Month: September 2019

Saints’ Armitage stars again in AFL

St Kilda midfielder David Armitage has credited a pre-season chat with coach Alan Richardson as a major factor in his strong AFL form.

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Armitage had a career-high 45 possessions on Saturday as the Saints came from a whopping 55 points down early in the third quarter to improbably beat the Western Bulldogs by seven points.

It followed another best-afield performance from Armitage the week before in the narrow loss to Essendon.

The 26-year-old has played 113 games and would be a clear leader in the club best and fairest so far this year.

“It’s a little bit to do with Richo having a few words with me pre-season,” Armitage told Channel Nine’s The Footy Show.

“He said ‘if you can get your fitness up and drop a few (kilograms)’ … he put belief in me that I could be a really good player, one of the premier ‘mids’ in the comp.

“I’ve started to believe that myself and going out thinking I can do that.”

Armitage also paid credit to his partner Jessie Hultgren, saying their relationship had given him stability and that he was “growing up – about time.”

Another star in the Saints’ big win was forward Jack Billings, who kicked three last-quarter goals.

Captain Nick Riewoldt predicts big things for Billings, who came to the club via the No.3 pick in the 2013 draft.

“He’s been spending a bit more time in the midfield,” Riewoldt told Channel Seven’s Game Day.

“He has that ability – once he continues to build his ‘tank’ (running endurance).

“We know he has an elite talent.

“He has great skills, great polish.”

Riewoldt said it was no surprise to him that Billings had such a major role in the last quarter.

“That’s the sort of player he is,” Riewoldt said.

“The challenge for him as a young guy is to be able to do that consistently.”

What will the budget offer Australia’s ‘working poor’?

Across the nation charities and welfare agencies have seen more people falling into the demographic known as the ‘working poor’, holding down jobs but unable to make ends meet.

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For drug and alcohol counsellor Joanna MacDougall, fortnightly ‘bill-wrangling’ is a regrettable, stressful ritual.

Late last year her hours of employment were cut by 10 per cent, reducing her monthly income by around $800.

“It’s all you think about: How am I going to make ends meet? You feel guilty as a mother – you can’t give your kids what you want – you have to think about even buying milk, “ Ms MacDougall says.

Charity  group Kildonan Uniting Care says Ms MacDougall’s story epitomises the changing face of economic hardship – people who work but who are still unable to pay their bills.

“It’s all you think about: How am I going to make ends meet?”

Less than five years ago 95 per cent of people seeking financial counselling at Kildonan were Centrelink clients. Now, 30 per cent of the clients in financial strife are employed with a mortgage

In the past year, the service has seen a 100 per cent increase in people seeking support to pay energy bills.

Chief Executive Stella Avramopoulos says the charity is joining with corporations and government agencies to explore the benefits of a collaborative approach.

“The issues underlining poverty are complex and multi-facetted and no one sector or no one government on their own can do all the heavy lifting,” Ms Avramopoulos says.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) Chief Executive Cassandra Goldie says housing affordability is far and away the most important issue confronting the so-called “working poor”

“Firstly increase the Commonwealth rent assistance to ease the pressure on renters on low incomes – we want to see the government make changes to negative gearing and capital gains arrangements,” Ms Goldie says.

Ms Goldie is also calling for further incentives for property developers to create more affordable housing.

One area tipped to offer some relief for low-income families is the child care sector.

 

Slater still the best: Smith

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith says Billy Slater is still the best fullback in the game after the Storm ace starred in their 28-10 victory over Parramatta on Sunday afternoon.

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In his first game since injuring his shoulder in round five, Slater bagged a first half brace then set up another in a typically dynamic performance in the round nine win.

They were his first tries since round 25 last season.

“So he’s had a bit of a drought in the first four, five weeks that he played,” coach Craig Bellamy said post-game.

“But he made a couple of really good tackles as well.

“The direction, the encouragement he gives the frontline from back there, I’ve never seen a fullback be as good as that.”

Smith said it’s his teammate’s communication skills that set him apart from the rest of the fullbacks in the competition.

“The work he does off the footy is his best attribute,” Smith said.

“And that’s what makes him the best fullback in the game. He might not be as explosive as some fullbacks these days.

“But he’s still the number one fullback in the competition, I believe. He played well tonight.”

The game was locked at 10-all entering the second half when Eels halfback Chris Sandow was denied a try due to a double movement.

In-form Melbourne winger Marika Koroibete broke the deadlock minutes later and the Storm suffocated the home side for the rest of the match.

“If Sandow scored that try when we dropped the ball from the scrum, perhaps it might’ve been a different scenario,” Bellamy said.

“I was happy with the way our guys played in that second half. I’m sure we can build on that.”

Eels coach Brad Arthur said his team needed to learn to bounce back from tough calls.

“It was a big moment in the game but we probably need to learn to respond a little bit,” he said.

“I thought there were some moments in the first half too that went against us and we stuck to what we needed to do.

“In the second half they stuck to what they wanted to do for 80 minutes and we didn’t.”

The win pushes Melbourne back up into second spot on the NRL ladder, while defeat pits the Eels alongside Cronulla and Manly at the bottom of the table.

Arthur said his side only had themselves to blame.

“It’s not where we wanted to be. We completed at 54 per cent today and gave away nine penalties compared to receiving five and they completed at 80 per cent,” he said.

“We made just under 100 more tackles than the Storm. It’s hard to keep fronting up and fronting up when you’re exerting that much energy.

“It’s no-one else’s fault but our own.”

ECB should ‘hang heads in shame’ over Moores sacking – Stewart

Moores was dismissed on Saturday shortly after Andrew Strauss was appointed England’s director of cricket, though reports of his sacking were leaked during the team’s washed-out one-dayer against Ireland on Friday.

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Moores, who also spent two year as coach between 2007 and 2009, bore the brunt of criticism for a dismal World Cup, in which England failed to progress from the group stages, and the drawn test series against the West Indies.

“The fact that all these leaks came out the day before the man was officially told — you’ve got to show a bit of respect to employees,” Stewart, England’s most capped test cricketer, told the BBC.

England assistant coach Paul Farbrace will take charge for the two-test series against New Zealand which begins on May 21 but Stewart said appointing a permanent successor quickly was vital.

“There are a couple of names being bandied about, both Australians, Jason Gillespie, Justin Langer.

“They’ve either got someone lined up already, to have made this decision, or they’re going to have to find someone pretty quick.”

Stewart was also touted as a possible candidate for the director of England cricket role but said the appointment of former captain Strauss was an astute move ahead of the Ashes series starting on July 8.

“He’s captained his country and when you’re captain you make bold decisions, you make brave decisions, you make decisions you believe in,” Stewart said.

“I don’t take it that Andrew Strauss is a ‘yes’ man or he’s too close to that dressing room. If he has to be cut-throat then he will be.

“It’s going to be tough. Australia are the best side in the world. They’re going to start as the underdogs, but the underdogs do sometimes win.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said the dismissal of Moores, who won 19 of his 52 matches in charge across all formats of the game, was “disgraceful”, adding that the ECB needed to demonstrate some “quiet authority and integrity”.

(Reporting by Tom Hayward, editing by Ed Osmond)

Wales rugby coach renews concussion fears

Wales coach Warren Gatland fears star wing George North’s career could be ended if he suffers further concussions.

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North suffered concussions in Tests against New Zealand last November and England in February’s Six Nations opener, when he played on before sitting out the next game against Scotland.

He has not played since being knocked out again while scoring a try for his club side Northampton against Wasps six weeks ago but could return in two weeks’ time in the Premiership play-off semi-finals.

Wales are in Australia’s pool at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and North is a walk-up start on the wing when fit.

Gatland has no problem with North returning when he is ready, but holds concerns over the longer-term future of a 23-year-old who has scored 22 international tries in 49 Tests.

“I had a meeting with George’s agent and said if I was being purely selfish I would say ‘George, don’t play in the last few games, get yourself right for the World Cup’,” Gatland told the Sunday Times.

“If he gets another knock he’s going to have to be out for six months or a year. He has been out for a considerable amount of time but he’s such a young player that if he picks up two or three more of those in the next year, that’s going to finish his career isn’t it?

“That is a concern but I can understand Northampton being desperate to get him back playing, particularly as they get to the end of the season.”

The comments come against a backdrop of concern throughout rugby about the issue of concussions.

Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau missed the NSW Waratahs Super Rugby match against Western Force on Saturday due to concussion.

Polota-Nau was concussed early in the Waratahs’ victory over the Brumbies the previous round, little more than a month after missing several weeks of action because of a head knock suffered at training.

England full-back Mike Brown has not played since the Six Nations, having been concussed against Italy, while Welsh Rugby Union national medical manager Prav Mathema has described concussion as “the number one thing” for the sport to address.