final hopes – Michmutters

St Kilda Saints urged to put stars on trade table, Leigh Montagna, list management, Brad Hill, Zak Jones, Jack Billings, Jade Gresham

St Kilda great Leigh Montagna has implored the club to trade out some of its star senior players to bring more youth into the club in a “reset”, saying he thinks it “needs to go back to go forward.”

The Saints had their final hopes dashed after losing to Brisbane, falling to 11-10 to continue St Kilda’s drop off after a promising 5-1 start to the season.

Since Round 7 St Kilda has ranked bottom six in the ‘Core Four’ stats — with the footy (15th), without the footy, clearance and post-clearance contest (all 12th).

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“They’re in a real predicament … this is 15 rounds of football, it’s a bottom-four profile, so they have really struggled with their game,” Montagna said on Fox Footy’s First Crack.

Asked if their issues lie with personnel or system, Montagna said: “I think it’s a combination of both.”

The Saints’ finals hopes are over (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

It comes after St Kilda has aggressively recruited players via trade and free agency over the last four years, bringing Paddy Ryder (35 years old), Dan Hannebery (32), Tom Campbell (31), Brad Hill, Dean Kent, Mason Wood, Brad Crouch (all 29), Jarrod Lienert, Zak Jones (both 28), Dougal Howard (27), Dan Butler, Jack Hayes (both 26) and Jack Higgins (24) into the fold.

Looking at the age profile of those players combined with the rest of the senior core, Montgana questioned how much upside the Saints’ list has.

“This is the concern for St Kilda supporters when you think about where the improvement is going to come from in the years to come,” he said.

“How much room for improvement have they got these guys? How high is their ceiling? And that’s in conjunction with their core group of Seb Ross, Tim Membrey, Jimmy Webster, Jack Sinclair, Jack Billings, Rowan Marshall and Jack Steele, who are all 26 plus years old as well.

“There’s not a lot of ceiling room within the core group of players on top of that profile… the upside is a very small margin.”

“Heartbreak” awaits whoever finishes 6th | 02:27

Montagna did praise young guns Max King, Cooper Sharman (both 22), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (20), Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens (both 19), who’ve joined the club over the same four-year period, but said he had “question marks” on their other youngsters.

He believes St Kilda should follow Port Adelaide’s blueprint from post 2018 and trade out their players with currency to try and bounce back quickly.

“I think they need to go back to go forward,” Montagna said.

“I think they need to trade out some of those players they’ve brought in and bring in some more young talent and reset — Brad Hill, Zak Jones and maybe Jack Billings or Jade Gresham to try and get some other young talent in.

“I look at Port Adelaide — they went through a period for five years where they were mid-table — then traded Chad Wingard, Jasper Pittard and Jared Polec when they were playing good footy — Jack Hombsch, Paddy Ryder and Dougal Howard.

“They made some change and got in those young players — Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee and Mitch Georgiades — then all of a sudden played in back-t0-back preliminary finals (in 2020 and 2021).

“I think there’s some concerns there for St Kilda, they need to have a real hard think about where their list is at moving forward.”



St Kilda Saints loss to Brisbane Lions, missed opportunities, goalkicking inaccuracy, Max King, reactions, response, commentary, social media, fallout, latest

St Kilda has blown a golden opportunity at the wrong time, falling to Brisbane by 15 points in game there to be won late with the Saints’ season on all the line to all but end their final hopes.

Brett Ratten’s side recovered from a slow start to come charging back into the game in the second half, but wasn’t able to convert its opportunities including a wasteful 0.5 kicking display from Max King.

Saints legend Nick Riewoldt said he hoped the club wouldn’t put all the onus on its goalkicking inaccuracy in the second half, lamenting its lackluster start to the contest.

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“They had the game where they wanted it… but I hope it doesn’t turn into a ‘we just didn’t take our opportunities’, conversation. Because early in the contest when the game was there to be won, they weren’t necessarily up for it,” he said on Fox Footy post-match.

The Saints’ final hopes were dealt a massive blow (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

“Then when it gets desperate you take it on. I hope it’s a really learning experience this game for St Kilda. When they played with a bit of desperation, especially with the footy, then they put the Lions under pressure and looked like a finals team.

“If you’re looking at it with a narrow lens, you would say they didn’t take their opportunities. Max King was bit of a liability in front of goal, he didn’t look he wanted the ball in the end, so he’ll be really disappointed that he couldn’t convert.”

St Kilda ended up winning the disposal count (327-310) and inside 50s (50-49), but converted 9.12 of its shots at goal (43 per cent) compared to Brisbane’s 12.9 (57 per cent), with Cam Rayner the match winner for the Lions with three of his four goals in the last term.

Demons legend Garry Lyon was much more encouraged by St Kilda’s style when it had more urgency and played faster and direct.

“The competitive, go slow style they’ve been playing has been left behind largely … that’s the learnings I would hope they get from it, because when they went with some stuff that looked unscripted, that’s when they looked most dangerous,” he said.

It’ll likely go down as another wasted season for the 11-10 Saints despite such a promising 5-1 start to 2022 to emerge as a premiership dark horse as Ratten was rewarded with a contract extension.

Saint in hot water over bump? | 00:41

But they’ve now won just three of their last 10 matches and would need nearly everything to go right by the way of other results for them to make finals from here including beating an in-form Swans outfit next weekend at Marvel Stadium.

Former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon was however still giving St Kilda hope to finish in the top eight and was left unconvinced by Brisbane’s performance, calling it the “sweep escape”.

“I think Brisbane was given that game, they didn’t win it… if Richmond and Carlton lose they’ve (the Saints) still got a heartbeat. I’m giving them hope,” he said on Fox Footy Live.

But St Kilda champion Nick Dal Santo doesn’t believe his former side is currently playing a good enough brand to hold up in September.

“You want your finals series to be teams that are currently in form or capable of causing an upset from the bottom of the top eight,” he said.

“The form that the Saints have played of recent, no, I don’t think their in the best eight teams in the comp right now.”

Others responded on social media to the Saints’ blown opportunity.



Max King goalkicking, bad technique, choking, Brett Ratten press conference, Matthew Lloyd training, St Kilda coaches

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has said star forward Max King “won’t be seeing anybody outside the club” to help improve his set-shot routine, instead backing in those at the club to help steady the 22-year-old’s game.

King imposed himself in the air during Friday night’s loss to Brisbane at Marvel Stadium, but kicked five behinds and ended up goalless as the Saints’ final hopes were all-but dashed.

Speaking post-game, Ratten was staunch in his defense of King.

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Cripps free to play, ban overturned! | 00:35

“It’s part of the game and you look through great forwards to have played the game, they’ve had a night where they haven’t scored like they wanted to,” he said.

“The pleasing part we know about Max is that Tuesday was a day off for the players and he was at Marvel Stadium for an hour-and-a-half having goal-kicking practice. Every day we’re at the footy club or not at the footy club he’s there having extra goal-kicking and really rehearsing and fine-tuning his game to make sure he gets the opportunity to score on game-day. He’s doing a power of work.

“What I do know is I want Max King in my corner. He’ll be at our footy club for 10 years and when we look back we’ll be saying what a great player he is and what he’s done. Tonight he had a night where it didn’t work for him.

“He did everything right but finish, for great forwards that’s happened in the game. He’s 21 years of age, we love what he brings to the footy club, he’s developing and we know that he’s doing the work. Sometimes you don’t get the reward all the time but he’ll keep doing that and you watch, he’ll turn it around.”

King has enjoyed a relatively impressive season in front of goal, booting 47 goals from his 21 games.

There have been occasions, however, where inaccuracy has plagued him, most notably his return of one goal and seven behinds in round six and two goals and five behinds in round 20 before tonight’s five behinds.

Ratten said a myriad of factors were at play for King.

King kicked five behinds on Friday night (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images).Source: Getty Images

“I wouldn’t say high pressure, I think sometimes the goal-kicking, it’s got so many elements to it,” he said.

“It’s the technical aspect, the mental aspect, the fatigue, what part of the ground, people score from different parts and score easier when the ball is on the right side versus the left.

“I want to go to war with Max because he delivers and he will deliver.”

The Saints in 2021 knocked back Max King’s request for help from Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd – who also coached King at Haileybury College – instead opting to leave King’s goal-kicking practice to those internally.

Asked on Friday night if there had been a change since then, Ratten’s response was firm.

“He won’t be seeing anybody outside the club, he doesn’t need to. We’ve got people with the skillset to keep working there,” he said.

“As I said to you, it’s not just all about the technical aspect, there’s a mental aspect to it as well. With goal-kicking, it’s a closed skill and there’s different elements to it.

“It’s not just we bring somebody in and they fix up the hand drop or anything like that. He hasn’t got many flaws, but sometimes it can go against you.”

Saint in hot water over bump? | 00:41



Round 21 analysis, highlights, Talking Points, reaction, results, storylines, Rory Lobb trade, Collingwood 2021 mulligan

As the Bulldogs watched their final hopes fade on Saturday, there was a cruel irony in front of them.

Plus the ‘five years with a mulligan’ theory that helps explain Collingwood’s year.

The big issues from Round 21 of the 2022 AFL season analyzed in Talking Points!

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Saturday was bad for the Bulldogs in 2022; their loss, combined with Richmond’s win, has them outsiders to make the eight (though Carlton’s loss to Brisbane keeps them alive).

But it might’ve been good for them in 2023 and beyond.

The irony wasn’t lost on Fox Footy’s commentary team as Rory Lobb, reportedly on his way to the Kennel in free agency on a deal of around $1.5 million over three years, dominated the game.

The Dockers key forward has always shown flashes amid an inconsistent career – this is the first season where he’s reached the 30 goal mark – his four big majors at Marvel Stadium showed him at his absolute best.

Best three kicks at goal since Plugger | 00:58

“First four kicks were goals, it looked like he could kick them from everywhere,” goalkicking legend Jason Dunstall said at three-quarter-time on Fox Footy.

Melbourne great Garry Lyon added: “If you believe everything that’s been said, the Western Bulldogs whilst they’d be shattered if they lose and Rory Lobb leads them (Fremantle) to victory, they might be rubbing their hands together, given many think he’s heading to the Western Bulldogs.

“That’s what they’re saying; he’s playing unbelievably well.”

Some have questioned whether the Bulldogs need Lobb, given they’ve got Aaron Naughton (three goals on Saturday), Josh Bruce, No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and father-son prodigy Sam Darcy, who made a strong debut with a team -leading eight marks and seven intercepts.

But as those intercepts suggest Darcy played in defense, where the Bulldogs desperately need tall help – while Luke Beveridge remains a Ryan Gardner stan and defends his backs when questioned, they’ve long struggled to defend one-on-ones.

So if Lobb truly is coming on board, that just adds more tall weapons to their armory.

More magnets to spin for the AFL’s most prolific magnet-spinner can’t hurt, surely?

Meanwhile for the Dockers, their win on the road was yet another example of their terrific away record in the 2022 season.

They’re the only non-Victorian team to win more than one game in Victoria this season – and they’ve won five, plus that draw against Richmond.

Taking 22 premiership points from trips to the home of footy is a big reason the Dockers are current flag contenders this season. After all, if they can win in Melbourne, they can win on the biggest day of all.

Buckley on 2018 Crows: ‘It’s harrowing’ | 06:33


Few experts pre-season tipped Collingwood to feature in this year’s finals series. Nathan Buckley, however, did.

And while the former coach didn’t expect his Magpies to be sitting second on the ladder with two rounds to go, he’s of the firm belief the side’s 2022 surge is a result of an exciting five-year build.

The Magpies’ destiny is in their own hands. Win two more home and away games and they’ll jump from the bottom-two last year to the top-two this year – a simply remarkable feat. Those last two games will be tough – Sydney at the SCG and Carlton at the MCG – but it seems nothing, not even the prospect of watching The Exorcist in the dark, scares this team.

While many outside the club had low expectations for the Magpies this year after a 17th-placed finish in 2021, Buckley said it was important to remember the build and list turnover in the previous three years.

“I’m going to suggest – and I’ve been involved in the footy club – but this is five years of good footy with a bad year last year,” Buckley told Fox Footy on Friday night.

“The nucleus of this side is established and we’re seeing some young players come in and play really big roles – and it’s brilliant and it’s exciting to see.

“This Collingwood side has exceeded my expectations. I thought they were 15 wins at the top end – and they’ve still got two more to go. What ‘Fly’ (McRae) has done has been amazing, but it’s been built off the nucleus of a senior core that have been there for five or six years doing this now.”

Maynard BUZZING after big hit and win | 00:47

The Magpies on Friday night claimed a remarkable 11th straight win – the first time they’ve achieved the feat since 2011 – in another tantalizingly close game.

Asked how the Pies keep winning such tight games, coach Craig McRae told reporters: “Yeah, this group’s got some belief hasn’t it? We just get ourselves into positions where at three quarter-time, there’s a few smiles on their faces – like, ‘here we go again’.

“It’s just been our story. I haven’t been part of a team like it that gets themselves in a situation that they just think: ‘Here we go, we’ll get the job done.’”

The On The Couch team last week compared the profile of Collingwood’s 2022 team to the Richmond premiership side of 2017. Like the Tigers, the Pies aren’t a strong clearance team, but are among the top-four clubs for interceptions, pressure and opposition score per inside 50.

Brownlow Medalist Gerard Healy added to the comparison on Friday night.

“This could be a premiership built on pressure, like Richmond in 2017,” Healy told Fox Footy Live. “They didn’t win all the stats, but they won the flag, so there’s a lot to like about this Collingwood side.

“They are certainly in the conversation – you can’t win 11 in a row and beat last year’s premiers twice and not be a genuine chance.

“Collingwood and Sydney sit underneath most people’s favorites of Geelong and Melbourne, but we do know they are capable of beating the top sides.”

Asked if he’d reassess his message to his playing group considering the circumstances, McRae said: “We’re living in the moment of getting better. That’s always been our message. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

“You look at the stats sheet (after the Melbourne game) and there’s a lot of red in it, so we’re not naive and we’ve got a little work to do.

“We don’t know where our ceiling is at – and that’s exciting. We’re in discovery mode… and that’s an exciting place to live.”

Consider comments heard! | 00:26


Ed Langdon was something of a sitting duck when he was swamped only moments into Friday night’s epic between Collingwood and Melbourne.

We wouldn’t normally put so much time into dissecting a wingman’s game, particularly one as consistent as Langdon. But after the former Freo man spoke on radio about Collingwood being “all duck and no dinner” and a “one trick pony”, all eyes were on Langdon.

It created one of the most memorable moments of the season – and added some spice to a game that barely needed it.

Sitting second and third on the table respectively, Melbourne and Collingwood were playing on a Friday night for the first time since 2007, so the stage was already set for a dynamite contest.

Collingwood coach Craig McRae made light of Langdon’s comments pre-game, telling Fox Footy’s Kath Loughnan he had “duck for dinner last night”.

Feet assistant Brendon Bolton told Fox Sports News’ AFL Tonight he “loved it”, while Adem Yze reiterated the respect the Demons have for the Pies.

Kennedy chaired off in charming scenes | 01:23

The 24 hours prior to the opening bounce were gripping as a football lover. All that anyone was talking about were those comments and how good the game was going to be. The AFL even bumped up their crowd estimates off the back of the comments.

And when Brayden Maynard and co. engulfed Langdon in a brutal gang tackle, we got one of the most memorable and electric moments of the season — and the game itself didn’t disappoint either.

Ex-Saints and North Melbourne star Nick Dal Santo suggested it might have been a slip of the tongue after similar language was used in a team meeting, but the triple All-Australian noted “we shouldn’t be knocking that down”.

“Our game needs more of that,” Dal Santo told Fox Footy Live after the game.

“Our game is a combative game. The people who least speak about that combativeness is the players.”

“We need to embrace the rivalry and the competitiveness. If someone is to put out a comment like that, brilliant. More of it.”

The Melbourne media department, privately, would’ve been scrambling after the comments were made. The beauty of it was being so close to bounce-down, everyone could just enjoy the ride — even Ed, who had a smile pre-game, got booed by Pies fans and performed solidly in the 7-point loss.

“All duck no dinner” made for a footy feast.

Ban likely for Cripps after heavy bump | 02:00


Amid doubts already over whether Collingwood should be pursuing Dan McStay, just how does he fit into this Pies forward line?

The Magpies have been heavily linked to the Lions free agent on a five-year deal worth $3 million as the club looks to add another marking target in attack.

But this is a Collingwood side already firing on all cylinders, with Friday night’s epic win over Melbourne seeing it climb into second place on the ladder.

Jamie Elliott and fourth-gamer Ash Johnson were both instrumental with four goals apiece, while Brody Mihocek, who’s led the goalkicking in each of the last three seasons and is on track to do so again in 2022, chipped in two goals.

“Mihocek, Elliott and Johnson look so good — so where does Daniel McStay fit into all this?” Demons great Garry Lyon posed on Fox Footy.

Heck, if McStay was available to play for Collingwood next week, it’s hard to see him cracking into the 22, especially with star ruckman Brodie Grundy and young gun Ollie Henry already out of the side.

McStay has booted 16 goals from as many games this year and been held goalless on eight occasions, while the key forward’s 28 majors in 2021 mark his best-ever return.

Franklin kicks four in big Swans win | 02:29

There’s a possibility that Collingwood could look to play McStay in defence, although it still raises questions of whether he’s worth the $650,000-a-season price tag and at a club that’s only two years removed from a trade exodus due to salary cap pressure.

“They believe he can help the forward line like Josh Bruce has been able to help Jamarra Ugle-Hagan get better match-ups… Daniel McStay is coming to Collingwood, but it’s going to be some kind of juggling act, especially with Ollie Henry not in the side right now,” Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph said on Fox Footy.

To which Saints great Nick Riewoldt responded: “Josh Bruce is a brave, brave workhorse. Is that Daniel McStay?”

Triple-premiership winning Lion Jonathan Brown believes his former club see him as the “workhorse, down-the-line guy.”

“They like to kick it long to him, put it on his head. Hipwood and Daniher tend to be more the runners,” he said.



Carlton Blues fixture, run home, injury list, Michael Voss press conference, Leigh Montagna says team is vulnerable

Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna fears Carlton’s terrific 2022 could be undone by ill-timed personnel issues, which has left Michael Voss’ team vulnerable at the most crucial stage of the season.

Michael Voss’ Blues are clinging to seventh spot on the ladder after a 33-point loss to Brisbane on Sunday – their fourth loss from their past six games.

They’ve been inside the top eight at the end of every round so far 1 this season, but are now in serious danger of missing out on finals with St Kilda and, particularly, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs still well placed to squeeze into the top eight. The last team to be in finals places every round except the last was Carlton in 1977.

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The Blues need to win one more game to guarantee a finals spot. But they would have upset one of Melbourne (3rd) or Collingwood (4th) over the next fortnight, while the Bulldogs and Tigers have ‘easier’ final games.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s First CrackMontagna said the Blues now had their “work cut out to play finals.”

It comes amid player availability issues in the most important part of the ground for Carlton, with George Hewett (back) and Matt Kennedy (fractured jaw) sidelined due to injury, while skipper Patrick Cripps could also miss matches due to a bump on Lion Cal Ah Chee that will attract MRO scrutiny.

Ban likely for Cripps after heavy bump | 02:00

The Blues have been renowned for their ruthless nature at the coalface this year, but Montagna on Sunday night pointed out the Blues had lost the hardball get count in the past two games against Brisbane and Adelaide by -20 and -15 respectively.

“They’re starting to get beaten up around the footy … and without that big three in the midfield, they look vulnerable to me,” Montagna told First Crack.

“They don’t look like the same side at the start of the year that was brutal, physical, aggressive, that was just bullying and beating up on teams through the midfield.

“The ‘Voss gloss’ might’ve worn off. They’ve got their work cut out now and they’re going to have to do some soul searching to try and play finals – and it might undo what has been such a terrific season up until the last sort of four or five weeks.”

Montagna also pointed out the Blues had only been in front for 26 per cent of game time in their matches against top-eight teams this year, while dual premiership Kangaroo David King highlighted the Blues are 10-1 this year when they’ve won the clearance count by at least +5 but 3-6 when that count has been +4 or less.

Brisbane stay in the hunt for top four | 02:26

“They’re clearance-based and contest-based – and they lose their best commodity,” King said.

In a must-win game, the Lions stunned the Blues in the first term with a fierce tackling display, laying 20 tackles to 13. That prompted dominance at clearance (+11), inside 50s (+13) and on the scoreboard (+ 29).

King said the Lions’ pressure was awesome, making Carlton look “jittery” and “panicky with the ball”.

The Kangaroos great put the heat on Blues backman Adam Saad, who finished with 24 disposals and 10 interceptions, but was arguably beaten by direct Brisbane opponent Charlie Cameron, who kicked two telling goals.

King pointed to a sloppy kick-in from Saad that led to a turnover and Dayne Zorko goal during the first term.

“What is that? I mean come on. This is high-level stakes,” he said.

“That’s not AFL standard, just waltzing out like that and just trying to be a little bit arrogant again with the ball.

Carlton Press Conference | 06:10

“He’s had a fantastic year, but his last two weeks he’s left opportunities on the floor for the opposition to take – and they have.”

Despite his club’s predicament, Voss said it must “embrace where we are at”.

“We are all about what’s in front of us. They are games to look forward to. We are playing in games that matter. This is an important phase in the development of our group,” Voss told reporters on Sunday.

“We need that exposure. We are going to the MCG next week against Melbourne, it will be a big game. The Collingwood game is being talked about already so we are getting exposure to these games and there can only be growth off the back of it.

“Tonight, it’s a bit of a tough one (lesson) but we’ve got to bring that fresh energy and we’ve got to correct ourselves pretty quick and we’ve got to get on with it.”



NRL 2022: Cameron Smith blasts great over ‘really unfair’ Melbourne Storm hip drop tackle claim

Melbourne Storm legend Cameron Smith has slammed suggestions his former club invented the hip drop tackle.

Debate has reignited around the controversial tactic after Brisbane Broncos forward Patrick Carrigan was given a four-game suspension for a hip drop tackle on Jackson Hastings, which resulted in the Tigers playmaker suffering a broken fibula.

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Panthers great and Fox League commentator Greg Alexander said on SEN radio the Storm were the first team to introduce the hip drop tackle, a claim which Smith strongly denied.

“Brandy (Alexander) is a great analyst of the game and one of the greatest players of our game,” Smith said on SEN on Thursday.

“I just don’t know how he came up with that comment.

“To single out one club and to say that they introduced that tackle into our sport, that’s over the top.

“I can’t ever recall seeing Brandy at one of our training sessions throughout my career and my 20 years at Melbourne.

“I work with Brandy on our radio station and he’s a great fella, but to single out the Melbourne Storm, that’s really unfair, really unfair.

“To say that a club or even clubs now are practicing or teaching their players to fall into the back of legs, I think that’s a little bit over the top.”

Hip drop tackles occur when a third player enters and attacks the ball carrier’s legs, which has resulted in serious leg injuries such as broken legs and ruptured ACLs.

Smith believes hip drop tackles have become more prominent in the NRL because referees are no longer rewarding players for one-leg tackles.

“There are no rewards for leg tackles anymore,” he said

“Players are taught to have multiple defenders be in the tackle.

“If someone makes a tackle low around the legs, as soon as the ball carrier hits the turf, the referee is screaming at the tackler to release.

“So why would you perform that tackle anymore when you’re not rewarded for it?

“You are giving an advantage to the attacking team (because) you get to play the ball quickly.

“That’s completely against what you are trying to do in slowing the ball down.”

Smith said hip drop tackles are used “all the time”, adding the onus is on the NRL to clamp down on the tactic.

“If you actually watch the game closely and you watch every tackle, these tackles are performed all the time,” he continued.

“You could almost find one of these tackles in every set. But it’s not until someone gets injured or there’s a really, really ugly, messy looking tackle where someone’s legs get caught and they get bent back over the defender that’s sat down on those legs.

“Nothing’s done about it. There’s actually nothing done about it.

“Maybe the way for the NRL to go if they want to eliminate these tackles from our sport, the Match Review Committee (MRC) need to start going through these games with a fine tooth comb and anytime something like this is performed, then the player needs to be notified and even charged.

“I don’t know whether it’s a fine to start with, if it’s a less dangerous hip-drop tackle and there’s no result of injury, just to say, ‘Hey mate, we’re onto ya’.”

Carrigan’s suspension is a blow to Brisbane’s top four chances. The Broncos take on the Sydney Roosters tonight in a clash that looms as crucial for the final hopes of both teams.

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AFL: Mabior Chol makes most of opportunity given to him by Gold Coast Suns

Mabior Chol continues to make the most of the chance given to him by a Gold Coast Suns side whose slim AFL finals hopes could rest on the boot of the former Richmond forward.

With three rounds of the regular season remaining, the Suns remain a mathematical chance of playing finals football for the first time in the club’s history.

It’s a tall order and the Suns will need other results to go their way, but with Chol in stellar form, it’s not yet impossible.

Having joined the Suns this year from the Tigers, where the regular top-flight football was craved wasn’t forthcoming, Chol has rewarded Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew for believing in him.

The 25-year-old, 200cm giant has kicked 43 goals this season, including a career-best single-game haul of five in the Suns’ three-point weekend win over the West Coast Eagles.

“I’ve been seeking an opportunity for a very long time to show what I can do at the highest level,” Chol said ahead of the Suns’ trip to Tasmania for Saturday’s clash against Hawthorn in Launceston.

“I knew coming up here I wasn’t just going to walk straight in. I knew I was going to have to work hard and earn my position.

“There’s been a lot of hard work since the start of the pre-season and it’s just been an exciting season … I knew what I was capable of doing.”

As did Dew, who said Chol was a “real leader” who gave the Suns “great energy”.

“He’s a real thinker of the game,” the Gold Coast mentor said.

“He sees the game really well, he can understand what’s happening, patterns of play, so when he comes to the bench, he’s really aware of how the game’s going.

“The more he gets confidence to voice that to the greater group he’s going to improve his leadership.
“We’re excited by not only what he’s done, but what’s to eat.”

Chol said the Suns weren’t looking ahead to the finals but instead on the immediate task of beating the Hawks for a second time this season after disposing of them by 67 points in Darwin in May.

“We’re just focusing on each game, each week – we’re not trying to look too far ahead. It’s been exciting,” he said.

The Suns are hopeful another former Tiger, Brandon Ellis, overcomes a shoulder problem to play this weekend after he was a late withdrawal from the team that beat the Eagles.

Dew said of Ellis: “We anticipate he’ll be on the plane to Tassie.”



NRL 2022: Penrith’s big call on Cleary replacement

The Panthers have turned to Sean O’Sullivan and Jaeman Salmon in the halves as the defending premiers try to navigate the rest of the regular season without stars Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai.

Cleary will miss the rest of the regular season after he was sent off and banned for five matches for an ugly spear tackle on Parramatta’s Dylan Brown, while Luai continues to recover from a knee injury.

O’Sullivan has shown he can fill in for the rep stars when required, but it’s a huge call bringing in Salmon, given he hasn’t started a game at five-eighth since 2019 when he played seven games for the Eels in the No .6 jumper.

Coach Ivan Cleary could yet spring a late change with rookie Kurt Falls named in the reserves for Saturday’s trip to take on the resurgent Raiders.

In a boost for the Panthers, center Stephen Crichton returns from his sickening head clash with Cronulla’s Dale Finucane which required emergency plastic surgery to repair an ear.

Canberra winger Jordan Rapana is back from suspension and replaces Albert Hopoate on the right wing as the Raiders try to keep their top-eight hopes alive.

The Broncos have named Kobe Hetherington at lock in place of the suspended Patrick Carrigan for Thursday’s blockbuster against the Roosters.

Brisbane’s hopes of returning to the top four have been helped with winger Selwyn Cobbo back for his first game since he was knocked out early in the State of Origin decider.

Lindsay Collins was also knocked out in that game and he’ll miss Thursday’s match after he suffered another head knock against the Sea Eagles last week. Teammate Egan Butcher is also missing through suspension, which means Matt Lodge will start.

The Storm welcome back Brandon Smith after his three-game ban for verbally abusing referee Adam Gee. He’ll start from the bench while mid-season recruit David Nofoaluma starts on the wing to bolster their weakened backline.

That backline has taken more damage with Nick Meaney (shoulder) and Justin Olam (Covid) both sidelined for Friday’s match against the Titans, but there is a chance rep winger Xavier Coates returns for his first game since the State of Origin opener when he hurt his ankle.

Toby Sexton has been “rested” which means AJ Brimson moves to the halves with Jayden Campbell set to start at fullback against the team he made his NRL debut against last year.

Six members of the “Sea Eagles seven” have been included in this week’s squad, but Josh Aloiai will miss Friday’s crucial clash with Parramatta because of injury.

Josh Schuster has been named in the No.18 jersey.

The Eels have called on Jake Arthur to replace the injured Mitch Moses for the rest of the regular season as he nurses a broken finger. It’ll be the young half’s first game since he was booed by some Parramatta fans in Round 19.

There will be a very special debut at Shark Park on Saturday night with Kade Dykes set to make his NRL debut at fullback.

The 20-year-old will become a third-generation Shark after his dad Adam and grandfather John both represented the club.

Dykes comes in for Will Kennedy, who will miss the rest of the regular season with a serious ankle injury.

Dragons coach Anthony Griffin has stuck with the same 17 who scored just one try against North Queensland last week, which has their final hopes on life support.

The Cowboys have suffered a setback with try-scoring machine Kyle Feldt ruled out for two weeks with a hamstring injury. His place has been taken by speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Meanwhile, Newcastle prop David Klemmer has been stood down by the club for an on-field incident during the Knights’ clash with the Bulldogs. He is ineligible to play until he responds to the club-imposed sanction.



Manly pride jersey saga, players angry, text messages, emergency meeting, LGBTQIA jersey, news, highlights, Roosters clash, finals race

Fuming Sea Eagles players reportedly sent angry text messages to each other after the decision of seven teammates to stand down from the club’s crucial Roosters clash.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the players demanded to know why the seven players in question put the Sea Eagles’ final hopes in danger over the pride jersey saga.

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With their season in danger of imploding, the Manly playing group then organized an emergency meeting on Sunday hoping to smooth things over and mend relationships ahead of the last five rounds of the regular season.

Reports suggest the squad relieved tensions prior to the group’s return to training.

The emergency meeting was reportedly sparked by a breakfast between Josh Aloiai, one of the players who boycotted the match, Jake Trbojevic, Lachlan Croker and another team member.

Aloiai alongside Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Toafofoa Sipley and Christian Tuipulotu refused to play on religious grounds, angering teammates.

The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield provided details on the crisis meeting on Big Sports Breakfast.

“The club brought in a professional mediator to get the group of players to get together to try and get a sympathetic understanding from both sides,” Rothfield said.

“I don’t think they’re ever going to agree on the fact that the players did the right thing by withdrawing from the match last week but what they want is for the players who did play to get a better understanding of what and why they did it.

“That’s why everything was put on the table yesterday and there were discussions.

“I was told late last week the risk amongst the players in the team was basically it was not reversible it was quite deep and the boys who did play and played very bravely against the Roosters could not comprehend why their teammates took such drastic actions.

“I think after they got together yesterday there is an understanding, I still think there’s a very long way to go before it is completely sorted out to a satisfactory position where they’re prepared to like all NRL clubs to have full time camaraderie and strengths and spirit.

“I think you can call it an uneasy trick between the players.”

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It comes amid fears within the playing group that the pride jersey saga could continue next season after players denied they would be willing to don the kit in 2023.

“I’m certainly aware the playing group is getting together,” Manly chairman Scott Penn said on Big Sports Breakfast last week.

“It’s really important everyone gets together and just talks it through. There needs to be a ‘clear-the-air’ session which is perfectly normal in these circumstances.”

“There’s not a deep divide which has been reported but I think there is some frustration in terms of the way all this played out.

“I met with six of the seven – Josh (Aloiai) was injured and wasn’t training but I spoke to him a little bit later. They are very determined and they were put in a difficult position but there are absolutely no hard feelings at all. As I discussed with them at the time, their focus now is on Parramatta.

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“The seven were very clear in their view and religious beliefs and we totally respected that. They have copped it from certain circles and that is unfortunate because we didn’t ever want to put them in that position.

“We will see a very cohesive team for the next five weeks. It was an emotional week and the circumstances put everyone in a difficult position.”

Reports suggest the meeting was not to try and change views, but to clear the air and find a common group as to why the group stood down.

As it stands, the Sea Eagles sit in 10th place, one win behind the Roosters and Raiders.

Des Hasler’s side will face the Eels, Titans, Sharks, Raiders and Bulldogs to close out the season, and every game is a must-win encounter.



AFL news 2022: Richmond defeat Brisbane, Lions MCG record, finals, ladder, premiership race

Richmond have pulled off the biggest comeback win in 2022, after coming back from 42 points down to top Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions will be left kicking themselves after coughing up the seven-goal lead as the Tigers finals hopes remain alive with the win.

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Lions defender Darcy Gardiner turned the ball over in the dying seconds as the ball ended up in the hands of Tom Lynch who kicked the sealer to claim the 15.14 (104) to 13.13 (97) win.

Mitch Robinson and Charlie Cameron missed shots late in the fourth quarter as they failed to make the most of the opportunities presented to them.

Richmond at the other end made no mistake as they stormed home in front of a raucous MCG crowd.

The damning loss for the Lions thoroughly exposes the biggest hurdle in their premiership hunt.

Not for eight-years have the Lions emerged victorious at the MCG. The latest loss makes it a damning 11 straight defeats.

With the league no longer in Covid protocols, the Grand Final is set to return to the home of football for the foreseeable future and until the Lions show they’re a serious threat on the road … they won’t be adding to their trophy cabinet any time soon.

The Lions are currently fourth favorite according to Sportsbet to win the premiership, behind Geelong, Melbourne and Sydney.

Brisbane finish the 2022 home and away season with games against Carlton, St Kilda and Melbourne. Two of those games take place at the Gabba.

The loss has them sitting in fifth spot on the ladder, equal on points with the Sydney Swans in fourth.

For Richmond the win propels them into the ninth spot on the ladder, two points behind St Kilda with games against Port Adelaide, Hawthorn and Essendon to come to close out their season.

Win all three and they’ll almost certainly book a finals spot, two and the run the gauntlet.

Read related topics:Brisbane