Trbojevic factor bigger than Johns and JT


Tom Trbojevic’s impact on Manly is statistically greater than what Andrew Johns and Johnathan Thurston had on Newcastle and North Queensland respectively, with the Sea Eagles 16 points better off in recent years when he’s playing.

Trbojevic’s value was on show again on Saturday, as his try and two assists propelled the previously struggling Sea Eagles to a 36-0 flogging of Gold Coast.

But even that doesn’t paint the full picture of how important the fitness of his problematic 24-year-old hamstrings are to Manly.

Since his full-time shift to fullback in 2016, Manly have won 51.35 per cent of games with Trbojevic in the side as opposed to just 30.56 per cent without him.

Under Des Hasler since 2019, the situation is even more critical with Manly’s probability of winning almost three-times higher with Trbojevic, going from 28.12 per cent without him to 75 per cent with him.

That goes far beyond Newcastle’ jump from 44.16 per cent to 61.79 with Johns as their chief half between 1994 and his retirement in 2007.

It also towers over the Cowboys’ drop of 53.74 per cent with Thurston after he arrived in 2005 until his 2018 retirement compared to 36.36 per cent without him.

“You could certainly say that (he’s as important as Johns and Thurston) at the moment,” teammate Martin Taupau told AAP.

“It’s the influence with the relationships and combinations he has with certain players.

“You’ve got to get insurance on those hamstrings alone … It’s a huge asset.

“I said to him when he came off (against Titans), you’re playing fullback, halfback, hooker and front row at the same time.

“There’s so many things that he brings along. Confidence as well knowing he can bring a quick play-the-ball a try or a try assist.”

Trbojevic’s impact is surprisingly bigger in defence and attack, despite the fullback being renowned for his ball-playing skills.

While Manly have scored an extra five points on average with him in the side since 2019, they go from conceding 26.9 points without him to just 15.6 when he’s setting the line at the back.

That overall swing of 16.2 points in attack and defence is again beyond Johns’ 10.6 at Newcastle and Thurston’s 9.9 at the Cowboys.

“Defensively he doesn’t get a big enough rap,” winger Reuben Garrick said.

“He is so cluey with his numbers and sending players where they need to be.

“Even his defence, his tackling. It’s so underrated. He saves a lot of tries and he’s in the right position all the time.”

MANLY WITH TRBOJEVIC (SINCE 2019):

Win rate – 75 per cent, Points scored – 22 points conceded – 16

MANLY WITHOUT TRBOJEVIC (SINCE 2019)

Win rate – 28 per cent, Points scored – 17, points conceded – 27

NEWCASTLE WITH ANDREW JOHNS (1994-2007)

Win rate – 62 per cent, Points scored – 26, points conceded – 21

NEWCASTLE WITHOUT ANDREW JOHNS (1994-2007)

Win rate – 44 per cent, Points scored – 20, points conceded – 26

NORTH QUEENSLAND WITH JOHNATHAN THURSTON (2005-2018)

Win rate – 54 per cent, Points scored – 23, points conceded – 20

NORTH QUEENSLAND WITHOUT JOHNATHAN THURSTON (2005-2018)

Win rate – 36 per cent, Points scored – 17, points conceded – 24

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Waters claims both Supercars pole spots


Supercars championship leader Shane Van Gisbergen will have to do it the hard way in Tasmania if he’s to continue his perfect start to the season.

The New Zealander is aiming to beat a long-standing record for most consecutive wins to start the championship but will start Sunday’s two sprint races at Symmons Plains from sixth and seventh on the grid.

Ford driver Cameron Waters claimed pole position for both 44-lap races as he aims to end Van Gisbergen’s six-race winning streak.

The Tickford Racing star clocked a fastest lap of 50.763 seconds to take pole for Sunday’s first race before then going fastest again in qualifying for the second race with a 50.5622.

Waters said translating that one-lap speed into a winning race set up remained the challenge for his garage.

“Our one-lap speed is definitely good but the race car is where we’re lacking at the moment,” Waters told Fox Sports.

If Van Gisbergen can win Sunday’s opening race he’ll move past Allan Moffat (1977) and Mark Skaife (1994) as the only driver in Australian touring car history to win seven straight races at the start of a season.

Waters may have come out in P1 for both of Sunday’s races, but he was less than complimentary of a controversial split qualifying system being used this weekend.

Under the set up the field is split in half for two separate five-minute periods during qualifying.

“It’s definitely different, I like that we’re trying new things but for me I like when we’re all out there together,” he said.

Sunday’s first race starts at 1.35pm with the second race of the day beginning at 4.25pm.

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From AFLW to roller derby, experts say its time to take concussion in women’s sport seriously


When the Crows chase their third AFLW premiership on Saturday, captain Chelsea Randall will be watching from the sidelines.

A concussion from a collision during last week’s preliminary final left her ruled out of the match.

It’s a bitter sweet way to end a season — but as Sarah McCarthy knows, a concussion can have much longer consequences

In 2016, Sarah was the jammer for her Sydney roller derby team, skating at high speed in the league’s Grand Final, aiming to get past the opposition and score points.

Risks of contact sport
Sarah McCarthy received a knock to the head during a roller derby match.(

Liam Mitchell Photography 

)

“I was a few feet in front of the pack, looking over my shoulder,” she tells ABC RN’s Sporty.

As she skated, a competitor’s elbow hit Sarah’s neck and jaw hard and she crashed to the ground.

She doesn’t remember if she passed out or not, but recalls feeling briefly sick.

She got up, sat out for awhile, but later re-joined the bout, feeling reasonably ok.

It was Sarah’s second concussion that week, having had an earlier blow at training.

The next few months passed in a blur of sickness, dizziness and ringing ears.

“I could barely make it past lunch time without falling asleep. My head felt like it was in a vice 24 hours a day,” she says.

What was worse, says Sarah, was the memory loss, heightened emotions, and constant haze in her mind as she struggled to manage a big work project.

Sarah’s experience is not out of the ordinary. Experts say sportswomen are at higher risk of concussion than male athletes, and the effects of concussion in women tend to be more severe.

A young woman with curly short hair smiles while siting on a green chesterfield sofa chair.
Sarah still lives with the ongoing after effects of her concussion even today. (

Kyrah Ciliah

)

Almost five years on, Sarah continues to live with the implications of Post Concussion Syndrome.

“I struggled verbally, and I still do now if I have a poor night’s sleep,” Sarah says.

“It’s almost like I’m sitting on a chair in a room with a curtain around me and all of my vocabulary is just beyond the curtain. And I can’t reach it or I use the wrong words. I forget people’s name all the time,” she says.

“I’m fatigued every day. I still can’t exercise. I can’t handle stress, I can’t handle light, I can’t handle sounds.”

What happens when you’re concussed?

Dr Adrian Cohen, an emergency and trauma physician who researches concussion prevention, says concussion is not as simple as was once thought.

He says concussion results in less blood flow to the brain.

This means brain cells, called neurons, don’t get enough oxygen and glucose. They also suffer a “structural deformity”.

Basically, Dr Cohen says, the brain has a “metabolic crisis” and neurons stop working properly.

Why is concussion more common in women?

We don’t have enough data on the size of the problem, Dr Cohen says.

But research and scrutiny of concussion in women in sport is growing — largely in the wake of developments in elite men’s sport such as the AFL and NFL.

“Doctors like myself who work in this area are definitely seeing it more often and we’re seeing it with more severity,” Dr Cohen says.

He says women sustain more concussions than men in high-impact sports such as rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules football. Women also take longer to recover.

One possibility is that women may be more likely to report concussion.

But Dr Cohen says there are complex physiological factors at play.

“There are structural differences between men and women’s brains,” he says.

“They actually have a slightly faster metabolism than male brains, and they have slightly greater oxygen flow to the head.

“The cells themselves can be thought of as being slightly hungrier. So in the context of an injury that disrupts the supply of glucose and oxygen, it can help explain why they suffer more damage.”

He also says women are joining high impact sports without years of tackle training and have had less opportunity to build up the strong neck muscles crucial in protecting against impact.

Dr Cohen says these factors are not an argument for reducing women’s participation in contact sport — the benefits, he says, far outweigh the risks — but he is urging for new ways to minimise those risks.

“We have to outlaw illegal play that causes damage, we have to get people off the field when they have an injury, we have to recognise concussion,” he says.

He is part of a team developing a new device which he says can quickly and accurately assess a player for concussion.

“Instead of just asking somebody whether they’re okay, and putting [them] through a 10 minute test, which seems fundamentally flawed at the moment, we have got to put this in the field of objectivity.”

Concussion and migranes

Dr Rowena Mobbs, a Macquarie University neurologist who researches and treats the effects of concussion in sportspeople, says there is truth to suggestions that women experience concussion symptoms more severely.

“But there is this really important overlap of chronic migraine after trauma, and the term for this is post-traumatic headache,” she says.

“When we talk about migraine … they’re the same multitude of symptoms that can occur in concussion.

“So you can be dizzy and clouded in your thinking, lethargic and have double vision. And we know that women are at three times the risk of chronic migraine than men.”

A woman on roller skates playing roller derby can be seen flying up the court.
Experts say more research is needed into concussion in sportswomen.(

Liam Mitchell Photography 

)

She suggests there could be an association between chronic migraine syndrome and concussion, a kind of double whammy for women.

“It’s really a complex area,” Dr Mobbs says.

“It’s fairly new to research because, unfortunately, there’s been so much preferred research in men in sport, and we’re only just now approaching female concussion.”

In Australia, the Sports Brain Bank works on diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other brain disorders associated with previous concussions or head impacts.

Dr Cohen says there are several Australian sports women who’ve pledged to donate their brain to the Sports Brain Bank.

“But in general terms, these women won’t have been playing the games for as long, and at as high a level,” he says.

He says concussion and its long-term consequences “are a numbers game”.

“The more impacts to the head you have, the more likely you are to suffer short, medium and long-term consequences. Therefore, the more likely it is to show up as CTE. But we’re going to be seeing it in women unfortunately, in the not too distant future.”

Invisible injuries

Concussion rules are changing in Australian football codes — the rules that mandated Randall miss the AFLW grand final were brought in earlier this year. 

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Dr Mobbs welcomes these new rules, but hopes the conversation in elite sport will extend to how concussion is managed at training and in community sport.

In 2019, the Australian Institute of Sport released an updated set of concussion guidelines to improve player safety and address rising concerns in the community around the links between concussion and CTE, which has been linked to dementia and behavioural problems.

Dr Mobbs wants measures like restricting heading the ball in soccer training to be considered.

“We must look after people’s brains,” she says.

“We can preserve what we love about the sports, they can still be played hard, but it just means that we’ve got to all get together and think of ways we can preserve brain health for these players.”

Sarah McCarthy wishes she’d been stopped from returning to play in the 2016 grand final, and regrets not taking time to immediately rest after the injuries.

She has advice for other people who experience concussion.

“First and foremost, stop everything – stop,” she says.

“If you can, stay in a dark room, don’t do anything that’s too mentally taxing. Don’t exercise.

“If I had taken that four to six weeks to rest [and] not have too much mental and emotional stimulation, I think my recovery would have been a lot quicker.”

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Questions over Andrew Laming’s link to rugby club that won women’s sport grant


The grant to build a new clubhouse for the Southern Bay Cyclones Rugby Union Club in Redland Bay, Queensland, was part of a controversial government program to promote women’s sport known as the Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream.

“When it was announced the alarm bells went off straight away because the club itself didn’t have any female teams. To my knowledge, it still doesn’t,” Don Brown, a Queensland state Labor MP, told 7.30.

The secretary of the rugby club is James Eaton, whose wife Stephanie works in Dr Laming’s electorate office. 

There is no mention of women’s teams on the club’s website.

Mr Brown wants to know if Dr Laming’s office declared the relationship with Stephanie Eaton prior to the grant being awarded.

“I suppose other clubs in the area that were after female facilities don’t have that inside running, don’t have that direct contact to Andrew Laming,” Mr Brown said.

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Titans coach urges Taylor to stick to job


He’s unlikely to have the leadership of Jamal Fogarty next to him but Ash Taylor isn’t being asked to take on extra responsibility for Gold Coast against Newcastle on Saturday.

Titans coach Justin Holbrook said co-captain Fogarty is almost certain to miss the NRL clash with the Knights at CBUS Super Stadium due to the corked thigh he suffered in last week’s loss to Canberra.

That will mean Taylor will make his return from a hand injury alongside 20-year-old Tanah Boyd in the halves for the hosts.

Taylor has found some of his most consistent form alongside Fogarty in the past 12 months, shedding the weight of responsibility which he struggled to handle at times during his Titans’ career.

With Fogarty set to miss Saturday’s clash, Holbrook insists he won’t be demanding anything different from Taylor against the Knights.

“I see him just playing the same role,” Holbrook said.

“Tanah is a pretty good organiser himself.

“I just want Ash to continue on the way he has played last year and a couple of games this year. I think Tanah will do a good job with that.”

The Titans will also be without veteran winger Anthony Don, who picked up a hip injury in the 20-4 loss to the Raiders which left the Titans with a 2-2 record.

Centre Brian Kelly makes his return with Phillip Sami moving to the wing to replace Don.

Injury-hit Newcastle head north without Mitchell Pearce (ruptured pec) while Tex Hoy (hamstring) and Kurt Mann (concussion) are also out.

Blake Green will make his first start since round 15 last year while Kalyn Ponga is back to play his first match of the year following off-season shoulder surgery.

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Sport climbing at delayed Games in 2021 for Australian Oceana Mackenzie


“I was always pretty serious from age 12, but at my first bouldering world cup [in 2019] I made semi-finals and I realised then I could be pretty good at it.”

In 2016 when the IOC announced climbing would feature at Tokyo, Mackenzie didn’t automatically think she’d be a chance of making it.

“People were like, ‘Oh you know, keep training and see how we go’ so it was always in the back of my mind but wasn’t super serious about it up until maybe 2019,” she says.

At Tokyo there’ll be two gold medals up for grabs (one each for the men and women’s divisions) and the winner will have to be judged the best climber across three disciplines: speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing.

Mackenzie has put her year 12 studies on hold to focus on the Olympics this year and she spends her time between the gym, climbing indoor walls around Melbourne and getting expert high performance training at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

While the sport is an enormous physical challenge, the mental side of it is not to be underestimated.

Mackenzie says bouldering and lead climbing is like solving a puzzle. The paths laid out on the wall change constantly, with officials moving different combinations of pieces around to keep competitors guessing.

They only get five or six minutes to look at a new path or wall pattern before climbing.

“I am first looking at where we start, because there is a set start position,” Mackenzie says. “The more practice you have the more you can look at the wall and know how the course goes. Sometimes there are climbs when you have no idea how you will do that so it’s jump on and see how I go. Usually you can at least see some sort of path up.

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“I love the problem solving. I am a pretty big introvert and competitive so I love the challenge of figuring it out and then doing the climb.

“I quite like dynamic and coordination moves, so jumping around the wall. But I try to be all round. I enjoy working weaknesses too.

“Usually in a competition we have four or five climbs and there’ll be one that’s jumpy, one is more balance and then one or two ones that might be more strength.”

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Sport bodies back plans for Covid passport trials to let fans back into stadiums


Leading sports bodies have backed Government plans to use Covid test and vaccine passports as a way to allow fans to return to events.

In a joint statement, bodies including the Premier League, the FA and the England and Wales Cricket Board said Covid certificate pilots were a “credible option” to allow larger crowds in arenas and stadiums.

But they called on the government to provide more clarity on how and when stadiums will be allowed to return to full capacity “with as few restrictions as possible.”

Current pilots will see crowds capped at 25% of capacity for the largest sports stadiums.

But the bodies said this would be “insufficient” to end sport’s Covid financial crisis.

It’s hoped capacities will be increased in the fourth step of the roadmap out of lockdown, starting no earlier than 21 June.

The Government is set to launch an “events research programme” later this month, to investigate how pre-event testing and vaccine passports can make events more safe.

Covid certificates would show you’ve had the vaccine, have had Covid in the last 180 days, or had a negative test in the last two days, in order to enter a venue.



Wimbledon’s All English Tennis Club signed the statement

The first event in a month-long trial was due to be a night at the Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool on April 16, but the venue pulled out, blaming confused government communications.

Instead, the first event will be the FA Cup Semi-Final on April 18 at Wembley.

The schedule also includes the snooker World Championship at the Crucible theatre in Sheffield, and the FA Cup final

“This week’s announcement by the Prime Minister that the Government’s roadmap for easing the lockdown restrictions remains on course is very welcome news,” the statement reads.

Asking for the government to provide certainty on how the rules will work from June, they added: “The return of fans will give a huge boost to millions who enjoy a day out at a sporting event with their friends and families and be of great benefit to the economy.

“It is right that every possible action is considered to secure this outcome as soon as possible, but only for as long as an unrestricted return is considered unsafe to fans, matchday staff and the wider public.”

Other bodies signing the statement include the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which runs Wimbledon.

Both Rugby League and Union’s governing bodies signed the statement, as did the English Football League, the Scottish Professional Football League and Silverstone Circuit.

A Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the constructive approach from major British sports as we explore how testing covid certification and other steps can help get more fans back into stadiums and other large events safely.

“We want as many fans as possible to be able to enjoy a great British summer of sport, safely.”



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Genia proud of O’Connor’s transformation


Former Wallabies star Will Genia has praised the “complete transformation” of James O’Connor, saying he’s thrilled to see his former teammate thriving.

O’Connor’s career was at the crossroads in 2017 when he was arrested in Paris for possessing cocaine.

That incident came after he had fallen out of favour at the Wallabies following a string of off-field incidents.

O’Connor had lost his passion for the game at the time, and had become a shell of his former self as he battled with drugs, alcohol, and depression.

But the 30-year-old has transformed his life, winning back his Wallabies spot and even being named stand-in skipper at the Queensland Reds earlier this year.

Genia, who is now with Japanese club Kintetsu Liners, has watched on with pride as his good friend came out the other side of his struggles.

“Just as a mate, it’s been great to see his transformation,” Genia said.

“You think about where he’s come from, with the cocaine issues, the prescription drug issues and just losing the enjoyment and passion for playing football.

“Obviously he had to deal with his issues personally around how he was as a person and how he carried himself.

“I’m just so happy to see – it’s like a complete transformation. He’s now the captain of the Queensland Reds.

“That’s a reflection of how he’s changed the way he is as a person, how much he’s grown, how much he’s matured.

“More than the rugby, I’m just so happy to see he’s come through the other side and come through as such a better person now. That genuinely makes me happy.”

The Reds sit on top of the Super Rugby AU standings with a perfect 6-0 record, and will be aiming to make it seven straight wins when they take on the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

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Sport is very good at black and white, but life is not always so straight forward


Sport is very good at black and white.

We won, you lost is the very heart of the elite sporting contest.

However, sport often struggles with shades of grey — that’s where the ambiguous moral uncertainties lie.

And where sport can get tied in knots is when the moral philosophy stuff intersects with sport’s raison d’etre — the winning and losing bit.

Many sports at the moment are wrestling with the question of whether or not they should allow players to play or fulfil a certain role based on historic “wrongs” or alleged crimes.

This week the Australian cricketer, Steve Smith, let the whole world know that he wanted to captain his country once again.

Smith, of course, sat out of the game for one year for his role in the ball-tampering affair in March 2018 and was banned for two years from holding any captaincy position.

His “crime” was turning a blind eye to the ball-tampering planning that was going on under his nose.

“I don’t want to know about it,” he said later describing his actions.

“That was my failure of leadership.”

David Warner and Steve Smith
This week, Australian cricket coach Justin Langer told ABC there was “no captaincy position available” despite Smith’s desires. (

Reuters: Rogan Ward

)

Now with Tim Paine’s career and hence captaincy seemingly drawing to a close, the Cricket Australia Board need to decide whether Smith has matured enough to be given the responsibility to captain his country again.

The fundamental question the board will have to wrestle with is whether Smith should be forgiven for that historic wrong?

Does he deserve another chance, or is his character permanently tainted by that little bit of mud that’s still sticking from the ball-tampering scandal?

Cricket NSW board considered that question and overlooked Smith in favour of Pat Cummins when it selected a captain for its 50-over team.

That same question is asked repeatedly of the former rugby league and union international, Israel Folau.

Folau had his $5 million Rugby Australia contract ripped up in 2019 for posting on social media that homosexuals would go to hell.

To some Folau’s post warning drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators that hell awaited them unless they repented, was laughable — if you weren’t guilty of at least four or five of those sins, you weren’t trying.

But others argued words counted and found the post deeply homophobic, coupled with Folau’s previous public opposition to same-sex marriage.

At his best, Israel Folau was one of Australia’s finest athletes, who could single-handedly win you a game.

That’s the currency that speaks loudest to club administrators looking for any edge on the competition.

And so, barely a week goes by without the prospect of Folau getting a contract with this club or that competition.

Most recently it was the Queensland Rugby League, and earlier this year St George Illawarra flew the kite but decided it was all too hard.

A rugby player wearing black tackles a players wearing yellow around the hips whilst another player in black watches on.
Folau hasn’t played an elite sporting match since his contract was terminated in May of 2019.(

AAP: Dan Himbrechts

)

So, does Israel Folau deserve a second chance — particularly given he hasn’t made any controversial public statements since 2019?

One senior former rugby league administrator I spoke to recently was adamantly opposed to the idea that the National Rugby League owed Israel Folau anything.

Young men are killing themselves about their sexuality, he told me, noting Folau had never apologised for his posts.

“We’ve done everything for him, but what’s he ever done for us?” he asked.

And yet, the Sydney sports lawyer, Darren Kane, said if any club was serious about signing Folau it would probably succeed.

The NRL could refuse to register Folau, but Kane argued the NRL would likely lose if he took it to the courts.

Kane recently wrote an excellent piece for The Sydney Morning Herald questioning what constituted a “fit and proper person” under the NRL’s rules.

Kane points out the blurring of lines when it comes to judging a player’s past.

The NRL stood down Penrith player Tyrone May in 2019 for recording and distributing sex tapes without consent.

He was charged and convicted of the crime but was allowed to resume playing by the NRL last year and subsequently played for the Panthers in the Grand Final.

This was a player convicted of an actual crime as opposed to a person causing offense — however harmful that offence may have been.

And yet the NRL has drawn widespread praise for bringing in its no-fault stand-down policy that prevents any player charged with a serious crime from playing until their case has been heard and dismissed, or they’ve served their punishment — as was the case with Tyrone May.

The players’ union is vehemently opposed to the rule, arguing a person is innocent until proven guilty.

But the NRL has stuck to its guns, and in doing so has drawn a line of sorts about the moral responsibility of the code and its players, if not for all incidents, at least for some.

Other competitions have taken a different view.

Earlier this year, Australian and South-East Melbourne Phoenix basketballer Mitch Creek, was charged with allegedly assaulting a woman.

He said he intended to contest the charges.

Mitch Creek dribbles the ball with his right hand while playing for the Phoenix in the NBL.
Creek played in Thursday’s 95-63 win over the Illawarra Hawks despite an ongoing investigation.(

AAP: Hamish Blair

)

This week, the National Basketball League announced that Creek was free to continue playing but noted that the decision was not an indication as to his guilt or innocence.

Collingwood AFL footballer Jordan De Goey is facing charges that he indecently assaulted a woman in 2015.

He continues to play.

Unlike the NRL, the AFL hasn’t brought in a blanket no-fault stand-down rule, preferring it says to judge each matter on a case-by-case basis.

These matters used to be easy for sport.

Teams put their best players on the field regardless of their crimes and misdemeanours past or present — “nothing to see here, officer.”

The aim was to win, and that’s all that counted.

Now, each code has to judge a player’s character and weigh up when it is appropriate to let him or her represent them on the field.

It’s not always an easy call.

But whereas before we all may have turned a blind eye, now we’re watching.

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Hawks’ Harvey shoots down Bullets in NBL


Illawarra Hawks guard Tyler Harvey has produced one of the most spectacular shooting displays of the NBL season in a 96-72 smackdown of the Brisbane Bullets.

Harvey shot the lights out in Wollongong on Monday night, going 8-10 from long range and 10-16 overall for his 28 points, adding three assists, in an electrifying 23 minutes.

The eight triples are the most by any player this season.

However, his shooting clinic ended early when the American landed awkwardly after dropping a floater midway through the third quarter, limping off the court and failing to return.

Illawarra coach Brian Goorjian played down any concerns over what he said was a back spasm, before labelling Harvey one of the league’s best guards.

“Tyler’s right there with the top guards in this and his all-round play, ability to score the ball, run team, and a great person through all this adversity we have this year,” he said.

“He wanted this thing bad tonight, the team did. We were desperate tonight.”

For the Bullets, Nathan Sobey and Tanner Krebs with 11 points each were the only starters in double figures as Jason Cadee paced the team with 17 off the bench.

Illawarra entrench themselves in third spot ahead of a stack of home games on the schedule, while Andrej Lemanis’ side drop to sixth.

There were bizarre scenes just before tipoff when one of the basketball stanchions collapsed during the warm-ups, delaying the start of the game by almost 30 minutes.

An unhappy Brian Goorjian dragged his team back into the locker room as staff tended to the ring.

Lemanis might have wished he’d done the same as his side came out flat, gifting the home side plenty of open looks from long range and easy buckets in transition.

A white-hot Harvey took full advantage, going 7-9 from distance on his way to 23 first-half points.

In contrast, the trigger-happy Bullets, playing without American import Vic Law, looked bereft of ideas on offence as they went a miserable 5-19 behind the arc and were down 20 at the main break.

The Hawks led by as much as 27 points in the second half, getting sloppy after Harvey’s exit before recovering to close the contest on a 12-0 run.

Lemanis said there were many factors into their lacklustre display, from their depleted roster to training restrictions due to the COVID-19 breakout in Brisbane.

Friday’s game against South East Melbourne Phoenix has been postponed, and the team is unlikely to return home for the next couple of days.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” Lemanis said.

“I’m guessing we’re not going back to Brisbane tomorrow. We’re that team at the moment, that state of flux team that doesn’t know what’s going on.

“Uncertainty – and that’s a good mental challenge for us.”

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