August, 2019

Bombers say no to AFL wagering deals

AFL club Essendon have turned their back on the lucrative world of wagering, announcing they will not consider sponsorships from betting partners.

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The Bombers are the latest in a number of AFL clubs to walk away from the industry, which spends tens of millions of dollars each year on advertising.

Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell said the move was aimed to curb the impact of gambling messages among members and particularly children and young adults.

“As an industry, we need to proactively monitor the way this message is delivered particularly given many of our fans are children,” he said.

North Melbourne have adopted the most radical stance of AFL clubs on betting and gaming, choosing against taking any gambling revenue, including from pokies venues.

The Kangaroos are joined by Collingwood, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs as signatories to Victoria’s Responsible Gambling Charter.

The four clubs have agreed not to sign commercial agreements with sports betting agencies and to implement a code of best practice at any gaming venues.

As a result of Essendon’s decision, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation has approached the Bombers to add their name to the list.

At least 10 AFL clubs list bookmakers or casinos as corporate partners.

Carlton, Fremantle, GWS Giants, Port Adelaide, Richmond and St Kilda have commercial deals with betting agencies.

Adelaide, Sydney and West Coast have sponsorships with local casinos.

The AFL itself also has a prominent sponsorship with a wagering company.

In recent years, the advertising spend by sports gambling companies has skyrocketed, with sports odds becoming prevalent particularly on television.

A Nielsen study indicated wagering companies spent around $50 million on TV, radio and print advertising in 2013.

With nearly 60,000 members, Essendon could have easily found a company willing to partner with the club.

Campbell said the Bombers weren’t casting judgment on other clubs or bookmakers that entered into commercial arrangements.

“We certainly respect the right of betting agencies to advertise in sport,” Campbell said.

“In forming this decision, we also took into consideration the feeling of our membership base who have expressed a sense of concern.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly, particularly with the revenue a wagering partner can deliver.”

Of the gambling industry’s large footprint on the AFL, wagering and betting organisations make up just one part.

It’s gaming – or pokies venues – that provides the biggest financial boost to many AFL clubs.

A Fairfax Media report from March stated the 10 Victorian AFL teams made around $100 million in combined revenue from gaming and poker machine venues.

Premiers Hawthorn have grown their revenue base enormously through their interest in gaming venues, with $18 million coming to the club through “gaming, bar and bistro” income in 2014.

The Kangaroos are the only Victorian AFL club without poker machine income, with their commercial ban policy extending to all forms of gambling.

Canes to keep rugby semi emotions in check

Keeping the Hurricanes on an even keel will be captain Conrad Smith’s greatest challenge heading into their Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies.

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Veteran All Blacks centre Smith admits it will be hard enough to stay grounded himself on Saturday for a game which carries sentiment on many levels.

The top-qualifying Hurricanes have reached the playoffs for the first time in six years and are poised to run out in front of a sold-out Wellington crowd for the first time since their only other home playoffs appearance, a 2006 semi-final.

Dig deeper and there’s more at stake.

The match is potentially the last for a swag of departing Hurricanes, including Smith and his long-time midfield comrade Ma’a Nonu. Both are leaving for France, while All Blacks tight forwards Jeremy Thrush and Ben Franks will play next year in England.

And the team attended the funeral of Jerry Collins last week in Porirua during their week off. Smith admits the death of the former Hurricanes and All Black flanker has been hard to put to one side.

“It’s something real and it affects individuals in different ways,” Smith said.

“There’s a lot swirling around this team at the moment with what’s happened over the last few weeks but you’ve got to be careful the way you play with those emotions.

“The winner won’t be who deserves it. It’s just who plays the best rugby on Saturday night.”

Smith says experienced players are probably better equipped to deal with off-field distractions and he will offer support to any teammates who need it.

The team received a boost on Thursday when coach Chris Boyd confirmed a full-strength team aside from injured All Black winger Cory Jane.

The 32-year-old admitted he came back too soon from a hamstring niggle in the 21-13 win two weeks ago over the Chiefs. He hobbled off early after another strain.

“I was selfish when we played the Chiefs coz my hamstring wasn’t 100% but wanted to play so only thought about me. TEAM 1st NOW..” Jane tweeted after he was ruled out.

There are four changes from the New Plymouth game, with the most important being the return of five-eighth Beauden Barrett from a calf strain, prompting a backline shuffle.

James Marshall moves from No.10 to fullback, pushing Nehe Milner-Skudder to Jane’s vacant right wing spot.

Nonu returns at inside centre in place of Rey Lee-Lo while dynamic forwards Ardie Savea and James Broadhurst are back for flanker Callum Gibbins and lock Mark Abbott respectively.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith (capt), Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Reggie Goodes. Res: Brayden Mitchell, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Mark Abbott, Blade Thomson, Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo, Matt Proctor.

Feds cut funding for child abuse support

Support services for child abuse survivors are under threat because of federal funding cuts to a key specialist provider – Adults Surviving Child Abuse.

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ASCA lost funding for crucial survivor workshops from the federal government 12 months ago when a community investment program was folded.

From June 30, it will no longer receive money for training related to supporting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

As well as running workshops for survivors, ASCA runs a 1300 support line and helps train practitioners and organisations working with survivors identified through the commission.

The organisation was allocated funding for training other support services for two years and has now called on the federal government to extend it.

ASCA President Cathy Kezelman told AAP on Thursday that with the loss of the funding on two fronts, the organisation will be under greater stress.

Dr Kezelman says ASCA had been self-funding workshops for survivors over the last twelve months, but they were being run at a loss, however, results from the programs “has been really significant”.

“We have a philosophy of making them affordable, so we only charge a nominal fee, given many survivors struggle to afford or access specialist services at all,” Dr Kezelman said.

“These workshops are crucial in aiding survivors in turning their lives around.

“Given the huge $9.1 billion annual cost on the economy of unresolved childhood trauma, and the serious mental effects survivors have to deal with, it is essential that appropriate support services, such as the workshops program, are available to reduce these unacceptable impacts.”

At a crisis meeting on June 13, ASCA was forced to stop scheduling workshops for abuse survivors at a cost of $6000 each and has resorted to crowd-sourcing for funding, with a waiting list of 52 survivors.

In its submission on redress to the royal commission, ASCA called for an expansion of support services for abuse survivors.

The organisation says it is calling on the government to continue the funding as well as the institutions involved in the abuse.

“We would like to see them step up and show their support for these crucial services for survivors of these incredibly traumatic events,” she said.

“We will be seeking meetings with the Church and the schools involved for their help.”

The federal government in its response the royal commission’s consultation paper on redress said it did not have the power to run a national scheme and would not expand Medicare to give abuse survivors the help they needed.

The commission will make final recommendations on a redress scheme in August.

Comment is being sought from the federal government.

Soward to fire Penrith’s popgun attack

Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward says he and halves partner Peter Wallace need to fire up a popgun attack that has currently scored the equal least amount of points in the NRL.

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Penrith’s clip of 16 points per game this year is, along with Manly, the worst in the competition and has left them just one win above last spot on the ladder.

And it’s gotten worse since star fullback Matt Moylan went down with a 10-week ankle injury against Parramatta in round 12, with the Panthers scoring just two tries in two games.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Wests Tigers, Soward said the team had made a conscious effort this week to spark their attack.

“Focus has just been on getting some more consistency in attack, some more fluency on the weekend,” he said.

“Last week we were close to scoring three to four tries but then we let in some soft tries (too).

“We’ve trained really well this week. Got another session this afternoon, and hopefully get some more things in order.”

Teenager Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has struggled to fill into the sizeable shoes left by Moylan, committing six errors over his past fortnight in the No.1 jumper.

Soward said he and Wallace needed to do a better job of getting the 19-year-old into the right spots in their set plays.

“He had some tough carries and he was in the game for the whole 80 minutes (against Canterbury last week),” he said.

“Maybe myself and `Wall’ need to back him up a little bit more and let him play his own game.

“Moyza’s out for another couple of months and we’re very happy that we’ve got a very good replacement in Dallin.

“We need to make sure we get him the ball when we need to.”

While the Panthers have lost hooker James Segeyaro for up to a month with a knee injury, winger Josh Mansour has been named for his first game since suffering the same injury round seven.

“It’s been a frustrating year for myself but I’m definitely excited to be back especially because we’re playing at Leichhardt. I always enjoy playing out there,” Mansour said.

“The knee is feeling great. I’m very confident in it – I wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t.

“You always want to come back from an injury earlier than expected but with this injury – a pretty high grade tear in my MCL – the full recovery was to be expected.”

Manly brace for Glenn Stewart v Souths

Manly are bracing for a Glenn Stewart with a point to prove when they meet South Sydney on Friday in their NRL clash at ANZ Stadium.

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After being cut free by the Sea Eagles at the end of last year, Stewart is racing the clock to beat a hand injury to face the club he helped steer to two premierships.

Souths coach Michael Maguire has been coy about Stewart’s chances of making a return against his former club, but Manly privately believe the former Kangaroo will take the field.

It is the first meeting between the two sides since Stewart’s departure from Brookvale.

He wasn’t even offered a chance to continue his 12-year career on the northern beaches with the club declining to offer him any sort of contract renewal.

Manly coach Geoff Toovey is aware Stewart will carry extra motivation into the clash.

“It would add a bit of spice to the match, he is a great player and I’m sure he will be wanting to get back on the field for this match,” Toovey said on Thursday.

“He has had a fairly significant injury over the last month or so and I’m sure he is chomping at the bit to get on the field.

“We were all disappointed that Glenn had to leave the club – there is no denying that. I was very disappointed for him as well and the club. But that is rugby league these days and I’m sure he will be out there putting his best on like he does every week.”

Stewart has been out since late April with a torn thumb tendon.

It would be the first time he played a NRL game against his brother, Sea Eagles fullback Brett.

Another clash of sibling rivalry awaits with Rabbitohs forwards George and Tom Burgess coming up against brother Luke, following his move from Redfern to Brookvale for this season.

“That should be a good contest, too,” Toovey said.

“Luke has been a bit quiet this week but I think that is a good thing. He has his focus on making sure his younger brothers don’t teach him a lesson and he gets the upper hand.”

Bottom-of-the table Manly come into the match buoyed by a last-start 30-20 win over the Wests Tigers. The Rabbitohs enjoyed the bye last weekend on the back of their 34-6 hammering by the Tigers the week before, their biggest loss under coach Maguire.

KEY STATS:

* The Rabbitohs have won four of their past six meetings with Manly, including two big wins in their two most-recent meetings

* The biggest reason for the demise of Manly this season seems to be their failing attack, ranking last or next to last in almost every category. They score the equal fewest points (15.5 per game), tries (2.8 per game) and line breaks (3.6 per game) and are busting the fewest tackles by far of any team (18.7 per game)

* Manly are also losing the battle in the middle, averaging the least metres of any team this season and conceding the fourth most

Courtesy Fox Sports Stats