A Virgin Australia plane that left Adelaide Airport this afternoon was forced to return, following what airport officials said was a medical emergency.
Flight VA580 was bound for Canberra and got almost as far as the South Australian border when it was forced to turn around.
Paramedics are currently at Adelaide Airport, and the airline said the plane had landed safely.
The flight had initially departed Adelaide just after 4:00pm.
Airport officials told the ABC that the reason for the plane’s return was a medical emergency.
Virgin later confirmed that the plane had returned “due to an unwell crew member on board”.
“Virgin Australia flight VA580 travelling from Adelaide to Canberra was required to conduct an air return,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
“The aircraft landed safely back in Adelaide and emergency services are now attending to the crew member.
“We are currently working through re-accommodation options so we can get our passengers on their way to their destination as quickly as possible.”
Alison and James Haddy were on board when they noticed on the flight tracker that the plane was changing course.
“About 10 minutes later they announced we were going to descend into Adelaide because of technical difficulties I think,” Ms Haddy said.
Mr Haddy said staff mentioned a sick crew member just before passengers disembarked the plane, “but that’s all the information we have”.
“Last time we were planning on going to Canberra was when Adelaide then went into lockdown and all borders were shut so this was the second attempt to get to Canberra to see our friends.”
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Michael Hooper’s debut for Toyota Verblitz in the Top League will have to wait with the Japan Rugby Football Union postponing the start of the competition because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The competition was due to start this weekend but with 10 positive tests at Kobe Steelers on Thursday taking the total to 67 league-wide, organisers said they were now aiming for a mid-February start.
Last year’s season was cancelled entirely because of the pandemic.
“Japan Rugby Football Union and Top League have had discussions and we want to do everything we can to have this year’s Top League season,” said JRFU Chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi.
Organisers said they were yet to finalise a new start date and whether the format needed to be changed because of time restrictions and safety precautions.
Top League chief Osamu Ota hoped the season would finish by the scheduled end date of May 23 so that it would not interfere with the national team’s plans.
“We are aiming to start in mid-February,” said Ota.
“Regarding the COVID-19 situation, it changes on a day-to-day basis.”
Kobe are the sixth team to report positive COVID-19 results along with NEC Green Rockets, Toyota Verblitz, Suntory Sungoliath, Canon Eagles and Toshiba Brave Lupus.
They said in a statement on their website that all team members, including those who had tested negative, had been told to stay home since Tuesday, when the positive test results were confirmed.
Matches involving Toyota, Suntory and Canon scheduled for this weekend had already been cancelled but the entire slate of first round games have now been wiped.
Wallabies skipper Hooper apart, All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read are among a host of top international players playing in this season’s Top League, the final campaign before it is overhauled next year.
Two members of a World Health Organization-led (WHO) team that travelled to China’s Wuhan city to investigate the origins of COVID-19 remained behind in Singapore after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies.
The entire team had tested negative for coronavirus prior to leaving their home countries
But two members tested in transit showed coronavirus antibodies
The rest of the team arrived in Wuhan and are expected to head into quarantine
The team of 15 had all tested negative for the disease prior to leaving their home countries, and underwent further testing while in transit in Singapore.
The results of nucleic acid tests were negative but showed two of the members had coronavirus antibodies, the Geneva-based agency said in a tweet.
“They are being retested for both IgM and IgG antibodies,” the WHO said.
The rest of the team arrived in Wuhan from Singapore late on Thursday morning on a budget airline and they were expected to head into two weeks of quarantine.
“Relevant epidemic prevention and control requirements and regulations will be strictly enforced,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing in response to a question about the two team members.
The team tasked with investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus that sparked the global pandemic had originally been scheduled to arrive earlier this month.
China’s delay of their visit drew rare public criticism from the head of the WHO.
The group left the airport terminal in Wuhan through a plastic quarantine tunnel marked “epidemic prevention passage” for international arrivals and boarded a cordoned-off bus that was guarded by half a dozen security staff in full protective gear.
The coronavirus was initially linked to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan.
Head of the mission Peter Ben Emberek said he did not expect the group to find early answers.
“As always in these types of situation it helps to be a little bit lucky and get the right hints and the right clues,” he said.
“I don’t think we will have clear answers after this initial mission. But we will be on the way and hopefully in the coming months that will be completed by additional missions, additional studies.”
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the team would look into different aspects of the early days of the pandemic.
“We start in Wuhan because this is where the first cases were detected. We will look into epidemiological data. We will look into evidence that have been already collected by Chinese counterparts, and we will define what else needs to be done in the future,” he said.
Team members did not speak to reporters, although some waved and took pictures of the media from the bus as it departed.
The United States, which has accused China of hiding the extent of its initial outbreak a year ago, has called for a “transparent” WHO-led investigation and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts have done the first phase of research.
The team arrived in China as the country battles a resurgence of coronavirus cases in its north-east after managing to nearly stamp out domestic infections in recent months.
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India legend Sunil Gavaskar has stepped up his attack on Tim Paine, declaring the wicketkeeper’s behaviour on the final day of the Sydney Test was unbefitting of a leader and that his “days as captain are numbered”.
Tim Paine’s on-field banter with India’s Ravichandran Ashwin turned personal during the dying overs of the third Test
Gavaskar said the verbals were “uneccessary” and “ridiculous”
Paine and stand-in Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane said there was “no harm done” by the interchange, as long as it stayed on the field
Paine’s antics on day five of the third Test, and those of some teammates, made headlines around the world, after an epic draw at the SCG.
Stump microphones picked up some barbs that Australia’s skipper, who has helped turn around the team’s image after the Cape Town cheating scandal, directed at India veteran Ravichandran Ashwin during the 122nd over of the stonewall.
The conversation started as friendly banter, with Paine telling Ashwin, “I can’t wait for you to get to the Gabba”, referring to the fourth Test in Brisbane, where Australia has not lost since 1988.
The Indian veteran responded: “Just like we want to get you to India. It’ll be your last series.”
Paine then replied, “at least my teammates like me, dickhead”, and boasted of having “more Indian friends than you do”.
“Even your teammates think you’re a goose. Don’t they? Every one of them,” he told Ashwin.
He also mocked Ashwin by asking: “How many IPL teams wanted you, when you asked every single one of them to have you?”
Paine dropped a catch during the following over, while Ashwin dragged his side to a draw despite having a sore back.
The comments came after Paine had dropped three catches and been fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of dissent, having appealed to standing umpire Paul Wilson for some “f***ing consistency” during the game.
The Australian skipper fronted an unscheduled media conference on Tuesday morning to apologise, saying he was bitterly disappointed with the way he had behaved during the Test.
“I felt I had a really poor game in terms of my leadership and I think that affected our team,” he said.
“If you behave like I did during this Test match and then perform like that, you open yourself up to criticism, so I was fully expecting it and I’m happy to cop that on the chin.”
But the 36-year-old insisted he had given no thought of giving up the captaincy in order to focus on his wicketkeeping.
“No not at all — I think once you can sit down and understand what went wrong and how it went wrong things are pretty easy to fix,” he said.
“I think if you pretend that yesterday was OK and that my behaviour and wicketkeeping was OK then you’ve probably got a problem but I’ve said a few times in the last six months, I feel like I’m actually getting better as a cricketer.”
Cricket world reacts to sledging
Gavaskar slammed Paine for his “unnecessary” verbals.
“He certainly is no captain in my view,” he told ABC Sport.
“He has been unimpressive, and the frustration boiled over in trying to talk to Ashwin and say things to him, which was completely unnecessary.
“In trying to upset Ashwin’s concentration, his own concentration was upset when he went for a catch.”
The former opener, whose name adorns the trophy on the line during the fourth Test that starts on Friday, was even more critical while analysing Paine’s poor finish to the tense Test for India Today.
“I am not an Australian selector but his days as captain are numbered,” he said.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also hit out at Paine’s language behind the stumps, saying the sledging was “back to the old days”.
Vaughan’s former England teammate Darren Gough said the Australians’ behaviour was “embarrassing”.
“Australia was supposed to have got everything in order with Tim Paine. They’ve given him a knighthood, basically, because what he’s done to this Australian team is made them grow up,” Gough told UK radio station TalkSport.
“Well, they’re just dropping back into that zone. They’ve got to keep an eye on this.”
After the game, Paine had defended his byplay with Ashwin, saying it was a case of “no harm done”.
Stand-in India captain Ajinkya Rahane was also not concerned, saying “as long as it stays on the field”.
Steve Smith also draws criticism
Matthew Wade’s sledging and Steve Smith marking Rishabh Pant’s batting guard during a drinks break went down poorly in India and England.
Former India batsman Virender Sehwag shared a video to Twitter showing Smith’s actions, saying he had “tried all the tricks”.
“This is very, very poor,” former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter of the Smith incident.
Former England bowler Gough said Smith’s actions were “plain cheating”.
“He [Smith] had showed us these tears and sorrow for using sandpaper on the ball. He was the captain who was responsible for it because he was the leader,” Gough told TalkSport.
“Well now, in the break in play in between overs, he’s going around dancing around scuffing up the pitch and rubbing out with his spikes the batsman’s marker.
“That was totally out of order.”
But Paine said there was nothing out of order, it was just one of the star batsman’s quirks.
“Steve is actually quite upset about it, the reaction,” said Paine.
“If you’ve watched Steve Smith play Test cricket that’s something that he does every single game, five or six times a day — he’s always standing in the batting crease shadow batting.
“There’s no way in the world that he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that — it’s just one of Smithy’s things that he does.”
But given the reaction, Paine concedes Smith may need to think twice about doing it in the future.
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Queensland’s latest COVID-19 scare has led to the NBL again changing the schedule for the opening round of the season.
Having last week pushed the start date of the season back five days and reverted to a rolling and flexible schedule, the NBL have made further changes due to the current Queensland lockdown.
While the season will still start this Friday, the first game of the new campaign will be now be played at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre between the Adelaide 36ers and Melbourne United.
It’s part of a round one scheduled made up entirely of matches in South Australia and Queensland.
Two matches have been scheduled for Saturday, with the Cairns Taipans to host the Sydney Kings, and the Brisbane Bullets to host a yet-to-be confirmed opponent.
The 36ers are also in action at home next Sunday against South East Melbourne Phoenix, with the round to be completed in Cairns on Monday week with a Taipans-Hawks clash.
“The latest changes to the schedule have been made necessary by the developments in Queensland where we currently have five teams – Brisbane Bullets, Cairns Taipans, Melbourne United, Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats,” NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.
“We will continue to monitor the situation in Brisbane in the hope we can also host a game there in the opening round.
“We will continue to stay flexible and be guided by the relevant state health authorities but our intention is still for all teams to play 14 home games across the season when they are able to do so.”
Bullets CEO Peter McLennan understood the “need to be flexible and able to adapt to schedule changes such as these”.
“First and foremost, Brisbane as a city needs to stay safe and get through this together, giving us every opportunity to host our season opener at Nissan Arena next Saturday afternoon,” McLennan said.
Phoenix CEO Tommy Greer said: “We applaud the NBL on again moving quickly to ensure a start to the season.”
Meanwhile, the Wildcats – who had been due to open the season on Friday – will take no part in round one as they head into quarantine in Perth on their arrival home from Brisbane this weekend after having played pre-season matches against the Bullets.
NBL Round 1: Friday, January 15: Adelaide 36ers v Melbourne United, Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Saturday, January 16: Brisbane Bullets v TBC, Nissan Arena; Cairns Taipans v Sydney Kings, Cairns Pop-Up Arena.
Sunday, January 17: Adelaide 36ers v South East Melbourne Phoenix, Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Monday, January 18: Cairns Taipans v The Hawks, Cairns Pop-Up Arena.
They fear returning to COVID-affected Sydney to stay for free with family could further imperil their chances of getting home.
“We’ve been trying to get an exemption, and have been waiting to hear back,” he said.
“We don’t really know, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of anxiety.”
Thousands of dollars out of pocket from booking last-minute accommodation in Culburra Beach on the NSW south coast, Mr Reiss said the indefinite wait for an exemption was “hugely stressful” – mentally and financially.
They have found a few days’ relief at a friend’s home in Jindabyne but will soon need to find somewhere else to stay.
“There’s only so many places you can book at these huge Christmas period rates without running out of money,” Mr Reiss said. “If that’s what we have to do, we’ll be in the car with the cat.”
Other renters, such as Melbourne-based school teacher Michael, are facing being stood down without pay due to the ongoing border closure.
Michael, 34, who did not wish to use his last name so he could speak freely about his employment, also had his plan to leave NSW thwarted. He is paying for rent in Melbourne, as well as covering payments on an apartment in Sydney he has not been able to find a tenant for since mid-2020.
He will now miss a series of mandatory courses required of him to be certified to begin teaching classes again this year.
“I’ll be stood down without pay until I can go off my own bat, try and organise these mandatory courses and qualifications that only happen so often and [cost] hundreds of dollars,” he said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria said some renters trapped in NSW may be able to negotiate rental relief under Victoria’s emergency COVID-19 laws.
A spokesman said tenants who were deemed in ‘severe financial hardship’ could also give a notice of intention to vacate within 14 days or in some situations can apply to VCAT for an order to end a fixed-term tenancy early.
Tenants in these cases would also not be liable for lease-breaking fees if they end a tenancy early.
Amidst the thousands of people applying for border exemptions are also those who need to get home to empty rental properties as leases end. Consumer Affairs Victoria advises that landlords are required to store personal property of tenants for up to 28 days so they can be collected.
“We’ve [also] extended the evictions moratorium in Victoria until 28 March, to help to protect tenants experiencing severe hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” the spokesman said.
“We encourage tenants to come to agreements with their landlord which suit their financial situation – whether that’s negotiating a rent reduction or ending a rental agreement.”
“If a tenant and landlord cannot reach an agreement they should contact Consumer Affairs Victoria for assistance.”
Craig Nixon, principal lawyer at Tenants Victoria, urged tenants to take up their case with Consumer Affairs even if the initial; response from their landlord for a rent reduction is declined or ignored.
“We’d recommend a renter immediately approach their landlord or agent but don’t wait too long for the answer, even if it’s a ‘no’ initially you are still can seek a rent reduction through the formal process,” he said.
“It’s really important to note that if you successfully obtain a rent reduction you may also be eligible for a rent relief grant from the Victorian Government which is worth up to $3000.”
If tenants or landlords need further information, advice or help to negotiate, they can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.
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Rachael Dexter is a breaking news reporter at The Age.
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The show will not go on in Wodonga or Henty, with a horror 2020 causing both towns to cancel this year’s events. Wodonga Show secretary Vanessa Bartling said 2020 was a heart-breaking year with bushfires, the pandemic and restrictions leaving the society unable to operate the caravan park they need to generate funds. For more than eight months the society had no income as the showground was transformed first into an evacuation and relief centre to house those displaced in the Black Summer fires and later into a COVID-testing clinic. “We thought we’d be right at Christmas time, we opened up the caravan park but next minute there’s a COVID testing clinic on site,” she said. “It’s been a really rough year.” IN OTHER NEWS: Mrs Bartling said the committee was devastated about the cancellation of the March show but had no other option. “There’s nothing we can do but grin and bear it,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking for us. “We love to run the show because we run it for the people of Wodonga… it’s heartbreaking because we feel we’re letting people down.” The society applied for grants through the government’s Supporting Agricultural Shows scheme but because the 2020 event was unaffected by COVID they were unsuccessful. It will be the second time in the annual event’s 74 year history the show will not run. Similarly, the Henty Agricultural Show schedule for February will not go ahead for just the second time in its 116 year run. Society secretary Kerry Small said council’s redevelopment of the Henty Sportsground meant neither the football nor the show could be hosted on the ground until after March. Without being able to run the horse events, the show wouldn’t be the same, Mrs Small said. However the final death knell was the fear COVID-19 would spread to the small town. “We decided it wasn’t worth the risk,” Mrs Small said. “It’s disappointing because we’ve only missed one in the whole time the show has been running, in the war years. “We’re very sorry we’ve called it off but it’s out of our hands.” Both Mrs Bartling and Mrs Small called for their respective communities to come out and support them in 2022 when the annual events start again.
The show will not go on in Wodonga or Henty, with a horror 2020 causing both towns to cancel this year’s events.
Wodonga Show secretary Vanessa Bartling said 2020 was a heart-breaking year with bushfires, the pandemic and restrictions leaving the society unable to operate the caravan park they need to generate funds.
For more than eight months the society had no income as the showground was transformed first into an evacuation and relief centre to house those displaced in the Black Summer fires and later into a COVID-testing clinic.
“We thought we’d be right at Christmas time, we opened up the caravan park but next minute there’s a COVID testing clinic on site,” she said.
“It’s been a really rough year.”
Mrs Bartling said the committee was devastated about the cancellation of the March show but had no other option.
“There’s nothing we can do but grin and bear it,” she said.
“It’s heartbreaking for us.
“We love to run the show because we run it for the people of Wodonga… it’s heartbreaking because we feel we’re letting people down.”
The COVID drive through testing clinic at the Wodonga Showgrounds.
The society applied for grants through the government’s Supporting Agricultural Shows scheme but because the 2020 event was unaffected by COVID they were unsuccessful.
It will be the second time in the annual event’s 74 year history the show will not run.
Similarly, the Henty Agricultural Show schedule for February will not go ahead for just the second time in its 116 year run.
Society secretary Kerry Small said council’s redevelopment of the Henty Sportsground meant neither the football nor the show could be hosted on the ground until after March.
Without being able to run the horse events, the show wouldn’t be the same, Mrs Small said.
However the final death knell was the fear COVID-19 would spread to the small town.
“We decided it wasn’t worth the risk,” Mrs Small said.
“It’s disappointing because we’ve only missed one in the whole time the show has been running, in the war years.
“We’re very sorry we’ve called it off but it’s out of our hands.”
Both Mrs Bartling and Mrs Small called for their respective communities to come out and support them in 2022 when the annual events start again.
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The start of the NBL season has been delayed until Friday week as part of a rolling and revised draw due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures.
The season was supposed to start on Sunday with the “Throwdown” between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix in Bendigo.
However, Victoria and NSW now won’t host matches during the opening stages of the season.
The season will instead tip off five nights later with matches in Cairns and Perth.
The Taipans will host the Hawks at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, while Melbourne United will travel west to meet the Wildcats at the RAC Arena.
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“We always knew we would have to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that would be imposed by our various State Governments from time to time,” NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.
“This is why we proceeded on the basis of a rolling schedule, which will hopefully minimise
the inconvenience for our teams and our fans.
“The changes we have made to the schedule ensure the season can get underway in a timely manner and … be confident of still being able to complete the season in June.
“We are also very hopeful of the New Zealand Breakers being able to play some home games in front of their fans in New Zealand later in the season.”
The Breakers and the Phoenix are currently based in Hobart, the Sydney Kings and the Hawks are in Albury, while Melbourne United are in Cairns.
“This ensures they can train and travel relatively freely and minimise any risk of further disruptions to the season schedule,” Loeliger said.
“We will continue to work closely with the clubs and be guided by the advice of the relevant health authorities and the safety of our players, staff, officials and the fans will be our number one priority.”
NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said: “I want to thank all
of our clubs, players, officials and our fans for their patience and understanding as we have prepared for the season.
“We’ve always said this will be a season like no other and to expect the unexpected.”
Saturday’s East Midlands derby between Northampton and Leicester has been cancelled due to “a number of positive” coronavirus tests in the Saints camp.
In addition to the confirmed cases, “further players” are also having to isolate as close contacts.
Saints – whose last Premiership fixture at London Irish was also called off – will not train again until Monday.
The game will not be rescheduled, with a Premiership Rugby panel deciding the allocation of points “in due course”.
“We are incredibly disappointed and frustrated that we are unable to proceed with such an important fixture for the club,” said Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd.
Five Premiership games have now been cancelled this season due to Covid-19 outbreaks and there have also been more positive tests at champions Exeter this week, though they still expect their match against Bristol to go ahead on Saturday.
In the previous four instances, the team affected by the virus were awarded two points and a defeat by a Premiership panel, with their opponents given four points and a win.
Premiership Rugby have confirmed they will be publishing additional Covid-19 protocols for the league around matchdays and training.
A spokesperson said they will make the Premiership “even more Covid safe” and details will be released in the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the players involved at Northampton have begun a 10-day isolation period.
“The club has been absolutely rigorous in how we have followed the protocols laid out for us, and despite returning a number of positive tests this week, we were confident that we have more than enough of our squad still healthy and available to play the game if required,” said Boyd.
“However, we are following the advice we have been given, which was not to play the game and to close our training facility until next week.”
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Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward has been forced to retire at the age of 27 due to concussions, saying he cannot put his health at any further risk.
The rugby league loose forward, a two-time Grand Final winner with the Rhinos, has called on the sport to become more proactive in how it protects players to avoid another generation from becoming “guinea pigs” in research.
Ward says he suffers on a daily basis with symptoms caused by the concussions, which occurred on January 19 and February 2 last year.
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Grant: Smith or not, I’m at Storm
“I struggle with migraines, dizziness, motion sickness, sensitivity to light and screens, short-term memory issues, slurred speech, and an inability to exercise or do daily tasks without irritating my symptoms,” he said in a statement released to the PA news agency.
“I love the game of rugby league. I am immensely proud to have competed on some of the biggest stages next to childhood heroes and test myself to the absolute limit while feeling the incredible buzz from the Leeds fans after being one myself as a youngster.”
Ward has already witnessed the impact motor neurone disease has had on his friend and team-mate Rob Burrow, and says a more proactive approach is needed.
“With the news about Rob and the current climate of rugby union players, I cannot help but ask the questions that need to be asked,” he said.
“I am left motivated to help get our sport to a place where it can ensure the players’ long-term safety whilst keeping the beauty and grit of the game.”
Ward continued with a powerful statement on acting now as opposed to depending on “another generation of players to be guinea pigs.”
Cowboys very keen on Coates
“The biggest question is what can be done to make things safer for our players now,” he added.
“We need to be more proactive and not rely on another generation of players to be guinea pigs for future research that will take years to give us the answers we need now.
“Part of this questioning has to look into the culture and stigma around concussion within the game and how we can use the anecdotal evidence that we are receiving from former union and league players with the science that is already out there to draw connections to the part of the sport we can adapt.
“One of the biggest lessons I have learnt from last year is that enormous consideration needs to be taken when mixing the brutality of the game with the brain’s fragility.”
A number of sports are grappling with the issue of concussion.
A law firm last month sent a pre-action letter of claim on behalf of nine rugby union players to World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.
One of those represented is ex-England hooker Steve Thompson, who said he has no recollection of winning the 2003 World Cup.
The planned action is over the governing bodies’ “failure to protect (the claimants) from the risks caused by concussions”.
Can’t emphasise enough how brilliant a person Stevie Ward is. Would always give up his time to speak to you, and always wanted to chat about things beyond rugby. Even today, he didn’t pause in giving up some time to talk about this decision. A genuinely amazing guy. Wish him well
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