Rosebud in hunt for new coach


SOCCER

THE 40-day reign of Tommy McShane as senior coach of Rosebud ended abruptly last week.

Club president John Grbac confirmed on social media on Friday that McShane had been “stood down”.

“I won’t crucify the guy because he’s a good mate of mine,” Grbac said.

“We’ve come to an agreement and he understands that.

“It was a trial thing really and Tommy was new to it anyway.

“He thinks it’s better for the club too because if he’s not getting the respect from the players then it’s time to move on.

“Tommy’s a great guy and a top clubman and he said he’s more than happy to keep supporting the club.”

Grbac has spoken to former Rosebud, Rosebud Heart and Somerville coach Scott Morrison and unsettled Rosebud striker Mark Pagliarulo.

Morrison has officially rejected the approach.

Two other names have been linked to the job – former Baxter boss Roy Kilner and recent midfield recruit Craig White, a former Rosebud Heart player.

“I was asked if I was interested in the job but due to work commitments I had to thank them and say no,” Kilner said.

In Saturday’s FFA Cup news Mount Martha lost 5-2 at home to East Kew, Aspendale Stingrays went down 6-0 to Bundoora United at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex and Rosebud lost 2-1 at home to Lara United.

It was a significant day for Mount Martha playing their first official competitive match at Civic Reserve.

Chris Sanderson’s side was 3-0 down at the break but fought back to 3-2 with a second-half double to Ethan Sanderson only to pay for pushing forward for the equaliser in the last few minutes of play.

Aspendale went into its tie with key players missing through injury – captain Peter Dimopoulos, first choice keeper Matt Self and right back Ryan Maokhamphiou – and proved no match for the visitors.

Aspendale’s best were James Macnab, Blake Rosenberg and Josh Mravljak.

Chris Parry scored in Rosebud’s loss to the Geelong visitors at Olympic Park.

Club boss Grbac confirmed the following day that Rosebud would play its home matches at Olympic Park on Saturday nights provided there is no clash with its baseball co-tenant.

The draw for the first main round of the Cup took place yesterday (Monday) and included local State 4 sides Baxter, Seaford United, Chelsea and Somerville Eagles.

In practice match news Baxter winger Lewis Gibson broke his tibia in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to State 2 opponent Brandon Park and was taken by ambulance to Dandenong Hospital.

The former Mornington player is hoping to be back in action during the second half of the season.

THURSDAY: Frankston Pines 1 (Joey O’Connor) Beaumaris 1.

FRIDAY: Box Hill Utd 3 Mornington 1 (own goal), Rosebud 3 (Blake Hicks 3) Essendon Utd 6.

SATURDAY: Nunawading City 4 Langwarrin 0, Peninsula Strikers 2 (Shane Tagliaferro, Sam Luxford) South Springvale 2, Frankston Pines 3 (Jordan Avraham, Kevin Brown, Simon Webster penalty) Croydon 0, Baxter 0 Brandon Park 1, Somerville Eagles 5 (Dave Greening 2, Davey Jones, Naseer Mohammed, Jack Wyer) North Melbourne 3, Chelsea 2 (Daniel Vella, Piers Brelsford) Knox Churches 3, Seaford Utd 1 (Dylan Waugh penalty) East Bentleigh 3.

SUNDAY: Eastern Lions U21s 3 Skye Utd 0.

Last Thursday night State 3 title aspirant Frankston Pines maintained its good 2021 practice match record with a 1-1 draw against State 1 side Beaumaris at Monterey Reserve.

Ryan Brown put the visitors ahead in the fifth minute when he easily got goalside of his opponent on the left and finished off a fine move with a close range shot.

Pines’ equaliser came in the 50th minute after Tito Vodawaqa robbed a defender inside the area then squared for the unmarked Joe O’Connor who sidefooted home.

Jordan Avraham failed to convert from the spot late in the contest.

Former Langwarrin keeper Colby Jones was in fine form for Beaumaris and kept Pines at bay in the first half.

Josh Heaton and Campbell Steedman missed Mornington’s clash with Box Hill United through injury while Andrew Goff was unavailable.

Tommy Youngs, Marcus Holmes, Isaiah Joseph, Wayne Wallace and John Maclean missed Langwarrin’s match and although their injuries are short-term it’s not known whether they will square up to Mornington in Saturday’s friendly at Lawton Park.

Don’t read too much into the Hicks’ hat-trick for Rosebud on Friday night.

He remains committed to Seaford United but a wedding the following day ruled out playing for his club in its friendly with East Bentleigh who had former Seaford and Pines player Daniel Mota in its line-up.

“I went down to watch the guys play on Friday night and they were struggling with a couple of injuries and asked if I could fill in,” Hicks said.

“I saw it as a good way to get another 90 minutes of football and fitness while also helping out my mates at Rosebud.”

Hicks played with the approval of Seaford United coach Peter Schwellinger.

In Football Victoria news the state body announced last week that Kimon Taliadoros will step down as president to become the organisation’s new CEO.

“While football is the leading global sport, Victoria boasts the world’s most competitive sports market, with four out of five of Australia’s leading codes headquartered in Melbourne,” Taliadoros said.

“Despite FV being on track for record growth across key revenue, participation and strategic KPIs at the start of 2020, COVID-19 has devastated the entire Victorian football economy.

“Together with our clubs our task now is to stabilise the industry and lay plans to resume our growth platform.”

Taliadoros is a former NSL player, PFA co-founder, media analyst, coach and referee and has been acting as interim CEO on a caretaker basis for the past six months.

He began his new role yesterday (Monday).

Acting FV president Antonella Care will continue in that role pending the outcome of elections to be held at FV’s AGM in May.

TUESDAY: Peninsula Strikers v Somerville Eagles (Centenary Park, 6.15pm).

FRIDAY: Rosebud v Mill Park (Olympic Park, 7.30pm).

SATURDAY: Langwarrin v Mornington (Lawton Park, U19s 11am, U21s 1pm, seniors 3pm, old boys 5.15pm), Doveton v Peninsula Strikers (Crinigan Road Reserve, 1pm), Skye Utd v Mazenod (Comets Stadium, 2pm & 4pm), Frankston Pines v Mill Park (Monterey Reserve, 1pm & 3pm), Pakenham Utd v Mount Martha (IYU Reserve, 1pm & 3pm).

First published in the Frankston Times – 23 February 2021

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Michael Hooper finds it hard to watch NSW Waratahs as Jake Gordon backs coach Rob Penney


Gordon injured his ankle in the Waratahs’ 34-point defeat at Suncorp Stadium and will watch from the sidelines for the majority of the 10-week home and away season.

Speaking on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven program on Tuesday night, Gordon said Penney, in the second year of a three-year contract, had the support of the playing group.

“He definitely does,” Gordon said. “If you really think about it, he’s not the one dropping the ball. He’s not the one missing poor tackles. I feel sorry for him. He does all the work off the field. You’ve got great assistants with Chris Whitaker, Matt Cockbain and Jason Gilmore.

“I think it’s time players put their hand up and actually say, ‘You know what, I’m not doing this right’ instead of the easy one where you look for the coach straight away.”

The Waratahs have a six-day turnaround before a tricky assignment against the Western Force on Friday at Bankwest Stadium.

The West Australians are winless after nine games in Super Rugby AU, across 2020 and 2021, and fell 27-11 to the Brumbies in week one.

However, bookmakers have the Force as favourites for the upcoming clash and Gordon knows pride is on the line this week.

Tom Banks makes a break during the Brumbies’ hammering of the Waratahs.Credit:Getty

“We need to put some pride back in the jersey,” Gordon said. “You could probably list the number of things we’re not doing right, but if we really want to focus on putting pride back in the jersey and actually taking some ownership and accountability for what we’re doing, it really starts at the contact area.”

The team could certainly use the services of Hooper.

Speaking to reporters via Zoom on Tuesday evening, Hooper was asked about the Waratahs’ poor start to the season.

“They certainly are doing it tough,” he said. “There are some good guys in there, some good people, and they will be doing everything they can to turn that around I’m sure.

“It’s very tough [to watch]. I love the club, love the Waratahs and all the guys in there. I know they’d be doing it tough but there’s some really good eggs in there.”

Hooper deflected a question regarding Waratahs prop Tom Robertson’s comments during the off-season that there were “a lot of off-field issues” at NSW.

“I don’t know about the way Tom feels. He would have to speak for himself,” Hooper said. “I know that the players I have been involved with are doing their best to try and make the club a better place and grow as a playing group and put our best foot forward.”

Gordon said simplicity and passion would be key to rebounding after a morale-sapping loss in the nation’s capital.

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“Watching the highlights … it’s quite hard to watch,” Gordon said. “Especially for the Waratahs, a great club with a lot of history, I can only imagine what the old boys are feeling at the moment.

“There has to be a sense of emotion in there but at the same time … one of the key things for us this week is doing your job. If you’re a lineout thrower, hit your lineout. If you’re halfback, you think about your passing accuracy and core skills. I think if we simplify what we need to do as a team it makes it easier for the individual and we’ll get a better result.”

Asked about his injury, Gordon said he expected to be back on the field earlier than initially expected.

“When I left the field at Suncorp I felt pretty uncomfortable,” Gordon said. “By all reports I’ve completely ruptured the anterior and posterior but the medial is still intact, so I don’t have to get surgery.

“The first week was quite tough. I was on crutches for the majority of the week. I missed being out there with the team. They’ve got a great leader in Alex Newsome and he leads by example.”

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Pressure on Carlton Blues coach David Teague as club great Robert Walls questions his future


Heading into their Community Series clash against St Kilda on Thursday, the Blues have made no secret of their desire to return to September action for the first time since 2013, their latest blueprint, The Carlton Way, calling for a flag, the club’s 17th and first since 1995, within the next three years.

Teague, 39, replaced Brendon Bolton as caretaker coach midway through 2019 and had the side in finals contention amid the COVID-19 tumult of 2020 before a stinging loss to Collingwood in round 14 sparked a run of four defeats in five matches, which cruelled their hopes.

He is contracted through until the end of 2022 but the spectre of Alastair Clarkson looms large across the league, for the four-time premiership coach is also off-contract next year, but he and the Hawks will almost certainly seek clarity on his future this year.

The Blues had made a strong bid for Clarkson and sounded out other contracted AFL coaches after Bolton was moved on. Walls had been brought back to the club in late 2018 as a mentor to Bolton and his coaching crew.

“I think they need to play finals, that’s where they are at. It’s been a very slow, gradual build but the time has come,” Walls said.

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“I would like to see them play more attacking football. I think they started off doing that under David but it wasn’t to be seen a lot last year. Play with a boldness, and I think [Zac] Williams and [Adam] Saad will help them do that. They are pretty attacking players.

“And [they need to] kick a score. They need blokes like [Mitch] McGovern to step up and show something. [Harry] McKay is going to be a good player. He has showed that. Eddie [Betts], is he just about done? Looked like it last season. Hopefully, he can show a bit. They need to kick a decent score. That’s been their problem.”

The Blues were 10th for goals scored last season, averaging 8.6 goals per game, but forward Michael Gibbons said on Tuesday the Blues now had a good variety of talls and a “fleet of mosquitoes“, with an off-season focus on “separation” and “isolation” to give the marking forwards the best chance to operate.

Walls believes the backline is strong but said co-captain Patrick Cripps, a free agent at the end of the season, needed more support, although he added emerging star Sam Walsh, second behind Jacob Weitering in last year’s best and fairest, was “terrific” and veteran Ed Curnow “probably doesn’t get the pats on the back that he should get”.

“They have been doing a lot right off field. They have got their act together off field with their president, their CEO, their footy manager in Brad Lloyd. I am confident they have good people in place but it’s time to deliver on-field,” he said.

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Waratahs coach Rob Penney safe but NSWRU board to examine all options


“Now is the time for actually working very closely together. We are looking for improvement. But we have to come together. Now is not the time to be singling anyone out.

“It’s a young squad, it’s a developing squad and you have to chalk [the loss to the Brumbies] up, unfortunately, when you look at the [difference] in experience, we’re on the negative.”

The Waratahs may look at installing a director of coaching after a disastrous start to the Super Rugby AU season.

The Waratahs may look at installing a director of coaching after a disastrous start to the Super Rugby AU season.Credit:Getty

Penney’s job may be safe for the short term but Doorn concedes the NSWRU board will examine all potential steps to reverse the Waratahs’ calamitous trajectory.

That includes the possibility of a coaching director or any other sort of additional support.

“We are always interested in better ways of doing things. The board will look at all sorts of different options,” he said.

“But at the moment, we are quite comfortable. We changed our structure last year. We have three assistant coaches that are very capable working alongside Rob.

“I think what we have at the moment is a combination of the inexperience and the youth of the squad.

“Ultimately, every week you sit down, you examine, you assess and think about how we need to do things differently. Nothing is off the table.

“But it’s not something we are acutely focused on at this stage.”

Doorn has only been at the helm of the Waratahs organisation for just over a year. He replaced Andrew Hore, who appointed Penney but quit suddenly soon after to take up the CEO role at the Auckland Blues.

In the last year Wallabies Ned Hanigan, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Michael Hooper (who may return from Japan later this season), Kurtley Beale and Karmichael Hunt have all left the club.

Under-siege Waratahs coach Rob Penney.

Under-siege Waratahs coach Rob Penney.Credit:Louie Douvis

While the Waratahs wanted to keep one or two of those players, the majority were let go, and their departures exacerbated the problems created by a mass exodus of Wallabies talent the year before, including Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Bernard Foley.

The Waratahs backed a talented young group of former Junior Wallabies stars, like Angus Bell and Will Harrison, but the one-way traffic of senior players leaving has left Penney with an incredibly inexperienced squad.

Against the Brumbies, just five players in the matchday 23 had played more than 20 Super Rugby matches. Six of NSW’s eight reserves had played three or fewer Super Rugby games.

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“We don’t like to suggest that we’re in a rebuilding phase but we’re in this position for a whole host of reasons,” Doorn said.

“Not a singular person or entity (is at fault). We have to work out where our strengths lie and then use this season to rebuild and look to next year to rebuild and to get people who will complement the youth and inexperience we currently have.

“It’s 12 months I have been in the job now and we are clearly looking at a long-term strategy here that’s great for players, great for coaching staff and will build us into the dynasty that we should be.

“But it’s not something you can just click your fingers on overnight. Particularly with the financial challenges that we’ve had as a business.

“There are multiple plans in play here to have us improve.

“What you’re seeing on the field right now is clearly the result of a whole heap of things that have happened in the past.”

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Richmond coach Damien Hardwick steps out with new girlfriend


Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and his new partner Alexandra Crow enjoyed an afternoon walk together with their dog in Melbourne over the weekend as they were captured stepping out together for the first time.

The couple have faced intense public interest in their relationship, which blossomed when the three-time premiership-winning coach separated from his longtime wife Danielle, with whom he shares three children.

But they looked carefree as they sipped juice while walking their dog, Hank, in Elwood on Sunday afternoon.

RELATED: Who is Alexandra Crow?

There’s less than three weeks before Richmond opens another premiership defence against Carlton at the MCG and Hardwick has been forced to confront questions about the impact his personal life could have on the performance of his footy team.

Often referred to by the Tigers coach as “Mrs Hardwick” in press conferences, Danielle had been by her husband’s side through an incredibly successful career in football that’s included flags as a player with Essendon and Port Adelaide and now three more as coach of the Tigers.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said the separation was “intensely personal and private and sensitive” but had been dealt with behind closed doors.

“I think we’re all very saddened to see the end of a 30 year-relationship – I think that’s the natural response. But these things happen, as sad as they are,” Gale told 3AW.

“But at the end of the day, we decided on a course of action that we felt was in the best interest of the club. Damien’s been a very, very good coach for our football club and has continued to be so. He has a relationship with a person who happens to be an employee at a club – and that happens. We’ve got other people in relationships, we’ve got people, in fact, that are married. We have policies in place and guidelines which help manage that – and at the end of the day, we were satisfied everything was in place, the course of action followed.

“Damien is a very good football coach and will continue to be so at Richmond for many years to come.”

Gale held no fears it would impact the playing group. “I’ll be honest, I worry for the family and I worry that’s a sad thing to see. But in terms of the football club, I don’t worry because our club, our football department and our coaches and our team have got a proven ability to focus on the things that are within their control, the things that really matter,” he said.

“They’re battle-hardened and they’ve got a flint-edged focus on performance. They’re really well prepared, they’re well coached, they’re hungry, they’re a very driven group – and I expect them to take that attitude into the 2021 season.”

But veteran football scribe Caroline Wilson believes the situation could cause headaches for the veteran coach.

Wilson said Hardwick used his wife in public to create a “personal brand” and believes he runs the risk of losing the moral high ground when it comes to admonishing players for missteps.

“In a workplace sense, this is a senior and junior colleague who embark upon an affair, probably cover it up — certainly cover it up,” Wilson told the ABC’s Offsiders program in January.

“At the very least, it was not reported to human resources or anyone senior at the club until the rumours became so strong that the question was asked by the CEO of the coach.

“I’m sorry, but we did see two AFL executives lose their jobs (in 2017) over a similar (incident). Don’t tell me it’s different, because it’s not. Don’t tell me they are in different departments because the coach has an all-encompassing influence over the whole club.

“Quite simply on an active football sense this is a man who created a personal brand out of his partner, Mrs Hardwick. She became his moral compass, and I just reckon a lot of people at the club feel duped, the public feel duped, the supporters feel duped.

“And if Trent Cotchin is suspended for three weeks in May or another player hides something and it comes out later, I think it’s going to be difficult for Damien Hardwick to tell these boys that they’ve let down the team.”

Offsiders host Kelli Underwood agreed with Wilson’s take on the matter, adding: “I just can’t understand when he put his head on the pillow at night how he possibly would have thought that this could play out for him. It’s got to have an effect internally.”

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Under-pressure ‘Tahs coach ready to stand down if asked


Waratahs coach Rob Penney said his team are “shattered” and he is prepared to stand down if it is decided he is not the right man to lead the side.

The Sydney-based club is reeling after being crushed 61-10 by the ACT Brumbies on Saturday evening — their worst ever loss to the Canberra powerhouse.

It followed another record defeat to the Queensland Reds in their Super Rugby AU season-opener last week.

New Zealander Penney, former head coach of Irish club Munster, admitted his young and inexperienced side was struggling.

“There’s not enough words to express the disappointment and I’ve got a shattered group,” he said Saturday, after the match.

“They’re good boys and they’re proud boys and they’re hurting, big time.

“They’ll be people out there saying we’re not hard enough on them, but you can’t whip a dog when it’s down,” he added. “Last thing we want to do is dent any confidence they do have.”

The Waratahs have lost more than 1,500 Super Rugby caps of experience over the past two seasons, headlined by Michael Hooper’s sabbatical in Japan and the departure of Wallaby Rob Simmons to London Irish.

Penney, who joined the Waratahs on a three-year deal last season, said he was willing to move aside if it would help the club.

“I love these boys and I’m doing my best. If other people think I’m not the right person, I’m not going to stand in the way,” he said.

“It’s what’s right for the group that’s the important thing.”

Penney has limited time to restore confidence and get the team back on track with a home clash against Western Force looming on Friday.

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Germany Coach Joachim Loew Opens Door To Return For Exiled Trio





Germany coach Joachim Loew opened the door Sunday to a surprise summer return for Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, the trio of veteran World Cup winners he controversially exiled two years ago. “If you begin a transition, you should not reverse it and go back in the opposite direction,” Loew told public broadcaster ARD Sunday.

“But the pandemic has stolen almost a year from us, so we can think about maybe pausing the transition if it is absolutely necessary,” he added, suggesting that the trio could return for this summer’s European Championships.

A return for Mueller, Hummels or Boateng could be possible “if I am of the opinion that we need an extra percent or someone who brings a bit of energy,” said Loew. 

It is the first time that Loew has shown signs of relenting from his controversial decision to drop the three experienced stars back in 2019.

Though under pressure to give younger players a chance at the time, criticism of Loew has mounted in the two years since as Germany have struggled and the three exiled players have returned to their best form.

Recent results have been poor for Loew’s team, with a 6-0 away defeat to Spain in November a low point for the beleaguered, long-serving Germany boss.

With the rebuilding process not going as planned, Loew suggested Sunday that players like Mueller, Hummels and Boateng could be useful short-term solutions for Euro 2020.

They would be “quick to integrate because they already know exactly how things work with the national team,” he said.

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Germany launch their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign next month with games against Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

They are scheduled to meet France in their opening EURO 2020 group game on June 15.

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Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire names Jock Madden at five-eighth for trial against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles as he prepares for Adam Doueihi suspension


Madden, one of the most promising playmakers emerging in the NRL, has said he has modelled his game on former Queensland legends Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

He was expected to feature in the NRL at some stage in 2021, but Maguire has dropped a big hint on how he plans to parachute the youngster into his first round squad.

Michael Maguire has named Jock Madden at five-eighth for the Tigers’ trial.Credit:Getty

Penrith recruit Daine Laurie will also have a chance to press his claims for the fullback role after being chosen in the No.1 for the clash against the Sea Eagles, who will be missing the injured Tom Trbojevic.

Trbojevic said he strained his hamstring when he slipped in the bathroom on Sunday, but video later emerged of him having a late night running race down Manly’s Corso with a member of the public. He denied that incident has caused him to miss the opening month of the season.

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Manly coach Des Hasler has turned to Morgan Harper to wear the No.1 against the Tigers.

Laurie only joined the Tigers earlier this month after a player swap with Paul Momirovski and is likely to start the season at fullback should former captain Moses Mbye not recover from a hamstring strain in time for the trip to Canberra.

James Tamou will captain the Tigers for the first time in the trial.

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South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has a track record of making hard calls on club legends


It’s natural for Reynolds to want to put a premium on this deal, or at least ensure it’s over as long a period as possible. It’s likely to be the last substantial one he makes in his career and security for his family would be foremost in his mind.

But Bennett has form when it comes to sentiment versus football sense, and though he’s handing the reins to assistant Jason Demetriou next year, you can assume the Skinny coach is passing on the wisdom accrued from all those years.

‘We’ve started discussions, but we’re not on the same page – we’re pretty far apart in terms of what we’re thinking.’

Adam Reynolds

Bennett has pulled the trigger on club legends throughout his coaching career. If he feels the effectiveness of Reynolds could wane over a longer term, even if he won’t be on the scene, front office is unlikely to be swayed.

Bennett’s most famous recruitment and retention call involved Wally Lewis, the Broncos and Queensland legend who he stripped of the captaincy in 1989, moved to lock in 1990 and then farewelled him at the end of the season, when he joined the Gold Coast Seagulls.

He axed Trevor “The Axe” Gillmeister in 1994, then told a host of big names, including Kerrod Walters, Michael Hancock, Willie Carne and Alan Cann, that they couldn’t be guaranteed top-grade spots for the 1997 season. Only Hancock dug in his heels; he collected another three premierships.

There is one obvious exception, that being the controversial four-year deal the Broncos handed to Darius Boyd, which proved to be a difficult salary cap obstacle as the club tumbled down the ladder and he struggled with form.

He retired with a year left to run on the lucrative extension. Bennett always maintained he was arm’s length from the contract and simply wanted to retain him, not tie him down long term.

Perhaps the blowback from that move is fresh in the mind of Bennett and Souths, who seem unlikely to give Reynolds that kind of surety at his age, although a two-year deal that would see the parties meet in the middle could prove palatable for both sides.

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It comes down to the debate about whether club champions and loyal stalwarts should get to sign off on their own terms, or whether the team must make business moves with an eye to the future. Sometimes both can be possible – look at Cameron Smith and his Storm replacement Harry Grant – but usually someone is going to lose out.

Sir Alex Ferguson had a famous falling out with Manchester United superstar David Beckham, who left to join Real Madrid in 2013 instead of seeing out his time at the club he grew up idolising. Anyone who has seen The Last Dance (everyone in the AFL, apparently) knows the extended drama that surrounded the future of Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen.

A right-hand man of Michael Jordan and all-time great in his own right, Pippen helped the Bulls secure a second three-peat in 1998 before he was traded to the Houston Rockets (for Roy Rogers and a second round pick. Rogers was waived after playing one game).

Clubs always need to future-proof their rosters, especially in a salary-capped competition. If they get the balance correct, the inevitable rebuild only results in the team taking a few steps down the ladder, not bottoming out completely. Reynolds may not be a perfect fit in those plans.

Of course, the sceptic might think Bennett was masterminding a one-year deal for Reynolds so he can pick him up should he take the reins at the new franchise in Brisbane. Wayne?

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Richmond Tigers captain Trent Cotchin is not taking sides in coach Damien Hardwick’s marriage split


The Tigers have been at pains to state that the Hardwick marriage breakdown, and Damien’s new relationship with a club staffer, would not affect team cohesion as Richmond vie for a third premiership in a row and fourth in five seasons.

Speaking on Monday following the team’s photo day, Trent Cotchin said the club remained united and would stand by all parties involved.

Brooke Cotchin, left, with her husband Trent Cotchin. Credit:Vince Caligiuri

“It seems everything and anything that happens either within these four walls or outside of it is a story, and that’s understandable when we’re a big footy team and a big footy club,” Cotchin said.

“I think it’s genuinely a private matter that isn’t or really doesn’t have anything to do with the footy club.”

Cotchin said he and Damien Hardwick’s relationship remained strong.

“Good, no issues. I think what ‘Dimma’ and I have worked through, over a number of years now, is really unique and special, and like anything we’ll support both he and Danielle, and the kids. No one likes seeing a family breakdown in any sort of way. It’s been a challenging time for all, but again it’s a private matter that I would love to leave alone.

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“There’s definitely no side taking. I think Dimma even spoke last week sometimes saying that he highly encourages everyone to support Danielle. That’s just the reality of the situation.“

As for Brooke’s post, Trent said it was merely a show of support for Danielle rather than a pot-shot at Damien.

“Like anyone, she would support her friends. Again, it’s not about taking sides. It’s about being there for each and every person who’s impacted in many different ways.”

The Hardwick drama has not been the only off-field issue at Richmond, with young gun Sydney Stack still stranded in Western Australia despite being released from prison having breached COVID-19 rules in WA.

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Cotchin was however upbeat about Stack’s future at Punt Road, although he did not know when Stack would be back in Victoria.

“Stacky’s fundamentally an incredible person. He’s obviously had a couple of mishaps. He’s young, he’s still learning, he actually reached out last week to have a conversation about a few little things that he can change, which we’ll tee up over the next week or so,” Cotchin said.

Premiership Tigers Dylan Grimes and Dion Prestia have meanwhile signed contract extensions, which will keep them at the club until the end of 2023 and 2024 respectively.

“Both Dylan and Dion have been a massive part of our recent success and are driven and hungry to help us strive for more over the coming years,” Richmond list chief Blair Hartley said.

“Dylan has been a fantastic servant of the club’s for a long period of time and continues to set high standards for all of our players on and off the field.

“He is an excellent mentor for our young defenders and one of the best performing players in the competition.

“Likewise, Dion has been a consistently high performer for us across several years.

“It has been pleasing to see Dion rewarded for his hard work in recent years, but it has not changed his desire to keep pushing himself and the group forward.”

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