Sheffield Shield final: Queensland vs NSW, Michael Neser Ashes selection, watch, video


Queensland quick Michael Neser is knocking down the selection door ahead of the Ashes while Usman Khawaja can remind selectors of his worth again, according to Andrew Symonds.

Neser, 31, has been on the fringes of the Australian side for years and on day one of the Sheffield Shield final showed why.

The medium-fast quick took the outstanding figures of 5-27 to help bowl NSW out for 143 on Thursday, including one stunning inswinger to remove Matthew Gilkes.

“It’s like the extra Test match in the Australian summer the Shield final and it’s held in very high regard by everyone – players, coaches and selectors – and he’s again thrown his hand up saying ‘pick me, pick me’,” Symonds told foxsports.com.au.

“He bowled superbly.”

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Michael Paul Benfell jailed for at least 12 years for twice raping sleeping woman in her Parkside home



A man who broke into a woman’s Parkside home in Adelaide’s inner-south and twice raped the woman in her bed in the “most humiliating and egregious way” will spend at least 12 years in jail.

Michael Paul Benfell was found guilty by a jury last year of two counts of rape and one count of aggravated serious criminal trespass on April 10, 2018.

The 26-year-old walked into the house through an unlocked back door and waited in a different room before getting into bed with the sleeping woman and raping her.

The District Court previously heard the bedroom was pitch black and the victim initially thought it was her boyfriend who had returned because she was “still very much in the process of waking up” when she was attacked.

At the time, Benfell was on parole for serious criminal trespass offences and the court heard he had been on a “methamphetamine bender”.

Judge Paul Slattery said Benfell had caused “irreparable pain” to the victim, her housemates, friends and family.

“You violated the sanctity and safety of the home.

“Your actions have had a profound and lasting effect on their lives.

Judge Slattery said Benfell had previously been convicted of serious criminal trespass and had a moderate to high risk of re-offending.

Benfell was sentenced to 15 years in prison with a non-parole period of 12 years.

Benfell has previously apologised in court for lying and his behaviour.

He told the court he would not appeal the guilty conviction.

“More importantly, I’d like to apologise for the pain and hardship I’ve caused,” he said during sentencing submissions.

“I don’t deserve your forgiveness, I don’t even deserve your pity.”

Benfell’s sentence was backdated to December last year.

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Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire press conference after loss to North Queensland Cowboys


Michael Maguire has threatened to revamp his team list ahead of the Tigers’ next game, after the Cowboys upset the joint venture 34-30 on Sunday.

On an afternoon commemorating late Wests legend Tommy Raudonikis, the Tigers went into halftime on the wrong end of a 28-6 scoreline.

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The Cowboys, who were yet to win a game in 2021, punished their sluggish opponents, running in five tries to one in the first half.

While the Tigers put on five tries of their own in the second 40, it wasn’t enough to steal victory away from the North Queenslanders.

“It was poor,” Maguire said of the Tigers’ first-half performance in his post-match press conference.

“It’s definitely not what Wests Tigers are about.”

The performance enraged fans at Leichhardt Oval, who booed their own team and chanted “bulls***” as they headed into the sheds for halftime.

“Madge” was equally angry at the break, with Fox League commentator Warren Smith saying Maguire was “in Craig Bellamy-mode” — referencing the Storm coach’s reputation for firing up in the coach’s box.

“It hurt … it was disappointing,” Maguire said in response to the booing.

“(The fans) are riding this with us. It was a special day today and I understand that, the players understand that, so it was tough to take.”

Asked whether he would make changes to his side ahead of its clash with the third-placed Rabbitohs, a visibly emotional Maguire delivered a brutal response.

“Our reserve grade’s going well, so we’ll have a look,” he said.

Maguire’s men copped it from all angles during and after their round five loss.

“The Tigers have just come up with way too many errors coming out of their own half and they gave themselves no opportunities,” said Fox League’s Braith Anasta.

“Their defence was average.”

On social media, punters called the side’s performance “woeful”, “heartbreaking” and “a disgrace”.

The Tigers will go into their round six game with just one win to their name in 2021.

They currently sit in 13th place, above only the Cowboys, Sea Eagles and Bulldogs.

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North Queensland Cowboys captain Michael Morgan announces retirement due to shoulder injury


Morgan, who was born and raised in Townsville, played his entire NRL career with the Cowboys, racking up 168 games for the team.

He also represented Queensland 12 times in State of Origin and played 12 Tests for Australia.

“It’s been well documented, the problems I have had with my shoulder and I’m now at a point where I am unable to continue playing with it,” Morgan told a press conference in Townsville.

“I’ve had an amazing career, one that I could only dream of as a kid.

“I got to live out my childhood dream and play for the Cowboys 168 times.

“I felt honoured every time I got to put on a Cowboys jersey.”

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Michael Cheika, Trent Robinson watch on as NSW Waratahs fall short of miraculous upset against ACT Brumbies


That left the Brumbies with 13 players on the field for the final play, as referee Graham Cooper mistakenly sent Rory Scott from the field for a shoulder charge minutes earlier when he meant to send Lachlan Lonergan to the sin bin.

While the Waratahs remain winless, there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Just five days after the NSWRU board gave Penney his marching orders, NSW produced their best performance of the season.

The reigning Super Rugby AU champions had won 10 of their last 11 starts against NSW. That remarkable run started after Michael Cheika, who watched on in the SCG stands alongside Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, departed for the Wallabies.

Will Harrison cut a forlorn figure at the end of the match.

Will Harrison cut a forlorn figure at the end of the match.Credit:Getty

Whether Cheika will fill the vacant coach position remains to be seen. The performance would have given any aspiring coach hope the Waratahs can again be a force in the competition.

There were many bright spots, which have been scarce throughout their winless start to the season.

The forward pack can hold their head high. They matched the Brumbies and regularly put the home side in a position to score points.

Will Harrison misses the final-minute conversion.

Will Harrison misses the final-minute conversion.Credit:Getty

Gordon was man of the match in his return from injury. His playmaking, direction and cool head made a huge difference.

“With the limited caps that we’ve got in the squad ,to get someone who has half the amount of caps of everyone put together – having Jake just steadies the ship,” Whitaker said.

“Jack Grant’s done a fabulous job while Jake’s been injured, but at the same time just to have that leadership and direction is first class and he’s a classy player.”

Izaia Perese looked dangerous with almost every touch of the ball. Angus Bell’s first start since the Brumbies last belted the Waratahs was impressive. Will Harris was one of the Waratahs’ best.

The untried locks – Jeremy Williams and Max Douglas – churned through plenty of unfashionable work.

In the first half, those bright spots were erased by some shambolic defence.

The Brumbies’ three first half tries – to Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead and Folau Fainga’a – all came from set pieces.

Tom Banks crashes over for the Brumbies.

Tom Banks crashes over for the Brumbies.Credit:Getty

Trailing 24-10 at the break, Waratahs fans must have had a sense of deja vu.

Cusack was shown a yellow card for repeat infringements six minutes after play resumed but the home side didn’t capitalise on the one-man advantage.

They did capitalise on a charged down Ryan Lonergan box kick when Lalakai Foketi pounced and popped a pass to Harrison.

The five-eighth scored and gave NSW a chance of completing an incredible upset, trailing 24-17 with 14 minutes to play.

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When Ramm scored, it was more than a chance.

But the conversion sailed wide, Harrison cast a forlorn figure and the search for a win continued.

“He’s disappointed. He’s a competitor and he wants to win. And he feels he’s let the team down,” Whitaker said of Harrison.

“But I think everyone has said to him that we had plenty of opportunities to win that game. Goal kickers win you games. They’re not the ones losing you games.

“He will take it hard but that’s because he’s a competitor. That’s why we love him.”

If this match was any guide, the Waratahs won’t have to wait much longer.

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Waratahs chairman Roger Davis returns serve at Rob Penney as Michael Cheika asked for advice


Asked to clarify what was inaccurate or misleading about Penney’s comments, Davis repeated that there was “nothing more to add”.

Even Brumbies coach Dan McKellar went in to bat for Penney on Wednesday, hinting that he had been hard done by.

Waratahs chairman Roger Davis (right).Credit:Glenn Hunt

“I’m not in the inner sanctum there, but there have been some decisions that have been made over the last 18 months to two years that have probably impacted on Rob’s ability to do the job that he wanted to do,” McKellar said. “I feel for him.”

Waratahs supporters have been demanding answers all week from the NSW Rugby board about how the situation could get so out of hand. Penney has claimed he “without a doubt” felt like a scapegoat for issues out of his control.

As NSW prepare to face the Brumbies on Friday, NSW officials are piecing together how to replace Penney and have sounded out a favourite son for guidance.

Sources with knowledge of the situation have told the Herald that NSW Rugby boss Paul Doorn has sought out Cheika, who won a title with the Waratahs in 2014.

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It is understood Doorn wanted to seek Cheika’s view on whether a director of rugby would be appropriate for the Waratahs, as well as getting an understanding of how he thought the coaching structure would work best in the future.

It is unclear whether Cheika would be prepared to step back in and help out at the Waratahs but clearly the conversation shows his opinion is highly valued at a time when the organisation needs all the help it can get.

Doorn said on Monday a decision was some weeks away regarding a new coaching structure and that a head coach would not be appointed for a few months.

McKellar has no doubt candidates from all over the world will be putting their hand up for the vacant Waratahs job.

“I can’t imagine there being too many issues with getting quality candidates,” McKellar said. “Do you want plenty of experience and a high-profile [coach] or do you want someone that knows the Sydney and NSW rugby landscape and someone who can get in there and turn it around and get buy-in from players?

“There’s been plenty of names we all know and have been mentioned that will throw their hat in the ring.”

Asked who he’d have on the list, McKellar replied: “Darren Coleman, Simon Cron, Jason Gilmore is an outstanding coach, Chris Whitaker, John Manenti. There’s a lot of very very good coaches in Australia. We’ve just got to be prepared to provide the right person with an opportunity. Coaches are no different to players; until you give them a chance and opportunity, you’ll never know how good they are.”

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Nationals MP Michael Johnsen resigns following rape allegation and sex worker scandal



NSW Nationals MP Michael Johnsen has quit parliament after an escalating scandal involving a sex worker.

Nationals Leader John Barilaro said he welcomed the news.

“Yesterday … I told Mr Johnsen his position as a Member of Parliament was untenable and called for his resignation,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Upper Hunter MP went to ground on Tuesday after the ABC reported he’d allegedly offered a sex worker $1000 to have sex with him at his parliament house office, exchanged lewd texts with her and sent her a video while sitting in parliament.

The report cames a week after it was revealed the same sex worker had accused him of raping her in 2019 and police were investigating. Mr Johnsen has vehemently denied the accusation.

After that Mr Barilaro stripped him of his role as parliamentary secretary, removed him from the Nationals and coalition partyrooms and suspended him from the National Party.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday she was “very relieved” he had quit.

“That’s a good outcome and we look forward to moving forward,” she said.

The development robs the government of it’s majority, leaving it to fight a by-election where it holds just a 2.2 per cent margin.

Labor Leader Jodi McKay says the ALP is ready to have “a red hot go” at winning the seat which has been held by the Nationals for more than 90 years.

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Asked about MPs spreading COVID misinformation, Michael McCormack says ‘facts can sometimes be contentious’


Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s refusal to condemn COVID misinformation has been labelled a “dangerous” failure by political opponents.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly has been accused of spreading misleading information about unproven treatments for the coronavirus pandemic. 

He also recently posted on Facebook a list of statistics claiming that a move to require children to wear face masks would amount to “child abuse”.

But Mr McCormack has denied there is a need to censure Mr Kelly’s social media activity, saying he doesn’t support “censorship”.

“Facts are sometimes contentious and what you might think is right – somebody else might think is completely untrue – that is part of living in a democratic country,” he told the ABC.

“I don’t think we should have that sort of censorship in our society.”

Labor’s health spokesperson Chris Bowen has strongly criticised Mr McCormack’s defence of Mr Kelly. Mr Bowen said he was concerned Mr Kelly was spreading “dangerous” misinformation.

“Craig Kelly has engaged in a systemic and deliberate attempt to undermine our medical health professionals,” he told reporters.

“[He] is a menace, and at every turn, Scott Morrison, and now Michael McCormack, acting prime minister, have failed to call him out.

“It is dangerous because this is a time for confidence in our decision makers,” he added.

Mr McCormack later defended his refusal to criticise Mr Kelly. 

“You might look out there and say the sky is blue … but I can see from her that it is grey,” he said. 

“I mean there are a lot of subjective things. I was asked about a colleague who puts material up on Facebook – well some of what my colleague puts up is very much true.

“But people on the Twitter sphere, they don’t always like it – well toughen up I say.” 

Mr McCormack has also faced criticism from human rights groups for comparing the riot at the US Capitol to Black Lives Matter protests last year. 

Liberal MP Craig Kelly.

AAP

Mr McCormack said he didn’t agree with Mr Kelly’s statement that a compulsory mask mandate for children would amount to child abuse.

But he said he wouldn’t call for Mr Kelly to take down the post. 

 

“It’s a matter for Craig Kelly. I’m a former newspaper editor I don’t believe in censorship,” he said. 

“But you’ve always got to be sensible about what you do put online.” 

The Australian Medical Association on Tuesday called for the Australian government to invest in “robust online advertising” to counter health misinformation on the internet, including social media channels.

“The internet has the potential to significantly magnify health misinformation campaigns,” Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“We have seen this with the anti-vaccination movement, and the countless conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic that circulate constantly on the internet.” 

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‘We must do better’: Michael McCormack apologises to women who may not have felt supported by his party



Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has called on his party to “do better” when it comes to the treatment of women and has apologised broadly to anyone who has felt unsupported.

In his address to the Nationals’ federal conference in Canberra on Saturday, the party leader addressed “behaviour not befitting our federal parliament and that is gut-wrenching”.

He said those who had brought the house of national democracy into disrepute were few and did not represent the majority of “hard-working” and “honourable” people who work there.

“Behaviour of this nature must stop, and must stop now,” he said.

“As with all workplaces in our nation, all homes, all places where people gather – we should be respectful.

“No female, no person, should ever feel unsafe in their workplace.

“No person should tolerate harassment of any kind or other inappropriate behaviour.

“We can all do better and we must do better.”

Mr McCormack also apologised to anyone who has felt unsupported.

“And – if there have been those people who tell us they haven’t had that support they needed, then I am sorry.

“I’m sorry for those people and I will work, as I know all my colleagues will, to provide that support, to provide that respect and to provide that decency.”

He says the Nationals party room has agreed to undergo empathy training to improve their workplace culture.

“If we can learn from an expert … and actually learn a few tips on how to not only be better ourselves, but how to call out others for it, then I think that’s a good thing,” Mr McCormack told the ABC.

His comments come in the context of a growing crisis around sexual discrimination and abuse in federal politics, including the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins at Parliament House by a colleague in 2019, a Liberal staffer’s lewd sex act on a female MP’s desk, and Liberal MP Andrew Laming’s trolling of two women on social media.

The Nationals leader also used the conference to spruik his party’s achievements and vision to the party faithful.

As parts of Australia wait for fatal and devastating floodwaters to disperse, his pitch entailed plans to expand the regional network of dams, weirs and pipelines.

“I am absolutely delighted to announce the government will establish through the National Water Grid Authority, a fund dedicated to building more smaller, targeted dams, weirs and pipelines throughout rural and regional Australia,” he said.

The party will seek applications of up to $20 million from each state and territory to be matched by the government for smaller water projects to be built.

Mr McCormack also used the stage to champion the benefits of regional living, where communities are “big enough to get a good cup of coffee and small enough to still care”.

He added that city dwellers are moving in large numbers to the regions, which have proved to be the safest locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The regions are the hotspot opportunity, with 56,510 job vacancies showing online,” he said.

“From the coalminer to the nurse, from the farm labourer to the truckie, good jobs are there.”

Some regional centres have received hundreds of millimetres of rain in the past 10 days and Mr McCormack said the coalition federal government had been quick to respond with flood assistance.

The Nationals conference is scheduled to run on Saturday and Sunday, with addresses by deputy leader and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and the party’s Senate leader Bridget McKenzie.

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Michael Gudinski State Memorial at Rod Laver with Ed Sheeran, Kylie and Paul Kelly


The who’s who of international music have paid an emotional tribute to Australian industry great Michael Gudinski at his state memorial service in Melbourne.

On Wednesday night at 7.07pm – a nod to Gudinski’s love of the wine Penfolds Bin 707 – the iconic service began at Rod Laver arena, headlined by a star-studded cast of live performers.

Ed Sheeran was granted an exemption to fly into the country with his family and performed a brand new song he wrote for his friend while in quarantine and broke down in tears midway through.

Sheeran also played Castle On The Hill, saying it was Gudinski’s personal favourite after he played it at their Port Douglas home in 2015 at 3am.

“He must have misheard the lyric because he started, from that point, screaming whenever he saw me: ‘We were younger then’,” Sheeran recalled.

“I never told him it was actually ‘I was younger then’.”

Alongside Sheeran, there were live performances by Mushroom associated local acts Jimmy Barnes, Kylie Minogue, Paul Kelly, Mark Seymour, Vika and Linda Bull and Mia Wray.

Minogue performed two songs alongside Sheeran including her 1987 hit “Loco-motion”.

“Michael, the ‘Big G’, took this little girl from Melbourne to the world, and back home again,” Minogue said.

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