Collingwood cop double injury blow after off-season from hell

The big question before the AFL Community Series match between Collingwood and Richmond was which Magpies were we going to get.

While the club still has two weeks before the season stars, it’s been a nightmare pre-season for the club.

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Going back to the trade period last year, after beating West Coast by one point in the first elimination final, the side was dumped from the finals by 68 points to Geelong in week two.

What followed was a debacle of a trade period with Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom Phillips and the especially ugly exit of Adam Treloar.

Then the Do Better report was and continues to be the talk of the AFL world, finding the club had a cultural history of “systemic racism” and Eddie McGuire stepping down as president.

It’s left coach Nathan Buckley under pressure as he revealed he would be prepared to step away from the club at the end of the season “for the betterment of the football club”.

So with the season within reaching distance, the last thing the Magpies need is injuries.

But in the 11.14 (80) to 11.8 (74) pre-season loss to Richmond, two players went down with injuries.

Young 20-year-old prospect Will Kelly copped a boot from the Tigers’ Dylan Grimes on his collarbone and appeared distraught in the rooms after leaving the field in the second term.

“He just grabbed it (collarbone) straight away, walked off and that doesn’t look good for the young man. It’s a tough start to his career,” Garry Lyon said in commentary.

It comes after a dislocated elbow cost him more than one game last year.

He was joined by Magpies veteran Steele Sidebottom with a soft tissue injury in a “tight calf”.

Jordan De Goey and Brayden Maynard also appeared to cop knocks but De Goey returned to the field and Maynard finished on the bench with ice on his leg.

Post-game, the Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph said it looked as though Kelly had a broken collarbone and Sidebottom’s injury woes were continuing with the soft tissue damage in the calf.

“Steele Sidebottom is the missing link for this football club, only just nine games with that COVID suspension and staying out of the hub with the birth of his first child,” he said. “But he has what the club is calling a precautionary issue with the calf and they’re also aware he only lasted 15 minutes. He came into this game with a bit of calf soreness and he just wasn’t able to go. So 14 days before a round one clash against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. He turned 30 two months ago, it’s the time in your career you just can’t be risking those contests.

“The terrible news is for Will Kelly. He seems almost certain to have a cracked collarbone. He got posterised there by Dylan Grimes and he was pretty shattered in the rooms. I think the feeling would be that that would be a broken collarbone. Tom Stewart came back in about a month last year from a cracked collarbone but they tend to be 4-6 week injuries and it just puts him behind the eight-ball. If he had played well tonight, the club had said to him ‘you’re in for round one’. Instead, a player who has only played a single AFL game looks like he’s out for the better part of six weeks.”

In positives for the Magpies, Brody Mihocek and Taylor Adams will return to field in the coming weeks.

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AFL 2021, GWS Giants, Stephen Coniglio, Jeremy Cameron, AFL off-season 2020

GWS captain Stephen Coniglio believes there’s still positives for the club despite a number of players leaving the Giants in the off-season.

Aidan Corr, Zac Williams and Jeremy Cameron were among the big names to depart the Giants in the off-season.

Young gun Jye Caldwell headed to Essendon, while Zac Langdon returned to Perth for family reasons.

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Coniglio opens up on a lacklustre 2020 | 10:54

Coniglio reflected on the players leaving but believed it would be beneficial for a number of young guns to step up and receive an opportunity in 2021 and beyond.

“In terms of how good of a system we have, we’ve got players that keep coming up and progressing and turning into really good players at this level,” he told Fox Sports News.

“Jeremy in a separate boat, he’s probably been the best player to play at this football club. Phenomenal player across the competition. That was really disappointing. At the same time we haven’t even seen, some of our younger players.

“(Jake) Riccardi played a couple of games last year and he was the talk of the town. There’s so many of them.

“Yes, we understand that’s the landscape of the AFL, but the amount of younger guys that want to make that next jump is something we always pride ourselves on doing really well.

Coniglio will captain the club again in 2021. Photo: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

The midfielder added it was “disappointing” to lose a player of Cameron’s calibre, but wished them all well for the future.

“It’s disappointing, he wasn’t the only one. Aidan Corr and Zac Williams to just name a couple,” he said.

“I know there were other young guys who left. But those guys in particular, it’s disappointing. We’ve had players come and go and in a way it has been a bit normal.

“However, those three last year, we were keen to keep all three. They chose to leave, all really good guys and friends and I wish them all the best for the future.”

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Players wanted increase in drug-testing over off-season, says Andrew Abdo

While the Panthers are set to be cleared of having any knowledge that Naden snorted a line of coke the night before the match, the player may face sanctions for breaching bio-security rules.

The wider issue worth exploring is the one-month suspension Naden received under a timely modification to the World Anti-Doping Code concerning “substances of abuse”.

Brent Naden … a beneficiary of WADA’s change in policy around “substances of abuse”.Credit:Getty

In the past, Naden would have received a two-year ban for ingesting cocaine while in competition — as Wendell Sailor did in 2006 while playing for the NSW Waratahs — because the stimulant was in his system on game day.

But a two-year review of the WADA code resulted last year in a dramatic softening of one of the most contentious rules in anti-doping, responsible for all sorts of wild defences including tennis player Richard Gasquet successfully arguing he tested positive after kissing a girl who had taken cocaine at a nightclub.

“This means that if an athlete can demonstrate that the use of any of these [illicit] substances was out-of-competition and unrelated to sport performance, the suspension imposed will now be three months and may be reduced to one month if the athlete completes a drug rehabilitation program,” WADA said in a statement.

The Panthers remain furious at media reports suggesting they knew Naden had taken cocaine when he took the field for the grand final.

The timeline of events the club and Naden have provided to the NRL is plausible. Naden claims he took the drug, along with a few beers, the night before the grand final because he figured he would be omitted from Ivan Cleary’s 17-man side.

Instead, he was named on the bench and played 32 minutes in the dramatic 26-20 loss.

When drug-testers picked out Naden along with other players in the dressing room later that night, and he submitted a urine sample, he panicked and advised a member of the coaching staff that he feared he would test positive to cocaine.

The following day, Naden also admitted having mental health issues, which the club has been aware of since he received horrific racial abuse during a match at Gosford earlier that year.

The Panthers management contacted the NRL to tell them about Naden’s cocaine confession, although they were unaware of the imminent change in the WADA code. Head of integrity Joe Collins, however, knew it was coming.

The NRL and Sports Integrity Australia was subsequently satisfied Naden took the cocaine out of competition and accepted he would enter a relevant rehabilitation program.

Wendell Sailor received a two-year ban for cocaine use in 2006.

Wendell Sailor received a two-year ban for cocaine use in 2006.Credit:Reuters

A one-month ban, as per the new WADA code, was handed down. That meant the 25-year-old could resume training on January 1 — something that has outraged cynical fans and divided opinion among coaches and officials.

Sailor has declined media requests to comment on the change in the WADA code and the Naden matter, but has regularly said in the past he believed the two-year suspension was too much.

But there is a fear among some club bosses, who spoke to the Herald on the condition of anonymity, that the new edict sends the wrong message to players wanting to dabble in party drugs when they’re not playing. Some illicit substances, like cocaine, can stay in the system for as much as four days.

“The thought of two years out of the game was a huge deterrent,” said one club boss. “Now, some players might be prepared to sail closer to the wind.”

It is also unclear under the WADA code what happens if athletes continually test positive, arguing each time that they have issues with addiciton.

RLPA chief executive Clint Newton applauds the change.

“What is the WADA code for?” he said. “It’s to stop cheating. We support the change because there’s a significant difference between substances of abuse and substances used for enhancing performance.”


Newton and Abdo will sit down shortly to refine the NRL’s illicit drugs policy, which affords players three strikes: a warning the first time; a 12-match ban the second; and deregistration the third.

It appears to be working: while testing has gradually increased since the policy was first implemented, the number of positive tests is below one per cent.

Abdo said the game will look to further increase testing, as well as target testing. Newton wants further protection and welfare provided to those players who do test positive.

Like every sport, the NRL walks a fine line with penalties that deter drug use while also providing support for their greatest assets: the players.

“Our policy has serious consequences because, if you’re a multiple offender, you’re out of the game,” Abdo said. “But it’s also a matter of culture. That might sound too naïve or optimistic. I believe truly professional athletes need to be disciplined and make the right choices in a high-performance environment. But they deserve support, too. If you step out of line, we’ll support you. But if you continue to step out of line, there’s no place for you in our game.”

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AFL 2021, every coach’s priority in 2021, AFL fixtures, results, teams, trade period, off-season, AFL draft

Some coaches will be turning their attention to success.

While others have major decisions to make and signatures to chase. looks at the priority for every coach in 2021.

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AFL shudders as CTE discovered in Tuck


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NRL 2021: Benji Marshall linked to Sydney Roosters, Wests Tigers, NRL Transfer whispers, off-season signings

Clubless NRL legend Benji Marshall has been the subject of a link to glamour club the Sydney Roosters.

Nine first reported the Roosters’ apparent interest in signing Marshall to a $150,000 deal.

Since being released by the Tigers, where he famously won a premiership in 2005, Marshall‘s future has been in limbo.

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Jack Riewoldt not giving up on embattled teammate despite controversial off-season

Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt is backing embattled teammate Sydney Stack as the small forward prepares to make another court appearance in the coming days.

Stack is currently due in a Perth court next week, after spending the festive period in jail after being arrested on December 19 for allegedy breaking Western Australia’s strict COVID-19 quarantine rules.

Riewoldt said it was disappointing to hear the 20-year-old had been in trouble over the off-season, but wasn’t going to “give up” on the talented forward.

“It’s been hard for the club to be in touch with him because he’s been in jail for the holiday period,” he told reporters on Monday.

“It is disappointing as a senior player when someone finds themself in trouble, but when we engaged Sydney to come to our football club we weren’t under an illusion that he was going to come in and it was going to be a really smooth transition.

“We expected that we were going to have some small issues with him. When you take on a young man like Sydney, who wasn’t and hasn’t been afforded a lot of the luxuries that a lot of Australian children grow up with, you know it’s going to be a project.

“So we’re not going to give up on Sydney Stack. He is a young man that has got a lot of issues, he has a lot of potential, but most importantly now we put the football side of things to one side and we actually want to continue to grow him as a young man because he’s got some fantastic traits.”

Stack has been at the club since early 2019, where he was picked up as a pre-season supplementary player.

He was embroiled in controversy in 2020, where Stack alongside teammate Callum Coleman-Jones was sent home from Richmond’s hub in Queensland after breaking COVID-19 protocols, with both players still having four matches of their 10-game ban to serve in 2021.

Stack has played 26 games for the Tigers in two years.

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4 Questions The San Francisco 49ers Must Answer Early During NFL Offseason

The San Francisco 49ers just closed up shop on an injury-plagued and disappointing 2020 NFL season. Dealing with star players missing substantial action, San Francisco followed up a Super Bowl appearance by winning six games and finishing in last place in the NFC West.

This obviously isn’t the way head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch envisioned things going fresh off both receiving contract extensions.

Heading into what could very well be a franchise-altering NFL offseason, the 49ers now have a ton of questions to answer. A lot of these questions will be answered early in the offseason. Here’s a look at four of said questions.

Who Do The 49ers Replace Robert Saleh With As Defensive Coordinator?

Pretty much the hottest NFL head coach commodity of this cycle, it’s already a foregone conclusion that Saleh will move on from the 49ers this offseason. The Detroit Lions have been linked to him more than any other team. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers have also shown interest.

For good reason. Saleh, 41, has led a top-five total defense in San Francisco each of the past two seasons. However impressive his performance was with a fully-loaded unit last season, Saleh was even more impressive in 2020.

49ers Defensive Players Who Missed Games In 2020

* K’Waun Williams: 8 games

* Jaquiski Tartt: 9 games

* Richard Sherman: 11 games

* Nick Bosa: 14 games

* Solomon Thomas: 14 games

* Dee Ford: 15 games

We’re talking about three Pro Bowl performers and two other core starters. Even then, San Francisco yielded the fifth-fewest points in the NFL while recording 17 interceptions. Once Saleh does in fact move on, the 49ers will have to look for candidates to replace him.

San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator candidates

“I think Saleh will kill these interviews,” Shanahan told reporters Monday about the defensive coordinator. “I think he’ll do a great job.” That sounds like a head coach resigned to the fact that Saleh will be leaving the organization after four seasons.

Recently-fired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn becomes the most-realistic option to replace Saleh with the 49ers. Shanahan worked under him as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. The 50-year old Quinn was also an assistant in San Francisco from 2001-04, meaning he has a built-in relationship with the organization.

Another option becomes former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, who served on Anthony Lynn’s coaching staff with the Los Angeles Chargers over the past four seasons and is currently out of a job after Lynn’s firing on Monday.

Bradley has led four top-10 defenses during his tenure as a coordinator and head coach. He worked with Saleh in Seattle and has the defensive play-calling abilities an offensive-minded Shanahan will seek out.

An up-and-comer of sorts, former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans could very well be an internal option for the 49ers’ defensive coordinator position. Serving as San Francisco’s inside linebackers coach, Ryans has overseen the progression of Pro Bowler Fred Warner as well as youngster Dre Greenlaw. He might be a popular pick among 49ers players.

Will The San Francisco 49ers Release Dee Ford?

“When you’re dealing with that part of your body, sometimes these things take more time and I think Dee tries to say encouraged but I think it’s been a struggle for him and we try to stay encouraged as well but I can’t tell you with great absolute that yeah, he’s going to be ready,” general manager John Lynch told reporters about Ford’s back and neck injuries that limited him to one game (47 snaps) this season.

Ford, 29, remains an impactful player when on the football field. Unfortunately, he’s been injury-plagued since the 49ers acquired the former Pro Bowler from the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 2019 season, signing Ford to a huge contract in the process. The former first-round pick has recorded 6.5 sacks in 12 games with San Francisco.

Complicating things further is the fact that San Francisco can save a whopping $16 million against the 2021 NFL salary cap should the team release Ford with a post-June 1 designation. Given the uncertainty surrounding the NFL salary cap due to the revenue downfall brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s a whole heck of a lot of cash.

Sure the 49ers can go to Ford with the hopes that he agrees to a new deal that lowers his 2021 cap number. But relying on the injury-plagued EDGE rusher to remain healthy seems foolhardy.

A lot of this will also depend on options for the 49ers during NFL free agency. Veteran Kerry Hyder led the team with 18 quarterback hits and 8.5 sacks in 2020. He’s also set to his the open market. Could Hyder be a more cost-effective option opposite Nick Bosa moving forward? His market will dictate that.

Jimmy Garoppolo And The 49ers’ Quarterback Situation

This is, quite honestly, the $26.9 million question for these 49ers heading into the NFL offseason. Garoppolo, 29, was limited to six games this past season due to multiple high-ankle sprains. Suggestions are that Lynch and Co. are going to be on the look out for an upgrade to see if they can find a better option than the Super Bowl quarterback.

The backstory here is Garoppolo’s $26.9 million cap hit and the fact that San Francisco can save as much as $25.5 million by releasing or trading the embattled signal caller. Garoppolo talked to reporters about his possible future with the 49ers on Monday. In what can’t really be considered too much of a surprise, he wants to remain in Northern California.

“Yeah, this is where I want to be and I love it here,” the quarterback told reporters in a Zoom call.

This decision will not be left up to Garoppolo. Unlike previous offseasons, there’s going to be a ton of starter-caliber quarterbacks available, either via free agency or a trade.

49ers Options At Quarterback, Sans Jimmy Garoppolo

Detroit Lions Pro Bowler Matthew Stafford could move on from that team via trade when March comes calling. Detroit is coming off a last-place season and seems headed to a full-scale rebuild.

To a lesser extent, Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowler Matt Ryan could potentially be made available depending on the team’s new head coach and general manager situation. Obviously, there’s a fit here with Kyle Shanahan having overseen Ryan’s MVP season back in 2016. Whether the Falcons even contemplate trading Ryan remains to be seen.

Other options include recently-benched Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and young New York Jets former top-three pick Sam Darnold. With that said, it’s not yet known whether the 49ers would view either as an upgrade over Garoppolo. Stafford and Ryan almost certainly would be.

Of course, the 49ers could look to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft for a quarterback of the present and future. However, that’s a story for much later in the offseason depending on how the early action goes in March.

What we do know is that Garoppolo has proven himself to be a winner since joining the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He’s 22-8 as a starter for the team while all other quarterbacks have posted a 7-27 record during that very same span. The 49ers must weigh that with Garoppolo’s inability to progress to elite status under a quarterback guru in Shanahan.

How Can The 49ers Create More NFL Salary Cap Room?

Outside of potentially moving Garoppolo and releasing Ford, these 49ers have other avenues to pursue that could help create cap room. It’s going to be needed with Trent Williams and Jason Verrett slated to hit free agency and San Francisco in a less-than-stellar cap situation.

49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters on Monday that they are working under the guise that the 2021 NFL salary cap will be a mere $175 million due to the above-mentioned revenue downfall created by COVID-19. For Lynch and Co., it’s a hope for the best, plan for the worst approach. Taking into account that $175 million figure, the 49ers would currently be $16.4 million under the cap.

In addition to Williams and Verrett becoming free agents, it’s highly unlikely that Richard Sherman will be back. There’s also growing concern about the future of multi-time Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk in San Francisco. None of this even takes into account outside free agents the 49ers might want to add in order to help build up a roster that was ravaged by injury in 2020.

The good news? These 49ers can save another $10 million against the cap by releasing Weston Richburg and Mark Nzeocha. They also have the opportunity to free up a ton more in cap room should the brass opt to restructure the contracts of Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward and Laken Tomlinson in hopes that the 2020 revenue downfall doesn’t extend into next season.

If the 49ers were to move on from Garoppolo and Ford while making the moves mentioned above, they’d actually have a robust $80 million to spend under the cap with a tremendous amount of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. Chief among them, the quarterback position.

The new NFL league year is not slated to start until March. However, the 49ers’ offseason began in full earnest the minute they were eliminated from playoff contention. These are the four questions that must be answered in the short-term.

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AFL news 2020: Dustin Martin Buddy Franklin dinner, Eddie Hayson meeting, match-fixing investigation, sydney dinner, off-season news, Richmond, Sydney Swans

Australia’s newly formed sports watchdog has reportedly alerted NSW police to a dinner involving Dustin Martin, Lance Franklin and high-profile gambler and former brothel owner Eddie Hayson.

The Age reports Martin arrived in Sydney at the start of December and arranged to meet with Hayson, who has been investigated and cleared of match-fixing by the NRL in the past and in 2014 lost control of his high-profile NSW brothel, declaring he had debts of $52 million and admitting he provided several footballers with free services at the premises.

The report indicates Franklin had no relationship with Hayson and was surprised by his arrival at dinner with Martin and former AFL ruckman Tom Derickx.

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Grand Final

Rioli to find out future


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AFL 2021: Return to training, photos, AFL training, picture special, offseason, recruits, Shaun Burgoyne, latest news

With many back for the first time in six months, AFL clubs have returned to training at their home bases, as the build-up for the 2021 season gets underway.

All first to fourth-year players were scheduled to return to training on Monday December 7, for a two-week block lasting until December 18, with all other players returning on Wednesday January 6.

However many veteran players also returned on Monday, including the AFL’s oldest player Shaun Burgoyne.

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Grand Final

At 38, he will become one of the 10 oldest players in league history when he runs out for the Hawks next year. It will be his 20th season.

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AFL 2020: Lewis Jetta delisted, delisted free agents, West Coast Eagles, Will Schofield comments, list changes, off-season changes

Delisted West Coast Eagles speedster Lewis Jetta has said he was almost brought to tears by the support shown from retired teammate and close friend Will Schofield.

Before Jetta’s delisting was confirmed, Schofield urged his former club to retain the 31-year-old, claiming that delisting him would be a “poor decision” and that Jetta was “the best player I’ve ever played with”.

Speaking on SEN after being let go by the Eagles, Jetta, who has played 202 AFL games across West Coast and Sydney, revealed how much Schofield’s support meant to him.

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Grand Final

Former Roo takes shots at NM


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