St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Ben Hunt hails qualities of Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough as Anthony Griffin closes in on deal


“Macca is very professional and he does everything well,” Hunt told NRL.com. “I know he has had a couple of injuries now, but I think the hamstring one is a bit of a freak and I back him to get back to playing the best footy he can.

“He brings a lot of leadership, he has obviously been around the game a long time and he is very professional about everything he does on an off the field.

“He is good for the culture of the club and he was always involved in everything when I was at the Broncos, culture wise and helping out. He just won’t be a smart footy head, it will be off the field helping out as well.”

Hunt won’t play in the first official trial of the pre-season when the Sharks host the Dragons at PointsBet Stadium on Friday evening. The match is restricted to players who featured in 12 or fewer games during the 2020 season.

Griffin will give game time to the likes of Tariq Sims, Eels recruit Daniel Alvaro and five-eighth hopeful Jayden Sullivan, while Sharks coach John Morris will use a squad which will feature few in contention for a round one spot having decided not to play Matt Moylan.

What isn’t in dispute for Hunt is the fact he won’t be rebounding between halfback and hooker this season under Griffin with his old Broncos coach giving him the nod for the No.7 jumper.

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Former Dragons boss Paul McGregor used Hunt at both No.9 and off the bench last year before he parted ways with the club.

“He said to me straight up that he wants me to play No.7, that is where he sees me playing my best footy, and we have just got on with it from there,” Hunt said of his talk with Griffin.

“It is the only place I have trained all pre-season and it is the position ‘Hook’ said he wants me to play so it is all systems go at this stage. I guess it has just picked up from where we finished those years ago at the Broncos.

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NRL 2021: St George Illawarra Dragons, Cameron McInnes says he prefers Paul McGregor to Anthony Griffin, Ray Hadley


Dragons captain Cameron McInnes reportedly implied that he preferred ex-St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor’s style to new boss Anthony Griffin before sealing a move to the Sharks.

News broke on Tuesday McInnes will sign with arch rival Cronulla on a massive deal, starting next year.

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According to veteran radio host Ray Hadley, McInnes is not a fan of Griffin and preferred being coached by Paul McGregor who was sacked as Dragons coach midway through the 2020 season.

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Charnwood stabbing accused Jayscen Anthony Newby pleads guilty to murder



A Canberra man has pleaded guilty to murder after stabbing another man to death in the city’s north last year.

Jayscen Anthony Newby, 27, handed himself in to police hours after the murder of 27-year-old Frankie Victor Prineas on January 11, 2020, in Charnwood.

After initially pleading not guilty to murder, Newby today changed his plea to guilty in the ACT Supreme Court.

The court heard Newby decided to plead guilty after accepting that his act, which he said was intended to cause serious harm, caused the death of Mr Prineas.

The prosecutor said the parties were yet to agree on a finalised statement of facts, which would be referred to at Newby’s sentencing.

Several of Mr Prineas’ family members cried as Newby entered his plea before one of the victim’s supporters yelled, “Look at this woman in the face you piece of s**t” as he was led away by corrections staff.

The details of what happened on the night Mr Prineas was killed are yet to be revealed in court.

Victim had ‘extensive’ stab wounds

On January 11 last year, police received reports of a disturbance at a townhouse in Charnwood around 1:30am.

Emergency services found Mr Prineas at the scene with “extensive” stab wounds, and he died on the way to the hospital.

The death prompted an “extensive search” by police, ending when Mr Newby handed himself in at the City Police Station that afternoon.

Two months later it was revealed in court Newby would fight the murder charge, before he formally changed his plea today.

The case will return to court next month.

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Anthony Albanese hoses down talk of caucus ructions and confirms a weekend reshuffle


Anthony Albanese has dismissed suggestions his leadership of the Labor Party is under threat, defending his policy platform and confirming a “stronger” shadow cabinet will be unveiled this weekend.

In a wide-ranging interview, 7.30’s chief political correspondent Laura Tingle pressed the Opposition Leader directly on what she described as a “deep pessimism” within the Labor caucus about the party’s chances of winning the next election under his leadership.

“Well, my leadership is secure,” Mr Albanese said.

He said the shadow cabinet would be reshuffled this weekend ahead of the first sitting of Parliament for 2021, in a move that would “show what Labor’s priorities are”.

Mr Albanese said he would also announce new policies “in coming weeks” and at the ALP’s national conference in March, and defended his focus to date on his signature promise to remove caps on childcare subsidies.

He said the childcare reforms would be “transformative” for women and the economy.

He also nominated climate change, industrial relations and inequality as issues to campaign on.

A federal election could be held as soon as late this year, although Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently said he planned on a 2022 election.

Mr Albanese was asked about suggestions the level of “mistrust” within the caucus was almost as bad as it was in the worst of the Rudd-Gillard days.

“Well, I just don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that’s the right characterisation,” Mr Albanese said.

“Anyone who thinks that the current circumstance is like it was in 2013, that you refer to, wasn’t there in 2013.”

There have reportedly been rumblings in Canberra that Anthony Albanese’s position as Labor leader could be under threat.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Despite trailing Mr Morrison on net approval ratings, he described the Opposition’s position in the polls as “very competitive”, saying there was still plenty of time for Labor’s agenda to cut through as voters became less singularly focused on the pandemic.

Labor’s standing in the polls was better than New Zealand’s Labour Party was at a similar point in their election cycle, he said.

NZ Labour went on to win convincingly under Jacinda Ardern.

“People, during the pandemic, have wanted leaders to succeed. Of course that has led to an increase in their approval,” he said.

“The next election will be about who has a better plan for the future to deliver a stronger economy, a fairer society and deal with challenges such as climate change.”

The Opposition Leader also defended his recent suggestion of holding a referendum on recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution on January 26, denying it was a “captain’s pick” made without consultation with colleagues.

Mr Albanese said it was not a “policy” but just a “constructive idea”.

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese speaks with Laura Tingle as the political year starts to get underway.

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Anthony Mundine says South Sydney Rabbitohs must ‘move heaven and Earth’ to keep Latrell Mitchell


Mitchell’s former agent, Matt Rose, recently handed in his accreditation and colleague Warwick Wright has been entrusted with thrashing out the terms of any future deal.

Given Mitchell’s standing in the game and Souths’ proud Indigenous history, it is hard to see him playing at any other club.

Mundine said Souths should “move heaven and Earth” to nail down Mitchell to a multi-year deal.

Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell.Credit:Getty

“He is one of a kind,” Mundine said. “He is the best player in the game. Look at his size, his speed, his skills – he’s freakish.

“He stands up for what he believes in. He cops it because he’s a proud black man. It’s like when I was playing footy and fighting any injustice. He’s got an old head on young shoulders. I’m so happy and proud of his resilience.

“The kid is worth $1 million-plus a year. If Daly Cherry-Evans gets $1.25 million a year – he’s a great player, but he’s more of a general. As far as strike players, they don’t come better than Latrell.”

There is a lot of excitement brewing about Souths and coach Wayne Bennett delivering a premiership in 2021 before the veteran coach rides off into the sunset.

Mundine, whose son CJ is in the South Sydney system, backed Melbourne to go back-to-back with a top-four finish for the Rabbits.

South Sydney boss Blake Solly would not comment on Mitchell’s negotiations, but confirmed the 23-year-old will line up in the All Stars game, despite being forced out towards the end of last season with a serious hamstring injury.

“As long as he’s fit and our medical and coaching staff believe he’s fit enough to play, he’ll play,” Solly said.

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“We are 100 per cent behind the All Stars game. We know what it means to the players and their community … it’s a game we should be very proud of.”

Bennett stuck solid with the Mitchell fullback experiment at the start of last year and the two-time premiership-winning former Rooster repaid the faith by completing one of the game’s best spines with Damien Cook, Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds.

Mitchell has never been afraid to voice his opinions and call out the haters on his social media platforms. Late this week he applauded Sydney Sixers’ proud Indigenous all-rounder Dan Christian for taking aim at Prime Minister Scott Morrison after he had dismissed Cricket Australia’s recommendation to dump the term “Australia Day” from all Big Bash promotions.

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14-month-old Anthony McCallum fights for his life after shock diagnosis of rare liver cancer


A regional South Australian community is rallying behind a toddler who has been diagnosed with a rare liver cancer and may need a transplant.

Anthony McCallum is just 14 months old and is receiving priority one treatment at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital days after the diagnosis was confirmed.

His parents Jesse McCallum and Kristy Forrest, from Naracoorte, face an unimaginable journey given their son has three cancer growths on his liver.

“We are heartbroken. Our whole world has been turned upside down.”

Mr McCallum said the swiftness of the hepatoblastoma liver cancer diagnosis was difficult to comprehend.

“It is going to be a very tough and long battle for our son,” he said.

“It is extraordinarily difficult but we are trying to stay positive. Anthony has already undergone surgery and numerous scans.”

Jesse McCallum hugs his sons Anthony and Jamieson.(Supplied: Jesse McCallum)

Mr McCallum said he was stunned as to what had unfolded in just a matter of days.

“We took him to the doctors late last week, he was then flown up to Adelaide on Saturday and received his chemotherapy treatment on Thursday.”

A wonderful and happy ‘little man’

Mr McCallum said his son, who he described as a loveable and vibrant toddler, had three large growths that could not be surgically removed at this stage.

He said medical staff also appeared “shocked” by the size and number of the tumours on his liver given his age.

Mr McCallum, who was in the middle of moving to a new house, said it was likely Anthony would remain in hospital for months and his family would need to be in Adelaide for up to a year.

“My partner Kristy is in Adelaide at the moment with our little man,” he said.

Toddler in a grey hoodie smiles.
Anthony McCallum has been described as a vibrant and bubbly toddler.(Supplied: Jesse McCallum)

The family praised the Limestone Coast community, including people in Mount Gambier, for their support and heart-warming wishes.

The father also praised the efforts of hospital staff who were trying to save his son’s life.

Liver transplant may be needed

Mr McCallum said chemotherapy treatment would hopefully shrink the cancer so surgery could be an option, but he foreshadowed his son could need a liver transplant.

While Anthony has had health issues since he was born, the cancer diagnosis came as a shock.

“The other day in the back of the car Anthony was doing noises and kicking his legs to his favourite song Who Let The Dogs Out. He is such a bubbly boy.”

Mr McCallum revealed it was not the first time the family had battled major health issues.

He said his son Jamieson, who turns six this weekend, had been diagnosed with a growth behind his left eye.

While the growth was benign, he said it would cause ongoing health issues for his son.

A number of Limestone Coast businesses and friends have started fundraising initiatives for the family, including a Go Fund Me page.

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LaMelo Ball triple-double, Anthony Davis downs James Harden, Heat-Celtics postponed


LaMelo Ball has made history as the youngest player in the NBA to record a triple-double as the No. 3 Draft pick continues to make his mark.

Ball was in Australia last year to play in the NBL and showcased his all-round talents with a rare triple-double down here but he’s done it on the biggest stage possible.

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While the talk of the town in Australia last year was whether the NBL provided a good professional pathway for draftees, it clearly seems to have done the job.

Ball beat previous record holder Markelle Fultz by 177 but it could have been 179 days after he missed out on the milestone just two days ago in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

But playing the Atlanta Hawks, Ball hit 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists on Saturday night.

“A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “This is rare what you’re seeing.

“He’s not rattled by the moment. It’s like he’s been doing this for a number of years.”

Ball said he was still trying to comprehend what he had done.

“I live my life and I know what I’m capable of, so stuff like doesn’t move me like that,” Ball said. “I know that’s supposed to happen.”

He also got plenty of praise from Atlanta star Trae Young who believes there’s a big future ahead of him.

“He’s a tall PG who can pass, can rebound and he’s a smart player,” Young said. “Things are going to become even easier for him in this league as he plays more and more games.”

NBA fans were going equally mad for LaMelo.

The Observer’s Charlotte Hornets beat writer Rick Bonnell said: “I thought through 30-some years of the NBA in Charlotte for a @MELOD1P comparison; the only @hornets rookie that feels similar in talent and impact: Larry Johnson.”

Johnson was a two-time NBA All-Star, 1992 Rookie of the Year and decade-long player in the NBA.

AD EXPLODES IN NBA BLOW OUT

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 27 points as the Los Angeles Lakers delivered a dominating all-around performance on Sunday with a crushing 120-102 defeat of the Houston Rockets in Texas.

The Lakers finally hit their stride in the new NBA season, running the Rockets ragged on offence and bottling up their top scorers on defence, especially three-time league scoring champion James Harden, who was held to 20 points and committed seven turnovers.

LeBron James scored 18 points as he and fellow all-star Davis had plenty of help from the bench.

Talen Horton-Tucker (17 points), Montrezl Harrell (16) and Kyle Kuzma (13) all came off the bench to reach double figures for the Lakers, who are now a perfect 5-0 on the road to start the season.

The defending NBA champions scored a whopping 32 fast break points and 62 points in the paint, finally looking like the juggernaut team that many had envisioned at the start of the season.

But where they really excelled Sunday was on defence, grabbing 39 defensive rebounds and forcing 13 steals.

“We’ve got to be a team who lead games with defence,” Davis said, who returned to the line-up Sunday after sitting out with a sore groin. “Tonight we made shots, but there are going to be nights when we don’t make shots and we can’t control that.

“What we can control is how we play defence. The coach came in at halftime and said our defensive effort was off the charts.”

With both James (ankle) and Davis nursing nagging injuries, getting 54 points from their bench and holding the Rockets to just 46 points in the first half is good sign for the future.

— AFP

COVID REARS ITS UGLY HEAD

It’s never too far from the spotlight but COVID-19 has reminded the NBA it will arguably be the biggest player in the 2020-21 season.

The Boston Celtics’ home game against the Miami Heat didn’t even get on court, the contest postponed because of COVID-19 safety measures.

Miami did not have the required number of available players to play the game while the Celtics were down to the NBA minimum of eight.

Also, Nikola Jokic posted another double-double by finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds for the visiting Denver Nuggets, who cruised to a 114-89 win over the New York Knicks.

— AFP



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Anthony Albanese released from hospital after car crash


“Part of the recovery is just trying to control the pain. It’s expected the next 24 hours will not be terribly comfortable for me.”

Mr Albanese was driving home in the inner west suburb of Marrickville on Friday evening when a Range Rover ploughed into his Toyota.

The driver of the Range Rover, a 17-year-old P-plater, has since been issued with an infringement notice for negligent driving by police.

Mr Albanese was reluctant to speak about the particulars of the accident due to the possibility of future “legal consequences”. However, he revealed that while he was trapped in his vehicle at the scene unable to move, the teenager approached him and apologised for his actions.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s car was badly damaged in Friday’s accident.

“All I know is it showed some character,” he said.

“I hope that this experience leads this young man to commit to becoming one of the safest drivers that Australia has ever seen.”

The 57-year-old revealed he was on strong pain relief as he fronted the media pack gathered outside the hospital on Saturday afternoon after he was admitted overnight to undergo a battery of tests.

He would have to return to the hospital for further MRI scans, he said.

“Obviously I’ve undertaken pain killers now, which is why I don’t want the press conference to go on for too long,” he said.

Anthony Albanese was assessed by paramedics on scene and taken to hospital.

Anthony Albanese was assessed by paramedics on scene and taken to hospital.Credit:Nine News

Mr Albanese thanked the paramedics, police and hospital staff who assisted him, as well as an off-duty nurse who rushed to his aid at the scene.

“[The nurse] certainly gave me a lot of comfort as well as medical advice,” Mr Albanese said.

“I was suffering some significant shock due to the nature of the incident.”

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Mr Albanese said the accident could have been far more serious had it not been for large strides in car safety technology in recent years.

“If this accident was 10 years ago I wouldn’t be speaking to you here,” he said.

Mr Albanese said he had been inundated with well-wishes over the past 24 hours, including from parliamentary colleagues of all stripes, distant friends and relatives and religious leaders.

The crash occurred on Hill Street, close to Mr Albanese’s home in his electorate of Grayndler.

Police have confirmed the 17-year-old driver of the other vehicle was breath tested and returned a negative result,

Mr Albanese said he still intended to be in Canberra for the resumption of parliament and the accident had not dampened his hopes that 2021 would be a better year than 2020.

“I was always very confident I could deal with anything, any of the challenges that 2021 threw up,” he said. “After yesterday, I’m not just confident, I’m absolutely certain.”

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Anthony Albanese in hospital after car crash in Sydney’s inner west


Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has been taken to hospital after a car crash in Sydney’s inner-west this afternoon.

Emergency services were called to Hill Street in Marrickville at about 5:00pm after receiving reports of a crash.

Police were told a black Range Rover being driven by a 17-year-old struck the Toyota Camry being driven by Mr Albanese.

The Labor Leader was taken to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown.

A spokesman from his office said the 57-year-old was “shaken but OK” and his car had been written off.

Anthony Albanese was taken to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for an examination.(Twitter: Dan Sutton)

NSW Police said the driver of the Range Rover was travelling west along Hill Street when he struck Mr Albanese.

The driver was displaying P-plates on his vehicle.

“The driver of the Toyota was treated at the scene before being taken to RPA in a stable condition,” a police spokesperson said.

“Officers attached to Inner West Police Area Command attended and have commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. Enquiries are continuing.”

The 17-year-old driver was not injured and did not require treatment from paramedics, according to NSW Ambulance.

Mr Albanese lives in Marrickville and is the MP for the seat of Grayndler, which encompasses most of Sydney’s inner-west.

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Josh Kerr says St George Illawarra Dragons won’t talk up finals hopes under Anthony Griffin


“I’ve come back and we’ve had a reshuffle of staff but the culture here is so similar to what it was for Queensland,” Kerr said on the Dragons’ second day of training for 2021.

“I don’t want to say anything bad about the years past but this is a refresh of everything.

“The culture they’re building here just reminds me so much of being in [Origin] camp.”

Kerr has clearly taken a leaf out of Bennett’s book: he has already reminded his teammates to talk their hopes of climbing the NRL ladder down.

“I was saying to the boys before – we’ve always fallen into the trap at the Dragons of talking about how good our team is and how well we’re going to do. And then we don’t make the eight. It’s embarrassing,” Kerr said.

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“We always say we’re going to do these things but we never do it. Not trying to sound big or anything but I’d rather just do it.

“I’d rather just go out there, play well and win games (without) telling you how good we’re going to go when we haven’t made the eight in the last few years.

“I don’t want to be rude by saying that but we’ve just fallen into that trap too many times over too many years.”

The “best month” of Kerr’s life – Origin camp – is also providing motivation for the prop who wants to make his Queensland debut sooner rather than later.

“I just thought ‘I could only be myself’ in that camp and to have that culture and that environment that they have – and you can definitely see it,” Kerr said.

“To be coached by Wayne Bennett – when I was a kid he was old as – it was crazy.”

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