St George Illawarra Dragons star Ben Hunt on the pain of playing 71 minutes with a broken leg


“The doctor put some numbing cream on it, then I got on the bike and sat on that nearly all of half-time to keep the legs ticking over. It wasn’t much fun running around in the second half.”

Hunt picked up the impact fracture in his right leg when tackled by Queensland Origin teammate Daly Cherry-Evans and Jack Gosiewski in the eighth minute. Replays show him feeling for his leg before playing on.

He received a knock on the same spot a week earlier in Townsville, a performance some good judges hailed as his best to date in the Red V.

“Trying to sleep on Friday night was rough, and when I went to recovery on Saturday morning all the boys were into me because they thought it was just a cork and I was on crutches,” Hunt said.

“Once I went for the scans they found the fracture. I’m in a moonboot now for a couple of weeks and basically have to keep the weight off.

“But I don’t need surgery and the timeframe they’ve given me to return is four to six weeks. There’s nothing we can do and we have to let it heal itself.

“It’s definitely a bugger because personally I felt like I was hitting my straps, and the boys were coming together really well, but that’s the way footy goes. Every team has their share of injuries. It’s my turn at the moment.”

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Hunt said a return for the Anzac Day clash against the Roosters would be the best-case scenario. Two Sunday games follow against the Wests Tigers and Bulldogs, before the Magic Round weekend against Melbourne.

The 31-year-old is desperate to get back for the Dragons. They were considered wooden-spoon contenders just a few weeks ago, but are now coming off wins over the Cowboys and Sea Eagles and head to Newcastle on Sunday brimming with confidence.

Hunt also knows if he can quickly regain his form it will not be lost on new Maroons coach Paul Green.

In the meantime, Hunt has backed Adam Clune to again do his Dragons’ No.7 jersey justice, especially with his excellent organisational skills.

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Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell poised to return to peak AFL form two years after a broken leg


Sometimes the biggest pain isn’t the injury itself, but the journey back from it. Not just the physical pain, but the emotional toll as well.

The lifespan of a top level athlete is usually a short one. The average Australian has a working life of about half a century, give or take. The average footballer, about a tenth of that. Each missing week is compounded, a missing year a huge absence.

Tom Mitchell was at the absolute peak of his powers at the start of 2019. The 25-year-old had just come off winning the Brownlow Medal, and led the Hawks to a top four finish the season prior.

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Then, disaster struck. A routine early season training session ends in a broken leg for the star Hawk, and a season is washed away in a second for both the player and club.

But the absence is only half of the picture – the comeback is also a hard slog. Two years on from his terrible break, Tom Mitchell seems poised to stake his place at the top echelons of the game.

It hurts

Any injury brings about a multitude of questions, and a serious one brings them in spades.

For young Tom, the main one was simple.

Would Mitchell be able to return to his peak, and if so, how long would it take?

Broken legs at AFL level are a relatively rare event  — less than one a year occur (thankfully). But there are some prominent examples in footy past. Mitchell’s (slight) struggles last year spoke to a common (if limited) trajectory for players on the way back from a broken leg.

Not all leg breaks are the same — compound fractures are a far different proposition to a cleaner break, and will significantly impact the ability to return to full strength later on in their careers.

For the most basic headline statistic, the ability to win and use the ball, there’s a clear drop-off in the first year for those returning from a broken leg.

These players generate 14 per cent fewer disposals in their comeback season as compared with their level the season immediately before they suffered their injury.

A bigger impact is seen when looking at who the umpires rate as the best on the ground. With the Brownlow medal only recognising the top three players in any game, it serves as a look at the best of the best. And the best were often not those coming back from a broken leg, despite their ability beforehand.

Viewing the total impact of players makes the total picture even clearer. Not all players come back from a broken leg, but almost all of those who do see a drop off after their return.

Unlike some other forms of injury, a long-term return to form isn’t impossible. After year two, players are not too far off their previous levels of performance, and year three generally sees them on par.

The career of Michael Voss bodes particularly well for Mitchell’s future progression. A hard running hard nut, Voss suffered a broken leg at the age of 22, two years after claiming his solitary Brownlow medal.

Despite not winning another Brownlow, Voss did captain one of the most successful teams in the modern era, and was arguably one of the dozen best players of his era – with most of that coming after his comeback.

By his previous high standards, Mitchell’s 2020 was down on his performance in 2018. This was not totally unexpected, and was affected by the wider situation impacting Hawthorn.

At the same time, the road back from injury is just that – a road. Full form can’t be expected from game one or even year one of a return to play after a long absence, regardless of injury. This is especially the case for very high quality players.

Sometimes roles have to evolve, and the ways players play have to change.

Mitchell’s way

Mitchell’s path to the elite of the league was marked with a couple of hurdles on the way. It was a fait accompli that Mitchell would end up heading to the Swans due to his father Barry, and his starring efforts for the Swans of old.

Tom Mitchell left the Swans for Hawthorn seeking more regular games in the midfield.(

AAP: Rob Blakers

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From there, the young Mitchell struggled to find a spot in a midfield stacked with names like Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack and Luke Parker.

There were no doubts about his talents. Not only were 40+ disposal games routine for the Swans reserves, they also weren’t enough to earn a senior team recall.

Games Mitchell did earn in the senior team were often in a hybrid mid-forward role, or on the outer of the main midfield rotation.

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Given the tough path to selection at Sydney, and a tight TPP cap following Lance Franklin’s arrival harbourside, a new home was on the cards for Mitchell. Hawthorn came calling, not with a king’s ransom, but instead a relatively humble pick 16.

At Glenferrie, Mitchell established himself on the top rung of players in the competition. But Mitchell isn’t like many of the other top midfielders going.

In an era of multidimensional, position shifting midfielders, Mitchell … well, really isn’t that.

As evidenced in his record-setting reserves days, Mitchell’s game is ground-based, and focused on getting the ball no matter where it is.

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The Hawk excels at finding the ball where no-one else can see it, and never giving up on a play. Mitchell is often able to shed his opponent and get to second and third phases of the same play. In an era of reading the play, and working out what will happen next, Mitchell excels beyond almost all of his colleagues.

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Mitchell stands out in his ability to find the ball, and follow up if something goes wrong. His use of the body, both to help him and his teammates, opens up opportunities beyond his own stat count.

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Compared to many other top level modern midfielders – Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield, Nat Fyfe, Christian Petracca, Marcus Bontempelli – Mitchell generally covers more ground behind the ball than in front of it. This speaks to his skill in chasing and controlling the ball. He’s also not afraid to bully opponents.

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He tends not to rest forward as much as the players listed above, and doesn’t have the necessary size to be a solo target up forward. Instead, Mitchell often supports play as a strong user out of the back half, helping to drive the ball forward as a link player.

This also has an impact on the major area of criticism for Mitchell – his lack of impact possessions. Mitchell sits a cut below other pinnacle mids for score involvements, scores, inside 50s and score launches. While Mitchell gets a lot of the rock, he doesn’t kill you with it all the time.

That’s not all on Mitchell, and speaks to his role within the Hawthorn set-up.

Mitchell has been fortunate enough to play with more aggressive ball users going inside 50, with names like Isaac Smith (now at Geelong), Jaeger O’Meara, Shaun Burgoyne and Luke Breust carrying a far bigger load delivering the ball forward.

As Hawthorn’s list evolves, so may Mitchell’s role.

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Against Essendon in round one, Mitchell displayed some adept ball use at times, especially in the clip above. His skill with the foot is severely underrated at times, and he tends to be able to find shorter targets quite effectively when given the opportunity.

It will be interesting to see how Hawthorn balances its midfield rotation in the year ahead, especially with a younger list profile than in previous years.

The year ahead

While the trendline for Mitchell seems to be rising up, Hawthorn still sits somewhat in no-man’s land this year.

Short of top end draft picks in recent years, Hawthorn has a number of top-tier talents, but a dearth of young depth below. While the come-from-behind win over Essendon was impressive, the Hawks had to come from a long way behind. That won’t happen every week.

As a result, this year could be about the little things – finding a couple of pieces around the ground, and getting the balance for the future right in the middle.

At 28, and as one of the pre-eminent talents in the game, a fit and firing Mitchell is a big part of that.

The road back may be a long one, but it’s well underway.

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NRL 2021: Injuries, casualty ward, Apisai Koroisau, broken wrist, Penrith Panthers, Ryan Matterson, concussion


The Panthers will be without hooker Apisai Koroisau for six weeks after he sustained a broken wrist in the team’s 24-0 win over the Cowboys.

Koroisau came off early in the second half with scans later confirming the injury.

He underwent surgery and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks with Mitch Kenny to fill the void.

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In other news, Melbourne backrower Felise Kaufusi is facing a two to three-game ban for an incident which saw Parramatta opposite Ryan Matterson concussed in ugly scenes on Thursday night.

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Eastern Freeway crash victim Senior Constable Kevin King’s widow a ‘broken person’


The widow of Eastern Freeway crash victim Senior Constable Kevin King has spoken out in court in front of the man who killed her husband.

Mohinder Singh, 48, has pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing the deaths of the officers while they were impounding a Porsche on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway in April 2020.

Leading Senior Constable Lynnette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney were killed in the crash.

The incident marked Victoria Police’s worst loss of life in a single incident.

The truck driver was said to be “talking nonsense” about witches when he crashed his semi-trailer.

On Thursday, Singh heard the first of the impact statements from the victim’s families.

King’s wife Sharron MacKenzie spoke at the pre-sentence hearing at the Victorian Supreme Court, saying she “felt she would die of a broken heart”.

She called him her soulmate, best friend and a devoted father of three sons with a “heart of gold”.

They had met as teenagers, she said, and her life had now been reduced to an “ocean of tears and sleepless nights”.

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in intensive care with broken ribs after fall on wet floor


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is in intensive care after a concerning fall on “wet and slippery stairs”.

Andrews fell on Tuesday morning as he was getting ready for work at a rental property on the Mornington Peninsula, where he and his family had been staying over the long weekend.

On Tuesday afternoon he released a statement saying he had several broken ribs and vertebrae damage.

“Early this morning, I was admitted to hospital after slipping and falling on wet and slippery stairs,” he said.

“A CT scan has revealed several broken ribs and vertebrae damage, and subsequent medical advice has recommended I remain in intensive care for the next few days.

“Cath, the kids and I are extremely grateful to the Ambulance Victoria paramedics who showed such care and kindness to our family this morning, as we are to the clinicians who have taken care of me today.”

Andrews said he hoped to provide another update later in the week and Deputy Premier James Merlino would continue to cover his duties as he recovered.

“For now, we’d like to ask that our family’s privacy is respected,” Andrews said.

Merlino held a press conference on behalf of Andrews on Tuesday morning and said he would be “back on his feet soon”.

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Victorian coroner calls for overhaul of prison drug support, as advocates describe system as ‘broken’


Victoria needs to overhaul the way it supports drug users who leave the state’s prison system, a coroner has said, following the heroin overdose death of a man four days after he left custody.

In findings released today, Coroner Jacqui Hawkins said there were numerous shortfalls in the state’s prison drug treatment system, including inadequate clinical support for people returning to the community, poor delivery of opioid substitution therapy, and a lack of monitoring the health of people who exited jails.

Ms Hawkins said 220 people died from heroin overdoses in 2017, and 41 per cent of them had spent time in prison. Ten of the 220 died within seven days of their release.

That included Shae Paszkiewicz, a 40-year-old who was found unresponsive in Richmond a day after being released from Port Phillip Prison.

Mr Paszkiewicz was taken to hospital suffering from a severe hypoxic brain injury but died four days later.

Ms Hawkins has recommended the Victorian Department of Health take formal responsibility for improving health outcomes for ex-prisoners.

She called on the department to work with Corrections Victoria and the Department of Justice and Community Safety to collect timely information about ex-prisoners’ health outcomes for 10 years.

Ms Hawkins recommended the health department create a formal advisory group consisting of other government departments, academics and support services.

She also recommended the introduction of a take-home naloxone program for prisoners with a history of opioid use who were preparing the exit custody.

The chief executive of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association, Sam Biondo, welcomed the coroner’s recommendations.

“We need to drive down the number of people going in prisons and we need to support people on exit. It’s better for the individuals and it’s much better for the community,” he said.

“There’s such a huge investment that goes into prisons, it absorbs billions of dollars. Frankly, with something close to 50 per cent of people returning back to prisons as recidivists, that indicates that it’s a broken system.

“On exit, there has to be availability of services and support which can accommodate a person’s need. The planning for exit needs to occur when someone enters prison.”

Last year, the ABC revealed details of an internal government review which found nearly one man on parole was dying every month, with the leading cause of death drug overdoses.

At the time, experts said the figures were likely to be a fraction of the total deaths of former prisoners in Victoria, and called for authorities to monitor ex-prisoner mortality.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety and Department of Health have been contacted for comment.

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Barwon Heads suspected hit-run crash in Victoria leave teen P-plater with broken bones


A Victorian father says it’s a miracle his teenage daughter escaped a horror car crash with a few broken bones after being run off the road.

Kaitlin Singleton was driving to work on Tuesday at about 6am when she was involved in a suspected hit-run in Barwon Heads, near Geelong.

Watch more in the video above of German skies turning bright pink from a dust cloud

The 19-year-old P-plater said she was clipped by another car.

“I went off the side of the road and spun around and went into a pole,” Singleton told 7NEWS.

She managed to crawl out, but said the other driver did not stop.

“It’s very inhumane to leave a young girl on the side of the road helpless with the car torn apart,” the teenager’s father Jason Singleton said.

“It’s a miracle she got out without even a scratch on her face.”

Singleton has been left with broken fingers and said her body is bruised, but is thankful the injuries were not worse.

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St Kilda Saints defender Ben Paton has broken leg after training clash with Jarryd Roughead


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Clutching his lower leg, he was immediately treated by doctors and he was taken from the ground on a stretcher, before the ambulance was called to take him to hospital.

The injury comes just a day after the Saints’ first ruck Rowan Marshall was confirmed to have a stress reaction in his foot that will keep him off his legs for the next month and ensure he misses the early rounds of the AFL season.

Paton’s injury is the second broken leg at Moorabbin this year with captain Jarryn Geary having earlier sustained a leg break.

The Saints have endured a bad off-season for injuries with Geary’s broken leg, midfielder Zak Jones tearing a hamstring and youngster Ryan Byrnes needing surgery for a bad hamstring tendon tear.

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Nine dead, 140 missing in India after broken Himalayan glacier triggers river torrent disaster


NEW DELHI: Nine people were confirmed dead and at least 140 missing in northern India, after a Himalayan glacier broke and swept away a hydroelectric dam on Sunday (Feb 7), with floods forcing the evacuation of villages downstream.

Surjeet Singh, a police official, said nine bodies were recovered so far amid intensified rescue operations.

The flood was caused when a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand on Sunday morning, sending a massive flood of water and debris slamming into two dams and damaging a number of homes.

A video shared by officials and taken from the side of steep hillside shows a wall of water surging into one of the dams and breaking it into pieces with little resistance before continuing to roar downstream.


A view of the damaged Dhauliganga hydropower project at Reni village in Chamoli district after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand, Feb 7, 2021. (Photo: AP)

An eyewitness said he saw a wall of dust, rock and water as an avalanche roared down the Dhauli Ganga river valley located more than 500km north of New Delhi.

“It came very fast, there was no time to alert anyone,” Sanjay Singh Rana, who lives on the upper reaches of Raini village in Uttarakhand, told Reuters by phone. “I felt that even we would be swept away.”

Uttarakhand’s Police Chief Ashok Kumar told reporters more than 50 people working at the dam, the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project, were feared dead though some others had been rescued.

Kumar also said authorities had evacuated other dams to contain the water rushing in from the flooded Alakananda river.

India Glacier Flooding

Indo Tibetan Border Police begin rescue work after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, Feb 7, 2021. (Photo: Indo Tibetan Border Police via AP)

Uttarakhand is prone to flash floods and landslides and the latest disaster prompted calls by environment groups for a review of power projects in the ecologically sensitive mountains.

State utility NTPC said Sunday’s avalanche had damaged a part of its Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower plant that was under construction further down the river. It gave no details but said the situation is being monitored continuously.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was closely monitoring the situation.

“India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there,” he said on Twitter after speaking with the state’s Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

India Glacier Flooding

People inspect the site near the damaged Dhauliganga hydropower project at Reni village in Chamoli district after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in the Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand, Feb 7, 2021. (Photo: AP)

India’s air force was being readied to help with rescue operations, the federal government said, while Home Minister Amit Shah said disaster response teams were being airlifted in to help with relief and rescue. Army soldiers have already been deployed and its helicopters were doing an aerial reconnaissance of the area.

“All the concerned officers are working on a war footing,” Shah said on Twitter, referring to Uttarakhand by its nickname, the Hindi term for “land of the gods” – due to the numerous Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres located across the state.

India Himalayan glacier (2)

State Disaster Response Fund personnel prepare for deployment in Srinagar of Uttarakhand state on Feb 7, 2021 after a glacier broke off in Chamoli district causing flash floods in the Dhauli Ganga river. (Photo: AFP)

India Glacier Flooding

A police officer asks pilgrims to leave as ghats along the river Ganges are emptied as a precautionary measure in Haridwar, India, Feb 7, 2021. (Photo: AP)

The neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous, put its riverside areas on high alert.

Footage shared by locals showed the water washing away parts of the Rishiganga dam as well as whatever else was in its path.

Videos on social media, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed water surging through a small dam site, washing away construction equipment.

“Currently no additional water flows are being reported and there is no flood situation anywhere,” Chief Minister Rawat said on Twitter.

“No loss has been reported from villages along Alaknanda.”

India Himalayan glacier (4)

This screen grab from video provided by KK Productions shows a massive flood of water, mud and debris flowing at Chamoli District after a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, Feb 7, 2021. (Photo: KK Productions via AP)

“HIMALAYAN TSUNAMI”

It was not immediately clear what had set off the avalanche at a time when it is not the flood season. In June 2013, monsoon rains in Uttarakhand caused devastating floods that claimed close to 6,000 lives.

That disaster was dubbed the “Himalayan tsunami” by the media because of the torrents of water unleashed in the mountainous area, which sent mud and rocks crashing down, burying homes, sweeping away buildings, roads and bridges.

Uma Bharti, India’s former water resources minister and a senior leader of Modi’s party, criticised the construction of a power project in the area.

India Himalayan glacier

Police personnel prepare in Srinagar of Uttarakhand state on Feb 7, 2021 after a glacier broke off in Chamoli district causing flash floods in the Dhauli Ganga river. (Photo: AFP)

“When I was a minister I had requested that Himalaya is a very sensitive place, so power projects should not be built on Ganga and its main tributaries,” she said on Twitter, referring to the main river that flows from the mountain.

Environmental experts called for a halt to big hydroelectric projects in the state.

“This disaster again calls for a serious scrutiny of the hydropower dams building spree in this eco-sensitive region,” said Ranjan Panda, a volunteer for the Combat Climate Change Network that works on water, environment and climate change issues.

“The government should no longer ignore warnings from experts and stop building hydropower projects and extensive highway networks in this fragile ecosystem.”

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Broken hand for Broncos star Milford


Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford faces a disrupted preparation for the NRL season after fracturing his hand at training.

Milford experienced pain during a drill on Tuesday and scans revealed he had fractured the fourth metacarpal in his right hand.

He will undergo surgery in the coming days and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

“Anthony felt pain in his hand during a drill today and we sent him for scans,” Broncos head of performance Andrew Croll said.

“He has been reviewed by a surgeon and a hand therapist and at this stage the best course of action is surgery to repair the fracture.”

The Broncos are scheduled to host the Eels in their season opener on March 12.

Milford’s injury means he is set to miss the club’s trial match against the Cowboys later this month.



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