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ASADA aftershock hits Queensland

Written By malwan milad on Rabu, 20 Agustus 2014 | 22.07

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TWO of Queensland's three NRL clubs had their foundations rocked after being caught in the aftershock of the Cronulla ASADA investigation.

North Queensland and Gold Coast were caught up in the drama with both clubs having former Sharks players on their books.

Matthew Wright (Cowboys), Luke Douglas and Albert Kelly (both Titans) were among the 17 current or former Cronulla players issued show cause notices by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for involvement in the Sharks' 2011 supplements program.

The Cowboys — where Wright has flourished since he linked with the club this season — last night issued a statement confirming the outside back was one of the players targeted in Wednesday's action.

CRONULLA FANS FINALLY GET SOME CLOSURE

SHARKS 17: THE PLAYERS IN THE FIRING LINE

Cowboys' Matthew Wright is one of three former Cronulla players now playing for Queensland clubs. Source: News Corp Australia

"The North Queensland Cowboys understand that NRL squad member Matthew Wright has received a "show cause" from ASADA following investigations into the Cronulla club in 2011,'' the statement read.

"There has been no information provided directly to the Cowboys from ASADA at this stage.

"A Cowboy since the start of this season, Matthew was not part of the meetings in Sydney but will see his solicitor, who is managing the process on their behalf, to receive advice and more information on the matter.

"The Cowboys will not be making any further comment on any matter relating to the ASADA investigation until further notice."

ASADA OFFERS DEALS FOR ADMISSIONS

ASADA STATEMENT ON CRONULLA

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Wright played 62 games for Cronulla from 2009 to 2013, before signing with the Cowboys in early February. He played 19 games for the Sharks in 2011.

The former off-contract player was preparing for full-time work before being offered a lifeline by North Queensland.

He has since played 17 games for the club this season and scored nine tries, including a hat-trick against the Wests Tigers almost a fortnight ago.

Wright has been named to play against South Sydney in Saturday's crunch match at ANZ Stadium, which is likely to make or break North Queensland's top four hopes.

Gold Coast's Albert Kelly was another to be part of the ASADA investigation. Source: News Corp Australia

The Gold Coast Titans by comparison put up the shutters on Wednesday night, refusing to issue a statement surrounding their players and failing to return calls.

After a few weeks of turmoil, which culminated in club foundation stones Michael Searle and John Cartwright quitting the club, this was another piece of bad news the club could have done without.

Kelly only made his return for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup last weekend after a year that has fluctuated between moments of on-field brilliance and frustration at a string of injuries.

Douglas by comparison has been typically dependable in the Titans' front row.

But Wednesday's events have placed him in a difficult spot, jeopardising his record streak of 214 consecutive appearances since debuting in 2006.


22.07 | 0 komentar | Read More

ASADA stain hard for players to remove

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IT'S an effective ban of just 10 weeks, but the potential cost is a lifetime of slurs.

That was stomach-churning dilemma served up to 17 past and present Cronulla players on Wednesday night, just hours after they received ASADA 'show cause' notices in relation to the club's 2011 supplement program.

SHARKS ASADA CASE: TIMELINE

The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday learned that every player in the firing line has been offered a one-year suspension, back-dated to November 1, 2013.

But in exchange for sitting out just over two months, the players must admit that the club gave them banned peptides CJC-1295 and GHRP-6 in 2011.

In short, the players are being asked to admit to being part of a group of drug cheats.

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The alternative is to continue to assert their innocence by fighting the 'show cause' notices in either the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or Federal Court and risk a mandatory two-year ban for the use of those two growth stimulants.

17 PLAYERS HIT WITH DOPING NOTICES

A statement released by the Sharks indicated the five players still contracted to the club – skipper Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner, Anthony Tupou and John Morris – had been given just two days to make this decision.

Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner and Anthony Tupou with their lawyer Richard Redman. Source: News Corp Australia

"Players have been offered a proposal regarding a possible suspension, which they need to consider before the weekend, with the players to consult with their legal representatives over the next two days in relation to their individual circumstances," the statement read.

ASADA STATEMENT ON SHARKS

Remaining members of the 2011 squad who received 'show cause' notices include: Kade Snowden (Knights), Jeremy Smith (Knights), Luke Douglas (Titans), Albert Kelly (Titans), Mathew Wright (Cowboys), Broderick Wright (retired), Colin Best (retired), Paul Aiton (Leeds), Stuart Flanagan (Appin), John Williams (retired), Josh Cordoba (London) and Ben Pomeroy (Catalans Dragons).

Wade Graham, Anthony Tupou and Nathan Gardner leave their lawyer Richard Redman's office. Source: News Corp Australia

After receiving the notices from their own lawyers at various locations throughout the Sydney CBD; Gallen, Graham, Gardner, Tupou, Morris, Smith and Snowden all met for an hour inside an office tower on Bligh St shortly after lunch.

Gallen drove Graham, Tupou and Morris from the underground car park in a black ute about 3pm without offering a comment.

BUZZ: SHARKS FANS CAN FINALLY GET SOME CLOSURE

However, selected players remained in the city for further meetings with their lawyers last night.

While all players have the same opportunities to achieve a reduced and back-dated sentence, their relative responses could produce different outcomes.

It's understood the players have until Friday to indicate whether they intend to co-operate, and ASADA will then determine the length of their recommended suspension on the candour of their reply.

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Under the World Anti-Doping (WADA) guidelines, bans can be reduced to 12 months for players who can demonstrate "no significant fault or negligence".

In this case, the Sharks players could claim they were misled into believing the substances were not prohibited under the WADA code.

The proposal to back-date the suspensions stems from ASADA's "undue delay" in finalising the investigation.

GALLEN: I'LL BE LABELLED A CHEAT BY ACCEPTING BAN

ASADA OFFERS SHARKS DEALS FOR ADMISSION

Essentially, ASADA has acknowledged the players have already suffered because of the probe's extraordinary length and draining public nature.

The back-dating on November 1, 2013, is recognition that this was the date the investigation officially completed.

Paul Gallen visits his lawyers after ASADA slapped bans on several players. Source: Supplied

Co-incidentally, it's also the date new NRL contracts are registered, meaning none of the 17 players would be prejudiced by ongoing bans should they seek a new deal.

NRL sources have denied any collusion with ASADA to back-date the suspensions to this date.

Under the best case scenario, Gallen might even still be selected as part of Australia's squad for the end-of-year Four Nations tournament, given he would just miss one game prior to the Kangaroos clash against England on November 2.

He would also be forced to skip a planned boxing bout in early October, but still has enough time to stage two fights before the new season starts next March.

Wednesday's events have also placed Douglas in a difficult spot, jeopardising his record streak of 214 consecutive appearances since debuting in 2006.


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ASADA wants codes to ban Dank for life

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ASADA has recommended the NRL and AFL ban sports scientist Stephen Dank for life over the controversial supplements programs he devised at Cronulla and Essendon.

As 17 past and present Sharks players received 'show cause' notices on Wednesday, The Daily Telegraph learned ASADA has written to both codes to recommend Dank has no further involvement with Australia's two most-watched sports.

SHARKS ASADA CASE: TIMELINE

ASADA wants Stephen Dank banned from the AFL and NRL. Source: News Corp Australia

17 PLAYERS HIT WITH DOPING NOTICES

The central figure of ASADA's long-running probe, Dank was also the first to receive a 'show cause' notice in March.

The biochemist vowed to only respond in a court of law, and launched a challenge to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

However, The Daily Telegraph can reveal Dank's AAT matter was withdrawn last month.

Stephen Dank leaves his house. Source: News Limited

ASADA STATEMENT ON SHARKS

An AAT spokesman confirmed on Wednesday night it had been ceased on July 2.

Dank also had the option of appealing to the Federal Court, as Essendon has done on behalf of its players earlier this month.

A Federal Court spokesman on Wednesday night confirmed Dank had not initiated any proceedings.

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Those developments have left ASADA free to place Dank's name on its Register of Findings.

In the past fortnight, ASADA has sent letters to both the NRL and AFL asking that Dank be issued a life ban by their respective anti-doping tribunals.

BUZZ: SHARKS FANS CAN FINALLY GET SOME CLOSURE

Neither sport has commenced a hearing against Dank, who is the common link between the Cronulla and Essendon probes.

Paul Gallen, Anthony Tupou and Wade Graham after meetings regarding the ASADA issue. Source: News Corp Australia

ASADA has alleged Sharks players were injected with banned peptides CJC-1295 and GHRP-6 under Dank's watch in 2011, and that Essendon players received another prohibited substance, Thymosin Beta-4, when the sports scientist moved to Melbourne the following season.

GALLEN: I'LL BE LABELLED A CHEAT BY ACCEPTING BAN

ASADA OFFERS SHARKS DEALS FOR ADMISSION

Dank has constantly denied ever providing banned substances to footballers.

However, his name now appears on a banned 'support staff' section of ASADA's register.

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He has also received notification that he appears on the register and that ASADA has written to both codes recommending their preferred punishment of a life ban.

It's understood the AFL will wait until the Federal Court verdict of Essendon's case is handed down, before it convenes a hearing into ASADA's recommendations on Dank.

The NRL declined to give any information on Wednesday night as to when it will deal with the sports scientist, offering "no comment" in response to The Daily Telegraph's inquiries.


22.07 | 0 komentar | Read More

Rumour Mill Live: Barca binge on stars

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IT'S desperate times at Barcelona.

With FIFA rejecting the appeal over their transfer ban, they have nine days to not only build for this season, but also next.

FIFA UPHOLD BARCA TRANSFER BAN FOR 2015

The Rumour Mill is set to go into overdrive and money appears to be no object, with German international Marco Reus chief among the targets.

Barcelona will not then be able to recruit any new players in the next two windows, in January and next summer. The ban was originally handed down in April but because Barca appealed, the punishment was frozen during the current transfer window, which closes on September 1 and allowed them to sign striker Luis Suarez.

The Mirror is reporting Barcelona are determined to outbid both Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal for his services.

Juan Cuadrado and Daniel Agger could be on their way as well.

EUROPEAN TRANSFER CENTRE

Meanwhile, former Liverpool star Xabi Alonso could be joining Manchester United.

The Daily Star is reporting that United, who look like missing out on chief targets Kevin Strootman and Arturo Vidal, have turned their attention to veteran Spaniard, who called Anfield home for six seasons until 2009.

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And in news of Liverpool's seemingly endless search for a new strike partner for Daniel Sturridge, the Anfield club have reportedly offered Mario Balotelli in excess of $160,000 to make the move back to England.

Although some publications are denying the offer is on the table, reports from Italy suggest a deal could be close at hand.

Liverpool's offer is currently short of AC Milan's asking price, but all parties seem keen on the transfer going through.

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Meanwhile, Swansea City have bolstered their defence with the signing of Argentinian Federico Fernandez from Napoli and the 35-year-old is pretty happy about the move.

"It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League - it is the best in the world - and I'm grateful to Swansea for giving me this opportunity," Fernandez said.

"I asked Michu and Jordi Amat about the club. I obviously trained with Michu at Napoli, and while I was on loan at Getafe (in 2013) I played with (former Swansea loan player) Alvaro Vazquez. He is very good friends with Jordi, so I've spoken to them too.

"Michu told me it is a family club and the city is very relaxed. He said I was joining a very good club. All I've heard are good things about Swansea."

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World Cup star Thomas Mueller has revealed that Manchester United offered him an "astronomical' amount of money to make the switch to the EPL.

"Of course - I was aware I could theoretically earn more with a transfer," he said.

"The sums that were standing by from foreign clubs were already astronomical. I can only say that a change was never really an issue anyway."

Read on for plenty more from the Rumour Mill, including further talk on Manchester United and Liverpool.


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Report: LeBron opts for free agency

Written By malwan milad on Selasa, 24 Juni 2014 | 22.07

LeBron James has reportedly opted out of the last two years of his Miami Heat contract. Source: Alan Diaz / AP

NBA superstar LeBron James has informed the Miami Heat that he will exercise an early termination option in his contract and become a free agent next week, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Richie Paul, James' agent, told the team of his client's decision, which came ahead of a deadline next Monday to decide whether or not to opt out of the last two years of his Miami contract.

James, who was set to make $20 million next season, won his first career NBA titles with the Heat in 2012 and 2013. He also led Miami to the NBA Finals in 2011, when Dallas beat the Heat, and this year, when Miami lost to San Antonio.

After the Heat's last loss in the NBA Finals, James said he wanted time on vacation with his family before considering his future plans.

James said he welcomed the chance for the same free agency freedom he had in 2010, when he signed with the Heat after spending his first seven NBA seasons in Cleveland.

James, a high school star near Akron just south of Cleveland, could attract other talented players alongside him after his stellar stint in Miami.


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Robben goes from Cup villain to hero

Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben. Source: MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP

FOUR years after the worst night of Arjen Robben's career, a new and much happier World Cup chapter is being written by the Dutch superstar.

The 30-year-old Bayern Munich attacker has been unstoppable in Brazil, playing the leading role in his Netherlands team's charge to Group B dominance.

Three goals in three games and a man-of-the-match performance in the Oranje's group-clinching 2-0 win over the previously undefeated Chile at the Arena de Sao Paulo has Robben being lauded alike by teammates and experts.

It's a far cry from 2010 in Johannesburg, where Robben had two golden opportunities to deliver the Dutch their first World Cup crown.

He blew both chances, with Spain taking full advantage, scoring the game's only goal in extra-time through their midfield maestro Andres Iniesta to win the World Cup for the first time.

But four years on, a different story is evolving.

Netherlands' forward Memphis Depay (L) celebrates scoring with Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben. Source: AFP

Netherlands exacted revenge for the defeat in the final, smashing Spain 5-1 in Salvador in a breathtaking performance that set the tone for what has thus far been a wonderful tournament.

Not surprisingly, the Spaniards never recovered and are already back home.

The infighting that has previously plagued the Dutch seems to have infiltrated the Spanish camp.

It's amazing what winning can do. The Oranje are united and suddenly have a real chance to go one better than 2010 and in the process become the first European team to win a World Cup on South American soil.

"If you told me that we'd win our three games to finish top of the group two months ago I'd have been delighted," Robben said after his scintillating effort against the Chileans.

"We want to go on."

Robben is pivotal to Netherlands' chances of going all the way.

His pace and energy is vital to his team's counterattacking system that despite having already earned them three wins and 10 goals has attracted criticism for being an unattractive way to play football.

Not that Dutch coach Louis van Gaal cares what other people think.

Arjen Robben of the Netherlands. Source: Getty Images

With Robben in this type of form and the likes of Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder also benefiting from the 5-3-2 system, van Gaal isn't about to be swayed by the opinions of football purists.

"It's all about winning so I use the system I think will let me win," van Gaal said.

"You have to evaluate a strategy that will help you win, and this is the proof in the pudding.

"We're not giving away games and we're winning."

And while the Dutch are far from a one-man team, they are winning with the considerable help of Robben.

Former England striker Gary Lineker has been among the ex-Chelsea man's biggest fans.

"The best player of the World Cup group stage is Arjen Robben. He's been utterly outstanding," Lineker tweeted.

Dutch defender Ron Vlaar is in awe of his teammate.

"He's unbelievable," Vlaar said.

"He's so strong, he's quick (and) he can score goals."

Robben is so quick in fact that he has claimed the title of fastest footballer in the world after a 37km per hour sprint in his side's thrashing of Spain.

But it's an accolade he would gladly swap for one of the few things he's yet to achieve during his career — winning the World Cup.

Robben and his Dutch teammates aren't getting too far ahead of themselves, knowing that the hard work has only just started as they must now navigate the cutthroat knockout stages.

"Although we want to enjoy the moment, we'll soon need to start to work hard in training to improve even more … I don't want it to end here," said Robben, who is perhaps on the verge of burying the demons of 2010.


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Vidot wants Mal’s tick to flick Samoa

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BRONCOS winger Daniel Vidot is desperate to play for Queensland but wants to know he is a certain Maroons selection before switching his allegiance from Samoa.

Vidot is one of several Maroons wingers who could come under consideration by Queensland selectors this weekend as they search for a replacement for injured star Brent Tate.

As much as Vidot is a proud and passionate Queenslander, committing his international allegiance to Australia and the Maroons would rule him out of Samoa's team for the end of year Four Nations tournament.

COPLEY THE MAN TO REVIVE MAROONS

Daniel Vidot shows his Samoan pride on his Instagram page.

"I'd want to know first before I get that changed because if I wasn't to get picked then I would obviously miss out on the Four Nations," Vidot told the Courier Mail.

"That is a once in a lifetime thing for Samoa, we've done the hard yards and to miss that would be heartbreaking.

"But if I got the opportunity to play Origin I would definitely grab it with two hands. I reckon it's the biggest thing in rugby league, it's bigger than international footy to be honest.

MAROONS WERE ROBBED, SAYS HARRIGAN

Will Queensland select Daniel Vidot for Origin III?

Broncos winger Daniel Vidot in action. Source: News Corp Australia

"I used to go to all the (Emerging) Queensland camps when I was younger, I know what it's all about and heard from lots of the greats and know lots of them as well.

"If I was to get selected I can change to Queensland but I won't be eligible for the Four Nations. Queensland has always been my goal, ever since I was young.

Daniel Vidot at Brisbane Broncos training. Source: News Limited

"Big Mal (Meninga) knows I'm a massive Maroons fan. I'm very passionate about it, you can see that on Instagram and Facebook.

"I just want to focus on my footy now and keep playing the best I can and let everything else take care of itself."

Daniel Vidot at Brisbane Broncos training. Source: News Corp Australia

The 24-year-old Souths Acacia Ridge junior is vying for Tate's wing spot with Broncos teammate Dale Copley, Melbourne's Will Chambers and Newcastle's Dane Gagai.

Vidot is ranked second in the NRL for metres gained this year, averaging 172m per game, and is living up to his reputation in the early years of his career as a damaging ball runner and finisher.

Daniel Vidot pictured with Wally Lewis from his Instagram page.

Vidot revealed he'd told Broncos coach Anthony Griffin at the start of this year playing Origin for the Maroons was on his list of 2014 goals, along with securing a permanent first grade spot at Brisbane and winning the NRL premiership.

"(Origin) was one of my goals at the start of this year," he said.

Daniel Vidot at training. Source: News Corp Australia

"I told Hook (coach Anthony Griffin) that firstly I want to cement a spot in the Broncos team and hopefully win a premiership and also to play for Queensland, that's my dream mate."

It is no coincidence Vidot has rediscovered his best form since returning to Brisbane after some leans years in Canberra and Wollongong.

Daniel Vidotplaying for the Canberra Raiders. Source: Supplied

Surrounded by family and his childhood friends, Vidot is able to escape the footy bubble almost daily to enjoy life with his mates who exist outside of the NRL club.

Among those pastimes is his love of music and acting, posting several videos on Instagram singing and playing around with his cousins.

Daniel Vidot playing for St George Illawarra. Source: News Limited

"I don't mind a bit of singing and mucking around. That is the kind of character I am and the boys know that," Vidot said.

"I just felt like everything was footy when I was at other teams. It was just too much for me.

Daniel Vidot poses on his Instagram page.

"I'm a bit of a chilled out kind of guy, I like my time away. Hanging out with family and friends and not always having footy on my mind is a big help.

"So I'm finding when the game day comes I'm ready and I'm not mentally drained with football and the thoughts of footy."


22.07 | 0 komentar | Read More

Spain’s plane struck by lightning

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AS if their defence of the World Cup wasn't bad enough, Spain's plane was reportedly struck by lightning on the team's arrival back in Madrid.

The Vicente del Bosque-coached squad left Brazil after immediately after recording their only win of the tournament — a 3-0 victory over Australia in Curitiba.

While the three points ensured they were spared the embarrassment of finishing bottom of Group B, the Spaniards still left the World Cup shattered about their failure to reach the knockout stages after forgettable performance in losses to Netherlands and Chile.

And then it got worse for del Bosque's men, with La Marca reporting that their plane was hit by lightning just before they touched down at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport.

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Everyone emerged unscathed, but the mood remains dim in the Spanish camp.

Defender Jordi Alba reportedly threatened a member of the Spanish press after the win over the Socceroos.

"Next time I'll rip your head off … I'm warning you," Alba said to AS sports newspaper journalist Javier Gómez Matallanas according to a host of reports.

Del Bosque also upset decorated striker David Villa by replacing the Melbourne City-bound striker in just the 57th minute of what was his first appearance of the tournament and his last game for Spain before retiring from international football.

Villa, the national team's all-time leading scorer, had earlier given Spain the lead with his 59th goal in 97 appearances.

Fernando Torres celebrates with Jordi Alba, who allegedly threatened a member of the Spanish press. Source: AP

"He seemed annoyed," said del Bosque, who claimed he wasn't aware it was Villa's international swan song.

"He said it was his last game but I didn't know. I'm sure he was upset.

"I was thinking (that) it was time to kill off the game and we did that."

Villa, 32, has signed with American Major League Soccer newcomers New York City from the start of the 2015 season.

Before that he will feature in 10 matches as a guest player for A-League outfit Melbourne City, who like New York City are owned by English Premier League giants Manchester City.

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"I've always said that I love the national side and I've always dreamed about them," Villa told reporters after Spain's win over the Socceroos.

"I'd play (for Spain) until I'm 55 but it's impossible and you have to be realistic.

"I've taken the decision to go to MLS (via the A-League) and, as such … (it) makes it difficult to continue.

"If the coach wants to call me up, I would be delighted, but it's difficult and you need to be realistic. It would be normal that it all finishes here."


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What you missed on TV last night

Written By malwan milad on Senin, 23 Juni 2014 | 22.10

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CATCH up on all the big news after Monday night's review of Round 14 and Jonathan Brown's retirement.

AFL360

MONDAY night kicked off with Herald Sun chief football writer Mark Robinson paying up $100.

Last week, Robbo dared GWS young gun Adam Treloar to give his childhood hero Chris Judd a bum tap after the game and offered the cameraman who caught it the cash.

Treloar followed through on Sunday and Robbo was happy to cough up the dough.

LISTEN TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE SUPERFOOTY PODCAST BELOW OR CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE IN ITUNES

■ OBVIOUSLY, the retirement of Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown was at the top of the agenda.

Host Gerard Whateley said it was a bitter sweet day.

"Typically, these things are dreaded but for Jonathan Brown is was truly hoped for," he said.

Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch then joined the boys.

Leppitsch said Brown's departure was a tough day at the club.

"It was a difficult one. At the end of the day I think it was the right decision and we can look back at a great career," he said.

Leppitsch said Brown would be remembered as a great player but an even better bloke off the field.

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"They call him the people's champ. He really engaged the public and was genuinely interested in people," he said.

"No doubt (he was a great player but even better person). It's a real credit to him.

"(We'll miss him) in a lot of areas. His marketability in Brisbane and what he's done for the code. In the changerooms, he going to be missed in a lot of ways, especially his leadership."

Robinson said Brown's Mark of the Year against Hawthorn in 2002 will be forever.

"I think that mark against Hawthorn sums up Browny," he said.

"He played on the border of recklessness, that was how he played his best football and got the best out of himself.

"When players like Jonathan Brown go, it makes you feel a little bit older because you lose a link to the past."

Whateley said he would remember the big goals.

"I will remember Jonathan Brown kicking goals from 50m, wide out at the Gabba," he said.

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■ THE conversation then shifted to the goal review system after two controversial decisions in Round 14.

The review has been a bug bear of Whateleys but he was happy with one but staggered by the second.

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans said he was happy with the Essendon decision but conceded the North Melbourne decision was incorrect.

"I fully understand why the Essendon one was cleared ... there was no definitive evidence to turn it around ... but the same logic should have been applied to the North Melbourne goal and we don't think it was," he said.

Whateley said the system was faulty and instead of erasing incorrect decisions, it was creating them.

"What we learnt today is that every goal is being reviewed before the bounce in the middle," he said.

"We are using a faulty system to review every goal. (Instead of stopping howlers) we are inserting the howler.

"Does it serve the game well? No. It doesn't because it isn't set up properly."

Robinson agreed: "That was a staggering decision. You ask of yourself, I'm a stupid for missing it?".

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■ ROUND 14 saw two defeats that may be indicative of where Collingwood and Geelong sit in the scheme of things.

Whateley said the Magpies and Cats losses almost ruled them out of top four contention.

"The question of the top four was all but answered with the illuminating failures of Collingwood and Geelong," he said.

"Possession is nine-tenths of the law and the top four now belongs to Port Adelaide, Sydney, Hawthorn and Fremantle."

Robinson wrote about the Cats and said the club's golden period may have finally come to an end.

"They've had a knack of responding to critic, in their era (Geelong). They were scorched by Gold Coast," he said.

"There were elements in the Geelong game that made me think.

"Things can change - we've got 10 games to go - but at the moment they are below the top four.

"I think realistically, they are looking at a transition.

"You can't just trust in your development and expect these young guys are going to come in and replace the champs that have dominated for eight or nine years."

Whatelely said Geelong had proved critics wrong year after year and didn't rule them out of premiership contention.

"Geelong have had a happy knack of evolving when people have written them off but it just hasn't happened yet," he said.

"They've defied expectations by evolving and making it happen."

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■ AFTER the break senior coaches Mark Thompson and Paul Roos joined the panel.

Bomber and Roosy were asked about Nathan Buckley's dressing down of Jarrod Witts during the loss to Hawthorn.

"I'd like to see more of it," said Thompson.

"I think he was trying to get a response and he did."

Roos said the level of scrutiny during games was so intense coaches were no longer able to fire up without the media making a story of it.

"I think that's just coaching," he said.

"Are we're making too much of it? There's cameras on the field, on the box and now they're in the changerooms at half-time.

"He handled it well afterwards."

Thompson was then asked about Essendon's win over Adelaide and how important it was for the club on and off the field.

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"It was really important," he said.

"We really didn't want to lose that one after being in a good position last week and losing it.

Robinson then asked about the players feelings of isolation and loneliness as the ASADA saga drags on.

"Easily (I can understand) ... because I've got it to," he said.

"I think there's a certain percentage of the community that think they've been harshly treated and others that think they cheated.

"They're amazing in the way they've been able to handle everything during the week and then go out and play. They did it last year and they've done it again this year."

The Bombers play Thompson's former club, Geelong, this week and the coach was feeling the nerves but said Paul Chapman was probably feeling worse.

"A little bit, not much more than other weeks," he said.

"I think he'd (Chapman) be pretty toey. Chappy's a different type of guy, I hope he doesn't do anything silly.

"I still barrack for Geelong, the wife barracks for Geelong."

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ON THE COUCH

JONATHAN Brown once again dominated the conversation after bringing his decorated career to an end on Monday.

"You had to admire the way he played and he was a good bloke," Mike Sheahan said.

"I'll remember his Round 6 game in 2005. It was his first game for the season and Brisbane were last ... he came out and kicked 8.2."

Jason Dunstall said Brown's courageous Mark of the Year in 2002 would be his lasting memory of Brown while Gerard Healy said it would be the clutch goals that won the Lions so many games.

Brisbane will miss his leadership and ability but I think we can all tell it was time," Dunstall said.

Harley Bennell put in a match-winning performance against Geelong. Picture: Richard Gosling Source: News Corp Australia

■ IN contrast to the discussion on AFL360, the boys looked more at the Gold Coast Suns after their big win over Geelong.

Sheahan said he didn't expect Geelong to win the premiership at the beginning of the season and were burned by the Suns leg speed.

"They got torched for speed across the ground," he said.

Healy said it was the Suns biggest win of their short history.

"It's their biggest scalp for mine, bigger than Collingwood last year," he said.

Dunstall believed the win could see the Suns lock up their maiden finals appearance.

"This is a team on the move," he said.

"I know they lost three in a row but they'll have a crack at the Hawks. Imagine if they went back to back against Geelong and Hawthorn."

An incident between Jaeger O'Meara and Alan Christensen was also discussed after the Cats midfielder was left dazed.

"I know it doesn't look great but I don't think Jaeger O'Meara is that type of player in the first place and he is pushing his player under the ball, so he can run onto it," Dunstall said.

However, Healy reminded him it wasn't the first time.

"This isn't the first time he's done it.

"He pushed Dan Hannebery into contact and he's got to cut that out. It's careless and Christensen could have been hurt."

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■ GREATER Western Sydney won two games in a row for the first time in their history and received plenty of praise.

"GWS have won two in a row ... a month ago people were saying GWS were a basket case," Dunstall said.

"I think the Giants can take a lot of heart from what the Suns are doing with Harley Bennell. Last year, he was homesick he didn't want to be there and look at him now.

"I think GWS will take great heart from that and the young players will see the progress and buy in."

Sheahan said the Giants turnaround was down to the return of one player.

"All of a sudden they are now playing with belief and passion," he said.

"Mummy has a great influence on that group. He is a great onfield leader."

Rhys Palmer's turnaround has also been a big boost to the Giants after a switch to the forward flank he has kicked 12 goals this season and provided a tough edge to the young forward line.

"You have to admire the way he's adapted to the new role," Sheahan said.

"I admire the fightback and I think he has done remarkable well," Dunstall said.

The discussion the turned to the weekend's losers.

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■ RICHMOND and Carlton are 0-4 in past month and sit second and third last on the form ladder with St Kilda in last place with a percentage of just 43.

"Do you coach for the now or coach for the future?" asked Dunstall.

"I think now, once you get to a certain point in the season, you have to err to a certain path. Now is the time to find out if the young players can play."

Healy wondered whether Richmond could go to the draft or needed to continue their Moneyball experiment.

"The draft can't help him," Sheahan said.

"Is there a premiership in this group right now? If there's not he's got some tough decisions to make," Dunstall said.

Tigers captain Trent Cotchin was also criticised after collecting more than 30 touches but seemingly doing little with them.

"Cotchin, he's got a lot of class ... he has the most kicks of all the midfielders in the comp but has the worst kicking efficiency," Dunstall said.

Sheahan said Cotchin may be trying to cover for his teammates defensively.

"It's disappointing he's getting the criticism. He may not be attacking but he has a great work rate," he said.

"There's a lot of talk about Cotchin and Dustin Martin. My feeling is, Martin plays a lot of the game forward of centre and Cotchin is working back to cover for him."

Carlton had been playing some good football without winning until falling to the Giants and the future of Mick Malthouse continues to hang over the Blues.

"I'd be very disappointed in Mick Malthouse if he isn't taking a future view right now," Dunstall said.

New AFL boss Gillon Mclachlan at AFL house. Picture: David Caird. Source: News Corp Australia

■ NEWLY appointed AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan was the special guest. His first time on the couch since taking over the top job.

"I don't think a CEO has come into the job shrouded in so much controversy, controversy perhaps outside of your control," Healy said.

McLachlan said the Essendon supplements saga was a major issue but he had no answers at this stage.

"I don't know (what will happen) because there are so many variables," he said.

"We don't know how this legal case is going to play out. We have no visibility of the discuss between ASADA and the players managements.

"We don't know what the evidence is. There's been a lot of evidence gathered after the interim report and we don't know what that is."

McLachlan said there were plans in place if a doomsday scenario did occur and Essendon players were banned for two years.

"There are contingency plans - there a multitude of scenarios," he said.

"We have workshopped every scenario and I sit here confident we can get through if there is a doomsday scenario."

Essendon players huddle after their win over Adelaide. Source: Getty Images

He cleared up the situation around the use of AOD-964.

"I think (ASADA CE) Ben McDevitt was pretty unequivocal about that because there was confusion in and around the advice given regarding AOD-964," he said.

"There was confusing messaging to the club and there was sufficient confusion to not issue (show cause notices)."

Brownlow Medallist, Healy has been a harsh critic of the "rolling mauls" this season and hammered McLachlan.

"I think there was a general consensus in the industry that Friday night (Richmond v Sydney) wasn't the greatest of games," McLachlan conceded.

"But there were some great games of football on the weekend.

Healy countered, saying "the bad side of football has never been worse".

"The great side has never been better, there will always be bad games of footy," McLachlan said.

"I'm not going to buy into all this doom and gloom. Yes, there are bad games, our supporters know there are bad games.

"The scrutiny is extraordinary. We all want Friday night to be a showcase event."

Ben Howlett celebrates his controversial goal. Picture: Colleen Petch. Source: News Corp Australia

The goal review system is also in the news after the weekend and McLachlan admitted the Jack Ziebell goal decision was incorrect.

"What they do, every goal is reviewed by the time they get back to the centre," he said.

"I'm happy with (the Essendon) one. I reckon that's the right call.

"The Kangaroos one, that was wrong. I sit there as a fan and I don't like the delay and I don't like the fact it was a wrong decision."

Finally, the boys asked about Good Friday football and whether it would be on the calendar in 2015.

"Everyone has taken that it's a given for next year. I don't think it is a given," he said.

"Given the sensibilities, you want to make it a winner and I don't know if we can make that work given next year will probably be Round 1.

"I'm a believer that you need a good game with top four to six style teams, I don't think it has been be a big powerhouse team.

"If it is Sydney-Port Adelaide in Sydney, then that's a great contest. I don't think we need to be locked into a Bulldogs-Kangaroos or Essendon-whoever."

Jonathan Brown with daughter Olivia, wife Kylie and son Jack. Picture: Jono Searle. Source: News Corp Australia

TALKING FOOTY (7Mate)

JONATHAN Brown's retirement continued to dominance the airwaves on Monday night.

One of the greatest centre half-forwards of the modern era, Wayne Carey, believed Brown was right up there when talking about the best in the position.

"He was a sensation," he said.

"I rate him right up there with the very best I saw at centre half-forward - obviously Kernahan, Loewe, Tredrea, Riewoldt.

"The way I'd sum up Jonathan Brown, he got to ball and contests that others didn't and I think that's what sets him apart from the rest.

"He's a remarkable player ... we talk about courage, he took courage as a key position player to a whole new level.

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■ AFTER Sydney notched up their ninth straight victory, Swans coach John Longmire joined the panel.

Longmire was asked about Lance Franklin's improvement and importance to the Swans.

"We know he's talented, everyone knows that, but what we've been pleased with is his ability to go back and kick clutch goals at important times," he said.

"He started the season off not training too much and as a result his form wasn't up to the standards that he sets but he's been able to train more and more as the season has progressed."

Longmire also provided an update on injured stars Kieren Jack and Rhyce Shaw.

"We expect Keiren Jack to be fine but Rhyce Shaw has a similar injury to Daniel Hannebery but not as bad," he said.

"It's probably only two or three weeks and he was actually concerned after the game that it was worse than that, so to come away with a 2-3 week injury is not too bad."

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FOOTY CLASSIFIED (Channel 9)

AFTER discussing the retirement of Jonathan Brown, it was revealed the AFL is looking into the treatment of Alan Christensen after he copped a head knock.

Damian Barrett reported the AFL was investigating Geelong's testing of Christensen after he returned to the field three minutes after being left dazed.

"We're not second guessing the Geelong medical team because they are the top of tree but we are asking the question - and so is the AFL - how does a player with concussion come back on after just three minutes?" he said.

"If Geelong did do a concussion test, it was done in three minutes."

Caroline Wilson agreed, saying concussion was now a major talking point.

"In fairness, this issue has had massive international attention and the AFL and its doctors are saying its an issue they are completely vigilant of," he said.

"On a day when concussion claimed one of the biggest names in the game with Jonathan Brown retiring," Garry Lyon said.

Barrett was also critical of the part Jaeger O'Meara played in the incident.

"The circumstances around it are also a concern," he said.

"The shove from Jaeger O'Meara has been looked at. He's got form Jaeger O'Meara. It would be something that Guy McKenna would be concerned about that."

Chris Scott talks to Darcy Lang during a recent game. Source: Getty Images

■ AFTER their loss to Gold Coast, Geelong coach Chris Scott was in the hot seat.

Garry Lyon said the Cats now found themselves in slightly unfamiliar territory after a bad month.

Barrett asked Scott about the Christensen incident and his quick return to the field.

"From my perspective it's pretty simple, he came off the ground and the coaches have nothing to do with it. The doctors tell us whether he's right to go or not," he said.

"The doctors have their integrity at stake with these issues.

"It's good that we're talking about this. If there's anything we can learn, then that's great. Given his history, our doctors are even more cautious with him."

The Cats have had some big losses this season, which hasn't happened since the start of their dominance in 2007.

However, Scott was adamant the team would continue to go for wins even if that meant copping big losses.

"Our philosophy is to lose by a little bit more to win," he said.

"When you do that you risk getting scored against heavily but we're willing to do that to win.

"When we are better around the contest, we tend to play better, and our record in Melbourne is exceptional but our record on the road against good teams is poor.

"With so many interstate teams high on the ladder, chances are you're going to have to travel to play them in a final.

"When you've got a pattern over a couple of years, it's something you've got to look at."

Finally, Scott was asked about his Brisbane Lions premiership teammate Jonathan Brown.

"I suspect he only really played on to help the younger players through," he said.

"He's been an absolutely ornament to the game.

"I heard Wayne Carey - who's arguably the greatest player of the modern era - say he was his favourite player and the accolades don't come much bigger than that."


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NRL needs to crackdown on dissent

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IF THE sin-binning of two players for dissent on the one afternoon had been a planned response to the way some NRL players talk to referees, then it was a reaction a long time coming.

Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow's silly, unoriginal "how much are they paying you?" snipe at referee Ben Cummins in Melbourne led to his sin-binning.

Shortly afterwards at Robina, Nate Myles's continual talking as Gold Coast captain to referee Gerard Sutton went too far when he swore at the official and he had 10 minutes to cool off.

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg denied that the two decisions had been due to a crackdown ordered from the league.

Nate Myles was sinbinned for dissent against the Dragons. Source: Getty Images

"There was no specific edict. I have continued to try to empower our match officials to show leadership and strength of character in their decision-making," Greenberg told The Courier-Mail.

"I will be right behind them with my full support. I think the sin-binnings should send a strong message and I am sure the players will react accordingly."

Sin-binnings are a good deterrent against abuse of referees and touch judges.

The absence of punching in NRL and Origin matches since last year's edict proves that players will toe the line if the referees, backed by the NRL, hold their nerve.

Some of the game's best players don't speak to referees correctly, NSW captain Paul Gallen and Cowboys co-skipper Johnathan Thurston among them.

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On the night before the two sin-binnings, Gallen, in his usual bear with a sore head routine with referees, told an official that a decision in the Cronulla-Manly game was "f---ing ridiculous".

Later, when a Sharks try was disallowed by a video referee, Gallen marched up to referee Gavin Morris.

"Be appropriate," Morris warned Gallen.

"That's one of the most embarrassing ...," Gallen railed.

"Be careful," interjected Morris, before the conversation broke up.

The leadership in this also needs to come from coaches. Instead, Parramatta's first-season coach Brad Arthur reckoned what Sandow had to say was "pretty trivial — we need to grow up a bit".

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Titans coach John Cartwright told Triple M radio: "The referees have let it get to this stage where players talk to them the way they do."

In February, Greenberg asked club captains to shake hands with match officials as they leave the field at the end of all premiership games.

It was designed to show spectators that players respect referees and touch judges.

"It was hoped spectators will show more tolerance to match officials," Greenberg said.

"We can do much more in this area and I agree the coaches have a big influence."


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