Essendon Bombers select Dyson Heppell to captain squad for fifth consecutive year, Zach Merrett back in leadership group


Essendon coach Ben Rutten said the the playing group and coaching panel both had a role in selecting the club’s four official on-field leaders for 2021.

“Dyson, Michael, Zach and Andy each possess outstanding work ethic, professionalism and commitment to the Essendon Football Club,” Rutten said in a statement.

“These players lead by example and are committed to the program’s values, so they are each to be congratulated on this achievement.

“We also commend Dyson in being unanimously endorsed to lead this football club as captain for a fifth year. It shows the high regard he is held in by his peers.

“Dyson’s leadership continues to evolve year on year and he leads from the front. He nurtures but challenges the playing group, and is incredibly determined to take this group forward. He is to be applauded for his caring and committed attitude across all facets of this organisation.”

Rutten, in his first season as senior coach after a succession plan with AFL coaching veteran John Worsfold was finalised, said Zaharakis, Smith and Shiel would continue to “play an important role in building the leadership capabilities of our playing list this season”.

Essendon have had an off-season with considerable change, including the departure of star forward Joe Daniher to the Brisbane Lions and appointment of long-time Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney to one of football’s hottest seats, replacing Dan Richardson as football boss at Tullamarine.

Heppell said the Bombers were well placed in 2021 as the club’s emerging playing group takes more steps forward.

Dyson Heppell was back at training last month. Credit:Getty Images

“There is a really good energy at the football club under a new senior coach in Ben and we are all united and committed in wanting to be better across the board. We’re hungry and determined and we’ve seen that desire in our training sessions this pre-season,” Heppell said in a statement.

“As a playing group, we’ve spoken about wanting to be a really dependable and hard-working football team. While we can set the example as a leadership group, it takes all of us to drive this football program forward. I’m excited to see what this playing group can bring in 2021.”

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Reds squad stacked with Super local talent

Liam Wright has reflected on Queensland rugby’s ability to hang on to local talent and unearth “hidden gems” as they eye a Super Rugby AU title this year.

The Reds boast a host of fresh and experienced Wallabies talent in their squad finalised on Monday, the addition of star NRL winger Suliasi Vunivalu one of domestic rugby’s most anticipated storylines of 2021.

James O’Connor, Taniela Tupou, Harry Wilson, Jordan Petaia, Filipo Daugunu, Tate McDermott, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Hunter Paisami, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Fraser McReight were all part of Dave Rennie’s maiden Test squad last year.

The addition of Josh Flook, Zane Nonggorr, Mac Grealy, Kalani Thomas and Ilaisa Droasese on full-time deals has meant former Wallabies back and nine-season veteran Chris Feauai-Sautia and Samoan halfback Scott Malolua both missed new contracts.

Twins JP and Ruan Smith are the other notable omissions after the props sealed a move to American Major League Rugby franchise LA Giltinis this year.

Brad Thorn took the reins as coach in 2018, controversially axing five-eighth Quade Cooper as he attempted to rebuild a side that had flailed since winning the 2011 title.

Central to that rebuild was internal development, with 89 per cent of the Reds’ 37-man squad graduating from the Queensland development pathway.

Wright said that connection had started to benefit them on field as they reached last season’s Super Rugby AU decider.

“The best thing I can tell you is in games last year, defending our line, there was no quit from the boys,” captain Wright said.

“That’s something special; everyone knows they’re doing their part.”

The Reds’ stability took a hit last season when Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda and Isaac Lucas all left to pursue overseas contracts during the COVID-19 shutdown.

But Wright said the emergence of talented fullback Jock Campbell showed their system was working.

“When Thorny came in he wanted to make sure Queensland had a really, really good pathway and in times before we let a lot of good players go,” he said

“But guys like Jock, who spent four, five years in club rugby before getting their chance, it shows the hidden gems we have at club level.

“It is that conveyer belt … and with 11 or 12 Wallabies guys away (to begin preseason) it’s given others a chance to step up, talk in meeting and lead that on-field chat.”

REDS SQUAD: Matt Faessler, Feao Fotuaika, Harry Hoopert, Alex Mafi, Josh Nasser, Zane Nonggorr, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Dane Zander, Angus Blyth, Ben Grant, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Tuania Taii Tualima, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Uru, Sam Wallis, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright, Lawson Creighton, Bryce Hegarty, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Moses Sorovi, Kalani Thomas, Hudson Creighton, Josh Flook, Isaac Henry, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Ilasia Droasese, Mac Grealy, Suliasi Vunivalu.

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The SEN Breakfast Summer Flyers squad so far

On SEN Breakfast, Jack Heverin and Nick Dal Santo are putting together their ‘Summer Flyers’ team.

This is a team based on the players (and coaches) who are flying in pre-season training.

Those that have ‘come back in great shape’, have ‘hit the ground running’, are in ‘amazing nick’, ‘blowing up the time trials’ and are ‘first in the gym and last to leave’.

Jack and Dal will announce the team on Australia Day (January 26).

Below are the nominations to this point:

Nathan Buckley (coach)
Adam Kingsley (assistant)
Chad Cornes (runner)
Majak Daw (strength and conditioning)

New additons
Lance Franklin (Sydney)
Jarrod Brander (West Coast)
Liam Duggan (West Coast)
Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
Jackson Nelson (West Coast)

Existing nominees
Darcy Fogarty (Adelaide)
Jackson Hateley (Adelaide)
Marcus Adams (Brisbane)
Harry McKay (Carlton)
Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)
Max Lynch (Collingwood)
Matthew Rowell (Gold Coast)
Alicia Eva (GWS)
Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne)
Jy Simpkin (North Melbourne)
Miles Bergman (Port Adelaide)
Noah Cumberland (Richmond)
Dustin Martin (Richmond)
Patrick Naish (Richmond)
Dan Hannebery (St Kilda)
Isaac Heeney (Sydney)
Tim English (Western Bulldogs)
Josh Schache (Western Bulldogs)
Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
Adam Treloar (Western Bulldogs)

Got a Summer Flyers nomination? Send to us on our socials.
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‘Squad’ members named to House financial services, oversight and reform committees

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., were selected to serve on the House’s Financial Services Committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office announced Thursday.

Both “Squad” members were already chosen earlier this month to serve on the House Oversight Committee as well.

Fellow “Squad” member Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., was named to the Oversight and Reform Committee. 

“In the election, the American people elected a Democratic House Majority that not only will ensure that our nation recovers from this historic pandemic and economic crisis, but will Build Back Better,” Pelosi said in a statement announcing the dozens of assignments to committees such as Armed Services, Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs and the Veterans Affairs Committee.


She said the “outstanding Members” would be “relentless in leading Democrats’ work to combat disparities in our economy and country and to advance justice and progress For The People.”

Pelosi, 80, has been accused by Ocasio-Cortez, 31, and others of not bringing the younger members into leadership positions. 

Last month, the New York congresswoman told The Intercept, “I think one of the things that I have struggled with — I think that a lot of people struggle with — is [that] the internal dynamics of the House has made it such that there’s very little option for succession if you will.”


She said she thought it was time for new and younger leadership to take over for Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70. 

“Why does AOC complain that you have not been grooming younger people for leadership?” “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl asked the speaker in an interview that aired last Sunday. 

Pelosi responded, “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her — because we are.”

After Stahl called Pelosi’s answer “dismissive” of the congresswoman, Pelosi that wasn’t her intention, adding that Ocasio-Cortez is “very effective, as are others — many other members in our caucus that the press doesn’t pay attention to. But they are there and they are building support for what comes next.”


Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Californian who Republicans have asked to step down from the House Intelligence Committee over his past ties to a suspected Chinese spy, will also return to the Homeland Security Committee.

He previously served on the Homeland Security Committee during his first term in Congress, from 2012 to 2014, which was before the FBI had briefed him on alleged Communist spy Fang Fang’s activities.


After that, he cut ties. He has not been accused of wrongdoing, but critics have demanded he step down or be removed from the Intelligence Committee as part of standard counter-intelligence risk-management practices.

Former House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., will join Swalwell on the Homeland Security Committee. 

Here’s the complete list of appointments announced Thursday:

Agriculture Committee: Reps. Cindy Axne, Iowa; Cheri Bustos, Illinois; Salud Carbajal, California; Lou Correa, California; Angie Craig, Minnesota; Josh Harder, California; Ro Khanna, California; Ann McLane Kuster, New Hampshire; Al Lawson, Florida; Sean Patrick Maloney, New York; Tom O’Halleran, Arizona; Chellie Pingree, Maine; Stacey Plaskett, Virgin Islands; Bobby Rush, Illinois; Gregorio Sablan, Northern Mariana Islands; Kim Schrier, Washington.

Armed Services Committee: Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida; Jimmy Panetta of California; and Marc Veasey of Texas.

Education and Labor Committee: Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas; Mark Pocan of Wisconsin; and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey.

Financial Services Committee: Reps. Alma Adams of North Carolina; Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania; Chuy García of Illinois; Sylvia Garcia of Texas; Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; David Scott of Georgia; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Foreign Affairs Committee: Reps. Jim Costa of California; Vicente González of Texas; Juan Vargas of California.

Homeland Security Committee: Reps. Nanette Barragán of California; Yvette Clarke of New York; Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri; Val Demings of Florida; Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey; Al Green of Texas; Elaine Luria of Virginia; Tom Malinowski of New Jersey; Kathleen Rice of New York; Eric Swalwell of California; Dina Titus of Nevada; Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey  

Natural Resources Committee: Reps. Ed Case of Hawaii; Diana DeGette of Colorado; Debbie Dingell of Michigan; Chuy García of Illinois; Donald McEachin of Virginia; Michael San Nicolas of Guam; Darren Soto of Florida; Nydia Velázquez of New York.

Oversight and Reform Committee: Reps. Danny Davis of Illinois; Mark DeSaulnier of California; Jimmy Gomez of California; Hank Johnson of Georgia; Robin Kelly of Illinois; Brenda Lawrence of Michigan; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; John Sarbanes of Maryland; Jackie Speier of California; Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; Peter Welch of Vermont.

Science, Space and Technology Committee: Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia; Sean Casten of Illinois; Charlie Crist of Florida; Bill Foster of Illinois; Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania; Jerry McNerney of California; Donald Norcross of New Jersey; Ed Perlmutter of Colorado; Brad Sherman of California; Deborah Ross of North Carolina; Paul Tonko of New York.

Small Business Committee: Reps. Judy Chu California; Antonio Delgado of New York; Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania; Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania; Scott Peters of California; Brad Schneider of Illinois

Veterans Affairs Committee: Reps. Colin Allred of Texas; Lauren Underwood of Illinois; Gregorio Sablan of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.

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Crowd abuse allegations at Sydney Test heighten tensions in India squad

Ground operator Venues NSW was working with the ICC and making CCTV footage available after staff stationed on the boundary near the Brewongle Stand were also made aware of reports of abuse.

Members of the touring party were photographed speaking to Cricket Australia interim chief executive Nick Hockley after play on Saturday. But a spokesman for the Indian team could not be contacted on Saturday night.

Venue officials have access to more than 800 security cameras at the ground and because of the COVID-19 regulations put in place by the NSW government they know the name of every spectator who walked through the gates. As a result of crowd restrictions enforced by the government, there was an attendance of 10,075.

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley and head of integrity Sean Carroll with members of the India tour party at the close of play.Credit:Getty

The alleged taunting of Indian players was an ugly end to a third day of the match in which Australia assumed a commanding position in their quest to go 2-1 up with a game to play.

It was also the latest flashpoint of a series that has had no shortage of drama associated with it.

There is still uncertainty about where it will conclude, the Indians having been grumbling behind the scenes for a week about tighter restrictions on their movements in Brisbane.

While the Australian and Indian teams are due to travel north on a chartered flight on Tuesday, CA executives may not feel comfortable until the plane is off the tarmac.

While CA sources say senior office bearers at the BCCI have expressed support for heading to Brisbane after being reassured players would be let out of their hotel rooms and be able to mingle with teammates, there have been reports all throughout the week of Indian unwillingness to go to the Gabba.

The fact Brisbane has been forced into a three-day lockdown because of the discovery of a quarantine hotel cleaner with the contagious UK strain of the virus may not help the situation.

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BUSTED: Dog squad track serial crim

An accused serial car thief has been arrested after more than two weeks allegedly wreaking havoc.

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Jamie Carragher hints Jurgen Klopp selection could cause disharmony in Liverpool squad

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher admits that Jurgen Klopp’s recent team selections could cause disharmony amongst his squad.

The Reds suffered only their second defeat of the season on Monday night against Southampton as Danny Ings’ strike was all that separated the two sides.

The result means Liverpool could be leapfrogged by Manchester United at the top of the table if the Red Devils win their game in hand.

Their plight has not been helped by the injuries to star centre-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

But Sky Sports pundit Carragher insists that playing Jordan Henderson when Klopp has two genuine, younger options available was a bad call.

Jordan Henderson was picked at centre-back for the 1-0 loss to Southampton

“It’s almost like having a goalkeeper you don’t fully trust. Forget Van Dijk and Joe Gomes, they’re out,” he said.

“I think No.1 it’s imperative Liverpool sign someone in January – that’s obvious, I’m not saying anything different.

“But I think the fact they played Jordan Henderson tonight at centre-back it’s not going to do a lot for the two lads [Nathanial Phillips and Rhys Williams] on the bench confidence wise so if he goes back to them how do they feel if there’s two midfield players playing there.

Jamie Carragher has given his verdict on Steven Gerrard taking over from Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool
Jamie Carragher thought it was a bad call from Jurgen Klopp

“That tells me they’re not going to be feeling great if they go back in. Jordan Henderson’s not a centre-back. He found it tough today. He done OK, done well considering it’s not his position.

“I can’t see Liverpool winning the league if they don’t bring in a centre-back and I said that on the back Everton vs Liverpool with Van Dijk out. It’s going to be very difficult.

“I still think Liverpool have enough quality to go for the title but I think it’s a really tough ask.”

Danny Ings’ goal won the game for Southampton

Carragher also compared Liverpool’s performance to that of the struggling Arsenal team which lost 2-0 to Tottenham in December.

“Jordan Henderson then just mentioned that he felt Liverpool should have got something out of the game, they played well in second half,” he added. “I don’t agree with that.

“When you actually look at the stats there you say ‘Liverpool are much better than Southampton’ but we had this argument a few weeks ago when we were talking about Arsenal vs Spurs. The stats for Arsenal compared to Spurs.

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“When a team score the early goal the onus is on the team who are behind to do something to get back into the game.

:Naturally a team drop off. They’re not too bothered about possession. It’s up to Liverpool to get on the ball. But the biggest thing when you’re in that situation is not having more possession, you’re always going to have more possession when you’re losing.

“It always happens. It’s what you do with the possession. You said one shot on target. I can’t think of chance where I thought ‘how’s he missed that’ for a Liverpool player. Or the keeper’s made a great save.”

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Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood denies insanity after tweeting Mike Pence should ‘face firing squad’

L. Lin Wood, a conservative lawyer and US President Donald Trump’s ally, has rejected questions about his sanity after he tweeted that Vice-President Mike Pence should face a firing squad.The lawyer, who has litigated numerous failed attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 US election, posted a Twitter thread on Friday afternoon.He wrote about how those who believe the election was stolen have focused on Democrats, the CIA, and “globalists.”Wood then said that “one of the main participants”…

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Australia v India: T Natarajan replaces injured Umesh Yadav in tourists’ squad

Natarajan was with the India squad having played in the white-ball matches which preceded the Tests so does not have to quarantine
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: 6-10 January
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.

India have added left-arm fast bowler T Natarajan to their squad for the final two Tests against Australia with seamer Umesh Yadav ruled out through injury.

Yadav will miss the rest of the series with a calf strain he suffered on day three of the second Test.

Natarajan, 29, made his Twenty20 and one-day international debuts against Australia in December but has not played a Test.

The third Test begins on 6 January with the series level at 1-1.

India seamer Mohammed Shami had already been ruled out of the series after fracturing his arm in the first Test.

Uncapped quick Navdeep Saini and seamer Shardul Thakur are also in the tourists’ squad and in contention to replace Yadav, along with Natarajan.

Batsman Rohit Sharma has completed his quarantine period and is available for the third Test.

India squad

Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan

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GWS Giants stay with Albury relocation plan for women’s squad amid state border closures due to coronavirus, COVID-19

The plan was to then play a practice match in Victoria on the weekend of January 16-17 before going to Western Australia for their first game of the AFLW season, against Fremantle on January 31.

The second leg of that plan has also been thrown into uncertainty with Western Australia closing its border to Victoria on Thursday.

The Giants are relocating to Albury ahead of round one of the AFLW season.Credit:Matt Turner

The Giants are hoping that Victoria loosens its border closure with NSW in the next 14 days to allow border communities and/or regional NSW residents back into the state.

That would at least open the possibility of fixture changes so that the Giants could play Victorian teams to open their season (instead of the Dockers) should the WA border also remain shut.

There is also the possibility of hubs for the AFLW season but this is more difficult than with the men’s season because most women’s players work other jobs while juggling football commitments.


The AFL is approaching 2021 the same way it did 2020, with the understanding that plans can change quickly because of COVID-19, and that they may have to change just before the season begins or even during it.

An AFL spokeswoman said: “We will continue to monitor the situation and will be led by the government and health officials when adapting to the changing environment. We are committed to the season and will adjust accordingly as required.”

Meanwhile, Sydney and GWS’ AFL sides plan to commence training on January 6 as initially scheduled, pending any changes to rules about group gatherings in NSW.

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