Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan admits ‘heat is coming’ as he prepares for life in NRL furnace as chief playmaker


“He found me,” Flanagan said. “I was a bit stunned there. He was looking for me, but he has played State of Origin and he has played for Australia so it is always good going up against him.

“I felt that I am the dominant kicker on the team and I can feel the heat coming, but I will have to work on that in my own game and spread my kicking game and the workload across the whole team.”

Kyle Flanagan cops a big hit during the Bulldogs’ trial match against Cronulla on Saturday. Credit:Getty

Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett still has a call on who will partner Flanagan in the halves for Canterbury’s season opener against Newcastle.

Brandon Wakeham wore the No.6 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium with Jake Averillo racing the clock to be fit for round one with a minor injury.

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The Bulldogs have tried to prise Matt Burton from Penrith for this season after the five-eighth agreed to join the Bulldogs from 2022.

The Panthers have so far rebuffed all interest in Burton and even proposed a player swap with Dylan Napa, which Canterbury didn’t consider.

“We’ve got a few that will be racing the clock for round one,” Barrett said. “Averillo, [Ray Faitala]-Mariner, [Dylan] Napa so we’ve just got to get through the next week.”

Luke Thompson will miss the opening four matches of the season for an eye gouge in the final round loss to the Panthers last year.

Barrett was buoyed by the efforts of new boys Flanagan, Nick Cotric, Jack Hetherington and Corey Waddell as his side erased a 12-point half-time deficit to beat the Sharks thanks to a winning try from school teacher Brad Deitz.

“I thought Nick Cotric was pretty good, he had some strong backfield carries and I am still working on my combinations with Corey Allan,” Flanagan said. “Hopefully Jake Averillo comes back in the next few weeks for round one but I thought it was a good start.”

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Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire names Jock Madden at five-eighth for trial against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles as he prepares for Adam Doueihi suspension


Madden, one of the most promising playmakers emerging in the NRL, has said he has modelled his game on former Queensland legends Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.

He was expected to feature in the NRL at some stage in 2021, but Maguire has dropped a big hint on how he plans to parachute the youngster into his first round squad.

Michael Maguire has named Jock Madden at five-eighth for the Tigers’ trial.Credit:Getty

Penrith recruit Daine Laurie will also have a chance to press his claims for the fullback role after being chosen in the No.1 for the clash against the Sea Eagles, who will be missing the injured Tom Trbojevic.

Trbojevic said he strained his hamstring when he slipped in the bathroom on Sunday, but video later emerged of him having a late night running race down Manly’s Corso with a member of the public. He denied that incident has caused him to miss the opening month of the season.

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Manly coach Des Hasler has turned to Morgan Harper to wear the No.1 against the Tigers.

Laurie only joined the Tigers earlier this month after a player swap with Paul Momirovski and is likely to start the season at fullback should former captain Moses Mbye not recover from a hamstring strain in time for the trip to Canberra.

James Tamou will captain the Tigers for the first time in the trial.

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Iran strikes deal with UN nuclear watchdog as Tehran prepares to cut inspections



The UN nuclear watchdog said on Sunday it had struck a deal with Iran to cushion the blow of steps Tehran plans to take this week that include ending snap inspections, with both sides agreeing to keep “necessary” monitoring for up to three months.The announcement by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, made at Vienna airport after a weekend trip to Iran, confirmed that Tehran would go ahead with its plan to slash cooperation with the agency on Tuesday.Iran has been gradually…

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Coronavirus updates LIVE: Australia prepares for vaccine rollout; Victorian government yet to send hotel quarantine bills; Inside Sydney’s biggest vaccination station



The federal government has revealed the who, what and where of Australia’s initial vaccine rollout, but there are fears the nation’s supply is at risk due to a worldwide shortage of suitable syringes.

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Australia prepares for vaccine rollout; Victorian government yet to send hotel quarantine bills; Inside Sydney’s biggest vaccination station


Melbourne was nudging 20 degrees by 7am and, as the city awoke, it breathed a collective sigh of relief. On walking tracks and beaches, strangers looked at each other – maskless – and grinned. Once again, we had done it.

The statewide snap lockdown – billed as a circuit breaker and ending at midnight on Wednesday – was nowhere near as tough as previous Melbourne lockdowns. But it still stung.

Photographer Chris Cincotta, who launched the wildly successful Humans of Melbourne, says we are a resilient city.Credit:Justin McManus

Business groups have warned many small and medium operators will never come back after the past year’s rolling lockdowns, and estimate the losses from the latest shutdown could be nudging $1 billion.

Through it all, Melbourne has again shown its resilience. Having technically eliminated the virus in November, we have again driven community transmission of COVID-19 into the ground (on Friday, three new cases were confirmed; all of them people already in quarantine having been exposed through close contacts).

Read Bianca’s full story here.

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SA prepares to shut border to Greater Melbourne at midnight


South Australian authorities intend to shut the state’s border to Greater Melbourne at midnight tonight, following the emergence of a new Victorian cluster.

State emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said this afternoon that pending further information from Victorian health authorities, South Australia would shut its border at midnight to anyone travelling from the Greater Melbourne region, with exceptions for returning South Australian residents, those permanently relocating to SA or essential workers.

Under the planned directions, South Australian residents who return from Greater Melbourne after midnight tonight will need to quarantine at home for 14 days.

Those who return before midnight tonight will need to get tested for coronavirus on days one, five and 12 in line with the current requirements.

The restriction would not apply to travellers from regional Victoria, nor would the new arrangements affect border communities.

Stevens said he was unable to say when the border restriction would be lifted, with authorities intending to monitor the situation closely to open the border as soon as safely possible.

It comes after Victoria today reported the cluster linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport had grown to eight cases.

That includes two cases reported today – a hotel worker and a previous resident who left the hotel on February 7. 

The infections are believed to be linked to the highly-infectious UK variant of the disease.

“It’s a very dynamic and moving situation,” Stevens said.

“Our steps in South Australia are taken with an abundance of caution to make sure that we are minimising the risk, but at the same time not taking steps aren’t deemed to be necessary.”

Stevens said the direction might change between now and midnight, but authorities wanted to warn people of their intentions “as soon as possible so they can make those arrangements and cross that border if it’s necessary for them to do so before we make these changes”.

He said authorities were aware many South Australians were currently in Melbourne to attend the Australian Open, but they wanted to keep SA COVID-free ahead of the upcoming festival season.

“We know that this is a delicate position for people who may be in Victoria wishing to travel to South Australia or South Australians who may be looking to return,” he said.

“If you feel so strongly that you need to get back without quarantining then my advice would be that you consider what your options are immediately.”

Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said she was unable to say when authorities would confirm the midnight border closure, with SA Health still trying to gather information about the new cases from their Victorian counterparts.

“I do apologise because it is always so inconvenient to have any borders in place in Australia,” she said.

“However, from our perspective we have to keep in mind the health and safety and wellbeing of South Australians and we also have the Fringe and Festival coming up and we want to most positively have that go ahead.”

Spurrier said SA Health was yet to receive the genomic information about the Holiday Inn cases and the Victorian testing rates.

She said she was being “extra cautious” giving advice about the latest cluster, given the UK variant of COVID-19 is 70 per cent more transmissible.

“I am very concerned,” she said.

“We have had a number of cases associated with the hotel (and) we know what happened when we had the Parafield cluster here in South Australia, but on the other hand… we are in a better position.”

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CBA prepares for $4bn first half profit



Earnings season heats up this week as Commonwealth Bank hands down its half-year numbers, with analysts and investors set to focus on capital management plans, margin trends, and the outlook for loan deferrals.

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Inauguration Day 2021 news: US prepares for Trump pardons as Biden cries in emotional speech



Rapper Snoop Dogg is reportedly lobbying to acquire a pardon for Death Row Records co-founder Michael ‘Harry-O’ Harris, as America prepares to find out who is on Donald Trump’s final list of pardons.

Mr Harris, 58, was convicted of attempted murder and kidnapping in 1988 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. During his time in jail, he has reportedly reformed his character and has become a vocal advocate for prison reform.

Snoop Dogg is working with two lobbyists, including Alice Johnson, a woman who became a criminal justice reform activist two-and-a-half years ago after her life sentence was commuted by President Trump following extensive lobbying by Kim Kardashian West.

“The president knows about it. I’ve spoken with Ivanka [Trump] and I’ve spoken with Jared [Kushner], and I’ve been told that President Trump is aware of the case and has been reviewing it,” Ms Johnson said. “In reviewing Michael Harris’ case, his story, and what he’s gone through, this is such an unfair case.”

Mr Harris attempted to gain early release earlier this year on compassionate grounds, citing the coronavirus pandemic. His request was denied.

Mr Harris was one of the founders and early financiers of Death Row Records, a rap label that in the 1990s boasted artists Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac on its roster.

Snoop’s attempts to secure Mr Harris’ release face a potential hiccup. Two years ago, Snoop clashed with Trump after he released a music video showing him shooting a fake gun at a clown that resembled the 45th President.

“Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!” Trump tweeted at the time.



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Navalny Prepares to Fly to Moscow, Despite Threat of Arrest


But analysts said that despite the bureaucratic drumbeat, the final decision over Mr. Navalny’s fate would be made in the Kremlin. In years past, the authorities have avoided locking Mr. Navalny up for longer than a few weeks at a time, apparently to avoid allowing him to become a locus of opposition to President Vladimir V. Putin while in prison.

Still, his prominence rose, along with Russians’ discontent. Mr. Navalny’s populist and tough-talking style, slick and humorous YouTube videos, and relentless derision of the “crooks and thieves” in the ruling class all struck a chord with Russians frustrated by corrupt officials and stagnant incomes.

The government barred him from running for president in 2018. But Mr. Navalny, who is 44, built up a nationwide network of regional offices and drew an online audience of millions for his video exposés of the hidden wealth and the foreign real estate holdings of the Russian elite. He exhorted Russians to use regional and local elections — even though they are not free and fair — to chip away at Mr. Putin’s power by supporting opposition candidates who had the best chance of winning.

Mr. Navalny fell ill from the poisoning in August, while returning from a trip to Siberia before elections there. He could be heard screaming in the airplane bathroom before he collapsed. The pilot’s quick emergency landing, and Mr. Navalny’s immediate treatment on the ground in the city of Omsk, most likely saved his life, his doctors later said. After a standoff, Mr. Putin agreed to let the comatose Mr. Navalny to be flown to Berlin for treatment.

In Germany, a military laboratory determined that Mr. Navalny had been poisoned by a chemical from the Soviet and Russian-developed Novichok family of nerve agents. Mr. Navalny regained consciousness and pledged to return to Russia, while blaming Mr. Putin for the attempt on his life.

In December, evidence emerged to back up that version. The research group Bellingcat, working with the Russian news outlet The Insider, used leaked phone records to show that officers from a secret Russian spy unit with expertise in poisonous substances trailed Mr. Navalny for years and were nearby when he was presumably poisoned.

Mr. Navalny then placed a call to a man he said was a member of the unit assigned to assassinate him and pretended to be a senior Russian official seeking to debrief him. In a video viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube, Mr. Navalny can be seen extracting a confession from the man, who describes a plot to plant the poison on the inside seam of the crotch area of the opposition leader’s underwear.

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CM KCR prepares Telangana after talk with PM Modi


HYDERABAD: Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has ordered that the entire state government machinery be fully geared up for successfully implementing the Covid-19 vaccination drive starting from January 16 in Telangana as well as the country.

Addressing a meeting of district collectors, senior officials of various departments and ministers at Pragati Bhavan on Monday, the CM took stock of the entire situation. Subsequently, he participated in the video conference on Covid-19 vaccination drive addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

KCR said before the vaccination process starts, officials must put in place each step needed to be taken promptly in case any of the vaccine recipients show an adverse reaction. A separate room with doctors and medicines must be ready at each vaccination centre to deal with such cases.

The Chief Minister said a committee headed by Chief Secretary will monitor the entire exercise. He wanted all MLAs, MLCs, MPs, ZPTCs, MPPs, and ministers to actively involve themselves in the vaccination drive. Arrangements are already in place for administering the vaccine at 1,213 centres in the state, which include the Primary Health Centres (PHCs). There are 866 cold chain points for storing and transportation Coronavirus vaccines.

 

Government of India has already decided that Covishield vaccine from Serum Institute of India and Covaxin from Bharat Biotech will be first given to Asha workers, staff at Anganwadis, and health, police and sanitary personnel, apart from others who are in the frontline during Phase I of the vaccination drive. Subsequently, those over 50 years will be vaccinated.

It will be responsibility of police officials to ensure their personnel are vaccinated. Sarpanches and village secretaries will be responsible in making the vaccination drive a success at the village level, the CM said.

 

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