Cameron backed to lift GWS for AFL finals

GWS Giants have faith that top goalkicker Jeremy Cameron will have big impact in the AFL finals.GWS spearhead Jeremy Cameron is being backed to have a huge impact on his side’s AFL finals campaign, after copping some heavy hits in recent games.

Cameron, the Giants’ leading goal-kicker this season with 42, has played three games since returning from a five-week suspension for striking Brisbane’s Harris Andrews.

He kicked four goals against the Gold Coast in his first game back, but just three in his last two, with Swans defender Dane Rampe keeping him to a season low eight disposals and a single major in last week’s Sydney derby.

“What’s happened in each of these games, he’s actually copped some really heavy knocks at some point in the game,’ which has taken the wind out of his sails,” GWS’ forwards coach Brad Miller told AAP.

“He bases his game on work rate and if you cop a serious whack in the early parts of the game, it can affect your ability to cover the ground.

“Then you’ve got a defender like Dane Rampe, who is really physical and checks his run and it made life really hard for Jeremy.

“But I’ve got no doubt he’s going to have a huge impact in our finals campaign.”

Cameron’s enforced layoff had one positive, as it enabled him to to deal with the toe issue, which dogged him in the early part of the season and caused him to miss a number of relatively straightforward set shots.

“He was actually changing the way that he was kicking the footy for goal,” Miller said.

‘He’s normally deadeye accurate and so it was affecting his set shot accuracy.

“But the five week spell, if there’s a silver lining in that, it was he was able to rest his toe and so he’s over that issue now. So that’s been a real positive.”

Cameron isn’t the only Giants forward to have missed a significant chunk of their campaign.

Jon Patton and Toby Greene, who finished joint leading goalkickers with Cameron last year, have played just 12 and seven games, respectively.

Miller pointed out Greene’s run of rotten luck has at least enabled the Giants to fast-track promising first-year small forwards Zac Langdon and Brent Daniels.

Langdon, who accumulated senior experience with WAFL club Claremont before being snapped up by GWS, has an unbelievable work rate, according to Miller.

‘You look at his GPS at the end of games and we’re talking Tom Scully sort of numbers,” Miller said.

Leadership didn’t come easy for JT: Parr

Jonathan Thurston’s maturity is of the highest order, North Queensland boss Peter Parr says.These days it is difficult to believe NRL superstar Johnathan Thurston ever had any “rough edges”.

The North Queensland co-captain’s clean cut image seems to be everywhere in Townsville in the lead-up to his final home game before retirement – Friday night’s NRL clash with Parramatta.

He’s on billboards. Newspapers. TV.

Thurston is ever present – and not solely due to his life-sized cardboard cut outs that are keenly displayed around town.

You can buy a “JT Bowl” at the local salad place.

Or take a stroll along Castle Hill’s popular Goat Track – renamed the “JT GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Track”.

And it seems it is only a matter of time before his statue stands outside the Cowboys’ new $250 million stadium which opens in 2020.

The man who lured Thurston to North Queensland – Cowboys football manager Peter Parr – said the community had embraced his prized recruit after putting the club, and the region, “on the map” in his 14-season stint.

But ahead of Thurston’s last hurrah in Townsville, Parr said he was more proud of how far the budding Immortal had come since lobbing from Canterbury as a cheeky 21-year-old back in 2005.

Thurston – now 35 – is a respected leader on and off the field.

He’s Cowboys co-captain, Queensland’s Australian of the Year nomination and probably romp home if he nominated for Townsville Mayor.

However, Parr admitted leadership was a role Thurston had to learn – sometimes the hard way.

“Yeah, he had a few rough edges. He always had more good in him than bad, not that he was bad – he was more mischievous,” Parr told AAP.

“(But) one of the reasons we continued to stand by him a couple of times was that I always knew he wanted to become better and one day he would become the finished article that he is now.”

Success came quickly for Thurston after his move north, guiding the Cowboys to the NRL grand final in his first season.

But off the field it wasn’t all beer and skittles. It seemed like it was mostly beer.

Thurston first raised eyebrows when he was charged for public drunkenness in early 2008 after being arrested outside his Townsville apartment semi-naked.

In 2010 the Cowboys were again left red faced after Thurston spent a night in the Brisbane watchhouse following a public nuisance arrest.

“It hasn’t always been easy for him,” Parr said.

“(But) the way he has matured, the way he has handled his profile and the reputation of the club on and off the field has been of the highest order.

“You can’t be anything but proud.”

In the end, Parr reckons Thurston’s larrikin nature helped win over the ones that count at the Cowboys – the tight knit north Queensland community.

“One of the things that he has learned playing at this club is community,” he said.

“And I think it is one of the reasons he is so popular, people can see a bit of themselves in him.”

Dead last North Queensland are desperate to avoid the wooden spoon and pay tribute to Thurston with a win over Parramatta.

Parr said Thurston would leave the Cowboys a better place regardless of the result.

Not that it made it any easier for Parr to say goodbye.

“There is no doubt he has given this club a profile that it could not have dreamt of before he got here,” said Parr.

“So I am not seeing it (retirement) as sad. I am just grateful and privileged that he decided to play most of his career here.”

And ironed out those rough edges, no doubt.

Live exports regulator ‘conflicted’: Ley

Sussan LeyThe live export industry regulator should be separated from the Department of Agriculture and established as an independent body, Liberal MPs Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson say.

The department reviewed the deaths of 2400 sheep in extreme heat on the Middle East-bound Awassi Express last year because the mortality rate was 3.76 per cent, well above the two per cent accepted standard, but it found no breaches of export regulations.

After footage of the voyage was broadcast in April, however, the department described the conditions as “deplorable and unacceptable”.

Ms Ley, who introduced a private members bill to phase out live sheep exports to the Middle East during the northern summer, said the regulator should not “sit” within the department.

“The regulator is riddled with conflicts of interest including that it be required to simultaneously police the live export trade as well as promote live exports,” she said in a joint statement with Ms Henderson.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced a review into the department’s “capabilities, investigative capacity and culture” by former public servant Philip Moss in April.

Mr Moss is also considering whether an inspector-general of livestock exports will be useful and is expected to hand down his report next month.

Separating the regulator from within the department is expected to be a key recommendation.

Meanwhile, Mr Littleproud has rejected a call by WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan to provide financial assistance to sheep farmers suffering from the halt to live exports to the Middle East.

Australian shipments ground to a halt after the Awassi Express scandal, which ultimately saw the company behind the shipment, Emanuel Exports, lose its licence.

The other major company servicing that market, Livestock Shipping Services, voluntarily switched its focus to South America.

“Government does not compensate when a market player is removed by relevant authorities,” Mr Littleproud said.

GWS Giants pumped for rare MCG outing

The Giants’ Adam Tomlinson is looking forward to a bumper crowd when they play Melbourne.GWS can’t wait to test themselves in an AFL finals dress rehearsal at the MCG, having been starved of an opportunity to play at the home of football for the bulk of the season.

The Giants have visited the MCG just once since losing the 2017 preliminary final to Richmond in front of 95,000-strong crowd; the vast majority of which were boisterous members of the Tiger Army.

That 16-point win over Collingwood was back in round two, almost five months ago.

GWS are back at the MCG on Sunday, when they confront finals-bound Melbourne.

They could return as early as week one of the finals, and will obviously have to win at the ground if they are to celebrate a maiden premiership this year.

“To play on the MCG in front of a big crowd is a great thing because we don’t get the opportunity to do it all that often,” Giants utility Adam Tomlinson said.

“We’ll review previous times we’ve played there, what has and hasn’t worked.

“We know whenever we play there we come up against a really big and hostile crowd. In last year’s prelim there weren’t many Giants’ fans there.

“It’s probably going to be quite similar this weekend. We’re looking forward to it.”

The Giants, used to playing in front of relatively small crowds at Spotless Stadium, are hoping the Demons’ long-suffering supporters turn up in force.

“Whether it’s your supporters or the opposition’s fans, to play in front of a big crowd is always going to amp you up just that little bit more,” Tomlinson said.

“If they are booing us or barracking for the opposition, it just spurs us on.

“Over time we’ve been able to build a mentality of us against them.”

The Giants can finish anywhere between third and seventh on the ladder, depending on other results.

“It’s going to be an intense game. For both sides it’s a rehearsal for finals,” Tomlinson said.

“Melbourne haven’t played finals in a long time and I know the whole football club and their supporters are super excited.

“They’re playing some pretty good football. It’s hard to beat West Coast over there but they managed to do it.”