Israel Folau says he will be playing fullback – nowhere else – in Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks.
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And the defiant Wallabies superstar is also vowing to attack the high ball with his customary vigour despite copping a contentious one-match ban earlier this year for a clumsy aerial challenge on Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika won’t name his starting side until Thursday and has gone to great lengths to keep his side under wraps, but Folau all but revealed he’d be wearing the No.15 jumper in the series opener at ANZ Stadium.

“Well, I’ve been training at fullback. I haven’t been training anywhere else so hopefully, yeah,” ‘s attacking trump said before Cheika ushered TV cameras and media out of Tuesday’s full team session in Sydney.

“But whatever decisions that ‘Cheik’ makes, it’s best for the team, but I don’t see myself playing any other position other than 15.”

Nor does Folau plan to tone down his aggressive aerial approach after receiving a one-game suspension for making mid-air contact with O’Mahoney during ‘s last Test match, a series-deciding 20-16 loss to Ireland in June.

“I won’t modify anything,” Folau said.

“After the incident in June, going back to Super rugby, I approached the game the same way as any other game.

“For me, it doesn’t change anything. Going into the weekend, I’ll have the same mindset in attacking the ball in the air and obviously making good decisions around that.”

Despite failing on appeal to have his ban overturned and believing the laws around aerial challenges remain too grey, Folau insists he will have “absolutely” no apprehension in employing his deadly leap against the world champions.

“I believe my technique is fair play. I’ll attack the ball at every opportunity I get to try and win possession for the team,” said the code-hopping ace.

“So that mindset won’t change.”

While he’s expected to re-sign until at least after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Folau is off contract at the end of the year, meaning his sixth Bledisloe Cup series could be his last crack at helping the Wallabies regain trans-Tasman bragging rights.

The 29-year-old is making no secret of his burning desire to add the prized piece of silverware to his 2013 Super Rugby triumph with NSW, an NRL grand final victory with Melbourne in 2007 and three straight State of Origin series wins with Queensland from 2008.

“It’s not rocket science that you definitely want to win it,” Folau said.

“Off the back of last year, I thought we built a really good foundation within our team internally.

“We came so close in the second game and we managed to get the win in the third one, which was a good finish.

“But I think that was just a good taste of the potential that the team can fulfil.”

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Dylan Napa (left) is ready to step up in the absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for the Roosters.Sydney Roosters enforcer Dylan Napa has declared himself ready to reclaim his role as forward pack leader in the absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for the next month.
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Waerea-Hargreaves was on Monday ruled out for up to the opening week of the NRL finals after breaking his ribs in Friday’s win over South Sydney.

His sideline stint is a whack for a Roosters side that has just claimed top spot on the ladder for the first time this year with just three games remaining.

“It’s really tough to lose him but there’s been plenty of games where we’ve played without Jared,” Napa told AAP on Tuesday.

“Our entire Roosters squad have been pushing for spots all year. So while we might be a man down, but it’s next man up.”

And Napa could be just that man, having only returned from injury himself.

The Roosters prop hasn’t played more than 28 minutes off the bench since coming back from a knee injury two weeks ago.

The ladder leaders will need Napa to quickly find his form as they look to replace Waerea-Hargreaves’ high-volume workrate.

The New Zealand international, who had only missed one game so far this year, is averaging 114m and 23 tackles in 46 minutes per game.

He also leads the Roosters forwards in offloads.

Napa’s opening comes after hurting his knee in their round 16 loss to Melbourne that also ruled him out of appearing for Queensland in State of Origin III.

“It was tough to cop, but I’m not the first person to miss an Origin game with injury,” he said.

“It was a little hard to get my running back, but I’m good now. I feel like I’ve been training really well, so we’ll see what happens on the weekend.”

The Roosters are also still without five-eighth Luke Keary, with Ryan Matterson filling in alongside Cooper Cronk in the halves in his absence.

A win against Canberra on Sunday will leave the Roosters in prime position to claim their fourth minor premiership in the past six years.

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A struggling man was held down on a bed and cut with a small blade during an exorcism after his relatives believed he had been a victim of black magic, a Sydney jury has been told.
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The man, who cannot be identified, said they believed the black magic had been performed on him by his in-laws to convince him to move out of his mother’s home with his wife.

The Islamic follower denied consenting to the procedure which involved Hijama, or the use of suction cups to draw blood and incisions made with a blade.

Giving evidence on Tuesday in the NSW District Court, he said when he asked Riza Morinaj what he was doing he was told “I am drawing out the evil” and that the Koran would be recited.

Morinaj, a 39-year-old spiritual healer, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping in company with the intention of gaining an advantage occasioning actual bodily harm, and to assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company at a Sydney house in November 2016.

The husband said he wed his wife in an arranged marriage and they lived with his parents for a year, before moving out after his wife felt she was being treated like a slave.

While she respected his parents and had no problem with doing chores, she received no thanks, he said.

Under cross-examination from Morinaj’s barrister, John Selimi, the husband agreed his mother and grandparents blamed his wife’s parents for him moving out, believing they had performed black magic on him.

He himself did not believe in black magic, likening it to the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

In November 2016, he went to a family function where his grandfather introduced him to three men, including Morinaj, who he said were friends from the mosque.

“My grandfather said these men wanted to have a quick chat with me as to why we moved out,” he said.

He agreed he had a sneaking suspicion they wanted to try to persuade him to move back and he was prepared to play along with it so as not to offend his family.

He told prosecutor Ken Gilson he was held down on a bed upstairs during the episode which lasted about 20 minutes before police arrived.

The husband denied Mr Selimi’s suggestion that he had submitted to the Hijama because he knew his grandfather wanted him to and was going along with it to appease him.

“I was not told what was happening before, I was not told why it was happening,” he said.

He only knew about the black magic exorcism claim during the procedure, not before.

“If they did ask for my permission, I would say no.”

The trial continues before Judge Helen Syme.

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Johnathan Thurston admits he’s growing tired of his NRL farewell tour but that there’s one old foe he’d like to beat on the way out.
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Saturday’s clash with Cronulla will mark the North Queensland playmaker’s final game in Sydney, with his Cowboys currently last on the ladder.

Next week will be his Townsville swansong, before Thurston completes a 16-year career on the Gold Coast in what could be a battle for the wooden spoon against the Titans.

Thurston has appreciated the tributes from rival clubs along the way and can see the appeal of getting one last laugh over long-time foe Paul Gallen on Saturday.

But the 35-year-old admitted, with a finals campaign out of reach, his retirement sideshow had started to drag.

“It’s a little bit tiring; I’m sure you guys (the media) are all getting sick of talking about it too,” Thurston, who made his NRL debut in 2002, said on Tuesday.

“There’s a few games to go, hopefully we cause a couple of upsets … it’s been a lot more enjoyable when you’re on the right side of the scoreboard.”

Long-time teammate Gavin Cooper likened Thurston’s farewell to NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s final season at the Los Angeles Lakers two years ago.

“We’re getting farewell movies everywhere we go,” he laughed.

“The (New Zealand) Warriors are probably setting the standard with how they’re sending off retirees, then obviously we have a long history with the Broncos and I’m sure Sydney will offer something too.

“It’s probably a fitting end in Sydney, finishing at Shark Park for Johno, given our history.”

That history includes a round one encounter this year when Cooper accused the Sharks of employing dirty tactics, while the teams have knocked each other out of four of the last five finals campaigns.

Thurston has also enjoyed a long period of State of Origin dominance over Sharks veteran Gallen, who at 37 is yet to decide if he will join the Cowboys legend in retirement.

“Yeah, there’s a good rivalry between the two clubs; both have forward packs that like to come after each other and as a half you like to sit back and watch that,” Thurston said.

“It’d be nice to get one more over the Sharkies, but I know it’s not going to be easy.”

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John Hopoate will learn the length of his rugby league ban on Thursday.Rugby league bad boy John Hopoate is set to learn the length of his ban on Thursday following charges stemming from a fight in a Manly A-Grade fixture last month.
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Hopoate will front the NSW Rugby League judiciary on Wednesday night having already pleaded guilty to three counts of contrary conduct while filling in for the Narraweena Hawks on July 21.

The length of his suspension will be announced on Thursday morning, with a one-year ban likely.

The charges include one count of contrary conduct for offensive language and another for acting with aggression, after the former Manly and Wests Tigers star was already given a four-match ban for striking.

Any suspension would extend across all involvement in the sport and would therefore prohibit him from acting as a coach or trainer at any junior or senior rugby league match.

A life ban is not expected.

Hopoate, now aged 44, lasted just minutes in his first game of the season for the Hawks when he filled in off the bench against the Forestville Ferrets.

After he was initially penalised for a high tackle, a fight ensured on the following play-the-ball after the Ferrets kicked for touch.

Hopoate was sent off as a result for landing a punch, before footage emerged of him threatening the opposition lock in an expletive-laced tirade.

The opposing player was also sin-binned for his role in the incident, which including throwing the ball at Hawks players.

Hopoate played for NSW and in his 209-game NRL career, but also spent a record 45 weeks on the sideline suspended.

His most famous indiscretion came when he was banned for 12 matches for poking opponents’ backsides while at the Tigers in 2001, while his NRL career was ended with a 17-game ban for a dangerous high hit on Cronulla’s Keith Galloway while at Manly in 2006.

Those incidents won’t play any part in this week’s suspension, but he has a prior record in the Manly A-Grade competition which includes being marched for throwing a punch while playing for Manly Cove in 2011.

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Newcastle Jets’ wings clipped as Joey Champness goes down with injury TweetFacebookALREADY missing suspended striker Roy O’Donovan, the Jets will be without exciting winger Joey Champness for the start of the A-League season.
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Champness fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot at training on Tuesday and will be sidelined for up to 10 weeks.

The 21-year-old will consult an orthopaedic specialist in Sydney later this week, but coach Ernie Merrick does not expect him to be available until the round-two clash against Adelaide at Cooper’s Stadium.

“He got bumped by someone at training,” Merrick said. “It was completely innocuous and he tripped over himself and landed awkwardly with his foot turned inside underneath him.

Read more: Jets welcome FFA Cup date with Melbourne

He was taken away for scans which confirmed a fracture. It’s called a Jones fracture and haspoor blood supply.

They can be tricky. Sometimes they require surgery and sometimes they are best left. We will take him to a specialist in Sydney for further advice. He will be out for eight-to-ten weeks will we make him available for about round two, which is not too bad.”

Champness was arguablythe find of last season. He scored five goals in 27 appearances and was to be rewarded with a call up into the Olyroos for a camp next week.

Read more: Refuelingafter Spain camp ahead of FFA Cup mission

“He won’t be attending which is a big disappointment for everyone,” Merrick said.

Kiwi recruit Matt Ridenton appears the front runner to start on the left in the FFA Cup clash against Melbourne City at AAMI Park on August 29.

“We don’t have a lot of experience there at the moment,” Merrick said. “It has given others a chance to play in that role. Kosta Petratos has done quite well. Gus Thurgate has also really been showing.Matt Ridenton has played a similar role to Riley McGree [last season], starting on the wing and coming inside. There are other boys putting their hand up bit we will continue to keep an eye out for two attacking players and another goal keeper.”

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BREAK-OUT SEASON: Hannah Young, in action for the Hunters this year, hopes to lead Newcastle to a Waratah Basketball League championship this weekend. Picture: Darren PatemanHannah Young cannot wait to see where her debut WNBL seasontakes her.
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But first, the University of Canberra Capitals signinghopes to guide Newcastle to another women’s championship in the Waratah Basketball League.

The Hunters men and women are headed forsemi-final showdowns with Manly and Norths respectively at Hills District Basketball Stadium onSaturday. A win will secure a grand final appearance on Sunday.

Young, aHunters junior, returned to her home town in Marchafter a successful United States college career at Virginia Tech and a brief stint playing professionally in Romania.

Read more: Basketball’s rising star Cassidy McLean set for Bendigo deal

Newcastle women’s coach Shannon Seebohm described the 25-year-old forward as“integral” to his squadand was not surprised to see her earn a contract for the upcoming national league after a break-out season for the Hunters.

Young is averaging 14.3 points per game for Newcastle and is the team’s second-highest scorer behind Jasmin Howe.

“She brings a lot to the team, and not just scoring,” Seebohm said. “She’salso a great defender,a great rebounder and she’s fit in perfectly since day one.

“With her combination of size and athleticism and skill, she’s certainly got the potential to be a good player at the next level and I’m really excited to see where she goes from here and how she uses Newcastle as a springboard to set up the rest of her career.”

Young, whose American-born father Lewis wasa Harlem Globetrotter, was a fringe player with the Hunters when she left Newcastle bound for the US as a 19-year-old.

She returnedwith the goal of securing a WNBL contract.

“I’ve always had my eyes set on Europe … but I gave Europe a shot and, now I’ve got this opportunity, it’s going to help me for n basketball in the future,” Young said.

“If I want to make the Opals, playing in this league will open a lot of doors for me.”

In the nation’s capital, Young will be training and playing alongside n representative Kelsey Griffin.

“She’s an amazing player andI’ll be just so happy I get to train with her every day,” Young said.

“Ijust really want to see where my potential can go, and I want to reach that. There’s nothing worse than leaving a sport or career and you never reach yourpeak.”

The immediate focus, however, is on Waratah Basketball League minor premiers Norths. The two sides have split results in two encounters this season.

Hannah Young has been integral to the Hunters making the Waratah Basketball League finals this weekend. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“Our season hasbeen up and down,” Young said.

“We didn’t start off too flash but wegot better as the season went on and I’m definitely glad I came back. Hopefully we win the whole thing.That would make it even better.”

Newcastle claimed the women’s Waratah Basketball League championship for the first time in 2016 but, despite the addition of three-time OlympianSuzy Batkovic last year, failed to make the finals in their title defence.

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Isabel Palmer has been named in the n team for the FIBAUnder-18 Asia Championships in India starting October 28.

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YOUNG GUNS: Edgeworth’s Bailey Garland, Tyson Jackson, coach Damian Zane, Samuel Maxwell, Joshua Low and Will Bower. Picture: Marina NeilDamian Zane wasn’t sure he had the energy to coach the Eagles again after last season.
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And looking back, Zane believes he lost his identity as a coach in a third premiership-winning campaign, which ended with his first grand final loss in three tries.

But a renewed focus on youth development not only reinvigorated Zane but sparked what must be his, and perhaps the club’s, greatest victory.

After losing regular starters Keigo Moriyasu, Kieran Sanders, Brody Taylor, Keanu Moore andAyden Brice in the off-season, and Bren Hammel before that, the Eagles recruited ex-Jets Youth players Tyson Jackson and Mitch Dobson and striker Jamie Byrnes.They picked up Mariners veteran Josh Rose mid-season but also lost No.1 goalkeeper Nate Cavaliere to the Victorian NPL, where Taylor, Brice and Moore now play.

Many gave the Eagleslittle chance of another premiership. In the end, they wrapped it up with a round to spare and regardless of what happens this weekend, they will win the title by thebiggest margin of the Zane reign.

The rise of young players like Jackson, Adam Cawley, Samuel Maxwell, Bailey Garland, Will Bower and keeper Joshua Lowto fill the void has been Edgeworth’s key to success. Zane said that came from putting reward for hard workbefore reputations.

“It’s having faith and believing what your eyes do see,” Zane said.“For so many years you talk about this player or that player, but what do your eyes see?You see thoseyoung boys in training, but there’s a lack of faith in them.

“I set the tone for training early on, and I believe we train as hard as any team, and when the young boys do well at training,I’ve got every faith to give them a chance.

“If the intensity isn’t there at training, you are probably less inclined to give them a chance because you’re not sure how they’re going to go.

“It’s just an absolute faith in how we train, that’sthe big key.I have full belief the next guy is going to come in and do a job. Idon’t care what their name is.”

Zane was excited about where the Eagles’focuson youth over experienced recruits or importshad taken him and the club.

“I lost my own identity as a coach last year a bit and was man managing rather than improving young players,” he said. “Every coach is different, but that’s my identity as a coach.

“I think I needed that change. I probably learnt who I am as a coach. I enjoy having that core group with a blend of youth through it andI need to follow that path, and that’s where the club wants to go as well.

“Look at the guys we’ve passed on to better leagues, and a couple onto the Jets Youth. That’s exciting and maybe one day they will come back.

“I think our club has found a bit of an identity. This is the club we’re going to be.”

“We’re a growing area, Cameron Park is booming.”

“It’s just a special club and we’re on a really good path, so it’s a good place to be.”

He said his squad“just work their socks off and deserve everything they get”.

“I didn’t count us out of it, but I thought we’d have to start well and luckily enough we did,” he said of the premiership season.

“And to turn at the halfway point in front, I thought we might be able to hold on, but a few weeks out from the season we weren’t thinking about winning the premiership.

“But there’s no substitution for hard work. It’s an old school thought, but it’s still relevant in the modern game.

“And they play for 90 minutes and often it takes that win a game. It’s not luck. They are mentally tough.”

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Lake Macquarie City Council should reinstatea weekly kerbside collection ofgeneral waste from people’s homes, a councillor says.
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A new domestic wasteroutine was introduced atLake Macquarie late last monthas part of council’s‘Food+Garden=Green’initiative.

It meant red-lidded general waste bins and yellow-topped recycling bins would be emptied fortnightly andagreen waste collection, which included food scraps and otherorganic material,would take place weekly.

After the first fortnight,council has hailed the move a success, reporting a 14 per cent rise in green bin use andabout an extra1000 tonnes of organic matter beingdiverted from landfill.

Read more: Green bin change in Lake Macquarie and easy habit to instil

But CrKevin Baker said hereceived a“significant increase” in complaints aboutbins not being emptied during that time.

Cr Baker called for the weekly garbage collection to return and said he believed council“got the figures wrong”regardingthe amount of organic waste produced at the average Lake Macquarie home.He disputed council’s claim, reported by theNewcastle Heraldlast month, that food waste accounted for about a third of the contents of a household’s general waste bin.

“Based on my own experience and people I’ve spoken to, we aren’t seeing that,” he said.

“A lot of people are putting their green bin out with only a couple of small bags in the bottom.

Read more: Green thumbs up for Lake Macquarie’s new waste system

“If one third of a bin is potential organic waste, why have we only seen an increase of 14 per cent?I love the organics bit, but realistically I think we need to look at getting a weekly general waste service reintroduced.”

A council spokesperson said there had been 83 service requests for missedcollectionsin the past fortnight, but this represented a small fraction of the total86,494collections.

He said council received 22 complaints in that time, among 3909“enquiries” about the newarrangements.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of enquiries to council about the new service, which is expected with any change of this nature,” he said.

Eleebana resident Michelle Shetab said council had replaced seventeen 240L general waste bins with two 1100L bins at a groupof 17 town houses at Warners Bay, where she owns three investment properties.

Each home was given a small bin for food waste as part of the Food+Garden=Green initiative.

She said residents had filled the general waste bins by Monday, butthe greenbins had hardly been used.

“I really don’t think [council] hasthought this through,” she said.

“I’m honestly all for going green, I fully support it and think it’s a great idea, I just think it’s got to be implemented properly.

“If they try to train people to do itthat would be great, but to say‘we’re going to take a half empty binonce a week’when you’ve got afull [general waste]bin collected once a fortnight, that doesn’t teach people, itangers people.”

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Luckless defender Alex Johnson is determined to ensure his sixth knee reconstruction doesn’t distract Sydney from their push for an AFL premiership.
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Scans have confirmed that Johnson on Sunday ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his ‘good’ knee for the first time.

The 26-year-old’s left ACL has already been the subject of five reconstructions and serious infections that derailed his career.

Johnson is yet to decide whether he will attempt yet another comeback, having waited 2136 days after the 2012 grand final to make his AFL return in round 20 this season.

The club and Johnson, who has returned to Sydney, will consult knee specialists next week before mapping out a plan.

“I’ve spoken to him … the most important thing for Alex is to get around him, support him,” Swans coach John Longmire said.

“I’m sure he’ll be doing that to us as well, making sure we keep our minds on the task at hand.

“He’s always been good at that and was good at it on the weekend again.

“Sometimes professional sport isn’t fair. My 13-year-old son summed it up when I got home, he just said ‘Alex doesn’t deserve this, it’s just not fair, he’s a nice guy’.”

Johnson posted a message on social media on Tuesday night.

“Football can be a cruel game at times. The highs and lows in just a week. The support over the last week has been amazing. Thank you,” Johnson wrote.

Some teammates were in tears at the MCG on Sunday, when Johnson suffered his latest setback in innocuous fashion.

Sydney defeated Melbourne by nine points despite the emotional toll caused by Johnson’s agony, and the fact they played most of the game with two fit men on the bench.

Swans skipper Josh Kennedy insists his team will be fully focused on upsetting GWS in Saturday’s derby, in part because of the selfless Johnson.

“Having Alex at the club plays a big part in that. His positivity and just his presence around the team,” Kennedy said.

“He’ll be encouraging everyone.

“It shouldn’t be too hard to get back up and go again.”

Longmire noted it’s far too early to speculate about Johnson’s prospects of returning to the AFL.

“Let the dust settle, let everyone take a deep breath and let him have the operation and recover,” Longmire said.

“We all feel for him … the reality is none of us know what he’s going through.”

Sydney football manager Tom Harley admitted Johnson’s “devastating news” was “shattering for him and for us”.

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