Month: July 2019

Hinkley holds hope Polec will stay at Port

Port coach Ken Hinkley is still holding hope Jared Polec will run out for the Power next year.Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley holds some hope that winger Jared Polec will reject a multi-million dollar offer to join AFL rivals North Melbourne.
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Polec, out of contract at season’s end, is considering an offer from North which exceeds what Port has tabled in both money and length of tenure.

Hinkley admits the longer the 25-year-old delays his decision, the more it appears he’s leaving Port.

“We’re educated people aren’t we, that is what it looks and feels sometimes,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.

“But … he has always said he wanted to stay and hang around and play at Port Adelaide.

“Like the season, nothing is done until it’s done.”

Polec could play his last game for the Power on Friday night against Essendon.

Ninth-placed Port must beat the Bombers at Adelaide Oval and then hope Gold Coast upset Geelong the next day to have any chance of sneaking into the finals.

Polec, who joined Port for the 2014 season after three years at Brisbane, is favourite to win the Power’s club champion award after turning in a fine season despite the uncertainty about his future.

“Jared has been in really good form, he has been able to play week-in, week-out really strong football for us,” Hinkley said.

“So we expect that again from him tomorrow night.

“And then he’ll have some decisions to make after that, but he has got a big role tomorrow night to play for us.”

Port stalwart Justin Westhoff is also yet to sign a contract for next year but Hinkley expected the utility, who turns 32 in October, to remain at Alberton.

“He is working through that, I don’t think there’s any issues,” Hinkley said.

“That is one I’m confident about.”

Raiders refuse to throw in NRL towel

Blake Austin is one of three players poised to play their final home game before departing Canberra.Attempting to send off departing players on a high is motivating Canberra before their NRL clash with South Sydney.
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The Raiders will miss the finals for a second straight season after a rollercoaster campaign that has seen them lose seven games by less than six points.

Leaving the nation’s capital at the end of the season are five-eighth Blake Austin, and forwards Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo.

That trio were a key part of the Raiders’ team that came within two points of making the 2016 grand final.

Saturday’s match with the Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium will be the Canberra’s last at home in 2018, with their final round across the ditch to face the Warriors.

Halfback Sam Williams said Austin could be proud of the legacy he’s left at the Raiders.

“It’s never nice to see players leave the club and Blake’s had a real impact within the Raiders and the group we’ve got here,” Williams said.

“The energy that Blake’s brought the last few seasons gives the boys a lift.

“As a group going forward we’ll take a leaf out of Blake’s book and try and find that energy ourselves.”

Facing the Rabbitohs will bring about a battle of the NRL’s two best attacking sides.

The Raiders have scored the most points in the competition (523), holding a narrow gap on Souths (519).

If Ricky Stuart’s side keeps that advantage they will become the first team in NSWRL/NRL history to top the points for table and miss the finals.

Stuart will enter his sixth season as Raiders coach next year, having been at the helm for 124 matches.

He will pass John Lang for ninth most games coached in the NRL early in 2019 – after previous stints at Sydney Roosters, Cronulla and Parramatta – and is the only mentor in the top 15 to have a winning percentage less than 50.

Qld stock routes full as NSW drought bites

Grazier Peter Cookson has noticed a number of NSW drovers on Qld stock routes looking for feed. .When Queensland grazier Peter Cookson pushed his cattle onto stock routes to find feed, he hoped it might get him through to the rains.
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But after two months of droving through the state’s southwest, he’s been forced to rethink his plan as cattle herds driven up from NSW compete for rapidly dwindling vegetation.

The third-generation farmer says that after a “long, nagging” drought on his 40,000-acre property near St George, and a doubling of grain-feed prices, he was forced to push the majority of his cattle off his barren land.

“Some people have de-stocked completely, others have pulled back to a minimal herd … we took the cattle on the road,” he told AAP.

With plenty of mulga and grass along stock routes, it seemed like a good option for his 900-head strong herd.

“We had feed in front of all the way, we could have kept walking … the route we were for the first month hadn’t seen stock in years,” Mr Cookson said.

But that changed quickly as the drought bit hard in NSW.

“Mobs were trucked in and walked in from different areas and they’ve decimated some of our potential avenues. They ate them out.”

Mr Cookson said he’s now been warned by his local shire that it’s considering closing the stock routes.

“They think there’s a great mob of stock coming and they should close the routes because they’ll be further eaten out,” he said.

Interstate cattle mobs often use southern Queensland’s stock routes but the drought is adding to the number of drovers heading north.

AAP spoke to several southern Queensland shire representatives who confirmed a significant influx in the number of NSW drovers in the area.

Balonne Shire chief executive Matthew Magin says with pastures below their average size due to low rainfall, the extra cattle were impacting the stock routes’ ability to regrow.

“There’s certainly a lot (of drovers) on the road around the district … mostly from NSW, they’re coming up because of the drought,” he said.

Agforce director Peter Hall said the Queensland government needed to overhaul the management of the state’s 2.6 million-hectare network for travelling livestock.

“The stock route network has been plagued for decades by issues such as overgrazing by producers,” he said.

Out on the road, Mr Cookson faces the prospect of trucking his cattle 10-hours north to an agistment lot at $50 per head.

That’s a lot of money to pay when the sale price of the cattle has dropped from around $1300 to $600 in just three months, he said.

Teens, parents feel tethered to phones

It’s not just teens that feel tethered to their phones, according to a new research study.Parents often lament the amount of time their teenagers’ spend staring at their phones, but they may want to take stock of their own screen time habits.
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A study from the Pew Research Center in the US has found that two-thirds of parents are concerned about the amount of time their teenage children spend in front of screens, while more than a third expressed concern about their own screen time.

Meanwhile, more than half of teens said they often or sometimes find their parents or caregivers to be distracted when the teens are trying to have a conversation with them.

The study calls teens’ relationship with their phones at times “hyperconnected” and notes that nearly three-fourths check messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Parents do the same, but at a lower if still substantial rate – 57 per cent.

Big tech companies are facing a growing backlash against the addictive nature of their gadgets and apps, the endless notifications and other features created to keep people tethered to their screens.

Many teens are trying to do something about it: 52 per cent said they have cut back on the time they spend on their phones and 57 per cent did the same with social media.

Experts say parents have a big role in their kids’ screen habits and setting a good example is a big part of it.

“Kids don’t always do what we say but they do as we do,” said Donald Shifrin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who was not involved in the Pew study.

“Parents are the door that kids will walk through on their way to the world.”

The study surveyed 743 US teens and 1,058 US parents of teens from March 7 to April 10. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.

Daughter’s diagnosis inspires Hunter cancer researcher to defeat deadly brain stem cancer

Hope: Cancer researcher Dr Matt Dun, centre, with his RUN DIPG team mates Lucas McBeath and Tabitha McLachlan. They are running to bring the world’s attention to the deadly brain stem cancer, DIPG. Picture: Marina NeilIF Dr MattDun could spend every last cent he had on time, he would buy more.
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Instead, he is running in a race against it to find the missing pieces of the puzzle that couldsave children like his own little girl, Josephine.

The University of Newcastle and HMRI biologist has spent almost a decade unearthingvital insights into some of the most devastating types of cancer, including children’s cancers.

But in February, his crusade became agonisingly personalwhen Josephine – now three – was diagnosed with a brain stem cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG.

“The average survival is about 10 months,” Dr Dunsaid. “That means that half the kids who get itwill liveless than that. About 10 per cent of kids with DIPG live for two years, and 1 per cent of kids live for five years.”

Dr Dun continues to leadleukaemia research projects, but he has also becomedrivento use his knowledge and skills to dig deeperintoDIPG–a “ferocious,” inoperable cancer that almost exclusively affects children.

Related reading: ‘Devastatingly beautiful’

“My team of researchers all see the power of what they are doing, and the potential of what they are doing,” he said.“They are working hard, and gettinggood results.I just need to make sure they have the funding to continue to unravel whatever they are looking into, whether it’s glioma or leukaemia.”

He is“cautiously optimistic” they will be able to translate some of their initial discoveries into clinical trials andtreatments for DIPG.

“Whetherit is in time for Josephine, time will tell,” Dr Dunsaid. “Clinical trials are still a little while, and a lot of money, away.”

Josephine–affectionately known as Josie–was diagnosed with DIPGafter she suddenly had trouble walking.

Hertreatment, which involved months of radiotherapy under general anaesthetic in Sydney, hadbeen traumatic for their whole family.

But particularlyJosephine.

Sweetness and light: Josephine Dun, 3, shares a moment with her dad, Dr Matt Dun, during her treatment. He is trying to find a way to defeat DIPG.

“I can’t imagine what she’sgoing through in terms of the pain, the symptoms, the loss of mobility, the frustrations, the chemo, the drugs, the nagging of her parents to come into hospital.Being subjected to treatments and needles, and being poked and prodded by different people every five minutes,” he said. “For the moment, while she is with us, I feel like at least I cantry to look up thingsand read and try to come up with a strategy that potentially might help.

“At the moment, while we still have her, itgets me out of bed every day.”

On Sunday, Dr Dun ran the half marathon in the Lake Macquarie Running Festival as part of his training regime for the Blackmores Sydney Marathon in September.

Hehopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon alongside hisfundraising team,RUNDIPG, to bring the world’s attentionto the devastating disease.

“These children are totally innocent,” he said.

“We still have cancers out there that take our babies, and at the moment, there’s nothing we can do about it.

“We have to work together to end this.”

Dr Dun has become part of a community of DIPG parents all suffering the indescribableagony of watching their children battle an illness with “horrendous” survival rates.

Many have come to view him as a champion for the cause.

“I am uniquely placed to help, and I feel that responsibility,” he said. “Medicine is all about evidence-based practice.And there is no evidence-based practice for this. It is all an experiment.

“When it is all said and done, this is going to drive me for the rest of my life, to ensure otherfamilies have some hope. At the moment, there is none.”

DIPG’s locationin thebrain stem made it difficult to treat.

“The brain stemtransports all the signals that help people breathe and swallow and see, so any disruption –be it as small as possible, or as big as a higher grade DIPG, leads to mortality pretty quickly,” Dr Dun said. “Which is why surgery – the gold standard for a brain tumour, or any tumour – is not possible.

“So we are simply stuck trying to get drugs into a site that is really important, and a site that doesn’t facilitate the transport of drugs from the veins into the tumour.

“That is why we see these terrible survival rates.”

Dr Dun said he and his wife Phoebe, a local GP who is pregnant with their third child, were grateful for the “amazing” support of their family,friends, and community.

A recent community event –The Josie Dun Gift –raised more than $70,000.

“Everyone feels like they want to help, and they know without research dollars there are no treatments, no cures, no improved well-being. So they have taken it upon themselves to do whatever they can, in their own time, to try to help us.

Hope: Cancer researcher Dr Matt Dun in his RUN DIPG team uniform. The runners are hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon to bring the world’s attention to the deadly brain stem cancer, DIPG. Picture: Marina Neil

“It is going to help. I am sure what we’re doing at HMRI will provide some of the clues of the puzzle that will help kids and their families in the future.I feel that even after six months we have a very strong program focused on a lot of key areas that I think are absolutely critical, and are under-met, in the literature.”

Related reading: A step closer to a better result

Dr Dun’s team is looking into early biomarkers of treatment success and failure.

They are trying to discover why and how children get DIPG, andtesting therapeutics that focus on the pathways Dr Dun believes is driving it in younger kids.

Dr Dun said there had been some “solid research” happening in the field, such as one study that managed to eradicateDIPG in mice,but caused potentially fatal inflammation.

“My personal Go Fund Mepage is to have a fallback plan for when we figure out what may help Josephine,” Dr Dun Said.

“This was all brought about by conversations with researchers and clinicians in the US, who suggested if we were to go to the States for any treatment, it would be user-pay.

“One therapy requires a month in hospital. Paying day-by-day, who knows what that could cost?

“Whatever is not used is going to fund a salary, or fund research, back here at HMRI.”

Dr Dun said his team has had interest from pharmaceutical companies, researchers, and oncologists in Sydney who had come on board to help.

“Now it isabout trying to get these preliminary results as strong as possible to move into clinical studies,” he said.

“The more money we can get, the more people I can put on it.”

Biomedical research may be expensive, butthe cost of not doing it is much higher.

Dr Dun said every cent helped.

“I havejust sent a whole batch of DIPG materials for sequencing in Hong Kong, and just to get it to Hong Kong costs us $2000–that’s without the sequencing.”

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