GWS plot downfall of AFL’s intercept king

Harry Himmelberg is ready to niggle and negate Jeremy McGovern, should Greater Western Sydney ask the youngster to help stop the intercept king ending their AFL season.


McGovern, who set a new league record for contested intercept marks last year, was arguably best on ground in last week’s epic elimination final against Port Adelaide.

McGovern held 15 marks – including seven intercepts – to help West Coast prevail in extra time.

The 25-year-old could easily do the same against the Giants in Saturday’s semi-final at Spotless Stadium.

Part of the solution, as detailed by GWS veterans Heath Shaw and Callan Ward this week, is smarter ball movement and resisting the urge to bomb it into the forward line.

But McGovern’s match-winning potential means there is also a strong argument for deploying a defensive forward.

Himmelberg shapes as the most likely man for the all-important job, having played in a similar capacity on Adelaide’s Jake Lever last week.

The 21-year-old, who made his finals debut against the Crows, would relish the responsibility.

“It’s obviously a little bit of a different role. Playing back line for the bulk of my AFL career so far definitely helps,” Himmelberg told AAP.

“It’s a tough task.

“We saw in their game against Port that if McGovern gets a free jump at the ball he will do some real damage.

“So that’s somewhere that we’re going to have to nullify.”

Himmelberg, an academy product who hails from the Riverina, has played 14 AFL games.

But he has been watching plenty of footage and picking the brains of various teammates to research his latest role.

Nick Haynes, who has a knack of clunking intercept marks in defence, has been particularly insightful.

“I’ve got a good relationship with him and he lets me know what he does and doesn’t like,” Himmelberg said.

“Nobody really likes being niggled.

“If I bring that aggression; if I’m playing a role like that; then it’s usually pretty effective.”

Shaw suggested finding a way to limit McGovern’s influence would be “easier said than done”.

“McGovern is elite at what he does,” the former Collingwood veteran said.

“If you can get free ball going forward, go through his man or bypass him totally, that’s gold.

“If the pressure is good up the field, they can force a haphazardly kick forward and those sort of guys come into it.”

Ward expressed similar sentiments, noting “as a midfield group we just need to be smarter going forward, which we’ve needed to do in the last month”.

Aussie Buchan into Trestles semi-final

Adrian Buchan is flying the Australian flag on his own at Lower Trestles after reaching the semi-finals of the world championship event in California.


The veteran beat Adriano de Souza 15.57 to 15.30 in Thursday’s quarter-finals, enduring a nervous wait as his Brazilian opponent’s buzzer-beating final wave fell just short of the required score for victory.

The result was 34-year-old Buchan’s second win of the day after beating Brazil’s Jadson Andre in the fifth round.

But Buchan faces a tough task in the final four against world No.1 Jordy Smith, who is also defending champion at Trestles.

The South African beat Fredrico Morais of Portugal in the quarters.

It’s Buchan’s best result at an elite tour event since reaching the final of the Rio Pro in May, when coincidently he lost to de Souza.

“I did have a little bit of revenge on my mind,” Buchan said.

“That feels good. Stoked to be alive on finals day.

“He nearly got the score in the end. Great heat. Stoked to come out on top.

“He’s (de Souza) just such a fighter. I’ve learnt a lot from him over the years. He’s one of the best.”

Meanwhile, Australian stars Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson were knocked out on Thursday.

Three-time world champion Fanning’s bid for a third title at Trestles ended when he lost his third-round rematch with American Kanoa Igarashi.

The original heat between the pair was contested on Wednesday, with Fanning seemingly eliminated before it was ruled his opponent had broken the rules by taking a wave without priority.

In Thursday’s rematch, Fanning could not overcome Igarashi’s 8.33 score out of 10 on his first wave.

Igarashi then claimed another Australian scalp in the fifth round in world No.5 Wilson.

Australian veteran Bede Durbidge couldn’t do compatriots Matt Wilkinson and Owen Wright any favours in the world title race after losing to world No.2 John John Florence in the fifth round.

Wilkinson and Wright, ranked third and fourth in the world respectively, were knocked out early at Trestles.

It means the title race is in danger of becoming a two-horse race between Smith and Hawaiian Florence, who is still to surf his quarter-final.

Lower Trestles is the eighth of 11 stops on the elite world tour.

Tigers no longer rattled by finals: Grimes

No longer rattled by the pressure to perform in September, Richmond are approaching their biggest AFL game in 16 years with clear-eyed calm.


The Tigers are daring to dream after last week’s huge qualifying final win over Geelong – their first finals triumph since 2001.

They will play the winner of the Greater Western Sydney-West Coast semi-final at the MCG on Saturday week.

Regardless of their opponent, the hype is bound to be enormous.

But defender Dylan Grimes is confident the Tigers are better-placed to handle the pressure than in previous September excursions.

“Leading into this finals series, it probably felt less like a final than all the other ones that we’ve played in up to this point,” Grimes said on Friday.

“I think that was a real sign of maturity from the club, to show that we were just focused on what we could control inside these four walls.

“Going into the game, we were really calm and relaxed about what we needed to do.

“I think that was a real change from previous years … we spoke about the hype earlier, whether we got a little bit rattled by that or not, it’s in the past now.

“This year, we were so focused, and I felt like winning that was a cap-off to a great 12 months or even 24 months to get to this point.”

Richmond have been among the best defensive sides in the competition this year, and Grimes has stood out with a career-best season.

Along with All-Australian fullback Alex Rance and lockdown defender David Astbury, the versatile Grimes has played every game this season.

The 26-year-old had struggled previously with soft-tissue injuries but said he had benefited from the introduction of the pre-finals bye.

“I knew my body was feeling pretty sore at that time of year so I was relishing the week off,” he said.

“I suppose it comes down to each individual player and each individual club as well.

“I know for us, it really suited us. The week off this weekend is another bonus for us as well.”

Richmond will hold their main training session for the week behind closed doors on Saturday, but they had a light run in front of fans at Punt Road on Friday.

Astbury, midfielder Dion Prestia and youngster Jack Graham walked laps away from the main group but are not considered in doubt for next week.

A new era for women’s football in Australia?

A new W-League pay deal has been agreed upon, and a sellout crowd watched the Matildas face Brazil in Sydney last weekend.


Also on the horizon is a greater voice for women within Football Federation Australia – a goal close to the hearts of some of the women’s game’s fiercest advocates.


In the rough-and-tumble of park football, any form of encouragement is welcome.

National team star Kyah Simon has been overseeing a group of schoolgirls playing football in a western Sydney park.

The Matildas are in town for two friendly international matches against Brazil, and the players are taking some time away from camp to show these girls a thing or two about football.

It is that kind of engagement which is underpinning the rapid growth of the women’s game in Australia.

Women and girls account for around one in five footballers in the country, with well over 100,000 registered players.

Kyah Simon says linking girls with the female stars is crucial in showing them the game is not all about the boys.

“Look, that inequality’s always been there, and it still is today, but it definitely is going in the right direction. Like I said, there’s always room to improve. But, definitely, that opportunity there to play in all teams around the world, to be able to compete in a Champions League, play in professional leagues all over the world, have our Australian domestic W-League here, play at World Cups and Olympics, obviously they’re all things that encompass being a professional footballer, whether you’re male or female.”

It is a shifting mentality on the pitch that is also being slowly realised in the boardroom.

Kate Gill is a retired Matilda who now advocates for the women’s game through the players union, Professional Footballers Australia.

“You can’t be what you can’t see, and, if you don’t give women the opportunity to present a voice or provide a pathway for them to do so, then things aren’t going to change.”

That change could be just around the corner.

Football Federation Australia has until November to democratise or risk sanction from the sport’s world governing body, FIFA.

That means allowing more stakeholders more of a voice in running football, and the women’s game is in line to benefit greatly.

The FFA’s influential congress will be restructured, and a seat at the table is expected to go to women’s football.

Kate Gill says it could be a game-changer.

“It brings a whole new dynamic to the organisation, that female perspective or that gender lens, per se. And then you’re opening it up, also, to the public. Females are so ingrained in our sport, through fans, through mothers, and they need to have an accessible voice as well.”

That voice seems to be striking the right chord.

Advocates are calling for more female-friendly facilities and additional resources to help W-League players find supplementary incomes during the off-season.

They want a greater share of the FFA’s $56 million broadcasting-rights deal, as well as gender-specific research data for female players.

“Females have a whole different biological and physiological make-up, so why are we applying the same practices? In terms of research, where we develop our human performance, not much is done at a female level, we’re going off male data. So, little tweaks around what’s already common practice to be more gender-specific, I think, could go a long way.”

That would complement a landmark minimum-wage deal agreed upon this month (sept 11) for players in the W-League.

Matildas forward Kyah Simon says they are all necessary steps if Australian girls are to aspire to playing for the national team.

And she says that has even more significance since Australia has bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

“You can have a 10 year-old girl aspire to play in that World Cup at 16 years of age, which a lot of Matildas currently did when they were 16.”


Media reforms are a ‘fair go’ that will bring the industry into the 21st century, PM says

 Mr Turnbull told Sky News on Friday that the reforms were necessary to bridge the divide between Australian media and international companies including Facebook and Google.


“We’ve got to give Aussie media companies a fair go, (and) the chance to compete,” he said.

“(They previous laws) were drafted and enacted in an age before the internet and really relate to a completely… an era before the smartphone, before Facebook, before Google. It was another world.”

Mr Turnbull said his government had managed to bring Australian media laws into the 21st century. 

The man who helped the Turnbull government secure its long-awaited media reforms concedes the changes will lead to less ownership diversity.

Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon says some mergers could save some regional broadcasters whose revenue and share price have plummeted.

“I do not want to see more media companies, large and small, go into administration or worse receivership and shed hundreds more journalists jobs,” he told ABC radio.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said it was up to media proprietors to decide how they configure themselves, but the reforms put the industry on a more viable footing.

“We’ve given them the opportunity to have a wider range of dance partners,” he said, insisting there were still diversity protections.


Senator Xenophon’s critical bloc of three votes got the minister’s package over the line in the Senate on Thursday night.

In exchange for his support to repeal rules governing who can own what, he secured a $60.4 million fund for regional and small publishers with a turnover of less than $30 million as well as cadetships and regional scholarships.

That was in addition to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into Facebook, Google and the impact other internet giants are having on the media industry.

The senator admitted the innovation fund could be accessed by the likes of Crikey and The Saturday Paper.

The coalition separately clinched a deal with One Nation, with separate legislation to be introduced to include the words ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ into the ABC Act and more transparency over ABC and SBS pay.

But Senator Xenophon said a slated inquiry into the ‘competitive neutrality’ of the ABC, which Greens leader Richard Di Natale fears could leads to pay walls on services such as iView, would be “political suicide”.

“That is something that would be simply unacceptable,” he said.

“Australians will find that repugnant.”