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Ferguson in demand after Furner axing

Written on October 9, 2019 at 18:33, by

Blake Ferguson is set to become the hottest property in the NRL after David Furner’s shock sacking by Canberra on Tuesday.

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The troubled NSW star has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave should Furner depart and the 42-year-old’s axing will fuel speculation Ferguson wants out of the Raiders.

Former Canberra coaches Neil Henry and Tim Sheens are the early favourites to fill the position along with Sydney Roosters assistant coach Jason Taylor and Trent Barrett.

On an eventful evening in the nation’s capital, Furner, whose brother Don is the club’s chief executive, was sacked with immediate effect.

Assistant coach Andrew Dunemann will take charge for the final three games of the season with the team sitting one place outside of the top eight on points differential.

Furner was with the team in camp in Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast when he received the news and becomes the first coach in the club’s 31-year history to be sacked.

“It’s obviously a results driven game and we have lost our last three games,” Furner told News Corp Australia.

“It’s still terribly disappointing after all the work I’ve put in.”

His downfall comes amidst rumours of a squad mutiny with several players believed to have confronted the board claiming they were unable to work under him any longer.

The decision ends a long association with the club for the former Test and NSW star who is also Sheens’ assistant with the Kangaroos side.

He made 200 appearances as a player between 1992 and 2000 and his father Don senior was the coach for the club’s maiden season in 1982.

Since replacing Henry as coach in 2009, Furner has reached the finals just twice, despite having a powerful squad and some of the best crop of youngsters in the NRL.

However, he has been forced to deal with a number of thorny issues involving some of his best players.

The club were forced to sack both Todd Carney and Josh Dugan following a number of off-field indiscretions.

And Ferguson was the latest player to be in trouble following his arrest for indecent assault in June after an incident at a south Sydney nightspot.

The Raiders were also rocked after being named as one of the clubs of interest to ASADA’s investigation into the use of prohibited substances on the eve of the season.

It has subsequently been cleared of any wrongdoing but the season has been far from plain sailing for Furner who was under contract until the end of next year.

“The board made the tough decision feeling the team’s inconsistent performances were not reflective of the talent within the squad and have decided to pursue a different direction for the future of the club,” a statement said.

“The board noted the wonderful service over many years that David Furner has made to the club from his days as a player and more recently a coach.

“He will leave his tenure at the club as one of the Raiders most loyal and respected figures.

“They noted the difficulty in the decision and said it was one of the saddest days in the club’s history.”

Club chairman John McIntyre and chief executive Don Furner did not respond to calls from AAP.

‘Unusual’ murder trial will proceed: judge

Written on October 9, 2019 at 18:33, by

A Sydney judge has rejected an application to throw out the “unusual” case of a young medical student accused of murdering his father.

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Joshua John Ravindran, 21, is on trial for murdering his dad, Ravi Ravindran, whose body was found in his Blue Mountains home on April 23, 2011.

The Crown alleges Ravindran murdered his father by striking him with a baseball bat and strangling him with a length of rope.

But Ravindran, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, submits he found his father hanging from a beam in his bedroom.

After laying him on the bed, Ravindran says he hit his father to the head at least twice with a baseball bat in a fit of anger because he believed his dad had abandoned him through suicide.

Ravindran is being tried in the Supreme Court before a judge alone without a jury.

Earlier this week, defence barrister Stephen Russell urged Justice Stephen Campbell to terminate the trial and acquit Ravindran of murder.

He argued the Crown could not exclude beyond reasonable doubt the possibility that Mr Ravindran attempted to hang himself.

The court has heard two forensic pathologists now agree that a large proportion of the injuries that led to Mr Ravindran’s death could have resulted from him trying to hang himself.

Justice Campbell noted, the case “certainly has some unusual features” which would require careful consideration.

“(But) I am not satisfied that the Crown case is so lacking in weight and reliability that a conviction could not reasonably be made on the basis of it,” he said in a judgment handed down on Monday.

In expressing this view, the judge said he was exercising no judgment “one way or the other” on the critical issue of whether Ravindran is guilty of murder.

The trial continues.

ANZ cuts loans rate by 25 basis points

Written on October 9, 2019 at 18:33, by

ANZ is the last of the big four banks to pass on the Reserve Bank of Australia’s quarter of a percentage point interest rate cut.

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ANZ’s standard variable rate will fall to 5.88 per cent, from Friday August 16, which will see a borrower on an average $280,000 loan save $58 a month.

The announcement comes three days after the Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank said they would match the RBA’s 25 basis point easing, taking their loan rates to 5.9 per cent and 5.88 per cent respectively.

Westpac went further, cutting its standard variable rate by 28 basis points, but to a higher level of 5.98 per cent.

ANZ chief executive Philip Chronican said economic circumstances warranted the latest cut to mortgage rates.

“In making our decision this month, we took into account our cost of funding, our competitive positioning and the impact of economic conditions on our customers,” he said in a statement.

Westpac’s cut does not come into effect until August 19, while NAB’s is effective from August 12, while Commonwealth’s starts on August 14.

The official cash rate has fallen to an all-time low of 2.5 per cent.

Other lenders to announce 25 basis point rate cuts included St George, which is owned by Westpac, Bank of Queensland and ING Direct.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has also announced a 25 basis point cut, taking its variable home loan rate to 6.01 per cent, from August 26.

“When setting interest rates our bank needs to take into account a wide range of factors and carefully consider its key stakeholders including borrowers, depositors, staff, shareholders, partners and the wider community,” managing director Mike Hirst said in a statement.

AFL, Essendon declare war on each other

Written on October 9, 2019 at 18:33, by

The AFL and Essendon are now at war over the club’s supplements scandal.

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Six months of official investigations, back-room negotiations, media leaks and public posturing exploded into open conflict on Wednesday afternoon after the league released details of its charges.

Essendon coach James Hird and chairman Paul Little quickly hit back, slamming the AFL and again stressing they would mount a vigorous defence.

It is the greatest crisis in the game’s history.

Court action seems inevitable and surely there is now no chance that Essendon’s top-eight status can be confirmed by the AFL Commission before the finals.

Next Monday, the commission is supposed to hear the charges against Essendon, Hird, club doctor Bruce Reid, senior assistant coach Mark Thompson and Bombers football manager Danny Corcoran.

But that hearing is now highly doubtful, meaning the Bombers go into the finals with the charges unresolved.

Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick has called a special meeting of club presidents on Thursday afternoon to brief them on the crisis.

Eight days after the AFL announced it had laid charges against Essendon and the four individuals, chief executive Andrew Demetriou went ahead with the league’s intention to release the details.

Even though many of the particulars were already confirmed or alleged, the 34-page document made for extraordinary reading.

The AFL notes the statement of grounds are charges only, with their correctness or otherwise still to be determined.

In them, the league said the Bombers either allowed players to be administered substances that were prohibited by the AFL Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code, or, alternatively, the club was unable to determine whether players were administered substances prohibited by the two codes.

The AFL charged Essendon after receiving an interim report from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, who are still investigating the club.

No anti-doping charges have been laid so far, with the AFL charges relating to allegations of conduct unbecoming and bringing the game into disrepute.

The charges contain in full a letter from Reid to Hird and then-football manager Paul Hamilton in January 2012 expressing Reid’s concerns about the supplement program.

In the letter, Reid said he had “fundamental problems being club doctor at present”, as players had been receiving injections of AOD-9604 without his knowledge.

He described the use of the drug as ludicrous, said the fact that it was marketed for body builders should “raise a red flag” and questioned whether Hird or Hamilton would want their children injected with it.

Hird and Little were furious when they fronted the media a couple of hours after the AFL’s statement.

Hird said the publication of the Reid letter was a breach of due process.

They said the charges are not supported by the evidence and accusing the AFL of trying to intimidate the club.

Hird and Little did not mince their words, with the chairman accusing the league of reprehensible behaviour and adding the AFL was determined to punish the Bombers are drug cheats.

The Bombers coach, the central figure in this saga, said the AFL was running a trial by media against him and decried the announcement of the charges as an ambush.

Hird stressed Essendon would defend the charges vigorously.

“Throughout the course of this exercise, I have been denied natural justice and today’s ambush is just another example of that,” Hird said.

Hird did not address an allegation in the charge particulars that he received vials of Melanotan II and syringes from Essendon’s former high performance manager Dean Robinson.

Hird was never warned about potential adverse reactions, but suffered “significant side effects”, the AFL says.

Little acknowledges Essendon will have to accept some sort of penalty from the league for the supplements program.

“However, we maintain our belief that no player was administered either harmful or prohibited substances and assert there is insufficient evidence upon which any such allegation should have been made,” Little said.

Little called for Fitzpatrick to intervene, saying he had lost faith in the AFL executive.

Hird said Demetriou and the AFL have conflicts of interest. He wants the case heard by an independent arbiter.

AFL Players’ Association chief executive Matt Finnis said the league’s charge details were shocking and distressing.

“It is shocking to see that the concerns of health professionals can be ignored in a club that seems intent on pushing the boundaries regardless of their potential impact,” Finnis said.

Two Aussies in world javelin final

Written on October 9, 2019 at 18:33, by

Keeping it simple is the key for Australian Kim Mickle, who is in great shape to win a javelin medal for Australia on the final day of the world athletics championships.

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After missing out on a spot in the top eight at the Olympics last year, Mickle left London convinced she was “the most unlucky person ever”.

A chat with sports psychologist Brian Miller soon set her straight.

Miller was stunned to learn that Mickle spent most of the competition watching the other throwers do their thing.

“Little did I know that as I was watching them, I was critiquing them and then popping that into my throw and way overloading my own brain with 101 different technique points,” said the 28-year-old Mickle.

“I didn’t realise I was doing that until Brian said ‘why are you doing that? That’s crazy’.

“And I was like ‘yeah, I was clapping them in and all sorts of things’.

“Now this year I’ve adopted a new approach where I don’t watch one throw.

“I have my back to every single thrower and it’s just worked a treat.”

The next step in the remaking of Mickle was to focus on only two technical points before every throw.

“Hit it flat and keep your hand back – they’re the two points I’m thinking of,” said Mickle.

“Now I can’t go back.

“If I watch someone else throw I realise how much I think about it.

“It’s a big realisation.

“Just chuck some blindfolds on me or something.”

The new approach worked a treat in the qualifying round in Moscow, with Mickle moving up two spots to second on the Australian all-time list with a huge personal best of 65.73m.

Only defending champion Maria Abakumova of Russia (69.09m) threw further in the qualifiers.

They will be joined in Sunday’s final by leading German hope Christina Obergfoll and Australian Kathryn Mitchell, who was thrilled with her third biggest throw ever of 62.80m.

“It’s going to be the Kath and Kim show,” quipped Mickle.

“She’s put in the hard yards as well so it’s awesome to have two Aussies in there and actually in it with a bloody good chance.”

Now that she’s through to the decider, Mickle plans to simplify her pre-throw routine even further – from two specific thoughts down to none.

“I hit that point very nice but I definitely didn’t unleash,” said Mickle of the 65.73m PB, which she is confident of bettering again in the final.

“I’ve got this boom tactic that myself, my coach Grant Ward and Brian (Miller) have been adopting.

“That will probably come out in the second, third, fourth and fifth throw on Sunday night.

“It means ‘just smash it’.

“I the have two points that I normally think of … and boom is don’t think about those two points – just go for it.”

Mickle also has consistency on her side, having finished on the podium in each of last 10 events.