Fyfe, Dangerfield or The Bont for the 2017 Brownlow?

Rarely has an AFL season promised such a varied and enticing list of potential Brownlow Medal storylines. For starters, it’s not often that you get three first-time winners crowned within the previous six months. Two of those just before Christmas. Throw in potential full footy seasons from past winners Nat Fyfe and Gary Ablett, along with the intrigue about Patrick Dangerfield and whether he can go even close to backing up from last year’s 35-vote domination, and it creates a pretty compelling mix.
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Two of those first-time winners, of course, refer to Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin, retrospectively awarded the 2012 Brownlow Medal last December after Jobe Watson was stripped of his medallion for his participation in the Essendon drug scandal that season.

Reigning Brownlow medallist and first-time winner Dangerfield is understandably at the top of the markets to take Charlie home again. His remarkable tally of 35 votes last year narrowly eclipsed Dane Swan’s mark of 34 votes in 2011. Dangerfield and Fyfe in 2015 (31 votes) were the first winners (disregarding the ineligible Watson 30-vote return in 2012) to edge past the 30-vote mark since the tattooed former Magpie.

This year Dangerfield holds down favouritism ahead of Western Bulldogs young gun Marcus Bontempelli. Good finals form – and a premiership medallion – clearly counts for plenty. Many footy pundits are tipping the 21-year-old Dog to win at least one Brownlow during his career. Multiple winners aren’t commonplace with just four three-time winners and 10 two-time winners in VFL/AFL history. You need to look back 20 years to the last player to win back-to-back medals – that vote-winning machine from St Kilda, Robert Harvey, in the late 1990s.

Interestingly, only two former winners feature at the top of the 2017 Brownlow markets – Dangerfield and Fyfe. Sydney’s star trifecta of Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery and Josh Kennedy are understandably all highly rated. The next bracket boasts some proven vote winners and serious star quality, the bookies all taking the chances of Ablett, Mitchell and Matt Priddis pretty seriously.

How veteran Mitchell, a vote-winning magnet for umpires, fares this season with his new club West Coast is one of the more intriguing questions of the new AFL season. When was the last time such a credentialled player joined a new club at the age of 34 with little doubt about his capacity to have a big impact straight away? Mitchell, after all, has returned 0.777 votes per game over nearly 300 games. Footy nerds will note Mitchell and Ablett are in equal second place behind Gary Dempsey and ahead of Harvey with 220 Brownlow votes each over their careers. What will be most interesting about Mitchell, however, is how he gels on field with Priddis and Andrew Gaff, another Eagle worth keeping an eye on. And will Perth’s Domain Stadium be good for the four-time premiership Hawk?

If you fancy a speculative Brownlow tip and like a good fairytale story, you can’t go past former Essendon captain Watson. He’ll be raring to go after his season-long ban but no one realistically expects him to be anywhere near his best form of five years ago.

LEADING CHANCES

PATRICK DANGERFIELD

Deserves top billing. Combined beautifully with new teammate and Geelong captain Joel Selwood last year. Interestingly, Swan backed up wonderfully in 2012 after his Brownlow domination, finishing in fourth place, picking up at least 40 possessions in six games and polling more votes per game than anyone else in the top 10. A similar return from the Top Cat would not surprise.

MARCUS BONTEMPELLI

Overall second favouritism might be expecting a little too much from a fourth-year player. Then again, he is The Bont. Remarkably, Bontempelli featured in 26 games for the premiers last year. One thing in his favour is the lack of an obvious contender to take votes off him. The Bulldogs have a wonderful spread of contributors.

NAT FYFE

Risky, risky, risky. The Dockers star played just five games last year after breaking his leg a second time. Fyfe admits he watched on “with a bit of jealousy” during Dangerfield’s season of dominance. A second Brownlow from Fyfe in 2017 would be nothing short of remarkable.

SMOKEY SELECTIONS

LACHIE NEALE

Rated alongside Ablett, Priddis and Mitchell in the bracket of players behind the top chances, Neale is one to watch. But the young Docker is hardly an unknown and polled 20 votes last year.

PATRICK CRIPPS

The gun youngster was Carlton’s top vote winner with 18 votes in 2016. Expect him to lead the way again at the Blues. Take it to the bank.

DAYNE BEAMS

Definitely one to watch. The new Brisbane captain has the capacity to vote well and he’s well down the list with bookies. Has only played 18 games for the Lions in two seasons, including just two matches last year.

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Lee ‘weirded out’ by Green Machine

If Edrick Lee hasn’t gotten his head around being a Cronulla Shark yet, then it will hit home with the winger on Saturday night when he runs out against the Canberra Raiders in front of a big crowd at Canberra Stadium.
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He’ll face up against new Raiders winger Nick Cotric, who he was trying to stop from pinching his spot on the left wing less than three weeks ago.

Salary cap pressures forced Lee to leave the Raiders and he signed a two-year deal with the Sharks just days before the start of the NRL season.

It opened the door for 18-year-old Cotric making his NRL debut against North Queensland in Townsville last weekend, while Lee suited up for the Sharks for the first time instead.

Lee said it took him some time to get his head around not being a Raider any more – not to mention the fact he’d joined the reigning NRL premiers.

As an unsubtle reminder, he’ll run out against the lime green in front of a crowd his old coach Ricky Stuart was hoping would reach 20,000 as they do the Viking clap.

“It’s weird because I was there [at the Raiders] for a while,” Lee said.

“But I’ve had to get my head around being a Sharkie. It was strange at first to hear it but, throughout that first week, I told myself that I had to move on.

“It was one thing that was hard to realise – I’ve joined a team that won the competition last year and set the benchmark for this year.

“I’ve just got to make sure I transition well here, know my role and perform it. It’s all about moving forward now and getting the win against my old club.”

While he played on the left wing for the Raiders, Lee started his Cronulla career on the right.

It means he’ll avoid taking on the “Leipana” bromance of Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua, but instead will come up against Cotric – who made a promising debut against the Cowboys.

Lee claimed he knew little of the Raiders’ prodigy, who busted six tackles and carried the ball for 159 metres against North Queensland, but would be doing plenty of video on him – if he can find any on the one-gamer

“I know he’s a local junior, a young lad that came through the ranks. I know that he played in Australian Schoolboys, too,” Lee said.

“Other than that, I don’t know him too well, but he’s got an opportunity now to show what he can do for them. I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot of footage work on him to study up.”

While Lee had a quiet performance in his first outing for the Sharks, carting the ball up for 91 metres off eight runs, Stuart was expecting him to find his form quickly given he was taking on his old side.

“[I’m expecting] his typical performance, he’s a good footy player. He’ll have a great performance, he’s coming back to play against his old club and I’ve got no doubt he’ll be up to play a big game,” Stuart said.

His former teammate and Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of taking on Lee.

Lee stands at 196 centimetres tall and weighs in at 101 kilograms.

Throw in the fact he’s a “big rangy thing” and Austin was hoping he didn’t have to try and tackle the lanky winger.

“Personally not [looking forward to playing him] too much. Hopefully he doesn’t pick me out in the defensive line, he’s a big rangy thing and he’ll have bones flying everywhere,” he said.

“We wish Eddie all the best, we miss having him around here and hope he plays well.” with AAP

NRL ROUND TWO

Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

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Hayne could lose $400,000 if he walks out on Titans

Jarryd Hayne could lose his $400,000 personal sponsor if he chooses not to take up his option to remain on the Gold Coast next year.
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Hayne’s commitment to the club remains headline news, so much so that the New York Post ran an Associated Press report under the blazing headline: “Rugby star’s NFL experiment may have ruined his career.”

The cross-code star has until May to trigger a contract extension, which no longer appears a fait accompli following revelations the Titans fined him over his attitude to training over the summer. The incident resulted in Hayne’s sacking from the leadership group, although he was reinstated when the players returned from their Christmas break.

Norm Black, the founder of TripADeal, spent $400,000 a year above his club sponsorship to ensure Hayne became a Titan. That sum remains on the table for next season, although Black revealed he may reconsider if “The Plane” left the holiday strip.

“He’s our brand ambassador and we haven’t gotten that far yet,” Black told Fairfax Media.

“Obviously one of the things I’m really big on is we come from that team mentality. It would depend on where Jarryd would go. Obviously our loyalties lie with the Titans, so for us to go literally against the Titans – if Jarryd Hayne wasn’t in rugby league, quite possibly, sure [we could part company].

“If he was involved in rugby league at another club, we’d probably find that quite difficult.

“That’s the long and the short of that.”

Black steadfastly defended Hayne against suggestions he was bad for team culture and quipped his company was enjoying the “free publicity” that came with their association.

“Anyone who says Jarryd isn’t committed doesn’t know the guy. He is totally committed to that club,” Black said.

“I had breakfast with [coach] Neil [Henry] before the [Roosters] game and the conversation was around how impressed he was with how Jarryd had bought in with his attitude and training.

“If I thought at any point that Jarryd Hayne was a disruptive, arrogant so-and-so, I wouldn’t want to be associated with him. But that is so far from who he is.”

Michael Ennis is the latest league luminary to intimate that the Titans are better off without Hayne, suggesting the club had gone “backwards” since his arrival.

The former San Francisco 49er is yet to speak publicly since the revelations of his fine, instead fuelling the fire with a series of tweets in response to the story. The dramas have only intensified the interest in his next performance, against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

The Titans signed Hayne to a two-year, $2.4 million deal and the fullback has a two-month deadline to activate the second season.

“In the time I’ve spent with Jarryd Hayne at home or with our families, Jarryd is driven more by achievement than money,” said Black, whose company extended its relationship with the Titans until the end of 2019.

“He’s not going to stop being a big deal. The only way he stops being a big deal is if the performances on the park don’t keep stacking up to what the resume reads.

“Blind Freddie would realise that if Jarryd Hayne doesn’t put the performances in, the gloss is coming off. That won’t take away from what he’s achieved prior.

“Clubs won’t be chasing Jarryd Hayne if he is not performing on the paddock, that’s the bottom line … I’m fascinated that something that was dealt with four months ago – which happens in every other rugby league club in this country – can have such a big bearing.”

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Possibly the key to real social change

2015 Australian of the Year and campaigner against violence, Rosie Batty.Whatmore could women possibly want that they don’t have now? – was thecomment left on a social media post about International Women’s Day.
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A statement made probably withlittle regard for the great milestones achieved by women who walked in the generations before us to forgea path towardequality for all people. They walked forward and faced resistance and we thank them for that. We still have a long way to go.

The International Women’s Day breakfast hosted on March 8 by the Hastings Business Women’s Network and Leslie Williams MP was appropriately themed ‘unity’ and featured speaker, 2015 Australian of the Year and campaigner against violence, Rosie Batty (pictured).

For a real and enduring cultural shift to occur, we need to explorehow we react and respond to violence andthe harmful social norms that feed into gender inequality and misogyny. We need to do that together.

This is not just a conversation being had by women, and it’s not just a problem for men to ‘fix’. It is about achieving social equity and wanting a just world where strong and respectful relationships are its foundation. A world where opportunity is a reality for everyone regardless of gender, race, religion or ability. A community where we no longer use embedded stereotypes to normalise and validate harmful behaviours that perpetuate gender inequality.

Like any serious social issue, it is easier to emotionally react to sexism than take real action. In doing so, we stay in a cycle of blame that blinds us to the possibilitiesbefore us if we were bold enough to take a different approach; aunited approach, free of labels, one open to opportunity.There are many discourses in the gender equality discussion and often the broader, more important,cultural norms implicitly embedded at the foundation of all of these thoughts arerarely explored in our day to day conversations with each other – they should be. Until they are, we are not accepting that it takes all of us to make change happen.

Awareness on how language can shape the way we think and perceive things,feed harmful thoughts and negative stereotypes, is the first step. Think about the conversations you are have. Start one. The greatest legacy we can leave the next generationis the courage to forge a new path.

– By Tracey Fairhurst, editor Camden Haven Courier, Port News and Wauchope Gazette

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Letters to the editor

It’s a dog’s life for some as cartoonist Bret Currie explains this week.Secretive Mental Health Review TribunalQueenslanders should be shocked to learn of the total disarray engulfing thesecretive Mental Health Review Tribunal under this do-nothing Palaszczuk LaborGovernment.
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Claims of unlawful appointments, nepotism and thousands of client cases still undera cloud are symptoms of a mental health system in crisis.

How can we have confidence in a system that operates in secret and is accountableto no one?

In Parliament recently we saw Labor’s Health Minister Cameron Dick ram throughlegislation to protect the secretive mental health tribunal process at the expense offamilies who have lost loved ones at the hands of patients released by the tribunal.

Queenslanders have also been left in the dark over revelations of a dodgyappointment that Mr Dick was aware of back in December and did nothing aboutuntil now.

What has been revealed over the last few months is a mental health tribunal inmeltdown and a Labor Government that is doing nothing about it.

Simply rushing through amendments to correct a major legal bungle will do nothingto answer many of the questions left unanswered.

Queenslanders deserve to have confidence in our mental health system.

It’s time Annastacia Palaszcuzk and her Health Minister offered the transparencyand accountability Queenslanders expect and deserve from their Government.

John-Paul Langbroek

LNP Shadow Minister for Health

Born FreeAll children are born atheists.

They only get religious when their parents start lying to them.

Children have to be taught to hate.

George Harley

Mount Isa

Not all FIFO is bad for the North WestWow, the Mount Isa airport just spent millions on the new carpark and upgrade and Cloncurry too.

Now this is done on the back of FIFO.

The fact the Cloncury hospital gets three times the admissions as per population would be good for business.

Why do the stories on FIFO be labelled against the mines when there are many other services not mining?

Johnny Freeman

Penalty ratesGreat editorial today (North West Star editorial, February 28) on the Fair Work Commissions determination on penalty rates.

It was very thoughtful and balanced.

Your fearless independence is really showing leadership.

Ian Macdonald

Senator for Queensland

Facebook FeedbackReaders paid their respect to Mount Isa trucker Owen Ringrose who died on March 4, aged 67.

Alma BrackRIP Owen, much love to Trish and family

Donna WrennRip old mate ur true gentlemen and u will be sadly missed by all and by eden and donna and kids. Thought are with his beautiful family. Keep on trucking up there old mate

Kate LovettRip Owen thoughts are with his family

Kamaia ThompsonSuch sad news. Love & condolences to Trish & family. One of the hardest working men I’ve ever met. He’ll be greatly missed.

Rei-Charles EdwardsYes I remember him,hard working man sad for the community he will be sadly missed by everyone Keep on trucking Owen your in the big paddock now condolences to your family

Muffy BasswoodSad news. We can all learn a lot about hard work and generosity from Owen and Trish.

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Rio revelation Nelson competing against hometown hero Breen in capital

Ella Nelson will face hometown hero Mel Breen in the Canberra Grand Prix at the AIS Track this weekend, as the Olympic star chases the 200m Australian record.
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Nelson burst onto the international stage at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a blistering dash of 22.50 seconds in the 200m to almost earn a shock berth in the final.

The 22-year-old fell just 0.01 seconds short of becoming the first Australian since Cathy Freeman and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor to make the 200m Olympic final.

Nelson said she tries not to think about how close she came to the pinnacle of her sport and instead focuses on the positives of her breakout season.

“As much of an emotional stress as it was, I have nothing but good memories of the Olympics, it was the most fun I’ve ever had,” Nelson said.

“I really made a point to remember and enjoy every second because Matt Shirvington said us before the Games – ‘you’d think I’ve been to a lot of Olympics but I only went to one and because I assumed I’d go to several I didn’t get everything out of it that I would have liked’ – and that really resonated with me.”

The breakout performance earned Nelson worldwide praise, but the USA-based sprinter said once she’s out of her tights she is able to evade the public eye.

“Unless I’m wearing track gear I’m out of context so people don’t recognise me which is probably a good thing,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she has loved racing in Canberra since winning Pacific School Games gold back in 2008 and is looking forward to competing against Breen.

“We get along really well and push each other, Mel was super supportive in Rio and we’re always happy for each other when we do well, I’m excited to see what we can both do this weekend,” Nelson said.

Since a hamstring injury last April, Nelson has only raced outdoor at Rio and will make her return to the track in the capital on Saturday.

Nelson will compete in the 100m and 200m where she hopes to secure a personal best time and inch closer to Gainsford-Taylor’s Australian record of 22.23.

The Olympian credits her dramatic improvement last year to the ALTIS training program in Phoenix Arizona which she joined in October 2015.

“I was definitely progressing anyway but when went to Phoenix and started training with some of the world’s best coaches, that basically changed everything,” Nelson said.

Lauren Wells, Michelle Jenneke, Jack Hale and Tom Gamble will also run in Canberra, while Sally Pearson was a late scratching with the Olympic champion focusing on nationals in Sydney at the end of March.

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Hotline to help Qld women fearing work discrimination cut off several days week

A Queensland service that helps women fight back against discrimination at work has had to scale back its advisory phone line, as well as direct some callers to Victoria.
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Announcing the decision on International Women’s Day, Queensland Working Women’s Service director Kerriann Dear said it was a huge blow.

The choice was made on Wednesday to close the phone line, but a day later the service changed tack, opting to open the line three mornings a week, due to a funding boost from the Queensland government.

Late on Thursday the website was still advising the hotline was closed.

“I think there’s a loss of specialised services in that it has a gender analysis, a service that knows the local work… A service that can get our hands a bit dirty and actually take action to help women,” Ms Dear said.

As a result of a federal funding cut, about 80 per cent of women who call the phone line will be referred to JobWatch, a Victorian community legal service. The service’s education programs will continue.

Funding through the Fair Work Ombudsman was axed and the service feared it would have to close its doors in early 2017 after the federal money ran out on December 31.

The Palaszczuk government stumped up extra money, providing $210,000 in 2016/17, which it will increase to $250,000 in 2017/18.

The Queensland Department of Communities also provided $175,000 for a domestic violence 12-month pilot project from November 2016, with the website set to launch next week.

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the government valued the service’s important work to help vulnerable women, “even though the bulk of the QWWS’s services have been primarily within the Commonwealth’s IR jurisdiction”.

Ms Grace called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reinstate the service’s federal funding.

The service has still lost two staff and others have had their hours cut, Ms Dear said.

“We’re working out how we manage with only a couple of staff and how we manage to reach the women who are most in need,” Ms Dear said.

The Queensland service, which has been funded by state and federal governments for 22 years, has secured about $1.6 million in unpaid entitlements and settlements for women in the past 18 months.

It had received $300,000 a year in funding from the federal government, with a four-year contract, which was topped up by $200,000 from 2013, and expired in June.

It then received half the original contract – $150,000 – since June, and asked for $350,000 to keep the service going from January 2017, but was unsuccessful.

It helps Queensland women with workplace issues, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and bullying.

The Queensland service receives about 20 complaints or concerns each day, typically from vulnerable women and migrants.

It has spoken to employers to help negotiate better conditions and if the law has been broken, provided women with legal representation.

“They’re often calling because they’ve been dismissed or they’re concerned they’re going to be dismissed. They might be experiencing discrimination,” Ms Dear said.

A spokesman for federal Employment and Women Minister Michaelia Cash said funding for workplace advice services under the community engagement program was provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The FWO has granted funding to a range of organisations, including two working women’s centres, who collectively can provide advice services to both employees and employers nationwide,” the spokesman said.

Late last year, the FWO told Fairfax Media the federal government committed $7.3 million over four years to the Community Engagement Grants Program.

The Northern Territory and South Australian chapters of the service were also facing closure after their Fair Work Ombudsman funding was cut but they received funding through another grant.

Ms Dear said she was telling clients to contact Ms Cash to ask why cuts have been made and ask her where they should go for help.

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Death in Brunswick: Film Buff’s Forecast to go after 36 years on air

One of the stalwarts of Melbourne public radio has been axed, with the last episode of Film Buff’s Forecast to be broadcast on 3RRR on March 25, after 36 years on air.
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Host Paul Harris posted the news to his friends and followers on Facebook on Thursday afternoon, under the heading “Death in Brunswick!” (a reference to an Australian cinema classic and the station’s physical location).

Harris wrote that he had been called into a meeting a week ago and “informed that the station was taking away my 12-2pm slot, which had been a constant in my life for so long”.

The decision was, he said, made by the station’s content and program manager “with the unanimous approval of the program advisory group of 3RRR”.

The rationale was that the station wished to move to an all-music line-up on Saturdays.

“We would like to offer you the new timeslot of Sunday, 1-2pm, starting in April,” wrote program manager Bec Hornsby in an email seen by Fairfax. “This will bring your program in line with the rest of our specialist talks programming on Sundays.”

Harris said he could not do the show on that day “due to family and work reasons, and would never agree to anyway on principle”.

Harris, who is the director of the St Kilda Film Festival and is a former columnist for The Age, is a hugely respected member of and contributor to the local film community. His show presented a mix of reviews, interviews with directors, actors, writers and producers, and film score music. It has long been compulsory listening for lovers of film in this city.

A clearly distressed Harris wrote that he had spoken to station manager Dave Houchin??? to discuss the fact he felt he had been treated “shabbily and disrespectfully”.

“I told him ??? the station has been part of my life for nearly 40 years and I would have taken a bullet gladly for a station whose values I so greatly respected. Now I have been effectively given the bullet.”

Late on Thursday, Triple R confirmed the news that the program would come to an end with a statement on its website.

“Paul’s enthusiasm???, dedication, hard work and ???enormous film knowledge will be??? greatly??? missed and Triple R would like to thank Paul for his massive contribution to the station over the last 30+ years.

“Triple R realises that change can be hard, but the station needs to continue to evolve and to create opportunities for new presenters and new ideas on the grid.”

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Martin can take ‘as long as he likes’: Balme

Richmond football boss Neil Balme says the Tigers are happy to give Dustin Martin “as long as he likes” to contemplate his future as long as the gun midfielder’s on-field performance doesn’t dwindle.
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Martin, 25, is a restricted free agent this year and his contract situation is set to remain a major talking point until he either re-signs with Richmond, or chooses to accept an offer from a rival club.

Martin again made headlines when walked away from contract questions at a media gathering at the MCG where he was helping to promote a new football with mentor and former Tigers assistant coach Mark Williams.

While Balme argued that Martin had been treated unfairly by the media in the aftermath, he said the more important matter of talks between the club and Martin’s agent Ralph Carr were going well.

“There’s been nothing but professional and constructive conversations between us and Ralph Carr as to what’s going on,” Balme told SEN.

“When I first came back we had a breakfast meeting with Dusty and [Balme’s lieutenant] Dan [Richardson] and Ralph and myself, and we went through it all, and I was really impressed.

“We’re talking the same language. It’s just a matter of figuring out where Dusty fits in our program and also in the AFL larger program as to what we need to be able to pay him, because he’s an exceptional player for us and we want to do the long-term deal with him.”

The veteran administrator also said he’d understand if Martin wanted to take things slowly before coming to a decision about where he will play in 2018 and beyond.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for a bloke like Dustin, with free agency, to make sure he gets the right deal. We’ve made him a terrific offer and he can take as long as he likes to consider it as far as we’re concerned as long as he plays good footy in 2017. We’ve got every confidence that he’ll be a Tiger long-term and I’m pretty sure he thinks the same way.

“I think we’ve made an offer that eventually will be fine. They’ve got every right to take as much time as they like to consider it.”

Martin hit back at his treatment by the media on Wednesday night. He labelled reports about the MCG gathering “fake news” via a post on Twitter.

“Selective editing of the video tells a different story as always,” Martin wrote.

“Another article this evening about Ralph & myself is also NOT true. They don’t care how it affects people, they just want to get a story in the paper! Stay solid.”

Balme said Martin had a right to feel aggrieved, although conceded that attention about Martin’s future wouldn’t subside. “He’s just going to have to set himself for it because that’s going to happen.”

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Mitchell wins another Sportswoman of the Year award

Javelin star Kathryn Mitchell has long been one of the city’s best female athletes, but took her stature to new heights with a fourth Ballarat Sportswoman of the Year award on Thursday night.
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Mitchell received the honour –presented by the Ballarat Associates Branch of the Sportsmen’s Association of Australia – previously in 2010,2013 and 2014.

She edged out fellow finalists Kolbe Poole (eight ball), Rachel Tallent (race walking) and Kaitlyn Ashmore (football) to claim the trophy.

Mitchell now takes over the role of defending champion from jockey Michelle Payne, who won the award last year.

The 34-year-old Mitchell enjoyed a brilliant 2016 that was highlighted by a memorable effort on the biggest stage of them all. A throw of 64.36m helped her finish sixth in the final of the women’s javelin at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, where she placed less than 2m behind gold medal winnerSara Kolak fromCroatia.

Numerous placings in IAAF Diamond League events throughout the year saw Mitchell finish second overall on the leaderboard at season’s end.

She also won two events on the IAAF World Challenge tour.

In theacceptance speech, Mitchell reflected on the year and thanked her coach Uwe Hohn, who she credits for her rise up the world ranks.

“I met him six years ago and he was really the turnaround ofmy career,” she said.

“The last six years have been the best of my life. I’m not a young athlete anymore, but it doesn’t mean I still can’t compete well on the world stage.”

Mitchell was also full of praise for the city’s ability to produce sporting stars on a large scale.

“The depth that we have and have had of sportspeople in general –men and women – coming out of Ballarat is just amazing,” Mitchell said.

“It’s year after year. There’s always something written that they are representing the sport on a world stage.”

Mitchell’s award was the highlight of a big night at St Patrick’s College, where more than 200 people turned out for the function.

Businesswoman, philanthropist and women’s football pioneerSusan Alberti was in attendance as the special guest.

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