Eddie Off To Sydney

Posted on: 2/26/2006 at 3:37pm ET

He Will Reman Pie Prez

G'Day Footy Fans -

McGuire New Nine Boss
Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) named Eddie McGuire as CEO of the Nine Network.
Eddie took over in mid-February. The appointment ends Nine's search for a permanent CEO since PBL director Sam Chisholm assumed the role after the sudden resignation of David Gyngell last May.
McGuire's appointment requires a move to Sydney, which means he had to give up his TV roles as MC of The Footy Show as well as host of Friday Night Football and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He did, however, say he would remain as president of Collingwood for another year after which his term expires.
In a prepared statement, Collingwood CEO Greg Swann said everyone at the club is thrilled for McGuire: "This is a great personal achievement and it is thoroughly deserved. We have all experienced at close hand over a number of years Eddie’s extraordinary professionalism and his outstanding leadership and management skills. I have no doubt that this is a tremendous appointment for the Nine Network."
The statement said that McGuire would be supported by "a strong and united board, and the club's successful management team".
McGuire took over as Collingwood president in September 1998 at a time when the Magpies were not only struggling on the field but in a parlous financial position off it.
While the club at first slumped to its lowest ebb - finishing with only its second ever wooden spoon in 1999 - in his first year in charge, McGuire soon turned around the club's fortunes to such an extent that the club has made profits in excess of $1 million for each of the past five seasons.
In fact over that period the Pies' total profits are just over $9.1 million with the last two of more than $2 million each coming despite the club slipping to the bottom four on the ladder, after having reached the 2002 and 2003 grand finals.
The Magpies now have more than 40,000 members, the most of any Victorian club, with McGuire also overseeing the move from the club's dilapidated home at Victoria Park into state-of-the-art new facilities at the Lexus Center.
McGuire has also overseen a period of great stability on and off the field at Collingwood with coach Mick Malthouse entering his seventh year in charge while Greg Swann is entering his sixth year as CEO.
In a bid to further consolidate the club's off-field position as well as its boost its on-field performance, the Pies recently appointed board member Eugene Arocca to the position of chief operating officer to enable Swann to concentrate more on football matters as the Pies look to shrug off the disappointments of the past two years.
But it is the question of who will take over the top job at Collingwood next year that will dominate talk. But the Pies will have no shortage of potential replacements, even though such has been the success of McGuire's tenure that he would be virtually irreplaceable.
Three former players in Wayne Richardson, Gary Pert, and Craig Kelly have already been mentioned as possible successors.
Richardson, a successful businessman, played 277 games for the Pies from 1966-78 and was previously a director at Collingwood, having served on Allan McAlister's board.
Pert and Kelly, who retired as players in 1995 and 1996 respectively, are also both successful businessmen with Pert in charge of the Austereo radio network - which includes Fox FM and MMM - while Kelly is the head of Elite Sports Properties - a sports management, marketing and promotion company with close ties to the AFL.
Eddie McGuire's reputation as a hard worker has been boosted by the announcement that it takes two people to replace him as host of The Footy Show.
Former footballer Garry Lyon (and regular Footy Show panelist) and ex-cricketer James Brayshaw were last week announced as the new co-hosts of the high-rating program.
Lyon has fronted the Sunday Footy Show and co-hosted the sports program Any Given Sunday with Brayshaw, who is also a member of the Triple M radio breakfast team on The Cage.
The pair will appear in their new roles when The Footy Show resumes on March 29 — the eve of the AFL season.
Nine's director of sport, Cos Cardone, said replacing McGuire was "next to impossible".
McGuire began his new role as Nine CEO 2 weeks ago.
His replacements are yet to be announced for quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Friday Night Football.

GENERAL NEWS

Foxtel Negotiates
Talks have opened between new broadcast partners Seven and Ten, with Foxtel looking certain to pick up exclusive rights to Sunday games.
While no set financial agreement has been reached - Foxtel contributed $30 million of the initial cash component of $76 million in 2002, the opening year of the last broadcast deal - formal negotiations begin next month.
Although Channel Seven remains embroiled in a billion-dollar legal action against Foxtel over the previous media rights deal, subtle indications have been communicated to Kerry Stokes' Seven Network that Foxtel will accept the 5-3 break-up of the weekly games, while insisting on better-quality games.
Foxtel executives helped the AFL design the winning bid document put forward by Channel Nine and subsequently matched by Seven and Ten, but lost the opportunity to televise an extra weekly AFL game when Seven and Ten emerged victorious.
Although there has been speculation that Foxtel would refuse to do business with Channel Seven, the network has indicated its continuing interest in AFL, an interest which saw its subscriptions rise to close to 25% of TV audiences following its foray into AFL.
The likely outcome could see Foxtel televise Friday night football live into Sydney and Brisbane, with Seven televising Friday nights in Victoria and across the southern states.
While Channel Ten and Foxtel are expected to share the four Saturday games as they have done previously, the pay TV network looks certain to push for exclusive rights to a handful of first-choice Saturday night games, along with its exclusive Sunday twilight game. The latter fixtures will be scheduled by the AFL later this year.
Channel Seven, which has made up a larger part of the $780 million cost of the new five-year broadcast rights, will televise the remaining two Sunday afternoon games.
The loser of the 2007 coin toss for the right to televise the Grand Final will be given the best of the two preliminary finals and also take first pick of games during the first 2 weeks of the 2007 finals series, along with exclusive rights to the Brownlow Medal count and the pre-season grand final.

Four On The Field
A four-umpire system will be trialed during the preseason competition and, if successful, could be introduced in the 2007 season.
The AFL confirmed that it would trial four field umpires in the NAB Cup, with a view to reducing the amount of scragging, blocking, and impeding ball players, especially at stoppages.
Andrew Demetriou said the umpires had been instructed to "actively police" illegal tactics aimed at preventing players from winning the ball.
While one umpire is bouncing the ball, another umpire will be close by to watch for any illegal blocking or holding. The other two umpires will then be placed up the field.
Four field umpires were used in one practice match between Richmond and Brisbane during last year's preseason. AFL football operations manager, Adrian Anderson, said there had been "encouraging signs" in the one-match trial last year.
The idea of 4 umpires has already won plaudits from players, including emerging Tiger star Brett Deledio has endorsed the plan, saying the competition's elite midfielders need more protection. He made reference to superstars such as Eagle Chris Judd who are constantly tagged and, as Deledio put it, "roughed up every week".
The introduction of four field umpires will be closely monitored and will be one of the main talking points during the NAB Cup.
AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson indicated the fourth umpire would be positioned around ball-ups to detect any illegal holding behind play while the controlling umpire has his head down bouncing the ball. The league has already flagged it plans to crack down on illegal holding tactics by taggers.

Anderson also countered criticism by coaches of the new kick-in rule - in which the player kicking in doesn't have to wait for the flags to be waved - by pointing out that waiting for the flags was not "intrinsic" to the game.
Anderson said the kick-in rule had been introduced to the season proper, not because of concerns about low scoring, but to ensure the game retained its "continuous" nature.
Demetriou said the game was evolving constantly and teams would find ways to deal the kick-in rule. Coaches such as Richmond's Terry Wallace have warned that it will increase the amount of flooding and of basketball-style, uncontested possession from end to end.

As done several years ago, this year's sponsor NAB will donate $1000 every time a player kicks a nine-point "super goal," with the money going to the player's original local club.

Coaches Want A Say
The AFL coaches have reinforced their push for a new representative on the laws of the game committee. The new push comes after they were not consulted regarding the new trial rules in this year's preseason competition. Two rules on which they believe they should have had a say are the kicking backwards rule in the VFL throughout the 2006 season and the new cap on the number of AFL footballers who can play for a VFL team. The latter has been a very contentious issue over the past few years.
Demon Coach and Coaches' Association spokesman Neale Daniher has requested that Association CEO Peter Allen be placed on the Rules Committee.
This follows the decision by former coach Stan Alves to step down from the committee. Alves, who was initially appointed to the committee as the coaches' representative, has told the AFL coaches he was disillusioned at the lack of clarity in his role.
Alves was on board when the AFL pushed through three key rule changes - including the rule allowing players to kick in immediately after a behind - and seven significant changes of interpretation for the 2006 season.
However, the coaches learned of the changes only on the eve of the AFL draft and after the trade period. Several Melbourne-based coaches, as of early February, were still unaware of the decision to trial the kicking backwards rule in the VFL this year.
The rule, also to be used in the preseason competition, stipulates that when the ball is kicked backwards outside the forward 50-metre arc, a mark will not be paid and the play-on rule applied.
While Bulldog Coach Rodney Eade said he had few issues with the rule, he added that the coaches do not get consulted and their opinions are "...treated with scant regard."
The VFL will also cap the number of AFL senior-listed players at 12 when affiliated VFL clubs such as Sandringham (Melbourne) or Williamstown (Collingwood) take on non-affiliated clubs such as Frankston and Port Melbourne.
This move has also concerned AFL coaches because the new rule will force, in some cases, three or four senior list players to line up in the VFL reserves.
Football Victoria boss Ken Gannon defended the change in the interest of providing a level playing field. Gannon said the kicking backwards trial was one of several rules the VFL was keen to implement in a bid to further individualize the competition from the AFL.
The coaches have since received a guarantee from AFL Operations Manager Adrian Anderson that the AFL will brief coaches fully on potential rule changes before the start of trade week from the end of the 2006 season.
The coaches are also expected to renew their push for improved access to train at Telstra Dome, along with the implementation of a mature-age rookie as an option for all 16 club lists.
The AFL is understood to have given a lukewarm reception to the coaches request for a new coaches' representative on the laws of the game committee, and the coaches have requested a decision before the start of this year's home-and-away season.

Geelong, Hawthorn, Richmond, and Essendon added their voices to concerns that the AFL introduced a radical rule change to this year's VFL competition without wider consultation among coaches.
A surprised Cats Coach Mark Thompson learned only a few weeks ago of the change to the rule - where a mark will not be paid should a player kick backwards to a teammate outside the 50-metre arc - when told by journalists while the Hawks' general manager of football operations Mark Evans said the club was dismayed to hear about the change via their affiliated VFL club Box Hill and not the AFL or VFL.
While Thompson and Essendon's Kevin Sheedy said they were not opposed to the rule itself, they called on the AFL to consult more widely with coaches about changes.
Thompson said the kicking backwards rule would make very little difference to the way the game was played, but he felt creating a distinction between the two competitions was a "silly" situation.
Evans was quoted as saying, "You will have the ludicrous situation where a player can be on the list for three years playing in a state competition with a significantly different rule. It slows down their development. Then you have the situation where a player moves on a week-to-week basis between competitions."
Essendon Coach Kevin Sheedy supports the new kicking rule, but would like to see it altered slightly before its incorporation at AFL level.
Sheedy said he would like to see the rule changed so that it would only apply to kicks within a team's back half because the VFL's rule would stop the attacking side from passing the ball around the 50-metre line and enable defences to post large numbers behind the ball.
He pointed out that players who in a forward pocket have to kick it backwards.
But Sheedy remained critical of the AFL for its lack of consultation and particularly the timing of the 10 changes to AFL rules and interpretations announced last November, the day before the national draft.
Richmond Coach Terry Wallace was also unfazed by the play-on rule but disappointed by the lack of consultation, as he had been when the rules for the coming season were announced.
He said he was more worried about the VFL rule determining only 12 senior-listed players can play for their AFL-aligned clubs when up against a stand alone team.
The player restrictions, Wallace believes, will make it more difficult for AFL clubs to elevate players on merit from VFL sides, when those players might be relegated to a VFL reserves team instead of the senior side.
The capping rule does not affect Geelong, which fields its own VFL team, and Thompson said he believed the rule was an attempt to make the VFL competition more even.

AFL Reviews Conduct Policy
The contentious new policy on s-xual assault is under review after several commissioners raised concerns over some of the wording and sanctions. The commission agreed that certain aspects of the yet-to-be passed rule could prove legally unworkable and potentially breach footballers' civil liberties.
As a result, commissioners Bill Kelty and Sam Mostyn joined a working party including AFL executives and legal representative Jeff Browne to review aspects of the policy that are considered heavy-handed. They also believe their role in punishing offenders would be inappropriate
The new policy, which would see accused players stood down or even delisted, was also challenged by the AFL Players Association. Players and officials could also be sanctioned for paying out "hush money" to alleged victims.
The commission has also agreed to review the AFL's attempt to have the power to stand down a player on such charges before his court trial and to rule against players not co-operating with police.
Unease in commission ranks is believed to have emerged soon after the November launch of the policy by AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and state Women's Affairs Minister Mary Delahunty.
The league may also consider introducing an independent body to handle such cases or turn to someone such as a retired judge.
A working party led by the AFL but involving all levels of government and health and education experts was set up and the new policy was launched after 21 months of research and consultation last November.
Almost immediately, the Players Association sought legal advice from a criminal law expert. The association, while supporting the principle of improving attitudes within the AFL towards women, deemed the policy heavy-handed in several areas and said it had not been consulted about the final wording.

New Role for AFL Umpire
The development of umpires at the grassroots level has received a boost with the appointment of Matthew James to the role of Umpiring Development Officer.
James - a three-time AFL Grand Final umpire - was appointed to the role by Football Victoria and his focus will be on recruitment, retention, and education of developing umpires in the Moorabbin Saints JFL, the Southern FL, the VAFA and the Waverley JFA.
The 31-year-old with over 130 games to his credit will continue to perform his duties as a current AFL umpire while he undertakes his new role and will report to Football Victoria Umpiring Development Manager and AFL senior umpire Neville Nash.

G Will Be Ready Says Madden
The Victorian Government is confident the traditional Anzac Day blockbuster between Collingwood and Essendon will go ahead at the MCG this year despite a dispute with Grocon, the building company in charge of the ground's redevelopment.
Grocon is seeking compensation from the Government for having to convert the MCG from an athletics track for the Commonwealth Games, back to a football ground in time for the April 25 clash, the first AFL game to be staged at the ground in 2006.
Originally the MCG was to be handed back for football on May 13 and Grocon is seeking extra money for the work needed to finish the ground three weeks earlier than expected.
The work involves the removal of the athletics track immediately after the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on March 26, then the re-installation of several thousand seats that had to be removed to make way for the track.
Victorian Sports Minister Justin Madden said he was confident the Anzac Day match would go ahead at the MCG following a visit to the ground and Grocon in mid-February.
If the MCG is unavailable, the AFL will be forced to transfer the match to Telstra Dome, but this would result in thousands of footy fans missing out on seeing what is usually the most anticipated game on the home and away calendar.
A crowd of 94,825 - the second-biggest home and away crowd in history - attended the first Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG in 1995 and given this year's match will be the first to be played at the fully renovated MCG - with a capacity again above 100,000 - a crowd of a similar size is expected at this year's game.
The Dome's capacity is only 53,000 and the game is a Collingwood home game this year. This gives Magpie members and reserved seat holders first crack at tickets, which could result in many Essendon fans unable to get tickets.
The dispute could also affect several other matches with a total of seven matches scheduled at the ground from Anzac Day until the original date of handover on May 13 including other traditionally large drawing games such as Richmond-Carlton, Hawthorn-Essendon, Melbourne-Geelong, Essendon-Richmond and Carlton-Collingwood.

Carrara In Good Nick
Carrara was given the all-clear to make its return as an AFL venue where it will host not only two season matches, but also hosted the opening game of the NAB Cup.
The Brisbane Lions, who used the ground for 61 home matches between 1987-92 in their Brisbane Bears days, played Essendon in the preseason opener.
The Gold Coast venue will also host the Round 3 Melbourne/Adelaide match and the Round 7 Hawthorn/Brisbane game. The ground will also host a practice match on March 11.
Some $3 million has been spent by the AFL and the Gold Coast City Council to bring the venue back to AFL standard with the league giving the ground the all-clear following mid-February inspection.
The AFL's manager of major projects, Simon Gorr said Carrara will now have some of the best facilities in the AFL. The renovations included an upgrade for the showers, toilets, lockers, and first aid rooms. The only thing not ready was one of the indoor warm-up rooms, so one team had the option of either doing their warm-up on the ground or an indoor basketball stadium, which is about 30 metres away. According to Gorr, the playing surface had also been re-laid with fantastic results. He said it could be one of the best in the league.
New coaches' boxes - located right on the wing - have also been built along with new interchange dug-outs while media and broadcasting facilities have also been revamped.
However, to spectators and those watching the games on television, the ground will look remarkably similar to the days of the Brisbane Bears with only one new stand having been built since the ground last hosted league matches in 1992.
The ground capacity is just under 16,000 with seating for 5500 and the rest standing.
Gorr said the AFL was thrilled to be bringing football back to the Gold Coast, an area in which the league believes there is enormous scope to attract new supporters, especially with thousands of expat Victorians living in the area and approximately one million living within a one hour drive from the ground.

The attendance at this week's game - over 13,000 after 8000 were expected - has strengthened the case for more matches at the Gold Coast ground next year. Richard Griffiths, CEO of AFL Queensland, believes up to 6 games per year - 2 preseason and 4 regular season - could be scheduled in 2007. He believes all would be well attended. A better gage of the response to footy in the area, he said, will be when an upcoming practice match is played at Carrara.
The AFL will review the response to Carrara in May, after the Round 7 Brisbane/Hawthorn game, which is certain to be a sellout.
While acknowledging that any game involving the Lions was a certain winner for Carrara, Griffiths said the practice match and Melbourne's Round 3 Easter game against Adelaide would help determine whether the Gold Coast experiment was sustainable.

An Amazing Experience
AFL youth coordinator Jason McCartney was a member of the Indigenous tour in Africa and, after just 3 days, said the AFL team had already enjoyed an amazingly enriching experience.
The team is scheduled to play three matches against a South African side - one under International Rules and two under Aussie Rules - with the IR match already having been played on Tuesday in Potchefstroom.
McCartney was surprised at how well the South African players adapted to the international rules. He said the first term was dominated by the Australian side, but that the "home" team played very well in the second before dropping off a bit in the second half.
Approximately 2500 locals play Australian Rules with the AFL hopeful of growing that number to 10,000 by 2008. The touring party has already undertaken two coaching clinics at local schools and McCartney marveled at the childrens' ability to pick up the game.
The indigenous players went on a tour through the shanty towns of Soweto on Wednesday and it was an experience that McCartney says touched a lot of his players deeply.

Play The Ball, Not The Man
With the AFL's new rule changes on display for the first time this weekend, AFL Umpires' Director Jeff Gieschen had a simple message to players wondering how the new interpretations will be applied: "Play the ball, not the man."
Gieschen explained that the key philosophies of the changes were to ensure the game remains free-flowing and continuous and to ensure players who make the ball their sole object are protected.

The rule changes for 2006 are:
Players no longer having to wait until the goal umpire waves his flag before bringing the ball back into play after a behind has been scored

A player being able to kick for goal directly in front from any mark taken or free kick awarded in the goalsquare

Automatic re-start of time as soon as an umpire calls for a field bounce

The rule interpretation changes are:
Limit the time players take to shoot for goal from set shots to 30 seconds

Reduced tolerance for the holding up of players after a mark or free kick.

Umpires to take less time bouncing the ball and throwing it in.

Less time taken in awarding 50-metre penalties.

Stricter interpretation of the deliberate out of bounds law.

Stricter policing of holding and blocking in marking contests.

Greater focus on detecting infringements by taggers.

While the new kick-in rule has caused the most debate throughout the pre-season, it is the last three changes to rule interpretations that are certain to ensure there are plenty of talking points this season.
The AFL recently sent a DVD, outlining the rule changes and differing rule interpretations to all clubs, with Gieschen saying this will be the model that the umpires will follow all season and that there will be no changes to the way the game is umpired during the season.
With four umpires being used in the NAB Cup, Gieschen is hoping this will lead to a reduction in illegal holding tactics so often employed by taggers behind the backs of umpires in recent years, with the extra umpire to be stationed around stoppages.
Gieschen said if players were focused on the ball they had nothing to worry about from the stricter interpretations to be applied towards interference in marking contests and at stoppages.
Gieschen said under the stricter policing of deliberate out of bounds, players would no longer be given the benefit of the doubt even if they gained significant ground in forcing the ball to the boundary line. Players who use the tactic of kicking the ball forward to gain ground send it over the line, they will be penalized.
The changes are all designed to keep the game moving and restrict the amount of "dead time" in AFL matches.
This is why players will now have only around 30 seconds to shoot for goal with Gieschen saying some umpires will even wear stop watches in a bid to help them determine just how long a player is taking to kick for goal.
But the umpires are not immune to change either this year with Gieschen saying the whistleblowers will take about three to four seconds less to bounce the ball in 2006, following a stoppage, in order to reduce congestion around ball-ups.

Collingwood's James Clement, Hawk captain Richie Vandenberg, and Tiger captain Kane Johnson have joined the growing chorus of players to voice their concerns over the raft of rule changes and interpretations introduced by the AFL for the 2006 season.
Clement said the speed of the game has already near ridiculous conditions, and believes the game is fine the way it is and that the rules do not to be tinkered with.
Vandenberg said the Hawks had been trialing the new rules at training and players had been having difficulty keeping up with the play. He believes the speed up will cause more bench rotations and possibly more flooding.
Johnson shared his colleagues' views on the increased physical demands the new rules could place on players, but disagreed with the popular opinion that flooding would also result.
He also said it could cause more fatigue in players, resulting in fatigue-based injuries such as hamstrings and groins as well as players burning out midway through the season.
Despite his misgivings, Clement felt the Rules of the Game committee that recommended the changes had acted with the best of intentions, but even though club captain Nathan Buckley and AFLPA chief executive Brendon Gale were part of that committee, Clement believes there had been a lack of player consultation.

Seven New Umps
The NAB Cup not only provides young players with a chance to try and make their mark on the game but it also gives young umpires a chance. The AFL is introducing 7 new umpires who will all have their chance in the preseason competition.
The seven umpires will be competing for just one spot on the AFL's senior umpire roster, hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Essendon and Collingwood player Mark Fraser - who trialed last year and has now been promoted onto the senior panel. Fraser's weakness was his bounce, but Gieschen said he has worked all summer to bring his bouncing skills up to acceptable levels.
Fraser took one of the vacancies created by the retirements of Corin Rowe and Darren Morris. The other spot will go to Damien Sully, Greg Bandy, Sam Hay, Luke Farmer, Michael Jennings, Jason Armstrong or Gary Fila.
These umpires were the top performers at state level last year and between them umpired the grand finals in leagues such as the VFL, WAFL and SANFL. They have been practicing at intraclub practice matches and will work NAB games and practice games.
The final place on the senior panel will be decided at the end of the NAB Cup.
Gieschen said while in some first round NAB Cup matches this weekend two of the rookie umpires were paired together, they were also matched up with two experienced umpires.
Armstrong and Fila officiated in Sunday's Collingwood-St Kilda match along with experienced pair Steve McBurney and Hayden Kennedy, while Bandy and Hay umpired the Hawthorn-Richmond match alongside experienced duo Brett Allen and Scott McLaren.

Annual Honors
While the new season has yet to get underway, the league has already made its selections for AFL Life Membership. The induction will take place at this year's AGM.
Of the new Life Members, seven qualified automatically during the 2005 AFL season by reaching 300 games of service. They were Melbourne Coach and former Essendon captain Neale Daniher, Western Bulldog duo Rohan Smith and Scott West, Adelaide's Mark Ricciuto, Kangaroo' Glenn Archer, Geelong's Peter Riccardi, and Sydney's Paul Williams.
Also honored were 1967 Brownlow Medallist and former head of AFL Game Development, Ross Smith, former Richmond and West Coast player and long-time West Coast coaching staff member Robert Wiley, and Sydney and Brisbane administrator and former Collingwood player Andrew Ireland for their outstanding service to the game.
Brian Le Brocq has been awarded the Jack Titus Service Award for Conspicuous Service to the game as a long-time AFL Tribunal representative.

The inductees:

300 Games

Glenn Archer (Kangaroos, 1992 - current), 274 games, 34 preseason games, 3 State of Origin games, 1996 & 1999 premierships, 1996 Norm Smith Medallist; 1996, 1998, 2002 All Australian

Neale Daniher: Essendon (1979-81, 1985, 1980-90)- 82 games, 8 preseason games, 2 State of Origin games for Victoria, 1 SOO NSW, 1981 B&F: Melbourne - Coach 1998-present, 186 games, 21 preseason games. Assistant coach at Essendon 1991, also an assistant with Fremantle

Peter Riccardi, Geelong 1992-current, 282 games, 26 preseason games, 2 State of Origin games, 1998 B&F

Mark Ricciuto, Adelaide 1993-current, 286 games, 26 preseason games, 5 State of Origin games, 4 International Rules games, Adelaide captain 2001-current, 1998 Premiership,
1998, 2003, 2004 B&F, 2003 Brownlow Medal; 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 (captain), 2005 (captain) All Australian

Rohan Smith, Western Bulldogs 1992-current, 276 games, 23 preseason games, 3 State of Origin games, 8 International Rules games, 1997 & 2003 All Australian, 1998 Whitten Medallist

Scott West, Western Bulldogs 1993-current, 276 games, 25 preseason games, 1 State of Origin game, 4 International Rules games: 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 B&F;
1998, 2000, 2004, 2005 All Australian

Paul Williams, Collingwood 1991-2000, Sydney 2001-current: COL - 189 games, 7 preseason games; SYD - 105 games, 7 preseason games, 2 State of Origin games Tasmania, 2 State of Origin games Allies, 2005 Premiership, 2001 & 2002 B&Fairest,
2003 All Australian

Outstanding Service
Andrew Ireland, 110 games Collingwood, 1975-80, Brisbane CEO 1990 - 2001, Sydney General Manager, Football, 2002 - current

Ross Smith: 234 games St. Kilda 1961-72 and 1975, 6 preseason games, 4 State games Victoria, 1966 Premiership, 1967 & 1971 B&Fairest, 1967 Brownlow Medal, Captain 1970-72;
WAFL Career, 46 games Subiaco 1973-74, 1973-74 Captain-Coach, 1973 Premiership, 1 State game WA; 22 games coached St Kilda 1977; AFL Game Development General Manager 2000-2004

Robert Wiley: VFL Career: RICH - 95 games 1979-83, 9 preseason games; WCE - 18 games 1987, 1 preseason game, 2 State games Victoria, 1 International Rules game, 1980 Premiership,
West Coast assistant coach 1992-current; WAFL Career - 176 games Perth 1974-78 and 1984-86; 14 State games WA, 1976 & 1977 Premierships; 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1985, 1986 B&F, 1976 & 1977 Leading goalkicker, 1985 & 1986 Captain

Jack Titus Award: Brian Le Brocq: 1949-55, Played CYMS competition; 1956-58, Played East Hawthorn FC; 1959-64, Played Old Paradians, VAFA; 1959-75, Old Paradians Committee; 1972-72, Old Paradians President; 1965-75, VAFA Umpires Committee (five years Chairman); 1975-81, Richmond FC Recruitment officer; 1976 Richmond Reserves Team Manager; 1977-80, Richmond TC Senior and Reserves Team Manager; 1980-1990 Teal Cup Selection Committee; 1982-83 Reserves Tribunal Panel Member; 1984-2004 AFL Tribunal Panel Member

Clubs' New Designs
The Bulldogs are trying out a new alternate strip in the NAB Cup that could also be used in future home-and-away games.
But rather than designing a radical alternate jumper, as has been the trend for the majority of rival clubs, the Dogs' new clash guernsey, which is red, white, and deeper blue than in its regular one, is a throwback to the past.
In last year's preseason competition, the Dogs wore bright orange strips, color themed with one of the club's major sponsors, but didn't use the guernseys in the season proper.
But there are no plans for the team to use it other than in the NAB Cup competition just yet.

Adelaide also unveiled its first clash guernsey this weekend. The predominantly red jumper features a diagonal feather design. The Crows have also made a minor alteration to their regular home guernsey, adding two navy blue stripes on each side.
Adelaide will wear the red away jumper in its Round 3 match against Melbourne at Carrara Oval as well as in the NAB Cup.

Other guernsey variations that will be seen this year: Richmond has added yellow side-panels to its silver clash/NAB Cup guernsey; the Kangaroos have removed stripes from their predominantly blue away guernsey and predominantly white clash strip; Hawthorn and St Kilda have extended the stripes on the backs of their jumpers and have added white boxes around their numbers.

TRIBUNAL
The AFL has announced several changes to its Tribunal procedures after reviewing last year's results. The 2006 reforms, based on feedback from all sections of the football community include: a change in the weighting for prior offences, reducing time added and carry over points for previous infractions; the creation of further categories of misconduct; an expansion of the definition of the terms "reckless", "negligent", "intentional" and "behind play"; more time available for clubs to accept an early plea; the time period for the calculation of prior records to be calculated from three years to the particular round in which the player is reported; the jury to be bound by the Table of Offences if it reclassifies an offence determined by the Match Review Panel

As part of the reforms, players will no longer be disqualified from having a good record when their only offence in the previous five years was minor attracting a financial penalty.
AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said the Review Panel had received submissions from all clubs and a wide range of stakeholders as part of the review which started last October.
According to Anderson, all aspects - the Tribunal itself, the Match Review Panel, and the Table of Offence - were examined in detail.
Aspects of the system retained from last year include a 25% discount for an early plea when a player successfully pleads guilty to a lesser charge, and fixed fines for melees and wrestling.
The expanded and more legalistic definitions are a clear reaction to the controversy surrounding the Barry Hall case in grand final week last season, when the tribunal deemed Hall's blow on St Kilda defender Matt Maguire in play despite the ball being nowhere in proximity.
The "loading" on players' previous suspensions has not only been lightened by 10 per cent, but capped at 50 per cent. An example of the new grading structure would be repeat offender Jonathan Brown. An offence worthy of a 3 game suspension in 2005 would have earned him minimum 6 game penalty, the same offence and record this year would be a 4 match penalty.
Anderson said the lightening of penalties for previous offences was a reaction to "concerns that the weighting of prior offences when combined with carry-over points may become excessive".
Redefining the time frame closes off a potential loophole surrounding the dates of previous offences, with the three-year retrospective for prior offences now unambiguously to date from the equivalent round in which an offence was omitted.
The in play/behind play definition has also been tightened. Behind the play is now defined as "not within close proximity to the ball and (a) occurring at any location which could not reasonably be regarded as an option for delivery of the ball, by a person in control of the ball or who is likely to gain control of the ball; and (b) occurring during times when play has stopped, including the breaks between quarters or after the final siren".
Anderson confirmed that the match review panel and tribunal would operate with the same personnel in 2006, with former Hawthorn player and coach Peter Schwab heading the panel and retired County Court judge David Jones the tribunal.
The match review panel last year laid fewer charges than the old tribunal laid the season before. And with the facility for players to take set penalties, there were just 26 hearings last year compared to 123 in 2004.

PRIOR OFFENCES: Players to receive a 10 per cent loading for an offence for each match suspension beyond one match incurred in previous three years. Maximum weighting capped at 50 per cent.

FIVE-YEAR GOOD RECORD: Players who have five-year good records will receive a 25 per cent "discount", and will remain eligible should their reportable offences have been punished only by fines.

TRIBUNAL BOUND BY TABLE: When tribunal classifies an offence differently from match review panel, suspension must be determined in accordance with table of offences.

DEADLINE FOR PLEAS: Deadline for notification of an acceptance of an early plea extended from 10am to 11am on the day after notification of a charge.

MISCONDUCT: Spitting, contact with the head, including the face and unreasonable and unnecessary contact with injured player added to the table of offences.

LOCATION: The activation points applicable for the location of an offence have been changed so that no points are added when an offence occurs in play. One activation point will apply when an offence is behind play.

DATES: The definition of an AFL year has been amended to apply retrospectively from the round in which a player has committed an offence.

PRECEDENT: The extent to which players and clubs are permitted to use examples from the tribunal's 2006 DVD, or a DVD made by the tribunal in any other year, will be the subject of guidelines issued by the tribunal chairman.

Former Geelong captain Barry Stoneham has stepped down as a member of the AFL Tribunal jury, effective immediately. Stoneham, a member of the AFL's 200 Club, advised the AFL he was returning to a role at Geelong and, consequently could not continue his position with the Tribunal.
The AFL thanked Stoneham for his contribution as one of the six former players who comprised the tribunal jury in the first year of the new system's operation in 2005 and wished him well for his return to a club role.
A new sixth panel member - to join the returning Emmett Dunne, Stewart Loewe, Richard Loveridge, Wayne Schimmelbusch and Michael Sexton - is expected to be appointed before Round 1.

TEAM NEWS

KANGAROOS
Norm Smith medallist and Kangaroo star Shannon Grant was been fined $5000 by the club in early February after turning up to training one day in an unacceptable condition. He appeared to have been drinking or, at least, still under the effects of alcohol.
Grant did not try to train with the main player group but joined in the recovery group, leaving before the session finished. He was confronted later at home by assistant coach Darren Crocker, who had been left in charge of the players who did not travel to the LA game.
A chastened Grant, who has been disciplined and cautioned previously by the club over his off-field behavior, was fined and counseled. The club also met his manager, Ron Joseph, to discuss the issue.
It was the club's match committee, consisting of Laidley, Harrington, Crocker, Donald McDonald and Darren Bewick, that imposed the fine.
Grant was most famously disciplined by the Kangaroos when he was dropped for the final match of the season in 2001, the same year he won the Syd Barker Medal, after he and teammate Corey Jones were caught drinking and breaking team curfew at the club's Team of the Century function.
The club's code of conduct allows for a fine of up to $10,000 and potential suspension should Grant transgress again.

COLLINGWOOD
Collingwood has a forward scout on retainer in Ireland. His job is to keep an eye on the Gaelic players and report back to the club about potential AFL recruits. However, while he will retain the part-time position, he and the club will not approach any players until the AFL and GAA finalize their new policy on recruiting Irish teenagers.
The AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association, met last month in Melbourne and, with questions about the future of the international rules competition in mind, resolved to make it more difficult for AFL clubs to recruit players out of Ireland.
An Irish fear - fed by an aggressive Brisbane Lions recruiting spree late last year - of increasing numbers of their best young players being wooed to the Australian code led the GAA to speculate about its commitment to the hybrid rules games played between the countries each year. The AFL agreed to stymie any possible Irish exodus, quite possibly by raising the minimum draft age of Gaelic recruits to 21.
Over two decades the Irish have tolerated the very occasional loss of a teenager keen to play professional football in Australia. Of the few who have tried, fewer still have succeeded, with Jim Stynes, Sean Wight and Tadhg Kennelly being the notable exceptions. Carlton currently has the O'hAilpin brothers, Setanta and Aisake, on its list.
The GAA's concern grew last year, however, after Brisbane pursued Irish star Sean Cavanagh without success, spoke with James Coglan and Martin Clarke and later signed two players from County Laois, Colin Begley and Brendan Quigley, who are now on two-year deals as international rookies.

Coach Mick Malthouse believes the Magpies' troupe of returning stars might not reclaim its best form until well into the 2006 season.
Key forwards Chris Tarrant and Anthony Rocca, ruckmen Josh Fraser and Guy Richards and a fit-again captain Nathan Buckley are all expected to be prominent during the preseason campaign, but Malthouse cautioned that the group might not play its best for awhile.
Collingwood finished second-last in 2005 after a horror run with injuries, but the signs are encouraging that most of its top players are healthy and returning to full fitness.
Buckley has recovered from the hamstring problems that dogged him in the early rounds last year, Rocca's Achilles problem is no longer his Achilles, and Tarrant, Fraser and Richards all have recovered from their respective knee injuries.
Rocca, Tarrant and Fraser all showed good signs in last week's intraclub game, but Malthouse said he would not be cornered into selecting players on reputation over the next four weeks, as the preseason was a prime time to blood draftees.

A dislocated shoulder has interrupted the preseason of Sean Rusling, who was injured during an intra-club match at Telstra Stadium in Sydney in early February. Rusling emerged with the injury after a contest with rookie Harry O'Brien during the Magpies' first serious practice match of the year.
It is the second time in his short career that Rusling has had shoulder problems.
Last year, in his debut season, Rusling injured his shoulder in Round 17 against St Kilda after 6 appearances for Collingwood.

GEELONG
The on-field success of the Cats last year has resulted in a huge rise in membership
and reserved seat sales as optimism at Skilled Stadium reaches at an all-time high.
So healthy is the Cats' financial position - on the back of two successive finals appearances and profits in the past six years under the leadership of president Frank Costa and chief executive Brian Cook - that the club has already repaid the first installment of its $3.6 million loan to redevelop Skilled Stadium.
The repayment of $625,000 to the Bendigo Bank has saved the club thousands of dollars in interest and shows just how far the Cats have come from the dark days of 1999 when the club was $5.1 million in debt before Costa and Cook took control of the club.
Geelong finance and administration manager Rob Threlfall said in previous years the Cats would not have been able to generate enough cash flow from membership and reserved sales to make its loan payment until closer to the start of the season.
Threlfall said the Cats' membership and reserved seat sales were already up eight percent on this time last year and this is despite the club coming off a record membership year last year with nearly 31,000 season ticket holders.
According to Threlfall, the club has sold 1200 more memberships and close to 700 more seats than this same time last year.
With 1000 extra members normally equating to about an extra $100,000 in revenue, the Cats are hopeful of now surpassing last year's record membership tally to add even more dollars to the club's coffers.
The Cats announced a profit of $1.6 million last year with the redevelopment of Skilled Stadium, including the new Eastern Stand on the outer wing, generating over $1 million in additional revenue through the availability of more reserved seats and extra corporate facilities.
That enabled the Cats to pay off the last portion of its previous debt of more than $5 million last March while the new debt is now expected to be paid off by 2009.
Threlfall said the Cats' financial position had now improved to such an extent that the club was finally in a position to put away some money "for a rainy day." Now the club can look at things such as improving player facilities and investigating marketing opportunities.

Former Cat champ Steve Hocking has rejoined the club in a full time capacity. Hocking, who has spent the past two seasons as the chairman of the Cats' match committee, will fill the new role of Training Services Manager.
Hocking, who played 199 games in an 11 year career with the club, will be responsible for the planning, management, and implementation of all training services for the club, including the co-ordination of all medical, physiotherapy, and fitness and conditioning requirements on training and match days.
Hocking returned to the club in 2004 on the invitation of Mark Thompson. Since then, he has been a key member of the off-field team that has overseen the Cats rise up the ladder.
Hocking finished fourth in the best and fairest in 1986 and was awarded most determined & dedicated player four times. He debuted in 1984 and closed out his career in the 1994 grand final. Hocking is a member of the GFC hall of fame.

ST KILDA
The club held its AGM at the end of January. At the meeting, president Ron Butterss
and the St Kilda directors were asked about a possible change of the team song. The idea has been being pushed by former Saint VP Michael Gudinski, who also owns a record company. Butterss believes the song, When The Saints Go Marching In, can "be a bit thin" and the club is considering using writer Ross Wilson to give the song a bit of a rock 'n' roll punch. While the lyrics will remain the same, Butterss is interested in a bolder version.
Wilson is an Australian music icon. He penned Eagle Rock, fronted the legendary Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock and wrote and produced hits for numerous Australian artists over nearly 40 years.
St Kilda, when known as the Southern Saints for a brief period in the mid-1980s, produced a new song for their new era, which lasted as long as the name change and, apparently, was even less popular.
Butterss said that the fans would be consulted before any commitment to a change was made but it was his personal view that a song with "a bit of punch" wouldn't be disrespectful of the past.

The club has again been fined $40,000 for lodging 2005 player contracts too late. The Saints were fined $50,000 in 2003 for a similar offence.
CEO Jim Watts accepted the blame for the error and promised better internal efficiency in the future.

The optimism surrounding St Kilda heading into the 2006 season is translating into an off-field boom for the club as long-suffering Saints fans clamor to become members.
As of mid-February, the Saints already had more than 21,000 members, around 2000 more than the same time last year.
And with 1000 additional members usually equating to around $100,000 in additional revenue, it is a huge boost to the once struggling club - whose financial performance off the field has improved just as much as its on-field performance in recent years.
Such is the growth in St Kilda membership in recent years that this year the club signed up some 18,000 members before Christmas, which was more than its entire membership of 17,696 in 2002.
That year the Saints finished in second last place in Grant Thomas' first full year as coach, but the following year they jumped to 11th while in the past two seasons it has taken the eventual premiers (Port Adelaide and Sydney) to beat the Saints in the preliminary final.
The club is aiming for 35,000 members in 2006 which, if achieved, would mean the club has doubled its membership in the space of just four years.
The Saints are already the early favorites to win this year's premiership. However despite the burden of expectation that is on the club, the players are not feeling any extra pressure going into the 2006 season.

Justin Koschitzke is out of the NAB Cup due to patella tendonitis. He should be available for Round 1.

Polished midfielder Luke Ball will be the sixth-youngest captain in AFL history when he leads the Saints out in Round 1. The Saints made the announcement early last week.
And Justin Koschitzke, after being overlooked despite declaring he wanted the captaincy, virtually has been installed as skipper for 2007.
After witnessing Nick Riewoldt struggle through his season as captain, battling injury and missing eight games, St Kilda opted for the conservative choice of the durable Ball and tried to ease the pressure on Koschitzke, who is still battling injury and unlikely to play the early rounds of the season.
Poetically, Koschitzke should have followed Riewoldt — the player he followed at pick two in the 2000 national draft — into the captaincy. But after only 71 games in five years, compared to Ball's 65 in three seasons, Koschitzke's more compelling need is to start playing regularly without being burdened by leadership. Coach Grant Thomas was confident that Kosi would lead the club next year, provided he stayed injury free.
Ball will be 21 years 309 days on March 30 when St Kilda takes on West Coast in Round 1, and will be the youngest team captain since Wayne Carey took over leadership of the Kangaroos in 1993. With just those 65 games to his name, he will also be the least experienced captain behind Carey (60) games and Stephen Kernahan. Kernahan was 23 when named captain in his second year at the Blues, having played 25 games in his first year after arriving as a mature recruit from South Australia.
Neale Daniher would have been the third-youngest captain to lead an AFL side as the designated skipper, but after being appointed Essendon captain for the 1982 season, Daniher injured his knee for the second time and never led the Bombers. He would have been 21 years 40 days in round one of 1982.
Ball acknowledged concerns not only of him as captain but of the youthful leadership group.
He said while the team was in China, the group did discuss the age and experience - or lack thereof - among the leaders.
For Ball, that decision was complicated by not only his age but by the workload of university study, playing and captaincy. His experience last year when he stood in for the injured Riewoldt encouraged him to believe he not only wanted the job but that he was not an inappropriate person.
Ball believes the 8-man leadership group, which does not include any of the Saints' veterans such former skippers Robert Harvey and Aaron Hamill nor experienced trio Justin Peckett, Max Hudghton and Stephen Powell, will do well.
Ball will be assisted by not only Riewoldt and another former captain in Lenny Hayes but other younger players such as Matt Maguire, Nick Dal Santo, Stephen Milne and Xavier Clarke, and Koschitzke.

YOUNGEST AFL CAPTAINS
(First game as designated captain)

David Dench (North Melbourne) 20 years 221 days in 1972. Had played 47 games
Haydn Bunton (Fitzroy) 20 years 299 days in 1932. 18 games
Kevin Dynon (North Melbourne) 21 years 249 days in 1947. 20 games
Michael Voss (Brisbane Lions) 21 years 272 days in 1997. 79 games
Wayne Carey (North Melbourne) 21 years 303 days in 1993. 60 games
Luke Ball (St Kilda) 21 years 309 days in 2006. 65 games ( provided he plays in Round 1)

Former St Kilda fullback Luke Penny is having chemotherapy in an attempt to improve the debilitating knee problem that caused him to retire prematurely at the end of last season. .
Penny has acute rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic and very painful disease of the muscular-skeletal system characterized by inflammation of the joints and caused by the body's immune system destroying itself.
Penny, 25, is having 3 sessions per week in an attempt to arrest the progress of the disease.
Chemotherapy, commonly a treatment for cancer that knocks out the body's immune system and stops it destroying itself, is also an established treatment for acute rheumatoid arthritis when other treatments have proved unsatisfactory. In the case of RA, the chemo is administered in smaller and fewer doses to target fewer cells.
Penny refused interviews with reporters and he believes, according to a family member, that he has been gagged by St Kilda under the terms of a confidentiality agreement with the club.
Penny, who played 35 games with the Western Bulldogs then 45 with St Kilda, also is believed to be angered by the way the club did not appear to believe his condition was serious enough to force him to retire.
At least one member of Penny's family is believed to be keen for the former player to consider defamation action against the club for comments made at the time of his retirement.
The family member claims to have sought advice from the AFL about what impact a non-disclosure statement would have on potential legal action.
When Penny announced his retirement in November last year, it was clear St Kilda and coach Grant Thomas were disappointed with his decision and voiced as much at a news conference at Moorabbin after Penny released a statement announcing his decision.
Thomas said at the time he was "very shocked" and "surprised" by Penny's decision to quit and added that Penny's reasons were personal and that it "wasn't a medical decision". "He just doesn't believe he's up to doing what he does best."
St Kilda chief executive Jim Watts yesterday said it was never the club's contention that Penny's condition was not medical, only that his decision to retire from football was made for personal reasons and against medical advice he had received from the club.
Watts said he was not aware of what condition Penny had when he chose to retire but that the club had been keen to do everything it could to help Penny rehabilitate and play AFL football again.
Watts said the club's preference was that Penny stay and that with the right rehab, he would be able to play again.
Watts also denied there was any gag on the Penny family preventing them talking about the issue.
Penny was a first-round draft pick for the Western Bulldogs in the 1998 national draft, selected at No. 14 overall. He was traded to St Kilda at the end of 2002 and quit the club with three years of his contract still to run.
His knee problems began in 2002 when he missed nine games. He was forced to sit out 14 matches last year and had three operations on his right knee.
Penny is believed to have received a small amount of the estimated $600,000-$700,000 he would have earned over the course of his three-year deal.

ESSENDON
Adam Ramanauskas' immediate playing career is uncertain following a recurrence of the cancer initially diagnosed two years ago. A recent routine check-up revealed that the cancer in his neck and shoulder had resurfaced and he is presently taking advice from specialists on the best course of treatment.
Ramanauskas had two tumors removed from his neck and shoulder area in 2003 after suffering from a rare growth known as fibromatosis. Surgery removed the tumors and he was back in the team by midseason after missing eight games, but in August the cancer returned and he was forced to have more surgery as well as radiotherapy. This time the approach will be different and more aggressive, which perhaps suggests chemotherapy. The form of cancer is relatively rare and overseas specialists will be consulted before a decision is made on the correct course of action.
He made a successful return to the game in 2004, played every game that season and was one of the best in the Bombers' semi-final loss to Geelong.
He was restricted to just 3 games last year due to a ruptured ACL in his left knee during a training drill, and a subsequent knee reconstruction.
Ramanauskas was on the comeback trail from that injury and actually umpired the Bombers' intra-club match at the Lexus Center in mid-February before learning that his cancer had returned.
Ramanauskas has played 111 games for the Bombers since debuting in 1999 and as well as playing in the Bombers' 2000 premiership team, he also represented Australia in the 2001 International Rules series and was third in the Bombers' 2002 best and fairest award.
The club informed the media via a prepared statement and said it would not make any further comment. Any further information on Ramanauskas' condition would only be provided at the discretion of Ramanauskas and his family.
Club CEO Peter Jackson described the situation as disappointing and distressing for all at the club. But he said Ramanauskas was a strong young man and all concerned were confident he could battle through the latest setback and return to playing. Jackson also said Ramanauskas wanted support, not pity from those around him and both he and the team would take inspiration from each other.

The opportunity to work with Kevin Sheedy and a desire to once again become a head coach has seen Gary Ayres accept a two year offer from Essendon to become a full-time assistant.
Ayres filled one of the vacancies left by the departures of Mark Harvey and Robert Shaw.
Ayres, 45, will have what Sheedy described as a broad role with the club and will work with the team's defence, offer tactical expertise, and conduct analysis on opposition teams.
Former Carlton champion Craig Bradley was also offered the job, but turned it down because of work commitments. He did offer to come down to the club on occasion to work with the younger players, an offer Sheedy will certainly consider.
Ayres, who will become the AFL's best-credentialed assistant coach after having spent 10 years coaching Geelong and Adelaide, conceded yesterday he'd thought "long and hard" about the position, and said Sheedy, along with the Brisbane Lions' Leigh Matthews, was the only senior coach with whom he would have considered taking an assistant's role. He described Sheedy as the best in the business, "He's been there for 25 years, and to be able to stay in the game that long, knowing what I know about the pressures of being No.1, I think it's unbelievable.The respect that I have for him is enormous and there's a lot of things I feel I can certainly learn. That's what I want to do to be a better coach."
Ayres, who will coach for the first time with a Melbourne-based club, admitted he still had a passion to return to the top job at an AFL club, something which Sheedy said he was more than prepared to help him to do.
Ayres brings a vast wealth of knowledge and experience, having collected five premierships and two Norm Smith Medals during a 269-game career with Hawthorn before attaining a 54% winning record during 10 years at the helm at Geelong (1995-99) and Adelaide (2000-04).

Former Bulldog Paul Dimattina wasn't planning on having any involvement in AFL football when he returned to Melbourne late last year after having run his family's restaurant in Queensland for the past two years.
After a chance meeting with Kevin Sheedy, however, he has landed a job as a runner and skills coach with Essendon. Dimattina will share running duties with John Barnes, but will also spend three days a week on the track working with the Bombers' senior list.
Dimattina has been appointed a mentor to a group of young Bombers including highly rated draftee Courtenay Dempsey, father-son recruit Jay Neagle, and the talented but injury-afflicted Joel Reynolds, and will assume chief responsibility for a couple more of the Dons' more junior talent yet.
Dimattina has already spent considerable time with Reynolds, whom injuries have restricted to just 27 senior games over four seasons, concentrating on running and skill work.
While Dimattina has no coaching aspirations, he said he is enjoying working the players, who will sometimes seek him out for one-one work after training.
Dimattina, who played 131 games for the Western Bulldogs from 1995 until the end of 2003, has been pleasantly surprised by the list with which he is working, with its depth and the younger talent he sees coming through.

After the practice game against Sydney last week, Coach Kevin Sheedy said the 2005 season, statistically the Dons' worst in his 25 years, was a failure largely due to a lack of off-field discipline, which was the reason for the exodus of players at its end.
Sheedy said many of those who were culled had "let themselves down" but more seriously had failed James Hird in his last season as captain.
Essendon won only eight games last year, the worst return in Sheedy's time as coach. He said that because a group of "middle-order" players who might have improved the win-loss ratio could not be considered because of their lack of dedication, he pushed through the likes of Henry Slattery, Angus Monfries, and Ricky Dyson. Sheedy believed a lack of dedication ruled more experienced players out of selection. He went on to say that on field discipline was also lacking with too many free kicks given away for high tackles and in-the-back infractions.
Essendon lost Matthew Allan to retirement and traded Ted Richards to Sydney but still released another eight players in a purge not dissimilar to those that have taken place at Carlton and Hawthorn in recent seasons. Damian Cupido, Marc Bullen, Mark Alvey, Ben Haynes, Sam Hunt, and Paul Thomas were all cut and have sought to continue their careers in state leagues, while Justin Murphy opted for retirement and Ty Zantuck's whereabouts are not known. Zantuck was a punt that went badly wrong for Sheedy. Although he cost the club little - a preseason draft pick and base-contract money - he was a distraction to the club late in the season when Sheedy found it necessary to rebuke him for not attending training. Zantuck had similar problems at Richmond, including several off-field offences.
Essendon's issue with discipline and a lack of professionalism first became publicly apparent, though, when Cupido, a prodigious talent who had been acquired through trading in late 2002, was demoted to the VFL reserves with Bendigo.
It is understood that Matthew Lloyd addressed the discipline issue with the players when he succeeded Hird as captain late last year, outlining what he considered to be acceptable behavior. Sheedy said that the issue had also been addressed several times since Lloyd spoke and had become something of a focus for this year's squad.

The Bombers were welcomed to the Gold Coast last Sunday for their community camp, which coincided with Essendon's NAB Cup game against Brisbane this weekend. The club was greeted at a civic reception by Mayor Ron Clarke who, besides being one of Australia's greatest athletes, is also the brother of dual-premiership player and former captain Jack Clarke, regarded as one of Essendon's favorite sons.
The players then headed to Carrara and mingled with the kids at an AFL super clinic before training before a legion of fans under lights on the newly-redeveloped ground.

Matthew Lloyd believes the 30-second limit which is to be imposed on set kicking for goal this year is ill considered. To begin with, he suspects that scoring accuracy will decline as a result of its introduction, that haste really will make waste.
But what it won't do, he declared, is banish from the game the signature flourish of his controversial goalkicking routine - the grass toss. However, to comply with the new rule, Lloyd has worked on an abbreviated version of his pre-kick routine which has come under criticism for the amount of time he takes.
Lloyd explained that his habit of putting the ball on the ground, touching his guernsey, adjusting his socks and/or boots were not so much a time-eating maneuver but more a way of catching his breath and gaining some composure.
The kicking clock, one of a series of changes introduced this year for the single purpose of making the game busier, has seen Lloyd trying a shorter routine over the summer, one that has eliminated some of what were his most finicky customs. The socks pulled up to their height and the jumper neatly tucked into his shorts, he said, are gone.
Lloyd took on average last year 44 seconds to complete a set shot, a time surpassed only by Carlton's Brendan Fevola who averaged 47 seconds. For the best part of a decade Lloyd has observed his personal series of rituals that were established early in his career on advice from then assistant coach David Wheadon, who was convinced that a routine, such as golfers employ when they putt, could improve a player's accuracy.
Lloyd, with a career scoring record of 754.347 to support the theory, is convinced that it does and wondered whether the limit would be as good for the game as its makers believe it will.
He said if the goalkicking declines, he hoped the league would re-examine the rule.
Twice last week against Sydney, Lloyd only just reached the top of his mark before he was told by a field umpire that 20 seconds had elapsed, which left him 10 seconds to compose himself and move in for his kick. The second occasion was after he had been sent tumbling to the ground by his opponent.
He was surprised that, after the second occasion, he was hurried by the umpire. He believes in such cases, the time it takes to get back up and settle should be taken into account by the umpires.

And someone walked off with a pair of Lloyd's tailored and imported boots last week shortly after the team's arrival on the Gold Coast.
Lloyd had four pair of boots especially made for him in the US late last year and two pair were rushed to Broadbeach by an official who met Lloyd's wife, Lisa, to pick up the replacements.
The boots are unlikely to be of use to the thief. For one, they were crafted specifically for Lloyd's feet and second, security video footage indicates that the culprit is an elderly male who is unlikely to be looking for a game this season. Essendon officials were trying to publicize the theft through local media in the hope that the boots would be returned, but had not contacted the police.

Dean Rioli has forecast an end to his AFL career next year. Rioli, whose 96-game career has been often hampered by injury, and whose current preseason has been set back with knee problems, said he will retire at the end of next season.
He already has a thriving business in Melbourne and has gotten it going in Ireland. He has plans to take it to Europe.

Dean Solomon required an arthroscopic knee surgery to remove loose cartilage from below a knee cap. He had recurring problems with his troublesome right knee in 2005 and was put in cotton wool for the final four weeks of the season. He also had arthroscopic surgery during the 2005 preseason to repair torn cartilage.

Dual best-and-fairest winner Jason Johnson is hoping to resume from a foot injury in time to play in the latter stages of the NAB Cup. Johnson required surgery in December to repair a ruptured tendon in his left foot. He began running in early February, 7 weeks into his rehab program and just began full training. Johnson said he hoped to get in at least 2 practice matches before the start of the season.

Also missing this week for Essendon were James Hird, Adam McPhee, Dean Rioli, Jason Laycock, and Richard Cole. However, Queensland speedster Courtenay Dempsey was included in the side. However, Essendon fans got their first look at newcomer Courtenay Dempsey, who has been compared to a young Nicky Winmar.

Courtney Johns was a stand-out performer in Essendon's intra-club practice match in early February, with his promising three-goal contribution indicating that 2006 may be the year that the blond colossus arrives.
Recent additions to the Bombers' list, No. 7 draft pick Patrick Ryder, lively No. 19 pick Courtenay Dempsey, and former Carlton premiership midfielder Scott Camporeale were other noteworthy performers at the Lexus Center oval in the 50-minute hit-out. A sharp James Hird, who began in a forward pocket before moving on ball, also showed he was lacking nothing in touch or fitness entering his 15th season.
Importantly, the 14-a-side teams were unscathed, though Adam McPhee was winded after receiving a heavy knock from a bulked-up Kepler Bradley late in the match.
Notable absentees were new club captain Matthew Lloyd, Dean Rioli, Dean Solomon, Richard Cole, Jason Johnson, David Hille and Adam Ramanauskas. Senior coach Kevin Sheedy also missed the game as he was attending a wedding interstate.
According to assistant coach Gary O'Donnell, Lloyd was out of action due to a "niggle" in a leg muscle.
Johns and Scott Lucas teamed successfully in Lloyd's absence, and it was only after Lucas switched sides in the second half that the red team scored goals, 2 of them to Lucas.
Johns was minded mostly by new draftee Austin Lucy, but the 21-year-old Johns - who spent much of the past 3 years on Essendon's long-term injury list simply dominated his forward line. Strongly built and 192 centimeters tall, Johns made his senior debut last year after recovering from a debilitating hip injury. He has played three senior matches.
Though sporting an old enemy's guernsey, Camporeale looked right at home in the midfield alongside Hird and Mark Johnson, and it was often his passes that set up Johns and Lucas for shots at goal.
The agile Ryder did more than hold his own against Bradley, and later Mark Bolton, playing ruck/forward. Former Magpie Richard Cole is expected to be ready for the season after off-season knee surgery, while Adam Ramanauskas (knee) was field umpire.
Japanese players Tsuyoshi Kase and Michito Sakaki, who have spent the preseason training with Essendon, manned up on one another and Sakaki got plenty of the ball. They will play for St Bernard's this year and will also be put on the Bendigo Bombers' list.
For the record, the 'Black' team, boasting the majority of the Bomber senior line up defeated the less experienced, 'Red' team, 9.5 (59) to 2.3 (15).

BRISBANE
The Lions will hold a 10th anniversary ball at the Brisbane Convention Center on June 22, when the team of the decade will be announced and also the merged outfit's 10 most memorable moments.
The Lions will also wear a branded 10-year jumper in Round 11 (against) Adelaide at the Gabba to commemorate their first official match against the Crows in Round 1, 1997.

Chairman Graeme Downie has stepped down from the position after six years at the helm.
His deputy Tony Kelly will move into the role. Downie, 61, will continue his long association with the club by remaining as a director for a 15th season.
Downie said 6 years was enough for one person to hold the position and that Kelly was well credentialed to take over.
Kelly, 44, is a qualified lawyer who carved out a highly successful career in the fresh produce industry. He was elected to the board in February 1999 and became Downie's deputy two years later.

Chris Scott is expected to miss the AFL preseason following hip surgery in late January. Scott had arthroscopic surgery to clean up a muscle tear in his hip which sidelined him for all of February. He won't take part in any of the preseason games, but the club is hopeful he will be available for Round 1.
Scott, who played 13 games last year to take his career tally to 213, had been experiencing some soreness in the hip prior to the surgery, which was affecting his ability to train.

The Lions' Irish import Brendan Quigley has quit the club and returned home. The 20-year-old has sacrificed his dream of playing in the AFL because of severe homesickness.

The Lions this week were without Jonathan Brown, Nigel Lappin, Justin Leppitsch, Brad Scott, Tim Notting, Richard Hadley and ruckman Beau McDonald, despite his promising return in the intra-club match.

Brisbane went for youth in its game this weekend with only the experienced Michael Voss, Simon Black, defender Mal Michael, ruckman Clark Keating, midfielder Luke Power, and forward Daniel Bradshaw included in the side. Approximately half the squad is made up of first and second year players and rookies.

WESTERN BULLDOGS
Luke Darcy's knee reconstruction was successful at the end of January. Although he won't play in 2006, the club has plans for him in an expanded off-field role. Details will be sorted out in several weeks' time when he begins his rehab, but some options are to have him work as a forward scout, watching other sides and work with players at the club's VFL affiliate Werribee.

The Western Bulldogs have confirmed their leadership group for the 2006 season, with veteran Brad Johnson officially given the nod to captain the Dogs in the absence of ruckman Luke Darcy. Johnson, 29, will skipper the Bulldogs - effectively for a second season - after being promoted to the position when Darcy first injured his knee in round six last year.
Another veteran, seven-time best-and-fairest winner Scott West, remains vice-captain with emerging players Daniel Giansiracusa and Robert Murphy the new deputy vice-captains.
Mitch Hahn, Nathan Eagleton and Daniel Cross complete the club's leadership group after Cross was promoted to the leadership structure just before Christmas.

Exciting young midfielder Ryan Griffen has signed a contract extension that will see him remain with the club through 2008. Griffen said he had no hesitation in signing now that he has settled into Melbourne after initially finding the move from SA "pretty hard". His arrival was made a bit easier with fellow South Australian Adam Cooney in the side. After just a few months, he was already was keen to stay. He initially lived with a host family and now shares a place with teammate Farren Ray.
Coach Rodney Eade said Griffen's signing was a show of "growing strength" at the club, with the bond between the players generating plenty of optimism for the future. Eade sees Griffen as a 200 game player and future leader of the team.
After being hindered with knee problems last preseason, Griffen indicated he was training the house down and putting pressure on highly-credentialed teammate Scott West with whom he has been paired during various training sessions.

The club has suffered another blow with young ruckman/forward Tim Walsh rupturing an ACL in an intraclub game last week. Walsh dived on the ball only to twist his knee awkwardly – the move condemning him to the sidelines for the rest of the season.
Coach Rodney Eade confirmed the severity of the injury at the conclusion of the match and emphasized the unlucky run of injuries for Walsh. This is his 4th year on the list. In his first year at the club, he broke his leg and has had an up and down career. He made his debut last year, but played only one game.

The Bulldogs named a virtual full-strength line-up for their match against Melbourne. The only players missing were Luke Darcy (knee reconstruction), Tom Williams (foot), Tim Walsh (knee), and Brett Montgomery (calf).

PORT ADELAIDE
In what will be an AFL first, Port Adelaide's Nathan Lonie and Darryl Wakelin are on target to play against their identical twins at Collingwood — Ryan Lonie and Shane Wakelin.
There have been only 18 sets of twins in the history of the game — including Brad and Chris Scott, now at the Brisbane Lions — but never have two sets been split and pitted against each other in the same match.
When Nathan crossed to Port from Hawthorn at the end of last season, among the first to welcome him was Darryl. While Nathan had never met Darryl previously, he felt he knew him because of Shane's friendship with Ryan Lonie.
Port and Collingwood can meet in the preseason cup series only if they reach the final. The two sets of twins are likely to clash for the first time in Round 5 at Telstra Dome.
Nathan and Ryan, who will be 23 in early March, have not played in the same team since the Dandenong under 18s in 2001.
The Wakelin twins both began their AFL careers at St. Kilda with Darryl debuting in 1995 and Shane in 1994. Both departed the Saints at the end of 2000.

A former British Navy physical training instructor and rugby union player/coach is helping Port Adelaide players improve their tackling. He is Carl Jones, now manager of the South Australian Rugby Union and coach of the SA state team.
The 37-year-old Jones was a PT instructor in the Navy for 16 years and played and coached rugby at senior level in the UK.
At the invitation of Port football manager Peter Rohde and Coach Mark Williams, Jones is coaching Port's players on a once-a-week basis that will continue throughout the season, and he is impressed with what he has seen already.
Jones said the tackling drills he is conducting is more about chest contact and keeping power through the tackle, with less emphasis on covering the ball with the hands.

Gavin Wanganeen is out of the early NAB Cup games after suffering a toe injury at home.
Wanganeen was doing some home renovations when a metal sheet covering a window fell on his foot, lacerating his toenail and the nail bed.. It needed to be cleaned and stitched and has prevented him from training.

Also missing from the side this week were Darryl Wakelin (hamstring), Josh Francou (knee soreness), Aaron Shattock (hamstring) and Chad Cornes (broken foot).

The Crows will be without Ben Hudson (knee), Scott Stevens and Nathan Bassett (both shoulder surgery), Michael Doughty (knee), Scott Welsh (leg stress fracture) and Ben Hart (leg).

WEST COAST
Ben Cousins, recently appointed captain for a 6th season, stepped down last week over a serious traffic infringement on February 12. Cousins and a friend were on their way home from a wedding in Fremantle when they spotted a police "booze bus" (a police checkpoint which looks for drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated). Cousins stopped his car several hundred meters from the bus and he and his friend fled on foot, leaving his girlfriend and several other passengers in the 4-wheel drive Mercedes. His friend was caught and breath-tested. The car was towed as the keys had been removed from the ignition. Cousins' friend said he had been driving but a week later, Cousins went to the local police station with his lawyer and said he had been the driver. However, he refused to say why he ran from the scene and refused to answer any further questions.
The conflicting claims are likely to be part of the continuing police inquiry to clarify whether there was an attempt to mislead police or a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
It also emerged last week that police called out for Cousins and his friend to halt, but both continued to flee.
Cousins, who was praised by Coach John Worsfold for his courage in giving up a role he cherishes, said he was stepping down to relieve pressure on the club.
When asked who was likely to replace Cousins as skipper, Worsfold said the Eagles would take their time finding a new captain and the club would consider leadership options tried by other AFL clubs.

Ruckman Michael Gardiner has been sent back to his WAFL club Claremont indefinitely for disciplinary reasons. Gardiner will train and play for Claremont, but will still be able to receive injury treatment from the Eagles. Gardiner broke the team curfew, staying out late at a Perth nightclub before the night before the team's first intraclub practice.
Coach John Worsfold said it was a progressive problem which had to be addressed and that Gardiner would remain in the WAFL until he showed drastic improvements in his attitude.
The All-Australian, who has played 126 games for the Eagles over nine seasons, was also recently stripped of the club's vice-captaincy along with Rowan Jones.
Last year, Cousins and Michael Gardiner initially refused to answer police questions about their knowledge of a bloody gang clash at a Perth nightclub. Both also have been repeatedly warned by the club about their links to underworld figures.

CARLTON
Carlton has denied reports that it would try to secure at least $1 million a year from the AFL's assistance fund. However, the club, in a statement released last week, said it was an option being considered because of the club's perilously low cash flow. The statement further explained that the board had approved entry into discussions with the AFL "...to explore a range of possible financial alternatives to improve the financial position of the club".
Among these were the redevelopment of Princes Park and an AFL contribution to assist.
The move comes the wake of a soon-to-be-announced major operating loss, which has been compounded by a disastrous social club performance.
The statement concluded on a more positive note in that the future remained bright, pending a 'complete restructure' of the Carlton Social Club arrangements and a successful outcome to the discussions with the AFL.
While Collins told the board that the club had managed to avoid a $1.1 million social club tax bill, after extensive negotiations with the Tax Office, the social club will soon be wound up by the Blues in a bid to restructure its complicated business arrangement. This significant restructure of Carlton's complicated group of entities will end a long era for its famous social club but cannot come about without a vote from the members at the March annual meeting.
Another setback has been the loss of Optus Communications as the sponsor of their former home ground. Carlton also remains one of several Victorian clubs that does not have a ball sponsor, and is yet to strike a commercial deal for Coach Denis Pagan as he embarks upon his second three-year stint with the Blues. Carlton is hopeful of sealing a deal with Pagan before the start of the season. However, the Blues are not confident of signing a sponsor for Princes Park, given the stadium's new position as a training venue rather than an AFL matchday ground. Optus is said to have rejected a series of smaller but significant signage offers with Carlton.

Last November, Collins took the unprecedented step of sending a long letter to Carlton's 33,000 members in which he outlined the club's financial problems. He also apologized for a "totally unacceptable" season on the field.
Collins then indicated that the Blues had managed to avoid applying for AFL assistance thanks to the relocation of home games from Optus Oval to Telstra Dome and the MCG.
In explaining the financial circumstances that afflicted the Blues, Collins cited a series of commitments his board had inherited - including an apparent reference to the money it owed past players in under-the-counter payments that were outside the salary cap.
Collins listed four underlying factors that explained Carlton's financial difficulties, particularly its continuing cash-flow problem. They were the debt from the construction of the Legends Stand (an ill-fated project initiated by former president John Elliott), substantial long-term player contracts that would expire at the end of this year, the nearly $1 million fine for salary cap cheating and what Collins termed "a number of commitments (contracts) to former players, which were 'off-balance sheet' that had to be extinguished".
Collins is understood to have been referring to illicit payments Carlton promised to some players.

Disgraced and deposed president John Elliott launched a scathing attack on the Blues hierarchy following the revelation that the club would ask the AFL for a $1 million special assistance package.
While all and sundry are quite aware that the financial woes which have beset the club can be squarely laid on Elliott and his administration, Elliott himself is claiming Carlton's predicament is the fault of the current board and says he feels no responsibility for the club's problems. He said shifting games from Optus Oval to the Telstra Dome and MCG is the cause of the social club losing money.
Elliott also blamed the AFL for supporting Carlton's decision to build the Legends Stand, then "back flipping" and building Telstra Dome. Elliott was critical of Collins, saying he lacked charisma, and questioned his ability to raise funds for the club.

Ruck coach Gary Dempsey believes the club has the ruck depth to match it with the best in the competition and he's signaled a more attacking approach from the Blues' big men in 2006.
With the addition to the squad of Dylan McLaren from the Brisbane Lions, Dempsey said there will be genuine competition for spots in the starting line-up.
He said the club was much better placed than last year when forced to rely on first-year ruckman Chris Bryan to carry the load single-handed while Barnaby French and Adrian Deluca were both sidelined by injury for several weeks through the middle of the season.
And he said the days when the likes of versatile non-specialists such as Ian Prendergast or Anthony Koutoufides were required to fill the breach simply because there was no alternative are long gone.
With the current ruck depth and strength available, Dempsey is concentrating on teaching them the tricks of the trade and helping the midfielders adapt and work with the ruckmen.
While French and McLaren have tended to do their best work around the middle of the field and dropping back, Dempsey believes they have much more to offer and sees them being able to push forward as well, even if its only to pressure the opposition defence.
Dempsey, the finest big man of his generation and the 1975 Brownlow Medalist, said the art of ruckwork and the type of skills that he teaches are much the same now as in the days when he was going head-to-head with Carl Ditterich, Mike Fitzpatrick, Graham Moss and Don Scott.
Dempsey said, "The big difference is where they run to and how open the game can get and how closed the game can get. I don't teach them, I guide them, because you can't make a Barnaby French a Gary Dempsey or a Len Thompson or a John Nicholls. What you do is show them certain aspects of how you compete, how you use your body, how you jump and you find they adapt."
Dempsey said he had noticed a genuine esprit de corps developing among the Blues' big men and he said it was important that they work together on the track and on match day.
Dempsey believes Carlton's ruckmen will be able to compliment each other to double-team opponents such as Fremantle's Aaron Sandilands, Demon Jeff White, or Hawk Peter Everitt.
Another player that Dempsey has been working with is Setanta O'hAilpin who was promoted from the rookie list to the senior list this season - and it's one of the great unresolved questions of the 2006 pre-season (among Carlton supporters at any rate) - just where will the 198cm Irishman fit in?
Dempsey believes he has the agility to play wing, half forward, or as a ruck-rover, but conceded the Irishman still has a lot to learn about body work.

Carlton has appointed Anthony Koutoufides as captain for a third season, with Matthew Lappin, Lance Whitnall and Nick Stevens named as his deputies. Coach Denis Pagan was pleased to have a strong leadership quartet, which gives the Blues some good options for Koutoufides' eventual successor.

Unlike Matthew Lloyd, Brendan Fevola said he won't be rushed either when taking set shots for goal. Fevola intends to stick to what works. And having just recovered from post-season groin surgery, he has been more concerned with recovering to the point where he can kick and run rather than measuring himself against the clock.
Coach Denis Pagan said yesterday that the club would not jump at shadows over the recent rule changes and shifts in interpretation.

Jason Saddington is out for several weeks after requiring arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in mid-February to remove a cyst. He will be able to begin running again next week.

RICHMOND
Coach Terry Wallace has developed a plan which will allow the playing group more involvement in onfield and off-field philosophies.
Having directed most of what happened last year, Wallace had his five-player leadership group present their ambitions and plans for the new season to the match committee and players earlier this month.
With Wallace conscious of the gulf between the older & younger players, the leadership group - Kane Johnson, Nathan Brown, Matthew Richardson, Joel Bowden, and newly reappointed defender Darren Gaspar - also selected a group of younger leaders.
Wallace believes it will add more balance to the team with a secondary leadership group acting as mentors to the youngest players.

Carlton team-of-the-century member Wayne Johnston will be Richmond's chief match-day runner this season. Johnston, the Blues' best player in the 1982 GF win over Richmond, relayed information for his former rivals at the preseason game against Hawthorn at Telstra Dome this weekend.
Johnston was offered the job after giving weekly lectures as part of Richmond's new education program, T@FE, on designated kicking. It was to be just a 6 week gig, but Coach Terry Wallace approached him last week about an on-going commitment. Johnston will also attend Richmond's weekly team meetings and continue his work with the T@FE program.
Tiger player development manager, Dale Weightman, was a runner last year, but will now sit alongside the team's young players at matches.

Francis Jackson has been appointed the club's full-time recruitment manager after assisting the department over the past year. The former Richmond and Sydney defender and long-time sports master at Brighton Grammar School, will assume the role in April.

Nathan Brown was in action for the Coburg Tigers against the Kangaroos reserves last week, taking his first steps back toward senior football. He played half the game and pulled up well. Brown played half-forward, on-ball and deep in the forward line late in the 2nd term and kicked a goal. Brown was keen to play the second half, but Coburg coach Andy Collins insisted he rest. The club believes Brown will be ready for Round 1.
Should Richmond do well in the NAB Cup, Brown is likely to play again for Coburg in the coming weeks but if the Tigers make an early exit, he could line up in the senior side against another Victorian AFL club in a practice match.

HAWTHORN
Hawthorn could relinquish all control of its spiritual base at Glenferrie Oval within weeks.
Last week, the Hawks moved into their new digs at the redeveloped Waverley Park, leaving behind their museum, past players' lounge, and social club. According to CEO Ian Robson, the buildings housing these could pass from the club's hands.
The two stands at the ground, named after AFL games record holder Michael Tuck and former club president Sandy Ferguson, are leased from the City of Boroondara and control of them will soon revert to the council.
The social club, situated across the road, is owned by the club but is not paying its way, and Robson said the board had decided to sell it. The club will be closed after the club's Family Day on march 5. Robson said the decision came as a result of on-going losses incurred by the social club over a number of years.
The social club was one of the first built in the old VFL and its sale will end the Hawks' 100-year link to the ground that was their home playing venue from the time the club entered the league in 1925 until the move to Princes Park in 1974.
The Hawks, however, will give their members and supporters a chance to farewell Glenferrie through a Legends' game that will be staged at the ground on March 2 as well as the family day on March 5 while the Hawthorn Museum and Hawks Nest — for merchandise and membership sales — remains open for business as usual.

Michael Tuck and fellow legend and former CEO Peter Hudson gave cautious support to the prospect of the museum and past players' facilities moving to Waverley.
Robson stressed that although the council was within its rights to do as it wished with the stands, the club and the council were in discussions over how they could be used with an eye to celebrating the club's history.
The past players' lounge and museum are housed within the Ferguson stand, which unlike the Tuck stand is not heritage-listed, and Robson acknowledged that both would inevitably have to be moved. But he said there would be no "overnight ultimatums" given, and that there would be plenty of room for them at Waverley.

Draftee Beau Muston still aims to be playing football as soon as Round 12 despite having a knee reconstruction in mid-December - his second in less than 12 months.
Muston went in for exploratory surgery in late January which was intended to shave part of the bone in the knee to free up a tendon that has been grabbing since a reconstruction in May last year.
But when he awoke from surgery, he learned the surgeons had to do another reconstruction because the first graft wasn't holding properly. However, because the second reconstruction wasn't coming on top of damage, but only what had previously been done surgically, it won't alter his recovery and rehab.
Beau Dowler is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from a serious car accident. Expected to be in a wheelchair until mid-February, he was already up and running by then and will be in full training in another week or two.

The Hawks were without John Barker, Shane Crawford, and Campbell Brown this week. Barker and Crawford were rested while Campbell suffered a shoulder injury 6 weeks ago and played for Box Hill this week.

MELBOURNE
A showdown is looming between the AFL clubs and their players over who will take the bulk of the spoils from the competition's record new $780 million broadcast rights deal.
Demon chairman Paul Gardner is the one who has fired the first shot, in the form of a letter sent to AFL chairman Ron Evans and the other 15 clubs. In the letter, he renewed his call for restraint in terms of player payments while also urging the AFL to favor the financially struggling clubs in dividing up its five-year windfall.
Among other proposals, it called upon the AFL to lift each club's annual AFL dividend by $1 million and favor the clubs over the players when proportioning its new broadcast profits.
Demon CEO Steve Harris said the club would urge the AFL to compensate the MCG tenant clubs - the Demons, Richmond and Hawthorn - to allow them equal financial benefits and growth possibilities in the wake of the impressive Collingwood agreement with that stadium.
He said the gulf between the wealthy and poor clubs was becoming increasingly disproportionate.
In response, Andrew Demetriou said he would not rush the AFL's decision on player pay increases. Under the agreement with Channels Seven and Ten, the AFL will receive a cash component from its broadcast rights in 2007 of $130 million - a 50 per cent increase upon this year - which is to be incrementally increased each year until 2011.
Demetriou said there would be plenty of ideas regarding the issue among the various stakeholders and that things would be more clear after next month's meeting between the AFL and the clubs.
With clubs and player managers also agitating for an outline of pay increases, the prevailing view is that player payments - which now exceed $100 million, having increased by 3% ($189,000 per club), will increase in the forthcoming collective bargaining agreement by at least 10%.
With three clubs, the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and the Kangaroos, currently surviving financially thanks to the AFL's special distribution allowance - the Bulldogs the highest recipients to the tune of $1.7 million a year - other clubs remain divided regarding the division of further profits.
Adelaide CEO Steven Trigg believes the larger share should go towards game development.
With the AFL yet to lay out a detailed financial forecast beyond 2006 and the players' union working on a new set of claims, the clubs, fearing a footballers' pay increase claim of up to 20%, are pushing to restrict rises to 5%.

GARDNER’S PROPOSALS
The key points in Paul Gardner’s letter, which asked the AFL to: Lift each club’s annual AFL dividend by $1 million; Ensure each of the 16 clubs make a profit each year; Boost its funding of the poorer clubs’ facilities and infrastructure to further equalize the competition; Favor the clubs over the players when proportioning its new broadcast profits; Increase its funding of the total player payments from an estimated 60% 80% and fully fund all player wage increases; and Invest some of its new-found millions into football-related businesses such as ticketing, car parks and media in a bid to further assist struggling clubs by keeping profits within the industry.

Coach Neale Daniher opted to try out a number of the new and younger players. David Neitz and Jeff White remained in Melbourne. Also out of the side were full-back Alistair Nicholson, Cameron Bruce, Ben Holland, Simon Godfrey, and Nathan Carroll.
Two youngsters to get their chance were Nathan Jones, drafted last year, and Matthew Bate (drafted in 2004).

FREMANTLE
Former NBA championship player (Chicago Bulls) Luc Longley has been announced as the new No. 1 ticket holder at Fremantle for the next two seasons, replacing comedian Rove McManus (cousin to veteran Shaun McManus).
Longley - a starting center for the Bulls during their run of three consecutive championships in the nineties - said he was thrilled to receive the honor.
Longley has been a supporter of the club since it joined the competition 10 years ago and said he has enjoyed watching them become the powerful team they are now.
Club president Rick Hart said the club was fortunate to have such a loyal and well-known supporter as the No. 1 ticket holder.
Longley is confident the Dockers can convert their potential into results this year, and he's looking forward to seeing the team compete in the finals.
Longley averaged 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his 567 regular season game career, also appearing in 87 playoff games.

ADELAIDE
Forward Scott Welsh may have a delayed start to the premiership season after suffering a stress fracture in his left leg. The 27-year-old, who booted 58 goals in 23 matches in 2005, was forced to keep the weight off the leg for the past 2 weeks and has begun a rehabilitation program designed to have him ready for the home-and-away season.
Crows training services manager Trevor Jaques said the stress fracture was only minor and Welsh should be available for Round 1.
According to Jaques, Welsh has had a very solid preseason until this setback, and the club is confident it won't take long for him to get going again.
Welsh won the club's goal-kicking award for the third time with his return of 58 goals last year. He was the linchpin of Adelaide's three-pronged forward structure, alongside Ian Perrie and Ken McGregor.

Mark Ricciuto missed this week as he continues his recovery from surgery, but he is expected to play next week.
Also missing this week were Ben Hudson (knee), Scott Stevens and Nathan Bassett (both shoulder surgery), Michael Doughty (knee), Scott Welsh (leg stress fracture) and Ben Hart (leg).

SYDNEY
The Sydney Swans won 2 awards at the 2005 Australian Sports Awards held last Wednesday night. The Swans won the National Team of the Year award, while 2005 premiership coach Paul Roos won the Coach of the Year title.
One of Sydney's three captains for 2006, Brett Kirk, accepted the team award, edging out NRL premiers Wests Tigers and CBT netball premiers Melbourne Phoenix.
Roos won his accolade ahead of NBL Sydney Kings coach Brian Goorjian and Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink and said it was an honor to be voted ahead of both other coaches.

Coach Paul Roos believes that the Feb. 17 practice match against Essendon at North Sydney Oval was a waste of time and expressed his concerns to the AFL due to Sydney's shorter preparation after the Grand Final and the interruption of having to travel to and from Los Angeles. Roos went so far as to ask the AFL to scrap the game, but was refused.
Adding to the drama, the Swans had only Jude Bolton, Sean Dempster, Luke Ablett, and Lewis Roberts-Thomson from last year's grand final team, while Kevin Sheedy named a very strong line-up, including Japanese recruit Michito Sakaki.
In the week leading up to the game, Roos said the game would not be much of a contest and went so far as to say his side would be slaughtered by a stronger and fresher Bomber team.
Roos refused to lay any blame on Sheedy or the Bombers given they are in a different phase of their training schedule, simply preferring to lament the spectacle.
On the positive side, Roos hoped his youngsters would get some benefit playing against the likes of Matthew Lloyd, James Hird, Scott Lucas, Dustin Fletcher, and Scott Camporeale.
Essendon assistant coach Gary O'Donnell said Essendon was surprised by Sydney's attitude toward the match. The Bombers were at near full-strength for the 15-a-side game at the small North Sydney Oval.

Sydney was prepared to pull out of the draft and recruit from a NSW zone in a bid to boost the development of footy in the state.
The bid for an exclusive Sydney zone, which had been approved by Paul Roos and his team of assistants, came on the eve of the club's 2005 season during a meeting initiated by the Swans with AFL chiefs Ron Evans and Andrew Demetriou.
Club chairman Richard Colless and senior executives Myles Baron-Hay and Andrew Ireland proposed a scenario that would have allowed the Swans to recruit footballers exclusively from NSW.
Ireland said the club would have been prepared to further restrict its zone to Sydney and a limited radius, so desperate was it to make a significant impact upon elite adolescent athletes in Sydney.
The Swans' offer to remove the club from the draft and create its own zone could have been introduced gradually over a three- to five-year period and the club says it would have been prepared to revert to the AFL's national recruiting scheme had a Sydney-NSW zone proved too great an advantage over time.
The AFL rejected the proposal on several grounds, primarily in its determination to preserve the sanctity of the draft and also because there was a view the move would have disadvantaged the Swans.
Instead, after significant debate, the Commission launched what has been dubbed the AFL scholarship scheme, which from October this year will mean all 16 AFL clubs must recruit at least one Sydney teenager no younger than 15 and place him on a third list behind its senior and rookie list. The AFL's NSW general manager Dale Holmes said the zone proposal was rejected largely because of the risk associated with the move.
The Swans are not totally satisfied with the scholarship scheme and Roos believes clubs should not be limited to just 2 players. The Swans also believe the minimum age requirement of 15 will make it difficult for AFL clubs to attract talented teenagers who may have already chosen their sporting paths.

GENERAL SILLINESS
They say everything comes in threes. And so it is for young Hawk Beau Dowler, who is now known as Crash to his teammates. His threes have been nothing but bad luck involving anything with wheels. First there was the car crash which fractured his pelvis. Several months ago he fell off a trail bike (suffering only a few bumps, bruises, and damaged ego). The last was in January when he lost control of his car as he was leaving training and wrapped it around a tree. Luckily, he came out unscathed, but the Commodore was totaled. Dowler had the car repaired but joked that his teammates aren't too keen on driving with him.

If a computer can beat the world chess champion, why can't it roll the grand masters of AFL coaching as well? That is the theory of stats guru Ted Hopkins. Hopkins, the 4-goal Carlton hero of the 1970 Grand Final, has his own computer company, Champion Data, which compiles stats for the AFL. He is now trumpeting a computer program to select a team capable of beating any coaching genius

The Sydney Swans held their community camp in Wollongong. And, as with all the camps, players went out and about in the community, conducting clinics and visiting schools. One of the schools visited was a Catholic girls' high school. That didn't stop Swan star Tadhg Kennelly from pulling a practical joke on a teammate. In front of nearly 400 teenage girls, he pulled down his mate's pants. He later admitted it was the dumbest thing he's ever done.

Some of the Geelong players, along with Coach Mark Thompson, recently visited the Ford Australia Proving Ground. The boys had a chance to take some cars for a spin around the ground. Also present were several V8 racing pros, one of whom took a few players and Coach Thompson for a ride - at 250/kmh! Kent Kingsley said most enjoyed the ride, except Bomber Thompson - who emerged from the car looking quite pale!

Crow midfielder Simon Goodwin has achieved quite a bit on-field: All-Australian, B&F winner, International Rules player, and a premiership, but in the kitchen the best he says he can do is open the fridge.

Round 5, 2005, Collingwood vs Essendon. Pie defender James Clement almost ran through the Bomber banner instead of Collingwood's.

Docker Matthew Pavlich may have a great pair of hands with the Sherrin, but isn't at all handy around the house. He doesn't own one single power tool.

And this one is from the sports humor site The Bladder, where everything is completely fabricated:
EXCLUSIVE: Cousins tells of REALLY big spider
By Staff Reporters

Deposed West Coast captain Ben Cousins has finally broken his silence over why he ran from his car, 300 metres short of a booze bus, revealing a large huntsman spider scared him out of the car.

“I haven’t told anybody this because I wanted to appear to be a big, tough AFL footballer, but I really can’t handle spiders,” the reigning Brownlow Medallist told thebladder.com in an exclusive interview.

“Man, this huntsman, I’m telling you, it was HUGE. You know how people exaggerate and say huntsmen were the size of dinner plates? Well, this one actually was.

“It was enormous, and kind of hairy. In fact, one of the other guys in the car saw the fur all over the spider’s legs and yelled: ‘Fuzz! Fuzz!’ as we all piled out of the car,” Cousins explained.

“I got the shock of my life when it ran down the windscreen from under the sun visor. I just totally freaked, jammed on the brakes and got the Hell out. The last I saw, it was scuttling under the steering wheel and there was no f***ing way my legs were staying under that console.”

Cousins said he was so shaken by the gigantic spider’s unexpected appearance that he became terrified that it might have followed him out of the driver’s side door.

“I took steps away from the car but it was dark and the grass was long and he could easily have been following me. I turned and started running. I ran and ran and finally came to some water and that’s when I thought I might be able to finally feel safe, by diving into the water.

“So I did, but then I remembered that spiders can swim – or is that snakes? Anyway, I wasn’t going to find out the hard way so I swam hard to the opposite side and then kept running. Man, it wasn’t until I was several kilometres away that I dared to believe that eight-legged freak was definitely gone.”

Cousins said he turned up to collect his car from the Perth police the next day, hoping one of them might have squashed the monster arachnid in his absence.

“You can imagine my surprise when they not only claimed not to have seen the spider, but started asking me questions about whether I had run away to avoid being breathalysed. Believe me, being pissed out of my brain was the least of my worries when I took off from the car.

“Hmm, that sort of came out wrong. What I meant to say was, well, you know.”

For more laughs check out the site at http://thebladder.com.au

And now, on to the scores: First up, the Sydney/Essendon exhibition match from last week.

ESS 4.4 9.5 10.9 13.11 (89)
SYD 2.5 6.5 8.8 10.11 (71)
GOALS: ESS - Lucas 2, Lloyd 2, Watson 2, Monfries, Dempsey, Welsh, Lovett-Murray, Ryder, Watson, Heffernan; SYD - Richards 3, Currie 2, Ablett, Grundy, Spriggs, Thornton, Brabazon
BEST: ESS – Bradley, Winderlich, Lucas, Welsh, Monfries; SYD - Richards, Roberts-Thomson, Spriggs, Bolton, Malceski, Vogels

UMPIRES - Troy Pennell, Matthew Head, Mathew James

CROWD - 8461 at North Sydney Oval, Sydney

In the lead-up to the game, Sydney Coach Paul Roos lamented that the game would be a slaughter, but he was wrong. Playing just four members of the grand final side, and with so many rookies and young players, it's no wonder Roos expected a thrashing. But even Roos, who jokingly said during the week he might stay home instead of going to the game, was happily surprised by the performance of his side.
Bomber Coach Kevin Sheedy had praise for the Swans, but added he wasn't surprised the youngsters took it up to his experienced line-up.
Luke Ablett booted the opening goal but Lloyd got it back for the Bombers soon after.
Grundy then showed why he was promoted from Sydney's rookie list with a solid mark and goal from 40 meters to give supporters hope of a competitive game.
While Spriggs and Scott Camporeale welcomed each other with a few shoves and Joel Reynolds made sure Jude Bolton knew he was in a competitive contest, the Bombers opened up the game with the 3 goals of the term to lead by 11 points at 1/4 time.
Spriggs reduced the deficit before the Bombers once again quashed any hopes of a close contest with 4 unanswered goals, including a nice dash through the middle and snap on the run from Nathan Lovett-Murray.
Richards posted his first goal to get the crowd excited and although Lucas nailed his second, the Swans posted the final two goals but still trailed by 18 points at 1/2 time.
An uninspiring third term saw the Swans out-score the Bombers two goals to one, with Richards adding his third, to peg back the deficit to 13 points at 3/4 time.
Jobe Watson booted his second early in the final term, then Sydney draftee Ryan Brabazon ensured the Bombers wouldn't have the game all their own way, but Chris Heffernan and Ricky Dyson sealed the victory for the Bombers but not before Swan rookie Paul Currie slotted through a beautiful curler from the boundary 20 meters out.
Scott Lucas was a constant danger at half-forward and had a good battle with Lewis Roberts-Thomson, one of the Swans' 4 premiership players.
Livewire Angus Monfries was busy for the Bombers, while half-back Kepler Bradley, Jason Winderlich, and Andrew Welsh were also in good touch. Michito Sakaki, had little influence.
Ted Richards was the stand-out for the Swans up forward against his former club, showing the way with 21 touches and and solid marking in an otherwise scrappy affair.
Lewis Roberts-Thomson (18 possessions) played strongly on Scott Lucas, Luke Vogels held Matthew Lloyd to just 2 goals, while Jude Bolton, David Spriggs, and Nick Malceski performed strongly in the middle.
For Essendon, Kepler Bradley (18 disposals), Jason Winderlich (15), Andrew Welsh (20) also performed well. James Hird was rested this game and may remain in cotton wool for the bulk of the preseason.
While less than pleased with the lack of scoring by his team, Sheedy admitted the young Sydney players, whom he praised for "trying their butts off" made it an interesting contest.
Roos was surprised by the final margin and called it the Swans' best team effort at the ground given the imbalance of the two sides. He said everyone was excited at how the youngsters played and was pleased with their attack on the ball.

And on to the first round of the NAB Cup:

BRIS 0.2.5 1.4.8 1.5.10 1.8.13 (70)
ESS 1.4.1 1.6.4 1.8.9 1.8.12 (69)

9 PT GOALS: BRIS - Merrett; ESS - Stanton; 6 PT GOALS - BRIS - Clark 3, Brennan 3, Wood, Merrett; ESS - Lucas 3, Lloyd, M. Johnson, Monfries, Lovett, Camporeale
BEST: BRIS - Clark, Brennan, Harding, Voss, Michael, Adcock; ESS - McVeigh, Lucas, Stanton, Monfries, Lovett-Murray

UMPIRES: Nicholls, Pannell, Head, Ryan

CROWD: 13,269 at Carrara

The team lists were trimmed prior to the start with the Lions fielding eight debutants after resting Daniel Bradshaw to allow him to recover form his recent back problems. Ash McGrath (illness) was a late withdrawal and replaced by rookie Will Hamill.
The game featured the official debuts for the Bombers of exciting Queensland-raised teenager Courtenay Dempsey - who picked up a couple of possessions - and West Australian top draft pick Paddy Ryder who was given some time in the ruck after half-time.
Other young talent on display for the Lions included Gold Coast defender Wayde Mills, the pacy Rahn Hooper, Marcus Allan - who tried hard in the midfield - and Victorian Jayden Attard.
The game started a frenetic pace as players and umpires tried to settle into the new the season. However, the opening term was full of controversy when, nine minutes into the match, Bomber Brent Stanton nailed a supergoal from outside 50 but no umpire signaled it. It was eventually changed before the 2nd term began and gave Essendon a 17 point lead at 1/4 time.
The players were quickly reminded of the new rules regarding incidental contact with three 50-metre penalties meted out, 2 going Essendon's way and one allowing Lucas to goal from point blank range.
The Lions got their supergoal early in the 2nd term when Merrett took a mark outside the 50-meter line, was manhandled by Henry Slattery, and was awarded a 50 meter penalty, allowing him to kick the 9-pointer from the goal square. The two sides then broke even for the term, with 2.3 each, but it was enough to keep the Bombers 16 points clear at 1/2 time.
Essendon pulled further in front in the 3rd term and could have been further ahead but for some poor kicking for goal. But while booting 2.5 themselves, they restricted the Lions to just one goal for the term to lead by 19 points at 3/4 time.
The Lions stormed home in the final term, holding Essendon to just 3 behinds. Jarred Brennan booted 2 goals in the space of 6 minutes, the second putting the Lions in front by a point. The ball then went down to the Bombers' end where a snap shot by Andrew Lovett just went wide of the goals to level the scores. The Lions then forced the ball in to their forward line when Brennan swooped on the ball in the pocket and blazed away on the run, sneaking the ball through for a point with 4 seconds left.
The Lions' leading possession-getter was rookie Scott Harding with 23 touches in the midfield and looks to have a promising future. Top draft pick Mitchell Clark was again a stand-out with his goalkicking and strong marking across half-forward. He combined well with Daniel Merrett at full forward while the experiment of having Brennan in attack also proved successful. Others to do well were Adcock (18, 5 marks), Allen (17/4), Black (21/5), while Keating was strong in the ruck with 20 hitouts.
Essendon was led by Mark McVeigh, who dominated the midfield with 25 possessions, and constantly drove his team forward where Scott Lucas and Matthew Lloyd (9 kicks, 8 marks)lurked dangerously and Lovett looked for the crumbs. Camporeale (18), Bolton (16), Bradley (17/8), Stanton (26/9), Peverill (19), and Watson (19) were also prolific and Hille enjoyed 23 hitouts.
As for some of the other new faces at both clubs, for the Lions, Rhan Hooper again showed blistering pace through the middle, Wayde Mills had a good battle with Scott Lucas and could turn into a handy defender, Marty Pask looked impressive in limited game time and laid a crushing tackle on Lloyd in the 3rd term.
For Essendon, Scott Camporeale began on Michael Voss and later kicked a great goal, Chris Heffernan was solid in the midfield, and Courtenay Dempsey looked dangerous in limited ground time,
Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews was naturally delighted with the performance of his younger brigade, led by rookie Harding of whom he said he had seen as good a first game as anyone has ever played.
Essendon Coach Kevin Sheedy rued several missed chances in front of goal and thought they should have been further in front heading into the final term. On the new rule interpretations, Sheedy admitted he was at times confused about the 'rule alterations'.
Matthews appeared to be more forgiving about the number of early 50-meter penalties, saying they would probably have been paid last season anyway.

MELB 0.4.4 0.6.12 0.6.13 0.9.15 (69)
WB 1.0.1 1.3.4 1.6.9 1.7.12 (63)
9 PT GOALS: WB - Murphy; 6 PT GOALS: MELB - Davey 3, Robertson 3, McDonald, Pickett, Motlop; WB - Murphy 3, Faulkner, Johnson, Giansiracusa, Minson
BEST: MELB - Johnstone, Davey, Yze, Robertson, Motlop, Rivers; WB - Giansiracusa, Gilbee, Murphy, West, McMahon, Morris

INJURY: MELB - Bizzell (back; WB - Gilbee (ankle)
Lindsay Gilbee will miss at least 2 practice matches with a right ankle injury, while Ryan Hargrave (concussion) and Rob Murphy (hip/groin) also are doubtful to play next week.

UMPIRES: Jeffery, Donlon, Woodcock, Grun

At Marrara Oval, Darwin

Thunderstorms made conditions difficult for the players in hot and steamy tropical conditions. With several high-profile Demons not taking part in the match, the near full-strength Bulldogs were highly-favored to win, but it was Melbourne that held sway in the early running.
Aaron Davey was a livewire from the outset and he got the ball rolling for the Dees with the first two goals of the match. Melbourne was full of running and had the Dogs' defence under plenty of pressure before Robert Murphy boomed a nine-pointer. But late goals to Robertson and James McDonald gave the Demons an 18-point lead at 1/4 time.
Byron Pickett had been unsighted in the first term, but he goaled with his first kick in a Melbourne guernsey early in the second to set alarm bells ringing for the Bulldogs. Cameron Faulkner got on the end of a slick passage of play to edge the Dogs closer and his goal seemed to provide the spark that his side had been missing. The run that has become the trademark of the Bulldogs under Rodney Eade returned and Murphy - playing closer to goal - banged through successive goals to reduce the deficit to nine points. Davey continued to exert his influence and his late goal put the Demons 17 points ahead at 1/2 time.
Dale Morris was moved onto Davey at the start of the third term and he was able to keep him in check to a large extent. With the main attacking option for the opposition shut down, the Dogs made their move, slamming through 3 goals to nil to grab a 5 point lead at 3/4 time, with Murphy again in the action.
The Dogs looked set to run away with the game when Johnson opened the final term with another Bulldog goal. Motlop kept the Demons in it with a goal soon after before Robertson gave the Demons the lead with a goal a minute later. Both sides were out on their feet as the match wore on and it showed with a number of missed shots at goal which saw the scores leveled throughout the term. With just minutes remaining, Johnson sprayed a shot which could have won the game for the Dogs. Then Robertson took a strong mark and goaled to seal the win for the Dees.
For the Demons, Johnstone and Motlop led the midfield brigade with 18 possessions each, ably supported by Brown (16), McDonald (17), and rookie Bate (17). Jamar and Paul Johnson combined to share 22 hitouts between them while Rivers (15) was again a star in defence and Green (15/6) was dangerous across half forward. Another rookie Clint Bartram showed he is capable of mixing it with the big boys, laying several impressive tackles.
For the Dogs, it was the usual suspects in Giansiracusa (24/5), Cross (21), Griffen (18), Power (15), McMahon (15) who drove the Dogs.

HAW 1.1.5 1.7.8 1.7.9 1.11.10 (85)
RICH 0.2.1 0.5.3 0.7.7 0.11.9 (75)

9 PT GOALS: HAW - Bateman; 6 PT GOALS: HAW - Williams 5, Bateman 2, Roughead, Dixon, Hodge, Miller; RICH - Deledio 2, Hyde 2, Stafford 2, Richardson, Rodan, Tambling, Tuck, White
BEST: HAW - Bateman, Jacobs, Guerra, Hodge, Mitchell, Croad, Vandenberg; RICH - Tuck, Johnson, Deledio, Hyde, Rodan, Simmonds, P. Bowden.

INJURY: HAW - Everitt (leg)

UMPIRES: Bandy, Hay, McLaren, Allen

ATTENDANCE: 28,000 at Telstra Dome

The heat was on early as the two sides probed and tested the other's defences, but neither could find a way through in the opening minutes. The Tigers held a slight edge early, but it was Hawk Chance Bateman who landed the first major blow with his supergoal midway through the term. Richmond opened its account soon after when Brett Deledio guided his first kick of the match through the big sticks but the Hawks hit back with creative work up forward. The Hawks missed several chances to stretch their lead late in the term and so had just a 7 point advantage at 1/4 time.
A Joel Bowden fumble in the opening minute of the 2nd term gifted Ben Dixon another goal. Deledio answered soon after but the Hawks were up and running, with Bateman, Williams, and Harry Miller booting 3 goals in 4 minutes to give the Hawks a 26 point lead. Then Patrick Bowden hit the post but David Rodan, in his first game back from a knee reconstruction, got one back. Roughead restored the Hawk lead with a strong mark and goal, but again the Tigers hit back through Matthew White. Mark Williams then pulled down a great pack mark just seconds before the siren and goaled after the siren to keep the Hawks 26 points in front at 1/2 time.
Hawthorn frittered away its good work with a lackluster 3rd term, allowing the Tigers to stage a minor offensive. While turnovers cost both sides early, it was Richmond which managed to make fewer unforced errors. While Hawthorn could manage just 2 points for the term, Stafford and Tuck added 2 goals for the Tigers, reducing Hawthorn's lead to just 11 points at 3/4 time.
Matthew Richardson was at his erratic best for most of the game. He sprayed an easy shot, then put the ball out on the full from 50 in the opening term..
Richardson finally goaled early in the final term. It began a goal for goal battle which saw the scores leveled twice, the last being late in the term. Richmond briefly snatched the lead with a point, before 2 quick goals to Williams saved the game for the Hawks. He booted 3 for the term to prove the difference between the 2 sides.
For the Hawks, former Saint Brent Guerra and Danny Jacobs both racked up 25 possessions while young gun Sam Mitchell wasn't far behind with 27.
For the Tigers, Kane Johnson (28/7) was again a prolific ball winner and had plenty of support from Deledio (18/6), Hyde (18/6), Newman (17), and Hartigan (17). Joel Bowden was a force across halfback with 22 touches and Simmonds had 20 hitouts.
Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson said he was pleased his side was able to come out with a win after a match which developed into a tight tussle in the second half. He felt the intensity on both sides was good. He said that the NAB Cup had been targeted by Hawthorn in an effort to engender a winning attitude among the young players. Clarkson said the injury to Everitt was not serious and him sitting out much of the game was only a precaution.
Richmond coach Terry Wallace said the Tigers had been "pretty ordinary" especially in the first half, turning the ball over badly. However, with several high-profile players missing, he wasn't too upset with the loss and forecast a much different Richmond side for Round 1.

CARL 0.3.2 0.4.7 1.5.13 1.8.13 (70)
GEEL 0.5.1 0.6.3 0.8.6 0.15.8 (98)
9 PT GOALS: CARL - Stevens; 6 PT GOALS: GEEL - Kingsley 9, Lonergan 2, G. Ablett, Gardiner, Ling, Milburn; CARL - Carlton: Fevola 2, Fisher 2, Deluca, McLaren, Murphy, S. O'hAilpin
BEST: GEEL - Kingsley, Scarlett, Bartel, Ling, Kelly, Milburn; CARL - Whitnall, Lappin, Houlihan, Stevens, S. O'hAilpin, Fisher

INJURY: GEEL - Mooney (buttock)

UMPIRES: Farmer, James, Jennings, Schmitt

CROWD: 31,297 at Telstra Dome

Geelong full-forward Kent Kingsley has produced his finest individual goalkicking effort in an official AFL fixture to help his side hold off a gritty Carlton. Kingsley's previous best was 7 goals against Essendon in Round 9,2004. And his 9 goal haul is the best effort by a Geelong player in a pre-season/night series fixture, eclipsing Billy Brownless' 8 goals against West Coast in 1992. Kingsley also became the 10th player in pre-season/night series matches to kick 9 or more goals since the concept began in 1956.
Entering the match, Carlton was at virtually full strength, with new recruit and former Swan Jason Saddington (knee) the only first-choice player on the sidelines. Geelong went in without skipper Steven King, Tom Harley, Steve Johnson, Brad Ottens, Peter Riccardi, David Wojcinski, Henry Playfair, and Andrew Mackie.
Carlton got off to a flying start with 3 unanswered goals, including one each to Irishman Setanta O'hAilpin and first-gamer Marc Murphy. It then turned into the Kingsley show. In the space of 15 minutes, Kingsley blasted home 5 straight goals to help his side to an 11 point lead at 1/4 time. He also saw off several opponents including Bret Thornton, Lance Whitnall, and Adam Hartlett.
The 2nd term seemed slow with both sides booting just one goal each. Geelong got the first through Charlie Gardiner early in the term while Carlton's only goal came via Dylan McLaren after the siren. Both sides had several other chances, and the Blues' inaccuracy proved costly and left the Cats 8 points in front at 1/2 time.
Major ball-winners to half-time included Lappin (15 disposals) and Whitnall (12) for Carlton, while Darren Milburn and Cameron Mooney had 11 touches each for the Cats.
Gary Ablett booted the first goal of the second half, extending Geelong's lead to 12 points, yet it came in a period when goals were hard to come by. Carlton continued to pepper its attacking zone for much of the term, but could failed to do any serious damage with just 6 behinds to show for their efforts. Finally, late in the term, Stevens broke the drought with the only supergoal of the match after being awarded a 50 meter penalty which took him to the goalsquare. Geelong youngster Tom Lonergan answered with a fine snap but Fevola immediately replied, pegging the Cats' lead back to just 2 points at 3/4 time.
Fisher put the Blues in front for the first and only time to start the final term, but Kingsley stole the show again with 3 of the next 4 goals. Carlton could add just one more for the match while the Cats added two, including the last to Kingsley after the siren.
Carlton forwards Brendan Fevola and Sentanta O'hAilpin were the main offenders, with Fevola kicking 2.2 and spraying two shots out on the full and O'hAilpin 1.2 and also sending a snap shot out on the full in the final term. O'hAilpin, who has played only one premiership season game for the Blues, at least showed some good signs with his ability to win the ball.
For the Cats, Matthew Scarlett in defence was at his All-Australian best, while ball-magnets Jimmy Bartel (20/5), Cameron Ling (20), , James Kelly (18/5) and Darren Milburn (18) combined for almost 80 touches. Bartel also laid 6 tackles. Gary Ablett was also excellent with 17 touches and 4 marks.
Lance Whitnall, in his role across half-back was one of Carlton's best, while Ryan Houlihan and Matthew Lappin were the leading possession winners for the match with 25 disposals each with Stevens notching up 24 and 5 marks.

KANG 0.3.0 1.6.5 1.7.6 1.8.11 (68)
SYD 0.1.0 0.2.2 0.4.4 0.5.7 (37)
9 PT GOALS: KANG - Schwarze; 6 PT GOALS - KANG - Thompson 2, Harris, Grant, Petrie, Le Cras, Harvey, Grant; SYD - Matthews, Brabazon, Doyle, Grundy, Moore
BEST: KANG - Harris, Grant, Harvey, Rawlings, Petrie, Gibson; SYD - Bolton, O'Keefe, Spriggs, Buchanan, Ablett

UMPIRES: Bandy, Hay, McLaren, Allen

At Manuka Oval

With both sides showing signs of rust early in the Canberra heat, it was the Kangaroos who drew first blood after more than seven-and-a-half minutes with Harris goaling.
Ben Mathews replied at the 13-minute mark but the Kangaroos slammed on four goals either side of quarter-time, including a nine-pointer to Ben Schwarze, opening up a 28-point break midway through the 2nd term. A clever snap by rookie Ryan Brabazon broke the Kangaroos' run but Brent Le Cras and Nathan Thompson both kicked goals from marks inside 50, helping the Kangaroos to a 37 point lead at 1/2 time.
With experienced midfielders Grant, Rawlings and Adam Simpson starting the second half on the bench, the Swans made a promising start to the third term. A strong contested mark and goal to Stephen Doyle, who out-muscled Jonathan Hay, followed by a clever snap from Heath Grundy saw the Swans draw within 23 points midway through the term.
But the return of the Kangaroo veterans stopped the Swans' run with Brent Harvey booting a fine running goal, stretching the margin out to 29 points at 3/4 time. It would have been even more had he not hit the post after the siren.
Goals proved harder to come by in the final term as both teams started to wilt in the heat.
The Swans missed an opportunity when O'Keefe sprayed his set shot after marking strongly against Michael Firrito. Then Drew Petrie missed from 40 meters directly in front. A snap by Jarred Moore reduced the margin to 20 points halfway through, but rookie Adam Prior blew a chance to reduce the margin to 14 when he missed from point-blank range after being awarded a free kick. Grant then goaled in the minutes to finish off the match.
The Kangaroos will face Geelong next week.
For the Kangaroos, nuggety rover Daniel Harris was excellent under the packs with 20 possessions and was well supported by Brady Rawlings (18), and veteran Shannon Grant (15/7). Of the Kangaroo youngsters, defender Josh Gibson showed promise deep in defence, gathering 16 touches and impressing with his poise under pressure.
For the Swans, David Spriggs found the ball 17 times, while premiership duo Jude Bolton and Ryan O'Keefe both gathered 16 touches. Adam Prior linked up well across the middle with 16 touches, while Matthew Laidlaw provided good run from half-back in the absence of Tadgh Kennelly.
How the new faces at each club fared: Jonathan Hay had his hands full keeping Sydney recruit goalless and was rested in the final term. While not prolific, rookie Ed Lower had 8 touches and 3 tackles across halfback. Andrew Swallow, drafted last year, had 7 possessions and laid 6 tackles.
For the Swans, Ted Richards gathered 13 possessions and helped set up a goal in the 2nd term. Kristin Thornton proved handy in the midfield with 14 touches, while Adam Prior had 16 possessions. Stefan Garrubba was no match for Shannon Grant. Former Cat Paul Chambers enjoyed 14 hitouts in a partnership with Stephen Doyle.
Kieran Jack, the son of former rugby league champion Garry Jack, had nine touches and four tackles, kept his feet well in one-on-one contests and was not the worst of the Swan rookies.
Ed Barlow, a tall winger, gathered nine possessions and four marks and was not overawed by the situation. Paul Currie had just 2 handballs. Heath Grundy had 8 possessions and 2 marks, but showed he was not afraid to get into the action. Sam Rowe, a 196 cm ruckman and regarded by the Swans as a long-term prospect, had just one handball.


FRE 0.6.4 0.11.5 0.15.8 1.18.10 (127)
WCE 0.2.2 0.4.10 0.6.13 1.7.14 (65)
9 PT GOALS: FRE - Walker; WCE - Judd; 6 PT GOALS: FRE - McPharlin 6, Longmuir 3, Medhurst 2, Farmer 2, Bell 2, Walker, Peake, M. Carr; WCE - R. Jones, Hansen, Stenglein, A. Embley, Seaby, Staker, Cousins
BEST: FRE - Hasleby, J. Carr, McPharlin, Schammer, Bell, Peake, M. Carr;
WCE - Cousins, Kerr, Hansen, B. Jones, Stenglein

INJURY: FRE - Haines (calf), Headland (foot), J. Carr (ankle); WCE - Hansen (knee), Glass (sore)

UMPIRES: Wenn, Margetts, Rosebury, Kamolins

CROWD: 36,686 at Subiaco Oval

Space versus structure proved no contest as the Eagles used positioning structure while the Dockers used the wide open space of Subiaco with all-out running, starting with numerous players in the back lines, then streaming forward. The Eagles stacked their forward lines to give themselves more leading options when their midfield had possession.
West Coast is still looking at its forward line after the retirement of Phil Matera and the knee injury to Brad Smith. Ashley Hansen presented well and held his own at CHF while Brent Staker showed glimpses but Andrew McDougall was totally ineffective.
Despite the deficiency, the Eagles made a solid start to the match, kicking the opening goal through Rowan Jones and adding another a short time later courtesy of Hansen.
But that was all the Eagles managed for the term as Fremantle took control and stormed clear with 6 goals to lead by 26 points at 1/4 time. Three of those goals came from players who started in defence, then bolted into attack.
West Coast eventually decided enough was enough and packed the midfield to stop the mayhem. But in doing so, they robbed Peter to pay Paul, leaving themselves bereft of scoring opportunities.
It showed in the 2nd and 3rd terms as the Eagles managed just 2 goals from midway through the 2nd term until late in the 3rd while the Dockers added 5 of their own to lead by 37 points at 1/2 time.
The game was all but over midway through the third with McPharlin wreaking havoc and his compadres doing the same as the Dockers tore the Eagle defence to shreds. They rammed home 4 unanswered goals to lead by a massive 10 goals before the Eagles managed 2 for the term, but the Dockers still held a 49 point lead at 3/4 time.
With relentless running from the likes of the Carr brothers, Brett Peake, Peter Bell, Paul Hasleby, and Byron Schammer and their excellent delivery to McPharlin, Farmer, Longmuir, and Medhurst the Dockers ran simply increased their lead in the final term. While Medhurst booted just 2 goals himself, his work across half-forward resulted in 5 goals. Judd managed his supergoal late in the term.
For the Dockers, Carr brothers combined for 46 touches, while Byron Schammer played well out of defence, finishing with 15 kicks and 10 handballs.Paul Hasleby showed he is once again set for a stellar season with 29 possessions, with Peter Bell gathering 21. McPharlin had 11 kicks and 11 marks while Medhurst had 16 possessions and 8 marks.
Ben Cousins, despite derision and heckles from Docker fans, put a tough week behind him with an impressive performance with 25 possessions. Daniel Kerr tried hard all day for the Eagles and finished with 22 touches, while Matt Rosa stood tall with 23 disposals. Cox (11 hitouts, 14/3) and Seaby (22 hitouts) combined well in the ruck against Docker giant Sandilands (26 hitouts).

Full-time scores:
COL 2.7.6 (66)
StK 1.8.9 (66)

After extra time:
COL 2.2.1 2.3.2 2.4.4 2.8.8 (74)
STK 0.1.0 1.2.2 1.6.6 1.9.10 (73)
9 PT GOALS: COL - C. Cloke, Lonie; StK - Goddard; 6 PT GOALS - COL - Licuria 2, Fraser 2, Didak, Tarrant, Swan, Rocca; StK - Riewoldt 3, Harvey 2, Goddard, Gehrig, Watts, Murray
BEST: COL - Lockyer, Licuria, J. Cloke, Fraser, O'Bree, Prestigiacomo; StK - Riewoldt, Hayes, Ball, Fisher, Hudghton
INJURY: StK - Hamill (calf)

UMPIRES: McBurney, Kennedy, Armstrong, Fila

CROWD: 24,567 at Telstra Dome

The Pies went into the match without Nathan Buckley, James Clement, Scott Burns and Shane Wakelin, Rhyce Shaw and Sean Rusling, while St Kilda's Justin Koschitzke, Xavier and Raphael Clarke were injured. Added to that list was Aaron Hamill, whose day was done in the first term.
Collingwood started the match strongly, with Cameron Cloke and Ryan Lonie booting consecutive supergoals to take an early 18 point lead. Gehrig got the Saints' only goal midway through the term, but the Pies added two more for a 25 point lead at 1/4 time. Brendon Goddard then booted the third super goal of the match and when the Saints kicked another, they trailed by only 10 points. The Pies kicked just one goal for the term through Tarrant, but it was enough for a 15 point 1/2 time lead.
The Saints upped the ante in the 3rd term, adding 4 goals to 1, with Harvey's goal late in the term giving the Saints a 5 point lead at 3/4 time. Riewoldt booted two for the term, but the highlight came from Collingwood when Fraser and Alan Didak combined beautifully with deft taps, to set-up Licuria.
As the final term started, St Kilda soon gained the momentum. Two quick goals had them in front by 20 points. But the Pies again surged with goals to Rocca, Swan, and Josh Fraser, the last giving the Pies a 2 point lead. Then Milne had the chance to put his side ahead with a set shot, but hit the post and under pre-season rules, it was play on. Collingwood scrambled the ball out to its 50-meter defensive line, where Goddard had yet another shot for glory only to narrowly miss, leaving the Pies just one point clear and paving the way for an amazing finish. Just minutes before the full-time siren, Josh Fraser was penalized for a soft ruck infringement against Fraser Gehrig. Gehrig lined up from 30 meters on a slight angle, but missed what should have been an easy goal to win the match. Instead, two 5 minute halves ensued.
Riewoldt kicked the first goal in the extra time. Rocca and Tarrant had their chances to seal the win but missed set shots. Then with 3 minutes remaining, Josh Fraser got hold of a Travis Cloke kick and snapped around his body to put Collingwood back in front. The final minute was frenzied as both sides battled for the ball. Then with 38 seconds left on the clock, Riewoldt's snap was stopped on the goal line by Jason Cloke, giving the Pies the win.
For Collingwood, Licuria was the standout player with 35 possessions and 6 marks. Jason Cloke (21/5) was excellent across halfback, while Holland (28/6), O'Bree (30/5), and Lockyer (20) also were prominent. Fraser had 18 hitouts and 14 touches.
For the Saints, Riewoldt was brilliant across halfback, charging down the wing and pushing forward, finishing with 18 disposals and 10 marks. New St Kilda skipper Luke Ball (25/6) and former captain Lenny Hayes 24/8) gained almost 50 possessions between them. They were well supported by Sam Fisher (20/7) and Stephen Powell (27/5). The ruck problems look to be over with Ackland (10 hitouts) and Jason Blake (15) set to provide plenty of backup to Justin Koschitzke.
The previous occasion of extra time in a "real" AFL game was the 1994 qualifying final at Waverley Park. On that day, the Kangaroos cantered away from Hawthorn to win the five minutes at each end.


Collingwood Coach Mick Malthouse is not impressed with some of the new rule interpretations. Speaking after the match, he said AFL is in danger of becoming like netball if the league persists with its tougher interpretations against defenders this season. He said the new interpretation was making life too difficult not only for the defenders but also for the umpires in imposing the stricter interpretation relating to marking contests.
Malthouse, although happy with the umpiring in his game, said there were far too many examples over the weekend of forwards being paid free kicks for only minimal contact from defenders.
Malthouse said he struggled to understand the reasoning behind some of the new rule interpretations introduced for this year given the magnificent culmination to last season when Sydney beat West Coast by four points in an epic grand final. He believes the 2005 GF should be a model for the umpires and rule interpretations.
He admitted to speaking with several umpires - whom he refused to name - who in turn confided to him that they were finding things difficult with the constant rule changes and interpretations from year to year.

ADE 0.1.5 1.6.7 1.13.9 2.16.13 (127)
PA 0.2.4 0.4.5 0.6.6 0.8.7 (55)
9 PT GOALS: ADE - Goodwin, Burton; 6 PT GOALS: ADE - Hentschel 6, Perrie 4, Burton 3, McGregor, Jericho, Goodwin; PA - P. Burgoyne 2, Motlop 2, Tredrea 2, Mahoney, Cassisi
BEST: ADE - Goodwin, Hentschel, Perrie, Burton, Biglands, Thompson, Knights;
PA - Cassisi, Brogan, Ebert, Salopek

UMPIRES: Avon, Vozzo, Fraser, Meredith

ATTENDANCE: 17,012 at AAMI Stadium

Both sides were guilty of overusing the ball early with plenty of stray handballs in a scrappy opening term. There were still no goals on the board when Adam Kingsley was crunched in a pack midway through the term and left the ground with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. Trent Hentschel finally broke the deadlock when he grubbered through a goal as he stumbled across the goal line. The Crows had the better of the early exchanges, but missed several chances to establish a lead, allowing Port to work into the contest. Goals to Peter Burgoyne and Motlop had the Power 5 points in front at 1/4 time.
That lead was quickly erased early in the 2nd term when Hentschel capitalized on a Shaun Burgoyne error for another goal. A strong mark and goal by Tredrea restored the margin two minutes later, but thereafter, it was all Adelaide. The Crows went longer and more direct and constantly put Port under pressure with fierce tackling. Goodwin began the barrage with a his 9-pointer thanks to a Perrie shepherd. Perrie then booted one of his own. He soon followed up with a 6-point goal. Further goals to McGregor, Hentschel, and Burton had Port reeling. Peter Burgoyne managed a goal for Port just before the siren, but it was the Crows by 23 points at 1/2 time.
Adelaide picked up where they left off as the second half got underway. Hentschel and Perrie continued to savage the undermanned Power defence with Hentschel kicking his 4th for the game and Perrie booting 3 of his own. Motlop got one back for Port after marking at full strength in the goalsquare. Mahoney followed up with one soon after but it wasn't enough as the Crows skipped out to a 54 point lead at 3/4 time.
Burton and Hentschel continued to do the damage in the final term as the Crows kicked 3 goals to 1.
For the Crows, Goodwin (27/7) was a constant force. He had plenty of help from Burton (20/9), Porplyzia (19) and young Chris Knights (19). In attack, Perrie, Hentschel, and McGregor had almost 30 marks between them. Maric looks set to be a handy ruckman with 12 hitouts as he partnered with Biglands. Acting captain Ben Rutten had the better of Tredrea, who seemed so rattled that he headed for the wrong bench when coming off in the final term.
Port's recruits Nathan Lonie (21 disposals) and Daniel Motlop produced quality moments, while Steven Salopek gave his most promising performance after a cruel run of injuries since his debut in 2003. Brad Symes 20/8), who played just 1 AFL game in 2004, was most impressive across half-back, and rookie-listed Tom Logan showed glimpses. Also looking good were Ebert (24/8), Cassisi (22), Kane Cornes (18), and Pearce (18/7).

Next week, for the Cup winners, it will be:
Friday, 3rd March: BRIS vs MELB Telstra Dome 7:40 PM
Saturday, 4th March: HAW vs ADE Aurora Stadium 6:40, KANG vs GEEL Cazaly Stadium, Cairns, 8:45 PM
Sunday, 5th March: COL vs WCE Subiaco 7:10 PM
Times listed are Melbourne time.

Richmond and the Bulldogs will play a practice game in Shepperton (north-central Victoria), the Eagles meet St. Kilda.

One more item before I go. The NAB Cup games are being broadcast through the AFL site, which has links to the radio stations carrying the matches. However, this weekend's broadcasts weren't always there. There was no link for the Friday night game, nor for the Sunday afternoon games. For anyone who wants to tune in, hopefully, the AFL will have everything in place for next weekend.

And that's it for this week.

GO BLUES!!

Lisa



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