Brad Scott says AFL tanking talk laughable

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says talk that his AFL team is tanking to earn the No.

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1 draft pick is laughable and they will be doing all they can to keep their impressive record against Melbourne alive in Hobart on Saturday.

An understrength Kangaroos fell to Essendon last round for their seventh straight loss to languish in second-last spot on the ladder.

But Scott said he wouldn’t trade a winning culture for a top draft pick and pointed to the team’s solid recent record overall as proof.

“It has been dismissed because it is absolutely laughable,” Scott said.

“You could get offended because it does question your integrity to an extent, but it has just been so far removed from fact that I don’t want to engage too much in it, other than to say it is absolutely untrue.

“We want to create a winning culture and that’s always what our club’s been about and if you look back through our recent history, we’ve fought really hard.

“I know people will think the No.1 draft pick would be nice … but the difference between pick one, two, three and four – well, that’s in the eye of the beholder, anyway.”

In Scott’s eight years at the helm the Kangaroos have only missed the finals three times and, on each occasion, they won their last game of the year.

He said he had players he could send for early surgery but planned to play them until the end of the season in the hope of securing more wins.

A loss to Melbourne – a team the Kangaroos boast a 16-match winning streak against dating back to 2007 – would be their worst run of results since 1984.

Given the weakness of the Demons over much of that period Scott said he couldn’t read too much into the decade-long streak.

“When it stretches back that far it’s largely irrelevant,” he said.

“I think Melbourne have changed their coach and I don’t think there would be many players still involved.”

Greens call for MP citizenship audit

The Greens have called for all federal MPs to be subject to a citizenship audit, with Matt Canavan vowing to fight his ineligibility in court.

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The Queensland senator resigned from cabinet on Tuesday after it emerged his mother had signed him up to become an Italian citizen in 2006.

She informed him of his status as an “Italian citizen abroad” on July 18 having seen media reports about the ineligibility of Greens senator Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam which forced them to quit parliament.

Under Section 44 of the constitution a person is disqualified from being elected if at the time of their election they are a citizen of “a foreign power” or otherwise have an “allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power”.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said on Thursday he had written to the Senate President and House Speaker calling for an audit to immediately establish the eligibility of all members of parliament.

Senator Di Natale said the constitution was clear that people with dual citizenship were ineligible to stand and Senator Canavan should do the “honourable” thing and resign from parliament.

“We can’t have one set of rules for ministers within the Turnbull government and another set of rules for everybody else,” Senator Di Natale told reporters in Melbourne.

Senator Canavan told reporters in Rockhampton while he felt it appropriate to resign from the ministry, legal advice led him to conclude he was not in breach of the constitution.

“I did consider not continuing on, given the circumstances of other cases, but I base my decision very much on that legal advice that we’ve been provided which provides grounds that I have not breached section 44,” he said.

“I think it’s important we let that process run now and let the court make its decision.”

Senator Canavan said he was aware his mother had applied to become an Italian citizen but he had no knowledge or suspicion of what had occurred 11 years ago until last week.

“I’ve never signed a document, given consent or have any knowledge of these matters until last week.”

Asked whether he was aware his mother had been receiving Italian election voting papers in his name for the past decade, he said he had never received any correspondence from Italian authorities.

Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said the government should reveal whether there were clouds over any other coalition MPs in terms of their dual nationality.

The federal opposition also wants Senator Canavan to reveal his documentation, however he says all relevant material will be provided to the court.

100 million-year-old dinosaur bones confirm new Australian species

Analysis of 100 million-year-old dinosaur bones from a sheep farm in central Queensland has confirmed the Australian dinosaur, Austrosaurus mckillopi, to be a distinct species.

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The new research, published in the Alcheringa journal of palaeontology, puts to bed speculation about the dinosaur’s existence.

Swinburne palaeontologist Dr Stephen Poropat said before the new research not enough was known about or had been found of Austrosaurus mckillopi, causing fellow palaeontologists to often question if the dinosaur fossil was unique and deserved a species name.

But the 2014-2015 discovery of six ribs, coupled with a reassessment of the dinosaur’s backbone found at the site in the 1930s, has given researchers fresh information, allowing them to confirm Austrosaurus mckillopi is a distinct species.

Bird’s-eye view of the reconstructed Austrosaurus mckillopi site. Dr Stephen Poropat, Swinburne University

“With Austrosaurus mckillopi, we can now say it deserves to keep its name,” Dr Poropat said.

It becomes one of just 20 Australian dinosaurs with an official name.

But for the Australian and British palaeontology team, just finding the fossil site on the Clutha sheep station north west of Richmond in Queensland was a victory.

Lost since its discovery in the 1930s and with two previous searches in the 1970s and 1990s failing to find the dinosaur fossil, it took the local knowledge of Richmond Mayor John Wharton, who grew up on Clutha station, and some country-can-do to find the lost site Dr Poropat had first heard of in 2012 as a student in Sweden.

Mr Wharton remembered the two acacia posts of the sign erected at the fossil site by palaeontologists in the 1930s from his childhood but when he returned in 2014 he couldn’t find them, Dr Poropat said.

Not to be defeated, he used a helicopter to find the posts he was sure were still there but had just fallen over.

“And that’s how we found it, it’s quite remarkable to find dinosaur fossils from the air.”

A dig crew in 2015 watch as a council worker excavates the site. Dr Stephen Poropat, Swinburne University

Dr Poropat said Austrosaurus mckillopi was a 15-metre long barrel-chested herbivore with four column-like legs.

“Think an elephant’s body in size and shape but with a small head, long neck and a long tail.”

Sauropods like Austrosaurus mckillopis lived from 200 million to 66 million years ago but the fossil discovered at Clutha sheep station discovery is the only one of its kind.

 

Roberts was a drug user: Wayne Bennett

Wayne Bennett has made the startling admission that James Roberts had a drug and alcohol problem and praised the Brisbane centre’s will to get his life and NRL carer back on track.

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“Jimmy The Jet” on Thursday celebrated an exciting new chapter in his life with a four-year contract extension to stay at the Broncos until 2021.

The 24-year had no lack of suitors, however made it clear he wanted to be at Red Hill for the rest of his career under the guidance of coach Bennett and CEO Paul White.

Having been sacked earlier in his career by South Sydney and Penrith, Roberts was in danger of squandering his talents because of off-field issues.

A stint in a Thailand rehabilitation facility and the birth of his son Kirk resulted in him maturing as a man and a player.

His new-found peace of mind has been a major factor for Roberts, considered one of the fastest players in the NRL, rediscovering his best form in 2017.

Roberts has come so far from his trouble-plagued past that the club had refused to have behavioural clauses inserted into his contract.

“When he came here last year, you can hardly say he was part of the team,” Bennett said.

“But he is, an important part of the team, and an equal – they all respect him.”

“It’s not all about James anymore.

“It’s about the team and he interacts with them and he’s valued by them.

“His off-field behaviour, he’s made some commitments there and it’s not easy. He’s given up alcohol, given up drugs. He’s been in that situation for six or seven months and that’s been a game-changer for him.

“That’s why he’s got a four-year contract.”

Roberts, who this year was spoken about as a possible NSW State of Origin debutant, said he wanted to stay with Brisbane for the rest of his playing career.

He was reportedly chased by five rival clubs but decided to stay after getting his life back on track.

“I’ve always been able to play footy, but getting my life right off the field has been the main factor and I think they’ve done a wonderful job,” Roberts said.

Warriors undaunted by uphill finals climb

The maths are looking increasingly grim for the Warriors – but a flicker of NRL finals hope continues to burn.

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With six round-robin matches remaining, Stephen Kearney’s troops need at least five wins to hit the traditional 28-point finals barrier – yet, beyond Friday’s clash with the high-flying Sharks, that challenge doesn’t seem insurmountable.

Matches against fellow battlers Newcastle, Canberra and South Sydney will follow, before a major test at home in the form of sixth-placed Manly.

A tussle with the lowly Tigers will then close out the season.

For Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, there’s no reason why his 12th-placed side can’t sneak into the top eight – or even cause an upset this weekend over the fourth-placed Sharks, who have lost three of their past six games.

All the right signs had been there in the Warriors’ 24-12 loss to North Queensland last weekend, particularly up front.

Typically flaky for much of the 2017 campaign, the Warriors’ forwards showed genuine steel against the Cowboys, making more running metres than their opponents and neutralising the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess.

“The Sharks, they’re another similar team to the Cowboys – a big forward pack,” Tuivasa-Sheck said, referring to the rampaging Andrew Fifita.

“If we can continue to have our middles play that physical game up front, and a few of us fix our execution plays – that’s where we lost in the last game – against the Sharks, we can fix it up and come away with the points.

“A lot of the errors from the Cowboys game were players just not clear on what plays we’re on, where we’re supposed to be.”

With Shaun Johnson still nursing a knee injury, Mason Lino retains his grip on the Warriors’ No.7 jumper ahead of fellow young gun Ata Hingano.

More damaging for Kearney’s side, however, is the loss of prop James Gavet to an arm injury – placing the onus on Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman to front.

Kearney was confident the pair would do the business.

“The focus this week is on making sure, up against another good team, that we make them earn every metre they can,” Kearney said.

“All week it’s been about making sure it’s an 80-minute performance, and not having those periods where we drop off. It’s a wonderful challenge against the defending premiers and what they bring.”

STATS THAT MATTER:

– Cronulla has won seven of their past nine NRL matches against the Warriors – however, each of the previous four has been decided by four points or less.

– Despite sitting 12th on the NRL ladder, the Warriors have lost just twice at Mount Smart Stadium in 2017, to Melbourne and Penrith.

– The Sharks have lost away from home just once in 2017.