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.”

Aussie Andrew into Lower Trestles semis

Rising Australian surfer Keely Andrew has reached the second semi-final of her burgeoning career at the world championship event at Lower Trestles in California.


The 22-year-old was dominant in upsetting local Sage Erickson in the quarter-finals, laying down a score of 18.47 from a possible 20 on Thursday.

It was too good for Erickson despite the American coming off a victory at the recent US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach.

Andrew will face another local hope, world No.3 Courtney Conlogue, for a place in the decider.

“I really enjoyed that heat with Sage (Erickson),” Andrew said.

“Just knowing that every heat I have to lift my performance is pretty exciting.

“It’s nice to finally show the world what I can do and it was great to let loose and get really good waves out there.”

A win over last year’s world championship runner-up Conlogue would see world No.12 Andrew, from Mooloolaba in Queensland, go one better than her only previous semi-final appearance last year in Hawaii.

World title contenders and fellow Australians Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore were knocked out in the quarter-finals.

World No.2 Fitzgibbons lost 14.06 to 13.43 to Conlogue but her championship push remains on track after Tour leader and defending Trestles champion, Tyler Wright, lost in the fourth round.

“It was a pivotal moment of the year. It didn’t go my way but I fought right to the end,” Fitzgibbons said.

“But I’m still right there … I think after all these years, I feel well qualified to be in that position.

“There’s still more events to go. I love the conditions in Europe and they always cough up a few surprises.

“But I feel like my surfing’s right there. I just didn’t quite get to display it at this event.”

Tony Abbott’s daughter throws support behind ‘Yes’ vote for same-sex marriage

Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances Abbott, has taken to social media to announce she will be campaigning for same-sex marriage ahead of Australia’s postal survey on the issue.



Ms Abbott, one of three daughters of former Prime Minister and avowed ‘No’ campaigner Tony Abbott and his wife Margie, used her Instagram page to make the announcement on Friday when she appeared in a white t-shirt with the words ‘vote yes’ written on the front.

“I don’t really care much for politics,” Ms Abbott wrote.

“But I do really care a lot for love. All love is good. Let’s celebrate it.”

The post was then followed with the hashtags #voteyes #yesyesyes #postalvote #getaroundit #marriageequality.

Her position is at odds with her famous father, who just two days ago penned a column in The Sydney Morning Herald stating same-sex marriage would fundamentally change society. 

Mr Abbott used the column to decry proponents of same-sex marriage as being responsible for bullying and hate speech.


Last month, the former Prime Minister took to the airwaves to explain his position.

“The concept of marriage is between a man and a woman, preferably for life open to children, that long predates our constitution, it long predates our parliament, it long predates the civil law, frankly,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“It is something that evolved many centuries ago to protect women and children in a world where they were much less secure than they are now. That’s why I would be very reluctant to change.”

Mr Abbott’s sister Christine Forster, a Sydney councilor and marriage equality advocate who is in a same-sex relationship, said his comments were hurtful but the pair had agreed to disagree.

“The Abbott family is like every other family. We do have differences of opinion on some things but we are a normal, functional family,” Ms Forster said.

With AAP.


Smashing the ‘butter fruit’: Australia looks to feed China’s growing avocado demand

Five years ago avocados were virtually unheard of in China, but a rapidly growing middle class has seen demand for foreign avocados skyrocket.


Located between the tall office buildings of Beijing’s CBD sits Chaan, a western-style salad bar catering to the city’s increasingly health-conscious army of white-collar workers.

Zhu Hui, 35, is a regular customer of the fruit.

“I first heard about avocados when watching a foreign online video about their nutrition and beauty benefits,” she told SBS News.

“Since everyone has become more conscious of their health, avocados have become more popular.”

Chinese vloggers taste avocado for the first timeSBS News

Chaan owner Jiao Jun said he was one of the first in Beijing to serve what’s known locally as ‘butter fruit’, a gamble that paid off.

“At the start, about five years ago, these dishes didn’t sell well,” he said.

“Customers just weren’t familiar. But in the past year more and more people have approached us asking if we serve avocados.”

According to United Nations data, China’s avocado market is worth almost one billion dollars.

“We’ve seen an almost ten-fold growth every year since 2012,” Clement Mougenot, an analyst from the China-based Daxue Consulting said.

“It’s likely that we’ll continue to see growth.”

While Mexico, Chile and Peru dominate China’s imports, Australian avocado farmers are missing out.

“Australia doesn’t have access to China for avocados,” Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas said.

“Avocados are prohibited to enter mainland China from Australia. We’re obviously really keen to get access.”

This year avocados were prioritised for market access negotiations with the Australian government.

“A small step forward but a really important step,” Mr Tyas said.

Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas was hoping Australian farmers will soon be given market access to China next few years (SBS).SBS News

Mr Mougenot said more exporters would lower prices, and make the fruit available outside of major cities.

“When you look at the figures there’s definitely space for other market players,” he said.

“The avocado right now is quite expensive for most Chinese consumers.”

While younger generations of Chinese living in China’s first-tier cities have enthusiastically adopted avocados into their diet, many others have not.

At a wet market 15 minutes drive east from Beijing’s CBD, fruit seller Liu Wei said her first attempt to sell a box of avocados was a failure.

“My husband thought we’d try them, but all our customers think they’re too expensive,” she said.

“We definitely lost money and won’t try again.”

But that’s not the only problem. Avocados are unrecognisable to most many living residents living in less developed areas of China.

“I’ve never seen that fruit before,” Mrs Li, 85, said.

“It looks strange. Is it edible?” Mrs Ren, 69, said

“it doesn’t taste like anything! I wouldn’t eat this,” after being offered a piece of freshly sliced avocado.”

Beijing resident Mrs Ren says avocados are “tasteless”after being offered her first taste by SBS Asia Correspondent Katrina Yu (SBS).SBS News

Hoping to boost the China’s appetite is Australian Cassie Wang.

Her newly-opened Beijing cafe Home Grounds is helping to popularise a brunch favourite from her home city, Sydney.

“Our avocado smash is the most ordered breakfast dish on the menu, and I see a lot of Chinese people ordering it and sharing it with their friends,” she said.

“We’re one of the few places serving it in Beijing so far, but I’m sure there will soon be many others.”

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Trump signs resolution condemning white supremacists

Trump signed the resolution “rejecting White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups,” which was unanimously passed by Congress earlier in the week.


In a statement, Trump said he was “pleased to sign” the measure, adding that “as Americans, we condemn the recent violence in Charlottesville and oppose hatred, bigotry, and racism in all forms.”

The overwhelming passage of the text meant that Trump would have likely had any attempted presidential veto overturned.

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Lawmakers from Virginia said Congress spoke with “a unified voice” to unequivocally condemn the August unrest, in which a rally by far-right extremists turned violent and a counter-demonstrator was killed when a car driven by a suspected white supremacist plowed into a crowd.

Trump was widely criticized for suggesting “both sides” shared blame for the violence between white supremacist groups and those opposed to them.

The president’s job approval ratings sank to one of the lowest levels of his turbulent seven-month presidency, as he was savaged over his handling of the fallout from Charlottesville.

Trump earlier on Thursday had appeared to revive his much-criticized suggestion of an equivalence between counter-protestors and those who killed Heather Heyer.

“I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also,” Trump said in reference to anti-fascist groups.

“Now because of what’s happened since then, with Antifa, you look at, you know, really what’s happened since Charlottesville — a lot of people are saying — in fact a lot of people have actually written, ‘gee Trump might have a point.'”

“I said, you got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.”

Dual citizenship saga: One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts will face High Court grilling

Malcolm Roberts will be grilled by government lawyers in the High Court over his eligibility to remain in parliament.


The solicitor-general will cross-examine the One Nation senator in Brisbane next Thursday about his knowledge and “state of mind” in relation to dual citizenship.

Lawyers for Senator Roberts will also seek to challenge expert evidence about the legality of the steps he took to renounce UK citizenship.

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British citizenship expert Laurie Fransman QC’s appearance next week will be subject to availability, but Senator Roberts’ legal team have requested two hours to question him.

“Goodness, you do have a lot to talk about,” Chief Justice Susan Kiefel said on Friday.

They will also look to call their own expert on British law, barrister Adrian Berry, who often serves as a junior lawyer to the government’s pick.

The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, heard their arguments would hinge on whether it was sufficient for Senator Roberts to send an email to renounce his British citizenship.

Also in question were the legal ramifications of Senator Roberts not paying the usual renunciation fee.

The experts have been told to discuss the contradictions in their interpretations.

“They shouldn’t have to walk very far,” Chief Justice Kiefel said.

Senator Roberts’ team have been given until Tuesday to summarise the differences in a dot-point document.

The One Nation senator’s sister has filed an affidavit to support his claims.

The court also heard the legal issues at play in the matters of Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan, Fiona Nash and Nick Xenophon were “materially indistinguishable”.

Tony Windsor – the political nemesis of Barnaby Joyce – will act as “contradictor” in the deputy prime minister’s case.

While the facts of each case differed, the law was the same.

All of them were born in Australia and insist they had no knowledge of acquiring foreign citizenship by descent.

The solicitor-general said it was “virtually inevitable” the cases would stand or fall together.

Former Greens senator Larissa Waters will submit she was disqualified, while the government will argue she was not.

Her former colleague Scott Ludlum is not expected to contest his eligibility.