Saints injury woes continue as Demon star emerges


St Kilda’s run of bad luck with injury has continued with defender Jimmy Webster suffering a suspected fractured jaw in the 18-point loss to Melbourne. 

Webster had to undergo a concussion test after he copped an accidental knock in a contest on the wing during the third quarter after coming off the bench.

Jimmy Webster suffered a suspected broken jaw in the clash.Credit:

“It was an accident, wrong spot at the wrong time but there was no malice or anything,” coach Brett Ratten said.

The Saints have endured a horror run in the pre-season with Jarryn Geary, Paddy Ryder, Rowan Marshall, Dan Hannebery, Ben Paton and James Frawley absent through injury.

Although they managed to overcome their lack of personnel to upset the Giants in round one they could not repeat the dose, with Ratten admitting the three-goal margin flattered them – with their ball use well below par.

“We had to carry too many,” Ratten said.

Adelaide Crow Brad Crouch will play his first game for the Saints as he has completed the two-match suspension he received for conduct unbecoming after police found him in possession of an illicit substance post-season.

Ratten was also hopeful Ryder might return to play in the ruck against Essendon after his season finished early last season when he hurt his hamstring in a best on ground performance against the Western Bulldogs in the elimination final.

He said Hannebery was progressing well but would not play in round three, while Marshall ran on Saturday but would not be ready next week.

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Danny Frawley tributes, Tony Lockett emerges, St Kilda vs Melbourne


There were touching scenes before the first bounce of St Kilda’s match against Melbourne as footy gathered to celebrate AFL icon Danny Frawley.

The Saints legend suffered from mental health issues and died in a car crash in 2019 — but his legacy lives on. Saturday night’s game was dubbed Spud’s Game: Time 2 Talk, an initiative which aims to tackle mental health issues within the AFL community and encourage people to speak up, seek help and look after one another.

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Frawley’s family was in attendance and daughter Keeley tossed the coin, while the lights dimmed at Marvel Stadium on a night the Coventry end of the ground was renamed after Frawley.

The late footy great’s good friends Garry Lyon and Stuart Loewe spoke to the crowd before the game and encouraged them to speak up if they have an issue.

Frawley’s daughters and wife Anita watched on from the boundary line as the players and umpires gathered around the centre circle, the first bounce being delayed by two minutes — to encourage those watching on in the stands and at home to check in on their mates.

“It’s a time to talk,” Lyon said. “If you’ve got an issue at home, if you’ve got a problem, if you think there’s something that needs to be said — we are encouraging you tonight talk, and that’s what Spud would have wanted you to do.”

Another of Frawley’s mates, goalkicking legend Tony Lockett, has spent much of his life in retirement avoiding the public and media spotlight but came out on Saturday night for a cause close to his heart.

Lockett said he hadn’t been to a St Kilda game in Melbourne since Round One, 2000, but knew he had to be on deck to show his support for his former captain.

The former Saints and Swans star stood with Lyon and Loewe in the centre of the ground after addressing the crowd earlier in the night.

“Like everyone here, I loved the bloke. He was just fantastic,” Lockett said. “It’s great the AFL and the club now have put together this game and we really need to make the most of it for Danny’s sake.

“He’s an icon of the AFL industry, he’s loved by everyone … everyone loves Spud.

“His message is very clear and we need to take that and take some real positive stuff out of it now.

“It is time to talk.”

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Wesley College students create petition to share sexism, sexual assault claims after TikTok video emerges


A prestigious Melbourne private school is facing a growing scandal as female students come forward with claims of sexual assault at the hands of their male classmates.

The allegations, which includes incidents involving sexual assault, groping and sexism, were mentioned in a petition created by students at Wesley College in a bid to prompt the school to take urgent action.

It comes just days after some students were caught publicly denigrating women in a TikTok video on a bus on Monday – the same day as the nationwide March4Justice rallies which called for equality and an end to violence against women.

Wesley College Headmaster Nick Evans wrote to parents about the incident on Monday, conceding “we have work to do”.

Evans confirmed some Wesley students on public transport had made derogatory comments about women that were “highly offensive and caused extreme discomfort”.

“I have run the gamut of emotions as a result of this news, from fury to frustration, from disbelief to determination, from shame to sadness,” he said.

The incident followed the school’s audit of its programs dealing with consent and respectful relationships.

“It was clear last week, and it is even clearer now, that we have work to do,” he added.

He said Wesley had partnered with child protection organisation, Bravehearts, and that would involve more education for students with a focus on safety, consent and respect.

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New Zealand’s Auckland emerges from weeklong coronavirus lockdown


Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, emerged on Sunday from a strict weeklong lockdown imposed after a community cluster of the more contagious UK coronavirus variant.

There were no new local COVID-19 cases recorded on Sunday, health officials said, allowing for the restrictions to ease. If no community cases are confirmed during the rest of Sunday, it would make a full seven days since the last community case.

Aucklanders get out following the end of lockdown restrictions.Credit:Getty Images

There are still limits on public gathering in the city of nearly two million, however, and masks are obligatory on public transport.

Footage on TVNZ, New Zealand’s state-owned television network, showed people lining up at coffee shops on Sunday morning with many saying they were feeling relieved.

The government said it might ease restrictions in Auckland further on Friday, to bring them to the same level as in the rest of New Zealand.

Victoria, which was also under a five-day lockdown in mid-February after a small COVID-19 outbreak, recorded nine straight days of no local transmissions on Sunday.

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Swift public health measures combined with aggressive contact tracing, border closures and compulsory quarantine for travellers have been credited with making both New Zealand and Australia highly successful in keeping the pandemic from spreading.

Like Australia, New Zealand’s economy recovered speedily in the second part of 2020.

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Beyond balloons: Saskatchewan emerges as a helium hub as drilling ramps up


A small set of investors that previously focused on the oil and gas industry are eyeing an opportunity in a gas currently fetching a high price

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CALGARY – In a corner of Saskatchewan where drillers had previously spudded wells for oil and gas extraction, investors are pouring money into a previously untapped resource, which emits no carbon and could diversify the province’s economy.

“There’s a fair amount of capital out there that understands the technology, understands drilling, understands all of that but is a little nervous about the oil and gas space,” said Andrew Davidson, president and CEO of Royal Helium Ltd., a TSX-Venture exchange listed company that last year raised $7.5 million to drill three wells near Climax, Sask.

The company finished drilling the last of those three wells on Tuesday, in an area that is quietly becoming a hub for helium production in Canada and the centre of an emerging industry to feed an increasingly undersupplied U.S. market.

“We’ve been generating some attention from those (energy investors) and have been able to demonstrate that anything you understand about the oil and gas sector is exactly the same in the helium sector — there is not one difference in how you drill these wells,” Davidson said.

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Shares in the Saskatoon-based helium producer are up 1,100 per cent in the past year, rising from 5 cents each to 60 cents on Tuesday.

The North American helium market has been upended in recent years after a 2013 law required the U.S. government to sell off its strategic helium reserve, which it has been maintaining in Amarillo, Tx. since the 1920s. The U.S. government is set to sell its last remaining helium stores by Sept. 2021 and the drain on that supply has turned the country into a net importer of the inert gas, which doesn’t combust and is used in MRI machines, to cool super conductors and as a purge gas for rocket ships.

“Initially, the uptake on what we were doing was slow. Explaining to people that helium was not about balloons. It took a little bit of education in the investment community,” Davidson said.

Now a small set of investors that previously focused on the oil and gas industry are eyeing an opportunity in a gas currently fetching a high price, and companies like Royal Helium and its competitors are scaling up drilling plans in the region.

There is no spot market for helium and its pricing is not transparent, but Davidson said helium prices have risen from US$84 per thousand cubic feet in 2012 to US$280 per mcf and was briefly up even higher over the past year.

Not far from Royal Helium’s three wells, Calgary-based North American Helium Inc. plans to drill 15 wells targeting helium deposits in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan this year after the privately held company produced its first helium from the area in July 2020.

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Last year, North American Helium raised $39 million for the construction of its second helium purification plant in the area, designed with the ability to process 160 thousand cubic feet per day of purified helium, which would make it the largest facility of its kind in Canada.

Similarly, Richmond, Va.-based Weil Group is currently producing small volumes of helium in both Alberta and Saskatchewan and operates a helium purification plant in southern Saskatchewan, where it reactivated old wells drilled in the 1960s and repurposed the wells to produce helium. The company, which bills itself as the first commercial-scale producer of helium in Saskatchewan, did not respond to a request for comment.

The drilling programs represent a significant uptick in helium interest on the Prairies. In the past five years, only two existing oil and gas wells in Alberta have been converted to produce helium, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator. The province’s first helium well was drilled in 2018 but only began producing significant amounts of the commodity in April 2020.

Developing untapped resources — such as helium — further diversifies our energy sector

The Alberta government hopes that drilling for helium will help laid-off oilfield workers get back to work and also open up a new stream of non-renewable resource revenue for the province, which continues to rely on oil and gas royalties. The province introduced a royalty rate of 4.25 per cent for helium production in April 2020.

“Developing untapped resources — such as helium — further diversifies our energy sector, as Alberta is well-positioned to help meet increasing global demand,” said Jennifer Henshaw, spokesperson for Alberta’s Associate Minister of Natural Gas Dale Nally.

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Henshaw said the province doesn’t have data yet on how much it earned in helium revenues.

Across the border in Saskatchewan, where multiple wells have already been drilled and dozens more are planned, the nascent industry is outpacing Alberta. Royal Helium’s Davidson said that if the test results from the company’s first three wells are successful, the company plans to begin a continuous drilling program in the area and has identified up to 60 drilling locations.

Soon, Davidson expects the oil and gas industry, which has all the skills necessary to produce helium, to take an interest in the market.

Helium is its own element on the periodic table, meaning its carbon free, and since it isn’t combusted and doesn’t react with other elements, its use doesn’t emit CO2 like oil and gas does.

“I think that you will eventually see a push from oil and gas companies into this market because they’re going to have to,” Davidson said. “If the market sentiment (toward oil), right or wrong, doesn’t change, these companies are going to have to add different cash flow streams to their financials and helium presents that option without diversification into something that’s a completely different line of business, which is solar or wind power.”

• Email: gmorgan@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Rob James dead horse video: Shocking footage of jockey emerges, world reacts


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Racing’s reputation suffered another blow as jockey Rob James apologised for a video circulating of him jumping on to a dead horse and pretending to ride it.

James’s apology comes hot on the heels of three-time Grand National winning trainer and fellow Irishman Gordon Elliott also apologising for sitting on a dead horse whilst on the phone.

The video shows James jumping onto the unnamed horse — who had collapsed and died of cardiac arrest on the gallops in 2016 — pretending to ride it whilst those around him laugh.

“I have become aware of a video circulating of me on social media,” James told racing newspaper The Irish Field.

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Worrying Australian Open trend emerges after players leave quarantine


Concerns about how tennis players’ bodies would react to two weeks in quarantine appear to be well founded after a spate of stars were struck down by similar injuries.

Britain’s best female hope Johanna Konta retired from her round one match against Kaja Juvan with an incredibly painful abdominal injury, while Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini also withdrew from their matches on Monday.

Berrettini didn’t even make it onto the court for his clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, pulling out with an ab injury, while Ruud called it quits two sets into his encounter with Andrey Rublev — also citing an abdominal issue.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was remaining coy on his physical woes after wins over Taylor Fritz and Milos Raonic, but he too is battling injured abs.

Seventy-two players were forced to spend 14 days in a hotel room after positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed on three separate charter flights to Melbourne for the Australian Open, sparking fears about how they could possibly compete at an elite level without being able to condition themselves properly.

Others not included in that group also isolated, but were allowed outside for five hours a day to train.

Amazingly, Djokovic, Konta and Berrettini were all part of the group permitted to train during lockdown, yet have still suffered injuries.

“Unfortunately due to a lower left abdominal strain I had to retire from my match today at the

@australianopen,” Ruud wrote on social media on Monday.

“It was a tough decision to make on court but I believe it was the right decision in the long run. I hate the feeling of having to ‘give up’ but I couldn’t continue playing with pain in every serve I hit.

“I will rest up a bit and try to recover 100 per cent as quickly as possible. I will update you on my abdominal strain in the coming days and weeks and hopefully you’ll see me back on the court again pretty soon.”

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Konta said she was in a “state of shock” and described it as “almost like having an out-of-body experience” when her injury flared up out of nowhere, while Berrettini couldn’t explain the sudden appearance of his abdominal issue.

“Unfortunately due to the injury I sustained in my last match against Karen (Khachanov), I am physically unable to compete against Stefanos and sadly have withdrawn from the Australian Open,” he wrote on Instagram.

“This was far from an easy decision for me but after having a scan and listening to the medical experts and my team, it was the only decision. I will work hard to recover and will be back soon.”

Djokovic wasn’t willing to provide many details on his problem but said he needed painkillers and if this had not been a grand slam, he would have retired, such were his pain levels.

Whether the Serbian’s abs hold up for long enough to win a ninth Australian Open title remains to be seen.

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India walk-off threat emerges as Cricket Australia clears men booted from SCG


The findings of the CA probe have now been sent to the International Cricket Council, which gave CA 14 days to lodge a report.

The report says while they believed players had been racially abused, CA investigators were unable to identify the culprits.

Australia captain Tim Paine stands with Indian players and umpires as police walk six men from their seats during the third Test.Credit:Getty

CA, which is awaiting a final report from NSW Police, is satisfied that the six men who were walked out of the lower tier of the Clive Churchill and Brewongle stand by police on the fourth afternoon of the Test did not make remarks of a racial nature to players.

Their removal occurred after rookie fast bowler Siraj approached umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson alleging he had been abused by spectators seated in the area behind where he was stationed on the rope.

The paceman had been acting on advice from security officials who had encouraged the Indians to report abuse immediately rather than wait until the end of play as they had done 24 hours earlier when Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah said they had been racially targeted on days two and three of the Test.

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Siraj told CA after the Sydney Test that he had been called a “brown dog” and a “monkey” and teammate R Ashwin, who said crowd abuse had been a long-term issue at the SCG, alleged “there is a time where they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuses”.

While CA was unable to unmask the culprits, there is a separate investigation by SCG operators Venues NSW into an Indian supporter’s claim that he was told to “go back where you belong” during the Sydney Test by a mid-ranking ground security official.

Krishna Kumar also said a group of young men in the crowd had called him and members of the Indian team “curry munchers” on the third day of the match.

After hiring a solicitor and meeting with Venues NSW legal personnel 12 days ago, Kumar said on Tuesday he had not yet heard back about the investigation.

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Short, sharp lockdown likely for WA if coronavirus cluster emerges: CHO


“Certainly going hard and fast was very effective in South Australia and it appears to have been quite effective in Queensland – it’s probably a little early to say – but certainly I think that is a consideration and that seems to have worked well.”

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In South Australia, a leakage of coronavirus from hotel quarantine was first detected on November 15 when an elderly woman attended hospital and was tested.

Three days later, after a further 20 cases had been discovered, mostly in the woman’s extended family, South Australia went into lockdown for six days, however the period was shortened to three days after initial concerns over the strain’s infectiousness were debunked.

The cluster infected a total of 33 people over two weeks, the last being on November 28, and led to 5800 people being quarantined.

The last person was released from isolation on December 20.

In Queensland, just one case of the highly infectious United Kingdom strain escaping hotel quarantine via a cleaner on Thursday last week prompted the state government to immediately impose a three-day lockdown for greater Brisbane with only hours’ notice.

The lockdown was lifted on Monday evening after no cases were detected in the woman’s close contacts and their close contacts.

Her partner tested positive the following day while in isolation. As of Tuesday, he was on the only other positive case out of nearly 80,000 tests over five days.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the lockdown acted as a circuit breaker, similar to SA’s November response, to stop the virus spreading out of control.

“I think Adelaide managed their outbreak brilliantly … it was probably one of the best responses in the country,” she said.

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“Adelaide by doing that short, sharp [lockdown], by getting things sorted, finding as many cases as possible, minimising the amount of infection out there, minimising the spread early on, I think it made an enormous difference, and that was with a variant that was less infectious.

“I think that three-day circuit breaker just sets the framework.”

Dr Young said the lockdown would also help with an additional 10 days of gathering restrictions to try stay on top of any potential chains of the virus.

Dr Robertson’s comments on whether WA would enter a short lockdown if a case entered the state come after Premier Mark McGowan continued to criticise New South Wales’ suppression approach to managing outbreaks.

“There’s five states and territories doing one thing, and one state doing something different,” he said on Monday.

“The states and territories that want to eliminate the virus, I think have the right approach.

“The idea you tick along with the virus and somehow that is a better model is wrong and I just urge the New South Wales government and people in New South Wales to look at what other states and territories are doing in order to crush and kill the virus.”

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NSW cases spike as another cluster emerges


New South Wales has reported 18 cases of community transmission of coronavirus as a second cluster of the deadly disease emerges in Sydney’s inner west.

The so-called Avalon cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches, which erupted earlier this month, generated another nine case in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

This brings the total for that cluster to 138.

But there’s also another group of six infected persons, dubbed by health experts as the Croydon cluster, in Sydney’s inner west.

The six include three adults and three children who are members of the same extended family, which had a number of gatherings over a number of days.

“We’ve seen a proliferation of cases outside the northern beaches overnight,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this morning.

“We anticipate that because of the nature of that extended family’s movements, there will be more cases from that cluster.”

The state government also announced more New Years Eve restrictions for Sydney will be enforced after the “proliferation of cases”.

Household gatherings in Greater Sydney are now limited to five people inside, down from 10, and 30 outdoors, down 50.

On the northern beaches, gatherings of five people will be permitted.

Today’s surge in cases comes just hours after Cricket Australia announced it would push ahead with plans to host the third Test against India in Sydney from January 7 despite earlier speculation the match would be transferred to Melbourne.

Meanwhile, authorities are still looking into three other COVID-19 cases involving two people from the same household in Wollongong on the state’s south coast and another in northern Sydney.

The Wollongong issue has sparked close-contact health alerts for two Greek Orthodox churches in the city dating back to December 27 – St Nektarios Church and The Holy Cross Church.

Casual-contact alerts also apply for several venues at Figtree, including Figtree Grove Shopping Centre, Mona Vale and Wollongong.

Residents have been lining up in large numbers outside Wollongong Hospital to be tested since Tuesday.

Elsewhere, an additional nine infringement fines $1000 have been handed to guests of the Pyrmont wedding after attendees broke a lockdown governing northern beaches residents.

Police Minister David Elliot said the 21 breaches so far relating to the incident was a terrible example of people defying health orders.

“It only takes one infected person to cause another cluster and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid,” Mr Elliot told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.

Berejiklian has implored residents in all parts of Sydney to demonstrate “personal responsibility” and stay COVID-safe on New Year’s Eve.

Sydneysiders are mostly banned from watching the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks from the harbour on Thursday after the foreshore was shut for the first time.

The usual 9pm fireworks display has been cancelled and people are being urged to stay at home and watch the shortened seven-minute show at midnight on television.

Restricted areas will be set up around The Rocks and Circular Quay will have no direct public transport routes from 5pm on Thursday evening.

Stay-at-home orders applying to northern beaches residents north of the Narrabeen Bridge will continue until at least January 9. A lockdown for the peninsula’s southern zone will be in place until January 2.

 – AAP

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