Collingwood co-captain Brianna Davey followed in the footsteps of Magpies greats Darren Millane and Dane Swan by being named the AFLW’s most valuable player by her peers on Wednesday night.
Davey edged out Western Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn and Fremantle star Kiara Bowers to claim the AFL Players’ Association gong. Only Millane (1990) and Swan (2010) had previously won an AFLPA MVP award for Collingwood.
“Bri is resilient and very dedicated to her craft. She’s been tasked with adversity and tough times over the journey through injury, but she’s persevered to piece together this amazing season,” Davey’s co-captain Steph Chiocci said.
“It takes a lotto stop her. I’ve seen her storm through one, two, three tackles and dish the ball out and not many girls can do that. Then you’ll have her smothering the ball, laying a tackle herself, and it inspires the girls.”
The versatile Davey was brilliant in her second season for the Pies since being traded from Carlton, leading her team to a preliminary final where Collingwood were shaded by Brisbane.
Fresh from the news she will miss the AFLW grand final through concussion, Adelaide’s Chelsea Randall was voted the league’s most courageous player. Blackburn won the award for best captain, while Richmond young gun and No.1 draft pick Ellie McKenzie claimed the best first-year player award.
Meanwhile, Sharni Norder (formerly Layton), the Pies’ AFLW ruck and vice-captain, has announced her retirement.
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The days of player managers signing rising stars as young as 15 are coming to an end as the agents themselves attempt to lead the biggest overhaul in their industry’s history.
The NRL and Rugby League Players Association is reviewing the Agent Accreditation Scheme amid concerns about the quality of service provided by some “six-and-a-half percenters” to their clients. There are more than 100 accredited managers, but most don’t have a single first-grader on their books.
Some of the leading managers – including Steve Gillis, David Riolo, Allan Gainey, David Rawlings and Mario Tartak – gathered at St George Leagues Club last Wednesday to discuss potential changes to the way they conduct business.
While discussions with stakeholders will continue, most of those in attendance felt the rule, which allows players to be managed from the age of 15, should be changed. Those in attendance felt a more appropriate age would be 17, stopping agents from speculatively signing as many players as possible in the hope of unearthing a superstar. By raising the limit, it was hoped young teens would enjoy their football with less pressure and expectation.
The managers also discussed ways to reduce the number of agents. That could come by charging a higher fee, perhaps as much as $10,000, before being granted accreditation, as well as making them go through a more rigorous process to prove they are qualified.
There was also discussion around putting an industry standard on how much agents can charge, possibly between 5 per cent and 7 per cent, given some players currently pay their managers well above market rates.
The summit also discussed the need to ensure strict compliance with the rules. There are concerns some players were being represented by unaccredited agents, and there was scepticism about whether banned agents were continuing to work while supposedly serving suspensions.
The NRL has indicated agents won’t be able to have players and coaches on their books due to potential conflicts of interest. However, the agents believe this could lead to banned agents, or other unqualified mentors, overseeing the careers of one of the biggest stakeholder groups in the game.
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“Everyone is like, ‘It’s good to retire with a little bit left in the tank’ and I think … ‘What?’ That makes no sense to me, I want to run that thing dry.
“That’s like dying with money in the bank.
“Even with the way the game is played as well, this year is very different to last year which would again suit me as well.”
When asked directly whether Simpson would be open to playing again, he said: “Yeah I think I’d consider it. I wouldn’t play just for the sake of playing … [it would need to be] a team that’s going to be challenging, that are looking like they’re going to play finals.”
While Simpson said the decision to retire at the end of last season was ultimately made by the club, he said coach David Teague and the list management team were very respectful of the process and he felt no bad blood towards the Blues.
“If they knew they were getting [Adam] Saad and [Zac] Williams, I would’ve given me the arse too!
“I’ll always be a Carlton person, whether I came out of retirement or coached somewhere else, but I still feel like I’ve got something left.
“I still have the desire to compete and that hasn’t gone away.”
If Simpson was to play again at AFL level, he would follow in the footsteps of Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge, who was lured out of retirement by Chris Fagan and the Brisbane Lions.
Hodge retired on 305 games when he was chaired off in his final game for Hawthorn alongside Western Bulldogs great Bob Murphy in round 23 of 2017.
He went on to play 41 more games for the Lions – including two finals – to finish on 346 games, four more than Simpson has now.
Sam McClure is a sport reporter for The Age and winner of ‘best news reporter’ at the AFL Media Association awards.
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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says the league is taking former St Kilda footballer Rod Owen’s disclosure of childhood sexual abuse very seriously and will work with police if and when other victims come forward.
In an ABC story published on April 3, Owen detailed childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Darrell Ray, who was his Saints Little League coach in the 1970s, and Albert Briggs, St Kilda’s Little League team manager for more than a decade.
Owen, now 54 years old, described the abuse as a telling factor in his descent into alcoholism, drug addiction and suicidal depression, problems he began recovering from only three years ago.
Discussing the matter on Thursday, McLachlan said: “Our integrity team has been in contact with the club (St Kilda) and I have had the right conversations as well.”
Owen, nine years old at the time of the abuse, was sexually molested by Ray in 1976 as a student of Beaumaris Primary School, where Ray was a librarian and sports coach, and by Briggs in the MCG change rooms the same year. Briggs was later awarded life membership at St Kilda — a status that St Kilda’s integrity committee is set to review.
“There is a lot to take in regarding Rod’s disclosure and the club will be liaising with its Integrity Committee to discuss the implications,” a St Kilda spokesperson said. “Suffice to say that any persons involved in such criminal acts have no place at our club.”
Speaking on Thursday, McLachlan said: “I think we take all that stuff seriously and if there were instances come forward that we weren’t aware of we’d look at all and above types of remedies, yes.”
An ABC investigation has revealed that Ray coached the Saints Little League for at least eight seasons between 1970 and 1977, and that Briggs managed the team from at least 1969, until the beginning of the 1980s.
In 2001, Ray was convicted of 27 counts of indecently assaulting boys at Moorabbin Primary School and Beaumaris Primary School between 1967 and 1976. He was sentenced to 44 months in prison, with a non-parole period of 17 months.
Asked if the AFL will be conducting a review of the Little League, a precursor to AusKick, which was devised by the then-VFL in 1967 as a promotional tool to drive junior participation, McLachlan said: “There’s obviously a police issue at the heart of it. As I understand, that league hasn’t operated for decades.”
“So, I guess the primary thing I’d say is that we take these things seriously, we’ll work with the police. Also, our integrity department, through them we’ll provide any support or counselling if anyone who’s had a similar experience wants to come forward.
“And our thoughts are with Rod Owen, clearly, and his family, and hope that he’s getting the support that he needs.”
McLachlan said the AFL would encourage those affected by the abuse to come forward.
“Anyone who has that type of experience, please contact the police, our integrity department, and we will deal with it in the appropriate way,” McLachlan said.
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Adelaide United’s Kusini Yengi has expressed support for his club’s push to have racial abusers banned from all elite sporting events, after the young star was vilified following his performance against Melbourne Victory.
Kusini Yengi put in a match-winning performance against Melbourne Victory
After the game, he was racially abused in comments on his Instagram account
He has vowed to continue celebrating goals with gusto
Yengi provided the spark off the bench as the Reds came from behind to win 3-1 on Saturday, scoring one goal and setting up another to seal the win.
It was the first goal of Yengi’s A-League career, with the 22-year-old “running on adrenaline” when celebrating in front of the Victory fans.
Following the match, he was racially abused in comments on his Instagram account, including a post showing gorilla emojis.
Yengi today spoke out about the incident for the first time, saying he “probably wasn’t surprised after the celebration and the way the fans reacted”.
“I kind of thought that this is where it might end up heading. But obviously it’s quite disappointing,” he said.
“After the game there was a lot of good messages, everyone congratulating me and stuff.
The A-League and the police are investigating the incident in a bid to find the culprits responsible.
The Reds yesterday floated the idea of a cross-code ban for people found to racially vilify players.
Adelaide United director of football Bruce Djite said he would be speaking with the Adelaide Crows this week about teaming up in a response against racism.
“We’re going to meet with him on Thursday and discuss that further on what sort of initiatives we can take as professional clubs in South Australia and hopefully that starts to gain momentum,” Djite said.
He suggested a zero-tolerance response to racism from all clubs in the state, and banning those caught from attending any professional sport.
“That would be my approach,” he said.
“If you’re an Adelaide United member and you’re racially vilifying someone, you shouldn’t be allowed to attend any sporting [codes].
“I think that would send a strong message.”
Yengi backed the move, describing it as a “positive idea [that] could help”.
AFL club backs call for broader bans
Adelaide Crows assistant coach Nathan Van Berlo today also threw his support behind the idea, and reiterated his club’s stance on racial abuse.
“[I’d] certainly be supportive of anything that comes in to make sure that we stamp it out because it’s still prevalent in all games, which is disappointing,” Van Berlo said.
Yengi said those responsible for racial abuse should get educated about the harm they cause.
“We’re all humans and we’re all trying to do our best at whatever we do, and giving people negative energy and making comments like that doesn’t help anyone,” he said.
While he wants to move on quickly, Yengi said Reds fans could rest assured that he will continue to celebrate with gusto again whenever he scores.
“No matter what anybody says to me, I’m going to be me and show my character,” he said.
“Everything that’s happened, it’s not going to stop me doing it in the future.”
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Sydney Stack has admitted his body is “not AFL ready” but hopes to ramp up training after he was fined $6000 for breaching COVID-19 self-quarantine orders, which was discovered following a Perth street fight.
Stack, 20, had been allowed to enter Western Australia on compassionate grounds via the G2G Pass system and arrived at Perth Airport from South Australia on December 10.
He was told to self-quarantine for two weeks in Northam, northeast of Perth, but instead left that property and stayed at a home in the Perth suburb of Belmont.
Stack then visited the entertainment hub of Northbridge, where he was found fighting in a street on December 19.
He was issued with a move-on notice and officers later realised Stack should have been in self-quarantine.
Stack was charged with failing to comply with a direction, and on Thursday faced a sentencing hearing in Perth Magistrates Court.
His lawyer Tom Percy said Stack had already spent 21 “difficult” days in custody over Christmas before he was granted bail.
Mr Percy said a Richmond football club representative was in court to support Stack, as well as Stack’s manager and girlfriend.
“AFL clubs are not known for their patience with players who offend, but they are committed to keeping him,” Mr Percy said.
“He understands that he’s on one chance, he’s unlikely to get another chance.
“He doesn’t need any further sanction hanging over his head from the system to make sure he toes the line because the club have shown their faith in him.”
Stack plans to leave Western Australia on Sunday to go to training on the east coast and will live with a host family.
But Mr Percy said his client’s fitness level was only at 25 per cent.
Magistrate Steven Wilson noted Stack’s early years were “not ideal” but he still had a chance to succeed with his AFL career and be a role model for indigenous youth.
“It’s still waiting for you to take advantage of that and it’s a huge opportunity for you personally,” he said.
Mr Percy told the court Stack had lost his uncle and grandfather before the quarantine breach.
The lawyer also referred to some other “significant distress” but did not reveal what it was in open court.
“He’s conscious of the obligation he has as a role model for other indigenous kids,” Mr Percy said.
Stack hoped he would not lose his stature as a result of this conviction, Mr Percy added.
When Stack was issued with the move on notice, he gave police his correct name and address, with Mr Percy saying there was no subterfuge.
“He was disarmingly honest,” he said.
During his police interview, Stack made full admissions and explained he moved to his cousin’s Belmont property after having a falling out with other family in Northam.
“Since his time in custody, he has taken steps to address his problems in a proper way,” Mr Percy said.
Stack had “some issue around his mental health” but was “on track” and wanted to put the events behind him, Mr Percy added.
He also revealed Stack hoped to travel to the United States as a musician.
Stack was fined $6000 plus court costs of $130.50.
Mr Wilson said general deterrence was a significant sentencing factor.
“To grant a spent conviction, in my view, sends a wrong message,” he said.
The spent conviction was rejected but had it been granted it would have meant it would not appear on his record.
Outside court, Stack thanked his supporters.
“I’m grateful for the court’s decision today to finalise the matter and I’m looking forward to returning to Melbourne to recommence with my teammates at Richmond,” he said.
“(My body) is all right, it’s not AFL ready I don’t think, I have a lot of work to do when I get back to Melbourne.”
Stack, who was drafted to the Tigers in 2018, was whacked with a 10-match ban in September after he and teammate Callum Coleman-Jones were involved in a scuffle near a Gold Coast strip club.
Stack later apologised on Instagram, but he missed Richmond’s grand final win due to his suspension.
“I’m very sorry, understand the seriousness of it and can do nothing now but own the consequences,” he wrote.
“I’ve let down the AFL, the club I love, my teammates, coaches and staff, its members and the Tiger army.
“I also have let down my family, my friends and all of those who have helped me along the way.
“To those who are supporting me at the moment, a huge thanks. I only hope going forward I can rebuild trust in me again.”
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UEFA have opened an investigation into claims Rangers’ Glen Kamara was subjected to racist abuse in the defeat against Slavia Prague.
Accusation were made against Ondrej Kudela who allegedly called the midfielder a “f***ing monkey”.
Rangers had two men sent-off in a heated evening in Glasgow where tempers flared.
And UEFA has now confirmed that they will investigate the alleged racism.
A statement read: “In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector will conduct an investigation regarding the incidents that occurred during the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Rangers FC and SK Slavia Praha on 18 March 2021.
“Further information regarding this investigation will be made available in due course.”
Steven Gerrard was quick to state is backing for Kamara and that has been echoed by Rangers’ managing director Stewart Robinson
The club chief has claimed they will not accept any defence of the alleged abuse.
“Racism is unacceptable in any form and in any setting,” he said.
“The racist abuse suffered by Glen Kamara will not be tolerated by Rangers. As a club, we stand resolutely behind Glen as we support him and his team-mates.
“Several of our players have subsequently received racist, threatening and sickening abuse online.
“This is abhorrent and once again highlights the responsibility social media outlets have in eradicating abuse from faceless cowards.
“We refuse to acknowledge any attempt to defend, deflect or deny the abuse Glen Kamara experienced last night.”
Slavia’s Kudela, the man accused, defending himself after the game and clarified his comments with Czech outlet Sport,
He said: “I told him ‘You’re a f***ing guy’.
“It was said in emotions after two red cards and a series of brutal interventions by an opponent, but I completely reject racism.”
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As Damien Hardwick prepares to lead Richmond for a 12th season, it is worth reflecting on his standing in the game among contemporary greats.
Since 2000, there has been no more successful person in the AFL. As a player and coach, he has been peerless since the turn of the century.
He deserves to be spoken of in the same bracket as Kevin Sheedy, Mick Malthouse and Alastair Clarkson. He is an all-time great with time to eclipse them all.
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Almost 21 years ago, Hardwick played in Essendon’s most recent premiership. The following season, he was part of the club’s Grand Final loss to Brisbane.
Having been offered a one-year deal by the Bombers, he instead accepted a three-season proposal from Port Adelaide. It would prove to be a masterstroke.
It was there Hardwick was a member of a team that won consecutive minor premierships in 2002 and 2003. In both years, Mark Williams’ team fell in preliminary final week.
He also worked closely with Alastair Clarkson and played with Stuart Dew. The trio would sink Geelong half a decade later.
In 2004, the Power finished top again. But this time, they made the most of it, winning the club’s first and, to date, only AFL flag. Hardwick played a critical role in his 207th and last game, winning three free kicks at important moments, including a reversal against Jason Akermanis which cost Brisbane a shot at goal.
“I genuinely believe he was the most influential player in the first half of that Grand Final,” Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd, a former teammate of Hardwick’s, said to foxfooty.com.au.
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“Brisbane was so intimidating. His hardness and physicality was great. He made Port believe they could win in the midfield.”
Having wedged his way under Brisbane’s skin, he retired at 32 to focus on completing his commerce degree. But football and more flags weren’t far away.
Hardwick linked up with Clarkson in 2005 and three years later was the forwards coach in Hawthorn’s unexpected premiership.
“How I see him in the media is how I remember him,” Jordan Lewis said to foxfooty.com.au.
“He was part-lighthearted but also when the time was needed, he could really go. He had a tough task with the forwards we had. It must be easy to control Jack Riewoldt having dealt with Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead.
“What he has as a coach is that players want to play for him. Relationships are his biggest asset.”
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Melbourne appointed Dean Bailey ahead of Hardwick in 2007 and Matthew Knights edged him at Essendon weeks later.
By August 2009, Richmond was hunting for a new senior coach and had narrowed it down to two candidates: Ken Hinkley and Hardwick.
The latter got the nod.
“Every club I‘ve gone to has had a great team-first culture and that’s something I believe very strongly in,” Hardwick said during his first press conference at Punt Road.
“I know it‘s easy to say, it’s not easy to deliver – I think I can deliver a blueprint for success that’s going to take Richmond to their 11th premiership in the not-too-distant future.”
In the official AFL Season Guide for 2010, journalist Andrew Wallace wrote: “In Damien Hardwick, Richmond has landed a young hard-nosed front man who will bring modern thinking to the table as well as a history of personal achievement.”
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Hardwick also stated his desire to improve Richmond’s playing list by 10 per cent annually. He swung the axe immediately, delisting Mark Coughlan, Cleve Hughes, Dean Putt, Adam Pattison, Kayne Pettifer and Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls.
Meanwhile, Matthew Richardson, Nathan Brown, Joel Bowden and Kane Johnson retired, while Jay Schulz and Andrew Raines were traded.
All up, 12 players departed Punt Road.
Who arrived? Dustin Martin, David Astbury and Dylan Grimes.
It took until 2013 for the Tigers to return to finals. Finishing fifth, they were humbled by Carlton at the MCG. It was a similar tale for the next two seasons and by the start of 2016, Hardwick was under significant pressure to stay in the role.
But president Peggy O’Neal and her board prioritised stability, re-signing their coach for a further two seasons until the end of 2018.
“In making this decision, the board considered what Damien has accomplished during his tenure, including the fact he has taken the team to three consecutive finals series,” O’Neal said on the eve of the 2016 season.
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“We also considered whether he was the right man to take us further and, after thorough analysis and discussion, the unanimous view was that Damien is the right man to coach our club.
“Importantly, Damien has the character and values we want in someone who leads our players. The players also have great respect for their coach and his approach to getting the best out of them.”
What has followed is this century’s fourth dynasty, defined as three flags in five years. The others speak for themselves: Brisbane, Geelong and Hawthorn.
In 2021, the Tigers are gunning to become the first club in 60 years — and third overall — to win four premierships in five seasons. Melbourne won five in six years in the 1950s and Collingwood collected four in a row in the 1920s.
To achieve success this year would put Hardwick in the same conversation as coaching greats Jock McHale and Norm Smith. Think about that.
Lloyd, now a pundit for Channel 9 and 3AW, sees Hardwick’s competitiveness from his playing days shine through in his coaching, but has been surprised by his growth as a more measured leader.
“He had white line fever as a player,” the retired goalkicking champion said.
“He had a nastiness in the most complimentary way. I was very grateful that I was on his side. He would go in to get under the skin of his opponents. He would sniff out a weak opposition player and go after them and not let up. Opponents would crumble around him.
“Now he is so process-driven. Damien was the ultimate role player. He wasn’t about egos. He would whip you into line if you carried on. He lets his good players play and they have to play within a framework. Damien gives you confidence if he’s in your corner.
“I didn’t see the articulate and measured footy brain as a teammate that I see now. He has a great temperament. He balances being measured versus being able to dial it up and stimulate the players.”
DAMIEN HARDWICK’S RESUME SINCE 2000
2000: Premiership player and All-Australian back pocket
2001: Grand Final player
2002: Minor premiership player
2003: Minor premiership player
2004: Premiership player
2008: Premiership assistant coach
2013-2015: Finals coach
2017: Premiership coach and All-Australian coach
2018: Preliminary final coach
2019: Premiership coach and All-Australian coach
2020: Premiership coach and All-Australian coach
TOTAL: Involved in six premierships, one losing Grand Final, three losing preliminary finals, and three other finals series.
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“I’d rather not speak about it,” Xerri said. “I was in a very tough situation. My mental health wasn’t good at the time. One hundred per cent I will tell my story one day. It’s not what everyone thinks it is. I made a mistake and now I have to pay the consequences.”
Xerri was regarded as one of the best young players in the game, with reports suggesting he knocked back a five-year, $2.5 million deal with Cronulla to test his value on the NRL’s open market at the end of 2020.
Just days after he was banned in May last year, the Herald reported the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority had taken an interest in Xerri’s family. Xerri strongly denies his family were to blame for his predicament.
“This is all on myself and a mistake I did, not my family,” Xerri said. “That was the hardest part, to tell my family and let them go through what I was going through. It is what it is. My main goal is to repay them and make them all proud again.”
Xerri also claims he hasn’t heard from the NRL during the ordeal.
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An errant golf ball to the head has left St Kilda spearhead Max King as one of the first players to miss an AFL match for premiership points under the league’s new 12-day concussion rule.
The freak accident comes as the league continues to weigh up whether to introduce a concussion substitute for the 2021 season — a change pushed by coaches during a meeting with league boss Gillon McLachlan last week — just days before the season is set to begin on Thursday night.
The Saints confirmed on Sunday that King would miss the round one date with Greater Western Sydney in Sydney next Sunday after being struck by a golf ball while playing a round in Brighton on Thursday with friends on his day off.
Tests showed that the youngster had suffered what the club has described as “mild concussion,” automatically ruling him out of the game against the Giants under the AFL’s new rules in which players cannot play in the 12-day window after being concussed.
King’s absence for the clash adds to a lengthy list of unavailable Saints, with ruckmen Rowan Marshall (foot) and Paddy Ryder (personal) both also sidelined along with Dan Hannebery (calf), Ben Paton (leg), Jarryn Geary (leg), James Frawley (hamstring) and Brad Crouch (suspension). Zak Jones (hamstring) is, however, pushing to play against GWS.
“It’s obviously a blow to lose Max for round one, but player health and wellbeing – particularly when it comes to concussion – is paramount,” St Kilda chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said.
“We’ll continue to monitor Max over the next week and take every measure necessary to ensure he is on track for round two.”
The Saints’ round one clash is proceeding as planned at this stage despite the coronavirus outbreak in Sydney however the AFL continues to monitor the situation there, as well as in Brisbane where there has also been a recent outbreak, with health and safety remaining a priority for the league.
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