Home hoodoo is Wests Tigers’ finals hurdle

The Tigers have to overcome recent poor form at Campbelltown to be any chance of making the finals.Wests Tigers will have to overcome their own home ground hoodoo and win in Campbelltown for the first time in 824 days if they are to keep their NRL season alive against Manly.

The Tigers are yet to win at Campbelltown this year and have lost their last seven at the venue – their last victory coming under former coach Jason Taylor against Newcastle in May 2016.

Another loss to the Sea Eagles on Thursday night would make for the worst losing streak at the ground for either the Tigers or the Western Suburbs Magpies, before their merger in 1999.

“It’s a happy hunting ground, we just can’t win here,” coach Ivan Cleary said.

“We like coming here, we just haven’t been able to get the win.

“We’re certainly keen to change that and for the people who come out to watch us tomorrow night we’re keen to put in a good performance.”

The Tigers must win on Thursday and then next week against South Sydney to remain in finals contention, and hope either Brisbane or the Warriors drop both their games.

The club’s record at their other spiritual home isn’t much better – they’ve won just three of their past eight at Leichhardt.

However their struggles at the grounds can hardly be used as a measurement of their form, given they play at each of them just three times a year and have gone unbeaten at ANZ Stadium home games in 2018.

“In fairness our other two meetings here (at Campbelltown) this year we just got pipped against the Broncos in golden point and then we probably had out worst game against Canberra,” Cleary said.

“So we’ve only had two games and last year was a different year with a different team. So I’m not reading too much into it.”

Lions keen to build AFL midfield stocks

Coach Chris Fagan has identified key recruitment goals when Brisbane continue their rebuild in 2019.Another prime mover in midfield and a rebounding defender are on Brisbane coach Chris Fagan’s wishlist as he looks to strengthen his side’s AFL list in the off-season.

The Lions take on West Coast on Sunday at the Gabba in the final match of Fagan’s second season in charge.

They’ve made huge strides this year despite winning only five games – although a sixth against the finals-bound Eagles would be another huge endorsement of Fagan’s methods.

And while a fresh new generation of Brisbane players look set to make their mark on the AFL over the coming years, Fagan is keen to bring in more on-ball experience to lighten the load for skipper Dayne Zorko and fellow star midfielder Dayne Beams.

“We want to keep building our midfield,” Fagan said.

“We still see that teams just target Dayne Beams and Dayne Zorko because they’re the obvious ones so we need to build some depth in there.

“Our young players are going to come through and be some of those players, like Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage.

“But it’d also be good to get a little bit more experience into that area there so we can take the heat off those two and they can play freer roles without the attention of the opposition.”

Fagan also wants a quicker running option across half-back to add an extra dimension to Brisbane’s play out of defence.

“Just getting good talent in, through the draft or trade, is important for us,” he said.

“We have to understand if we’re going to get players in through trade, they’re not just going to be depth players.

“They’ve got to be really good players that can make a difference, a lot like Charlie Cameron and Luke Hodge last year.”

Ben Cousins in jail for next two months

Ben Cousins.Fallen AFL premiership player Ben Cousins is likely to spend at least the next two months behind bars after being refused bail amid accusations he threatened to kill his ex-partner.

And now an unnamed friend of Cousins claims the former West Coast player tried to get hold of his 2005 Brownlow Medal and sell it, but his father Bryan kept it from him.

“He tried to sell his Brownlow … but he doesn’t even have it. His dad has the Brownlow in safekeeping,” the friend told News Corp on Thursday.

“He said he needed it to guarantee a bank loan, but why would he need a bank loan? He doesn’t have any property, he doesn’t have a business.”

The 40-year-old drug addict was arrested on Tuesday at a Canning Vale house and was allegedly found with 13 grams of methylamphetamine hidden in his anus.

A tearful and dishevelled Cousins, who has no fixed address, appeared in Armadale Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

He was charged with 16 offences including aggravated burglary, aggravated stalking and possessing a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply.

Most charges related to Cousins repeatedly breaching a violence restraining order taken out by his ex-partner Maylea Tinecheff.

One time, Cousins got into a car with her while holding a screwdriver and said: “I can’t wait to use it.”

He later allegedly threatened: “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to take your life and your freedom and the things you love the most.”

Cousins also allegedly said he was going to bury her car “where she would survive for a couple of days” then he would “bring the kids to play, so she would hear them but would not be able to get to them”.

In an emotional rant in court, Cousins applied for bail against his lawyer’s advice.

Cousins told magistrate Andrew Maughan he had come out of prison a different person and was the victim.

“I beg you, I’m not a threat,” he said.

“If there’s one thing that is a strength of my character it is my ability to not act out in violence.”

Mr Maughan said there were no bail conditions that would ensure Cousins would comply.

Cousins is due back in court on October 30.

The Brownlow medallist was released from Acacia prison in January after serving about 10 months behind bars for stalking Ms Tinecheff.

Nikorima embracing Broncos’ toughest job

Kodi Nikorima has doggedly absorbed criticism as he handles a key playmaking role at the Broncos.Kodi Nikorima’s teammates have lauded the nimble playmaker’s ability to dance through the flood of criticism, and warned it may never stop as long as he wears the Brisbane No.7 jersey.

The halfback and his five-eighth Anthony Milford have copped the lion’s share of criticism for the Broncos’ inconsistent 13-9 NRL season that has seen them regularly topple premiership contenders, though fall to bottom-eight sides.

But hooker Andrew McCullough said, fairly or unfairly, that criticism came with the territory occupied by halfbacks at Red Hill.

“Once you play in that position at the Broncos it is never going to stop, so it’s how you handle it,” McCullough said.

“If you get a win you get the accolades, but with a loss it puts you very much under the spotlight.

“I think it is a good learning curve for Kodi … it was never going to be smooth sailing for him in that position.”

However, captain Darius Boyd said the 24-year-old had the right temperament to survive the critics’ barbs, and importantly had the support of his teammates.

“The negativity is not the nicest thing to hear and it’s hard to get past it,” the fullback said.

“But from what I’ve seen of him this year, I think he handles things really, really well … everyone loves him and he knows how much we respect him in this group and that’s all that matters.”

On-field communication and an ability to control the game even when his forwards aren’t dominating were two areas Nikorima had identified himself that needed work.

He believes he has taken strides forward and, with a finals berth all but sealed and a testing assignment against Sydney Roosters No.7 Cooper Cronk on Saturday, now has a platform to prove it.

“I think we have improved in that area and Milf’s (Milford) really stepped up as well,” Nikorima said.

“At the start of the year I took my role for granted a little bit, thinking it would just all happen again like last year.

“That’s not the case. I realised I had to change my game, talk a lot more and that’s what I’ve started to do.”

Tears as jury convicts Brisbane murderer

Relatives of murdered Korean woman Eunji Ban have wept in a Brisbane court after a jury rejected her killer’s claims he was gripped by mental illness when he savagely beat her to death.

A Supreme Court jury took less than a day to convict Alex Reuben McEwan of murdering the 22-year-old, earning him a life sentence.

McEwan had admitted punching, kicking and strangling Ms Ban to death in November 2013 but pleaded not guilty to murder on mental health grounds.

Jurors rejected claims his schizophrenia left him unable to control himself, convicting him on Thursday of murdering her as she walked to her cleaning job.

Members of Ms Ban’s family embraced each other and shed tears as the verdict was delivered.

The sister of twin brothers, Ms Ban had arrived in Australia six weeks before her death, leaving Korea to improve her English to realise her dream of becoming a microbiologist. She died on her brothers’ birthday.

Speaking through an interpreter outside the court, Ms Ban’s mother Suk Bun Jung spoke of her pain and the hole that had been left in her life and her heart.

“My Eunji, please help me. If I have to carry on with beautiful memories of us, you have to help me so I can be strong enough to carry on,” she said.

“I’m still very, very sad.”

McEwan had claimed he was possessed by a demon when he attacked Ms Ban near her Roma Street Parklands unit in the early hours of November 24, 2013.

McEwan, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia after his arrest, told the court he tried but could not prevent himself from attacking her.

However, three psychiatrists gave evidence during the trial that they did not believe McEwan was suffering the effects of schizophrenia at the time of the killing.

“You knew what you were doing and you knew it was wrong,” Justice Roslyn Atkinson said in sentencing him.

“Nevertheless, you gave in to your sadistic and violent fantasies and carried out this terrible crime.”

McEwan, from inner Brisbane suburb Spring Hill, had been drinking with friends the night before the killing, waking up the next day and walking the streets near Ms Ban’s home. He randomly attacked her before she could scream or fight back.

He dragged her body up stairs to the nearby Wickham Park and dumped it by a tree, which he decorated with clumps of her hair.

The trial heard Ms Ban was beaten so badly she drowned in her own blood.

“She was a visitor from a foreign country. She was just doing something completely normal,” Justice Atkinson said.

“You decided to go out and kill someone. You … picked out someone for no reason at all, apart to act on your violent and sadistic urges and committed the most brutal, horrible crime.”

McEwan will remain behind bars at least until late 2033, with time already served and a mandatory non-parole period of 20 years.