North’s AFL tall timber have room to grow

They’re already causing headaches for opposition teams but North Melbourne believe their potent forwards have barely scratched the surface ahead of Saturday night’s AFL clash with Richmond.


The 13th-placed Kangaroos rank sixth in the competition for goals scored per game, narrowly behind flag favourites Greater Western Sydney.

Converting that firepower into better results remains a challenge for the Roos, who have lost several games by single-digit margins.

But with tall trio Ben Brown, Jarrad Waite and Mason Wood finally lining up together after a run of injuries, and youngsters Taylor Garner and Kayne Turner showing good signs, there’s cause for optimism at Arden St.

“There’s massive room for improvement there. There’s no doubt that they’ve only scratched the surface with what they can do together,” North forwards coach Leigh Tudor told AAP.

“They haven’t played a lot of footy together over the last few years, so it’s just great that we can have an unchanged team and they can get some continuity.

“The more these guys can play together, the more valuable and the better their performances are going to be, I’m sure.

“We’re just rapt that we’re finally getting them together.”

The Roos were quick to swing changes after losing their first five games but will line up unchanged for the first time this season against the Tigers at Etihad Stadium.

It means another week in the VFL for impressive rookie Braydon Preuss, who held his spot as a ruck-forward for the first four rounds.

North are eager to give the 206cm rugby league convert another run but have struggled to accommodate him alongside dual All-Australian Todd Goldstein, given both prefer to play primarily in the ruck.

Key forward Ben McKay, 19, will also push for a senior debut in the latter half of the season as he continues his recovery from a hip complaint.

The Roos have won seven of their past eight games against Richmond, and Tudor said keeping the likes of Alex Rance, Brandon Ellis and Bachar Houli accountable was vital to prevent gifting Jack Riewoldt easy shots at goal.

“It’s amazing how both teams have changed since the last time we played,” Tudor said.

“Houli and Ellis have moved down to the backline, they’re really aggressive now, and the same with Rance – he’s someone that you can’t just let him do his own thing.

“We need to compete in the air and bring our forward pressure because if we don’t do that, they’ll be able to get the ball down to Riewoldt very quickly.”

Raider Papalii raring for Manly NRL clash

State of Origin might have robbed Manly of one of their star forwards, but Canberra’s Josh Papalii will have no problems backing up for Sunday’s NRL clash.


Sea Eagles prop Nate Myles has all but been ruled out of the match, with scans on Thursday confirming a torn ligament in his elbow.

Fellow forward Jake Trbojevic emerged unscathed from Wednesday night’s series opener, as did Queensland’s Papalii, the Raiders’ only Origin player.

Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson said he had no doubts about Papalii’s ability to back up from a bruising encounter.

“I’m sure he’s a little bit dusty, a little bit banged up after the game,” Hodgson said.

“(But) he’s a smart guy and he’s a professional.

“He knows how to look after his body and he wouldn’t put his hand up if he wasn’t right so I’m sure he’ll be all good.”

The Raiders will be out to avenge a round-eight golden-point loss when they meet the Sea Eagles on Sunday at Lottoland.

A third-consecutive win will build more momentum for the Raiders, who sit eighth and are rebuilding their season after a few earlier speed bumps.

“The past couple of weeks, we’ve really simplified things,” Hodgson said.

He said the combination of five-eighth Blake Austin and halfback Aidan Sezer had been a big factor in their past two victories.

“Aidan’s stepped up massively in terms of directing us around the park when we get close to their line,” Hodgson said.

“I thought we’ve been good the last couple of weeks but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Hodgson said an improved completion rate and getting the ball to bullocking forwards Shannon Boyd, Junior Paulo, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine more regularly were also behind the Raiders’ improvement.

And the addition of 112kg Papalii to their forward stocks is another major boost.

“When you’ve got people like that carrying the ball, they’re tough to stop,” Hodgson said.

“The more times you can get the ball in their hands, the better.”

Shorten won’t commit to lifting WA GST

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten agrees Western Australia is not getting its fair share of the nation’s GST revenue but will not commit yet to lifting it if elected.


WA will get just 34.4 cents in the dollar of GST this year.

Despite both Mr Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull having described that as too low, the man responsible for recommending the figure, Commonwealth Grants Commission secretary Michael Willcock, this week said it was fair.

A per-capita distribution would deliver about $6.7 billion, but it is only getting $2.3 billion this year under the complex formula that is intended to provide “equalisation” in states’ abilities to provide government services but increasingly regarded as highly flawed.

“I get that Western Australia is not getting their fair share … I’m here listening, what we will do is come up with concrete proposals after we’ve spoken with business, we’ve spoken with West Australian leaders and we will do that sooner rather than later,” Mr Shorten told reporters at a press conference with Premier Mark McGowan.

“No doubt when you hear that figure of 34 cents in the dollar, how can that make sense?

“I don’t want to see any state disadvantaged, but no doubt Western Australia is not getting its fair share of support from the Commonwealth.”

Mr McGowan has proposed one solution to a new Productivity Commission review of the GST, calling for 25 per cent of WA’s iron ore royalties to be quarantined from the GST carve-up to boost the state’s share.

Mr McGowan said the process of producing the WA budget in September would be “very, very difficult”.

WA has lost $2 billion in forecast projected revenue since Labor was elected in March, including less iron ore royalties revenue, less GST and Commonwealth health and education funding, while dealing with a record $3 billion deficit and record debt tipped to reach $42 billion.

More items found at Leveson burial site

Further evidence has been collected and taken away from murdered man Matthew Leveson’s presumed burial site in dense bushland in the Royal National Park south of Sydney.


Most of the skeletal remains police believe belong to the 20-year-old were taken away in cardboard boxes on Thursday some 24 hours after investigators first made the discovery off McKell Avenue at Waterfall.

But smaller pieces of evidence were collected and placed into brown paper bags on Friday as detectives continued their delicate investigation of the forested burial site using an excavator and industrial-sized sifter.

The bones collected on Thursday were taken to a morgue, a NSW Police State Crime Command spokeswoman told AAP on Friday, while clothing has also reportedly been unearthed.

“Other items of interest, consistent with the 20-year-old have been located,” she added.

A post-mortem examination has been conducted.

Detectives won’t yet say with “100 per cent confidence” the human remains belong to the 20-year-old but they believe more detailed analysis will prove Matthew has been found almost a decade after he was last seen alive in 2007.

The find has provided some relief for Matthew’s parents, Mark and Faye Leveson, who were back at the burial site again on Friday joined by close family friends.

The human remains were found below a cabbage-tree palm about 2.30pm on Wednesday on what was to have been the final day of the latest search by NSW Police.

Two previous unsuccessful operations were held in November and January.

Detectives will continue searching the site on Saturday, and Mark and Faye Leveson will be there as always.

Their 20-year-old son was last seen leaving Darlinghurst’s ARQ nightclub in 2007 with his then-boyfriend Michael Atkins who was acquitted of the younger man’s murder in 2009.

Mr Atkins led police to the burial site last year after he struck a deal with the attorney-general for immunity from perjury and contempt of court.

He’d previously been given a certificate by a NSW coroner meaning evidence he was compelled to give at the inquest into Matthew’s death couldn’t be used against him in any criminal proceedings.

Legal experts say it’s now unlikely fresh charges will be laid against Mr Atkins due to the deals.

Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery on Thursday said depending on what the police find “there is the remote possibility of a charge being resurrected against Atkins”.

“But I wouldn’t put too much hope on it,” he told ABC radio.

Ex-captive of IS sheds tears on return to village in northern Iraq

She broke down in tears as she approached the school where the militants rounded up the population of Kojo and separated the men from the women, part of a series of crimes the United Nations described as a genocide against the Yazidi minority.


“I have been waiting for this day for nearly three years,” she said on the rooftop of the school, where she had studied for 11 years.

On her return, Murad went to see her house and emerged clutching some clothing left there since 2014.

A Yazidi fighter said it belonged to Murad’s mother, who was killed during the purge because she was considered too old to be taken as a slave.

“We hoped our fate would be to be killed like the men instead of being sold and raped by Syrians, Iraqis … Tunisians and Europeans,” Murad said after composing herself, speaking from the roof of the school.

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Several hundred men were gunned down on the edge of the village. Among them were six of Murad’s brothers and stepbrothers.

She said the Islamic State emir, or commander, who oversaw what happened at the school was an Arab from the area. “He demanded we change our religion but nobody agreed.

“We heard the sound of shots. At first we believed people had come to help us, but when we looked out of the windows… we saw them killing the men.

“We cried to the UN, Europe, Kurdistan and Iraq but nobody came to help us,” Murad said. “Today the village is surrounded by mass graves.”

Murad, now 24, was taken in the summer of 2014 to Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq.

She escaped in November 2014.

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She told her story to the UN Security Council in 2015, and since then she has become an advocate for the Yazidis and for refugee and women’s rights in general.

She and another Yazidi woman, Lamiya Aji Bashar, received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

Kojo is one of the villages recaptured over the past few days by Popular Mobilisation, an Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary force trained by Iran.

One of Murad’s brothers is now fighting with the paramilitaries who retook the area. The two were reunited in the village.

US-backed Kurdish forces dislodged Islamic State from other Yazidi villages in the Sinjar region in 2015. Mosul is about to fall to a US-backed Iraqi offensive.

The Yazidis are a religious community of about 400,000, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions. Islamic State considers them devil worshippers.

International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represent Murad and other Yazidi victims, is lobbying the Iraqi government and the international community to allow a United Nations investigations into Islamic State’s crimes.

More than 3,000 women are believed still held captive by IS, according to the community’s leaders.

“All we want,” Murad said in Kojo, “is people to save 3,000 women in the Daesh prisons and to document our graves… until now, not a single mass grave has been documented.”

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