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ACT girls grab their chance in Aussie Rules

Canberra sport covered - from grassroots to gossip.

She is one of the most promising young Australian Rules footballers in the land, but Raven Leatherby-Ford says she would prefer to play netball for her country. Canberra's Leatherby-Ford and and Jess Stramandinoli were picked in the All Australian under-16 side for the School Sport Australian Football Championships. “It’s a massive achievement and I’m so thankful for it," Leatherby-Ford said. "AFL is still important to me, so I’m glad I can keep playing but I’d love to hopefully one day play in the ANZ Championship and hopefully play in the Australian netball team as well". Stramandinoli was involved with soccer, but made the switch and was recently selected for a youth academy camp in Melbourne. “We were put through different training drills at the Carlton footy club and we stayed across the road [from the club] and it was really good to get to use their facilities,” Stramandinoli said. “It was a group made out of the best youth girls in Australia who gathered in Melbourne and the camp was a lot of fun."

Brumbies tackle AFL head-on

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The ACT Brumbies are going ahead with their threat to move their Anzac weekend game to April 25, going head to head with the AFL's Greater Western Sydney Giants. The Brumbies have contacted ruling body SANZAR to see if their match against New Zealand's Highlanders, drafted for Friday, April 24, can be switched to their preferred timeslot of Saturday evening. It would mean the Brumbies would go head to head with AFL, after an announcement the Giants would play an Anzac Day match at Manuka Oval against a Melbourne heavyweight club. Edwards said SANZAR was meeting with the broadcasters this week. "We're probably about two weeks away from finalising that draw ... we're not pushing, we're just exploring the opportunity," Edwards said. "Once we work out what our options are, we'll work with our ticketing people to see what we think might happen if we go head to head with the AFL. That'll shape our decision." A decision is also close on the appointment of coach Stephen Larkham's assistant, following the departure of Laurie Fisher. "We should have that finalised this week hopefully, we're talking to a couple of people," Edwards said.

Swin opts to rest, says no to Caps

Raven Leatherby-Ford of Wanniassa, left, and Jess Stramandinoli.
Raven Leatherby-Ford of Wanniassa, left, and Jess Stramandinoli. Photo: Graham Tidy

The Canberra Capitals may have lured Lauren Jackson back for next season, but the club was at one stage holding out hope WNBA legend Swin Cash would join her. The 34-year-old forward, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was flirting with the idea before deciding her body needs a rest after the WNBA season. While the Caps would have needed to find sponsorship to pull it off, her signature would have ensured Canberra fielded the best ''bigs'' rotation the league has possibly seen. Jackson, Cash and Abby Bishop would have been a juggernaut hard to stop as the Caps look to make the finals for the first time in four years.

Murray challenges Kyrgios 

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Andy Murray once used social media to laud Nick Kyrgios as ''the next big Aussie star''. However, the Canberran's penchant for playing late-night video games clearly got under his skin during the recent ATP Tour event in Cincinnati. Kyrgios was doing battle with the other half of ''Special K'', Thanasi Kokkinakis, on the latest FIFA game when Murray took to Twitter to tell them to keep the noise level down. Murray, who was staying in an adjoining room in the same hotel, also fancies himself as a FIFA expert. "@NickKyrgios @TKokkinakis let me know when you want a real challenge on fifa... can hear you through the hotel walls! #rookies," he tweeted. Murray is already one-up on Kyrgios, beating him in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto the week before.

Rapana builds on his strike rate

Seattle Storm's Swin Cash, left, and Lauren Jackson were almost teammates at the Canberra Capitals.
Seattle Storm's Swin Cash, left, and Lauren Jackson were almost teammates at the Canberra Capitals. 

It has been a woeful season for the Canberra Raiders, but what a find fullback Jordan Rapana has been for the club over the past two weeks. Rapana made his NRL debut as an 18-year-old for the Gold Coast Titans in 2008, scoring a double in his first match and five tries in the five games he played in his rookie season. It had him dubbed Air Jordan. Rapana has finally found his way back to the NRL after six years, following a two-year Mormon mission and a stint in rugby union. But his try-scoring strike rate continues, after his first touchdown for the Raiders against the Dragons on Saturday. He has six tries in seven NRL matches. It should be seven tries from as many games, after referees boss Tony Archer said Rapana should have been awarded a try against the Parramatta Eels in Darwin last weekend. It was disallowed because of an obstruction, but Archer said during the week that his men got the decision wrong.

Raiders successor as skipper?

Nick Kyrgios.
Nick Kyrgios. Photo: AFP

Who will be the next Canberra Raiders captain? It is a question Raiders fans are asking after revelations this week that skipper Terry Campese could be forced to start next year in NSW Cup. Vice-captain Brett White is retiring, meaning somebody will have to step up. Tireless lock Shaun Fensom has long been touted as Campese's successor by some close to the Raiders. But after recently rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, there is no guarantee he will be fit at the start of next season. Others sure to come under consideration are David Shillington, Jarrod Croker and Josh McCrone.

Junior game could be cancelled

Jordan Rapana.
Jordan Rapana. Photo: Getty Images

After deciding to lockout the crowd from an under-12s game between Canberra FC and Canberra Olympic, Capital Football is considering cancelling the match altogether. A violent incident marred the first encounter between the two teams in June, which involved a scuffle between players and then parents entering the field of play. Capital Football had ruled to lock the parents out of the return fixture, scheduled for Deakin Stadium on Saturday. But Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid confirmed they were considering cancelling the game. She expected a final decision to be made on Monday or at the Capital Football board meeting on Tuesday night at the latest. "One of the clubs is very adamant that the parents should be allowed to watch the game, but the other club is not so keen on that, so a compromise could be that the game is not played and a nil-all result and one point each," Reid said.

Larkham hero for sick kids

Terry Campese.
Terry Campese. Photo: Melissa Adams

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham will be a special guest at the Bon Voyage dinner, which has a superheroes and villains themes, on September 11 to help Team Canberra compete in Camp Quality’s esCarpade event in October. The esCarpade is a week-long outback motoring adventure to raise funds  to help children living with cancer and their families. The dinner will be held at the Hellenic Club, Woden at 7pm. To book,  email teamcanberra2014@gmail.com. Larkham is off overseas next month, heading up an advanced coaching course in Minneapolis on September 27-28. It is part of the Brumbies' push into the US where they are setting up an academy at Arizona State University, with a long-term view of recruiting American talent to the Super Rugby franchise.