Archive for December, 2018

No pressure on Nick Kyrgios to rush back from injury for Davis Cup tie


Todd Woodbridge, John Fitzgerald and Wally Masur take part in the Maxim Invitational at the North Woden Tennis Club on Thursday. Photo: Jay CronanAs the Australian Davis Cup captain, Wally Masur wants to throw Nick Kyrgios into the fray for the country’s crucial tie with the Czech Republic. Can you blame him?
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The Canberra teenager is the No.1 player in the country, fresh off a blistering quarter-final performance at the Australian Open and is the most exciting talent in world tennis.

But Masur knows the risks associated with young players coming back too early from injury, which is why he won’t be putting any pressure on the 19-year-old in his comeback from a back complaint.

“I’m involved in a national academy in Sydney, so I know these things are things you don’t want to mess around with,” Masur said. “If you come back a bit early, you could end up with a fully-blown stress fracture.

“The rest of this year is important. It will be caution first. With my Davis Cup captain’s hat on, would I want him there? Yes I do, but he has to be guided by his pain and how he feels and doctor’s advice.”

Masur and fellow former Australian greats Todd Woodbridge and John Fitzgerald were in Canberra on Thursday to support the Maxim Invitational fundraising event at the North Woden Tennis Club. They were also on hand at Thursday night’s inaugural Tennis ACT gala dinner at the QT.

Kyrgios is back in Canberra to continue his rehabilitation after he pulled out of two tournaments to prevent problems with his L3 vertebra turning into a stress fracture.

Masur will catch up Kyrgios while he is in Canberra to find out how he is progressing before naming the Davis Cup squad on February 25.

Kyrgios has rocketed up the rankings in the past 12 months, leaping to No.35 in the world after progressing to the final eight at Melbourne Park. It was his second quarter-final appearance in a major after beating Rafael Nadal on the way to the last eight at Wimbledon last year.

Woodbridge said Kyrgios and his coaching team had made the right call to take a break to prevent any serious injury.

“The team around him have done a very good job in pulling the schedule back where necessary to maintain building a robust body that can last on tour in two or three years time and progress through a strong career,” Woodbridge said.

“There’s no point going too hard now and being out for six months because that will put him backwards. Nick is a very raw athlete in terms of body maturity, so he’s got to take the time to continue to work on that. He’s progressing terrifically well.”

A fit and firing Kyrgios would strengthen Tennis ACT’s bid to attract a Davis Cup tie as early as September this year. Tennis ACT is pushing for the redeveloped Lyneham Tennis Centre to be recognised on the national stage.

“I think it’d be awesome to play Davis Cup and Fed Cup here,” Woodbridge said. “That’s all part of the strategy to get facilities built here and around Australia, to give opportunity to put Fed Cup and Davis Cup in ties in areas where we can get a lot of support.”

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Capitals veteran Jess Bibby plays through the pain of fractured neck in WNBL


Canberra Capitals guard Jess Bibby has played this season with a fractured neck. Photo: Jeffrey ChanCanberra Capitals veteran Jess Bibby has played through the pain of a fractured neck for the past three months in the hope of ending her 369-game career with a fairytale WNBL championship.
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The 35-year-old admits she’s reconsidering her decision to retire as she sits on the precipice of the WNBL games record, but says she won’t continue playing just to achieve a personal milestone.

Bibby made the startling revelation she has been playing with a hairline fracture near the “non-dangerous part of the spine” in her neck for the past three months following a collision with a teammate.

One more knock and Bibby will need surgery, but she’s focused on the pursuit of a WNBL title.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t massively concerned when they said I had a fracture in my neck,” Bibby said.

“I missed one game because of a sore neck in November. Then I had scans and there’s a fracture on a previous fracture that I’ve had.

“But they told me it’s not dangerous to play on, that’s part of me weighing up whether I want to play next year. If I was to get another knock there’s a chance I’d need surgery. I don’t want that.

“I’ve got old-lady feet and now I’ve got an old-lady neck as well.”

Bibby will line up for the Capitals in their must-win last-round clash against the Bendigo Spirit on Friday night, with a loss set to ruin the team’s finals dreams and potentially end Bibby’s career.

It will be her 370th WNBL match, moving her to fourth on the list of most games in the league’s history.

She needs to play just another eight games to pass the record set by Rachael Sporn and Lucille Bailie, and she has one more season remaining on her contract with Canberra.

But after battling neck and feet problems this year and coming to terms with self-described “poor form”, Bibby said in November she would retire at the end of the season.

The five-time WNBL championship winner desperately wants to go out on a high and missing the playoffs could convince her into one more season on the court.

But Bibby says she won’t play just to reach the games record, insisting her focus is on being a contributor to the Capitals’ championship bid.

“If you’re playing for a record, that’s not a reason to play. I love basketball and I will always have that passion for the sport,” Bibby said.

“I don’t want to be like John Farnham with the Last Time tour. I don’t need to sugarcoat it, I’ve played poorly this year.

“If I still feel I can be a contributor then I will look at things. My body hasn’t been great this year … I don’t want to be 36 years old and hold back a young kid if I’m not contributing. If we win the championship this season, that will be it.”

Bibby’s career has been an amazing tale of persistence and resilience. She broke her back 14 years ago after just 111 games and was told she would never play again, let alone walk.

She has put off any talk of retirement to focus on the finals. The Capitals need to beat Bendigo and rely on Sydney losing to Townsville to secure a playoff berth.

Bibby genuinely believes Canberra can be a championship threat.

“As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t my last game. Hopefully we’ve got another month left, I don’t want [talk of retirement] to be a distraction and I don’t want it to be a ticking time bomb,” Bibby said.

“I’ve been laughed at by doctors, I’ve seen the crazy looks on people’s faces when I said I wanted to run around [after breaking my back].

“I remember making the WNBA and people laughed. I played for the [Australian Opals] when I was 30. I’ve been told, ‘you can’t, shouldn’t, you’re not going to, you’re stupid’ for as long as I can remember. Even my mum tells me to retire.

“But when you’ve got a passion that you love, you follow it. That’s why I’m not looking at this game as the last.”


Friday: Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at AIS Arena, 5.40pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

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The Brumbies get their big guns back, but David Pocock says rugby won’t define him


David Pocock has faith in his knees after two reconstructions. Photo: Jamila ToderasThe ACT Brumbies’ big guns are back with David Pocock and Stephen Moore joining forces to boost the club’s push to win a drought-breaking Super Rugby title.
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But while beating the Queensland Reds on Friday night is the No.1 priority, Pocock credits his interests outside of rugby with helping him through the dark days of two injury-ruined seasons in Canberra.

Pocock and Moore will both return from knee reconstructions when the Super Rugby season begins at Canberra Stadium and are intent on putting their injury woes behind them.

Moore has declared himself fit, with no concerns of re-injuring his knee in a cameo from the bench against the Reds.

For Pocock it’s a chance to move on from the five games he has played in the past two seasons since joining the Brumbies as a marquee recruit in 2013.

But whatever happens, the passionate same-sex marriage and climate change campaigner says rugby won’t define him.

“Over the past two years dealing with all that frustration and disappointment of being injured, you’ve got to have stuff outside of rugby that you can do,” Pocock said.

“Whether that’s gardening, having an interest in issues or just hanging out with a mate. It’s like anyone in any line of work, if you become consumed by that one thing, in the short-term it might be beneficial but in the long term it’s detrimental because there’s no balance.

“I think you become less interesting as a person.”

Pocock will stand in as Brumbies captain while Moore’s workload is slowly built up.

The World Cup is on their radar with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika keen to see two senior leaders get back to their best form.

But Pocock is taking small steps towards his rugby goals and is refusing to look beyond the clash against the Reds.

In his time away from rugby Pocock has put his passion into gardening and more time into his beliefs.

His teammates describe his garden as the ‘Noah’s ark’ of Canberra, with more than 30 fruit plants and trees, vegetables and chickens in his inner-north back yard and front yard.

He was arrested for his role in a protest, where he chained himself to machinery at Maules Creek with farmer Rick Laird.

He pleaded guilty to three charges but avoided conviction in court last week.

“The start of Super Rugby is my focus, it’s a massive year of rugby and every player wants to be involved in the World Cup,” Pocock said.

“I can’t condone breaking the law. But I think action on climate change … every world leader is now saying it’s a huge issue, so I think some talk and action on it is incredibly important.

“Hopefully I’ve got people talking in some small way and highlighted the plight of Rick Laird and those sorts of farmers. But rugby is my focus now.”

Moore was less than five minutes into his tenure as Wallabies captain when his knee buckled during a tackle in a Test against France in Brisbane last year.

It forced him out of the Brumbies’ finals campaign, he was replaced as Wallabies captain and he missed Cheika’s first spring tour as Test coach.

But the 92-Test hooker says he is recharged and ready to fight for Brumbies and Australian rugby success.

“I certainly feel physically and mentally fresh,” Moore said.

“I got a lot more training than I’ve had in the past. From that point of view that’s been a huge positive.

“But it’s not ideal to play your first game in round one. That’s the way it is, the next thing for me is to play and that’s what I’m going to do.

“Anyone on the bench has to be prepared to play a full game, so that’s the way I’m approaching it.”

Moore said the Brumbies wanted to turn Canberra Stadium into a fortress this year.

“It’s really important for us to start well, the Reds are a good side and they’ll be a big test,” Moore said.

“Having a proud home record builds a team spirit and team culture in the town, we’ve spoken about doing our fans proud.”

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City and Suburban Cricket Association puts Michael Varnum on assault charge over incident with Peter Lalor


NEWCASTLE City and Suburban Cricket Association has charged Merewether B5s captain Michael Varnum with assault over an incident that left Jewells Tavern Beavers skipper Peter Lalor in hospital.
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The charge relates to an incident on Saturday at Heaton Park, Jesmond, where it is alleged Varnum’s bat came into contact with Lalor’s head.

Lalor spent two nights in John Hospital Hospital, where he was treated for a head wound and severe concussion.

Police are continuing an investigation into the incident.

Varnum was also handed the lesser charges of using abusive language or hand gestures towards umpires or players and for behaviour that is prejudicial to cricket under the competition’s rules.

If found guilty, Varnum could face a life ban.

C&S charged Varnum on Wednesday night and formally notified Merewether on Thursday.

The judiciary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday night at Wal Young House.

Varnum and his Merewether teammates did not submit a match report to the C&S regarding the incident and they are not expected to attend the hearing.

‘‘We’ve received informal notice that Mr Varnum will not be attending to answer the charges, which we believe is directly related to the police investigation,’’ C&S honorary solicitor Martin Trisley said.

Merewether president Ken Beckett said his club would follow the direction of the C&S judiciary.

‘‘We’re all waiting to see what happens, and when he faces the judiciary and whatever their decision is, we’ll stand by it,’’ Beckett said.

No official was allocated to umpire the match, as is the case with many lower-grade C&S games.

The match was abandoned and both teams were given two points.

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FLASHPOINT: Union warns Jets as Joel takes shot at Stubbins


TENSION: Joel Griffiths at training on Thursday. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll PROFESSIONAL Footballers Australia has warned the Newcastle Jets they could be sued for ‘‘bullying and harassment’’ if five unwanted players are not allowed to join their teammates in full training.
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Senior players Kew Jaliens, Joel Griffiths, Adrian Madaschi, Billy Celeski and David Carney have been in limbo since Jets owner Nathan Tinkler announced they were sacked 16 days ago.

After the intervention of PFA, the players were allowed to resume training until they had agreed to sign termination documents. But for most of the sessions they have been segregated from the main group, a situation PFA chief executive Adam Vivian said was in breach of their rights as employees.

Tension between the players and coach Phil Stubbins reached a flashpoint on Thursday when Griffiths swore at the coach in an emotional outburst, apparently after being told he and Carney were not required for an exercise.

Jaliens, Madaschi and Celeski had apparently already finished training by this point.

Griffiths was heard telling Stubbins to ‘‘have some f—ing respect’’ before storming away, hurling balls at the turf.

Vivian said Griffiths was merely venting justifiable frustration.

‘‘We’ve spoken to Joel and David Carney, who was a witness to the event today,’’ Vivian told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘Our understanding is those boys were being precluded from training once again, and that’s what culminated in Joel having words with the coach.

‘‘From our perspective, Joel has been reminded of his employment rights and when he identified those rights were being interfered with, he expressed his concerns to Phil.’’

Vivian said the PFA would contact Jets officials on Friday to ‘‘formally’’ remind them of the players’ rights.

‘‘Players training alone is invariably one of those situations that will destroy the mutual trust and confidence which is essential to any employment relationship,’’ he said. ‘‘So we’ll obviously address that with the club tomorrow and hopefully we’ll see it remedied.’’

Asked what options were available to PFA if the Jets continued to isolate the five players, Vivian replied: ‘‘There’s plenty of legal avenues we could investigate in that situation.

TENSION: Phil Stubbins at training on Thursday. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll

‘‘If it breaches the standard player contract, if it breaches the collective bargaining agreement, it could potentially constitute bullying and harassment, which falls under employment law.

‘‘So there are plenty of legal levers that we can pull should that be the case, however, we would rather see an amicable resolution than having to go down that path.’’

Stubbins initially tried to dismiss his exchange with Griffiths as ‘‘just part of the training session’’ before acknowledging the mood of the players he is intent on discarding.

‘‘I don’t think it’s toxic,’’ Stubbins said.

‘‘Obviously there’s some angst from the boys not being able to be a full part of everything … once everyone can get across the genuine direction of where we’re moving, then we’ll move forward.’’ Stubbins said he was trying to manage the situation ‘‘the best I can’’ and was hopeful it would be resolved quickly.

‘‘The sooner we can put an end to it, and everyone can get some genuine direction as to where they’re going with some real clarity, I think it’s going to be better for everybody,’’ he said.

Stubbins would appear to have the rock-solid support of Tinkler in this dispute, after the embattled owner said in an interview this week: ‘‘I have simply told Phil to make a little naughty corner at training and give them a sandpit and a little ladder, or something, to play on over in the corner of the ground.

‘‘They can come to training and play over there.’’

Vivian said, in the circumstances, Griffiths’ outburst was ‘‘certainly not grounds for disciplinary action in any way’’.

He said the five players would continue to ‘‘show up and be professional’’ until they were satisfied with the terms of their severance deals.

‘‘If the boys can get to a position where they’re comfortable and satisfied with mutual terminations and that their obligations will be met and can move on with their careers, that would obviously give reasonable peace of mind,’’ he said.

‘‘But at this stage we’re not there yet.’’

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