Six months after a devastating bushfire on Fraser Island-K’gari, tourism operators are celebrating a bumper school holiday season amid some businesses still recovering. Johanna Marie reports.
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Manchester City are the “benchmark” across Europe but Chelsea “will hunt them” next season, says the London club’s manager Thomas Tuchel.
The teams meet in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday with Tuchel searching for a first win over a Pep Guardiola side.
City are 20 points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea in the league and look set to win a third title in four years.
“We have to accept there is a gap between us and Manchester City,” said Tuchel, who took over in January.
“If you look at the fixture in the Premier League and the fixtures in the last years we have to accept this.
“And it’s important that we accept this without making ourselves too small. From day one of next season we we will hunt them. We will try to close the gap between us.”
German Tuchel said City and German champions Bayern Munich were the “benchmark” in European football.
Guardiola’s side have won seven of their past nine games against Chelsea, including 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in January when Frank Lampard was still in charge.
“We have to admit there is a gap but for 90 minutes we are very self-aware and very self-confident that we believe we can close the gap tomorrow for one game,” Tuchel said.
Tuchel has failed to beat Guardiola in five attempts as a manager – two games with Mainz and three at Borussia Dortmund, all when Guardiola was in charge at Bayern Munich – and said the former Barcelona boss has been a “huge influence” on him.
“When he was coach at Barcelona I didn’t have the chance to know him personally, but I was watching almost every game,” the German said.
“I was very impressed by the way they made success happen, by the style they were playing, all the academy guys, the offensive ball possession.”
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“That’s one thing that’s been brought up,” Raiwalui said. “Obviously Fiji is a small market. We would definitely look at playing matches externally. Whether that’s in Australia, New Zealand or whatever other opportunities become available to us.
“With the Fijian and Pasifika communities in both countries and throughout south-east Asia, there are huge communities and huge support for anything Fiji rugby. That’s definitely an opportunity.”
Raiwalui believes the lure of returning home will help bring many Fijian stars plying their trade abroad back to Fiji in the near future.
“One thing we don’t struggle with is talent. That’s our strongest resource. Obviously, it’s going to come down to timing with contracts and turnover,” he said.
“The first couple of years it’s going to be about building that initial squad. We have obviously talked to a lot of our talent worldwide. Whether that’s Australia, New Zealand or Europe.
“And there is a lot of interest to come back at the first opportunity to come and live in Fiji. To work and live in their home country, with their families and be able to earn a competitive salary
“It’s going to come down to timing but it’s not going to just be a one-year project. It’s about planning over the next two, three, four or five years and targeting guys we want to bring back.”
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos welcomed the news, declaring it the start of a new era for rugby in the Fijian and Pasifika regions.
“We look forward to continuing our engagement with NZR on this process as we plan towards 2022,” Marinos said.
“Once further conditions around the licences have been met, we look forward to formalising the composition of the teams in what will hopefully prove a new dawn for rugby in the region.”
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said the teams were now in the final stages of planning for the 2022 season.
“We are moving into the final phase of planning for 2022 and beyond, and we have confidence that Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will be able to meet the conditions of the licence, which includes final sign off on a sustainable business plan by 30 June,” Robinson said.
“In the next two months we will be working with Rugby Australia and the two Pasifika teams to formalise their place in the new competition for what we believe will kick off an exciting new era for the professional game.”
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Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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Bag limits for Victoria’s duck season have risen just months out from the season.
It will go some way to easing the outrage felt by hunters when daily bag limits were set at just two when the season was announced in February.
The hunting lobby said a season over 20 days with two birds per day was effectively a cancelled season.
They claimed the decision, made by the state’s Game Management Authority, flew in the face of the wet season enjoyed by the state and the promising state of the wetlands.
A new aerial survey has now found the state’s duck population was “much higher” than estimated.
The GMA today increased daily bag limits from two to five and removed shooting bans on the smaller teal ducks for the 2021 duck season.
The duck shooting season will still run for 20 days – from May 26 through to June 14.
Normally the season is held over 12 weeks.
The authority said a new aerial survey conducted in November found Victoria’s estimated game duck population was almost 2.5 million.
“This number is much higher than previous methodologies have indicated and means that the sustainable harvest level can be increased,” the GMA said.
Experienced wildlife consultants counted the number of game ducks in more than 650 waterbodies from a helicopter and used satellite imagery to access the amount of water in the landscape to reach the estimate.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Jeff Bourman has been calling for the release of all the documentation used for decisions about the season.
“This announcement proves all along that the season should have been a full season with a full bag,” he said.
Duck hunting is also popular in South Australia and Tasmania as is the magpie goose season in the Northern Territory.
Last year’s season was curtailed by pandemic restrictions.
Good rain over the past two years had filled many wetlands and aerial duck counts had buoyed hopes of hunters for a return to a normal 12 week season.
South Australia had already announced a reduced duck hunting season from March 20 until June 27 with a bag limit of four per day.
Start times in Victoria have also been delayed to 8am for the first five days.
All licensed hunters must pass a Waterfowl Identification Test before being permitted to hunt ducks.
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Benji Marshall could play on for his 20th season in the NRL, with South Sydney poised to offer the veteran playmaker another season if Adam Reynolds knocks back the club’s one-year deal to link with a rival team.
The Herald and Age can reveal the Rabbitohs are making contingency plans around Reynolds’ likely departure and will approach Marshall about playing on in 2022, which could see him surpass Cooper Cronk and finish his illustrious career as the second-most capped player behind Cameron Smith.
Marshall is on a near minimum wage deal with the Rabbitohs for this season, signed at the 11th hour to fill a utility role off the bench. South Sydney have been impressed with his impact both on and off the field and are hopeful he will hold off on hanging up the boots for another 12 months.
The club has confirmed to the Herald that it wants Marshall to play on next year and partner Cody Walker in the halves if Reynolds doesn’t take up the one year deal, but also help young halves Blake Taaffe and Lachlan Ilias develop so they can takeover in 2023. Marshall is undecided on whether he will play on, with a lot to hinge on that state of his body at the end of the season.
The Cowboys haven’t flown back to Townsville after Sunday’s win against the Wests Tigers and are expected to meet with Reynolds and offer the 30-year-old the three-year deal he desires.
The Broncos are holding off on making an offer to Reynolds as they await a decision from Kotoni Staggs, who has been promised the No.6 jersey in a bid to keep him away from the Gold Coast Titans.
The Rabbitohs have assured Reynolds they will not pull the one year, $700,000 offer off the table until he decides his future, providing him with the security in case he gets injured in the coming weeks.
The club is still hopeful he will choose to remain at the club but won’t budge on the one-year offer regardless of what rival teams offer him.
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The Parramatta Eels take on the St George Illawarra Dragons, after North Queensland held on to beat Wests Tigers 34-30. Follow our ScoreCentre for all the live scores and stats.
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Stand-in captain Toby Greene has kicked five goals to inspire an injury-hit Greater Western Sydney to its first win of the season, a superb 30-point victory over Collingwood at the MCG.
In other matches on Saturday, Carlton made it consecutive wins with an 11-point defeat of the Suns on the Gold Coast, while St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs also triumphed.
The Giants were 0-3 heading into Saturday night’s match, and reeling from injuries to skipper Stephen Coniglio, key defender Phil Davis and tagger Matt de Boer on top of an already-hefty injury list.
But Greene starred, while Callan Ward pushed through a first-quarter hand injury to rack up 37 touches and seven clearances as the Giants prevailed 14.6 (90) to 9.6 (60) in front of 29,866 spectators to condemn the Magpies to their second-straight loss.
It was a dirty night for Collingwood, who slipped to 1-3 and had vice-captain Taylor Adams limp off with an MCL injury in the third quarter, while Brayden Sier (illness) was substituted out for Levi Greenwood earlier that term.
In his first match for the season, veteran ruckman Shane Mumford limited the influence of Magpies star Brodie Grundy while Tim Taranto (34 disposals), Jacob Hopper (32 disposals) and Jeremy Finlayson (four goals) were all influential.
Jack Crisp (30 disposals), Steele Sidebottom (30), Jack Madgen (25) and defensive duo Jeremy Howe and Darcy Moore all worked hard for the Magpies.
The Giants burst out of the blocks when Bobby Hill soccered through the opener but Collingwood responded through debutant Beau McCreery’s first goal.
In a cagey opening quarter there was no more scoring action until Finlayson dobbed a long-range set shot after the siren.
Greene snared three goals in the second quarter, then two in quick succession after half-time, while Jake Riccardi added another to nudge the Giants’ lead beyond four goals in the teeming rain before a previously listless Collingwood struck back.
Jordan De Goey and Josh Daicos’ instinctive snaps provided a spark, with Will Hoskin-Elliott adding another goal before Harry Himmelberg’s strike gave the Giants some breathing space at the final change.
There was controversy early in the fourth term when Collingwood star Sidebottom was penalised for a deliberate rushed behind, with Finlayson taking full advantage.
From there, the Giants largely held firm through Collingwood’s attempts to surge, and kicked away late through Josh Kelly and Finlayson.
Carlton outlasted a sloppy Gold Coast to claim an unconvincing 9.16 (70) to 8.11 (59) AFL win in Carrara.
Last week’s seven-goal hero against Fremantle, Harry McKay, kicked the crucial score in the final term on the back of some great desperation by Jack Silvagni as the Blues moved to a 2-2 record with the 11-point win.
Silvagni chased down Sun Jack Bowes with just under 10 minutes to play, earning a free kick next to the behind post for his effort.
McKay, who was kept relatively quiet for most of the match by Suns defender Sam Collins, stepped up to kick the goal with Silvagni forced off the field after injuring his right shoulder in the tackle.
The big Blues forward ended the match with two majors, with veteran Marc Murphy the other multiple goal kicker for the visitors with two majors in the first half.
Ed Curnow was a contender for best on ground with 32 disposals, five tackles, eight clearances and a goal.
Alex Sexton kicked two goals for the Suns, who struggled throughout the game for clean possessions in their first match since co-captain Jarrod Witts suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Without their main ruckman, the Suns lost the hit-outs 62 to 22 but ended up on top of the clearances count, 47 to 38.
Bowes finished with a match-high 34 disposals, while Noah Anderson had 30 disposals and 10 clearances.
Gold Coast suffered another injury setback just before half-time with defender Sean Lemmens suffering a concussion to be subbed out of the match at the main break.
Silvagni also got subbed out for the Blues after his fourth-quarter heroics due to his shoulder issue.
St Kilda has overturned a 33-point deficit midway through the third quarter to stun West Coast by 20 points in a rousing comeback at Docklands.
Coming off the most embarrassing defeat in Brett Ratten’s tenure as coach, the Saints produced a scintillating turnaround to boot the last eight goals and storm over the top of the tired Eagles.
Young forward Max King came of age with a career-high, five-goal haul, while skipper Jack Steele was heroic with 33 disposals as the Saints won 15.12 (102) to 13.4 (82) to at least partly expunge the memory of last weekend’s 75-point loss to Essendon.
Few people would have bet on the stirring comeback, with West Coast seeming to be cruising towards their third victory of the season when Jack Petruccelle snapped his fourth goal 16 minutes into the third term.
But the Eagles would not register another score until 17 minutes into the final quarter as St Kilda’s exciting brand of football hit top gear to completely change the contest.
The Saints controlled most of the match in general play but the Eagles were more efficient going forward early.
But once St Kilda started using the ball better inside 50, the floodgates opened as small forwards Dan Butler (three goals) and Jack Billings recaptured form.
Rowan Marshall made a welcome return to boost St Kilda’s flailing ruck stocks, but he sent a scare through the Saints camp after heading down to the rooms for the last 10 minutes of the second quarter.
But Saints medical sub Ben Long was not needed as Marshall returned to play out the match.
West Coast lost captain Shannon Hurn to a calf injury in the first quarter, with debutant Isiah Winder replacing the veteran defender.
Medical sub Winder did not see a lot of the ball but capitalised when he did get it by kicking his first career goal early in the second term.
Tim English was the star performer in a three-pronged tall forward set-up as the Western Bulldogs continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 19-point win over the Brisbane Lions in Ballarat.
A cold and windy day in Ballarat was hardly tailor-made for marking forwards, but English (three goals and nine marks), Aaron Naughton (two goals and eight marks) and Josh Bruce (one goal) still combined for the bulk of the Bulldogs’ tally in the 10.13 (73) to 8.6 (54) victory.
Eight days ago, Bruce had slotted a career-best 10 goals in the Good Friday flogging of hapless North Melbourne.
Against the Lions, he mostly played third wheel to high-flying duo English and Naughton.
The Bulldogs had the better of the early going in Ballarat.
But they only led by eight points at the first change after Laitham Vandermeer was hit with a 50-metre penalty for moving on the mark, allowing Harris Andrews to slot a late goal.
With Naughton and Bruce both hitting the scoreboard in the second term, the Bulldogs pushed their advantage to 26 points at the long break.
The Lions briefly threatened to get back into the contest in the third quarter when they kicked successive goals for the first time through Zac Bailey and Eric Hipwood.
The Bulldogs were able to steady through the impressive English, who kicked a difficult set shot into the wind after being paid a contentious mark, allowing the home team to hold a 22-point lead at the final change.
The Lions kicked the first two goals of the fourth term, including a remarkable dribbling effort by Joe Daniher from outside the 50-metre arc near the boundary line.
But as they had done for most of the day, it was the Bulldogs who had the last laugh with Tom Liberatore landing a long-range goal with just eight seconds left on the clock.
Onballers Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli, and defenders Alex Keath and Bailey Dale played well for the Bulldogs, while the Lions were well served by ruckman Oscar McInerney, midfielder Hugh McCluggage and backman Daniel Rich.
The Lions return to the Gabba to take on Essendon in round five, while the Bulldogs will look to extend their unbeaten start to the season against Gold Coast at Docklands.
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There will be a full day of netball games at the Pat Gallagher Netball Centre as the 8andunder and the 10andunder teams begin their season.
Ten teams nominated for the 10s and eight for the eights.
These two grades begin at 9am after six weeks of the Net Set Go introduction to netball program before Easter.
These grades continue the development as they are played under the rules of netball, the goals scored are not recorded.
The 11-and-under games will follow at 10am with the 13s at 11am and the 15s at noon.
All the other grades will play through the afternoon with the final games starting at 4.30pm.
Friday’s KFC A-Grade game is the second clash for the season between Rovers Complete Construction and Wests from 4.30pm.
Wests coach Tahlia O’Cass is looking for a better performance than the 62 to 19 result from round one.
The return of Kimberly Ellis to the Wests A-Grade squad will be a bonus going forward with O’Cass to decide if she rushes the talented attack player straight into the As or lets Ellis find her feet in Reserves.
Wests is looking for Margaret Smith to return at the end of the month to field its best side.
“Hopefully we will be more competitive,” O’Cass said.
“The effort is there. We just need a few things go our way.
“We have to put four quarters together.”
Rovers coach Leanne Southam is hoping to have the best side for the first time this season.
Recruit Wendy Stafford will take to the court in the attack circle with Suzi Barter returning to the Reserves.
While Southam is confident of a win, she does not expect a repeat of the first round 62-19 result.
“It is long season and we take each week as it comes,” she said.
“We go out to do our best in every game but it is those at the end of the season that really matter.
“It will be good to have everyone on court together.”
Barter’s return to the Reserves will be positive for the team as it plays Federal Club Eastside from 3pm.
Rovers has called on A-Grade members of its squad for numbers in the early rounds but Southam is unlikely to risk injury to players with this game immediately before the A-Grade fixture.
With Federal fielding its full side, including three players with national league experience – Tahlia Lee, Katelyn Paterson and Dana Schembri – it will be too strong.
There is no gate charge to enter the Pat Gallagher Netball Centre.
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“There’s no doubt any time a club loses a player of that quality and that seniority it’s got to have some effect on you.”
Fonua-Blake is the latest in a long line of injury blows for the club this year. The Warriors will be without Peta Hiku until about round seven after the veteran picked up a knee injury against the Raiders in round three.
Euan Aitken also has been ruled out for up to four months with an ankle injury suffered in round one, while halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita is out for up to three months with a stress fracture in his foot.
Jamayne Taunoa-Brown is still suspended after being banned for a crusher tackle in round two.
The Warriors are not the only club facing a significant injury toll early in the season with the Roosters, Sharks and Raiders facing similar woes.
Knights coach Adam O’Brien said he would struggle to put a roster together this week following a disastrous round-four clash against the Dragons on Sunday, which Tex Hoy, Mitchell Pearce and Kurt Mann failed to finish.
Dragons captain Ben Hunt, who played 71 minutes with a broken leg in round three, has slammed the NRL in recent days, believing the rule changes have played a major part in the injury onslaught.
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The AFL has confirmed the AFLW grand final will be held as a standalone event and will not have to compete against a men’s match for the attention of fans.
The AFL fixture has been rescheduled to accommodate the AFLW season decider
The AFLW grand final will be staged at the MCG, Adelaide Oval or the Gabba
Adelaide plays Melbourne in the opening preliminary final on Saturday, with Collingwood facing Brisbane in the second grand final qualifier
The league also announced the MCG could host the AFLW season decider for the first time since the competition began four years ago.
The grand final will commence at 2:00pm (AEST) on April 17.
The AFL has moved the start time of the men’s match between the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast at Docklands from 1:45pm to 4:35pm (AEST), saying they wanted to make sure there was “clear air” for the AFLW grand final.
Aside from the MCG, Adelaide Oval and the Gabba in Brisbane are also in contention to host the grand final.
The AFLW’s showpiece match will be played in the home state of the team ranked highest following this Saturday’s preliminary finals.
Adelaide, facing Melbourne in the opening preliminary final, is the top-ranked side remaining in the competition.
Brisbane, playing Collingwood in the second preliminary final, is the second-ranked side.
The Demons and Magpies would need to beat the Crows and Lions respectively for the MCG to host the grand final.
“I would love nothing more than to see a packed Adelaide Oval, MCG or the Gabba, watching women’s football at the highest level,” AFL general manager of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said in a statement.
“As we look ahead to this weekend’s preliminary finals, we are excited to witness who earns the right to host this year’s grand final.”
If the grand final is to be played at the MCG, the round-five AFL match between Carlton and Port Adelaide will be rescheduled from 7:25pm to 7:40pm (AEST) to allow the AFLW crowd to disperse and the stadium to be cleaned ahead of the Blues-Power encounter.
The Gabba will also be cleaned if it hosts the grand final ahead of the Brisbane-Essendon AFL match to be played later that evening.
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