Competition for positions heats up amongst the Lions

By AFLQ Media

The competition amongst the AFLW Lions squad is running hot, with Coach Craig Starcevich admitting he’s finding it hard to narrow down his best 21 players for round one. 

It will be a hungry side who’ll take to the park in this Saturday’s practise match against the Gold Coast SUNS, the players out not just for the win, but to earn their spot ahead of the season opener. 

AFLW Lions Coach Craig Starcevich said there was genuine competition for positions right across the field.

“We’re five years in now and our list is very competitive, very deep and to find a 21 that will play round one, I couldn’t tell you what that is going to look like right now,” he said.

“I have an idea after every session, but it has changed every session.”

Starcevich advised Lions fans not to expect any major changes to the way they play their football this weekend.

“I thought we were tracking in the right direction last year,’’ he said.

“We play a dynamic brand of footy; we get after the opposition with plenty of pressure and we like to use it when we go forward.

“We think we’ve got some athleticism now in the group that is second to none, it is a case of being able to put those people in the right spots and utilising their athletic traits.

“In terms of work rate, diligence and camaraderie, it has been top notch.’’

Round one will see the Lions take on Richmond on January 31.

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The Dogs teammate Mitch Wallis says will be a “star of the competition”

Western Bulldogs forward Mitch Wallis believes number one draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan can be a star of the competition for a long time.

Speaking on SEN Mornings, Wallis said Ugle-Hagan has commenced training with the Dogs and is looking very good on the track.

“He was one of the poor buggers that got caught out with a COVID test but he’s alright now. He trained Monday and he trained really well,” Wallis said.

“We’ve had a few training sessions together over Christmas with the skipper (Marcus Bontempelli) as well, and he (Ugle-Hagan) just applies himself really well.

“Obviously he’s got a long, raking left boot and can jump. I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring to the team not just this season but for the next 10-15 years.

“I think he’s going to be a star of the competition, he’s just go to find his way at the club and knock the walls down to get into the forward line because a few other big boys are up there as well.

“It’ll be competitive for him to get a game, but I think he’s got it in him.”

Wallis also spoke of the depth the Bulldogs will have in the midfield this year with the recent addition of former Collingwood on-baller Adam Treloar.

“We have got so much depth which is really exciting because it’s going to keep everyone on their toes,” Wallis said.

“I know some of the guys that are going to go through there will have to adapt because you can’t always play guys in only three positions.

“We’ll have to deal with that, but I think it’s going to be a really big positive with how much depth we’ve got and how challenging it’s going to be for the opposition.”

The Bulldogs will begin their 2021 AAMI Community series against reigning premiers Richmond in Albury on February 27.

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Tennis players mull competition or rest ahead of Australian Open quarantine

The plans for those three tournaments were announced only in late December, as the organizers of the Australian Open decided that the start of their Grand Slam event would be delayed until Feb. 8 and that all participants would be required to heavily restrict their movements for two weeks ahead of the tournament.

“I was ready to go and ready to play matches,” said Cam Norrie of Britain, who played in the Florida tournament, the Delray Beach Open, after practicing indoors in London since late November. “But for a lot of players since it was sprung on them a bit last minute, they were not ready and didn’t want to compete.”

The schedule follows an offseason that, for most players, was longer than the usual six-week break. The pandemic forced the women’s tour to cancel its fall Asia swing. On the men’s side, for all but the top players, there has not been a tournament since early November.

Sofia Kenin, 22, the reigning Australian Open champion, went to Abu Dhabi and said at a news conference this past week that opting to play was a “last-minute decision” motivated in part by a desire “just to get out of the house.”

Also competing there were Karolina Pliskova, a former world No. 1, and Coco Gauff, the rising American teenager.

For most top players, the decision to play or not to play this past week ultimately came down to whether they thought playing real matches now would help them get mentally and physically prepared for the rigors of a Grand Slam.

Serena Williams skipped the WTA tournament in Abu Dhabi.Credit:AP

“I need some time to get back into rhythm and play more matches,” Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who won the last two tournaments of 2020, told reporters as she competed in Abu Dhabi this past week.

She won her 11th consecutive match Friday.

The open question for Sabalenka and other players is how their individual choices during the first weeks of the season might play into the unusual routines for this Australian Open.

During the quarantine, players will be allowed to practice for only two hours each day, initially with just one practice partner and then with two more in the second week. They will also get to spend about two hours in the gym, and one other hour at the tennis center in Melbourne. They must spend the 19 other hours in their hotel rooms.

After the quarantine, the men’s and women’s tours will hold three competitive events in Melbourne in the week before the Open.

Craig Morris, a former coach for Australian Samantha Stosur, who won the 2011 U.S. Open, said that given how little tennis took place last year, competition this month would be valuable.

“Anything they can get under the belt is going to help,” he said.

Tennis players are constantly searching for the optimal rhythm — to hit the ball cleanly on nearly every shot and to feel confident about their strokes regardless of the situation. It’s not something that can easily be turned on and off, and for many players that zone is reached through the right combination of practice and match play.

The coronavirus is just the newest twist to that hunt.

Murray, 31, was ready to play this past week but announced in a news release on New Year’s Eve that he was too concerned about the pandemic to make the trip.

“Given the increase in COVID rates and the trans-Atlantic flights involved, I want to minimize the risks ahead of the Australian Open,” Murray said.

Several other notable players, including Italians Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini, plus John Isner of the United States and Adrian Mannarino of France, were competing in either Turkey or Florida.

Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia plays a forehand against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during her Women's Singles match on Day Three of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open at Zayed Sports City on January 08, 2021 in Abu Dhabi.

Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia plays a forehand against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during her Women’s Singles match on Day Three of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open at Zayed Sports City on January 08, 2021 in Abu Dhabi.Credit:Getty Images

Plenty of players competed this past week because they knew they could use some prize money after so many competitive opportunities were canceled last year, when the tour was shut down for about five months. Many also wanted to see if the offseason work they put in was paying dividends on the court.

Leylah Fernandez, 18, a fast-improving Canadian, said making the trip to Abu Dhabi was “a very difficult decision,” but with all the uncertainty hanging over the tennis schedule — and all sports in 2021 — she and her team took the bird in hand.

“We wanted to get as many matches under my belt as we could,” Fernandez said after winning her first match Wednesday.

Tommy Paul, an American who spent the offseason training at the tennis complex in Delray Beach, Florida, said the realigned schedule had shifted his approach to the weeks leading up to a Grand Slam. Paul, 23, said in an interview Wednesday that he spent the offseason trying to turn himself into more of an all-court player by coming to the net more often.

The Delray Beach tournament, he said, offered him an opportunity to measure his progress and figure out what he still needs to work on.

The two-week quarantine in Australia, where his hitting partners will be Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, will give him the chance to work on the weaknesses he identifies in competition at the Delray Beach event. Paul won his first-round match Thursday over Nam Ji-sung of South Korea, 6-1, 6-4.


“If there is something I don’t like about my game, I have time to fix it.” Paul said.


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Competition Bureau ends probe of Postmedia-Torstar newspaper swap

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The Competition Bureau has closed an investigation into a 2017 newspaper swap between Postmedia Network Canada Corp. and Torstar Corp., concluding that “no further action” is warranted.

The transaction saw the newspaper groups swap 41 community and daily newspapers, 36 of which were subsequently closed.

The Competition Bureau was probing whether Postmedia and Torstar had agreed to close titles and not compete in certain regions as part of the transaction.

“Following a review of the available evidence, the Bureau concluded that no further action was warranted,” the competition watchdog said in a statement on Thursday.To refer a case for prosecution under the criminal conspiracy provisions of the Competition Act, the Bureau must find clear evidence demonstrating that competitors reached an agreement to fix prices, allocate markets, or lessen or eliminate the supply of a product or service.”

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How to enter competition, BBL10

Banter has never been this rewarding.

Today, KFC SuperCoach launches the Buckethead Coach competition in partnership with KFC.

We’re looking for Australia’s coach with the greatest banter, who will pocket a major prize which includes $11,000 and become the official Buckethead Coach.

If you’re already involved in KFC SuperCoach — great.

If not, head to, enter your team today and then jump on our Buckethead Coach website and come up with your best piece of banter.

You can still win weekly prizes in KFC SuperCoach BBL by registering today.


All you need to do is upload a short video of yourself donning the Buckethead filter and delivering your best banter. Here’s how to get involved:

■ Open the Buckethead Coach filter on Instagram

■ Choose whether you’ll be a bowler, batter or wicketkeeper

■ Record your best piece of banter

■ Post it to your account, tag @buckethead_coach and use the hashtag #bucketheadcoach

■ Short-listed videos will feature on our site before Shane Warne and a panel of expert judges choose the Buckethead Coach.

The competition runs from January 7-21 and the winner will be selected on January 22.

As well as an $11,000 bucket load of cash, the Buckethead Coach will win a year’s worth of KFC chicken (52x $11 vouchers), a Buckethead Coach summer tracksuit, the golden bucket and a banter button.

To help get you started, here’s a reminder of a few famous incidents of banter involving our SuperCoach coach Shane Warne.

And a few of our favourite cricket cliches:

“Bowl him a piano, maybe he’ll be able to play that”.

“Knock his bails to New South Wales.”

“This guy needs a boat, he keeps going fishing”.

Our KFC SuperCoach experts have taken on the banter challenge and you can view their efforts on our Buckethead Coach site.

Now it’s your turn to get involved.

If you think you’ve got the best backyard cricket banter in Australia, this is your chance to prove it.

Check out our official Buckethead Coach website for more details.

The site will feature a Banter Board where the best videos will be uploaded throughout the competition.


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Enbridge contract plan blasted by oil producers as attempt to fend off competition from new pipelines

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Enbridge is expected to respond to Priddle and other opponents of its plan, and counter their evidence, in CER filings due Feb. 1.

The CER is expected to make a decision on whether the pipeline giant is allowed to move to a contracted system in the first half of this year, which will bring to a close the lengthy fight.

In response to questions on whether the contracting process was an attempt to fend off competitive threats from Keystone XL and Trans Mountain, Enbridge spokesperson Jesse Semko said in a statement the company is looking to increase pipeline capacity out of Western Canada.

“We have several investments we can make to optimize our Mainline system and improve transportation (egress) out of Western Canada by 200,000 barrels per day,” Semko said in an emailed statement, adding, “We can’t make these financial commitments without Mainline contracting.”

We can’t make these financial commitments without Mainline contracting


Semko said the company has responded to more than 3,000 questions from shippers participating in the CER regulatory hearings since the process began in December 2019.

In the application to the CER, Enbridge said it “faces competition from existing and potential future pipelines exiting the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin” including Keystone XL and TMX.

“The board has approved the construction of competitive pipelines on the basis that enhanced pipeline competition and increased customer choice serve the public interest,” the company notes in its application, which also says the CER should ensure a “level playing field” between Enbridge, whose Mainline operates as the spot market, and the competitors, whose pipelines operate on long-term contracts.

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Copa Libertadores: South America’s biggest competition nears climax

Flamengo came from a goal down to beat River Plate 2-1 in the 2019 final
Watch live coverage of the first and second legs (6 and 12 January) across the BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and mobile app

Can River Plate make amends? Will Boca Juniors do it for Diego Maradona? The end of a long wait for Palmeiras? Or could this be Santos’ year?

The Copa Libertadores, South America’s biggest club football competition, is nearing its much-anticipated climax – and you will be able to watch live on the BBC.

The semi-final first legs take place on Wednesday 6 January, with the second legs the following week and the final on 30 January at the famous Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The semis serve up two meetings between Brazilian and Argentine teams, with all four clubs originating from Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo.

The 2020 Copa Libertadores started last January, but the group stages were halted in March because of the coronavirus pandemic and did not resume until September.

Boca look to honour Maradona

Six-time winners Boca Juniors will hope to pay tribute to former player Diego Maradona by winning their first title since 2007.

It is a fourth semi-final in five years for Boca, one of the competition’s most decorated sides.

Maradona enjoyed two spells and finished his career at Boca, who could once again face fierce rivals River Plate in the final.

The famous Buenos Aires clubs met in the final for the first time in 58 years in 2018.

The fixture was postponed after Boca’s team bus was attacked by River fans, before being moved 6,000 miles from Buenos Aires to Madrid, where River won 5-3 on aggregate.

Brazilian side Santos, who claimed an impressive 5-2 aggregate win over Gremio in the quarter-final, stand in the way of a Boca side captained by former Manchester United and Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.

It was at Santos that Brazil legend Pele registered a goalscoring record at a single club – a record broken by Lionel Messi when he scored his 644th Barcelona goal in December – but they have not won the Copa Libertadores since 2011.

Can River Plate recover from dramatic defeat?

River suffered a devastating last-minute defeat in the 2019 final.

Gabriel Barbosa scored twice in a dramatic final five minutes as Flamengo – knocked out in the last 16 this time around – came from a goal down to win 2-1 and deny River back-to-back titles.

Four-time winners River, whose most recent triumph was in 2018, have, like Boca, recently lost a prominent former player in Alejandro Sabella. He died last month, two weeks after Maradona.

An ex-Argentina international who played for Leeds and Sheffield United, Sabella also led his country to the final of the 2014 World Cup as a manager.

Marcelo Gallardo’s River side will have to overcome Brazil’s Palmeiras to reach the final.

1999 champions Palmeiras, who have reached the final four times, beat Paraguay’s Libertad 4-1 on aggregate to reach the last four.

Can Palmeiras move a step closer to ending a two-decade wait for a second title? It will be a tough ask against a River outfit that thrashed Nacional 8-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

How to watch on the BBC

You can follow the Copa Libertadores semi-finals live on the BBC Sport website, iPlayer and via the Red Button at the following times:

Wednesday, 6 January – semi-final first legs

River Plate v Palmeiras (00:20-02:30 GMT)

Boca Juniors v Santos (22:05-00:15)

Tuesday, 12 January – semi-final second legs

Palmeiras v River Plate (00:30)

Santos v Boca Juniors (22:15)

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Is America Ready for Arctic Competition (and War) with Russia?

Here’s What You Need to Remember: 

While surely nobody wishes to open small arms fire in the vicinity of polar bears and penguins, many militaries around the world are massively increasing training and preparations for warfare in the Arctic.

It has been, and continues to be, a highly prioritized focus for the Pentagon which has in recent years stepped up Arctic training and studies and re-written, revised and added Arctic combat strategy documents.  Not surprisingly, U.S. Marine Corps units recently finished up an ambitious Arctic combat training operation with the Norwegian military called Exercise Reindeer II. The Marines forward-deployed forces along with Norway’s Brigade North to improve interoperability and refine collaborative cold-weather warfare tactics.

“For the Marines and Sailors, they have learned how to survive, thrive, and fight in the beginning of the arctic winter,” Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, noted in a Marine Corps report.

In January 2021, the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment will return to Norway as part of MRF-E to conduct a follow-on deployment consisting of approximately one thousand Marines and Sailors, according to the report.

A U.S.-Norwegian Arctic combat alliance could be of great significance regarding the Pentagon’s interest in countering Russia’s visible and well-known Arctic advances. Russia not only owns a large number of icebreakers but operates along the Northern Sea Route, a series of water passageways bordering Russia and the Arctic.

Russia has built military bases in the Arctic and also conducted a large number of patrol and training operations in the region, a series of maneuvers which has only increased U.S. preparations for greatly stepped up Arctic activity to counterbalance the strategic influence.

The U.S. Navy has, for instance, updated its Arctic Road Map and called for new levels of scientific and technological inquiry into the prospect of engineering weather-resilient weapons systems. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and other service entities have been looking intently at ways to create weapons, sensors and ship hulls able to function effectively at extremely dangerous temperatures.

The ONR has also been immersed in using networked undersea drones to study the Arctic water column for the purpose of better understanding temperature fluctuations and their impact upon military operations.

All of this has been increasing in urgency for the Pentagon in recent years, given the concerning pace of melting ice identified by Arctic and climate experts. It had been thought that the U.S. military would need to operate much more extensively in the Arctic by the 2030s, however, the pace at which new waterways are opening up due to warming waters and melting ice has generated a need for the U.S. Navy to massively move-up its plans to operate much more significantly in the region. As water warms, and ice melts, new waterways open up within the Arctic, creating new strategic options for many countries now increasing their interest in exerting influence from or within the Arctic.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. This article first appeared earlier this year.

Image: Reuters

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AFL Community Series 2021 fixture | AFL pre season matches, competition, Community Series games

Geelong and Essendon will officially kick off the 2021 Community Series as competitive AFL football returns to Victoria, as well as several regional areas.

The AFL on Thursday released the official fixture for next season’s three-week pre-season competition, which is scheduled to commence in mid-February and see 18 games played across 18 different venues.

All Community Series matches will be broadcast live on Foxtel.


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