Kalyn Ponga unlikely to make round one return for Newcastle Knights as coach says team ‘connecting’ after Mitchell Pearce incident


The Knights are training in Tamworth and O’Brien said the time away as a group had been a boost.

“Our meetings at night are crucial to connect the team up with some goal setting,” O’Brien said. “Irrelevant of what sort of happened over Christmas, it’s always a good time to get the team away and connected.”

Kalyn Ponga is in doubt for the start of the season due to a shoulder injury.Credit:Getty

The camp will also be a chance for O’Brien to choose a new captain. David Klemmer is the hot favourite to take the job.

O’Brien said the Tamworth camp was “part of the process” of finding the most suitable player.

“It’ll be a few weeks away yet [a decision on the captaincy], I want to go through a thorough process,” he said.

“I didn’t want the distraction to fasten that process up. I believe that it’s the right process, even before Mitchell decided to stand down, so I’ll continue on that path.”

The focus has turned to Ponga, who is in doubt for the start of the season due to a shoulder injury.

Ponga had a shoulder reconstruction in October 2020 after playing through a labrum tear late in the season. The injury has a three- to six-month recovery time.

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O’Brien said Ponga was working “extremely hard” to get fit and had a consultancy last week with a specialist.

“He’s more than on track,” the coach said. “We just want to continually see progress every day. And that’s what we’re getting.”

Ponga is an unlikely starter for the 2021 season with no “definitive date” for his return.

“We don’t expect it to be too long into the season,” O’Brien said. “But I’m not going to put pressure on both staff and Kalyn by naming a date just yet.”

Ponga’s no.1 jersey will likely be replaced by 21-year-old Tex Hoy.

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‘Major incident’ declared in London as hospitals on the brink of being overrun



London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident with the city’s hospitals on the brink of being overrun.

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US tops 4000 daily COVID-19 deaths; London declares major incident


In the US, the scourge has left more than 365,000 dead and caused nearly 22 million confirmed infections.

Cases and deaths are soaring in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. Those four states had a combined nearly 1500 deaths and 80,000 cases on Thursday.

Thursday ranks as one of the deadliest days in US history, with the COVID-19 toll far outstripping the nearly 3000 killed on 9/11 and exceeding the combined total of nearly 3900 US lives lost on D-Day and at Pearl Harbor.

Many hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas are struggling to keep up and warned they may need to ration lifesaving care. Many nurses are caring for more sick people than typically allowed under the law after the state began issuing waivers to the strict nurse-to-patient ratios.

In Los Angeles County’s Henry Mayo New Hall in Valencia, nurse Nerissa Black said the hospital was overwhelmed with patients, likening the situation to New York’s at the beginning of the pandemic.

She was assigned six patients but could spend only about 10 minutes with each of them per hour, including the time it takes for her to change her protective gear.

“It’s very hard to decide which one should I go see first: the patient who has chest pain or the patient whose oxygen level is dropping,” she said.

At St Joseph Hospital south of Los Angeles, nurses in the COVID-19 ward described being overwhelmed as the deaths mount.

“Just today we had two deaths on this unit. And that’s pretty much the norm,” said Caroline Brandenburger.

“I usually see one to two every shift. Super sad.”

She added: “They fight every day, and they struggle to breathe every day even with tons of oxygen. And then you just see them die. They just die.”

The outbreak has taken another turn for the worse in Arizona, with the state now leading the nation with the highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate over the past week.

More than 132,000 people nationwide are hospitalised with the virus.

London declares a major incident

Britain has the world’s fifth-highest official death toll from COVID-19 at nearly 80,000, and the 1325 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test on Friday surpassed the previous daily record from last April.

“Each life lost to this virus is a tragedy, but sadly we can expect the death toll to continue to rise until we stop the spread,” said William Welfare, director for the COVID-19 response at Public Health England.

A further 68,052 COVID-19 cases were reported – also a new daily high – meaning almost three million people have now tested positive for the disease in the United Kingdom, which has a total population of around 67 million.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, from the opposition Labour Party, said hospital beds in the capital would run out within the next few weeks because the spread of the virus was “out of control”.

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“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,” Khan said.

The designation of “major incident” is usually reserved for attacks or grave accidents, notably those likely to involve “serious harm, damage, disruption or risk to human life or welfare, essential services, the environment or national security”.

London’s last “major incident” was the Grenfell Tower fire in a high-rise residential block in 2017, when 72 people died.

AP, Reuters

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Sheriff Praises ‘True Hero’ Wife for Saving Husband in Kayak Incident



A kayaker in Florida had a lucky escape recently, according to a post shared to Facebook by the Broward Sheriff’s Office on January 5. Video by the sheriff’s office shows deputies reeling the kayak to the shore after the man ran into difficulty on a lake in Weston. According to the post, the man’s outing “almost turned tragic” after the kayak overturned in the water. “His wife was able to swim out to him with life vests as neighbors called 911,” the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. When emergency support arrived on scene, they found the wife of the victim paddling in the kayak with her husband in tow, they said. A rescue swimmer was then deployed to swim out to the kayak and attach a tow line which gave deputies and firefighters the ability to pull the watercraft to safety. “Had the man’s wife not responded quickly and decisively, the rescue team may have been dealing with a recovery instead of a rescue. She is the true hero of this story,” the sheriff’s office said. The kayaker appeared to be uninjured, but was taken to Cleveland Clinic Hospital for an examination as a precaution. Credit: Broward Sheriff’s Office via Storyful

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Woman injured in ‘serious incident’ at DLR station in east London


A

woman has been injured in a “serious incident” at a DLR station in east London, police have said.

Officers were called to King George V station in North Woolwich just before 8.40pm on Tuesday night following reports of an injured person.

Paramedics also attended and the woman was taken to hospital where she is being treated.

Detectives are appealing for witnesses.

In statement the British Transport Police (BTP) said: “Officers are currently appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident, or the events leading up to it, to get in touch as they may be able to assist with the investigation.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or the events leading up to it is asked to contact BTP or Crimestoppers anonymously and quote reference 392 of 05/01/20. 

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Fifita incident ‘resolved’: Titans coach


Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook has assured fans not to worry despite the NRL club’s prized recruit David Fifita’s run-in with police last month.

Fifita was arrested and questioned by police following reports of a trespassing incident on December 27 at a home in the city’s south before being released without any charge.

The 20-year-old backrower, who also had an off-season drama in Bali in 2019, was back at training with his Titans teammates on Tuesday.

Holbrook said the issue has been “resolved” but refused to elaborate on whether Fifita had faced any sanctions from the club.

He also dismissed any suggestion the incident is a concern as the Titans prepare for what many are tipping to be a big season for the success-starved club.

“It’s fine. It’s been dealt with and he’s right, he’s training,” Holbrook said.

“It’s always hard when you’re a player in rehab but he’s done a great job. He’s integrated into the full squad now and he’s doing a great job.”

Another key recruit, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, will return to the squad in coming weeks while both five-eighth Ash Taylor and fullback AJ Brimson are on track to be fit for the club’s pre-season trial against the Warriors in late February.

Speculation continues to link the Titans with a move for Cameron Smith, with the Melbourne Storm legend a free agent.

Holbrook says he’s not planning for life with Smith, either as a player or a member of his coaching staff.

“Everyone talks about the convenience of the fact that he’s obviously moving here and the kids are going to school here, so I understand the heavy speculation around it but that’s all it is,” Holbrook said.

‘I’m happy with who we’ve got and if things change and all of a sudden he’s desperate to play and we can fit him in all that, well then we’ll have a conversation.

“I’m happy with who we’ve got and if it changes, it changes but we’ve got no plan of it changing.”



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Salmon farming giant Huon Aquaculture hit by another incident at fish pen in Tasmania



Fire has damaged a fish farming pen at a salmon farming lease near Hobart — the third incident to hit one of Tasmania’s largest salmon producers since late November.

Jillaine Williams was on a boat passing Huon Aquaculture’s pens at Hideaway Bay, in southern Tasmania, when she saw the fire break out.

She told ABC Radio Hobart, Huon’s wellboat was at the scene.

“[It was] quite a large blaze, quite high flames, a metre and a half,” Ms Williams said.

“The smoke was thick and black, [Huon] had a few vessels there, they seemed to put it out in about 15 minutes.”

In late November, Huon lost more than 50,000 fish when a pen caught fire in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, melting part of the structure.

In early December, 130,000 salmon escaped through a “significant tear” in a fortress pen in Storm Bay.

In a statement, Huon Aquaculture said today’s incident was at the company’s Hideaway Bay farm, where a “small electrical fire caused minor damage to the railing on an outer pen”.

Huon said the pen was “empty of fish” at the time and has “completely different infrastructure” to the one involved in last month’s incident.



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Former Brisbane Bronco Jamil Hopoate charged after alleged domestic violence incident


Off-contract NRL player Jamil Hopoate will face court in January following an alleged domestic violence assault in the NSW Mid North Coast.

Police were called to a pub on Bay Street in Port Macquarie about 8.30pm on Sunday following reports of an alleged assault.

Off-contract NRL player Jamil Hopoate will face court in January.Credit:Getty

The 26-year-old former Broncos player was stopped by police in his car around the corner from the pub.

He was subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of common assault, two counts of stalking and intimidation and mid-range drink driving.



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‘Free spirit’: Tributes flow for boat incident victim


TRIBUTES are flowing for a father of three who tragically died in a boating incident in Airlie Beach on Monday.

Anthony (Tony) Boegheim has been described as a “free spirit” who loved the ocean when remembered by those close to him.

A tribute Facebook page has been set up in Tony’s honour, allowing friends and family to share their treasured memories.

In a post on the page, father Henry described the 56-year-old Birkdale man as a “proud father” of three, “cherished son”, “adored brother” and “beloved uncle”.

“Claimed by his first love, the sea,” the post read.

“Free spirit. Still sailing.”

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Sister Michelle Bignell paid tribute to Tony’s “artistic gifts”, including seascapes created from memory and inspired by his love of the sea and skies.

“It was his way of sharing one with us, some of his loves,” she wrote.

“Love you forever lil bro. We miss you.”

Sharon Steiner wrote on the page she would miss Tony’s “enormous hugs”, saying he loved sitting on the bow of his boat and watching the sun set.

“I know you will be sitting there right beside me every walk on the beach, every breath of wind on my face, every wave in the sea and watching every star in the sky,” she wrote.

Emergency services at Coral Sea Marina after reports a tinny was spiralling. Picture: Elyse Wurm

Joanne Phelps extended her love to Tony’s family.

“Tony, absolutely heartbroken that you’re no longer here with us,” she wrote.

“You’ll always hold a very special place in my heart, may you be forever free, riding waves and watching sunsets wherever you are.”

For Dori Fletcher, Tony will live on in her memories.

“Keep sailing, my dear Tony. You will always be in my heart. Don’t ever lose that cheeky smile,” she wrote.

Tony tragically died at shore after being pulled from the water when a tinny was seen spiralling in Coral Sea Marina about 4.20pm on Monday.





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Underground worker dies after incident at Westgold Resources Limited’s Big Bell mine



An underground worker has died after an incident at Westgold Resources Limited’s Big Bell mine, north-west of Cue in Western Australia’s Midwest.

Westgold suspended operations at the site this morning.

It is understood the worker was airlifted to Perth with critical injuries but died in hospital.

The company is in a trading halt and released a statement to the ASX this morning saying a full investigation of the incident was underway.

In a statement, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s Andrew Chaplyn said inspectors were on their way to Big Bell.

Other mining and processing activities are continuing at Cue Gold Operations, as well as at the company’s Meekatharra and Fortnum operations.

Westgold is the sixth largest gold producer in Australia, with its operations focused on the Central Murchison region.

Big Bell, part of the company’s Cue operation, was opened early this year after sitting idle for almost two decades.



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