AFLW reshuffles early rounds of 2021 season amid border restrictions



The AFLW has made several changes to the opening two rounds of its fixtures amid state border restrictions.

Two matches in round one have been changed, with West Coast to host Adelaide in Perth — due to the open Western Australia-South Australia border — and Melbourne to travel to the Gold Coast to take on the Suns.

The Eagles were originally set to travel to the Gold Coast, while the Crows were fixtured to play the Demons at Casey Fields.

Greater Western Sydney’s temporary relocation to Adelaide, which is in place until at least the end of round two, has seen its round-two match adjusted.

The Giants will still open their season against the Dockers at Fremantle Oval on January 31 but will now host West Coast at Adelaide’s Norwood Oval on February 6 in round two.

GWS confirmed the round-two match would nominally be a Giants home match but they will not lose the right to host five home fixtures across NSW and the ACT.

Fremantle was due to play Collingwood away in round two but will instead play Adelaide at Norwood Oval on February 6.

The Magpies will now host Gold Coast that day, while North Melbourne’s clash with St Kilda at Melbourne’s Arden Street has been pushed back to February 7.

“The adjustments made to the first two rounds provides certainty into the early part of the season and allows the competition to remain as adaptable as possible as the season progresses in a constantly changing environment,” AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said.

“Throughout the planning process, we listened to and worked closely with each stakeholder to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game.

“We openly acknowledge there are unique challenges and recognise the non-football commitments of both AFLW players and staff and through this open dialogue we know the AFLW community remains determined to work through them to achieve a full season.”

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Hawks need community support to stay alive despite record start to the NBL season


If the Hawks can go from no basketballs for their players to the top of the NBL ladder in six months, imagine what the franchise can do with the Illawarra community’s support.

The remarkable rise of the Hawks has been the story of the season so far, with the foundation club and last year’s bottom-placed side starting their 2021 campaign with three straight wins.

The team’s success has prompted coach Brian Goorjian to passionately call for “Illawarra” to be reinstated in the franchise’s name.

Goorjian made his feelings clear on the campaign for the Hawks to reclaim the club’s original name after his team’s win over Brisbane on Thursday night.

“We want to come back, we want them to fill that stadium and we want to hear ‘Illawarra, Illawarra’,” Goorjian said.

“I‘ve been around Chuck Harmison, Greg Hubbard, Glen Saville, Mat Campbell and these guys have earned that right. They’re Illawarra, we’re Illawarra. It’s time.”

Hawks president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi couldn’t agree with Goorjian more, but he stressed the club needed more community support to reclaim the Illawarra name.

The club could have folded back in May when it went into voluntary administration after it was revealed it hadn’t turned a profit in four years.

Thankfully, the NBL stepped in and helped to find new owners, but the job isn’t done from a long-term security perspective according to Kordahi.

“We should be Illawarra without a doubt, but we need you to get out and support your team,” Kordahi said.

“We have lifted the bar in what we are doing on and off the court, including bringing in the best coach in the country in Goorj.

“Now it’s on the community to buy their tickets, memberships, and corporate support their team so we can get the Illawarra name back.

“We have more good news coming soon regarding corporate, which is great.”

NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger stressed the league’s stance on reinstating the “Illawarra” name hadn’t changed, placing the emphasis back on the Wollongong community.

“As the new owners have also indicated, the club needs to build a long-term and sustainable future,” Loeliger said.

“They have set a bold membership target as part of their ‘Illawarra Proud’ campaign and are working closely with the local business community to get behind the foundation club.

“We fully support their efforts and encourage everyone across the Illawarra region to support the Hawks.

“We will continue to monitor the club’s progress and work closely with the Hawks ownership to ensure their long-term viability and success.”

Kordahi has been buoyed by the Hawks’ remarkable start to the NBL season, especially when you consider where the rebuild started, just weeks after the club had been placed into voluntary administration for the second time since 1979.

“We started in June with players having to bring their own ball to training because we didn’t have any,” Kordahi revealed.

“I had to call the NBL to send me some basketballs because we didn’t have any.

“That is the start of what we had – absolutely nothing – and now look what we’ve built in six months.”

Like everyone in the Wollongong region, Kordahi desperately wants to see the Illawarra name return, but he also knows the club requires more than just a name change to secure its long-term future.

He points out that the corporate reality of running a successful club means there are multiple standards that must be upheld, on and off the court.

“So even if we get this name back, we are not saved,” he said.

“This is an ongoing moving target.

“If we are still lingering around 3000 members in a few years time, then we won’t be here because we are not here to lose $3 million a year.

“So, the fans need to support their team.”

The Hawks made a huge step in the right direction on Friday when the club welcomed Multi Civil & Rail (MCR) back on-board as a major partner for the NBL 2020-21 season.

Multi Civil & Rail will take pride of place on the back of the new-look Hawks playing strip.

MCR is owned by former Hawks boss Tory Lavalle, who previously bid for the franchise prior to Kordahi signing on.

Kordahi believes Lavalle’s commitment is further proof of the franchise’s united front.

“I’ve been working closely with Tory for the last couple of months for him to come back as a sponsor,” he said.

“This highlights that there isn’t any angst between Tory or myself – we are in this together to drive our community engagement.

“But we also need the community to get out and support their team – that is vital for our long-term success.”

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Ray Warren to make call on retirement before season kick-off


Nine are yet to formalise their official league line-up for the 2021 NRL season, and Warren knows he will need to give an answer in the coming weeks. For the first time, he stopped short of declaring he is a certainty to be heard in 2021.

“I’m fearful of retirement because you don’t know what it is like until you dip your toe in the water, but then I’m fearfully protective of the good run I’ve been given and I don’t want to damage whatever reputation I may have built,” Warren told the Herald.

Phil Gould’s on-air chemistry with Ray Warren is infectious.Credit:ninevms

“That’s pretty much your equation right there. I go from year to year, I know I’m getting older, and I don’t want make a fool of myself and undo what I might have done.

“I’ve had a really good run, that run has lasted 55 years. I’ve told Nine I’ll take the summer to make up my mind. I do still enjoy it, and anyone who works with me will tell you that – I still get excited.”

It is well documented Warren has a fear of flying, and tries to avoid covering interstate games when possible. He also continues to battle with nerves in the days leading up to games, something that has gradually worsened over the years.

“I don’t know whether it is nerves or fear,” he said.

Ray Warren with Channel Nine colleagues Warren Ryan, Darrell Eastlake, Ken Sutcliffe and Michael Cleary in 1989.

Ray Warren with Channel Nine colleagues Warren Ryan, Darrell Eastlake, Ken Sutcliffe and Michael Cleary in 1989. Credit:Fairfax Media

Matt Thompson has been Warren’s understudy for a few years, while Peter Psaltis, who is based in Brisbane and sounds eerily similar to Thompson, was regularly heard last year during matches in Queensland because of COVID.

Nine could yet be tempted to use Warren for big games like Origin. Last year’s decider played at Suncorp Stadium was Warren’s 96th straight interstate fixture, but one he needed to call remotely for the first time in his career from the Sydney studios.

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“The biggest fear I have is to make a mistake and not know you have made it,” Warren said. “It’s all well and good to make a mistake and then go back and correct it. But when you make one and you don’t know, I think that is described as senility.”

The late, great Richie Benaud was still commentating cricket on Nine in his early 80s. Martin Tyler is two years younger than Warren and still has one of the most recognisable voices in English football.

Warren revealed last year during a game how he had had a run-in with US rap megastar Snoop Dogg on a flight, which became one of the most-read stories on the Herald website in 2020.

“I’m more filthy on Snoop now because he didn’t ask me to take part in those Menulog ads,” Warren quipped on Thursday. “I’m ready for a re-match.”

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Bridgerton Renewed for Season 2 on Netflix – E! Online


Calling all Bridgerton fans: Lady Whistledown has major news for you!

The fan favorite Netflix series has officially been renewed for a second season, the streaming service confirmed on Thursday, Jan. 21. Alongside footage from the show, the Netflix Twitter account announced, “Prepare for another social season! @Bridgerton shall be back for Season 2!”

Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes also shared the exciting news with her social media followers on Thursday, posting a letter from the Lady Whistledown herself. “The ton are abuzz with the latest gossip, and so it is my honor to impart to you: Bridgerton shall return for a second season,” her message stated. “I do hope you have stored a bottle of ratafia for this most delightful occasion.”

Lady Whistledown’s message also noted that the cast, which includes Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page, will also be back for season two, which will start filming in the spring. 





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Keifer Sykes flies high as Phoenix score first win of season


The two sides played out a double-overtime thriller on Sunday, which Adelaide won after the Phoenix missed 14 free throws. This time they were better from the line and more effective defensively before Sykes took charge in the final term with 10 of his points, while fellow import Ben Moore also hit his straps to finish with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Adelaide big men Daniel Johnson (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Humphries (20 points) led their side.

NBA import Donald Sloan stepped up in the opening minutes, nailing a three and drawing a foul while Sykes looked to assert himself more, finding some early baskets and setting up Mitch Creek for a dunk.

The Phoenix took a slim lead into quarter-time but were reducing the impact of their strong defence by conceding too many offensive rebounds to the plucky Sixers, who continued to stay close despite the visitors threatening to break away several times.

Kyle Adnam had 12 points for the half for the Phoenix, who led 47-43 at half-time.

Keifer Sykes of the Phoenix takes on Adelaide’s Donald Sloan on Wednesday night.Credit:Getty Images

Johnson fired up in the second half, scoring 10 quick points but good responses from Moore and Adam Gibson kept the Phoenix firing, while Sykes threw down his astounding one-handed dunk over Humphries just before three-quarter time as his side led 71-61.

Sykes took over in the last term before his teammates held off the Sixers in the final minute.

Adelaide NBA draft prospect Josh Giddey hopes to be able to return to the court against New Zealand Breakers on Friday night after medical advice kept him out of Wednesday night’s game.

Giddey hit the floor hard after losing his balance following a dunk in Sunday’s win over the Phoenix and he said a doctor would make the final call on whether he plays on Friday night.

“It will be a doctor’s decision on Friday morning, so we will see what he says,” Giddey told broadcasters on Wednesday night. Hopefully I’ll be good to go.”

The Phoenix play Perth Wildcats in Perth on Sunday at 5pm AEDT.

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Brennan and Tigers ready to attack new season


“We are not going to be everything we want to be overnight but that is the whole fun of it, embracing ups and downs but staying level through them and just knowing they are part of the process,” Brennan said after the Tigers announced her reappointment on Tuesday.

The experienced former Western Bulldog has had little luck in recent years, with suspension forcing her to miss the Dogs’ 2018 flag and injury restricting her to just 17 AFLW games in four seasons.

Her concussion last season saw her confined to a dark room for a short period as she recovered but now, on the eve of a season that starts for Richmond against Adelaide on January 31, Brennan is fit and filled with anticipation.

The 28-year-old said Ferguson has given players the chance to drive the program under his guidance and she is rapt with what the group has been able to develop.

“Over that COVID period [there was] heaps of hard work and commitment and connection and I think it is going to continue to propel us forward for the next challenge in the journey,” Brennan said.

“He [Ferguson] wants us to play a really high pressure, exciting brand of football and he has been great in handing us the reins a little bit to really drive the standard and expectations.”

Those expectations aren’t high externally but with Brennan supported in a leadership group including Hosking, Sabrina Frederick, Cordner, Alana Woodward, Phoebe Monahan and Christina Bernardi, there is enough talent and experience for a better showing.

Brennan plays down her own talent but the key forward is, at her best, as capable of winning games off her own boot as anyone else in the competition. She is more willing to be effusive in her praise of McKenzie.

“She is a going to be a star that girl, she already is a star I am really excited for her,” Brennan said.

“The way she can get in and out of congestion and how she uses the footy, she has got a ripping left foot but she has stepped inside the environment and just thrived so far.”

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Perth Glory open season against Adelaide United


A timely return of enthusiasm has eased coach Carl Veart’s fears that his Adelaide United side could be caught flat against Perth Glory on Wednesday night at HBF Park.

The Reds haven’t played since beating Melbourne City 2-0 at Coopers Stadium on January 3.

It’s a break of more than two weeks that Veart didn’t want just two games into Adelaide’s season.

“It’s been strange,” Veart said.

“It’s almost like we’ve gone back into pre-season mode so it has been difficult to keep that interest up.”

However, much to his relief, Veart noticed the spark had returned to his squad at training on Tuesday morning.

“You could see the sharpness back and the focus,” the Reds boss said.

“We’re really looking forward to getting back to playing again.”

While the Reds feel like they are virtually restarting their season, the Glory are in fact beginning their A-League campaign.

Having been forced into hard hotel quarantine for two weeks on their return last month from AFC Champions League duties in Qatar, the Glory requested the start to their A-League season be delayed.

Perth’s season was supposed to start last Saturday but the game was pushed back to Wednesday due to COVID-19-enforced border closures and travel restrictions that have caused havoc with the scheduling in the opening mouth of the season.

“It’s something that we’re going to have to get used to for this whole season,” Veart said.

“There’s going to be interruptions all through the season. It’s something that we just have to manage and take it game by game.”

With an eye on Adelaide’s home game on Saturday night against Melbourne Victory, Veart elected not to take Ryan Strain and Javi Lopez – who are recovering from respective groin and knee injuries – to Perth.

“(Strain’s) disappointed that we haven’t taken him for the Perth game, (but) he’s definitely available for Saturday,” Veart said.

The Reds – who are yet to lose under Veart in a seven-matrch spell stretching across two seasons – have had confirmed that following their game against the Victory they will meet Brisbane Roar at Dolphin Stadium on January 30.

Meanwhile, Glory striker Andy Keogh said he was delighted to back in Perth after leaving the club during previous coach Tony Popovic’s tenure.

He said it was “great” to be coached by Popovic’s replacement, Richard Garcia.

“It will be fantastic to work under him and give my all to help him achieve success,” the Irish marksman said.

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Melbourne Demons willing and able to embrace hub life this season


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While AFL players could spend most of the season in interstate hubs because their sport is their only job, this is not the case for most AFLW players.

However, Stinear said his players had already spoken to their other employers about interstate hubs and most would be able to enter them.

“The majority of our players have the flexibility to move into a hub or interstate for a period of time, that would be OK with their employers and family life,” he said.

“It would only impact one to three players in the group.

“It would have more of an impact on staff with young families, they might have work and [have] family responsibilities.

“But we have enough depth with players and staff we will find a way to make it work.”

Meanwhile, the Demons have come up with an interesting way of improving their scoreboard accuracy.

In partnership with sponsors Zurich, Melbourne will donate a footy equipment pack to a community club for every goal they score, in a “Goals for Good” campaign.

“Last year we were third for shots on goal but we finished as one of the lowest ranked teams for accuracy and efficiency inside 50,” Stinear said.

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“Fremantle and North Melbourne from last year were consistently able to kick high scores, we want to be able to match it with them, the best.

“It’s about contributing and having an impact more than in just the game, so when we finish the season we aren’t just defined by win/loss. We can have a more meaningful say in the community.”

Players will nominate the clubs that get the packs but clubs can also apply to be a part of the initiative.

“When the goals start coming the players will head to those clubs to present the packs and getting involved in training,” he said.

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Top Waterwomen Charge Big-Wave Season in Hawaii


Until you’ve seen big-wave surfing up close, it’s hard to understand just how massive and intimidating these waves really are. Towering walls of water loom on the horizon, getting larger and larger until they finally break in a thundering explosion of whitewater. It’s one of those things that if you’ve seen it and felt it, most people quickly realize they don’t want to be apart of it.

Any human that decides to paddle themselves past the point of no return and leap to their feet is doing an incredible job of fear management. The reward for successfully riding one of these waves is an unrivaled adrenaline rush, the risk is a vicious wipeout that can easily cause serious injury or even death.

While top big-wave surfers like Kai Lenny, Grant Baker and Billy Kemper get a lot of the spotlight for their big-wave riding abilities, there’s another group of chargers that are finally beginning to get the attention they deserve.

Top waterwomen are getting a big platform this season to showcase their big-wave riding prowess thanks to Red Bull Magnitude. This big-wave video contest kicked off last month and will crown the waterwoman that performs the best throughout the entire Hawaiian winter big-wave season. Here’s a look back at the heaviest moments that went down in December, and with the giant swell coming in this weekend, this competition is far from over.


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Ryan Papenhuyzen says first post-Cameron Smith Storm skipper must lead in his own way during NRL 2021 season


Veteran forward Jesse Bromwich has been Smith’s understudy for several years now and has often been seen as the heir-apparent although State of Origin lock Dale Finucane and veteran forward Kenny Bromwich have boosted their leadership stature in recent years.

Representative five-eighth Cameron Munster and winger Sandor Earl were also in the main leadership group last year. Earl isn’t with the team this season.

“I don’t think someone will try to replace Cam if he is not going to be here,” Papenhuzyen told media on Thursday from the team’s annual training camp in Geelong.

“It’s more about bringing your strengths to the table.

“Two who stand out are the Bromwich brothers. They have been here for a while now and they won’t lead like Cam, they will lead like themselves.

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“Everyone respects them, everyone respects our whole leadership group.”

Papenhuyzen said replacing Smith’s poise and calm on-field would be as difficult as replacing his talents.

“What Cam was really good at was his calmness and that is something we will work on [during] pre-season now, get in heaps of reps so when we get to those situations it becomes second nature,” Papenhuyzen said.

He joked Bellamy, who is noted for his animated ways during games, won’t help in bringing calmness to the team.

“Not Craig, that’s for sure,” Papenhuyzen said.

“Kenny Bromwich is really calm, he strikes me as one of those kinds of people. There is that aura, Kenny has that and a few others have that but Kenny stands out.”

Papenhuyzen was told by Bellamy last year he needed to have more of a say around the team and he has stepped up since his return given the team’s State of Origin stars aren’t due back until next week.

He listed utility back Nicho Hynes and Brisbane Easts winger Michael Purcell, who is just training with the side, as two candidates pushing him for the full-back role.

“We have Nicho, who is a pretty talented full-back. and little Purce as well, he’s come down from Brissy and is an unbelievable talent – he reminds me of Josh Addo-Carr a little bit,” Papenhuyzen said.

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“There is also a few younger boys who don’t have a position but are willing to learn to play full-back or wing. It’s competitive but they want to learn and I’m happy to share my experiences with them.”

The Storm have already been told to put the 2020 title behind them and as the new season fast approaches, Papenhuyzen said he wanted another ring in 2021.

“I have my ring at my desk, it makes me smile,” he said. “I’m so happy I’ve achieved that but now I want to get another one.”

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