Another week on, another step closer to normality for Essendon. But while they are busily putting together their list of 10 top-up players, the Bombers could also be having trouble keeping people at the club. Pssst hears that a member of Essendon's recruiting staff is contemplating leaving football, feeling partly responsible for bringing several of the 34 players suspended by CAS to the Dons. Disenchanted and worn out by the emotional burden, it might all be too much for the staffer. In any case, there have been plenty of cars at the Bombers' Tullamarine base all week as the Dons try to pick up the pieces and move forward with what will be a heavily compromised campaign in 2016. Among the vehicles parked at the True Value Solar Centre included a locksmith's van. While we're not sure why the locksmith was needed, we couldn't help but notice the company's name, stationed prominently on the side of the van: "Jab Solutions." It seems Jab Solutions are big fans of the Bombers, with their website offering a "10 per cent discount for all services we provide if you are simply one of Essendon Bombers Football Club's fans". Meanwhile, the licence plate of a car parked at the club for Friday's open training session showed that old habits die hard. It read: "5JHIRD."
Odd ones out
Meanwhile, there's been much written in the wake of James Hird's decision to explain his side of events in the injecting program of 2012, with the former coach taking to print and screen. One question raised was why there were 12 players who opted to not take part. Hird said it had been the club's preference for players beginning their careers to just let their bodies take shape naturally before supplements were considered. Then there was experienced pair, Jason Winderlich and David Zaharakis. "Jason Winderlich had a phobia for needles, so did David Zaharakis. Some of the guys just didn't like taking supplements," Hird said. "Whether supplements are taken orally or by injection ... some people just want to eat naturally as well. It was a choice and that was the choice they made." The AFL has said it could not have done more in the wake of a meeting between its integrity chief Brett Clothier, Hird and an ASADA representative in 2011, which came after Hird's approach to ASADA about peptides. On that meeting, Hird says: "I certainly wasn't fascinated by [peptides]. I was certainly of the mind that if there was a legal advantage, whether that be supplementation, or a training method, whether that be a game plan, then that's fine. But it had to be within the rules. I was very clear what those rules were. At no time did I want to go outside the rules. Peptides weren't necessarily the panacea or the greatest thing that was going to help us - it was one of many things that we looked at as a club."
Tough Hill to climb
It's been difficult to avoid the advertising of bookmaker William Hill at Melbourne Park, such is the hold the tournament's new official betting partner has on the place. It's understood the British operation tipped $5 million into securing the rights - becoming the first bookmaker in the world to sponsor a grand slam tennis event - as it seeks to build a foothold in a competitive market. The local operation is run by Australian racing identity Tom Waterhouse who Pssst hears is under growing pressure to make a major imprint. Some in the industry believe he may only have months left in the job. Speaking of bookmakers, the push for "in-play" betting to be made legal gathers momentum. One reason is that authorities believe legalising this would reduce the hold offshore bookmakers have on the local market. Stay tuned for a federal government announcement.
For those who follow AFL reporters on social media, and tune in to interviews of AFL coaches and players through a reporter's feed via live streaming app Periscope, those (brief) days are over. This comes as part of an AFL clampdown on media broadcasting club press conferences. The new restrictions also mean accredited media can no longer bet on matches while they are "working or present" at the ground. This restriction applies to a two-hour period before matches, and the duration of the game itself.
Matthew Dellavedova hopes the decision to schedule a game for his Cleveland Cavaliers on Australia Day aids a push to have an NBA game in Australia. The Cavaliers will host an "Australia Day Game" against the Minnesota Timberwolves, broadcast live in Australia on Tuesday on ESPN. "I think the Australia Day Game is a really cool initiative by the Cavs ... and hopefully it will result in maybe an exhibition game, a pre-season game, or maybe one day a regular season game in Australia," Dellavedova said. "There's a lot of support in Australia, a high number of league pass subscribers, so hopefully, this can go really well and get the ball rolling." Delly won't be the only Australian playing on Monday (US time). Andrew Bogut's Golden State Warriors face Patty Mills and the San Antonio Spurs - the league's two best teams and surely destined to meet in the Western Conference finals.
The AFL Players' Association has started interviewing candidates to replace departed general manager of player relations Ian Prendergast, who vacated his post late last year to take up the role as chief executive of the Rugby League Players' Association.
While Jake Carlisle was the most high-profile St Kilda player to run into trouble while overseas during the off-season, it seems he wasn't the only one. The Saints have played down an incident involving young defender Jimmy Webster, who spent time in a Bali hospital after suffering head injuries in a motorbike accident. Tasmanian Webster is highly rated at Seaford, having finished equal ninth in St Kilda's best and fairest last season. The Bali incident follows a 2014 alcohol-fuelled indiscretion for which he was punished by the Saints.
Four minutes to midnight for ... Rafael Nadal after his first-round exit at Melbourne Park. It's a long way back to the top for injury-prone 29-year-olds.
34 combined singles starts for Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur at the Australian Open
1 time that either of them has progressed beyond the fourth round (Hewitt made the final in 2005)
15 occasions Hewitt made the quarter-finals of a grand slam singles draw
They said what?
"You're a freaking idiot. That's why everyone in the locker room thinks you're so full of yourself." - An angry Lleyton Hewitt lets out his frustration with a particular linesman, yelling at chair umpire Pascal Maria during the Australian veteran's straight sets loss to David Ferrer on Thursday night.
Only weeks after telling Fairfax's Peter Hanlon that he was weighing up a move to join mates at Colac, 2013 Hawthorn premiership player Jonathan Simpkin finds himself back on an AFL list, signed by Essendon as one of their top-up players.
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