Simpson said Rioli was currently in the Tiwi Islands with his partner, who gave birth to Willie the Third last month.
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“He’s in the Tiwi Islands where I think he’s nice and safe,” Simpson said on Fox Footy Live.
“He’s had a baby boy … he’s going well.
“Just before Christmas I went up and said G’day to his family, just check in on how he’s going.
“It’s a special place up there and hopefully we can get him back one day.”
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Simpson said the club was still awaiting a decision on the mercurial goalsneak’s alleged indiscretion.
“We haven’t had any updates on his situation so we’re still waiting on where that finds itself, but it’s been a good six months now, so we’re hoping to get a bit more direction on that,” he said.
“He came back for a couple of weeks to re-engage and reconnected with the club and the players, we hadn’t seen him since the semi-final right until January, so (it was) a good chance to reconnect with the boys and then he’s back home now.”
HURLEY’S HEARTWARMING FAN GESTURE
Long-time Essendon fanatic Jayden Carter wrestled with the numbers all last week and there was no alternative.
Her husband Stuart, an autoglazier from South Morang, had been dealt a pay cut.
Her own business making homewares had come to a grinding halt. The coronavirus was stinging the family of four hard.
The reality was painful: She would have to cancel her silver reserve membership, worth $800 for the 2020 season.
“If I had a choice between me not going to the football or my kids not eating, obviously they need to eat,” Carter said.
“I didn’t want to admit defeat. I was terrified that if I did ring, I’d lose my seats forever. My grandmother had the same front row seats at Marvel and the MCG and was a member for more than 60 years before she passed away six years ago.
“We’ve cut everything we deemed unnecessary and there was still a shortfall in our budget.
“I wasn’t asking for anything. I just wanted to know if the club could help in any possible way big or small.”
The email was sent last Thursday, less than 24 hours after Eddie McGuire and Tony Jones went head-to-head debating club membership refunds.
“The last thing I want to do is cancel my membership,” Carter wrote in her email to Essendon.
“I’m almost in tears imagining it … I’m so, so sorry to even ask this, but I’m at the stage now where something has to give or my family won’t eat.”
Carter awoke on Sunday morning to find a reply from Essendon’s membership department.
“A nice woman by the name of Carla wrote that she had a solution for me,” Carter explained.
“Michael Hurley had contacted the club last week and asked if there was a member who was impacted by the coronavirus. She said that my story struck a chord with them so they forwarded it onto him and he agreed to pay the $471 remaining balance out for me.
“The second I read it I had tears running down my face. I couldn’t talk and I just love the club so much and have supported them ever since I was born. To have that happen, I don’t have words. I’m just so grateful.”
— Fox Footy
HOW BLUE GIBBONS IS STAYING FIT IN ISOLATION
Compared to some teammates stuck in small Melbourne apartments, Carlton forward Michael Gibbons is living the high life in isolation.
Just a few days after the AFL season was suspended, Gibbons and his partner Greta packed up and hit the road to join their parents at a holiday house which backs on to the Murray River at Yarrawonga.
“My missus is able to work from home so she packed up her stuff and came here with me,” Gibbons said.
“It’s been more pleasant than most living on the river.”
However, the usual summer getaway activities like being out on the family boat and waterskiing have been switched out for running sessions at the local football ground.
Gibbons has been training with Blues teammate Finbar O’Dwyer, who has moved back to Yarrawonga for the time being where he grew up and his parents still live.
“We’re running three to four times a week and strength two or three times a week depending on your program,” Gibbons said.
On Saturday, there was a 13km match-simulation type training session which Gibbons sarcastically labelled “real fun”.
So while it might be more pleasant, it still hasn’t exactly been a holiday.
– By Chris Cavanagh
PROFITS GIVE DOGS MORE COMFORT AMID CRISIS
Western Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains says a healthy club balance sheet provides some “comfort” but no guarantees as the AFL deals with its greatest financial crisis.
The Bulldogs posted a profit of $2,980,693 last year – the club’s sixth consecutive year in the black and fourth with profits in excess of $1 million.
The Bulldogs’ total revenues increased slightly to more than $44.8 million last year.
“It does give you greater comfort as we enter this crisis,” Bains said.
“It’s not a complete long-term guarantee on anything because regardless of which club you are, with the AFL as the governing body we’re all going to have to confront the financial challenges that emerge not only this year but in future years.
“But as a club we’re certainly better equipped to deal with it now than we were six, seven or eight years ago.”
The Bulldogs had $8.3 million of debt in 2015 before their drought-breaking premiership win the following season and have been debt-free since 2017.
The AFL last week secured a $600 million line of credit to help see the league and its 18 clubs through the coronavirus crisis.
– By Chris Cavanagh
RATTEN’S INVENTIVE PLOY TO KEEP KIDS BUSY
Every parent is trying to come up with ways to keep their children amused throughout this bizarre time of isolation.
Well, St Kilda coach Brett Ratten gets top marks for his effort after getting his four children — Jorja, Tilly, Will and Tanner — to re-create St Kilda’s sponsors logos for a backdrop.
Ratten did a Zoom press conference with the media on Thursday and the highlight was clearly the homemade banner.
“Yeah, they are our sponsors but the kids were very smart,” Ratten said.
“It’s hard to get the media backdrop out here but they used their creative drawing and skill and they have done a reasonable job there.”
During the press conference, Ratten revealed he remained hopeful concussion victim Paddy McCartin would be cleared to return to the AFL fold at some point, with the former No. 1 draft pick showing improved health in recent weeks.
– By Scott Gullan
THE NEW LEAGUE PLAYERS ARE RAVING ABOUT
The AFL shutdown has been in effect for just over a week and already the players have something in the works.
Multiple players from teams across the competition have taken to social media posting about ‘The Lockdown League’ and claiming that the players are ‘back competing’, piquing supporter’s curiosity as to what it could be.
And supposedly there is a big announcement coming.
Brisbane’s Lachie Neale has former Dockers teammate Hayden Crozier in his sights, while Hawthorn interceptor James Sicily posted in a similar vein about ex-Hawk Bradley Hill.
“After sitting on the farm for the last little while, we are FINALLY back competing!! Stay tuned for more updates, @haydencrozier you’re in big strife big boy,” Neale said in a post on Instagram.
‘Football is back! Tune in to watch @bradleyhill10 pull a few of these faces. VAMOS,” Sicily told his followers.
“This excited about being back finally! Been a tough few weeks and hope everyone is staying safe! Huge announcement coming … stay tuned! #thelockdownleague,” said Gold Coast midfielder Braydon Fiorini on Instagram.
So what is this ‘Lockdown League?’
Their Twitter account reveals it is an ‘E-Sports league for professional athletes’, meaning we should expect to see players locking horns in online gaming.
Which games? Who knows, but judging by Sicily’s post, we are likely to be seeing some FIFA 20 battles.
Fans got a taste of what the competition will look like on Tuesday, with Pies pair Jack Crisp and Brody Mihocek livestreaming their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare matchup on Twitch.
— By Dan Batten
YOUNG TIGER ‘HAPPY’ TO PLAY UNTIL NEW YEAR
Young Richmond forward Jack Higgins is willing to play until the end of December if the coronavirus outbreak forces an extended delay on season 2020.
The AFL suspended the season at the conclusion of Round 1 until May 31st, but the football world is preparing for that date to be pushed back if the situation doesn’t improve.
The passionate 21-year-old, who feared he would never walk again after undergoing dangerous brain surgery last season to combat a brain abnormality, would be “happy” to play two or even three games per week to squeeze in the shortened 17-game season.
“I think we could play footy until the end of December, I’m happy I love football so I’ll play 24/7, 365 days,” Higgins said on the That’s Good for Footy show.
“If they want to play two games, three games a week I’ll be there.”
But Higgins was clear there are much greater societal issues than the uncertain AFL season and the AFL pay dispute that was finalised on Friday.
“A lot of other people are losing their jobs … if we’re getting 50 per cent then beautiful, that’s a winner,” Higgins said.
“There’s more important things going on outside football than us playing. I think we need to get society checked up … before we start playing again.”
Higgins’ love for the game was evident even before he was drafted, dropping out of school at the end of Year 11 and putting his full focus into becoming an AFL footballer.
The small forward missed out on selection in the Tigers’ season opener against Carlton, which fell on his birthday. He found it difficult to take the game seriously with no crowd.
“It was my 21st birthday on the day and it was really weird because at that time there wasn’t much rules around the isolation so I had five of my mates around at my house.
“We watched on TV and I could, but I couldn’t, take it seriously with no crowd – it felt like a really, really weird practice match,” he said.
“The vibe of it felt like it was an under 13’s East Malvern vs Hampton or something like that.”
Higgins has had medical tests in recent weeks on his brain and says he is feeling better than he ever.
“I’ve had a few tests over the past four weeks … and I’m fine,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve never felt better in my life.”
— By Dan Batten
DEES WHATSAPP GROUP ‘ON FIRE’ IN LOCKDOWN
Melbourne captain Max Gawn says players must remain focused on football during the AFL stand down or risk being left “behind the eightball” at the resumption.
It is hoped play could resume as early as June and Gawn remains adamant on maintaining elite fitness standards.
During the unprecedented AFL break clubs cannot force players to do anything above and beyond, but Gawn said players are training in pairs, as per Melbourne’s and government guidelines.
Gawn said a recent visit to an oval with running partner Jayden Hunt ended with about 15 players from other clubs dropping by for their own workouts.
“We were out there for two-and-a-half hours doing our training session,” Gawn said.
But the All-Australian ruckman said everyone maintained social distancing.
Communications with players is one of the biggest issues confronting all clubs but Gawn said Melbourne’s WhatsApp group is “on fire”.
“We got ways to communicate with the whole group that is absolutely on fire our WhatsApp,” Gawn told RSN Breakfast Club.
“I had to turn off notifications because it’s going absolutely crazy.
“I’m in touch with all 45 guys more than I have ever been really.”
— By Gilbert Gardiner
‘EXPLOSION OF STAFF’ HAS MADE GAME BETTER: HARVEY
Essendon assistant coach Mark Harvey acknowledges there had been an “explosion of staff” in AFL clubs’ football departments, but said those staff had “made the game better”.
Among those assistants stood down by his club due to the impact of the coronavirus measures, Harvey mounted a case for the often packed coaches box.
“There has been what I would call an explosion of staff in the football department but … we’re trying to make the game better and I think that’s what we’ve done as a coaching group over the last 10 or 20 years,” Harvey said on Fox Footy Live.
“Of course, when you go through something like this as drastic as this (coronavirus) we have to look at all our finances and that’s what the AFL and the football clubs are doing so of course there’s going to be a reduction.”
Harvey hopes his time in the game isn’t brought to an end by those cutbacks.
The Essendon champion says, at 54, he still has plenty to offer.
“I’m stood down by myself and so are all the coaches at the moment,” Harvey said.
“I think our football club has been very good in the way it’s handled that situation. Of course we’ve lost some people in and around the football club and that’s very unfortunate, but all in all the club’s trying to do the best it can at the moment to get through.
“I’m probably one of the oldest coaches going around, I’m 55 in June, but I’d like to think that I’ve still got a couple of years left in the game, but we’ll see where the game heads as the months go on.”
— By Michael Randall
CONTI READY TO STACK A PRANK ON SYDNEY
Revenge is coming for renowned Richmond prankster Sydney Stack, who started a “war” with his girlfriend Monique Conti over the weekend.
Conti, an AFLW footballer with the Tigers, was innocently sunbaking and scrolling through her phone in the backyard when Stack came from behind and surprised by throwing two litres of tropical juice over her.
Conti was not impressed, throwing a water bottle at Stack in retaliation.
But don’t expect that to be the end of the war, with Conti taking to her own Instagram to invite suggestions from followers on how she should proceed next.
“I’m just out here trying to get a lovely tan on and Sydney … decides to prank me and spill tropical juice all over me,” Conti said.
“I’m looking for another way to get Sydney back. So if anyone has any ideas on pranks, please (let me know).”
Two early suggestions from followers were turning off the PlayStation in the middle of a game Sydney was playing and catching him out with hot sauce.
We wait and see what the next instalment brings.
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- World Cup 2018: Japan boss Akira Nishino reveals he ordered players NOT to attack even when losing against Poland over KO fears
- Richmond could dominate the AFL like never before
- Last weekend I witnessed something never before seen on an AFL pitch
- Eight hot takes from AFL Round 22
- AFL Women’s provides a much-needed dose of positivity for 2017
- Live trading offers AFL clubs a nifty new loophole to exploit
- Cameron backed to lift GWS for AFL finals
- Six hot takes from AFL Round 21
- Yet another AFL prediction article
- Saturday reminded us all of AFL's great glory
- AFL 2015: Round 1 preview
- The Roar’s AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 17
- Richard Colless is the AFL's sole Survivor
- England vs Croatia – heartbroken England fans take to Twitter with devastating memes after losing World Cup semi-final
- World Cup 2018: Paul Pogba stripped of goal against Australia after FIFA agree with Jose Mourinho that it was an own goal
- Argentina depend too much upon Lionel Messi and can’t be carried to World Cup 2018 triumph
- World Cup 2018: Belgium boss Roberto Martinez reckons English players are more ‘tactically aware’ than ever
- World Cup 2018: Argentina team to face Nigeria confirmed as Sergio Aguero drops to the bench and Angel Di Maria starts
- 2018 World Cup should bring hope for USA
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