Hale claims Aust U-18 sprint title double

Teen sprint sensation Jack Hale has rounded out a stellar week at the national junior athletics championships by blazing to victory in the Under-18 100 metres final.

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The 17-year-old Tasmanian blitzed the rest of the field, winning in 10.38 seconds from Queenslander Brandon Herrigan and NSW’s Jordan Shelley.

The time was faster than the national U-18 record of 10.42 which Hale set at a school carnival in Hobart in October, but it was aided by an illegal tailwind of 2.8 m/s and will not count officially.

It capped a stellar championships for Hale who also won the Under-18 200m and ran anchor for the victorious Tasmanian 4×100 metre relay victory.

Injuries had restricted Hale’s preparation and prevented him from competing in his pet event, the long jump.

But Sunday’s victory ensures that Hale will contest the 200m, along with the 100m, at the world junior championships in Colombia in July.

“My real goal is the 200m-100m double at world youths and I just had to come out today and produce,” Hale said.

“I don’t want to say it too much because I don’t want to put any excuses out, but I had about a week’s preparation so to run that time, I’m really happy.”

Hale rued not being able to tackle the long jump as well.

“I love long jump, so it was a hard decision but I’ve got to do what’s best for me and trying to back up with long jump after winning 100 and 200 here is just too much.

“After world youths, I’ll definitely be putting in the pre-season work to hopefully shine in the long jump next season.”

Hale attracted headlines when he clocked a time of 10.13 for the 100m at the Australian All Schools Championships in Adelaide in December, but that time too was deemed unofficial as it was aided by a 3.4m/s tailwind.

He said the spotlight on him these days hadn’t negatively affected him.

“I just run my own race, do my own thing, set my own goals.

“I don’t really let other people push things onto me.

“People are saying I’m going to run a 10.2 or a 10.3 or something, but I know what I can do and I’ve just got to do it on the day.”

Fever dream big after record start

West Coast Fever have won their first three matches in a best-ever start to the trans-Tasman netball competition, and they aren’t afraid of dreaming of finals before their clash against the NSW Swifts.

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Not only have the Fever never won their first three ANZ Championship matches, but they have never won more than five matches in a season.

Already the three wins in 2015 equal what they did in 2011 and 2012, and better the two-win showing in 2008.

Stacey Rosman is in her first year as coach, and in replacing Norma Plummer she hasn’t changed much of the playing group, but the confidence and resilience has been a noticeable difference in the opening three games.

West Coast beat defending champions the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane and have since defeated the Northern Mystics and Southern Steel in Perth before next Monday’s tantalising match-up with the Swifts in Sydney.

Rosman knows there is a long way to go, but also knows that finals should be the result if Fever keep going the way they are.

“We believe that we can win anywhere, any time. Swifts are in good form and they’ve got some really good players. They are well drilled and they have a really sound game plan. Our ability to be able to present strongly, and keeping our composure will be key next week,” Rosman said.

“We don’t back away, we know that with the way we’ve worked it we have given ourselves that ability to dream big, but we understand that there are all these steps to be able to get that dream.”

While the Fever have a star attack with Caitlin Bassett and Nat Medhurst, strong defenders Erena Mikaere and April Letton, and mid-court led by Shae Brown, Ashleigh Brazill and Khao Watts, what pleases Rosman most is the belief they have as a group.

“They know what they are prepared for so there’s not a lot at this stage that will swing them too far off. They have that belief that they have done the hard work, they know what to expect and they are really professional with the way they have gone about it,” Rosman said.

Izzy’s brother in line for Eels debut

Israel Folau’s younger brother John is in contention to make his NRL debut in a Parramatta’s backline decimated by injury.

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Coach Brad Arthur must choose replacements after centre Beau Champion and winger Semi Radradra both suffered serious injuries in the Eels’ 32-12 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night.

The Eels confirmed on Sunday that scans showed both Champion (ACL) and Radradra (medial) sustained knee ligament damage.

The club did not give a time frame for their return – saying only they’d been ruled out for this week so far – amid speculation Champion’s season could be over and Radradra could miss a month.

John Folau, the 20-year-old younger brother of code-hopping Wallabies star Israel, will be bidding to make his first grade debut against the Warriors on Saturday while Vai Toutai, Ryan Morgan and Bureta Faraimo are also in the running to plug the backline holes.

A promising centre, Folau came off the bench for the Eels in their final pre-season trial match against Penrith and also played for the club at the Auckland Nines.

The Eels had a horror night against the Bulldogs, with halfback Chris Sandow (ankle) and rising forward Tepai Moeroa (shoulder) also in doubt for Saturday’s clash in Auckland.

The Eels this week hope to finally gain the services of veteran prop Richie Fa’aoso who has been battling for a clearance by the NRL.

Fa’aoso has not played since the 2013 preliminary final when he fractured his neck while playing for Manly but he has been medically cleared to play and signed a one-year deal with Parramatta.

The NRL has so far refused to register his contract over insurance concerns.

Last week the Eels cleared what they believed was the final hurdle when they obtained an insurance policy. However the NRL said the cover was not adequate.

“I think everyone wants (Fa’aoso) to play but we also want to protect Richie and make sure he has the right cover like every other player does,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg told Triple M on Sunday.

“It’s important people know we’ve met with Richie. I’ve personally met with Richie and spoken to him face-to-face. I’d love to see him play but only under the right conditions.

“He has to have the same insurance tha’s available for every other NRL player in the game. And that’s currently being worked through.

“I understand Parramatta want him to play and I understand Richie wants to play but we have a duty of care to our players to make sure they have the right cover.

“That piece of work is coming to the end point and hopefully we’ll be able to give Richie an answer this week.”

Unis, guns and metadata focus in Canberra

Education Minister Christopher Pyne is only contemplating victory when the Senate votes on his contentious university reforms.

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The success of Mr Pyne’s talks with Senate crossbenchers will be put to the test this week when the upper house debates legislation to deregulate tertiary fees.

His job in convincing six crossbenchers to support the bill has been made more complicated with the resignation of Glenn Lazarus from the Palmer United Party to sit as an independent.

Speaking ahead of the vote, which he expects on Wednesday, the education minister said he was not contemplating defeat.

“We will fight right through to the vote,” Mr Pyne told ABC television on Sunday.

“I’m contemplating victory on Wednesday because it’s too important not to win for students and for universities and for Australia.”

National security will also be a major focus of parliament this week, with metadata laws and a renewed push for mandatory sentences for illegal firearms traffickers.

Tony Abbott on Sunday announced the government would revive legislation for minimum sentences of five years for gun traffickers.

The measure was previously blocked by Labor and the Greens, but the prime minister urged the opposition to this time support the legislation.

“I say to Bill Shorten and the Labor Party, if you’re fair dinkum about protecting our community from gun crime you should support these mandatory minimum sentences for people who traffic in illegal firearms,” he told reporters in Sydney.

On Tuesday the lower house will also debate the government’s bill to force telecommunications companies to keep two years of customer metadata.

Labor wants the bill amended to better protect whistleblowers and journalists as well as ensure privacy and civil liberties issues are addressed.

On Monday the Senate is due to debate a migration bill which will make it easier to return asylum seekers.

The Greens will seek an opportunity during the sitting fortnight to introduce a bill to restore car industry funding.

On Friday the Senate will receive a report on the government’s “asset recycling” program, which provides bonus payments to states that privatise assets and spend the money on infrastructure.

Cherry-Evans gives Manly fresh hope

Suddenly embattled Manly have a glimmer of fresh hope as Daly Cherry-Evans shows he intends to bow out on high note and talk emerges the Sea Eagles could make a play for Sam Burgess.

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Defying claims of ill-feeling by teammates toward him and criticism of the process that has him defecting to Gold Coast next year, Cherry-Evans was the inspiration behind the Sea Eagles’ 24-22 win over Melbourne on Saturday night.

The creative halfback went to work, quietening critics as he laid on tries and Manly raced out to a 24-6 halftime lead.

With the controversy surrounding Cherry-Evans coupled with intense speculation that injured five-eighth Kieran Foran has also committed his future elsewhere, Manly had been expected to do it tough against Melbourne following their first round drubbing by Parramatta.

Instead, Manly fans were further buoyed on Sunday by a report that the club may use the big money set to become available to chase England superstar Sam Burgess for next season.

South Sydney’s 2014 grand final hero Burgess has yet to make any real mark in his code switch to rugby union back in England, with a 2015 Rugby World Cup berth looking unlikely.

And there’s no doubt Manly need more forward firepower following the loss of Glenn Stewart, Anthony Watmough and Jason King.

News Corp reported the Sea Eagles have spoken internally about luring Burgess to Brookvale.

South Sydney have first option on Burgess should he want an NRL return but they could struggle to fit him under the salary cap following their premiership success.

Manly have a handy connection through their CEO Joe Kelly, who knows Burgess from his time as South Sydney chief operating officer.

“If Sam was available and keen to come back to Australia, we would certainly have an interest in him,” Kelly told The Sunday Telegraph, while denying any approach had been made.

“We would like to open dialogue to tell him of the opportunities at Manly.”