dayne Beams’ Collingwood contract settlement


The AFL is searching for answers over whether Dayne Beams’ contract settlement with Collingwood was paid outside the salary cap.

Beams, who retired from football last November with two years left on his contract, told SEN’s Dwayne’s World that his contract payout fell outside the salary cap.

“Anything that was negotiated with me and my contract was outside the cap, so I actually had nothing to do with anything that went on there,” Beams claimed.

AFL operations boss Steve Hocking was asked about the mystery surrounding Beams’ contract payout.

“I can’t comment on individual cases. I’ll also acknowledge that it doesn’t sit in my area,” Hocking told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“What I will acknowledge is that all of the Collingwood player contracts and every player contract across the competition has to be approved by the AFL.

“It doesn’t sit in my particular area. Andrew Dillon (AFL general counsel) and his team look after this. They work closely with the clubs, and they work closely with the clubs.

“Every player’s contract has to be approved and submitted from the club to the AFL for approval.”

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AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan was also quizzed about the situation, saying that “generally all payments go in the cap”.

“I don’t have any detail around that,” McLachlan told 3AW.

“There may be exemptions or specific reasons or things that sit outside the cap. There are some exemptions. There is a cap, then there’s an overflow for injury allowances and injury payments, so maybe something happened there.

“I don’t know, but generally all payments go in the cap.”

Beams, 31, called time on his AFL career after stepping away from the game indefinitely in December 2019 to deal with his mental health.





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Victorian health officials race to find answers on unlinked COVID-19 cases as lockdown deadline gets closer




Unlinked cases in Melbourne’s north and the lack of answers about the origins of the Delta virus continue to puzzle health officials working the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Senior MP demands answers for leaseholders


MP Clive Betts has written to the government to ask why new guidance designed to help about 500,000 leaseholders sell or remortgage their flats is not being followed.

It was issued by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in March.

It is supposed to help surveyors decide which tower blocks need extra fire safety checks.

But although mortgage providers were consulted on the guidance, Money Box has found some lenders are ignoring it.

The extra checks are called an Exterior Wall System form, or EWS1, and were introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died.

That form is supposed to provide assurance for buyers, sellers and, crucially, mortgage providers about whether or not a flat is safe to buy, sell, or lend against, depending on whether it has flammable cladding, vertically stacked balconies or other issues.

But Money Box listener Jie Shen, who is trying to provide for his retirement, is selling a flat which has neither of those problems.

He says three separate mortgage providers have turned down his prospective buyer because Jie’s building doesn’t have an EWS1 form – even though the RICS guidance says it doesn’t need one.

“I feel like I’m trapped into this situation. I can’t move on with my life, I’m just locked into this and I don’t know how to resolve this,” he says.

“I think the mortgage lenders should follow the advice from RICS and shouldn’t insist on an EWS1 form [for a building] that does not contain flammable cladding.

“I just don’t understand why the mortgage provider insists on this – it’s just bureaucracy.”

Another complication for Jie, and many others like him, is that getting an EWS1 form is not in his power, even if he wanted to get one.

He is a leaseholder and the decision to pay for the survey needed to get the form lies entirely with the freeholder who owns his building.

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Covid international travel traffic light rules ‘farce’ as holiday firms demand answers


THE TRAFFIC light policy for foreign holidays has been accused of descending into “farce” with the government and companies issuing conflicting advice about where travellers can take a holiday.

The consumer organisation Which? has demanded clarity from government on its traffic light system for travel, while trade bodies accused the government of mixed messages and “moving the goalposts” on travel to amber destinations.

International travel restrictions for British holidaymakers were eased on Monday with 12 countries or territories have been given a green rating, meaning you can travel to them for tourism.

But many tourist hotspots, such as France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Croatia, are amber countries.

Scotland followed England in allowing international travel to 12 green-list destinations from this week.

The traffic light system is guidance rather than a legal requirement, and some travel companies have opted to still offer holidays to amber destinations if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has not advised against all but essential travel.

But when you return from an amber country you have to self isolate at home for 10 days and take Covid-19 PCR tests on day two and day eight.

The row emerged after George Eustice first suggested trips to amber list countries to see friends and family was acceptable.

But then hours later Boris Johnson over-ruled his Environment Secretary by insisting such travel was not allowed.

And despite the presence of a green list comprising 12 countries and territories, health minister Lord Bethell told peers he considers all foreign travel to be “dangerous” and urged Britons to holiday at home this summer.

It comes after news that some holiday companies are refusing refunds to amber list destinations.

Meanwhile EU ambassadors backed plans to allow vaccinated UK holidaymakers to visit the bloc this summer.

They recommended at a meeting on Wednesday that rules should be changed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by people who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, a spokeswoman for the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council said.

The policy will need to be signed off by ministers of member states.

UK holidaymakers are currently prohibited from visiting several EU countries, including Spain, due to its ban on inbound leisure visits from outside the EU and Schengen Area.

The criticism came amid reports thousands of people had headed for destinations such as France, Greece, Spain and the United States – none of which are on the green list – with more than 150 flights reported to have departed on Monday when travel rules were relaxed in Britain as part of a further phase of lockdown easing.

Rory Boland of Which said: “The reopening of international travel is at risk of descending into farce with the government and companies issuing contradictory advice about where travellers can take a holiday. “The government is telling people not to travel to amber list destinations, but with many holiday firms selling trips to those countries regardless, people will assume they can. Those who feel they can not go on holiday against government advice, including those with bookings from last year, are also likely to struggle to get their money back, with most travel companies refusing refunds unless the holiday is cancelled.

“It would be completely unacceptable to see a repeat of last year’s disastrous situation where millions of holidaymakers were forced to foot the bill for travel chaos caused by Covid. This year there really is no excuse – the government and holiday firms must provide clarity over what travel is safe and permitted, and ensure that people who don’t want to travel against government advice are entitled to a refund.”

The Association of British Travel Agents, the trade association for UK tour operators said the advice from ministers in recent days not to travel to amber list destinations did not tally with government’s “sensible” traffic light system which allowed for international travel to restart from May 17.

“It doesn’t make sense for the government to tell people they shouldn’t travel to amber destinations when the government itself has put a plan in place that allows them to do this in a risk managed way, with mitigations such as testing and quarantine,”

“The recent comments and mixed messages from ministers undermine the government’s own system for international travel and further erode consumer confidence.”

It added: “While we understand that public health is the priority, the government has moved the goalposts on the return to international travel.

“International travel is now legal again and the traffic light system needs to be allowed to work as originally intended.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said of the government’s statements: “These comments are simply not correct and will cause real anger amongst the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on international travel, and confusion amongst families who have booked travel under the Government’s own restart policy, now less than 48 hours old.

“People should not travel to red countries we know that, but to generalise against perfectly legal travel even to green countries is deeply unhelpful.”



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‘It just never ever changes’: No answers for frustrated Bendigo-bound train commuters


With a steady population growth of about two per cent per year over the past decade, Bendigo is now a major regional hub of nearly 120,000 people.

But the first north-bound train does not arrive in Bendigo until 8:20am, which some commuters say is too late — even when it is running on time.

V/Line acting chief executive Gary Liddle said he could understand why commuters and passengers were frustrated, but the organisation was trying to provide services for the whole community as best it could.

“Unfortunately, that means the individual doesn’t always get exactly what they would like,” Mr Liddle said.

However by the time the first train arrives in Bendigo each morning, Ballarat has had three trains arrive and Geelong six.

Castlemaine commuters including Mary Thorpe told the ABC they had been loud in their displeasure of the timetable, and had been campaigning to have it changed for years.

But while V/Line acting chief executive Gary Liddle said he hadn’t received any feedback, the Department of Transport’s head of transport services, Nick Foa, said he was sure V/Line was listening to its passengers.

“I can assure you that government is listening,” Mr Foa said.

Mr Foa said Ballarat’s $400 million track upgrade had allowed “hundreds of extra services”, but a business case needed to made before Bendigo could follow suit.  

“We know there is demand,” Mr Foa said.

“There was 17 per cent increase in train usage pre-COVID.

“We are really aware that Bendigo is a major regional centre. But we’ve got to do the work; we’ve got to get our heads around what is a really complex system before we can do any track upgrades or bypasses.

ABC Breakfast host Fiona Parker today challenged Mr Foa on the lack of options available to V/Line.

“Could an earlier coach be put on?” Ms Parker said.

“Yes,” Mr Foa said.

But he did not offer any further information. 

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The man behind Victoria’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout answers your questions about the shot


So far, more than 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across Australia — well short of the 40 million doses needed to fully inoculate adults across the country.

As more people become eligible, many of you have questions about when you should get vaccinated and the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

ABC Radio Melbourne put some of these queries to infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist Professor Ben Cowie, who is advising the state government on the vaccine rollout in Victoria.

No. While Professor Cowie recommends getting specific advice from your GP or haematologist, as a general rule a history of blood clots does not put you at greater risk of developing the rare clotting condition associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The type of clotting that occurs with AstraZeneca vaccine is a specific reaction to the vaccine which is mediated by the immune system we think — that is part of the reason why it occurs most commonly amongst younger people,” Professor Cowie said.

“There really is no evidence that any form of underlying clotting disorder (apart from a very rare allergy to an anti-coagulant called heparin) is associated with an increased risk of clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Yes – but you might be waiting for a while.

In April the Commonwealth government announced it had secured an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The bad news? They won’t arrive until the end of the year.

“That is clearly after winter and we want to have as many people vaccinated as we can before winter,” Professor Cowie said.

He is encouraging people who are eligible for the AstraZeneca to get vaccinated sooner rather than later to better protect themselves and the broader community.

“The best vaccine is the one that is available right now.”

After more than a year of closed borders, social distancing and a long lockdown in Victoria, Australia is in the fortunate position of having next to no community COVID-19 transmission.

But Professor Cowie says there is no guarantee that will continue.

“By having as many people vaccinated now as we possibly can … that helps prevent the risk of COVID re-entering our population and spreading,” he said.

“It also means that if we do have transmission that reoccurs in our community we will have fewer people to try and vaccinate as quickly as we possibly can to prevent that from becoming out of control.”

Professor Cowie said health authorities were being “extremely careful” to ensure they had adequate supply of the vaccines and could get their second dose at the optimal time.

For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the product information says the second dose can be administered between four and 12 weeks after the first dose.

However clinical trials have shown that people who received their second dose on or just beyond the 12-week mark were better protected against COVID-19.

So, if you happen to get your second dose on week 13 or 14, you are still just as protected.

Yes.

If you are under 50 and eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine because of your work or an underlying medical condition, you can choose to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Professor Cowie said if you want to be vaccinated through your GP it would be a good idea to call ahead and explain your situation. In Victoria you can also book into a state-run, high-volume vaccination centre.

This one is easy – yes, you should wait 14 days between a dose of flu vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

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Family of Kalim Saliba pleading for answers year after murder in Sydney home


Homicide detectives are still looking for answers one year after an elderly man was murdered while protecting his wife at their home in Sydney’s north-west last year.

Kalim, 86, and Josephine Saliba, 84, were attacked by a pair of late-night intruders in their Cherrybrook home just after midnight on April 29 2020.

The couple suffered severe head injuries with Ms Saliba knocked unconscious during the attack.

Kalim Saliba (right) died one year ago when he and his wife were attacked in their home in Cherrybrook. (9News)

They were treated at the scene before being taken to Westmead Hospital where Kalim Saliba later died.

“Our family is devastated and we are urging anyone with information to contact police to share what they know, whatever that might be,” Joseph Saliba said.

“Dad will be forever cherished by our family as a loving father, grandfather and friend taken from us too soon.

Kalim Saliba’s son, Joseph Saliba said the family are still grieving their loss and have appealed for more information. (9News)

A strike force has been established to investigate the incident with police still searching for those responsible.

“Two masked men viciously attacked an elderly couple in their home, a place where they have the right to feel safe, resulting in a family losing a loving husband, father and grandfather,” Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty, said.

“Someone out there knows something and we are encouraging them to look into their conscience and come forward.”

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force McCleery investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

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Answers sought over traffic noise


Traffic noise complaints from residents in a new Fyansford estate have prompted Geelong council to seek answers from state government.

Residents have raised ongoing concerns about excessive traffic noise in the estate, which they say is affecting the area’s liveability and atmosphere.

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‘Confused, scared or too fatigued’: Payten bereft of answers to lingering Cowboys question


Cowboys coach Todd Payten said he’s unsure whether his side are “confused, scared or too fatigued” after “poor habits” returned to hand the Dragons a 25-18 victory on Saturday night.

The two sides exchanged tries throughout the game, but it was the Dragons who were able to edge ahead and hold firm to deny North Queensland a first home win of the season.

Payten, who was without captain Jason Taumalolo due to a hand injury, again used his post-match press conference to demand more from his side.

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Last week Payten called out Taumalolo’s effort in defence but turned the blowtorch on his side for their basic errors in the wake of their loss to the Dragons.

It didn’t help that Dragons star Ben Hunt came out of nowhere to produce one of his best performances in years, cutting the Cowboys to shreds at times.

In total the Cowboys missed 25 tackles and made 13 errors and Payten said: “We did our very best to throw the game away at points.

“Every time we gained some momentum we made a pretty basic error, drop our heads and we haven’t got the resilience to fight our way out of it.

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“We had plenty of ball at the end to win the game. I’m unsure if we are a little confused, scared or too fatigued to go after the game. I’ll look at the video and give some feedback tomorrow.

“I thought we were rolling down the field pretty well and put enough pressure on through their middle but we just lacked that punch and we weren’t clean and… I don’t think we were all on the same page.

“For the most part I think we are a little scared to go after it.”

RELATED: Rabbitohs-Sea Eagles clash erupts in chaotic brawl in final second

Payten did praise his side for how they opened the game, but said he was disappointed they reverted to type as the game wore on.

“I’ll give them credit,” Payten said.

“I thought we started fast and I thought we went after the game.

“I thought our line speed and hit and drive was really good at times.

“It was the basic errors when we had the run of play, is really detrimental to our headspace and winning games.

“We need to take responsibility across the board, as a whole club this is where we are at. “We’ve either got to stop making errors, or defend our line better.

“That’s the difference between the good teams and the not-so-good teams.

“They have the ability to hold teams out for 12, 13, 14 tackles before they start to wobble and I thought we showed a better showing last week but tonight it was some poor habits.”

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